Monday, January 31, 2005

Water is Good

The Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta wrapped held its convention this weekend. I’ve been going to these things for a long time and this one was one of the most interesting in years because of the intense policy debate. The convention went off very smoothly so I tip my virtual blogger’s hat to the organizers for a job well done. You can read about separatist night in Calgary here, and I’ll now continue with the recap of Saturday and Sunday.

After breakfast and a less than inspiring speech by party president Mike Eizenga (elected last year over the far more deserving and more pompous Aakash Maharaj), the policy workshops got underway. There were over 90 resolutions up for debate, so you had to pick and choose which topics you wanted to go see. This led to some workshops drawing over 100 delegates and the less sexy topics (I’m looking at you, “seniors tax credits”) gathering very little interest. With so many different topics up for debate, I got to listen to many well thought out arguments for valuable policy…and many arguments by people who clearly had no idea what they were talking about. The hot workshop of the day was Justice B which featured pro and anti-Same Sex resolutions, a pro-Euthanasia resolution, an anti-abortion resolution and…the release of 92 year old Census Data. Over 100 delegates streamed into the room and, my hunch is, very few of them were there to passionately argue about the 1911 Census. I’ll give the “2002 traditional definition of marriage” proponents credit for passionately arguing their case even if their arguments were ridiculous and centered mostly on the fact that gay couples can’t naturally create children. Ironically, many of those arguing this case were post-menopausal women. Thankfully, not a peep was whispered about religion. In the end, the sinners wanting to destroy the institution of marriage and the very fabric of our society won, in a 90-35 vote.

Saturday night Stephane Dion spoke. While I was a little distracted by the blaring ABBA music from the room next door and the gargantuan heaping of mashed potatoes on my plate, I must say I was impressed with his speech. He doesn’t have a great command of the English language, or the fiery charisma we saw from Jean Lapierre the night before, but you can tell that Stephane is genuine and brilliant. The most notable aspect of his speech was that he said the government was ready to lay out their Kyoto plan shortly. He also tried to dispel the belief that the government had a thin legislative agenda. Of course, when a company says “we’re not your father’s car”, it’s because they’re worried you think they’re “your father’s car”. So when every Minister who spoke this weekend said “we’ve got an active agenda”, it’s because there’s a huge perception they don’t have an active agenda.

Sunday morning featured breakfast and the “three amigos”, our newly elected Liberal MLAs from Calgary: Dave Taylor, Harry Chase, and David Swann. I must say, I was surprised by the amount of hype the provincial party received at this convention. Almost every speaker made reference to them, and the delegates I talked to seemed genuinely excited by the provincial Liberals, whereas in the past, they were sort of treated like a mentally challenged cousin of the federal wing. Regardless, the “three amigos” (at least it beats “three stooges”) spoke and…sang (with David Swann on guitar). While this blog, rarely gives music reviews, I’ll just say that I’ve resolved to volunteer for all three of them next election because not one has a promising back-up career in music.

Then it was time for the voting among the 16 policy winners from Saturday who advanced to Sunday’s championship match. The top resolution would be sent directly to a vote at the national convention in Ottawa, with the next 4 being sent to the convention for debate. The winner was a pro-water resolution slightly beating out the pro-puppies, and pro-sunshine resolutions. Kidding aside, the resolution said water was a basic human right and should not be treated as a marketable commodity. With the exception of a poorly written CBC miniseries starring Paul Gross, the issue of water gets very little attention so I gladly voted for this resolution.

Finishing second was the pro-Same Sex marriage resolution. While I would have liked to see it finish first, the fact that Alberta of all provinces is sending a pro-Same Sex marriage resolution to Ottawa is a great accomplishment. I’m sure some of you may have heard the little known rumour that Albertans are a bit more right wing than the rest of Canada, but this weekend confirmed for me that the Alberta Liberal Party’s social conscience is still very much alive and well.

In third place was a pro-health care resolution. And, this being Alberta, we saw an agriculture resolution finish fourth. In fifth place was the legalized marijuana resolution that the Young Liberals voted for en masse. This surprised me somewhat since when I was a young Liberal, I was always either too hung over (or, somewhat ironically, too stoned) to vote in the Sunday sessions. Finishing in sixth and just missing a chance to be fired to Ottawa, was the anti-missile defense resolution. But from what I hear, there have already been several anti-BMD resolutions sent to Ottawa, no doubt making Paul Martin’s March quite stressful.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The French Invasion

Day 1 of the Liberal Party's Alberta convention is in the books and it's become apparent that Same Sex Marriage will be the hot topic du jour. The president of the party's Alberta wing gave a passionate speech defending charter rights and urging Liberals to vote forward the pro-SSM policy resolution (well, indirectly. Much like our Prime Minister, he never actually said the words "same sex marriage", but it was pretty obvious what he was getting at). The buzz among delegates was all about gay marriage and it will certainly be the most hotly debated policy this weekend.

