Saturday, October 23, 2010

Do Canadians Know?

Couldn't help notice that Hillary Clinton contacted Lawrence Cannon to discuss the status of Omar Khadr. Presumably this is about Canada taking him back at some point after a plea deal is struck. If the plea deal falls through and Canada does not repatriate Omar at some point then in all likelihood the kangaroo court military tribunal put together for the express purpose of finding him guilty will do just that and Khadr will receive the equivalent of a death sentence -- 50 years to life in an American prison.

 Stephen Harper and the Conservatives will then be responsible for completely destroying the life of someone who was taken off the battlefield at the age of 15. I've said this repeatedly, there is no more malleable creature than a 15 year old boy and there is an acknowledgement of this by the UN which is why there are laws that forbid the prosecution of child soldiers, as well as programs that exist for their rehabilitation. Canada contributes money to those same programs. Also, sadly, looking at the evidence that's been presented he probably did not do what he is accused of (scroll down to the sub-heading that says Firefight) -- which near as I can discern would be defending himself while under attack.

In some actual good news, a ruling on the case that involved Globe and Mail reporter Daniel Leblanc and his attempt to protect a key source, Canada's Supreme Court said that journalists have the right to protect their sources. It wasn't a blanket ruling however and means such issues in the future will still be judged on a case by case basis. So journalists and their sources are not immune from scrutiny but there is a right to freedom of the press and expression when it's in the public's interest to know. Unless the revelation of the source is essential to resolving the case, journalists do have the right to protect their sources. So for Daniel Leblanc it feels like victory as he heads back to the Quebec courts better armed with this ruling.

I got a kick out of reading Gerald Caplan's opinion piece over at the Globe entitled, 'If Stephen Harper’s an economist, I’m the Queen of Sheba.'  He does a better job than any members of the various opposition parties in Parliament of making the case that the Tories are not to be trusted on anything including their much vaunted claim to being more fiscally trustworthy than the opposition. To regular readers of the Canadian blogosphere (or even my blog) there's not much new here but he does a great job of putting it all together and making it of a piece.

Iggy? Are you there? Do you read the Globe and Mail?

Another example of everyone being better at making the case against Harper and his policies than members of the opposition comes from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives last week when they released a report on those jets that Harper wants to spend $16 billion dollars of Canadian taxpayers money on. Making the case that the jets don't improve response time to unpredictable events like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and since there is little likelihood of Canada launching expeditionary operations without our allies -- even then our contributions would not be essential -- we should be looking at other alternatives. This is not only wasteful spending but there are no guarantees that any of the money spent on servicing these aircraft will go to Canada's aerospace industry. Again, nothing that's new to the political junkies and hippies of Canada's blogosphere but do Canadians know?

And if they don't, whose fault is that?

The Failure of Canada's Opposition Parties

One of the more surprising things I learned this week came on the day Canada's answer to Sarah Palin, Candice Hoeppner, decided to take a dump all over 'Decorum Day' on the hill. An act that was not particularly surprising when you consider the source. She, after all was the same woman who sponsored the bill that would have ended the long-gun registry and also, in a nasty bit of politicking, drove up to the Peace Tower on the day of the vote in an SUV emblazoned with "Kill the Registry" decals, shrieking and disparaging anyone who disagreed with her point of view. I'd loved to have seen her try this courageous act in front of UQAM or Dawson College here in Montreal.

 Anyhow, as I was reading about her mean spirited attack on what seemed to me to be a relatively non-controversial private members bill from Michael Ignatieff (would he sponsor any other kind?) -- one that enshrined pay equity for women as a right -- I learned that in the omnibus budget bill C-9 there had been a clause shoved in there that put pay equity for women on the table. That's what had Hoeppner so exorcised. She couldn't believe that Ignatieff would sponsor a bill that did the opposite since he had allowed the budget bill to pass. She thought she had him cornered somehow.

For starters, by inference and an unfortunate choice of words on her part, she has as much as said she is against equal pay for women for equal work. And PM Harper, by sticking this noxious idea into his budget, has said the same. My question is, how on earth is this not a winning issue for members of the opposition and why have they not communicated it as such to Canadians?

There aren't a whole lot of issues where you can be guaranteed to get better than 60% or 70% agreement  from the public but I'd hazard a guess that pay equity is one of them. Please stand up and shout Mr Ignatieff. I think Canadians would welcome hearing from you on an issue that hits so close to home for most everyone I can think of.