Friday, September 25, 2015

How Thomas Mulcair Made Clap Trap a Human Right

Pick a debate, any debate, and Thomas Mulcair will find a way to bring up the "fact" that he reduced GHG emissions every year that he was the environment minister in Quebec, and that he was responsible for putting a clean environment as a right into Quebec's charter.

Of course, he will also say that he did not  promote the sale of bulk water, despite video evidence.  That video got the most re-tweets during last night's French language leaders debate.

However, that lie is pretty tame, compared to his other whoppers.  Let's compare:

Did GHG Emissions really go Down Under His Stewardship?

In the 2012-13 Quebec government budget report, there is a section Quebec and Climate Change: A Greener Environment. As part of this they produce a graph.

Thomas Mulcair was Quebec Environment minister from 2003 to early 2006, but never drafted a Green Plan until 2004, and never actually acted on anything, favourable to the environment.  So his policies (?) had no impact on reducing GHG,  but in fact, one in particular, caused a spike.

This was the result of the TransCanada Energy’s combined cycle gas turbine in Becancour, a project he approved in 2004. The generating station was Quebec’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in 2007.  (Wikipedia)

When Mulcair put his stamp of approval on the project, he had to break the rules established by his own government, since it would not meet the necessary requirements.
According to Mr. Paul-Yannick Laquerre, deputy chief of staff to Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair, the regulations would not apply to the project of Bécancour. Me Laquerre argued that the Régie de l'énergie approved the draft Bécancour on August 23, several months before the adoption of the Regulation ...
It was eventually scrapped and Hydro Quebec was forced to pay the company 250 million dollars just to get rid of it. 

So in fact, Thomas Mulcair did not reduce GHG, but increased it.  

The Promotion of Sustainable Development

When Yves Séguin resigned as minister of finance in 2005, Thomas Mulcair had hoped to take his place. However, Jean Charest chose someone else.  Mulcair went into one of his famous sulks (see political cartoon above), but did a sulk cause Charest to expand Mulcair's ministry to include sustainable development and parks, which put him in charge of construction projects?  Not a promotion, but certainly more power.

This meant that in spite of the announcement that he would finally present a  long awaited "Green Plan", environmentalists were sceptical, and they were right to be, since they soon learned that it was not so much a plan for the environment, as a way of getting around environmental concerns, to aid the construction industry.

In 2012, the Research Quebec Group of Ecologists (RQGE), published a 250 page report for their thirtieth anniversary, in which they detailed their experiences with Thomas Mulcair, during some of their darkest days.

These are some of the things they revealed about his tenure in the Charest government.

1. In 2004, Mulcair announced massive cuts to environmental programs and to groups receiving funding for reseach and public awareness. (p. 220)

2. After meeting with minister Mulcair, whose attitude was less than cordial, environmentalist knew that they would have a different relationship with this government. One that would be more combative in nature. (p146) When the Ministry of Environment became the Ministry of Sustainable Development, and Parks; they noted that "sustainable development" was a new code phrase for skirting environmental protection. RQGE sent out a newsletter warning that with the drastic funding cuts and new policies that put industry first, their very existence was in jeopardy. (p152)

3.  RQGE harshly criticized the "contempt Mulcair displayed" to environmental groups. "In a statement published in winter 2005, and with the support of Advisory Committee of independent community action which at that moment was " about 4000 action groups in the Community in Quebec, and called for "the immediate restoration of financing programs that would enable groups to fulfill their mission of defending the rights of the environment." (p159)

4. ... "environmentalists and community networks denounce the forced closure of several citizens groups fighting the environment, consequence of the abolition by the Minister Mulcair of all their funding programs". This was done so that he could replace their work with "partner companies" [public private partnerships] " They now knew why Mulcair appointed William Cosgrove,  (p157) "Chairman of the World Council water and a champion of private and PPP  and asked how Mulcair could "claim to focus his choices and actions towards a sustainable development when appointing a fervent defender of private interests at the head of a provincial organization." (p166)

5.  They also speak of Mulcair's arrogance:  "... he stubbornly refused to meet anyone" and , "The attitude of the Minister Mulcair is unacceptable, even contemptuous, against groups whose survival is threatened by abolishing funding programs "  According to the Director of RQGE Ronald O'Narey, "The minister openly displays his prejudice favourable to the groups that are working directly and measurably in the field and appears biased against groups who issue opinions and comments on everything that contradict his". (p160)

6.  They determined that Mulcair's Green Plan was "a facade that hid the true intentions of the government" where economic interests would outweigh environmental concerns. (p. 220)

7.  When groups began to openly criticize Mulcair they were "... threatened with a SLAPP, and since many were now "completely penniless, since the cuts of Mulcair", they would not be able to defend themselves.

