Wednesday, September 30, 2009


On Saturday September 19 I posted a tantalizing bit of gossip that Ralph Klein’s old comrades-in-arms, bankrolled by a well-known, publicity seeking, oil patch gazillionaire, were scheming to drive Premier Ed Stelmach out of the Tory leadership and out of office. The story goes that the Klein cabal is set to replace the hapless Stelmach beginning as early November 6th and 7th at the Tory Convention in Red Deer when it would engineer a negative vote against him in the mandatory leadership review. The plotters believe the vote results would leave Stelmach with no option but to resign, after which he would be replaced at an early date by the darling of Calgary’s oily Tory set, Jim Dinning.
See: Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yesterday, Ralph himself seemed to publicly confirm at least part of the story. In a brief Email exchange with Canadian Press about what Stelmach should do in response to the results of his leadership review Ralph said, “I would advise he step down if he does not reach 70%.”

Klein's bold Email message follows closely upon the heels of a recent Email sent by one of his long-time inner sanctum, back splappin’, good ol’ boy pals, Hal Walker. Walker, a prominent businessman and former President of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, sent his message to 200 party members and business leaders complaining bitterly about the new royalty regime and that nobody in the Stelmach government was listening to the gripes.
Calgary Tories are not happy these days. They are all smarting over their third place finish in the by-election in Calgary Glenmore. They are worried sick over the rise in popularity of the Wildrose Alliance Party and see many of their former members embrace the new neocon movement. They remain angry at the bumpkin Stelmach for stealing the Tory leadership from their classy urbanite Jim Dinning. Of course, they blame Stelmach for all of their political woes and did not even allow him to campaign for the Tory candidate in the Glenmore by-election. More importantly, the oil patch, feeling the pain of sharply reduced oil prices and feeble gas prices, is up in arms at the government over the royalty policy. And everybody – Tories included – blames the government for shaky and costly health care and the mounting deficit. Add to that toxic brew the fact that the old Klein operatives are seething about being long ignored and neglected by the new regime, and you have an Alberta Tory party that is ready to explode.

My guess is that there is more than a good deal of truth to the rumour of a coup d’etat against Stelmach. I also foresee a disappointing leadership review vote for him particularly coming out of Calgary and Southern Alberta. If he is forced to pack it in – and I predict that this will happen – it will set the stage for another Tory leadership brawl. I can foresee Stelmach’s Northern Alberta and rural support being very antagonistic to any Calgary-based insurrection. I also foresee Stelmach’s ethnic voting base in Edmonton and Northern Alberta getting mad as hell at the knifing of one of theirs by a bunch of rich anglos from Calgary. In these circumstances whoever replaces the Premier is not going to have an easy time of it.

It is easy to sympathize with Stelmach as he faces his sad plight. Because of bone headed fiscal policies of his predecessor Ralph Klein – the man who just stuck the knife squarely between the Premier’s shoulderblades – Stelmach was forced to increase spending by billions of dollars on neglected infrastructure and declining services. Then he’s hit by an economic downturn that drives his province into a whopping deficit. Hell, he hadn’t even begun to start solving the huge problems left on his desk courtesy of Ralph Klein. Surely, one could – and probably should – blame Ralph Klein for the current mess we are in.

But wait a minute. Not so fast. Let’s think about this. Or preferably, read this:
Saturday, January 27, 2007

That brings us all back to earth, doesn’t it? Alas, there should be no tears when Special Ed throws in the towel.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Dear Michael:

After today’s development I have no doubt but that the next letter I write to you I will properly address you as Dear Prime Minister.

It was just last Saturday that I had the temerity to offer you some sound political advice on the basis of hard earned experience grinding it out for the Liberal Party for years in the hardscrabble and mean streets of Calgary.

I told you that you had to unite the party in order to fight an election campaign and warned you about the dangers of internecine warfare. By God, you listened. You overruled your Quebec Napoleon wannabe warlord and he packed it in and got out of town. See:
Talk about a huge, but delicate and inflated ego! He went up in a puff of smoke, as if David Copperfield himself might have had something to do with it. But now, as a result, the party is more united than it has been for a very long time! Good on you!

I told you keep all of the grass roots happy and to honour our tested veterans and not stand in their way if they wished to serve. And you did just that for Martin Cauchon. Bravo! And I know you will do the same for Stephane Dion and others who are in the great Grit Hall of Fame. Thus, you are well on the way towards keeping all of the grass roots happy. Kudos again!!

I told you to be guided by good advice. And by Jove – as Jacques Parizeau used to say – you listened to some Ontario wise men so we’re told and they gave you some good sound advice. Because of it you decided to give Cauchon a crack at Outremont! I toast you and your wise advisors! Keep them close to you – they’re really good!

I told you to stop appointing riding candidates, and you are doing just that. Cauchon has got to run for the nomination. It will be good for him and good for the party. Look what it did for Justin Trudeau in the last election. It gave him instant credibility and stature. He ran for the nomination, won it, built up his organization and proved his mettle by winning a tough campaign! Exactly the way it should be done.

And finally I told you that you were the boss and to put misguided underlings, power trippers and other riff-raff in their place. You did just that. You overruled your portly field marshal because you thought he was wrong. It took a while, but you did it and that is the main thing. Next time it won't take you as long. You did just what a boss should do! He was so distressed he quit. That’s the kind of guy Michael you never want to have in the trenches beside you, because when you need him most he won’t be there. Either that, or he’ll offer to support you in the event you win or tie.

All in all, an excellent day for you, sir! Now its onward! Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes! Keep up the good fight! Sleep well tonight knowing that during the last couple of days you have proved yourself a leader!

Your Pal


Saturday, September 26, 2009


Dear Michael:

Hopefully, the next letter I will write to you will address you as Dear Mr. Prime Minister.
Alas, we are not there yet.

You’ve had a tough week. It could have been a helluva lot tougher had not the UN and G 20 meetings together with Obama, al-Gadaffi, and Ahmadinejad not squeezed almost everything else off the front pages. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to squeeze it all.

I am going to offer you some sound advice. Yes, I know I come from Alberta, and I know Liberals out here are protected by the game licensing laws, and yes, I know, we have our conventions in phone booths, yada, yada, yada. But out here in Alberta a Liberal has to fight for every vote he gets, and we’ve been doing it for years. Accordingly, we Alberta Liberals have learned a few things along the way that seem for the moment to be forgotten in the greener Liberal pastures of central Canada.

One of the things we have learned is that a political party has got to be united to fight an election campaign. Actually, I thought the Ottawa crowd might have picked up on that after the last three federal elections. Had it not been for the Martin-Chretien internecine warfare we would probably still have power. But it was not to be. Many in the party wanted to slug it out amongst ourselves and they did – often times using every mean trick in the book. And all it got us was one weak minority government and so far almost four years in opposition.

So my first piece of advice is to unite the party. This means giving due respect to tried and true warriors like Martin Cauchon and Stephane Dion. It means that we must honor our people who have contributed to our success and not stand in their way if they are obviously willing and able to contribute more. This also means not foisting an unknown candidate on ridings where there have long been strong and viable party organizations. In short, it means you must strive to keep all of the grass roots happy.

The second piece of advice I have for you is that you must listen and be guided by good advice. The events of this week show that there are lapses of sound advice within your organization. Get good advisors around you and listen to them. Beware of self-serving ward-heelers with their own private agendas and please watch out for power trippers. They can be spotted a mile away, so keep your eyes and ears open, and when you see them, don’t listen to them. They’re trouble.

The third piece of advice I offer you is that you must stop this infernal practice – launched by your predecessors, to be sure – of appointing riding candidates. By appointing candidates, you are losing the advantage of party renewal. If a nomination is contested, new members come into the organization. They are generally excited, energetic, and motivated because of the contest. By appointing candidates you are avoiding the contest and thereby lose its advantages. The other very negative aspect of appointing candidates is that it carries with it the stench of the laying on of hands. As such, it is anti-democratic and always invites harsh criticism and recrimination. Use the power only in very rare circumstances. Otherwise, let democracy take its course.

