Harper’s “Hockey Nut” Interview

I missed this last week. If perhaps you did also, well, here it is…

Good to see a somewhat more human version of the PM automaton extolling the virtues of government sponsorship of athletics, the benefits of multicultural diversity, and so on. One could almost be excused for thinking that he’s apparently turning into a “liberal” of sorts.

Facing the Cuts

While not exactly an “apples to apples” comparison, it might be fair to speculate that the impending situation in Britain is a precursor of what we might expect to experience across the country in the coming months and years as the Harper government grapples with the enormous debt hole it’s created out of necessity to stave off the most immediate effects of the economic recession.

Of course, it’s no secret that government spending under the Harper regime had been escalating significantly even before the economic shit finally hit the fan in 2009. Expenditures were up, the civil service was expanding, corporate taxes were rolled back, lavish new schemes to benefit friendly political interests were instituted and before you knew it, the so-called “Conservatives” had rapidly burned their way through the modest reserve of several billion dollars stockpiled by the previous Liberal government (much of that done ruthlessly on the backs of their provincial counterparts, it has to be said).

So now what? The “steady as she goes” budget that will be delivered in the next few days promises little, but the “re-calibration” that was justification for proroguing parliament may do more than hint at how Harper and his team plan to eventually reconcile the books.

Calling Stephen Harper…

Hinson Calabrese, a witty 25 year-old from Cape Breton Island, has embarked on a fun-filled project rich with comedy potential to call the Prime Minister of Canada on the phone “everyday”…

In his fourth such call, Hinson attempts to thank the PM in person for the super idea of proroguing and elaborates on various ways in which he’s implementing the concept in his own life.

You can show Hinson some love by checking out his blog and/or subscribing to his YouTube channel.

Mmmm… Proroguey!

If anyone seriously thought that the Dear Leader wouldn’t prorogue parliament for the next couple of months, you really need to give your head a shake. And why not? The fact of the matter — that I’m entirely confident will be affirmed by opinion polls — is that most Canadians don’t and won’t care in the least bit that their elected representatives have been furloughed for the balance of winter.

Going Prorogue Update: Coverage from last night’s The National.

Fossil of the Year

You may have seen this momentarily on the news last week, but here’s the whole ceremony where Canada was recognized by Climate Action Network International as being “the absolute worst country” at the COP15 talks — an “honour” that plays remarkably well with most “Conservative” supporters.

Harmonizing For Inaction

Terry Milewski on today’s Power & Politics explaining the intent of the leaked cabinet memo proposing that Canada’s emission reduction scheme be “harmonized” with U.S. legislation. Accordingly, the oil and gas industry would be given favourable treatment as an “energy-intensive trade influenced sector.”

No Minister

Story from last night’s National news broadcast on CBC about the Harper government being brilliantly punked at the COP15 Conference by the infamous culture jamming activists The Yes Men

Update: The Yes Men explain how they hoaxed the world into thinking Canada had changed their position on climate change.

A Tortured Plea

I know this sentiment likely goes against the grain of conventional “liberal” thought, but I have to admit that I’m absolutely bored to death with the incessant interrogations of government officials of late by the media and opposition MPs about the issue of torture.

While it may represent a serious character flaw on my part, I have to confess that I simply don’t care. Likewise, I’ve been utterly wearied over the past several years to the point of complete disinterest by all of the mawkish rhetorical hand-wringing on the part of our liberal American friends about the alleged torture of “detainees” captured in their farcical “Global War of Terrorism.”

Here’s International Trade Minister Stockwell Day trotting out a mundane litany of “good news” from Afghanistan, describing all of the so-called achievements virtuously realized by our presence in that country, most of which simply beg to be mocked for their ridiculous fraudulence; but instead, he’s put in the relatively comfortable position of coolly deflecting the tenacious questioning of reporters about… alleged torture of some putative Taliban fighters captured and detained several years ago.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I condone torture by any means — or “enhanced interrogation” (if that’s how one wants to more politely describe simulated drowning, intimidation with vicious dogs, extended sleep deprivation, degrading acts of humiliation, enforced stress positions, not to mention all manner of psychotic mind-games) — especially in the case of probably witless, hired “insurgents” or even, as frequently seems to be the case, perfectly innocent civilians inadvertently swept up from the countryside in the fray, but this obsessive focus on “torture” (of which there’s little doubt it occurred in horrifically mismanaged Afghan jails staffed by sadistic thugs) really seems to take away from the broader questions regarding the vastly more important issues concerning the nature of our involvement in this shabby little war.

The media and the opposition parties are like a ferocious pack of dogs in pursuit of an irresistibly meaty bone when it comes to the matter of “torture” (if nothing else, the very word itself is an arrestingly sensational attention-grabber). But enough already! Why not simply admit that mistakes were made, evidently corrected to the best extent possible in a laudably professional manner by our military forces on the ground and move on to more substantive issues about the highly dubious purpose and utterly misguided objectives of the war itself. This constant, microscopic focus on the treatment of a handful of prisoners several years ago and the subsequent bungling and/or possibly deliberate cover-up of potentially embarrassing information surrounding it by Conservative hacks is not only pointless, but beyond tiresome.

I seriously hope that when parliament reconvenes after the holidays, Ignatieff can sharply refocus the Liberals’ offensive to press the government in such a way as to gain an absolute, unwavering assurance that our relatively small military presence will indeed be withdrawn entirely in 2011 rather than persisting in the current line of futile inquiry about allegations of “torture” that are all too easily prone to being characterized as willfully impugning the moral integrity of the Forces for partisan advantage.

In other words, please get a little more politically savvy… If the Conservatives have so much fabulously “good news” and terrific “gains” to report about our efforts in Afghanistan, well then run with that — declare “victory” and get the hell out of that abysmal sinkhole at the first available opportunity.