Mulcair did not disappoint the construction industry though:
Finally the new Ministry of Sustainable Development under Thomas Mulcair, is off to a terrible start. I received an email from the transportation department last week, Informing me that a projected bridge linking Laval and Montreal at 25 Highway, was part of the government's Plan for sustainable development. This bridge, will sacrifice 2,000 acres of farm land to urban sprawl in Laval, allow 150,000 more cars to enter Montreal each day and funnel off government funds that are desperately needed for public transport.  Sustainable development is anything but objective... (Charest's sinking ship: After only two years in power, the Liberals are going down, Arthur Sandborn, The Montreal Gazette, April 13, 2005)

The bridge that Mulcair approved was dubbed "Mulcair's Bridge" and Highway 25, was a  PPP project. This money was supposed to be earmarked for a commuter service.

Does this sound like a record to be proud of?  We hear Mulcair mention "sustainable development" many times, but let's not be fooled.  Just as "choice" means private, in conservative speak, this means locking arms with the construction industry, and destroying all environmental protections that get in their way.

Oh, and That Human Rights Thingy

Another claim made by Mulcair is that he entrenched the right to a clean environment into Quebec's charter of rights and freedoms, but it was a sham.  It reads "Every person has a right to live in a healthful environment in which biodiversity is preserved, to the extent and according to the standards provided by law."

It doesn't say that laws must protect the right to live in a healthful environment, only that governments must enact their own environmental laws.  They could have none at all and still respect the charter.

Is Mulcair a pathological liar?  Perhaps.  But fortunately, there is a cure for that.  Let him retire on October 20.  This country cannot afford another anti-environment prime minister.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

About Race, Misogyny, Music and Fathers. Where Do I Start?

Recently, during an Up the Debate leaders forum on women's issues, Justin Trudeau was asked  about what causes misogyny in young men.  He answered
“I don’t know where exactly to point my finger.  I think there’s probably an awful lot of factors that come together to shape societal behaviour — whether it’s certain types of music? There’s a lot of misogyny in, you know, certain types of music. There’s issues around pornography and its prevalence now and its accessibility, which is something I’m really wrapping my head around as a father of kids who are approaching their teen years. And there’s also just the shifting parental roles as well. There’s a lot of communities in which fathers are less present than they have been or they might be in the past, and there’s more need to have engaged positive role models.”
In the videotape, the original question concerning misogyny and young men, was edited out, and replaced with a question about the causes of violence against women.

Paula Simons, in her piece for the National Post, focused on racial stereotyping,  using journalist Desmond Cole's accusations that Trudeau was talking about black people, when he referenced music.  Simons also claims that one "could equally well hear those words as a reference to domestic violence in the aboriginal community."

It is risky to stir up racial hatred, when many communities are working so hard to fight violence against women.  Both the Liberals and NDP have promised such help, and for all the narrow mindedness of the Harper government, they have delivered, though not nearly enough.

The Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association, is just one group fighting gender inequality and tackling the sensitive subject of male aggression.  And they are doing it by involving men, so that the healing process can begin.

If we are not allowed to talk about this in an intelligent manner, how can we justify funding for something that we don't want to believe exists?  Community leaders are the best to gauge what they need, not race activists or journalists.

Desmond Cole took to Twitter, even setting up a separate thread to discuss Justin Trudeau.  Why did we allow this man to hijack such an important issue?  This was supposed to be about women and gender inequality, not him and his own causes.  Racism is an important topic, but this was not about race.  Our concerns have now been lost. I'm hoping this was not the intent, though I think it was more about partisanship.

