The F-35 boondoggle in context: This “is oppressive, dictatorial regime-building that would do any petro-state proud”

We are definitely not in Kansas anymore, Canuckistan — and Michael Harris says that we just had our “Wizard of Oz moment”:

The curtain has been well and truly whipped away from the PM’s self-promoting deceptions and he is revealed for what he is: a power-tripper on a mission to give Canada an extreme makeover that only the super-rich and the semi-comatose could endorse. And he is doing it with virtually no debate, creating something of a new phenomenon in Canadian politics; sole-source public policy.

We have Peter MacKay to thank for the official revelation — belated though it was. The minister of defensiveness has finally dished after weeks of embarrassing prevarications. It turns out the whole Harper cabinet was in on the F-35 whopper, an exercise that both the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General saw for what it was — a studied deception.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office had an even better description of the same process stateside. The Pentagon’s top weapons’ purchaser, Frank Kendall, said the plan to buy the F-35 was “acquisitions malpractice.” In this country, two sets of books were produced – one containing the real scoop, the other the “communications” version for the Great Unwashed. It turns out interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was dead right — the PM and cabinet knew they were lying to Canadians about the true costs of the F-35 during an election and Stephen Harper is ultimately accountable.

This is not “strong, stable government” a la Harper’s PR mantra. It is oppressive, dictatorial regime-building that would do any petro-state proud.

It is also the de-confederation of the country and the death spiral of independent information bearers. The war machine is more important than the social safety net. Canada can apparently have $45 billion jets and $800,000 military fly-overs, but must rein in the Old Age Supplement and cut food inspectors. The PM can blow $45,000 in public money on a baseball junket (why on earth was Harper’s official photographer along for the ride?), but 19,000 public servants must lose their jobs. And if these institutional thugs lose a seat in an election they lust after, there’s a plan B – gerrymander the riding, as they may well do in Saanich-Gulf Islands, where Green Party leader Elizabeth May knocked off former cabinet sock-puppet Gary Lunn.

As for parliament, what’s parliament? Something to ignore, shutter, or the favored option, to geld.

Happy 1 year anniversary, Canuckistan — oh, and re: what Naomi Klein said:

For now, I’m happy, as noted, to let the Harpercons keep tripping over themselves; but that doesn’t mean we can’t reinforce (firmly and forcefully) the enormity of Harpercon efforts to subvert our democracy, and what it ultimately means for Canadians.

(Image: dbking, Flickr.)

In Praise of NDP PR Jiu-Jitsu

Paul Wells on how it’s best sometimes to simply shut up and let your opponent’s own negative momentum take them down:

Harper is certain to keep portraying the NDP as the only bunch of witless ideologues in sight. In quiet moments Conservative strategists say that, if they ever tire of whacking Bob Rae, they will seek to portray the NDP as either extremist or incompetent. And indeed the newest feature on the Conservative party website is about “Mr. Mulcair’s NDP Team.

But in the Commons, it is not the NDP who have been looking like circus geeks. Tom Mulcair reads his questions from his little wooden lectern. Unlike generations of Liberals, he almost never yells up a lung in Question Period. Peggy Nash, same story. Paul Dewar, probably more methodical now than a year ago. Finally this week a New Democrat confirmed to me that this is strategy, and it is designed precisely to blunt the expected Conservative attack to the effect that only Conservatives are fit to be let near the good china. The New Democrats want to put restraint, method and diligence in their own column.

When I used to ask the Liberals, when they were the Official Opposition, why they didn’t calm down a bit in QP, they would complain that gesticulating was the only way to get on the news. And indeed the calmer New Democrats are not getting a lot of space on the news. What is getting space is Bev Oda’s global OJ adventure, Stephen Harper’s 70-year digressions, and private members’ bills that seem inspired by the Danielle Smith playbook of political success. Which may explain why the NDP does not begrudge the government its time in the spotlight.

h/t

Gary Don’t. Please, Just Don’t.

by matttbastard

I have no clue who I’m going to endorse for the NDP leadership — but I sure as shit know which potential candidate will never, ever receive a vote from yours truly: sellout 3rd way posterchild Gary Doer, who has apparently sold his soul to rock & roll Ethical Oil, that filthiest of filthy lucre.

The G&M:

Since becoming Canada’s ambassador to the United States in late 2009, the former Manitoba premier has travelled from the Carolinas to California, and to most points in between, to make the case for the oil sands.

