Sunday, April 27, 2008

Life is about change

Blue Like You has now moved to a new home.

I hope you like the new place. Take off your shoes and rest awhile. Let me know what you think.

The biggest problem so far with the new blog is the font size, but I have assurances that this can be remedied by browser control. (Problem now resolved.)

I'll leave this post open for comments for the moment. You can also use it for an open thread for tips.

Thanks for your support and your patience!

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Jan. 23/09 Update: Having some server problems at Blue Like You today. If this continues for a long time, I'll post here until the issue is resolved.

Feb. 25/09: More server problems at BLY. Thanks for your patience.

April 30/09: Another server outage at BLY.


June 11/09: Major server problems at BLY. Very frustrating.

June 24/09: Things are better. Just a bit slow.

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Sept. 1/09 - BLY is down again at a most inopportune time.

October 20, 2010 - The server at BLY is becoming increasingly unreliable. We are looking at different options. Thanks again for your patience.

Oct. 21, 2010 - The server will have to be changed. Hang on folks!

How many more scorpion attacks can Toronto sustain?

Via CBL we have a privileged window into some inside chat at Steve Munro's - Is local 113 out of its mind?

The comments make for a fascinating read, including the one that caught Lemon's eye concerning the suggestion that the mechanics are upset about the TTC's purchase of new vehicles with warranties, which would mean less work for them.

However, the one that intrigued me was David R's suggestion that we look up the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog, which I did.

It seems to me that Toronto has many scorpions attacking it right now, but if I were to make a generalization, I would point to a population that continues to elect weak-kneed socialist politicians.

The Toronto Sun has started a new series trying to figure out how to save the Centre of the Universe. Rob Granastein suggests that it's up to the citizens to effect change.

I agree. And it should start at the ballot box.

Toronto voters need to stop stinging themselves.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Using Anthropomorphism as Propaganda Tool

Have you seen that commercial yet from a well-known big-box store where the woman screws in a CFL bulb, and the box in which it was packaged suggests that the earth might have a crush on her because she is so eco-friendly? She blushes and stammers in return. (Never mind that it's 'Mother Earth' that she's flirting with... Yeah we won't go there.)

This is becoming an increasingly common media and activist ploy - ascribing human attributes to inanimate objects or non-human life forms in order to garner public sympathy and increase activist support. I assume the theory is that if we can identify with something in human terms, then we will be more inclined to accept the message.

And so we to try to "Save the planet" instead of trying to save the people on the planet. Instead of trying to be good stewards of the earth so that we can continue to sustain ourselves here, the focus is on getting rid of the human filth that degrades the earth. Barbara Kay alluded to this mindset in a recent column, Hug the Earth, kill the humans:

...Watson is the symbol of a movement that originated in a desire to improve the planet's physical condition, but transmogrified into the zero-sum dogma of eco-spirituality, in which the object of worship is the environment, and the messianic goal its return to a pre-civilization Edenic state. In this scenario, Earth is perennial victim, mankind eternal villain, the consumption of natural resources original sin. No emotionally manipulative appeal is beyond the pale for this pagan religion's demagogues, even the shameful appropriation of racist tropes. Alpha eco-spiritualist novelist Alice Walker claims, "the Earth is the nigger of the world..."

In today's Sun, Michael Coren also sees this as a worrisome trend:

... Here lies the point. Life matters much, much more than the planet, which is merely a place on which humans live. We need to care for Earth not because of it, but because of us. Pure self-interest. If humanity did not exist, to hell with the planet. It's a means to an end. We're the end; Earth the means.

Problem is, fashionable thinking has reversed the equation. The planet is to be saved because it is precious in itself and we, dangerous intruders, are the problem. Earth is to be revered, loved and even worshipped. Like some perverse replacement theology, Mother Earth takes on the role of real mothers and fathers....

And even more perverse is the notion that animals are more valuable than human beings. Bishop Fred Henry notes:

...As PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk has said, "When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife."

Nevertheless, it turns out that some animals are more equal than others. One would expect that consistency would demand the condemnation of poisoning babies in the womb with a saline solution or cutting them up with surgical tools but Newkirk and Singer don't believe that human beings have the right to life...

I suppose the most frightening aspect of all of this is the mass brain-washing done in our public school system:

Dear Mother Earth,

What is our earth? I know it is the animals. What we can do? We can pick up the garbag and we can take care of the animals. Why is it important? to love you? I love you Mother Earth. If we don't love you everything wil go away.

Perhaps the school system should focus more on spelling than scaring kids into submission.

A few quick thoughts on the TTC strike

This morning's Sun editorial encapsulated most of my personal reaction regarding the surprise TTC strike.

The union acted very irresponsibly by not giving any warning. As I watched the Toronto news stations near midnight, reporters were giving the information to many young women as they were planning to head home via a bus or subway. Several were in shock. I have a young niece who lives in downtown Toronto and I was immediately concerned for her safety.

The supposed reason for not giving a 48 hour warning was apparently to protect workers from abuse, but I suspect that transit users will have a few choice words for the drivers once this situation is temporarily resolved.

It should be a lesson for both David Miller and Dalton McGuinty though. Their union friends will just keep demanding more and more. They will never be able to satisfy their demands, and it will come at a huge cost to the taxpayer and transit user - both financially and in terms of safety.

At some point, they may need to make a tough choice.

And that time may well be now.

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Tony's viewpoint on this is worth reading. Comments are good too.

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Please Note: In the process of doing a bit of technical tweaking. Hopefully nothing here will be affected.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Popcorn and beer - Part deux

Again we have a missing video clip from Mike Duffy Live... Funny, that.

However, I will transpose the audio as best I can with a disclaimer that I was not able to pick up every word.

The scene - Tonda MacCharles interviewing Scott Reid for the Liberals, and Tim Powers for the Conservatives.

(Heated debate in progress.)

T.P. - "Scott, Scott! You want to talk about forecasts, numbers, facts...?"

S. R. - "How about Mark Carney?"

T.P. "Well yeah. Exactly. What did Mark Carney say yesterday? 1.4% growth this year and 2.4 next year.."

S.R. - "What did you project? Stop, stop!!! You didn't project 1.4 - You projected 1.8!!!"

T. P. - "Scott, Scott... I don't know if you understand math, but 1.4 is above 1.8!!!"

S. R. (Looking rather puzzled) - "What do ya mean?"

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Actually, I lied in the title. This is actually Part 3 of the Beer & Popcorn saga.

Here's Part Two.

Sorting through the Mexican beans

The hot air surrounding the Brenda Martin case has reached firestorm proportions which the government obviously feels the need to mollify as much as humanly possible.

The Liberals are trying to use this story as a political hammer, but it has been blown all out of proportion - especially by Dan McTeague.

