Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Taking Time Out

I'm headed out to BC this week to visit family. So blogging is going to be a bit on the light side.

Hey, if Parliament can take a week off, so can I.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Paul Martin's Inevitable Reflection

It's only to be expected, as we watch the Paul Martin Minority in the middle of its death spiral, that people start to reflect upon the last minority government Canada had: the 1979-80 reign of the Red Tory Joe Clark. And if there's one thing Paul Martin accomplished that no one expected, it's that he managed to make Joe look pretty good as a PM.

People will recall Joe Clark as one of the most flawed PMs of consequence in Canadian history. (John Turner and Kim Campbell weren't really in office long enough to count.) He tried to bull through an austerity budget and, because of his stubborness, crashed along with his government after three days of debate. Scoring a leadership approval rating of 76 percent, he declared it wasn't good enough, launched a leadership campaign and got tossed out as leader in favour of Brian Mulroney.

He never really understood why the social conservatives who made up the Reform and Alliance parties never wanted to re-join the Progressive Conservatives that he led. He finally quit politics when the new Conservatives formed, declaring it a party he no longer recognized.

Both Joe then and Paul now have character traits that rendered them ineffective as leaders. In Joe's case, it was stubborness: a refusal to believe that people wouldn't want to follow him.

Of course, you can't call Paul Martin stubborn. But you can call him indecisive. Or, more to the point, you can describe Paul Martin as a man who'll put off making a decision until he has all the information he needs. (By which time, though, it may be too late.)

Joe, of course, could make a decision. Occasionally he got it right; remember that it was on his watch that the Iran hostage crisis broke out. Joe backed up ambassador Ken Taylor's plan to smuggle out six Americans from Iran, going so far as to brief the former PM (then Opposition leader) on the situation so that embarrassments wouldn't happen. Most of the time, though, he got it wrong (the budget debacle).

Joe and Paul do have a common trait in that voters consider them "well-meaning." They also both wanted a job for which they were ultimately unsuited. However, Joe was able to salvage his reputation as a parliamentarian.

One wonders if Paul Martin will ever get the chance to do the same.

George Cosmatos, R.I.P.

One of my favorite movies is 1993's Tombstone. You know, the Wyatt Earp saga. I have the Vista Series DVD with commentary by director George Cosmatos. His accent was a little hard to understand, but you could hear how dedicated he was to telling the story right.

Tombstone was one of two Wyatt Earp movies (the other was the namesake movie with Kevin Costner) that actually based its plot on the actual events surrounding the OK Corral. People tended to like the Cosmatos version more, if only because it was a strong ensemble cast (and Val Kilmer as Doc has to be seen to be believed).

Cosmatos also directed Rambo: First Blood Part 2. That's the one that really turned Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo character into the Reaganite symbol of the Cold War 1980s. Rambo is a product of the first Hollywood backlash against the angst of Vietnam, one of the first movies that showed the people who fought in that war didn't have to be ashamed of themselves for doing so.

Cosmatos died last week in Victoria. I hadn't realized he'd settled in Canada; I always figured him for a major Hollywood animal.

Ah well. He may have died in Canada, but with Wyatt Earp and Rambo he'll always be remembered for bringing life to the American hero.

The 20th Edition of the Red Ensign Standard ...

... may be found here.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Don Laytone

If you think about it, you can't really blame NDP leader Jack Layton for offering to throw a lifeline to the sinking Liberals.

The New Democrats have been a force on a provincial level, especially in the West. But on a federal level they're only now recovered from the debacle of 1993, when they lost all but half-a-dozen seats and lost their party status. And in spite of their positioning as a party to park a protest vote, the "first-past-the-post" system of voting may result in the NDP siphoning enough votes from the Liberals to elect Tory MPs.

But with the threat of a Tory federal government, Layton has found himself in an enviable position. He can make the Liberals an offer that would be very difficult to refuse: confidence support in exchange for ... well, a few favors.

Removing a corporate tax break? For now, a small price: the corporations were getting along fine without it, so they won't miss it. But there are other pieces of the NDP platform that Don Laytone may ask his new friend to consider.

There are a number of bills (listed on the NDP website) that would make accountants at Finance Canada cringe, but would benefit from Liberal support. Some will almost certainly provoke an outcry from Canada's corporations: adjusting patent protection for drugs, for example, would be a headache for pharmaceuticals, even if it is a break for people buying a prescription. But they're doable -- with Liberal support.

Don Laytone is envisioning a return to the glory days of the federal New Democrats: the Liberal minority government of 1972-74, when the late David Lewis become consigliere to Pierre Trudeau. Those were the days then the NDP wielded power and influence, from the creation of Petro-Canada to pension indexing. Those days earned the New Democrats a level of political respect from Canadians that still survives to this day, albeit in a smaller amount.

Of course, in those days the Bloc Québécois didn't exist, and that gang could be a problem for Don Laytone since if they aligned with the Conservatives they could still defeat the Liberals on confidence matters. However, since many BQ members are left-leaning in their politics anyway, a sort of accommodation may be possible.

Now, of course Don Laytone can't guarantee that the Liberals would stay in power. But the current situation--a crippled government with a weak leader--is Don Laytone's best opportunity to wield influence on the national stage. So you can't blame him for taking that chance.

Of course, Liberal backbenchers may want to keep an eye open for dead horses ...

Friday, April 22, 2005

Same-Sex Marriage: The MPs' Roundup, Part Six

Yesterday, the House of Commons continued debate on Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. Once again I'm going to summarize the positions of MPs who spoke on this bill, including links to their parliamentary websites in case you want to contact them.

Since people are starting to speak on this for the second time, I've left them out if I've already recorded their positions, unless they've changed their minds. (You can find the previous recordings here, here, here, here and here.)


Hon. Irwin Cotler (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Pro. He finds the main arguments against the bill to be mistaken. He suggests that enacting the traditional definition of marriage would have to involve the notwithstanding clause in order not to invalidate the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. Leaving the issue to the provinces would result in a patchwork of marriage laws. As for religous freedom, the government is already negotiating with the provincial governments to strengthen the religion clauses in their marriage laws.

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, CPC): Con. He argues the debate is more about social policy than human rights. He points out that no international human rights document has ever supported a right to same-sex marriage, and since the Supreme Court never ruled on the constitutionality of traditional marriage, the notwithstanding clause isn't necessary.

Mr. Rodger Cuzner (Cape Breton—Canso, Lib.): Con. 82 percent of his constituents oppose any change to the traditional definition of marriage. This was a bigger response than their reactions to Canada's possible involvement in the Iraq war. None of his constituents want to deny rights to gay couples, but they feel the government is moving too fast with this legislation that could cause unforeseen changes in the social fabric.

