Monday, April 30, 2007

Congrats to Justin Trudeau

One brief note of congrats to Justin Trudeau on winning the Liberal nomination in the Montreal riding of Papineau yesterday.

Thus far, Justin has been quite astute at countering the notion that he's merely a shadow of his father. I like Justin immensely. It's nice to see a member of my generation (he's 35, I'm 34) ascend to political office. Sure it's true his success to date has been largely due to his pedigree. But Justin has shown a remarkable ability to handle the media. He clearly loves the spotlight (an absolute necessity for any politician) and is well-spoken and highly attractive. I used to hope Justin might be gay (his slight lisp seemed to indicate potential to queer ears), but a close friend of his, Gerald Butts, with whom I worked at Queen's Park, assured me that Justin was very, very straight.

Papineau wasn't a sure bet for him for the nomination, but he worked very hard and came out with a decisive first ballot victory. With the Bloc's recent collapse in opinion polls, coinciding with the collapse of the PQ in the recent provincial election, Papineau is about as close as you can get to a sure-thing for a Liberal pick-up in Quebec in the next federal election. Justin can start making plans now for his maiden speech in the House of Commons. Vivian Barbot, the Haitian-born BQ incumbent for Papineau, will put up a fight, but I'm sure will be quite unsuccessful against Justin.

This was Justin's first real political test and he passed with flying colours. I expect great things from this guy in the years ahead.

Two really bad weeks for Stephen Harper

Wow, so this is how it feels to see the other guy become the media's punching bag.

Stephen Harper has been bloodied in the last two weeks and it looks likely to last for this week as well.

First the strange story about Harper's taxpayer-salaried mystic stylist.

Then the disturbing allegations about Afghan detainees being tortured by Afghan authorities after being handed over by Canadian forces.

And of course the government's inept response to the crisis. Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's performance has been truly bizarre with his announcement last week that a deal on monitoring Afghan detainees had been inked with the Afghan authorities, when in reality so such deal had been negotiated.

The fact this crisis coincided with the release of the unsurprisingly ineffective Tory green plan is salt in the wounds. For those who truly care about slowing down or stopping our gradual degradation of our living environment, the plan announced last week by Environment Minister John "I'm a Liar" Baird has merely confirmed this Harper government has no plans to seriously combat the crisis. It would be like if the Liberals decided in the 1990s that the deficit could merely be cut in half to $20 billion rather than go all the way to a balanced budget. Would fiscal conservatives been pleased by that? No way. And the environmental half-measures announced by Baird won't please any serious environmentalist today.

Unlike the premature and unfair attacks on Stephane Dion earlier this year, this media gang-up is quite justified. If the Tories continue on this disaster-prone path over the next two weeks, you can likely look forward to new poll results showing Dion's Grits back on top. There will be no spring election, that's for sure.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Our Own Private Cheney: Stockwell Day

As a committed Liberal, whenever I get down in the dumps about party fortunes and worry about when we might knock these Harpercrites out of power, I need only take another look at either Stockwell Day or Jason Kenney. They always perk me up.

Both dinosaurs regularly remind the majority of Canadians how much we still despise the Alliance/Reform element in this Harper government.

Day just yesterday outdid himself with this outrageous speech reminding us how irrational he really is. This is the guy in charge of Canada's national security, lest we forget.

Why should the torture of Taliban SUSPECTS be tolerated by Canadians? Day offers this deluxe quote: ""These people have no compunction about machine-gunning, mowing down little children. They have no compunction about decapitating or hanging elderly women."

This speech illustrates the problem with Day's worldview. As an extreme Christian fundamentalist, Day so clearly enjoys demonizing his Islamic counterparts. They are the flip side of Day's own extremism, but what does that matter to him? He's good, they're evil, it's that simple in Stock's mind.

Day is also musing about the possibility of privatizing our own border security to Dick Cheney's war-loving Halliburton Inc. What will this guy think of next?

My self-serving/Liberal advice to Day: Please, keep talking out loud like this as much as possible! We'll be back in power in no time...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More on the Cho video

Yesterday, Globe & Mail TV columnist John "I Hate Everything" Doyle chastised the CBC for failing to glorify a psychopathic murderer.

The CBC was one of the few television networks in North America that didn't broadcast visuals from Cho Seung-Hui's video sent to NBC last week just before he massacred 30 additional victims (for a total of 32) at Virginia Tech.

