Politics and its Discontents

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Reflections, Observations, and Analyses Pertaining to the Canadian Political Scene
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Setting The Record Straight

ven, 12/19/2014 - 12:41
Weakly constituted as I am when it comes to tolerating disingenuous and dishonest political theatre, I was unable to watch the Chief Prevaricator, a.k.a. the Prime Minister, while his chief courtier and media enabler, the most Reverend (and reverent) Peter Mansbridge, performed what Michael Harris described as his Yuletide foot massage during their year-end chatfest.

However, I was able to muster up the strength to watch this snippet, after which follows a critical analysis on the CBC website of Mr. Harper's claims:

Harper Whopper Number One:
"We’ve got more work to do, but our emissions are falling," Harper said on Wednesday.

"Other countries’ emissions for the most part are going up. World emissions are going up. Canada’s have not been going up."

But the government's own report suggests emissions will go up dramatically by the end of the decade because of oil and gas production, Canada's emissions will be 22 per cent higher than its Copenhagen target of reducing greenhouse gases by 17 per cent below their 2005 levels by 2020.Harper Whopper Number Two:

Harper says he'd be open to using a carbon-pricing system like Alberta's for the entire continent, a concept he's previously opposed.

"I think it’s a model on which you could, on which you could go broader," Harper said in Wednesday's interview.Says David McLaughlin, an adviser at the University of Waterloo’s school of environment,
... emissions continue to rise under Alberta's system of carbon pricing.

"The price of $15 a tonne is too low to actually get the emissions reductions we want from these big emitters. So it would not do the job of reducing emissions in Canada."Harper Whopper Number Three
The prime minister also took credit for getting tough on coal.

"We are phasing out in Canada through regulations, we are phasing out the use of traditional dirty coal. It’s going to go to zero in the next 15 years or so," Harper said.Alas, as with most pronouncements by the Prime Minister, there is less here than meets the eye:
New federal coal regulations apply to new plants built after 2015. Existing plants built in the last 50 years are grandfathered, meaning they would have up to 2030 to close or introduce carbon capture and storage technology to reduce emissions.And Ontario's Environment Minister Glen Murray points out an inconvenient truth:
...the province closed coal plants with no help from Ottawa.

[I]"f the federal government wants to start taking credit for provincially funded initiatives, they could at least have the decency to make a commitment to support those initiatives in the future."Thanks for taking a few moments to see through the Emperor's diaphanous attire.Recommend this Post

My Name Is Ozymandias

ven, 12/19/2014 - 11:47
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

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Not That Anyone Asked

jeu, 12/18/2014 - 16:40
...but the always reliable Pastor Pat tells us there is really no reason to worry about the 'gay problem' for reasons he makes clear below:

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John Cleese On Sarah Palin

jeu, 12/18/2014 - 14:42
As Cleese says in this 2008 interview, Michael Palin is no longer the funniest Palin.

And about Fox News, which currently employs the post-political Palin, Cleese has this to say. It is probably the best analysis I've heard of the rampant stupidity that seems to infest the United States (sorry for that gross overgeneralization):

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Enbridge Spill

jeu, 12/18/2014 - 12:52
I'm sure the company will spin this 262,000 litre oil spill in Regina as a 'good news' story. You decide.

You can read additional information here.Recommend this Post

The Globe And Mail Does It Again

jeu, 12/18/2014 - 08:15

The self-proclaimed newspaper of record once more proves itself to be Dear Leader's biggest fan and most sycophantic press enabler as it sits down for a year-end burnishing of its idol's ego.

Due to my respect for readers' sensibilities, I am not offering any excerpts from the 'interview.' Read it only if you have strong stomachs and are not contemplating a meal in the next hour or two.

Nonetheless, I'm sure The Globe's abomination 'conversation' with Harper is just a foretaste of what we can expect in its endorsement editorial before next year's federal election, which will likely run along these lines:

Has the Harper government made mistakes? of course. Do we wish it were less secretive? Yes. But Canada requires the consistent and strong leadership Mr. Harper has shown. In these uncertain times, the choice for voters is clear.

