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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If you love dogs, you'll love this movie 

We went to see Marley and Me today -- what a great movie. One review said it was about a marriage as much as it is about a dog, and that's true. Its the best work I've ever seen Owen Wilson do, not to mention Jennifer Aniston.
But Marley is the star. Now I've bought the book to read too.
It didn't surprise me at all to read, in John Grogan's blog, that he had adopted one of the puppies in the movie, now called Woodson. And also not surprising, when they found out that Woodson had serious hip problems, they kept him anyway.
"Just bring him back," one of the breeders said, "and we'll swap him out for a new puppy, your pick of the next litter." I have to admit the offer was tempting, like turning in a lemon automobile for a gleaming new model. But dogs are not commodities to be discarded when they break, and I assumed that if Woodson were returned, he would be euthanized.
My wife and I thought about it overnight before realizing there was really nothing to consider. Woodson was part of our family now. I got on the floor with our special-needs dog and placed my lips against his snout. "You're not going anywhere, Woodsy," I whispered. "We're in this together."
And we are. With the help of an excellent orthopedic specialist at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school, we have Woodson on a special diet and a regimen of cartilage builders and medicines. We lift him into the car for rides and up the stairs for bed. Surgery might be in his future, but for now he's comfortable and enjoys his life as a pampered house pooch.
Woodson will never go hunting or hiking or even on long walks, and that's OK. Some dogs are put on this Earth just to love you.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Shoe, meet the other foot 

With Ignatieff, the Liberal party has clearly changed shoes. They're now kicking Harper where it hurts -- right in the 'not a leader' meme:
“The thing that frankly concerns me is that the autumn statement so failed the test of leadership that Canadians required of the situation, that I'm not optimistic that the government will come up with a budget that meets Canada's needs,” Mr. Ignatieff said.
“But I live in hope, as it were, that Mr. Harper will rise to the demands of the hour.”
Ouch!
Far and Wide sums up the difference between Dion and Ignatieff -- attitude.
Iggy's got one.
And Harper is scared.
I think it comes down to the excellent political judgment which Iggy is showing. He has drawn a line in the sand, and Harper will cross it at his peril. With Dion, Harper could get away with turning everything into a confidence vote because Dion was scared of an election. Iggy is making it clear that he is not scared at all.
But Harper is -- he has already shown that losing the prime ministership is his very worst nightmare, the thing that he will do anything to avoid.
So if he survives another near-death experience with the budget vote at the end of January, then watch how magically, presto change-o, absolutely NOTHING ELSE will be a "confidence" vote. The Conservative agenda will be toast. And the parliamentary committees should be very entertaining this spring!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here we go again 

Apparently there is now a "secretive pro-life caucus" in our Parliament which contains "members from every party" and which is now pledging to reopen the abortion debate, in Canadian Press's words.
But really, they don't want to just "reopen the debate" -- they're trying to criminalize abortion, and force women to continue unwanted pregnancies.
They're starting the same way they have done in the States, with criminalizing so-called "late term" or "partial-birth" abortions, because these are just too icky to defend.
Listen to this inflammatory, untruthful tripe:
"Very few Canadians appreciate the fact that essentially until a child takes its first breath, it has less value than a kidney," says Bruinooge [Winnipeg MP Rod Bruinooge, apparently the self-proclaimed "chair" of the "pro-life caucus"].
"In Canada you can't remove your kidney and put it on eBay and auction it off. That is illegal. Whereas you actually can end a beating heart of an unborn child the second before it's delivered. Most Canadians would agree that is truly a poor bioethical position for our country to be in."
Pro-choice advocates say Canadian doctors only perform such later-term procedures if there's a serious threat to the health of the mother or if it's virtually certain the baby wouldn't survive past birth.
Of course, its not just "pro-choice advocates" who say this, it is the doctors themselves and their patients. But using adversarial terminology implies there is actually some basis for an ethical debate, I guess.
And I wonder who in the Liberal caucus are members of this group? And which New Democrats and Bloc MPs are members, too?
Its time for any MP who wants to criminalize abortion to step forward and let us see who you are.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Great line of the day 

At Daily Kos, diarist Jed L reports about how Rick Warren now accusing us of being "christophobes" -- as though anyone objecting to Warren is also somehow opposing Jesus Christ himself -- egotist, isn't he? Anyway, this is how Jed sums it up:
. . . the real division isn't between those who think he should speak at the inaugural and those who don't, it's between those who would deny gay citizens the same rights and privileges as everybody else, and those who believe gay citizens deserve the same rights and privileges as everybody else.
That's the real division, and Rick Warren is on the wrong side.