Reading Doyle's column (I won't provide the link because the Globe made it a pay-to-read piece) gave me the feeling that Doyle didn't have his heart in it. The words struck me as an article that could've been ordered by the Globe-powers-that-be still trying to justify their decision at CTV to broadcast the footage. We needed to see more evidence of Cho's insanity - that was the crux of Doyle's justification. Quite frankly, Mr. Doyle, we had enough proof already.

The issue for me is simple: the media should've exercised greater restraint and broadcast as little as possible from this video, preferably nothing at all, for the simple reason that the psychopath wanted the tape to be broadcast.

Doyle yesterday dismissed the notion that broadcasting Cho's tape would encourage copycat killers. Doyle, and many others, are completely wrong on that one.

By choosing to broadcast portions of Cho's video, the major networks merely confirmed to all psychopaths out there suffering in alleged isolation and obscurity that they too can become very famous by picking up a gun and going on a killing spree - after of course sending off a self-produced manifesto tape to a major private broadcaster who will be more than happy to broadcast your crazed message to the masses.

I fully expect the next psychopath who guns down innocent people will send a videotape to NBC minutes before doing it, and that NBC and others will jump again at the chance to pass it on for greater consumption.

Friday, April 20, 2007

CBC rises above private sector "orgy of useless crap"

It's truly revealing how various mainstream media outlets behaved this week after NBC News in New York announced it had received in the mail a package from the crazed gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, who murdered 32 people on Monday at Virginia Tech.

The backlash against the mostly private broadcasters who aired this nutbar's insanity is only just beginning.

Congrats to the CBC for exercising wise judgment and responsibility where their private sector counterparts failed utterly.

Some stories today in private sector newspapers continue to defend their actions.

Antonia Zerbasias' article is worth a read. She seems to be of two minds on the subject, first describing how this kind of coverage of a killer's empty and meaningless rant likely promotes copycat killings. Then she chastises the media outlets who exercised restraint and responsibility for practising, "nanny journalism and even censorship..."

The Globe's headline for their story is somewhat strange ("CBC defends choice not to air Cho video") when in fact the article is about the private broadcasters defending their choices.

The article does have a great quote from CBC's editor-in-chief Tony Burman on his private sector counterparts: "it was appalling that various networks indulged in this orgy of useless crap."

I couldn't agree with him more.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bits and Bites

I love the new Stephane Dion/Liberal Party ads focussing on Dion's stellar leadership abilities as demonstrated at the December 2005 United Nations Climate Change conference. The ads highlight all of Dion's strengths in a positive way, and refute the many fictional Tory attacks of recent months. The ads can be seen on the Liberal Party website by clicking on 'Liberal TV'.

The message from the Tory and Liberal ads in English Canada is now clear to me: the Dion Liberals are positive and forward-looking and the Tories are just big liars, willing to say anything to hang onto power.

On another note, federal Tory minister for Climate Change Denial, John "Big Liar" Baird, is spreading more lies about climate change. Why is our Minister of the Environment doing his best to do NOTHING to take action to clean up the environment?

I don't think this PR tact will work at all for them. This issue will continue to be the Achilles heel for the Harper government. The vast majority of the public is starting to realize that major action and leadership is needed to combat the climate change crisis, not this bullshit from Harper and Baird. Those in business probably put more credence in the expertise of Nicholas Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank who said the costs of combating global warming are manageable and would be much less than the costs of taking no action.

It's become increasingly clear that the Harper Tories are only interested in playing to their narrow little base of support with this kind of rhetoric. Perhaps that is good news because in truth the Tory base is only truly 25 to 30 per cent of the electorate. The rest is swing vote that went Tory to get rid of Paul Martin. The longer this keeps up, the earlier this swing vote will go back to its natural home: the Liberal Party of Canada.

And a final note: Andrew Coyne's great column condemning his own newspaper's recent idiotic attack editorial on the proposed Mixed Member Proportional system being advocated by Ontario's Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform. Wonderful reading. It's great to have a major columnist on the side of democratic reform. More on this issue later.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bourque, the Shameless Whore & Idiot Ray Heard form "Special" Alliance

Today, once again, Bourque proves his empty amorality runs deeper than most of his sort.

