(Long) Guns and Butter, Meet Fox News North

by matttbastard

Over at his humble pad, Progressive Bloggers head honcho Scott Tribe warns NDP leader Jack Layton that his party may face electoral consequences if his maddeningly milquetoast stance on Canada’s Long Gun Registry leads to its repeal:

Rather then whining in the papers that the voters who support keeping the long-gun registry should not be blaming the NDP if the registry gets killed, Jack should stop being naive and realize the Harper government is playing the NDP for suckers. The NDP has always claimed it is the party that stands up the most against the Harper agenda in the House of Commons; well, here’s it’s chance to really walk the walk – a chance to make a difference, rather then a symbolic vote or putting forth a symbolic motion/amendment against.

As for electoral considerations, and if those are also what’s in play here over principles, the NDP should remember that for every rural riding the NDP fears it may lose because of that member voting to keep the gun registry, it’s going to be pummelled in its urban ridings and in its lone Quebec riding as failing to keep the registry. Rest assured that the Liberals will be reinforcing that message in every NDP held riding in Urban Canada and in Outremont, if the NDP fail to stop Bill C-391 from passing.

With respect to Tribe and others, I just don’t see this as much of a game-changing, hot-button issue outside of Quebec and rural Canada. In Ontario (and, it should be noted Quebec), the economy is going to loom large in any future Federal campaign, as the rapid Northern expansion of the rust belt continues to drastically affect employment and living standards across the region.

Focusing on Harper and the general public’s fear of what he may do with a majority parliament is still a winning campaign strategy for the Liberal Party of Canada. No matter what, urban (and Eastern) Canadians really, really doesn’t trust that sonofabitch. And rightfully so.

With all that said, one wonders how the Foxification of Sun Meida [sic] will affect campaign coverage —  who will drive the narrative of any upcoming campaign? Will Harper hold off on dropping the writ until the CRTC acquiesces to PMO pressure and allows the Sun TV licence to go forward?

Progressives should be very much concerned about the possible effect of what is, essentially, a defacto arm of the PMO having such a deep stake in the Canadian media landscape. Anyone within the Canadian progressosphere who gives even an inch to David Akin (to say nothing of Brian ‘Kneepads’ Lilley) should, IMO, hand in their VLWC cards post haste. That dubious pair now works for the Devil himself , having eagerly sold their journalistic credibility for 30 quarters and a pound of moose flesh cooked Blue rare in the kitchen of 24 Sussex.

Bottom line: don’t tell me that issues of real importance like gun safety (or, for that matter, the economy) will be on the table come election time. Instead, be prepared for Ezra Levant to try and beat the left into bemused submission with an endless barrage of hyperventilating wingnut minutia.

And don’t be surprised to see the so-called “mainstream” (or, as Kory Teneycke, channelling the Thrilla from Wasilla, would call it, “lamestream”) press follow his lead.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Shooting Themselves in the Foot

by matttbastard

Taxi!

Yesterday, the office of Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan released the following statement, explaining why the Harpercons were blocking the release of a Canada Firearms Centre (CAFC) performance report on the Long Gun Registry:

“Canadians don’t need another report to know that the long-gun registry is very efficient at harassing law-abiding farmers and outdoors enthusiasts, while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.”

Less than 24 hours later, veteran Parliamentary reporter Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star has linked to the report, which reveals the dirty little secret of Canada’s oh-so controversial Long Gun Registry:

It works.

Notes Delacourt:

[The registry is] spending less, attracting more registrants and police are using the registry  more — almost 4,000 times last year. Yep, that’s an argument to kill it.

Golf claps to the spineless, craven Liberal & New Democrat MPs who allowed the Harpercons to bully them into pissing on the graves of the 14 Montreal Massacre victims (and props to the Bloc for actually doing the right thing for Canada — shocking, I know).