Music and Rape Culture

In a piece The Lines Are Never Blurred, on the feminist site I am a Woman, I am Not a Man, But I am Equal to No One, the topic was rape culture and music.
One of the most dangerous results of a patriarchal society is the presence of a rape culture. This term refers to “practices which excuse, normalize, or even promote rape or sexual violence,” especially against women Rape culture includes both “institutional sexism” in the government and misogyny in pop culture

...Pop culture is another area where rape culture is clear and evident. Popular music, especially that written by men, often refers to women as “hoes,” “bitches,” and “sluts.” Performers such as Eminem, Flo Rida, and Robin Thicke rap and sing about how they would like to sleep with the females in their songs, yet they objectify and insult the objects of their lust. The song “Blurred Lines,” by Robin Thicke, is full of references to non-consensual sex and other characteristics of rape culture, and is a prime example of how popular the objectification of women and the trivialization of rape has become. The lyrics of “Blurred Lines,” as well as the lyrics of other songs by equally popular artists, encourage a misogynistic attitude by promoting messages straight from the mouths of rapists and those who make excuses for them.
Those are the words of a feminist, and for the record, Eminem and Robin Thicke, are both white. She does not see this as a race issue but blames it on "the male-dominated rap music industry".

Of course it's not just rap music, but many genres that objectify women. The Artiface, in a piece about pop culture and violence against women, singles out Maroon Five, and their song Animal.

In a 2010 piece for the Toronto Star, Antonia Zerbisias, discusses the influence of television, advertising and music, that promote a rape culture.
"There are rape jokes. Rape songs. Music videos that covey a sense of sexual entitlement to men while portraying women as insatiable, available."
She is certainly not being racist, even if somehow we are supposed to conclude that she means black rappers.

We have to remember that Justin Trudeau is not just a politician, but is also a father. However, he did not get his talking points from Bigots R Us, but from the writings of feminists, who have been sounding the alarm for years. He may have also learned a lot from his wife Sophie Gregoire, who won recognition from the  UN Women National Committee  Canada, for her "volunteer and activist work on mental health, eating disorders as well as for women- and children-related issues."

To suggest that Justin Trudeau is racist, or has minimized issues facing women, is ridiculous.  Any media ignoring the intent of the debate, and making it all about unfounded racism, is as Zerbiasis suggests, just feeding into the culture.  I hope she gives them hell.

And About That Fatherhood Thing

In Chicago, in February of 2013; President Obama gave a speech that raised a few eyebrows. In it he said: “there are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding. And for a lot of young boys and young men, in particular, they don’t see an example of Fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families and be held up and respected.”

Both liberals and conservatives alike, attacked what they saw as a patriarchal attitude. However, it launched a movement This Is Fatherhood ” that includes some very high profile, and dare I say African American, public figures. They are not saying that women can't raise children on their own, only that fathers need to be more accountable, and that male role models need to step up and show by example, how women and girls should be treated.

The prime minister, is not our parent and their government not our keepers.  We need individual communities, regardless of race or creed, to lobby for designated funds to promote gender equality, and speak out against rape culture and violence.  Only they know what is needed and how best to deal with it.

That is not to say, that violence does not occur in homes across the country, which is why we need to address things like income equality, poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.   If a woman is financially dependent on her mate,  she may feel trapped and more willing to take abuse.

None of these things can be handled in one debate, especially when the concerns raised during that debate, have been lost.  But at least it brings these things to the forefront during this election campaign.  Or at least it would have, if it hadn't been hi-jacked by someone with their own agenda, and a media preferring sensationalism to honest reporting.

And we wonder why they don't take us seriously.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The NDP's Obsession With Justin Trudeau Could be Their Undoing

I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”  - Franklin D Roosevelt

Just hours before the Globe and Mail debates on the economy, a story surfaced suggesting that Justin Trudeau was in trouble in Papineau.  It started out as "may be" but then quickly changed to "is"' as the results of a poll were released.

This sampling suggested that Trudeau's NDP opponent, Anne Legace Dowson (shown above), was 11 points ahead, worrisome if it were true, but it wasn't.  Turns out that it was the NDP who commissioned the poll of 375 people, and that 86% of those they contacted, were NDP supporters.

We can certainly understand the party's deception, but why would the media go along?

Canada's polling industry is now worried that this fraudulent survey, that garnered such sensational headlines, will further damage their reputation.  It was clearly used to throw Justin Trudeau off his game.  His anger did show through, and at times he appeared frantic, that evening, but was still able to get his points across, and the Globe and Mail gave him the win for the best economic vision.

What was supposed to drive voters away from the Liberal Party, and to the NDP, backfired, and they may have lost support from both pollsters and the press, who are less than thrilled that they were dragged down with them.

So Who is This "Star" Candidate?

In 2008, Anne Legace Dowson was introduced to the voting public, by way of a spread published in a Quebec newspaper.  In it she compared herself to Barack Obama, and according to the paper, everyone thought of her as “the Oprah of Quebec”.