[...]

Calgary-based TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline fits into Mr. Doer’s economic pitch as a major infrastructure project that would create 20,000 unionized construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and other revenues in the six states through which it would pass.

The pipeline would almost double the capacity of Alberta crude that TransCanada can ship south, to 1.1 million barrels a day, and provide a direct line to Gulf of Mexico refineries on the Texas coast.

The U.S. State Department must approve the project since the pipeline crosses an international boundary and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised a decision by year-end.

[...]

Mr. Doer, who was a highly-popular New Democratic premier and whose name has been raised as a future federal party leader, is hardly taking the pipeline’s approval for granted.

To everyone he meets these days, he insists the 2,700-kilometre Keystone XL would adhere to far tougher safety standards than any of the 235,000 kilometres of oil pipelines already built in the United States.

And he counters the reputation of oil sands crude as “dirty” owing to the greater amounts of freshwater depletion, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation it causes compared with conventional oil production.

“We believe that when somebody claims something that’s 10 years old about water utilization or [carbon] emissions, we have to put the facts on the table,” he said, noting that it now takes far less water to produce a barrel of oil sands oil than it does to produce the same amount of ethanol.

“There have been major improvements made. We’re not saying to anyone that they’re complete. We’ve got to keep using innovations to improve water utilization and emissions per barrel.”

Yeah, no offense to those who get giddy imagining Doer at the NDP helm going into 2015, but come the fuck on. Handing the party over to the Harper Government’s hand-picked agent of environmental destruction would be the ultimate desecration of Layton’s pragmatic, progressive legacy. And that is attendant reality Dippers will also have to face.

Really.

Full Disclosure: Biased. Socialist. Bastard.

by matttbastard

Yeah, so, once again I’m officially a member of the New Democratic Party of Canada.

(If you’re not part of the solution, etc etc.)

In my defence, this blog does not in any way represent or align with our dread State Broadcaster (eek!!1) — so don’t fret about your PRECIOUS TAX DOLLARS!!11 subsidizing this 7-Up* Socialist endeavour, Sun Meida [sic] sycophants. Also, my undies have always been stained pink, so rejoining Canada’s resident pinko party makes sense. Anyway, don’t expect me to go easy on the Dippers out of reflexive partisan loyalty.

Expectations increase exponentially when one has a personal investment at stake.

On that note, join. One member, one vote means you have a voice. If we want to steer this progressive ship into the future we have to have a visonary, dedicated crew to help with the navigation.

* Champagne gives me a headache

(Orange Crush image:  tmp | photography, Flickr)

Ezra Levant Is Ethically Outraged Over Jack Layton’s Final Farewell

by matttbastard

In the midst of his double-fainting couch freakout over Jack Layton’s outrageously socialist state funeral, flesh & blood cartoon QMI columnist Ezra Levant claims the late NDP leader “clearly did not meet the standard of a state funeral” because he was “a hyper-partisan politician whose largest achievement was becoming the leader of the opposition”. According to Levant, a state funeral should be reserved for “someone whose successes transcend our national divides.”

Yeah, I mean, it’s not like Layton slew the BQ and brought Quebec back into the National political fold or anything. A possible bridge of the two solitudes? Clearly that pales in comparison to Rocket Richard’s 1337 hockey skillz.

Now, yours truly is in the midst of moving (tomorrow — eep), so, in lieu of properly laying the snarketh down on Ezra’s excremental musings, here’s an infographic outlining Layton’s considerable (or marginal, if you prefer viewing the world through Sun Meida’s [sic] Blue-tinted lens) electoral accomplishments during his tenure at the helm of the New Democratic Party of Canada:

Admittedly, none of this actually refutes Ezra’s main point, which seems to be that Layton was a partisan socialist weenie, and his partisan socialist weenie supporters misappropriated public funds to shill for partisan weenie socialism. But that’s largely because Ezra’s point is, unfortunately, inherently irrefutable — in the (dubious) sense that it is largely fallacious,  thus not a proper argument and, furthermore, impossible to counter (hacktacular!)

Yeah.

So, instead of wasting my (precious, rapidly dwindling) time and your (no doubt just as precious and unsustainable) time any longer, have some grossly inappropriate pontificating from “an old career NDP hack named Stephen Lewis”:

Oh, and if you have a spare fainting couch kicking around, feel free to ship it out to Calgary. Ezra thanks you in advance (just don’t use Canada Post, you partisan socialist weenie).