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times 

One of the fun things about the end of the year are the Best-of-the-year/ Worst-of-the-year lists that everybody is making now.
Here is Rabble's Best of list -- Danny Williams! -- and Worst of list - Sarah Palin's "hyper-confident ignorance".
And here's another walk down memory lane from Huffington Post -- The 10 Worst Media Moments Of 2008. I particularly liked this one:
I'll tell you what set my teeth on edge: every time someone made mention of Hillary Clinton playing the 'gender card.'
Let me get this straight. It's okay for Barack Obama to put his racial background to advantageous use. It's okay for John McCain to put his war-hero past to advantageous use. It's okay for John Edwards to put his Son-of-a-mill-worker-hood to advantageous use. It's okay for Rudy Guiliani to put his proximity to the September 11th attacks to advantageous use. But if Hillary Clinton attempts to leverage her femininity to her advantage, suddenly everyone has to debate the relative fairness of it? Is American politics a milieu in which the participants often forego their natural advantages in competition, out of a spirit of fairness? No? Then suggesting Hillary Clinton be tied to a different set of standards is horseshit, the end.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kaleidoscope 

Remember the kaleidoscopes we played with when we were kids?



From Drawn.ca

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Absolutely furious 

If I were a true-blue Conservative, the appointment of mere journalists like Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin to the Senate would make me simply furious.
Well, at least he didn't appoint any separatists, like that damned Coalition would have...oh, wait...

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For fun 

Gilda Radner sings with a carrot:

We just loved The Muppet Show.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thanks, Alison 

Alison watches Dear Leader so you don't have to.

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"Tysonic" 

On Talking Points Memo we find a great new word:
Bill Simmons, a sportswriter for ESPN, coined the term "Tysonic". It refers to Mike Tyson, and applies to anyone who has entered a sphere of existence so bizarre, you will believe any news you hear about them, no matter how absurd. Aside from Mike Tyson, Britney Spears is Tysonic. After the turkey interview, I classify Sarah Palin as Tysonic.
As a native Chicagoan, I say Blogo is definitely Tysonic. If someone told me, "Hear about Blogo? He dressed himself up as Elvis, highjacked an Air Yugo flight from O'Hare to Belgrade, and is now living under the protection of Serbia... And he's formed an exploratory committee for 2016."
I'd pause for a moment and say, "Yeah, that sounds right."

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Housing bubble 

Atrios writes:
. . . all you had to do was look at home prices, look at incomes, and realize that not enough people actually made enough money to afford those mortgages. . .
It is the mantra of our generation that real estate always goes up -- except when it doesn't.
When we would watch those home flip shows over the last couple of years, and we would see somebody pay half a million dollars for a three-bedroom bungalow in Las Vegas or Atlanta or Pittsburg, then flip it for three-quarters of a million, my husband and I would wonder who in the world was buying these ordinary houses for that much money.
In other housing markets we had seen, there was outside buying pressure which raised prices, but this didn't seem to be the case in the States. So we thought maybe Americans must be somehow just so much richer than us Canadians.
Now, of course, we realize it was just people like us who were suckered into some bizarre mortgage scheme, blinded by the belief that they couldn't lose because house prices were going to keep going up forever.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Great post of the day 

From Maxwell's House: Everyone give thanks to the coalition:
If you are Canadian you need to get down on a knee and give thanks to the coalition of opposition parties that saved your country . . . The coalition forced Harper and the Conservatives to stop and think about what they were doing. It made them choose between being ousted from power or admitting that the economy had failed on their watch . . . THANK YOU COALITION.
And Senator Elaine McCoy tells us why Harper's new economic stimulus package sounds so familiar.

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Great cartoon 

Stuart Carlson:

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Maybe there's still time 

Was this all that I needed to do?:
The government has been inundated with applications for the vacant seats, he said.
"People come up to me on the street and say they want to be a senator," said [Minister of State for Democratic Reform Steven] Fletcher.
I wonder if I still have time to put in my application...

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is this creativity? 

This is worrisome. US federal reserve chair Ben Bernanke apparently thinks this economic crisis must be just like the last economic crisis because that's the one he studied. I don't get the sense that he actually knows what's happening in THIS crisis, rather that he is cutting interest rates because that's what he thought might have helped in Japan a decade ago.
And about the US Fed cutting interest rates to zero, Paul Krugman says:
Seriously, we are in very deep trouble. Getting out of this will require a lot of creativity, and maybe some luck too.
Don't hold your breath. If there is one thing that we can rely on with the Bush administration, it is ideological, rigid, incompetent decision-making.

