Sunday, December 24, 2006


Well, it's that time of year again... Looking forward to spending some time with family and friends.

I noticed Harper took an opportunity to wish a couple of religions "the best" this holiday season. His buddy "Stock" decided to go a little further in spouting neo-Con gospel, by taking a shot at "spear-chuckers" (whatever he was insinuating with that comment, it certainly wasn't meant in a non-racial way).

I think I'd like to wish everyone the best in a very LIBERAL way:


Have a great holiday everyone, and all the very best to you and your's in the New Year!

Here's to victory in 2007!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What Conservatives Are Thinking Right Now... And Do They Really Think?

We've probably all had thoughts on what the Cons felt about potential turnouts for our leadership... This article sheds some light on what some of them thought. Regardless of what this indicates - and no matter what kind of line of Conservative BS it is - what the activities of these Cons points out is one very key fact: the CPC strongly feels we had several leadership candidates who could cause them harm. The very fact that they went through the great efforts they did at our convention outlines that they are afraid - they are very afraid.

While the "activist wing" on the right of the party worries about our next leader, the "red wing" of the Cons is actively working on their next leader. Right now the Red Tories are working on trying to build the bridges they require to pick their next great hope.

So... what are the "facts" so far?
1) We know the Cons are afraid of our chances after our leadership
2) We know the Cons are in a nosedive in Quebec
3) We know the Cons have been stuck in the 30-32% polling range for months (even without a Liberal leader)
4) We know Conservative members - including MPs are actively recruiting people (even folks they know are active Liberals) - for an upcoming leadership campaign
5) We know Harper is firing off "hail mary" after "hail mary" in hopes he can grasp both his party's, and the public's attention (these "hail mary's" include: the SSM vote; the Senate gambit)

Let's put aside any doubts we have in our minds that we - as a party - can engage the conservative threat. Let's keep moving forward and take the country back - for Canada's sake.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Harper Thinks Eastern Farmers Are Not "Real" Farmers???

Found this on Prairie Fire's blog:
"Harper said Dion should go out West and talk to real farmers about what type of Wheat Board they want..."

I missed the clips from the debate, but if this is really something Harper has said about farmers, it certainly shows Canadians what he thinks of Eastern Farmers. Typical Harper (and typically Reformer) - always hating "the East". Yes, we know that the Cons have been crying about shutting down the Wheat Board for years. They have been angrily (as usual) screaming about how the Board is bad for the rich mega-acre farm special interest groups who have long supported no-one but conservatives.

As Liberals this statement by Harper presents an ideal launching point for a resurgence of our campaign in the rural areas of Southwestern Ontario, and Southern Quebec, as well as the rural Atlantic Provinces.

Friday, December 08, 2006

If An Election Were Held Today, 30%+ Of Quebecers Would Vote Liberal!!!

I know it's only a pre-Christmas poll, and maybe months from an election, but it is interesting to see these results from Ipsos.

We are sitting at 30% in Quebec - and that should translate into a few seats. Our gains across Canada have come mostly at the expense of the Cons (taking back moderate voters who threw their "sponsorship protest vote" away to the Cons). We also seem to have taken about 2% from the NDP - showing that the "soft NDP" vote is not as soft as some would think. Coming from Saskatchewan, I can clearly say that the NDP is a religion for a lot of folks and things like an idiotic leader making deals with their political opposites (Harpo's Cons) often does not sway them.

The "Nation Question" plays into what the Cons may be in for. The Cons shot themselves in the foot (feet?). Harpo the clown's gambit was that he would steal Iggy's thunder by talking "nation" before our leadership convention. The Cons were very afraid they would lose votes to us in the next election. All worked well for Harpo - until Iggy lost the leadership. All of a sudden, instead of someone battling him for "soft nationalist" votes (a'la Iggy), he now finds himself battling the author of the Clarity Act (although Harpo may argue with that statement), and he may just end up in a battle for federalist votes in PQ.

Now I do think we would have had solid gains - no matter which of the final 2 were our leader (I continue to think Iggy would/someday will be a great leader). I can't wait to see our new stars join our existing stars (like Ralph Goodale, Denis Coderre, etc.) in taking on the Cons in Parliament. In the words of Jean Cretien: "We have work to do"! We can maintain our momentum and win the next election - let's stay focused.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

For Anyone Who Wanted to Hear What Iggy Said To His Team After The Convention? This Is A True Measure Of The Man

Wow! And this guys is only just warming up. We are in for good times folks. With Iggy on the front benches with Stephane, the sky's the limit...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Best Parties From This Leadership Weekend

Okay, time to review some of the parties/hospitality suites at this weekend's incredible convention.

Top Parties:

1) Sukh Dhaliwal's Suite at the Delta. Any party with free booze will top this list. Sukh's party was packed, and the room was busy until it got hard to breathe and delegates poured out into the vast Delta Centre-ville Mezzanine (and filled it too).

2) Dr. Ruby Dhalla's Hospitality Suite (Delta Penthouse). The mini-samosas were a hit. Again, an endless supply of free booze was a big part of it - as was the killer view of Montreal.

3) Young Liberals Event (Metropolis Nightclub). Great people meeting event. Not a good booze situation (one drink ticket), but the Young 'uns get much props for the souvenir shot glasses. Any Young Libs party has to make a "top parties" list, and this one definitely does. We closed the joint, and had some great pizza and poutine across the street...

4) Ken Dryden's Suite. Ken Dryden's hospitality suite, Ken Dryden hockey cards, and the man himself (able to sign autographs). Need we say more?

5) Scott Brison's Suite. Scott knows how to party. Let's just leave it at that.

6) Alberta Hospitality Suite. Alberta beef-on-a-bun. Mmmmm...

Honorable Mention:
4) GK's Montreal Smoked Meat Party... Montreal Smoked Meat - need anyone say any more? Unfortunately the meat only lasted the first hour or so, and late arrivals were SOL.

Worst Parties:
(You know who you are). Basically any party with a cash bar falls into this category. I mean c'mon... how the heck are young Liberals expected to survive if they can't get their free food and booze? Hospitality suites are supposed to be "hospitable".

1) Stephane's victory party. What party? Yes there were a lot of Liberals in the hotel, but a lot of GK's supporters stayed at the Hyatt (they had a pretty big party there; some were even talking to other's about Gerard's upcoming run at the leadership). Number one reason this party was a bit of a let-down? No free booze. Note to Stephane's organizers: When you just won the leadership of your party, try being a little Liberal with the booze, or at least have some food in the room... Oh yeah, and open a window... there were as many party-goers in the frigid hotel lobby (trying to cool off), as in the party rooms. One other thing: When rival candidate supporters come to pay tribute to your winner, you don't criticize them for their Iggy or Rae buttons... Just a hint at bridge-building.

2) Bob's W Event. Once again with the cash bar... We know the campaign had cash... Where'd it go (if not for the important thing like swinging delegates with booze)?

Will be reporting "live" from the BC Liberal Convention this upcoming year. Maybe the Alberta Convention (LPCA) and Sask Conventions too...


What a Weekend! Random Musings on the Montreal Convention

Wow! What a weekend! What a week! After months of crazy preparations, it all came down to this...

A slew of solid candidates battled it out for leadership of our party. The speeches were great. The hospitality suites were great. The delegates were great. The City of Montreal was fabulous as always. What a weekend for our party. Congratulations to everyone on a battle well fought. Sure there were moments of anger and frustration - a lot of jostling during lineups to vote and get into the auditorium were the cause of a lot of this - one of my Iggy campaign co-workers was pushed around and spat on when he tried to speak to someone in the Rae area and a bunch of Dioners surrounded him. Regardless of these regular campaign blemishes, the convention was good for the party - and made great TV viewing.

Nothing was more dramatic than the "not knowing". Viewers at home - and national media types were glued to their TV sets and monitors as the events unfolded. And unfold they did. The odds-on favorite - supported by more Liberals than any other single candidate - was defeated on the forth ballot by a coalition of camps. In the end Stephane Dion persevered in a 54 to 45% margin.

It was great to see the "X-Prime Ministers" on stage throughout the convention. They may still not talk to each other a lot, but they made some valiant efforts to be seen together. Perhaps it was the lack of their "backroom staff" who seemed to hold more of the grudges than either of the PMs. It was refreshing to see the likes of Ms. Caderio (sp? tb) and a lot of the old Martin crew in the Dion/Kennedy camp. Of course most of the membership (and media) was aware of the presence of large numbers of former Cretienites in the Rae camp. One would have to say (after observing all of this) that regardless of the concentration of these "backroom staff" and confidantes in the Dion and Rae camps, there was enough of a spread of the "old school" Liberals from the Martin-Cretien "legacy" in all the camps that we can once and for all say that the old stupidity is finally behind us.

What now? Well, we have to get ready for an election that may come at any time. It was great to get a 6% bump in the polls this morning. Stephane will have to ensure he is focused on his environmental platform. Canadians are open to a frank discussion of the environment. He'll also need to look at Ignatieff's comprehensive environmental ideas. Stephane will need to ensure he renews the debate on the National Childcare Program - so caringly designed by Ken Dryden. He will need to ensure he carries out any promises he made to Gerard Kennedy - which would most likely include party reform. Dion will need to pursue "soft" NDP support that would have come to the Liberal Party under a Rae leadership. Finally, he will definitely have to engage Quebec federalists. He will need to give them hope, and a reason to feel good about the Liberal Party.