However, one letter to the editor, questioned this, given that they had never even heard of her "until the media pumped her up".
I was born and bred in Montreal and consider myself pretty well up to date on who’s who in this city…. but I’ve never heard of this Anne Lagace Dowson until yesterday. That was the day the Montreal Gazette wrote a huge half page story about her nomination.  
Today’s supper time local news on ALL the networks had wide coverage of her……it seems like they are trying to make her into the winner before the by-election date has even been set.  
She has a radio show on the local CBC station. I think that explains why I’ve never heard of her.  CBC english radio usually pulls in between 4 and 8 percent of the english speaking audience….in other words between 92 and 96% of anglo Montrealers NEVER listen to it..!!!!
Legace Dowson was running against Marc Garneau in Westmount, and with the media hype, the prediction was a tight Liberal/NDP race.  However, although outspending Garneau, the results were much different than anticipated.

She didn't compete in 2011, instead focusing on local politics.  In 2014 she ran for the seat of commissioner for the English school board.  It was an important election, since the very existence of school boards was on the line.  The minister of education made it clear, that if there wasn't more voter interest, he would pull the plug on them.

Legace Dowson led a team of ten, against her opponent's ten, representing the wards in the school board district.  She only managed success in two of the ten, one after a recount, by a handful of votes.  She claimed that there was election tampering, though her arguments were weak.

In fact, one of her people actually misrepresented themselves, to obtain voter information, and the police had to be called.  It was crazy.  The unnecessary drama and feeble campaigning, that garnered just 20% support, hardly makes her a star.  At least not in any galaxy I know of.

Given this desperate attempt to make her look better than she is, and more popular than she is; we can only conclude that the NDP are aware of this.  If she can't even come close in a school board election .....

On the bright side. Quebecor knows who she is.  That's something I guess.

Justin Trudeau Forges Tight Alliances

While both the Conservatives and NDP have been relentlessly attacking Trudeau, a strange phenomenon has occurred.  Instead of Thomas Mulcair presenting himself as an alternative to Harper, he now appears to be an ally.

Both are committed to balanced budgets, as unrealistic as that is, and both are now committed to the F-35s, simply because Trudeau has promised to scrap them.  This puts him with progressives, who also want the procurement stopped, as do many members of the Canadian military, including General Leslie.

Yes, the NDP will argue that Mulcair only wants a better bidding process, but the headlines of Mulcair and Harper opposing Trudeau's stance, make the two appear as comrades in arms.  Not what either of them want, though it will not harm Harper as much as Mulcair.

In trying so hard to discredit the Liberal leader, the NDP have failed to give the voting public a reason to support them.  Their platform is weak and financial plan seriously flawed.  They produced a nice glossy folder with nothing in it, but gobblygook.

They had hoped to ride the  C-51 bus to Election Day, but the wheels fell off.  Hope they at least turned off the engine.

Trudeau's strategy, once thought dangerous, has proven to be brilliant.  He has set himself apart from Harper and Mulcair, by claiming that deficits are Ok, F-35s aren't and high income earners should pay more taxes, so that everyone else can pay less.

He is being judged by the enemies he has made, as Roosevelt opined, and those enemies are looking more like a united front, than competition against each other for the prime minister's job.

So who's "not ready" now?

Friday, September 18, 2015

When is a Dynasty Not a Dynasty?

There has been much talk during this election campaign, about Justin Trudeau's famous father, and a notion that he believes that becoming prime minister is his birthright.  There were similar attacks on Michael Ignatieff, because he descended from Russian royalty on his father's side and the famous Grant family of Canada on his mother's.

Apparently being born into prominent families means that you cannot possibly lead this country.  You're an "elite" and "out of touch".

However, has anyone addressed the political dynasty of Thomas Mulcair?  He likes to portray himself as just a regular guy, one of ten children, in a family struggling to get by.    However, the reality is much different.  
Before pretending to be "middle class", he loved reminding people that he was a descendant of Honore Mercier, a former premier of Quebec. (1)

He was right.  He is a descendant of the ninth premier, but the lineage goes much further and family connections, run much deeper.  

His mother was the daughter of Pierre Hurtubise and Jeanne Mercier.  Jeanne Mercier was the daughter of Paul-Emile Mercier and Marie-Louise Tache.  Paul-Emile Mercier was the son of Premier Honore Mercier and his second wife, Virginie St. Denis.

