Friday, December 31, 2004


As 2004 comes to a close, I thought I’d do one of those useless, yet somewhat fun year in review awards that everyone likes to roll out at this time of the year. The award title still needs work, but here are my picks for the best and worst of 2004:

Nuclear Cockroach Award (for refusing to die): Anne McLellan wins again

Dead Men Walking: John Efford, Scott Simms, Gerry Byrne, Bill Matthew

Dead Woman Walking: Judge Sgro

Bushism of the Year: “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Bushism of the Year – Runner Up: “Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with woman all across the country.”

Yet Another Bushism: “I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill First, for joining us today…He married a Texas girl…Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me.”

Bushism of the Year – Canada: Paul Martin’s “Normandy”/”Norway” slip-up

Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Glenn Murray

Jekyl and Hyde Award: Stephen Harper. He’s a genius, he won the leadership. He’s incompetent. He’s running a brilliant campaign. He’s running a terrible campaign. He’s a brilliant opposition leader. He’s invisible…

Rest in Peace: Mitchell Sharp 1912-2004

Winners of 2004:
1. George Bush: We all misunderestimated him
2. Attack Adds: They worked for Bush, and they worked for Martin.
3. Jon Stewart: The Crossfire smackdown was one of the best media moments of 2004
4. Kevin Taft: Takes over Alberta Liberal Party in March and runs great campaign
5. Danny Williams: He’s out to lunch on this offshore thing but it’s playing well at home. Ralph Klein’s heir a Premier you just wish would go away.

Losers of 2004:
1. David Herle: The Martin backroom gets disastrous reviews for their handling of nomination meetings, party purge and the election campaign.
2. Carolyn Parrish: Managed to get booted from a Caucus in minority government
3. Tony Clement: Loses Ontario Tory leadership…loses provincial seat…loses federal Tory leadership…loses federal seat – this guy has “loser” written all over him.


5. John Kerry: In an election “not Bush” would have won, Kerry loses.

6. Judy Sgro: Going…Going…Going…

7. Sheila Copps: I’m a big fan, but she lost the nomination, got driven out of the party and, fairly or unfairly, her book was completely discredited.

8. Jean Lapierre: Not exactly the star performance in Quebec

9. Bigots: Same Sex marriage passed

10. John Efford: Between offshore oil and SSM, this guy is in deep trouble.

Bouncing Back
1. Asymmetrical Federalism: Meech is dead but Martin is quietly implementing it.
2. Jean Charest
3. Gilles Duceppe: Where’s a hairnet when you need one?
4. Stephane Dion
5. Ed Broadbent

Bloom is off the Rose
1. Paul Martin: 200 seats?
2. Ralph Klein: Every seat?
3. Bernard Lord: He could be Prime Minister right now, if he’d jumped into the ring.
4. Dalton McGuinty: I’m a big fan, but the budget hurt him.
5. Alberta Alliance: 1 seat? Even Kim Campbell won 2.

1. Calgary Liberal – Chase, Taylor, Swann
2. Stephen Fletcher
3. Tories in Ontario
4. Belinda Stronach – who knew her a year ago?
5. Sheila Fraser – ditto.

Keep on Eye on…in 2005 and beyond
1. Star Wars…the movie and the plan
2. James Moore/Belinda Stronach – more on this later
3. Edwards/Obama 2008
4. Grandiose Gomery, the Gabby Gavel Jockey
5. Ken Dryden – Childcare
6. Martin/Chretien back-to-back in the inquiry
7. Ralph Goodale’s budget – will it bring down the government
8. Carole James – BC NDP leader

Calling All Bloggers!