How will Canada react? Most importantly, how will Quebec react to him? How will Ontario and Western Canada view another Liberal from Quebec? A group of us did some informal polling as we tooled around Montreal this weekend after the Dion win. I always ask cabbies for their political opinions as I find that they are one of the most informed members of any community, and usually know the mood of the public. Of 10 cabbies we talked to we had 2 who were very supportive of Dion. They indicated they liked mainly his ideas on Afghanistan and on the environment. The eight others were not so kind: Several responded with the exact words: "We hate him". They indicated he was not liked by many Quebequois. As a loyal Liberal whose first allegiance is to the party (over any one person), I really hope our survey was as inaccurate as a survey can be when done fleetingly between various Montreal bars, and Liberal hospitality suites and victory parties.

Go get 'em Stephane! Vive la Canada!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Vote To Keep Delegated Conventions

Here's a line from an email of a friend who sits on a few Conservative boards, and is a very active politico:

"I'm glad you are opposing Belinda's one member, one vote issue. I've said all along that the liberals have it right in how they elect a leader. You take the drama out of it and it becomes one boring leadership race. Look at this nonsense in Alberta. Any Joschmo can walk up and buy a membership right before voting.........absolutely ridiculous. Democracy should always happen in the ridings where the TRUE members actually show up to a meeting, meet the delegates, and vote on who should be going."

He's right. I don't think we as a party realize the value of a delegated convention, as we prepare to leap into the currently "en vogue" idea of what we want to call "one member, one vote". Let's examine that statement for a second. Is it really one member, one vote? What do we do right now? We allow our grassroots across the country to vote for both a candidate AND a delegate to represent that candidate. We consider many things when selecting our delegates, including their dedication to our candidate of choice, their ability to make a wise decision, and the work they've done for the riding and the party. We send (typically) solid people who can represent us well. Democracy in action.

Now let's look at our proposed idea: We want to let everyone who has a membership vote - no matter how "instant" a Liberal they are, or how ill-informed they are of the issues. These people may not have had a chance to meet any or all of the candidates, or had any opportunity to consider anything more about the candidates than what they hear in the media. This is our idea of a "fair" system? With this new proposed system, the focus of all candidates will quickly go from one of meeting party members and trying to convince them of the merits of their candidacy, to a focus on busing in hundreds of "instant Liberals" to stuff ballot boxes across the country.

So the logistics of the new proposal could get pretty ugly - no matter how much the strongly democratic words "one member, one vote" try to make it seem better. What about the grand spectacle of a delegated convention that we'd all miss out on? Many of us younger Liberals cut our teeth in the world of politics attending delegated leadership conventions. We recall watching in awe as Trudeau was victorious in 68, or a young upstart from Bae Comeau won the Tory leadership in the 80s. We were riveted to our TV sets as Cretien defeated Martin in 90, then swept to power months later. Regardless of political party we have always noticed an upswing in public interest during and shortly after a delegated convention. A party selecting a new leader in a strongly contested delegated convention has often swept into power - often with the momentum of the convention spurring everything. The weeks and months of free publicity leading up to a delegated convention - not to mention the HUGE media and public interest on the convention weekend is not something that can be bought - especially in this day of low cost campaigns (thanks to new campaign finance laws).

I can't say that I always could afford to go as a delegate to all conventions, but I was always able to find senior party members who helped with sponsoring my trip. The campaigns were always quite particular about working hard to ensure they got their people to the vote. This was important, as it really showed an ability to organize - something that is very important to a party thinking about going through a tough election fight requiring a well-organized campaign machine. What I did end up paying "out of pocket" (or out of parent's pocket) was something I felt happy about spending, as it was paid to the Party I love, and for a cause I was passionate about.

To be like everyone else, we could just go "one member, one vote" (in words alone), to make everyone imagine we're being more "grassroots" - just to watch our members suffer as "instant Liberals" run off with the votes to get their candidate out in front. Just talk to Alberta PCers to see what kind of mess they are involved in. Years from now we will lament the destruction of our very sound leadership process if we choose to go this route.

This weekend, please choose to support the existing leadership process.

Thank you!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ideas - What Canada's Best Leaders Have Always Been About

For many months we have closely watched our leadership convention. We have watched a solid campaign, fought with honor. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, and to the Arctic, our membership have had many opportunities to meet each candidate. A solid debate has taken place - if not on stage, then at least in the blogs and via the media.

Looking long and hard at all the candidates I decided I wanted to support those who brought forward new and progressive ideas for our party and our nation. With the large field of candidates we were (not surprisingly for Liberals) delighted by an exceptional debate. From the beginning the fresh ideas and educated opinions of Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion appealed to this voting delegate most. Ken Dryden's affable style and pragmatic solutions to Canadian issues were also high on the list.

As the campaign rolled on we all saw "shots" traded back and forth on various issues. All of the front-runners committed gaffes of one sort or another. Towards the end of the campaign we saw a more serious discussion about ideas. We saw the campaign coalesce into a serious discussion about Canada and this country's future.

Today, when we look at the frontrunners we see some clear distinctions:
- Ken Dryden is a great guy with some good ideas, but perhaps not the delegate support to seriously challenge the front-runners
- Bob Rae may not be as likable, and perhaps doesn't have the "baggage-free" past, but he has some real-world leadership experience (maybe not the best experience, but...) - in the wrong party
- Stephane Dion showed some great potential early on as the "surprise" candidate, who seemed to be "everyone's second choice". Things changed for Stephane when "angry Stephane" stepped out. Dion also missed some key opportunities to discuss ideas... being "former Environment Minister" was not enough when Ignatieff trumped him on environmental ideas... and getting beaten to the punch on the Quebec "nation" issue was not a good thing for the only Quebec candidate
- Gerard Kennedy has proven to be a "good guy", and "the kind of person this party needs in a future cabinet". Unfortunately for Gerard his lack of any serious pull in Quebec has hamstrung his campaign. Fighting it out with Harper in territories Harper is strongest in would not be the best situation for our party
- Finally, we come to Michael Ignatieff. Through the entire campaign Ignatieff has taken shots from other campaigns about his voluminous writings and some public statements. No matter how much flak the rookie MP has taken, he has risen above it all to come shooting back with more fresh ideas. He has been careful not to criticize the other campaigns or candidates (as a front-runner must be mindful of).

As the campaign comes to a close Michael Ignatieff seems to be the most "Prime-Ministerial" of the candidates. His powerful public persona has lent him an air of confidence and capability. One resounding fact permeates the entire Ignatieff campaign: This is a man who has given a LOT of thought to the Canadian equation. He has thought through the challenges and opportunities this land faces, and has come up with some significant thoughts on where we should go - and how to get there. It becomes apparent from speaking with Mr. Ignatieff that his ideas were not simply "hatched" for this campaign (as those of some other candidates may have been - to wit: the Bob Rae "campaigns are not about ideas" statement). Ignatieff displays thought patterns that have been at work since the 1968 leadership contest, during which he was a Trudeau campaign team member. Since that time it is obvious he has been touched by the Trudeau vision for constantly challenging this country with fresh ideas.

In Montreal this upcoming weekend I will be casting my ballot for Michael Ignatieff. I urge everyone to carefully think about what fresh ideas and a clear vision will mean for us. Last election we were defeated for a lack of ideas - all we could do was criticize Harper. Voters saw Harper as having ideas and vision - even if they did not agree with all of it, the fact was that he had given serious thought to where he wanted to take Canada. We need to ensure we have a leader who can beat Harper in the national debate, while proving to Canadians that we continue to be the party of new thought and ideas.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Alberta: The Stepford Province

I've lived throughout Canada, and many places in the world, but I have seen few places as homogeneously conservative as Alberta (Texas may compare). Alberta does have a conservative "heritage", but it is truly frightening to see the masses vote unashamedly Conservative for so many years. The lunacy of it all is that even groups who typically would/should never vote conservative DO here in the good 'ol AB. Union workers, the working poor, immigrants and minorities, even teachers and nurses seem to support the Cons more than any other one party.

This political "one-think" is extremely bizarre... something of a real-life "Stepford Province". It is so frighteningly conservative that, while conservative Albertans and their national sounding-boards (National "Pest", Global) have bashed Ontarians for the past 10 years or so (for voting Liberal federally), they deny their own 40-plus year inbred marriage to conservatism - both federal and provincial. Yup, I used the word "inbred", and inbred is really what Alberta politics is all about. It's not about building bridges, accepting newcomers, and new ideas... rather, it is about "you're either with us, or "agin'" us".

What will it take to change the Albertan outlook? Probably the next 10/15 yrs. - enough time for alternative fuels to come to the forefront - or for oil supplies to diminish enough to cause this to occur quicker. Change may also come with the influx of Canadians and foreigners bringing modern political outlooks to Alberta (although to count on that may be folly in most cases, since many of the most conservative-minded people in neighboring provinces have run to Alberta, and praise it as a gleaming bastion of conservativeness).

