3/23/2002

Sacred Cattle Crossing


According to its Web site, the federal government spends taxpayer money on cultural, sporting and municipal events in order to show that Ottawa is "active" in local communities. Unfortunately, the government is mostly inactive in nine provinces and hyperactive in one. About 78% of all sponsorship money goes to Quebec, a province that contains fewer than 25% of Canada's people.

Among Liberal MPs, the traditional excuse for Quebec boondoggles is that this is simply the way politics work in that province, and that bribery is the best way to fight off separatists. The same reasoning was recently applied by some Liberal MPs from Quebec to justify individual $100,000 slush funds they could use at their discretion, a crass exercise in political corruption at which Maurice Duplessis himself might have blushed.

Mr. Boudria did right when he called on the Auditor General. But the problem is a larger one, and costs Canadians hundreds of millions of tax dollars annually. There is no greater symptom of Liberal arrogance and institutional corruption than the fact that its officers continue to use the fisc as their own personal election fund.




Ducka you head , Lollobrigida

Canadian taxpayers paid Gina Lollobrigida US$10,000 to appear with Alfonso Gagliano, the controversial former minister of public works, at an event last September in Bologna, Italy, to help sell a commemorative coin.

3/21/2002

Looks like I spoke too soon about Harper's getting into Ezra Levant's riding. Edward Greenspon says otherwise.

Mr. Levant has jammed Mr. Harper into a corner. He has already taken control of the local constituency association, won an uncontested nomination and is spending wildly on a by-election that has not been called.

At one time, Mr. Levant indicated he would step aside if Mr. Harper wanted to run in Calgary Southwest. But his supporters say he has already sunk more than $100,000 of his own money into the campaign and that Mr. Harper missed his opportunity to claim the riding for himself.

Mr. Harper's operatives are seething. Some suggest Mr. Levant won't find many friends in a Harper-led caucus if he should arrive on the scene before the new leader.

But they admit that Mr. Levant probably has them snookered: It wouldn't look good in a grassroots party for a new leader to shove aside a duly nominated candidate. In the case of the self-described Stock-o-holic, it may even appear as if the new leader is behaving vindictively.

Unless the normally combative Mr. Levant uncharacteristically withdraws to fight another day, Mr. Harper will have to find another seat. He has mused about wanting to run in his native Ontario, a sort of John Turner gesture in reverse, but only in a general election.


Trying for an Ontario riding would be a gutsy move... A high risk of embarrassment but quite a blow against the 'regional party' label if he were to take the riding. The only Ontario riding available is Windsor-West which elected Herb Gray for the last four decades. Not exactly fertile ground for an Alliance incursion, I don't think.


Somewhat surprised this morning to hear that Stephen Harper won the CA leadership on the first ballot. It's not the result I was hoping for but I'll certainly be wishing Harper godspeed in rebuilding his party. I'm sure the Liberals are rubbing their hands with glee this morning. Harper's election means that the CA is off it's deathbed and the battle for conservative voters is back on. If the DRC members (Strahl, Deb Gray, et al) make the jump back to the CA, then it is Joe Clark that ends up the second place loser (Stockwell Day being number one, of course).

Ideologically, I like Harper well enough. But on the practical level, I question whether or not he has the right stuff to build a national alternative to the Liberals. Perhaps that's a logical contradiction that a lot of us fall into. After all, Day was brought in on the strength of his charisma and look what he achieved - nearly complete disaster. I wish Mr. Harper well and I'll gladly support the Alliance if they can put up a slate of credible candidates. I'm very encouraged that Harper seems to have no patience for social conservatism but I hope he has some good advisors around him that can moderate his Libertarian excesses. Also, he needs to take some concrete measures to counteract the 'firewalls' outburst after the last election.

It will be interesting to see how he is treated by the media. It strikes me that the younger members of the media are becoming increasingly Libertarian themselves and I expect that he will enjoy a fairly sympathetic press, at least initially. Perhaps Mr. Harper really is the start of a generational swing. God knows the Liberals are looking horribly old, tired, corrupt and pointless. Joe Clark is going to have an awful time bouncing out of the gate this morning but perhaps there is reason for optimism in Canada this morning after all.