A rundown of the twenty turncoat cowards who felt that pandering to low-information voters trumped public safety:

  1. Mr. Malcolm Allen
    (Welland) NDP
  2. Mr. Scott Andrews
    (Avalon) Liberal
  3. Mr. Charlie Angus
    (Timmins—James Bay) NDP
  4. Ms. Niki Ashton
    (Churchill) NDP
  5. Mr. Larry Bagnell
    (Yukon) Liberal
  6. Mr. Dennis Bevington
    (Western Arctic) NDP
  7. Mr. Nathan Cullen
    (Skeena—Bulkley Valley) NDP
  8. Mr. Jean-Claude D’Amours
    (Madawaska—Restigouche) Liberal
  9. Mr. Wayne Easter
    (Malpeque) Liberal
  10. Mr. Claude Gravelle
    (Nickel Belt) NDP
  11. Mrs. Carol Hughes
    (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing) NDP
  12. Mr. Bruce Hyer
    (Thunder Bay—Superior North) NDP
  13. Mr. Jim Maloway
    (Elmwood—Transcona) NDP
  14. Mr. Keith Martin
    (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca) Liberal
  15. Mr. John Rafferty
    (Thunder Bay—Rainy River) NDP
  16. Mr. Anthony Rota
    (Nipissing—Timiskaming) Liberal
  17. Mr. Todd Russell
    (Labrador) Liberal
  18. Mr. Scott Simms
    (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor) Liberal
  19. Mr. Peter Stoffer
    (Sackville—Eastern Shore) NDP
  20. Mr. Glenn Thibeault
    (Sudbury) NDP

And a handy-dandy directory of the MPs who comprise Canada’s 40th Parliament, including contact info — so you can either thank your local MP for standing up against gun violence, or politely tell them how you feel about them flipping the bird to the women of Canada.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Read This Now: Liberal Follies

by matttbastard

Thomas Walkom asks a question that’s been on the lips of many Canadians as Iggy and Steve thumb-wrestle over the reins of Parliament: “Who are these ludicrous Liberals? And what exactly is it that they want?”

They say they’d handle the recession differently. But they rarely say how. And when points of difference do emerge – such as the handling of employment insurance – they invariably backtrack.

For the Liberals, the time is never right. They come up with endless excuses for never forcing an election on the minority Harper government: They don’t have enough money; they don’t have enough candidates; their leader is too new; the polls are inauspicious; the weather is too warm; the weather is too cold

In the spring, they say wait until fall. In the fall, they say wait until spring.

When Stéphane Dion was their leader, they blamed him for everything. But at least Dion, with his plan to replace income with carbon taxes, gave some hint as to what he might do if elected.

By contrast, current Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is terminally vague. On the big economic questions, he attacks the government without saying what he’d do differently.

Ignatieff presents this as an asset, arguing that the point of being in opposition is to oppose. But in the context of the worst recession since the 1930s, his failure to articulate a clear alternative simply leaves the rest of us confused.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Recomment this post at Progressive Bloggers

The Agony and the Ecstasy

by matttbastard

'Imported.' That just about says it all, huh?

Michael Ignatieff on CBC Radio One just a few moments ago:

“I’m a centrist. A pragmatic centrist.”

Come on, be honest, Iggy.  You’re a self-absorbed wanker who perpetually preens and postures, melodramatically agonizing over the moral implications of just how prime-ministerial you looked during Question Period (yep–so passionately Canadian he bleeds maple syrup, motherfuckers!) Which, admittedly, is a welcome improvement over the (highly public) moral agony you went through several years ago when you urgently debated the merits of torture, thus helping to legitimize the perverse notion that there even WAS any ‘debate’ over torture and its (dubious) merits.

natodutch

Yeah, am sure KSM has thanked you for that–at least 183 times.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

The Return of ‘Lawful Access’

by matttbastard

Well, isn’t this lovely:

The Conservative government is preparing sweeping new eavesdropping legislation that will force Internet service providers to let police tap exchanges on their systems – but will likely reignite fear that Big Brother will be monitoring the private conversations of Canadians.