In reality, Albertans (some of the richer ones anyway) have benefited from that "black gold" shooting out of the ground. Anyone could govern the province through the excesses of riches it has Bacchanally bathed in over the past decades. Heck, make it a kindergarten class project. The crazy riches shooting out of the ground have led to the open-armed welcome of foreign-owned oil companies, American-based venture capitalists, and even the Enrons of the world. Adam Smith would have been proud to watch this new blameless, conscience-less, angry capitalism run rampant over the leeward plains of the rockies. The Albertan "success story" (at the cost of medicare, seniors, children in schools, infrastructure maintenance, minorities, and social justice) has created a bit of a beacon for a lot of Canada - of promised riches (don't mention the fact that the real-world salaries are not much higher, if at all, and come in the face of rampant inflation and cost-of-living increases). The beacon shone brightly enough for Canadians (less than 1/2 of us) to actually vote into power an Alberta-based neoCon government... just barely.

This winter it is time for us to throw out the Stepford government... It may all start with one of Harper's robot servants breaking down and freaking out at a public event (ie: speak in public, without Shrub's "coles-notes"). One can only hope...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stephen Harper, Conservative "Morals", and Safe Injection Sites

Now that a comprehensive study has shown safe injection sites do work, what exactly will the neoCon government's response be??? It will be interesting to see what Harper does. Most likely the Cons will find plenty of other things to screw up - so we won't likely hear about the program the Cons cut funding to earlier in the year.

In a nutshell typical conservative rhetoric always argues for extreme measures when dealing with crime or moral issues. One things conservatives hate - science. They'll write it off as "the" faulty science they hope to believe it is. While they're quick to find a miniscule group of supporters who can argue against the majority of the scientific community, conservatives have found new ways to cast doubt on scientific fact. Like the Inquisition hundreds of years ago, it is always conservatives in society who want to bury their heads in the sand. It's great to see a very public study confirm safe injection sites do work. Now it's our duty to ensure the rest of Canada keeps hearing this message.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Conservative's China Folly - Or Is It Their Plan???

Liberal Catnip's post
really leads one to think about the perilous economic situation the Harper's regime seem to be taking us towards... I for one have always felt that Canada needs to do more to remove some of our eggs from the NAFTA/US trade basket, and seek out the world's two fastest growing economies - India and China. It seems that Harper's conservative ideologues are just too repelled by the label "communist" to want to ensure Canada's economic future. Heck, the Cons always ripped any party to the left of their "practical fascism"as being "pinkos" or "commies". We all have neo-con buddies who throw that word around thinking the slur has an effect on the people it is hurled at.

We as Liberals stand more for human rights and citizen's rights than any conservative movement ever has - it is just part of the very definition of the parties. When Harper's lackies speak about the human rights abuses in China, they conveniently choose not to discuss human rights abuses in "allied" lands like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Russia, and yes, our good buddies to the south (the US). Its not about the rights, but about who supports our conservative ideologue values... Like the Bushists the Harpies are extremists to the core. Like the Bushists they will lead us to economic ruin.

While our NAFTA partners decline - Mexico in squalid poverty, and the US in economic ruin (from trying to be the world policeman, and flex their muscles) - India and China grow exponentially. Canada is on a crossroads that we couldn't even dream of just 50 years ago: we're located at the economic crossroads between the EU, Russia, Japan, the US, and of course China and Asia. With the melting icecap we are going to see the opening of the Northwest Passage within 10 to 15 years. Canada is in the perfect location to exploit this fact. Why would European shipping traverse the Panama Canal to China and Japan when they can just cut across Canada's north? Northern Canada would also benefit immensely from this routing - maybe even deep sea ports and railways across the permafrost. Of course the Americans and their Conservative cousins around the world (all of whom have heavily invested in stock in American corporations) stand to lose a lot if cargo ceases shipping via the Panama. The American-backed world-wide neoconservative movement has everything to gain from ensuring Canada's "Northwest Passage" does not become Europe and Asia's preferred trade route.

Canada NEEDS both China and India - heck, why not all of Asia? We need to hook up with growing trade partners who need both our resources and expertise. Cretien and Martin both understood this, hence our Team Canada Trade Missions. WE need to hurry up and get back in power so we can retain any bridges we've built with the new Asian Tigers.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Income Trusts: Harper's "National Energy Program"

It's rare that you pass through any political discussion in Alberta, tell someone you're a Liberal, and not get the usual mouth-foaming seething angry comments about the NEP, Trudeau, and Liberals in general. There are Albertans that were never directly hurt by it, who talk about the NEP like it was the boogey man, or maybe a curse brought to them by the Devil himself... (regardless of how painfully obvious it is to any non-foaming-at-the-mouth person that a global recession was more to blame for Alberta's early 80s woes than any federal policy designed to keep the nation running).

For decades the "mouth-foamers" couldn't stop their furious hateful rants - I mean, you gotta see one of these folks - you honestly would think they need a straightjacket. Now, it appears PM Shrub has given the rest of Canada (and a lot of Albertans) something new to seeth over... the whole income trust scenario.

Now, we will need to put this into perspective: the global economy is doing quite well right now (with the exception of some key players - like the US), so we probably aren't going to see a whole lot of bankruptcies due to this. Still, thousands of people stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was sad to see them on TV with their woeful stories. A lot of people are very upset. Funny thing is a lot of these folks are Albertans.

One thing is for certain - Liberals, by our very nature, tend to be a lot less likely to be raving seething, or "angry". So while an Eastern, Ontario-based company's moves led to Harper's quick "fix", it likely won't lead to the blanket dislike we saw in Alberta. As a matter of fact, Harper's henchmen probably never even realized they were punishing the oil barons of their "home province" more than some Eastern corporation...

Will the income trust issue become a major election matter? Will it remain on people's minds for years to come? It remains for history to tell. At the very least we can expect a lot of (formerly) wealthy Alberta Conservatives to donate a lot less (if anything) to the federal Cons in the upcoming election. Good for us.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Stephen Harper's $Billion "Boondoggle"; Income Trusts, and other Fine Things

The Conservative crash and burn continues this week:

We heard Harper and his henchmen/women cry for years about a gun registry (that actually worked), because of the cost overruns they said were ridiculously large. Today we hear news of the Con's own government "missing" estimates on the cost of arming Canada's Border Guards. The original $101 Million estimate can be thrown out the window now, and the Cons can start telling us how much it will really cost to arm all our border guards. The fact that it wasn't even the Con MPs, but rather a member of the Border Service who actually revealed the new numbers, shows that the Cons had no plans to reveal the true numbers. These real numbers were tenfold the original claim - whoa... another Billion Dollar Boondoggle? Mr. Harper? Shrub??? Say it ain't so!!!

"Mr. Harper - you're a liar..." These were the words of one Montreal resturaunteur after hearing about the income trust changes. The fact is that the Conservative government's integrity is what's at question here - not the pros or cons of income trusts. The simple fact is: "Canada's New Government" lied to voters on a very blatant and clear promise not to tax income trusts.

What will the next weeks/months bring? We can only imagine. Hang on - this is going to be one lively election!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Layton Good For Liberals

We may love to poke fun at him. We may enjoy his tireless attempts at populism - all the while forgetting his core NDP supporters. We may laugh at his antics. We all deride him for being the cause of this Harper government.

Whatever we think about Jacko, we are starting to see how he is worthwhile to our party as the leader of the NDP than he would be replaced by someone, er... ummm... let's just say "competent".

Jacko will keep playing with his neoCon friends, all the while alienating more of his left of center supporters... The whole idea of a party two steps left of center even talking with Cons is ludicrous. Yet "wacko Jacko" will persist. His "socialist principles" will be sold out for a fleeting brush with fame. While this carries on, more NDP supporters will siphon off to the most logical benefactor, or course (us).

If Layton is "clipped" by his party in the next several months, we may see him replaced by someone better able to solidify core NDP supporters. Let's hope this does not happen anytime soon.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Note To All Leadership Camp Stalwarts:

Grow up! We have wax museum dummies to beat up...

JC had a great line he used throughout the 93 campaign: "We have work to do!" Well, we as a party have LOTS of work to do to knock off Harper and his neoCon cronies. It's great to have a lively debate, but we need to ensure we are being constructive in our criticism.

We are a great party, and we will adapt to any condition (we always have), but we have to adjust to fighting a new enemy. This enemy is one who uses a right wing dominated press effectively. This enemy takes advantage of the current Western Societal need to be a "tough guy" and respond quickly with overwhelming force, even if it means making the wrong decision. This enemy is moving Canadian society to the right in subtle shifts of small parts of our liberal democracy. If we blink we may just miss what is going on...