Finally, remember it is not any of your minions that are the boss. You are the boss. I suspect that one of the reasons for the unseemly battle over Outremont – which went on far too long – was an unwillingness to offend someone who was giving you bad advice. I couldn’t imagine your glorious predecessors like Trudeau or Chretien ever being that sensitive. You have got to put lesser people in their place when they attempt to lead you into a quagmire and if they persist, well, get rid of them.

So that’s it for now. Keep up the good fight and don’t listen to any of the nervous nellies. Just take my advice.

Your Pal,



Thursday, September 24, 2009


Once again President Obama is doing the right thing. This time he’s sticking it to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the lame-duck leader of the once mighty, now disgraced British Labour Party. Obama within the past few days has turned down no less than five requests from Brown and his minions to have a meeting together at the UN or at the G20 summit.

While in New York Obama had bi-lateral meetings with Russian president Medvedev, Chinese president Hu Jintao, and Japanese prime minister Hatoyama, but not riff-raff like Brown. Obama obviously has his standards.

Obama is still pissed at the Brown-Gaddafi Faustian deal to have the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi released from prison and shipped back home to Libya so that BP could fatten its profits with the proceeds of a gazillion barrels of Libyan oil. For Brown, the only ethical lapse of this sorry deal was that his pal Gaddafi promised a low-key homecoming for Al-Megrahi and didn’t deliver. Instead the Colonel gave the convicted murderer of 270 innocent victims a hero’s welcome. Unlike Brown and his oily and unctuous predecessor Tony Blair - now taking up space as the most useless special Middle East peacemaker in history - Obama has principles.

Not only is Obama ignoring him, the hapless Brown was even outmuscled for a prime time speech slot at the UN by his pal Gaddafi whose 100-minute wacko speech left hardly any time at all for Brown’s snore fest about climate change.

But Brown has even bigger problems than being snubbed and ignored by Obama or bulldozed and elbowed out of the way by his pal Gaddafi. The lastest of a very long list of beefs from within his party and caucus is that he is now under fire for refusing to fire his Attorney General who was convicted of employing an illegal immigrant. Backbenchers, ex-ministers, and party regulars are demanding that he put the party and the country out of their misery by leaving office now, while the party still may have a chance to avoid a cataclysmic defeat in the next election expected in 2010.

This could be the beginning of the end to the once mighty Labourites. If so, because of Brown and Blair there will be few tears should it come to pass.

Saturday, September 19, 2009



I have just had a pleasant evening with good friends in one of my favorite restaurants – Caesar’s Steak House in downtown Calgary. The conversation was scintillating. The steaks were excellent as usual – Caesar’s is one of the great steak houses of the world! – and the excellent vintages flowed freely and generously. As is usual in the social milieu where I lurk about, politics was very much a hot topic of conversation. On occasion at these soirees one hears something for the first time that may not yet be in the public domain - a scoop, as it were.

Tonight I have what may be a scoop. It comes from a usually reliable source. If the event comes to pass, you can say you heard the essence of the story here first.

Here goes. A prominent, middle-aged, and colourful oilman much in the news is leading [financing][encouraging][promoting] a coup d’etat against Premier Ed Stelmach. The pissing contest – at least the initial salvoes thereof – is scheduled to take place November 6th and 7th at the venerable Capri Hotel in Red Deer, Alberta during the Annual Meeting of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party. For more details of the venue and proceedings see:

The story is that the aging but prominent and colourful, oft seen, oilman gazillionaire – reputed in some circles to be a lothario - together with assorted neglected, seduced, and abandoned apparatchiks and hangers-on from the old Klein organization, have had it up to their ears with the befuddled, dweebish farmboy. The ignominious loss of Calgary Glenmore was the last straw. They have conspired to band together and begin moving heaven and earth to have their esteemed leader booted from the party leadership and the Premier’s office. Sounds like something that could happen in the Tory party, right?

But, you may ask, just who do these plotters have in mind to replace the Czar of Fort Saskatchewan - Vegreville? Why none other than the man Fast Eddie vanquished in the leadership contest of 2006 – the Honorable Jim Dinning! Think of it, Dinning is the logical champion of the insurrectionists. Not only did he serve 11 years in the legislature and preside over three portfolios - but these days he has a lot of time on his hands. I mean, he only serves on the boards of twelve public companies and institutions – including his flagship, the Liquor Stores Income Fund. And he hasn’t received an honorary degree since 2002.

So there you have it - the dashing oil baron and the forgotten Klein operatives who have been licking their wounds in abject silence for so long, slithering into line behind a beaten and forgotten former minister who doesn’t have enough to do.

And you can say you heard it here first.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I happened to watch a CBC interview last night with Chris Alexander. In case any of you don’t know who he is, he was Canada’s first ambassador to Afghanistan appointed after the fall of the Taliban government. Alexander took the job in August 2003 at the tender age of 35 and held it until October 2005. Doing the math, I presume he was born around 1968 (I’m not exactly sure of the date as he has not been around long enough to have his vital statistics posted on Wikipedia).

In any event, 1968 is the same year that Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, that Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister, that Lyndon Johnson stepped down as President, and that Richard Nixon was elected President. The Viet Nam war which began in 1959 - a full 9 years before Alexander was born - was in full throttle in 1968 and would continue for another seven years until 1975. The American administration was up to its neck in the war as it blindly embraced the now-debunked domino theory as the basis of its policy of containment against the spread of communism. The American people finally turned against the war prompting Congress to stop direct U.S. military involvement by August 1973. By the time the war was over in 1975 – former Ambassador Alexander was 7 at the time - it is estimated that between three and four million Vietnamese had perished in the conflict, as well as 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians and almost 60,000 Americans.

I was reminded of Viet Nam as I watched the Alexander interview. I also reflected on David Halberstam’s outstanding chronicle of the war and the mistakes that led to it and prolonged it - The Best and the Brightest. Halberstam painted a picture of how bold, intelligent, and youthful men of brilliant academic achievement and with careers marked by success after success could be so blinded to the real world that they could lead their great nation and together with several others into an tragic international catastrophe causing the deaths of millions, and in the end to have accomplished nothing.

Surely, ex-Ambassador Alexander is one of our best and brightest. Consider this: he has a BA in history and politics from McGill, and an MA in philosophy, politics and economics from Balliol College at Oxford. In 2005 he was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He joined the Canadian foreign service back in 1991 and has done two three-year stints at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, one as Second Secretary and another as Minister Counsellor. Back in Ottawa he was Deputy Director in the foreign affairs department responsible for bilateral relations with Russia, as well as an Assistant to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. After his time was up as Ambassador he became Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Afghanistan, a post he held from December 2005 to May 2009. Yes, Alexander is one of Canada's best and brightest.

Like the young men Halberstam wrote about in his book, on his war in Afghanistan Alexander is a hawk. He wants more international troops on the ground and he wants to attack militant targets in Pakistan. He believes that even though the situation is getting more unstable the problems are not insurmountable and that more troops are part of the solution. He believes that NATO troops should be present everywhere that the enemy wants to be present and that progress must be made on the military front or development goals will continue to slip. As Halberstam described bright older figures seeking the counsel of the bright young men that he wrote about, so do bright older figures like Richard Holbrooke U.S. Special envoy to the region and Kai Eide the top UN official in Afghanistan regularly seek Alexander’s advice. Alexander also believes that although there was voter fraud in the recent election, it did not affect the result.

Sound familiar? It does to me. It is the Best and the Brightest all over again. After 8 years of war and the sacrifice of lives and treasure, the show must go on. The historian does not mention history. He does not mention our sacrifice. He does not mention the defeats of the forces of the British Empire. He does not mention the Russian nightmare. Like the best and the brightest of Halberstam’s world, Alexander believes that all we have to do is more and just let he and his brainy pals do the planning.

One further thing about Alexander. While he served as Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Afghanistan, he was responsible for political affairs, including international support for political outreach, elections, disarmament, governance, regional cooperation, the rule of law and police reform as well as cooperation with the International Security Force. In fact, on Alexander's watch the political situation has deteriorated, international support is feeble, disarmament but a pipe dream, governance is corrupt and invisible, regional cooperation a concept known only to the war lords, and the rule of law and police reform being reflected by the heroin crop and torture. Alas, this Canadian wunderkind’s report card is not impressive.