These are the things named after Honore Mercier:
-The Mercier Bridge that links the western part of the Island of Montreal with the South Shore;
- The town of Mercier, Quebec;
- Avenue Mercier, located in downtown Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada;
- The provincial electoral district of Mercier.
- The Mercier neighbourhood in Montreal.
- An elementary school named Honoré-Mercier in Montreal
- A high school named Honoré-Mercier in Montreal
- A hospital in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec is named Hôpital Honoré-Mercier.
- Honoré Mercier Boulevard, located in the Quebec city center.
He also had a son Honore, who was the godfather of Tom Mulcair's mother; a cabinet minister and multi-term MNA in the Quebec Assembly.  His son followed suit.
A daughter of Honore's, Eliza Mercier, married Sir Jean Lomer Gouin, who became the 13th premier of Quebec and 15th Lietenant Governor. He also served as Justice Minister under William Lyon MacKenzie King.

He had these things named after him:
- Gouin Boulevard, the longest street on the Island of Montreal;
- Gouin Reservoir (In French: Réservoir Gouin), a man made collection of lakes in the center of the province of Quebec;
- Rue Gouin (Gouin Street) and Place Gouin, located in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada;
- Rue Gouin (Gouin Street), located in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada;- The provincial district of Gouin;
- Lomer-Gouin, intra-provincial ferry services between Levis to Quebec City operate by Société des traversiers du Québec.
Sir Jean and Eliza had a son Paul who would also join the Quebec Liberal Party before leaving and forming his own.  Mulcair also belongs to the Chaveau line, making him a great-great-great-grandson of Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau, the 1st Premier of Quebec.

The list goes on.  He was a member of the Quebec elite and as such had many doors opened for him, and he expected them to be.  One of his mentors, and a person who had a great deal to do with advancing Mulcair's career, was Claude Ryan, former director of Le Devoir newspaper, and head of the Quebec Liberals.  He also knew how to use the press to his advantage.  Apparently, it was Ryan who got Thomas Mulcair his position with the Quebec Justice Department.

Thomas Mulcair did not come from humble beginnings.  Politics were in his DNA, along with a sense of privilege  Below is a screen shot of a story that appeared in The Daily in 2005, describing the experience of a stakeholder who had requested a meeting with Mulcair, when he was Minister of Environment.  He speaks of Mulcair's arrogance, demanding a clean limo and his continued sense of superiority.

When you watch those videos of Mulcair promoting private healthcare or espousing the virtues of Margaret Thatcher, he does not come off the smiling grandfather, but as someone  who clearly feels above his listeners.  Reading transcripts of debates in the NA, you also get that sense.  He was the closest thing to noble birth that you can get in this country, and he wanted to make sure that you never forgot that.

So when is a dynasty, a dynasty?  I guess only when it's linked to a Liberal leader. 

1. Community Besieged: The Anglophone Minority and the Politics of Quebec, By Garth Stevenson,  1999, Mcgill-Queens University Press, 0773518398

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Were the Liberals and NDP Set Up by Lynton Crosby?

There has been much talk recently about the Conservatives hiring of the Australian strategist, Lynton Crosby. Known for his dirty and divisive campaigns, the news sent, if not shock waves, at least ripples; throughout the rival teams and their supporters.

However, we have since learned that Crosby has been working on Stephen Harper's campaign since March, and in fact has been guiding him since 2006.

Why are we just hearing of this now?

Lynton's reputation for creating wedge issues, or what he calls "wedge strategy", is well known, as is his use of simplistic political idioms that become ingrained in the minds of the electorate.  Things like "not a leader", "just visiting", "proven leadership"  and "not ready", certainly come to mind.

However, his real skill is in dividing the opposition by deliberately focusing on a debate, destined to become a hot button issue.

Normally, with something as important as Harper's omnibus anti-terror legislation, opposition parties would unite, as they did against the abuse of prorogation, the Afghan detainee issue, and the closing of the prison farms.  But by introducing the bill just before an election, this presented a problem.  The opposition would have to find a way to work this bill, C-51, into their election strategies.

The Liberals decided to support the Bill, to avoid being labelled "soft on terror"', but were going to use their proposed amendments, as part of their platform.  They had already succeeded in changing the wording so that the bill did not prevent protests, despite what the law's detractors would like you to believe.

The NDP hedged a bit, not sure what to do.  Thomas Mulcair publicly stated that if elected, he would not scrap the bill, but simply amend it.  That made sense, since it does contain some important measures.  We also had to respect the two soldiers who were killed, and not let their deaths be forgotten.