I'll be updating my links shortly so if you have a high quality blog (or, heck, mediocre quality will do) or know of one, post a link to it in the comments section or e-mail me. If you've e-mailed me about adding a link in the past month or so, I'll add it...I may be slow, but my promise remains the same to everyone who asks me to add a link - I guarantee it will be added before Paul Martin fills a Senate vacancy.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas

Not sure how many updates I'll put up over the holidays because, even without the NHL, there are other things that need to be done. It's been a busy year politically and we can all use the break. Two things before I hit the eggnog:

1. Paul Wells picked up on my post bellow vis-a-vis the leadership vote. I encourage anyone who knows anything about the funny business to drop him an e-mail about it. I, for the most part, agree that the party can't afford a leadership contest right now and that we're better off going into the next election united. And there's really nothing for Martin to worry about since most of those who would vote against him have even been driven out, have quit the party in frustration, or are quietly sitting on their hands. Of course, there was no need to restrict membership forms and strong-arm the competition during the last leadership race since it was in the bag, and that didn't stop him. So there might be something more than problems at Canada Post behind the missing membership review forms.

2. With Ralph Klein soon retiring, it appears he's groomed a successor as "most irritating Premier". This guy needs to seriously grow up. Lowering Canadian flags? How can people see this as anything other than a shameless stunt to play the "us versus Ottawa" card and get Richie Rich re-elected. Nova Scotia's Premier is doing the right thing by negociating and trying to get the best deal for his province. Williams owes that much to his province, regardless on what may or may not have been promised.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Democratic Deficit

Now that most of the Calgary area ridings have had their annual AGMs and delegate selection meetings for the LPCA and Biennial conventions, I figured I'd post a few interesting observations.

As you probably know, under the Liberal Party of Canada constitution, a leadership review has to be held at the upcoming Biennial convention and due to some monkeying of the rules which occurred over the past few years, all members vote at their delegate selection meetings (DSMs) and all delegates vote at the convention itself.

Sorry, I should clarify that. All members are supposed to vote at their DSMs. You see, in several Calgary area ridings, the leadership review ballots were not handed out at the meetings. This was no doubt distressing to the many Liberals who came out to their DSMs, keen to mark their approval of the great year of leadership Mr. Martin has given us, only to be denied the honour. It does seem a little odd though; I'd be willing to guess that if Chretien had not stepped down and leadership review had happened in 2003, that certain Krusty the Clown look-alikes would have used planes/trains/dog-sleds/whatever was necessary to get those ballots to the meetings in time. And nothing has been done about it. People I know who attended AGMs nearly three weeks ago have still not been given ballots and I imagine they never will be.

Then, as certain readers of this blog have written in, the notice sent out to other ridings didn't even make reference to the leadership review. I'd be very curious to hear comments from Liberals in other ridings across the province and country - is this going on everywhere or is it only in Calgary?

Very odd. I'd go so far as to say there is a "democratic deficit" in this party that needs to be addressed.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Person of the Year

Freethought has a debate going about the Person of the Year. They suggest the Iraqi people which seems a bit like a cop-out to me. Other winners:

Time: George W. Bush
Time Canada: Maher Arar
Maclean's: Chantal Petticlerc
Globe & Mail: Chantal Petticlerc

Since it's a fun and easy topic, making it a nice change from the gun registry and same sex debates, I figured I'd weigh in. Keep in mind, I'm coming from a Calgary perspective, with a focus on politics, as always.

Given that, this blog will name Ralph Klein as the Person of the Year. Keep in mind, these type of awards aren't necessarily given to great people, but to the most newsworthy person of the past year. And clearly, Ralph was newsworthy. On the negative side, you had frequent meltdowns with the press, his skipping out of the health meetings to gamble, his attack on AISH recipients, and his completely incomprehensible verbal assault on Laurie Blakeman. Of course, there was the Alberta election that was surprisingly newsworthy, due to his reduced majority.

But the biggest reason he wins this award is for his impact on federal politics. His musings on private health care may very well have cost Stephen Harper the election. And he's at it again, set to embark on his crusade against equal marriage. Suffice to say, he won't be getting a card with the young, smiling, Harper clan on its front this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Random Notes

It's a good day for news stories as Parliament goes on winter break. Here are a few more, most courtesy of Norman Spector:

More signs of the democratic deficit?

The Ottawa Citizen’s Jack Aubry reports:

“Prime Minister Paul Martin has recorded a woeful attendance record in the House of Commons this fall, despite promises to restore relevance and importance to Parliament.
Mr. Martin showed up for less than half the question periods -- 21 of 43 -- since the minority government returned to Parliament in October after the June election.”

How do I get on this guy's Christmas card list?

The Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor reports:

“Liberal MP Paul Steckle is sending out an unusual holiday greeting to his constituents this year: a colour photo of his family dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles.

Mr. Steckle's Christmas card shows the Ontario MP posing against of backdrop of corn stalks with his wife, his two sons and their wives, and his six grandchildren. Mr. Steckle's sons hold long guns, and two of the young children sit on all-terrain vehicles. Another child holds a quiver of arrows.”

Community of Communities

Bob Fife: "Critics say that will lead to a checkerboard Canada and that you, in essence, are the head waiter for the provinces," the reporter said, to be greeted with an icy retort.

Paul Martin: "Let me just tell you that's just -- that's just sheer nonsense. I have and I always will defend Canada. That's my role as prime minister and it's one of the reasons I wanted to be prime minister."

Small Shadow

The Alberta Liberals announced their critic portfolios yesterday. Rookie Dave Taylor is the deputy leader, while David Swann, not surprisingly, gets Environment. Laurie Blakeman in health, Rick Miller in Finance.

Fair and Balanced

Courtesy of freethought, a collection of media musings on Canada from the US right. Funny stuff.

Tradition, tradition! Tradition!

On behalf of all Canadian heterosexuals, let me offer a huge thank you to Stephen Harper. Click here to see the big headline: Harper says he'll protect traditional marriage. I'll admit I was quite upset when the Supreme Court announced that they were abolishing traditional marriage, but luckily Stephen is here to protect it. If he's successful, maybe I won't be forced to marry a man.

Oh, and feel free to keep the same sex debate going here. 44 posts to date...and a lot of valid points have been raised.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out

Shocking! It's another failed test of missile defense. In defense of the Americans, it was their own missile, whose flight path they knew, they were trying to shoot down. Maybe when a rogue missile strikes, without warning, they'll have better luck. Heck, if they keep pumping 10 billion a year into the system, I would hope so. I do wonder if there are not better uses for that money though...anti-terrorism defense spending comes to mind. As does health, education, tax cuts, and burning 10 billion one dollar bills to provide heating for the poor.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

A Year Old, a Year Wiser

Has it only been a year? A year ago that Paul Martin took over as Prime Minister? My how time has gone by, what with the ambitious legislative agenda, the politics of achievement we’ve seen, and the thundering 200 seat election vic…uhh…never mind.

The marks are in, and they’re not flattering. I do like the hit the guy around a lot, but he hasn’t been a complete disaster yet. Here’s my take on his first year.

So what went wrong? In short, Paul wanted to please everyone…except the members of his own party. He built up so much hype during his leadership push (or “putsch”, if you prefer) and convinced everyone from Western rednecks to Quebec separatists that he was their man. So what do we get? A government too tentative to do anything for fear they’ll offend people. Kyoto? We’ve signed but we’re not doing anything. Gay marriage? We’ll let the courts decide. Senate reform? Let’s just not appoint anyone.

Here’s what the Press has to say:

Paul Wells

The party-wide uprising of 2002 which sought to depose Jean Chrétien represented a kind of contract. Liberals could indulge the mess of kicking out a guy who'd given his life to their party because they could expect to do better — electorally, morally and in terms of policy ingenuity and boldness. Especially boldness. Liberals were finally rejecting a baby-steps, managerial government for one that represented "transformative change" on more than a dozen fronts.

How far they've fallen. The label on Paul Martin, circa 2002, read "Because We Can Do Better." The label on today's model says "We Suppose He'll Do."

The stunning lack of imagination in Martin's Ottawa — these are essentially the Brezhnev years — is impossible to overstate, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to try.

Lorne Gunter (via Norman Spector)

There is no question Martin has failed to live up to his advance billing. The expectations created for him before he became Liberal leader and prime minister were impossibly high. Admittedly he and his handlers created those expectations to hurry Jean Chretien out of office. So now Martin is being hanged with his own rope.

And there is no doubt the PM seems incapable of pulling the trigger. His government has no goals and 100 goals all at once. He and his team seem to have spent 12 years plotting to make him prime minister, but not 12 minutes wondering what he should do once there.

And he is lousy at handling scandals; downright awful. He neither squashes them hard, as Chretien did, nor gets to the bottom of them meaningfully, as he continually pledges himself to do. Instead he merely apologizes for them endlessly.

Chretien would never have allowed Judy Sgro's favours-for-strippers scandal to fester for three weeks. He either would have defended her so forcefully that the opposition and media gave up on the subject, or he would have appointed her ambassador to Denmark .

Historian Michael Behiels (via the Toronto Sun)

"Non-accountability makes a sham of federalism," he said.
Behiels said Martin has failed at managing the federal government and has sidelined the Commons by focusing his efforts on provincial jurisdiction instead of legislation.

"I'm being generous ... I could give them a D+, really," he said.

Warren Kinsella (also via the Sun)

Liberal operative Warren Kinsella, who worked closely with former PM Jean Chretien, gives Martin a C. "The student showed a lot of early promise, but it has become apparent that he may have been promoted too soon to a higher grade," Kinsella said.

And, to be fair, I looked far and wide and did find this mixed, yet mostly positive review of the first year. It ain’t glowing, but it’s something

Martin deserves top marks for weathering a tough election and implementing many of his promises.

"It's been a tough year but it's been rewarding as well," Reid said. "I think we're making the minority parliament work."

That’d be Scott Reid, who works for Martin.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Campaign Launch

Paul Wells digs up a precious blast from the past here. Apparently Joe Volpe wasn’t very pleased about the former Prime Minister’s decision to whip the Cabinet into line on same sex marriage. Of course that was then, and this is now…16 months later.

For a guy who is organizing for the Liberal leadership, I’m not sure these articles he penned against equal marriage will help his cause. Of course, Volpe may simply be trying to run on a platform similar to Tom Wappel’s magical 1990 leadership run. Hopefully he’ll be just as successful as Tom was.

Oh, and just for fun, I went to Tom Wappel’s site and clicked on his bio. Apparently Tom is separated. Clearly all the gay weddings out there cheapened his marriage to the point where it just couldn’t survive.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A Marriage Made in Heaven

I really hate to take on another big Alberta “grievance” so soon after the gun registry post but today’s Supreme Court decision is too important to ignore. Maybe I’ll even follow this up with my pro-Kyoto commentary if the Martin government ever decides to come up with some sort of plan for it.

As for gay marriage, I’m strictly against it. I feel that the definition of marriage must be changed, but it must be changed to the following:

1. No woman past menopause and no man with a low sperm count should be allowed to marry. Listening to conservatives today, I learned gay marriage is wrong because gay couples can not have children (and yet these same people are against gay couples adopting. Hmm…). In addition, any couple which fails to conceive within the first five years of marriage will have their marriage annulled.

2. Religious reasons are cited for opposition by those advocating the “traditional” definition of marriage. Given the numerous wives of key Old Testament figures, I therefore move that polygamy be made legal. I’m also hoping that the criminal code can be modified so that all who work on the Sabbath and commit adultery are stoned to death but this is a different discussion for a different time.

3. On the same vein why do we let atheists marry? Haven’t these godless heathens done enough harm as it is without destroying the blessed institution of holy matrimony?

4. Given the cry that marriage is a “traditional” institution and that modifications to it will lead us down a slippery slope to men marrying toasters, it’s paramount that we reverse previous changes to the “traditional” definition of marriage which have started us down this slope. Primarily, I have grave concerns about the move to allow interracial marriage. Likewise, I’m not keen on changes to the traditional voting definition so hopefully Mr. Cotler will move quickly to remove the franchise from women.

5. Given that we don’t want to “cheapen” the definition of marriage, why do we allow marriages by those who have already cheapened this institution by receiving a divorce? Or cheating on their spouses? Or forgetting their wife’s birthday?

Since this decision is now in the hands of such capable members of parliament as Tom Wappel, Dan McTeague, and David Kilgour, I’m confident we’ll finally get a definition of marriage all Canadians can live with.

On a serious note, if anyone knows of any good arguments against gay marriage, please post them in the comments section since I have never once heard a credible argument against allowing equal marriage. I’ve heard good arguments against Kyoto, against the gun registry, in favour of Missile Defense, even in favour of asymmetrical federalism. These arguments haven’t convinced me but at least they’re there. There has to be a reason 40-45% of Canadians oppose allowing gays to marry but, for the life of me, I have yet to hear a good reason. Surely one exists, right?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Fiery Debate

Well, it seems “Liberal” MP Roger Galloway is at it again, this time trying to blow apart the gun registry. Not surprisingly, a lot of Liberals aren’t very happy about this, even those who have spoken out against the registry in the past. While I wouldn’t say it too loudly in Alberta for fear of being shot, I’m a big supporter of the gun registry – the cost overruns were unfortunate but it still provides bang for the buck. Gun violence costs Canadians 6 billion dollars a year and the registry works. Why? Here are 8 reasons why:

1. All illegal guns start out as legal guns. The registry tells us exactly when a legal gun becomes an illegal gun.

2. Forcing people to register guns discourages casual gun use. Let’s face it, owning a gun is a big responsibility and filling out an extra form is the least we can ask of people.

3. The registry gets used. Police check it over 2,000 times a day and all major Police organizations in Canada support it. As do countless other groups who are concerned about, you know, getting killed.

4. The registry helps the courts. If Billy-Joe is charged with spousal abuse or a violent crime, the court can see if he has any guns (and therefore take them away from him). Similarly, if someone develops a mental illness that forbids them from owning guns, the courts can find out if the individual owns weapons.

5. The registry is good for gun owners. If a stolen weapon is recovered, the only real way to return it to its original owner is if there’s a registry telling us who the legal owner is.

6. The registry provides accountability. By connecting the gun to its owner, it forces the owner to store his or her gun safely. Safe storage prevents guns being stolen, heat of the moment use, and children playing with daddy’s gun.

7. Accountability also means there are huge disincentives for selling a weapon to an unlicensed individual. Because you’re the last owner of the gun, you’ll make sure you only sell your gun to a licensed individual or else you’re connected to whatever they do with it. Similarly, there’s an added incentive to report stolen weapons.

8. Registration helps with prosecution of criminals. Without a gun registry it’s very hard to prove someone owns a gun illegally.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

Maybe transfats was Paul's biggest concern to date, but now he's about to go into the deep fryer. Missile Defense is coming in fast and the Supreme Court will finally make the ruling we all knew was coming next week. And to add to the fun, the ethics commissioner will submit his report on Judy Sgro in the near future.

For a man who commissions focus groups to decide what colour tie to wear, some tough choices are coming. And no one in Canada likes the guy in front of them in line who spends 10 minutes choosing his donut flavour at Tim Horton's.

UPDATE: Armageddon?
I'm listening to the Friday morning Politics online (see the 19 minute mark) and their roundtable chat on missile defense and Liberal MP Derek Lee argued that the weaponization of space made sense because "We might need to stop one of those meteorites". I only hope that our government isn't basing their foreign policy decisions on bad Ben Affleck movies.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Trimming Government Fat

Can anyone out there name a single new, newsworthy piece of policy put forward by the Martin government during their first year in power? With the exception of whistleblower legislation which was to minimize the adscam fallout, I believe this latest push to ban trans fats (at the NDP's urging) might be the first real policy Martin is pushing forward on.

Which begs the question:

Was this the great policy difference between Jean Chretien and Paul Martin which forced a coup d'etat? Fast Food? Do the "Politics of achievement" come down to McCain French Fries?