Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Rex Murphy, one of CBC’s better talking heads, is a very compelling character. He’s a smart Rhodes Scholar and possesses the gift of the gab of his ancestors. He also has a pair of original asymmetrical eyes, a sober and righteously indignant mien, and a broad Newfi accent. When these unique characteristics are combined with his pedantic and scholarly language, his penchant for satire and irony, and his regular use of obscure quotes from the bard and vignettes from Greek and Roman mythology, he comes across as a morally and intellectually superior odd-ball.

Whether it be on The National on CBC television or on CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup which he hosts every Sunday afternoon, I among many Canadians usually find him to be an amusing and informative guy. His ubiquitous media presence has become as much of a Canadian institution as Hockey Night in Canada. There is no one quite like Murphy in Canadian radio and television and one hopes that his career as a boob tube pundit and radio host lasts for a very long time.

He also writes a weekly column for the Globe and Mail. In my opinion, Murphy is not as good with the pen as he is in front of a camera or microphone. To me his columns too often are pretentious intellectual snobbery and for that reason so boring it is hard to read the stuff to the end. His writings all too frequently display a self-indulgent pedantry seemingly written for the benefit of himself, his Oxonian pals or the gifted few he accepts as his intellectual equals. Nonetheless, he warrants his place on the Globe’s Op-ed page and we can only wish that his quality graced the pages of the hapless Calgary Herald.

In Saturday’s Globe and Mail, Murphy penned what was by and large a good column on the arrival of Michael Ignatieff as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada entitled Grit miracle: Iggy to fish in Tory water.

In the piece, Murphy describes Ignatieff’s strengths and promise and the bizarre sequence of events that expedited his recent rise to power. He noted that Ignatieff had reignited Grit party morale and that Canadians were giving him attention. He applauded the new leader’s wooing of Quebec and observed that his style could do well there. All of which was music to the ears of Liberals throughout the country, myself included.

Murphy saved what he thought was the best for the last. He enthusiastically approved of Ignatieff’s stated intention of giving the west due recognition in his future plans. In his inimitable ornate prose Murphy pointed out that,

“The Liberal Party has long treated Western Canada as some kind of political ultima Thule or if I may maul a familiar phrase from Hamlet, an “undiscovered country from whose bourn no Liberal MP returns.”

The Hamlet part didn’t faze me, - but “ultima Thule” - what the hell was that supposed to mean? For those of us of the great unwashed who have never been invited to Murphy’s salon to engage in the scholarly and rigorous intellectual discourse practiced among his lofty peers, this is what the on-line dictionary tells us it means:

The northernmost region of the habitable world as thought of by ancient geographers.
A distant territory or destination.
A remote goal or ideal: “the ultima Thule of technology, the ne plus ultra . . . the answer to every earthly problem” (John Gould).

What he is saying I suppose is but another wrinkle on the old saws about Liberals in the west being protected by the game laws, or having their conventions in telephone booths. They are gross exaggerations.

Let’s consider British Columbia. Gordon Campbell leads a Liberal government in British Columbia. His former finance minister is Carole Taylor, a former CBC Chairperson. Taylor is married to a former Liberal MP during the Trudeau years and former Vancouver Mayor, Art Phillips. Campbell was elected leader and then Premier after Gordon Wilson had led the BC Liberals to become a strong Official Opposition, overtaking the now-defunct Social Credit party. Christy Clark, a noted federal and provincial Liberal who is married to famed federal Grit organizer and mover and shaker Mark Merissen, was Campbell’s Deputy Premier. In fact, in the Federal elections between 1980 and 2006 British Columbia Liberal seats jumped from zero to nine.

Even in conservative Alberta, under the leadership of Laurence Decore, the Provincial Liberals won 32 out of 83 seats and received 39% of the vote in the election of 1993. Federal Grits did well enough in Alberta to win 4 seats in 1993 and hold two until the federal election of 2006. Former Edmonton Liberal MP Anne McLellan served with distinction in many portfolios during those years, including a stint as Deputy Prime Minister. And even in its present weakened state, the Provincial Liberal Party boasts five Liberal MLA’s in Calgary, of all places.

Murphy also dragged out the worn and bedraggled National Energy Program for one more tired turn in front of the footlights. According to Murphy, “That policy burned the house of Liberalism in the West to the ground.” Hardly. Save for a few scattered and muffled voices, neither British Columbia, Saskatchewan, nor Manitoba cared a whit about the NEP. The bellyaching came from Alberta.

Murphy also tells us that “Mr. Ignatieff is the first Liberal leader I’ve heard since the dread days of the NEP to make clear acknowledgment of the resentments and mischiefs it inspired.” Perhaps Murphy should listen more and pontificate less. Had he been listening he would have known that every federal Liberal leader since John Turner has been groveling their NEP mea culpas to the people out here at every opportunity. At Alberta federal Liberal fundraising dinners addressed by visiting Liberal MP guest speakers, it is as common as the plates of rubber chicken on the tables. It is as common as Murphy sporting his Oxonian pedigree with his obscure but weighty Shakespeare and Latin quotations. And as to the real impact of the NEP I urge once again that everyone read:

Let me conclude by wishing all of my readers of all political or other persuasions a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Yesterday’s Calgary Herald carried more flatulence from the pen of the editor of the editorial page, Ms. Licia Corbella. Money must be awfully tight at that failing broadsheet these days. There seems to be precious little of it available for talented writers to ply their skills on the editorial page. Why else would Corbella’s turgid Conservative flim-flam appear so frequently?

As might be expected, she takes full advantage of her lofty position in the hierarchy of that soon-to-be relic of a bygone kinder and gentler era – her pieces usually appear smack-dab in the middle of the editorial page. Thus, try as one may, there is just no way to avoid them short of skipping the page or cancelling one’s subscription. Understandably, both of those options are increasingly being taken up by Herald readers.

The title of her piece is “Is Ignatieff the Conservatives’s Grinch?” It can be read here:

Her introduction centered around a comment made by her eleven year-old son. According to her, the young lad said to her, “Doesn’t this guy look like the Grinch?” The guy the little fellow was referring to was new Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. For one of her kids to make that observation speaks volumes about daily conversation around her family dinner table. Corbella's predictable reaction was, “Ha! How perceptive!,” no doubt believing that the kid, like his mother, was just a chip off the old Black. See: Sunday, March 09, 2008

Warming to her Yuletide analogy, Corbella continued with the tiresome pejorative blather she always reserves for Liberals. She remarked that with Iggy’s “bushy eyebrows and sly grin [he] looked like he had stolen something . . . ” and that in fact “he had just snatched the leadership” from his rivals and “the Liberal grassroots as well.” She called the move “furtive” and took the opportunity to remark that no “heavy hitters” were interested in the job and that his only rival Bob Rae had been a “disaster” as Premier of Ontario.

Well, to set the record straight – once again in response to one of Corbella's gross columns – Iggy does not look like a Grinch and neither did he steal anything from anybody. The leadership was bestowed upon him by the party and only a handful of Grits across Canada were critical of the move.

The leadership process was sped up as a result of a justifiable lack of trust among all Liberals in Stephen Harper. They were rightly convinced that if Harper tried to kill off the opposition by shutting down its source of funds, he would call an election during their leadership campaign. Thus they had to act fast, and that is exactly what they did. As a result of the party's decision to quickly confer the leadership upon Ignatieff, the Liberals are now more united than at any other time in this decade.

As for there being no heavyweights who pursued the Liberal crown, that too is false. Both Ignatieff and Rae make each and every Conservative party jackal who will feed on Harper’s carcass at his next misstep look like, well, the lightweight jackals that they are. Both Ignatieff and Rae are great Canadians whose positive contributions to this country and society generally make Harper and his likely successors look like freeloaders.

