Category Archives: Canada


NDP Motion to Let War Resisters Stay Passes

According to an NDP news release:

An NDP motion calling on Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to allow Iraq war resisters to stay in Canada received strong support from Parliament this week. NDP Immigration Critic Olivia Chow is urging Harper to respect the will of regular Canadians who think George Bush’s war in Iraq is wrong and act immediately to ensure American war resisters are able to become permanent residents of Canada.

It’s nice to know Parliament supports this, but Harper will never, ever piss off his buddy George II by doing anything about it. It’s interesting that during the first Gulf War, Canada gave an Iraqi officer refugee status and permission to stay in Canada on the grounds that he was being forced to take part in an illegal war. Americans making the same claim in the second Iraq war were told to pack their bags and head back to Leavenworth. (Under Mr. Dithers’ Liberal government.)

“I Didn’t Know Canada Had An Army”

It’s Memorial Day in the U.S.. A time when many reflect on the sacrifices made by soldiers past and present. Recently, a nice young American man said to me “I didn’t know Canada had an army!” as we were discussing Canada’s role in Afghanistan. We had a laugh about it but it brought special poignancy to something General Romeo Dallaire’s father told him when he went off to begin his military career at eighteen: “I should never expect to be thanked; a soldier, if he was going to be content, had to understand that no civilian, no government, sometimes not even the army itself, would recognize the true nature of the sacrifices he made.”

Maybe that’s one of the things that makes service men and women so special: that they somehow manage to find fulfillment in what must surely be the most thankless job on Earth.

Anyone but Ignatieff!

Well, with the Liberal leadership vote less than 24 hours away, no one seems to know—or really care—who’s going to win… as long as it isn’t Michael Ignatieff! Tim, over at Peace, order, and good government, eh? has a pull-no-punches post on exactly why “I hate Michael Ignatieff”. Then there’s always Rick Mercer’s take: “Condescending and arrogant… he’s the whole package!” Unfortunately with convention politics being what they are, even the fact that anyone who’s lived in this country for any part of the last 30 years can’t stand the man doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t win! Ooooh…the suspense!

Update: CBC convention blogger Robert Sheppard sums it up well:

In the end it came down to the battle of the academics. The one who stayed home and slugged it out in the trenches of the Liberal party, defending federalism at its most unpopular in his home province, won.
The one who went abroad and earned himself an enviable reputation in the eyes of the world lost.
It was almost as simple as that except that Stephane Dion also triumphed by beating one of the most sophisticated political machines the Liberal party could offer. And, somehow, he seemed to do it in a way that brought everyone together.

The Prime Minister and the Press

The stand-off between the Parliamentary Press Gallery and Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pretty amusing to observe. And so are the reactions to it, as blogged by The Toronto Star’s Antonia Zerbisias. After 5+ years of watching the White House Press Corps lick King George’s boots, it’s hard to believe that anyone in the press has a spine anymmore. But perhaps it’s precisely because of the dramatic failure of White House press coverage that some members of the PPG (I can’t resist noting that The Star’s representative was not one of those who took a stand) are trying to take back their jobs and challenge the government for the good of the public.

We’ll see how this plays out. There’s still time for the press to return to shamelessness. In the meantime it’s gratifying to see Harper make his first Texan-sized faux pas. BTW, pogge has an interesting alternate analysis of how the press can turn Harper’s political (mis)calculation to their advantage.

Michael Moore on the Canadian Election

Another warning from one of our friends down south:

I know you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of irony, but this is no longer funny.

First, you have the courage to stand against the war in Iraq — and then you elect a prime minister who’s for it. You declare gay people have equal rights — and then you elect a man who says they don’t. You give your native peoples their own autonomy and their own territory — and then you vote for a man who wants to cut aid to these poorest of your citizens.

Read Michael Moore’s complete letter.

I guess that’s my last comment on the campaign. Tomorrow, we vote.

“Don’t Make The Same Mistake We Did”

Frankly, I’m finding the Canadian election just too depressing to write anything about. I have terrifying visions of Stephen Harper grinning like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary, barely able to control his glee: “I’m the Prime Minister. I AM THE PRIME MINISTER! BWAA-HA-HAHAHA.” Whether this happens before or after he begs the White House for permission to “perform a sexual favour” for George Bush in the Rose Garden, my imagination can’t encompass.

So to avoid having to say much myself, I offer this post from an American blogger at the Huffington Post. Russell Shaw urges us not to make the same mistake Americans did in 2000. I can’t say I entirely agree with his “don’t waste your vote on the NDP” view, but it’s nice to see that someone down there cares about what happens to us.

I know that it is tempting for you Canadian progressives tired of scandal to vote NDP, sit this one out, or vote for the Conservative Party in the hopes that they won’t be all that conservative.

But I have to tell you that many of us (not me, but many fellow progressives) made that mistake back in 2000. And we are about to pay for it in ways that frankly, are both depressing and a bit scary.

No matter how much you despise Mr. Dithers, don’t give the wing-nut right a foothold in this country. Some mistakes take decades to undo, and Canada can’t afford it. ‘Nuff said (by me, anyway.)

Update: I may not have the heart to write about Canadian federal politics right now, but others do and they do a much better job of it. I recommend the blog “Peace, order and good government, eh?” as a progressive place to start.

The $5-billion Rip-off

With regard to America’s illegal collection of $5-billion in tarrifs on Canadian softwood lumber, and their refusal to abide by the NAFTA rulings against them, Bloc Québecois leader Gilles Duceppe today put it with characteristic bluntness:

The American strategy is very clear. They want to gain time. They know they’ll lose in the end, but if the winners are dead—I mean, it’s not a win for us.

Well said. Canadians (specifically, the Mulroney Conservatives) foolishly entered into an agreement with the U.S. believing that the world’s most belligerent bully would abide by its signed agreements. Now that it’s clear to the entire world that America explicitly rejects the rule of law where the law infringes on its interests, maybe our politicians won’t be so gullible in future. I wouldn’t bet my life on it, though.

I Can’t Believe I Watched the Budget Vote

Watching a live Parliamentary vote on a budget bill is hardly my preferred form of entertainment, but last night was high political drama to the point I couldn’t tear myself away from the hypnotic calling out of MPs names as they stood to vote for or against the confidence motion against the government. How many Canadians held their breath when the moment came for the single independent MP still in play to stand or remain seated? Well, it’s history now: Chuck Cadman stood up, the government survived. And what started as a vote of no-confidence in the Liberal government has turned instead into a question of confidence in the hard-right leadership of the (formerly progressive) Conservative party.

Maybe it’s time for Stephen Harper to stop insisting that the duty of the loyal opposition is to replace the government, and get on with his real job of constructive debate and intelligent compromise. That’s what Canadians want from a minority parliament–not the desperate drama of a young party leader’s personal ambitions. As for his freshly-minted claims to provide a federalist alternative to the Bloc in Quebec–get a grip Mr. Harper. You’re not fooling anyone.