Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Sky Is Falling

CALGARY: With Same Sex Marriage now legal for two days, Canadian society is feeling the full effects of this profound change. Already, preliminary reports show a large spike in gayness across the country.

“I had been on the fence for quite some time,” said one Red Deer man. “I’d stayed heterosexual because I wanted to get married but once that incentive was gone, I decided to become gay.”

Yes, as many conservative pundits feared, without the blissful nagging, fighting, and infrequent sex marriage has to offer as an incentive to stay straight, Canadians have abandoned the heterosexual lifestyle in droves.

More alarming still are the number of heterosexual marriages that have fallen apart in the 48 hours since Same Sex Marriage was legalized. “I do love my wife, but ever since C-38 became law, our marriage has been in shambles.” said one Calgary resident. “The stress of knowing that man on man monogamy exists in this country is just too much to handle.”

The new law has also made it difficult for many religions. “I’ve noticed a drop in the morality of our members.” claimed one Calgary area Bishop who refused to identify himself. “Our members just don’t know why they shouldn’t be allowed to sin when the government has condoned this sinful lifestyle. I mean, how can I really say that it’s wrong to steal, murder and commit adultery when it’s now perfectly legal for everyone who loves each other to marry? And, to be perfectly honest, it’s a little emasculating for the Church to not be able to prevent people who are not of our faith from marrying in civil ceremonies.”

With moral chaos now reigning across Canada and society crumbling around us, there has also been a dramatic rise in separatism in Quebec with recent polls showing 86% of Quebeckers wanting to leave due to this new moral bankruptcy. This has left many Canadians wishing they had heeded Stephen Harper’s warning about the separatist plot to legalize gay marriage.

This Week in Blogs

1. I was sad to see The Heart of the Matter close up shop. Treehugger has always had one of the better blogs out there and it's a big loss to see him go.

2. Stephen Taylor has a good post on Same Sex Marriage on his site. Although he's a Conservative, he's willing to look at C-38 in a very rational matter. If you scroll through his archives, you'll also be able to download his interview with Monte Solberg.

3. Daveberta has the fourth Wild Rose Roundup out. These things take a lot of time to put together so everyone should go read it.

4. Does anyone else want to start up a pool as to when Andrew Coyne is going to get his blog going again? I'll take July 15th.

5. Apparently "marriage as we know it" has been dealt a "death blow" according to Monte Solberg. I'm sure Monte's wife will be upset to find this out.

6. The Progressive Bloggers blogroll now numbers over 100!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Making History

It's official: C-38 has been passed and this session of Parliament has finally been put out of its own misery.

Looking back, it's pretty clear that this Bill will likely be the only bit of noteworthy legislation to come out of a session that will be remembered for cancelled opposition days, the Grewal tapes, shocking Gomery revelations, a re-written budget, a Prime Minister begging for his life on TV, racial insults, wild accusations, high profile defections, and constant speculation about non-confidence votes. It was a session of parliament where the Liberals used every trick in the book to stay in power, while the Tories spent every waking hour mad about something and trying to bring them down. It was a session of Parliament that was fun to comment on but extremely discouraging for anyone holding out hope that our elected MPs could be productive or, at the very least, act like adults.

But, finally, for the first time since he took office, Paul Martin is making history for the right reasons.

Errors in Logic

Stephen Harper's first and third questions in QP yesterday:

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, during the trip to Ireland it was more than apparent that the victims' families were not satisfied with the government's handling of the Air-India issue, and neither are most members of Parliament.

On April 12 a majority of the members of the House voted to direct the government to immediately hold a public inquiry into the Air-India issue.

Will the Prime Minister honour the will of the House, yes or no?

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is amazing that when they were talking to Jean Chrétien's lawyers, unlike the hep C or Air-India cases, they were able to get immediate action and immediate agreement.

I have a third example. On November 2, 2004, the House passed a resolution calling on the government to recognize the existence of the fiscal imbalance. Almost eight months later, the Prime Minister still has not reacted.

Is the Prime Minister close to admitting that the fiscal imbalance exists?

Just a few hours after making these comments, Stephen Harper declared that the Same Sex Marriage legislation lacked legitimacy because a majority of federalist MPs opposed it. For anyone interested, the vote on the Air India inquiry passed by a 172-124 margin. Since the Bloc supported it, that means that...uh-oh...a majority of federalist MPs voted against the motion.

The fiscal imbalance (which, by the way, is the number one pet issue of the separatists) motion was carried by a 165-128 vote. Since the Bloc supported it, that means that...oh crap...a majority of federalist MPs voted against the motion.

So there you have. An hour before he screamed about a bill every court in Canada and a majority of MPs support as lacking legitimacy because it will pass on BQ support, Harper was urging the government to accept non-binding votes that were passed...thanks to the separatists. At least Martin will usually go a few days between hypocritical contradictions - Harper pulled it off in a matter of minutes.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Natural Opposition Party

If you want proof that Harper's problems are more than image, look no further than this.

*smacks head repeatedly against table*

Now I just feel silly for repeatedly writing that Stephen Harper is a smart guy. The same leader who tried to bring down the government with the help of the BQ now says that Same Sex marriage lacks legitimacy because it's passing due to BQ support. Welcome to Stephen Harper's Canada - a place where 8 provincial courts, the Supreme Court, and a majority of MPs aren't enough for legitimacy. Heck, if we're going to take Harper's conclusions to their logical end, we should just ban separatist parties from running for office.

I've defended Harper more than almost any Liberal blogger out there, but the guy should just resign already, before he embarrasses his party any more.