We need to start focusing most of our energies towards defeating Harper and his band of wax museum dummies. If we have pent up aggression left over from the leadership battles, let's use it on two important bye-elections coming up in November. Imagine winning those two contests prior to the next federal campaign. Shrub will be quaking in his tighty-whities...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rae and Ignatieff Looking More & More "Prime-Ministerial"

Wow! What a difference a few weeks and a poll or two make. We currently have two very strong contenders atop the Liberal Leadership race. Both offer something different in the way of style, but I think it is fair and safe to say that both approach the party equation from Center or Center Left. People think of Rae as the NDP Premier of a 1980s Ontario. I think we all forget that as Liberal democracies mature, their denizens tend to become more "liberal democratic" over time. Rae is probably a lot closer to Center today than he ever was. Michael Ignatieff is Center-Left, regardless of what detractors say.

Michael Ignatieff has really developed through this race, and we see his stage presence become better and better each week. It really does look like the final contest/ballot (Dion/Kennedy supporters, please don't hate) will come down to a contest between the two. I think as responsible Liberals we need to stop the "mud-slinging" between all the camps. One of these four will be our leader, and we need to ensure we don't saddle them with any baggage coming out of the convention. Ignatieff is well-spoken, a commanding figure, a statesman, and has no reason to have to prove that he stands for global human rights - he does. Bob Rae could prove to be popular in Ontario (especially urban Ontario). Stephane Dion does have the cajones to be "tough", and can speak English well. GK - well, he IS still popular in some parts of the West (we can at least give him that can't we?). Let's really chose NICE things to say, and debate the candidates strengths and weaknesses in a frank and open manner - without twisting things and taking public shots...

I think a lot of people (even some Liberals who support him) had the little fear in the back of our minds about Ontario seats if Bob Rae were to become leader. Certainly the Cons will try to paint him as a "big spender" who spent the Ontario economy into the ground. However, have we ever thought what the urban Ontario voters may be thinking now? Let's see: Ontario economy not doing as well as usual. New Harper gov't basically "hates" Ontario (especially urban/905 Ontario). Harper is not willing to spend anything on social programs, infrastructure, education, women, minorities, etc. Yes, he makes shallow platitudes and miniscule spending announcements in areas where neo-Cons can make concessions, but basically he refuses to spend anything on the social programs Ontario really needs right now. Perhaps what Ontarians really WANT right now is a "spender" as a PM. A spender FROM Ontario, who actually LIKES the province? Hmmm... Makes me wonder.

Now I don't want this to sound like an "endorsement" of Bobby - because it is most certainly not... It is just an observation on why the recent Globe poll may have found Rae to be Ontarian's favorite choice among our leadership hopefuls. One needs to keep in mind that the spread from 1 to 4 was less than 10 percent, so Rae just may be a name everyone is familiar with...

Since we all know that one of these 4 will be leader (and by default, PM), let's try to be a little more civil - even on these blogs... Peace out.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dion Goes on Offensive... Again... But....

(Thanks to Le Devior for the cartoon I linked to in this post).

I've been contemplating Stephane Dion as a choice for leader for some time now. He is certainly one of the top choices for me. I like his intelligence, I like his wit, I like his defence of the good things we did in the past 13 years as a party... Hey! Wait a minute... It is good to embrace a solid record - just not a good idea to lay yourself out for Stephen Harper to pick apart 4 months from now.

Mr. Dion was a terrific Intergovernmental Affairs/Unity Minister, but he really needs to reconsider his embracing the Environment as his "cause celebre'" in this leadership campaign. To avoid sounding disingenuous he needs to state that he "had a plan", but was unable to convince the two caucuses he worked with of that plan's value. Yes, we all agree that it should not be this way, but we know the Con Team and Shrub are just waiting to pound on our new leader - especially if he is able to gain party leadership simply by talking about the environment... an issue we were not completely successful with - on his watch.

Having said all the silly stuff I just did above, I still think Mr. Dion has to be one of the top contenders for leader (and eventually PM). I like his tenacity. I like his ideas. He just really needs to distance himself from JC and PM a little. Don't wear it Stephane, or you won't be a lot of our choice for leader...

How were the debates? Nothing I add here will really clarify anything better than 150-some-odd other blogs. Here's my take: No-one dropped the ball clearly enough for it to matter 6 weeks prior to the convention. It would have been hard for one of 8 candidates to strike a "knockout punch", or "score the TD". Yes, some "passes were missed" - a few opportunities slipped by.

Ignatieff certainly weathered a storm quite well - and this is something that should speak for his resilience.

Stephane was firing on all cylinders.

GK was GK... slick and "sound-bitey".

Joe spoke well (and, he always does - when he's not calling the most diverse party in our land... discriminatory (to put it kindly).

Scott Brison is another favorite of mine. He is honestly a lot of fun to listen to. He always finds space for the gut-busting one-liner. Hope this convention is the beginning of something bigger for Scott.

MHF is sharp, witty, and bound for stardom - just not leader this time around.

Ken Dryden continues to be the "Super-Liberal". He is a Liberal through-and-through. Wish he had a stronger organization, as he could be a real factor.

What about Bob? If anyone took a few unexpected shots (re: Dion) during this debate, if was our new friend Bob. It appears that as Dion and GK jockey for position they both will be taking more and more shots at Bob. It could get nasty, as everyone wants to be in the "final two", and we all know Ignatieff pretty much has one of those spots sewn up. This think won't be ending on the 2nd ballot... Not until the jockeying for 2nd is done will the final round begin in earnest.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The "Final Four", Kennedy/Dion Camps Trade Shots, and other Scuttlebutt

So, we're hearing a lot about the "Final Four", as it refers to our leadership contest. I don't think we can't be so sure that one of the "back markers" couldn't squeeze into the picture... Someone like a Dryden, for example, could have some influence on the final result.

Let's look at the potential movement first. Looking at the top two, you don't really see movement early on from these two camps - not for a ballot or two - simply because they are the current leaders. Until one of Kennedy or Dion have a surge, the Rae people will also probably stand pretty firm. The Kennedy folks seem to be the most likely to travel to Rae early, but there are a LOT of Western Kennedy supporters looking at Ignatieff on the second ballot.

The blogs really seem to demonstrate a lot of shots being traded back and forth between the Kennedy and Dion camps. It's really starting to look like a heated battle. The barbs are now starting to get nasty. I might just be making an "inside" observation, since I'm relying more on what I see in the blogs and what my friends in both camps tell me - the story may be different from the angle the general public observes. From the seething dislike building up between these two camps, it seems more and more likely that supporters of both will prefer to oppose each other as the convention gets later and later in the rounds.

I'm starting to think (like a lot of others I've spoken with) that regardless of the end results both Dion and Kennedy will have a considerable impact on the eventual outcome. All the verbal shots and accusations we're seeing between the camps right now are just symptoms of the "jockeying for position" both groups are currently engaged in. The "back markers", while potentially not winning the contest, have enough votes to be able to influence - at the very least - the battle for 3rd place, and eventually impacting the choice for leader.

One thing is for certain: this is going to be a great convention, and I really can't wait to be a part of it all, in the city which really should take credit for the birth of modern Canadian liberalism...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Breaking News: Kennedy Camp to be Taken to Task for Richmond BC SuperWeekend Shenanigans

Just got out to the GVRD, and started hearing the scuttlebut about some interesting goings-on from Super Weekend. Apparently there were some "not-so-niceties" carried out by members of the Rae and Kennedy camps in DSMs in Richmond BC.

Sources indicate the events of the weekend need to be investigated, and include the following: Two bus-loads of Kennedy supporters pulling into a DSM parking lot, blocking off access to other vehicles, unloading their voters, then having their supporters block access to the meetings by any of the other camps. It was noted that the Parks Dept. called the police to one of the Richmond meetings to have two of the Kennedy buses towed. From what we have uncovered, the Kennedy buses were moved when the police arrived on scene.

It was reported that similar interesting events involved the Rae camp.

WesternGrit is going to do some more investigating this weekend, and see if there is any more information on this situation. From what we know, this could well have been a bad judgement call by the two camps, and nothing more. Still, the incidents do bear further investigation - considering we want to do what we can to ensure our party remains cleaner than the other federal parties when it comes to these types of things during leadership times. Rae and Kennedy are both good men, and we know they will make efforts to channel the zeal of their supporters.

While we all love good-old-fashioned, roll-up-the-sleeves politics, we need to make sure the image remains clean. When we need to call police to ensure voters can enter a DSM, we really need to think about what that does to image. I mention that word because image is really all it is... We know that all political parties have similar situations arise during different voting events. We have seen the Federal Conservatives being taken to court by disaffected Cons who were unable to win nominations in various ridings. In those cases, the irregularities were actually transgressions by the national party - a FAR more serious issue.

We know we're better than the Cons - let's just keep it that way.

More on this story in the next few days.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

WesternGrit Off to BC

Will be off to the beautiful province for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving. Looking forward to some good Turduckhen... Very warm and festive Thanksgiving wishes to all my fellow Liberals - from all the leadership camps.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Montreal.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ignatieff Triumphs in Calgary SW (Shrub's Back Yard)

(Calgary, Sept 30 2006) Michael Ignatieff won the Calgary SW delegate balloting by one delegate at a joint meeting for Calgary South and SW. A 3-way tie topped the Calgary SE results (Ignatieff, Dion, Kennedy had 4 each; Ray=1)

The results from the riding:
Ignatieff 5
Dion 4
Kennedy 4
Brison 0
Dryden 0
Hall F. 0
Rae 0
Volpe 0
A sign of the cameraderie between the various camps, the local Rae scrutineer shook hands with everyone prior to leaving, and wished everyone well. After all ballots were counted and certified, scrutineers and agents for Ignatieff, Dion, and Kennedy shared beers and talked politics. Stories were shared about campaigns past. A common theme was the need to defeat Harper in the next election.

