Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Stephen Harper and the "Noble Lie" ?

Much has been made recently in the Blogworld over Stephen Harper's apparently unprovoked statement that Canada will not cede her claims to Arctic Sovereignty in the face of American policy statements (this time by the US Ambassador to Canada) that stand contrary to those claims.

I lauded this move, and expressed the hope that such sentiments would colour the policies of the new government. Others has suggested that perhaps this was "set-up" for Harper by the US Administration, so that Harper could appear unaffiliated with certain aspects of US Foreign Policy. The argument is that the Bush Administration is so pleased to see a Harper Government in Ottawa, that they will conspire to help-out with the Public Image of that Government on issues of low import to the USA, but of high symbolic value in Canada.

There is perhaps, if not full merit to this accusation, at least a plausible fear empowering such views. Stephen Harper has a lot of atoning to do for his past statements - which place him out of the mainstream in Canadian political life. His many identifications with the US "conservative" movement are offensive to many Canadian Tories and many other Canadians of various political affiliation. Could he be engaging in a classic Straussian "noble lie" strategy? The Bush Administration has proven that they are not afraid to apply this gambit in the short-term.



He has to earn the trust of the people in this regard, but my real fear here is that he will do so under the aegis and pressure of minority government, but when the times comes and the CPC grabs a clear majority, we may see something different.

The Harper Ministry may act quite differently if given a majority. A perfect example of this was Liberal Party of Canada, which was handed successive & large defeats in 1984 and 1988, and yet found enough within itself between 1993 and 2005 to become perhaps the most arrogant and corrupt government in modern Canadian history - despite their many efforts to paint Mulroney as a sleazy operator. They became that which they supposedly despised.

Majorities change parties. Look what happened to the PCs after 1984. They went from being the party of Canadian nationalism to a continentalist party within three years. It only took them 36 months to turn their back on over 100 years of party tradition and policy.

I personally hope that we have a succession of minority governments for the next few decades. It would keep them all in check. It would prevent radical changes in policy and law. It would best preserve what is left of Canada.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

American "Fascism" and Canadian "Cultural Marxism"?

You simply have to read this one:


I could not make this up if I tried - I swear it.

American "conservative" Paul Weyrich claims that Stephen Harper is the best antidote to the Canadian malady of "Cultural Marxism."

As someone who has a Degree in Modern Greats, I can tell you that there is no such thing as "Cultural Marxism." Well, that is not quite true, there was one notable movement in modern history that tried to employ such a nonsensical term - and that was the NAZIS.

It is quite a coincidence that this came across the newswire just as I am finishing Richard Evans' The Coming of the Third Reich, for it was the direct aim of the newly-minted NAZI dictatorship in mid-1933 to counter what they termed "Cultural Bolshevism" through their radical policy of Co-ordination - which was merely a technical term for the total absorption of all private organisations into NAZI control. It was means of stifling any sense of privacy and any possible avenue for dissent. It infiltrated every area of German life: Art, Commerce, Sport, Sex, Trade-Unions etc ..... and was the means the regime used to make sure that they had total control of the populace. It was chillingly effective.

And so Weyrich uses this terminology. Should I be drawing any conclusions? How could I possibly avoid doing so?

My Toryism is the kind that values freedom, order, justice, and stability as primary virtues. I stand foursquare with Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan, and English-Canadian Tories of the day - who saw that both Fascism and Communism were the greatest threats to western civilisation. I still believe that to be the case.

Bandy about fantasies of "Cultural Marxism" all you want Paul, but don't call it conservatism - for what you are really espousing is FASCISM.

You Sir, are the Enemy.

There I said it. I feel a whole lot better.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Harper standing-up to the US Ambassador ?

Well, well .... this is interesting.


If he follows through in really defending Canadian interests and sovereignty, then he just may be able to gain the confidence of the people.

I mean, the Liberals were terrible at managing US-relations, taking the US on in immature ways (think Carolyn Parrish ...) , and hiding behind their cloaks over the real issues - such as Softwood Lumber, BSE, and Arctic Sovereignty.