It's become increasingly difficult to extricate the truth in all of this baseless rhetoric, but my sense is that Canadians are becoming less sympathetic as the story unfolds.

McTeague charges that "the federal government is dragging its feet, preventing Brenda Martin's quick handover to Canadian authorities."

Yet, the Gazette reports that it's actually the terms of the international treaty regarding prisoner transfers that is holding things up.

The Canadian Government is actually taking the unusual step of lending Brenda her get-out-of-jail fine, which makes me wonder what happened to her legion of strong supporters?

Yesterday's Post contained several letters from readers about this debacle, but this one says it best (excerpt):

My wife and I are non-resident Canadians who have made Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, our home in retirement. We have, therefore, been following the Brenda Martin case with much interest.

While it is impossible not to feel sympathetic toward a woman in such distress, I suspect that at least some her troubles were of her own making. And we understand that the Mexican legal system is much less predictable and transparent than Canada's.

No Canadian should feel unduly at risk living or vacationing in Mexico. However, in the event of finding yourself tangled up with the legal system, do not expect special treatment; do not denigrate the Mexican legal system; and do not get angry with individual Mexicans. Show contriteness, politeness and patience -- and, if the issue is sufficiently serious, get legal assistance via the nearest Canadian consular office...

Brenda Martin, along with her gang of outspoken supporters and the complicit media and Liberals may be their own worst enemies.

Character defamation suit in order?

Check out the rhetoric that the Sun's Michael Den Tandt uses to describe the Prime Minister of Canada:

The crows are coming home to roost for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and a mangy bunch of birds they are. Will this provoke an election? Not likely. Not yet.

Harper must wake up some mornings and wonder where it all went wrong. Not long ago he was the Iceman, firmly in control of every teensy strand of his government, and seemingly managing it all with aplomb.

With Harper at the helm there were no mistakes. You didn't get charm, but you did get efficiency, intelligence and a ruthless instinct for political combat that made him more winner than loser.

Most Canadians were buying that package, when compared with the alternatives. We weren't warming to the man -- the piranha smile and assassin's eyes make that difficult -- but we were getting used to him. Harper and Stephane Dion, mano a mano? Dion was sure to emerge with two black eyes and his glasses fastened together with Scotch tape...

Assassin's eyes?

Why is it that bloggers need to be so careful, but MSM can say anything they want?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Elections Canada - Having problems interpreting the law

Looks like there may be someone else besides the CPC and Gerry Nicolls that has a difficult time accepting the notion of Elections Canada as some kind of infallible deity.

Licia Corbella describes her own run-ins with 'that independent government body' - Chief interpeter can't even interpret election ad laws (H/T to reader Frmgrl):

...The first three agents at Elections Canada's head office in Ottawa had never even heard about the advertising law and told me to call a 1-800 number.

When asked if it would be legal for me to pay for such an ad, one agent said: "Sounds fine with me. It's your money. You should be able to do whatever you want with it."

I agreed with her wholeheartedly. "So is that your answer?" I asked. "This is kind of important. After all, if I interpret this wrong, I could go to jail and get a criminal record."

That stumped her. Eventually, after being put on hold and speaking to close to one dozen Elections Canada staff members, most of whom didn't even know about the law, I was put through to a polite Elections Canada lawyer, who after a long conversation told me that he couldn't give me legal advice, just "legal information." His advice, or "information"? To hire a lawyer to figure it out. I'm not making this up!

( . . . )

While giving his evidence in chief, Kingsley said "third-party" individuals or groups had to be limited to spending no more than $3,000 in any given federal riding to a maximum of $150,000 during the election campaign or face criminal charges, large fines and even jail.

But when he was asked to interpret various scenarios -- like the one I presented to Elections Canada officials during the 2004 federal election -- he was unable or unwilling to interpret the law he says he helped frame and of which he was the self-described chief interpreter and enforcer...

And she gives her opinion of the current brouhaha:

...Just days after the election began, Andrew Kumpf sent an e-mail to Conservative party officials, wondering if the proposal to have Retail Media place ads on behalf of local candidates would violate the Canada Elections Act: "While our thinking is that this option would be legal, we are not certain beyond all reasonable doubt."

Is anyone? If the Tories sought clarity on election advertising from Elections Canada, like I did and the court did, they very likely got conflicting information, ambiguous information, no information or some "legal information" to call a lawyer.

The New Democrats did virtually the same thing as the Tories during that election campaign -- that is, they used national party funds to run national ads with just a local tagline at the end of the ad promoting the local candidate.

But Elections Canada hasn't raided the NDP's headquarters or the Liberals, who have engaged in the same practice in the past...

Wherever the truth may lie, the opposition parties will pursue this one as long as they can. However, I hardly think it has the impact of the sponsorship scandal on Joe Blow Canadian.

He's more concerned about his gas and food prices going up while his job disappears.

* * * *
Update: Just watching MDL. Did anyone else hear Buzz Hargrove suggest that the government can change the exchange rate? i.e. lower the value of the looney?

* * * *

Steve Janke has several great posts on the Elections Canada story:

Elections Canada Investigators' Manual

Elections Canada warrant makes no mention of interviews with senior Conservative officials

and Four questions concerning the search warrant.

And from the Colonist - Tory ads legal, organizer claims.

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BIG FRIDAY UPDATE: Actually, the Tories might have a point - Ottawa Citizen.

...What in there (Election Act) says local spending must happen locally or concern local issues? I see nothing.

Of course the courts might not agree with my interpretation. Or they may say the Tories did a legal thing but in a carelessly illegal way; one Liberal staffer suggested to me that the central problem was that local candidates did not technically "incur" the costs in question. Even if true, that claim hardly justifies Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc's reference to "an Enron-style accounting practice" at a Thursday press conference...

HRC in the news again

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has ruled that Christian Horizons has violated the rights of a previous employee who had revealed that she was gay - Christians Horizons Rebuked (Record):

...The tribunal has ordered Kitchener-based Christian Horizons to compensate Connie Heintz, 39, and to end a prohibitive code-of-conduct contract for its 2,500 employees.

The contract, which all staff must sign, forbids workers from cheating on their spouses, having pre-marital sex or homosexual relationships, using pornography and "endorsing" alcohol or tobacco, among other things...

So Christian Horizons must now pay Heintz $23,000, plus interest.

That includes $5,000 for "the wilful and reckless infliction of mental anguish."

The charitable organization must also undergo "basic human-rights training for all employees and adopt an anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy."

Personally, I'm on the fence on this one. If this was a case of a Catholic parish hiring a staff member who turned out to be gay, would they have the right to ask that person to resign?

Would they be forced to hire an openly gay person even if it conflicts with the church dogma?

It certainly indicative of the ongoing dichotomy between freedom of religion vs. the state.