However, NDP supporters were outraged.  Michael Laxer, Roy Romanow and Ed Broadbent all weighed in, essentially calling Mulcair a coward if he didn't step up.  So he did.  I don't need to tell you what happened next, but with the help of the media, Justin Trudeau became the fall guy for Stephen Harper's bill.

Lyton Crosby couldn't have done better if he'd scripted the entire thing himself.  Of course, he probably did, or at least wrote some of the lines.

Where the NDP Went Wrong

After David Cameron's surprising victory in the UK, Lynton Crosby explained to the International Business News, how that was accomplished.  Cameron was as unpopular as Harper is now, and like Harper, he gave the opposition a lot of things to oppose.  Said Crosby:
"One of the reasons why Labour did not succeed in the UK in the last election was that they never did the work as an opposition to prepare themselves again for government, and they were very opportunistic in all of what they did in the five years that they were in opposition. So they jumped on various issues, but they never had a story to tell." 
Mulcair painted himself as the great debater and great opposer, but never really told the NDP story.  In fact, at times he contradicted his party's positions, and even his own.  You can't just be against things, but have to be for something. 

Their platform was all over the place, promising the moon, while aligning the stars.  CTV has learned recently from some leaked documentation, that they have not even costed out their spending proposals.  They have no idea how they're going to pay for all this stuff, only that they will magically balance the books.  Like anyone cares.

They went too far with C-51, and have created a void.  The last poll conducted on the issue was at the end of May, and showed that 72% of Canadians support the measures, despite the perceived loss of privacy. Besides, the common belief is that if you are not engaged in terrorist activities, you have nothing to worry about.

But since Crosby's main goal is to cause vitriolic debate within the opposing parties, he certainly accomplished that.  If any good came of it, I was pushed to research Mulcair, to counter some of the attacks on Justin Trudeau.

After learning what I did, I then said "hell no".   We've got another Stephen Harper waiting in the wings, and felt compelled to do what I could to prevent that from happening.

However, for all those who think that Thomas Mulcair and the NDP will repeal C-51, think again.  Even if they could, which they can't without the Senate, they will not want to.  It's a very easy thing to say during an election campaign, but something all together different when you're in government.

Pressure from the right wing media, who loved Mulcair's stance on Palestine and Margaret Thatcher, would kick in, and the security forces, who pushed for more power, would advise him that they need those laws.

Mulcair, like Trudeau, is smart enough to know that being "soft on terror" is not a label he would like to wear, especially if we lose any more soldiers at home.  After the actual French terrorist attacks, they adopted strict anti-terrorist laws and their leader's ratings soared.

When George Bush brought in the Patriot Act, the same thing happened.  Fear is a strong motivator and we often look for a parent to protect us, whether it is our family's leader or our country's.  It's simple human nature.  Harper has won this debate, and he can sit back, hold steady, and allow the NDP to do his dirty work for him.

Lynton Crosby is smart and tough, and not afraid to get his hands dirty, but he is not infallible.  We need to take comfort in the fact that he has been working with Stephen Harper since 2006, and Canadians still don't like him.

All political parties need to campaign their hearts outs, and now that they know who Crosby is, and what he represents, refuse to get caught up in the nonsense.  Debate policies and platforms and put in the work necessary to win.  That's how Stephen Harper will be defeated.

Monday, September 14, 2015

So Who's the Dictator Now?

Recenty, former NDP MP, Bruce Hyer, has come out to the press about his former boss's dictatorial style and problems he had with honesty; evident in the way that he is constantly contradicting himself.

When asked during his interview with Peter Mansbridge about this, Mulcair only said that Hyer did not want to vote with his colleagues.
In an email to HuffPost, however, Hyer called Mulcair's statements "a total fabrication."  "I always supported 95 per cent of the NDP party platform. I still support much of it! But I feel very strongly that my primary role is as the representative of my constituents," Hyer wrote.  
"On some issues, an MP's responsibility is to put … constituents ahead of the party line. It is interesting that Mulcair immediately contradicted himself and said that I was 'someone who walked away from the party on a single issue.' Again and again, I see and hear a man who in his pursuit of power will contradict himself."
In fact as early as 2013, the Globe and Mail had already noticed the trend.
Much attention has been given to Conservative backbenchers who push socially conservative issues and are later overruled by cabinet. What is not well known is that Conservative MPs are far more likely to support motions from other parties – all of which are to the political left of the governing party. In contrast, the voting record of the official opposition under NDP leader Thomas Mulcair shows ironclad discipline. Not a single vote has been cast that is out of step.
This certainly lends credence to Hyer's comments. One of Mulcair's nicknames when he was in the Quebec legislature was objet immobile or immovable object.  He was very obstinate.  Recent analysis of voting patterns have shown that the NDP vote with their leader 100% of the time, while the Conservatives only 76%. So who's the dictator now?