The Intellectual Versus The Football Star

On my post bellow on Stephen Harper’s image make-over, Paul Wells jumped in with his view that Harper should roll out the Conservative platform this summer. The thinking is that this will eliminate the “hidden agenda” talk and show that there’s more behind him than angry words and hockey trivia.

I really do have mixed opinions on this. I do think that policy is where Harper's focus should be. I really have a hard time believing that Canadians refuse to vote for Harper because he’s not personable enough. I think it’s somewhat insulting to the electorate to announce to them that Stephen Harper will toss a football around and that they should vote for him as a result of it. If you asked most Canadians if they’d rather have Preston Manning or Stockwell Day running the CPC, I’d wager most would pick the geeky policy wonk over the flashy pretty boy.

But I don’t think that means he should reveal the entire Tory platform right now for a few reasons. First of all, a lot can, and will, change in the 8 months from now until the next election. The Supreme Court Health Care decision is an example of that. I think it’s also fairly obvious that at least one Liberal Minister is going to bungle something between now and then to the extent that the CPC will want to highlight it in their platform. If something goes wrong and it’s not addressed in the released platform, the Liberals will be able to say “well, the Conservatives wouldn’t have done this any differently, so don’t blame us.” The reason the Bloc does so well is because they can criticize without worrying about governing. The second you tell people exactly how you'd govern, it makes it very hard to be critical.

One also assumes that some changes will have to be made between this platform and platform 2.0 that Harper will release once the campaign gets going. And once those changes are made he’ll be branded a flip-flopper or an opportunist – whether that’s fair or not.

And finally, I think that releasing a platform in stages during a campaign is a great way to keep media attention on yourself and your ideas once the campaign gets going. If he wants to present himself as a man of ideas but has already shown all his cards, the media isn’t going to want to cover his ideas come campaign time. Instead, they’re gonna want to find some backbench idiot who thinks abortionists should be tried for murder.

That said, there are a lot of benefits to releasing parts of the platform now. A lot of media pundits have been saying that instead of barbecues, Harper should go speak at conferences and share his ideas. I couldn’t agree more. Everyone keeps saying that Stephen Harper is a smart guy with lots of ideas. Well, let’s see it. Let him talk on big issues and prove that he’s an intellectual. He doesn’t need to give away the entire platform but why not give a talk on federalism? On democratic reform? On changing the tax code?

The bottom line is that the “hidden agenda” is still killing Harper. And it seems to me that the worst possible way to fight hidden agenda talk is to tell people that you’re going to put on an act to seem nicer than you actually are. If the real Stephen Harper is a non-scary intellectual, then show people a non-scary intellectual rather than a non-scary prom king.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Was There A Landslide Somewhere Else?

Why, oh why, did it take Anne McLellan so long to tour the flood damage in Calgary in southern Alberta? Paul Martin had valid business to attend to, so it’s understandable that he couldn’t come until now. But Anne McLellan is the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Given that there aren’t a lot of other emergencies in Canada right now (save perhaps the ongoing NHL lock-out), it strikes me as odd that the minister responsible for disasters and the Senior Political Minister for Alberta (well, the only Minister - and only MP - for Alberta) would wait until now to come see the flood damage.

I imagine next weekend she will be off to see the damage from Hurricane Ivan in Nova Scotia and then she’ll be off to tour Ice Storm damage in Quebec.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Shapiro, Stronach cited by Liberals as icons of democratic reform

This post will just be a collection of interesting news stories that caught my eye today but no post title could possibly be funnier than this Yahoo news headline so I went with it.

1. The aforementioned Yahoo story is interesting for two reasons. First of all, it calls Belinda Stronach "an icon of democratic reform". Heh. Secondly, there's this quote:
The report also carries a preface by the prime minister, in which Martin states as his No. 1 example of reform the creation of the new post of "independent ethics commissioner."

Fair enough. The creation of an independent ethics commissioner is likely Martin's greatest achievement in the field of democratic reform. It's just that, uhh, it was Jean Chretien who drafted the bill!!! Feel free to read this story about John Manley unveiling Chretien's ethics reform package in October 2002. Don't get me wrong, I keep telling these guys not to run away from the Chretien record but when Paul Martin's greatest achievement in fighting the "democratic deficit" (his number one priority before becoming PM) is something his predecessor did...well...

In other news, Paul Martin announced his greatest legislative accomplishment is marijuana decriminalization, his greatest policy achievement is same sex marriage legislation, his greatest environmental achievement is the signing of the Kyoto Accord and his greatest foreign policy achievement is saying "no" to the Iraq war.

2. I know it's a touchy subject but poll after poll has shown Canadians support it, and we'd likely have some real assisted suicide legislation if it wasn't perceived as being a controversial issue. Hopefully there will, at the very least, be a good debate on this.

3. As you've probably heard by now, Rick Mercer has joined the blogosphere. His "Jason Kenney: Marxist Leninist" post is very funny, even if it's a little unfair to Jason. But it's Jason Kenney, so I don't have a problem with anyone being a little unfair to him.

Vaughan Grit

I was a little startled this morning to get a big mail-out pamphlet from Maurizio Bevilacqua, a former future Martin Cabinet star.

Don't get me wrong: I'm as interested in the goings-on in Vaughan, Ontario as the next Calgarian. And it is very reassuring to find out that Maurizio is "taking my message to Ottawa" and that "my priorities are his priorities". I must admit that the thought briefly crossed my mind that just maybe everybody's favourite dark horse in the unofficial Liberal leadership campaign is laying the groundwork for a future push. But after the good treatment Maurizio has received from the PM in the past, I'd be shocked if this were the case.

