Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Notes on Reading the Grewal Transcripts, Part 2

I've just opened up the second transcriptof Gurman Grewal's taped conversations. This one is an 11-page document in PDF format, and it concerns a meeting between Grewal, federal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh, and prime ministerial assistant Tim Murphy, on the 17th of May. Judging from the early content, this is after the Stronach defection became public.

One thing I will say off the bat: bolding selected passages is a clumsy mistake on the part of the Conservatives. Yes, they are the statements that add fuel to the idea that the Liberals were offering to bribe Grewal for his vote on the budget, but in the case of transcripts it's far better to let the reader judge for him or herself.

1. From page 1 of the transcript:
UD - I think (Belinda) has made it easier for you, if you want.
GG - That’s true.
UD - In fact, cabinet can be arranged right away. For the other, you don’t want to lose the advantage. If you do right away, you lose the advantage of numbers. Those are the issues.

This is apparently the offer of a cabinet position for Grewal.

2. From page 2 of the transcript:

UD - But you will do the right thing. I will push as far as I can. At the end, I don’t
control those things. That is why it is important for you to meet with him.
after the PM. He just told me now that he will talk to you. Ask him if it is all
right. If it appears there is some understanding. If there is no understanding, use
the same kind of language. This is the time to keep the country together, you
can’t line up with the Bloc. You should go out on a high principle. Go out on
high principle. In a sense people might say that is not such a bad thing for you.
Like one of your former Leader. She was a leader in your party.

So if we are to believe the accuracy of this paragraph, the Health Minister has said that Paul Martin himself wanted to talk to Grewal about the possibility of joining Cabinet. Hearsay evidence, of course, but it plants doubt in Martin's denials in the Commons earlier today that he knew anything about the Grewal situation.

3. Note this statement from Tim Murphy, on page 4:

TM: I think, as you will see the PM will say we are not offering and making no offers. And I think that is the narrative we have to stick to it. Or make the PM a liar.

Awfully prescient, don't you think?

4. Much of the latter half of the transcript focuses on Citizenship Minsiter Joe Volpe, who got on Grewal's case several weeks ago when it was revealed that Grewal was accepting deposits from constituents while sponsoring potential immigrants. (Note: deposits, not payments; Grewal's practice was to return the deposit when the immigrant was accepted.)

Grewal makes a case that Volpe owes him an apology. I suspect that it's this wish, rather than a potential officer of a ministry or a Senate seat, that made Grewal want to talk to these people in the first place. (And going over this transcript, you'll note that it's Dosanjh and Murphy who bring up Cabinet and the Senate, not Grewal.)

Notes on Reading the Grewal Transcripts, Part 1

I'm looking at the first transcript of telephone conversations released by Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal. This is a 4-page document in PDF format consisting of conversations between Mr. Grewal and B.C. Liberal organizer Sudesh Kalia.

Some observations:

1. From page 2 of the transcript:

SK – I don’t think they will, he told me again and again. He (PM) promised Dr. (Gulzar)
Cheema (consulate in Chandigarh, India) and he’ll meet that commitment after the legal
problems are resolved. Cheema also told me that he can not discuss this more than this,
he (Cheema) says every thing is OK with him.

I think this is the paragraph that suggests that an ambassadorship or diplomatic post is in the offering for Mr. Grewal. Fortunately, we also have a name to talk to. A smart enterprising journalist will try to find this Dr. Cheema and get his version of events.

2. Does someone want to tell federal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh that he needs to change his cell phone number? Kalia gives Grewal the number, even spells it out, on page 3 of the transcript. That's one of the things that probably could have been blacked out. (No, I'm not going to reproduce the cell number here. I'm a firm believer in the right to privacy.)

3. SK – He says, please tell him (GG) to call me (UD). Make sure you (GG) call him, he
(UD) is keeping his cell phone on, which he (UD) normally does not.

This passage weakens Dosanjh's argument that Grewal approached him first. Perhaps he did--and the cell phone records would reflect that--but it's clear that such a call was pre-arranged.

Granted, full transcription would have been better, but this one at least advances the argument that the Liberals, not Grewal, initiated negotiations.

The Grewal Tapes Are Finally Released

Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal finally released more of his infamous tapes with various Liberal Party officials today. Not all of them -- not by no means all of them -- but enough to give a glimpse of Grit strategy during last month's budget showdown.

What's been released on Mr. Grewal's website so far are 4 sets of conversations, with audio files in MP3 format and transcripts, in English, in PDF format. The three Liberal officials involved are B.C. organizer Sudesh Kalia, federal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Paul Martin's aide Tim Murphy.

The Conservatives are claiming that this is proof of the nefarious levels the Liberals would stoop to in order to stay in power (well, duh -- ed.) The problem with that argument is that the tapes still have not been released in their entirety -- allowing the Liberals to claim that the Tories aren't telling the whole story.

There is, in particular, the idea that Grewal may have been attempting an unethical entrapment by recording what was supposed to be a private conversation. Have a look at this analysis by the CBC's Larry Zolf, which lays out some of the ethical issues involved.

It will take a while for the Conservatives to release everything, since apparently a lot of the conversations took place in Punjabi and thus require translation. I will say, though, that it's probably not a good idea for the Tories to handle this matter because it still smacks of stage management and photo-opportunism.

Far better, I think, to turn the raw tapes over to the RCMP and let them worry about translations and feeding the media. Such a move would give off a scent of impartiality, which is going to be important if you want to avoid the stench of partisan motives.

Monday, May 30, 2005

"Le 'Tit-Gars" Throws In the Towel

It looks like our former Prime Minister, Jean "Le 'Tit-Gars de Shawinigan" Chrétien has decided to suspend his effort to shut down the Gomery inquiry.

According to the news report, his lawyers now agree with the government position that it's too late to replace Gomery as commissioner, and that his application was premature.

Couple that with the failure of former minister Alphonse Gagliano to join his ex-boss's court challenge, and one can well forgive Paul Martin for breathing a sigh of relief.

It would seem that the former PM has finally realized that his challenge would do more harm than good to the Liberal Party. If his challenge had succeeded, it would have created ammunition for the Tories and the BQ to charge that the Grits will do anything--even skirt their own rules--to retain power.

It would certainly have diminished Paul Martin even more because it would have meant he couldn't get out from under Chrétien's shadow; the former PM shutting down the current PM's inquiry could only re-inforce Martin's reputation as a ditherer.

Finally, the former PM must have realized that his attempt to protect his place in history succeeded only in exposing it. Pierre Trudeau would be remembered for the Constitution; Brian Mulroney would be remembered for free trade. What will Jean Chrétien be remembered for? For creating a corrupt regime that nearly blew it on national unity.

Jean's retained the right to re-instate his challenge later on, most likely when Gomery's final report will be released. If he's smart, though, he won't use it: why draw attention to a reputation that's already in tatters?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Has Canada's Media Anointed a Canadian Prince?

