After much prodding by other bloggers, I set this up for my own writings. The name is in honour of the two women that mentored me throughout my life on politics and intelligence issues, as well as being wonderful family members, now alas deceased. I hope to live up to their standards at this site.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Harper endorsed and supported Grewal fraud...a one year anniversary of Harper's willingness to lie to Canadians.

Today is May 31, 2006. One year ago today our current Prime Minister vouched for the public release of a series of recordings that he claimed proved the Liberals under Paul Martin including Paul Martin himself and his office were willing to sell Senate seats for MP votes. This was when the "full" release of "all" the Grewal recordings after 12 days of translation, transcription, and one would have hoped authentication by the Office of the Official Opposition Leader with that office vouching for the complete nature of these recordings. According to the roughly 75 minutes of recordings released by the CPC via Grewal's website the Liberals were willing to consider a Senate position for Grewal's wife in exchange for his and her votes to continue supporting the minority Martin government. When the Libs involved started claiming there was editing and/or missing conversations in their entirety Harper himself along with his party stated this was a smokescreen by desperate Liberals to avoid dealing with the conclusive evidence of their criminal behaviour.

Remember all this started on May 18 05 with a selected eight minutes released by Grewal with the OLO communications director of the day at his side (Geoff Norquay) of these recordings appearing to show the Liberals offering Senate seats for MP votes, a clearly criminal act if true. Then for the next 12 days the CPC/LOO were the only ones with access to these recordings and they took upon themselves the responsibility for authentication of the contents of the recordings when they did so. During those twelve days the CPC and Harper himself repeatedly hit the Liberal government of the day with this "scandal" and repeatedly stated this specific criminal allegation of Senate seat selling time and again was true. Then with the release of the recordings on May 31 05 for all Canadians to see for themselves the Liberals committing this heinous criminal act it looked like the CPC had the goods on the Liberals, at least if one only goes by the recordings released on May 31 05 that is.

That last sentence in the last paragraph is very important. The LOO/CPC/Harper released these recordings on May 31 05 with the stated purpose of allowing all Canadians to see for themselves this criminal behaviour by the Liberals. They vouched for the completeness and pristine integrity of these recordings. They vouched in other words that these recordings were the truth, the whole truth and all of the truth to all Canadians. That is why I refuse to let this scandalous fraud by the CPC and endorsed and defended by Stephen Harper go quietly into the history books. This was something truly unprecedented in Canadian federal political history. A party leader, in this case the LOO, made a specific criminal allegation against the sitting government and PMO. They claimed to have conclusive evidence to support this specific allegation of Senate seat selling for MP votes via the Grewal recordings. They took it upon themselves to be the sole determiners of authenticity, translation accuracy, and accurate transcription. Therefore they and Harper himself have sole responsibility for the clear fraud which emerged over the following two weeks after these recordings were released to Canadians on May 31 05. There are only CPCers involved from beginning to end where these recordings are concerned. Therefore it is solely their responsibility to explain how such extensive editing that was shown to be the case in the May 31 05 recordings came about without their ability to discover and their inability to acknowledge outside of the so called suicide note of June 2 05 and Harper's sole acknowledgement at the last Parliamentary press gallery dinner with his joke about Grewal taping his shows and editing them to give him the result he preferred (this is a paraphrase not a direct quote).

As it turned out there was 35 MINUTES of edited out material from that May 31 05 release. As it turned out the edited material not only was clearly intentional because it was consistently material that made the Libs look better and Grewal look worse, it also turned out that in the unedited recordings the Liberals repeatedly squelched any idea of the Senate being a consideration of any kind despite Grewal repeatedly bringing it up (For a very visual presentation of this editing see this slide show). In other words the unedited recordings clearly showed the specific criminal allegation the CPC and Harper had been accusing the Libs of for three weeks by this time (when the edits were released that is) was based on an intentional manipulation of the evidence so as to make this appear true when it clearly never was. That is a fraud in my books. It is also noteworthy that the additional 35 minutes which proved the Liberals were the victim of a fraud were released by the CPC with no public acknowledgment, in other words by stealth. It was thanks to people like Buckets of Grewal who were monitoring closely this story and the CPC website that these recordings were released via that this was noticed because the CPC and Harper certainly did not do anything to draw any attention to it.

Once this additional material was released all Harper did was continue to defend Grewal as a good man and claim that the only wrongdoing related to these recordings was on the Liberal side, that his party and his MP had nothing to answer for. This despite the clear evidence of him and his party being made party to a fraudulent specific criminal allegation against the government/PMO. At no time has Harper ever acknowledged that this fraud occurred and was done by people within his party, indeed Harper by his actions has gone out of his way to prevent anyone from ever finding out who did those edits in the first place, when did Harper become aware of them, and why once he became aware of them did he not practice accountability and expose the fraudster(s) and issue an apology for their deception/lying to all Canadians. At every turn Harper avoided responsibility and accountability in this matter, and it was that behaviour which convinced me that Harper is no more an honest man than any other liar, has no honour, and is a blazing hypocrite ever time he opens his mouth on the topic of accountability, personal responsibility, honour, and honesty.

