Bob Rae, PWOPA’s & Other Words I Invented

9 06 2012

The intertoobz have been awhirl with proclamations and castigations since it was discovered that the Liberal Party may change their rules and let Bob Rae run for leadership. This revelation was, coincidentally, on the same day that we became aware that Tory wonk Dean Del Mastro was being investigated by Elections Canada. So aligned were the gods of political opportunity for HarperCons on this fateful day that the Minister of Education may as well have announced that Bob Rae’s name would forthwith be spelled D.I.V.E.R.S.I.O.N.

Nonetheless we’ve all been there, done that and, dare I say, even got the t-shirt (which was promptly stripped off our backs). Nothing about these HarperCon tactics is new or even surprising. Harper drew a line in the sandbox a long time ago and he’s been hurling Tonka toys at anyone who disturbs it with such ho-hum regularity that I find myself stifling a yawn even describing it.

If you would indulge my whim, I’d rather talk about something that WAS surprising. It lies not within the folds of Liberal party mechanics which may reverse course on the Bob Rae ticket because this is, after all, politics. “It’s politics, duh!” – the new and improved iteration of “It’s the economy stupid!”. The surprise, for me at least, is in the vehemence with which non-Liberals are decrying the potential Rae run. Akin to someone yelling fire in a crowded theatre, I almost believed, but only for a fleeting moment, that the end of the world was going to chase me down the street, into Harper’s sandbox and hold me down until I cried uncle – though I’ve never understood why calling the word uncle was ever able to satisfy a bully’s need for dominance, but that’s just me. (Oh and I’d like to apologize to the old man I knocked down when I raced in abject terror from the theatre. Sorry dude. My bad.)

These “People With Other Party Affiliations”, or PWOPA’s™ as I affectionately call them, have dusted off and trotted out talking points that until now had been neatly stashed away in their petticoats. Someone please pass them the smelling salts quick before they faint again at the outrage of it all! Bob Rae running for Liberal leader! Harrumph!

These aforementioned petticoats remained perfectly unruffled when Bob Rae was doing a powerful job in opposition during the time of up-for-grabs leadership in the NDP. But like a wild-west gunman’s fingers twitching just above the holster, so did their talking points fidget to be freed.

Talking points: 1)“Bob Rae lied” … 2)“He used his position as interim Liberal leader to advance his agenda of becoming permanent leader” … 3)“He wasn’t able to change the needle on Liberal Party popularity during his tenure as interim leader”. In reality these are all non-issues. To adherents of talking point number one I say he did not lie, he said he would adhere to party regulations which he is doing. On the second point I counter that he was a strong voice on behalf of Canadians and progressivism – would they have found it more acceptable if he’d been a shrinking violet in an especially divisive House of Commons, I wonder? But more than that why does that mean he shouldn’t run for the top job? I don’t care if he used his position as a springboard for a leadership run (it would have been foolish to have done otherwise), I just want to choose the best possible leader. On the third talking point put forth by PWOPA’s™ I would argue that polls are not the political overlord that we are led to believe. In fact, don’t even get me started on polls or I may have to get out my sombrero and do the Hat Dance on a Nanos poll and, believe me, that would not be a pretty sight. Suffice it to say that three years are an eternity within the Canadian political aperture.

But here’s the nutshell: So what? So what if he didn’t move the poll numbers, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the right to have him included in the pool of candidates. So what if he had a higher profile due to his position as interim leader – in fact, more reason to have him in the pool. There’s no smoke without fire… unless you include dry ice, which I won’t since it would render my adage meaningless.

None of these detractors has shown even a spark of appreciation for the work Rae did in standing up not just for Liberal values but – hold your breath while I tiptoe onto a limb here for a moment – progressive Canadian values. So, fine we have party politics as usual – you demean my leader and I’ll demean yours and we’ll all feel good about ourselves after. What bothers me, intensely, about this twaddle is the implied limitation non-Liberals feel they need to impose on my choices for Liberal leader. The Harper arrgle-bargle and fog of politics is spreading to the progressives of this country and making them behave in a HarperCon kind of way (read cynical). It has permeated our mentality so much so that some are now able to pronounce on outcomes before the empirical data is in. In fact before these outcomes have even ‘outcomed’, so to speak! (Science! Huh-yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again!)

