So it happens that Mum wasn’t the only other one in my family upset by the latest round of Harper Conservative bullying. Mum’s sister sent the following letter:

I am disappointed that you and your party persist in personal attacks on rival leaders. If you are convinced that your performance can stand on its’ own merits, why do you find it necessary to use these bullying tactics. As a Canadian I expect my government and its’ leaders to behave in a civilized manner. If you persist in pursuing gutter politics, I have made a promise to myself that I will act with my wallet. For every new attack ad that your party concocts I will gleefully make a monetary contribution to your rivals.

Hey. Maybe we should all do that, eh?

Shortly after the Liberals picked their new leader, I started receiving e-mail from the Conservative party, bolstering their attack ad campaign with more preposterous propaganda and requesting funds to continue it. I thought I’d write a couple of blog posts fisking the letters (which I still intend to do), but in the mean time, my 71 year-old mother decided to write Mr. Harper, and tell him what she thinks of his style of political bullying:

Don’t send me emails announcing your Vile Conservative septic-tank-stench of attacks that reek of McCarthyism absurdities and innuendos. The Conservative Party has a disgusting absence of honour and principles.

In your zeal to attack Trudeau, Conservatives imply those who are “engaged” with Iran i.e.  the United Nations, Obama, Briton, and every other nation who is  “engaged” with Iran to prevent Iran’s NUCLEAR ASPIRATIONS & “engaged” to prevent the spread of radical terrorism from Iran – ought to be criticized for so doing. Should Canadians conclude that Conservative’s are opposed to being  “engaged” with Iran and opposed to the rest of the world that is “engaged”?

Note: When you sling shit – you end up wearing the shit!!! 

Um…Go Mum!

Motion 312 is defeated

September 26, 2012

That’s the good news. Also good news? The vote wasn’t even close: 203 Nays to 91 Yeas, or 69% to 31%.

The bad news? 4 Liberal MPs–John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood), Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan), Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North), and Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt)–voted in support of the motion.

More bad news? Rona Ambrose, the Minister for the Status of Women Chattel also voted to keep women barefoot and pregnant by force if necessary. I think she should resign out of shame. I also suggest that Canadians who care about women’s freedom might consider contributing to the campaigns of her opponents in the next election.

So, okay, I’ll play along for now. But don’t think I’m going to forget about your Let’s Lock Up More Poor Men in Prison bill.

My MP, Bev Oda, has done the only thing I think I’ve ever approved her doing. She’s restored funding to International Planned Parenthood (it’s not all good: for those who don’t recall, abortion is not one of the services that IPP is allowed to provide with the money–kinda like that old Bush ban). But even the whisper of a hint that women in Afghanistan or Sudan might be able to control their own reproduction with the help of Canadian aid money has Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost’s boxers all in a twist (there’s a video of an interview with him there, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it).

But it makes me wonder, does Brad Trost have a quiver full of kids? I mean, if his wife isn’t being a good Christian brood mare and popping them out at the rate of one every eighteen months or so, they must be using contraception. Surely he wouldn’t object to oppressed and starving women in Africa managing the size of their families? Oh, just took a closer look at his website. He’s <b>not married</b>.* And here I thought he was just being a privileged Westerner trying to impose a rule that he’s not even following himself. But his hypocrisy goes even beyond that: he’s trying to impose his religious dogma on women everywhere when he’s not even at risk of becoming a parent himself (after all, as a good Christian, he’s not having pre-marital sex right)?

He writes on his blog about how he and the other forced-birthers in the Conservative caucus worked to get the IPPF funding dropped in the first place:

“Many, many Conservative MPs pressed the PMO to stop the funds from flowing. Federal funding did stop for a time. Funds allocated to IPPF were considerably reduced. Furthermore, federal grants for IPPF also had more strings attached.

This only happened because of the pressure applied. “

Yes, Mr Trost, you got away with pulling funding for Planned Parenthood because you did it behind closed doors. You want to bring your women-are-just-animated-incubators agenda out into the open? Bring it on. We’re ready to crush your iron age thinking into the dust where it belongs. In case you haven’t heard, women now have the vote. And men who acknowledge that women are people too will stand and vote with them.

*I assume, given that there are no pictures or mention of his family and he wears no wedding ring.

Tim Hudak (the leader of the “Progressive” Conservatives in Ontario, currently in the running to be the next premier), wants to establish an online sex offender registry. This is for families he says (though apparently had to pull in fake ones for the photo op).

I don’t think such a thing would even be legal here in Canada, thank goodness and the Privacy Commissioner. (Has he even checked it with the Privacy Commissioner? I wonder…)

Records that are accessible by law enforcement is one thing, but an online registry that can be accessed willy-nilly by irrational parents? That’s just asking for trouble. We know that will lead to harassment and vigilantism against people who have completed sentences and probation and no longer pose any threat to society. “Sex offenders” include people who have solicited prostitutes, people who’ve exposed themselves when drunk at parties or outside of bars, kids who sent sext messages/pics to their boy/girlfriends, those boy/girlfriends who then shared the pics with friends. It’s not just serial rapists and child molesters.

We have a “dangerous offender” designation if the government thinks someone poses an ongoing risk to the public. The government should avail themselves of due process to have the perpetrator declared dangerous and not allow them to be released. Not publish the names of ex-convicts so people can harass them or attack them out of anger or irrational fear.

There’s been a lot of talk among the grassroots at CAPP and among the opposition parties on how to prevent the kind of abuse to democracy that Stephen Harper calls “routine”. A lot of talk. Mostly pushing for new legislation, or even constitutional reform. The problem is that both of those approaches are like amputations to cure an infected paper cut–yes, the infection is dangerous and could kill you if left to fester, but drastic measures may not be necessary.

Now, keep in mind that I’m not an expert in parliamentary procedures and how they become official (other than by precedent), so maybe this won’t be do-able, but it seems to me that we can answer to the abuse and contempt of parliament by implementing a rule that a PM cannot ask the GG to prorogue the House

  1. Until he or she has passed a confidence motion in the House of Commons
  2. If there is a standing order to produce documents to a Parliamentary body (committee of either chamber, the Senate, the House of Commons), or to an oversight body (e.g. the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Budget Officer)

A rule of this type would not impinge on the traditional privileges of the PM to actually be the one to ask for prorogation, but should prevent the most egregious abuses.

A new blog and lots to say results in saying virtually nothing!

Ah well, there’s plenty of time to get into the habit and there’s always plenty to talk about. Just today I could have written entire blog posts on:

  • Tourism Minister Diane Ablonczy being stripped of administration of a tourism funding programme for (wait for it…) funding tourism while Lisa Raitt continues to hold onto the sexy Chalk River file when she has handled it with nearly unmitigated disaster, risking the health and lives of not only Canadians but people around the world. The distinction? Not helping cancer patients is no big deal, but helping homosexuals is anathema.
  • On a related note, can right wing Yahoos refrain from using “pro-life” to mean anti-abortion-rights and “pro-family” to mean anti-gay-rights?
  • My thoughts relating to an ongoing debate about science journalism. The upshot? Science journalists have a great responsibility in reporting without sensationalism and with discretion. As things stand, it seems like every day a new study is reported saying that X might be beneficial or X might be detrimental. Without discrimination applied, much of science journalism fosters the impression that science is unreliable. It’s no wonder that many people find it difficult to distinguish scientific facts from religious faith.
  • On the post-Canada Day requiem for knowledge of Canada, Canadian history and Canadian institutions: perhaps Heritage Canada should revive those Heritage Minute ads—but with a difference: how about reviewing some basic facts about how our political system works (no, the PM is not the head of state and if we weren’t so ignorant or complacent about it, we would realise that his taking a military salute should be considered an extreme overstepping of his office, only one practical step away from usurpation; no we don’t elect a PM, we collectively elect a government & that government selects someone to recommend as PM; no, a coalition of elected MPs is not a perversion of democracy but a fulfillment of it), our geography (yes, there are 3 territories), and our history.
  • A couple of points raised by commenters on this post by Phil Plait on the Texas Board of Education: First, one that I commented on myself:

    @Rob Lee Says:@Petrolonfire #19 — “BTW. Is that a Godwin’s law record – nazis /Holocaust coming in at the fourth posts already!? :-O

    Haha — Ok, you got me there. In all seriousness, though, the point does stand. I feel that on an academic level, it is a very valid comparison. I try to stray away from the Nazi references, but in this case there really is not a better or more effective comparison.
    [The comparison being discussed is between scientists who deny evolution and historians who deny the Holocaust. Allegedly, more historians fall into the second group than scientists who fall into the first. – Ibis]

    I’ve seen this “statistic” used as a comparison several times, but as an historian I have to question whether its factual. Where did it come from? I don’t know of any legitimate, trained historian that seriously questions the reality of the Holocaust. Professional historians, like professional scientists, rely on evidence to draw their conclusions and the evidence in both cases are so overwhelming no rational person would doubt either. I suspect that this statistical comparison was pulled out of someone’s…um… hat.

    Second, is this annoying assertion by atheists that agnosticism is (a) a cop-out position (b) doesn’t actually exist (c) a position on a spectrum with gnosticism, while atheism is on an entirely separate spectrum with theism (this last one has some merit, but not in the manner it is usually deployed). Maybe some day when I have a bit of time, I’ll set the record straight.

And all of that is just off the top of my head (and ignores the number of other posts I have sitting here as drafts). Well, I guess this blog writing is a habit just waiting to be formed.

I spent a few years loving one of them quite intimately in fact. I’m thinking of him today as I see the reports, videos, pictures of protests. I doubt very much that he’s taking part in any of that mind you; he fought in the Iran-Iraq war, but since then tried to focus on his studies and his business aspirations and avoided politics as much as possible. However, I recall his voice distinctly as he commented on Ahmadinejad during the last presidential campaign. “That guy is crazy. Crazy.” Anyway, I feel very connected to Iran and hope that whatever happens in the coming days, they are somehow able to engender a new wave of reform.

Mulling It Over

June 13, 2009

Like everyone else, I’m thinking about a summer election: Yes or no? A tweet from Denis Coderre about 40 minutes ago asks:

En passant qui veut des elections maintenant?

Well, let’s see.

Con

  1. The opposition parties, especially the Liberals, are tapped out financially and wouldn’t be able to put on as aggressive a campaign as the Conservatives.
  2. Summer elections can be annoying which may cause a lower turnout among moderates.
  3. Voter fatigue and frustration at the prospect of yet another election in such a short span of time may cause backlash against opposition parties, especially the Liberals.

Pro

  1. The Conservatives are currently in a very weak position, showing their true colours with the Raitt/isotope issue, economic mismanagement, dismissive and antagonistic attitude to Quebec & central Ontario.
  2. Polls show the momentum is with the Liberals, especially in central Canada.
  3. One of the major criticisms of Ignatieff (at least as far as the media is concerned) is that we don’t know what alternative he’s offering. Of course, an election platform is the venue to show the alternative, and frankly, practically any alternative is better than what we have now:
    • a government that fights the courts to avoid protecting Canadian citizens abroad
    • a government that is more concerned with staying in power than respecting the constitution
    • a government that ignores, overrules, and ousts impartial arms-length agencies
    • a government that brings out the worst in people, encouraging regionalism, divisiveness, and small-mindedness
    • a government that ignores international obligations and treaties
    • a government that protects the oil industry at the expense of protecting the environment
    • a government that has judged that women no longer need to seek equality
    • a government that wants to squeeze every drop of life out of the CBC, until privatization or even dismantling it entirely seem rational options
    • a government that thinks the arts and culture (despite the high degree of income generation) are a waste of taxpayer money
    • a government that wants to privatize our nuclear industry
    • a government that still wants to fight a (1980s American) “War on Drugs” instead of sane approaches such as decriminalization or legalization of marijuana and preventive mental health care and treatment for addiction to harder drugs
    • a government that cuts (already low) funding to science and research
    • a government that pays lip service by apologizing for the residential schools but turns its back on the Kelowna accord and ignores aboriginal poverty
    • a government that says they’re “tough on crime” but supports illegal gun ownership
  4. There is a whole election campaign to drum up support and tear down the Conservatives’ shaky hold on seats outside of their Reform base
  5. Those people who are most firmly in the “we don’t want an election” camp are not going to go to the polls just so they can vote for someone other than the Libs. They’ll just stay home, as they have for the past 5 or 6 elections.
  6. The NDP will look a bit tired with Jack again at the helm, so the non-Conservative vote might not be split as much as otherwise. Same goes for Duceppe and the Bloc.
  7. Voters who went to the Greens last time because they didn’t like the idea of Dion as PM, but still didn’t want to support Harper, might come back to vote Liberal with Ignatieff as leader.

All in all, I think that despite the cons, now is as good a time as any to go. So I say “moi, Denis”.