Harper endorsed something I have never seen in our political environment before. He made specific criminal allegations against the PMO and sitting government, claimed to have conclusive proof of said criminal conduct, and then stood behind and vouched for as authentic and complete the clearly edited "proof" of this specific criminal allegation. Once the fraud was exposed with the release of the edited material he did everything possible to prevent any examination of this fraud, who was involved, and why Harper himself refused to acknowledge that this fraud existed let alone the fact that he profited by it for three weeks prior to exposure. He continued to defend the most likely candidate for this editing, never disciplined anyone for this behaviour (sorry, paid stress leave doesn't count as such), and instead chose to try and hide the fact that the CPC and the leader of the CPC were made party to a fraud and deception regarding criminal allegations of a specific nature. This is something I never found any prior example of in our history which makes this a totally new depth the degradation of politics in this country reached, and those most responsible for it so far have managed to get away with it without consequence. This is why I refuse to let it die, it was unprecedented and it was something Harper himself has direct responsibility for and has to date refused to ever accept. Given his and his party's rhetoric about the need for accountability and transparency and most especially honest government the reality of their actions in what is clearly the worst scandal in the history of the CPC in burying it denying it ever happened and that they did anything wrong shows that the CPC and Harper in opposition refused to be accountable so it is highly unlikely they will be once in power since to do so can jeopardize that power as Martin showed with Gomery.

Harper and the CPC committed a very serious fraud last year in this matter and they continue to cover it up to this day. There still needs to be answered who edited the recordings, when did Harper know it and what did he do once he found out. Going by his public actions he ran with the smear while it was still usable and once it was not he dropped it and moved on without ever once acknowledging the serious fraud/smear/slander he and his party wholeheartedly ran with. I do not want to believe this was something Harper was a knowing party of, but his actions throughout this matter do tend to make it look like he was and that would explain why he chose to cover up this serious scandal in his ranks instead of doing the right thing and coming clean and exposing the editor(s) for what they had done and apologizing to all Canadians for being lied to by Harper himself as well as his whole party. It took the Grewal scandal to convince me Harper had no honour and was not the personally honest man I once took him for. Before this matter I thought Harper was an honest man that I strongly disagreed with on ideological and political tools grounds. I thought he actually had this personal honesty so many CPCers continue to believe he does. However no man of honour and integrity could have acted in this matter as Harper did.

Before the last election when I discussed this matter I would point out that if a man/party refuses to act in an accountable manner while in opposition then it is not going to once in power/government. To date I think the actions of the CPC/Harper minority demonstrate the truth of this quite clearly, unfortunately. This is a highly secretive and controlling government/Prime Minister, if not the worst such in our history well on his way there. The Grewal fraud demonstrated that when it is the Liberals the CPC are all for accountability when they made any mistakes and/or scandal, but when it was within their own ranks it is cover-up, lie, and blame everyone else for the problem, in this case Harper made it out that the media and the Liberal war room were the ones attacking a good man doing the right thing (Grewal) instead of accepting the responsibility of the editing since the LOO decided to be the sole determiners of the accuracy, translations, and transcriptions of the recordings released May 31 05. I refuse to let this degree of political dishonesty be forgotten especially now that this liar is the current PM. I see this as a civic responsibility since I know there was this fraud and to be practicing the courage of my convictions despite the appearance of obsession I know this comes off as to some. I do not appreciate being played for stupid by any politician and I especially do not take it well when it is a party leader with ambitions of becoming Prime Minister running a morality campaign about how much more honest, open, and honourable his government will be while all other parties are corrupt and untrustworthy. Harper may be PM now but he has a weak minority limiting his ability to play us for stupid that much more, but if he ever gets a majority then we are all in serious trouble IMHO.

*Thanks to Buckets of Grewal for all his hard work on this matter last year and his willingness to let any and all use his research on this matter. This was in my view a significant public service done by this blogger.*

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Harper's idea of personal responsibility for one's actions...blame everyone else for his mistakes!

So this is the honest clean cut Conservative PM the Harperites told Canadians would be a breath of fresh air in his honesty, integrity, and accountability. When called on one of his policy changes which I blogged about here I might add he instead of accepting the responsibility that he made a wrong decision instead blamed the military for the problem. Something people need to remember is that the original policy was to ask the family members whether they were comfortable with coverage of the returning body at the repatriation ceremony that Harper and Minister O'Connor changed to no coverage at all. What is more they did so with zero evidence of any consultation with military families involved or even as a response to complaints by said families. No, this was a purely political decision taken by Harper likely to reduce the amount of visibility of the deadly costs involved in the Afghanistan mission and for no other reason. I found it contemptible at the time and am glad to see it reversed. I am not glad though by the way Harper blamed everyone else for his bad call and even the military for not following his instructions to let families chose (which considering his decision was an arbitrary blanket ban is pure fiction aka A BOLD FACED LIE) whether there will be coverage. It was Harper's decision about a month ago to implement a blanket ban, it was covered at the time, so for him to try and claim that this was not what he did to try and weasel away from his own publicly recorded blanket ban decision is grossly insulting to the intelligence of all Canadians, especially those that are military and/or follow military issues closely.

If Harper had simply come out and said "I made a mistake with this policy change and I am now going back to the old policy." then he would have my respect for doing so and for taking personal responsibility/accountability for a bad decision as a good leader should do. That though was not what he did. No, he blamed everyone around him but himself and tried to lie about what his decision a month ago on this matter was despite the clear public record showing the lie for what it was. This is not the act of a man of honour, honesty, integrity, and especially not accountability and personal responsibility. Which is no surprise to me given he proved his comfort with blatant lies last year with the Grewal fraud he endorsed, took advantage of, and then covered up once the fraud was exposed (this post link covers the primary details of that fraud in it).

So far I can think of exactly one Harper decision as PM where I could completely agree with him, and that is one the Silver medal being awarded to the male spouse of a dead female soldier. The fact I can only find one thing where I can completely support him is disturbing. It indicates that this man is so far away from the beliefs and principles I cherish (as many other Canadians also cherish) that he does not represent me, my views, or for that matter the Canada I grew up in and loved/respected as much as I have. It also shows that this man is far more interested in using even the military and military missions for partisan domestic political aims than he is in doing right by our men and women in uniform. For a man and a party that has for years gone on and on about how they are the only ones that really respect the military and military service their actions certainly demonstrate a level of contempt worse than any other party. Yet again one more example of Harper's do as I say not as I do approach to life, but then for Harper and CPCers it is this that is the guiding light of their beliefs...IOKIYAC (It's O K If You Are Conservative).