Don't breathe a word to The Monarchist, but it looks like Canada's mainstream media has decided that Canada needs a Royal Family. And it's not that lot in Buckingham Palace.

No, they've nominated a family for Royal status that's Canadian born and bred. Just as the U.S. has the Kennedys, so the Canadian MSM has decided that we need the Trudeaus.

My proof? Look at the way they've covered Justin Trudeau's wedding. It's a lead on the Globe and Mail's website, it's on CBC News's National file, and of course the Grit-affiliated Toronto Star has not one, but two stories about the event. (Registration is required for the Star stories.)

And just exactly why does Justin's wedding merit national coverage? His main claim to fame is that he's the son of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. (Catherine Clark, of Rogers TV-22, is also the offspring of a Canadian prime minister, and her wedding never got this much media coverage beyond the society pages.)

The stories don't even tell us what he's been doing these days (well, apart from getting married); nothing about his current job. No, he gets this attention not on his own merits, but because of his father's. (They even talk about the couple driving off in his dad's old car.)

In other words, whoever's in charge of coverage in our Canadian media gave Justin this much coverage because he's the son of the closest thing we ever got to Canadian political celebrity. Just like the American media fawned on the lated JFK Jr. as a scion of America's true political dynasty (what do you mean, the Bushes?), so our elder media people consider Justin to be a Prince, the heir apparent to Pierre Trudeau's historical legacy.

Were I to be an extremely cynical hack, I'd even consider the wedding coverage decision to be symptomatic of an unconscious desire on the part of our Liberal Party-slanting media: an unvoiced hope that Justin might emulate his father and enter Canadian politics. Possibly even becoming an MP, or higher, ushering in a new era of Trudeaumania and deepening the rooting of the Liberal Party in the Canadian psyche.

On second thought, let's not tell Trudeaupia about this either ...

The 22nd Edition of the Red Ensign Standard ...

... may be found here.

It's a supreme irony that The Monarchist (our most fervent supporter of Her Most Britannic Majesty) has produced a well-organized, topically-organized Standard, just in time for the American Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The "Genius" of Wile E. Harper

It could be just me, but when I read this story in the National Post about the Tories' plans for Parliament next week, I started to experience the same feeling I get when watching a Road Runner cartoon:

The Conservatives have set the stage for a potentially acrimonious return to Parliament on Monday by blindsiding the government with three motions -- including one calling for indictments in the sponsorship inquiry -- for the first opposition day since the House of Commons showdown began last month.

The first Conservative motion listed on the order paper calls on the government to amend the terms of reference for Justice John Gomery's inquiry into the sponsorship scandal "to allow the commissioner to name names and assign responsibility" ...

... In Ottawa, Conservative party spokesman Geoff Norquay acknowledged that Gomery motion on Monday is not binding on the government and will be no more than an expression of advice from the Commons. However, he said, the party intends in part to test the extent of the alliance the NDP forged with the Liberals in order to pass the budget ...

... The government also said yesterday that one of the motions, expressing non-confidence in the government, contradicts Mr. Harper's pledge not to try to topple the Liberals following the cliff-hanger confidence vote on May 19.

Furthermore, since the Conservatives gave the required 48-hour notice on three motions rather than one for the opposition House day scheduled for Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Liberal House leader Tony Valeri said the manoeuvre does not allow the Liberals a fair opportunity to prepare for the debate ...

For everyone else's information, the motions may be found here. The second motion, not mentioned in the Post story, is a housekeeping motion that confirms two Opposition days alloted to the Bloc Québécois: one for the end of the month, the other for the week after.

There are three reasons why this reminds me of a Road Runner cartoon. The first is that these are obvious traps. The second is that they're obviously designed to fail in their stated purpose. (I'll get to the third later.)

With the addition of a new Liberal MP from Newfoundland, it's obvious that the Tories and the Bloc won't have enough votes to defeat the government on a vote of confidence (assuming that the three independents voted the way they did in passing the budget).

So why put these on the table? To put the Liberals and the NDP on the record.

If the Liberals and NDP vote against the first motion (the one allowing the Gomery commission to point fingers), the Tories can claim that the government is trying to evade responsibility for corruption, and the NDP is helping them. If the two parties vote against the second motion (alloting opposition days to the Bloc) then the BQ can claim the government is trying to suppress democracy and subvert the parliamentary process.

The third motion (the one of non-confidence) may fail, and probably will. But it's also designed as the litmus test of the NDP's commitment to the Liberals. If the NDP is shaken by the vote to amend Gomery's mandate, they might vote for the non-confidence motion.

However, the odds of this happening are pretty long. Since the budget legislation is still in the committee stage, if the government falls, the NDP's hard-won budgetary gains will collapse. So you can count on the NDP propping up the Liberals for a while yet.

The Tories seem to believe that the results of these motions, if negative, will nonethless advance their agenda by giving them ammunition to hammer in the corruption them and deprive the NDP of the moral high ground by forcing their support of the Liberals.

Now, remember that I said there was a third reason for this reminding me of a Road Runner cartoon? It's this: I have the suspicion that somehow, someway, this is going to blow up in Stephen Harper's face. Like all those Road Runner traps that backfire on the Coyote. He's set up an anvil to fall on the Grits and the NDP, but odds are pretty good it's going to cause him a headache.

You've probably already spotted one weakness: the motion isn't really binding on the Gomery inquiry itself. But there's also the fact that the PM has been pretty much "hands-off" with regard to the inquiry; it's the ex-Prime Minister and his cronies who are trying to shut it down. This motion can enable the Liberals to accuse Harper of trying to interfere with an impartial inquiry, and it's a charge that can stick.

Another weakness is the absolute transparency of these motions and their intent. The Liberals are certainly clever enough to spot and evade the traps, but their very obviousness is a sign that politics in Ottawa is going to stay "as usual." Certainly they won't increase public respect for the federal process -- and because the Tories are initiating this motion, Harper will be blamed for not raising the level of political decorum.

I'm sure the more pessimistic Tories (not to mention their detractors) can think of more ways that this can backfire, but I think you get the drift.

Of course there's always the chance that Harper and the Tories will propose some positive actions for Parliament before the upcoming summer recess. But they don't have all that much time ...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Groucho W. Bush?

High schoolers these days are getting a real education when it comes to sharing their opinion of President Bush.

On the one hand, there's the students of Mesa Ridge High School in Widefield, Colorado. Their high school yearbook got recalled because a joke caption under one poor fellow's photo read "most likely to assassinate President Bush."

Just kidding? Of course, but the U.S. Secret Service had to launch an investigation anyway:

Lon Garner, special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Denver District, said the agency would look into the incident because all threats against the president must be investigated.
"That's our mission," he said. "That's what we do."

On the other hand, there's the students of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, California. Some of them are drama students who wanted to advertise a satirical play by using posters of President Bush with Groucho Marx glasses and a cigar superimposed on his face.

The posters were ordered to be torn down after a student complained:

Principal Kenny Lee ordered 100 posters removed from the campus of El Camino Real High School in the Woodland Hills area last week on grounds that they promoted smoking and "endorsing one ideology over another."

"That's our take on the student speech and conduct," Lee said.

Frankly I think the principal overreacted. It occurs to me that the President (who was a self-admitted class clown in college) probably wouldn't have minded the idea of being pictured with Groucho glasses.

The cigar, on the other hand, even though it's a prop associated with Groucho Marx, could be interpreted as a sign that they're not teaching American history properly. After all, the cigar is more appropriately associated with Bill Clinton, not Bush.

Onward Christian Candidates

Angry in the Great White North, Ravishing Light and Canadianna are somewhat tickled by this front-page Globe and Mail story about publicly religious candidates becoming MP candidates.

I have to admit I'm tickled too -- particularly when I look at the reactions of the so-called mainstream runners-up:

"The difficulty, from a party perspective, is that it begins to hijack the other agendas that parties have," said Ross Haynes, who lost the Conservative nomination in the riding of Halifax to one of three "Christian, pro-family people" recommended by a minister at a religious rally this spring in Kentville, N.S.

Candidates who are running on single issues such as opposition to same-sex marriage "probably can't get elected because they certainly don't represent any mainstream population view," Mr. Haynes said.

Some of this, of course, can be chalked up to sore-loserism. But I think there may be an implicit fear among mainstream media people like this story's writer: What if these "pro-family" people ARE the mainstream?

Remember how shocked the U.S. mainstream media were when George W. Bush won his re-election? And how they finally latched onto "red-state" profiling as their final explanation? Part of it is the discovery of a disconnect between the media and the U.S. populace, part of it economic (media tended to be upper-middle class) and part of it demographic (media tended to be urban in outlook).

Well, the same disconnect may be operating in Canada. The concern over corruption and the implicit societal changes wrought by issues such as same-sex marriage may have galvanized the social-conservative faction of the population into a level of political activism that our mainstream media simply didn't want to notice.

The strategy that these folks will follow probably won't be the "move to the center and sell to the Liberal voter" plan that mainstreamers are advocating. That plan pretty much died when the Progressive Conservatives died in the 1993 election. It's more likely to be the selling of a so-con agenda in their own terms, as opposed to letting the Liberals define their "hidden agenda" for them.

Of course it'll be an uphill battle with the majority of the Canadian MSM conditioned to think along Liberal policy lines. But the so-cons can take comfort in an old adage: if you're going to soar, you need the wind against you. And they'll recognize the MSM's attempts to hold up a so-con boogeyman as only so much hot air.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wanna Buy a Canadian Sub?

I always wondered what happened to the old O-boats -- the four submarines that the Victoria-class was meant to replace. (Called the O-boats because of their names: Onondaga, Ojibwa, Okanagan and the Olympus.)

Turns out they're still for sale:

"We are anxious to get rid of them," Pat MacDonald, the department's disposal co-ordinator, told the Halifax Chronicle Herald. "We have been for some time."

MacDonald estimated they may be able to get $50,000 to $60,000 each as scrap metal.

The navy would have liked to use the subs as museums but they've deteriorated too much even for that.

Well, it would have been nice to get some of their fittings into the new War Museum, but I wish DND best of luck in trying to find a sucker--er, buyer. (40 years old and sailing in salt water. Yeah, right.)

... And To Top It Off, He's Got Belinda for a Cabinet Minister

History Television is running this docucomedy series, The Worst Jobs in History. Just for fun, they did an opinion poll. Guess who in Canada has the worst job?

... almost half of Canadians (44%) think that the Prime Minister has one of the worst jobs in the country. At 55%, Quebeckers were the most likely to think it is one of the worst jobs.

It makes sense, in a way. As PM, you spend half of your waking hours trying to convince a skeptical press corps that you know what you're doing, and the other half trying to convince Parliamentarians not to throw you out. Those news pundits who propel you forward one day will stick a rhetorical dagger in your back the next. And those bloggers, those pesky bloggers ...

There's also the possibility that the sample misunderstood the question: does the PM have one of the worst jobs, or has the PM done one of the worst jobs?

The survey also reveals that almost 1 out of 5 (17%) Canadians would bewilling to work as the "Groom of the Stool" and clean King Henry VIII's behind for $100,000 a year. Albertans were the most likely (21%) to take on the unpleasant job.

Well, sure -- Albertans are smart enough to figure there's more to gain in cleaning Henry's behind than, say, Jack Layton's.

The majority of Canadians (37%) also consider collecting leeches by stomping through swamps with bare legs to be the worst job in history. This ranked ahead of treading wool cloth in a barrel of stale human urine (28%), cleaning a knight's soiled armour after battle (10%) and making violin strings from sheep intestines (9%).


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Tony the Tiger, R.I.P.

Well, okay, not exactly the Frosted Flakes cartoon character. But that was the voice that Thurl Ravenscroft was most famous for.

Thurl did a lot of voices you're probably familiar with. If you've ever been to the Haunted Mansion at the Disney theme parks, it's Thurl who sings the Mansion's theme song (Grimbling Ghosts, About to Socialize). He also sang "You're A Mean One, Mister Grinch" in the Chuck Jones classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

But it's the Tony the Tiger yell he's most famous for: "They're GRRRRRRRREAT!"

The only other bass voice with that kind of range is James Earl Jones. But somehow, the idea of the voice of Darth Vader shilling breakfast cereal is a little, er, disconcerting.

Thurl Ravenscroft passed away from prostate cancer on Sunday, at the age of 91.

Now This is My Kind of Blogger

If you really want to see the transformative power of the Internet, check out this NYT profile of Li Xinde and the bloggers in the People's Republic of China. (If you're not already registered with the NYT's website, it's free of charge and the Magazine and Book Review are always worth checking out.)

The collision between the Internet and Chinese authorities is one of the grand wrestling matches of history, visible in part at www.yuluncn.com.

That's the Web site of a self-appointed journalist named Li Xinde. He made a modest fortune selling Chinese medicine around the country, and now he's started the Chinese Public Opinion Surveillance Net - one of four million blogs in China.

Mr. Li travels around China with an I.B.M. laptop and a digital camera, investigating cases of official wrongdoing. Then he writes about them on his Web site and skips town before the local authorities can arrest him.

His biggest case so far involved a deputy mayor of Jining who is accused of stealing more than $400,000 and operating like a warlord. One of the deputy mayor's victims was a businesswoman whom he allegedly harassed and tried to kidnap.

Mr. Li's Web site published an investigative report, including a series of photos showing the deputy mayor kneeling and crying, apparently begging not to be reported to the police. The photos caused a sensation, and the deputy mayor was soon arrested.

Now how many bloggers do you know who are that enterprising?

What makes Mr. Li's story so remarkable is that he's doing it in a country where freedom of expression is often a luxury enjoyed by some, not all. We complain about our government a lot (and Lord knows the past couple of weeks have given us a lot to complaini about), but as bad as Paul Martin is, he's got nothing on the PRC government when it comes to oppressing people.

For those of us who regard our blogs as a ranting board -- and I count myself among them -- well, this story kinda puts things in a different perspective, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Some Silly Statements on the Sith

Yesterday, I went and saw Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.

No, I'm not going to turn this into a rant on Belinda Stronach.

I've seen Episodes I and II. I found Jar-Jar Binks annoying, but not enough to want to drop him into a Sarlaac pit. I'm not entire fond of the idea of Coruscant having a sports bar and an American Graffiti-style diner (possibly a little on the anachronistic side), but I found the portrayal of the Jedi to be pretty cool. Needless to say, I liked this one. (Not so much, mind you, that I didn't want to take a restroom break, but enough to say I had a good time with it.)

Of course, considering what this adds to the saga as a whole, one can sorta snicker about what George Lucas must have been thinking. For example (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!):

-- According to the continuity, it took at least 18 years for the original Death Star to become fully operational, and 24 hours from the time the Rebels got the blueprints to the time they found its weakness and exploited it. Boy, talk about a waste of government money.

-- Moff Jerrjerrod from Return of the Jedi turns out to be a better bureaucrat than Grand Moff Tarkin, if only because it took him maybe 5 years to do what Tarkin did in 18.

-- Now we know why, in the revised DVD of The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader wonders who it's possible that a son of Skywalker exists: he thought he'd killed that baby (along with the mother) decades before.

-- Vader must have had a lot of battles that forced him to upgrade to a bigger body in A New Hope; he's pretty small in his debut here. (Of course it's Hayden Cristiansen and not David Prowse in that suit, and Hayden's just not as big.)

-- Battling Mace Windu can really make one grow old, huh?

I'm sure there are at least a dozen others. But it's a sign of good moviemaking that if you don't ask questions about the story during the actual film, then it's doing OK.

Oh, and George still can't write dialogue.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Silly Sight of Saddam in Skivvies ...

... is one people don't need to see.

There are certain things, Lord knows, that one does not need to see. Pictures of Saddam Hussein in his underwear is one of them.

They were published in the London Sun and the New York Post yesterday. I'm not going to bother linking, partly because I can't find an appropriate link, and partly because there are some things one does not want to inflict on people.

It's not that I think the Iraqi dictator deserves dignity, because I don't think he does. It's just that there are certain people whose body types create a gag reflex in public unless they're fully clothed. William Shatner, today, is one example. Saddam falls into this category.

But have you noticed something?

So far the only people stirred into a frenzy are the U.S. military, trying to figure out who leaked the photos. And Saddam's lawyer, who's threatening to sue.

But from Iraq? No riots, No denunciations. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Nothing on the order of what happened when the original Abu Gharib pictures were released. Maybe it can be blamed on bad reporting, but I don't think so.

President Bush has said: "I don't think a photo inspires murderers." He's probably right, but maybe it's something else: maybe the Iraqis don't miss Saddam. As bad as things in Iraq are now, maybe they think it's still better than life before the U.S. invasion.

And that, I suspect, bothers Saddam more than the world seeing him in his underwear.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

All Right -- What Now?

Well, it was a squeaker, but the Liberals are still standing. Barely.

There will be a breather of sorts. There's an Opposition day scheduled on the 31st of May, but by then the Liberals may pick up another seat due to a by-election. And two weeks is far too soon to stage another non-confidence vote.

Still and all, this was useful. Ben over at The Tiger in Winter has posted a few consolation points, along with useful quotation from the MSM right-wingers. I'll try not to repeat his points, but I'll just extrapolate on a couple and add a few of my own.

First, understand that this was not a defeat either for Stephen Harper or for Gilles Duceppe. Last week's non-confidence action forced the Liberals to deploy their worst tactics--from parsing the rules to outright bribery--just get the votes to survive. (It is a tribute to the integrity of our Opposition that there was only one crossover vote.)

If one thing is demonstrated, it's this: the mindset that allowed the festering of corruption as revealed in the Gomery Inquiry is still infecting today's Liberal leadership. The opportunity for the Opposition parties is to demonstrate, time and again, that Liberal corruption doesn't have to be the price of unity.

Second, with the budget passed, Don Laytone and his New Democrat family have completed their favour to the Prime Minister. The Stronach incident probably didn't impress the Don, who is now free to attack Liberal corruption. He and the NDP also gain brownie points for civility and keeping on the high ground during this matter--something that people will remember at the next election. (Voters remember people, not policies.)

Third, there's Belinda Stronach. (Sorry, but we do have to discuss her.) You can bet that the press is going to keep an eye on her future performance, especially in a ministry that's in charge of everyone's EI benefits. The circumstances of her appointment guarantee that she--and her department--will get far more scrutiny than the norm. Doing well at the job is the only sure way she can get the memories of her defection to fade--and with the high public scrutiny, doing well is going to be tough.

Fourth, there's the PM's commitment to hold an election after the release of the Gomery report. Funny thing about it: he never made any statement that it was contingent upon the Opposition not calling a confidence vote, nor was there anything said about whether its findings would clear his government. Which means it's still on the table--and what do you bet that people will let him off the hook on that one?

As Maxwell Smart would say, "Missed it by that much." But there's always a next time ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

For Every Misfortune, There's Opportunity: What to Do with Mr. Karygiannis?

It seems Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis left the House of Commons in an ambulance this afternoon, suffering from chest pains.

While I hope it's nothing serious (it could be tension-related), I can already hear the speculation machine on tomorrow's confidence vote start to rev up.

If Stephen Harper is smart, he'll offer to pair Karygiannis up with MP Dave Chatters, who's suffering from cancer. (Fellow cancer-suffering MP Dave Stimson is already paired with the NDP's Ed Broadbent.) If Karygiannis needs to be held in observation, it won't hurt to give Chatters some rest time.

If Harper is dumb, he won't even bother to make the offer, trying to take advantage of the numbers: without Karygiannis, the Liberal vote margin decreases by 1, meaning only one independent MP vote would be needed to topple the government. Not making the offer would enable both the Liberals (and the NDP, in future campaigning) to paint him as heartless and power-hungry, willing to take advantage of any tragedy to forward his agenda.

The ideal situation would be for Harper to make the offer, and the Liberals to refuse it in the hopes that Karygiannis will make it tomorrow, only to find that he can't. If Karygiannis does make it, Harper loses nothing; the situation will be exactly the same as it was last night after the Stronach defection.

It's up to you, Mr. Harper ...

UPDATE (17h55 18 May): Well, it turns out to be heartburn. Well, that's never fun (being a chili addict, I know all about heartburn) but in a way it's a relief. We don't want any more MPs dying on the job.

Still, it must feel a bit silly getting stuck in an ambulance and going like blazes to a hospital, only to learn that you're suffering from something that could be fixed with a glass of Alka-Seltzer.

What Would Dan Rather Do Now?

CBS has cancelled 60 Minutes Wednesday.

In his remarks, Mr. Moonves said he was canceling the program not because of the report on Mr. Bush - which, an outside panel concluded, was rushed onto the air in a bid to beat the network's competitors - but because the Wednesday edition of "60 Minutes" is among the least-watched shows on the network's prime-time schedule and draws an audience older than advertisers generally seek.

Ah yes, the traditional face-saving reasoning.

Mind you, it was the right decision. Dan Rather staying on as correspondent did this show no favours, particularly after Rathergate.

Now that the program has been canceled, Mr. Rather will probably be given a slot on the Sunday edition of "60 Minutes" through 2006, according to two people familiar with his contract.

But the cancellation is expected to have reverberations throughout the news division as correspondents, producers, editors and others are perhaps moved around. If the show does return, Mr. Moonves said, it would only be in occasional one-hour specials.

All of this is just another step in the spiraling fall of Dan Rather. The odds of Dan getting back onto 60 Minutes on Sunday nights is pretty slim, given his age, the slate of correspondents already there, and Dan's still crumbling reputation. (Well, of course he could try to get work at Newsweek, but somehow I doubt they'd be willing to hire him. :))

Something tells me I'd better check on Iowahawk. We may get another Inspector Dan story ...

Losing Nathan's (Hi From) Seoul -- And How to Get it Back

The fallout from the Stronach affairs has, indeed, far-reaching consequences. Including some few anticipated.

One result? The Red Ensign Brigade has lost Nathan's Updates from Seoul.

Sure, his link is still up on the Red Ensign's blogroll. But if you go to his site you'll realize the blogroll is no longer there. He's taken it down.

And if you look at his post, you'll understand why:

These are the comments and deeds of some of the Red Ensign bloggers, including the current captain of our merry little band. These are the same bloggers who attack Paul Martin for incivility, who drooled, mouths open, at the sexiness factor Belinda brought to the CPC. They held her up as what she was: a bright, young shining star in the party, a person with moderate views who could attract voters in Ontario and eastern Canada. The same people who call her a "traitor" are those who congratulated Peter MacKay for swiftly breaking his election promise, solemnly sworn to David Orchard, not to merge the Tories with the Alliance. Now this. Frankly, it's disgusting and shameful, and definitely beneath the standard one should expect of those flying the Red Ensign.

If you need more, look at some of the comments for that post, from example from Raging Kraut:

This would all be a nice civil discussion if I didn't detect a high, moral, patronizing tone talking down to me and my uncouth angry ramblings (on my own damn blog, no less!) in your post. If I've misinterpreted this and am short with you, I apologize. If I haven't you can take this up with me personally rather than in front of an audience and I'll have the proper response prepared for you "Daddy."I don't speak for the others you've mentioned, but I for one resent being talked down to in this manner.

Now, people who read Ray know that he's not normally this hypersensitive. But this was written in the grip of anger, and you can see it--particularly the "Daddy" remark.

Look, I won't deny that Stronach's defection hurt the Canadian Right at a time when it's engaged in one of the most important fights in Canadian society. And people who are politically engaged in this cannot help buy feel angry at this turn of events.

But rage is the wrong frame of mind for what needs to be accomplished.

In the event that we go into an election, both the Tories and the Bloc need to convince the voter that they -- and by extension their supporters -- are worthy of the public's good will. If a "Blogging Tory" flies into a rhetorical tamtrum at a setback, how likely is it that he or she will convince the reader that the Tories / Bloc should be supported? Does the casual voter really want to associate with someone who's operating in a snit -- even if that's not their normal personality?

What does a Blogging Tory tantrum tell the average blog reader? More to the point, what does it tell the mainstream media? And why should we assume that it won't reflect badly on the Tory Party or the Bloc as a whole, regardless of whether or not we hold party membership?

The Stronach incident can be neutralized, in terms of its impact. But it won't happen in the grip of anger. Tacking a "just kidding" or "pardon my language" to the end of a post doesn't really netrualize the power of an emotional vent to drive people away--and on a blog, if you drive 10 people away, 6 of them won't come back.

So -- let's cool down. Let's drop the name-calling. Let's continue to point out the power-mad antics of the Liberals, but don't get insulting. Remember that, like it or not, Stephen Harper's Tories are the flag-bearer for the Canadian Right and Right-of-Center. We can help him by voting Tory in the next election. We can help more by convincing others to do the same.

And bear in mind: if we drive votes away from the Tories by rhetorical raging, the next Liberal government won't be Belinda's responsibility. It'll be ours.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Belinda Joins the Dark Side

I have to give Angry in TO his props. Last week he predicted something like this would happen, which was one of the reasons for the Liberals holding off the budget vote until this Thursday.

And it's not surprising that Stronach would be the one to cross the floor. Her politics are pure Red Tory (i.e. socially progressive, viz. her stance on SSM) which means she probably would be the most sympathetic to the Liberals. And for a fast-track executive the offer of Human Resources Minister may be her best chance of wielding influence.

Note that a no-confidence win is still possible. Adding Carolyn Parrish to the Liberal-NDP side gives the Government 153 votes, including Stronach's. The Tory/Bloc have 152. To avoid the tie (and therefore a government win), both remaining independent MPs have to vote against the government, which is certainly possible but by no means a sure thing.

Also, keep an eye on Peter Mackay. The Liberals won't be happy with a squeaker; a second defection would make them much more comfortable. And given Pete's past relationship with Stronach, I have no doubt there's pressure on him to join the Dark Side, too.

UPDATE (13h12 17 May): As you can imagine, there is one word floating out among the Blogging Tories: "traitor." And I'll admit, for those of us who want honest government, it's awfully tempting to rhetorically roast the new Human Resources Minister for letting her ambition get the better of her.

But I don't have the right to be angry at Belinda. Most of us don't. She's not my MP, her positions on social issues are radically different from mine.

The people who do have a right to be angry are the constituents of Newmarket-Aurora, Belinda's riding. While some Tories who supported her may change their memberships, the majority of Tories who voted for her will be upset that all their efforts in electing her have resulted in their viewpoint being shut out at the national level. And the people in the local Liberal riding association will wonder if they can truly trust an MP with such personal ambition.

The riding also loses because Belinda is a cabinet minister. Running a department must take precedence over local constituency matters, and it's quite likely that Belinda will have her local duties delegated to a neighboring MP.

There may also be unease among the existing Liberal caucus. A lot of those MPs have served far longer than Belinda and may have had ambitions to be part of the Cabinet. What does Belinda's elevation say about Paul Martin's opinion of his backbenchers?

And even assuming this government survives, what will happen when the time comes to shuffle the cabinet? (And a cabinet shuffle is inevitable depending on whether any more scandals pop out.) If Martin decides to replace Belinda, what does that do to her future?

It seems Belinda is going to find out that betrayal has a high price -- and it's probably higher than what she can pay.

Monday, May 16, 2005

How Do You Punish A Newsmagazine?

Certain stories hit the blogosphere with such force that they're impossible to avoid. Rathergate was one example. This week, the Big Blogs have Newsweek Magazine on the brain and in their sites (or sights, as the case may be).

To put it in a nutshell: on May 9th, the newsmagazine published a paragraph suggesting that American interrogators at Abu Gharib flushed the Koran down a toilet. There were riots all around the Arab world resulting in at least 16 deaths in Afghanistan. This week, the newsmagazine learned it couldn't confirm the truth of that paragraph.

Their reaction: a mild "ummm ... sorry?"

“We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.”

With all due respect ... that's not good enough. Tarnishing conservative reputations is one thing, but creating a situation where people get killed ... that's going to demand a higher reckoning than suspending a few reporters without pay.

As Jayson Blair and Rathergate proved, journalistic accountability is still a problem that the MSM have yet to address. There is still a reluctance to hold reporters to the same level of accountability as the corporate executives they like to write about.

When an executive goes wrong, he or she is fired, and the company that hired him takes a hit in the bank account because the public loses trust in them. The same thing should happen here.

Michael Isikoff and John Barry can expect to get a pink slip, but it mustn't end there. A complete review of Newsweek's standards and practices is going to be needed, followed by corporate discipline against the editors who chose haste over accuracy.

But this shouldn't be foisted off as an isolated incident, not with riots happening and people dying. No, a higher price is called for.

The price? The death of Newsweek Magazine.

It's already losing readership and money, and this issue cannot help matters. If outrage is strong enough, advertisers could be encourage to pull their ads in favor of other magazines like Time or U.S. News, or perhaps another medium altogether. Newsweek could survive a few subscription cancellations or newstand refusals, but it cannot survive without advertising or the goodwill of its parent company. And this incident proves that it deserves neither.

The real sad part about all this? It still won't be enough ... because it won't bring those 16 people back.

UPDATE (23h25 16 May): Newsweek has issued a full retraction of that piece. Well, that puts the mag ahead of CBS News as far as media accountability is concerned, but I still think that some heads need rolling. We'll see.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Inside the New War Museum

You'll remember that earlier this week I went to the official opening ceremonies of the new Canadian War Museum. I elected not to go inside because it was so crowded, but this Thursday was a different story.

Nice thing about Thursdays: the Museum is open late (until 9 pm), and it's free admission. So as a break for those of you tired of Parliament, let me give you a bit of a tour.

This is the main reception area of the new Museum. If you've been to the old one, you'll remember that it was about the size of a hallway closet, manned by a commissionaire, so this is a welcome change.

Not quite the Red Ensign, this version flew at Vimy Ridge. It's in the hallway between the reception area and the Exhibition Hall, called the Thomas Fuller Passage.

I never thought I'd see an example of a First Nations suit of armor before. This is an early part of the first section of the Exhibition Hall, featuring artifacts prior to 1885.

I should explain that the Exhibition Hall is arranged in 4 main sections, accessible by a central hub. The old museum had the exhibits dispersed on 3 floors of what used to be a medium-sized house; its major equipment stored in a warehouse located elsewhere. This is a remarkable major change.

Now, this kind of display would be typical of what you'd expect from a military museum ...

... but not this. The Museum follows the display philosophy of its parent, the Canadian Museum of Civilization; it "hollywoods" the exhibition space in order to convey its information better. This is an example of how the Museum explains WW1 trench warfare; it's a walk-in set.

This is a Neuport ... I think. We're still in the WW1 section, this part explaining the beginnings of air warfare.

The entrance to another walk-in set, this one explaining the horrors of Passchendale. For some reason I kept thinking about The Two Towers ...

Well, it wouldn't be the War Museum without the Hitler Limo. This marks the entrance to the largest section of Exhibition Hall, the one dealing with World War II.

Early version of a flight simulator. Cute, isn't it?

Interactive display set, supposed to represent the flying bridge of a corvette during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Another walkthrough set, this one representing the room-to-room fighting that went on during the Italian campaign.

This display set is supposed to represent a landing craft during the early hours of D-Day.

We're still in the War Museum. This kitchen is part of the entrance to the section dealing with the postwar period.

Equipment from the Army and Air Force are well-represented in this section. I guess the Museum still isn't big enough to house a ship -- although they could probably fit a Sea King in here ... :)

Ah. These are the infamous paintings that the war veterans raised so much of a fuss about. It's just one wall of that part of the section dealing with Canada's peacekeeping role.

Personally, I don't find it all that disrespectful. After all, this museum exhibits the artifacts of war, and in war good people often do bad things. It's a useful reminder to Canadians of that fact.

One area I can't show (pictures turned out a bit blurry, sorry) is the Royal Canadian Legion's Hall of Honour. This particular room documents all the various war memorials honouring Canadian soldiers, inside and outside the country. Its centrepiece is a miniature planning version of the National War Memorial here in Ottawa.

This is Regeneration Hall. The height of this area combined with the statuary and the lighting render it quiet and respectful.

And this final picture is one angle of the Lebreton Gallery, although I think "gallery" might be a bit misleading. This is where the War Museum houses most of its vehicle collection. (That mini-tank on the left is real, though I can't imagine who'd want to drive it.)

All in all, this is a worthwhile tour, and a quantum-level improvement over the old War Museum. If you can spare the time to come to Ottawa, you should check this out.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Opposition Takes Charge

Parliament has once again shut down, for the second day in a row, thanks to Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe.

If there was ever proof that the Liberals are no longer at the wheel of this minority government, this is it.

The vote tally was 152 to 144. It caught the Liberals napping; seven of their members didn't get to the House on time. It also caught the independents by surprise; none of them made it in either.

And the danger is that Harper and Duceppe can do it again, four more times. One for each day before the Liberals' scheduled budget vote next Thursday. And they can call for adjournment any time the House is sitting, morning or afternoon.

And Parliamentary committee business ground to a halt, too, since the Tories and Bloquists chose not to attend committee meetings. Four of those committees are chaired by the Tories; it's a rule of parliamentary procedure (which means those committees don't meet). And without the opposition there's not enough attendance to guarantee a quorum.

What all this adds up to (besides wrecking Angry in TO's enjoyment of CPAC) is simple: the Liberals are no longer in charge of the House of Commons. They cannot move legislation forward, either in the House or on second reading in committee. They cannot debate the budget as much as is needed before the scheduled vote. They might get some movement on Bill C-38 (the same-sex marriage bill), but not enough to guarantee its return to the House for third reading.

And if they try to reschedule the budget vote (with the excuse that it really wasn't debated enough), it plays into the Opposition refrain of the "Libranos" using any delaying tactic to stay in power.

And it's all legal. It's not a boycott that the Speaker can take action against; it's a proper vote.

Certainly this tactic could backfire. Because it now appears that Harper and Duceppe are calling the shots, the Liberals can point fingers when assigning blame for parliamentary paralysis, and you can bet those Liberal-voters in the mainstream media will be encouraged to see things that way. But both parties can point to the government's interpretation of last Tuesday's vote and say, "You brought this on yourselves."