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Winston Smith - Alive And Well At The CBC?

mer, 12/17/2014 - 06:27

You may recall the protagonist of Orwell's 1984, the records clerk named Winston Smith whose job it was to continually rewrite history so that it accorded with the constantly-changing imperatives of Big Brother's government. The novel's ending is ambiguous; Winston, a broken man, may or may not die.

I am here to report that Winston did, in fact, survive, and is currently in the employ of the CBC, going about the old job he had at the Ministry of Truth.

And the Corporation is keeping him busy.

Winston's first order from feckless management is to deftly excise a segment of Stuart McLean's classic about Dave and the Christmas turkey:
In the wake of an online campaign waged by animal activists, the CBC’s Vinyl Cafe radio program has decided to edit out portions of Stuart McLean’s beloved holiday story, “Dave Cooks the Turkey.” The campaigners alleged some listeners deemed parts of the fictional tale degrading to animals.What are the offending elements, exactly? Here's one of the "degrading" passages:
“As the turkey defrosted it became clear what Grade B meant,” a recorded version of the story goes. “The skin on the right drumstick was ripped. Dave’s turkey looked like it had made a break from the slaughterhouse and dragged itself a block or two before it was captured and beaten to death.”That is followed by this "insensitive outrage":
Unable to operate his oven, Dave eventually brings the bird to a hotel for cooking, where the chef says that it looks like the turkey had been “abused.”You can listen to the sequence starting at about the 18 minute mark here.

CBC has posted on Facebook the following exercise in political correctness:
“Clearly we don’t want any part in the abuse of animals, nor in promoting the abuse of animals,” the post read.

“The story will be on the show next weekend. But we have made a few small changes. We have edited out a couple of lines that, after reading some of the thoughtful letters that have come in over the past week, we no longer feel comfortable airing on our show.”
Won't hurt a bit, I'm sure.

But Winston has a far greater and more involved task before him, one that has been made only slightly easier by some preclearance work the CBC has done in its ongoing efforts to exorcise the troublesome visual spirit of Jian Ghomeshi:

Winston is now tasked with removing his haunting digital presence:
CBC management announced Monday they are pulling almost all interviews conducted by Jian Ghomeshi offline, sparking outrage from Q listeners on social media.But master of doublespeak, Chuck Thompson, the CBC's media relations chief, was quick to clarify:

“We aren’t erasing the archives, we’re just taking them offline for now”.

With language befitting a politician, Thompson went on to say,
“There is no obvious right or wrong approach here”. ... “We’ve been giving this a lot of careful consideration over the last few weeks and want to give the program every opportunity to be as unencumbered as possible while some very creative people reimagine Q’s future.”Listeners and viewers were not so accommodating:
“Jian did many wonderful interviews. It is part of CBC’s history. You must not erase it!” wrote one commentator. “Editing the past would be very disingenuous,” wrote another.But, of course, editing and rewriting the past has always been Winston Smith's forte, hasn't it?

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Breaking News

mar, 12/16/2014 - 17:54


Seven Wildrose MLAs are planning to cross to Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservative party, CBC news has learned.

Two party sources said the seven are: party leader Danielle Smith, House Leader Rob Anderson, and MLAs Jeff Wilson, Gary Bikman, Pat Stier, Blake Pederson and Jason Hale.

Members of the 14-person caucus met Tuesday afternoon to discuss an offer from the PCs, led by Premier Jim Prentice.

MLAs Shane Saskiw, Drew Barnes and Rick Strankman said on social media that they were planning to stick with the Wildrose, which is the official opposition.

Currently, the PCs have 63 seats, the Liberals hold five, the NDP have four. There is one independent MLA.

The executive of the party is holding a teleconference Tuesday night to discuss what’s next.

The PCs are holding a caucus meeting on Wednesday. Recommend this Post

A Merger In The Offing?

mar, 12/16/2014 - 13:41
My son, who lives in Alberta, keeps me apprised of that province's politics. Will Wildrose join Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservatives? Speculation is rampant.

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The Canadian Wealth Gap - Far Worse Than Most Think

mar, 12/16/2014 - 07:40
We hear a great deal about the giants who walk among us - the Canadian masters and mistresses of the universe, all those 'self-made' men and women who accomplished their feats thanks to daring, sheer hard work, and exclusive reliance on their own resources. They didn't ask for any 'handouts.'

You know who they are, the same ones who suffer a convenient amnesia about how their rise to the top was greatly facilitated by education at taxpayer-funded public institutions, government grants and loans, and access to public infrastructure and skilled workers without which they would have likely achieved little.

I'm sure those same people will dismiss the following as leftist propaganda.

The rest of us should receive it as disquieting truth.

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Say It Isn't So!

mar, 12/16/2014 - 05:50
It seems that the refusal of a petulant prime minister to meet with the premier of Canada's largest province is having some unfortunate consequences:

H/t The Toronto StarRecommend this Post

Harper Exposed Once More

lun, 12/15/2014 - 09:34

Those of us who follow politics closely and with a critical eye have long seen through the myth his handlers have perpetuated that Stephen Harper is a wise and reliable steward of the economy. Doubtless that gross mischaracterization will continue to be applied, and with greater frequency, as we move closer to next year's election. Happily, more and more people are recognizing the fallacious and fatuous nature of such claims.

In her column today, The Star's Carol Goar offers ample evidence that this emperor has no clothes by examining his 'crazy' approach to our economy and his obdurate refusal to take meaningful action against climate change:
It would be “crazy economic policy” to regulate greenhouse gases in the oil and gas sector with petroleum prices dropping, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Parliament last week. “We will not kill jobs and we will not impose the carbon tax the opposition wants to put on Canadians.”

About as crazy as putting all the nation’s eggs in one basket: Canada becoming a global “energy superpower.”

About as crazy as ignoring the boom-and-bust history of the oil and sector.

About as crazy as assuming people will allow pipelines to snake under their land, carrying bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to refineries in Texas and tankers on the Pacific coast.

About as crazy as forbidding federal scientists to say anything about climate change and threatening to revoke the charitable tax status of voluntary organizations that seek to protect the environment.

About as crazy as neglecting the price Canadians are already paying for climate change: power outages, damaged homes, spoiled food, lost productivity, higher insurance premiums, the cost of stocking up on everything from generators to non-perishable food.

About as crazy as pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent at a 2009 climate change conference in Copenhagen without any plan to limit the carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide spewed into the atmosphere by the oil and gas industry.
To complicate the web of lies regularly spun by the regime, Goar points out some other inconvenient truths:
Public opinion is shifting. More than half of Canadians expressed deep concern about climate change in a poll conducted by the Environics Institute in October. Three-quarters said they were worried about the legacy they were leaving for future generations.

The provincial premiers, tired of waiting for leadership from Ottawa, have hatched their own plan to build a low-carbon economy by putting a price on pollution, developing renewable energy and capping greenhouse gases.

The central pillar of Harper’s economic strategy — being an aggressive fossil fuel exporter — has crumbled in a world awash with petroleum. Investors are cancelling their commitments. Employment in the oil and gas sector is shrinking. Government revenues are dropping.It is to be hoped that as we move into 2015, more and more Canadians will realize that on these and so many other fronts, Stephen Harper is clearly yesterday's man.
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Under The Bus

dim, 12/14/2014 - 10:30
While these Raging Grannies could perhaps use the services of a good singing coach, their hearts, and their lyrics, are clearly in the right place:

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We Must Be Luddites

dim, 12/14/2014 - 08:39
That can be the only possible explanation for the fact that the federal government is breaking its promise to end abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program so that Canadians can have the first opportunity at applying for available jobs.

As reported by the CBC,
The federal government has granted an exemption to Microsoft Canada that will allow the company to bring in an unspecified number of temporary foreign workers to British Columbia as trainees without first looking for Canadians to fill the jobs.Yep, it is high time we Canadians stopped fearing technology.

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Recognizing Harper For what He Is

sam, 12/13/2014 - 10:37

Last evening I watched a PBS special on the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Archival footage spanning over 50 years of the group and their times reminded me of the passionate and committed century I grew up in, a time that saw people marching en masse to protest the Vietnam War, to advocate for civil rights, etc. Outside of the Occupy Movement, rarely has this century seen such activism.

I often think that the forces of corporatism, aided and abetted by their government enablers, have been very successful in largely muting, if not totally silencing, the spirit of protest. Their relentless message that the market is the only altar to worship at has frequently skewed, perverted and undermined our better natures and the values upon which our society was founded. Care for the collectivity, they suggest, is a quaint notion that has no place in modern life.

Fortunately, not everyone has drunk that particular Kool Aid. There are two major comforts that sustain me in these times; the deep political awareness and critical thinking that my fellow bloggers are so brilliantly capable of, and the regular letters to the editor at The Star that repudiate the passivity so cherished by the right wing.

In today's paper, there is a wealth of missives on the subject of Stephen Harper, all with a common theme: the emperor has no clothes. In his snubbing of Ontario and his refusal to meet our Premier, a myriad of Harper's flaws as both a human being and the leader of the country are exposed for all to see. I hope you check out all of them; here are but a few to whet your appetite:
Re: Deep freeze, Dec. 5

This page one story is a chilling expose. Childish behaviour is an increasing card being played from our political deck. The cry of “we will have another meeting at some point in time” is indicative of a federal leader exhibiting an increasingly punitive, juvenile approach to Ontario citizens. Pretty scary position when one man believes that it is his way or no way.

Hang in there, Premier Wynne. Childish tantrums are often quickly put aside when something shiny attracts their attention. It appears that our prime minister did not learn everything he needed to learn in kindergarten. Pity.

Don Graves, Burlington

It makes you wonder how someone who leads a country as significant as Canada can be so small-minded and treat the largest province in the country with such a contemptuous, childish and partisan attitude. Just because Ontario is led by a Liberal who points out the weaknesses in the Canada Pension Plan and infrastructure payments to Ontario.

I do feel that Kathleen Wynne will soon be in a very enviable position, when Stephen Harper, with cap in hand, will no doubt be forced to appease her and start to make every attempt to persuade Ontario and Quebec to accept the Energy East pipeline. Anyone with any concern of global warming, which Harper obviously has no regard for, would question its credibility and the true benefit to Ontario and Quebec.

Harper will continue to do anything he can to promote Alberta’s oil sales while doing very little to assist the two manufacturing arms of Canada, Ontario and Quebec. I predict Harper will be almost pleading with these two provinces to accept Energy East, even though it appears the ultimate decision will be in the hands of the National Energy Board, which no doubt has been stacked with pro-Harper appointees, similar to the Senate.

Anybody who has taken Economics 101 knows that you should not base your economy purely on commodities; you need to build a manufacuring base too. Commodities go up and down based on supply and demand, while manufacturing creates at least a stable working environment and also makes Canada more competitive in the world.

They say that Ontario and Quebec will decide the next election. The Harper plan for 2015 is to end up with a balanced budget and to give out a few election goodies to entice or fool the public, which he has already started. However I believe with the drop in the oil prices, I doubt he will balance his budget, unless he claws more back from infrastructure payments to the provinces.

My guess is that the 40 per cent who actually voted for Harper in the last election, will start to question the Canada he has created and will realise his expiry date has been exceeded, will realise how little he has done for Ontario and Quebec, and will join the majority 60 per cent who did not vote for him.

John F. Langton, Oakville

Now, let me see if I’ve got this democratic theory right. The Prime Minister represents all of Canada, and not just part of it. He or she works for us and therefore listens to us. He or she is more ear than mouth. And the money that the PM uses to guide us down the path is not his or her money but ours. It is a common wealth.

The PM must take care of all of us, not just the wealthy, the petroleum people, and the corporations. The PM should not empty the cookie jar because, as Aesop showed us centuries ago, we must be ants and not grasshoppers.

And that listening thing goes for all the ministers of the government as well, whether that is Pierre Polievre, Tony Clement, Chris Alexander, Peter MacKay or that tone-deaf and arrogant Veterans Affairs Minister I call Pope Julian.

David J. Paul, London, Ont.

Is Stephen Harper not the prime minister of all 10 provinces of Canada? It appears he is only the prime minister of Alberta, where the oil is, since he won’t meet with our premier. Why then should any Ontarian consider voting for him?

Bev Murray, BurlingtonRecommend this Post

Today's Score: Harper Base 1, True Canadians 0

ven, 12/12/2014 - 08:59
My previous post reflected on the Faustian nature of Chris Alexander's rise to prominence within the Harper regime. Further evidence of his moral departure from true Canadian values is reflected in this breaking news, which suggests that Canada is preparing to admit Syrian refugees, but only if they fit certain criteria, the biggest one being that they be religious minorities, i.e., Christians, but not Muslims.

Score another one for the Harper base:

Perhaps John Cleese best reflects my sentiments over this disgraceful pending policy:

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Chris Alexander's Faustian Pact

ven, 12/12/2014 - 06:25

By all accounts, before he entered politics, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander was a competent and respected member of Canada's foreign service; his resume includes the fact that he was Canada's first resident Ambassador to Afghanistan. The lustre attending his career, however, has vanished since he become a member of the Harper cabinet, surely a Faustian deal if there ever was one. To dispense with integrity to merely parrot one's master is a choice hard to comprehend.

Earlier in the week, Tim Harper wrote a column on some of the Prime Minister's 'performers' and non-performers. Here is what he said about Alexander:
While his predecessor Jason Kenney could look tough but sell what he said were necessary immigration measures, Alexander usually looks defensive and a little flinty.

He has been accused of fudging the numbers of Syrian refugees who have been accepted by Canada, looked heartless in cutting medical care for refugee claimants, triggered a constitutional challenge with changes to the Citizenship Act and hung up on a CBC host on live radio.That, in my view, is a rather restrained assessment of the man. In today's Star, letter-writer Pam Churchill of Toronto offers what is perhaps a more penetrating evaluation:

Re: Some weak players in PM’s dream-team cabinet, Dec. 8
Columnist Tim Harper speaks for many of us when he ponders the mystery of Chris Alexander, “a young, smart, former ambassador with world experience who should be a natural, but is still finding his way in a complicated portfolio.”

Maureen Dowd offers some insight (New York Times, May 19, 2014). When I think of Chris Alexander, her words come to mind.

She was speaking of Condoleeza Rice, “who had all the qualities to dazzle. Smart, attractive, hardworking, personable, chic . . . she sailed to success at an early age.” Yet, says Dowd, “she exceeded at failing better” because “her real ideology was succeeding.” So, says Dowd, “in order to succeed, she rejected old mentors, Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell, and went along with the preposterous pre-emption plan of the old hawks who had far less respect for her: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld” and “made a Faustian deal to sell a fake war.”

To Dowd, it is a lesson in selling your soul, which should teach us about “the perils of succeeding at any cost, about how moral shortcuts never lead to the right place.”

Perhaps Chris Alexander does not believe what he says nor support the policies he espouses. That could explain why he is still finding his way. Whatever the answer, thinking about him always brings Dowd to mind and leaves me sad.To be sure, both Rice and Alexander are sobering object lessons of the heavy price many are willing to pay to be key participants in today's political arena. Recommend this Post

Where Some Truth Resides

jeu, 12/11/2014 - 12:53
A friend of mine sent me the following. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

Prime Minister Harper took an aerial tour of the proposed pipeline route through BC earlier this week.

When he returned he said he thought it went reasonably well.

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Remembering A 'Superstar'

jeu, 12/11/2014 - 05:38
Well, we arrived back in the early hours of yesterday, having enjoyed a relaxing week in Cuba. Unfortunately, there was no English-speaking Canadian television available, so I feel unprepared to offer any political commentary until I get caught up. Fortuitously, however, my son sent me the following item, which, I hope, you will find of interest.

Is it wrong for me to feel such deep and utter disdain for Jonathan Bernier, who, as you will see in the video below, does nothing to dispel the stereotype of the 'dumb jock.'

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