(Infographic courtesy the Globe & Mail)

Greatly Exaggerated Rumours, Jack Layton Edition

by matttbastard

Michael Valpy addresses the current conventional wisdom that without Jack Layton, the NDP — and Canada’s left — is now doomed, doomed, DOOMED!

Ahem. Sorry ’bout that. Now, where were we?

Oh! Right.

Valpy:

When polls from the past federal election are closely analyzed, what shows up is that Mr. Harper’s Conservatives were elected by a lot of old people — people over the age of 45 whose electoral participation rate is between 60 and 80 per cent, climbing higher as they climb to meet their Maker. People under the age of 45 were powerfully anti-Conservative but at best only about 40 per cent of them voted. Andif they had voted in the same proportion as the over-45s, there would not have been a Conservative majority; there probably wouldn’t have been a Conservative minority. What likely we might have got is an NDP-led coalition.

So then let’s suppose that half, at least half, of the electorate are powerfully opposed to Mr. Harper’s neo-liberalism, which is what the polls suggest. Let’s suppose they’re more in tune with Canada’s historic Red Toryism, the political culture that led to, in the words of philosopher George Grant (Michael Ignatieff’s uncle, although Mr. Ignatieff didn’t like his thinking) “a country which had a strong sense of the common good … that was possible under the individualism of the capitalist dream.” We certainly know this is the case in Quebec. We certainly know that younger Canadians, and even a significant chunk of older Canadians, have a strong sense of the common good and don’t like the contemporary conservative ideology of the individual.

Without Mr. Layton — without Jack, le bon Jack — it does not mean Canadians opposed to Mr. Harper’s neo-liberalism are simply going to go elsewhere or become less engaged with their democracy. It doesn’t mean Quebeckers are going to abandon their fling with the NDP.

First, there is a culture war in Canada; it’s not going to disappear with Mr. Layton’s death. Second, as some of the most astute commentators of Quebec politics have pointed out, Quebeckers don’t take frivolous bon-bon steps in their politics. Their engagement with the NDP is more than a celebrity fling with Jack; it’s a new, sophisticated engagement with Canada.

Thus Mr. Layton can accurately be seen as the catalyst, not the seducer, both of Quebec’s re-engagement with the country and of a debate within the whole country about its political values.

As they say, read the whole damn thing. Valpy goes on to tackle Blatch’s “talented gracelessness” — and the Canadian public’s instant, somewhat overwhelming mythologizing of Layton —  with keen insight.

h/t Stephen Wicary

RIP Jack Layton: His Death Is Only The Beginning

by matttbastard

In the end, we should have known it was fanciful, even selfish, to expect Jack Layton to make it back to Parliament in the Fall.

The man who, weeks ago, stood before a stunned nation to announce he was stepping aside (temporarily, it was insisted)  to once again battle cancer, gaunt and wholly drained of the vigour that defined his upbeat, energetic campaign style, was not the same one who, just one short month prior, had almost single-handedly carried the NDP to its best electoral finish in party history.

This was someone who, if not at Death’s door, was certainly on its footpath.

But before Jack the Fighter became Jack the Martyr, he was Le Bon Jack, the man who, in the words of CP’s John Ward, “slew the Bloc Quebecois and saw the long-dominant Liberal party reduced to a battered hulk” while simultaneously bringing his once-terminal, perpetually-marginalized democratic socialist party into the national mainstream (and, in the process, welcomed Quebec back to the Federal scene after nearly two full decades in the political wilderness). As  James Laxer rightly notes, “When [Layton became NDP leader, he took a party that had seen better days and led it to become a force that can win the next election. His breakthrough in Quebec is historic, a transformative event in Canada’s political history. “

Over the next several days we’re going to be buffeted by many heartfelt tributes to Layton and his legacy. Conversely, we’ll no doubt witness insincere remembrances from those who, quite frankly, despised the man and his pragmatically progressive politics, but cynically know it bodes well to avoid speaking ill of the revered dead. We’re also going to see an increasingly histrionic debate over what to do about iterim leader Nycole Turmel, the party’s newly-minted Quebec rump, and its overall future.