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.): Con. Although the bill is called the Civil Marriage Act, he finds that it deals mainly with straight civil marriage, ignoring the sociological aspects of the institution. His constituents, from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds, will not accept the strictly legal/constitutional viewpoints of the courts, believing that equating same-sex and opposite-sex unions will delink the institution from its societal and cultural roles.

Mr. Gary Goodyear (Cambridge, CPC): Con. He considers the notwithstanding clause argument to be merely a distraction. He points out that the lower court decisions involving same-sex marriage involved the common law and not a recently-enacted statute; he has reason to believe the Supreme Court would not declare a law enshrining traditional marriage unconstitutional.

Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Pro. The BQ doesn't really have an official position on this issue. He sees the bill as harmonizing the provincial and territorial marriage laws so that they are compatible with the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights and freedoms. He does have a problem with the religious clause in C-38 because it treads on provincial jurisdiction.

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, CPC): Con. He accuses the Liberal government of failing to defend the religious freedoms of those who refuse to perform same-sex marriages on religious grounds. He believes there's room in the law for both traditional and civil unions. He'll vote against the bill because it imposes a new social institution with no respect for faith, cultures or multicultural beliefs.

Mrs. Carole Lavallée (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, BQ): Pro. The government cannot choose to defend some rights and not others. Since the bill refers only to civil marriages, religious marriages are not a concern. The Supreme Court said that Parliament could legislate on marriage in order to establish legal uniformity. Parliamentarians have to respect that all people in society have a right to equal access to happiness, including through the institution of marriage.

Mr. Brian Jean (Fort McMurray—Athabasca, CPC): Con. He won't support any legislation that infringes on the rights of Canadians. The mail he's received from his constituents runs more than 100 to 1 in favor of traditional marriage. He'll support a civil union and stronger religious protections.

Mr. Russ Powers (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, Lib.): Pro. He believes the bill achieves a balance between granting equality rights and protecting religous freedoms. He finds the bill defines civil marriage without affecting holy matrimony.

Ms. Nicole Demers (Laval, BQ): Pro. She notes how society has progressed since the early 1970's and the heyday of the women's movement. Society is now at the point where it can recognize gay people without penalty; now it needs to go further. People have a right to be happy and to choose the person they want to live with. She's sure that most Canadians are prepared to accept SSM.

Mr. Richard Harris (Cariboo—Prince George, CPC): Con. He points out a huge segment of the populace supports the traditional definition of marriage. He suggests that if the definition is changed, then the role of raising children in a marriage becomes less important. He notes that the lower courts have only overturned the common-law understanding of marriage, not the traditional definition.

Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ): Pro. He considers himself pretty open-minded as far as SSM is concerned. While he believes in the supremacy of Parliament, sometimes the courts have to make judgments in grey areas, and that's what happened in the case of SSM. He doesn't believe this bill will deprive others of their rights.

Hon. Hedy Fry (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Pro. She cautions that if the bill does not pass, other legislation may be needed that would involve using the notwithstanding clause. She also knows the bill enjoys support from the unions as well as some religious groups in her riding.


The score today: Pro 7, Con 7.
So far: Con 59, Pro 30.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sorry, Prime Minister

No, Prime Minister. I don't think it worked.

Hell, I know it didn't work. So does anyone with any interest in Parliamentary affairs.

Asking the Commons to wait until Judge Gomery finishes his report is like asking the patient to wait until the cancer specialist finishes diagnosing a fetid tumor. No Opposition member worth his or her salt is going to sit and listen to all the allegations by Judge Gomery's witnesses--especially when some of them involve Liberal MPS still sitting in Parliament. To sit and do nothing is to put on the veneer of tolerating corruption, and that is simply not done.

You apologized, which is a step in the right direction. You outlined the steps taken--also well and good. But you needed--and still need--to do more. Much more.

The way your speech read right now, it sounds very much like you expect Judge Gomery to pull your chestnuts out of the fire. Unfortunately, leaving the fate of the government in the hands of a judge can be perceived--and will be perceived--as evading responsibility.

And what's more, what you presented doesn't justify the special air time you requested. You could have made this statement at a press conference; if you allowed yourself to be grilled by journalists on this pledge, you would have come across as a leader willing to take the risk of a wait.

Instead, you came across as a manager of a rowdy hockey team, using the peace and quiet just so you could hear your own voice.

In short: you want more time? Sorry, but I don't think you'll get it. Face facts, Prime Minister: whether the hammer drops in one month or eight, you're still up against the wall. And you won't be able to move any time soon.

UPDATE (22 Apr 2005): The consensus around the Canadian blogosphere seems to be that the PM managed to score a single when he needed a home run. Darcey over at Dust My Broom has a very comprehensive link round-up.

Jim Abbott, Parliament's Dee-Jay

Mr. Abbott is the Conservative MP for Kootenay-Columbia. Yesterday, he used his private member's time to create a new dance:

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has added dithers to the great Canadian parliamentary lexicon.

In the face of irrefutable, overwhelming revelations of systemic Liberal Party corruption and with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, he has no choice now but to dither and duck. It is the new Liberal disco, foxtrot, rumba, tango, shuffle, dance: dither and duck.

The Liberal government has resorted to daily announcements in an attempt to hide from its own corruption. The Liberals avoid at all costs the prospect of facing the opposition in the House. What do they do? They dither and duck....

.... Yesterday, two days in a row, facing the largest political scandal in Canadian history, unbelievably, the Prime Minister was absent from the House. It is a new Liberal dance. It is the dither and duck, dither and duck, dither and duck.

All good Liberals grab a partner and do the Liberal shuffle, dither and duck.

Okay, now try to picture a bunch of Liberal MPs dancing the "Dither Disco Duck" in the House of Commons.

On second thought, don't. At least not before lunch.

Hey Paul -- Watcha Gonna Say?

All right, Prime Minister, you're all set. At 19h45 hours, you will address the nation. You've managed to get the networks to cooperate, and you'll be all alone -- just you in the studio, no press to ask you annoying questions, no Opposition politicians around to hound you. Just you, a camera and mike, and the rest of Canada's eyes on you.

What will you say?

Obviously, you plan to talk about the Gomery inquiry and the sponsorship scandal and what you're going to do about it. The polls are falling, and you'd like to reverse it obviously. But whatever you say has to be enough to justify interrupting Jeopardy! for air time that could have been sold to lucrative advertisers.

