Site Search

Custom Search

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Second place in Ninjamatics’ 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards

Iwas very pleased to receive an e-mail this morning telling me Russ Campbell’s Blog (this blog) had taken second place in The Ninjamatics’ 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards in the “political weblog” category. Many thanks to the organizers and jurors who made these Awards possible and, especially, to all of you readers and commenters for your support.

We acknowledge we’re not the most-read Canadian blog, however, our readership continues to increase—we now consistently receive several hundred page views each day.

We like to think we provide thoughtful commentary, which adds value to the general debate on political and social issues in Canada and, to a lesser degree, United States. We hope you agree and will continue to visit.

Please check out the other winners in this and other categories at The Ninjamatics’ 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards Winners page. 

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

Won’t Turkey’s friendship with Hamas affect its NATO status?

The new cosiness between Turkey and the Hamas terrorist group should be setting-off alarm bells in the capitals of NATO members. According to the Washington Post, Hamas is developing new relations with Turkey, including receipt of financial support in the order of $300-million and the opening of an official Hamas office in Turkey.

How can we square this cosiness with the fact that virtually all—European Union, the United States and Canada—of Turkey’s fellow NATO members have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization? NATO would be a strange alliance indeed if one member embraces a group thought to be terrorists by its fellow alliance members.

If Turkey were attacked, Canada and its other NATO allies would be obligated by treaty to go to its defence. Now let’s assume Hamas would do the same to help its latest financial backer. We would then have the ludicrous situation of Canada and Hamas being allied in an armed conflict. The very thought makes me want to up-chuck.

Time will tell whether Turkey replacing Iran as Hamas’ primary international sponsor will serve to moderate the terrorists, or whether the terrorists will radicalize Turkey’s international relations.

Once Turkey lost out in its bid to join the EU, it has charted a course that leads it into dangerous waters. It has already had a run-in with one of Canada’s allies, Israel, over that nation’s blockade of Gaza. What’s next?

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shafia “honour killings” offer several lessons

The verdict of first degree murder against Mohammad Shafia and Tooba Mohammad Yahya and their son Hamed Mohammad Shafia for the killing of their daughters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti and  Rona Amir Mohammad, Shafia’s “other” wife have several lessons for Canadians.

Firstly, if our government encourages, or even allows, immigration from cultures in which so-called “honour killings” are commonly condoned, we should not be surprised when that repugnant, barbaric tradition is practiced in Canada.

Our authorities know that, when people immigrate to Canada, they bring their cultures with them—that’s the whole point of official multiculturalism—isn’t it? So, if we don’t want the cultural tradition of honour killing in Canada, don’t bring in those who practice it. Seems simple to me.

Secondly, our feeble enforcement of immigration laws leave much to be desired. Rona Amir Mohammad, one of Mohammad Shafia’s acknowledged wives was brought to Canada as a domestic servant on a visitor’s visa. How ridiculous is that? Isn’t polygamy illegal in Canada?

When a man, who originates from a predominantly Muslim country, travels with more than one adult woman in his household, or “imports” a domestic servant later, suspicions should be raised and investigated. The default assumption should be that he is in a polygamous marriage. And, if time and/or resources do not permit an investigation, the immigrant and his family should be denied entry to Canada or deported if already here.

Thirdly, as reported by Christie Blatchford in the National Post, “Virtually every time [Mohammad] Shafia and [Tooba Mohammad] Yahya encountered Canadian authorities, they bamboozled them.” Blatchford also reports that when “the parents were called in by school officials a number of times,” … “Yahya would weep, Shafia would rail furiously, and no action would be taken.”

School, police and child-welfare agencies failed in their obligation to protect the murdered girls. Why allow in vulnerable children of immigrants if we have not the wherewithal to protect them? To continue to do so is to be an accessory to crimes Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger called “cold-blooded, shameless murders.”

The way I see it, we Canadians have nothing of worth to learn from the cultures of Afghanistan or that of predominantly Arab countries. If multiculturalism means blending our culture with theirs, then I want no part of it. Honour killing is too high a cultural price to pay for an aggressive immigration policy.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Global cooling… who knew?

The idea that the science is settled on anthropogenic global warming seems ever further from the truth after a report this weekend in the UK’s Daily Mail gave us global warming sceptics more reason to doubt the climate change industry’s “consensus.”

In past months, serious doubt has been cast on the veracity of reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and articles in the Financial Post by Lawrence Soloman have suggested a CERN experiment overturns global-warming orthodoxy.

Now, according to the piece in the Daily Mail, new temperature data shows the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years, and, in fact, we could even be heading for a mini ice age like the one in the 17th Century. These data were reportedly based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations and were released last week by the Met Office—the UK’s National Weather Service—and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit.

Scientific evidence is accumulating that suggests climate change models attach too much significance to CO2 and not enough to water cycles and the sun’s activities. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, for example, has used its high-energy physics accelerator to study atmospheric and climate science, and the results of its experiment seem likely to validate the hypothesis that cosmic rays and the sun hold the key to understanding global warming.

Pål Brekke, senior adviser at the Norwegian Space Centre and former NASA scientist, has said that some scientists found the importance of water cycles difficult to accept, because doing so means admitting that the oceans, not CO2, caused much of the global warming between 1970 and 1997.

The Earth’s climate has been fluctuating since its creation, and there is no reason to expect that will stop any time soon. It is high time we began to rethink our response to global-warming and resist the push for government regulations and, of course, the billion-dollar wealth transfers to poorer nations to pay for the whole thing.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pat Buchanan gets canned by MSNBC

The Fox News Network’s star Bill O’Reilly discussed conservative author and political commentator Pat Buchanan’s recent absence from MSNBC during his The O'Reilly Factor show on Thursday night. By the way, in my estimation, O’Reilly’s show is the best of its kind on North American television.

