Saturday, April 29, 2006

Reply from Lorrie Goldstein!

O.K. I lied. One more post about the media-flag controversy. This is probably going to make somebody angry, because I am pulling a "Garth Turner" and going a bit off-message. I still support the government's decision on flying the flag high. However, I've reconsidered my stand on the media access restriction.

I wrote Sun Columnist Lorrie Goldstein yesterday and invited him to check out my post and forward any related comments. He still stands by the Sun's editorial, but his extremely introspective response regarding media complaints about access-denial at Trenton caused me to reassess my own position:

"Just had a chance to read your blog. Thanks for the plug, but I must say I do agree with the Sun's stand on the issue of the media being allowed to attend the arrival of the soldiers' coffins in Canada.

The Sun, as you know, has always supported our military and we believe these "tarmac" ceremonies are an important part of our history that should be recorded by the media, as well as a compelling reminder to all Canadians of the enormous sacrifices our armed forces are sometimes called to make on our behalf.

In other words, if we're going to send the military into a war zone, then let's realize what a serious decision that is — BEFORE we send them — not after."

When I asked Lorrie for permission to publish his comments, he thanked me for asking and added the following:

"On the second point, while I believe it's important for the media to fight (figuratively speaking) for the right to be present at the airport ceremony, it does take place inside a military facility (Canadian Forces Base, Trenton, or at a similar location) which is, of course, a restricted area. In other words, if the military asks the families if they are comfortable with the media presence and any of them refuse, then the military is obviously within its rights to refuse us access. I would only ask that the issue be fairly put to the families - that is, that allowing the media to attend at the reception of the soldiers' coffins has been a long-standing practice and has not, to my knowledge, ever produced problems before. However, if the families still insisted on no media presence, then of course the military has the right, as it always has, to refuse us entry to the tarmac area.

Sorry, for the long-winded answer but I'm trying to draw a distinction between the media agreeing to restricted access, which I do not think we should do, as opposed to respecting the right of the military to restrict our access, based on the genuine wishes of the families. Our major objection is that the prime minister appeared to change a long-standing protocol which had not caused any controversy in the past without even asking the families, or, it appears from the latest reports, the military itself, if this was necessary. To me., it's simple - the prime minister said he was changing the protocol for the sake of the privacy of the families. Our question: Did he or someone from his office ask them?"

Lorrie Goldstein

I have reproduced the emails almost in their entirety because I promised him that the essential meaning would not be changed, and I didn't want to upset my favourite columnist!

After reading Lorrie's very reflective message and the letter from Cpl. Ryan Maher, I have to ask what is wrong with just asking the families what their wishes are on an individual basis? As Cpl. Maher says, "if there is even one member of one family who would have liked the repatriation ceremony in Trenton to be private, then the media should respect that request with no questions asked." Seems reasonable to me.

I want to thank Lorrie Goldstein for taking the time to forward his thoughts and also for acknowledging the existence of the blogosphere. I think this is an excellent example of how MSM and bloggers can work together to produce constructive, dynamic discussion which is healthy for our democracy.

Now I am sitting here wondering if a giant lightening bolt is heading my way from Ottawa.

Probably not - it's a big tent.

* * * * *

Update - I just checked out Garth Turner's blog. John, a "current serving member of the CF", makes the following points:

"On the flag front, I think the tories are correct in returning to the real protocol for flag lowering...Chretien used the death of 4 good men to make political hay for anti-US sentiments (Martin continued this trend). The only reason the flag was lowered for the first four in Afghan was to incite anger in Canadians as opposed to respecting the men that he sent there under equipped and with poor old equipment (which may have led to their deaths in the first place)...

On the funeral side of things, changing that policy back was again, to combat the MSM’s agenda to try and impact our foreign policy... Support our troops and leave this non-sense behind."

So here is my final question: Is this a matter of respect for family privacy or of policy protection? If the former, then why not ask the families? If the latter, how does one media ban make a difference when they are allowed everywhere else?

In any case, let's support our troops in more ways than just post-humously.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Media-Flag Flap Fury Unfurls Further

The Toronto Sun is getting properly pilloried for its pompous, self-righteous editorial from Wednesday ("Soldiers' Deaths Concern Us All"):

Jeremiah White says, "I have served in Afghanistan and lost friends to bombers like the ones who just took the lives of four more of my comrades... What more do the media want -- a camera lens 12 inches away from their faces as tears roll down their cheeks?"

Cpl. Ryan Maher from Trenton is against the government's general media ban but adds this:

"I firmly believe that if there is even one member of one family who would have liked the repatriation ceremony in Trenton to be private, then the media should respect that request with no questions asked. It should not be a blanket rule by the government to ban media from the ceremony..."

On the flag issue, he agrees with Harper: "The sacrifice of the Labrador helicopter crew, killed when they crashed in Quebec during a search-and-rescue mission, is no less a sacrifice than that of the four soldiers killed in Afghanistan last weekend."