It will be real interesting to see if this Toronto-boy remembers conservatism as it used to be, prior to it falling into the hands of "the Calgary School."

There is some hope folks!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Minority Government is Good Government ...

... for many reasons; but perhaps the BEST reason this time around, as it will force the CPC to realise that there are benefits to being moderate, and balanced between Nationalism and Continentalism/Internationalism. By bringing some of the more reasonable (and unreasonable) Albertans into the system, they just may learn to accept that Canada is comprised of ten provinces and three territories, and drop the "Alberta First" mentality. Perhaps ...

I did not vote CPC. I could not. As spoiling the ballot is illegal, I held my nose and voted for the Green Party. I can live with that.

Overall, I am glad to see that there will be 24 or so CPC MPs from Ontario and Atlantic Canada - to perhaps act as a moderating influence on the Western radicals. Only time will tell however, for if the CPC cannot get along with Liberals and NDP for very long it may well sink their electoral hopes again.

To you Mr. Harper, I say this:

Congratulations on winning the most seats in the House of Commons. If you are as intelligent as some claim, you will begin to distance yourself from "the Calgary School," and punish radical MPs who stray too far to the Right, or make obviously intemperate remarks. You will realise that most Canadians live in the Loyal Centre of the Political spectrum, and that we do not want to be vassals to the USA, or cut-off from Great Britain, Europe, and the World. We support our Soldiers in Afghanistan, but we do not support the War in Iraq. The two operations have no relevance to each other. While we would like some tax relief, we would also like to know that the Social Safety Net is there to catch those who fall down.

It is time to deliver. It is time to Lead.

We are watching you - closely & carefully.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"Perhaps the worst election campaign in modern Canadian History ..."

That's what I have to say about the Liberal Party campaign thus far. Don't believe me?

Check this out, hot off the wire:


Paul Martin is just plain inept. He is also paying for the stink of Jean Chretien's corruption.

John Turner's 1984 campaign was not very good, but in reality, the odds were stacked against Turner and the Liberals as the Canadian electorate was tired of the arrogance and stagflation of the Trudeau years. I know - I was there.

Kim Campbell's 1993 campaign was brutal, but she was hung-out to dry by Mulroney. I voted Reform that year, not because I liked those louts, but because I was turned-off by Ms. Campbell and her inability to tell the truth. I know - I was there.

The Liberal's 1958 campaign was akin to Turner's in 1984. The same rationale was in play. I wasn't around for this one, but my Father told me that the final knock-out was a combination of Diefenbaker's hopeful vision married to the electorate's desire to punish Liberal arrogance.

The surprising thing to me, is how composed Stephen Harper has remained in this campaign. When I heard that Mulroney was in the background in the campaign, I suspected that the management of this drama would be undertaken with great care.

My hope for a CPC government is that there are enough Tories & Red Tories elected in Atlantic Canada and Ontario to keep the Alberta radicals in check. That would help me sleep better at night.

As to my voting intentions? I am still struggling with the issue, but since the CPC candidate is so very way ahead in my home riding, I may just stick with my plan to spoil my tender by writing:


... across the ballot.

Yeah, that's it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

How to REALLY Reform the Canadian Parliament

(from someone who really understands how these things work ...)

* reminder:

The Parliament of Canada consists of The Queen, The Senate, and The House of Commons.

There has been much talk of a "democratic deficit" in Canadian politics over the last few years. Unfortunately, most of the analysis and criticism comes from those who have a seemingly low-level of understanding about the nature and benefits of the Westminster model (such as the CPC), or come from groups with a self-interest in radical change (the NDP and the Greens), or come from groups that act on an ad hoc, or contingency, basis (the Liberals). Neither one of these perspectives can lead us to better decisions on the issue of Parliamentary reform.