The voting day went very smoothly. There were no arguments, and all was handled appropriately from the organizational level. There were some fun barbs traded between several representatives of the various camps - all resulting in incredible mirth.

WesternGrit has to say, this Liberal hopes all the DSMs go this way. Here's to Canada! Here's to the Liberal Party of Canada!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Open Letter To Liberals

Canada's "grand old party"... Hmmm...

We all know we'll be back. Maybe even soon. So, it pains us even more to see the useless snivelling and sniping we currently have going on... just days prior to our DSMs. To top it off, we have former Cretien and Martin supporters taking public shots at each other - just when we start to see a recovery in the polls, and a real chance we could be rid of Harper in the next election.

Why do you need to have press conferences where you attack other leadership hopefulls? Why do you feel the need to write books to support your arguments when taking the "high road" really means, shut up and let the next generation of leaders step up? Why does the biggest story of the day have to be a 16-year-old power struggle - mainly between the lackies of two decent men, when the Conservatives are busy cutting a BILLION DOLLARS of funding required by programs for the weak and voiceless... If you really got into politics to serve, then why not speak out about this travesty... The sooner you begin acting like concerned politicians the sooner someone may overlook your past indiscretions...

Jean Cretien led Canada through 3 great terms. Paul Martin had a chance to be PM too. We all enjoyed years of centrist government. Great. Stop living in a dream world. That last little wisp of success was 2004 - maybe even 2003 (since we stopped getting any good press). Time to start thinking about how we will defeat the Cons - over even maintain our seat totals. That's right folks... It's not just going to be "get coronated as leader, and the Cons will fall". We are going to need vision, character, and focus to beat Harper's Cons.

The next time you open your mouths, think clearly about the words that flow through them. If you can't find anything party-positive to say, then just shut up!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

SNL's Norm MacDonald - Peter McKay "Crocodile F#cker"

Apparently Peter "the Great" has a new nickname... Seen in the picture to the left, Peter could hardly control his enthusiasm for his new American best friend.

Throughout history royal families of neighboring kingdoms would "hook up" their kids to ensure peace and prosperity, while ensuring continued in-breeding. With the recent goings on between Condi and Peetie, and the Conservative government's kissing up to the US cousins, it remains a curiousity as to who will be f#ing whom...

Norm MacDonald hit it right on the head tonight - on the Daily Show - when he stated "that guy will f#ck anything...", then added "there was a rumor going around Canada a few years ago that he f#cks crocodiles... Norm (a Canadian by birth) continued to roast/toast Peetie and Condi, while host Jon Stewart was ROFL...

Crocodile F#cker... Hehehe... Norm MacDonald is truly a funny guy. Wonder what he would dub PM Cartman???

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

We NEED Stronger Gun Control

It was only a matter of time. A matter of time before another unnecessary act of violence took place on Canadian soil. With an increasingly Americanized view on firearms (re: killing tools), we Canadians are ALL responsible for what occurred today in Montreal.

For years there has been a debate (nay, battle) between the right wing (Reform/Alliance/Conservatives) advocating less gun control, and an Americanization of our system, and the rest of Canada (Lib, NDP, Bloc) preferring a more civilized society. While I am a proud Liberal, I can say - without equivocation - that our last government spent entirely too much time kowtowing to the rhetoric of a handful of angry gun-nuts (who had a loud, rich, American-backed gun lobby on their side), rather than being more concerned about prevention. While Mr. Cretien's gov't created a registry to help combat gun crime (which worked VERY effectively - ask the police who used it 5000 times per day), Mr. Martin's weaker gov't allowed itself to be bullied by the neo-Cons.

This sickening and horrifying event - aimed at our society's youngest, best, and brightest - is a really good time for us to go back to our roots (as a party), and DEMAND STRONGER GUN CONTROL. We need to take a strong stand right now. We need to stake our claim on the issue, and let Shrub (Stevie Bush Jr.) try to defend the arms industry and gun nuts... Not only will we be standing up for the victims, and ordinary Canadians everywhere, but we will also be reuniting with multitudes of our moderate Quebec supporters - at a time where we both need each other badly.

We need Bill Graham to stand up and condemn this senseless act - AND - ensure we take a very traditional, moderate, Liberal approach on it. Let's ensure that we work to increase gun control today - so our children never have to face this again... Mr. Graham? You have the floor...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Yes, Dammit! We ALL Support Our Troops!!!

Is anyone else getting tired of neoCons incessantly using our troops as an excuse for anything? We've seen it in the US for years: "You're either with us, or 'agin' us". If you object to an event, or the way a mission is run, you suddenly become "against our troops". A person speaking in favor of the troop's safety somehow is construed as against them. What a conservative crock of shit.

Good liberals, we've put up with this long enough. I support our troops, you support our troops. Every Canadian out there supports our troops. We only differ in how we support them. Not even the most hawkish of hawks will pick up a gun and go over and REALLY "support" our troops, yet many average Canadians from all walks of life are giving theirs' so Afghanis can have better lives.

As a Liberal democracy we have good reason to support UN-sanctioned global stability. We have reason - no - the DUTY to defend citizens of the world against outlaws. The Taliban are outlaws. Yes, their characterization by the Americans is extremely flawed. Yes, the American intentions are all wrong. But, we need to realize this action is UN-sanctioned (to some extent), and different than the action taken against Iraq (the illegal invasion of Iraq). This blogger has hated the Taliban since they blew the heads off 500-yr-old Buddha statues (everyone needs a reason). You guessed it - I do support a PEACEKEEPING and national rebuilding effort in Afghanistan (I have some problems with the American withdrawal - as they are mostly responsible for the mess, and should remain to fix it - but, that's a blog for another day). Having said that, I will not hurl politically loaded phrases like "I support our troops". I support them, like all Canadians - without having to say it every 5min on national TV.

We Liberals have to challenge neoCons EVERY TIME they use the troops for their shameless political uses. When a conservative uses the "I support our troops" phrase, we need to immediately reply, "WE ALL support our troops. Stop using them for your partisan political ends. STOP USING THE TROOPS FOR YOUR OWN POLITICAL ENDS!" Respect for our troops starts with respecting their situation, and not simple lip service. Maybe if the sleeping national media hears this phrase enough they'll start thinking about it a little. If we don't get this point across, PM Shrub will succeed in turning us into "Ameri-da", and ensure that the "if you're not with us, you're 'agin us" mentality takes hold.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Media begins to help clarify Ignatieff's positions... on everything

Reading the Georgia Straight today helped shed a little more light on the stances Michael Ignatieff has taken on various issues.

WesternGrit has read "Blood and Belonging", and "The Lesser Evil", so I had a pretty good idea of what the non-distorted views expressed by this candidate are... Still, it seems the general public had been getting a lot of blarney from various sources, about what Mr. Ignatieff really stood for. Having read his books, I was surprised at how slanted certain opinions of him are.

It was refreshing today to read the Georgia Straight's editorial. As Liberals we owe it to our party to ensure that no-one who could possibly be leader be desparaged in such a malicious manner that it hampers our party's ability to win an election - or to grow in the future.

As Liberals we need to ensure that we all listen to our candidates carefully, and make well-informed, wise choices. Several of the folks running for our leadership would make better leaders than Stephen Harper. They all paint some part of a greater Liberal vision - be in left, center-left, or pure "centrist". WE - as a party - need to ensure that all parts of that greater liberal/Liberal vision are allowed to be at the table, and are part of a broad coalition of ideas that will lead to the defeat of the neo-Cons and their portly leader.

Be we supporters of Kennedy, Ignatieff, Dion, Dryden, Fry, Bryson - or any other candidate - let's ensure that we consider the party 1st and foremost. A leadership campaign should not do damage to a new leader, or the party. It should, however, create the membership and momentum that is needed to defeat a terrible government.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Surrey Leadership "Debate" & Caucus Retreat/Wonderful Wednesday

Whew! What a week for Lower Mainland Liberals! While the Caucus Retreat forms the backdrop for all events, there were some key opportunities for Liberal "rank and file" members to chat with their favorite MPs.

On Monday night the Surrey Campus of SFU hosted a leadership debate in their yet-to-be-opened center. The venue was packed, and the audience paid rapt attention to the "debates". It really was not much of a debate (as none really have). With 10 candidates these sessions are really more or less "bear-pits" or Q & A. It seemed that each candidate was only asked questions pertinent to their own areas of interest. Not exactly planned to trip anyone up.