He also criticizes the politicians: "Shame on anyone who tries to use the sacrifice of these brave four for some cheap political gain."

* * * * *

I am going to be leaving this media vulture topic soon, but I do want to mention that we shouldn't tar and feather all the Sun writers. Lorrie Goldstein has managed to salvage his hero status in my eyes. Although he labels Harper's actions that ban the media at repatriation ceremonies as "dumb" (dumb?); he does say the following in his April 26 column, "A Matter of Respect":

"...And that's all this flag flap is. A non-essential, with the chorus of "support" for our soldiers being led by hypocritical Liberal and New Democrat MPs -- all of whom should be ashamed of their parties' records when it comes to our military. Anyone can make nice speeches about fallen soldiers in the Commons. Anyone can shed crocodile tears. Anyone can pretend that the recent Liberal "innovation" of honouring some soldiers by lowering the Canadian flag on Parliament Hill when they are killed in action, but not others, represents "respect." After all, it's so very Liberal. It's easy, it looks nice and it doesn't cost us a cent..."

Lorrie, I forgive you.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who Should be Ashamed?

The Hon. Andrew Telegdi has just surpassed Hon. Karen Redman on my "Local M.P. Embarrassment Meter". (What makes them honourable anyway?)

Hon. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): "Mr. Speaker, the decision to send our troops to a combat zone is made in this building. Ultimately it is Parliament that is responsible. It is a disgrace that the flag at the top of this building is not at half-mast as a show of respect for our soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms.

When we lower the flag, not only do we honour the latest casualties, we remember all our war dead. Lowering the flag is an expression of the appreciation of a grateful nation to those who are serving and those who have served. Remembrance should not be restricted to one day a year.

Further, the new policy to banish the media from the repatriation ceremony of the bodies of our fallen soldiers is a disgrace. I suggest that the new government policies on the flag and repatriation be reversed.

The firefighters, at their convention being held in Ottawa today, had a minute of silence in memory of our fallen soldiers. This sign of respect is being repeated by Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

I suggest that we in this chamber do the same by having a moment of silence in remembrance, gratitude and respect."

-Hansard, April 26, 14:20

Now, let's contrast this with an excerpt from the Letter of the Day in today's National Post:

'Canadians have not earned the right to share our grief'

"As a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, I'm disturbed by the media frenzy and the artificial public outcry over the government's decision to restrict the media from CFB Trenton for the arrival of Canadian war dead. I fully support this decision, and I am ashamed of my fellow Canadians. For the past dozen years, when the Liberals were decimating the Canadian military, there was no public outcry. There was no media frenzy. You did not care. Canadians have -- due to their self-centred, insatiable demand for social programs -- wilfully neglected the men and the women of the Canadian Forces and allowed the federal government, under the Liberals, to gut the Canadian military. And now the media and other pundits wish to share in the grief of the military families for their fallen ones?

...The Canadian media -- and Canadians -- have not earned the right to share our grief. Shame on the Canadian media, and shame on Canadians."

Ian Parker, Carleton Place, Ont.


I am begging the constituents of Kitchener-Waterloo: Please, please please cut this letter out of your Post today. Stick it on your fridge and reread it when the next election rolls around. If you still think the Liberals did such a great job, then tell that to Ian Parker and every other soldier risking his or her life today.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Arrogance and Entitlement - Not the Grits!

I am sickened and disgusted by the self-indulgent pity party going on in MSM over Harper's banning the media coverage of the return of soldiers' remains to Canadian soil. The Toronto Sun's editorial especially made me bristle with anger today.

The Sun actually has the audacity to suggest that somehow their right to get a story trumps any rights of privacy or military tradition. The piece is totally nauseating.

On the other hand, the National Post is running an excellent editorial, which makes me ever so glad that I am a subscriber (no they don't pay me to say that). "When did our media become such whiners?" is more than worth the read:

"This was intended as a show of respect, but many in the media prefer to characterize the "media ban" as a cynical ploy to manipulate public opinion, or worse, an assault on fundamental freedoms. "

Check out Stephen Taylor's blog for some interesting comments from a soldier in Kandahar. He would like to see an expression of support in the form of better equipment. What a novel idea!

Let's do something for the living, and then maybe we can mourn the dead with some sense of dignity and self-respect.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Politics vs. Principles

Anyone reading the plethora of information and opinion in MSM and blogs about the flag-lowering debate can easily be overwhelmed and confused.

Emotions run high and opinions are ranging everywhere from sympathy for the families' perceived outrage, to firm acceptance of the directive that earlier protocol should be re-instated.

Clearly this situation is a political football with opposition screaming foul, and media feeling further alienated by a related decision not to allow coverage of the returning bodies.

Calgary Sun columnist Licia Corbella highlights the best argument for supporting the government's decision to keep the flag flying high:

"Exactly 60,661 Canadian soldiers died in the First World War, at a time when the entire population of Canada was barely eight million. Almost 43,000 Canadians perished in the Second World War in a country of 11.5 million.

If we lowered the flag one day for everyone of those who gave all in those two great wars the flag atop the Peace Tower would have to have been lowered starting in 1914 and we'd have more than 190 years to go.

That would render the lowering of the flag to utter meaninglessness and morbidity."

Somewhere else I read the concern that if the flag ends up in perpetual half-mast state, would we then be arguing about quarter-mast positioning?

Today's Toronto Sun has a brilliant editorial suggesting that instead of all this rhetoric and discussion, let's get on with funding the troops properly. This will honour the dead in a far more productive manner:

"...until we properly compensate and care for all those who serve, and served, in our military, we will never truly honour our war dead. Talk is cheap. It’s now time for action."

Liberal defense critic Ujjal Dosanjh is accusing the government of aligning itself too close to U.S. policy:

"It's extremely disturbing that this government would take a page out of [U.S. President George] Bush's modus operandi," Mr. Dosanjh said.

Personally, I think this is another area where the "steely resolve" that George Bush attributed to Stephen Harper during their talks about softwood lumber will serve us all well.

'Dithering' with the Taliban is not an option.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Breaking News - Babies Need their Parents! (even in Quebec)

The YWCA is not going to like this: According to Globe columnist Margaret Wente, a new book, "Le bébé et l'eau du bain" (The Baby and the Bathwater) written by popular Quebec pediatrician Dr. Jean-François Chicoine actually dares to state that children under two are better off at home with their parents! Imagine the audacity of the man to even think such a thing! It is truly shocking.

"Dr. Chicoine insists he's not political. He has only one agenda: kids".

Sure, sure.. We've all heard that one before. Let me see, was it during the latest teachers' walkout, or was it from some unionized daycare representative or previous Liberal Minister? It will come to me.

If parents and baby don't have this bonding time together, Dr. Chicoine feels that the child could be at risk for all kinds of emotional problems in the future. Now really, what's he talking about? Surely parents cannot be a proper substitute for all the childcare experts that run government daycares. If they happen to forget one or two kids outside or after hours, no big deal right?

Co-author and journalist Nathalie Collard says, "But if you put a baby into daycare at two months old, why have a baby at all? It's as if staying at home with your child were a punishment.”

Why indeed? Maybe that's where the debate should begin - in the bedroom.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Red Blight on my Fair City

Anyone who watched Question Period today was able to see first hand what I have to put up with. Jason Kenney was pitted against Olivia Chow and my own M.P. Karen Redman (poor Jason!).

Debate on Afghanistan was the opening topic, with Kenney giving the government POV, and Chow extending her sympathy to families of fallen soldiers but maintaining that debate must continue and an exit strategy should be discussed.

Then it was Karen Redman's turn: She too supported the debate, and wanted to extend her condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, "but more important than that" she said, we should be looking beyond the war phase of the initiative.

Say what? Hopefully she was referring to the debate as being less important, but it was such a dismissive reference to those heros. What could possibly be more important to those families than the fact that their loved one just lost his or her life fighting for democracy? I can only imagine how a family member would feel watching her prattle on with her dizzying platitudes, all the while downplaying the significance of this sacrifice.

Environment: Jane Taber asked Ms. Redman about her government's poor record on greenhouse gas emissions. Karen defended her party by saying that the Liberals brought in the "Greenest Budget". Mmm.. That's right, Karen. Let's not confuse the issue with facts.

She said the 'One Ton Challenge' was a local success story! Reality check: Manure doesn't count.

Childcare: Stephen Harper should be listening to "experts" in the field, who promote national daycare. Jason Kenney shot her down by reminding everyone that his government feels the best experts are 'Mom' and 'Dad', not tax-funded special interest groups.

* * * * *

Most important, whenever you hear Karen Redman say that people in her riding feel this way or that, please remember that she is asking her buddies and assistants for their opinions.

She knows better than to ask me.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pesticides Can Be Good For You!

O.K. I know, this is a bit of a shocker; almost sacrilegious coming hot on the heels of Earth Day. However, I read an interesting article in the National Post a few days ago ("How pesticides are saving the Earth"- April 20) by Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore who says that the use of pesticides allows us to increase food production without destroying more forest and wilderness. Pesticides also enhance the quality of food, with less spoilage and loss to pests and disease.

"But activist groups with an anti-pesticide agenda continue to disseminate misinformation designed to scare and confuse the public. From the Environmental Working Group's 1989 campaign against the growth regulator Alar (a campaign which nearly destroyed the U.S. apple-growing industry), and continuing today with the likes of the Sierra Club and David Suzuki, the misguided bid to demonize pesticide use continues."

*Shudder* I know. David Suzuki is like this earth-god that everyone worships. I feel like a bolt of lightening is going to strike me any minute now.