Let me give you an example: it has been suggested by these modern day prophesiers and PWOPA’s™ that the new mechanics by which the Liberals propose to choose their next leader have failed. Wait! What? It hasn’t even happened yet, has it? Has Stephen Hawking been throwing tachyons of providence into our political mix? Let’s calm the hyper-partisan spin down and stick to the facts, when we get them in the future after the Liberal leadership experiment has been tried and tested.

My puzzlement about the wrath of non-Liberals over a potential run by Rae centres on why they are so passionate about the Liberal choice for leader. Why are they, seemingly, intent on limiting our choices? Most of us prefer to squeeze the fruit and pick the most delectable before throwing our money in the till and so it should be with those who we choose to represent us in government. I say give me options, give me all the options, tell me your plans and values and let it percolate and only then will I throw my money in the till. Only when I have squeezed your fruit, so to speak. But don’t expect me to believe that an apple is rotten when I haven’t squeezed it for myself. I don’t know who my vote will go to in the Leadership convention for the simple reason that no one has even officially thrown their hat in the ring and no platforms have yet been heard. The assumption that Liberals will vote based on celebrity as opposed to policy is a miscalculation and is immediately revelatory of a shallow understanding of core Liberal values.

I don’t know if Bob Rae is the best choice for the Liberal party going forward. I don’t care about poll numbers, particularly since an election is three years away. I don’t care about age or celebrity because in the end excellence is the great unifier. I do care about core values and policy. I do care about preventing the slow and painful erosion of my country due to the ideologically driven HarperCon agenda. And I do know that Bob Rae has done a great job for all progressives as interim leader and for that I am grateful. Bring on the leadership race and allow us to choose from a pool of strong, varied and interesting candidates, a pool which would be all the poorer were Bob Rae to be excluded.

P.S. Guys I was only kidding about the ™ symbol on PWOPA – I just thought it would make it look all academic and thoughtful.





The Liberals Are The Best Managers Of Our Economy

7 05 2012

The Liberal Party is the only party that knows that a strong economy requires both a strong business sector and a strong workforce. Only the Liberal Party knows how, and has the experience, to put forward policy that ensures the health of both sectors.

The kind of policy that drives our economic health recognizes that fiscal and monetary approaches must ensure that people are educated with the necessary skills, that people are healthy, that there are necessary safety nets available should they lose their jobs, and that their children are provided the same opportunities afforded to their parents. At the same time, fiscal and monetary policy must be managed and balanced to support business confidence and growth.

The Liberal Party ensures that policies on the environment, trade, infrastructure growth, and health and safety, are implemented in a manner that is also supportive of economic growth. The Liberal Party makes sure that focus on short term profits do not impede the long-term basis for economic health, while also ensuring that conditions for the business sector promote sustained growth through sound fiscal management.

The Liberal Party is the only party that can manage economic policy to ensure that a healthy business sector is developed and encouraged by ensuring a fair and optimal balance of taxation and government spending to provide a healthy workforce that enjoys clean air and water, and by ensuring the infrastructure necessary for sustained economic growth is in place. Appropriate arrays of regulatory approaches are tailored to provide optimal conditions for sustained business growth, and for a healthy, strong, and well compensated workforce.

Over time, in this country, and in Western civilization generally, history has shown that only with this type of balanced policy approach, centering equally on both sectors of the economy, have our economies performed optimally over a sustained period, generating wealth that is shared justly. Experiments with neo-conservative or socialist policies have consistently proved detrimental to our economic health each and every time they are implemented.

Policies that promote both a strong business sector and a strong labor force working together are the essential wealth creation engines. Economic history has proven this time and time again. By these means, only the Liberal Party has the value system, knowledge base, and skill to manage our economies to the optimal benefit of every Canadian.





CETA and Toronto “Reasonableness”

18 03 2012

Free trade agreements between countries are made with the intention of boosting trade by broadening markets which then, ostensibly, increase output and employment. Such a scenario would be a net economic benefit to trade partners, despite the fact that there might be initial growing pains and job losses which are a natural result of a shift toward economic specialization, a by-product of trade agreements.  On the other side of the debate, anti-free trade proponents argue the net economic result is one in which factories and jobs are exported to countries with lower minimum wages and production costs. The reality is much less stark  than either of these two views suggest.