Apparently, MSNBC has kept Buchanan off the air for months, ever since he began promoting his new book Suicide of a Superpower, which consists of discussions of topics like “the end of white America.”

O’Reilly did not so much agree with Buchanan’s sentiments as wonder, why now, for, as he noted, Buchanan has been saying this stuff for years. And while O’Reilly argued that Buchanan should not have been taken off the air, he defended MSNBC’s right to fire him, as do I.

In addition to Bill O'Reilly, two guests sat in on the discussion, each taking opposite sides of the issue. Washington Post Magazine’s Cathy Areu called for Buchanan’s firing, saying he was a white supremacist. While Fox News’ Sandy Rios staunchly defended Buchanan, his book, and his first amendment rights.

I don’t know what is in Buchanan’s heart, of course, but from several years of his writings and comments on television shows like the PBS Sunday morning show, The McLaughlin Group, I have seen no evidence that he’s a white supremacist.

Some believe his new book Suicide of a Superpower contains racially charged sentiments. They point to phrases like the “European and Christian core of our country is shrinking,” which the book says is damaging the nation “ethnically, culturally, morally, politically,” to help make their case. The book also contains a chapter titled, The End of White America, and that undoubtedly fuels much of the libel and slander directed at Buchanan.

While I do not agree with some of Buchanan’s conclusions and the causes to which he attributes some effects, the fact is that the European and Christian core of the United States does seem to be shrinking, and that’s too bad. And, yes, I do sense a deterioration in that nation’s ethnics, culture, morality and political effectiveness.

But, as I see it, immigration and non-white minorities are far less to blame for this breakdown than the pervasive drug culture and the progressive, mainly white, leadership of the Democratic Party who scorn self-reliance and foster dependency and permissiveness.

Regardless of what we choose to blame, however, the fact remains the predominantly Christian-European America of past decades became the richest, most moral and generous, most powerful nation this Earth has ever seen, and the less Christian-European America of today is less so on all counts.

Pat Buchanan is on to something and we need to engage him in debate, not call him slanderous epithets and take him off the air.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Romney surges; Gingrich attacks

The GOP presidential primary in Florida has become a two-horse race. Mitt Romney is polling up to nine points ahead of Newt Gingrich, probably the result of his two strong showings in this week’s debates. Neither Rick Santorum nor Ron Paul appear to be factors beyond bleeding away some support from the two front-runners.

The so-called Republican establishment is said to be closing ranks to hammer away at Gingrich’s past in support of Romney. And the hard-right of the GOP keeps telling us Gingrich is not a true conservative, which of course is nonsense.

The Drudge Report website loaded its home page Thursday with anti-Newt links. Conservative commenter Ann Coulter is talking tough about Gingrich’s electability—her latest column is titled, “Re-elect Obama, Vote Newt!” And Tom DeLay, has piled on, saying, he, Gingrich, is “not really a conservative.” And the list goes on.

The former House speaker has struck back at Tom Delay and Ann Coulter. In a telephone interview by Fox News’ Victor Garcia, he dismissed them saying:

Look I think there are a whole bunch of folks who represent the old order; they attacked Ronald Reagan in 1980 exactly the same way. They are looking at a national poll that shows me ahead of Romney 52-39 in a two way race and they are recognizing that if I come back as president, that I will be for very dramatic, very bold change and they are terrified. I have no interest in what Tom Delay did that got him in trouble. I thought it was wrong and a mistake, I have a very different approach to that and I have no Idea what motivates Ann Coulter but I find that she is all over the map. Basically she is for Romney and therefore anything she says about me is a reflection of the fact that she is for Romney.  I expect people who are for Romney to attack me because they are terrified because he is losing.

The way I see it, whatever Newt Gingrich may or may not have been and done in the past, the man was and is a true conservative. In the 1990s, who was the conservative standard bearer if not Gingrich?

In contrast, at what point has Mitt Romney ever held that symbolic post? It wasn’t that long ago—mere weeks—that the GOP establishment considered him too moderate. Now they seem to be rallying round the former Massachusetts governor.

The question that really matters is whether Gingrich can beat President Obama in November. Obviously, the “Republican establishment,” as Gingrich calls them, is far from convinced he can and has launched aggressive campaigns to discredit him.

Internecine warfare is always an ugly thing and will only strengthen Barack Obama’s cause in the upcoming presidential campaign.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Friday, January 27, 2012

A good night for Israel

This video shows Mitt Romney giving a terrific speech in support of Israel. One of the best I’ve seen from an American leader in some time. Newt Gingrich also add his support. The statements came in answer to a question from the audience of last night’s debate.

Romney sets Gingrich back on his heels

The GOP’s former House speaker failed to fire up the audience and allowed his chief rival Mitt Romney to land some solid blows in last night’s Republican presidential nomination debate on CNN. The two are locked in a neck-and-neck race for Florida’s GOP delegates in next Tuesday’s primary, and Gingrich tried to duplicate the success he has had in earlier debates.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, parried Gingrich’s rhetorical thrusts and showed that, on that night, he was the better debater. Romney caught Gingrich— who had displayed a mastery of debating skills in previous debates—flat-footed on several occasions.  Romney’s attacks hit their marks as he attempted to regain momentum after losing in South Carolina last Saturday.

Gingrich has fared well with support from hard-right conservatives among the audiences of earlier debates by attacking the moderators. In fact, these attacks seem to have been the best thing he had going for him in South Carolina.