Well, one approach would be to grovel. Apologize to the nation on behalf of the government and the Liberal Party of Canada, for abusing our trust in you and hiring all those crooks, then letting corruption sprout and fester in the system. Outline all the steps that have been taken to prove it'll never happen again, and acknowledge that you hold power only by consent of the people, not by right.

But no. There's that typical Liberal pride in the way. The Natural Governing Party has never apologized for the way it's governed; why start now?

Another approach might be to announce the termination of the Gomery inquiry's testimony phase. You wouldn't be pulling the plug on the Inquiry, because you'd be asking the Judge to write up his report based on the evidence he's already gathered, and present it to Parliament just in time for an early election.

It's a tempting idea, you must admit. It would certainly keep any future witnesses from lobbing bombs in your direction that you don't need right now. And because you'd have the report in hand, you can congratulate the Judge, tuck it away and hope to heck that people toss it once they've read it.

But there are risks, even more than the Opposition accusing you of pulling the plug. The public might see this as judicial interference, and adjust their voting habits accordingly.

There is a further approach, one that involves doing something along the lines of making a "checkers" speech. It's the Richard Nixon approach, making a speech that evokes Canadian values, one that saves your career.

Trouble is, Prime Minister, you are not Richard Nixon. And that's not a compliment. Nixon, for all his faults, was a pretty good orator. You're not. And despite all the comparisons with Watergate, your situation is far worse. Nixon only had to defend his advisors and their aides. You have to defend the Canadian civil service, the Liberal Party, and the Quebec business elite.

In other words, the "checkers" approach is high risk, little gain. Best not attempt it.

Oh, and one more thing, Prime Minister. If you attack the Opposition tonight, either directly or by innuendo, you'll definitely rouse the ire of the mainstream media who granted you the time in the first place. If you attack, everyone -- and I mean everyone -- will regard it as "politics as usual," which translates as "wasting our time." And that will have an impact on the opinion polls, not to mention the ballot box.

So whatever approach you take, Paul ... it better be something spectacular.

Break a leg, Prime Minister. You're going to need all the luck you can get.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Same-Sex Marriage: The MPs' Roundup, Part Five

Yesterday, the House of Commons resumed debate on Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. Once again I'm going to summarize the positions of MPs who spoke on this bill, including links to their parliamentary websites in case you want to contact them.

Since people are starting to speak on this for the second time, I've left them out if I've already recorded their positions, unless they've changed their minds. (You can find the previous recordings here, here, here and here.)


Hon. Paul Harold Macklin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Pro. He's spoken on this before, and now he wants this to go ahead to committee. He considers the idea of civil unions akin to second-class status: "rights are rights are rights." He doesn't think it's possible to restore the traditional definition of marriage without resorting to the notwithstanding clause.

Ms. Belinda Stronach (Newmarket—Aurora, CPC): Pro. Her constituents are divided on the issue. She considers the bill an issue of individual rights: as long as other people's rights aren't violated, it isn't for her to judge if a same-sex marriage has less value than a traditional one. The right to be called married is at the core of this bill.

Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Nepean—Carleton, CPC): Con. His constituents want a balanced position on the question of marriage. He accuses the Liberals of dividing the country over the issue. He respects people in non-traditional relationships as well as their rights, but it doesn't require changing the definition of marriage.

Mr. Jim Prentice (Calgary Centre-North, CPC): Pro. There's a wide divergence of opinion in his riding. He finds the Supreme Court reference gives sufficient distinction between religious and civil marriage; while he's concerned that the provinces need to pass legislation protecting the religious rights of marriage commissioners, the bill doesn't violate freedom of religion. He believes that recognizing same-sex marriage doesn't violate the rights of others.

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Con. He finds that the courts have trashed the institution of marriage in their rulings. He believes this bill to be peculiar because its clause on religion has no power, and that its definition of marriage has no real defining characteristics. For an institution that has a history, a purpose, and a tradition, he finds the intent of the bill to be reducive in nature, which is a sad thing.

Mr. John Cummins (Delta—Richmond East, CPC): Con. He supports the traditional definition of marriage. He believes the Supreme Courts observation that Parliament can rule on marriage, as well as its refusal to have an opinion, aren't enough to justify this bill. He notes that other countries as well as the United Nations have rejected the idea of same-sex marriage as a human right.

Mrs. Betty Hinton (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, CPC): Con. Invoking the spirit of Star Trek's Mr. Spock, she points out that the federal government has never ruled on marriage before because the marriage ceremony is the creation and intellectual property of religious institutions, not the government. In her opinion, the bill fails to protect the intellectual property of those institutions; in fact she finds the bill to be a threat to the practice of religion in Canada.

Mr. Gary Schellenberger (Perth—Wellington, CPC): Con. He supported the traditional definition of marriage in 2003 and sees no reason to change his mind now. He points out the Supreme Court never declared the traditional definition to be unconstitutional. He believes that tolerance and respect for gay couples can be achieved without altering the definition of marriage. The Conservative's proposed amendment would be a reasonable compromise.

Mr. Ed Komarnicki (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC): Con. The bill has generated a lot of correspondence from his constituents, most of it in opposition to this bill. He doesn't believe a majority of Canadians will accept the direction the bill invites them to take. He also suggests the bill might become an election issue if the government were to fall early. He believes that changing the definition of civil marriage will have an effect on the entire institution and its role in society.

Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, CPC): Con. He takes his position on behalf of children, who benefit from the institution of traditional marriage. The bill would also have an effect on free speech: he thinks that public schools would be compelled to teach that gay marriage is morally equivalent to traditional marriage. He questions the ability of the Liberal government to protect religious freedoms with this bill.

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC): Con. He's surprised by the level of controversy this bill has produced; he's met people who felt the government had no business keeping marriage and divorce statistics and so he's surprised that these same people want the government to bring in this bill. He's disappointed with the Liberal position compelling cabinet members to support this bill.

Mr. Merv Tweed (Brandon—Souris, CPC): Con. He's gotten some correspondence from his constituents supporting this bill, but much more from those who oppose it. He sees the Conservative amendment to be a reasonable compromise, and accuses the Liberals of using this bill as a distraction from their record of governance. He notes that in Belgium and the Netherlands, there are still differences in adoption and non-national citizenship status that differentiate between same-sex and opposite-sex unions.


The score today: Pro 3, Con 9.
So far: Con 52, Pro 23.

My Kinsella Audit

Angry_in_TO, proprietor of Angry in the Great White North, has asked his fellow Blogging Tories to do a Kinsella Audit. Well, I may not be a Blogging Tory (I don't know if I qualify), but an audit seems like the right thing to do, so here goes:

1. Feminists -- er, nope. Nothing written here.

2. Gay marriage -- maybe one that could be considered anti, if you stretch the definition. The other four just keep score on Bill C-38 in the House of Commons, and since I'm reasonably even-handed on those, they don't count.

