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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Harper still leads in new EKOS poll

The research firm EKOS, has released a new poll exclusively to CBC News today. The poll1 shows the Tories still in the lead with 31.9 per cent support among decided voters, and the Liberals slipping back to 26.6 per cent, while the New Democrats are up to 17.6 per cent.

Last week’s poll showed the Conservatives at 31.7 per cent, the Liberals 27.1 per cent and the NDP 16.3 per cent.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s approval continues to slide to unhealthy lows, with only about 20 per cent of respondents thinking that he is doing a good job.  About a third agree PM Stephen Harper is doing a good job, this despite the daily mainstream media campaign to discredit him.

Always nice to see that the Tories are hanging in there and that so many Canadians still appreciate the sound job they are doing to navigate the stormy waters of a global economic downturn.

I’m also gratified to see that so many believe, as I do, that the Liberals made a major mistake when they appointed Michael Ignatieff to lead their party. Surely even the most partisan Grit must see that and have some sense of embarrassment when the LPC continues to try to sell Canadians that the man is prime minister material.

 

1Apparently, EKOS queried 2,303 people by phone between April 21 and April 27. The main voter-intention results are considered accurate to within two percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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According to Newstalk 1010’s John Moore, conservatives don’t know what kids see on the Internet

I’m a bit late writing about this, but tax season is upon us and, with the major deadline at hand, it was my main priority this week. On Tuesday, Newstalk 1010 morning host John Moore had an opinion piece1 in the National Post that pretty well condemns Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to shelve the proposed changes to sex-education in our public schools.

It seems to me that there is an influential element in Ontario society, based primarily at Toronto, who believe that teachers and childcare workers are better equipped to teach our children about sex, gender differences and morality. They lobby relentlessly for parents to abdicate their responsibility to educate their children about moral and sexual issues and leave it to strangers to do so.

According to Moore, Premier McGuinty “shelved a perfectly reasonable sex-education pedagogy,” because of “public hysteria fomented by a previously powerless coalition of religious culture warriors.”

So ripe with self-righteous indignation is John Moore that he, apparently, can’t think straight. He concludes his essay with this dire warning:

“When parents truly realize what their kids are up to these days, they may find themselves wishing for the simplicity of an educator who doesn't blush at the word ‘vagina’ working from a professionally developed pedagogy in an old-fashioned class room.”

For a start, Moore insults millions of parents who do, in fact, “truly realize what their kids are up to these days.” Most parents are not idiots and do tailor their answers to children’s questions knowing full well what they are able to find on the Internet. And parents I know do not “blush at the word ‘vagina’,” as is suggested by Mr. Moore.

Moore writes:

“Conservatives are fooling themselves if they think their kids aren’t Twittering and Googling words like ‘anal’, ‘oral’ and ‘masturbation.’ Try it yourself and see what comes up. Then get your computer scrubbed.”

I see, conservatives are self-delusional. Which conservatives? Every single last one of them? Do only progressives like Mr. Moore have the intellectual capacity to know what is available for kids to find on the Internet? Give me a break!

Just because certain information is available on the Internet through Twittering and Googling does not mean—as Moore is suggesting—that it is suitable material to be taught in our public schools. What a silly, simplistic notion.

Among my friends and acquaintances, I number many liberals and others who are not “religious culture warriors”—as Moore labels those opposed to this misguided curriculum change. Many of them agree with me, an agnostic, that there is nothing “perfectly reasonable” about public school teachers teaching little pre-teen children about sexual orientation and identity or about erections, wet dreams and vaginal lubrication. That’s their parents’ job.

Parents know their children and can best decide how and when to introduce such issues to their loved ones. And the state and its teachers should butt out.

1Full text of John Moore’s essay here.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Peter Milliken’s decision: a draw

The decision yesterday by the speaker of the House of Commons on whether the government must hand over, non-redacted, all documents requested by a parliamentary committee was pretty much as expected. Peter Milliken confirmed that parliament is the highest authority in the land and can compel the executive branch of government to do its lawful will.

The opposition is trumpeting this as a victory over the Conservative government, but its not much of one. After all, the Speaker also upheld the obligation of the executive to protect state secrets and other confidential information not suitable for public disclosure.

To view such sensitive information, opposition members will have to maintain confidentiality or face serious legal consequences. It is true the opposition does get to have a say in who decides the information constitutes state secretes or have other reasons to be kept confidential, and I suppose this was about all they really expected to get from this.

Peter Milliken has given the government and the opposition two weeks to come to an agreement on how the documents will be handled, or failing this, the speaker will make a further ruling on the matter. The clear inference here is that the opposition had better be reasonable and bargain in good faith with the government or they might just find themselves in contempt of parliament.

We live in a democracy, but there are special circumstances to be considered. For one thing, the documents in question relate to a war Canada is waging in Afghanistan and the reputations of our Country and our armed services are at stake. For another, our parliament contains a contingent whose very existence as a political party is to engineer the break up of our country. How can that party’s members be trusted to see any and all of Canada’s state secrets? I, for one, do not believe they can.

It does seem to me, though, that our governments over the years, Conservative and Liberal, have been excessively secretive. Their default position seems always to have been, we’ll keep information from Canadians unless there is a compelling reason to divulge it. Transparency has never been our governments’ long suit.

The current government might not be any worse in this regard, but that does not say very much for our right to know what they are doing behind closed doors. I would like to see more openness on the part of our governments—a lot more openness and transparency.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Courage

Acts of courage are always admirable, even when displayed by ones political opponent. I was reminded of this recently when I heard Liberal MP and former premier of British Columbia, Ujjal Dosanjh, speak out about Sikh extremism in Canada and the political correctness that allows it to flourish in the name of diversity.

Ordinarily, one would hear this and accept it as one man’s opinion. But in this case history tells us Mr. Dosanjh’s words were an act of extreme bravery, for similar words earned him a savage beating in Vancouver in 1985 when he spoke out against religious violence. At that time he also said Canadian multiculturalism has allowed extremism to take root in Sikh and other ethnic communities. In 1999 his constituency office was firebombed. And earlier in April this year he was threatened with bodily harm if he attended the annual Vaisakhi Parade held in Surrey, B.C.

I saw a photograph of Mr. Dosanjh while he was recovering from his 1985 beating—it was not a pretty site.

Thank, God, Canada is blessed with such men.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Maxime Bernier: “Let’s be frank…”

Conservative MP for Beauce in Quebec, Maxime Bernier, got himself into hot water recently by expressing what most Canadians outside Quebec consider to be a simple truth. Mr. Bernier has been scolded because he said in a recent speech to party members in Mont-St-Grégoire, Quebec:

“Let’s be frank: Many people in the rest of the country perceive Quebecers as a bunch of spoiled children who are never satisfied and always ask for more. This perception has some basis in reality.”

This was enough for Quebec’s Finance Minister, Raymond Bachand, to accuse Mr. Bernier of “Quebec-bashing;” the Parti Québécois called the comments “contemptuous;” and the newspaper Le Devoir reported that Mr. Bernier has taken to “flaying” Quebec as he travels the country.

This was only the start of the Quebec media barrage directed at the former foreign affairs minister. According to the National Post, one columnist piled on by telling Mr. Bernier to buy a one-way ticket to Alberta. While Jean-François Lisée, apparently an influential commentator, delivered the ultimate insult, writing that Mr. Bernier has assumed former PM Pierre Trudeau’s role as “the Quebecer who speaks badly of Quebec.”

Such is the political and social atmosphere in Quebec these days that criticism is met with defensiveness and defiance. No matter that your criticisms are accurate—truth is never a defence—any criticism of Quebec’s social or political policies or programs will bring quick retribution, especially so when the one leveling the criticism is a known conservative.

Because of its systematic government intervention in all aspects of life in the provence, Quebec had acquired one of the heaviest fiscal debt loads in North America. Over-reaching social programs and financially ruinous and unsustainable subsidies to businesses, artists, parents and too many others to list have created a province that depends on borrowed money and federal “charity” to fund its public services. As Mr. Bernier said, “If we do not change direction soon, we’re going to hit a brick wall.”

Mr. Bernier may have used kinder words, but the above is essentially what he had to say. And I agree with all of it.

[Source]

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Cover blown: Frank Graves

It is always embarrassing to have your cover blown, especially when it occurs in the national media. CBC-EKOS pollster Frank Graves is learning this big-time. One can only hope our publicly financed Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is also feeling a twinge of discomfort over the “outing” of their political numbers man.

Many of us who follow the polls have long supposed that Graves is a Liberal Party of Canada insider, though he may not be a card-carrying member. His poll results always seem to have the LPC closer to the front-running Conservatives than other polls that I read. So I’m not surprised to hear that he has clearly shown (here and here) himself to be a Grit, even though he wants to give the impression he’s unaffiliated politically. (You may also want to read Joanne’s take on this over at Blue Like You.)

I used to assume that a public broadcaster and its pollster should be scrupulously objective and should strive to avoid any appearance of political bias. How old fashioned, eh? A billion dollar tax subsidy, I believed, should buy, at least, a modicum of objectivity; but it seems that’s just too much to ask for. Pity, because Canadians need an honest broker who can help us make sense of the erratic political course on which our country seems to have embarked. Chalk one up to naiveté.

To me this smacks of collusion to further the ends of the Liberal party: if it smells like a skunk, walks like a skunk and has a black and white striped back, one can be pretty certain it is a skunk. And Canadians are the losers.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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“Public service” has become synonymous with “public trough”

The modern concept of public service seems to have gotten twisted round to something more akin to the bad old days when people worked for governments so they could gain an advantage over those who did not.

In days past I’ve had business meetings with deputy ministers at Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and the federal levels and been made to feel like a humble supplicant having to plead my employer’s of industry’s case before my governors.

Tax auditors routinely treat innocent taxpayers like they were cheats. Government clerks in passport or Employment Insurance offices dispense government largesse begrudgingly or with distain, seldom with common courtesy. God forbid your visit should encroach on one of their breaks.

Workers employed by governments and their agencies—and here I include hospitals—receive outlandish wages, well above the industrial average. Switching from one level of government to another recently involved huge severance-like payouts to Ontario tax department workers.

The mere threat to freeze or trim government-paid employee benefits will send the civil service into near revolt to keep their “entitlements” intact.

People join governments to enrich themselves not to serve the public.

Politicians make promises during elections and break them once in office. They thunder and bluster against government misdeeds while in opposition, but adopt the same policies when in government.

They set up public health care systems they do not trust with their own bodies or families, choosing instead to use a foreign system they, at other times, vilify as inferior to ours. They treat our democrat institutions with disdain; they plunder the public coffers and then tell us we need to tighten our belts. Access and influence become their coin of the realm.

Politicians vote themselves fat pay cheques and top-hat pensions. And when many (far too many) senior civil servants and politicians leave their cushy government jobs, they sign back on as “consultants” and lobbyists so they can continue to pillage the public purse.

In my view, the old 80-20 rule applies: 80 per cent of politicians and senior civil servants and executives and consultants of public agencies contribute little to our society and are an unnecessary drain on the public purse; 20 per cent actually contribute in an honest productive way, carrying the rest of the rascals on their proverbial backs.

To the 20 per cent I say “thank you” and offer a proverbial pat on the back; to the 80 per cent I say “screw you” and offer an upturned, extended middle finger.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Even the worst among us deserve to have their rights protected

Some weeks ago, I wrote about Conservative MP Helena Guergis’s meltdown at Charlottetown, P.E.I. airport, an incident in which the junior federal minister is reported to have acted like a petulant child. At that time, I suggested the minister do the right thing and resign from cabinet.

I haven’t said much since, as I decided there was enough piling-on and character assassination in the media without my two cents worth. After watching what looked to me like an old fashioned witch-hunt on Parliament Hill yesterday, however, I’ve been prompted to express my disgust at the way the Liberals and New Democrats are handling this matter.

Whatever ex-MP Rahim Jaffer—Helena Guergis’s husband—might have done, I don’t see what a parliamentary review by the House of Commons government operations and estimates committee can accomplish at this stage. Surely, if there is creditable evidence that Mr. Jaffer has committed a crime, he should be investigated by the police, who are qualified to deal with such matters.

Once, if ever, he has been found guilty, a parliamentary committee might want to review the matter to determine whether there needs to be rule changes to help prevent a reoccurrence. But what can really be gained at this stage, except a point or two in the opinion polls?

What we witnessed yesterday was shabby and sordid politics. One cornerstone of our judicial system was left in tatters, at least, insofar as Rahim Jaffer was concerned—that of presumption of innocence. 

Winnipeg Centre New Democrat MP Pat Martin’s roll in the proceedings was especially deplorable. At one point, he even tried to work into the proceedings the fact that police allegedly found a quantity of cocaine in Mr. Jaffer’s procession some months ago, after which he had been charged with drunk driving and cocaine possession. Mr. Jaffer pleaded guilty to careless driving, however, the other charges were withdrawn.

In other words, our legal/judicial system had already dealt with the matter, and Pat Martin was raising the issue maliciously. It took the intervention of Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi, chair of the committee, to get him to back off.

Watching my television, self-claimed moral superiority and self-righteousness were palpable in the committee room even as the pack shredded Mr. Jaffer’s right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty in a court of law.

Do our parliamentarians believe that only the rights of those in whose political party they belong should be protected? Shame on them!

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Ignatieff barking up the wrong tree

The latest political public opinion poll from EKOS shows—as other polls have—that Canadians are not buying what the Grits under Michael Ignatieff are trying to sell. EKOS1 shows their third place in British Columbia, a poor second in Alberta and Saskatchewan/Manitoba and a second place in the Atlantic provinces was too much to be overcome by a slim lead in Ontario and a more substantial one in Quebec, the Liberals traditional stronghold.

Here’s a quick summary of the national results:

Conservatives: 31.7 (+0.3)
Liberals: 27.1 (-1.9)
NDP: 16.3 (-0.1)
Green: 12.6 (+1.5)
Bloc Quebecois: 9.5 (+0.7) (38.4 (+3.7 in Quebec)
Other: 2.7 (-0.6)
Undecided/ineligible: 13.6 (+0.9)

At this point in their history, can the Liberal Party of Canada even be considered a national party? Their support is solid in the large urban centres of Montreal and Toronto, but do they have real power centres elsewhere in the country?

The strength of the Tories seem more evenly spread across the country. Even in Quebec, they are showing 13.8 per cent, four points higher than the New Democrats and less than nine behind the Grits. With the strangle hold the Bloc have on Quebec politics, the three federal parties are left to fight over about 60 per cent of the pie.

1EKOS surveyed 2,084 people by telephone between April 14 and April 20. The poll is considered accurate to within plus+ or - 2.15 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Has a new force in British politics emerged?

As our mainstream media has become absorbed in a sort of political trivia pursuit here in Canada, I decided to take a look at the upcoming general election in Britain, where for the first time a220px-NickCleggJune09 live televised political leaders’ debate occurred in a general election.

The first of three leaders’ debates occurred in mid-April with the traditionally third-place Liberal Democrats and their 43-year-old leader, Nick Clegg emerging as clear winners.

A Sunday Times poll claims Nick Clegg, who is still serving his first term in Parliament as an MP, has now become the most popular leader in Britain since Winston Churchill. The poll puts the Lib Dems in the lead with 33 per cent, one point ahead of the Conservatives, and Labour trailing with 26 per cent of voter support.

In what is now looking more and more like desperation to avoid a “hung” (minority) parliament, the leaders of the Labour and the Conservative parties are scrambling to gain some traction against the sudden surge by the Liberal Democrats just 2½ weeks before Britons cast their votes.

In 1990 here in Ontario , Liberal MP and the then leader of the provincial New Democrats, Bob Rae, was vaulted from near political obscurity to a major political breakthrough and became premier of Ontario. Nick Clegg has within his sights a much greater prize than Bob Rae’s. It is not unthinkable that this political unknown could become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Here’s an extract from Wikipedia explaining a bit about Britain’s third choice:

The Liberal Democrats were formed on 2 March 1988 by merging the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The Liberals descended from the British Whig Party, the Radicals and the Peelites, while the SDP were a Labour splinter group.

Promoting social liberalism, the Liberal Democrats voice strong support for constitutional reform, civil liberties, and higher taxes for public services.

The party president’s book of office is John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, which defended individual rights while attacking the tyranny of the majority and the despotism of custom. Although the party objects to state limitations on individual rights, it does favour a welfare state that provides for the necessities and amenities of life. They support multilateral foreign policy, opposing British participation in the War in Iraq and supporting the withdrawal of troops from the country.

The Liberal Democrats are the most pro-European Union of the three main parties in the UK. The party has strong environmentalist values—favouring renewable energy and commitments to deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Since their foundation, Lib Dems have advocated electoral reform to use proportional representation, hoping to replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber.


Not my cup of tea perhaps, but nothing outrageous here that might scare off British voters. However, I really cannot get the measure of the quality of the candidates who are representing the Lib Dems. But, assuming they have, at least, enough talent to staff a competent cabinet, we could be seeing the emergence of a force which will displace the Labour Party, pushing it into the background of British politics—and that’s a good thing from my point of view.

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Die by the sword

The old adage, “live by the sword, die by the sword,” has once again proven it’s validity. Today, MSNBC reports that Abu Ayyub al Masri (also known as Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir) and Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, were killed during security operations in Iraq.

The two men are considered to be the two most senior al Qaeda leaders in Iraq. Abu Ayyub al Masri was the military leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), having replaced Abu Musab al Zarqawi when he was killed in 2006. And Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, also known as Hamid Dawud Muhammad Khalil al Zawi, was the AQI leader of the proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq.

In a written statement, United States Forces-Iraq Commander, General Raymond T. Odierno, said:

“The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency. The Government of Iraq intelligence services and security forces supported by U.S. intelligence and special operations forces have over the last several months continued to degrade AQI. There is still work to do but this is a significant step forward in ridding Iraq of terrorists.”

This must certainly be a significant blow to the foreign-based terrorists operating in Iraq under the AQI banner and can only be considered good news by those who hope peace will return soon to the Iraqi people.

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Michael Ignatieff: time to fish or cut bait

The fact that Michael Ignatieff apparently believes that the current federal Conservatives and our military leaders condone torture, that Canada’s military has participated in a murder in Afghanistan and that the Conservative party has connections to organized crime is more than sufficient for him to vote the current government out of office.

Mr. Ignatieff has accused the government of all three of these nefarious deeds and has called for a public inquiry into the first two. If he is serious about his concern, why won’t he defeat the government and, after winning the next election, order a public inquiry of his own. After all, either these are serious misdeeds of the sort Canadians will not stand for, or he is blowing smoke and misleading us.

Ignatieff and the New Democrats cannot have it both ways—they have the power to defeat the government and take their allegations to the Canadian voters, so they should either cool off or pull the plug on the Tories.

Could his inaction indicate he doesn’t believe he can convince Canadians of the truth of his irresponsible allegations?

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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