Stretching credulity to breaking point

Sometimes you see the most ridiculous things that stretch credulity to the breaking point. An example is a piece in the Toronto Sun by former Conservative MP Monte Solberg headlined:
"Harper government is a conservation leader."

You have to wonder what Solberg, a long-time favourite of Conservative bloggers, has been smoking since he left public office. He trots out a few examples of nature conservancy and Ducks Unlimited initiatives to support his preposterous thesis.

The reality of course is that the Harper government has an abyssmal record on environmental and conservation issues. Their position on climate change, or lack of a position that entails anything other than propping up Big Oil, is well known. Canada was the laughing stock of the recent Copenhagen Conference and won more fossil awards than the space available to accommodate them in Ottawa. This is still the bald fact notwithstanding Rex Murphy's sarcastic comments in today's National Post about the advocates of the need to take measures to address and mitigate the effects of climate change. Rex used to always get carried away by the sound of his own voice and mastery of arcane words even when I knew him at Memorial University. He's beginning to sound a bit like David Warren, resident fossil at the Ottawa Citizen.

But I digress. Nothing exemplifies more clearly the poor track record of the Harper government on conservation issues than its recent sell-out of Canadian interests in the renogtiation of the Convention for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, i.e. the NAFO issue. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, after extensive hearings, called on the Harper government to reject the proposed NAFO amendments and to launch an objection to kill the ratification process. The House of Commons itself by majority vote adopted a motion by Liberal Fisheries critic Gerry Byrne calling on the government to scuttle the amendments. In line with its general disdain for Parliament and all things democratic, the Harper government proceeded the very next day to announce Canadian ratification of the NAFO amendments which had been widely condemned by experienced former DFO executives and the Parliament of Canada. I will touch on the implications of this for conservation of straddling fish stocks in a subsequent post.

So, Mr. Solberg, I suggest you look a little more clearly at the government's record on environmental/conservation issues before making preposterous claims that do not bear up to scrutiny.


Harper a political changeling

James Travers continues to demonstrate that he is one of the most astute political observers writing for Canadian media. In his latest column he observes:

"The problem is Harper is a political changeling. Instead of the rigid ideologue feared by many voters, his guide rail is expediency. He will say and do whatever is necessary to take, protect and manipulate power. The PM fills political vacuum with rhetorical hokum."

He is "the suspect promoter of promises that come from nowhere and are going nowhere."

The best description of Harper that I have seen so far.



Harper on the precipice

There is growing speculation that Harper has squandered his opportunity for a majority. The latest series of polls suggest a possibility that the Liberals could form a minority government if the March budget precipitates a spring election.

The latest seat projections from EKOS Research suggest that the Liberals could get enough seats to displace Harper. Also a new Angus Reid poll shows that 57 per cent of Canadians believe a federal election this year is “very likely” or “moderately likely”. It also shows that 61 per cent of Canadians disagree with the government’s decision to prorogue.

The portrayal of Harper as an anti-democratic tyrant could form the election issue the Opposition has been seeking. They should focus on and hone this perception in the months ahead.

Info from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/bureau-blog/will-canadians-want-to-throw-the-bums-out-in-a-spring-election/article1447446/


Still tied in polls as Opposition prepares to turn up the heat

According to a new Ipsos-Reid poll, the Conservatives hold only a slim lead over the Liberals. This confirms earlier polls this past week, and suggests the government's response to the earthquake in Haiti has not translated into substantial political dividends.

Meanwhile the opposition plans to keep the heat on the government as government ministers fan out across the country in an attempt to raise the government's plummeting approval ratings. The Liberals will hold a series of meetings on Parliament Hill this week, following on the heels of the anti-prorogation rallies on Saturday.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2479681#ixzz0dag32lVx



Take back the power from King Harper

James Travers has an excellent article in the Toronto Star entitled "You have the power to rein in this PM" which sends a pwerful message of reinforcement to those of us who participated in today's rallies against prorogation. Travers decscribes " a slim book, published 100 years before Saturday's protests against Stephen Harper's darkened Parliament, (that )the Prime Minister should read. Written by professor and poet R.S. Jenkins, Canadian Civics makes the still timely point that "government is too vital to be left to politicians, that citizenship is not a spectator sport."

"What too many now grasp for Conservative comfort is that the Prime Minister is slipping the essential bonds of democratic control. Harper has gone too far in tipping the balance of power from Parliament to Prime Minister, from the legislature to the executive."

I was impressed with the wide range of ages at the Ottawa rally today. Contrary to pundit predictions there was a high preponderance of over 40s, many in their 50s and 60s. These are the voters. The students from Ottawa U did a great job organizing it. I was proud to stand there among a wide range of people telling Harper to "et back to work" Harper badly miscaculated on his prorogation move. As Danny Williams said in NL first, vote ABC (anybody but Conservative) in the next election. To this end it would be a good idea if the Liberals and the NDP didn't split the vote in key ridings that could be taken from the Cons otherwise.


Harper stands alone in abuse of prorogation power

Stephen Harper stands alone among Westminster-style peers when it comes to using prorogation to shut down Parliament for pure political gain, according to Richard Foote in the Sunday Citizen. No other English-speaking nation with a system of government like ours -- not Britain, Australia or New Zealand -- has ever had its parliament prorogued in modern times, so that its ruling party could avoid an investigation, or a vote of confidence, by other elected legislators.

Robert Hazell, the director of the prestigious Constitution Unit at the University College of London observes, "No other parliament has been prorogued in recent times to rescue the government from a political difficulty."



Further condemnation of Harper's prorogation decision

Even Conservative apologist CTV's Craig Oliver has read the tea leaves and joined the condemnation of Harper's prorogation decision.


Conservatives on verge of losing government

The detailed breakdown of the latest Ekos poll shows the Conservatives are on the "razor's edge" of losing government if an election were held today. Harper’s Conservatives would lose 33 seats and only maintain a slim hold on minority government if at all, according to an article by Jane Taber in the Globe and Mail.

Frank Graves’s seat projections are that the Tories would have only 112 seats compared to the 145 they have now. Last fall, when his polls had the Tories in majority government territory. Their biggest losses would occur in Ontario, dropping to 33 from 51 seats. The Liberals, meanwhile, would make gains in Ontario, taking 60 seats from their current 38. Nationally, Mr. Graves has the Ignatieff team winning 107 seats compared to the 77 seats they have now.

A steep price that Stephen Harper didn't consider when he decided to prorogue Parliament.


Prorogation tightens gap between Tories, Liberals

A new EKOS poll for CBC news essentially confirms the earlier Strategic Counsel poll. The lead enjoyed by the Conservatives over the Liberals has dramatically narrowed since Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended Parliament last month. 30.9 per cent of those polled chose the Conservatives, and 29.3 per cent backed the Liberals.

Almost 64 percent of respondents felt suspending Parliament was "anti-democratic." EKOS president Frank Graves said "Canadians have noticed, they do care and this is having a very negative impact on Conservative fortunes."



New poll Conservatives/Liberals tied

Stephen Harper is paying a price for his decision to thumb his nose at democracy by prorogating Parliament.

A new poll by the Strategic Counsel shows that Conservative support has dropped in wake of Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament. Conservatives are at 31 per cent, compared to 30 per cent for Liberals, in the poll conducted by Strategic Counsel late last week.

More details in a report by Susan Delacourt in the Toronto Star:


Harper is going to pay for his obnoxious pattern of behavior.


Even conservative commentator turns against Harper

Diane Francis, writing in today's Financial Post, poses the question: Just what is Harper trying to pull? She observes:

"The decision by Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, to prorogue Parliament again has upset some and sent others to their dictionaries.
The word means suspension, but not dissolution, and is an eye-glazer that masks to most Canadians the irritating fact that the Tories have essentially given federal politicians a month off with pay to watch the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It's irritating that leaders would do this in a jobless recession.
The unjustifiable manoeuvre is undemocratic but most annoyingly unbusinesslike for Canada's party of business. Those, unlike MPs, who actually work for a living are outraged if they know about it. Others feel that the country should be prorogued for three weeks with pay to watch the Olympics, too, under the government's stimulus programs. This would be as effective as shovel-ready projects."


Has Harper lost his marbles?

Has Harper finally lost his marbles? He defends prorogation by arguing that Parliament in session creates instability. Does he understand the concept of parliamentary democracy?



Liberal ads effective

It took a long while but finally the Liberals have some effective ads now that they've chosen to ride the grassroots revolt. Scott

Liberals' ads ask: What is Stephen Harper trying to hide?

Harper underestimates public backlash

The grassroots' revolt against Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament continues. An Angus Reid poll found that 53 per cent of Canadians disagree with Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament, and only 19 per cent agreed with the move.


David Eaves points out in today's Globe and Mail that Harper underestimates Facebook at his own peril . The Facebook group Canadians against proroguing Parliament is now at 150, 000 strong and growing daily. Rallies are being organized across the country, including Ottawa, for January 23rd.



Emphasize arrogance to make prorogation stick to Harper

Bruce Anderson has a good piece in the Globe and Mail where he suggests that the way to get prorogation to stick to Harper is to emphasize that it is a major display of arrogance. And I would add: and contempt for voters.


The blog Skyreporter.com also has a good commentary on the prorogation issue entitled:
Most Canadians Reject Muzzling Of Their Parliament. See:



Proroguing may bite Harper in the ass

Stephen Maher in today's Halifax Chronicle Herald points out that if Canadians come to think that Mr. Harper is abusing their democratic institutions to suit his political goals — which he is — they won’t like that. http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1161290.html

Polls already indicate that the vast majority of Canadians disapprove of Harper's decision to proprogue Parliament. It may come back to bite him in the ass.

New full-body airport scanners

The reaction to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit by detonating explosives sewn into his underwear has generated a new wave of security screening measures for air travellers. Full-body scanners are being installed in airports across Canada and around the world.

In a sober analysis of what this all means, James Travers, in today's Toronto Star, concludes:

"Peeking through passengers' pants won't find explosives in body cavities or provide a reliable substitute for the hard, expensive, painstaking and necessary work of analyzing data and connecting the dots before extremists can do their damage. Suicide bombers win when societies defined by freedom willingly trade it for the fantasy of security. They lose when treated as the thugs they are by countries that invest soundly and without delusion in their own protection and then demand results, not overreactions."


I agree with Travers. What do you think?


Latest poll of Canadian voter intentions

The latest Ekos poll done for the CBC suggests the following:

Ekos: Con 33.1% Lib 27.8% Ndp 16% Grn 13.4% Bq 9.8%

Regional breakdown can be found at Kady O'Malley's bolg with some speculation on the regional implications:


One thing seems apparent. The Conservatives are taking a beating from the widespread backlash against Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament. It may well be that the dictator has overplayed his hand.

The Economist condemns prorogation

The respected international economics magazine, a fairly conservative journal, has a biting article about Harper's prorogation and an opinion piece heaping scorn upon it.



The article states:

"He may have miscalculated. A gathering storm of media criticism has extended even to the Calgary Herald, the main newspaper in his political home city, which denounced him for “a cynical political play”. There are plans for demonstrations on January 23rd, just before Parliament would have reconvened. “Parliamentary democracy is in danger,” declared Peter Russell of the University of Toronto, who was one of 132 political scientists who signed a letter condemning the prorogation and calling for electoral reform."

"Whether Mr Harper gets away with his innovative use of prime ministerial powers depends largely on whether the protest spreads and can be sustained until Parliament reconvenes in March. Mr Harper is doubtless counting on the Winter Olympics to reinforce Canadians’ familiar political complacency. But he has given the opposition, which is divided and fumbling, an opportunity. It is now up to it to show that Canada cannot afford a part-time Parliament that sits only at the prime minister’s pleasure."

In a biting editorial The Economist concludes:

"Mr Harper is a competent tactician with a ruthless streak. He bars most ministers from talking to the media; he has axed some independent watchdogs; he has binned campaign promises to make government more open and accountable. Now he is subjecting Parliament to prime-ministerial whim. He may be right that most Canadians care more about the luge than the legislature, but that is surely true only while their decent system of government is in good hands. They may soon conclude that it isn’t. "


Rick Mercer on Proroguing Parliament

Rick Mercer had an excellent piece in the Globe and Mail making fun of Harper's actions in proroguing Parliament.


Sign the petition

Sign the petition http://www.thepetitionsite.com/7/stop-the-prorogue-of-canadian-parliament

Facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament now has 75,000 members.


Liberals will report for work on January 25th

Liberals will report for work January 25th despite shutdown of Parliament. They'll do things like hold roundtable discussions with experts on a variety of issues in a bid to show Liberal MPs and senators busy constructively addressing the issues that matter most to Canadians.

This movement has taken wing. 50,000 in Facebook Group tonight. Will hit 60 k tomorrow morning. Spread the word. Circulate to your friends. Let's restore democracy to this country.


Proroguing:A Year Later

My last post on this blog concerned Stephen Harper's request to the GG in December 2008 to prorogue Parliament to avoid a nonconfidence vote and certain defeat in the House. The GG granted Harper's request against the advice of some constitutional experts. Subsequently Harper campaigned aggressively against the proposed Liberal/NDP coalition, supported by the BQ. A photo showing Gilles Duceppe at the table with the Liberal and NDP leaders proved to be a fatal error.

Harper swayed public opinion waving the separatist card and resumed governing in the New Year. At the end of 2009 he appeared to be in a stronger position than ever, willfully ignoring votes by Parliament on many issues, including a request that the government produce documents pertaining to the raging issue of whether Canadian troops turned Afghan refugees over to Afghan forces for torture.

Harper again pulled the plug on Parliament by requesting that the GG prorogue Parliament again, which she meekly did. This time, however, Harper's prorogation gambit has led to a backlash. Editorialists and columnists across the country have widely condemned the government's action, seeing it for what it is, a cynical abuse of power by the most dictatorial PM of modern times.

You are invited to join the Facebook group : Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament and participate in upcoming rallies. Cardinal 47 will be there after a one-year hiatus due to the death of my wife.