And the longer this goes on, the stronger the opinion grows that Paul Martin is an incompetent prime minister. Certainly a strong Prime Minister would never have let things get this bad.

The final blow's a week away, and closing ...

Opinion Polls Are Bound by Gravity

There are news stories all over the place saying that Canadians believe that Paul Martin is incompetent, and yet they don't want an election; that they believe the Liberals to be corrupt, yet the party still enjoys significant support; etc., etc., etc.

Some of the more paranoid among the Blogging Tories might consider the various polling agencies to be biased, based on their donations to the Liberal Party. However, there's a quick cure for that, provided courtesy of Andrew at Bound by Gravity.

Of particular interest is Andrew's last point: that results can vary depending on the question that is actually asked.

To draw on a recent example:

If you ask Canadians "Do you want an election?"
the latest results were:
61% - No
39% - Yes

However, if you ask Canadians "Do you support an election?"
the latest results were:
45% - Yes
41% - No

There are also a couple of other points which Andrew doesn't mention, but are worth pointing out:

First, opinion polls rarely ask just one question. Besides demographic information (age group, salary range, political affiliations, etc.) they can sometimes ask a series of questions that may produce different results for the same question at the end of a sequence. For example, a series of questions regarding awareness of the Gomery inquiry's testimony may yield a different answer to the question of an election, compared with a series of questions dealing with special provisions in the current budget.

Second, one poll on its own is merely a snapshot of a given sample population at the time of its data-gathering, as opposed to the time of its public release. A poll showing a drop in BQ support would be a surprise right after a Gomery bomb on the Grits -- until people check the dates and realize it was taken immediately after an accusation against the Bloc. That means it's very important for bloggers to check the date the poll was taken, as well as the methodology of the poll.

In short? Don't worry about the opinion polls. Corruption is corruption, it would take a catastrophic purge of the Liberal Party of Canada to root it out, and it's best accomplished if the Grits were out of power.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Tories Score a Touch

In fencing (the sword type), a point gained by striking the target is known as a "touch." This afternoon, the Liberals got touched.

Yes, it's a technicality and not an actual vote of confidence. Yes, the Liberals could still carry on as the government and the courts and the Governor General would, in all likelihood, rule in their favor.

But this is a wound, and it's one that will make this government limp, for several reasons:

1. Both the Tories and the Bloc showed superior discipline in getting the vote out. Some of the Tory members are ill -- one is suffering from cancer -- but the fact that they're willing to sacrifice their health to bring this government down shows just how seriously Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe are taking this.

2. The Liberals just received notice they've been out-generalled on this one. It's only now sunk into their minds that by delaying opposition days (and therefore delaying confidence votes) they've only made the Opposition parties mad at them. Which is not a wise thing to do in a minority situation. There is now sufficient pressure upon the Liberals to have a confidence vote sooner instead of later -- and they know that there's a good possibility that they'll lose it. And they've just about run out of procedural options.

3. The alliance with the NDP isn't a stable one. Don Laytone will support the Liberals to get the budget through; he seems to view that as the responsible thing for the New Democrats to do. But once the budget vote is held, all bets are off. If Ed Broadbent's sentiments are widespread enough among the NDP caucus, the Don will withdraw his party's support from any confidence motion. Which means it's now extremely doubtful that this government will last beyond June.

4. We now have a pretty good preview of how a budget vote will go. The Liberals lost this procedural vote by a 3 vote margin because Justice Minister Irwin Cotler is away attending a funeral (which is understandable--he'd be in big trouble at home if he didn't go) and Natural Resources Minister John Efford is undergoing medical treatment in his home riding. One independent MP, Chuck Cadman, didn't vote because he's recovering from chemotherapy. Assuming our two sick Tory MPs don't get worse, the odds of getting a tie vote on the budget (which would equal a win, because because the Speaker would normally rule in favor) aren't good because they hinge on Cadman recovering from chemo enough to get to Parliament and vote in favour.

Yes, the Liberals are still able to walk. But they're walking wounded now--and the final blow is looming closer ...

Monday, May 09, 2005

The 21st Edition of the Red Ensign Standard ...

... may be found here.

The London Fog has done an excellent job here, and check out the graphics at the end of this issue!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

An Afternoon at the New War Museum

Since it was a nice day today, I thought I'd spend a bit of the early afternoon looking at the new Canadian War Museum. The grand opening was today, but since it really was such a nice day there were a lot of people there, and since the building wouldn't be open to the public until 5 pm (with the exception of the veterans) I decided to wait until later in the week to fully explore the place.

However, it was also a nice enough day that I could get some pictures and make sure the memory card I picked up for my Olympus worked out.

This is a shot of the front of the museum. The markings on the front slab spell out "Lest We Forget / N'oublie Jamais" in Morse code.

There were also some military vehicles on display outside. Some may be familiar, some aren't. I may have to ask for help from Castle Arrgh.

There were also a few displays meant for kids and families, but which might make pacifists a bit nervous:

Can you imaging yourself wearing those outfits?

There were some interesting entertainments as well, from the Central Band of the Canadian Forces ...

... to a parachutist with the Canadian flag. This was a hard picture to take because the sun kept getting into my eyes.

Naturally there were vets in attendance, including two peacekeepers.

On my way home, I stopped by an army re-enactment camp which was just packing up.

Biking around Ottawa is a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon, don'tcha think?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Jeff Watson Tries Again

The Conservative MP for Essex must really want the title of Parliamentary Poet Laureate:

As Gomery testimony grows ever more sinister,
More fingers point at the current Prime Minister.

Frantic and panicked, at an election he's balking,
To calm himself down let the fingers do the walking.

If the Prime Minister wants to rest and feel fine,
He can reach out and call the corruption help line.

Press one, Alain Renaud, under oath he did say,
This Prime Minister talked contracts with Claude Boulay.

Press two, Jean Brault, who was given no choices,
To give to Liberal campaigns and bill false invoices.

That, he was told, was the price he must pay,
For Liberal commissions and contracts directed his way.

Press three, Castelli, the PM's aide and friend,
Who ensured Serge Savard got adscam bucks in the end.

Press four for Kinsella, a tale of contracts peddled,
To Earnscliffe only because this Prime Minister meddled.

Press five for Gagliano, or six for Guité,
Or if the Prime Minister really wants adscam to go away,

Press seven and Canada's cavalry will save the day.
A Conservative government will make every Liberal adscammer pay.

Well, the meter of that last couplet is a little off, and I'm not sure I like the undercurrent of vengeance, but hey -- he's improving ...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Brian Pallister Has Some Competition ...

... for the dubious distinction of being the House of Commons' Poet Laureate. Stepping up to the plate is Jeff Watson, the Conservative MP for Essex.

When Mr. Small Town Cheap, tall and wiry,
Took on the big city Gomery inquiry,
The former prime minister refused to take the fall,
Scorned the taxpayers and showed us his golf balls.

No human pyramid in the Liberal caucus room next day,
But this Prime Minister's cheers and raucous applause, to say,
Be true to the fool, 'cause what he did was real cool,
He never thought it crass, the former prime minister's “can of whoop-ass”.
But now the Prime Minister says “no way”,

He was not the cheerleader that day.
This Prime Minister clapped for the vaudeville act,
And put his former boss on a pedestal in fact.
So said the Liberal caucus chair,
Tell us the truth, Mr. Prime Minister, it is only fair.

The Liberal member for Beaches--East York gave,
The credit to the Prime Minister for the applause tidal wave.
And a Liberal member of that other place said,
Surely the Prime Minister led the clapping disgrace.

I think it is only fair to say,
Does the Prime Minister have a different story today?

Okay, maybe Mr. Pallister doesn't have competition, but still ...

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

Yesterday and today are the last days for discussion of Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. Today there will be a vote to complete second reading and send the bill to committee. The vote is expected to pass: while it's a free vote, Conservatives and about 20 to 30 Liberals will vote against it, the Bloc will be overwhelmingly in favor, the NDP will vote in favor, and the Liberal cabinet along with the majority of backbenchers will support it. (Not everyone who votes has spoken out on this bill.)

I'm listing MP's statements from Tuesday, and I'm omitting the comments of MPs who have already spoken on the topic unless they've changed their minds. I'm also linking to their parliamentary web page so that people can e-mail their sentiments directly to them. (You can find previous postings on this topic here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)


Mr. Pat O'Brien (London—Fanshawe, Lib.): Con. He thinks it's unfair that some MPs are being called homophobic just because they defend the traditional definition of marriage. He quotes two gay people who were witnesses in committee in 2003, both of whom opposed changing the definition of marriage. 92% of his constituents feel the same way, but 66% feel they can live with civil unions.

Mr. Ted Menzies (Macleod, CPC): Con. He's heard from his constituents and they don't like the bill in its present form. He considers the question of rights to be already settled, but that Parliament needs to recognize that most Canadians don't want the traditional definition to be changed.

Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC): Con. He quotes from former Canadian Bar Association president Eugene Meehan, who analyzed the gay marriage question and found that while Parliament had the right to define marriage, it isn't required to do so. He also casts doubt on the potency of the bill's religious protection clause.

Mr. Joe Preston (Elgin—Middlesex—London, CPC): Con. He's a strong believer in the traditional definition of marriage, but he makes his arguments with the same Conservative talking points that David Tilson and Jeremy Harrison used yesterday.

Mr. Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest, CPC): Con. He's against changing the definition of marriage, which is what this bill is about. He's critical of the NDP and the Liberals for not allowing all of their members to have a free vote. He also has concerns about the religious protections clause of the bill.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, CPC): Con. The former leader of the Canadian Alliance looks at the legal implications of the bill, and finds them wanting. Quoting from legal opinions of the law firm Lang Michener, he argues that the Supreme Court would not rule defining traditional marriage to be unconstitutional, and that the religious protections clause of the bill has no force.

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, CPC): Con. He's already presented nine petitions to the House denouncing this bill, and he has eight more to submit. He names one Liberal cabinet minister (Joe Comuzzi, the minister of state for the FedNor agency) who is opposed to the bill but must vote for it or else lose his ministry, and one New Democrat (Bev Desjarlais, the Manitoba MP for Churchill) who had made noises opposing the bill but was ordered to support it.

Ms. Helena Guergis (Simcoe—Grey, CPC): Con. The Raging Kraut's favorite MP thinks recognizing civil unions, rather than redefining marriage, is a reasonable compromise. She doesn't feel Canada has to be more radical than Britain, France or Vermont.

Mr. Jim Gouk (British Columbia Southern Interior, CPC): Con. He quotes from one of his constituents, who says that if you're going to come up with a new type of legal union, then you should come up with a new term to describe it. He ironically thanks the Liberal government for making this an issue that will enable him to keep his seat in the next election.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, CPC): Con. He notes the flip-flopping of several cabinet ministers, comparing their positions to their votes in 1999 and 2003, and chides the Minister of Foreign Affairs for showing an intolerant attitude towards the churches who spoke out on this bill.


The score today: all 9 Con.
The tally so far: Con 75, Pro 31.

The second reading vote on C-38 takes place at 5:30 pm this afternoon.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

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

Stephen Harper's determination to bring down the budget has spilled over into the SSM debate, with many Tory MPs putting themselves into the record mainly as a stalling tactic. Although Mr. Harper's determination to have a confidence vote may kill Bill C-38, I still intend to put down MPs' comments on the record, so that in case this comes up again people know where they stood before.

As usual, I'm omitting the comments of MPs who have already spoken on the topic unless they've changed their minds (which is highly unlikely given the debate's late stage), and I'm linking to their parliamentary web page so that people can e-mail their sentiments directly to them.


Mr. David Tilson (Dufferin—Caledon, CPC): Con. He regards the bill as a social policy question, not one of rights. He points out the lower court rulings on SSM dealt with common law, not recent legislation, which means discussing use of the notwithstanding claus is irrelevant. He gives several examples of legislation which reversed Supreme Court rulings without resorting to the notwithstanding clause.

Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton East, CPC): Con. He agrees with the views of the bishop in his diocese on the traditional institution of marriage. He considers traditional marriage to be essential for the well-being of Canadian society and deplores the current climate of moral relativism which makes Canada seem comical in the eyes of the world.

Hon. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Lib.): Pro. He points out that civil same-sex unions are already taking place in Ontario. He also corrects the assumption of previous MPs that there is such a thing as a right to appeal to the Supreme Court; such an appeal is extral-legal in application. He takes the Tories to task for filibustering this bill so that it doesn't go to committee.

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, CPC): Con. 96 percent of the letters and calls he's gotten from constituents are in opposition to this bill. They don't have a problem with extending rights and benefits to same-sex couples, but they oppose changing the definition of marriage. He feels he doesn't need to defend what's been socially accepted for hundreds of years.

Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.): Con. He believes the bill perpetuates a legal and political fraud on Canadians and parliamentarians, because the religious protections clause is outside the jurisdiction of the federal government according to the Supreme Court. He considers that section to be bunk.

Mr. Rob Moore (Fundy Royal, CPC): Con. He accuses the Liberals of not keeping their word of a few years ago to preserve traditional marriage in Canada. He points out there have already been attacks on freedom of religion (i.e. the complaint against Bishop Fred Henry before the Alberta Human Rights Commission) because of the issue. He considers the proposed Conservative amendment to be a reasonable compromise.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Central Nova, CPC): Con. He appreciates the decorum that has been in this debate so far. He considers that if Parliament were to legislate the traditional definition of marriage, the Supreme Court would not be willing to declare it unconstitutional due to the principle of Parliamentary supremacy in law.

Mr. Jeremy Harrison (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, CPC): Con. He supports the traditional definition of marriage. Although SSM was the subject of his thesis in law school, he pretty much repeats the Conservative talking points that Mr. Tilson made earlier.


The score today: Pro 1, Con 7.
So far: Con 66, Pro 31.