* * * *
Update: Phantom weighs in here.

Saturday Update: Via Jack's Newswatch - MP wants religious agency's funding pulled - CTV.

So much to say, so little time

There are a plethora of topics out there today, so I think I'll launch a series of short posts to address them and readers can weigh in as they like.

The first one is this morning's editorial in the Record which shocked me to the core. Why? Because they said everything I was thinking about Felix's proposed Ontario pesticide ban - and then some.

The editorial (Pesticide ban is unwarranted) explains that this isn't about the environment. It's about politics and pandering to very vocal special-interest groups:

...It will, come next spring, be illegal for residents of Kitchener's Rockway neighbourhood to use pesticides in their yards. But why will Rockway Golf Course in the same neighbourhood be allowed to spray pesticides on their greens and fairways? And why will golf courses beside residential neighbourhoods from one end of the region to the other -- in Elmira, Conestogo, Waterloo's Grey Silo Golf Course, Westmount, Kitchener's Doon, Cambridge's Galt Country Club -- all be exempt from the chemical ban McGuinty argues is so essential? Are these chemicals dangerous or not?

The answer is obvious. This ban is about politics, not science. And it is driven by political desire and public fear, not reason...

( . . . )

The fact is, to accept the need for McGuinty's ban, you need to conclude that Health Canada has been hopelessly wrong and inept -- not just on one occasion but consistently and for decades. Some would argue it has. However, it's worth knowing that Health Canada has, in the past and based on newer research, removed some pesticides from the list available to the general population.

Every time Canadians buy a prescription drug, they place their faith in Health Canada, which regulates our pharmaceuticals. When they accept laws to limit exposure to cigarette smoke, Canadians do so because Health Canada found tobacco to be carcinogenic. And just last week, the federal government began a process that will probably lead to a ban on the chemical bisphenol A, which is used in some plastic bottles and as food liners. Why? Because Health Canada sounded the alarm. So explain the selective trust.

For those who dismiss the wisdom and science of Health Canada, and there will be some, it is worth listening to Keith Solomon, director of the Centre for Toxicology at the University of Guelph. "There is no evidence to suggest a health risk from these chemicals,'' Solomon said bluntly of the substances McGuinty is banning. "This will not make any difference to the health of Ontarians.'' As for the ban itself, he is scathing: "It doesn't make sense because it is nonsensical...''

It's almost enough to make me regret cancelling my subscription.

But the opposition parties will cave to the bellowing of the special interest groups because they are just as pathetic as this government.

Civil liberties continue to be eroded by weak-kneed politicians. It's the story of our times.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our own little travesty of justice

Peter Kormos said it all:

..."The Baltovich story has a very Mexican ring to it, if you will,” Kormos said.
Bentley was evasive when asked about a news report that the Crown had earlier offered Baltovich a one-day jail sentence in return for revealing the location of Bain’s body...

Meanwhile, Deb Tielman seems to have finally learned that you catch more flies with honey than with caustic rhetoric:

"I do believe this is good for Brenda," she added. "I think to have Jason (Kenney) come and be able to give Brenda some kind of assurance from the government that this is going to be expedited and they can have her home in a couple of weeks will give Brenda something to hold on to.

I could actually get back on board the Brenda bandwagon if this keeps up.

* * * *

Related: CBC notes that the Premier and the AG don't seem to have their talking points synchronized today....

More on Baltovich at The Politic.

And poor Tonda. She just couldn't get Bill Graham to take a partisan stand on Brenda Martin.

Claire Hoy has a great editorial on Brenda Martin - Politics and Martin; Canadian prisoner in Mexico strangely partisan in her attacks.

Felix McGuinty and his ban fetish

Kudos to Graeme MacKay for this one!

Gee, I wonder if the natives could look into a sideline of selling pesticides the way they do cigarettes...

The Star's Jim Coyle compares Dalton to one half of the "Odd Couple" (Less John Robarts than Felix Unger):

...To his great good fortune, McGuinty has escaped the unforgiving demands of nation-building. As such, he governs less as a latter-day Father of Confederation than a political version of Felix Unger, the clean freak from The Odd Couple.

If ever an Ontario premier had the luxury of sweating the small stuff, he's it.

In McGuinty's Ontario, clean living is the ethos of the day, so much so it sometimes feels as if the province is governed by a combination old-time school marm and cleaning lady.

Not lawns, not laundry, not young lungs, not even school lunches have escaped the government's fastidious eye.

Yesterday, the premier celebrated Earth Day by announcing a ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides on lawns in residential areas.

Recently, he liberated Ontarians labouring under the yoke of oppressive local regulation and freed them to use clotheslines to dry their laundry.

His government is banning cigarette displays in convenience stores. Not long ago, it nixed smoking in automobiles in which children were passengers.

In recent months, Ontario has given thumbs down to trans-fats in schools, banning them from cafeterias, vending machines and tuck shops where impressionable taste buds reside...

Christina Blizzard isn't impressed either - Pesticide ban hardly dandy. However, the Ontario Lemmings who voted for Felix presumably love being told how to live their lives.

My better half recently asked me (tongue in cheek), if the next decree will come in the form of how many squares of toilet tissue we're allowed to use each morning?

Well, I hope this is one area where Felix might allow us a little latitude.

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Update: While you're at it, how about banning the Health-Tax, Dalton?

Good resource here - Urban Pest Management Council of Canada.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brenda Martin found guilty

CTV reports that Brenda Martin has been found guilty and gets five years. Her mother is being shown live on Newsnet right now. I feel sorry for her.

Star - No parole.

Update: Martin expected to be moved to Canadian prison soon. (Globe)

Things that make you go Mmmm....

Fellow traveller ChuckerCanuk pointed me in the direction of this little nugget by Elizabeth Thompson.

It may shed some light on why Elections Canada went all the way to Toronto to get a judge to sign the warrant. As she said, it obviously wasn't done in order to keep it a secret:

...The folks at Elections Canada were most helpful in letting the media know where the warrant was to be found. Can't be to save gas. The Toronto court house where the warrant was issued is a four hour drive from Elections Canada's HQ which is just a quick walk from the Ottawa courthouse...

Read the whole article for the missing link.

There may actually be something to the conspiracy theory.

(At the very least, Elections Canada is guilty of not shopping locally.)

* * * *
Update: Harper says Tories followed spending rules - CTV.

Steve Janke - The Toronto judge and the warrant.

Stephen Taylor
has an excellent post up - The Elections Canada Raid (supporting information and Conservative response). Alex Panetta had some nice words for Stephen tonight on MDL.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Province-wide pesticide ban coming

Dalton McGuinty will be introducing legislation tomorrow as the first step towards a province-wide pesticide ban.