The candidates looked much more polished than previous debates. Ken Dryden was much smoother and spoke well. He seemed comfortable with his surroundings, and was looking more and more like a contender. Tony V did his usual "rant". Love his energy. I really like Dion, but it seemed he was running on very little sleep. He is an intellectual, so his sentence structure should be sound (regardless of accent, etc. - which really mean nothing to most of us), but he seemed to struggle with some phrases. Not sure if it was simply the French-English translation. Still, he made a great speech about the environment. Michael Ignatieff spoke well, as usual. If he is to be our leader, we'll need him to stop doing the awkward-looking "chicken wing" thing with his arms. He rests his hands on hips while he speaks, pulling his elbows entirely too far forward... Something that may be OK in a lecture hall - but doesn't fit the podium, or the corridors of power. Still, his speech had a lot of polish.

Scott Brison was clearly the best speaker. He was the most fluid, and his years of experience and polish really stood out. He is very comfortable on stage, and his words flow effortlessly. Everyone WesternGrit spoke with agreed that Scott was on a roll.

After the speeches Ruby Dhalla hosted a function for South Asian Professionals. WesternGrit is a big fan of Ruby, and we certainly had a great time at the get-together. A lot of networking occured, and Michael Ignatieff spoke to the large crowd. The site - a Brew Pub in Central Surrey, right below the SFU Campus - was perfectly chosen. A lot of the bar crowd joined the Liberals in our festive merry-making.

Wednesday saw an Ignatieff "appreciation day" for Lower Mainland volunteers. It was obvious that the crowd was a lot more than just Ignatieff supporters... The Gastown Pub was packed wall-to-wall with patrons looking to meet and chat with the many MPs present. WesternGrit had a very nice conversation with Tony Ianno about the race for the presidency. Tony may well be receiving an endorsement from this Liberal Blogger in the not-too-distant future...

As the heat in the packed bar become too much to bear the loyal Liberals proceeded to the Hyatt for the evening's main event - drinks with all the caucus at "Wonderful Wednesday". Another packed ballroom hosted hundreds of Lower Mainland Liberals, and, of course, another round of candidate speeches. Once again the group was better than before. While many repeated the exact same speech they made at the SFU debates, Brison, Ignatieff, and Dryden all had modified speeches.

A couple of speeches were very appealing: Ken Dryden had a fired up rendition of his greatest hits - and really went after the Conservatives on every major issue of the day. His energy was fantastic. Scott Brison was smooth as usual (impressive speaker, as always). Ignatieff had an excellent theme for his speech - hope. His entire speech was rooted in the word hope. It really seemed similar to Dr. Martin Luther King's "Let Freedom Ring" speech. It seemed that Michael was switching from "Hi, I'm another one of the leadership candidates", to "Why I should be your leader and PM" mode. A very good transition for Ignatieff, and one that will serve him well. I look forward to hearing the "Hope Speech" again (there we go - I just christened it).

All-in-all, it has been a great week in Vancouver, and our party really benefitted from the attention. I personally noticed dozens of "non-political" locals join the Liberals in our festivities.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Liberals Sit On Hands While Conservatives Fail Canadians on Issues: Middle East and World Affairs; AIDs and Africa; Global Warming

Now a couple of months ago I would have said, "sure", if we risk pulling the plug on the government on a major issue of the day, we should be very careful. Still, I always stood firm that on certain issues - even in the days of the large Con lead in the polls - we need to announce our intentions early, and ensure the public knows it would be Harper who would pull the plug on a government.

Back then it was OK for us to justify our timidness with an argument of prudence, and the interests of the party. Bill Graham still sounded lame however.

Since we've started seeing the real Conservative agenda, we've re-attained the lead in the polls - at least part of it.

The Cons have failed Canadians on all the major issues of the day. On any of the wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon) they have abandoned our policy of neutrality.

On foreign aid and AIDs - the "politically correct way" for a conservative to say "no, I have no need for those people", is to state unequivocally that they want to spend their money "at home" first. Of course their fear and hatred of homosexuals causes them to completely ignore the AIDs crisis. Harper skipped the Vancouver Pride Parade, even though he was in town that day. The only minorities the Cons will court are those who can elect some of their candidates (of course minorities typically recognize what conservative policies mean to them).

The most "brainiac" Conservative policy was their abject denial of the existence of global warming. Even though a strong majority of the world's scientists (almost all of them) support the fact that global warming exists, Harper's Cons refused to believe it. They continue to trot out oil industry pseudo-scientists to refute clear evidence. This is entirely too reminiscent of Stockwell Day's belief that the earth was only 6000 years old, and that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans (can you believe "Stock" is one of our top cabinet ministers - there's someone rooted in reality - good enough to manage "homeland security", a similarly fictitious post).

The Conservatives will be conservatives. But where are WE??? Truly, I think we're all a little tired of Bill Graham's clear lack of gumption. Sure he's a bright man. Sure he is respected by the House. But, our lack of a strong public stand on ANYTHING is really disturbing. It is time for someone to TAKE A STRONG MODERATE STAND on the issues of the day. The radical middle needs to speak. Where is the "brat pack" of tomorrow? Right now we could be screaming about every single issue. We could have the Cons blurting out hastily prepared statements, talking themselves into corners. Imagine Con MPs speaking their minds in anger. Instead we are sitting back. This needs to change if we want to show clear leadership.

I urge my fellow bloggers to begin speaking out against the lethargy that has crept into our party. Yes, we're all "busy" with our leadership campaigns. Yes, the Cons are shooting themselves in the foot. Yes, our interim leader may not want to commit to a policy publicly when it may be contrary to a future leaders. Still, we need to speak on issues that are CLEARLY MODERATE AND LIBERAL before we get labelled as ineffective. If we don't, it will be a long winter...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Conservatives Lack "World Awareness": Ergo Wajid Khan Decision

So why would a Conservative PM pick a Liberal MP as his point person on the single most important issue of this government?

A huge part of it is just a simple attempt to patronize the Muslim community. Of course anyone with half a brain can see through all the crap, considering every public view ever expressed by Conservatives on this matter have been skewed strongly in favor of pro-American positions. Its similar to people I've heard in the past saying "I can't be racist because I have a ___ (insert appropriate race here) friend". Right now Harper is trying very hard, in urban areas, to find some "friends" of more than just the middle class "mainstream" rural variety.

Conservatives tend to have a very restricted world view. They typically won't read anything they don't care about. Very few have experienced humanities or a liberal arts education. When they take a stand on world affairs, it is usually measured by what the most capitalist nation in the world would say. Their opinions are always tainted with religious, social, fiscal, and ethnic extremism.

When you're a conservative, and you don't care about a people, or a certain part of the world, you really don't bother learning more about it. Open-mindedness is not a conservative trait. The logical conclusion to this is a party which typically elects closed-minded MPs, who then take closed-minded opinions on any public issue - from the environment, to the economy, to world affairs. The Canadian Conservatives are the result - a party with no link to foreign lands (through a clear lack of visible minority MPs, and party faithful), and very little ability to build diplomatic bridges when needed.

The Cons have no-one who can appeal to foreign powers. Now, in a dangerous move for all those involved, Harper has appointed Khan. Khan will be trotted out in front of the public any time the Cons' stand on the Middle East is criticized. This may have an adverse affect on the Liberals. The best bet we Liberals have, is to say that we want to get Canada out of the mess the Cons have gotten us into, hence we are helping them out of a jam (that's our story - let's stick to it). This may make Harper appear to be a "bridge-builder", but it will make his party appear weak, ineffectual, and lacking key components that would make it a stong government.

Harper's gambits over the last several months have always been poised to make him appear more moderate. The thing that Harper may not be counting on, is that the Liberal assault on the Cons in the next election will not be on Harper, but on the ability of the Conservative Party to govern. So far they have only shown incompetence... A party without any effective cabinet minsters or MPs. We might be at a point where the Cons will try to buy floor-crossing MPs from the Liberals, just to fulfill their glaring lack of ability as a government.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Harper Shuns South Asians - Refuses to Apologize For Komagata Maru Incident

(Surrey - Aug 5, 2006) Stephen "Shrub" Harper spoke to a crowd of several thousand (mostly) Indo-Canadians today, in a callous attempt at buying urban votes. Mr. Harper happened to be in town for the annual BBQ of a Conservative Senator. The quest for a gainfully attained urban seat brought him to a Punjabi festival (Mela) in Surrey.

WesternGrit, and many in the South Asian Community felt that after the recent apology to Chinese Canadians (in another shameless attempt at urban votes), certainly an apology was due to Sikh Canadians and other South Asians who attempted to immigrate to Canada back in 1914. Certainly it was widely known that an apology (as in the case with the Chinese and Italian communities) was coming from the former Liberal gov't. True, the Liberal policy had been not to politicize such situations, but a multi-party committee had been working on a solution.

There are a lot of interesting facts surrounding Harper's sudden interest in the South Asian vote. The most significant being this: When asked about the Komagata Maru incident a few months back, Harper had NO IDEA WHAT THIS WAS, nor did he seem to care. He no doubt received strong urging from his scorned former MP - Gurmant Grewal - to attend this event.

Harper's visit set to work a veritible army of security, including tax-payer funder RCMP officers, and hired ruffians who wandered the crowd rudely asking people to sit down on the damp lawn, since our standing was somehow a "threat" to the PM. I must say that I never noticed such paranoia about security on any Cretien or Martin visit - anywhere in Canada.