Herewith, I propose the following three changes:

(A) Increase the number of MPs from 308 to 500 members;

* The parliamentary system works best - and in fact was intended to work - only when the Premier and his/her cabinet can hold the confidence of the House. If the House is too small, or if the Cabinet is too large, then too many members become beholden to the government for their mere existence. This tightens the control of the PMO over the governing party to too great a degree - and the resultant extreme party discipline means that the government controls the House, rather than the House controlling the government.

In our system, the House should determine which party forms the government. Increasing the size of the House would give more power to the MPs and ensure that the Government is responsive to the House, and its elected constituent elements - regardless of party.

(B) Retain the unelected nature of the Senate, but change the number, selection methodology, and apportionment of Senators;

* This is at once a more radical - and yet more traditional way - of reforming the Senate. The problem with the Senate is not that it is an appointed body, but rather the way in which the current number of Senators are appointed and apportioned in the current system. The Canadian system was intended to best mirror the British system, and thus nurture and maintain a different and separate political culture than that created by the the radically- democratic experiment in the USA.

The Canadian system was to be that of a mixed constitution, with a hereditary Monarch, an appointed Senate, and an elected Commons. In this way the Canadian system would be more balanced than the American system. We would have the non-partisan and unifying Crown, an appointed and thoughtful Upper Chamber, and a democratically elected and responsible House of Commons. Each body would balance the other, and ensure that the Dominion would not veer between various extremes in constant conflict (as is the case in the American system) with one another. Everyone who has spent some time on the Hill, knows that the Senate does some really great legislative work; they can act as a chamber of "sober second thought," because they are not constantly facing a fickle electorate. They have time to focus on all proposed legislation, and best ensure that the Common Good is protected.

Having said that, the sad reality is that we have problems with the amount, the selection, and the apportionment of Senators in this Country. Firstly, we now have roughly one Senator for every three MPs. This ratio should be changed. I would reduce the amount of Senators from the 105-109 level currently, down to about 88 in total. This would increase their overall profile, and make it imperative that only the highest quality candidates should be considered.

Secondly, the Prime Minister should not be the one to make recommendations to the Queen's representative as to who should sit in the Senate. That is a conflict-of-interest. I would rather see the Provincial Governments make these recommendations to the Governor-in-Council, via all-party legislative resolutions - in Assembly.

Thirdly, the Senators should be apportioned more equitably, but still on a divisional & regional basis. The West should receive more Senators as their share of the population has increased since the 1950's, but the Senate should not be based on "rep. by pop" considerations, as that is the proper role for the Commons.

All of this would serve to make the Senate more effective, and more fairly & regionally distributed. The appointed nature of the position would keep the Constitution mixed, and enable Senators to take the longer view on legislation - thereby ensuring that we do not live under a tyranny of the majority in Commons. The fact that these Senators would be appointed by all-party resolutions from the Provincial Governments, would mean that the best candidates - who best represent that part of the Division - could take their place as Senator, regardless of party affiliation. Each provincial party could establish lists of candidates for consideration by the Legislative Assemblies. Instead of "party hacks," you would see greater participation of civic-minded business leaders, academics, and other professionals with the talent & desire to serve their Country.

These reforms would create a more representative, professional, non-partisan body that would still follow the original intent of the BNA Act, 1867 - namely, that we in Canada retain "a system of government similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom." Why import American concepts of government (radical democracy) when they have been shown to not work effectively? Just because someone is elected doesn't make them virtuous. Let us all remember that Hitler was elected to the Reichstag.

(C) Increase the Pay and Pension Packages for Senators and MPs;

* This is surely to be controversial, but the old adage remains: "If you pay Bananas, you end-up with Monkeys." If we really want to attract the best and brightest to Dominion politics, then we must remunerate them better. Why run for the Commons, when you can make more money and endure less hassle by working as a private citizen? The best stay away from Public Life because it is not worth the aggravation - as currently designed. As well, what of life after politics? Those who enter public life tend to give-up other opportunities in the service of their Country. Imagine sitting as an MP for ten years, losing an election, and then finding out that your public policy positions make you unemployable in the private and public sectors. How do you make a living now? Was your service worth such treatment?

If we want the best to serve, we must pay what the best earn. The Government of Canada is a large operation with a large budget, and we need the best and brightest to manage that operation. It only makes sense.

Three reforms. That is all. All of them retain the best of Canadian constitutional customs and conventions, maintain the mixed constitution, force the government-of-the-day to be accountable, and give the Senate the ability to shape and improve legislation for the Common Good. What could be so bad about all of that?

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Sad State of Politics in Canada

Between the especially base political ineptitude of Paul Martin, the nasty and negative campaigning, and the air of corruption that emanates from the Liberal Party & and the radical neoconservatism, intemperance of Alberta candidates, and the horror of Stockwell Day emerging as a Senior Cabinet Minister - resides the poor Canadian voter.

Canadian political life is now dominated by special interests and ideologues of all stripes. The people have lost so much faith in the process, that the actual "best & brightest" shy-away from public service. As someone who was heavily involved with the PC Party for many years, I can confirm that party nominations in the various constituencies are entirely manipulated and controlled by money, money, money. I am not going to give real-life examples, but suffice it to say: I have personally witnessed it on many occasions.

Ideas and character do not matter. If you are a candidate, you merely spend what you need in order to sign-up enough people to party memberships to ensure that there will be enough "members" - to vote you in as the local Federal or Provincial candidate. The "members" typically disappear off the membership roll soon after the nomination election. You see, at that point there is nobody to pay their Membership Fee - until the next pre-election nomination contest, that is ...

This pattern of behaviour is replicated in all of the major party riding associations. It is a poorly-kept secret. When a local association really messes-up, the Party Leader usually steps-in and appoints his/her personal candidate. This is the only, and very poor, check on the nomination of defective candidates. It is used only sparingly, and is controversial - as we have all seen.

But there needs to be a check, I think. We may be nearing the day when it makes sense for Elections Canada to manage Riding Associations in the public interest. I read an Ed-Op in the National Post the other day that advocated this course of action, and I must say: I agree.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Desperation Notwithstanding, Paul Martin has lost it (again) ...

Now he wants to change the Constitution by rescinding Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms - which was proposed at the time of the protracted negotiations between Pierre Trudeau and the Premiers of the Provinces prior to repatriation, because there were still Tories and Social Democrats in Canada who believed in Parliamentary Supremacy ... aka "Democracy."

The Clause was seen as a compromise between those for, and those against an entrenched Charter of Rights. Those that believed in the supremacy of parliament were very distrustful of entrenching American-style "rights" into Canadian Law, because it would very likely lead to rule by judiciary - which is what has generally happened. As well, there was a real fear that MPs would refuse to deal with contentious issues, in the hope that the Courts would settle the issue - thereby handing legislative power to the High Court. Again, this is what has happened. The Charter has essentially abrogated democracy in this Nation.

Section 33 is critically important, and central, to not only the idea of parliamentary government, but to the idea of Canada as well. Remember people, this nation was founded by those who rejected the American Revolution - and rejected the idea of abstract rights and theories as they felt that such things would be precursors to instability, discord and disharmony.

If, in a moment of rash trendiness, the Courts read a new "right" into Canadian Law, the "notwithstanding clause" is the only means of overriding the "right" until such time as parliament, public opinion, and sober second thought can come to terms with it - or democratically rescind the "right" if the Communities (Commons) feels that the Judiciary has gone too far in establishing such a right. It is a communal check on the power of the Courts to act as the final legislator of Canadian Law. It is a check against radicalism.

Section 33 ensures that the will of people can be heard (via the Commons) and that numerical minorities cannot rule over the numerical majority. It balances the rule of the majority and the rule of the minority, so that we have laws that are moderate, and established in accordance with the common values of the people in this Dominion.

So, Martin wants to eradicate this important check on the rule of the judiciary.

I guess he is not a very good democrat after-all ...

Does he really believe the nonsense that he spews?

Does he have any conception of Canada other than that of "America-Lite?"

I guess if you consider who his Father was, then you have your answer.

He is a demagogue of the first order.

Speaking first, thinking later.

Friday, January 06, 2006

How the CPC could win the election, and what it would really mean ...

As we head into the last two weeks, or so, of the Dominion Election, it appears that the CPC is now in the lead - according to some new opinion polls.

I would remind everyone that these polls have to be taken with the proverbial "grain of salt," as this Nations' politics are now highly regionalised. If the Conservatives have 36% support, then how much of that is massed in Alberta? If the CPC gets 60% of the total Alberta vote, that skews the national ordering of support, etc & etc .... We should be careful about reading a lot into them.

Regional polls are a better way of hacking into the current trends. Leger Marketing usually does a good job of this. They have released their polling data today, and show the CPC at 34% and the Liberals at 32% - a statistical dead heat.


Leger Marketing also notes that:

"Nearly one-third of those surveyed said they might still change their minds before Jan. 23, with the Prairies, Atlantic Canada and B.C. registering the most volatility."

The survey reveals CPC strength in MB, SK & AB.

It reveals tights races in ONT, BC & Atlantic Canada.

It reveals BQ dominance in QC.

What this is really showing us is that nothing has changed from the last election, save for the fact that the CPC is now being considered more favourably in Ontario and Atlantic Canada than it was last time around.

The end-result appears to be either a Liberal or CPC Minority Government - unless some new scandal or innovative policy serves to cause an uproar in Ontario, BC, or the Atlantic region.

What does this mean for Canada ?

What this means for the nation, is that some large voting blocs appear to identify more with the region they live in, than with the Federation as a whole. While this is not a new revelation, it appears to be more entrenched now than in the early 1990's.

The lines of demarcation are in Quebec and Alberta.

Quebec seems to believe that the best way to represent the community is via a nationalist party. Alberta seems to believe that the best way to represent the community is via a radical "provincial-rights" party. The rest of Canada - including the large bloc of voters in Ontario and BC are confused: Should they support a "Federalist party" or a "Provincial-rights party" ?

Over 100 years ago the party positions were reversed; Macdonald and the conservatives were propounding and defending a centralised Federation, and the liberal forces (such as Joseph Howe & Oliver Mowat) were advocating greater provincial autonomy. Such forces were in tension then - and it appears - they are in tension now.

This is the central fact & quandary in Canadian political culture. Are we Federalists who believe in a strong Nation and National Government, or are we provincialists, who seek only enough central authority to ensure domestic security? Or are we both?

I - for one - am a Sir John A. Macdonald Tory. This is why I cannot vote for the CPC. Their policies and inclinations are not sufficiently federalist enough for me. However, the Liberal party is the destroyer of Canadian nationalism - even though they have stronger Federalist credentials over the last 25 years. I cannot support them. The NDP are opposed to the traditions and institutions that have made Canada great. So much for them. The Greens appear too equalitarian for me. Good-bye to all that ...

The central conclusions are thus:

* Paul Martin is a poor leader for a Federal party. While some give him kudos for his work as MoF in the 1990's, the reality is that he is non-charismatic, a poor extemporaneous (or otherwise ...) speaker, and a bit of a political "stumblebum." As the Liberals did in 1957, he is carrying the baggage of corruption behind him as well;

* There is no longer a Federal Political party that can be considered a truly "National party;"

* The Liberals are about to learn that they did not win all those elections since 1993, but that they benefited from the regionalism of Canada in general, and the regionalism of Conservative values in particular;

* Alberta (and the Prairies south & west of Winnipeg ...) conservatism is classical liberalism of the American variety, supported by single-issue pressure groups, such as Western separatists, the gun lobby, anti-Wheat Board radicals, republicans, and US-style evangelical Christians;

* BC conservatism (such as it is ...) is badly split between American-style republicanism and Canadian loyalism (E. Davie Fulton must be turning over in his grave ...) ;

* Ontario conservatives are generally Red Tories being turned-off by both parties, holding their noses, and voting for the local candidate;

* Atlantic conservatives are voting for the local candidate - almost exclusively.

The next parliament is going to be a mess.