3. The UN -- One. And a half.

4. Bilingualism -- Nope.

5. Immigration -- nada.

6. Anti-tobacco laws -- well, I used to work for the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control's clearinghouse program, but I guess that doesn't count.

7. Liberals -- aw heck, I've got plenty of those.

8. Floridation of water -- no, but I wouldn't've thought that'd still be an issue.

9. The metric system -- zip.

10. The West Wing -- gee, I thought the Beast allowed Belle to use that part of the house. Or am I thinking about something else?

Hmph. Four out of 10. Either I'm not a true Blogging Tory (always a possibility) or Kinsella's definition is seriously out of whack with the Real World.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Pope with Hollandaise Sauce

Looks like we got us a new Supreme Pontiff.

He's from Germany, which would have been unheard of earlier in history--Germany, after all, was where the Protestant Reformation was born. The second non-Italian pope, after John Paul II. A former progressive, now a conservative in terms of theology, which will make North American liberals mutter a bit, but he ought to be right at home with American conservative thinking.

Now, there are some Americans who may not be comfortable with the new name -- mention "Benedict" and the name "Arnold" comes to mind a little too quickly. But think of "eggs Benedict" and one can start to think the Church is on to a good thing. Rich, not too spicy.

About the only major concern I have is age. At 78, he's only four years younger than the last Pope when he kicked off. I suppose time will tell if Benedict will have as big an impact on the world as John Paul.

Ken Epp Award Nominee: Monte Solberg

Mr. Solberg is the Conservative MP for Medicine Hat. Yesterday he attempted to commit a rhetorical assault by beating a metaphor to death:

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's director of communications has referred to the Prime Minister as a “wire brush”, but I am not sure the analogy flatters the Prime Minister very much.

The only wire brush I can think of is the one I use to clean my barbecue and it is pretty greasy and worn out, but hey, we will play along. Maybe the Prime Minister really does see himself as a wire brush, but ironically it is the people of Canada who are bristling at the conduct of the wire brush and his Liberal cronies.

As a matter of fact, the public is tired of the Prime Minister trying to brush off questions about his luncheon with Claude Boulay. They are tired of his trying to brush the sponsorship mess under Jean Chrétien's carpet. In short, they are tired of getting the brush-off from the wire brush. It is actually the people of Canada who are wired up and fired up to the point that now a brush fire has broken out, and that is not good for brushes, wire or otherwise.

In fact, if I read the public correctly, they are very upset with Mr. Wire Brush, and what they are telling me is, “Wire, wire, pants on fire”.

He does like to live dangerously; that last bit comes awfully close to being unparliamentary language. (According to Parliamentary rules, you're not allowed to call an MP a liar.)

Then again, he could be trying to enter Damian Brooks' contest ...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Parliamentary Poet Strikes Again!

The poet in question is Brian Pallister, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Portage-Lisgar:

Humming and hawing,
To-ing and frow-ing,
Bobbing and weaving,
Coming and going.
The seed of decision bears fruit but it withers,
Who could it be? It's Prime Minister Dithers.

His utmost priority's constantly changing,
Polling and focus groups are a distraction.
The Titanic deck chairs may need rearranging,
He'd like to but can't find the courage for action.
The Liberals say ice caps will flow into rivers,
But there's only hot air from our Mr. Dithers.

The Gomery commission, the Liberal connection,
He promised to dig and he hoped for a plaudit,
He's mad as hell and he will get to the bottom,
As long as it doesn't involve a real audit.
His claims of sincerity give us the shivers,
No Clouseau, just clueless, our poor Mr. Dithers.

Editorial content aside, I wonder very much if he's trying to attract the attention of the Vogons (whose poetry has to be heard to be believed)?

A Liberal Nightmare?

Okay, just so people understand: I don't know anyone who seriously believes that Jean Chrétien is going to see the inside of a jail cell as a result of Adscam. There's been no testimony from the Gomery inquiry that suggests that the former PM knew about, encouraged, or even thought about kickbacks to the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party from the sponsorship program. (Well ... not yet anyway, and I seriously doubt there will be.)

However, the fact that many of the Gomery witnesses talked about influence with the Prime Minister's Office, coupled with the fact that all of this affair happened on Chrétien's watch, can lead a lot of people to conclude that the little guy from Shawinigan has rolled doubles three times running.

The idea is certainly enough of a possibility that it's a plausible explanation for why Chrétien's lawyers are so eager to throw Justice Gomery out of the inquiry.

But, as I said, this is all remote. No one really wants to see the former PM in jail.

Not the Liberals, certainly, for obvious reasons.

Not the BQ or PQ. Even thought they're adversaries, there are certain rules of engagement that says your opponent should be granted a decent level of respect --- "there but for the grace of God," etc.

Not even the Tories. The hope they have for the Gomery report is that it'll show that Adscam happened as a result of current Liberal attitudes towards governing, as practiced by Chrétien and continued under Mr. Dithers. Already we've seen Paul Martin cracking under the strain of keeping a stiff upper lip. Going after Chrétien may damage his legacy, but it's today's Liberals under Martin who have to fight the next election -- not yesterday's man.

So, the "Liberal nightmare" will remain just that--a nightmare.

Still -- it's a nice image, don't you think? I created it with Alias Sketchbook Pro and posted it via Hello's Bloggerbot. If you want to reproduce it in your blog entry, you can right-click on it to copy the URL, and use the [img src="URL"] tag in your post. Just send me a trackback ping if you decide you're going to do it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Ken Epp Award Nominee : Tom Lukiwski

Tom Lukiwski is the Conservative MP for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre. He was debating a BQ motion to establish a trust fund for the Liberal Party of Canada to deposit monies improperly received from Adscam:

[BQ member Gilles Duceppe] said that he feels this is probably the biggest political scandal in Canadian history. I think this will go down as the biggest political scandal in the history of democracy.

The sin here is gross exaggeration. Since democracy has been around for about 3000 years, that's a pretty big range to choose from. I'll agree that this is bigger than President Clinton lying to a grand jury, but I think the late Richard Nixon, the Roundheads of Oliver Cromwell, Grover Cleveland, Oliver North, Governor-General Byng, and some folks from the Phillippines may want to have a word with Mr. Lukiwski about big political scandals.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Better to Be Mr. Dithers Than Mr. Cheney

This afternoon, Prime Minister Dithers denied having lunch with Claude Boulay, who (according to Gomery witness Alain Renaud) had supposedly met with the PM over lunch in 1990.

This is of course a much better response than his panicked finger-pointing in the House of Commons yesterday, when Stephen Harper asked the same question.

Why the change in attitude? Probably because Mr. Martin has learned the lesson of the number-two man across the border, Dick Cheney.

People will remember during the 2004 U.S. election, during the vice-presidential debates, Mr. C claimed he couldn't remember meeting his opponent, John Edwards. Then someone posted a picture of them shaking hands. A little embarrassment there, but fortunately not too fatal.

Martin's been put in the same position as Mr. C was last year. One major difference though: the consequences would have been more severe for him in the House of Commons than they would be in front of the press.

One of the Big Rules in Parliament is that you must not deliberately mislead the House. Meaning, you cannot tell a lie that can be easily disproven. If Martin had denied meeting Mr. Boulay for lunch, and proof suddenly circulated that he did, he would certainly lose some parliamentary privileges that would make life even more difficult for him.

Talking to the press is a different matter. If proof now shows up that he did have lunch with Mr. Boulay, then he can, like Mr. C across the border, claim a faulty memory. But at least he can claim he didn't mislead the House.

It's just too bad he used a clumsy tactic to do it. Trying to ignore the question and put the Tories on the defensive over health care may have worked during an election campaign, but not in the house. Because, in his zeal to nail the Tories, he forgot that it's not the Tories who are supposed to answer questions in Question Period; it's the government.

Of course, it could be that Mr. Dithers was practicing to be Opposition Leader. That's probably going to be his next job ... if he's lucky.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Anita Neville Blasts the UN -- and Shoots Herself in the Foot

Interesting statement from Anita Neville, the Liberal MP from Winnipeg South Centre:

Mr. Speaker, Canada and the world increasingly view the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as a failure.

Tasked with the protection of human rights worldwide, its members now include Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and even Sudan. Hypocritically, it fails to task these and other serious human rights violators. Instead, it criticizes Israel, the only place in the Middle East where Arabs have recourse to independent courts for alleged abuses.

On March 14, the Minister of Foreign Affairs alluded to the integrity problems of the UNCHR stating, “the credibility of the Commission on Human Rights, in particular, has been challenged”.

Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated last Thursday, “the commission's ability to perform its tasks has been undermined by the politicization of its sessions and the selectivity of its work”.

There are a lot of social conservatives who, under normal circumstances, would agree with Ms. Neville. However, it's not a coincidence that her statement comes shortly after the release of the Commission's report on indigenous peoples, which reported on Canada in its third addendum:

Despite the progress already achieved, Aboriginal people are justifiably concerned about continuing inequalities in the attainment of economic and social rights, as well as the slow pace of effective recognition of their constitutional Aboriginal and treaty rights, and the concomitant redistribution of lands and resources that will be required to bring about sustainable economies and socio-political development.

Priority attention must be given to the persistent disparities between Aboriginal people and other Canadians as reflected in higher poverty rates and lower than average health, educational, housing and welfare services for Aboriginal people, which continue to be among the most pressing issues facing Aboriginal people.

The Addendum, in other words, roasts the Liberal government over its past and present policies with regard to our Native peoples.

As Hunter S. Thompson would say, "Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then." If you look at the recent reports on the state of Aboriginal peoples in Canada--from our own government as well as others-- you'd have to acknowledge that the UNCHR might have a point.

Ms. Neville, in other words, isn't attacking the UNCHR for being a useless bureaucracy. She attacked it because it tattled on the Grits to the world--shooting the messenger, if you will.

Memo to Ms. Neville: in light of everything else going on, drawing attention to failed Liberal policies by trying to defend them is not a good idea. Far better to acknowledge the fault and move on.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Why Tories Shouldn't Hurry

From CBC News:

NEW GLASGOW, N.S. - Deputy Conservative leader Peter MacKay has been suspended from driving for two weeks after being caught speeding twice last year.

The Nova Scotia MP will begin his 14-day sentence May 21 and will not be able to drive in any jurisdiction.

MacKay was clocked going 134 km/h in a 100/km/h zone in Broadway N.S., on Nov. 11. He told the officer he was late for a function.

He was pulled over by the same officer on Dec. 23 in Caribou River, N.S., for going 109 km/h in an 80 km/h zone.

MacKay was fined a total of $430 for both offences. His lawyer, Craig Clarke, said MacKay will be in Australia at the time of his suspension.

Dang. I was hoping to find out how he feels about OC Transpo.

The 19th Edition of the Red Ensign Standard ...

... may be found here. Sue is one of our newest members, and she's done a pretty swell job.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Indian Residential Schools: Parliament Says ADR's Screwed

The noise in the House of the Brault testimony tended to obscure other parliamentary business. Earlier in the day, the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs tabled its report on the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process.

ADR is the process the Chrétien government came up with for resolving the claims of Aboriginals who'd been traumatized by their stay in residential schools, in the mid- to late 20th century.

I suppose I shouldn't be shocked by this: the Committee found ADR to be a failure.

Specifically the ADR process is a failure because:
1. It is strikingly disconnected from the so-called pilot projects that preceded it.

2. The consultative mechanisms that informed its development did not include a sufficiently broad range of participation by former residential school students and other relevant professionals – legal, cultural, psychological and healing.

3. It is failing to provide impartial and even-handed due process.

4. It is not attracting former students to apply in credible numbers.

5. It is structured to compensate too narrow a population of former students.

6. It provides grossly inadequate compensation when, grudgingly, it does so.

7. It excludes too many of the some 87,000 remaining former students from eligibility.

8. It is proceeding too slowly, allowing too many former students to die uncompensated.

9. It is using a model of dispute resolution that is disrespectful, humiliating and unfeeling and re-victimizes former students, who are now elderly and vulnerable.

10. It is an arbitrary administrative solution that is vulnerable to political whim.

11. Its high structural costs are fixed and will always be disproportionate to the size of compensation granted.

12. Its so-called verification process imposes an egregious burden of proof on the applicants that programs failure into the resolutions process, requires irrelevant data and imposes a cost on the applicant that can exceed the size of an award.

13. Former students do not trust the process. [Given the above, can you blame them?]

14. There is no satisfactory evidence in the numbers that the program is working.

I suppose I should figure out a way to get Darcey to give his perspective on this ...

Brigadiers in the News : The London Fog Makes the Free Press

Check out this profile of our London-based member of the Red Ensign Brigade.

The four London bloggers range in age from 30 to 40 and don't want their names revealed because their day jobs might be jeopardized. The foursome, who earn no income from the blog, started London Fog about 18 months ago and post new items almost every day.

The site averages 180 daily visits from different readers, although that number soared to nearly 1,000 in the past few days when it featured links to the previously banned material.