Interestingly, the key speakers tonight and tomorrow are both Quebeckers, and they come from opposite ends of the federalist spectrum; Jean Lapierre and Stephane Dion. Tonight was Lapierre's turn. Not surprisingly, Lapierre's "temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition" past was ignored in his bio. The introduction was along the lines of "Mr. Lapierre was first elected in 1979, fought hard for the Liberals in the 1988 election then...went into radio for 12 years before returning to politics last spring." I was shocked, shocked, that 1990-1995 got lost in translation.

As for the speech, it wasn't bad. His English is a lot better than Anne McLellan's French (reason #26 why she'll never be Prime Minister) and he's great at throwing passion into his voice. He had a great line along the lines of: "My wife is confused. She hears on the news that all we talk about in government is sex and then when I come home, I'm too tired out from all the talk about sex to...". He mentioned that Stephen Harper would not be able to break into Quebec (wow! shocker!) and that Gilles Ducceppe will leave to become leader of PQ (I believe Lapierre said "Premier of Quebec" which is not how I'd be wording it if I were a Jean Charest supporter). It sounds to me like the Liberal's Quebec strategy consists of hoping Gilles Ducceppe leaves federal politics and I'm not sure if this is really the best way to win back the province. But, then again, Jean Lapierre is a political genius and I'm not, so maybe it's not such a bad idea.

I'll be very interested to see Stephane Dion's take on things tomorrow.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Practice

An alert reader sent me an e-mail clarifying yesterday's post. He quite rightly pointed out that Chris Kiebermanis was represented by Kevin Feehan, who is a very good lawyer, and very Liberal lawyer. So, you can strike that point from my argument. I still feel the CRO is better suited to decide what constitutes a spoilled ballot than a judge but it appears both sides were represented by top notch law teams.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Big Tent

The Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta will be holding its annual convention this weekend and for the first time in years, there’s actually a legitimate policy discussion going on (The past few years has been devoted to instructional workshops such as “101 ways to take over a riding association” and “sucking up to get a job with Paul when he finally takes over the party”). The top priority resolutions will be jettisoned to the National Convention in March. Sure, the party will ignore them, but I imagine they’ll get a bit of media play, especially since there will be both same sex and missile defense resolutions up for debate.

I glanced through the 70+ resolutions that will be debated this weekend and came across a few interesting ones that will certainly lead to a lot of heated debate. Among the highlights:

-An anti-BMD resolution co-sponsored by several ridings and associations
-A pro-Kyoto resolution calling for a clear blueprint
-A resolution calling on the government to reject asymmetrical federalism
-A resolution urging marijuana legalization
-A pro-proportional representation resolution
-A resolution calling on the Liberal Party to urge its members to send more letters to the editor (I kid you not)
-A resolution demanding a Western PMO
-A resolution calling on Canada to annex the Turks and Caicos
-A pro-euthanasia resolution
-An anti-abortion resolution
-A pro-gay marriage resolution
-And anti-gay marriage resolution
-At least four resolutions that (indirectly) criticize Martin for the appointed candidates fiasco last year and calling for a variety of ways to prevent this in the future.

It will be very interesting to see what party members decide on, given the wide range of topics up for debate. Since both the Conservatives and Liberals are holding policy conventions in March, and we could have an election within a year, the policies voted on at the national conventions are certainly going to get a lot of scrutiny - more so than usual.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hanging Chads

I encourage everyone to read up on this story that will likely get shuffled away by the local media. The Readers Digest version is as follows: Liberal Chris Kibermanis got more votes than his Conservative opponent in Edmonton-Castle Downs during last fall’s election. He won three appeals to verify that he got the most votes. He’s been working hard as an MLA for his constituents since November… Yesterday, a judge decided to award the election to his Tory opponent who received fewer votes than Kibermanis.

Kibermanis is taking this in stride and it appears the Alberta Liberal Party won’t be appealing the results, wanting to avoid a long legal battle. Now, I know I’m probably being somewhat partisan here but I have three big concerns over this:

1. Once the lawyers decide things, you’re inevitably not going to have a level playing field. One alert reader who brought this story to my attention, properly called Thomas Lukaszuk’s lawyers a “highly paid, O.J.-style legal team”. Kibermanis meanwhile works construction…I suspect he likely didn’t have the same caliber legal team.

2. Why is a judge better suited to decide what constitutes a spoiled ballot than the Chief Returning Officer? The Election Act doesn’t define a spoiled ballot so the decision should rest with the local returning officer since, you know, that's the entire job of the CRO!

3. It’s extremely rare for a judge to award an election to the loser. If there was significant doubt and the court felt the need to interfere, why not have a bi-election?

Chris has said he’ll run again next time and I encourage Edmontonians to get involved and help him out when that next time comes around.

Monday, January 24, 2005


In addition to a hilarious rant on Canada giving foreign aid to China (“Maybe we should give the 60 million to the Sudan since, you know, they don’t have a space program”), Rick Mercer took a few shots at Stephen Harper’s Same Sex Marriage adds on tonight’s Monday Report. It’s not Doris Day funny, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Apparently the Harper adds only give two “yes” answers, so Monday Report is trying to “protect the traditional definition of survey”. Oh, and no married people can vote since they don’t want the add to lead to polygamy.