Harper, the man that blames everyone else for his failures and failings, from the media to the military. Yes, this is what accountable government really looks like...NOT!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Harper places CPC interests above Canada's and especially Canadian soldiers' lives

I have spent the last day processing what happened last night in Parliament regarding the Afghanistan mission. I have been reading through various blogs and discovered a great deal of triumphalism from CPC supporters about how Harper used this issue to put a wedge in the Liberal party on a fundamental issue of importance. What I did not read though from these sources was the recognition that what Harper did yesterday was fundamentally dishonest, fundamentally contemptuous of Parliament and the Canadian people, and most contemptible of all showed disrespect for our men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan all so he could have this wedge in the Liberal party. Oh yes, let us not forget the lovely catcalls from some CPCers about how the Liberals were flip-flopping on this Afghanistan issue while totally ignoring the massive convulsions Harper had on this issue over the last four months regarding debating it and voting on it.

Remember a few months ago when Harper told us all that to even debate the Afghanistan mission in Parliament would be a sign of weakness and undercut troop morale, let alone having a vote which regardless of outcome would also somehow be a sign of weakness to the "enemy" and therefore could not be permitted? Then suddenly Harper decided that it was not going to damage troop morale nor show weakness to the "enemy" to have a debate, but it could not be one with a vote for that would still be a sign of weakness and harm troop morale. Suddenly though this week having a debate and a vote basically in one day would not be a sign of weakness to the "enemy". nor undercut troop morale. That is not flip-flopping on this issue, it is clearly having massive convulsions all over the place, and what more is that at no time was Harper ever required to explain why this was then so dangerous that first just a take note debate was too dangerous to troop morale and encouragement to the "enemy, then the take note debate was suddenly not dangerous but a vote was last month, and this week suddenly neither is dangerous to troop morale nor encouraging the "enemy". These changes in position on this matter did not come with an explanation why it was so bad three months ago to even have a take note debate let alone a vote yet this week was no problem at all.

However, what makes what we saw this week particularly dishonest, dishonourable, and without any respect to Parliament, the Canadian soldiers and to the Canadian public was the way he abused Parliament to try to eat his cake and then have it. You see, for those that do not know their history or how their government works, it has never been Parliament as a whole that makes deployment decisions but the executive alone, otherwise known as the Prime Minister, in this case Harper. What Harper did was something different, he had pledged to bring such decisions to Parliament for debate before taking these decisions and on the surface this appears to be a follow-through on this pledge. In reality though it is clearly anything but. You see, if Harper wants to be able to claim that this mission was endorsed by the majority of Parliament and not just his party alone he needed to let happen not a sham debate and vote but a real examination of the issues like any other serious issue debated and voted upon in Parliament.

Why should things like the gun registry, same sex marriage, tax cuts, child care and other issues get real debate time, committee hearings and testimonies from relevant witnesses/experts while placing our uniformed men and women in harms way for an additional two years get no similar treatment? Why are these issues worthy of real examination and debate prior to a vote being taken yet not the Afghanistan issue/mission extension of two years? Why are the views of constituents important enough to allow time to be heard by their MPs prior to voting on most issues being debated and voted on in Parliament like SSM and the other examples I gave yet on this issue their opinions were clearly not desired/deemed important enough to even be given the chance to weigh in? The problem with what Harper did is that he was essentially trying to force the opposition and especially the Liberals to give him an open/blank check on this issue by painting them as inconsistent/partisan on national defence and issues of war if they refused, banking on the ignorance/inattention of the general public from recognizing that Harper gave no time for any real examination of the particulars of this extension and not even enough time really for a proper debate while now claiming that he has the support of Parliament for this decision which he could take without any Parliamentary input. What really underscored what a farce this "debate and vote" was that Harper made clear that regardless of the vote the next year was going to be committed to by Harper automatically, so no matter whether the vote was against extending Harper has already decided on at least one of the two years. This rather makes the point that this was not a matter of urgency or actually being interested in following the "will of Parliament" but rather nothing more than the continual partisan political warfare being practiced by Harper and the CPC in search of a majority government and the destruction of the Liberals as a credible alternative to them.

Our military is heavily stretched right now, especially the ground forces components. By taking this decision we are effectively locked out of any other significant mission in the world requiring ground forces. We also have a recruitment problem as noted yet again by the AG report, the one CPCers praised for the gun registry ammo it gave them but somehow it escaped their attention that the military recruitment drives have not exactly been having much success as of late. We also have not even found out under whose authority this extension will be under, NATO or America. This is very much a pig in a poke deal, and Harper presented it with no need to do so, especially not in such a short order of time. Which is another point CPCers gloss over, why did this debate and vote on such a serious and important issue only rate under seven hours of debate, no committee hearings, no other input at all? What pressing urgency required Harper to have to move in such a drastic breakneck speed aside from the obvious partisan political angles this speed allowed him to exploit? To date I have seen NO credible/substantial basis for why this had to be rushed through so rapidly given the fact the extension doesn't start for another nine-ten months from this debate. I mean if Harper had given it even a week for examination then there would have been far less opposition, especially from the Liberal side, which appears unfortunately to be the main reason why it was not given this time/examination.

I have supported the Afghanistan mission from the outset. I have made this clear many times and that my support for finishing the Afghanistan mission is as strong as my opposition for joining the Iraq invasion was and still is. I do not see this as an issue of political affiliations/partisanships but rather of the national interest and international obligations as a result of 9/11/01 and the invocation of article five of NATO. I do not want to see this mission continuing to lose support in the public mind, yet the actions of Harper on this issue since being sworn in as PM have been to polarize and politicize this mission to wring as much partisan advantage as can be obtained from this file regardless of the damage it will do to keeping strong support in the public. Instead of continuing to sell the reasons why this is a proper use of our forces Harper has instead turned it into a political billyclub to whack his opposition with. Instead of doing all he can to make the support for this mission as broad as possible he has chosen to do what will narrow that support base. In other words instead of working to maintain as broad a support as possible for this mission the actions of Harper and the CPC since becoming government has been to decrease such support by turning it into a partisan issue first instead of the non-partisan (well as non-partisan as possible given that by definition all political issues have some inherent partisanship surrounding them) issue this had been beforehand. Harper is creating the opposition he claims to be so opposed to, and for someone that claims to be so supportive of the troops, the mission, and the need for Canada and Canadians to maintain strong support for this mission this is something which cannot be ignored. It also speaks very poorly of his integrity and speaks volumes as to his willingness to place his and the CPC's partisan political interests/goals ahead of any and all other considerations including this according the Harper and the CPC themselves vital mission for Canada.

I do not like Harper, never have, and never made a secret of it. I do not trust the CPC either, again no secret. However, contrary to the twisted thinking of many CPC supporters that does not automatically make a person a Liberal or a Liberal supporter/partisan. One of my main reasons for opposing him so was his apparent willingness to use any and all tools to gain and hold power regardless of their potential negative consequences to the national interest. Well this week illustrated better than anything else just how well founded those fears/concerns were. Harper placed his and his party's interests above the national interest, the interests of those in uniform and the interests of Canada's Parliament by showing such naked and blatant contempt to it. If he wants Parliament's legitimate (as opposed to this fraud he perpetrated yesterday) blessings on such an important issue he has to allow Parliament to work as it is set up to, namely allow hearings in committee, gather expert relevant information, debate that information and hopefully getting input from constituents and then coming to a vote. This was a horror and a travesty of the first order, and any CPCers that are principled would acknowledge that in this matter. This is not Harper playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers, this is Harper playing games with public support and commitment to a military mission that is supposedly the most important foreign affairs/defence issue currently in Canada. This is Harper showing rather conclusively that all his high and mighty talk about not being the partisan politician but rather the statesman while his opposition are the only ones allowing their partisanship to rule over their duties to protect the interests of the country first especially where supporting the troops is concerned is so much nonsense. Indeed one can make a good case for this being projection by Harper and his party rather than anything actually backed up by reality.

Harper is a disgrace and a contemptuous petty partisan politician that places his and his party's lust for power above the value of our soldier's lives, the support of the public for their mission, and demonstrated yet again his contempt for Parliament by using them as a rubber stamp for a decision he clearly had already made for at least one of the two years under "debate" yesterday. This was a very dark day in our politics and an even worse one regarding who matters more to Harper, his power and party or the lives and safety of the Canadian military. For a party and a party leader that ran off at the mouth for their appreciation, support, unwillingness to play petty partisan politics with and respect for the troops/military their actions have shown a remarkable contempt for that same military by showing that the considerations for a CPC majority government are more important that considerations of their mission, what it involves, and the eventual costs in lives as well as money.

This is the clean cut Conservative that was going to usher in a new age of honest, accountable, transparent government, and a government that would always place the interests of the nation and the military above petty partisan politics?!? I never though I would miss the Mulroney days but this man (Harper) is making that possible. What a disturbing and frightening feeling that is, at least Mulroney did some things I agreed with like fighting Apartheid and dealing with the acid rain issue as effectively as he did. Harper has yet to do anything I can see as something I can see in a similar light while he has already worked his way to the partisan/political corruption (as opposed to financial although I expect that in the not too distant future at this rate and the placement of Fortier in the patronage and pork ministry where he is unaccountable to any elected officials not of his party leadership) and arrogance of the Mulroney days faster than I would have believed possible, especially in a minority government scenario.

Harper has made a mockery of this issue and is almost certain to increase opposition to the mission in Afghanistan. The more Canadians feel this is being turned into just another partisan political issue the more they will only support it if their party does and tune the noise out if they are not partisans of one party or another. That will further reduce support, and it will not be because of the left in this country but because the right and its current leader and our PM chose to exploit it for partisan political purposes rather than as an issue that reached beyond basic party lines in this country. Harper is creating in Canadian oppositional defiance behaviour patterns in this issue from what I see, and the more he waxes on with his hard rhetoric on this issue the worse that effect will get I fear. Harper is not working to strengthen support for the Afghanistan mission, he is doing the opposite and all for partisan political purposes. Hardly leadership, indeed anything but. For a man that (thanks to Steve V at Far and Wide for this bit) sniped at Duceppe yesterday about following polls more than principles on issues like this one and Kyoto proving a lack of leadership credibility/credentials/capability his actions here show a degree of hypocrisy and sheer chutzpah remarkable even for him in the eyes of many of his opposition in this country like myself in making this statement during this Afghanistan debate farce.

Sorry about the length, but this is important and while not as in depth as this could be I think I managed to hit all the main points I wanted to regarding how this matter was handled. This is a problem, and this time it is not primarily motivated by my dislike/distrust of Harper but my very real concerns for the damage this partisan brinkmanship of Harper's on this issue will do to public support. I have too many friends in my life that either wear the uniform today or did so in the past for me to look at it in any other light first. I would like to think he is unaware of these consequences of his actions but I do not believe him to be either that stupid in general to begin with and especially not where political strategy is concerned. While I oppose his methods and many of his aims I have never made the mistake of underestimating his ability and intelligence nor his ruthlessness in applying them to maximum advantage. His entire political history illustrates this, indeed the Harper of the last election campaign was the fictional overlay put upon this very consistent, very clearly defined and very clear cut image/nature of the man.

To be successful in politics does take a certain degree of ruthlessness, especially to lead a federal party and/or be a PM. The thing is though to be a good Canadian PM (for that matter a leader generally, at least one that leads by example and convictions and not by fear and anger.hatred anyways) it is also important to have real empathy for the citizenry in general and not just limited to one's core base. Harper has too much ruthlessness and far too little empathy or for that matter ability to percieve his political opponents as good people, especially the Liberals but again not limited to them. That he is playing these kind of partisan games on this issue and in this particular manner may be smart political manuevering against the Liberals but it is horrible policy and a very ugly use (some would say it is clearly abuse, I am not at this time more out of charity than belief) of the tools of government to play partisan politics against one's opposition. That the military was used is bad enough, that it was over keeping our soldiers in a combat zone for an additional two years where we are experiencing more combat deaths than we have seen in decades is what makes this truly beyond the pale IMHO.

P.S. Thanks to those that gave their well wishes to me in the prior thread, I really appreciated reading them, especially the clear understanding of family taking priority over things like blogging, especially political commentary blogging, at least for me. I might be back once or twice in the next few days but I doubt I will be around much until Monday next week thanks to other committments in the real world the next few days. That is the other reason this is a long posting, I had much to say on this topic/issue and only this evening to really do so. So have a nice weekend everyone.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Intermittant blogging ahead

I thought I should let my few readers know I may or may not be doing much posting over the next weeks. While I was planning a one year retrospective of the Grewal fraud on each of the significant dates as they come up, I am not sure I will be getting to it. Over the weekend I received some very disturbing and worrisome personal news that has me both distracted and quite frankly in a rather negative mood/mindset. It is because of that I am not sure how much blogging I will be doing over the next days to weeks, partly because of potential circumstances arising and because my mood is particularly dark and I am not sure I can trust myself to not let that darkness mingle with my writings. If I can I will, but I thought for those that read here and know I have serious medical issues I should leave this post so that they do not worry the silence is because of that.

I thank all for their patience with my variable ability to post new material as well as the patience to actually read through my rather lengthy tomes. Hopefully I will get back to this sooner than I fear, but better to leave this post and end up finding outI do have the time/inclination to blog than to simply go silent and leave people wondering/worrying.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Harper again talks from both sides of his mouth, this time re BQ vote worth

Something which should have occurred to me but didn't regarding the passing of the CPC budget is that it was passed with only BQ support which last year on SSM was deemed illegitimate by Harper. I was reminded of this from reading through the comments in the Globe and Mail article on the budget passing from this person. Last year I heard Harper tell Canadians that the passing of the SSM with the support of the BQ helped make it illegitimate because the BQ did not represent nor act in the interests of all Canadians given their separatist agenda. Now though when he needs them to pass his budget the BQ votes are legitimate and anything passed with them is also legitimately passed in the HoC. A small nitpick I admit but yet a further example of Harper's willingness to say anything when he attacks something he disagrees with and that it was not motivated by genuine belief in what he was saying. If the votes of the BQ are not legitimate for SSM passing, then they are not legitimate to pass his budget with. So will Harper now concede that he was wrong when he said the votes of the BQ passing the SSM legislation made the passage illegitimate given it affected all of Canada and not just Quebec (just like the budget I would point out), or will he continue to stay silent and demonstrate his absolute lack of consistency and integrity and continue on his pattern/practice of saying one thing when it suited him to be critical of the prior government while in Opposition and saying/doing the exact opposite once in government. I would expect the latter, it is entirely consistent with all of his other examples of say one thing and do another once it is his government and not his opponents.

Vellacott resigns, but refuses to accept any responsibility for his highly improper actions

I went and read through Maurice Vellacott's resignation letter from his position as chair of the Aboriginal affairs committee and was more than a little disgusted by it. In it he claims that it was not his comments about the Chief Justice that motivated his resignation but only the highly bitter partisanship of a Liberal member of the committee and the Liberal party generally via the raising of some of his prior comments on some aboriginal issues, particularly his conduct in the case of the Saskatoon police officers leaving aboriginals out to freeze to death. What complete and utter hogwash! Let's take this argument apart for a moment. These were comments that were raised before he became chair and yet he was elected chair despite them. So to claim that suddenly they are the problem is clearly nonsense. It is however cover for the far more serious offence he committed over the last weekend.

Let us remember what Vellacott did. He claimed that the Chief Justice made certain comments and he *DIRECTLY* attributed them to her as a direct quote, not a paraphrase of his own. It is this that got him in trouble. When challenged to show exactly where the Chief Justice said any such thing all Vellacott could do was hand out her NZ speech from last year and tell reporters to look for themselves in it and they would find it, that it was not his job to show journalists exactly where these words were. Well, they did go through that speech and nowhere could those words be found in her speech that Vellacott had attributed to her. Indeed, nothing even closely similar could be found. So in other words Vellacott put words in her mouth to portray her in a manner unfit for any member of the Supreme Court, You know something? This reminds me of another example by a CPC MP to place words in the mouths of political enemies (and Vellacott clearly sees the courts as an enemy, as do many in his party including his leader by his own prior comments in the election and before) that upon examination turned out to be false. I wonder if anyone reading this cannot infer to what I am thinking of...