Although many posts relate to national and international events, the Londoners' site boasts an enormous amount of local material.

"My mandate is to publish alternative viewpoints about what's going on in London," says Dave, another of the London bloggers.

Although the four bloggers resist being labelled, their opinions tend to reflect a conservative viewpoint. One recent blog item, for example, lampooned universal day care. . . .

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Justice Gomery Lifts the Ban (For the Most Part)

My radio is currently tuned in to CBC Radio 1. In case you're not near a radio, Justice John H. Gomery has just lifted the publication ban on Jean Brault's testimony in his inquiry on the sponsorship scandal. It's not a complete lifting; Mr. Brault's testimony concerning former bureaucrat Chuck Guité is still under wraps, because that has a direct bearing on Brault's and Guité's trial for conspiracy.

But what is now in the open is Mr. Brault's testimony on kickbacks to the federal Liberal Party's Quebec wing made by Groupaction, as reported by Captain Ed, and which is now in the hands of the mainstream media.

If you really want the primary source stuff from the Gomery inquiry, you can find the raw transcripts on the inquiry's official website, here. Bear in mind that because these are raw transcripts, translations in English may not be available. You can expect Mr. Brault's testimony (with appropriate sections blanked out) to show up here by the end of this week.

As for those threats by the Department of Justice to prosecute the bloggers who leaked Mr. Brault's testimony, I think they've got other things to worry about ...

UPDATE (8 Apr 2005 08h00): Brault's testimony for 31 March is here, and what he said on 1 April is here. The transcripts are in French only; the English versions should be up in about a week.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Groupaction Goodies for Gomery to Gasp At?

And this time, there's no need to tiptoe around a publication ban. Check out this story from Greg Weston of Sun Media, available from C-News (Angry in the Great White North has the Toronto Sun version):

A Montreal advertising firm that received more than $40 million in AdScam sponsorship contracts paid huge kickbacks to both the federal Liberal party and the Quebec separatists, senior executives of the company have told Sun Media. "I remember seeing the cheques," one former Groupaction executive said of payments to the federal Liberal party in Quebec.
The man spoke on condition that he not be identified until he testifies at the Gomery inquiry sometime over the coming weeks.

The exec said the president of Groupaction, Jean Brault, made no secret around the company about where the kickback cash was going and for what.

"He spoke to me about it ... having to pay money back to the Liberal Party" in return for contracts.

Note that this evades Govery's publication ban because Weston interviewed a source who wasn't at the inquiry, but is scheduled to testify later.

Weston names former Groupaction executive Alain Renaud as the source for the story that the ad agency kicked back money to the PQ in return for an ad contract with the Quebec government (which was run by the PQ at the time of the allegations). The fact that Renaud is described as a former executive suggests that we take his word with a grain of salt due to potential sour grapes; still, it's quite a shocker.

I don't remember seeing corruption this bad in Canadian politics since the 1976 Montréal Olympics. Corruption and mismanagement landed that city with the white elephant that is Olympic Stadium.

As Angry points out, this is a ticking bomb for Quebec politics. It damages both the federal Grits and the provincial PQ.

But there's also potential collateral damage for Premier Jean Charest's Quebec Liberal Party and the federal Bloc Québecois (members of which also share membership with the PQ). Both will be under pressure to sever their ties with the implicated organizations, adding up to a weakened presence on the national scene.

A potential beneficiary would be Mario Dumont and Action Démocratique du Québec. Currently the third party in Quebec politics, with 5 members in the 125-member Assemblée nationale, ADQ could make PQ corruption enough of an election issue to double their representation.

If there is an upshot to this, the fact that both sides in the "national unity" debate were implicated in corruption suggests that neither party would be interested in putting Quebec independence on the front burner any time soon, lest irritated voters in Quebec and elsewhere bring up the corruption issue and discredit the players.

Same-Sex Marriage: The MPs' Roundup, Part Four

We continue the summaries of MPs' statements on Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. This round is taken from the Hansard of Tuesday, 5 April. Links to MPs' parliamentary web pages are included in case you want to contact them directly.

Remember that Tory Leader Stephen Harper has proposed an amendment to the bill that has not yet been accepted. The assumption is that an MP who speaks for the amendment will vote against the bill if the amendment doesn't pass.


Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Pro. The leader of the New Democrats says the bill expresses the fundamental Canadian value of equality, something not currently experienced by gays and lesbians since not all provinces and territories recognize SSM. He points out a specific example that the bill is meant to remedy: one of his friends is denied pension benefits in spite of his 28-year union with his partner.

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, CPC): Con. He doesn't believe that SSM would advance Canadians' well-being. He questions whether the Canadian government and the courts have the right to alter the definition of marriage at all: since marriage is a concept that existed before governments, it's an institution that governments have no right to change. "This government is breaking new ground, but it is breaking it on private property."

Ms. Monique Guay (Rivière-du-Nord, BQ): Pro. She says the bill affirms the Charter position that people have the right to be happy. She points out the weakness of Conservatives' arguments: if a couple don't want to have children, then according to Tory positions they shouldn't have the right to marry in the first place. She points out the bill is necessary to protect the property rights of same-sex couples. She welcomes the opportunity to vote because this is an issue that's being dragged on for too long.

Mr. Dave Batters (Palliser, CPC): Con. His constituents want him to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, but will accept a compromise position, the one put forth in Stephen Harper's amendment. He argues that this position is consistent with those in Sweden, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland and parts of Italy.

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (Minister of State (Public Health), Lib.): Pro. She says that partners of the same sex must not be denied the ability to enjoy and formalize one of life's most significant relationships. She's sympathetic to the arguments of United Church of Canada moderator Peter Short, who supports SSM. She points out that marriage is not just for religious people. She finds the notion of civil unions to be akin to two-tiered marriage, which she finds unacceptable.

Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, CPC): Con. She recognizes that the state cannot prevent two people from entering into a formal union, and that same-sex couples are entitled to the same benefits as opposite-sex couples, but the federal government's proposed redefinition would ignore societal and religious traditions. She finds that the clause intended to protect religious freedoms has no power. "Traditional religious belief systems and secular values must be recognized in an equitable and thoughtful manner."

Mr. David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, NDP): Pro. He says the bill is consistent with the Charter. He has the support of several labour organizations which support SSM. After being heckled for being a dreamer [shame on you, Mr. Hanger--Ed.], he acknowledges it because his dreams are of what the country can be. He dislikes the civil union option because it brings to mind the segregated school system in the U.S. which has since been declared unconstitutional.

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, CPC): Con. The heckler lumps SSM in with decriminalization of marijuana and prostitution, accusing the Liberals and NDP of using the Charter to justify their positions. He differs from his party in that he wants this issue settled with a national referendum. He things passage of this bill will open the door to all sorts of religious persecution based on political correctness. "The Constitution says Parliament can legally define marriage, but that legal recognition reflects what marriage is, not what some social engineers want it to be."

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Pro. He points out that the courts have already struck down provincial attempts to ban SSM. He likens the Tory position to that of the U.S. politicians who supported segregation. He thinks the bill's protection clause will be effective: "Will the status of marriage be any less? Will people in heterosexual marriages lose any of the financial, legal or social benefits of marriage? Will people who are already married feel less married? Will various religious institutions be forced to perform same sex marriages? The answer to all of these questions is unequivocally no."

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, CPC): Con. Quoting several references from John Stuart Mill, he concludes that the philosopher would have opposed civil unions. He also gives several examples from ancient history writings showing that when traditional family institutions were celebrated, civilization flourished; when they were ignored, civilizations fell.

Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, CPC): Con. He thinks changing the definition would do marriage a grave injustice. He considers marriage a spiritual union, which is why so many churches reject this bill. He points out no provincial government has agreed to pass legislation protecting religious organizations or individuals who refuse to sanction SSM.

Mr. Guy Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, CPC): Con. His constituents oppose this bill overwhelmingly; more to the point, they don't believe a civil official should be disciplined for refusing to sanction SSM if it goes against his religious beliefs. He believes the Harper amendment will give same sex couples the same rights and benefits as married couples without trying to legislate the definition of marriage. He disagrees that the issue is about love and commitment: "Nobody needs the support of the state to live in a loving, committed relationship. The state must never get into the business of validating people's affections for one another."

Mr. Steven Fletcher (Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, CPC): Con. His constituents believe that marriage is a basic heterosexual institution but that same sex couples also have rights to equality within society. He supports the Harper amendment as a compromise that the majority of Canadians will accept.

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC): Con. He says the debate isn't about equality or equality rights, but the expropriation of "marriage." Gay and straight unions are equal before the law, but they are not the same. To redefine marriage as this bill does is to rob the word of its deeper symbolism as a foundation for the family. He also considers the bill a frontal attack on the religious freedoms of Canadians.

Mr. James Lunney (Nanaimo—Alberni, CPC): Con. Most of the people in his riding want to keep the traditional definition of marriage. As a Christian, he finds the bill to be a direct assault on freedom of religion. He notes the public pressure on Christians and others of faith to keep their views private, considering it a form of persecution.

Mr. Jeff Watson (Essex, CPC): Con. He points out the debate is the result of a Liberal policy decision, since the Supreme Court neither struck down traditional marriage as unconstitutional nor directed the government to change the definition. He knows from personal experience and a study of history that traditional marriage has always benefitted society: "The government has the power and duty to recognize this. It does not however have the power to change it. " He believes the bill will also threaten the concept of rule of law, since people will not respect the law of the law doesn't reflect their values.

Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, CPC): Con. His constituents oppose changing the traditional definition of marriage. They, and he, are puzzled that this debate has a priority when there are other pressing issues to tackle, such as health care. He points out that other countries recognized same-sex unions while keeping the traditional definition. The clergy in his riding have no confidence that the Supreme Court would rule in their favour if a dispute came up under this act.

Mr. Andrew Scheer (Regina—Qu'Appelle, CPC): Con. He thinks passage of the bill will expand the intrusion of government in daily life. He argues that since the Supreme Court did not rule on same-sex marriage as a Charter right, by silence it upheld the status quo. He suggests that "marriage" cannot apply to a same-sex union because there is no inherent foundation for children. He considers the clause protecting freedom of religion to be meaningless since the solemnization of marriage is a provincial function.


The score today: Pro 5, Con 13.
So far: Con 43, Pro 20.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Same-Sex Marriage: The MPs' Roundup, Part Three

Yesterday, the House of Commons resumed debate on Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. Once again I'm going to summarize the positions of MPs who spoke on this bill, including links to their parliamentary websites in case you want to contact them.

Please note that while Stephen Harper has proposed an amendment to this bill, it has yet to be accepted by Parliament. Thus, when an MP says (s)he supports Harper's amendment, I've assumed they will vote against the bill if the amendment is not passed.


Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Con. She thinks changing the definition of marriage is an attempt to create a "one-size-fits-all" category, and believes a distinction for same-sex relationships is necessary. She doesn't think the bill can protect relgious freedom, pointing out that in four provinces, marriage commissioners have already lost their jobs for refusing to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Hon. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Pro. She points out that same-sex marriage is already legal in parts of Canada (including Ontario) and that the bill merely extends the right to all Canadians. She believes the religious provisions of the bill merely affirm what was provided for in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She cites a letter from the moderator of the United Church of Canada, pointing out that some denominations do support same-sex marriage.
Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, CPC): Con. 90 percent of his constituents want him to defend the traditional definition of marriage, so he's doing just that. He's appalled that other parties such as the NDP aren't letting their members vote freely.

Ms. Louise Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Con. She intends to vote her conscience on this bill. She's noticed the polarizing effect of this debate: people either agree with the bill opposing discrimination, or oppose the bill and support discrimination. Her third way is to oppose the bill and oppose discrimination. She supports the traditional definition of marriage as an expression of natural law.

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, CPC): Con. He's disappointed that the Liberals are mischaracterizing the Tory position on same-sex marriage and says that opposition to SSM does not equal discrimination. The Supreme Court made no ruling declaring traditional marriage to be unconstitutional, so the government's not being forced to do this by the Supreme Court. He believes the idea of recognizing civil unions is a reasonable compromise; the traditional definition needs to be kept because it includes the implicit idea of procreation and raising children.

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, CPC): Con. He points out that up to 2003 the Liberals had supported the traditional definition of marriage, as evidenced by parliamentary votes. He believes the law should continue to recognize the traditional definition of marriage while granting same-sex couples the same rights. He doesn't think the bill can protect religious freedoms since solemnization of marriage is a provincial responsibility.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC): Con (as is). She's supporting amendments to the bill made by Stephen Harper for five reasons: traditional marriage has always been between one man and one woman; its preservation is in the best interests of children; the amendment is needed to strengthen protection of religion; the argument that marriage is a fundamental right isn't valid; and finally, one can grant equal rights for civil unions and protect the traditional definition of marriage.

Mr. Bradley Trost (Saskatoon—Humboldt, CPC): Con. He calls the bill a direct attack on the institution of marriage, and that it could malign the religious freedoms of Canadians. He argues that the traditional definition is necessary because it carries the implied responsibility of procreation and creating a family.