Alexander has just announced his candidacy for the Conservative nomination for the riding of Ajax-Pickering for the next federal election.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Simply put, by the time he left office Tony Blair had become a disgrace. It took awhile for people to figure it out. He had style and elegance, and could give a good speech. Those attributes and skills were good enough to get him elected as leader of the British Labour Party in 1994 at the young age of 41. At the time, Labour had been out of office for several years. It was hankering for someone who looked young and vigorous and who had the bearing and potential to win the big enchilada and become Prime Minister. So too was the British public that had grown tired of the Conservatives under the hard as nails Margaret Thatcher and the doltish John Major. The talented Blair was embraced by first his party and then his country, and by 1997 was Prime Minister.

As a politician Blair had an eel-like quality to him that saw him move from being a socialist to the centre right and in the process create the right leaning New Labour out of the traditional old left-wing Labour Party. Indeed, under Blair’s watch the British Labour Party for the most part became indistinguishable policy-wise from the Conservative Party.

Blair went off the rails with the beginning of the ‘War on Terror’ in 2001. He quickly wrapped himself in the American flag and offered his unflinching and misguided support to George W. Bush. Through the whole of the disaster of the Iraq war Bush had no greater admirer, yes man, and lackey. Blair promoted the Bush lies about weapons of mass destruction, and led his country into the rag-tag coalition of the willing which proceeded to make an even greater mess in Iraq without any plan for cleaning it up. His coziness with Bush earned for himself in his own country the same disrespect and opprobrium that Bush gradually acquired in his. Like Bush, Blair has even been accused of war crimes.

Blair was also a man who looked out for Blair. During his years in office he repeatedly displayed a Republican Party-like affection for money and power. His genuflections to Bush were an example. Indeed his kowtowing to ‘W” earned him the coveted Congressional Gold Medal in 2003. He also enjoyed the company of more unsavory representatives of wealth and power. He vacationed with the likes of Silvio Burlusconi and Rupert Murdoch, and acquired a somewhat odious record of stroking media barons. The trappings of and proximity to wealth and corporate power were important to Blair, the former socialist.

The Labour Party gradually grew exasperated with Blair and finally sent him packing in 2007. By then he cuddled up to enough people in high places that upon his resignation as PM in June 2007 his pals in the UN, the U.S. Bush administration, Russia, and the European Union – self described as the Quartet of International Mediators - made him Middle East Envoy to promote peace . This was despite the fact that not only were his credentials for objectivity in the region never high, they were most certainly shattered with his blind devotion to Bush. Predictably, Blair’s record as a peace envoy is not enviable. An example of his effectiveness was that the press noticed his attendance at the opening of the Armani store in Knightsbridge during the first nine days of the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza hostilities.

Blair proved, as countless but well-connected failures have proved in the past, that friends in high places can compensate for a lot. Presently he is a senior advisor to JP Morgan Chase and Zurich Financial Services and performs obscure but expensive services for other giants in the corporate world. He is reported to be making a cool $ 15 million a year, and stupid people throughout the world continue to shell out $250,000 in fees for one of his 90 minute rubber-chicken circuit snore fests.

In recent weeks it appears that the moral decay that was so evident in Blair’s final years in office has been passed on to the Labour government of his successor Gordon Brown. It has recently been disclosed that the promise of future trade and oil deals helped get the convicted Lockerbie bomber, 57 year-old Libyan national Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, an early release from a UK slammer and back safely into the welcoming arms of Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli. The oil deal was for Britain’s mega oil company flagship British Petroleum, or BP – which, by the way, is still reviled in Iran as the great Satan because of its earlier days as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company when it used to siphon off gazillions of revenues from Iranian oil straight into the British Exchequer.

Scottish authorities initially took the fall for al-Megrahi's early release, saying that the convicted killer of 259 people was released on compassionate grounds because he was dying of prostate cancer. Naturally, victims’ families joined opposition politicians and sensible British citizens in condemning the move. Prime Minister Gordon Brown denied complicity in any Al-Megrahi for oil and business swap. However, Brown’s Justice Secretary Jack Straw says that a BP oil deal in Libya was very much a factor. Other UK officials say that the release of Al-Megrahi was an attempt to bring in Libya from the international cold and improve British – Libyan trade. Col. Gadhafi’s son who was part of the negotiations that led to al-Megrahi’s release says that Libya put the heat on the Brits to include al-Megrahi in a prisoner release program tied to future trade deals. Documents have surfaced which seem to confirm the Straw/Gadhafi version of events.

It is also true that BP inked a $ 900 million oil deal with Libya and the company admits that it urged the government to sign a prisoner transfer deal, although it points out that it did not specifically refer to the bomber. Brown continues to profess innocence in the whole matter – much as the piano player in the bordello who claimed he didn’t know what was going on upstairs.

Also, in the past few days it was reported that The UK’s thirst for oil has led it into further moral quicksand. Sources say that the UK’s secretive SAS – one of the world’s most efficient commando units – is giving special forces training to Libyan soldiers. This is the same SAS who fought IRA rebels in Northern Ireland who were armed to the teeth with weapons and explosives supplied by, guess who? The Libyans. The government’s response is that Libya has changed from rogue state to responsible ally, a conclusion hardly in keeping with the very public hero’s welcome bestowed upon Al Megrahi when he arrived back in Tripoli after his years of incarceration for the mass killing conviction.

The story is clearly one of a political party having lost its moral compass. These events convey the unmistakable principle that in the UK, if one has access to a large supply of oil and is prepared to part with some of it to British interests one can get away with murder. Or to put it another way, to the Labour government of Great Britain money and oil, trumps all else - including justice. This is the legacy of Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown. In these circumstances the British people should either provide the British Labour Party with a very long respite from political power in order to allow it to try to restore to itself some semblance of honour and principle, or, throw it into the trash heap of history. In light of recent events, I believe that the latter alternative is the best.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


The Calgary Herald’s current stable of columnists include arch- conservative Nigel Hannaford (who I believe is actually on the payroll of Canwest Publishing Inc, a division of that paragon of fiscal responsibility, CanWest Global Communications Corp). Mr. Hannaford’s specialties include defending neocons and right-wing loud mouths, attacking human rights commissions, and denouncing all liberals including Barack Obama.

Then there is Susan Martinuk. She too inflicts invective on everything progressive in society. She is also a member of the ‘Proud to be Canadian’ conservative blog joining such literary giants and luminaries as the lovely and talented scourge of civility, Ann Coulter. As a matter of fact, the Proud to be Canadian book store on its website plugs several books by Coulter and even one by that intellectually-challenged elfin pipsqueak from Fox News, Glenn Beck.

Also on the Herald's editorial pages you will find Mark Milke's column once a week. Whether he's paid to write it I can't say. If he is, it is an expense his bankrupt employer should surely bring to an end. Milke is a senior fellow with the Frontier Institute, a Winnipeg-based, conservative, political tub thumper for corporate special interests masquerading as a think tank. Indeed, the Frontier Institute is quite similar to the more well-known and notorious right-wing pamphleteer, the Fraser Institute. Milke believes that global warming is a crock, favours unbridled capitalism, has no time for human rights commissions, and promotes the idea of unfettered freedom of speech. From his writings one can only conclude that Milke believes that the current trend of public figures and loud mouth talking heads yelling and screaming at each other and riling up their publics so that they bring guns to political meetings is what freedom of speech is all about. See:

That is just a sampling of the sorry state of the CanWest press in my city, and I haven’t even touched upon the trite but mercifully, increasingly rare columns of nonsense foisted upon the Herald’s declining readership by its editorial page editor the Contessa Corbella.
The above sorry lot have been joined now by Michael Taube. Surprise, surprise – Taube is a former speech writer for what could be the Herald’s patron saint – if only he knew what to do with a communion wafer - Stephen Harper.

Taube today writes that if an election is called for this fall, it will be ‘Seinfeldian.’ (For you readers who are not couch potatoes addicted to the idiot box, the Seinfeld show was said to be a comedy about nothing. Taube thinks this will be an election about nothing. Get it? Yes, yes, I know, the analogy is trite and old). Read Taube's piffle here:
The piece is predictably an attack on Ignatieff and the Liberals from beginning to end – fully conforming to the Herald’s editorial policy over the last 50 years.

Just as the Herald’s editors have been largely wrong on public policy for those 50 years, so too is Taube wrong about the forthcoming election. There are plenty of issues and they are not Seinfeldian:

1. Afghanistan is an issue that must be debated in this election. The Canadian people have been misled and lied to by its government. There has been no progress made. Most of our NATO allies want to stay clear of harm’s way. Our troops continue to die and the Canadian people continue to spend billions on a cause that is going nowhere and there is no time like an election to come to grips with it.

2. Unemployment in Canada is an issue. It is unacceptably high and we need effective policies to bring it down. Those who are unemployed and their families need help. What additional help should be provided?

3. Infrastructure money has been slow getting to its destinations. This has exacerbated unemployment and made it more difficult for Canadian families. Why has this happened, and what can we do to speed it up?
4. How will Canada deal with the soaring deficit and at the same time maintain services?

5. How do we respond to the U.S. ‘Buy America’ program? And what does such a program do to Free Trade and NAFTA?

6. What should our relationship be to the emerging great powers of China and India. The Harper government did its best to alienate the Chinese up until a few months ago? Do we dare trust him to do the right thing by these important nations in the years ahead?

7. What about the way Canada is treating Canadian citizens trapped abroad? Is the government truly racist? Or is it just incompetent? Does the government not have a duty to properly represent and protect all Canadians trapped abroad? Does the government have a duty to get Canadian citizens out of ratty and infested jails ran by outlaw states? Does the government have a duty to protect its citizens against torture? To repatriate its citizens who have been jailed for years without trial?

8. What about the sorry state of the RCMP? What are we going to do about making our National Police service more accountable? Why is it that people like Conrad Black and Alan Eagleson faced prosecution for their crimes in the United States rather than Canada? What will Canada do about stepping up its resources to properly investigate and prosecute white collar crime?

9. What should be the long-term involvement of the federal government in our health care system?

10.And what about Prime Minister Harper? Should the Canadian people re-elect a government led by a mean, petty, gaffe-prone, untraveled, uncultured, right-wing ideologue?

By Taupe’s definition these days the Herald is clearly Seinfeldian. For sure most of its columnists are Seinfeldian. And for certain Taube himself is Seinfeldian.

But – and you can say you heard it here first – the election will be about something. It will be about real and important issues. And it may well determine the direction this country will be heading for a long time to come.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Quick, what do Omar Khadr, Abousfian Abdelrazik, and Suaad Hagi Mohamud have in common? They are Canadian citizens. They are Muslims. They are products of an Islamic cultural heritage. They are people of colour or semitic Muslims. They are from, or are members of families from Africa. They have found themselves in dire circumstances stranded in a foreign land, wrongfully accused, jailed, tortured and mistreated by the authorities. And they were all either ignored or abandoned by their government – the Stephen Harper government of Canada. I know, I know. Some of you will ask, what is a bad guy like Omar Khadr doing on that list? Well, he has yet to be proven guilty of anything in any judicial proceeding, and in our country we have a law that says one is presumed innocent until proven guilty – no exceptions, ifs, ands, might have beens, or buts.

Omar Khadr, the now 22 year-old Canadian born citizen and former child soldier, was born in Canada of Egyptian parents. He was picked up by the U.S. military 7 years ago - at age 15 - after a particularly vicious fire fight in an Afghanistan village. The facts of his incarceration and questioning by Canadian and U.S. authorities are long and sordid. He has been in military custody since, spending most of that time in Guantanamo facing accusations of war crimes and killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade. However, despite his years of imprisonment, mistreatment and torture, he has not been convicted of anything. Khadr is now the only Western citizen remaining in Guantanamo, the rest having been repatriated by their respective governments. The urgings upon Canada by Amnesty International, UNICEF, the Canadian Bar Association and other groups to extradite or repatriate Khadr to Canada have fallen upon deaf ears. And now the Harper government refuses to repatriate him despite a Federal Court order ordering it to do so. Instead the Harper government has decided to appeal the order. Mr. Khadr continues to rot away in Guantanamo with the complicity of the Harper government. See:

Abousfian Abdelrazik was born in the Sudan and was admitted to Canada as a refugee in 1990 after political turmoil in his home country. After setting down roots in Canada where he worked as a machinist Abdulrazik became a Canadian citizen and started a family in his new country. He returned to Sudan in August 2003 to visit his ill mother. Shortly thereafter he was arrested in Khartoum as a suspected terrorist and jailed for about one year. During the time that he was in jail the authorities tried to get him to admit that he was a terrorist. There are even documents indicating that Canadian authorities had requested his detention. After the hard year in prison in a Khartoum slammer - no doubt a very unpleasant place indeed - he was released. Because his passport had expired and he was on a UN no-fly list Abdulrazik was unable to come back to Canada. In April 2008, in desperation, he took refuge at the Canadian Embassy. At first, Canadian authorities refused to give him emergency travel documents. Then they changed their minds and issued the documents, but insisted he pay of his own ticket. When friends in Canada bought him the ticket, the government warned that any Canadian who gave money to buy the ticket could be charged under anti-terrorism legislation. In May 2009, after Abdulrazik’s lawyers sued the government, the Federal Court found that his Charter rights were violated and ordered the government fly him home. At the same time the judge accused foreign minister Lawrence Cannon of ignoring due process of law. Although the government considered an appeal, it finally capitulated and Abdulrazik is now back home in Canada. See:

Most recently, there is the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud. Mohamud is a Canadian citizen of Somali origin. She is employed with a courier company and resides in North York with her young son. After concluding a visit with her mother in Nairobi and about to board the plane bound for home, she was stopped by a Kenyan airline employee who she says asked her for a bribe. According to Mohamud when she refused to pay the bribe the employee accused her of being an imposter. Canadian authorities were quick to agree and cancelled her passport while the Kenyans laid fraud charges against her. Other forms of identification including a driver’s license did not budge either the Kenyans or the Canadians, the latter declaring that they had carried out “conclusive investigations” of her identity and that she was a fraud. She was in a Kenyan jail for 8 days and after her release on bail spent the next 3 months living in a seedy hotel awaiting her fate. Thus, she was stranded in Kenya, away from her son, her job and her home country. It took a DNA test proving that she was her son’s mother to convince Canada that in fact she was who she claimed to be. She is now home and has sued her government. See:

In the case of Khadr the Harper government that has not done for him what other western governments have done for their citizens in assisting them in getting out of Guantanamo. Furthermore, the Harper government is ignoring a judge’s order directing it to get him out of Guantanamo. The government's actions are especially egregious given that Khadr was a child soldier at the time of falling into U.S. military custody.
The Harper government’s actions towards Abdulrazik have been reprehensible. It erected every road block it could to prevent him from returning to Canada – where, by the way, he has children - and had to be forced by a Federal Court order to help him get back to Canada.

The Mohamud case is entirely the responsibility of officials of the Harper government. They embraced a decision by officials of one of the most corrupt countries on earth and lied about having done “conclusive investigations” concerning Ms. Mohamud’s identity.

So, what does all of this tell us about the Harper government? The evidence is clear. The Harper government does not want these Canadian citizens back into the country. Why? No doubt one reason is to stroke its political base of lunatic right-wing rednecks and wing nuts.

Another credible reason is the Conservative immigration policy stressing the need for new Canadians to integrate. The Conservative government gives every indication that it does not believe that people such as Khadr, Abdulrazik and Mohamud can ‘integrate’ into Canadian society. In the mind of the government, such Canadians remain apart from a society of real Canadians. I can just hear some of its Neanderthal party members asking themselves, What kind of a real Canadian looks like they look, dress like they dress, or would even think about traveling to such places as Afghanistan, Sudan or Kenya?

To all Muslim Canadians of African or Asian stock, I have news for you. The Harper government is not your friend. They would just as soon you leave this country and not come back. Remember that when you vote in the next federal election.