And though Dippers and progressives deserve time to grieve (and Layton is indeed worthy of memorializing) we mustn’t shy away from these contentious issues, lest the momentum that propelled the NDP to historic gains is further halted as the party tries to reorient itself in anticipation of the post-Layton era.

Just to help kick off the frenzy of posthumous speculation re: What Happens Next, here’s a brief excerpt from Warren Kinsella’s latest Sun Maida [sic] column:

For [Jack Layton's] NDP – because it was his NDP – sad and bad times lay ahead. There is no possibility, none, that they can ever expect to maintain what they achieved with Jack Layton Nor can the party’s blasé dismissal of a union with the Liberals be allowed to remain unchallenged. Our democracy will suffer if the Harper government is not facing an effective Opposition. All of us – Stephen Harper included – need the NDP and the Liberals to consider the gravity of the moment, and abandon their pride and hubris. Now, more than ever, progressives need to come together for the good of Canadian democracy.

Whatever your feelings on uniting the Canadian left (and let it be clear, I lean towards Kinsella’s position that only a strong, united centre-left opposition can ever hope to topple the Harpercons), one thing is undeniable: Jack Layton quite literally died to get the NDP — and the Canadian progressive centre-left — to this point; now it’s up to progressive activists, regardless of party affiliation, to continue the fight that ultimately took his life.

Update: And as if anticipating renewed calls to reopen the unification debate following his passing, here’s Layton, from his already-legendary final letter:

 There will be those who will try to persuade [NDP members] to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

So, at least we know what Jack wanted (which doesn’t necessarily make it right, but…).

Something kinda like this:

So, let’s do it.

Layton photo: mattjiggins, flickr

Sidewalk photo: Paul Dewar, Yfrog

(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

I Heart Conservative Ethics (Almost as Much as Conservatives Heart Uppity Women)

by matttbastard

A now-infamously short-lived Conservative candidate may be facing a REAL shit-creek legal situation (sans paddle, of course).

dBO @ Birth Pangs:

Rosamund Luke, purportedly a member of R.E.A.L. women and until a week ago Conservative candidate for the Halifax riding, may be facing a criminal investigation regarding the disappearance of funds allocated to her [organization] by Status of Women Canada, under the New™ guidelines established by the Harper government.

Ms Luke was the executive director of an organization called All Women’s Empowerment and Development Association, the beneficiary of $142,700 federal grant last March from Status of Women Canada. The funding was meant to fund a 12-month pilot project to integrate low-income immigrant women into Nova Scotia’s small business community. About $130,000. is missing, according to the two remaining board members who fired Ms Luke. The association, whose goal was to bring economic independence to immigrant women, provided financial help to only seven women. Seven women.

That total does not include Ms Luke, who may have been quite well served by her turn as director of the organization. Transparency and accountability, it’s the Conservative way of doing business.

Heh.  Indeed.

(PS–read the whole damn thing)

Related: NDP MP Peter Stoffer’s letter to Auditor General Shelia Fraser formally requesting an investigation into the circumstances of how the grant was awarded:

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Sheila Fraser, FCA
Auditor General of Canada

Office of the Auditor General of Canada
240 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G6

Dear Ms Fraser:

I am writing to you to formally request an investigation by your office into a $142,700 grant by Status of Women Canada to a group calling itself the All Women’s Empowerment and Development Association (AWEDA).

I’m confident you are aware of recent media coverage concerning the Halifax-based organization as well as the controversy concerning its executive director Rosamond Luke and her political activities on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Most recently, today’s Halifax Chronicle Herald reports deeply worrying details about the decision by AWEDA’s board of directors to remove Ms. Luke from her position “citing accounting irregularities”.

The department’s Grant and Contribution disclosure record states that the $142,700 grant was awarded on March 2008. It also says that the project it is purposed to be in support of as follows: “This 12 month pilot project is designed to enable and integrate low-income immigrant women in Nova Scotia society through entrepreneurship, self-employment and micro enterprise projects.”

The very same Chronicle Herald article states that the doors of the program, opened near the Armdale Rotary, have now been closed – only six months into the 12 month pilot project.

I am personally supportive of the mission of the grant, and am now grievously worried that public funds approved by parliament for one purpose may have been used for a very different one. This is why I am hoping your office will take appropriate measures to ensure that this was not the case.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Sincerely,

Peter Stoffer, MP
Sackville—Eastern Shore

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers