Indecision 2011: None Of The Above

Posted April 29th, 2011 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

It would seem that many of the pundits and plaudits have endorsed their favourite candidate or party for the imminent 2011 election. As one who predicted on Jan. 1 that no such election would even be happening, it would be consistent that whoever or whatever I endorse will lose.

The Conservatives lost my vote a long time ago, when they turned principle on its side in favour of political power and broke their 2008 election promise. For almost anyone and everyone I’ve spoken to, they don’t seem to have a problem with the shamelessness of this act.

Nobody could have known the extent of the financial meltdown, they will say. Nobody could have anticipated the sort of economic upheaval and revenue shortfalls that would result in the massive deficits that the Conservative government authored in 2009 and 2010, they will say. But I have little sympathy for that argument.

Stephen Harper was unequivocal in his promise to never go into deficit spending, under any circumstances, ever again. Believing him to be a man of principle, I voted for the party in 2008. It won’t happen again, or at least not until “regime change” puts someone with more conviction behind his own absolutist statements.

Had the man said he would prefer not to go into deficit, or would try his best not to, it could be something. But the only way the Conservatives could win the previous election was to run on the simplistic platform that it was the only political party not offering an economic collapse, juxtaposing itself to the grossly negligent Liberal Party and their Green Shift.

Sound familiar? They’re doing pretty much the same thing this year. And though I don’t necessarily disagree with the idea the Conservatives would run the fiscal ship better than the Liberals, and certainly better than the NDP, when you’re setting record debt levels it comes as little consolation.

It isn’t just the deficits either. It’s the way the Conservatives do business in power. They’re controlling, secretive, openly contemptuous of procedure, disrespectful, assumptive, patronizing and self-serving. It isn’t so much what they say as how they say it, as the old expression goes.

So more of the same doesn’t seem very appealing at all. More contempt for what Canadians think, the media who inform them and the voters who believed their lies. As a voter I couldn’t in good conscience go with them, even though I believe they may be least damaging to the country.

In some respects I agree with Andrew Coyne’s invented dichotomy of how badly the opposition parties might ruin the economy versus how badly the Conservatives might ruin democracy. But in the end he endorses the Liberal Party, who under Michael Ignatieff might just represent one of the weakest political choices since Kim Campbell.

Clearly the Liberals are not a serious choice for Canadians, hence the reason the NDP are polling at nearly 30 per cent of the electorate for a full week now. And though the NDP have the most unrealistic economic plan of all the choices, there is an allure there for many voters in the same way the allure existed for disaffected voters in Ontario in 1990. Sick of the blue and red, voters gambled with orange. Unfortunately for Ontario that was a poor gamble.

The NDP do not present a viable alternative for anybody with an ounce of fiscal conservatism. Their party is full of people who have program wish lists that would quickly bleed the federal coffers and require either an increase in taxes or a reduction in spending, likely coming from such unpopular places as the military. We don’t need one anyway, right?

The Green Party isn’t worth considering even as a protest vote, steeped as they are in the irrelevant environmental activism of a carbon tax economy, which has already proven a staggering failure in British Columbia. It isn’t just that the Green Party has no hope of becoming relevant soon, but the leadership under Elizabeth May has pushed it from a mainstream centrist party of sustainability (a good idea in and of itself) to a fringe leftwing group echoing similar NDP-Liberal policies that already exist.

What choice remains then? Well, none. But that’s still a choice. On May 2, I intend to walk into a voting booth and select nobody, as that is precisely who is out there representing my interests right now. Should that change in future elections I’ll certainly consider it. But Monday is a vote for a more representative democracy, beginning with my expression of contempt for what it is now.

With Opposition Like This, Who Needs A Majority?

Posted February 19th, 2011 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters

Sometimes I think that Jack Layton exists just to delight in teasing the Liberal Party. At any moment when the Liberals seem like they might be in danger of finding a section of vertebrae, the NDP sidle up to Stephen Harper and play “let’s make a deal.”

Not that I really think the Liberals will ever defeat this government on a confidence vote. Their near-perfect record of supporting the Conservatives has been untarnished for half a decade now, and there doesn’t seem to be any danger of that changing with Ignatieff’s suitcase at the helm.

Even as the socialists were having a frank talk with the Conservatives, I suspect Michael Ignatieff was still busy mulling over the possibility of doing something. With political reflexes like that, you’d imagine this man would have got around to declaring war on Germany in 1946.

What I find even more surprising is that the NDP made the deal in the maelstrom of the Bev Oda affair, which I suppose in the world of the 24-hour scandal cycle in Ottawa may as well have happened in ancient Babylon. Still, I expected a half-hearted squeak from the NDP, and the rattling of a few paper sabres. Sheesh, they don’t even go through the formality of impotent threats anymore.

The reason for the NDP’s eager announcement that they have wrung hard-fought socialist concessions from the Conservative government — like cutting taxes — is pretty clear. They’ve taken a beating in the polls of late, and would lose as many as 16 seats if an election were held today.

This is interesting, because even though the Liberals would gain 15 seats, it wouldn’t come at the expense of the Conservative Party, projected to gain a single seat. They would come all from the boys in orange, which makes their unwillingness to oblige even the unrealistic prospect of defeating the March budget nothing more than a spectacularly irrelevant work of fiction from Gloria Galloway.

It’s amazing that some pundits even entertained the idea that the opposition would play parliamentary roulette with the current poll results showing a resurgent lead over the Liberal Party. We’ve established the gutlessness of the Liberals, and the NDP have no interest in trading away their tiny presence in the House of Commons on the basis of principle.

And some might even ask what principle has to do with anything? The actual policies of the Conservative government are difficult to assail from a socialist perspective, their “sullen, haughty, can’t-be-bothered-tone” notwithstanding, of course.

It’s also rather difficult to criticize the Conservatives for their apparent flexibility of ethics, when the other contenders for the government seem to so willingly let these transgressions gather the dust of irrelevance in time for the weekend. Like so many other grievances that have disappeared in arrogant, contemptuous refusal to address them, the opposition has dutifully returned to their rightful place at the dog’s water bowl of power.

So, when do I expect the Conservatives to be answerable to the past two and a half years of malleable principle and rubbery promises? Well, I don’t know the date, but I do know that it will come at a time and in a manner of the choosing of the ruling party. To expect any differently would be to ignore the “not” in Oda’s memo.

Who Is Promoting Fear, Exactly?

Posted August 22nd, 2010 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

Photo: Liberal Party, Flickr

I don’t think the charmingly named “Liberal Express”, a bus tour that has spent many kilometres traversing the vast hills and plains of Canada, has been a mistake. It’s normal for the opposition party to try and use down-time to increase its visibility in the media and, more importantly, in the minds of Canadians. So when Michael Ignatieff embarked on his cross-country tour to meet and greet Canadians, I didn’t think it was a bad idea.

Since the Conservatives have mainly seemed to go into cottage country and frontiers beyond during the summer months, the Liberal party have had an opportunity to capitalize on the lull in messaging from the big blue machine. But what kind of message have they been getting out? Have the Liberals finally expanded upon their oft-touted plans to balance the budget while simultaneously continuing stimulus spending? Did they explain the fiscal logic behind their desire to erase the deficit while also rolling out a universal child care program?

Alas, we know that the off-season campaign trail is no time for clear answers. It’s much easier to hammer on the Conservative party with ironic messages about how the government is creating a climate of fear, and then proceed to make frightening statements about how scary the Conservatives are.

For instance, on a stop in the Liberal Express tour in West Vancouver today, Mr.Ignatieff said that Conservative politicians have tried to make people “afraid of people you don’t even know”.

“Politicians should shut up and let these people do their job,” Mr.Ignatieff declared, adding “we must always be a haven in a heartless world.”

But it isn’t scary Conservatives who are making people afraid of Tamils. According to a Leger Marketing poll, 52% of self-identified NDP voters think the Tamil boat should have been turned away as it approached Canada. In fact, a majority of political supporters across the spectrum, except for the Liberals, believe that the Tamils should have been turned away and escorted back to Sri Lanka by the Canadian Navy. This includes 65% of Bloc Quebecois voters and 62% of Green voters.

Mr.Ignatieff also slammed the Conservatives for “smearing” civil servant Richard Colvin over the handling of Afghan detainees.

Ah yes, Richard Colvin, the darling of the Liberal Party. You’ll find plenty of Richard Colvin all over the Liberal website, touting him as some kind of whistleblowing hero over allegations of torture in Afghanistan.

But what you won’t find are the names Gavin Buchan and Major-General Timothy Grant, two men who gave testimony to the Parliamentary Committee for the mission in Afghanistan on April 28, that directly contradicts Richard Colvin. That’s because neither of those men provided the narrative of torture, war crimes, and rendition that has been the modus operandi of the Liberals for over a year now.

Following the war crimes card, Mr.Ignatieff played his other go-to suit by saying the Conservatives have ignored Omar Khadr in Guantanamo Bay. Which, of course, is only telling half of the story. Omar Khadr has been detained in Cuba for eight years now, four of which took place under the Chretien-Martin governments. The only thing more disingenuous than demanding to know about alleged torture which may or may not have taken place under a Liberal government, is to inquire why nobody from the Conservative government has demanded the repatriation of a “child soldier” who sat in detention for the first four years under the reigning Liberals.

The Liberals have been masters of making you “afraid of people you don’t even know” for over six years now, beating on the hidden agenda rug and making absurd statements that are quite easily refuted. And yet of the many opportunities where they might have a legitimate cause to attack — the deficit, the spending, the bureaucracy — there is but a whimper, with no answers or alternatives to offer.

So while the Liberal Express may not be a “flop”, as some in the media have termed it, there’s certainly nothing new to offer beyond a novelty bus tour and Mr.Ignatieff’s rare appearance outside of formal speaking events in academia. But hey, at least he’s out there selling himself and his party and not “MIA” as he was last summer. For the Liberal Party, this can actually be called an improvement.

Coalition Iffy, Only After Election

Posted June 6th, 2010 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

Michael Ignatieff seems to have ruled out any possibility of a Liberal coalition with the other opposition parties in an interview given to the Canadian Press. Although he said that coalition governments are “perfectly legitimate”, it would be disrespectful to voters to stage a coalition coup without the expressed consent of the voting public.

What the Liberal leader considers legitimate and illegitimate are based largely on context. As the Globe and Mail’s Dan Cook so ably demonstrates, it certainly legitimized a coalition when his signature appeared on a pact in December of 2008.

Then, half a year later, Mr.Ignatieff described any coalition government led by himself as being potentially “illegitimate”. At the time he told the press that a coalition government with the NDP, propped up in good faith by the Bloc Quebecois, would have been “unstable, politically illegitimate” to many Canadians.

Now, a year after that statement, a coalition government is again a legitimate possibility, but only if approved beforehand by the voting public.

“Co-operation between parties to produce political and electoral stability is not illegitimate. It’s never been illegitimate, it’s part of our system.

“But the right way to do it is to run your flag up, [opposing parties] run their flag up, you fight like crazy, you put your choices clearly to the Canadian people, they make their choices and then you play the cards that voters deal you.”

This still sounds very much like the “coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition” talk that preceded his decision not to strike a deal with the NDP. And that can be a very serious problem, because you can be sure that the Conservative Party will be campaigning hard on this point from now until the moment the voters have spoken again in the next election.

Regardless of whether the Liberal Party runs its “flag up” and tries to garner the most votes to win the next election, barring any unforeseen eventuality, it doesn’t appear that it’s at all likely to happen. Which means that following another loss at the polls, the Liberals will be inevitably forced with the decision to enter into a coalition government with the NDP.

And since the Conservatives know that this is the likeliest contingency plan for any future electoral loss for the Liberal Party, you can be assured that the war room will be hammering that point home every single opportunity they get on the campaign trail.

A vote for the Liberal Party, they will say, is a vote for the NDP-Liberal-Bloc alliance. And it will be true, mainly because Mr.Ignatieff refuses to say it’s untrue.

But with that signature on the December document from the failed coup of 2008, it doesn’t matter what the Liberal leader says at this point anyway. He has shown his intent, whether reluctant or otherwise, to put his support behind such a prospect. That will be enough to cast the dye on the Liberals for so long as they are led by Mr.Ignatieff. In short, you could say he’s “damaged goods” on that front.

The problem with Mr.Ignatieff returning to an acknowledgment that a coalition government is “legitimate” and a possibility, is that it will now frame any debate on the subject of his candidacy for Prime Minister. While “plan A” may be to win the most votes in the next election and form the government, it’s clear that “plan B” will be to entertain the options of forming an alliance with the other parties. Nobody will able to seriously entertain plan A without also considering plan B. That may very well drive more votes in the direction of the Conservative Party.