However, there is a lot of junk science involved with these activists' claims. Our kids have been spoon-fed this stuff by unionized daycare workers and fear-mongering school teachers. Pesticides bad. You can get sick. Eat this rotten organic apple instead!

Dr. Moore says, "But activist groups with an anti-pesticide agenda continue to disseminate misinformation designed to scare and confuse the public. From the Environmental Working Group's 1989 campaign against the growth regulator Alar (a campaign which nearly destroyed the U.S. apple-growing industry), and continuing today with the likes of the Sierra Club and David Suzuki, the misguided bid to demonize pesticide use continues.

An international panel of cancer experts organized by the National Cancer Institute of Canada has reached much the same conclusion. Evaluating over 70 published studies, it concluded that contrary to allegations by some activists, it was "not aware of any definitive evidence to suggest that synthetic pesticides contribute significantly to overall cancer mortality."

So, if pesticides used in food do not pose a significant threat to human health, why are we getting our shorts in a knot about their very controlled use on lawns? Is anyone eating the grass? Even if they did, would it be harmful?

I know this is like environmental heresy, but I'm just saying don't buy into all the David Suzukis of the world.

Speaking of whom, I also just found out via our local rag, that the Environmental Guru himself is going to be speaking at University of Waterloo on Tuesday ("David Suzuki at 70: Keeping the Faith").

The Record says, "Suzuki and others in the movement have been successful in winning the ear of decision-makers, but with the election of the Stephen Harper Conservatives, they could be facing tough times ahead. Harper refused a request to meet with Suzuki after the election."

Wow, the gall of that guy - Stephen Harper that is. Imagine refusing to meet with David Suzuki! I mean, what was he thinking? What could be more important? Pamela Anderson? Paul McCartney? Brigit Bardot? Robin Williams? Dalton McGuinty?

The man clearly has his priorities all messed up.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Make No Move

I think the editors of the Toronto Sun dislike Ontario Lieberal Premier Dalton McGuinty almost as much as I do. This morning's editorial chastises the so-called 'leader' for not taking any action at all regarding the Caledonia stand-off.

The theory, according to the Sun, is that Dalton figures if he pretends he doesn't know anything at all, he is therefore justified in not making any kind of decision. He is obviously afraid of being pilloried the way his own party did to Mike Harris during the Ipperwash fiasco.

This is so reminiscent of the past Federal Fiberal government, when Paul Martin et al swore they knew nothing about Adscam. Ralph Goodale and his buddies had a similar case of amnesia concerning the Income Trust leak. Scott Brison is still trying to mop up the floor after that one.

Well, guess what, Dalton? I believe you!! I do think that you don't know anything at all, so I absolve you from any guilt here. I just don't understand how you became the leader of what used to be a great province.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Turf Wars

Get ready people! This is a big issue for me, and I intend to be blogging a lot about it, now that spring is here.

I am talking about *gasp* Pesticides on the Lawn!!!

All across our fair nation, municipalities are involved in huge civil wars regarding whether or not to implement pesticide by-laws and/or bans on lawns. In our area, the regional government has opted for a compromise policy to be implemented next year (more on that in a future post).

My personal opinion is that if pesticides are so bad, why are they for sale on store shelves??? Let's not just ban the use of them; let's ban them from being sold in whichever municipality has a total ban. So why isn't that being done? Answer: Because they haven't been proven to be harmful when properly applied.

I as a homeowner feel that I should have the right to use the services of a professional lawn company which strictly adheres to the local laws and responsible application of the pesticides. I agree that Joe Blow down the street that smothers his lawn with something bought off the shelves might be posing a health concern. But companies that properly administer the chemicals, in addition to seeking to use environmentally-friendly alternatives wherever possible, should be allowed to continue providing their services.

The loud-mouthed, wacko, junk science tree-huggers are the real problem.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Open Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

During the past month or so, you have been asking Canadians to tell their M.P.'s that we want them to support the five priorities of the new Government:

  • Accountability
  • Lowering the G.S.T.
  • Tougher Sentences for Crime
  • Addressing Health Care Needs
  • Supporting parents’ child care choices through direct assistance and by creating more daycare spaces

The problem is that my M.P. rarely if ever answers my letters. In fact, lately I fear I may be black-listed since I called her up on something at an all candidates' debate during the election, and she was not pleased.

Even if she did reply, I can predict the answer - It would be whatever Bill Graham or the ghost of Paul Martin told her to say. She is accountable to the LPC; not her constituents. I am a Canadian without a voice in Ottawa.

Someday I hope the residents of Kitchener Centre decide to elect an M.P. who actually listens to us, the people, and not the party line.

Yours truly,
Joanne (a frustrated Kitchener Tory)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lord of the Farce

Well, I think I may have been a little too caught up in my dash of real life lately - Back to the melange of Canadian politics.

I was just perusing the latest issue of Macleans, when I came upon an article about "Lord of the Rings". The stage article, "Breaking the Curse of the Ring" is worth a read. Not sure if you can get it on-line.

Apparently, LOTR is the butt of many late-night comedians' jokes. Conan O'Brien is said to be just piling on the satire. Writer John Intini says that the "3 1/2 hour, two-washroom-break extravaganza has been pilloried by far more serious critics", such as the New York Times, and the Daily Telegraph who wrote, "You can't always solve a problem by throwing money at it".

Somebody should tell the Liberals that.

Here's the clincher though: According to the Canadians Taxpayers Federation, Dalton McGuinty, 'Lord of the Squanderers' spent $2.5 million of our money to bring this monstrosity to Toronto!!

Couldn't that money have been better spent elsewhere? Health care perhaps?

Ontario, we've got to break this hobbit of voting Liberal!

Awesome Video!!!

Although this relates to the previous post about Good Friday, I decided to start a new one so that I could showcase a few rising young stars in the Blogosphere.

The first is my IHTG who actually had a blog way before me. In fact he had his own website at the age of 10 or 11; back when the only way to do it was to be able to write HTML, which he picked up by himself. Anyway, he just posted an amazing video of our Freaky Good Friday hail storm. Be sure to crank up your speakers for the full effect!! Thanks Marc.

Secondly, I would like to introduce Jenni, whose Hail Stone pic I had previously mentioned. She is one of my many beautiful nieces. Her bubbly personality can even transcend a blog.

Finally, we have Leanne, who is extremely important to my IHTG. Leanne is on an incredible journey of her own. She has a gift for seeing the world with an unusual clarity and vision for one so young, and she can articulate it with wisdom that is well beyond her age. I feel very privileged to know her and to be part of her world. I am so glad she started her own blog, Journal of an Insomniac. Please take the time to read her essay, Learning to See. But read it in a quiet reflective moment. I guarantee you won't be able to stop the tears.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Freaky, Fearsome Good Friday

It was a textbook example of pathetic fallacy.

We had just finished an amazing Good Friday feast of Greek salad, baked trout with scallop dressing, grilled sea bass and homemade mushroom risotto; this after a languid afternoon of wine and hot tubbing. Maybe we were enjoying ourselves just a little bit too much up in God's country.

The sky began to darken; the drizzle began. Thunder, lightening and heavier rain forced us to preempt a stroll to the beach and sprint back before the skies opened up. Marble-sized hailstones began showering down on the grass and roadways as we watched from the front porch. Suddenly, the little bits of hail seemed to start clumping into much larger projectiles, and the sound changed from a gentle sprinkle to one of loud crashing and popping. We were watching golf ball sized objects pummeling the cars and anything else in sight. Inside it sounded like the roof was coming down. Going upstairs I heard so much battering I thought the a hole would open up any minute.

Back out on the porch, I now observed the hail was getting even larger - approaching the size of tennis balls! It felt so unreal and dramatically like an apocalyptic moment was approaching for sure. Someone suggested that perhaps we should be taking cover downstairs, but none of us could move; transfixed by the awesome power of God and nature. We picked up a few of the ice balls that landed near us, and saw they were a strange mixture of rounded hail aggregates, dirt and other strange debris making them very hard, jagged and dense, and having the weight and texture of rocks. Some were splitting apart on impact.

In the inky blackness we glanced at our vehicles on the driveway and wondered how badly they would be damaged. We stowed away some of the evidence in the freezer. You can get an idea of what they looked like by visiting Life through the Eyes of a Small Town Girl, who was among those sharing the adventure with me.

Finally it ended. We couldn't survey the damage until the morning light, so we went to bed, shaken but glad to be alive.

The next day, we joined everyone else in town who were checking out the destruction. It seemed that most cars parked outdoors had dents and dings of varying degrees. The hot tub cover had sustained many partial perforations.

Then we noticed that the lawn was covered with craters, and resembling something more like an alien crop circle than the aftermath of a storm.

"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split... When the centurion and those with him...saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:51-54


* * * * * * *

Update: Check this out from the same storm (h/t to Unnamed Source). What a blast!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Go West, Young Man!

The Globe and Mail states Ontario hydro rates are going to increase by 17% on May 1. Not only that, but Hydro One has also applied to increase delivery rates by 25%!

Thanks to the McGuinty government we also been given a lovely health tax around the same time we lost our eye exams and chiropratic coverage; yet we continue to pay for abortion on demand.

Why would anyone in their right mind live in Ontario or start a business here?

Well, I think I'll start conserving energy by turning off the T.V. every time I see Dalton's face on the screen.

UPDATE: It seems that the other premiers are as disenchanted as I am with Ontario's Dalton McWimpy, er McGuinty. Sorry.

It seems that Dalton doesn't want to hand over Ontario's share of the fiscal imbalance. He says the Ontario taxpayer can't afford it. The other premiers say that Ontario has traditionally been a big brother who looks after the others and should continue to do so.