Being the Conservative flak that she is, Corbella then commented extensively on perceived inconsistencies in Ignatieff’s messaging during the 2006 leadership race. She ignores the fact that Harper’s past utterances, apart from being scary, makes Ignatieff look and sound like the model of consistency. See: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Altogether another sorry contribution from the editorial pages of a once proud newspaper. CanWest Global common stock closed yesterday at $ 0.507 Cents.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Yesterday at about 11 AM I received a call at home from Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid. He wished to interview me along with a few other Liberals about Michael Ignatieff becoming the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. I have known Don for almost thirty years and have followed his career as a reporter and columnist for all of that time. Don is a professional. He has interviewed me many times, always with accuracy and fairness. He is a credit to his profession.

We spoke for the better part of a half hour on the impact of Ignatieff’s elevation to the party leadership. I voiced my agreement that with the coming of Ignatieff longstanding divisions within the party were healed and that it would quickly revitalize itself from Victoria to St. John’s. I also opined that the coming of Ignatieff meant that Harper’s days as Prime Minister and Conservative leader were now numbered.

Don’s excellent and objective piece on the Ignatieff succession appeared in this morning’s Herald. See:

My astonishment of course is that nowhere in Braid’s piece did my name appear. Was I really bad copy during the interview? Was it conducted too early in the morning? Did my erudite wit fail me? Why was I left on the Herald’s cutting-room floor? What about my crumbling self-esteem! Why was I excluded?

I have been a loyal and faithful subscriber to the paper all of my adult years, following in the footsteps of my family before me. Surely there has been no greater supporter and booster of the Herald’s excellent journalistic product over the years. Why, just look at some of my recent blogs, in which the Herald has played a front and center role:










Alas, did Braid conclude that I was not up to my usual copy standards? Or do the Herald’s editors believe that “he who lives by the pen, shall die by the pen - or scissors?” Probably I shall never know.

But I do recommend the above blogs to those readers who wish to confirm my continued admiration for that great publication.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


In this morning National Post columnist Don Martin shed crocodile tears over the departure of Stephane Dion as leader of the Liberal Party. See:

He found multiple tragedies of Shakespearean proportions in Dion’s political career and the manner and timing of his leaving the center stage of national politics.

Ah, but as the radio commentator Paul Harvey might say, you haven’t heard ‘the rest of the story.’

Before becoming national leader of the Liberal Party, Dion ate separatists for breakfast. He publicly and rationally beat up on the likes of Lucien Bouchard, Jacques Parizeau and Bernard Landry to the point where much of the Quebec population thought he was too mean to them. In the process Dion gave Canada the ‘Clarity Act,’ which forever demolishes any argument that Quebec can leave Canada as a result of a small victory in a referendum on a confusing question. Canada had been through the wringer in two such referendums precipitated by firebrand separatists in Quebec. The Clarity Act brought a stop to such foolishness. As a result, the separatist threat has subsided and Canadians feel far more confident about the unity of the country. By any standard, this stands as one of the great contributions to Canadian unity in the history of the country.

In addition to his masterful accomplishment on national unity, Dion was the first leader of a major political party in Canada to focus on the environment as an issue of the greatest importance and deserving of the utmost priority. This was another historic accomplishment in Dion's fine political career and another major part of his legacy.

Martin also attempts to coin a new phrase in Canadian political lexicon – “Doing a Dion.” According to Martin, “Doing a Dion” means “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

I submit that “Doing a Dion” will mean something much different in Canadian political lexicon.
“Doing a Dion” will come to mean, “Recognizing the autocrat and stopping him in his tracks." This is what Dion did to Prime Minister Harper. He recognized Harper the autocrat. He banded together with the NDP and the Bloc – the only thing he could do in the circumstances – threatened a coalition, and stopped the autocrat in his tracks. This is another great component to Dion's legacy and is likely to enhance in significance in the years ahead.

It begs the question, what will “Doing a Don Martin” mean historically? It will mean the same thing as “Doing a Joe Clark” and “Doing a Stephen Harper.” It means not being good at math. It means confusing the terms “majority” and “minority.” It means not being able to count, or figure out percentages. It means not being able to identify what is over 50% or under 50%.

If you wish proof of the above proposition, read once again this very prescient piece:

Monday, December 08, 2008


Political events in Ottawa are moving so swiftly that even political junkies can’t keep up. Just in the past few days we have witnessed the rise of a coalition movement, bare-knuckled political acrimony in the House of Commons and on the airwaves, direct emotional appeals to the country by national political leaders, demonstrations across the country for both sides, an unprecedented granting of a prorogation by the Governor – General to avoid a government defeat, and now, what appears to be a sped-up leadership resolution for the Liberals. All in two weeks. And all
because of Stephen Harper, and all because he can’t be trusted.

We need not review the reasons why all of the above is true. All of them have been reported, blogged, discussed in columns, talked about by television's talking heads, and bandied about our daily lives ad nauseum.

There was a time not long ago that Canadian political parties and their leaders, of all stripes in whatever jurisdiction or region, operated on a civilized basis. Politics in Canada had its own Marquis of Queensbury/Geneva Convention rules. Oh, there was partisanship and a competitive spirit to get this edge or that on an issue, or to try for an uptick in the polls with some decision or policy. There were uncomplimentary accusations hurled across the House or the airwaves by the contestants from time to time. Political discourse could get hot and votes of confidence could happen quickly which could end a government, and its leader’s career. But there were rules. There were no surprise attacks during leadership campaigns. There were no television attack ads when there wasn't any election going on. There was no effort to starve opposition parties when money was scarce. There was no kicking an opponent when he was down.

Until recently party behaviour in Canada most always fell short of meanness and bullying and wanting to do your opponents in forever. There was too much respect for our democratic institutions for that, even amongst vigorous partisans. Amid spirited and sometimes disrespectful debate, pre-Harper political contestants fell short of trampling their opponents into oblivion. There was a respect for political parties and a respect for democracy and a respect for fair play. There were some things that were over the line. It was always a matter of judgment as to what they were, but the contestants intuitively knew when they were nearing the line and almost always pulled back.

That changed with Stephen Harper. Harper's infamous attack ads, his accusations that the Liberal Prime Minister supported child pornography, his smearing a Liberal Sikh MP in the House, his relishing the scene of Liberals grovel to refrain from participating in confidence votes to avoid an election which they could ill-afford are just a few of his actions that were directed at changing the rules of the game. The list is extensive and well known.

And when Harper saw his chance to destroy the opposition by cutting off its money, he took it. To stop his abuse - and that is what it was, abuse – of the democratic process, the opposition did the only thing it could to try to bring him into line, they formed a perfectly legitimate and democratic coalition movement. The uproar about the Bloc agreeing to support the coalition is a red-herring promoted by Conservatives who can’t think beyond their expectations of their very own pork out of the barrel.

What will happen to the coalition between now and when the House convenes next month is anyone’s guess. But the reason it formed should be obvious to everybody. Harper cannot be trusted. He is a dangerous force in Canadian politics and his influence must be curtailed.

The Liberals now believe it is necessary to speed up their leadership process. They are confronted with the reality that Harper would likely take advantage of a longer leadership race by calling an election in the middle of it. It would be entirely consistent with his super-partisan, scorched earth philosophy of government - Destroy your enemies at any cost, even if you have to destroy your institutions. In fact, given his recent over-the-top statements about fighting the inclusion of the Bloc in the coalition, one can conclude he is even prepared to risk the survival of the country to attain his personal political goals.