Mr. Larry Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, CPC): Con (as is). More than 95 percent of the constituents who have written to him want the traditional definition of marriage protected, so he's supporting the amendment proposed by Stephen Harper. He's talked with several constituents who are gay and they've told him they can accept the compromise of a civil union. There won't be a need to use the notwithstanding clause with the amendment because the Supreme Court never declared traditional marriage to be unconstitutional.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Newton—North Delta, CPC): Con. His position has never changed, unlike the Liberals. He sees no problem in recognizing same-sex relationships, but this shouldn't require changing the definition of marriage. There are ethnic communities (such as the Sikhs in B.C.) who consider the bill an attack on their traditional beliefs.

Mr. Ken Epp (Edmonton—Sherwood Park, CPC): Con (as is). He sees this bill as an example of why Canadians are disillusioned with the political process; government, in this view, never listens to the people. He believes the Harper amendment is a reasonable compromise since the Liberals' original bill is flawed.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC): Con. He calls this the most contentious piece of legislation he's seen since being elected to Parliament. He also agrees that the traditional definition of marriage must be kept due to its relationship to the institution of family. His constituents back him in his opposition to this bill.


The score today: Pro 1, Con 11.
So far: Con 30, Pro 15.

These numbers may change depending on the fate of the Harper amendment. If the amendment fails, then C-38's in trouble ...

Monday, April 04, 2005

Can Justice Gomery Take on the Blogosphere?

Edward Morrissey, also known as "Captain Ed," operates Captain's Quarters, one of the Northern Alliance blogs who helped bring down Dan Rather and John Kerry. (Alliance members include Powerline, TIME Magazine's Blog of the Year.)

This past Saturday, he posted a story about testimony from ad agency executive Jean Brault before the Gomery inquiry investigating the federal sponsorship scandal. Brault's actual words can't be revealed because it's under a publication ban to protect those facing crminal charges as a result of the scandal.

Although Captain Ed cautions that his stuff comes from a single source (which means its confidence level is low according to MSM standards; different sources are needed to confirm it), so far no one has challenged this version's facts since Ed posted the story. Suffice to say that if Mr. Brault's testimony were confirmed, our Opposition would have no choice but to collapse our Liberal minority government on a confidence vote.

Naturally, the good Captain has experienced a high number of hits on his site, so much so that he's moved his Adscam comments on to a different page.

Meanwhile, the Gomery inquiry is considering charge Canadian bloggers who link to Captain Ed's story with contempt of court (thanks to Angry in the Great White North for the link to the London Free Press):

[Inquiry official Francois] Perreault warned that even if Brault's testimony has been outed by a U.S. website, it doesn't mean it's now public information.

"Anyone who takes that information and diffuses it is liable to be charged with contempt of court," Perreault said.

"Anybody who reproduces it is at risk."

Mr. Perrault should remember Karla Homolka, right? The publication ban on her manslaughter trial was violated left, right and center by the U.S. media, who were outside that court's jurisdiction. And as far as I know no news service, either Canadian or American, was ever charged or convicted of contempt of court in that case.

Advice to Mr. Gomery: since Mr. Brault is asking for his criminal trial to be delayed until September, you may was well lift the publication ban and let Canadian journalists try to support or discredit his story. No one wants to be scooped by the Americans again, right?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II, R.I.P.

I remember where I was when Karol Cardinal Wojtyla ascended to the papacy. I was in junior high school, barely paying attention in English class when they announced that Pope John Paul the First had died.

The first John Paul took two names in order to create the idea of unity: John for John XXIII, and Paul for Paul VI, both of whom represented different philosophies of the Catholic Church. The first John Paul had been in the seat barely a month before he died, which caught everyone by surprise.

The second John Paul turned out to be one of the good guys. I remember his first visit to North America, when he preached in English -- heavily accented, but full of energy and vigor. Make no mistake, no matter what language he spoke this was a guy to be reckoned with.

I remember being in social studies class when he was shot in 1981, not long after President Reagan took a bullet. I was relieved when it was reported that he'd survived that attempt, and pleased that he'd recovered so well.

Yes, he was conservative, and a lot of liberals didn't like that he wouldn't bend church doctrine towards their conception of reality in the 20th century. But he managed to guide the Church through many of the crises of the period -- the fall of Communism, the rise of terrorism and 9/11, and so on and so forth.

I only hope that the next pontiff will have the vigor and the intellectual will to defend the Church as well as John Paul II.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Presenting: The Golden Age Red Ensign!

This is something I've been working on for my portfolio. The costume origins are of course pretty obvious, as is the reason why I've put this up here.

So, what's the story behind this character? Well, I don't know his civilian name yet, but I do know he was a geologist in the late 1930's. I know he's from Ontario, and I know that he had a limp that kept him from being conscripted later on in life.

In late 1940 he discovered a meteor in the northern part of Algonquin Park that gave of a weird reddish glow. Picking a piece of the meteor up, he learned he could project energy from it just by thinking about it. When he was attacked by poachers, he used the energy to drive them off, and this gave him the idea to become a patriotic superhero.

As I see it, the Red Ensign fought crime from 1941 (his debut) to 1965 (retired upon the debut of the new flag.) During his 25 year career as a superhero, he fought mainly around Toronto, Niagara and Windsor, with the occasional foray into New York and Detroit. His enemies were mainly Nazi and Communist sympathizers (that, I'm still working on; I figure I need to create 5 or 6 villains who can be a rogue's gallery of some sort. An organized crime lord, a spy, someone supernatural like a vampire, a mechanic with a penchant for giant robots, etc.) His superhuman powers are pretty much akin to the Green Lantern's, except of course that his glow red rather than green.

I know he's got a cantankerous, sometimes arrogant personality, especially as he gets older and when we get to the latter half of his career. (Think about angry_in_TO and you'll see the kind of personality I mean.) The problems of his hard-nose attitude lead directly to his decision to retire in the 1960s era.

He's worked with other superheroes, including one whom I'm designing as a main protagonist for a comic book or animated TV series. In that show, he and his progeny are backstory supporting character and supervillain, respectively.

I say "backstory" because I know when he died: in 1985, coming out of retirement to defend downtown Toronto from a shadow-demon invasion. He ascends to the top of the CN Tower, then burns off almost all of his energy vaporizing the attackers, before falling to the ground. He leaves behind either a son or who tries to assume his mantle, but becomes a supervillain instead because of a lack of understanding about the true nature of heroism. (We've all run into people like that, I think.)

Later on in the year I plan to showcase the design of this supervillain, essentially the modern-day Red Ensign. As well as the guy who's going to defeat this would-be hero.