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.