This is a sad and dangerous time. Harper has got to go!

Friday, December 05, 2008




Yesterday evening I attended a Calgary Christmas party hosted by a financial consulting firm, a couple of whose partners are friends of mine. Given the present political turmoil in Ottawa and the fact that I am known as an unrepentant contrariarian Grit in a sea of Conservatives, I had some trepidation about the event.

On the Conservative side, passions are running high in these parts. A coalition deal with the Bloc and NDP is about as popular in Calgary as a personal appearance at the Petroleum Club by Pierre Trudeau in the early eighties. For all of his efforts to sell the Greenshift plan and now his dalliances with the Socialists and separatists, Stephane Dion is an object of scorn and derision in the cowtown's downtown business establishment. I thought for sure that some of the guests would try to take it out on me, as has happened many times in the past.

I tried to prepare myself for the onslaught that I thought was sure to come by deciding to talk about Stephen Harper whenever the subject of the Liberals in Ottawa was to arise. And boy, did my strategy work! I am here to tell you today, that the members of the business community that I spoke to last night - oilmen, professionals, financial advisors, planners, small business owners, and big business movers and shakers - to a man (or woman), believe that Stephen Harper should be given the boot by the Conservative Party. No kidding! Bringing up Harper's name generated derision, anger, disgust and vituperation, the like of which I had not heard here since the dying days of the Mulroney government. In fact, the anger in the crowd directed at Harper was more palpable than it was at Dion. The mention of Dion at least generated some chortling at his gaffes. There was no laughter at Harper.

In addition, the men and women that I spoke to had 'got it' about Harper. They went after him for his meanness, his bully-boy tactics and his blatant attempt to choke off the opposition. They spoke of him as the one who was mostly responsible for the parliamentary crisis, and that he had squandered his good will and his strong minority for all time to come.

And remarkably, each had settled upon the same conclusion for the Conservatives, namely, that Harper should be dumped and replaced by Jim Prentice as leader with all due haste, after which they predicted everything would settle down. For further evidence of hostility towards Harper, see:

Believe me, that event was as good a snapshot of opinion in Calgary's downtown business community as any as I've attended. Calgary remains a dogmatic conservative city and the voting habits of its people in federal elections are not likely to change soon. But they 'get it' about Harper.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Coming soon to the Conservative Caucus?

Hot off the Press
Conservative propagandist Bourque Newswatch announced today that conservative talk-show host Lowell Green of Ottawa radio station CFRA has reported that "If coalition forms gvt, Tory MPs may resign en masse ..."

My God, what's next for the beleaguered Conservative caucus? Kool-Ade?

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Niccolo Macchiavelli tells it like it is . . .
Turf him!

So, what is the opposition to do?

With Harper’s economic update now before the House of Commons, the opposition caught him red-handed plotting to do them in. He planned to create a one party state by killing off any effective democratic opposition in the government of Canada. He tried to destroy the opposition by depriving it of democracy’s life blood – money.

More significantly, he signaled his intention to impose his long held hard-right views on the nation. His first two steps in dealing with the economic crisis were to freeze the wages of civil servants and take away their right to strike for three years. There was no provision for any stimulus to get people working again or to save jobs.

The update also contained an overriding lie to the Canadian people that Canada would continue to run surpluses.

So now he is on the ropes. If the Grits, ND’s and Bloc get together and convince the Governor General they can govern in a coalition government, the Harper government is toast. In that event, it will be left to the Conservative Party to dispose of their leader’s remains. And dispose of them they will, if the Harper government falls.

Yesterday Harper caved on the party financing portion of the update. But is that enough to ward off a likely-to-succeed Commons defeat of the government and its replacement by a coalition of opposition parties?

The beauty of the situation to the insurrectionists is that they have a perfect overriding public interest issue to advance in convincing Canadians that bringing down the Harper government is the right thing to do. The policy presented by Harper in the update is not only dominated by a big lie, it is not in the least a stimulus to the economy to save and create jobs. The attack on the opposition parties very existence – grubby politics in the minds of many Canadians – does not even have to be mentioned.

So what should the opposition parties do?

They should do him in, that’s what they should do! If he did not destroy the opposition this time around, he is likely to try again through equally devious means. Time and again he has shown that when dealing with political foes or even friends who happen to be in his way, he acts with ruthlessness, meanness and poor judgment. His attempt to bankrupt the opposition parties to destroy parliamentary democracy in Canada is one of those instances.

Furthermore, he has always been ideologically driven by the ideas of people who are largely responsible for the current weakened state of the global economy. He is a deregulation, unrestricted markets, anti-labour, pro-big business, private medicine poster boy. As such, his government would likely prolong the coming of economic recovery rather than hasten it.

It is instructive to remember these words of Niccolo Macchiavelli in The Prince ( a work that no doubt Harper has committed to memory):

". . . men must either be cajoled or crushed; for they will revenge themselves for slight wrongs, while for grave ones they cannot. The injury therefore that you do to a man should be such that you need not fear his revenge."

In Harper's case cajolery won't work.

If the opposition does not take this golden opportunity to give him the boot, it will be a decision that it together with millions of Canadians are likely to regret – big time!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Canada is either at the beginning of or in the middle of – certainly not the end of – the most significant economic crisis since the Great Depression. If ever there was a time for all Canadians to put their collective shoulders to the wheel it is now. If there was ever a time for friend and foe alike to work together to get through tough times it is now. If there was ever a time for political leadership to tell the truth to the Canadian people it is now. If there was ever a time for political leadership to embrace bi-partisanship for positive and sustained cooperation to lick our economic problems it is now.

But what does the Prime Minister do? Literally, none of the above. He unveiled an economic package yesterday that cut spending, failed to deliver any meaningful economic stimulus package, and grossly misrepresented the current and future state of our national finances. See:

But what is most contemptible of all, is that he used the occasion to throttle the opposition parties. Included in the economic package are provisions cutting off federal subsidies to political parties. The effect of this proposal is to starve the opposition parties at the same time as the Conservatives are rolling in cash. Even Conservative pals like National Post columnist Don Martin find Harper’s actions appalling. See:

I’m sure the Prime Minister considers himself a master political strategist. After all, he is always strategizing about something or other to make his opponents look bad. Whether it is crude attack ads well before a campaign against the Leader of the Opposition, silly little animated cartoon ads against political opponents on gas pumps, setting up starving artists as a whipping boy in the midst of a political campaign, or appointing John Manley to head a useless commission on Canada’s role in Afghanistan, his strategizing is always evident. It is also usually always wrong and yields very negative results to his government. Otherwise he would have had his majority.

With this recent attack on the viability of opposition parties Harper has once and for all come out of the closet. He, after all, does not believe in democracy. He believes in a one party state. And he is hell-bent determined to create it. Castro, Mugabe, Stalin and Hitler would have bowed in admiration had they been around to witness yesterday’s attack on Canadian opposition parties. And what is next, the burning of the Canadian Parliament buildings, martial law and government by decree?

The Opposition parties must give Harper the boot, and do it quickly. His panacea for our rough economic times will be a Bennett/Hoover policy of restraint as opposed to what is required – namely, a stimulus. Furthermore, his attacks on democracy have no place in one of the most civilized countries in the world with a well deserved and enviable record of democratic fair play, stability and prosperity.