Yes, you got it, the Grewal fraud last year. While some differences exist in the precise details of how it was done, the bottom line is that in both cases a CPC MP made false statements regarding the top of one of the branches of government and when it came out that this was the case the CPC refused to discipline the MP in question, refused to refute that MP's actions, and refused to apologize to those being falsely smeared. In Grewal's case there was selective editing to make it appear that the PMO was willing to use Senate seats as an inducement for two MPs to change their votes. In this case we have an MP claiming he is quoting a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court accurately yet upon examination no such comments by the Chief Justice can be found. In both cases the MP in question never explained their conduct and never apologized to those that they slandered. In both cases the leader of the CPC did nothing to discipline the MP in question for their conduct and their clearly besmirching the name of the CPC. In both cases we see a CPC MP slandering political enemies without any actual basis to be doing so, and a very lackluster response by the party leadership for it, indeed in the Grewal case the party ran with it for several weeks until the fraud/editing was exposed and it became clear that the criminal allegation of Senate seat selling was fraudulently created by someone in the CPC from recordings which unedited make clear no such consideration was ever on the table from the Liberal side even despite Grewal's repeated trying to place it on the table.

So now Maurice Vellacott resigns and instead of accepting any responsibility for his own bad conduct instead continues to blame his political enemies. He refuses to apologize to someone he slandered, someone that only happens to be the top judicial authority in this country, He claims that his comments had nothing to do with his resignation which flies clearly in the face of reality given this problem started with his weekend comments and continued from them. He claims it was because of his deep respect for aboriginal issues and his fears of bitter partisanship by Liberals as the sole motivation for his resignation of this chairmanship despite his only having it for a matter of weeks, AND his asking for it in the first place. At every turn Vellacott has refused to accept any responsibility for his own words and actions and instead projects his failings upon everyone else. Hardly an example of the personal accountability that Conservatives like to trumpet is part of their basic ethical/political beliefs and that no other party supposedly has in their makeup. Vellacott is again insulting the intelligence of Canadians when he argues that his comments about the Chief Justice were not the reason he was forced to resign, a resignation that came hours before the committee would have likely passed a vote of no confidence in him as chair which would have almost certainly ended up in his loss of the chair anyway. This is not being responsible, and it was not being accountable, it was fighting until the last minute to keep his job and the recognition that he would not survive this vote. It would also have been the first time such a vote had occured that would have passed in committee regarding non confidence in the chair in our history, or at least that was how the media were reporting on this point. So Vellacott apears to have resigned to prevent himself from going down in Canadian history as the first such chair to lose a vote of non confidence in his position of chair, something that would have helped weaken what political capital this man has left. It also would have damaged the CPC government itself for being the first government to have this happen to one of their own chairs.

It is also important though to consider the actions of Prime Minister Harper in all of this. This Prime Minister recommended this man to head this committee, so he must bear some of the responsibility for this man's actions. It brings into question the judgment of the Prime Minister that he appointed this man and defended this man on his prior aboriginal comments, and refused to do anything to discipline this MP for making up fictitious quotes of the Chief Justice other than say he was speaking for himself and not the government as a whole. This PM still has not required his MP to apologize for his clearly false claims about what the Chief Justice supposedly said, nor has he required this MP to publicly acknowledge that the Chief Justice did not say what Vellacott claimed she did. This shows a clear lack of leadership by the PM, as well as his likely agreement with Vellacott regarding the court, especially the Supreme Court. This is not the conduct of a PM that believes in this country, this is the action of a coward that refuses to chance upsetting the element in his base that agrees with the idea that the courts are the enemy of Conservatives, EVEN when it is clear that the MP was in the wrong and has acted in a clearly dishonest and disreputable manner.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Further evidence of the CPC/GOP alliance and Harper's admiration of GOP political tools

Over the last several months I have taken a fair amount of grief for my comments regarding my concerns that there is a de facto alliance between the GOP and the CPC. In particular I have spoken of my concerns that Harper in particular is enamoured of the success of the GOP and wants to use the same tools the GOP used to win in America to gain majority in Canada. I have been told time and again just how far fetched this is, how it reflects my inherent anti-Americanism and my so called hatred of Harper by smearing him with false charges of being too close to the American model of politics than the Canadian one. Well, thanks to the Canadian Cynic I now have a link to a Globe and Mail article that shows quite clearly Harper dealing with the GOP pollster extraordinaire, Frank Luntz.

Frank Luntz has a well known reputation in political circles in America for being a whiz at spinning things so that they sound good even when they are horrendous in reality. He is the author of the strategy of spinning everything that happens after 9/11/01 that would have been unacceptable to the American public and challenged as such being the proof that those raising such concerns lived in a pre-9/11/01 mentality while the GOP lived in the post 9/11/01 world. He helped exploit the bipartisanship given to Bush after 9/11/1 to create partisan political gains for the GOP in 2002 and 2004. He is well known for his methods, and Google search will help people find this out for themselves.

In this article we know that not only did the CPC send representatives from its caucus to this meeting the PM himself met with Luntz. Now, is anyone seriously going to try and claim that just because he met him it means nothing? If so don't bother expecting any response. Given the clear management style of Harper to limit access to him to only those he is interested in hearing from since he became PM there is no doubt that Harper is interested in using Luntz' methods no matter how ugly they are, no matter how deceptive they are, and no matter how divisive they are to the country as a whole. What matters to Harper is that they appear to work in helping Conservatives gain and hold power and that is his first interest, not the national interest but his and his party's. This is a very bad sign, it is further evidence of the collusion (thanks to Cerberus) between the CPC and the GOP, and the admiration for American politics by the CPC INCLUDING its leader and our current PM. Well excuse some of us for thinking Canada and America are fairly different cultures and that the tools that may work in America are not automatically going to work the same way, and given the inherent reliance on divisiveness involved in Luntz' methods the price of the tools working may well be the balkanization of the country. I consider that a risk no responsible PM should be willing to consider, yet Harper certainly appears interested in considering Luntz' methods.

I would also point out that partisan investigations of the prior government by a new government and exposing their flaws and mistakes as a primary purpose for staying the government is not typically a part of our political culture. If Harper decides to follow that path then when the CPC is eventually defeated from government they will end up being hoisted upon that petard themselves. Is that really where we want our politics in this country to go? I do not think so. This is Canada , not America Mr. Harper and we Canadians will not appreciate being treated like Americans by any political party. You are playing a very dangerous game here Mr. Harper, and one which I hope blows up in your face, because better it blows up in your face than blows up what little stability/integrity/cohesiveness exists in Canada from your use of these tools for political success. Then again if it does work in getting a Harper/CPC majority next time out the agenda there will be enough to do this as well. We do know after all that Harper is enamoured of the culture war concept, he said so as leader of the Canadian Alliance and even did a policy paper to this effect. So using the pollster that helped manipulate polling questions AND political rhetoric to further this culture war in America only underscores this desire to replicate such in this country by our current PM.

One interesting thing to note. The above mentioned culture war policy speech was made to the Civitas meeting in Toronto April 25 2003, and the meeting Luntz spoke at the day after speaking to Harper was a meeting of, you guessed it, the Civitas group. Coincidence or foreshadowing? Me, I do not think it was coincidence.

Does Vellacott represent Harper's view of the court? Or for that matter aboriginals?

In the last few weeks Maurice Vellacott has come to my attention twice for making statements that are clearly provocative, inflammatory and arguably slanderous. First he supports the police department with a record of leaving aboriginals out in the middle of nowhere to freeze to death by claiming they were out partying, and now he is paraphrasing Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Beverly McLachlin to the point where his paraphrase has no contact with reality. Especially when he claims that the Chief Justice said what he was saying she said. Yet when required to prove this he just hands out her speech, tells reporters to read it for themselves and they will see it, but when asked to point to exactly where in the speech she said what he claimed she did he apparently could not. No, he instead kept telling reporters to read it for themselves.

Vellacott made a very serious mistake with this statement. If he had kept it to his opinion that this is what McLauchlin had said actually means in practice then maybe he might have gotten away with it, maybe, however he said that SHE said exactly what he was claiming yet could not provide the citation to prove it. This makes him out to be a bit of a liar in my view, and someone that is more interested in believing his own opinion of what someone really means than actually properly citing her actual words. Worse in my view is that even if this is his opinion of what she meant and honestly held it was totally dishonest to claim that this was what she actually said herself. He should have brought up the relevant passage(s) of her speech, said this is what he believed it meant, and then he might have not stirred up the trouble he has. This was dishonest politics at best.

When one takes the reality that this is the man that Prime Minister Harper felt was appropriate to chair the aboriginal affair committee despite his own statements regarding the Saskatoon police versus aboriginals freezing to death, one is forced to wonder just how much Vellacott is off the CPC reservation or whether he is only off their public portrayal of their reservation. Me, I am becoming increasingly convinced that those like Vellacott actually do represent Harper's views on aboriginal issues (having Tom Flanagan so close to him doesn't exactly make that hard to buy either) and given Harper's comments on the bureaucracy and the courts,(following link via POGGE since all references I can find are to a G&M article behind firewall) especially the Supreme Court in the last election I am inclined to believe that what Vellacott said was in keeping with the actual view of Harper and the CPC leadership where the courts are concerned.

This is not a small matter, despite all the attempts to make it out as such. What this man did was act in a manner completely out of proper decorum and respect between the branches of government. The last thing this country needs is to have the Supreme Court and the current government engaged in a partisan war, especially when one considers the partisan wars are being started by political partisans leaving the judiciary with one of two choices. Either they ignore it altogether and keep getting slandered or they rebut in defence and get labeled partisans for daring to be critical of a sitting government. Seeing what happened to their American brethren over the last couple of decades I am not at all surprised by this Chief Justice coming out on having her words severely misstated and then attached to her by a political actor, one that happens to be a member of the governing party.

So which is it Harper/CPC? Are you the moderates you painted yourselves as during the last election or are you the ideologues that you presented yourselves as from the birth of the CPC to the last election cycle? Given the views on the courts and aboriginals we have seen from the ACTIONS of this government as opposed to their pretty language and rhetoric I would argue the ideological agenda is the real agenda for which Harper is so desperate to gain a CPC majority for. This is in my opinion the ONLY reason this party branded itself moderate and is trying to act as such in this minority government, and why comments like Vellacott's are so problematic for them to be dealing with as well as showing a potential insight into the true aims of this party in government.

Given Harper's willingness to politicize his office as he showed in Ontario with his going to a Provincial PC fundraiser calling John Tory the next Premier of Ontario right after a brief meeting with the current Premier this is becoming increasingly obvious. This is a government that has one agenda while in minority, and that is to gain majority. It is when they have a majority that the true full CPC agenda will be made public and implemented even though it will not have been the agenda they were elected to do. We have already seen just how easily Harper and the CPC will promise one thing in running for power and then do the opposite once in power, (Fortier, Emerson, etc) so the idea that with a majority there will be an entirely different agenda put into action than the one campaigned one is no great leap to make.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

PM Harper confuses Canadian and American Senates showing his poor understanding of Canadian government

Over the last day or so I have been watching CPAC, especially during Question Period. I have heard Harper dismissing the complaints from Liberals regarding the budget in the House of Commons as insincere and that it is all empty bluster UNLESS the Liberal controlled Senate defeats his budget by voting it down as well. Slight problem with this though, and anyone with a high school education should be able to see it, but for those that forgot their basic civics lessons I will spell it out for you. The Canadian Senate is NOT in the practice of rejecting ANY House of Commons budget because it does not have the Constitutional authority to be doing so, in no small part precisely because they are not an elected body. Every time there has been a majority of the Senate by the party currently in Opposition in the House the government has had its budgets passed by the Senate and not had the Senate ever defeat one that I have ever encountered in our history. I am of course more than willing to confess to being wrong *IF* someone is able to provide evidence to the contrary. This is a fact of life in our government that it is the House of Commons that has exclusive authority over money bills and not the Senate. They can vote down other bills submitted by a government but not money bills.

Now, if this was the US Senate then there could be a real possibility of the Senate voting down the government's budget, but this is not the USA. So I am left with one of two basic possible explanations for Harper's rhetoric. First, he mixed up the two Senates and demonstrated an appalling lack of basic understanding of the government he currently is the head of. Second, he knows the difference and is being deliberately dishonest and deceptive in creating a false opposition where none can let alone does exist. Personally I have a real hard time believing Harper is so ignorant and stupid that he does not understand exactly the limitations of the Canadian Senate where budgets are concerned, even budgets from a government controlled by a party the Senate majority party is opposed to. So that leaves explanation number two. Which is entirely consistent with his rhetoric in Afghanistan when he talked about how Canada would not "cut and run" from the mission, despite there being ZERO members of Parliament calling for anything that could even be remotely construed as such. However it sounds good, sounds decisive, and implies there really is such opposition to which he and his party are heroically preventing from getting their way. The fact that it is clearly a straw man argument/claim and therefore is inherently dishonest and clearly designed to mislead people, especially Canadian voters, only makes this that much more offensive.

We have seen this type of imaginary positions being ascribed to all opposition in another country by their political right recently, no doubt everyone can guess I mean the USA. We know for a fact that the CPC has prior to becoming this government sought help from their American counterparts in how to win elections and how to control message in the media, a problem the CPC had had since its inception. We know they favour painting their opposition in very stark terms, black and white even, quite binary and quite typical of American and not Canadian federal politics. So which is it Prime Minister Harper, are you that ignorant of the structure of the government that you are the head of, or is it that you prefer to lie about the options open to your political opposition, especially in regards to the Senate and its ability to do anything to stop this budget? In other words are you a liar or are you a fool, because those are the only options I can see you have to explain how you could repeatedly be making this argument regarding Liberal opposition to the budget being only bluster unless the Senate Liberals vote your budget down. If they actually voted that budget down we would have a major Constitutional crisis underway, and I simply refuse to accept the notion that any PM could be this ignorant of something so basic.

I find this kind of deliberate deception by any PM on something so obvious (indeed as I said basic Canadian civics) very disturbing for another reason. For this rhetoric to be effective it must presume that the average citizens that votes is unaware of this rather basic reality about how the Canadian federal government operates. This is just like when the CPC claimed the Finance Minister (Martin) HAD to know about the poorly and in some cases criminally spent money in the Sponsorship file. The reality is though the job of any finance Minister is to set the budget for the entire government, it is not to track it within each department and how well it is spent, something anyone that stayed awake in social studies/civics class in school would be aware of. It presupposed the public was too unaware of this to realize they were being sold a phony argument, and that the media would not bother taking the effort to educate the public to the contrary. Now I am seeing that banking on the ignorance/stupidity of the Canadian public on this piece of rhetoric by the PM yet again, and I find it very worrisome when any PM is willing to play the public for stupid. Especially when it is for unnecessary partisan political purposes since this budget is clearly not under threat of being voted down in the House (thanks to the BQ) and clearly cannot be so in the Senate. So why is Harper making clearly bogus claims with clear partisan intentions on something so easily refuted? The only explanation I have is that he assumes we are all this stupid except for hard core party partisans and that he can get away with it because no one will call him on it. Well I am calling him on it and I hope others do as well, it is quite offensive to watch any PM deliberately mislead the public on anything, let alone how their government actually works.

That is not accountability, not transparency, and most certainly not honesty. Just what I have come to expect from this PM and government since the first day they were sworn in and made their Minister of Public Works an un-appointed Senator at the same time giving him patronage/pork central and the department that actually had the Sponsorship file. While Emerson's buy-out got the real attention it was this, and I said so at the time that I found the really worrisome and disturbing decision by Harper. Yet one more piece of straw on the camel's back where he and his government's credibility is concerned, and sooner than the CPCers may believe possible that back could break, and they will not see it coming until after it is too late.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A sad day for a Liberal leader who placed his dying wife before his career

On Monday May 1 2006 the wife of former Nova Scotia Liberal party leader Danny Graham died after a long battle with thyroid cancer. I have heard/seen many people over the last few years claim that the only thing Liberals believe in is power and that they place all other considerations below that priority, especially anything remotely resembling family values. Well Danny Graham is one example of just how partisanly bogus that claim is. This man was the leader of the party for 20 months and fought an uphill election despite finding out the day before the election was called that his wife had cancer. Instead of using that for political sympathy/advantage he kept it to himself. After the election when it became clear that the treatment did not succeed in dealing with her cancer Danny Graham resigned first his leadership and eventually his seat in the Legislature so as to be able to spend his time caring for his dying wife and help their children deal with this profoundly painful event. To me that is true family values in action, something many politicians claim they value most but so few ever show in practice when push comes to shove. Danny Graham did, and he has both my respect for it and my most profound sympathies for both his loss and the painful experience/realities caring for a terminally ill loved one brings with it that he met in the most honourable of manners.

This Province lost a good politician and a potentially good Premier when Graham resigned. I hope that once his grieving period has passed, however long he needs to take for it, that he comes back into politics for he is the type of politician and political leader we need more of in our system For today though and for the time to come I salute his courage, his nobility of spirit and his clear love of family and for his wife, and I hope he understands that many Nova Scotians mourn with him, both those that knew him or her and those of us that only knew them from afar. His wife, Sheelagh Nolan, was a very beloved lady by all accounts of those that knew her, and the clear love of her husband and children only underscore this. The world is a poorer place for her passing, and this little entry is my only way to pay tribute to her and to her remarkable husband.