Everything hinges on how Mr. Harper handles himself in the next year. First he has to get elected of course. Ezra Levant is apparently ready to step aside and let Harper run in his Calgary riding. Those elections should take place this spring/summer so Harper will presumably be on Parliament Hill, leading his party, by September. If he can avoid any boneheaded mistakes he might very well rebuild the fortunes of his party. If he does really well he might put the nail in a couple of political careers - starting with Joe Clark and finishing with Jean Chretien.

I'm ready to support Harper.


3/20/2002

30%!!!!


According to an item from Brink Lindsey, the deal that Pierre Pettigrew is about to sign will mean 30% (or more) in export taxes on softwood lumber. This Lindsey fellow seems to be pretty well-informed but I sure hope he's got this one wrong. Christ, the countervailing duties that are being threatened with were only 32%, is that what all the FTA, WTO, GATT and NAFTA hand wringing, all that wailing and gnashing of teeth about Canadian sovereignty and globalization has earned us? Two, bloody percent??!? Incredible.





Forget greased pigs, he's as slippery as a Liberal.

The only crime is getting caught, the only punishment is getting booted off the gravy train.

A prominent Calgary lawyer has resigned as the Liberal party's chief fundraiser in Alberta and ceased providing legal advice to the federal Finance Department after he was discovered to be simultaneously collecting money for the party and Paul Martin's leadership campaign.

Jim Palmer quietly withdrew from the two roles this week after a mail mix-up revealed the appearance of a potential conflict of interest, both with the party and with the government.


The short version is that Palmer was supposed to be a Liberal bagman but he turned out to be a double-bagger. He was sucking up donations for the Liberal party as a whole and, at the same time, sucking up donations for Paul Martin as an individual. This is a serious breach of Liberal protocol since Mr. Palmer had been bought and paid for...

Mr. Chretien appointed Mr. Palmer as the party's revenue chairman for Alberta (essentially chief fundraiser) four years ago. In the past, he has also appointed Mr. Palmer, a long-time, respected Liberal, to the board of directors of the CBC, on which he still sits, and the Bank of Canada.


What the hell is the world coming to when a 'bought and paid for' Liberal bagman goes selling his ass on the other side of town?

The mail mix-up also brought to light the appearance of a second potential conflict of interest involving legal services provided by Mr. Palmer to Mr. Martin's department.

Howard Wilson, the federal ethics watchdog, said yesterday Mr. Palmer's work for the department came to his attention in the last several days. He refused to say how he first heard about it.

"It raised a question in my mind that Mr. Palmer was engaged in fundraising on Mr. Martin's behalf and so did this create a potential for the appearance of conflict in that the person also had a contract with the Department of Finance?"

Mr. Wilson said he spoke to Mr. Martin about the matter and he "instantly agreed with me on that point." As a result, Mr. Wilson said Mr. Palmer is "no longer participating in the contract with the department."


Doesn't that just rekindle your faith in Paul Martin? It only took a simple word in his ear to remind him that giving lucrative contracts in return for personal favours gives the appearance of conflicting interests. Thank heavens that our PM in waiting has such a nuanced understanding of ethical behaviour - the very 'instant' it was pointed out to him, he recognized the problem. Of course I'm being sarcastic but the sad fact is that 9 years of Chretien ethical standards have made Martin look good simply by admitting to something the moment he gets caught.

Mr. Wilson, apparently out of habit, then laid down 12 quarts of lard to ensure that Mr. Martin could make good his escape...

Mr. Wilson said there is no problem if other lawyers in Mr. Palmer's firm continue to work for the department, provided that Mr. Palmer has no further direct involvement.

"I'm absolutely convinced this was done in all innocence and that the particular [tax] problem the department was dealing with was one where there was a real issue that needed a particular expertise, which I understand Mr. Palmer has in abundance," Mr. Wilson added.

Mr. Wilson said Mr. Palmer is entitled to do work for the federal government. But given Mr. Palmer's support for Mr. Martin's leadership campaign, he said the minister must take responsibility for ensuring that no appearance of conflict exists with his department.

"There's nothing which would support an accusation that this was a real conflict of interest. But appearance is a reality in politics and the [conflict of interest] code does address specifically that."