He did try the tactic again last night. His effort to chastise CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer over a question about Romney’s tax disclosures, however, fell flat. Blitzer stood his ground, insisting Gingrich explain a comment he had made. Moreover, unlike in other debates, the audience did not seem to warm as easily to Gingrich.

At one point, Gingrich was mocked by Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul for saying on Wednesday that if elected president he would build a permanent colony on the moon.

From where I sat: no knockout punch perhaps, but Gingrich clearly had a bloody nose and Romney had bruised knuckles.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Straight goods on green energy

Lorrie Goldstein tells us, “If Canada’s ‘green’ media—especially in the Parliamentary Press Gallery—demanded the same standards of accountability of themselves as they do of politicians, they would be killing entire forests right now apologizing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”

PM Harper, of course, didn’t jump onto the “green energy bandwagon” when large numbers of the media, especially among progressives, told him he should.

And he looks pretty good for not having done so, for, as Goldstein tells us, “Today, so-called ‘green’ energy is in retreat all over the developed world.”

This is a terrific article well worth the read.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Dutch democracy in action?

Is this what so many decent, brave young Western women and men risked life and limb for in places like Iraq and Afghanistan? Some died so Muslims could live free, and then this? Irshad Manji was in Amsterdam to promote her book, Allah, Liberty and Love, when 22 Muslim extremists stormed her book launch, ordering her execution and threatening to break her neck. See video below:

 

 

Police arrested two men and found a third with a loaded machine gun at home.

These troglodytes are, apparently, members of “Sharia4Belgium,” an international network with cells in many Western European countries.

While so many of us in the West bend over backwards to avoid even the appearance of bigotry, others among us flaunt their hatred, intolerance and contempt for our modern culture of fairness, open-mindedness and tolerance. These Muslim extremists are poisoning the rich open cultures of Europe. Is it only a matter of time before their intellectually bankrupt, medieval creed makes it to our shores?

Some insist it’s already here, with only the lack of sufficient numbers stopping it from reaching the clear and present danger it represents to Western Culture in Europe.

Let’s pray our immigration authorities wake up before it is too late.

Except video, © 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Great shot of Earth

NASA on Wednesday released “Blue Marble 2012,” a view of the home planet that the agency calls the “most amazing high definition image of Earth.”

Nice to see the UK actively cheering on Canada

The British Prime Minister David Cameron told delegates at the World Economic Forum that free trade pacts are key, and that quick completion of a EU trade deal with Canada will help Europe regain some of its competitive edge and help stem its financial crisis.

His UK counterpart’s speech will resonate well with our Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is focused on the domestic economy and looking to preserve Canada’s well-earned economic stability. “… we’re continually looking at ways that we can improve our performance and create jobs for Canadians,” he reportedly told a small group of businessmen this morning.

Elimination of the deficit remains a priority for PM Harper’s upcoming budget in which we can expect to see wide-ranging cuts in government spending. To offset potential negative consequences of the expected cuts, government and Canadian business officials are seeking other ways to encourage domestic growth.

And PM Harper’s approach seems to centre on opening international doors with free-trade deals with as many countries as possible.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

Libyans lash out at new “monster” in power

The quagmire that is Arab politics is beginning to emerge in Libya. Only three months after deposing dictator Moammar Gadhafi, some Libyans are accusing their new rulers of corruption, secrecy and nepotism. Unrest across the North African nation threatens their National Transitional Council (NTC), an interim body formed by anti-Gaddafi rebels during the 2011 uprising.

The Washington Times reports that on Tuesday, “hundreds of armed men thought to be still loyal to Gadhafi seized Bani Walid after easily defeating the local pro-NTC revolutionary force in the city… . Bani Walid was one of the Gadhafi regime’s last strongholds.”

Many pundits who questioned Western intervention in Libya from the beginning will be saying, “I told you so.”

Libyans themselves accuse NTC chairman Mr. Abdul Jalil, a former justice minister in the Gadhafi regime who switched sides early in the revolution, of running a one-man show. Many also are worried that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to hijack the country. And, apparently, the transitional government and local councils are packed with Islamists, so they very well could be right.

“These are people who are trying to hijack the revolution, and anxiety is spreading fast in society,” Hakeem Gadi, a Tripoli-based pro-democracy activist, reportedly said in a phone interview. “Having a Muslim Brotherhood leader in the committee responsible for putting together the electoral law makes everybody worried about the outcome,” Gadi said.

I predict the situation in Libya will get a lot worse before it gets better. Canada should mind that it does not become embroiled in the mess that’s unfolding there.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Michele Bachmann to seek 4th term

The former GOP nomination candidate, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, announced on Wednesday that she will be seek a fourth term in Congress. “I’m looking forward to coming back and bringing a strong, powerful voice to Washington, D.C.,” Bachmann told the Associated Press.

Bachmann jumped to the head of the queue of Republican presidential nomination candidates after winning the Ames (Iowa) straw poll in August 2011. She finished a disappointing sixth, however, in the more recent Iowa Republican caucus and abandoned her presidential bid.

So far, apparently, no one from either party has declared an intention to oppose her. Minnesota Democrats have said they will wait for a court to finalize their state’s redistricting process before deciding on a challenger for Bachmann’s seat.

The redistricting process that will be unpredictable, however, and she may still face challenges from those Minnesota Republicans who have complained that the congresswoman abandoned her district in order to pursue an Iowa-focused presidential bid, often reminding voters that she is a “Hawkeye State” native.

Bachmann’s announcement must have surprised those Republicans referred to in this quote from Politico:

Some Republican officials question whether Bachmann would want to return to the House after firmly establishing herself as a national figure who, for a time, sat atop the GOP presidential field. Bachmann could decide to pursue book deals and TV offers that will inevitably pay far more than her annual House salary, they contend. Making a return to Congress even less desirable for Bachmann is the reality that she has no place in the House leadership.

Well, she fooled them, and I say good for her for continuing to serve. Sarah Palin, by contrast, quit her post as governor of Alaska without completing her first and only term. But then Palin is no Michele Bachmann.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

Put not your faith in unions

Sooner or later unions turn against their benefactors, they always do. Ontario politicians should know this from the many object lessons we have close to home: most recently, former Toronto mayor David Miller and more famously Bob Rae, former NDP premier of Ontario.

Both men were sympathetic towards unions, and, in Rae’s case, initiated legislation that strengthened unions’ position in the province. Yet, both politicians came a cropper when they tried to manage their governments’ finances to the benefit of all residents, and not just to the benefit of those few who belonged to unions.

Premier Dalton McGuinty seems next in line to learn that lesson. So far, in the contest between government and public sector unions, the score must be something like 10-nil in favour of the unions.

Public sector union contracts with increases above inflation have become commonplace in Ontario—with some deals even made in secret. Remember last year when we learned McGuinty had authorized a new contract with OPSEU in 2008, providing 2 per cent wage increases for four years, and then signed a separate, secret, agreement with the union, granting an extra percentage point in 2012.

McGuinty did receive a big “thank-you” in the form of support in the 2011 election from Ontario teachers’ unions whose members have received billions of dollars in additional wages and benefits during his last two terms in office.

However, since rating agencies started taking a hard look at Ontario’s Aa1 rating—the second-highest grade available—McGuinty is beginning to understand his government’s generosity towards unions is not sustainable, and he’s looking for public sector unions to receive his message of restraint with an open mind. Good luck with that.

More likely he’ll get the sort of reception David Miller received: a particularly antagonistic garbage strike. Or the push-back Bob Rae’s Social Contract received in the early 1990s. The unions turned on their former fair-haired boy and his New Democratic Party, vowing to defeat the government in the next election.

The Bible advises, put not your trust in princes. I’d advise Dalton McGuinty to put not his faith in unions.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Now that’s funny…

Really funny editorial cartoon at Small Dead Animals blog, Free Ethical Oil! (Jan. 25, 2012). Serious subject, but nice to get a laugh out of it.

Some failed politicians never seem to fade away or shut up

Picture of MARTIN, The Right Hon. Paul Edgar Philippe, P.C., C.C., Hon. B.A., LL.B. — © House of Commons 2006Iwish failed politicians would fade away or, at the least—when they have nothing good to say—shut up about public policy. Former prime minister Paul Martin is a case in point.

Canadians repudiated his policies to the point where he left politics in 2006. But the old bore continues to snipe away from the sidelines.

Martin was a very able finance minister, but an abject failure as a political party leader and as a prime minister.

During elections he became a strident demagogue and truth-shaper. And now Martin attacks the current prime minister who has already proven to be twice the prime minister and political party leader Martin ever was. Whereas Martin’s record can be characterized as, promise much; do little, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has complied a solid political record of accomplishment.

Instead of Martin offering to work with the present prime minister, he chose to refight old battles, and attacked PM Harper on the First Nations conference. The former prime minister has done some good work on the First Nations issue, and, had he been a Canada-first sort of guy instead of an old fashioned, party-first partisan, he could have made a solid contribution to this file.

I agree with Keith Beardsley who said, “First Nations issues should cross party lines, solutions not scoring political points should be the end game.” It is too bad Martin isn’t man enough to be able to put aside party politics for the sake of Canada.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

Everyone wants high-paying jobs and low-cost goods

An old boss of mine used to say: “Don’t look for logic in this world.” He was also fond of repeating a version of a Bible saying: “As you sow so shall you reap.” I thought of this when reading a recent article by Tavia Grant in the The Globe and Mail regarding a new CIBC report that says the composition of the Canadian labour market has tilted towards lower-paying jobs.

Apparently, CIBC maintains an index on “employment quality” that—while it’s above levels seen through the recent recession—has fallen by more than one percentage point in the past year.

The bank’s index incorporates three measures: full-time versus part-time work; the mix of paid and self-employment, and wages among full-time jobs. And, although the first component rose in 2011, the other two components weakened.

Not surprisingly, the biggest drop in quality was in Ontario, while Alberta continued generating high-quality jobs.

Here is what I find illogical.

For the past several decades, Canadian consumers have demanded the lowest prices possible from retail stores like Sears, Walmart and others too numerous to mention. Some Canadians even will drive several miles to cross the border and shop in the United States so they get even lower prices.

Retailers, in turn, demand lower prices from manufacturers and wholesalers, which then source their products from faraway places where labour and operating costs are far lower than they are in high-wage Canada.

Without manufacturing work to perform, therefore, relatively high-wage manufacturing jobs are lost and the lower-wage service jobs become a greater percentage of our economy. And as we have transitioned into a service economy, part-time and self-employment have become more prevalent.

Yet, even as Canadians continue to demand the lowest price possible, they lament the deterioration of employment quality.

Illogical.

Reference:  The Globe And Mail, More Canadians in low-paying jobs

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Steyn shines on Coren’s Arena

The Renaissance Man, Mark Steyn, did two segments with Michael Coren on Sun News Network’s The Arena last night. Best TV of the day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good riddance to Gilles Duceppe?

The Canadian Press reports former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe has ended speculation that he wants to replace Pauline Marois as leader of the Parti Québécois, saying he can’t imagine a return to political life. Apparently, however, Duceppe didn’t say his decision was permanent.

The former Bloc leader reportedly said Sunday that he will devote his time to clearing his name after a Montreal newspaper reported he mishandled public funds while he was head of the federal party.

Duceppe has denied any claims of wrongdoing; however, the allegations are certain to have hurt any chances he had to replace the beleaguered Pauline Marois.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Mitt Romney’s ratcheting up the heat on Newt Gingrich

By all reports former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is turning up the heat on former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Romney suggested Gingrich will lose the election, saying he’s not only “erratic,” but “a pinball machine” who will bring “an October surprise a day” and decimate the Republican Party as he does.

According to Romney, Gingrich didn’t just have questionable ties to companies like Freddie Mac, he engaged in “wrongful activity.”

As both candidates try mightily to discredit each other’s claim on the GOP nomination, and ruin their already sullied political and business reputations, observers are left to wonder if enough will remain of either man’s worthiness to serve in the highest office in the land by the time the Republican National Convention at Tampa rolls around.

Thinking ahead to this summer’s Convention, I wonder: will either candidate have enough going for them that is not in tatters to attract respect and enthusiasm of the sort necessary to launch a credible presidential campaign?

Sure, most Republicans will claim that either man will be an improvement over President Barak Obama—and I can’t say I disagree with that assessment—but, as the mud-slinging continues between the candidates, that claim will begin to sound rather hollow and resonate only with committed Republicans, leaving independents and undecided Republicans open to President Obama’s rhetorical charm.

So, do GOP insiders organize stalling tactics to delay the process and allow some fresh talent to enter the race. Will we see, for example, favourite-sons popping up to contest individual primaries to syphon off enough delegate to cause an open convention.

I gather there hasn’t been an open or “brokered” convention since 1976. Back then, President Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan went to Kansas City without either candidate holding a majority of the delegates.

This time around, there exist several former and current governors able to lead a conservative agenda against the president; perhaps one will emerge in Tampa.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

Burka policy winning widespread support

The banning of Muslim women from covering their faces during Canadian citizenship ceremonies has won widespread support, according to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. The minister said polling shows eight out of 10 Canadians agreed with the policy while only 14 per cent disagreed.

The new policy also has support within the Muslim community. Farzana Hassan of the Muslim Canadian Congress said:

The niqab or burka is a political tool by Islamists who wish to segregate Muslims into religious ghettos, cut off from mainstream society. Islamists consider women who do not cover their heads and faces, which constitutes the vast majority, as sinners and lesser Muslims.

Mr. Kenney reportedly recalled a meeting with Sheikh Mohamed Tantawi, who is said to be Egypt’s top Muslim authority, and said Sheikh Tantawi told him face coverings were not a religious requirement. Mr. Kenney said:

He [Tantawi] clarified for me that people in the West who think this is a religious obligation do not understand Islam law. So I am not going to second-guess the most pre-eminent Sharia authority in the Sunni world.

From where I sit, covering one’s face in public, maybe someone’s democratic right, but it’s also an insult to Canadians and their traditional culture and values, which emphasizes gender equality and inclusiveness. How does one practice inclusiveness when in a group that includes persons draped from head to foot in an inverted sack with only small slits for their eyes? In short, one doesn’t.

Moreover, allowing this Arab-style garb in courtrooms, at election polling stations or in offices that provide government services goes well beyond reasonable accommodation to groups who follow these foreign cultural practices.

It is an anti-Canadian cultural practice to hide one’s identity when interacting with one another or with our institutions. If one wants to dress in this manner in places of worship, then that’s all well and good, but not while carrying on business or otherwise interacting in public spaces.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Johnny Otis, rest in peace

Another brilliant talent dies.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

CTV’s Question Period: Liberals’ proxies at work

Ispend most Sunday mornings watching political talk shows on television: Face the Nation, Meet the Press and The McLaughlin Group from the U.S. and CTV’s Question Period from this side of the border. Of these, CTV’s offering is by far the weakest and least engaging.

The CTV.ca website promotes Question Period as, “… the program is a must-see for political junkies,” as having “two of the strongest political journalists in the country,” and “as the authoritative source for candid discussion and debate about Canadian politics.”

This is pretty well all hype and little truth. What the viewer gets instead of “candid discussion and debate” are biased interviews and progressive-liberal journalists having a congenial chat while bashing the Conservative government, and more especially bashing PM Stephen Harper.

This morning, co-host Kevin Newman led a panel discussion on third-party political ads, centred around the recent National Citizens Coalition’s attack ad “defining” interim Liberal leader Bob Rae. They also briefly covered U.S.-based attack ads run during the GOP nomination campaigns.

Nothing at all was said, though, about the expensive anti-Hudak television attack ad campaign that trade unions ran during Ontario’s fall election. No, Question Period stayed well clear of mentioning any political attack ads run by third-parties supporting progressive parties. They only talked about those attack ads run by conservative groups, as if conservatives were the only ones doing that sort of thing.

It seems to me that once Sun News Network went on air with their right-of-centre-bias, CTV dropped all pretence of balanced journalism and went all-in for their Liberal and NDP friends.

I concede the discussion about the ads is a relatively small point, but I thought it said volumes about the political bias so evident on CTV these days. And that’s really too bad for we could do with a balanced Sunday morning show on our side of the border.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Warren’s wisdom

One Liberal we Tories love to hate [grin] is Warren Kinsella, so it is refreshing to read that he’s not joining the chorus of contrived bombast and outrage from the opposition and Liberal-cheering media over the National Citizens Coalition’s recent ad “defining” interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.

Kinsella’s advice to the Grits and the Dippers is to stop bellyaching and beat the Tories at the game, i.e., “Make your own attack ads, fast, and make ’em nastier.”

(More at WK’s blog and Toronto Sun column.)

Ill winds in Green energy sector

Joanne at the Blue Like You blog is ticked off at “how callously the McGuinty Government treats rural voters.” Can’t say I blame her.

Hamas and Iran have fallen out

Michael Weiss reports at The Telegraph that the affair between Middle East terrorist group Hamas and Iran has come to and end. Apparently, in retaliation for Hamas abandoning its headquarters in Syria and looking at other Arab states as alternative location for its political command center, Iran has reportedly cut some or all of its funding to Hamas, forcing that to seek funds elsewhere.

Here Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club has an excellent run-down of this important story.

Maleficence in Ottawa?

The BC Blue blog has a story and links about former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe apparently misusing tens of thousands of dollars of his tax-funded Parliamentary operations budget. Read more here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

MP pension scam

The federal Tories have promised to reform the MP pension plan, and such reform cannot come too soon to suit me. The current plan amounts to little more than a scam if recent reports can be believed—and I’m convinced they are believable, coming as they do from The Taxpayers Federation and Lorne Gunter of the National Post.

CAUTION: Readers may want to hold their noses before continuing.

No MP could get elected in any riding in Canada if he or she ran on a platform that stipulated a tax-funded pension for MPs based on the following formula: for every dollar an MP contributes, working Canadians must contribute $23.30. Just imagine the reception such a candidate would receive at virtually any voter’s door in the land.

Yet, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation calculates that is precisely the case with the current MP pension plan. The federal government officially claims the taxpayer-to-MP ratio is much lower at $5.80-to-$1.00, but, apparently, this is not the case. Here’s the explanation offered by the CTF:

The hidden contributions are due to the government adding “interest” into the MP pension accounts at a rate of 10.4 per cent per year—even though MP pension funds are not invested into the market like other pension funds (e.g. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund).

According to the CTF, taxpayer-funded “interest” the government pays into the MP pensions results in an incredible $248,668 each year to each MP’s pension fund, while each backbench MPs may contribute a paltry $10,990 a year. Is it not a shameful scam for MPs to receive annual payments towards their retirement of nearly a quarter of a million dollars when their base salary $157,000?

As astonishing is the fact MPs are eligible to receive pensions of 50 per cent of their $157,000-a-year pay beginning at age 55, provided they serve at least six years in Parliament.

One reads about this sort of rip-off in banana republics run by dictators, but here in Canada…?

Read more from the National Post here.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Gingrich support surging in South Carolina primary

In South Carolina, six of seven surveys done this week indicate former House speaker Newt Gingrich is now running slightly ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. This doesn’t guarantee Gingrich victory, of course, but it shows he stands a good chance of winning today’s primary. Few would have thought this after his poor showing in Iowa?

Many voters in South Carolina are still undecided, some are trying to factor in Thursday’s events of which one report said:

A plugged-in toaster was dropped into what had been the relatively placid waters of the South Carolina presidential primary Thursday, scorching one candidate’s prospects to a crisp and roiling the campaigns of the others left in the race.

The $64 question: Will South Carolina voters turn on Gingrich because, as one pundit put it, he talked the family values talk, but failed to walk that family values walk?

A Clemson University Palmetto Poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, has Gingrich ahead of Romney by 32 to 26 per cent. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are shown as running far behind at 11 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively.

Certainly looks good for Gingrich, but this one’s just too close to call.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Etta James, rest in peace

What a great talent. Etta James will be missed.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The golden years of Mike Harris

As I consider the mess in which Ontario now finds itself—bloated, ineffective government; out-of-control deficits; dependant on federal hand-outs—I find it somewhat comforting to recall the, by comparison, golden years Ontario enjoyed under then Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris.

Those deluded progressives who defend and justify Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government record like to remind Ontario residents of the Mike Harris era. But, to hear them tell it, those were dark days filled with labour strife and cuts to the education and health care sectors.

Revisionist history, folks.

Mike Harris’s terms ran from June 26, 1995 to April 15, 2002. He assumed power after 10 years of inept, ruinous Liberal and New Democrat government rule—similar to the predicament in which we now find ourselves.

The Harris government immediately set about implementing its election promises: a much needed agenda considering that the provincial deficit had reached a record $10-billion under the now-Liberal but then NDP, Bob Rae. Unlike most, the Harris government could be counted on to fulfill its promises—not something of which any thoughtful person could accuse the Dalton McGuinty Liberals.

Harris’s promises had been outlined in “Common Sense Revolution” platform—no hidden agenda from him. It focused on tax reduction, balancing the budget, reducing the size and role of government, and emphasized individual economic responsibility thereby significantly reducing government hand-outs. An agenda that even a decade later sounds fresh and reasoned, not to mention it remains as relevant now as it was then.

The Tory political ads back then spoke in terms of working for welfare, scrapping affirmative action and cutting taxes to promote more employment. In other words, common sense. And the public loved it, giving Harris and his PC team a solid majority government in 1995, with the PCs taking 82 of 130 legislative seats at Queen’s Park.

Opponents of the Harris government like to dwell on the cuts they claim were made to health care and education and the downloading of certain provincial costs to municipalities. But they disingenuously ignore the roll Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government had played in Ottawa.

Chrétien along with then finance minister Paul Martin had launched a program of deep cuts—tens of billions of dollars worth—to provincial transfers after winning the federal election in 1993. Those cuts, though necessary, were having a dramatic effect on Ontario’s already strained finances, especially since the province had traditionally relied on federal transfers for a substantial portion (about 40 per cent) of its health care budget.

So, yes, there were cuts under Harris’s government—much needed cuts. And, yes, nurses were laid off, a mistake openly acknowledged and for the most part corrected later in his term. The Harris government actually increased Ontario’s health spending to record levels to offset transfer cuts from the federal Liberal government.

The Harris government also took on the teachers’ unions by insisting on badly needed reforms. The unions balked, of course, at anything and everything the government did that weren’t designed specifically to benefit the teachers themselves or their arrogant, confrontational trade unions. But the Harris government held fast, refusing to cave in to the demands of greedy teachers. (A lesson Dalton McGuinty could well heed.)

This confrontation came to a head in 1997 when Ontario’s teachers walked out on our kids in an illegal strike that the Harris government roundly condemned and to which it refused to knuckle under. The government prevailed, and, in the end, the teachers got little in the way of significant changes to government policies.

The Harris PCs had won a legal, democratic election and had received a major mandate from the voters of the province. The unions, though, weren’t having any of that. They participated in work stoppages and several large protests—some near-riots—on the grounds of the Ontario Legislature. Those demonstrations stand out as some of the most shameful attacks ever on Ontario’s democratic political system.

Under the Harris government, economic indicators in Ontario—for the first time in years—improved dramatically. During its first term, Ontario’s economy expanded faster than almost all other North American jurisdictions. Notably, such has not been the case under any Liberal or New Democrat government in Ontario in over a half century.

During his premiership, Mike Harris was able to manage prudently enough to eliminate the record high deficit run up by Bob Rae’s reckless NDP government. Moreover, Mike Harris so thoroughly proved himself to be an effective economic manager that Ontario’s voters gave him a second majority government.

Those were golden years indeed, not the dark days we hear about from progressives.

Oh, how I yearn for the return of those good old days. Over to you Tim Hudak.

A similar version of this article appeared in this blog in early 2011.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

SOPA and PIPA bills hit the rocks in US Congress

The protests by online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, and thousands of other websites, which went “dark” for 24 hours earlier this week, has apparently had the desired effect. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed a vote on the PIPA, Protect IP Act, that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Also, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said his panel would not consider SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, until a compromise could be reached.

Both bills address online piracy like illegal copying of movies and other media. They would also outlaw websites from telling visitors how to access “illegal” websites that would have been blocked under the legislation.

Thousands of e-mails and phone calls to congressmen followed the online protests, and more than seven million people signed a petition on Google, which claimed the legislation would result in censorship of the Web and impose a regulatory burden on online businesses.

The protests on Wednesday seem to have prompted some of the 40 or so co-sponsors of PIPA to withdrew their support of the bill.

The proposed legislation is over the top: it’s harsh and over-reaching. There already exists strong legislation to protect Americans’ intellectual property rights, including copyright and patents. SOPA and PIPA are simply more cases of big-money buying off big government. It is not a coincidence these legislative initiatives were scheduled to pass in an election year when so many politicians are looking to top-up campaign funds.

Protests can work, folks, so long as the cause is just.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Gingrich hits debate home run

The GOP nomination debates had their most dramatic opening on Thursday night when Newt Gingrich verbally spanked CNN’s moderator John King after King chose to open the event with a question about the former House speaker’s relationship with an ex-wife.

It was a question about Marianne Gingrich’s accusation that the Newt Gingrich asked her to take part in an “open marriage.”

Gingrich’s reaction came in the form of a stern rebuff of the moderator. He said:

I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that. … I am, frankly, astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.

I say, here, here! CNN reminded me that it is the closest thing on American television to the trashy British tabloids. ABC News had held the offending interview with Marianne Gingrich and King tried to weasel-word himself off Gingrich’s rhetorical skewer by saying CNN had not been the first to report the story—but to no avail. Gingrich retorted:

John, it was repeated by your network. You chose to start the debate with it. Don’t try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start the debate with it. … The story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false.

Seldom have I heard a politician so aptly put a media operative in his place over shoddy questioning, and seldom have I seen a media operative handle a verbal rebuke so lamely.

A candidate’s personal principles and background should be considered by voters. But Gingrich’s infidelities are well known to Americans. Marianne Gingrich said much the same things in an Aug. 2010 Esquire article, giving GOP voters full opportunity to factor Gingrich’s marriage problems into their choice.

So this recent media attack did not originate from the moral high-ground, but from somewhere closer to the sewer.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Israel Defense Forces gearing up for action

 

I would want to start something with these guys and gals.

U.S.-based environmentalists have declared economic war on Canada

The environmental movement in the United States has, in effect, declared an economic war with Canada. U.S.-based environmentalists are spending millions of dollars and large doses of political capital to prevent Canadian bitumen from reaching American domestic markets, and they have every right to do so.

But, when they couple these anti-Canadian efforts with the millions of dollars more they are spending here in Canada to prevent our oil from reaching our coast from which it can be exported elsewhere, they are, in effect, waging and economic war on this country.

President Barack Obama has shown, once again, that the U.S. is only a real friend to Canada when it suits its purpose. Former president Bush made that clear more than once in his eight years in office, but our leaders don’t seem to get the message.

Now we find ourselves behind the eight-ball: loads of Canadian oil in the ground + loads of worldwide demand for oil = loads of Canadian oil in the ground. Go figure!

“Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports,” a statement from the PM’s office said. Too little, too late. “If at first we don’t succeed, we’ll try again,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Baird. Well, good luck with that. And Alberta Premier Alison Redford wasn’t much more helpful.

We elected leaders to lead and govern, not to substitute platitudes in place of effective management and leadership. The Conservative government has been in office for some six years now, what tangible steps have they taken to establish other markets for our oil? Precious few, as I see it.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

I’d be crying if this weren’t so ridiculous

The Stephen Harper government has to start walking the talk. Greg Weston, no Conservative supporter he, must be really enjoying himself today—and so he should. In a piece at CBC.ca, Weston tells us that the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, a federal agency created by the Harper government in 2008, is costing taxpayers millions of dollars," but achieving, he says, “pretty much nothing.” Oops!

The agency was formed for three purposes: first, to set the annual employment insurance contribution rates; secondly, to invest any surplus EI funds; and thirdly, to manage a $2-billion EI contingency fund the government promised to set up.

Sounds okay so far, right?

The first catch is, though, Weston says “in all three years the board has been in existence, the Harper government has simply capped EI rates to spare Canadian workers from potentially huge premium increases.” The second catch is the agency hasn’t invested any surplus EI funds. And, you guessed it, Weston says the government never did set up the promised $2-billion EI contingency fund. Oops, oops and double-oops.

Does this sound like a deficit-cutting government to anyone out there?

I hope Weston is wrong on this one, because he reports that the new agency “has spent over $3.3 million for new offices, computers and furniture, well-paid executives and staff, travel budgets, expense accounts, board meetings, and lots of pricey consultants.”

Thanks, Mr. Weston.

Over to you Treasury Board.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

NDP leadership candidates faced off in Toronto

The eight candidates bidding to replace the late Jack Layton as the federal leader of the New Democratic Party debated their visions for the future of their party in a Toronto school hall on Wednesday. As expected, there was the obligatory Prime Minister Stephen Harper bashing, and much blue-skying over expensive big-government programs.

Not a single “big-idea” policy was heard, and certainly not a single way to cut cost of government that is now at a record high. Play safe and play to the crowd was the strategy. Here’s a sampling.

British Columbia MP Nathan Cullen said that eight months of Stephen Harper “looks like a bad dream.”  Really? Where has he been? Canada has been viewed all over the Western world as doing pretty well in the past year or so. That’s reality, if not the wishful thinking of a few progressives who crave political power.

From the front-runner, French citizen and MP from Montreal Thomas Mulcair, we heard that he intends to “to bring the [political] centre to us,” in answer to the question of whether he would move the party to the centre if he became leader. Obviously he’d have to move the Canadian centre quite a bit to the left, but will Canadians move with him? I doubt it.

Brian Topp, the former party president and another front-runner told us that Toronto was “Layton’s town,” and threw in an insult to the “town’s” mayor, calling him Stephen Harper’s “pet mayor.” Cute, but not much statesmanship here—Topp’s strictly a backroom guy.

Ottawa MP Paul Dewar evoked Layton’s name and his second form of cancer. “We have to take better care of each other,” he added. Is he implying that some imagined shortcoming in our current health care system led to Layton’s death? Get a grip, man.

Toronto MP Peggy Nash talked about the failure of governments to invest in cities. “As leader, I can unite progressives right across this country so that we can defeat the agenda of Stephen Harper,” she said. Right. Sure she can. Nice lady, but a light-weight candidate with a less than even chance of winning the leadership.

The race seems to be among Mulcair, Topp, Dewar and maybe Nash, with Mulcair likely to win in March, the way I see it.

Future debates will be held in Halifax on Jan. 29, followed by others every two weeks ending with the March convention.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

No more Rick Perry to kick around

Texas Gov. Rick Perry today ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and endorsed Newt Gingrich. According to The Washing Post, Perry said, “I have come to the conclusion that this [sic] is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign.”

Gov. Perry made his announcement at an 11 a.m. press conference in North Charleston, only hours before the GOP nomination candidates will face off for their 16th debate of the 2012 Republican race, and just two days before the important South Carolina primary.

I believe Perry’s weak performance in his early debates torpedoed his campaign. And with him  polling at just four per cent in South Carolina (NBC/Marist survey), there really was no way forward for him.

We now need former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum to pull out so the race can centre on Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney—I don’t see Ron Paul as the eventual nominee. If Santorum continues for much longer to split the conservative-alternatives-to-Romney vote with Gingrich, Romney will win going away.

And, by the way, I learned today that Rick Santorum actually beat Mitt Romney by 34 votes in the recent Iowa caucuses.  In a reversal of preliminary tallies that showed Romney winning by eight votes, Santorum has been declared the official winner.

Regardless, Rick Santorum still needs to drop out so Gingrich can give Romney a real challenge for the nomination.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Keystone XL oil pipeline dead?

The U.S. State Department will apparently deny a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border. According to The Huffington Post, “a source who had been briefed on the matter confirmed on Wednesday.”

The news follows White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s announcement on Tuesday that President Barack Obama cannot approve the pipeline by the Feb. 21 deadline imposed by Congress.

It probably is no coincidence that  this news also comes after House and Senate lawmakers made clear their intention to introduce legislation calling for approval of the pipeline, even if the Obama administration rejects it. According to The Huffington Post:

“That bill, drafted by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), would have shut the White House out of the Keystone decision-making process, leaving Congress with full authority to approve the pipeline, which would stretch an estimated 1,700 miles from tar sands in Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast.”

Looks like the pit is all set up for a real old-fashioned dogfight, and we can expect political fur to fly and some political bloodletting before this is over.

Personally, I no longer care if the Keystone XL oil pipeline is approved: given the worldwide demand for petroleum products, Canadian bitumen will get sold one way or another.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

ShareThis