Hey, he's right guys! We can't!! Utility costs are going up here due to government mismanagement and bungling. We are taxed to death and we may all very well die soon anyway, due to lack of family doctors and health care.

The cupboard is bare!! We are a Have-Not province!!

"Big Brother's" so-called wealth has been squandered on public union settlements and overspending. McGuinty messed up bigtime and we are paying the price. Somebody throw us a lineline here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sweet, yet Tart

I've done it! I've finally figured out how Karen Redman manages to keep winning this riding!

After watching her speak (Hansard; 13:45) in the House of Commons yesterday, it came to me. She doesn't say anything! She just mouths platitudes and makes generalized statements that nobody could disagree with, and spins it all with a sweet web of cotton candy. I mean, how could you not like Karen? She's so nice. However, you're putting yourself at risk if you talk to her in person. The racing heart and dizziness are symptoms of a dangerous insulin spike.

Karen is a great student of the Paul Martin Academy of Doublespeak - or Nonspeak. When caught in a difficult interview, she'll cleverly shift your attention with phrases like, "Isn't it interesting that.." and suddenly she's highjacked you off to some other planet.

If she is totally cornered, you'll hear statements like, "Well, children are important", and "We should be concerned with Canadian cities", and other such banal utterances.

This was Monday's gem when she attempted to extoll the virtues of the Liberal daycare plan:

"Good policy is good policy, regardless of the partisan stripes under which it is conceived..."

(Only, that is, if it happens to be Liberal policy.)

Oh, but the sugarplum mask did slip ever so slightly at one point yesterday afternoon. After Question Period, Karen and Pierre Poilievre became entangled in a little discussion (15:15) about childcare funding. Karen is a self-proclaimed authority and set herself up accordingly:

"Mr. Speaker, as the mother of four children and as somebody who was president of seven child care centres when I was a public school trustee, I know this area intimately."

-Oh, well then. All the rest of us, hush now!

"The people in my riding who are familiar with child care have said to me, quite simply, that the Liberal government had it right."

-They did??? And who did you consult, Karen? The YWCA????

Pierre Poilievre countered with an attack on the lack of actual results in spite on all the money spent by 13 years of Liberal dithering.

Karen shot back, "Mr. Speaker, I really do appreciate the sentiments of my young colleague across the floor.."

Well, that did it! Pierre was on his feet on a point of order, screaming something about age discrimination. Speaker Peter Milliken (I love this guy) stole the show by trying to soothe ruffled feathers:

"I do not think that reference to a member's age, including the ancient age of the Speaker, is somehow discrimination. The hon. member for Kitchener Centre is making her point. Certainly she is free to mention the relative age of other members, at certain risk, of course, to herself, but this is a risk we all take in the House."


Ms. Redman was humbled, "Mr. Speaker, I take my colleague's point..."

Who knew CPAC could be so much fun?

However, I was left with a nagging thought - What if the tables had been turned, and an older male M.P. referred to a younger female one as "my young colleague", thereby insinuating that she was inexperienced and less wise. Wouldn't we have been all over him screaming about womens' rights abuses?

I bet the YWCA would.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Tories: For Your Eyes Only

The Liberal leadership race is obviously going to have a huge affect on Conservative prospects for the next election. With that in mind, we need to do a bit of strategizing here. Everyone knows that Grits troll Tory blogs for info to use against them. Therefore, instead of speculating who would make the best leader, let's use reverse psychology. We'll promote the worst ones in the context of being the ones we fear may have the most potential to wrest the government reins of power away from Stephen Harper.

With that in mind, I propose my list of "favourite" candidates, and their ensuing virtues:

#1. Scott Brison - Here is a man who ensures that his deep sense of humility does not interfere with his ability to justify his mistakes. As in the Income Trust incident, he can easily turn a faux pas into a plus by reminding everyone how virtuous he is to have come forward with the sordid details, after having been forced to do so by the press. Obviously, this is an important attribute in politics.

#2. Gerard Kennedy - "Idealistic young socialist for P.M." Kinda has a nice ring to it, don't ya think? Give the teachers' unions everything they want and you won't have any strikes under your watch. I've read on some Grit blogs that they think this guy has no baggage! No, of course not. Ontario voters have very short memories and Dalton McGuinty's whole list of broken promises will have no effect whatsoever.

#3. Bob Rae - Please refer to Ontario's short memory from #2 (above).

#4. Hedy Fry - This is the one to promote! Hedy is a woman!!! Womens' rights groups everywhere will love this one. And she's not a shrinking violet. Imagine her in a tete-a-tete with George Bush! All our problems with the U.S. would be solved in a nanosecond. She could even offer to personally scan for burning crosses on her trips to Camp David.

#5. Stephane Dion - Let's rally around this guy for sure, eh? First of all, his command of English is so bad that he should easily woo back those separatist votes in Quebec. They'd probably see him as a vision for a country-wide French-only movement. Western Canada might have an issue with that, but what the heck. They're only a bunch of farmers anyway, right?

I could go on, but you get the idea: Promote the candidates that you think have the least chance of unseating Harper. Then again, it's hard to find a serious contender in this cast of clowns.

Belinda might not be so blonde after all.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Fundamental Question

To whom should an M.P. be most accountable?

We have a Parliamentary system in this country, in which you elect an M.P. who may or may not belong to a political party. The majority of M.P.'s elected from a particular party forms the next government, and their leader becomes the next Prime Minister. Seems simple.

But in fact, it is quite complex, because the electorate is struggling with the task of attempting to integrate the values of the candidate with those of the party and the leader. Quite often there is a disconnect.

The fundamental question however, is how does that M.P. see their ultimate responsibility and call to accountability? Is it to the constituents or the party and leader?

To me this is a crucial issue, because it so dramatically affects an M.P.'s voting behaviour and their whole mission statement regarding how they approach politics.

For example, there is no question that Garth Turner feels that his primary responsibility is to his riding constituents. My own M.P. is as far away from that view as is possible. As Liberal party whip, she feels she can only vote according to party lines, and has never conducted any sort of survey regarding free vote issues (to the best of my knowledge).

All the others probably fall somewhere in between.

So here I am, essentially a disenfranchised Conservative supporter in the Ontario heartland. I have no voice in Ottawa, save for the generosity of nearby Tory M.P.'s who are kind enough to field my concerns.

Next time you vote, ask the candidate where their ultimate allegiance lies. The answer might influence your decision at the polls.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Grits: Be Afraid - Be Very Afraid!

As a True Blue Tory living in Southern Ontario, I am continually frustrated by the fact that I have no actual representation in Ottawa. Not only is my M.P. a Liberal, but she is also the party whip, which gives her abundant excuses to vote according to party-line, rather than anywhere near where my values are.

The adjacent riding has also seen fit to reinstate a "maverick" Liberal, who unlike Garth Turner, manages to voice his opinion without attracting too much attention other than when we all have to listen to him in Parliament.

Our local paper, the Record ran a story on April 5 highlighting the reaction of Ms. Redman and Mr. Telegdi to the throne speech. The headlines read, "Liberals Turn to Watch from Sidelines"; and "Ottawa: Liberals Worry".

Now, first of all I should make it very clear that Karen Redman is a lovely woman, bursting with the virtues of motherhood and apple pie. Somehow she can never quite make that stretch to vote on moral issues accordingly, but that's another story.

Here are a few tidbits from the article:

"Of equal concern for Redman were references to changing the way health care is delivered in Canada. Harper was born in Ontario but raised in Alberta, where he attended the University of Calgary.

Alberta is allowing private clinics to offer medical services to people who can afford to pay, and Redman fears that philosophy may be creeping into the new federal government's agenda.

The throne speech said the government will support and enable innovative approaches to health-care delivery.

'I lament the vision of Canada Mr. Harper has articulated,' Redman said. 'And I find it very worrisome.' "

There is so much wrong with this statement. First of all, it is an illogical argument. If what she says is true, then anyone raised in any province carries the ensuing policy baggage of that province with no regard for the possibility of original thought. Any new ideas seem to be a concern for Ms. Redman anyway.

Also, never mind that the PM mentioned that everything would be done within the Canada Health Act. More fear-mongering. Sigh.

Finally, Stephen Harper has written to Ralph Klein expressing his concerns about the Alberta plan. That doesn't sound like the actions of someone ready to jump on board the bandwagon.

And from Andrew Telegdi, who is the M.P. for the Centre of the Universe:

"It's sad to see that after all those years there is no mention of post-secondary education in this throne speech," he said. "It's a no-brainer, especially when you are coming from a place like Waterloo Region."

I'm not going to touch that 'no-brainer' comment with a ten-foot Speaker's rod!

"As Telegdi listened to the throne speech yesterday, he was reminded of the 1995-era rhetoric coming from Ontario Conservatives under Mike Harris, the premier at the time.

The law-and-order crowd are back in power, he said, but it didn't work then and it won't work now."

Didn't work then? If memory serves me correctly, Mike Harris called for boot camps for young offenders, rather than coddling them and giving them zero consequences for their actions. I sure don't remember that being a failure. Anyway, the old argument of comparing a federal government to a previous provincial one is irrelevant.

The diatribe continues:

Telegdi says the youths terrorizing some poor and predominantly black neighbourhoods in Toronto are Mike Harris' "children." The provincial Tories slashed social spending and crime-prevention budgets and cancelled alternative programs that saw some offenders serve sentences in the community under supervision.

"It just didn't make sense because the alternative, jail, is very expensive," Telegdi said.

Oh, o.k. So we'll just slap their wrists and let them serve a sentence at home with their violent, X-rated computer games - Or we'll make a young thug pick up paper off the street. Give me a break.

"Illegal immigrants should be given work permits, and after a couple of years citizenship, as long as they don't have a criminal record, Telegdi said."

So if you break the law and come here illegally that's fine. There are no consequences... This is the kind of thing I have to put up with!!!

However, Karen Redman is astute enough to see the writing on the wall:

"Canadians don't want another election right now," Redman said. "They sent out a very clear message that they are willing to give the Conservatives' a test drive."

What she and all her cohorts should worry about is that Canadians might like that new car smell so much, they'll take out a full-term majority lease.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tilting at Windmills?

Lately I have come across a bit of flack that some of my fellow bloggers are receiving in response to their efforts to expose MSM inaccuracies. Dave from Plattytalk has been especially diligent in trying to ferret out the truth from both CTV and CBC. Since media accountability is one of my personal missions, I feel the need to explain our apparent obsession, and why we are not just "whiners".

When I first exposed the lack of credibility behind the CTV report about the YWCA 'study', I naively expected that MSM would somehow step in and correct the inaccuracies in some fashion. The Toronto Sun was even alerted to this development, but as far as I know, the story didn't get picked up.

Many fellow bloggers stepped in by referencing the story, and several followed up with CTV and the YWCA. Dave went as far as to alert the CRTC which then forwarded the information onto the CSBC.

I began to realize that exposing the lack of substance in a media report is like picking a scab or boil. You can't just leave it festering or else the infection worsens. I started sending out emails to the YWCA, CTV and just yesterday to the CSBC. I don't intend to give this up. I want to hear the YWCA say that they deliberately mislead the reporter with the study results, by means of a press release stating the facts.

We are working on behalf of Canadians for sure, but also for the good of the media itself. Accountability and transparency are healthy and essential components of a democratic society. If the media does nothing to work towards that goal, it will lose the confidence of the consumer.

Just like the Liberal party, MSM may need a time-out to reassess its priorities.

UPDATE: H/T to Spiderman's Web for pointing out another blatant one-sided story; this time about same-sex marriage. It seems that according to the special interests groups that CTV interviewed, again "most Canadians" feel the issue should be put to rest. Who are these "Most Canadians"???

Was anyone out there included in a survey on this? Maybe it was the same group that wrote the YWCA report.

To contact CTV, try this first:
Please let me know if you get any response. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jenny Gems

I am currently working on a follow-up to the CTV-YWCA reporting fiasco. Meanwhile, I finally got around to going over something I had taped from A.M. radio a few weeks ago.

Shortly after the YWCA report was released in March, our local talkshow station (570 News) invited study director Jenny Robinson to discuss the findings. I managed to tape some of the interview, and have spent considerable time transcribing some of the pithier edifications.

Please note that I have tried to be as accurate as possible, but since I did it totally by reviewing and writing the statements by hand, there may be tiny inaccuracies, but it is as close as humanly possible. Now does MSM give THAT kind of disclaimer before any news or editorial article?

Gems from Jenny:

-On Minister Diane Finley declining to attend the Toronto conference:

"...we're more than willing to have a dialogue, you know, because we really think that political posturing is one thing and partisan politics is another; but childcare really needs to sit outside of that realm and that we really need to consider what's good for our families and children across the country..."

Sure, Jenny, and there certainly weren't any partisan politics involved in your report or news release, right?

On the need for an 'equality-based' society:

"...and we still (women), you know, generally are the caregivers in our families and that is a position that we hold, and now we're also expected to be in the workforce in large numbers, um, to support the tax system we have, so there's a double whammy..."

Wow, is that why women go to work? To support the tax system? I thought it was to feed and clothe their families!! And btw, if we didn't have such a money-sucking, bureaucracy-heavy, socialist system in the first place, our taxes wouldn't be so high and more women could afford to stay home with their kids!!!

That's just about all I can stomach right now, folks.

-More to follow.

Monday, April 03, 2006

"Have you got Blogging on your Mind?"

Thanks very much to Blue Blogging Soapbox for choosing Joanne's Journey as this week's Blogging Tories Site of the Week. (I'm a little concerned about being #13, but I'll get over it). My efforts to track down and expose a misleading CTV report about the YWCA 'study' were given special attention.

As in the famous Gary Puckett song, I sometimes have problems getting away from this blog. It's almost like having a pet - If you go away for a few days, you wonder if it will be alright by itself, or should you put it in the "Comment Moderation" kennel?

But it takes no effort to write. For me it is as necessary as breathing and eating. Last year I sent out hundreds of letters to MSM, and had well over 35 of them printed in various papers such as the Post, Globe, Star, Sun and others.

This blog is now where I am directing most of my creative energy. There is never a shortage of things to write about. My only constraints are time, my family's indulgence and how much I want to aggravate my carpal tunnel syndrome.

There could be worse addictions, though. I have an outlet to vent my frustrations and to challenge others. To me, that's healthy.

And don't worry, Blue Blogging Soapbox - I'm not done with the YWCA story yet either. Stephen Harper isn't the only one with "steely resolve".