The helicopter farce continues...

OTTAWA -- One major helicopter manufacturer has dropped out of the $2.9-billion race to replace Canada's aging fleet of Sea Kings and another one is looking for some flexibility from the government to keep its chopper in the competition.

Olivier Lambert of Eurocopter said that the Department of National Defence has been asking for more and more equipment on the helicopter, pushing the Cougar out of contention.

"Progressively, this has put the Cougar outside of the range of the aircraft that could satisfy these requirements," he said in an interview.


So, nine YEARS after they cancelled the original contract the Liberal government and DND are still shifting the goalposts around in order to frustrate legitimate bidders.

Defence Minister Art Eggleton did not show much concern over the announcement by Eurocopter.

"I think it is up to them to decide whether to drop out or not. The specifications are clear, the statement of requirements that comes from the military has been adopted by the government and if the helicopter can't meet it, they can't meet it," he said.

Ultimately, the federal government could be left with a choice between only two helicopter manufacturers: Sikorsky and Agusta-Westland.

Agusta-Westland manufactures the Cormorant, which was purchased by the previous Conservative government before the Liberals paid $500-million in compensation to cancel that deal.

That company is also convinced that the current process is skewed against its helicopter, and is contemplating legal action. Agusta-Westland has argued that DND had been "dumbing down" the requirements for the helicopters, to allow the Cougar to compete with the bigger and more powerful Cormorants.

The helicopter replacement contract has been an up-and-down process for years.

Requirements have been changed repeatedly as the military has rethought its needs.



3/19/2002

I don't know how I'm supposed to get any work done around here... There's a battle raging on CBC Newsworld as I type. Brian Pallister is going after Gagliano tooth and nail and the Chairwoman is losing control. Some Liberal hack is interrupting constantly and any moment I expect to see Tonya Harding come in swinging a tire iron. Tune in if you get a chance...

Incredible! CBC is breaking away to go to their regular news. Thank god for private enterprise, CTV Newsnet is continuing coverage.


Dodgeball is "legalized bullying" according to critics.

Dodge ball, a playground game in which the weak and slow are inevitably targeted first, has been banned from several U.S. schools.

School boards in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Maine, Ohio and Texas * have struck the game from their curricula after years of lobbying by critics, one of whom described the elimination game as "the last refuge of the lazy physical education teacher."


* School authorities in Texas reported that one fourth grader recently sprained her trigger finger in a game of Dodgeball... ' and that's just cruel.'

3/18/2002

I've never mentioned Ted Rall on this site but I have followed his exploits (and I use that word advisedly). Ken Layne has a great post about the unfortunate fellow and I'll merely link that post and go back to pretending that Rall doesn't exist.

Boudria: "I don't know these people."


I've just been watching Don Boudria on Question Period. Pretty good show today. It turns out that the 'found' document that was tabled last week in apparent vindication of the Liberals is simply a photocopy of the same data, those same 1300 sponsorships opportunities, as were used in the previous report. What a flipping farce! Boudria is backpedaling and spitting at the same time. "I don't know these people, I didn't look at what I tabled on Friday, the Groupaction people promised an affidavit to be delivered today or tomorrow." Boudria is being pretty blatant about distancing himself from this mess. And with good reason, these idiots have been caught with their pants around their ankles and the damn things are on fire.

Words like 'fraud' are being thrown around pretty freely in the House today. The details look pretty bad... reportedly 90% of the 'found' document is simply photocopies of the second report. The new report talks about 'upcoming' events that were already over at the time that the document was supposed to have been produced. It seems very clear that this found document was simply cobbled together in the face of this controversy over two or three days last week.

Kudos to the Globe & Mail today... They have given over the majority of their main editorial to a speech made by Ken Epp in Parliament. As is the usual case, no one pays attention to what happens in the House so the Globe reprints the speech and gives it a place of prominence. Good for them. What has been happening in the Finance Committee is shameful.

Last Monday, Mr. Epp rose in the Commons to express frustration that the Liberals were steamrollering ahead with the new airport security tax, which will add $12 or $24 to a ticket as of April 1 to pay for new security measures. Those Liberal MPs on the Commons finance committee who might have opposed the tax as it stood had been temporarily replaced on Feb. 26 by the Liberal Whip's office with MPs prepared to approve the tax.


Want to know which Liberals were wavering enough that they almost voted their principles? I can't say for sure because the Hansard transcripts for that day are not yet available. But I can tell you that, in the meeting of Feb. 25, the meeting immediately prior to the missing link, the following substitutions were made;

Acting Members present: Mac Harb for Nick Discepola, Paddy Torsney for Carolyn Bennett, Gérard Binet for Maurizio Bevilacqua, David Price for Roy Cullen, Murray Calder for Sophia Leung, Bill Matthews for Shawn Murphy, Tony Valeri for Gary Pillitteri.

That's seven Liberals for seven Liberals folks...

In the meeting immediately after the missing link;

Acting Members present: Raymonde Folco for Carolyn Bennett, Judy Sgro for Maurizio Bevilacqua, Karen Redman for Nick Discepola, Maria Minna for Albina Guarnieri, Julian Reed for Sophia Leung, Jim Peterson for Gary Pillitteri, Jocelyne Girard-Bujold for Pauline Picard.

Only six Liberals replaced out of nine regular Members. Maria Minna is listed as an acting Member in the Minutes of the 27th but she is listed as a regular member in the Committee Membership listing. Why is a regular member replacing a regular member? What's the deal with Minna anyway? Has she just been named to the committee? Who is she replacing? Weird.

Update: It looks like Maurizio Bevilacqua is the regular member who has been replaced by Minna. Was this ever announced in the news or am I simply the only person in Canada who is interested in this kind of trivia?

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there...

Commenting on the 75th instance of closure that was used to force through the $24 flying tax Epp says:

"Closure and time allocation would not be necessary if we treated with dignity the ideas and the conclusions of members of Parliament and, as a matter of fact, the recommendations of the witnesses at the committee and the questions and concerns expressed by all committee members. I emphasize that all members of the committee were interested in hearing more details. This did not happen.

"Instead, when it came time to vote, the members who had heard the witnesses, who had been there to hear our arguments, for the most part were pulled off the committee. Substitute members were put in whose only credentials were that they were able to vote the way they were told. In other words, every amendment that came from an opposition party would be routinely defeated.

"A number of amendments came from the Liberals, because the legislation was not perfect. They found a whole bunch of areas in this legislation which they wanted to change at committee stage and so they did. They brought in their amendments and all of those amendments passed and for good reason.

"As a matter of fact, if members came to committee with an amendment and said that they had missed something and wanted to fix it, I would vote in favour of it at committee. Why not? My job is to do what is best for the citizens of Canada. . . .

"Time allocation would have been unnecessary if members of the committee had been free to exercise their own judgment and to recommend to the Minister of Finance that the tax should be revised now to prevent the damage that it will do instead of looking at it in the fall to see what damage has been done. It is atrocious. Parliament is totally missing its responsibility and the opportunity to do what is right. I am appalled by that."




Okay, back to outrage...

Donors to Liberal Party win big contracts

The three top-billing agencies in the Chretien government's controversial sponsorship program - who have been awarded contracts of almost $158-million - have donated $246,000 to the Liberal party, the National Post reported Monday.

The donations amount to more than 80 per cent of the money given to the Liberals by the nine agencies competing for the sponsorship program. The program has been mired in allegations of patronage and has been called a "slush fund" by opposition members.

What the hell else would you call it? It's as crooked as the day is long and everyone who's paying attention knows it. This Liberal government steals and lies and cheats as a matter of policy. Their only defence, if you can get them to answer the charge, is to point the finger at this or that other thief and say "they did it too." Their is no more honour in the Liberal government than you would find in a sack full of drowning weasels. They are as crooked as a crackhead whore and only slightly more principled. There is only one crime and that is getting caught, there is only one punishment and that is getting thrown off the gravytrain.

All the 'old hands' and cynics like to patronize about how much worse it used to be. They chuckle indulgently as if it were a mark of callow youth to be offended by venality and avarice. Well chuckle away you corrupt old bastards, we're not measuring against some subjective standard where small crimes are weighed against large. We're measuring by an objective standard where shoplifting and dissembling are exactly equal to home invasions and Shawinigan-size frauds that require the co-operation of entire departments and the debasement of entire Parliaments to carry off. I personally don't care if the opposition is incompetent and often idiotic, I'll take an incompetent honest man over you pack of whores any day. And even if the opposition is not made up of honest men they surely can not be as skilled at thievery as these bastard Liberals are.


Ahhh! That feels better.


Something Positive for a Monday Morning.

Yesterday's message about ranting and roaring has inspired me to try to say something positive once in a while. Unfortunately, I can't find much good news in the papers today so I will do some first-person reporting. Yesterday, we took all the kids down to the bar and got ripped on draft beer. Just kidding. We went to watch some friends play Irish tunes in a little neighborhood pub called Irene's. My friend and his brother were supplying the live music and between the group of us we brought about a dozen kids. They had a blast playing pool, dancing, eating wings and drinking pop out of tall draft glasses. They all got together and worked out a little visual skit to perform for the assembled crowd as well. It went over very big. Anyway, it was a very pleasant afternoon - cold beer, good music, lots of laughs etc. etc...

Towards the end of the day a lady stepped out of the crowd and announced that she wanted to sing a song too. In a heavily accented voice she said that 'she wanted to sing an Irish song.' I thought she was German but it turns out that she is Polish. Anyway, she puts her head together with Jerry and his brother, they mumble back and forth for 30 seconds, and then they launch into her 'Irish' song. You know what it was? La Bamba.

Sitting there watching the kids dance, listening to Scottish brothers playing Irish tunes, with a Polish guest vocalist doing a Mexican party song as her tribute to St. Paddy, I had to laugh. This really is a fantastic country. Cultural purist's would be horrified, no doubt, but that confused mish-mash of cultures and ethnicities is what is worth celebrating about Canada. And not one dime of public funding went into that event. Imagine that.

3/17/2002

A new Reader writes;

It must be tough keeping up that tone of righteous indignation all the time. I ought to know, i spend a lot of time lecturing people on similar subjects such as the immorality of the liberal party and the destructive influence of public sector unions.

I'm not outraged constantly although I can see how I might come off that way on this site. I just tend to stay quiet about the things that suit me and then I bellow about the things that don't suit me. In fact, I generally let a little head of steam build up before I write at all. I'm not really angry all the time. Honest!

Did you hear about little Bobby who reached his 5th birthday without every saying 'boo'. His parents took him to Doctor after Doctor, Specialist after Specialist and no one could find a single thing wrong with the kid. They knew he wasn't deaf and they knew there was nothing physical that prevented him speaking. They tested him seventy ways from Sunday but they never could figure out why he couldn't talk. They prayed and the pleaded but the kid just wouldn't speak. Finally they resigned themselves to the fact that the boy was mute and resolved to make his life as normal as possible. One day the boy and his dad were standing in a crowded elevator when the boy hollered out at a complete stranger "Hey Asshole! You're standing on my foot!" Everyone in the elevator was stunned but none moreso than his father who burst into tears and fell to his knees and hugged little Bobby.

"Bobby, Bobby, you can talk," he sobbed, "Why did you never speak before now?"
Little Bobby, rubbing his toes, says " I dunno, up until today everything was okay."

Its a fact I can rant with the best of them. Its just that we older guys have to watch our blood pressure , wouldn’t want something critical to come loose you know.

I used to just phone up my brother and explain to him why this country is fu*ked while I paced around my kitchen at high speed. Now I pour all that frustration into the keyboard. My wife says she can tell my mood by the pitch of the keyboard. Tap tap tap = calm and reasoned. TAPPITYTAPPITYTAPTAPTAP = on a rant again.

But one thing I would like to know: what’s wrong with the right wing political types? I tuned into your blog for the first time in several days and saw that you think that right wing people have ``won``. Bush is in, so what? The yanks are a more vigorous group politically and bush will be gone in a few years, unlike that mafia style mob boss Chretien.

I don't know that the Right has "won" although the right is certainly enjoying their glory days. I'm simply frustrated with the Left and much of that frustration comes from the fact that I considered myself a Leftist up until recent days.

By the way, who are you? Frustrated journalism student? Lottery winner with time on his hands? Citizen residing as a guest of the crown at the local jail? Psycho with a promising prognosis and therefore permitted some access to the outside world?

None of the above. I'm a working stiff in the new economy... I do appraisals for Insurance companies and the bulk of my work is done from this very spot. I consider my blog the equivalent of goofing off in the lunchroom.

Don’t know if it will mean anything to you but your writings/rants are (in my less than humble opinion) quite articulate and very accurate judging from the little i have seen so far, you have my encouragement to proceed. Keep up the good work!

Thanks. It does mean something to me. In fact, it's much appreciated.
Rick Glasel writes;

Personally, I don't know how Jean Chrétien can criticize Mugabe, to
paraphrase a Canadian MP from long ago, both leaders have no more respect
for democracy than a tomcat has for the responsibilities of fatherhood. I
don't know how you keep up with it all, Lawrence, there has been a
veritable stream of contempt for the Canadian people flowing out of Ottawa
this week. We get Eggleton's feigned stupidity thrown in our face again,
the mess with the Finance committee that you highlighted, Groupaction
finally writing that 300 page report over the weekend (mind you, only in
French), Manley's bonehead remarks to prop up the dollar, and it just goes
on and on and on. Did Chrétien just finally get a briefing on the Zimbabwe
election a day or two after everyone else in the world saw what was
happening? Doesn't that guy watch the news? By all means, send the MP's
home early, they obviously aren't doing any good sitting in the House of
Commons. Who knows how many more times the Liberals will have to invoke
closure before June? When you think it can't possibly get any worse, it does.

Actually, Chrétien's sudden development of a backbone for dealing with
Zimbabwe does give me hope. It clearly demonstrates that the government
will eventually respond to public opinion (there is no evidence to suggest
that the government will respond to diplomatic pressure, unless there is an
uproar at home to back it up). However, too many Liberals are distracted
and confused right now by their leadership race, so Canadians have to be
really loud and determined to make sure that the country doesn't grind to a
complete halt in the meantime. One more thing, how long until David
Anderson, and Herb Dahliwal get bored and decide to really mess something
up in their departments so they can get some attention?


It looks like Anderson is making the first move. You almost have to feel for the guy; he's expected to make all these definitive statements on the position of the Canadian Government but the position changes with every other puff of a breeze. I fully expect that he will have to change his 'hard-line' position 20-30 times before we formally renege on our promise to ratify the Kyoto Accord. The poor man does not look well and I suspect he'll be looking and feeling a lot worse before this fiasco is done.
It looks like the excrement is about to hit the fan for Bill Graham our new Foreign Affairs Minister. Bourque has linked to a story (from Feb 14th) in Frontpage Magazine which repeats an accusation made in Frank Magazine back in January. The accusation made is that Bill Graham had a sexual relationship with a fifteen year old boy. It had seemed like this alleged skeleton was going to stay in the closet but Bourque has mainstreamed the thing and I expect that things will get pretty hairy for Mr. Graham pdq.

Personally, I couldn't care less if Mr. Graham is gay. It's a big ole goofy world after all and what Bill does in his free time is none of my concern. Except for the fact that, if the accusation is true, Mr. Graham is a scumbag of enormous proportions. Any man that enters into a sexual relationship with a 15 year old child, boy or girl, is deserving of all the contempt that can be heaped upon him.

There seems to be no middle ground in our reaction to homosexuality in this country; we are either homophobic, as in that Frontpage article, or we are Tolerant to the degree of being idiotic. I've been guilty of this myself when the topic of Bill Graham was raised on a newsgroup saying "We shouldn't talk about that, it's simply homophobia..." But it's not homophobia to be distressed and disgusted by a sexual predator and any man who exploits a 15 year old child is a predator in my view. Imagine that any middle-aged, married MP was discovered in a sexual relationship with a 15 year-old girl and ask yourself if that would be shrugged off in the name of tolerance.

It'll be interesting to see if the major media picks up on this story. It'll be even more interesting to see what the reaction will be around Parliament Hill. If there is any reaction, you can be sure a good deal of it will be labeled homophobia. Sadly, much of it will very likely fit the label and Graham will just as likely come out looking like the wronged party. The media will stomp all over the Alliance party if they so much as gasp at the news.