The Council of the City of Toronto has asked for a permanent exemption from the Canadian European Trade Agreement (CETA) that the federal government is currently negotiating because it felt that too much autonomy over its economic and environmental decisions would be sacrificed. Since trade agreements are legally binding on signatories, municipal governments do not have jurisdiction for agreeing to or even complying with such treaties.  Municipalities operating outside any such agreement would be in violation of the treaty and probably result in countervailing trade sanctions or penalties.

The Canadian government has not included municipalities in the negotiations assuming them to be represented by provincial Premiers (whose agreement to the treaty is mandatory). Toronto clearly feels this not to be the case.  With the backdrop of a massive manufacturing decline when NAFTA was enacted, it has been argued the net economic outcome would leave Toronto in the red – a result of manufacturing job loss. The agreement would end the ‘Buy Canadian’ policy for public purchases – a policy which has bolstered local businesses – since it would require municipal governments to consider bids from European companies when contracting with the private sector.

Unions and environmental groups have joined their voices to the anti-CETA coalition arguing that the deal could lead to the privatization of Canadian waterways, increased drug costs and foreign limitations on environmental policies. Officials of the European Union have admitted that Europe will be able to export more than Canada.

It is clearly reasonable that Toronto has serious and legitimate reservations about CETA, particularly since it has not been involved in the negotiations and since elements of the agreement will have a negative impact not only on its autonomy but also its economy.  Toronto is the manufacturing heart of Canada. With a resultant balance of trade favouring Europeans on this playing field the fortunes of Toronto will take a hit. But is it reasonable for Toronto to ask for a permanent exemption from CETA?  While the answer to this may well be in the affirmative it must be admitted that it is also not realistic. Neither the government of Canada nor the EU will agree to a deal that excludes Canada’s manufacturing centre. Since CETA will be binding on the city, the request for a permanent exclusion must be viewed as an effort to have some influence on the negotiations, to have its voice heard. From this perspective CAW President, Ken Lewenza, is correct in describing the Toronto Council move as “reasonable”.





Kangaroo Culling Petitions – Australian Government Response

25 08 2010

Government Endorsed Slaughter of Kangaroos

There have been a number of petitions and news posts in the past few months aimed at convincing the Australian government to reverse its decision to cull eastern grey kangaroo in native grassland and woodland sites within Canberra Nature Park. This C2NN news post will link to a recent Change.org petition on this matter, which I signed: Stop Kangaroo Killings in Australia ! TAKE ACTION !

Today I received the following response from the Australian government:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for your email about the ACT Government’s decision to reduce eastern greykangaroo numbers in native grassland and woodland sites within Canberra Nature Park.

The eastern grey kangaroo is the only species subject to the ACT Government’s kangaroo management program. Eastern grey kangaroos are the most abundant species of kangaroo or wallaby nationally and in the ACT, and there is currently no conservation concern for the long-term survival of this species.

The decision to undertake controlled culling of eastern grey kangaroos is one that has not been taken lightly, and is one that the ACT Government needs to take as a responsible land manager. The eastern grey kangaroo is a common species in the ACT and in some areas is becoming over-abundant. There is a significant body of scientific evidence – including a report by the independent Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment – which identifies that overgrazing by kangaroos is causing damage to some ecosystems. In some cases kangaroos are so over-abundant that there are risks of soil erosion and significant impacts on threatened species such as the Grassland Earless Dragon, Striped Legless Lizard and Golden Sun Moth.

The ACT Government’s kangaroo management program is conducted in a rigorous manner and is based upon sound scientific research. The recent cull was undertaken in accordance with the Kangaroo Management Plan which sets out the ACT Government’s approach to managing the environmental, economic and social impacts of kangaroos to ensure their numbers are maintained at a sustainable level into the future. Kangaroo counts were undertaken prior to the reduction program and the impacts of grazing are measured at a number of sites across the ACT. The aim is not to eliminate kangaroos but to reduce the impacts of kangaroo grazing by reducing numbers to a sustainable population level. Accordingly, a sustainable number of kangaroos is retained at each site. There are also significant areas where no kangaroo culling is planned.

Culling was undertaken in a humane manner according to a strict Code of Practice endorsed by the RSPCA. In accordance with the Code of Practice, culling is only permitted between March and July. The timing of the ACT culling season is designed to improve animal welfare of kangaroos by avoiding the orphaning of dependent young. Licensing requirements for kangaroo shooting in the ACT are also more stringent than any other jurisdiction. For example, the ACT is the only State or Territory which tests shooters and restricts kangaroo shooting to a season (between March and July).