Reader Ruth tipped me off on this, and expresses concern about people with weed allergies.

I want to know what the penalties will be and how much of a bureaucracy will need to be created to police it.

And will all pesticides be banned from store shelves?

A lawn can get wiped out by cinchbug or grubs in a matter of weeks. If we lose our lawns, then the cities will heat up even more, and we will also lose an important source of carbon dioxide absorption.

Reader Fred had a great suggestion a while ago:

Leave pesticides to the professionals (lawn care companies) and take them off the store shelves. This would reduce improper pesticide use greatly. The people who know pesticides (University of Guelph) say they are safe if used properly. Let's trust them (we have to believe someone) and not the fanatics who use junk science in their argument against good products.

Sounds good to me, Fred.

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Update: Can someone please explain to me why golf courses will be exempt?

I'm not doing an Earth Day post per say, but please check out ChuckerCanuk for an excellent piece on how our highly-esteemed Elections Canada is not being very responsible about its carbon footprint. Tsk-tsk.

Chucker, you rock!

National Post - Why Ontario's pesticide ban bugs me (and may bug you too).

Blog Chill

Is there a code of Blogging ethics and liability somewhere? From the Star Phoenix:

...Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals is one of several named as defendants in a statement of claim filed by Richard Warman with the Ontario Superior Court on April 7. Others include Ezra Levant, The National Post and one of its journalists, Jonathon Kay.

In the statement of claim, Warman alleges he was defamed on a blog known as He alleges those comments were linked to or commented upon on other blogs, including McMillan's and The National Post's.

Those who picked up on the original comments did not take steps to determine whether they were true, Warman alleges.

Warman also states it is not enough for a site to remove comments and postings that are questionable, as The National Post did. The newspaper pulled the piece written for its blog that Warman found defamatory.

In its place, the newspaper posted a retraction and apology. However, Warman alleges the article was linked to and copied by others online by that point and The National Post and Kay should be considered responsible for those republications. Editors for The National Post had no comment about the statement of claim...

Two questions here. First of all, does this mean all bloggers can get into trouble if they link to stories on other blogs that turn out not to be true?

Secondly, in the case of the National Post, they are being sued in spite of a retraction and apology, supposedly because the story was picked up all over the internet. Personally, I just don't see how a story can be contained in this day and age.

And should it be?

In any case, some of my readers have questioned my apparently heavy-handed comment moderation policy lately.

The reason should now be crystal clear.

The air needs to be cleared

Yesterday's bizarre spectacle (as reported by MSM) of the CPC giving only certain members of the media an advanced briefing on the contents of the Elections Canada warrant, and then escaping down the fire stairway to avoid others, is not likely to help further the Conservatives' case in the court of public opinion.

However, there are still a few lingering questions that need to be answered honestly, and without spin from either side:

1. Did the CPC comply with all documentation requests from Elections Canada or not? If the latter, then let's see the evidence. EC should be able to demonstrate exactly which requests went unanswered. If the former, then the 'raid' on Conservative HQ looks very suspect - especially in view of the civil suit launched by the CPC against EC.

The Star reports that "the Conservatives insist they have done nothing wrong and say they were taken aback at the raid last week because they have complied with all requests to turn over documents."

But in the affidavit, Lamothe alleges the federal Conservatives embarked on a deliberate strategy to thwart election financing laws – and the party's spending limits – and to claim $700,000 in rebates for advertising expenses to which local candidates were not entitled.

Lamothe sought hard-copy and electronic copies of correspondence, emails, invoices, accounting records and other documents that would outline discussions between Conservative officials and its media production and buying agencies Retail Media, Yield or Yield Integrated, Republic Publicité + Design Inc.

2. Did EC cart away documentation from the civil case or not? There are conflicting reports. If so, why?

Investigators lined 16 or 18 people up along a hallway, one party official said, "like we were going to shoot back? I mean they had ... unfettered access to every single thing in Conservative party headquarters. They removed 17 boxes of material specific to our lawsuit, all the background stuff."

"They took away our tactics and our strategy" for the court case, said the official.

He also said the raid went well beyond the scope of the warrant, with investigators gathering information that had nothing to do with the issue.

"What does my computer and what's on there about the next campaign strategy, the next platform, the next ad campaign, and everything else, what the hell has that got to do with Elections Canada?" another official said.

"This is absolutely over the top."

Much of the seized material is likely to be the subject of legal arguments over whether it is subject to solicitor-client privilege.

3. Who tipped off the CBC (and likely the LPC) about the RCMP 'raid'? Why?

One thing for sure. Nobody's going to come out smelling sweet on this one.

* * * *
Update: Oh-oh! Somebody's nose must be out of joint (via Kady O'Malley):

...I can confirm that was most emphatically not welcome on the voyage. However, being unable to take a hint, we wound up hanging out in the hallway outside the backup briefing room - hastily arranged after word of the first meeting was leaked - with various other uninvited media guests: CBC, Canadian Press, and the Halifax Chronicle Herald and CanWest News, which had, in fact, originally been on the list, but was abruptly disinvited when the Conservatives realized who had been sent to cover the story...

Now I wonder who that could have been?

More sour grapes here.

Also, please check out Peter Csillag's excellent post - Don't read the MSM lips, no new election over RCMP raids.

Sandy has a great post here - Communications 101 for the Conservative Party.

Trusty Tory wants to go on the offensive - Where's the counter attack??

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The future of MSM

Today's Star features an intriguing article that examines how MSM is starting to wake up to the fact that many people are turning towards the internet as their #1 source for news - Papers boosting their online "brand".

The Star itself is focussing more attention on ad revenue generated from interest-specific sites, which is also an area that has attracted many bloggers.

As for the print version, I think it will continue although subscriptions will probably decline over time as downloads to personal portable devices rise in popularity.

Another area that will likely grow is the option of a subscription to an ad-free internet zone, embellished with extra features not available on the free site. This is where I think the Globe is behind the times with most of their stories under subscriber lock. It discourages Bloggers from linking to their articles, which decreases traffic to their ad-revenue generated sites. If they were more media-savvy, they'd have both.

Can bloggers and MSM co-exist? Undoubtedly most political blogs are dependent on MSM, and I'll be the first to admit it.

However, I do see a symbiotic relationship emerging as bloggers drive traffic to MSM internet sites and further discussion surrounding their editorials and news items. Some folks may even be encouraged to pick up the print version due to a Blogger's urging.

Yesterday, I was told by a well-known MSM reporter that he has a "problem with bloggers because they are not trained reporters, and frequently spread misinformation due to their reliance on speculation and assumptions driven by their personal, dogmatic agendas..."

Well with all due respect, I don't think bloggers have a monopoly on that one, sir.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Get her OUT OF HERE!

Mexico is pulling out all stops to extradite Brenda Martin:

"...Mexico just wants her out of the country as soon as possible..."

Gee, I wonder why?

Elections Canada - Above reproach or undermining free speech?

Steve Maher's featured again on National Newswatch - this time with a somewhat more relevant piece than a previous one...

Today's column (Tories may only have succeeded in making themselves look bad) is fairly well-balanced, with plenty of scorn for both major parties in Canada. However, I find this paragraph disturbing:

...The Harper team instinctively attacks opponents, which is good politics, since it forces political rivals to spend half their time defending themselves. When the Tories go after independent officials, however, they look dishonest and mean, since to believe them, you are asked to believe that independent officials are corrupt. The standard of proof for that is higher than anything the Tories have offered...

Contrast that with David Frum's excellent editorial in today's Post - Elections Canad's campaign against free speech:

Yesterday on this page, Gerry Nicholls accused Elections Canada of being a power-crazed bureaucracy motivated by petty vindictiveness.

That's the optimistic scenario! Power-crazed bureaucrats can be restrained or replaced.

The more frightening possibility raised by this week's RCMP "visit" to Conservative party headquarters is that the Canadian bureaucracy has once again revealed a deep, sustained and highly ideological hostility to ordinary rights of free speech...

Frum goes on to outline how some of our supposedly non-partisan Canadian institutions like Elections Canada and the CHRC are undermining political free speech, and political freedom by extension! Please read the whole thing and then save it for future reference.

Canadians need to take off their rose-coloured glasses and take a critical look at those hallowed institutions that we seem to have placed on a pedestal. They are run by human beings.

And as such, they are not above constructive criticism and monitoring.

* * * *
Update: Check out Gerry Nicholls - Elections Canada vs. Free Speech.

Also see Dr. Roy - George Jonas on abolishing HRCs.

* * * *

Sunday Update:

Dr. Roy's found another good one here - The myth of the level playing field by Lorne Gunter.

This could quite possibly win some kind of award as the most objective editorial of the year. Lessons for everyone here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

All Brenda, all the time

Latest on Brenda Martin here.

Mike Duffy called Brenda's wait in prison 'tragic' on tonight's show. Oh pull-eze.

'Tragic', Duff? Usually we reserve that for a fallen soldier or a murdered child.

But Craig Oliver made up for that at the end of the show: "I don't remember a Canadian in trouble abroad who's had more attention than this woman has. I think she should stop complaining about every .."

And then Jane interrupted to remind us what a hard time poor Brenda has had.

Funny how CTV didn't post that clip tonight.

Something stinks in Ottawa

Not a lot of time for blogging today, but Steve Janke raises a good point - "If the search warrant was leaked..." (H/T to Frmgrl in comments).

On the question of a leak, Gerry Nicholls has an op-ed in the Post - Revenge of the Elections Canada Bureaucrats. This is one scary horror story! Every Canadian should be concerned. It questions the impartiality of EC.

Finally, please focus your attention on the hyperbole in this editorial by The Ottawa Citizen's Susan Riley - New cast, same script:

...As for the latest contretemps -- RCMP raids this week on Conservative headquarters over alleged campaign financing irregularities -- Harper may be saved this time by complexity. Conservatives are accused by critics of getting around spending limits on national campaigns by filtering at least $1 million through local riding associations. The opposition says this amounts to money-laundering. Conservatives say it is perfectly legal and that Liberal MPs do the same thing. "Why are (only) Conservatives not allowed to talk about their national leader and national policies in an election," House Leader Peter Van Loan complained yesterday, a textbook example of the avowedly transparent Harper government's sophistry.

Adding confusion, we don't know yet if the RCMP is chasing this so-called "in-and-out" accounting trick, or some other misdeed. In any event, the details may be lost in Conservative side attacks on Liberals, the CBC, the RCMP, and anyone else who questions. This may be good for the Tories, but it is bad for politics. Rather than turning to an alternative party, what if more voters -- finding none -- turn off politics altogether?

Note the use of RCMP raid and RCMP chasing...

Now if you recall, it was the RCMP themselves who said they were there to merely provide assistance (and possibly even oversee the execution of the warrant so that EC didn't overstep their boundaries):

RCMP commissioner Bill Elliott said the RCMP has a "longstanding memorandum of understanding" to assist Elections Canada, and insisted his officers were simply complying with a request.

This is NOT an RCMP raid, nor is it an RCMP investigation!!!

And yet Ms. Riley has the gall to lecture us on ethics.

* * * *

This is puzzling too - Seized papers linked to lawsuit by Tonda MacCharles (H/T National Newswatch):

After a two-day search of files and electronic databases at Conservative party headquarters, Elections Canada seized material related to the party's "media advertising" in the last election.

At least some of the material that was carted or wheeled out Tuesday and Wednesday by RCMP officers assisting Elections Canada investigators was the basis for the party's planned questioning of elections officials in the lawsuit challenging their interpretation of campaign financing rules.

Included among papers and emails seized or downloaded were all of the party's documents, including a series of indexed binders of Elections Canada records, related to the Conservatives' challenge in Federal Court of the agency's decision to disallow rebate claims involving some local campaign advertising expenses in the 2006 election, according to a document obtained by the Star...

So, in spite of the Liberal party's vehement denial that this had nothing to do with the CPC court challenge against EC, which coincidentally they were due to deal with the very day after the "raid", we find out that some of the material seized did in fact have to due with that case. The Liberals kept saying they were two different issues.

Can someone please explain to me how a one party involved in a legal suit could go into the premises of the other and take away their documents relating to the court action?

Maybe I'm missing something here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nation of Wimps

Gary Doyle is interviewing the author of A Nation of Wimps. Listen live.

This book looks like a winner!

It's hard not to think of 'Ban Everything' trend in Ontario when looking at the picture on the book cover.

* * * *
Speaking of books, has anyone read John Grisham's "The Appeal" yet? If so, what did you think about the ending? I love the reviews at the end of that link.

Does Elections Canada have 'an agenda'?

Just how 'non-partisan' is Elections Canada?

The fact that Gerry Nichols who is usually a thorn in Harper's side, actually backed up the Conservative Party yesterday with this post, is probably one of the most telling indicators of where the truth actually lies.

Gerry pulls no punches. And the Globe seemed impressed enough to report on his observations this morning.

Yesterday, on MDL, Garth Turner kept referring to things not passing the smell test. (Great post, Sentinel).

Well, I think something just reeks. Why were the CBC, and the Liberal party first off the block with this story? Does the NDP not watch Newsworld? Some reports have certain suspects actually waiting for the RCMP and Elections Canada to arrive. Jason Kenney said as much on the aforementioned MDL clip.

Don Martin discloses the following observations:

...The real interesting part, which has a lot of Conservative MPs in a lather, is how two camera crews magically surfaced to stake out both floors rented by the Conservative party within minutes of the search warrant being executed.

The RCMP cruisers were unmarked and the police scanner didn't broadcast the "visit," so unless CBC journalists are telepathic, the only plausible explanation is that they were tipped by Elections Canada.

And being dedicated Newsworld watchers, gleeful Liberals armed with their own cameras were scrambled to record the "visitation" within minutes of the news being broadcast...

He also calls Elections Canada's actions "heavy-handed".

A comment at Warren Kinsella's blog caught my attention:

...And André Thouin just happens to be an ex-RCMP officer.

I believe the RCMP, the Liberals, and the media were there so early because Mr. Thouin arranged it so. The weapons and flak jackets make no sense at all, except to draw attention to the fact that these were no mere Elections Canada lackies. Whatever the case, it was well played. And clearly a "PR stunt" by EC.

There's nothing wrong with calling it like it is.
Sitsonsix | 04.16.08 - 7:37 pm

Canadians need to be reassured that such a vital institution as Elections Canada actually is non-partisan. Our democracy depends on it.

The optics sure aren't comforting.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Was it a setup for a photo-op?

The Toronto Star reports:

...A videographer hired by the Liberals was present as the raid was carried out, alongside mainstream media camera crews documenting the incident...

It doesn't sound like they just happened by, does it?

* * * *
From CNEWS - Tories attack Elections Canada over raid.

Elections Canada made a media "circus" out of a raid on Conservative party headquarters, inviting an opposition camera crew to observe police officers carrying out the raid, Tory MPs complained Wednesday.

The Liberals laughed off any suggestion that they were tipped off in advance of the raid, which appeared to be continuing Wednesday, saying they sent a videographer to the Tory party offices after seeing the event unfold on a television news network...

..."I do find it odd, when I look at a photograph this morning and I see someone knocking on the door with cameras, with news cameras present," Flaherty said as he left a Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.

"And to see that there were Liberal party people in the hallway, I find that very strange indeed."
( . . . )

A videographer hired by the Liberals was present as the raid was carried out, alongside numerous mainstream media camera crews documenting the incident.

Now who are you going to believe?

Stephen Taylor - Something isn't right about the RCMP "raid". 'Catherine' in comments says:

Stephen, maybe someone should correct Garth Turner's statement on Mike Duffy live, where he stated the CPC "stole" Canadians tax dollars.
Link here. In the same interview, Jason Kenney marvels at how a Liberal party official was there ahead of the RCMP and Elections Canada.

National Post - Elections Canada leaked news of RCMP raid, Tories said.

Don Martin
- Elections Canada brings out the sledgehammer.

Qubec doctors against protecting a woman's right to choose... carry her own baby to term.

Perhaps the Hippocratic Oath should be renamed the Hypocritical Oath.

Things aren't much better in Canada

Brenda Martin shouldn't be so anxious to get back here. In the court of political and media rhetoric, Canada isn't far behind Mexico in the concept of guilty until proven innocent.

The headlines from yesterday's story have run the gamut from RCMP called in to help search Tory offices, all the way to RCMP raids Tory office in election probe.

Never mind that the RCMP clarified the situation as follows (RCMP raid a 'PR stunt', Tories claim):

...RCMP commissioner Bill Elliott said the RCMP has a "longstanding memorandum of understanding" to assist Elections Canada, and insisted his officers were simply complying with a request...

Whatever that means. However, it wasn't a 'raid' by the RCMP. But as noted in the previous post, the hyperbole and torqued headlines are spinning around the world.

The political rhetoric is also astounding. From the Liberal website:
The RCMP raid of Conservative Party headquarters is proof that Prime Minister Stephen Harper must explain to Canadians about his party’s alleged involvement in deceptive financing practices during the 2006 federal election, the Liberal Opposition said today.

Aha. They learned from the last time and added the word 'alleged'. But if this was only some assistance that the RCMP was providing to their old buddies, Elections Canada, then the preceding paragraph seems a bit contrived, n'est-pas?

And Michael Ignatieff self-righteously proclaims:

“How did it get to this? An RCMP squad raiding the offices of the Conservative Party - spinners in frantic damage control,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “I mean, how did we get here? Why did Elections Canada have to get a search warrant and the help of the RCMP in the first place? Why did they have to pry information from this government's clenched fist?”

Mmmm.... How did it get to this, Michael?

Do you think those camera-toting colleagues of yours who were descending like hungry vultures and greedily snapping photos for future ads have any idea either?

Anyway, don't rush back, Brenda. It isn't a whole lot better here either.

* * * *
Update: Via Steve Janke, Adam Radwanski weighs in with "Subtle as a Sledgehammer".

Cherniak - In and Out of the printing press. In his dreams.

I left a comment. Wonder if he'll publish it.

Tories say Liberals were tipped to raid - Star:

...A videographer hired by the Liberals was present as the raid was carried out...

But CBC's Newman said just before QP today, that they must have seen it on the news, and decided to drop by? C'mon.

* * * *
Update: Don Martin - Elections Canada brings out the sledgehammer:

...with footage in the can and a campaign script that writes itself, this is no longer an issue of guilt or Conservative innocence in the showdown with election officials.

That's the beauty of securing a conviction in the court of public opinion -- optics, hearsay and circumstantial evidence can instantly gas chamber the innocent with no avenue of appeal.

And on this particular count, shots of warrant-bearing cops wandering the headquarters of the allegedly clean Conservatives are Tory tarnish and Grit gold.

This is why I find Election Canada's behaviour somewhat squeamish. Nobody can recall such heavy handed behaviour before and there's no explanation why police were required when a phone call might have sufficed.

The Conservatives insist they'll have their day in court and argue convincingly that Elections Canada will be proven wrong. There's documentation suggesting the other three parties are not without sin at the ins and outs of creative campaign financing...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I smell an election

RCMP raid search Tory headquarters:

...Camera crews, including one from the Liberal party, were on hand as police arrived at the downtown building...

Funny how the CBC scooped the Canadian Press.

11:58 - Interesting. The date stamp changed on both stories, as did the headline of the CBC's post.

More at CTV.

Oh yeah. Hillier is stepping down too. CBC again. H/T National Newswatch.

* * * *

Update: This is now an international story!


BBC - Canadian Police search party headquarters.

NYT - Canada: Conservative Party Raided.

Gotta love those torqued headlines...

* * * *

And from his new home at Canada.Com, David Akin reports that "Liberal political operatives with video cameras filmed the RCMP officers at Conservative headquarters and plan to use the footage in their campaign advertising."

What serendipitous timing!

The Teflon Premier

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's battle with the Ontario Liberal Government seems to have produced two unpleasant results (from my POV) - Support for the CPC in Ontario is going down, while numbers for both federal and provincial Liberals are going up in this province.

While Flaherty may be responsible for the federal polling results, the Ontario picture is likely due more to an extremely weak opposition. As the Ottawa Sun's Antonella Artuso reports, nothing seems to be sticking to Dalton McGuinty:

...Pollster Nik Nanos said the Liberals now enjoy a 15-point advantage over the Tories, up from 11 points in the October election.

Supporting the McGuinty government is a "default" position for voters who don't see the opposition as proactive on important issues, such as the province's economic slowdown, Nanos said.

"They're not wearing anything as a government," he said. "It's classic ... free ride politics."

The Nanos Research poll finds the Liberals have the support of 45% of decided voters, followed by the Conservatives at 30%, the NDP at 14% and the Green Party at 10%....

Strangely, even the media seems outraged today by Dalton's arrogance. Joe Warmington is especially angered the way Dalton dodged the media surrounding his closed-door session with Chinese business people:

...Somebody has to call out the premier and remind him he's in that job at our pleasure in an open, democratic society where the press is entitled to cover his every public move. This means his meeting with a business delegation from Jiangsu, China, and its Vice-Governor Zhang Weiguo, should have some reasonable media opportunities. As premier, he's on our clock -- as were cabinet ministers Michael Chan and John Wilkinson...

Well, Joe. I don't know about that. With polls like the one that just came out, I think you can be assured that Dalton's actions will become even more arrogant and secretive. Don't look for any transparency from this guy in the near future. He has the Ontario Lemmings eating out of his hand.

But I do wonder if any of that Teflon the premier wears was made in China?

* * * *

: Aww... Doesn't this warm the cockles of your plebeian heart? - I talked rights: Preem. Chinese VIP 'listened intently':

...McGuinty said he made it clear to Zhang that he would be attending question period following the meeting and would give opposition MPPs an opportunity to hold him to account.

"He was surprised at that process," McGuinty said. "But I embrace that process."

Yeah, right.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Brenda's back in the headlines

After having had a brief reprieve from the Brenda Martin saga, we see that she's back in the news today - Brenda Martin in tears at final hearing:

Brenda Martin, held in a Mexican prison for over two years on fraud charges, burst into tears at her final hearing Monday after the judge said he wouldn't guarantee a ruling in her case by Friday.

The Mexican judge apparently wasn't moved by her tears and maintains that he is entitled to 30 business days to make a decision.

The evidence against her seems to be circumstantial at best.

So anyway, I'm just curious. Have your feelings about this situation changed at all? Do you feel more sympathetic now, or less, or no change?

Today's Christianity - Not much more than a coffee club

The Sun's Connie Woodcock addresses her frustration with moral relativism and its influence on today's movement towards secularism in some Christian religions - Take the Christ out of Christianity and what's left?

...But most of all I do not want to hear any more from the Rev. Gretta Vosper, the minister at West Hill United Church who has apparently managed the ultimate doublethink. She has removed God, Jesus, the resurrection and most of the Bible from her services, yet claims to be a Christian.

She has just written a controversial book called With or Without God in which she discusses the need for Christianity to reform. In her case, that means dropping Jesus off a cliff and making up some kind of "spirituality" instead. There's no "big Godism" at her church, she says. Indeed, there is no God at all by the sounds of it. Doesn't that make her a pagan," one talk show caller wondered after listening to her.

It's more than a little pathetic and goes a long way toward explaining why the United Church is the most rapidly shrinking of Canada's mainstream churches. It may also explain why the church is having a bit of a struggle coming up with a new statement of beliefs.

Take the Christ out of Christianity and what's left? A Tim Hortons coffee club, that's what. What can they be thinking at the United Church of Canada?

There seem to be schisms developing in many churches these days, and they generally center around the conflict between absolute truth (i.e. the Bible) vs. moral relativism (everything is o.k. as long as nobody's getting hurt).

It's just one more manifestation of a weak culture that badly wishes to justify self-serving, hedonistic pursuits and has thereby rendered itself vulnerable to others with more discipline and purpose.

The Dion dilemma

With polls showing the Liberals and Conservatives in an apparent dead-heat, it's disconcerting as a Conservative supporter to ponder what those polls might disclose if Dion was not the Liberal leader.

There aren't too many columnists out there still trying to paint Stephane Dion as being effective. Even the traditional left-leaning pundits seem to be jumping ship. I suppose you can only support an illusion up to a point.

Chantel Hebert thinks that Dion blew it when he sold out on the environment issue. And now Dion is facing an even bigger test, with the immigration bill being tied to the budget, and thereby forcing him to either take a stand or cut and run once again.

But the immigration issue is so entrenched in Liberal folklore that it would be difficult for Dion to sit this one out. In two different newspapers columnist Angelo Persichilli outlines the dilemma - and the hypocrisy of their so-called self-acclaimed title as Champions of Immigration.

In the Sun (Will Immigration Issue bring down the Tories?), Persichilli states:

Will the issue of immigration do what the environment, crime bill and Afghanistan failed to do? Will the debate over immigration help Canadians get rid of this dysfunctional Parliament?

The answer seems positive. However, it seemed positive in the past but, in the end, one opposition party or another chickened out. This time it looks like the Liberals are tired of their new bend-and-run fitness program on Parliament Hill every time there's a confidence vote and they may actually want to get rid of the Harper government.

So what they are talking about?

All of them know the immigration system is in a complete state of chaos. It's also clear this deterioration took place mainly under the Liberals' watch since 1993. They know what the problems are, but they don't know how to solve them.

They know Canada's economy needs tradespeople, but they don't know how to let them in. They know criminals abuse the system, but they don't know how to kick them out. They let highly educated immigrants in, but they don't know how to find them jobs other than driving taxis in Toronto. They want to help refugees from around the world settle in Canada but don't know how, forcing them to join the huge ranks of "undocumented" workers...

He goes on to point out that only immigration lawyers and consultants are benefitting from the present chaotic and sluggish system.

And then comes the clincher:

...In reality, the Liberals are not looking for a debate that would expose their shortcomings on this issue, but a platform to revitalize the myth about the Conservatives being against immigrants and them the champions of the poor and the weak. And, with this image in mind, throw (Dion) Quixote into the campaign.

Persichilli's Hill Times piece is even more revealing - Liberals now thing of June election:

..Last week, at a quasi-emergency meeting of the Liberal shadow Cabinet, the need to go to the polls as soon as possible was debated, recognized, and there was a general consensus that the Conservative immigration reform plan would be the trigger. According to Liberal sources, Canadians should go to the polls in June. This seems to be the plan.