Monday Report is a show that I’ve always had high hopes for. It’s the closest we’ll ever get to a Canadian Daily Show and you can see them starting to go in that direction. Tonight, Rick showed a “Segue of the week” clip of a Toronto TV personality who said “so and so died. She was 84. Speaking of 84, I wish it was 84 degrees outside this weekend, let’s see the weather.” That was vintage Daily Show. If Mercer could just start taking some video clips from Harper and Martin and tossing in the requisite one liners and bewildered facial expressions, it could be the best thing on Canadian TV. Getting their correspondent to try a few more satire reports instead of his usual dull pieces (“this week, Darren Jones visits a quilting show!”) would be an improvement in the right direction too.

In other news…

-My Blahg has a funny spoof of Warren testifying before Gomery.

-Kevin Taft received 146 votes for and 3 against at the Alberta Liberal Party leadership review this weekend (And everyone actually got to vote. What a novel idea!). He got a great reception from his speech which was quite good and yet fully realistic of the challenges ahead. After a few less than inspiring leaders, it’s nice to the ALP finally has someone the members can rally behind.

-The leaked story about Bush pressing Martin has got a lot of media play. As the Toronto Star, of all papers, has said, it’s going to be difficult to say no to Bush. As much as I think Star Wars is a bad idea, from a purely political perspective, if Martin is going to say yes, he should just say yes and get it over with. His reputation as a waffler is growing, even among Liberals who supported him during his leadership putsch. Indecision on missile defense did Diefenbaker in, and it might very well do the same to Martin. Regardless, we’re in for a rockin’ spring session of Parliament. We’ve got red hot same sex and missile defense debates, the Sgro fall-out, Goodale’s budget, and a minority government to add that level of uncertainty we haven’t seen in years. With no hockey this year, it’ll be the hottest spectator sport in Canada this spring.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Around the World in 80 Hours

Adrienne Clarkson is once again being blasted in Alberta. This time, it's for missing Lieutenant Governor Lois Hole's funeral.

Is there anyone else out there who finds this whole story a little ironic? Last fall, Clarkson gets lambasted for her travel expenses and has her budget slashed. Now, she's being criticized for not taking a one day trip from Paris to Alberta and back to Europe.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Free Car!!!

In an effort to make amends with any proponents of the "traditional definition of marriage" (to clarify: Not the "traditional" definition in the biblical sense of having multiple wives, or not the 19th century "traditional" definition in the sense of a man's wife being property, or not the early 20th century "traditional" definition where inter-racial marriages were banned...what I'm referring to is the "traditional" definition of marriage circa-2002) this site may have offended, I’m launching a brand new contest!

It’s the first annual “Know your Obscure Biblical Passages on what Constitutes a Sin” contest. Given recent comments by certain Calgary clerics, I’m offering up a FREE CAR to the first reader who can send in a biblical quote where Jesus condemns homosexuality! That’s right, this car could be yours!

Any passage in the New Testament will do! This is your chance to put those mornings in Sunday school to use! Enter now! Not only will you be driving off in an expensive car but you will be explaining the justification used by many in the Catholic Church to oppose same-sex marriage.

Quick Hits

1. The latest jibjab video is out. As expected, it’s pretty darn funny

2. The subject of that video was inaugurated today. His main pledge – to export freedom and liberty to the world. How'

3. It appears Warren Kinsella will be appearing before the Gomery commission this Friday. It’ll make for interesting blogging, if nothing else. Looking at the schedule, it seems that there is going to be a steady stream of "star witnesses" for the next month. What is said by those witnesses will likely determine whether or not Ralph Goodale's budget gets voted down.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Don't Mind Me, I'm Just the PM

Damn that Paul Wells and his quick posting - I was all set to go off on the ridiculous comments by Paul Martin in today's Globe & Mail when I see he beat me to the punch. The story reads like something out of the Onion:

New Delhi — Prime Minister Paul Martin said Tuesday that he did not accept the resignation of Judy Sgro's chief of staff two months ago because it was up to the chief of staff to make his own decision on whether to stay.

The Globe and Mail reported on Monday that members of Mr. Martin's office counseled chief of staff Ihor Wons to stay on the job, despite the fact that he had admitted to creating "an appearance of impropriety" after visiting a strip club to discuss the club owner's plan to bring to Canada 18 strippers. Mr. Martin did not deny that his office may have advised Mr. Wons to stay.

"They seek advice," Mr. Martin said Tuesday. "But the fact is that people are free to make their own decisions, and that's obviously the case for anyone."

This begs a few questions:

1. Can anyone resign? I mean, Martin's logic sets up a paradox where they can't even tender their own resignation since he's decided that it's up to them, but won't allow them to resign, because it's up to them.

2. Why did he allow Judy Sgro to resign? Isn't it her decision too?

3. Will we ever see a staffer resign during the Martin years/months is power? If so, how will that situation differ from this one?

4. Is this all the PMO is now? An advice machine? People have accused the PMO of controlling all aspects of government in the past and now we're supposed to believe it's been run over by Anne Landers?

5. Does Martin expect people to believe that he has no say in what his Cabinet members do and will never interfere in their decisions?

6. What idiot in the PMO wrote up Martin's statement on this? And if the idiot who did ever wants to resign, would he or she be allowed to?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

They Dislike Me! They Really Dislike Me!

In other news, Ralph Klein has cracked the "top 10 most disliked Canadians". Courtesy of the Edmonton Journal, the winners from the Maclean's survey are:

1. Paul Martin
2. Jean Chretien
3. Brian Mulroney
4. Don Cherry
5. Stephen Harper
6. Jean Charest
7. Ralph Klein
8. Bernard Landry
9. Gordon Campbell
10. Dalton McGuinty

Personally, I'm just surprised Ben Mulroney didn't make the list. And you can bet that if the list was done now, Danny Williams would certainly crack the top 3.

Gay Bomb

This is too funny. I can just picture the ethical discussions going on at the White House.

"Well...I'm all for bombing them, but..."

"Make 'em queers? We'd lose our 'family values' voters."

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Envelope Please

I was really surprised with a lot of the winners for the Canadian blog awards; mainly since I stick to the political blogs. But, of the political blogs, I can't argue with any of the winners: congrats, and keep up the good work! This site finished sixth for "best Liberal blog", one vote back of Warren, with a cool 8%. The strange thing is, I've worked on election campaigns where we haven't done much better than 8% so I'm pleased with the results.

Next year, I'm thinking of getting David Herle to organize for me. I'm sure he can find a way to restrict voting rights. Failing that, he can always get some Cabmins to go heckle Pogge.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Quick Hits

-Today is the last day to vote for the Blog of the Year. There are a lot of close races out there and while I'm positive this blog won't win, Calgary Liberals are all about the moral victories! So get out and vote! Sean Icognito, who is my choice for best new blog, weighs in with his predictions.

-My Blahg (which hosts the aforementioned awards) has an interesting post from a few days ago on contributions by big name Conservatives to their party. Or lack thereof.

-Warren Kinsella picks up the key part of the Sgro affidavit we saw yesterday. He's right to be skeptical, and he's right to claim that it's "the worst ministerial misdeed I can recall" if true. We certainly haven't heard the end of the Judy Sgro saga. Between Sgro, Star Wars, Equal marriage, and the budget, it's going to get very interesting once parliament starts sitting again.

-Great article by James Travers in the Star today comparing Mr. Martin to his predecessor. His concluding paragraph:

That's never been easy in a federation as diverse and congenitally dyspeptic as this one. Chrétien just made it look that way and now Martin must find a way to emulate a predecessor he toppled with a promise that now seems sadly prophetic: He would govern oh so differently.

-Socialist Swine weighs in with the top 10 reasons to hate Ralph Klein. Well worth a read.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sgro's No-No

I always find it odd when someone resigns and says they did nothing wrong. I mean, we have a new and improved ethics commissioner. Surely if Judy Sgro and Paul Martin believed she deserved to keep her job, she would have stuck it out until his report. If they believed she'd done something wrong, Martin should have fired her or made it known she'd been asked to step aside. Since, you know, he does run Cabinet (supposedly).

For those new to the story, here's the damming allegations, courtesy of the Star.

Singh, who came to Canada from India in 1988, helped Sgro as she asked, including pizza deliveries to her campaign office, he says in his affidavit.

"I own a pizza store in Brampton and Judy said that she wanted me to deliver pizza, garlic bread etc., to her campaign office in North York. I did this. She also said that she needed 15-16 people to help work in her campaign. I organized this for her as well."

If this is true, then she certainly should step aside. Exchanging immigration favours for campaign volunteers is one thing. Exchanging immigration favours for pizza is another. But exchanging immigration favours for free garlic bread? That's just going over an ethical line that should never been crossed.

Unless it's really good garlic bread.

Either way, Mr. Singh has got a bonzanza of marketing opportunities for his Pizzeria in front of him. "So good it's worth losing a Cabinet spot over!"

Lots of Ink

Paul Wells must be snowed in today with his jazz records broken. Either that, or he’s making a last gasp push to win blog of the year. He’s gone on a mad posting spree and put up 10, count ‘em, 10, posts today. Among the highlights:

1. In depth discussions on Pepe le Pieu.

2. Speaking of skunks, Wells concludes that not much smells in the leadership review to date. It’s fairly much the same conclusion I reached after starting up the entire topic, although I’d still have preferred getting my damn ballot. And I’ll still be very suspicious when we see the final numbers. But I guess David Herle is too busy planning clever stunts (“hey guys! How about we send Liza Frulla and John McCallum to Harper’s house at 3 in the morning and they can shout insults at him to wake him up!”) for the next election. Which, by the way, I really can’t see happening before next fall, at the earliest.