For animal welfare it is not possible to relocate large numbers of kangaroos as this could cause significant trauma during capture and transportation. Translocated animals could risk starvation, distress and injury as a result of panic and disorientation. It is also difficult to source suitable translocation sites where there is food and little competition from existing herbivores.

The ACT Government has a responsibility for the protection of all native species. Maintaining sustainable numbers of kangaroos is the responsible approach and will ensure that grasslands and woodlands are not over-grazed to the detriment of other species. To obtain further information about this program I would encourage you to visit the Territory and Municipal Services website at www.tams.act.gov.au.

Thank you for raising this matter with me. I trust that this information is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

Jon Stanhope MLA

Minister for Territory and Municipal Services

25 August 2010

I am left with some major concerns regarding the basis of the government’s reasoning. A primary and lingering doubt I find running through my mind is that animals are “translocated” all the time. Woods bison have just been re-introduced to their native territory, in Alaska, from which they had been extinct for some time. In Africa, elephants, rhinoceroses and myriad other animals are re-located all the time. Why, then, has this been dismissed out of hand based on a few conjectured outcomes as stated in the letter above.

Secondly, this is a native species. These kangaroos are not a foreign, invasive species, the introduction of which would have a resounding impact on the eco-system. I am left wondering how the eastern grey kangaroo thrived in this habitat, alongside all the other native species, for thousands of years without causing irreparable harm to those other species and the eco-system until now?

Evidently, our voices have not yet rung loudly enough in the ears of the government to foster even an inkling of reconsideration of the ACT policy. Our efforts must continue. Our voices must be raised more loudly yet. And our commitment to preventing the slaughter of the eastern grey kangaroo cannot waver.





Harper Harps on the Bandwagon at Last!

29 11 2009

Canadians can rest easy now! Woot! Our leader, Mr. Harper, is leading again. Er…that is…he is leading by following, which he excels at and is want to do on most international issues. Climate change, global warming, the end of the world as we know it – whatever your taxonomical preference – has once again niggled its way into Stephen Harper’s agenda by dint of Barack Obama’s attendance at the Copenhagen summit. Phew! I think???

Poor old Stevie must be mightily pissed with the Big “O” south of the border now… Scene: Stevie stomping his shiny shoes in a pique, screeching to get more of those Ignatieff hate ads on the air, scraping his fingers through his starched hair barely able to find a path of any surmountable resistance…

What a nice, comfy niche he had eked out for himself, our fearless un-leader, hiding behind the Ozified, wizard’s curtain of U.S. and Chinese inaction. After all, if the big players don’t play then is there really a ball game? Sheesh, you’d think after having caved to Obama on the Buy American issue, vacillating on what the future role of Canada in Afghanistan will be after 2011 and, with teeth grinding reluctance, contributing proportionate stimulus dollars to the car industry in Canada as the new U.S. administration had done in their country, Obama would have given Harpie some breathing room. But nooo! Mr Barack stick-to-your-word Obama stuck it to the Canadian un-leader by agreeing to attend the climate change conference in Copenhagen. If I played poker I’d probably have a word for a move that brilliant other than “Woot! Obama!”

Harper’s reasoning for not attending in the first place; if the biggest emitters, namely China and the United States, aren’t doing anything then what is the point in the small players taking any action? A reasoning which has stuck in my craw since its early platitudinous naissance. But having had much time to munch on it, run it through the digestive system, I now see an upside to it.

The next time Revenue Canada comes after me for a few dollars in late filing charges I will retort; “What difference can my few dollars make to the overall grinding of the big cogs and humming of the omniscient engine?” I will back up my assertion by relying on Harpie’s logic; there’s no point in me contributing because it really won’t make any difference. How can they dispute me? He is their boss. As the adage goes; a group’s culture always stems from the top. Trickle down crap etc.

When the Red Cross wants my blood or Feed the Children wants my dollar I will use the exact same remonstrance. Surely my piddly little contribution will not make a gnat’s piss worth of difference? I will instruct my children to adopt this new shibboleth. We will all become ego-centric, self-serving, inward-looking moles and the world will implode around us. But we’ll be safe in our silent, dark holes in the ground. Until the very ground disappears beneath us.