Nina Grewal introduced Harper. She shocked many in the crowd by describing Harper's "uniting of the right". She actually stated: "In 2003 Mr. Harper did the unthinkable, when he brought together the two right wing parties of Canada..." Way to hit the nail on the head Nina! She went on to welcome Harper to HER riding. Actually, Newton North Delta (where Bear Creek Park is) is Sukh Dhaliwal's riding. This was one of the few times anyone has heard Nina speak, and now we know why. Hope she gets a few lines in Parliament! No wonder the crowd left the event to find their cars leafleted with info from someone wishing to seek the Conservative nomination against Nina...

Harper took the stage after - get this - Nina (in Punjabi) asked the crowd - no, actually begged us - to stand for Harper and give him a warm Surrey Welcome. Some of the crowd stood. Harper layed on the usual "we love to be here amongst this great group of Canadians" blather. He layed it on pretty thick when he praised Indian Canadians for our current contributions to Canada. He offered absolutely no apology, or even a hint of an apology. Instead, Harper stated, "we ACKNOWLEDGE the Komagata Maru incident... We will look into this further". Oh thank you Harpo! You agree that a documented historical event occurred! Big whoopee! The crowd was NOT happy. Many individuals in the crowd were openly laughing and waving off his comments.

WesternGrit and a group of fellow attendees did a rough poll after Harper's speech, and we were able to conclude that 7 out of 50 people we interviewed felt Harper had any concern for the Sikh community. That's not even 15%. Perhaps Harpo and his clown crew think we look too much like terrorists (that would certainly explain the security). At any rate, Harper did not come off "warm" to the crowd. He clearly looked uncomfortable. The crowd reacted in kind.

I'll have some more pictures posted in the next day or two...

Note to fellow Libs: Harpo and Laureen were presented some expensive gifts (WesternGrit will be posting pictures later). Let's check to see that they are claimed/noted.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Harper to try to Kiss Some More Minority A$$

Being a member of a visible minority, I feel I can rightfully use that title.

Anyways... Word has it, that in his continued attempt to buy minority votes, Stephen Harper may be making a key announcement at a Sikh Festival (Mela) in Surrey BC, today.

A few months ago, Stephen Harper was asked (while commenting on paying reparations to Chinese Canadians), about reparations for Sikh Canadians (or their families) who had perished or suffered during the Komagata Maru incident. Our wise "worldy" PM knew nothing about the incident, or the atrocities committed against East Indian Canadians in 1914 (see link above for details).

For years, members of my community have been asking for an apology, or some sort of reparations. We understand that there are many factors to consider (not the least, reparations for 100s of other groups who also feel they rightfully deserve consideration). We know that this decision has to be taken very carefully, or Canadian taxpayers could be on the hook for billions of dollars.

From what we hear, today our shameless PM - who had no idea what this incident was - is going to try to buy some urban Vancouver and Toronto votes, with the cheap cost of a verbal apology. Shame on the PM for stooping to such a level. Members of his party were the very people who lined up to sign petitions BANNING SIKHS WITH TURBANS FROM SERVING IN THE RCMP. Now this very conservative man - from a party whose policies would never to anything to help the vast majority of immigrants, or assist in their urban challenges - is going to try to buy some votes...

It is absolutely sickening to see this weak attempt to buy votes. Unfortunately, there will be those in my community (Gurmant & Nina Grewal) who will trade pride, principle, and ideology for a few brief moments of backbench ("shut up and speak when we ask you to") glory.

While ridiculous popularity contests of first generation Punjabis still occur in urban areas to this day, thankfully - with the elections of bright young second generation folks like Navdeep Bains and Ruby Dhalla - we will see an end to this "popularity over principles" politics. In the meantime, a community which could never benefit from most conservative policy (especially this brand of neoCon reactionary conservatism) will have to suffer through a few more months/years of the "new Conservatives".

I will be checking out the Mela tomorrow, and may have some pictures to post...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tory Slide Continues - Canadians Learn The Truth

Okay. So you're a portly male politician from the Great White North, with a penchant for homophobes, the "freedom" of anyone espousing intolerance veiled as "free speech", and being a pot calling a kettle black (vis-a-vis Gomery)... Just how do you plan on going about getting elected? What's the recipe to get you into power and help line the pockets of "the man" (the usual conservative fat-cats)?

You start with a smidgen of hired Australian Outback savvy... Mix that with some dumbed down, down home southern "good 'ol boy". Toss in a touch of "awe shucks", and there you have it - the makings of a populist Western neo-Con PM.

Pretty easy wasn't it? Canadians - even those who care about their politics - were easily distracted by "those corrupt Liberals". Anything that went wrong in the first few days of power... "I know, I know, it was those Liberals!" (reminds one of the old Cheech and Chong Corsican brothers script, where the hapless dimwitted orphans pertinaciously blamed the Gypsies for all that went wrong). Conservative MPs reveled in the "security blanket" of the last days of the election campaign (where Shrub could do no wrong), and in the "honeymoon" months of the regime.

Perhaps it wasn't that easy, and perhaps the Canadian voter has maintained a bit more of their concern for this country than first thought... "Little Bush" may have found that Canadians don't really care for neo-Con populism. As Canadians find out more and more about the Conservative agenda they like less and less of the Harper regime.

It started with appointments that went against every word of the "Accountability Act". The Cons followed up with their (non-existent) "made in Canada solution" for the global warming problem (operative word: "global"). The next move was to kill a gun registry that stable-minded Canadians everywhere (including police forces) wanted (a registry which independant UN observers indicate was actually very cost-effective in saving lives). Following these "bold" and very conservative moves - among others - Harper's angry minions decided to tackle an age old Canadian foreign policy position, by siding completely with one side in a Mid-East conflict. Callously toying with throwing decades of world respect for Canada out the window, the neo-Can-Cons have married Canada's position on the Mid-East to that of American neo-Cons like Bush and Cheney.

One really needs to wonder what reality these conservatives live in? It becomes easier to understand when one puts together the general make-up of a typical neo-Con: someone who never travelled much beyond their home town; never cared to learn about the world outside of their immediate scope; typically never study liberal arts of any sort; prefer American media to Canadian; are angry, angry, ANGRY, at anything they fear or dislike; and dislike anything different from what they are "comfortable" with (using buzz words like "tradition" and "family values" to cloak the anger, fear, and hatred).

So... here we are. The Cons are now sitting even in the polls. Neck-and-neck with a Liberal Party that they tried to tar with a scandal that never really occurred the way they tried to paint it. Neck-and-neck with a party without a leader! The Canadian public is now so "in touch with" what the Conservatives are trying to do, that they are leaning towards taking ANY Liberal leadership contender over Harper. Could the Calgary-based Con leader end up exactly like another former Calgary area MP (a much better man - one Joseph Clark)?

The Lebanon and Afghan wars are still at an early stage. The situations should be in full swing when the next session of Parliament begins. Perhaps this land can be saved from the real Harper agenda being rolled out any further. It looks like Canadians are getting sick of the way Harper is "standing up" for Canada - when standing up only amounts to standing above the media on the Parliamentary stairs pontificating to Canadians what our values should be.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why Conservatives Will Never Understand Foreign Affairs

This photo pretty much illustrates how conservatives react to excesses of the US-led global military-industrial complex... Yup, just ignore that which pads the pockets of our friends - including some of our cabinet.

The invasion of a state to capture what basically amounts to criminals... The killing of innocent civilians. Even the deaths of Canadian soldiers (apparently targetted by AWACs advisors, due to their blue UNis) and civilian women and children. Scores of dead civilians in Lebanon. None of this bothers the Cons.

What if this occured elsewhere? What if the Brits decided to saturation bomb Ireland because of a few Sin Fein/PIRA "terrorists" hiding out there? It wouldn't have happened (mostly due to a sensible pre-Iraq foreign policy in GB). It probably wouldn't have happened because the victims would be other civilized Western folk...

Do we all see the idiocy of the conservative way? The sheer stupidity of the mid-East conflict (basically 2 conservative groups at loggerheads)? How it will only continue to breed hate and contempt? Do we realize how all conservatives really want is to sell weapons and oil, and make sure we don't raise or spend taxes for much else? Conservatives spend their learning years focusing on the "financial equation", never bothering to learn about the real world around them. Now we see the fruits of their lack of concern for the world around them: environmental collapse, privatization of essential services, starvation of world populations (thanks to colonialist policies of conservative western nations), endless wars in the third world, and only "concern" where it matters to the bottom line - be this oil reserves or corporate benefit.

Whew! And I actually consider myself to be a capitalist of some sort!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Homework For Leadership Candidates - Fix the debates

For what its worth, I (along with much of the party - and Canadians as a whole) have been lulled to sleep by the Leadership Debates. We have a problem with the typical dancing around issues. With a 3 or 4 candidate race, this "dancing" is often interspersed with some real discussion based on candidate's actual leanings and ideologies. Not semantics and platitudes.

Thinking about this brought me to this conclusion: What does one do when you ask a bunch of school kids to speak intelligently on issues of the day? Usually you'll try to get them to put something useful on paper first. Once the "kiddies" have put their thoughts on paper, they are reviewed and graded. Finally, papers can be presented to the class.