3. Short sentences that contain their own punchlines

They're sending Joe Volpe in to clean things up.

Heh heh. Although I am surprised that none of the eager Parliamentary Secretaries are getting promoted. Surely they’ve all been lobbying hard enough for a seat at the grown-ups table.

4. Martin sends a letter off to Danny Williams which begins, quite predictable with “I have been clear from the very beginning”. At times like this, I really wish there was a Canadian version of the Daily Show. The host could then read that quote and show clip after clip of Martin and the PMO fumbling to get their side of the story out on this.

5. Finally, we get more on McKenna’s appointment. Appointment being the key word since it doesn’t look like it will be reviewed, as promised. To be fair, Martin has been kind of rushed in to filling this position, having been publicly searching for an ambassador for at least 13 months. Wait 13 months and I guess it’s thoughtful review – wait 14 months to allow a review and people might start calling the guy a ditherer.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Doing His Job

The volume of praise for Conservatives on this blog is no doubt fleeting. And I'm positive I have never said nice things about a Conservative Premier here before. But after reading this story, I've got to give full marks to John Hamm. Instead of throwing a hissy fit, flinging insults, and taking down the flag, Hamm quietly negotiated to ensure his people got the best possible deal. As a result, Nova-Scotians will be better off.

Will it get him votes at home? Probably not. Danny Williams, meanwhile, will likely get re-elected with a massive majority. But John Hamm did what he was elected to do and he deserves credit for that.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Private Klein

This blog's top newsmaker of 2004 is off and running in 2005, grabbing headlines with new talk about private health care.

He didn't reveal the details but he's said it will push the bounds of the Canada Health Act (well, duh...if we're talking private health care, that's a given). This raises a few questions:

1. What are the specifics of this plan?
2. When will the plan be revealed?
3. Will Albertans be consulted about this first, as Klein promised during the provincial election?
4. If the plan is judged to violate the CHA, will Klein still go ahead with it?
5. Will Martin "stand up to Ralph" as he promised during the federal election?

There's a lot of talk that Ralph is sticking around to enjoy the Centennial parties and will coast this year. I don't buy that for a second. Chretien's last year in office was his best, in my opinion. We saw Kyoto, marijuana decriminalization, no to Iraq, campaign finance reforms and same sex marriage. If 2005 is Klein's final year, we're going to see his attempt at a legacy agenda. What will this legacy agenda have in it? Apart from private health care, it's hard to say. But my prediction is that it will be true blue, the Alberta media is going to love it, and I'm going to hate it. As will most left of centre Canadians.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Star Wars: Return of Celluci

According to Paul, we're joining Missile Defense.

Except this is Paul Celluci. Paul Celluci, who is, uh, leaving his job and whose job to the best of my knowledge doesn't, umm...allow him to decide Canadian foreign policy!

Either he's full of it, or he's leaking something he shouldn't be leaking. Given that it's no secret Martin plans to join BMD, my guess is it's the later. This issue is going to cause a huge headache for Martin when the vote comes down. Making things even worse is the fact that Liberal Party members will vote on (and likely reject) BMD at the party's national convention in March.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different...

What's the only difference between the Ukraine elections and the Liberal Party leadership review vote?

John Turner was sent to supervise the Ukrainian elections whereas John Turner's old supporters will supervise the Canadian ones.

But seriously folks...

I posted a while back about how some Calgary ridings did not hand out leadership review ballots at their delegate selection meetings (DSMs). From feedback I've received, it does not appear that this is widespread outside of Calgary. For the record, I don't think this was intentional; Martin would have gotten a healthy approval rating in the Calgary ridings in question and if any media scribes really wanted to embarrass the Liberal party (hint hint), it'd be pretty easy for them to confirm the leadership review vote wasn't held in the ridings in question. I write the missed ballots off to disorganization and incompetence.

What is widespread is how the party is trying to downplay the vote as much as they can. I've seen copies of the notice given to members from Calgary and Saskatchewan that doesn't mention leadership review. And I've had Liberals from Ontario and Edmonton e-mail me saying leadership review wasn't mentioned on their DSM notifications. And now, via Norman Spectator, comes this piece from Anne Dawson:

Paul Martin's Liberals are being accused of attempting to "stack" the party's upcoming policy convention to ensure that the prime minister receives a strong endorsement for his first year of leadership.

Some Liberals in Ontario say they fear the same underhanded tactics that helped Mr. Martin win an overwhelming victory during the 2003 leadership contest are being employed again -- this time to ensure the prime minister receives an endorsement in the 90-per-cent range so that he compares well to his predecessor Jean Chretien, who received 91 per cent after his first year in office.

Rank-and-file Liberals are complaining that their party is still deeply divided into "Martin and Chretien camps" after the bitter feud between the two men that forced the former prime minister out of office.
They also say Mr. Martin organizers are quietly orchestrating "secret" riding association meetings to chose delegates to attend the March 3-6 policy convention in Ottawa without notifying all association members.
This way, only Martin loyalists show up at these meetings and, in turn, elect only Martin supporters, certain to give the prime minister a strong leadership endorsement vote, to attend the convention.

Andrew Kania, who says he signed up 5,000 Liberals in support of failed leadership contender John Manley in the Brampton-Springdale Liberal riding association before to the 2003 leadership race, questions why none of his signups was advised of a meeting last week which elected 14 delegates to attend the convention.

I'm not advocating a leadership convention right now but I think it's wrong that the party isn't even notifying their members that such a vote is being held. Ironically, I'd wager half the Liberals who'd vote in favour of review would do so over bitterness towards the tactics used by Martin's advisors during the leadership putsch.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Baby Killers

OK. I feel somewhat guilty for dismissing what is certainly a very contentious debate in a few lines yesterday. And abortion is one topic I really never wanted to touch here since I don’t see it as a political issue at all – the issue is dead in Canada right now despite Martin’s attempts to revive it during the last election. And any talk of abortion on a blog should be of this form:

Compare the two statements, both made May 31st, 2004, one my a back-bench opposition MP, and one by the Prime Minister, and determine which one led to TV commercials saying that Stephen Harper would “take away a women’s right to choose”:

A: “independent counseling would be "valuable” for women contemplating abortion because people who take part in it may only be seeing one side of if it."

B: “It is a huge problem. The issue is obviously one of consulting and of comfort.”

Anyways…Rebecca takes me to task with a her first post, as best I can. Obviously, being, uhh, male, I’ve never had an abortion so take my view with a grain of salt. Of course, I’ve never invaded Iraq or mismanaged a sponsorship scandal and I still enjoy commenting on that, so I guess my opinion is as good anyone’s.

Rebecca’s primary contention comes from this passage in the Morgentaler CTV special.

'And let's face it, society's changed. Women no longer die as a result of abortion. Fewer children are born who are neglected or abused. There are few young men who have a rage in their heart; consequently there's been a decrease in crimes of violence.

Now, here are her key points:

1. I get the fewer children are born part, but certainly can't see the reduction in abuse or neglect: Basically, women who have abortions are usually in terrible situations. Teenagers, single mothers…the fact that they don’t want the child sort of indicates to me that they’ll neglect it. I mean, I’m more likely to take good care of a puppy if I really want it, than if I’m forced to take care of it against my will.

2. Here's the part I laughed out loud at - "There are few young men who have a rage in their heart; consequently there's been a decrease in crimes of violence." Yeah, I don’t get this either.

3. I think young men and women are angry about losing brothers and sisters that they didn't even have a chance to know because a man with his own painful past decided that abortion is a human rights issue. This I don’t see as a big issue. Conceivably, if my parents weren’t fans of birth control, I could have had a lot of other brothers and sisters.

4. I think that there are many, many women out there who have had abortions and regret their decisions - deeply. Not to trivialize the situation but, I once went to this restaurant that served great chilly dogs. So I ate 5. And boy, I really regret that decision. But we shouldn’t ban chilly dogs. Back on topic, women should be made aware of the consequences of their decision, sure. But I’m willing to wager there are many more women out there who don’t regret their decision than those who do. Just because some people who have abortions regret it, does not mean they should be banned.

5. We have weakened leaders with elastic morals. No, they have different morals. Or, they don’t believe their morals should be imposed on others.

Now, the basic argument used by Rebecca is that aborting a fetus is equivalent to killing a baby. Now, to me, that’s like saying burning an acorn is akin to cutting down an oak tree. But, even if we accept that the fetus is a person, that doesn’t exclude abortion. People can kill in self defense.

A famous example in this debate is JJ Thompson’s violinist example. I’ll adapt this example slightly here. Say Stockwell Day becomes seriously ill. Now, the Stockaholics determine that CalgaryGrit is the only person in the world with a compatible blood type so they kidnap me and hook me up to a machine. I’ll need to stay hooked up to this machine for 9 months to save Stock. Now, it would be good of me to stay hooked up and I probably would since Stockwell is such an entertaining politician who has given me so many great moments, but is it my duty to do so? As certain as we are that Niagara Falls flows south to north, the answer is no.

Like I said, abortion is an icky issue and I promise to never ever bring it up again. From a pure policy perspective, you need to have legal abortions or else you've got coathangers in back alleys. But hey, I think pot and prostitution should be legalized so don't listen to me.

I swear, my next post will be no more than five lines and will take a cheap shot at Ralph Klein, Paul Martin, or Stephen Harper. My only issue is with people who try to impose their morality on everyone else. I firmly believe that it’s wrong for people to dress their dogs up in sweaters, but I’m not going to condemn those who do so.

It's Getting Hot in Here...

On my tour of the Canadian right yesterday, I gathered reaction from a few of the blogs I mentioned briefly. I guess that's one of the problems of hitting such hot button topics in a single paragraph. So, in fairness to what were some well developed arguments, I'm going to delve into them in a bit more detail. I'll start with Andrew's climate change piece at Bound by Gravity.

First of all, a few tid-bits on climate change I quickly dug out of an old Globe & Mail supplement (Global Warning, December 17, 2004):

-Since 1990 the world has logged the warmest 10 years on record

-"A landmark international scientific study of Arctic climate change confirms the Arctic is warming more rapidly than the rest of the globe and strengthens the link between climate change and greenhouse gases from human activity. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), which projects global climate disruptions, reinforces the urgency of mitigating and adapting to global warming. The ACIA’s findings and projected impacts are based on observed data and a moderate scenario of future warning, not a worst-case scenario."

Now, this was a little thin on numbers, so I ran a quick google and came up with a few other stats:

The Environmental Media Services website lists eight different groups who confirm the link between human emissions and global warming. Among the highlights:

The governing council of the American Geophysical Union unanimously adopted a resolution in December 2003 stating that "human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate... Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century."

According to John Houghton, co-chair of the IPCC, no more than ten of at least 3000 international climate scientists reject the idea that greenhouse gas emissions are causing the planet to warm.


3.2. They project for the next century that, without specific policy changes :
· global mean temperature should increase by between 1.4 and 5.8°C (2.5 to 10°F).

Now, with that aside, I'll wade into Andrew's specific points he raises in his article:

1. His main contention comes from the graph posted that shows climate change over the past 1000 years. My main problem with the graph as it does not appear to cover the last 50 years (or, if it does, it's not clear) when the most serious global warming has occurred. From the "Union of Concerned Scientists", global temperatures have rise by 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years and 0.3 degrees Celsius over the past 40 years. This strikes me as a dramatic rise compared to the 300 years it took the world to warm 0.5 degrees in the Medieval Warming Period. More concerning are the previously stated projects which put global warming in the next century between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius. But, to be fair, those are only projections.

2. Climate change occurs naturally. Yes, this is true. No one will argue this. But science shows that CO2 levels in the atmosphere accelerate this warming. So even if we're naturally warming, we're making things worse.

3. Human emissions are a small percentage of total levels. Didn't Ralph Klein make some comment about dinosaur farts causing global warming a few years back? If not, then it sounds like something he'd say so I'm just going to assume he did. Ralph did have a point on this one. There are tons of CO2 emissions which naturally occur. I encourage everyone to check out this site which explains things far more clearly than I could...I never got great marks in Biology. The gist of what they're saying is that plants, by turning CO2 into Oxygen (I do remember that from grade 10 bio!), keep the natural equilibrium in balance. By adding extra human emissions, we're breaking the equilibrium. Humans have caused the natural level of CO2 to rise by 31% since 1750. So, if you accept the science that CO2 levels cause a "greenhouse effect", you have to accept that we're to blame for it.

Big Huge Flaming Caveat of my Own: Andrew concedes there are environmental problems out there that need to be addressed. Good on him for that. I'd much rather the government do something concrete to fix the environment than sign a treaty it has no desire to respect or do anything about.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Courtesy of Tom Olsen, here are the number of days missed during last spring's 43 day legislative session by Alberta MLAs. So who were the worst truants?

Ken Nicol, Lib 23 (announced retirement in January to run federally)
Marlene Graham, PC 16 (retired)
Hung Pham, PC 15
Moe Amery, PC 11
Ralph Klein, PC 11
Gary Masyk, PC 10 (defeated)
Lyle Oberg, PC 10
Judy Gordon, PC 10 (retired)

It should be noted that both NDP MLAs get a certificate for perfect attendance. Obviously, attendance isn't everything but it further shows what a joke it was that Hung Pham and Moe Amery were re-elected in Calgary this November. They are two of the absolute worst MLAs in the province and these numbers only reinforce that perception.


One good thing about the Blog Awards (our campaign motto here: "Vote CalgaryGrit - as a Calgary Liberal he never wins anything!") going on right now is that it gives people a chance to get a look at some blogs they might have been oblivious to in the past. So I decided to glance through the Conservative blogs nominated and see what the right in Canada is saying. Here's a sample:

Brock: On the Attack
Brock rips Martin to pieces over his lack of vision and leadership. No complaints by me on that. I do disagree with his conclusion that Harper needs to abandon his moderate persona and show some strong leadership of the small c conservative vision. The only way Harper wins is if he's moderate - saying otherwise, is like saying Jack Layton can win by championing a far left agenda forcefully. Harper can still show vision and leadership, but it has to be vision of a centrist Canada or else he'll never leave Stornaway. Diefenbaker ended 22 years of Liberal domination by running to the left of the Liberals and even Mulroney, to a certain extent, wasn't any farther right than Turner (at the start). The problem with the right-wing ideologues is they often fail to realize that Canada is a small l liberal country. Just as the Democrats have to shift right to win in the States, the Conservatives have to shift left to win in Canada.

Andrew Coyne
Weighs in on the fall of the Berlin Wall and Brian Mulroney's re-election chances. (Put it this way, it's been a while since he's updated his blog)

Jay Currie
Defends CHOI-FM. Is it just me or does anyone find it odd that the right in the United States is aghast at 2 seconds of Janet Jackson's nipple being shown during the Super Bowl but the right in Canada defends a radio station's right to repeatedly make off-colour, offensive, and tasteless jokes? Personally, I have mixed feelings on CHOI so I won't take a strong stand one way or the other, but it does strike me as odd.

Bound by Gravity
Questions Global Warming. Yes, there are natural cycles but never in the earth's history has there been a rise in a short period (say, 100 years) as we're seeing right now. Maybe it's I Love Lucy reruns or Major League Baseball games that cause global warming, but it's definitely something man-made and the "natural" warming and cooling periods arguments doesn't jive with that.

Links to his wife's incredible self-righteous post about abortion. It's a long post and very passionate so it's probably worth reading, even if it's completely off-base. I don't have enough time to get into a full fledged abortion debate now but will likely come back to it later if by some miracle there are some slow weeks in the bold and aggressive Martin legislative agenda.

In a site called "spin killer", we ironically see articles defending the war in Iraq and William Watson lashing out at Canada in this beauty of a paragraph:
"The Canadian way." It almost makes you want to throw up. The Canadian way, indeed. Never miss an opportunity for self-praise. Never pass up a chance to raise our own fragile self-esteem. Never fail to remind the world what wonderful people we are.

Blue Cicada
Calls Watson's aforementioned prose "inspired". I hope I missed the sarcasm and he wasn't serious. If anything Canadians are extremely insecure and there has been huge criticism of our speed to and amount of aid to the Tsunami relief. I'm no fan of Martin's, but I think he's handled this situation fairly well so far.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Don't Let The Door Hit You...

2005 is off to a great start! Given that Paul Cellucci never spoke ill of Canada, I will bite my tongue and not criticize the rodent as he departs. I will also hold off on any criticism of Tucker Carlson who, along with Crossfire, is exiting stage right. Boy, all I need is for Danny Williams to resign and this will be the best...week...ever.

Speaking of Cellucci, it looks like Frank McKenna will take over as Canada's US Ambassador. You'll remember that filling this post was very important in December...of 2003...when Paul Martin offered it to another leadership contender, John Manley. Now, I don't know what Frank McKenna's long-term goals are, but I do know that if I were considering a run at Liberal Party leadership, I would definitely not want to take this job, given the relatively few potential Liberal delegates living in Washington DC.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


First of all, I've updated my links section. I axed any blogs that hadn't been updated in the past month (including Andrew Coyne who is a manic depressive when it comes to his blog) and divided the links up. If I overlooked any blogs, let me know and I'll add them. I also added a Best of CalgaryGrit section on the right for anyone who's new to the blog and is, for whatever reason, feeling nostalgic about the federal election. Omitted from the "Best Of" section is my post after the debate where I say there is no way Stephen Harper can possibly lose the election.

I also encourage everyone to check out the "2004 Canadian Blog Awards", brought to you by My Blahg. You can vote once a day in a wide range of categories. This blog is up for "Best Liberal Blog" - I'm currently trying to get Margot Aftergood to run my campaign. Keeping in mind that, being a Liberal in Calgary, the candidates I vote for always fail miserably, I think deserving winners would be:

Best Blog - Inkless Wells
Best Liberal Blog - Warren Kinsella
Best Conservative Blog - Norman's Spectator
Best Group Blog - Freethought
Most Humourous Blog - Inkless Wells
Best Non-Political Blog - James Bow (although he did organize the election pool)
Best New Blog - Sean Incognito

And finally, Santa's best gift to me this year was "America: The Book", by Jon Stewart. I just finished it and it's absolutely hilarious. I encourage everyone to read it.

Monday, January 03, 2005

2005 Predictions

I may put up some serious predictions later, but for fun, here are some predictions for 2005:

-Scott Brison decides he’s not comfortable with the Liberal Party and jumps ship to the Bloc Quebecois.

-Jack Layton’s stunts of 2005 include open mouth kissing Ed Broadbent in the house to show support for equal marriage. In addition, the protest BMD, the entire NDP caucus comes to Parliament dressed up as their favourite Star Wars characters and they begin referring with Reg Alcock as “the wookie”.

-The Liberal Party hires Viktor Yanukovich and Paul Martin promptly receives 106% approval at the leadership review vote in March.

-Ralph Klein kills a homeless man with his bare hands. The Calgary Herald applauds him for “finally doing something about the homeless problem.” Klein’s popularity skyrockets when it’s revealed the homeless person was a gay, French man from Ontario.

-Gary Bettman takes Paul Martin up on his word and the PM is brought on to mediate the NHL labour dispute. The final draft document contains a salary cap. However, since they play in a distinct society, the Montreal Canadiens are exempt from the cap, ushering in the era of the asymmetrical NHL.