During the 2004 election campaign, many Canadians were concerned with Stephen Harper's views on the Constitution, and fears that his platform would result in many court challenges.  It has.  But how is that any different from Mulcair's platform?  He is also threatening the Constitution with his promise to abolish the Senate.

Harper was also antagonistic toward the Supreme Court, suggesting that they had too much power.  As a populist, he believed that all the power should rest in the hands of elected MPs.  Is this not exactly what Thomas Mulcair is suggesting today?

He claims that if elected the Senate will have to answer to him.  I find that rather frightening.  Yes, the Senate is wounded but it is not broken, and is a vital part of our democracy.  They are supposed to the sober second thought, that would protect us from leaders like Mulcair and Harper, who believe in an autocratic style of government.

Sadly, they have become little more than a partisan cesspool, but that is where we need change.  Senators should not belong to any party.  If they are caught campaigning for, or against, any political party, they can no longer be a senator.  We need them to represent us.  We are the ones paying the bills.

Both Harper and Mulcair want the Constitution reopened to push their own agendas.  It won't happen because both Quebec and Ontario, have already said that they are not prepared to do that.

I have been accused recently of not being progressive because of my opposition to Thomas Mulcair. However, it is as a progressive, that I am sounding the alarm.

In November of 2009, Linda McQuaig wrote in the Toronto Star
If, as polls suggest, Stephen Harper is poised to win a majority, it's largely due to the media notion that his past reputation for extremism no longer holds. In fact, apart from his reluctant embrace of economic stimulus, Harper has shown little of the "moderation" that supposedly now puts his government comfortably within the Canadian mainstream.
I feel as McQuaig did then.  The media is once again being blissfully ignorant, or intentionally misleading, by ignoring Mulcair's past.  He was not an "extremist",  but he was virulently right-wing.  Most progressive journalists warned of Harper's devotion to the principles of Margaret Thatcher, yet most, including McQuaig, are now eerily silent on Mulcair's.

We can't make the same mistake twice.  If Mulcair is re-elected it will be as a Member of Parliament. Depending on the outcome of the election, he could be prime minister, opposition leader, or leader of the third party.

But under no circumstances will he be elected supreme being.  He will not dictate to the Senate.  He will not unilaterally change our constitution and he will not simply repeal anything, without the support of both Houses.

We've had a decade of this kind of government, and Canadians are weary of it.

Including this progressive.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS

Recently the Toronto Star posted a piece on Thomas Mulcair and the fight against ISIS:  Mulcair Would Pull Canada From U.S. Led Mission in Mid-East if Elected.

This is a big mistake, not only politically, but from a humanitarian angle.  There is no argument that George Bush's ill-conceived war in Iraq, or in fact the decades of invasions in the region, gave rise to ISIS; but abandonment is not the answer.

As part of his reasoning, Mulcair claims that this is neither a NATO nor a UN mission, but he is wrong. Nato is involved and were involved in most, if not all, engagements in the Middle East.  The United Nations has resolved to stop the flow of money and arms going to ISIS, but many of the arms they are using, are those left by the Americans

And the NATO missions that Mulcair is promoting, have destabilized
 regions, making them ripe for terrorist takeover.  You can be a pacifist and oppose war, but if you support any war, you are no longer a pacifist. His stand is a bit confusing.

As to stopping the flow of money going to ISIS that too will be difficult.  The west has been bombing oil refineries, one source of revenue, and some nations are refusing to pay ransoms, and yet the organization is still able to pay their bills, as well as provide money to run, according to the Economist, "services across the areas it controls, paying schoolteachers and providing for the poor and widowed."

We run the risk of further alienating the occupied, if ISIS can blame the west for not being able to take care of the people.  We need to stop bombing, but we can't just leave.  Humanitarian aid and training is still necessary.