It's impossible to tell if Bourque is genuine in his anti-Dion obsession/addiction, with neverending goofy headlines and now today's big headline 'LIBERAL FEUD BREAKS OPEN'. As we know, Bourque sells headlines to the highest bidder and we see today he's not afraid to publish fiction. The question remains - who is financing Bourque's anti-Dion crusade? The Tories? Tory lobbyists? The NDP?

The headline today would be justified if a feud had broken out between Scott Reid and, say, a truly prominent and respected Liberal. Instead, this so-called feud is with political never-was Ray Heard.

I don't know Ray Heard. His experience in politics comes from acting as Director of Communications for John Turner, a thoroughly decent man who failed the test of leadership. Now Heard is the authority on strong leadership?

Let's dissect Ray Heard's recent public comments used by Bourque to insinuate a fictional Liberal feud:

"[Dion's] deal with Elizabeth May, a social reactionary, is the very last straw."

Elizabeth May can be written off simply as a social reactionary? I'm sorry, but you won't find a dumber comment than that.

"Though he was the architect of the Clarity Act, Dion is cynically know-towing to the decentralists in Quebec; he does not, like his predecessors, speak up for Canada any more.."

What is know-towing?

"He refused to support extending the terrorism provisions Bob Rae said were needed to find the Air India terrorists."

The RCMP had the ability to use the extreme 9-11 powers of preventative arrest and secret tribunals in their Air India investigation for five years, but did nothing. Enough said.

And frankly, just because Bob Rae said something doesn't mean it's the best thing to do. Let's look at Rae's previous recommendations for public policy: the best way out of a recession is deficit spending in the billions. Rae also said the best way to combat inequities in our economy is to bring in affirmative action quotas. Rae also once said choosing between the Liberals and Conservatives is like choosing "between cholera and leprosy." My question to Rae is: how is the treatment for cholera going? Or is it leprosy?

Does Heard endorse everything that Bob Rae ever said?

"Both Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae are eminently qualified to succeed him before the next election and I cannot fault their supporters for plotting to dump him before its too late."

Let's take that quote and re-write it as follows and see how Ray Heard reacts: "Jean Chretien is eminently qualified to succeed John Turner before the next election and I cannot fault his supporters for plotting to dump him before its too late."

Of course, this kind of quote was heard often from many Liberals between 1984 and 1988, after Turner had already led the Liberals to their worst defeat ever. Today, Heard is calling for Dion's head before he has even one election under his belt. Ray Heard is an idiot hypocrite who can't spell!

My only question for Whore Bourque - who's paying you to post this crap?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Contemptuous Media Gang-up on Dion

It's official - Stephane Dion is the new punching bag of the histrionic, reactionary media, the types of so-called journalists who respond to the temptations of group think. Take a look at some of the pathetic displays of journalism on display in today's national newspapers in response to his brilliant move yesterday in Central Nova.

Jane Taber, ever the follower of group think, paints a pretty dismal picture for an article that is supposed to be unbiased. It seems there isn't a Liberal in the country who sees the brilliance in Dion's move yesterday in Central Nova. Of course, we know this isn't true, but that doesn't stop Taber from ignoring one side of the story to print this drivel.

The Toronto Star, normally a progressive and fair voice, is fair and progressive no more it seems. The Liberal Party has a long history of making such deals going back as far as Mackenzie King in order to consolidate the anti-Tory vote, but this fact is ignored by the Star's editorial. Perhaps the Star needs to hire some researchers who can keep such falsehoods out of their opinion pieces. Dion's refreshing message that he is willing to put cheap, pointless partisanship aside and work together with like-minded leaders to help combat the climate crisis (and knock off a senior member of our climate-change denying Harper government in the process) is seemingly lost on the Toronto Star editorial board.

However, if you take a look at the Star's editorial cartoon today, which uses the same theme from a cartoon earlier this week in the Star, it explains just how offensive the Star's position has become.
The cartoons exaggerate Dion's slim physique to make him appear the same size as a child. The fact that Elizabeth May, who strikes me as an attractive woman clearly in good shape, is depicted in this cartoon as a stereotypically overweight and badly-dressed lesbian makes you wonder if the Harper Tories have truly taken over the Star's news room.

The Star seems to have swallowed Tory spin hook, line and sinker. Dion is a slim man and therefore this somehow means he's weak, I guess the Star believes. Is Dion weak? No way, as history and his record shows clearly. But that doesn't stop the Star from equating Dion's physique with weakness. Hasn't the Star ever read the bible story of David and Goliath?

Perhaps the editorial board at the Star has been unduly influenced by the biases of Star columnist Chantal Hebert, who seems to have had a hate-on for Dion since the days of the Clarity Act. (You know, the act that said a slim victory on a vague question can't break up the country.) Now it appears that Hebert doesn't have to use her paid columns to spread her vitriol against Dion; the Star's editorial board can now do it for her.

Whatever the reason for these strange and unfair portrayals, they are simply offensive. They represent the worst instincts of journalistic group think.

Nothing can be done on this front, of course. I simply look forward to Dion proving all of these idiots wrong.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Dion's brilliant move in Central Nova

I'm tired of listening to all of the amateurs masquerading as political experts (Jane Taber, Jim Travers, Don Murray, to name but three) and other Tory stooges continue to spout their fiction about Stephane Dion.

These are the same idiots who completely wrote off Stephen Harper until December 2005 as a leader with any potential in this country. These are the same dolts who continue to spout their subjective histrionics on every talk show and opinion page they can get their grubby, over-paid hands on. The good news - Canadians aren't listening or reading anyways.

But you'd think that after getting it WRONG for so long, the political chatterboxes would learn to temper their comments with a little "well maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm not so smart after all, I have no idea what may happen but I look forward to seeing what happens." But don't count on it.

I'm sure most of the political commentators will have no idea at first what to make of Dion's decision not to run a candidate against Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in Central Nova in the next election. The Liberals had no chance of winning that riding to begin with. And now May has an excellent shot of actually knocking off Tory dimwit Peter MacKay. Those political commentators have been repeating ad nauseum how strong a Tory bastion Central Nova has been historically. They're correct, however not so much in recent elections in which MacKay's victories have been shrinking steadily. He barely beat the NDP candidate there in 2006, a year in which you'd think a Tory like Peter MacKay in a Tory bastion like Central Nova would've swept to a landslide.

Since the beginning of the year, the Harper Tories have taken the tact of attacking Dion in English Canada using manipulated visuals and sound bites that emphasize Dion's less than obvious charisma. They have exploited clips from Dion that, when viewed in isolation, might give the impression his English is ten times worse than Jean Chretien's ever was. They have portrayed Dion's genteel physical persona, which I admit defies the typical big man/big leader image that most Tories and their ilk have mistaken for "strong leadership" for years, and used it to infer that Dion is somehow "weak."

Those who are educated about Stephane Dion know all too well that the image the Tories have presented is a fiction. Dion has more moral courage than Stephen Harper could ever muster. Did Dion sell out all of his principles in search of victory? Has Dion flipflopped on every major position he ever held in his quest for greater power? Dion took on longstanding separatist orthodoxy in the late 1990s, when Canada needed a defender most, and won.

The public is luckily still unwilling to jump to conclusions about Dion based on the attacks of his partisan opponents or the opinions of talky political commentators. I do still believe in the inherent wisdom and ability of Canadians to objectively assess their political leaders' strengths and weaknesses.

Dion's decision not to run a candidate in Elizabeth May's riding is a genius move. It speaks to the 97% of Canadians who are not partisan and just wish that the parties would put aside politics to work together on the greatest issue facing our generation. It is a profoundly bold move.

The notion that political parties might work together for the common good is of course foreign to most backroom political partisans. Even the NDP regularly refuses to cut any other parties any slack if there is a cheap political point to be gained.

Dion's decision will help to paint a portrait of himself to Canadians that is genuine. It will show to Canadians that Dion is a different sort of politician, a man who puts principle ahead of pointless partisanship.

This is why Dion won the leadership in the first place. He is the first Liberal leader since Trudeau who is genuinely guided by principle. This is refreshing following the empty and amoral years of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.

Liberals needed to restore integrity to their leadership after years of corruption. They have done that by electing a different kind of leader in Dion.

As Robert Frost brilliantly wrote, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I...I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

I am not worried one bit about Stephane Dion. I fully expect that he will be Prime Minister one day very soon. It might even be far earlier than any Liberal or commentator ever predicted. I look forward to watching them eat their words on the night of the next federal election when either Dion almost knocks Harper out of office, or wins outright.

Ignore the idiot chatterboxes on CTV's Question Period or in the Globe & Mail or the Toronto Star. They know not of what they speak (at least not today.)