If I may uncharacteristically use an expression perhaps more suited to the lips of Preston Manning - in the name of God, Harper must be turfed! Now!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Wall Street November 2008

What can one say about the last few months? Everything has happened so quickly. Barriers have collapsed. Truths revealed. Rhetoric many thought was gospel has been debunked. Freedman is out. Keynes is in. Deficits have replaced surpluses. Banks have collapsed. The US. Secretary of the Treasury behaves like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi-trailer. The President-elect and his team begin to govern two months before he actually takes office, because the current President is paralyzed and irrelevant and everybody knows it.

A black man whose middle name is Hussein and whose last name is easily confused for one of the great villains in American history is President of the United States. Wall Street has been finally exposed for avarice the world has seldom known. It finally dawns on us that a repugnant sense of greedy entitlement, long promoted by the rich to be exclusive to the psyche of welfare recipients and union members, runs through the veins of big-shot corporate executives just as blood runs through the veins of ordinary people.

The President of the United States – that boorish, bullying, torturing, arrogant, unread, untaught, uncurious, untraveled, child of privilege that his daddy’s rich pals installed in the White House to loot the nation, indeed the world – is a discredited heap. He is a blot on the presidential history of the United States. Nothing good has come from his years in office. The fact that the Republican Party and the Bush family foisted this fool on the people of the United States will stand as a monument to the arrogance of the American ruling class.

Even Stephen Harper, long suspected with good reason of being a neocon ideologue, has abandoned ideology – at least for the time being. Suddenly deficits don’t seem so evil to him as they were a few short weeks ago during the federal election campaign. He says he will do what he has to do to help our threatened economy. We can only hope that he does so. Who knows, maybe this will cure him of his Bushite delusions and help lead the Conservatives back into the red-Tory dominated mould of the old Progressive Conservative Party. It would be a good thing for the country if he did just that.

The world has changed. We really have entered into a new millennium. And once we get over the rough spots in the months or even years ahead, we will all be better off for it. Let’s hope so!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


As if we needed more proof that the inmates have taken over the asylum at the editorial offices of the Calgary Herald, the lead editorial today is titled – don’t laugh – ‘Harper, Obama two peas in a pod.’ I’m being serious and you can read this twaddle here:

According to the editorial writer, “Harper is only conservative compared to the Canadian left. By American standards, the prime minister is a northeast U.S. Democrat . . .”

Well, let’s see if you agree with the above drivel once you have considered the following statements delivered by Stephen Harper during the course of his public career:

"America, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world,"

"Rob is a true reformer and a true conservative. He has been a faithful supporter of mine and I am grateful for his work."- Stephen Harper endorsing Calgary West Conservative MP Rob Anders, who in 2001 called Nelson Mandela "a Communist and terrorist."

"You have to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from Eastern Canada; people who live in ghettos and are not integrated into Western Canadian society."

"Mr. Speaker, the issue of war requires moral leadership. We believe the government should stand by our troops, our friends and our allies and do everything necessary to support them right through to victory."- Stephen Harper, supporting the American invasion of Iraq, House of Commons, April 1, 2003.

"It is inherently dangerous to allow a country such as Iraq to retain weapons of mass destruction, particularly in light of its past aggressive behaviour. If the world community fails to disarm Iraq, we fear that other rogue states will be encouraged to believe that they too can have these most deadly of weapons to systematically defy international resolutions and that the world will do nothing to stop them."- Stephen Harper supporting the American invasion of Iraq, House of Commons, March 20, 2003.

"I think it's a typical hidden agenda of the Liberal party... They had the courts do it for them, they put the judges in they wanted, then they failed to appeal -- failed to fight the case in court... I think the federal government deliberately lost this case in court and got the change to the law done through the back door."- Stephen Harper, attacking the Liberals on same-sex marriage by claiming a conspiracy, News Hound, September 7th 2003.

For more left wing statements from our Northeast Democrat Prime Minister who the Herald says has so much in common with President-elect Obama read:

Sunday, November 02, 2008


One has to look upon the present plight of Senator John McCain with some sympathy. Although he has toiled mightily to win the Presidency, he appears to be well behind his Democratic opponent Barack Obama. For McCain, given the time, effort and money he and his friends have expended in his unsuccessful, twenty-year pursuit of the office, it will be a painful defeat.

But he will suffer more than merely having lost the contest. He will have lost something of his reputation, his stature and perhaps even his place in the pantheon of great Americans.

From the time of his release from a North Viet Nam prison thirty-five years ago where he had been locked up, tortured, and mistreated for six years, ex-fighter pilot McCain was a genuine American hero. During his years of incarceration, he took everything the North Vietnamese had to throw at him. He rejected early release and held out honourably until he was released along with his compatriots. His resilience to unfathomable adversity and cruelty made him one of the greats – right up there with Babe Ruth and Neil Armstrong. Just a step down from Lincoln and maybe Eisenhower.

Public service was in his genes. Once out of military service this son and grandson of Admirals then pursued high public office. He started first as a Congressman and wound up as a high-profile and successful Senator from Arizona.

He then went for the brass ring – the Presidency of the United States. He ran respectably in 2000 in the Republican primaries against George W. Bush. However, the Bush Republican pedigree and the dishonorable tactics of Bush’s brain Karl Rove did McCain in. The whole experience was not a happy one for McCain, who clearly believed he was beaten by a lesser man. In fact, McCain was beaten by a dim-witted, silver spooned ideologue and it should have been a signal to him.

But McCain didn’t get the signal. Instead he bunked in with the Bush administration. Over the next 8 years he voted with his conqueror more than 90% of the time. He supported Bush in all of his misadventures and became a spear carrier and drum beater for the worst administration in American history.

For the past couple of years, McCain once again has been reaching for the brass ring. This time he came closer than in 2000. He won the Republican nomination and has been battling it out tooth and nail to win the Presidency.

In the process the war hero has invited the public in to see far more of his character than it had ever seen before. The American people have been introduced to what he really seems to believe about foreign and domestic policy. They have been given the opportunity to rummage around all of the darker nooks and crannies of his life. They have seen him operate under stress and observed his judgment lapses and periodic meanness. They have witnessed the actions of his political handlers and advisors. And for all of that, most Americans will vote for his opponent on Tuesday, probably in a big way.

Had McCain been satisfied with his accomplishments as a Senator and remained in that capacity, it would have been better for him. He would have continued to be a revered American hero and have a real impact on public policy – for better or worse. He is now diminished in a real way. His name will no longer invite a rush of respect or awe except perhaps for rock-ribbed red necks, neocons or religious nuts who comprise the base (dare I say, the basest) of the Republican Party. He has not met expectations. It would have been better for him had he recognized and accepted his limitations and not pursued the Presidency. He would have been remembered as a war hero and a pretty good Senator. Instead, mixed up with his hero and good senator status, there will also be the memory of a bumbling, petty, hawkish candidate who trivialized the presidency with his choice of a running mate, and who led his party to a staggering defeat.

Canadians have seen this happen in our country. John Turner (pictured below) was the vaunted Prince-in-exile for many years waiting for Trudeau to leave the scene. He was regarded as an excellent minister and served in many portfolios up to his departure from government in 1976. During the ensuing eight years in the private sector, the incessant natterings of the chattering classes convinced the public that Turner had the attraction and talent of a JFK and would make everybody forget about Trudeau. Furthermore, Turner's political pals big and small made him believe that, by God, he could go all the way and be a great Prime Minister. He would be a genuine Canadian hero. Our superman.

After Turner won the Grit leadership and once the public eye was focused only on him alone and people had taken a good gander at him, they wondered what all the fuss was about. They concluded that he was not that special. He did not meet those early soaring expectations. His tenure as Prime Minister was one of the shortest on record. His time as Liberal leader was not particularly happy times. When he left in 1990 to reenter the private sector he was regarded as a fine Canadian and a good man but not a particularly good leader. The myth of his extraordinary political skills had long since been shattered. His vaunted political reputation was sadly diminished.

Not only did Turner fail to meet public expectations. Also, like McCain he did not realize his own political limitations when he should have, namely before entering the leadership contest. Had Turner not returned to seek the leadership, people would have remembered him as a excellent minister and as a larger than life politician who could have been a great leader. That would have been much better for him than people remembering him as being a lackluster leader who couldn’t beat Brian Mulroney.

The same was true of former Alberta premier Don Getty (pictured below). Getty was regarded as a cool operator when he was a senior minister during the Lougheed era. A former football star with the Edmonton Eskimos, Getty was thought to be – like Lougheed - an intelligent and urbane no-nonsense leader. He had done well in the portfolios he had handled for Lougheed and the Tory party together with other Albertans believed that he would be an excellent successor to Lougheed and would continue on with Alberta’s Camelot. The Tories elected him leader in 1985.

Alas, he was quickly plagued by serious bad luck in having to face a growing recession and plumetting oil prices. But worse than that, now that the unrelenting public focus was on Getty alone, people found him a tentative and uncertain communicator. He also lacked inspirational skills during difficult economic times, with a recession and a rising deficit and debt. Increasingly, people began to believe that Getty just did not have 'it.' Party support began to crumble. Citizens began to get angry. He lost his Edmonton seat and had to get elected elsewhere. Anti-Getty cabals broke out within the party. In 1992, he packed it in.

Getty too was a disappointment and re-entered normal society as a diminished figure. He too should have perceived his political limitations much earlier. Had he done so he might have left in the public mind the memory of an outstanding minister who in failing to go after the top job deprived the people of Alberta of a great Premier. Instead he left with the reputation of a failed Premier.

A similar example was the fate of Paul Martin Jr. (pictured below). As Finance Minister he was regarded by the press and other Canadians as a powerhouse. He succeeded in slashing the deficit to zero and even paid off some debt. He was widely touted and regarded as better leadership material than the man he so wanted to succeed, Jean Chretien. For several years he and his people worked tirelessly at toppling Chretien and finally succeeded at the end of 2003.

Now the spotlight was exclusively on Martin. Canadians were unimpressed. He appeared to be indecisive. Many thought he was vindictive and small-minded. Many found his passionate speeches to be shallow and fatuous. His support nose-dived. He eked out a minority government in his first electoral contest as Prime Minister. But he lost the next, and he was out. It was another case of the public concluding the emperor had no clothes, a conclusion that he had to carry with him back into private life. Neither did Paul Martin appreciate his political limitations. Had he done so and not pursued the brass ring there is no doubt that he would have left with the enviable reputation of being one of the greatest finance ministers of all time. At the moment his reputation is soiled from the public observation that he was a whopping disappointment as a prime minister and was the man who split the Liberal Party.

This whole idea of recognizing one's own limitations is a tricky and painful business. The fact that aspirants to high public office are continually surrounded by backslappers, flatterers and fawners makes it very difficult to be objective about oneself. Furthermore, the constant beguiling press bafflegab about one’s superlative leadership skills is hard to resist.

But there are many politicians who withstand these siren calls. Peter Lougheed (pictured above) was one when he was asked to seek the leadership of the national PC’s. He turned it down. Brian Tobin turned down the chance to run to lead the federal Liberals. Frank McKenna has now done it three times. All of their reputations remain undiminished. Indeed they may grow not only because of their accomplishments in their political and subsequent business careers but also because of the wistful thoughts of their legions of admirers about what might have been.

Aspiring leaders of the Liberal Party of Canada should think seriously about all of this before they file their papers. They should ask some very tough questions about themselves before they go grabbing for the brass ring.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Peter Puck (on the left) with unknown acquaintance (on the right)

For years, Peter Pocklington was a legendary figure in Edmonton. To say he was high profile is an understatement. He cultivated the image of a swashbuckling entrepreneur. He was a cocky car dealer, real estate developer, meat packing house owner, promoter of right wing causes, candidate for the leadership of the National Progressive Conservative Party and above all, publicity-crazed owner of the Edmonton Oilers during the legendary Gretzky years. Edmontonians and the sporting world affectionately called him ‘Peter Puck.’

On Sunday the Edmonton Journal published a sad and pathetic story about Peter Puck who for some years now has been living in California. The story tells of Pocklington welching on a commitment he made to junior high school students during the time he was still a leading citizen in Edmonton. See:

The story goes that in 1997 Pocklington promised to pay university or college tuition for all Grade nine students of the inner city McCauley Junior High School who attained an average of 80% or better and who decided to go to university or college when they had completed their high school studies. He even shook the hands of the students who had qualified and gave each of them a certificate and Edmonton Oiler jersey.

Pocklington said he decided that McCauley students should be the ones to receive his largesse because he knew parents of children in that school could ill-afford to pay for their children’s university or college education.

Boe Lefebvre, now 26, was one of those students. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. He said “All throughout junior high, I knew I wanted to be on the list. For my parents, it was a huge weight off their back because there was no way they could pay for my education." Boe graduated from high school and enrolled at college. He fulfilled his end of the bargain. He racked up a total student loan of $11000 while at college. He is now married, operates a business and is working on a degree.

Alas, it has now been the better part of a decade that Boe has put the arm on Pocklington to pay up. So far, there has been not a hint of the green stuff crossing Boe’s palms. There have been sporadic communications between the two and some promises to pay, but still no bread.

Another young man who got stiffed was Sam Ngai. Sam was philosophical about it saying, “I wasn’t so much mad as disappointed, but I guess that’s life.”

When contacted about the matter Pocklington said that he had left some money with the Alberta Treasury Branch to administer the program, but the guy in charge had left. In Peter Puck’s words, "That is the last I know about it. That was 13 years ago, and normally, there is an end to these type of things."

Although Boe’s attempts to get Puck to honor his commitment have not yielded results he seems to be willing to continue the fight. He says “I knew this was going to be a longshot from the get-go, but in my mind, it all comes down to principle.”

By the way, until recently the famed Peter Puck was a director of the Fraser Institute. You remember the Fraser Institute, shurely. It promotes that hard right flim-flam about the perfection of markets, deregulation, rugged individualism, laissez-faire economics and other Aynrandian voodoo which is gospel to much of the business establishment. Why, the Calgary Herald even puts more stock in its studies than it does in the collected works of Stockwell Day.

As I have earlier pointed out in my musings the famed Institute has or has had among its real or wannabe fat cats, former directors and convicted felons, Conrad Black and David Radler, and senior policy analyst and admitted plagiarist Dr. Owen Lippert. Now the former director and welcher Peter Puck joins this distinguished company.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


If anyone needed convincing that the Alberta infrastructure has gone to potholes under the successive Klein and Stelmach regimes, one need not look further than a recent report from the Fraser Institute.

The right-wing, neocon unthinktank comprised of fanatical deregulation fat cat windbags, issued a report ranking Alberta in 7th place out of the 10 provinces in respect to roads in “good condition.” In fact, the report says that only 63% of Alberta’s roads are in good condition. See:

The dismal state of Alberta’s roads were confirmed by an Alberta Transportation spokesman who acknowledged the province was behind in road repair due to insufficient funding, rising construction costs and a shortage of labour and material.

According to the Institute’s study, the top three provinces with roads in good condition are Ontario which is in first place, followed by Nova Scotia and Quebec. See:

Given the Institute’s great affection for Ralph Klein, the ex-Premier primarily responsible for the current dilapidated state of all public services and public infrastructure, the province’s ranking would probably be much lower than 7th place, if the study was performed by an institution with a record for objectivity.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Stephane Dion announced intentions to leave as leader of the Liberal Party in the same manner as he has conducted his whole political career - with honesty, noble purpose, and class.

He leveled with the Canadian people as to why he lost. The Conservatives had painted him into a corner with unprecedented attack ads well before the election got under way, and they could do it because they had bucks that the Grits never had. He could have said that the Grits never had the bucks because they had spent too much time and effort fighting each other in the few years before he became leader. He did not have to say that though because people already know. He knew that, and he had too much class to remind them.

He defended the Greenshift plan as the forward thinking good policy that it was. I'm sure there will be the usual neocon bumboys who will rant about that statement. However, I refer them to the hundred or so economists who endorsed the plan, as well as to the recent statements of Bill Clinton giving B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell a pat on the back for the same policy.

The right-wing press never stopped talking about Greenshift's so-called complexity. Yeah, complex - a plan that taxed the big polluters who had been ripping off the world with high energy prices, so that some of their excessive gains could be put back in the hands of the little guy, and so the polluters themselves would discipline themselves to produce greener emissions. What was it about that statement they didn't understand?

Dion also made clear that the Liberal Party had to deal with the new era of fund-raising. The party has got to stop talking about it, and do something about it. They have to take a page out of the book of Howard Dean and Barack Obama on mass fund-fundraising. One of the Chretien legacies - and a good one in my opinion (although not in the opinion of the Gritdom's disloyal, bonehead, narcissist-in-chief Stephen Ledrew) - is that political parties henceforth be funded by people. What could be more noble than that? I thought that democracy was all about people. Whatever program the Liberals settle upon must be broad based, and work has to start in earnest on it yesterday. Dion knows that this has to be done in order to protect the same Conservative personality assassination squads screwing his successors as they did him.

He also intends to preside as leader until the convention that chooses his successor. If anyone has the honor and stature in the party to ensure fairness in the leadership process and unity in the face of the result it is Dion.

Dion has always been a respected figure in the party. Today's substance and style of his announcement sustains that respect. His whole career - which happily remains ongoing - and the manner that he has conducted it will ensure his place in the pantheon of great Liberal leaders.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Some of my loyal and faithful Conservative readers of my blog continue to rant and whine about minor inaccuracies in my prediction of the outcome of the federal election. It is my hope that they will accept this publication of my picture upside down as a small admission of such inaccuracies so that they will cease and desist in their mindless drivel about what the result of the election really means.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Joe Clark in 1980

Don Martin the conservative Conservative Canwest parliamentary columnist, no doubt heartily moistened from celebrating the Conservative victory alongside of his Conservative pals at the Conservative victory celebration in Conservative Calgary, had this to say about yesterday’s election in his column this morning:

“The Conservatives have won a majority in political power if not in name” and that “. . . the Conservatives are now set to lead the an[sic] absolute-power minority, perhaps the strongest in history.” See

A combination of unrestrained triumphalism, lubricated by ubiquitous liquid spirits always found at celebratory political events, oftentimes cloud one’s judgment and memory – as was the case with Martin as reflected in his column.

In the federal election of June of 1979 the Progressive Conservatives under leader Joe Clark won 136 Commons seats out of 282 – 48.2% of the total number of seats.

In the federal election of yesterday, the Conservatives under leader Stephen Harper won 143 Commons seats out of 308 - 46.4% of the total number of seats.

After the election of 1979 Joe Clark stated that even though he had a minority government, he would govern as though he had a majority government. See:

He tried to do so. The result was the defeat in the Commons of the Clark government 6 short months after its victory at the polls. In the election of the following February, Clark and his Tories were defeated and the Liberals were returned to power.

The morals of the story:

1. A minority government is not a majority government.

2. Do not argue with simple arithmetic.
3. Don’t get too drunk at Conservative victory parties. It clouds memory and judgment.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Harper (at bottom) having flown too close to the Sun

Hubris: Excessive pride displayed by a character, at times taking the form of a boastful challenge to the gods or other higher powers--often resulting in harsh punishment.

Practical hubris is the hubris of Icarus, son of Daedalus. In Greek myth, Daedalus, imprisoned on an island, devises a novel means of escape -- he crafts wings which enable him (and his son) to fly. Before they make their departure, Daedalus warns Icarus of the dangers of flying too high or too low. However, once they are underway, Icarus gets carried away with the joy of flying and ascends to a great height up near the sun. The heat from sun melts the wax that holds the wings together, and Icarus plunges to his death. See:

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After all, he was the one with the leadership qualities. The Kennedy haircut, the business-like approach to government, the glibness hidden behind a voice with a tone of reason, the self confidence – ah yes, the self-confidence - supreme, ever present, impatient, patronizing.

And the chief opponent, struggling with a distinctive French accent and a mangled English syntax, the boring professor with a back pack, to whom he thought he had put the boots to with the TV attack ads well before the election.

And the socialist – old hat by now, and doctrinaire, leading a party in its final chapter on the way into the history books.
To say nothing of that pesky woman. Yes, a woman. A fanatical tree hugger no less, with the temerity to challenge the safe seat of Peter McKay. Surely, the good burghers of Central Nova or anyone else in the country would pay no attention to such an extremist.

Surely it would be a romp, he said to himself as he appraised the situation on September 7.

Finally he would be given the opportunity of governing as he wished. He would have a free hand in changing Canada at last. He would change its values, move it further within the orbit of the United States so that they would fight side-by-side for all of their shared neocon principles – private medicare, massive deregulation, glory on the battlefield, deep corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the rich to create those private dynasties that are so effective in creating wealth. Now was his time.

Such an easy romp he thought it was that he could even break a basic election promise of a specific date for the election. And why not? He could say that parliament was dysfunctional and the Canadian people would believe him. Because it was him who was saying it. Look at who his opponents were. And look at the polls. And his party had plenty of money - not the green shift but the green stuff. Now was the time.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the polls.

First of all, there was plenty of baggage. The Canadian people had never really warmed up to him. They saw him as a brooding and cold character. He was smart enough, they thought, but weirdly different, and even dangerous. He was too close to the United States for some. His drum beating for the war in Afghanistan to shed blood for a seat at the table did not go down so well for many. They remembered his support of the war in Iraq. They remembered his attacks on Medicare and some of his more extreme statements when he was the head honcho of the National Citizens Coalition.
Even many in his own party distrusted him. He was known to have been disloyal to colleagues. Even Preston Manning distrusted him. He could also be curt and surly. He was a control freak.

He had lapses of integrity. He was not above poaching speeches made by others – even important speeches exhorting the country to have its young bleed in a foreign war.

His slashing partisanship was in a class of its own. He accused his Liberal opponents who dared question some of his policies of supporting the Taliban and not being friends of Israel. When a bereaved father who lost a son in Afghanistan subsequently criticized his government for its policy there, one of his minions said that it was because the father was a Liberal. In the Commons, when a Sikh MP criticized government policy, he said it was because the MP was attempting to protect a relative from testifying at the Air India Inquiry.

And he had a mean streak. He relished seeing his opponents humiliated. He enjoyed holding over their heads the constant threat of an election that he knew they weren’t ready to fight. He approved the running of attack ads that centered on the Opposition leader's French accent in communicating in English as being indicative of a lack of leadership.
He carried on with unsettling behavior during the campaign. When reminded during one of the debates that a medical journal published a letter from a Doctor attacking the government's food inspection system, he said it was because the Doctor was a Liberal. His partisanship was so infectious that an overzealous campaigner created a cartoon puffin doing its private business on the shoulder of the Leader of the Opposition in a TV ad. He took a cheap shot at struggling Canadian artists who, he said, are not appreciated by ordinary Canadians because of their rich taxpayer subsidized galas.

And he hated to admit mistakes. During the English language debate, despite the repeated badgering of Gilles Duceppe, he side-stepped, evaded, bamboozled, and muttered his way into an ignominious corner until he had to cry uncle with an abject admission that the Iraq invasion was a mistake.

Then along came the economic meltdown.with stock markets crashing, foreign banks going broke and real estate values plummeting. There was fear in the hearts of ordinary Canadians. They were worried about their jobs, their savings, their retirement, their children’s future, and they were looking for answers and reassurance.

Far be it for the neocon to come to their rescue. Neocons live and die with the market. They believe in hard-nosed laissez-faire, market forces and rugged individualism. And they will hear no belly-aching, thank you very much. That is the neocon’s solution to the problems the little people are facing today. And that is what he offered.

He was unprepared for the tough times. He had no platform. He had no solution beyond the rigidly conservative provisions of his earlier announcements of a little here and a little there. And he certainly had no compassion. Not even an appearance of compassion. Compassion is the last thing a neocon would even think about.

And so, the chickens have come home to roost. All of that hubris, all of that narrow ideology has done him in - his government, his leadership and his political career.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Fraser Institute political hack, Preston Manning

Canada's George W. Bush (on the left) with the real thing (on the right)

Preston Manning’s column of this today’s Globe and Mail asks the question: Who would be the best person at the helm of the ship of state as Canada heads into stormy economic seas?

After giving short shrift to Elizabeth May ( “ . .weak, terribly weak, on the economy.”), Jack Layton (“ . . . cut from the same cloth” as “economic disasters . . Bob Rae and Dave Barrett”), Stephane Dion (Dion’s degrees from university “are in political science and sociology – adequate preparation for salon politics but not for economic crises.”) - - surprise, surprise, he recommends his fellow arch-conservative and prodigy Stephen Harper.

Manning these days spends much of his time beating the drum for conservative causes. He remains a Fellow of the Fraser Institute.

You know the Fraser Institute, don’t you? It is that political arm of the Conservative Party that masquerades as a think tank. Amongst its former trustees are convicted felons David Radler and Conrad Black, both of whom helped to fund it. A former Fellow is Dr. Owen Lippert, an admitted plagiarist and patsy who fed Stephen Harper his Commons speech urging that Canada join George W. Bush in invading Iraq. Another Fellow of the Institute is that genius that brought Health Care in Alberta to its knees. Yes, Ralph Klein is also a Fellow of the Institute.

It is the same organization that has recently hosted George W. Bush’s political guru Karl Rove in two expensive dinners in Toronto and Calgary so that they could listen intently about what a great success his boss’s Presidency has been.

Yes, Manning actually believes that Stephen Harper is the best man to lead our country as the economy goes into the tank.

But think about this. Harper is an unabashed cheerleader for Bush and has been during all of the dark Bush era. Whether it was supporting the war in Iraq, mindlessly supporting the lost cause in Afghanistan, sticking a finger in the eye of China, supporting a disastrous course in the Middle East, or telling the Canadian people that the fundamentals of the economy are strong as we headed towards the abyss, Harper has been Canada’s George W. Bush.

And now Manning is telling the Canadian people that they should support Canada’s George W. Bush to manage the Canadian economy! That’s like putting the inmates in charge of the asylum.

Preston Manning is a neocon Reform/Alliance hack, and has been since his first foray into the federal arena. His advice is not only worthless, it is downright dangerous!

Friday, October 03, 2008


Harper (on the left) with John Howard (on the right, or is it Mike Harris??)

There is a new accusation of plagiarism in another speech given by Prime Minister Harper. It was revealed today by the Liberals that in a speech delivered in February 2003 Harper cribbed the lines of neocon Ontario Premier Mike Harris. See

This follows upon last week’s news – proved true – that much of a speech he gave to the Commons urging Canada to join the Iraq invasion were the words of neocon ex-Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

The stolen Harris words were originally delivered by Harris in an address to the Montreal Economic Institute on December 4, 2002. Their text reads as follows:

"Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is never easy. It takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that in taking a new and innovative course, you are making change for the better. ... Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing."

Little more than two and a half months later – on February 19, 2003 - Harper addressed the Commons saying:

"Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is not about reading the polls and having focus group tests. It is never easy because it takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that taking a new and innovative course is going to make change for the better. Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing."

On hearing of this new plagiarism revelation Conservative mouthpiece Dan Dugas accused the Grits of wanting to "deflect attention from their lack of an economic plan." He added that "It's a stretch to say it's the same as the Howard speech, which concerned us and which we took seriously.” He pointed out "Here, they've identified 44 words out of a 4,956-word speech that are similar – not identical – to a speech by another conservative."

So according to Mr. Dugas, the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper believes that if you steal 2500 words out of a 5000 word speech, that is obviously a problem. In fact, so much so, they fired the fall guy. However stealing 44 words out of 4956, with a couple of wrinkles added on for deniability down the road, is not a problem.

That’s like saying if you steal 2500 cars out of a Mercedes Benz new car factory lot containing 5000 cars, that is theft and demands a penalty. But if you steal only 44 and, say, change one digit on a serial number to make the 44 look unique and not part of the 5000, that is not theft. It is a mere trifle deserving of no sanction.

Anybody who is thinking of casting his or her ballot for the Conservatives in the next Federal election better think about this. And if they agree with Conservative spokesman Mr. Dugas, they better consult their spiritual advisor and lawyer - preferably a criminal lawyer.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008




This morning Liberal Foreign affairs critic and Toronto MP Bob Rae revealed Prime Minister Harper as a possible plagiarist. And not just a mere bagatelle of a plagiarist. But a real doozer of a plagiarist - a lulu, a dilly, a humdinger, the real McCoy!

He appeared to have plagiarized almost half of a speech of more than 3000 words – much of it verbatim and most of it in wide swaths. Harper’s plagiarized speech was delivered by himself to the House of Commons on March 20, 2003 when he was Leader of the Opposition Canadian Alliance.

When he delivered the stolen words, the ink had hardly dried on the originals. The original speech had been given only two days earlier on March 18, 2003 by fellow neocon and Australian Prime Minster John Howard, to the Australian Parliament.

Howard used his speech to announce that Australia was joining the Bush II coalition of the willing neocons to invade Iraq. In it, he also set forth the reasons for the action - weapons of mass destruction, the threat of terrorism, the evil-doer Saddam Hussein, yada, yada, yada. Harper delivered the plagiarized version to exhort the Canadian Parliament to join in the great crusade and advanced the same reasons.

It is instructive to reflect on plagiarism in light of this astonishing revelation of contempt for the Canadian people. The following two appropriate quotes express the revulsion appropriate to such sleaze.

”In essence, plagiarism and her two twins--fabrication and falsification, emanate from sheer human greed.” S.M. Sapatnekar, An editorial in JAPI (Journal of the Association of Physicians of India), vol. 52, pp. 527-530.


“What is even more tragic, however, is that those who purposely commit plagiarism reveal the shallowness of their own character. To knowingly steal the work of another and pass it off as your own is to betray yourself in a way that can never be redeemed. By committing this act you are destroying the honor, integrity and principles of your own spirit. This is perhaps the longest lasting and most tragic consequence of plagiarism.” "Editorial: Plagiarism is a Serious Offense." The Rebel Yell

Late today a former foreign policy advisor to Harper took the fall. Dr. Owen Lippert (pictured as a young man in the lower photo above) who was up to now a paid Conservative campaign worker, said he did it.

A biographical sketch of the now disgraced Lippert is to be found on the website of the venerable neocon Fraser Institute. It notes that Lippert is a senior policy analyst for the Institute. He holds a PhD in Modern European History from the University of Notre Dame and was a trusted press secretary to Kim Campbell when she was federal minister of Justice. For further information on this pathetic mystery man see

Lippert apologized and stated that he had resigned his position in the Conservative campaign. No doubt the Fraser Institute will give this miserable worm the boot as well.

Ah, yes. Lippert’s dirty little secret has been exposed at last. His boss was his victim. Yes, ahem, indeed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I know Stephen Ledrew. I have observed the ups and mostly downs of his career.

His penchant for loud bow ties and narcissistic publicity seeking, his overbearing stature and his love for his deep rapturous voice, are turnoffs. He annoys me.

He did well by the Liberal Party of Canada. He was an Executive Assistant to a former Solicitor General of Canada. He worked in the Prime Minister’s Office. He was its President between 1998 and 2003. His party involvement helped launch his dubious public career as a loudmouth minor media personality on a couple of rarely listened to TV and radio channels in the Toronto area.

None of that helped in his personal life. He went bankrupt in 2005 owing $360 thousand or so to the taxman. His law firm also went belly up. With a splash he announced he was running for Mayor of Toronto in the November 06 election. He received 1.3% of the vote. People can be forgiven if they think he’s a loser. He has the earmarks.

But there are some who like his clownish persona. He is invited as a panelist from time to time on CBC Newsworld and CBC News.

Ledrew loves the limelight. His chosen tool to attain it is controversy. Given his failings he has earned little public credibility, if any. Yet, there he is, giving interviews, writing columns, opining on television – as if he were some kind of oracle. He’s a loser.
Last week in the Canwest Conservative tabloid the National Post, Ledrew wrote that it was likely “the Liberals are going to take a drubbing in this election — which is exactly what they need . .” In the rest of the piece, with obvious relish, he stuck it to the party leader and the platform, and made a banal call for party renewal.

After extracting the stiletto from between the party’s shoulder blades, thinking no doubt that he should lay the ground work for a possible return to party prominence, he tries to make nice:

"In this call for renewal, I do not mean to dishearten the hard-working people of all ages
who are pounding in signs, looking up addresses, sending e-mails and knocking on doors
under the Liberal banner. Keep it up, for you are vital to the political process. One must
fight on against all odds . . . "

Predictably Nigel Hannaford, a tiresome Harperite drumbeater for Calgary’s Canwest Rag The Calgary Herald, this morning called Ledrew “a Liberal Prophet.”

Ledrew is not a prophet. His opinions have no value whatsoever. He is just an annoying publicity seeker who will do or say anything for public attention.

Monday, September 22, 2008



If you have a yen for some real bullshit reading today, check the editorial page of today’s Globe and Mail and read Gordon Gibson Jr.’s latest drivel:
By way of review, Gibson is the highly educated (Harvard, London School of Economics) son of one of British Columbia’s great entrepreneurs, Gordon Gibson Sr. Gibson Sr. was born during the gold rush in Dawson City and rose from hardscrabble poverty to become one of the most successful lumber barons in the history of B.C. By the time he died in 1986, he had put together a huge diverse business empire founded on the forest industry including a shipping line, hotels, and radio station. He also sat as a Liberal member of the B.C. Legislature.

Gibson Jr. early in his career was by all reports a bright young man. He was one of the earliest supporters of Pierre Trudeau in the lead up to the leadership campaign in 1968. He so endeared himself to Trudeau that upon Trudeau’s winning the leadership he was hired as the new P.M’s first Executive Assistant.

Thereafter a strong relationship developed between the two. So strong in fact that Gibson Jr. was one of the handful of people who participated in the highly secret marriage ceremony of Pierre and Margaret.

In 1972, young Gibson went home to B.C. to personally test the political waters for himself. In 1974 and 1975 he won two elections to the Legislature and was provincial party leader for a few years before being defeated in 1975.

After 1975, although he emerged politically from time to time as a prominent B.C. provincial Liberal, he wisely shifted his sights on continuing in the tradition of his father in business. He also decided his political future lay more in punditry than electoral politics. Over the years, his opinions, carrying an ostensible view from the west perspective, have been read in several different daily newspapers.

Gibson Jr. fell out with Trudeau over the great constitution debate of the early eighties that gave rise to the Charter of Rights and the Amending Formula.

As time marched on he became an increasingly right-wing tub thumper. He is now firmly in support of the Reform, Alliance, Tory mishmash of far right wing ideology. So much so that he was appointed as a Fellow of its favorite propaganda machine, the infamous Fraser Institute.

Gibson Jr.’s message today poses the question whether or not it matters who is in power in Ottawa. He theorizes that whoever directs the government “will not move far from the public good. Government may – indeed, will - make mistakes, but public opinion will correct them soon enough.” It is assumed that the piece was designed as a dose of valium for Canadians who have disquiet over a possible Harper majority.

Alas, Gibson Jr. may be good at making money, but he he is sorely deficient in historical knowledge. Otherwise he would have known that it mattered a hell of a lot who came to power in Germany after the national election of November of 1932. Or that in the late thirties in Great Britain it was a matter of great importance who held the reins in the House of Commons as Hitler was gearing up to march across Europe. Or that in the United States in 1964 it mattered who was going to be the Commander in Chief, given that when the dust settled in Viet Nam, more than 60,000 young Americans had become tragic statistics of a lost cause.

He goes on: “The idea is that in a democracy, the general will of the people will govern, and the truly important leaders are not the managers of the day, but rather those in politics, business, religion, and the arts who shape that general will.” As an example, he puts forth the Fraser Institute shibboleth that fellow Fellow Fraserite “ . . . Preston Manning changed the fiscal policy of the government 180 degrees in the 1990s with his insistence on the importance of eliminating the deficit, in effect giving the day’s government permission to do what needed doing. He did this from the Opposition side.”

What utter nonsense! Pierre Trudeau must be spinning in his grave listening to his former Harvard educated trusted advisor drooling out such drivel. Reduction of deficits as a government priority was embraced by many jurisdictions in the west almost simultaneously. Manning had nothing to do with it, save for the rhetoric, which he and countless others of all political stripes were spewing at the same time throughout the western industrialized democracies. Manning was no Messiah on deficit reduction. He was one voice among millions, including Liberals, who were espousing the same cause.

Gibson Jr. knows this. He degrades what little is left of his public reputation as a responsible voice in the body politic by uttering such false banalities. He becomes just a lowly pamphleteer for the right like the rest of his pals in the Fraser Institute.
After waxing poetic about his favorite themes – institutional change, the primary importance of local and provincial governments – he says “The world today is certainly better than ever in my long lifetime, notwithstanding the past week’s financial turmoil.”

If he believes that, Gibson Jr. a child of privilege, is spending far too much time at the Vancouver Club. In fact, the world is in deep trouble – largely as a result of Gibson Jr.’s fellow travelers from the extreme right. Russia and the United States have revived the cold war. The Middle East continues to be a cauldron of real or threatened violence. Pakistan is a basket case. Afghanistan is a dismal failure, with our young men and women dying there for reasons that become less apparent by the day. Commercial greed in the United States requires a bailout by its little people of trillions, causing economic havoc world wide. A woman who aspires to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States – and may well be come November - has never held a passport.

And Junior - that’s only the beginning!

The world today better than ever? My eye!