And for what it's worth, while he lacks name recognition, Maurizio is likely a more serious candidate than certain other Italian Liberal MPs who will go unnamed here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Irwin Gump

Apparently our Justice Minister has some hidden talents. Sure, it may take him years to steer same sex marriage and pot decriminalization through the House, but when a ping pong ball is heading his way, he's got lightning quick reflexes.

Read all about it here. (Note: I had a Gazette link up to this earlier today but the Star "broke" this story first...I've updated the link)

(Hat tip to little red satan for sending this story my way)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Straight Eye for the Straight Guy

It's really hard to know what to make out of Stephen Harper's new makeover. I suppose the most obvious conclusion to draw is that Harper will be staying on to lead the Conservatives in the next election. This in itself isn't too surprising although I'd been warming up to the theory that Harper might quietly take Bernard Landry's lead and announce his resignation in early July. There have certainly been enough calls for him to resign and I tend to agree wholeheartedly with Mike Brock's controversial call for Harper to step aside. I know that coming from a Liberal, that's not saying much but I have always thought very highly of Harper. I think he's a very smart man and, despite some recent decisions, I think he's a pretty good tactician. The main reason I never bought into the whole "Stephen Harper is the Bogeyman" scare tactics used last election was that I always knew Harper was too smart to make radical changes as Prime Minister, even if the 'hidden agenda' was chalk full of abortion reform.

But the problem with Harper, as Mike Brock points out, is that he simply has too much baggage. People associate him with the Alliance and his seat is in Calgary. That's why the Ralph Klein health care comments and the victory tour down central Alberta were a lethal combination in the dying days of the 2004 election, probably more so than anything Randy White may have said. If Harper had wanted to, he could have resigned this summer and been praised for all he's accomplished. After all, he united the right and has been the opposition leader who oversaw a stunning collapse, first in Liberal support, then in Paul Martin's personal popularity. Yeah, most of those wounds were self-inflicted but Harper has accomplished a lot in the past two years. A graceful exit would have let Peter MacKay or Bernard Lord come in and pick up the pieces. I know it's a "what if" question political junkies love to debate, but you can put me in the camp that firmly believe either of those two would thrash Martin to pieces in the next election.

And heck, Harper is still a young guy. Maybe after a few 'non-scary' years as Industry Minister, Steve could run for and win his party?s leadership for the third time.

Instead, he's going to try for the political makeover. Don't get me wrong, showing off the "kinder, gentler, young, and athletic" Stephen Harper is likely a good thing to do. It's what he should have been doing the past two summers when he's gone to his Fortress of Solitude. It only makes sense when you're up against a Senior Citizen Prime Minister with little charisma.

But people aren't afraid of Harper's burger flipping abilities. The fact that he can catch a football or dance with a senior citizen won't get rid of the baggage he's accumulated. Stockwell Day tried these stunts when he first took over and it turned him into the biggest laughing stock of the past decade. Harper likely has enough substance to avoid that fate but I strongly doubt this makeover will have much of an impact on an electorate that has, fairly or unfairly, already made up their mind about him.

Apparently the Devil is a Ditherer

Bishop Henry has a new ally.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Endangered Species

With the floods in Calgary, the Herald ran a pretty funny cartoon today I just had to post. Click on the imagine for the full sized version.

Free Image Hosting at


Top of the Class

T0m Olsen wrote up his MLA report cards in today's Herald. With all the hijinx in Ottawa I haven't been following the legislature as closely as usual this session, so I won't critique his rankings that closely, except to say I think he was a little hard on the the three Calgary Liberal MLAs. If anyone who has been paying close attention to the happenings in Edmonton wants to comment on his rankings (I'm looking at you Daveberta), go right ahead and do so.

So, here are the highlights from Tom Olsen's MLA rankings:

The Leaders
Ralph Klein: C-
Kevin Taft: A-
Brian Mason: A

Alberta Alliance Caucus
Paul Hinman: B

Leadership Contenders
Ted Morton: B
Lyle Oberg: C-
Dave Hancock: C-
Ed Stelmach: B-
Gary Mar: C

The Three Amigos
Dave Taylor: B-
Harry Chase: C
David Swann: D

Other Notables
Harvey Cenaiko: A-
Ron Stevens: B+
Iris Evans: B
Shirley McClellan: D
Hung Pham: D-

Friday, June 17, 2005

Wilfert Compliments Martin!

Bourque is on his game again today, reporting on the mis-speak that will be sure to launch a thousand one-liners.

Martin: "Forget it buddy, Boudria is getting into Cabinet before you... "

(hat tip to the alert reader who sent this in with the caption)

The End of 'Partisan' Politics

In a noble gesture today, Paul Martin has called on the opposition parties to put aside 'partisan' politics and...umm...pass his agenda.

In other news, Paul Martin has called on the Conservatives to put aside 'partisan' politics and agree to forgive his government for any wrongs committed in the sponsorship program. He also is expected to call on the Conservatives to put aside 'partisan' politics by not fielding candidates in the next election.

Priorities 2

After going after the Conservatives yesterday for making same sex marriage their top issue, I feel it's only fair to lambast the Liberals for dropping it way down their list of priorities. This issue has been around for a long time and Jean Chretien pretty much announced it was going to be law two years ago. We've heard all the arguments, both good and bad, and unlike, say, STV, everybody has an opinion on the issue. And it's legal in 7 provinces already! Why the Liberals have stalled on this when they clearly want the issue to go away is beyond me but it's become abundantly clear where the "Mr. Dithers" nick-name has come from. It strikes me as odd that something the Prime Minister has called "a human rights issue" has been left to die for the time being...heck, they may even prorogue parliament in the fall so it could be over a year before this legislation is passed.