After voting down the NDP motion last week to force the government to extrapolate the immigration issue from the budget bill, the bill will be debated in committee. At the Citizenship and Immigration Committee, Liberals are going to present their amendments to the reforms presented by Minister of Immigration Diane Finley. Liberals are very confident that these amendments will be approved with the help of the other opposition parties and sent back to the House for a vote.

Of course, the government could choose to accept them and change the budget bill in the House. If it does, the government is safe and the Liberals are stuck with Stéphane Dion for the summer, at least. However, in answer to a question asked by Mike Duffy last week during his afternoon Mike Duffy Live show, the Immigration Minister Finley said clearly that the government has no intention of changing anything and the Liberal amendments will be rejected. This means that the Liberals will vote the government down; at least that's what they were saying last week.

If the Liberal plan holds—and the "if" is necessary considering the twists of the last few months—the final vote against the budget will take place during the first half of May and Canadians would go to the polls in June.

"Of course the best for the Liberals," a party strategist told The Hill Times last week, "would be the removal of Dion before the vote and, even if this development is highly unlikely, it doesn't mean that some Liberals have completely given up their hopes..."

The Liberal party's biggest enemy is not the Harper government, but rather their own in-fighting and problems with moles, which are apparent with the Quebec wing's inner turmoil and with comments like this:

...Dion seems to be convinced that the only development that could save his leadership is a national election. However, even if an election was widely welcomed a few months ago by the majority of Liberal MPs and strategists, there are now doubts. The polls are so bad that many MPs, even in Toronto, are fearing for their own seats. Some are concerned that even Etobicoke-Lakeshore is not a sure bet.

"I'm not saying that Michael Ignatieff is not going to win. I'm only saying that he has to work hard to keep it," a Liberal insider told The Hill Times...

And here's the conundrum:

...And that's why they are using immigration to defeat the government. They, the Liberals, created the mess, they failed to correct it, and they don't have a plan solve it. Still they believe that the old antics about this issue ("Conservatives are racist and we are the good guys") will be enough to bring them back to power or, as a Liberal strategist said half-jokingly last week, spare them the humiliation, 15 years after the Conservative experience, from becoming "the party of two."

L. Ian MacDonald points out the further hypocrisy of the Liberal's opposition to changes in the Immigration policy - Harper is playing truth or dare on the immigration bill:

...Then the Liberal deputy leader, Michael Ignatieff, turned to refugee claimants and determination, always a hot-button issue. Under the previous Liberal government, he noted, "the queue for refugee claimants had been effectively reduced to zero."

He continued: "Under the Conservative government, the backlog has ballooned to nearly 60,000 and is said to be heading to 100,000 by 2012."

Ignatieff concluded: "What does the government have against refugees?"

Well, nothing. The real question is the reverse of the one posed by Iggy. If there are 60,000 refugee claimants today, how come there were none two years ago?

The answer is that since there are 800,000 people lined up at the front door, 60,000 people are trying to get in through the back door of refugee claims. The system isn't working in the front, and has been systematically abused by lawyers and claimants in the back. And everyone knows it. Lawyers for Karlheinz Schreiber could file a refugee claim on the grounds he would be tortured by his jailers if extradited to Germany.

The Liberals are trying to whip ethnic communities into a frenzy largely over the discretion the bill gives the minister to instruct her department to give priority to immigrants whose job skills are needed in the Canadian workforce. "Cherry-picking," Dion called it. Imagine, prioritizing immigration according to the demands of our economy. Aha. Queue jumping. Putting the economy ahead of family unification and refugee claims, sensitive issues in multicultural communities....

In view of all this, it boggles the mind that Liberal brand continues to stay afloat nationally, and even be on top in Ontario.

All of which makes me wonder what would happen if the Liberals finally did somehow get it together? Would they be back in government?

I can only hope their problems last for a long, long time.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Running on arrogance

Christina Blizzard's Sun column today is titled, Running on Empty. I disagree. There's a lot of hot air in the Legislature. 'Empty' would be an improvement.

To me it's worse to be hypocritical than to be doing nothing. And surely there must be some kind of statute of limitations on pointing the finger at previous governments:

...The worst offender is Health Minister George Smitherman. He was under fire last week over news reports that the Rouge Valley Hospital was about to lay off nurses.

Nickel Belt New Democrat France Gelinas asked Smitherman about the layoffs in question period.

After Smitherman had gone through his litany of blaming (a) the Tories and (b) the hospital management, he reminded Gelinas that when the NDP were in power, they closed hospital beds.

"That's when Howard Hampton was on a five-year bathroom break," Smitherman said contemptuously...

Dalton's method of handling things is to deliver a sanctimonious sermon:

...Pausing every now and then for dramatic effect, he gets into a breathless, preacher-style way of talking when he gets into the spin cycle.

We need "constructive engagement" to persuade the Chinese government to be more like us, he argued. Hallelujah, sister Sandra is going to spread the gospel of good government to China. Hallelujah, hallelujah.

This bafflegab is frustrating for anyone seeking real answers...

So we have a preacher and a pitbull in charge of this province. (My apologies to dog owners.)

You know, sometimes I wonder why I bother pointing any of this out. I'm beating my head against a wall of voter apathy and Liberal Lemming-worship here in Ontario. Hypocrisy and arrogance don't seem to bother them. They just shrug it off and say, well that's politics for ya.

However, with another election years away, I do hope that Blizzard is right. Better that they sit there and twiddle their thumbs than do any more damage than they already have.

So go ahead and take a long, long bathroom break yourself, George. Unless of course, you'd rather wear a diaper.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Your chance to let Dalton know what you're thinking!

O.K. This normally doesn't happen until election time, but the Committee doing the review about the Lord's Prayer is actually asking our opinion!!!

Yes, yes. I know. Dalton won't actually read the forms, but won't it make you feel better? Look at it as a kind of therapy.

Some of the opposition members feel that this issue is using up valuable government time that could be better spent on more pressing issues. Do you agree?

Well, tell them!

Some folks fear that this could lead to ugly tensions between various faith-groups and secularists:
...Some question the need for a divisive debate. Frank Dimant, executive director of B'nai Brith, said Ontario is facing much more pressing issues – including a slowing economy and gun violence. No one was clamouring for a change to the Lord's Prayer, he said.

"I do not believe that the people of Ontario are interested in engaging in a massive debate between religions, ethnic groups, cultural groups and atheists," said Dimant, adding the Lord's Prayer is more symbolic nowadays.

"Why look for a problem which will pit group against group in this province?"

Hmmm... Yes, that does sound familiar.

In any case, tell the Committee how you feel about this - all the good, bad and ugly thoughts you have. Click on Consultation on prayer in the Legislative Assembly and then let them have it!!

It's a rare chance to participate in democracy in action.

Or at least the illusion of democracy.