Harper’s Housekeeping Tips: Sweep Climate Change Under The Rug

14 10 2009

Move over Santa Claus and Superman, Prime Minster Harper is coming to reclaim the land you have been squatting on all these decades, nay centuries. It is, after all part of the Great White North and it plays well to the domestic audience – reassertion of dominance over the land of ice and snow, home of the Inuit, last great frontier. In actuality it should be called land of the melting ice, land of the last  hidden riches and treasures.

Canada is busy sending armed forces and patrol ships up to the Arctic to make our presence felt. We are working hand in hand with Americans to map the seabed in order to bolster our claims of ownership. Inuit symbols are almost synonymous with the coming Winter Olympics. In short, we are celebrating and claiming all that is Arctic. It is ironic that at the precise moment when  Prime Minister Harper is hell bent on flexing his clearly non-steroid assisted muscles in some chest-thumping display of Neanderthal ownership over this largely uninhabited land, it is precisely when the very survival of this land is most threatened by Mr. Harper’s policies. Is it ironic or intentional?  Does Mr. Harper dismiss the science of climate change outwardly because inwardly he covets that very change and the contingent benefits he perceives, ie. energy? For me visions of Uriah Heep’s grasping fingers intertwine with Harper’s great patriotic press conferences on the subject of Arctic sovereignty.

The more dismal side of this coin lies not in the embarrassment that we should be feeling as Canadians when so many other countries walked out of the recent climate change conference in disgust due to Canada’s stated policy that Kyoto is fit for no more than the trash can, but rather in the fact that Harper’s popularity coincidentally seems to be soaring here at home. Is the word Canadian becoming synonymous with ostrich? Does our Prime Minister flap his gums and subsequently we stick our heads further in the sands of ignorance? When the polar bears, walruses and seals have almost died out will Canadians event lament their passing or will they be blinded by the dollar signs our current government dangles in their eyes emanating from future pay-off of potential oil discovery in the north and current earnings of the dirty tar sands?

It used to be that Mr Harper’s resistance to taking climate change science seriously came off as a puerile tit for tat policy. His resistance to respecting the obligations Canada had accepted in signing the Kyoto Accord was couched in the language of the school yard; if the United States and China aren’t doing anything then why should we? But the United States and China are doing things, big things and it is putting Canada to shame. David Suzuki echoes my sentiments exactly when he says that Harper’s failure to acknowledge that climate change is a serious issue, ” is so humiliating to me as a Canadian, because I have always been very proud of Canada as a country that took international obligations seriously.” China and America are leaving Canada in the dust- and that will be more than figurative if we don’t reverse the trend of the melting polar cap.

It’s easy enough to pass the buck, to blame the Harper government but I blame the people of this country who more and more are losing sight of what we are all about. The people keep electing this government and yet, unfortunately, it will be the world and, more specifically, the Great White North that will have to live – or die – with its CO2 emitting consequences, not just the Canadian electorate. A friend of mine once told my grandmother, when she was visiting from England and complained about ice cubes in her gin and tonic, that “ice is what made this country great”. We all laughed at the time but in retrospect no truer words could be spoken. It’s time we recognized it and if we are unable to force Harper to the same conclusion then it is incumbent on us to replace his government with one that does demonstrate that appreciation. It has to be done immediately before polar bears and igloos are a distant memory. As Stephen Colbert said, “Due to global warming Iceland will soon be changing its name to Landland”.





Ode to Prime Minister Harpie

25 09 2009

You are not going to believe what happened to me the other day when I thought the leader of our country, Canada, was representing our interests and values at a U.N. session of such importance that  most of the leaders of the G-20 and myriad other countries thought it best to attend.  There was also, during this same time period, an important meeting of said leaders in an effort to stave off the imminent demise of our planet and populations due to climate change – a meeting to which I also expected our venerable leader would be contributing. Alas, this is what transpired;

I walked around the corner

And I walked around the block

And I walked right into a bakery shop

And I picked up a donut

And I wiped off the grease

And there was Harper with his PR piece.

Well, he looked at the PR

And he looked at me

And he said this PR is so good for me

There’s a hole in the ozone and it goes right through

And I just have no inkling what to do!

Said I, there’s a hole in your politics too!

Jump in the breadbox you crumb

In anticipation of an outcry from my compatriots, let me just say that I do recognize that Tim Horton’s is more than just a donut shop… it is the heart and soul of our Canadian identity! Yes, yes I know!