The goal of the move, which would require police to obtain court approval, is to close what has been described as digital “safe havens” for criminals, pedophiles and terrorists because current eavesdropping laws were written in a time before text messages, Facebook and voice-over-Internet phone lines.

The change is certain to please the RCMP and other police forces, who have sought it for some time. But it is expected to face resistance from industry players concerned about the cost and civil libertarians who warn the powers will effectively place Canadians under constant surveillance.

Constant surveillance–how so?

The concern of critics is that unlike a traditional wiretap that cannot commence without judicial approval, lawful-access legislation in other countries has forced Internet providers to routinely gather and store the electronic traffic of their clients. Those stored data can then be obtained by police via search warrant.

“That means we’re under surveillance, in some sense, all the time,” said Richard Rosenberg, president of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. “I think that changes the whole nature of how we view innocence in a democratic society.”

Um, yeah, just a li’l bit.

Oh, and, via Michael Geist, it seems our loyal opposition is also doing its part to represent the best interests of the nation by, um, once again proposing its own lawful access legislation–a bill even more odious than the government’s':

…Liberal MP Marlene Jennings has reintroduced her lawful access private member’s bill, called the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act.  The Jennings bill is a virtual copy of a failed Liberal lawful access bill that died in 2005.

[...]

[T]he Jennings bill would require ISPs to disclose customer name and address information to law enforcement without court oversight.

The Magical ConservaLiberal Unity Pony drops yet another stinking, steaming load on our heads; I love the smell of bipartisan turdblossoms in the morning.

Cough.  Anyway.

From what I can tell, the only substantive difference between Van Loan’s proposed piece of legislation and the one then-Public Safety Minister Stockboy Day tried to surreptitiously impose in 2007 without any public input (before backpeddling quicker than you can say ‘Ogopogo’) is the apparent requirement of judicial approval (which, as noted, may not provide much in the way of protection for a citizen’s private online information–and  Jennings’ PMB offers, um, none).  Otherwise, the state will, in essence, be forcing ISPs to fulfill the darkest fantasies of the tinfoil-adorned black helicopter set.

And, as Impolitical (h/t) notes:

The dangers of such powers being placed with law enforcement and the potential for abuses have been made abundantly clear by the experience Americans have had with the Bush administration and the revelations from whistleblowers in the last year.

Two examples:

Am in full agreement with Geist here:

…Van Loan should commit to active consultations with the privacy community before introducing the legislation; renew the government’s pledge for full court oversight (including for customer name and address information); and there must be full hearings on the bill that place the burden on law enforcement to demonstrate that there is a problem with the law as it currently stands.

Bottom line: this is not a path any purportedly ‘free’ society should hastily embark upon.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Dear Michael Ignatieff

"We will be watching like HAWKS!" Considering the Iraq support and torture apology, I believe him.

FUCK yo’ couch.

love,

matttbastard

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Federal Budget 2009: No Room For Women at the Table

by matttbastard

Following several days of strategically-timed leaks to the press, the Stephen Harper Party has finally tabled its stimulus budget, which, according to the Canadian Press, “submerges Canada in a sea of red ink after more than a decade of clear fiscal sailing.”  Indeed, it seems that Jim Flaherty has finally embraced his inner Keynesian, after years of hiding it beneath Milton Friedman’s long shadow:

The Tories are doling out nearly $20-billion – or half the stimulus package – to spur immediate spending on infrastructure projects and home construction.

Nearly $12-billion federal dollars will be made available for “shovel-ready” public works projects across Canada that can be commenced quickly, but there’s a catch. Provinces and municipalities will have to contribute nearly $9-billion more in order to get the roads, bridges and sewer upgrade work started.

Cost-shared projects the Tories are eying include: revitalizing Union Station in Toronto, the Evergreen transit line in Vancouver, road upgrades in Quebec City and the Summerside wind energy project on Prince Edward Island.

[...]

Infrastructure spending alone won’t keep all the building trades in Canada busy though and Ottawa has allocated $7.8-billion for other construction activity – to renovate and upgrade housing.