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Half a million jobs 

This is terrible -- Auto collapse may cost half-million jobs
I don't know if Canada can even imagine what this scale of job loss would be like.
I heard some ignorant economist hot shot talking today on the radio about how half a million jobs really was an exaggeration and couldn't really happen and even if jobs did disappear, well, them's the breaks.
Ha! Lord save us from 25-year-old "experts".
We lived in Victoria BC when the forest industry shed 30,000+ jobs in a six-month period in 1981-82. Now, coming from the Prairies where we had a "crisis" in agricultural employment for as long as I could remember, we thought we knew what hard times were like. But we didn't. The scale of the economic disaster in BC that year was simply awful.
Whole communities shut down. Hundreds of families lost their homes, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equity evaporated as people could not sell because nobody could afford to buy. These were people who had a pretty nice life until then -- there they were, with boats they couldn't sell, and cars that nobody would buy, living in houses which were being foreclosed, owing tens of thousands to the bank for these adult toys and geegaws. There was a joke making the rounds, along the lines of "Please, Lord, send us another boom and we promise not to piss it away this time." But it wasn't funny, not really. People finally had to go on welfare just to feed their children -- the emotional despair was worse than the economic devastation.
Anything that governments can do to prevent this happening again, they should do.

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Ashamed 

Alison reports on the Dziekanski whitewash and commenter psa says this:
i'm really not used to being ashamed of canada. i hope i don't have to get too good at it.

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Notes on the decline and fall 

At The War Nerd, Mark Ames analyzes the Georgia-Ossetia war and what is next in the declining American empire:
We have entered a dangerous moment in history — America in decline is reacting hysterically, woofing and screeching and throwing a tantrum, desperate to prove that it still has teeth. Which it does — but not in the old dominant way that America wants or believes itself to be. History shows that it’s at this moment, tipping into decline and humiliation, when the worst decisions are made, so idiotically destructive that they’ll make the Iraq campaign look like a mere training exercise fender-bender by comparison.
Russia, meanwhile, is as high as a Hollywood speedballer from its victory. Putting the two together in the same room — speedballing Russia and violently bad-tripping America — is a recipe for serious disaster. If we’re lucky, we’ll survive the humiliating decline and settle into the new reality without causing too much damage to ourselves or the rest of the world. But when that awful moment arrives where the cognitive dissonance snaps hard, it will be an epic struggle to come to our senses in time to prevent the William Kristols, Max Boots and Robert Kagans from leading us into a nuclear holocaust which, they will assure us, we can win against Russia, thanks to our technological superiority. If only we have the will, they’ll tell us, we can win once and for all.

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Great line of the day 

From Arianna Huffington:
When you look at the elements that were crucial to the creation of each of these debacles [Iraq, Fannie Mae, Citigroup, Madoff] it's amazing how much in common they all have. And not just in how they began but in how they ended: with those responsible being amazed at what happened, because...who could have known? Well, to paraphrase James Inhofe, I'm amazed at the amazement.
In fact, when historians look for a name that sums up the Bush II years, they could do worse than calling them The 'Who Could Have Known?' Era.
Emphasis mine.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Its been a long time since elementary school 

The last time I bothered to think about the Canadian "head of state" was in about Grade 6.
All this tut-tutting aboutwoefully ignorant Canadians is silly. We know what's important.
In this survey, 90 per cent knew that the Governor General can turn down a Prime Minister asking for a new election. Now, that's important. But as for the other questions, meh!
Our head of state technically is still the Queen, but in reality it is our Prime Minister.
And as for how our government can be described, well, technically it is a "constitutional monarchy" but in reality its a parliamentary democracy.
And as for whether we elect our prime minister, well, of course we do -- that's why we have political parties. Canadians have been told for a century now to vote for the party, not the person, and the vast majority of the time that is exactly what we do. Our last election was all about Mr. Sweater-Vest vs Mr. Green Shift.

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Another thousand cuts 

Well, so much for the packaged sliced meat business in Canada -- after the Maple Leaf experience, I would have thought the other companies would have been compulsive about their equipment cleaning processes, but maybe I thought wrong. Now lets see if Gerry Ritz can come up with a few more jokes.

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Great line of the day 

Steve has a great post up about how the Canadian public mostly hates the idea of having a coalition government and Liberals had better deal with this reality. And in the Comments, Issachar points out another lesson that the Liberals have now had to learn:
Having your funding entirely dependent on the Conservatives NEVER getting a majority is a very bad idea for the Liberal party.

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Monster crash 

I was reading this story, and this story, and this story -- and then I finally found this, for a little comic relief:

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The cu-cu-cu bird 

And from across this great province we call Saskatchewan, we hear once again the cry of the cu-cu-cu bird -- "C-C-C-Christ, its c-c-c-cold here!"