Radicalization and NDP Naivete

When Stephen Harper announced that he would stop Canadians from travelling to countries engaged in "terrorist" activities, Mulcair said he would support the initiative, but questioned whether it would help in the fight against "terrorism".  He went on to say that C-51 did not do enough to combat the "radicalization of youth".

This was actually a topic for debate in the Commons, as the NDP tried to push through an amendment to C-51, reading in part, that the Bill "...does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as providing support to communities that are struggling to counter radicalization.

What communities do they mean?

I rarely agree with anything Peter Van Loan says, but he did raise the issue that it was "ill defined".  Do they mean Muslim communities?  Peter Julian had this to say:
The mosque that is in my riding in Burnaby—New Westminster was the mosque the man who murdered Cpl. Nathan Cirillo attended. I travelled to that mosque within a couple of days of what happened on October 22 here on the Hill. What the mosque members told me was quite stark. They said that they knew he had profound mental illness. They knew that he had a drug addiction. They tried to seek help, and there was nothing available. This is something we have heard from communities right across the country.
It sounds like the issue is more about mental illness and drug addiction, issues that are discussed in many places, and not confined to Mosques.  It would appear that the NDP believe, like the Conservatives, that terrorism is associated with Islam.  This is not only Xenophobic but incorrect.  While the Islamic State is using the religious angle, their motives are not religious, but political.

According to Huffington Post, Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed, the two Brits who went to Syria to join the rebels, first purchased off Amazon, two books:  Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies  They were not devout Muslims.  Nor were the 9/11 hijackers who reportedly used cocaine, drank alcohol, slept with prostitutes and attended strip clubs, but never belonged to a mosque. 

A 2008 report published in the Guardian, dispelled the stereotypes of those who become involved in terrorism:   " They are mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices. Nor, the analysis says, are they "mad and bad". and "Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly."

Didier François, a French journalist who was held by Isis in Syria for ten months before being released in April 2014, has provided some insight into the life of those fighting for ISIS, in a CNN interview.
“There was never really discussion about texts.  It was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion.  It was more hammering what they were believing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran. We didn’t even have the Quran. They didn’t want even to give us a Quran.”
This is a political movement, not a Jihad one.  President Obama has been trying to stress that, but his words are falling on deaf ears. I often learn a lot by reading the comments section of media reports, and in one, there is a debate between two readers.  One was trying to stress that all terrorists are Muslim but their opponent fired back by saying: "Christians are also terrorists.  They just call it 'shock and awe'".

It is not religion that is fuelling this war, it's war itself.

The Radicalization of Youth Has Little to do With Communities

Al Jazeera also published the results of a study, defining the risk factors for  violent radicalization:  Youth, wealth and academia appear to predispose individuals to sympathizing with acts of terrorism.

Perhaps surprisingly, religious practice, mental health, social inequality and political engagement were not significant factors.
“We’re offering a new paradigm for sympathies as an early phase of radicalization that can be measured,” Kamaldeep Bhui, the study's lead author and a cultural psychology professor at the university, told Al Jazeera. 
While just 2.4 percent of people expressed some sympathy for violence overall, researchers found that those under the age 20, those in full-time education rather than employment, and those with annual incomes above $125,000 were more prone to express sympathy for violent protests and "terrorism."
The attack on Parliament Hill was perpetrated by a mentally ill, homeless man, but mental illness is a separate issue, just as drug addiction and homelessness are.
“One explanation for homegrown terrorism in high-income countries is that it’s about inequality-related grievances," Bhui said in a phone interview. "We were surprised that [the] inequality paradigm seems not to be supported. The study essentially seemed to show that those born in the U.K. consistent with the radicalization paradigm are actually more affluent or well off.” 
Two other findings stood in conflict with prevailing stereotypes about so-called homegrown terrorism in the West: Immigrants and those who speak a non-English language at home, as well as those who reported suffering from anxiety or depression, were less likely to express sympathy for terrorist acts.
If we really want to "stop the flow", we need to stop invading countries, and taking part in "regime changes", simply because they are not willing to conduct business on our terms. Many of the sympathizers are well educated, and intelligent enough to know that there have been grave injustices committed, while society at large blames the victims.  Who are the "terrorists"?

I agree with supporting "at risk" communities, dealing with poverty and youth unemployment, but that will not stop terrorists.  As studies have found, they are not poor, uneducated or unemployed and rarely religious.  In fact, the stereotypical description of radicalized youth, are often the ones who believe that all terrorists are Muslims.

That's where we have to "stop the flow".  Misinformation.