Friday, December 05, 2008


Babble on.

When it comes to this parliamentary mess we're in, everyone needs to stop throwing around the phrase "anti-democratic," like it's a clearly defined term that we can all agree upon. We can't.

The coalition parties are playing by the rules - they're working within the parliamentary system to bring a non-confidence vote to the floor of the House of Commons, defeat the government, and provide the Crown with an alternative government that could command the confidence of the House without resorting to another election.

So, as far as it goes, this article is substantively correct.

My problem is that it doesn't go far enough. Specifically, it doesn't address the fact that Harper's move is also playing by the rules. Until his government is defeated on the floor of the House of Commons, he's PM. And as PM, he gets to advise the GG. And his advice to the GG was to prorogue Parliament for a number of weeks. All within the rules.

One of the hallmarks of our democracy is that we play within the rules. Everyone's doing that, although no one wants to admit the other side is too. None of it is "anti-democratic" in the context of how our political system actually works.

Whether or not any of it should be off limits in our democracy is a different matter entirely. Our system of government doesn't match up with our democratic expectations - as I discovered during the Emerson affair. It was set up in a far different time, in a far different societal context, and it hasn't really evolved much over the decades. Maybe it should - maybe it will, now that many of us have seen its flaws exposed by politicians of all stripes pushing the rules to serve their own agendas.

Of course, maybe it will all just blow over as well. I know I'm a lot more sanguine about things this time around, since it's my side that seems to be making out best in all of this ("Yay! We're cream of the crap!"), than I was last time we went through a government not wanting to recognize they'd lost the confidence of the House.

What? You don't remember that? It was only three and a half years ago, people, with many of the same cast of rogues, but with some of the roles reversed. Here's what I had to say at the time:

I think the Liberals are being duplicitous here - surprise, surprise. The votes so far may not have technically been confidence votes, but anyone who's been watching this knows Martin doesn't have the confidence of the House. In a Westminster parliamentary system, tradition plays a big part - there's all sorts of gray areas because a lot of the rules aren't written down, they're just kind of followed by feel. A specific confidence motion is just a way of measuring that feel. But in this case, the government is really pushing the limits, both in terms of time, and in terms of what they will recognize as a confidence vote, and what they won't. And with the gray areas in our system, they can do that.

I think the idiots should have resigned last week when they lost the first vote. The wording may not have been the best, but a committee vote was all the opposition was left with, since the Liberals decided to push back opposition days. The intent was clear - anyone watching the news or reading a paper would have known that. Martin should have either resigned or scheduled an explicit confidence motion immediately. The fact that he didn't shows just what a weasel he really is. There's zero respect for parliamentary tradition - for anything other than staying in power right now. I hope nobody forgets all the tricks Martin pulled to postpone the inevitable as long as he possibly could. I hope they remember it when the candidates start knocking on doors and talking about the 'democratic deficit'. This guy has given up any credibility he might have had.

And if you'll remember, Martin then seduced Belinda Stronach to bail him out. If you'll recall, I talked at that time about the precedent that set, and how it would come back to bite all involved in the ass.

Welcome to the next level of the slippery slope down, folks.

"Anti-democratic?" Things have been getting more and more anti-democratic in Canadian politics for years now, and you and I don't have enough fingers on both hands to point at all those in every single political party who bear some responsibility for that state of affairs.

A pox on them all.

Babble off.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Leafs win the Cup! And I win the lottery!

Babble on.

This just arrived in my e-mail inbox:

Canada was stunned Monday when it was announced that The Stanley Cup will be awarded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, possibly as early as December 6th. The cup will be stripped from from 2008 playoff champions the Detroit Red Wings and be awarded to the Leafs, who didn't even make the playoffs.

How is this possible, Canadians ask?

Well, the Leafs have formed a coalition with eastern conference semifinalists the Montreal Canadians, and conference quarter finalists the Ottawa Senators, whose total season points now outnumber the Red Wings. According to current Leaf coach Ron Wilson "the Red Wings have lost the confidence of the league and should hand the cup over immediately to our coalition".