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Things that make you say "Hmmm" 

From the Globe and Mail story globeandmail.com: How high-risk mortgages crept north:
Former Triad chief executive officer Mark Tonnesen, who spearheaded his company's aborted push into Canada, said the proliferation of high-risk mortgages could have been mitigated if Ottawa had been more watchful.
Yeah -- or if all those trustworthy, mature, serious, self-regulating, responsible mortgage companies hadn't been so stupid and irresponsible and greedy!
Of course, everything that goes wrong is always the government's fault, isn't it, because private business is practically perfect in every way and all those dumb civil servants can't manage their way out of a paper bag and nobody ever would have believed....
Oh, I guess I need another cup of coffee...

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Great line of the day 

From Paul Wells:
From a springtime of committee chaos to a summer of ultimatums to a fall election, a December crisis, a tasty prorogue-y holiday feast, and the near certainty of another New Year psychodrama. I could swear there was a pattern in there. Blame the opposition if you like, but what olive branch did the PM hold out that they refused? Stephen Harper spent his whole adult life complaining that the state was no good for anything. Now, under him, it is so. Consistency at last.
Emphasis mine.
And are we finally seeing the end of the media myth about how smart, disciplined and competent Stephen Harper is?

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Our Liberal leader 

Some photos of Iggy from the Ignatieff photostream:


At the 2007 Toronto Pride parade


Afghanistan


In St. Catherines, Feb 08


Chrysler Tour, March 2008


International Women's Day breakfast


BBQ with Protective Services - June 1, 2008


At the National Gallery




Etobicoke-Lakeshore Summerfest 2008




At the leadership launch

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Respect 

Thousands of people lined the highway of heroes today as the three soldiers came home:


Aaron Harris Toronto Star


Kevin Van Paassen, The Globe and Mail

From the Toronto Star story:
Heavily bundled mourners, some waving flags and some wearing red hats, scarves or coats, lined both sides of the street outside the base.
"I wanted to play `Going Home' but the pipes froze. I couldn't even feel my fingers on the holes," said Dan Irvine, 49, a former military man from Napanee who took his bagpipes to the procession . . .
The convoy reached Cobourg at about 4:15 p.m. There, on the Ontario St. bridge, stood a shivering crowd of perhaps 200, including 73-year-old Korean War veteran Dave Galbraith, who arrived with five friends. . . . As the hearses passed, some people took their hats off despite the wind and heavy snow.
The motorcade passed Oshawa around 5 p.m. People had begun arriving on local bridges more three hours earlier. Korea veteran Danny Mann, 74, wore medals and a Royal Canadian Dragoons beret.
. . .
"The public response to the casualties, I think, has been quite extraordinary," said Canadian military historian Jack Granatstein.
"I have never seen anything in my life like the crowds that line Highway 401," he said.

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Now for something completely different 

For more than 60 years, artist Roy Doty has been drawing an annual Christmas card -- all different, all humorous, all terrific. Check them out.


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Concern trolls at the National Post 

So now the National Post is trying to smear Ignatieff by describing his nomination as interim leader as an "unseemly lunge at power".
Oh, isn't it just so wonderful to see the folks at the National Post so damned concerned for the purity of the Liberal party?
The way I see it, we Liberals have a choice -- at the end of January, when Parliament resumes, we can have in place to deal with Harper either a caretaker leader without authority or stature, or a fresh and highly respected leader who is committed to revitalizing the party.
Which do you think the National Post would prefer?

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I don't want to start a fight, but 

This doesn't make sense:
Last week, we didn't want a vote. We were in favour of the Coalition being named as the government without a general election, because the rules of Parliament said that this could be done.
This week, some do want a vote. Some now seem to be opposed to Michael Ignatieff being named as interim leader without an election by the whole membership, even though the rules of the Party apparently do not even allow for such a vote to be held.
Basically, I think it comes down to this -- if the rules have been followed, then the result is legitimate.
Or am I describing this wrong?

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Have the caucus meet in public 

I'm tired of hearing about how awful it would be for the Liberal party to make Michael Ignatieff its interim leader "behind closed doors". OK, so open the doors.
Let the Liberal executive and the Liberal caucus meet on Wednesday in public -- there are lots of large meeting rooms in Ottawa that are easily set up for TV and radio broadcast, with translation facilities. Let Ignatieff and Rae both speak, then hold a vote by ballot.
The networks would love it and so would the public.

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The path between 

I think Iggy is getting it right.



Today in CTV's Question Period, Michael Ignatieff provided a sensible -- ie, Liberal! - - frame for the next several weeks, a path between belligerence and withdrawal.
I don't have a transcript of what he said, but here's a few of my notes:
"Coalition if necessary but not necessarily coalition" . . . "it is important to have the option . . . to spare us another national election" . . . but "Canadians would not forgive a party" which would not even look at the budget before declaring it would defeat the government.
He stressed where the responsibility for the crisis lies -- with Harper:
"We're in a crisis caused by a prime minister behaving irresponsibly"
But he also talked about the importance of Liberals working to re-build the national unity which Harper has destroyed:
"We need to bridge some of the gaps . . . the key issue is the national interest, the economic interest of Canadians . . . we need to read the budget brief but if [Harper] fails to produce a budget in the national interest, he will go down"
The country is going to need a national unity message -- reading Devo's description of the Halifax Conservative rally yesterday it is upsetting to realize how divisive this has become:
* Conservatives are spitting mad and absolutely hate Liberals, New Democrats and, especially, "the separatists". . .
. . .
* I am a communist and a sore loser, not to mention any number of other things that I would prefer not to repeat here...maybe it was my 'STOP HARPER' button;
* irate well-dressed middle-aged gentleman . . . between expletives and name calling, told me that Bloc MPs are not legitimate members of the House of Commons and, therefore, incapable of forming a coalition;
. . .
* Canada is more divided today than it has ever been at any time in my life.
There has to be a message of unity for the country to grasp, and the country will respond, I think, if this message comes from Ignatieff.
Jeff highlights today's Toronto Star poll showing how people would vote with a change of Liberal leadership:
Now -- with Rae -- with Ignatieff
Conservatives: 42% -- 41% -- 38%
Liberals: 22% -- 26% -- 33%
NDP: 18% -- 15% -- 13%
Bloc: 10% -- 10% -- 10%
Green: 7% -- 6% -- 6%
I think it is striking that only with Ignatieff are the Liberals even close to the Conservative numbers -- close enough to fight an election on, I think, if that's what we need to do at the end of January.

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You know what's funny 

You know what's funny?
One of the things Canadians have now found out about is that for at least the last nine years, the Alliance and the Conservatives and the Liberals have been happily making deals with Jack Layton and Giles Duceppe.
Its like the temperance ladies sneaking the occasional shot of rum -- sorta undermines all this demonizing of the "socialists" and the "separatists", doesn't it?
Its not funny ha ha, I guess, but at least its funny oh boy.

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Concern trolls come out to play 

Thank you so much Andrew Coyne and Robert Silver for letting us all know how pristine your standards are for the leadership of the Liberal party.
Apparently the Liberals now MUST pick as their next leader ONLY someone who not only does not support the coalition this week, but also did not support it last week and who at that time betrayed his fellow Liberals and the whole coalition initiative by announcing this loudly and proudly at the time.
And that person would be . . . (crickets) . . .
The only people who did not support the coalition last week were, um, Harper's Conservatives.
This week, the situation will be completely different, as both these trolls know very well.
UPDATE: The plot sickens.

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Canada's Nelson moment 



Mr. Sinister and Calgary Grit suggest that when Harper presents his budget at the end of January, the NDP and the Liberals should vote against it and the Bloc should vote for it.
Works for me.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Potemkin supporters 

Rick Mercer tells this story in today's Globe and Mail:
During the past week, while the nation wondered if the government would fall, junior Conservative staffers were ordered to be outside 24 Sussex Dr. by 6:15 in the morning. Their job was to stand there in the dark with the temperature well below zero and wait for the PM to appear. Their instructions were to applaud, wave and sing O Canada loudly as the motorcade pulled out of the gates and drove Stephen Harper to work.
Mr. Harper, by all accounts, actually believed that the young people were there of their own accord and represented a groundswell of love and support for his actions. Staffers in the Prime Minister's Office know that he is easier to handle when being applauded and not questioned.
Isn't this just sad? Next he'll be talking to Mackenzie King's mother.

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I agree with John Manley 

Well, well, will wonders never cease. I actually agree with John Manley -- The first Liberal step: Replace Dion:
Canadians have every right to expect that the politicians they elected so recently would be entirely focused on the issues threatening our economic security and well-being. Instead, they have been subjected to a sordid display of arrogance, hyperbole and incompetence that can only make voters wish a pox on all their houses.
This is too serious a time for games. . . .
[for the Conservatives] to have created a totally avoidable political crisis when the economy was the task at hand was highly irresponsible. This has only become worse in the past week as a government desperate to hold on to power showed itself willing to be reckless on the national unity file. That is one sleeping dog that should be left alone. . . .
The Liberal Party, with its worst result in percentage of vote in its long and proud history, was also given a message on election night. Namely, that since losing power, the party, its leader and its caucus had failed to regain the confidence of the people.. . .
Confronted by a political crisis that was not of his making, Mr. Dion became an obstacle to his party, and to the opposition, in dealing with it . . . in agreeing to the terms of the coalition with the NDP and the Bloc, Mr. Dion bound his successor to a controversial arrangement without even consulting any of the candidates to succeed him in the process, leaving them no option but to endorse it or break with him as party leader.
The government must be prevented from running roughshod over the opposition at all times, but especially when the voters have denied them a majority. The best way to do that is for the Liberal executive and caucus to choose a new leader immediately . . .
the first task should be to work collaboratively with all other parties to restore the confidence of Canadians in their Parliament.
The government needs to drop the ugly rhetoric that it reverted to so quickly and easily so soon after the election. It's not just about winning confidence votes. The confidence of the House of Commons needs to be earned on a daily basis, by being consultative, trustworthy and respectful. Unfortunately, Mr. Harper has put quite a dollop of poison into the well.
I do see a certain logic in a long-term relationship or merger or marriage or whatever between the Liberals and the NDP. However, we're not there yet. We're not even at the spin-the-bottle stage in this romance.
Right now, the rationale for our coalition is economic urgency -- without the economic crisis, the coalition would not, and likely should not, be able to persuade Canadians that its authority for taking over leadership of the government without another election is legitimate.
This makes it premature, I believe, for Liberals to continue to promote a coalition government takeover until we see whether the January 27 budget turns out to be as inadequate and ideological as the economic statement was.
And its abundantly clear now also that Canadians will not support Stephane Dion as their prime minister under any circumstances, regardless of how badly Harper is bungling the economy.
Whether we hang together or hang separately, Dion must go.

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For want of a nail... 

So the camera was broken and nobody had 20 minutes to spare to buy a new one, I guess.
And they didn't follow the disk format the networks wanted.
And then they didn't get the disks to the right network studio.
So the words of Dion were lost because they were so poorly delivered. It was beyond slapdash, and it may have cost us a government.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Moving forward 

Here are my thoughts.
First, this Liberal-NDP coalition was formed as a specific response to Harper's inadequate, clumsy and insulting economic statement. We wanted to try to save the Canadian economy. With no parliament now anyway, talking about defeating the government to bring in some innovative government programs to save the economy strikes me as a pretty meaningless activity right now.
Second, the electorate, me included, don't really care whether the MPs like each other or not -- we didn't elect people to be nice but to get things done. So talking about how the Conservative government has to be defeated because of the poisonous atmosphere in Parliament also strikes me as meaningless right now.
As a result, I don't think the coalition can be functional again until we see what Harper's budget has to offer at the end of January.
Then, if the Canadian economy is in worse shape by then -- as I expect it will be --
and if the Harper budget is ideological, inept and incompetent -- as I expect it will be --
and if the Liberals have a real leader by then -- that's a big IF --
and if he and the NDP and the Bloc can get it together again -- another big IF --
well, we'll see what can be done.
The benefit of all the news stories about how parliamentary democracy actually works means that by the end of January the public will be paying close attention to what the Conservatives are doing. And they will understand by then that a Canadian coalition would offer a serious, legitimate and viable alternative to continued Conservative divisiveness and ineptitude. If the Conservative budget is weak, then I believe public support for the Coalition would be strong.
And if the Conservative budget is defeated, and if the Coalition is rejected by the Governor General, and if an election is called, then the Liberals and the NDP would be fighting it together. In effect, this would create a Liberal-NDP merger and this might well be the best solution for the country anyway.
But this time, boys, keep the photo ops to just Iggy (or Rae) and Layton.

And of course, I could be wrong.

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Absolutely correct 

BigCityLib says:
Dump Dion, Install Iggy
. . . The party needs to be able to fight an election by the end of next month, whether there is still a coalition to belong to at that time or not.
Get it done, folks. Hold the vote by the internet or by phone.

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Shorter 

Shorter Globe and Mail editorial:
If we could just find a new pony to lead the federal Conservatives, then everybody would be happy again!

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Great line of the day 

For those Liberal MPs who are already chattering to reporters on the coalition's prospects, Boris at The Galloping Beaver has these words of wisdom:
Grits, you have a good thing going with this coalition idea. Don't piss it away by being Liberals.

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Not surprising 

Well, I can't say I'm surprised at this news:
The Strategic Counsel poll done for The Globe and Mail suggests a majority of Canadians preferred keeping a Conservative government over getting a new Liberal-NDP coalition with Bloc Québécois support.
Steve V thinks that Liberal supporters need to face this reality:
the coalition [is]losing the frame
and we should deal with it.
The coalition began losing the frame war when they spent three days yelling about separatism during Question Period -- ask Howard Dean how well screaming works as a public relations technique! -- instead of keeping their focus on the economy and their good economic ideas. The final straw was that awful tape fiasco. Both played precisely into the Rovian Conservative frame that it was the coalition, not the Conservatives, who were secretive, incompetent and untrustworthy.
In the EKOS poll which Steve references, the numbers indicate the public is just as concerned about the economy as the Liberals and NDP are, but only one in three were supportive of a coalition government led by Stephane Dion. EKOS concludes:
• The Conservatives are winning the initial public opinion war.
• There seems, however, to be a modest night-to-night trend that favours the oalition on all measures (i.e., vote intention, three-partner coalition).
• While too early to say, it may be that the public are digging into deep and irreconcilable differences on this issue.
• What started as a political skirmish over the economy now has the potential to produce deep wounds to national unity.
• Bottom Line: Despite initial favourable response to the Conservatives, the public are flummoxed and angry. Dispute seems to be aggravating existing national fault lines.
Over the longer term, I wouldn't be surprised if the Canadian public found itself nostalgic for what the coalition wanted to do. They had some terrific ideas:
We'll protect good jobs by supporting key industry sectors. The auto sector will get credit guarantees and low-interest loans, tied to producing low-emission vehicles Canadians want. Forestry companies with good business plans and a viable future will qualify for credit guarantees.
We'll create jobs straight away. Ready-to-go infrastructure projects will be fast-tracked. Retrofitting homes and building affordable housing can begin right away. Then there are jobs in renewable energy and expanded public transit.
We'll invest in families through EI reform, skills training and help for older workers moving to retirement. And we'll help seniors through pension protection, reform to mandatory RRIF withdrawals and increased Old Age Security.
We'll work closely with the new Obama administration on fighting climate change with a cap-and-trade system. And we'll work for fairer trade to make sure there are healthy markets for Canadian goods.
Compare these to the Conservative brain trust, who wanted to abandon pay equity and break the civil service unions. What century are these guys living in? Even in Harper's speech last night, he seemed to think that indirect measures like "injecting liquidity into financial markets" and reducing taxes and "undertaking due diligence on any further requests for assistance from the auto industry" would be sufficient.
The sad fact is that the Conservatives just do not know what they are doing with the economy. Harper won't have the flexibility to just steal some of the coalition's ideas -- his usual ideological filter would label these ideas as just too "socialist" -- and he doesn't have any ideas of his own, just slogans and name-calling.
Sigh.

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Public Service Announcement 

We interrupt this blog to make an announcement to the wingnuts with CDS (Cathie Derangement Syndrome) who have been infesting my comment threads today:
Dear Sir or Madam
You may be right at that.
Yours sincerely,
CathiefromCanada
Regular blogging may now resume.

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What democracy looks like 

Thousands gathered at this afternoon's Make Parliament Work rally on Parliament Hill, in spite of the Jean decision. We can't forget what democracy looks like.
These photos are from Scott:





and these ones by Marcus McCann, from Getting it Right:






Other rallies are tonight and Saturday.

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The winner and the loser 

I would think right about now Stephen Harper thinks he won and the Liberals lost.


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Playing it safe 

I wrote this post last night but didn't post it, fearing it would be bad luck or something.
If Michaëlle Jean grants Harper's request tomorrow to prorogue, it will be the "safe" thing to do.
The Blogging Tories will be high-fiving, most of the media will stroke their beards and hrumph about how she is only following the long-standing traditions of her office and she really didn't have any choice -- and us progressives will only sigh about what might have been.
As the winter of our discontent progresses, the Canadian economy will melt down and the Conservatives won't know what to do or how to stop it. The premiers will blame the prime minister and the prime minister will blame the provinces. The separatist movement in Quebec will pick up steam again. And Harper will abolish public financing of political parties in March, just before the Liberal convention.
No one will be blaming Jean for this -- except for Ed Schreyer:
Ed Schreyer said in an interview yesterday that granting a wish for the prorogation of Parliament at this point would constitute an evasion of the process of Parliament and should not be done.
“I'll put it this way and I will make this a plain-spoken sentence. Nothing should be done to aid and abet the evasion of submitting to the will of Parliament. I think one can stop there. It's about as basic as that.”
With a new Parliament having just opened, the only circumstances to justify prorogation, Mr. Schreyer said, would be a genuine emergency. “The only emergency seems to be a desire [of the Harper government] to avoid facing Parliament. That is not an emergency.”
Didn't matter, did it?
Sigh.

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Jerks 

Tonight I noticed this comment to the Western Standard story about Harper's speech:
"Her Excellency". Makes me want to vomit. Makes me want to pick up and move my family. Might as well call her "Your Majesty". Think she'll shake a few chicken bones to figure out what to do?
Then I saw this post, titled:
Do you tink itz izzy being da oppazishun?
And this one titled
Do you t’ink it’s easy to deliver a tape to the media?
And then there was this knee-slapper:
"Do you tink it's izzy to make a webcam?
These are the people who think their guy should run the country. Sorta makes you throw up in your mouth a little bit, doesn't it.
UPDATE: Some of the commenters to this post obviously don't get my point. The people who said these things are jerks not because of what they said but because of how they said it -- they think its funny to insult Michaelle Jean's Haitian heritage and to sneer at a French accent.
Sigh.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Harper reminds me of McCain 

I knew there was someone Harper reminded me of and now I've got it -- Stephen Harper reminds me of John McCain.
You remember how Obama was trying to talk about what he would DO differently from McCain (health care, get out of Iraq, economic leadership) while John McCain and Sarah Palin were attacking Obama for what they said he WAS (terrorist sympathizer! socialist! celebrity!?
Well, now Harper is doing the same thing.
Canadians aren't supposed to trust Dion because he's a separatist! a traitor! both!
While Dion focused on what the Coalition would DO.
Madame Governor-General, let Parliament vote!

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Its the economy, stupid 

Say it loud, say it proud -- "It's the economy, stupid".
I'm afraid this basic truth is getting lost in all the rhetoric about separatists and socialists and take-overs and Governors General and proroging and all this inside baseball parliamentary play-by-play.
It's the economy, stupid.
This is why Canada needs the Coalition Government -- Harper's Conservatives were unwilling and unable to do anything t0 help the economy or save jobs. Dion and Layton have a plan and are ready to implement it.
It's the economy, stupid.
Regardless of why the Coalition formed, it doesn't matter anymore. The value of the Coalition to Canada is what it can do for the economy.
Because its the economy, stupid.
The Canadian Labour Congress has it right:

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So did I 

My Blahg has a post up titled "I did":
Conservatives need to stop parroting the line that nobody voted for a Liberal, NDP, Bloc coalition government during our last election. That is not true. On October 14th, 2008, I voted for a Liberal, NDP, Bloc coalition government if the Conservatives were held to another minority.
And so did I!

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Good things 

The Georgia Straight lists the good things that would happen when the Canadian Coalition is running the circus:
• A Liberal-NDP coalition government would stop the senseless appeal of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Pitfield’s decision that allowed Vancouver’s supervised-injection site to remain open.
• Canada might get a prime minister who won’t boycott an international AIDS conference in his own country and who doesn't reject the wisdom of scientists on issues ranging from climate change to drug treatment.
• Canada would have a prime minister who recognizes the urgency of climate change and who would give responsible instructions to Canada’s negotiating team at the crucial UN climate conference that begins in Copenhagen this November.
• There would be less spending on the military and more spending on the arts, which wouldn't be treated as a "niche issue" by the government.
• Canadians could feel confident that the military mission in Afghanistan wouldn’t continue after 2011.
• A Liberal-NDP coalition government would appoint more progressive judges to the Supreme Court of Canada and to superior courts in the provinces.
• There would be a reduced chance of the Canadian government extraditing Marc Emery to the United States, where he would rot in jail for the rest of his life for selling marijuana seeds over the Internet.
• The court challenges program would be reinstated, resulting in a more level playing field for disadvantaged groups. Canada might even get a national daycare program if Harper is bounced out of office.
• A federal stem-cell advisory panel wouldn’t be stacked with opponents of embryonic stem-cell research, which would be a relief to those who suffer from Type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and other debilitating conditions.
• Stockwell Day would no longer be a senior cabinet minister, and whoever is in cabinet will no longer be muzzled and have their communications and speeches vetted by the prime minister's office.
• Canada might finally approve a UN resolution regarding indigenous rights.
• Canada would no longer be ruled by a control freak who has exerted greater political control over the RCMP, which poses a threat to Canadian civil liberties.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Wirewalking 

Over at Dymaxion World, commenter Steve Muhlberger says
Boy this is fun. Like the whole country wirewalking without a net.
But pretty soon, like tomorrow, we have to reassure the country that, yes, it is is safe and, yes, the Coalition will be working to help them out and, yes, they will be listening to what Canadians want.
I was very glad to see an announcement made about an economic stimulus package that actually would help people.
And about the four wise men.
Now, announce a cross-country listening tour.
And get some ads up...

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