The fact is that coalition governments formed by the “losers” are legitimate, although Rob Silver uses a rather non sequitur example with Israel [there are no political parties in the Knesset devoted to the breakup of the country into a separatist state]. But it was the Liberals themselves who tainted the idea of a coalition by not honestly discussing the possibility during the previous election.

Truthfully, the Liberal Party would probably need a coalition in order to gain any broad support for a government, given the current approval ratings for Michael Ignatieff. With the inner turmoil displayed by his party, the rumours about bringing back 76-year-old Jean Chretien, and an overt leadership challenge by Bob Rae, they would need all the help they can get.

A Bizarre Reversal Of Support For Afghan Mission

Posted June 6th, 2010 in Afghanistan by Adrian MacNair

Bob Rae, Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic. Photo: Globe and Mail

When I wrote in the National Post the other day that it should be unsurprising that the Special Parliamentary Committee to the mission in Afghanistan would change its mind about Canada’s military coming home after the summer of 2011, it was only because I think that when it comes to Afghanistan, “seeing is believing.” But to say that I haven’t been surprised by the comments from the Liberals and NDP since the committee returned to Canada, would be dishonest.

Verily, I have been nearly floored by the prospect of keeping some kind of role in Afghanistan beyond our parliamentary consensus to leave in 2011. Floored, because the suggestion is coming not from the traditional base of support for the military, the Conservative Party, but from those who have been altogether engaged in smearing the mission for the past year, the opposition parties.

In a particularly bizarre reversal of support for the mission in Afghanistan, the parliamentary committee suggested that Canada should continue a role — a non-combat one — in the country, by continuing humanitarian work and focusing on the ongoing security needs of the people there. But equally bizarre is the fact that Stephen Harper, who once wrapped himself so tightly in the colours of the mission that leaving was considered a cowardly value, now seems to be ruling out any possible restructuring of that mission.

“I note [Mr. Rae's] words with some interest,” Mr. Harper said. “I think we’ve been very clear. We’re working according to the parliamentary resolution that was adopted in 2008 by which Canada’s military mission will end and will transition to a civilian and development mission at the end of 2011. And that continues to be our workplan according to the resolution adopted by Parliament.”

Mr.Harper has been like a skipping record on this answer since 2008, and while it made sense to respect to the will of parliament and drop a losing proposition, I would have expected something a little more ambiguous this time around. A response to the effect of welcoming further discussion in the House of Commons, would have been far more consistent with the Conservative Party line that they had been forced to adopt the resolution to end the mission in Afghanistan unwillingly.

The response to Mr.Rae’s words about the possibility of a mission extension in a non-combat role has been particularly jaded coming from the media. Some suggested that it was a sign of a loss of control over the Liberal Party by leader Michael Ignatieff, unable to reign in the rogue Bob Rae. Some called the former NDP Premier of Ontario “two-faced”, and intimated that this is prerequisite trait of being a Liberal.

The truth is that Bob Rae does deserve a considerable amount of heat for his about-face, if only because he and his party has been determined to undermine the mission in every way possible for the past year with the “torture-rendition-war crimes” inquisition of our military. Nobody has worked harder to control a negative perception of the mission in Afghanistan than the Liberal Party.

Vancouver MP Ujjal Dosanjh worked overtime in casting aspersions on both the military command and the government in the House of Commons during Question Period, that suggested we were deliberately having Afghans tortured by the NDS in order to extract information from them.

For those reasons, it’s not difficult to see why the sudden offering of support for a post-2011 role would be met with mistrust and skepticism. But that does not mean we can ignore the branch that has been offered. This is an opportunity too valuable to scoff at. And though the professionalism, maturity, and sensibility appear to have arrived at a most tardy moment, it would be wrong-headed to simply turn away. Even the Toronto Star has cast its support for a mission extension of our military’s presence in a non-combat role.

It is positively surreal to see Bob Rae sitting on CTV’s Question Period, making sensible comments and suggestions about the importance of providing ongoing security training for the Afghan police and army. We can either mock him for his late arrival to table, or we can take this opportunity to spur on a much-needed discussion about our post-2011 role in Afghanistan, and maintain our commitments to our allies. If the comments of Conservative MP James Rajotte are any indication, there is at least some willingness to do that from within the government.


Canada’s milblog is divided on the opportunity here. Mark sees a chance for a military role to continue in some beneficial way. Babbling sees this more cynically as keeping the troops trapped “behind the wire”, where they will be least effective.

Liberals Send Letter To Pen Pal Harper

Posted May 17th, 2010 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

I have to admit, I chuckled when I read that the Liberals sent a letter to the Prime Minister today inquiring why the former Minister for the Status of Women was unceremoniously dumped from the Conservative caucus. After all, this was the party calling for Stephen Harper to send her packing after an airport worker didn’t take too kindly to her description of Charlottetown’s airport as a “hellhole”.

It was only in March that Wayne Easter did his best impression of “whack-a-mole” during Question Period, rising every day to alternately berate Ms.Guergis or Mr.Blackburn, before the House of Commons got on to the more serious business of smearing the Canadian mission with complicity in war crimes.

The Liberals acknowledge their prior calls to send Helena Guergis packing on numerous occasions. But suddenly the party has become extremely concerned about her dismissal, and demand to know what “serious” and “credible” evidence the government possesses that led to her untimely meeting with the bottom of a bus.

Last week the embattled Member for Simcoe-Grey appeared on the CBC. This week the Liberal Party is going to bat for her? I’m afraid that, barring the Garth Turner two-step across the Commons, her career is headed the way of the Kyoto Protocol.

Do not for a moment think that the Liberal Party feels any genuine sympathy for Helena Guergis. Much like Afghan detainees, this is about the “integrity of the government.” Well, that, and clinging to something they hope will make the government look bad.

It’s true that the Liberals aren’t the only ones in the dark about why Helena Guergis was booted from caucus. While there are plenty of bad optics about the entire case, nothing substantial has surfaced to indicate any serious wrong-doing on her part. Other than the fact that he may have used her office and parliamentary email account, there is nothing linking her to husband Rahim Jaffer’s activities.

The “credible allegations” from a third party source that led to Ms.Guergis’s removal were thought to have come from private investigator Derrick Snowdy, but he cleared her entirely in testimony before a House of Commons committee. Indeed, far from embarrassing Ms.Guergis, the shocker of the hearing occurred when Mr.Snowdy said that Liberal Party President Alfred Apps “drove the getaway car” for Toronto businessman Nazim Gillani by representing him as a lawyer in disputes over questionable business transactions.

The Liberal letter makes reference to statements made by Conservative MP Shelly Glover on CTV yesterday, in which she insisted there will be more information forthcoming soon.

Whatever the situation may be, rest assured that the Liberal Party is on the case to ensure that when the Conservatives remove Cabinet members, it is for a reason that meets with the approval of the Official Opposition.

Liberals Ignoring Inconvenient Truths

Posted May 5th, 2010 in Afghanistan by Adrian MacNair

As if you needed any more evidence of the Liberal party of Canada’s singularly selfish strategy on Afghanistan, the front page of their website has a pretty snazzy looking map of the country, followed by a link to the Afghan detainee chronology.

Interesting chronology. Diplomat Richard Colvin features in it as some kind of central hero to a story, with the first mention coming in the sixth paragraph:

April 2006: Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin arrives in Afghanistan.

Richard Colvin then appears 26 more times on the same page.

But nowhere is there mention of the testimony given to the Parliamentary Committee for the mission in Afghanistan on April 28 from Gavin Buchan, Political Director of Canada’s reconstruction team in Kandahar from April 2006 to July of 2007, and representative of the DoD from October of 2007 to February of 2009. Nor does it mention the testimony of Major-General Timothy Grant on the same day, who served as Commander in Kandahar from November of 2006 to August of 2007.

Perhaps that’s because their testimony contradicts that of Richard Colvin’s and doesn’t provide quite the narrative of torture, war crimes, and rendition that the Liberal Party is looking for? I’m betting that’s it.

The picture on their website is almost a metaphor for their involvement in this mission. It’s some place on a map, slightly out of focus, coloured pink so that we can distinguish between it and the border of Pakistan and Turkmenistan. Anything beyond this vague notion of a faraway place where people are tortured isn’t essential to their central theme that the Conservative government is guilty of war crimes.

EKOS And CBC Take Credibility Hit

Posted April 23rd, 2010 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

The President of the Conservative Party, John Walsh, is understandably upset with “advice” given to the Liberal Party by EKOS pollster Frank Graves, who often provides CBC-sponsored polling. Mr.Walsh sent a letter to the CBC Ombudsman charging that Mr.Graves is trying to incite a “culture war” to pit Canadians against Canadians in comments he made that were reported in the Globe and Mail. The Conservatives believe this raises very serious questions about the impartiality of both EKOS and the CBC.

“Why is a pollster who conducts polling for Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, also giving partisan advice to the Liberal Party of Canada?” Mr. Walsh wrote to the CBC Ombudsman. “Is the CBC aware they were sharing resources with the Liberal Party of Canada, if so, how long have they been aware? Can the CBC assure us that data collected at the expense of taxpayers is not shared with the Liberal Party of Canada?

“Does the CBC share Mr. Graves’ call for a “culture war” that pits Canadian against Canadian?”

The CBC tried to distance itself from EKOS President Frank Graves today by inviting him on the Evan Solomon show to “clarify” his position, but he was thoroughly rebuked by former spokesman for Stephen Harper, Kory Teneycke, who said that Mr.Graves needs to be upfront with his affiliations to the Liberal Party.

Mr.Graves denied affiliation with the Liberals, despite the fact he has contributed $11,042.72 to the Liberals according to the Elections Canada website, including money toward the leadership campaigns of current party leader Michael Ignatieff and leadership candidate Bob Rae. In his debate with Mr.Teneycke, he said he also gave $449.04 to Paul Benoit, the Conservative candidate for Ottawa Vanier, in 2006.

Frank Graves is on the record as advising that the Liberal Party invoke a “culture war” between Canadians, to separate people along the lines of “Cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy.” Mr.Graves then adds that if “[...] the cranky old men in Alberta don’t like it, too bad. Go south and vote for Palin.”

Whatever credibility Frank Graves may have had as a pollster has been extinguished in one fell swoop. Even if this were only “advice” for the Liberals, what kind of person urges a political party to divide Canadians? It’s also ridiculous to suggest that the Conservatives are rural, evangelical, racist, homophobic autocrats, and by proxy their supporters.

The optics are not good for the CBC either, which has been notoriously critical of the Conservative Party, particularly with their seemingly endless news reports of Jaffer-Guergis and Afghan detainees.


Frank Graves letter of apology [Link]
Springer: CBC’s Kady O’Malley uncharacteristically silent on the issue [Link]
Aarvark: First rule of holes ignored by Frank [Link]
Levant: Graves lying again [Link]. Graves calls CPC a haven for bigots. [Link]
Apple Pie: A billion bucks doesn’t buy much impartiality [Link]
Russ Campbell: Graves’s cover blown [Link]
Tory Talk: Memo to Graves: the government serves all Canadians [Link]
Blue Like You: Graves has a new Liberal job lined up? [Link]

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Insurgent IEDs?

Posted March 28th, 2010 in Afghanistan by Adrian MacNair

Fowler’s hostage photograph from his captivity in Niger.

Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler showed up at the Big Thinking conference in Montreal today to accuse the Conservative Party of cozying up to the Jews, and to get out of Afghanistan while the getting’s good.

Telling the audience that the Afghanistan mission is “doomed to failure”, he said that Canadian politicians nowadays pursue foreign policy goals only to “corner the ethnic vote”. Which is kind of confusing. What ethnic vote are we winning by leaving Afghanistan again?

“The world does not need more of the kind of Canada they have been getting,” Mr. Fowler said in a speech in Montreal on Sunday morning. “Canadian governments have turned inward and adopted ‘me first’ stances across the international agenda; and Canada’s reputation and proud international traditions have been diminished as a result.”

So I suppose our international reputation and traditions are strengthened by leaving Afghanistan at a critical juncture? I’d love to hear how Mr.Fowler thinks our international agenda could be strengthened.

The Afghanistan mission, Mr. Fowler said, is doomed because neither Canadians nor its allies are prepared to pay the price, “in blood or treasure” to essentially colonize that country.

“The bottom line is: We will not prevail in Afghanistan,” Mr. Fowler said. “We are simply not prepared to foot the massive price in blood and treasure, which it would take to effectively colonize Afghanistan — the least fortunate country in the world — and replace their culture with ours, for that seems to be what we seek, and with the Taliban share that view.”

Mr. Fowler argued that Canadian troops should immediately withdraw from that country. “It is time to leave. Not a moment, not a life, and not a dollar, later.”

I think Robert Fowler suffered a little Stockholm syndrome while living under the care of al-Qaeda in 2008.

It may be true that Canadians don’t have the stomach for a protracted war, no matter how noble or just, because of the inability of our leadership to properly communicate the imperatives of the mission, or the broad support we have in Afghanistan. But don’t poison the well for the rest of the countries who have the heart to keep trying.

As for replacing our culture with theirs, that’s not what’s going on in Afghanistan, nor is it correct to indicate that the Taliban’s brutally misogynistic, fascistic and barbaric rule can be considered a “culture” of any sort. People in Afghanistan overwhelmingly reject the Taliban’s version of “culture”, and most want an end to the conflict with a democratic government in power that enshrines in law some basic human rights.

Liberal Big Thinkers Conference To Cost A Purty Penny

Posted March 22nd, 2010 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

I can haz conference of smart peoples? Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters

As Don Martin observes in the National Post, the jokes almost write themselves. The federal Liberal Party and their Deep Thought conference, or whatever the hell elitist title they’re giving it, is meant to explore the prospect of what Canada will look like in 2017 when it turns 150 years old. Invited to the conference are people who are among the most preeminent academics of our time. Not invited, amusingly, is the entire Liberal MP caucus, included among them being Ujjal “torture-rendition-war-crimes” Dosanjh. And thank God for that.

Indeed, the only person invited to Michael’s brainy exposition of eggheads other than himself, is co-chairman Mauril Belanger, Deputy Leader of the government during the waning Paul Martin years. Those Liberals wishing to participate will have to watch it on video feed like the rest of the intellectual underclass.

Although being excluded has to smart, particularly for the egos which will easily rival in size whatever gray matter decide to attend the Big Geniuses conference, it will at least save them $695 in registration fees.

That’s right, some of the academics and policy experts whose brains will be picked by the Party in perpetual search of a platform, will be asked to pony up a lot of dough in order to grace the gala with their presence. Or to put it another way, in what is assuredly one of the great role reversals of our time, a political organization will fleece consultants. If only eHealth had thought of this, they could have made $1.2 billion instead of frittering it away.

The Liberals mailed invitations to a select group of potential policy makers for the three-day event that begins next Friday. Only speakers and those who will appear on the panels will have their fees waived, leaving as much as 200 other invitees to pay for their room and board.

It isn’t that it’s not understandable that there will be some expenses that need to be covered, but wouldn’t it have been preferable to use the opportunity to fundraise, rather than pennypinch the people who will be suggesting ways the Liberals can overcome their current quagmire of inconsequence?

There’s something that’s just very off-putting about the leadership of Michael Ignatieff, but his recent moves have helped to isolate and identify what that something is.

It isn’t just that Michael Ignatieff is a self-proclaimed intellectual and deep thinker, which is of course highly debatable. It’s that ever since the former Harvard professor left the hallowed corridors of academia for the pursuit of public service, it has become clear that he has absolutely no comfort outside of the bubble of his role as lecturer.

Whether it be his cross-country speaking tour in Universities or his… cross-country speaking tour in high schools, Michael Ignatieff is as far away from the Tim Horton’s sipping, WalMart shopping, NHL hockey watching Canadians as can be. I mean, even though the Conservative photo-ops at Timmy’s are as phony as a $3 bill, they make the effort to make it look like they’re making an effort. Mr.Ignatieff strikes me as the kind of guy who would sit on a blanket of napkins if he ever found himself in the waking nightmare of being inside an establishment that sells coffee for $1.49.

On the rare occasions he does feign interest in the affairs of the common folk, he comes off looking like, well quite frankly, like a man who hasn’t lived here for 35 years. Whether it be his absence for the Gold Medal Men’s Hockey Game [at least Jack wrestled a woman for a photo op at Wayne Gretzky's], or when he showed up to the Vancouver Liberal Convention last May dressed in a Canucks jersey, this is a man who knows to stick to his natural environment.

So good luck on that conference of certified cerebral celebrities. It’s just what we’ve been waiting for. Another group of our intellectual superiors making decisions on our behalf. I’m sure that’ll win over all those slobs in the Timmy’s across Canada.

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