Personally, I'm looking forward to making a coalition with other losing lottery-ticket holders and seeing if we can scam convince the OLG that we have a better claim to a 6/49 win than the schmuck who took the cheque home. I mean, between all our tickets we have not only the six winning numbers, but the bonus as well!

The more I think about this, the more I like the precedent...

Babble off.

Update: Turns out it was a blog post by Canadian Jedi before it started making the e-mail rounds!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From the horse's mouth

Babble on.

Note to the "Support our troops, bring them home!" crowd: ordinary Afghans still feel security is their biggest issue:

  • The security situation is both the main reason respondents give for saying the country is moving in the right direction and the main concern for those who say the country is moving in the wrong direction. The proportion of respondents who cite insecurity as a reason for pessimism has increased by one-fourth in the past year.

  • The biggest problems faced by Afghanistan as a whole are identified as security (36%), economic issues including unemployment (31%), high prices (22%), poor economy (17%), and corruption (14%).

Who provides security? ISAF troops and Afghan troops, until the Afghans are trained up to do it all themselves. Who trains the Afghans? Our troops.

So tell me again how bringing Canadian troops home yesterday, if not sooner, helps the Afghans, you numpties?

More at The Torch, where I note that while the raw percentages are encouraging, the trends aren't. Our people are working hard, but this thing isn't won yet.

Babble off.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Walk a mile in the other guy's shoes

Babble on.

To all my Liberal friends: now you understand a fraction of what it was like to support Preston Manning during the Chretien years.

Babble off.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"We are all in mortal peril of disappearing up our own backsides."

Babble on.

Perhaps I'm late to the party; perhaps this has already been knocked around the blogosphere ad infinitum, and the few readers stumbling across this mostly dormant site are already rolling their eyes.

But Andrew Coyne's scathing indictment of political reporting in this country is devastatingly on point:

But here's the thing: in his secret heart of hearts, that's who the journalist wishes he was — one of the players, the guys in the room, and not one of those legions of drudges who must forever stand and wait outside the door. We write about the horse race, the polls and the strategy, not because it matters to our readers, but because it matters to the pros, the people we cover, the people we idolize. We parrot their language, even as we absorb their values: the latest campaign ad is analyzed from any number of angles — Will it work? Is it on-message? — except the most obvious: is it true?

My only quibble with his piece is the lack of context. I fear he neglected to measure political reporting against any other type of reporting in Canada, because the analysis would have only become more depressing.

The truth is that, bad as it is - and every criticism he levels is fair and true - political reporting is one of the things journalists do best. I'd say sports reporting is the only other category of journalism where the paid media have as much knowledge of the game, the players, the inside scoop, as they do in the political arena.

Put another way: if you think political reporting in Canada is poor, try critiquing military reporting, as we do over at The Torch.

As a journalist said to me the other day, "Journalism isn't a profession - there are no standards, or bodies enforcing those standards; nothing like a College of Physicians or Law Society. No, journalism is a craft."

He was right. Unfortunately for us, it's all too often a poorly practiced craft these days.

Babble off.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A lightbulb moment?

Babble on.

From the New York Times, comes this unexpectedly insightful comment on Governor Palin's appeal:

Senator Clinton is a politician who also happens to be a wife and mother. Ms. Palin is a wife and mother who also happens to be a politician.


Babble off.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rudy vs. Hillary! Or not! Who cares!

Babble on.

OK, so I got it wrong. Not the first time, and it certainly won't be the last.

In an effort to regain my lost political prognostication credibility, I give you my prediction for the upcoming McCain vs. Obama race: who the hell knows? 6 to 5 and pick 'em. Flip a flippin' coin.

I have just as little confidence in my ability to predict the next Canadian election. Dion's a wet noodle, and Harper is giving himself a Grade III concussion pounding into that electoral glass ceiling right above him.

The thing is, I'm hard pressed to get my Give A F**k Factor above "comatose" about any of it. McCain's solid, but uninspiring from a political standpoint. Obama is all sizzle, no steak. The Liberals didn't ruin Canada under Chretien and Martin, and the Conservatives haven't "saved" it.

Nobody actually wants to steer the ship of state, they just want to be the ones with their grasping mitts on the controls. Which is a bloody shame, since I'm naturally inclined to care a lot more than I do right now.

Babble off.