For our next Leadership Debates I suggest we go completely "out of the box", by asking all candidates to provide summary papers on the main topics/questions. The Party would receive the papers, then phrase questions based on the candidates written positions. I think this would help focus the debates. We could provide copies of the papers - and candidate responses - to all party members (online, or paper format) to ease our information gathering.

I'm tired of waiting for some campaigns to produce "intelligent" commentary on the key topics of the day. With 11 candidates on the go, we really need to do something to help compare and contrast all of them. I'd even go as far as to put the candidates views into a spreadsheet - just to help us clear through the useless drivel. We need to get away from the "popularity contest" we're currently seeing, and get into more of a discussion of issues - before it is too late.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Registry Good? You Don't Say!

Something sane, rational people in Canada have been saying for some time, has been proven by those industrious Swiss (see story here).

The Swiss study - done for a United Nations summit on violence shows how the gun registry actually SAVED billions of dollars (related to the deaths/losses suffered in gun violence).

A really interesting factoid (something our stupid campaign teams couldn't vocalize in the past 3 campaigns) is that firearms deaths in Canada declined to 816 in 2002 from 1,125 in 1995. That is an over 27% DECREASE in firearms deaths in REAL terms. I might add that overall violent crime also decreased in Canada during this time.

Reform-a-Tory propaganda. Eastern Canadians still have not figured out what type of ignorant xenophobic haters they have helped elect. Living in the West, you see just what the typical Reformer is all about. If the gun registry (C-68) fails, it will be the first in a series of right wing acts the Cons will try to perpetrate - either to defeat themselves in Fall, or as part of a new right wing government in Spring...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Another Great Hays Stampede Breakfast

(Calgary, July 9, 2006) - Well, another great Hays Stampede Breakfast has come and gone. While there was a good turn-out of Liberals (including many of the leadership hopefuls - and Mr. Graham), we also had to put up with the sight of Shrub (Stevie Harper). Last year Harper embarrassed himself by insulting the hosts about being Liberal. It appears a great choice that none of the politicos spoke this morning.

It was a particularly beautiful day in Calgary, and the food - as Heritage Park is known for - was good. While the crowd is never a partisan Liberal crowd, many whispers were heard of, "that's Michael Ignatieff", or "there's Scott Brison". Certainly a great day to press the flesh.

Tried to say "hi" to Gerard Kennedy while we walked in, but he snubbed me. Not sure why this is, but it certainly left a bitter taste. Kennedy was wearing his stetson in a goofy backwards tilt (so, right back at him). Scott Brison was his usual warm, friendly self. He wasn't wearing a hat, but had a pretty nice pair of boots on (looked like black snakeskin). Harper did well for himself by not dressing western. He was whisked in and out by his security detail - limos on standby a mere few yards away. He didn't address the crowd, and didn't walk through more than a small part of the attendees. Certainly not JC or PM, wading into a large crowd to shake hands. What a limp-di@k Prime Minister. An embarrassment for Canada.

Senator Hays brought the crowd to laughter several times with his Stampede jokes. He's a great host, and did a lot to ensure the crowd was entertained.

Another great day, and another great breakfast... Ahhh... Stampede Week! Hoped to see Shrub in his Festus suit, but no luck. Will keep searching around town for more embarrassing Harper pics.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Not Canadian Values Shrub!!!

Harper to American press conference: "We are backing exactly the same kind of values..."

This is just plain disgusting. Stephen Harper candidly tells American reporters and Dubya that Americans and Canadians are "backing EXACTLY the same kind of values". What??? Yes, we are kind of similar in a few ways, but we think we're all intelligent enough to see the clear difference between our American cousins and us.

Now remember the Air Farce "remix" of Rahim Jaffer saying "I lied"? We're sure as hell hoping that we see some sort of imagery of Harper making this outlandish claim on his visit to DC.

Now if Shrub had said similar values, or even "we're neighbors and best friends", yes..., but the only people who have the same values as the Yank neoCons is Canadian neo-Cons. Yeah, a lot of Canadians voted Conservative, but we know for a fact that most of them did not even know the Cons' true values/ideology. They also only had 36% of the popular vote. Most Canadians - as we all know - disagree with Shrub's stand on Kyoto, Iraq, Afghanistan, Missle Defence, Health Care, Day Care (or no daycare), and tax cuts... Face it - he won by drumming on about one issue - Gomery. Won't happen again.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Official Leadership Pool

WesternGrit has set up "the First Official Liberal Leadership Pool". The first version of this pool will be utilized at a Calgary "Liberal Helpings" dinner on July 5th. Attendees will have a chance to choose the candidate who they think will win the Liberal Leadership contest. The 4 front runners represent most of the squares on the grid.

More details to follow.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy Canada Day!!!

Happy Canada Day to all the members of the great political institution that created this flag. In the weeks, months, and years ahead WesternGrit urges fellow Liberals to remember this flag and what it stands for. Remember how we fought to adopt this symbol of our great nation. Remember those who stood in our way are the very same foes who hold our nation back from advancement now... Conservatives - those whose very name stands for "resistance to change"; those who dislike anything "different". Remember the Canada we love - let's ensure it carries on. Happy Canada Day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Conservative Opinion Of Our Parliamentary System? Check The Hand-Gestures

School was supposed to be out for Summer. Canadians learned this week just how the neo-Cons feel about our Parliamentary system. Conservative MPs flipped Opposition parties the bird, insulted and mocked the Speaker, and used foul language - audibly.

While some shenanigans are a "normal" part of Parliament, MPs are always expected to apologize for them, and to show respect for the institution. In this case the institution itself was attacked. When things have crossed the line in the past, a PM or party whip would step in to elicit the required apology... not this time. Stephen Harper is too busy keeping his firm line of censorship on his extreme right wing to really worry about his buffoons.

We all know how much respect Reform-a-Torys have for the institution of Parliament. These are the same folks who openly showed contempt and hatred for Ontario, Toronto, and Ottawa for years. These are the same folks who have been trying to dissolve the Senate for years. These are the same folks who have been trying to get to Ottawa to "trim down the bureaucracy" for years. Why do we expect any better from them???

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

ABSOLVED! Jury finds NO POLITICAL CONNECTION to Guite's Actions!

A jury has found NO POLITICAL CONNECTION to Chuck Guite's actions in the so-called "sponsorship scandal". This news is definitely good news for some federal politicians in Canada.

Years of Reform/Con harping have led to nothing more than a sentence for the man we all knew was the "ring-leader". So a crooked beaurocrat - who was originally hired by Mulroney's Conservatives, to boot - is found responsible for the misappropriation of funds that led to the Gomery Inquiry.

It appears it now will be possible for politics to return to something truly fitting our parliament - rather than the daily drive-by smear it has become under the neo-Cons.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ignatieff Meets Lower Mainland South Asian Community Leaders: Commits to Protect Rights of South Asians In Light Of Recent Arrests in Metro TO

(Richmond BC, June 4th) Michael Ignatieff committed to stand up for the rights of the Canadian South Asian diaspora Sunday, in light of the recent arrests in Southern Ontario. Speaking to a gathering of Indian and Pakistani supporters in Richmond Mr. Ignatieff stated "I commit to you" that we will defend the rights of Muslim and South Asian Canadians in this difficult time - ensuring that we will do whatever we can to prevent a backlash against the larger community. Stating examples of IRA terrorism in the last century, Ignatieff indicated that we will continue to battle extremism through our justice system, as the nation we are building is beyond imported religious conflicts. Members of the community had stated that they feared potential backlash as a result of the recent news headlines concerning a supposed Ontario terror plot. Ignatieff's commitment brought a round of applause from the audience.

Speaking mainly about protecting and growing multiculturalism, expanding Liberal commitments to education, and continuing Liberal-initiated economic growth, Mr. Ignatieff captivated the audience with his charisma and effortless speaking style. He spent much longer than his scheduled time in individual conversations, and answered all questions raised by the crowd. He even paused for an impromptu autograph session.

WesternGrit spoke with a group of educators who attended the function. The group was very pleased with Mr. Ignatieff's plan for higher education in Canada. Ignatieff had committed to ensuring "everyone who wants to" can attend university.

Mr. Ignatieff went on to speak to members of BC's Chinese community, at appointments later Sunday.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Ignatieff to Meet With Indian and Chinese Community Leaders in Richmond BC Sunday

Michael Ignatieff will be meeting with members of the Lower Mainland's Indian and Chinese communities on Sunday. WesternGrit has travelled to BC to attend this event - and hopefully gets an opportunity to discuss Iggy's opinions on such matters as the recent arrests in Toronto, and Shrub's opinion on the issue.

Word on the ground - in the Lower Mainland - is that Ignatieff has been very well received on his past few visits. The Ignatieff Team in the Vancouver area is apparently pretty well-organized, and new membership sales are going well. Ignatieff's team in the area seem to be doing particularly well in selling new memberships to former NDP voters - who seem to really like Iggy's views on social issues and the environment. The growing list of Liberal supporters include individuals who have supported many different leadership campaigns in the past.

WesternGrit will post again tomorrow night after the event.... Also hope to have some good pictures to go with the story...