I know the NDP budget is important but they drafted the SSM legislation over Christmas. If Valeri couldn't steer it through the House in one sitting when three parties and a majority of MPs support it, he's not doing his job, it's that simple.

So while Same Sex Marriage has risen on the list of conservative annoyances, it's fallen on the list of Liberal priorities, which I now present:

most important
1. Staying in power
2. The Jack Layton Budget
3. The Ralph Goodale Budget
4. Staying in power
5. Staying in power
6. Maintaining their publicity program with the South Beach Diet creators
7. David Herle's polling numbers to determine the best way to stay in power
8. Keeping the fur on the welcome mat comfy to ensure they stay in power
9. Democratic Reform (well, we haven't seen any action here, but with two ministers and the PM on the job, surely the democratic deficit is a top priority, right...right...RIGHT?)
10. Same Sex Marriage
least important

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I Am Not A Crook

Courtesy of Bourque, comes this unfortunate slogan choice from Anne McLellan. My humble advice to Anne is that it might not be a great idea to use a Richard Nixon slogan at a time when the Liberal Party is involved in a massive scandal. Just a thought.


I know Conservatives are upset about a lot of things the Liberals are doing. Now, with this news, we can finally get a sense of their relative outrage.

So, for those keeping score, the Conservative Party is more upset at the prospect of two dudes marrying in Alberta, New Brunswick or PEI, than they are with the government spending 4.8 billion dollars in what they consider to be a wreckless and irresponsible manner (check out Monte's blog to see how much they hate the NDP budget).

Based on this, I think we can construct the "Tory Tower of Hate", ranking their grievances:

most upseting
1. Two people who love each other marrying in the three provinces where it's not already legal
2. NDP Budget
3. The Sponsorship Scandal
4. Belinda Stronach
5. The Gun Registry
6. The CBC
7. The Kyoto Accord
8. Ontario Voters
9. Tim Murphy kinda sorta making offers to possible defectors
10. Andrew Coyne turning off his comments section
least upseting

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mr. Angry

In a very bizarre QP today, Paul Martin responded to a question by tabling the "South Beach Diet" and telling Stephen Harper he should take a look at it. I'm dead serious. The same person who called on Stephen Harper "to resume respectful dialogue" in the House called him fat in Question Period.

I'm not sure if this will get any media play but you can be sure that if the tables were reversed there would be comments that Harper is "too angry" to lead Canada, lots of media stories, and a call from the Prime Minister for "civility".

The Great Health Care Debate

There's a good debate going on in the comments section of my healthcare post a few days ago. Since my health care knowledge is limited to "the knee bone's connected to the ankle bone. The ankle bone's connected...", I'm going to save myself some time and effort and re-post some of the better observations from those comments and from around the web.

First, I'd encourage everyone to check out Ezra Klein's blog which has an outstanding country by country comparison of different health care systems. So if you're like me and don't know the intricacies of the Japanese health care system, this is mandatory reading. I'd also point people towards Scott Tribe's post at Progressive Bloggers which is very thorough and brings together comments from around the web. And Andrew Spicer has a suggested plan, complete with diagrams and everything.

Now, a sampling from the comments section of this blog. If you read all the way to the end, I may throw a few of my own thoughts in:

According to the health organization, the higher costs of private insurers are "mainly due to the extensive bureaucracy required to assess risk, rate premiums, design benefit packages and review, pay or refuse claims." Public insurance plans have far less bureaucracy because they don't try to screen out high-risk clients or charge them higher fees.

And the costs directly incurred by insurers are only half the story. Doctors "must hire office personnel just to deal with the insurance companies," Dr. Atul Gawande, a practicing physician, wrote in The New Yorker. "A well-run office can get the insurer's rejection rate down from 30 percent to, say, 15 percent. That's how a doctor makes money. ... It's a war with insurance, every
step of the way." [...]

The resources spent by private insurers don't reduce overall costs; they simply shift those costs to other people and institutions. It's perverse but true that this system, which insures only 85 percent of the population, costs much more than we would pay for a system that covered everyone.

-Paul Krugman (NY Times)

Bottom line, we have to realize that:
1-quality health care is not link with the amount of money spend. Many countries with smaller spending than Canada have a better system.

2-quality health care is not link with the involvement of private. Many countries with less private than Canada have a better system.

In fact, when you look the OECD stats, Canada have one of the most privatise system. Except for Australia, all country with high privatisation has a poor health care quality.


I would rather see the continued support of a Public universally available health care system with one tweak. The tweak is that the existing Public infrastructure lease space and their capital equipment for use at the public facility by private companies.

A private company can only provide, say, an MRI at a Public facility. There would not be PPP partnerships or private hospitals built. Thjere would be no need for the private sector to have to expend dollars on creating the infrastructure. They would lease time on the public equipment and lease the space at the public facility and charge the going rate as set by the Canada Health Act for procedures they perform. The private leasing company is administered by the existing public facility administration which operates under the Canada Health Act.

The private company does not have to expend dollars to buy capital equipment, nor do they have to build facilities/infrastructure. They use the infrastructure that exists and which they lease. They offer MRIs at, say, 2pm through to 10pm Mon-Fri and 8am to 4pm Sat and maybe even on Sundays. In this way they are not taking away from the need of the public to use the existing universally available public infrastructure because the use of the equipment is leased and only available at scheduled times by the private company.


Second, we already have two tiers, Quebec silently left the Canada health Act several years ago and Mr. Dithers formalized that last year. We have two tiers for WBC claimants, federal convicts, members of the RCMP, non-citizens of Canada, aboriginals and anyone with enough money to cross the border for an MRI.

What the Liberals have done for years is characterized anyone who actually points this out as advocating "American style health care" and the stooges in the Canadian media obediently clap their flippers together and bark at the nasty people who would suggest such a thing.

The SCC decision injects a degree of reality into a discussion which was mired in partisan fantasy.


Then Paul Martin gets in and takes the Conservative\Alliance \PC mantra of slashing spending to his heart. 15 years of deep, drastic cuts to our system, all the while costs for real things like nurses, doctors, equipment supplies and energy cost to run hospitals climb. Guys like Mike Harris go further and slash even more. Fire nurses, close hospital beds, then give us a $200 dollar per person tax refund? Great.

You think they might have cut in other places perhaps, or stopped cutting when it was obvious things were getting bad, like in 1996.

Imagine that for 15 years and we have outrageous wait times. Who'da thunk it?

And now, the same people who have been angry at Paul Martin for years for not cutting spending enough have the gall to stand up in the House of Commons and claim he should have spent more on Health Care? Now that is the CPC fantasy - we can cut taxes and increase spending at the same time. Look how well its worked in the US.


That's just a cross-section of opinions. As for my take? I don't mind a role for some private delivery in the system although I can't really understand how private delivery can be cheaper than public due to the profit component. Regardless of that, the debate we're having now is squarely on two tier health care. And once you set up a competing private system, it by default hurts the public system. There's a doctor shortage in Canada right now and I imagine a lot of doctors would leave for the private system. I know I'm being dogmatic on this but if you believe that all Canadians deserve the same health care treatment, then you can't be in favour of two tier health care - it's that simple. And I believe that all Canadians do deserve the same health care treatment.

This ruling pointed out the problem with the current system and because of that, it's likely a good thing. I think we're better off debating this than Gurmant Grewal and it would be naive to say the current system is perfect. But as for two tier health care, I really haven't heard a compelling argument in favour of it.

There's also been a lot of talk about bringing in user fees and I'd be really hesitant to go that route too. One of the biggest failings of our system is that it doesn't address prevention of disease enough and user fees would simply provide a disincentive for checkups and visits to the doctor that catch problems before they become serious.

The house may need renovations but that's not a good reason to blow up the house.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Cowardly Lion

Jean Lapierre has come out and announced that Gilles Duceppe is a "coward" for not jumping to provincial politics. While it is true that leader of the BQ is a much safer job, as TDH has commented, trying to goad Gilles Duceppe into jumping to provincial politics is a very odd strategy, to put it mildly. I can come up with three theories to explain Lapierre's new tactics:

1. He genuinely feels Duceppe is a coward. After all, Lapierre considers the BQ nothing more than a "temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition" so it must be baffling to him how anyone could turn down a chance to be Premier of Quebec for that job.

2. Jean Lapierre is absolutely devastated that Duceppe didn't jump provincially. This is the theory I subscribe to. Here's what I wrote about Jean Lapierre's speech at the LPCA convention this January:
He mentioned that Stephen Harper would not be able to break into Quebec (wow! shocker!) and that Gilles Duceppe 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 Duceppe 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.

Lapierre has been basing his entire strategy on the departure of Gilles Duceppe and now he realizes this isn't going to happen. This is also going to make the Liberal line about "The Conservatives in Bloc are in bed" a lot harder to push, because that entire theory was based on the premise that an early election would allow Duceppe to jump to Quebec City and win a referendum.

3. Maybe Jean Lapierre was hoping to throw his hat into the ring should the job of BQ leader open up ;-)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Better Safe Than Charest

Although it is somewhat surprising, no one should really be shocked by the news that Gilles Duceppe is staying in Ottawa. As I said earlier in week, Duceppe has one of the easiest jobs in the world right now, right up there with "bed tester" and "Monte Solberg campaign manager". All he needs to do is scream about Gomery and he's guaranteed 60 seats in the next election. The man never has to take a difficult policy stand since he's a federal politician who has no need or desire to make Canada work.

And I'll repeat this since it bears repeating: Gilles Duceppe is only a fraction of the politician everyone believes him to be. He was a spent force in politics before the Sponsorship Scandal broke. Heck, the only French I know is "j'aime le fromage" and I could have swept Quebec as BQ leader last election. The PQ is a bloodthirsty party, something Lucien Bouchard found out after making a similar leap. And Quebec politics are very difficult, something Jean Charest has found out time and time again.

Better Late Than Never

Less than a month after I poked fun at the LPCA (Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta) for their antiquated website (top news story: "Get the latest on Paul Martin's leadership replace John Turner"), they've launched a new and improved site.

You can find the site at the oxymoron url:

Banned Topics

For anyone who bothered to read all the way to the end of this CTV news story on Buckets of Grewal, you'll have caught this tid-bit:
But maybe a certain amount of Grewal fatigue is setting in on all sides. Check out this June 6 post from CalgaryGrit, who is listed as a member of Progressive Bloggers:
"To be perfectly honest, I'm a little grewaled out so I won't even begin to comment on the latest bizarre twist (Grewal's stress leave) in this saga."

While I am flattered to be mentioned, I find it odd that, to make the news, this blog merely has to not discuss a topic. I guess I've been going about the blogging thing all wrong.

So, for any aspiring news editors out there, for the next week, Calgary Grit will not discuss any of the following: Bono, abortion, Belinda's love life, Peter MacKay's dog, Tim Murphy, Romanian Strippers, Joe Volpe's leadership run, or Nina Grewal.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Fix for a Generation

Although this Supreme Court ruling is devastating (or, I suppose, a godsend, depending on your opinion), at the very least it will force politicians to focus on real policy issues rather than doctored tapes, confidence votes, and political bribes. Warren Kinsella has an outstanding post up on what this means for each of the four political party leaders. Warren’s analysis in bang on and, since I agree with most of what he’s said, I suspect the rest of this post will be using a lot of his arguments.

Before I get to what this means for each of the parties, we should remember that this ruling applies only to Quebec and on the issue of the Charter, the decision was split. But it would be naïve to assume that this isn’t a national issue and won’t be the national issue for the foreseeable future. Because of that, each of the four party leaders has a huge decision to make.

Paul Martin

The Stakes: He ran an election as “the defender of health care” and won. He promised to “fix health care for a generation” and proclaimed mission acomplished last fall.

The Dilemma: Has lambasted Stephen Harper for the past year for going against the courts and the Charter on Same Sex Marriage. Has pretty much said he would never use the notwithstanding clause.

The Upside: The Liberals always win when the topic turns to health care. This could be the big issue to make people forget about corruption.

The Downside: Words and spin won’t be enough this time.

What Martin Will Do: He’ll make a lot of grand speeches about “protecting health care” but won’t do a thing to stop two tier health care.

Stephen Harper

The Stakes: He’s down in the polls and his leadership of the party is being called into question.

The Dilemma: Does he embrace the decision and come out strongly in favour of some private health care or does he go against judicial activism?

The Upside: This ruling is a condemnation of the current health care system and, by consequence, Paul Martin and the Liberals.

The Downside: Predictable Liberal scare tactics about the “death of health care” will raise the “hidden agenda” fears during the next election.

What Harper Will Do: Will attack the Liberals for doing nothing without actually clarifying his position (see: missile defense debate for reference).

Jack Layton

The Stakes: Because of the “Greatest Canadian”, everyone thinks Tommy Douglas and the NDP gave Canada health care.

The Dilemma: They want to save health care but don’t want Martin to be the person to do it.

The Upside: Their alliance with the Liberal Party leaves them in a position to make a difference. If Martin and Harper waffle (imagine that…), Layton can look like the one leader standing up for health care.

The Downside: If the debate polarizes between Martin and Harper, NDP voters may jump Liberal.

What Layton Will Do: I think Jack will be bold here and will publicly demand certain actions by Martin as a condition of the continued Liberal/NDP alliance.

Gilles Duceppe

The Stakes: This is a Quebec decision and Duceppe’s position might very well define his PQ leadership campaign.

The Dilemma: Kinsella put it best – Quebec’s legislative autonomy versus public health care.

The Upside: Given he’s currently fighting Paul Martin, Pauline Marois, and Jean Charest, it’s hard to imagine he can walk this tightrope without upsetting someone.

The Downside: The Bloc will ride Gomery to 60 seats regardless of how this plays out. For Duceppe, the downside is a crippling blow to his goal of becoming Premier of Quebec.

What Duceppe Will Do: He will certainly not announce his candidacy for PQ leader until this issue quiets down.


The Stakes: It’s the issue Canadians rank as the most important, time and time again.

The Dilemma: Public versus private. The courts versus Parliament. How to best fix healthcare.

The Upside: Maybe this will lead to health care reform.

The Downside: Two tier health care.

What will Happen: ???

A Propos of Nothing

Harper's recent suggestions that a Conservative government might consider invoking the Charter-overriding notwithstanding clause, Martin said, point to a "fundamental difference" between the two leaders.

"I would not use the notwithstanding clause," Martin said. "And if what you're prepared to do is use the notwithstanding clause, then what you're saying essentially is minority rights can be subjected to the will of the majority.

"I've got to tell you that is not the kind of country I believe in, nor do I think it's the kind of country that Canadians believe in."

-June 14th, 2004

On a Lighter Note

Before I wade in on the explosive health care decision today, I thought I'd pass on two funny satire pieces sent my way.

First off, "Liberals Killed a Conservative Star".

And as we go from sounds of the 80s to the 90s, it's the Splice Boys:

Free Image Hosting at

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hairnets Aside

All the buzz is on Gilles Duceppe and we’re certain to see the doom and gloom scenario repeated over and over again. You know the one:

1. Giles Duceppe runs for PQ leadership and wins
2. On the strength of his popularity, Duceppe defeats Jean Charest in two years and becomes Premier.
3. On the strength of his popularity and Adscam outrage, Duceppe calls a referendum and wins.

But let’s take a step back for a moment. Even if Duceppe runs for and wins the PQ leadership, he’s going to find provincial politics a much harder game than federal politics. As BQ leader, he can spout about “Quebec’s grievances” and Gomery, without so much as a worry about governing or the good of the country. Once he jumps to provincial politics, he’s going to have to take real stands and make unpopular decisions because he knows there’s a good chance he’ll be Premier one day. I think he’ll soon find that failed “fe-dee-RAW-lism” and feigned outrage will only take him so far. Ask the guy his opinion on tuition hikes and suddenly he’s going to have to take real, unpopular stands. Remember, two years ago Gilles Duceppe was seen as a spent force and a failure as politician. He’s been using the Adscam crutch but now he’s going to have to walk on his own.

When Lucien Bouchard jumped to provincial politics, he found out it’s a whole new ball game. Bouchard is one of the greatest politicians of the past century and a man who nearly destroyed Canada single handedly. Yet he got 76.7% on his first leadership review after becoming PQ leader, the same percentage Bernard Landry picked up last weekend. I also seem to recall another golden boy of federal politics with curly hair who went provincial and has had a rather rocky ride, to put it mildly. In fact, he’s the main reason the PQ is poised to regain power.

As for a referendum, it won’t happen and if it does happen, the Oui side will be defeated. Adscam pales in comparison to Meech, the later being a substance issue and the former being one party’s scandal. People are mad now but they’re not going to rip up the country over it. And Gilles Duceppe pales in comparison to Lucien Bouchard. If Bouchard couldn’t deliver, what makes anyone think Duceppe can?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Grewaled Out

To be perfectly honest, I'm a little grewaled out so I won't even begin to comment on the latest bizarre twist in this saga. So, for the next little while, I'll try and make this a "Grewal Free Zone" and I direct everyone to Buckets of Grewal for the ongoing twists and turns of "The Adventures of Gurmant".

One guy who I do want to comment on is Pat O'Brien. I'm really tempted to give him credit for making a principled decision: This won't get him a Cabinet position and he didn't run around on his own little Alias mission. But, then again, Strom Thurmond was fairly principled too and it's hard to give him credit for that. So, if nothing else, let's just say that Pat O'Brien handled his departure from caucus with a lot more maturity than we've seen from most other MPs on Parliament Hill.

I don't think his one vote is extremely important because I can't imagine the Conservatives trying to force a July (or August) election when they're down in the polls. Then again, I suppose his vote could mean something come next November.

What is important in this is that Mr. O'Brien is a lot more than one vote. Unlike Carolyn Parrish or David Kilgour, Pat O'Brien has a following in the Liberal Caucus and was leading a band of 10 or 15 "rebel" Liberal MPs on a crusade to deny gay people the right to marry. While it's unlikely that many more would leave caucus, the potential of a backbench revolt is very real. And while I can't stand these MPs or their political leanings, I think it would be deliciously ironic for Paul Martin to find himself on the receiving end of a backbench revolt.

With Gomery done and the Grewal story (hopefully) dying down, I think it's extremely likely that we're going to be hearing a lot about same sex marriage this month. The Liberals want the legislation passed before the House adjourns for the summer. The Tories and O'Brien's disciples do not. I'm fairly sure this won't be the last we hear from Mr. O'Brien.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Wild Rose Roundup

First of all, I'd like to offer a special thanks to Rempelia Prime for writing the first Wild Rose Roundup, a look at blogs across Alberta. I can guarantee that this week's won't be quite as thorough but it's a rainy day in Calgary (see Lectico's post on this), so I figured I'd give it a go. So, here's what bloggers across Alberta are saying:

BumOnline discusses Sinclair Stevens on the Rutherford show and the "bloc Harper" movement. Speaking of Sinclair Stevens, Alberta Propagandists looks at the biggest scandals in Canadian history.

CalgaryGrit gives a rundown of blogs across Alberta. A great break from the usual crap he posts!

Welcome to Cannuckistan dispels Albertan stereotypes by joining "God Bless America" bloggers and "Bloggers Against Hillary". Look, I didn't like the Lizzie McGuire movie either, but to set up a whole blog group because of it, I dunno... The Black Kettle says the CPC should go negative and links to a ton of Paul Jackson articles.

Socialist Swine, who can be always counted on for an entertaining read, goes through this week in pictures. He also asks what you'd name your pet donkey which, for some odd reason, I found kind of funny, even if it really isn't.

Given this blog's antipathy to Joe Volpe, it's no surprise that I'll highlight Civitatensis' smack-down of the immigration minister. On a similar note, Stupidangrycanajun trashes the Liberals, but it's mainly directed at Jim Karygiannis so I'm cool with it.

It seems the biggest news story in Alberta this week is...Gurmant Grewal. Red vs Blue has a few good posts on it. What it takes to win also touches on Gurmant.

Crittermusings looks at the 100th birthday...but not of the event you think (no, not Dick Clark's birthday either). Speaking of that 100th birthday, Daveberta tells his story of the Queen's visit to Alberta. And since he knows more about provincial politics than any blogger out there, he gives the run-down of the PC leadership race. For the record, I think it's Morton versus Dinning, with Lyle Oberg having a chance to play king maker on the second ballot. It will be very interesting to see the political fallout as this will be a real rural versus urban and right versus further right race.

Doucheblog mentions "gay bald hooker"'ll have to click on the link to see what the post is actually about. And since I brought up hookers, Dust my Broom looks at the latest from strippergate. Apparently it's the scandal that keeps on giving because Maple Leafs Blog has more on it too. He's also got a fun poll on "the worst member of parliament". Meanwhile the Herbinator discusses the one group in society thought of in lower esteem than gay bald hookers - politicians. Specifically, politician pay raises. The Herbinator's book tag victim, Impetus Java House, joins the next best thing to Oprah's Book club. Last week's roundup host, Rempelia Prime, also joins the fray.

Political Cycles talks about Canadian poverty. Calgary Observer looks at the CRTC. It's nice to see bloggers discussing real issues.

Strong and Free is reminded of why he's a proud Canadian and proud Albertan. Idealistic Pragmatist offers advice to less than proud Canadians who might be considering a move south.

From the miscellaneous file elephants with wings, discusses lightsabers and fashion. Grandinite writes a very good post on economics, and a new Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Ian's messy desk mentions Paris Hilton, thereby ensuring a ton of google hits. Kevin G Powell talks about the Da Vinci Code. From future movies to present, Rantastic talks about the big sci-fi movie of the, not that movie.

And that's what's on the minds of Albertans this weekend.

Update: I absentmindedly did not link to MK Braaten's blog in the roundup so you should all go visit so that I don't feel guilty about the oversight. There's some stuff up on O'Brien's defection (which I'll likely post on tomorrow), news of a Stephen Harper biography (now there's a parody post just waiting to happen), and some good analysis of the Auditor General's report (no, not that report).

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Calling Gilles Duceppe

All eyes in Canada now turn to this man:

Friday, June 03, 2005

You're Fired

One thing I always find amusing when listening to MPs is how their constituents always seem to share their opinion 100% of the time. A few weeks back, every Tory MP chimed in that "my constituents are telling me they want an election" while the constituents in Liberal ridings across the country appeared to be saying the exact opposite. It's an easy fall-back to justify whatever position you're taking ("Canadians in my riding are telling me that, yes, we should vote in favour of puppy genocide").

So it was rather odd to watch the National last night on the Grewal affair. They went to his riding office and met with the receptionist there and she candidly admitted that they've been getting a lot of bad feedback. "75% of the calls are really, really negative" she said. You know it's bad when even your own employees aren't spinning it in your favour.

As for the allegations that the tape was seems every blogger out there has become an audio expert all of a sudden but, alas, my knowledge in this field is somewhat limited. I will say that I think Stephen Harper is too smart to approve of something like that. But the whole affair is really starting to look like Amateur Hour from both sides so who knows? The real test for Harper will be whether or not to kick Grewal out of caucus if it is shown that he edited the tapes.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Lost in Translation

After yesterday’s release of Liberal tape translations, it appears more tapes have been found and translated. I think you’ll agree this casts a whole new light on the scandal:

TM: Well, I have talked to Volpe, already. So —
GG: Is he manageable?
TM: Yes.

Translation: TM - “Volpe will lay off…if you support him for leadership.”

GG: Belinda Stronach and others position, they had a straight forward
UD: You see, every circumstance is different. Your circumstances are
different, mine were different, Scott’s were different.

Translation: UD - “Face it buddy, you’re no Belinda.”

GG - We have to rush through because of the Question Period
UD - Today, Question Period is at 2 PM
GG - Don’t you have to prepare for it.
UD - No, I can just prepare in 5 minutes, in the car.

Translation: UD - “Why would I spend time preparing for QP? Have I done anything worthy of being asked a question in the last 8 months?”

TM: We all have to be agree… whether we can have… an honest to be an answer knowing that I said some one with a caliber and courage in the context of you and your wife…

Translation: “Sorry, I just watched Star Wars last night, and I can’t stop talking like Yoda.”

TM: Let me make it absolutely clear that we are a welcoming party; we will do everything we can. Obviously for us continuing to expand our base in BC and in prominent communities in this country is a political priority for us. It is a welcoming mat that has a lot of nice comfy fur on it. [Laughs]

Translation: “The Liberal Party is a welcoming mat with a lot of nice comfy fur…unless you’re Sheila Copps…or Tony Kuo…or Steven Hogue…or Warren Kinsella…”

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Liberals Translate Grewal Tapes

Amid concerns over the validity of the tapes released, the Liberal Party has released their own translation of the tapes today. Their version is quick to point out the errors in the Conservative translation. For example, on Grewal's web site, one part of the tape reads as follows:

TM - Absolutely, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to preclude that if obviously you have to feel where you are comfortable doing and where your personal stake is and what holds you and your wife, let me make it absolutely clear that we are a welcoming party we will do everything we can, obviously for us continuing to expend our base in BC and in prominent communities in this country is a political priority for us. It is a welcoming mat that has a lot of nice Comfy fur on it. Laughs.

UD - I think what Tim is saying about trust is that most of these things do have our trust and you have to feel comfortable with that and at the end, of course if Chief of Staff say that certain conduct ought to be rewarded in due time that trust is kept 99.9% of the times. Sometimes you can’t do it circumstances will kill you. I told him about my conversation with the PM.

TM - Let me put one more fact that we can keep this one fact in this room. As I understand from my perspective, you know, I have two things I’m going to say One of which is, David Peterson, in terms of Belinda Stronach, David Peterson was the conduit. DP called me on Friday. And obviously we had a conversation to meet him and Belinda on the basis of trust and not surprisingly, if it did not work out then Stronach didn’t wanted to be in a position of being burnt by the discussion and so we did it on the basis of trust. Between us it didn’t happen but it was on the basis of trust. Ujjal Dosanjh is a crucially important minister in the govt and yet I could not tell him because I had given a promise, until today. Right? So, that I think is lesson about two things. One of which is, we live up to our commitments. Secondly, this conversation no matter what happens, something that happened to us that Saturday. And in fact, no one knew that we were doing it and this is the proof that we can do it. No matter what happens. So I want you to know that and that level of comfort.

However, once the proper translation is administered, taking into account small changes in tone and certain words missed on the Tory transcript, a much more accurate picture emerges:

TM: I'm sorry Gurmant, although I have not spoken to Paul about this, he
has made it clear that no deal is to be offered.

GG: I'm sorry Tim. But I won't take no for an answer.

Hopefully this will help to clear up the confusion and controversy.

A Tale of Two Tories

If offering a Cabinet position in exchange for crossing the floor is worthy of all of this hullabaloo, how exactly did Belinda Stronach join the Liberals and wind up in Cabinet right away? I know there aren't any tapes out there but I find it extremely far fetched that the topic of a Cabinet position never came up during her evening chit-chat with Paul at 24 Sussex. I mean, did he just tap her on the way to the press conference and say:

"Oh, by the way Belinda. I know we never talked about this, but you're going into Cabinet. I know it's a very complex file, but I'm sure you'll have no problem with it."

The best defense came from Scott Reid with his "What are we? Morons?" line. Now, I'm not advocating they use that line a lot since it's not exactly a rhetorical question but it just seems to me that a conversation like this must always happen with an MP crossing the floor. That's not to say the RCMP shouldn't investigate or that Ujjal and Murphy didn't cross any lines - this whole affair is unsavoury, to put it mildly.

But how come everyone dwells on what may have been an offer of a Cabinet position to one Tory, when there was a firm offer to Belinda that was accepted?