This includes $3-billion it expects to spend giving out tax breaks for the temporary home renovation credit as well as $1-billion in outlays to fund renovations and retrofits of social housing. Ottawa will also spend $400-million on new home construction for low-income seniors, $400-million on first nations reserve housing and $200-million for building northern residences.

Of course, all that spending (and tax cuts) comes at a cost (er…you know what I mean):

Ottawa is forecast to add $85-billion to the debt between now and 2012-13, eroding much of the debt-reduction achievements of the past decade. Current and former governments have shaved $105-billion from the national debt since the late 1990s by using surpluses to retire obligations owing.

Yet out of all the ‘pragmatic’ concessions made by the Harper conservatives that fly in the face of their purported ideological ‘principles’ (a practice the Harpercons have been perfecting recently) there’s still one policy area where old habits die harder than Bruce Willis, as the NDP (which, along with the Bloc, has already vowed to vote down the budget) points out in a press release (h/t The Regina Mom):

The budget…contains no mention of childcare spaces and maintains the attack on women’s ability to pursue pay equity complaints.

Via Antonia Zerbisias, YWCA Canada has also issued a press release with its response to the latest bird-flip to 51% of the population:

“The government has set up some very inclusive spending with this budget for First Nations, seniors and people with disabilities, but we don’t see an awareness that Canadian women are very vulnerable in hard times,” says YWCA Canada CEO Paulette Senior. “Two-thirds of Canadians working for minimum wage are women, many taking any work they can find to hold family and community together.  Government stimulus spending must take this into account.”

[...]

The hole in this budget is child care services. For Canadian women and their families, child care is missing, and it is vital,” says Senior. “Everything we know about building strong families says child care services are essential. And that goes double for women needing to leave violent situations. They need affordable, quality care for their children so they can go out and work. Childcare not only creates jobs but it supports women and their families. Now is the time.”   The budget announced $200 million for social housing in the north, a much needed investment.

Unlike the November economic update there was no mention of pay equity in the budget.  “We are very sorry to hear a resounding silence from the government on this issue,” says Paulette Senior. “Especially as job stimulus spending is concentrated in employment sectors heavily dominated by men. The government needs to rethink its position on this equality issue and take the advice of its own task force.”

Keep in mind that, according to CUPE National President Paul Moist, “[m]any of these measures have a shelf-life of only two years.”  Anyone who believes that we have witnessed the birth of a new era of post-partisan Conservative governance needs to stop downing so many goddamn Hope and Change cocktails and reset their GPS (hint: we’re still flying north of the US border, kids–even under NAFTA obligations, Obama’s transformative reach unfortunately stops at the customs desk).  Still, it’s all-too-telling that, even in the short term, demonstrative apathy (or, depending how you look at it, antipathy) towards the women of Canada is one principle that the Tories are entirely unwilling to sacrifice at the alter of (temporary) expediency.

And, if anyone really thinks that we’re going to see this budget get killed, as Mark Taylor recommends, or even substantively modified before passage,  Brodie Fenlon of the Globe and Mail puts things into perspective with the following lede:

The fate of the Harper Conservative’s massive stimulus plan and its minority government now rests in the hands of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, as does the future of the fledgling Liberal-NDP coalition.”

In other words, progressives and coalition supporters shouldn’t even bother inhaling, much less holding it in.  Still, if the spirit of futile optimism moves you to act despite the long odds (as, um, it always does to yours truly), contact info for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is as follows:

Ottawa Parliamentary Office

Room 435-S, Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Tel: (613) 995 – 9364
Fax: (613) 992 – 5880
Email: Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca

Alternatively,  folks who are more new media saavy can send their thoughts via Iggy’s 1337 Web 2.0 hub.

Related: Various reponses from First Nation leader Phil Fontaine, James Laxer, and Marc Lee of the Progressive Economics Forum, who dismisses the “leakiest budget in Canadian history” as “more of a communications strategy than a serious budget for tough times.”

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers