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Tories banned local media from citizenship ceremony to prevent distractions?

I know Harper and the Conservatives are paranoid of the media and want to try and control the media message as much as legally possible, but this particular action by them is just silly and overdoing it, even for them. On Monday, a local Burlington paper was banned from covering, get ready, a local citizenship swearing-in ceremony, because it would be just too distracting for the Burlington public when the Throne Speech was next day:

The Conservative government this week banned media from a citizenship ceremony to keep the spotlight on the speech from the throne that Harper was scheduled to bring down yesterday (Tuesday), according to government e-mails.,, The […]


The backdoor election?

You know, if Jack Layton and the NDP really really want an election over this Throne Speech, the way to do so is spelled out here. If he were to do this (which I agree with the poster probably wouldn’t happen), it would make whoever proposed those amendments in the Liberal braintrust look a tad foolish, and too clever by half. Deciding that the Throne Speech won’t be the cause of the Conservatives fall is one thing; coming up with amendments to try and make the NDP look bad by getting them to vote with the government (and then in all likelihood follow that up by claiming it was the NDP  who propped up the government)  is silly political posturing.

I for one would think it pretty bold if the NDP were to turn the tables and abstain from the Liberals amendments to force an election.


No election for now.

I saw that the Liberals have opted to not cause the government to fall on the Throne Speech. I’m obviously disappointed, because I think we could have gone and done so with justification. I’ve not changed my mind on that, but I’ll give the opposing view on that some space here – from an NDP supporter no less:

Forcing an election over a very vague throne speech would allow Harper to role out very specific policies that he could then turn around to the voting public and say “Dion and the Liberals oppose this because it was in our throne speech”…..By making Harper defend each piece of legislation he is robbed of such a tactic should an election be trigger over one particular item…All of this might result in an election triggered over the next piece of legislation put forth by the Cons, however, the Liberals are better off demonstrating that they are willing to be forceful and hold the minority Conservative Government in check…

A couple of points with some merit… but I’m still not convinced that we shouldn’t have taken them down now, rather then wait for specific legislation to do so, or until after the Budget next Spring. If this is the strategy we’re taking, which is apparently wait-and-see each Conservative bill brought forward and vote on its merits, I’d argue if you’re going to bring them down, sooner rather then later is better.

UPDATE: Some media reports I’ve read suggest Dion was initially in favour of voting against the Throne Speech and going to an election, but the majority of the Liberal caucus talked him out of it. From reading the Liblogs and Prog Blog pages, however, it would seem the majority of the grassroots Liberal bloggers were for going to an election, and as I am, they are disappointed the Liberals have adopted the “dissent by abstain” strategy.


Thoughts on the Throne Speech – nuke it.

My position on wanting the Liberals to vote en masse against the Throne Speech hasn’t changed, despite the lack of an obvious poison pill. The Conservatives made several priorities and statements that simply do not jive with current Liberal philosophy – be that on Afghanistan or the environment, or the federal spending power, etc. I still believe if you’re the Liberals, you need to vote against this on principle and take it to the people why you’re against it on principle.

For some more comprehensive analysis on why the Liberals should go and defeat this now, I recommend Rob’s and Steve’s blogposts for further reading.

UPDATE: H/T to Darren for […]


A post just for Aaron Lee Wudrick on a new federal poll.

Aaron apparently has decided I’m the only one in the Liberal or progressive blogosphere who needs to report on polls, so to help him out a bit, I’ll point him to Steve’s post which shows a Strategic Council poll released yesterday showing the Tories with only a 34 – 29 lead on the Liberals – nowhere near a majority government – and this despite the Liberals troubles the past month. As Steve says, it’s back to reality for the Conservatives and their supporters like Aaron after all their trolling and gloating over one Ipsos poll showing a 12 point lead – a poll that in my opinion generally gives higher […]


More proof electoral reform isn’t dead

I hope Ian Urquhart and the Toronto Star editorial board have a subscription to the Hill Times. It might make their heads explode after reading the results of this poll:

When asked whether there should be a national referendum on PR in Canada’s next general election, 48 per cent said yes nationally, 32 per cent said no, and 20 per cent said they don’t know. When asked how they would vote if a such referendum was held, 45 per cent said they would support a system of PR, 28 per cent said keep the current First Past the Post system, and 27 per cent didn’t know.

Very impressive, but surely […]


PMO backs down from government controlled media centre after uproar

In what can only be described as a hurried response to prevent any more negative backlash then what has already occurred, Sandra Buckler, Harper’s director of communications, has released a statement this evening claiming that there were no plans to pursue the government media centre plans, with the Privy Council Office also getting in on the act, saying that these plans had been abandoned at an early stage, and really, what was all the fuss about?

The Toronto Star, who broke the story on the plans for Harper’s very own propaganda centre, was skeptical:

The Toronto Star‘s Tonda MacCharles, who first reported the story said she requested the documents about […]


I hope all the media are as mad at this Harper stunt as Kady O’Malley is.

So Harper is thinking of building a new media centre where he gets to control what the message is that he gets to send to the media. Jeff explains the differences between it and the National Press Gallery building:

The National Press Theatre, the traditional venue for press conferences along with the smaller Charles Lynch room in the Centre Block, is ran by the non-partisan Parliamentary Press Gallery, which controls membership and who gets to ask questions. In Harper’s Shoe Box, Canada’s Ageing Government would decide who gets in, and who gets to ask questions. And to Harper, it seems that’s worth blowing $2 million of taxpayer monies.

As Skdadl over at POGGE says, this is so Washington DC as to how it occurs at the President’s briefings. As Jeff fairly points out, this practice of the PM trying to pick who gets to ask questions started under Martin, but Harper has made no bones about wanting to expand that, and why:

..when the Conservative government made clear it would be the new norm, the national media objected. Harper told interviewers it gave him more control, which is precisely why the press gallery for years has run press conferences, to depoliticize exchanges between the media and government. The moderator is held accountable by his or her peers for playing favourites. The media’s concern has been that the PM’s staff might sideline reporters deemed unsympathetic.

That brings me to Kady O’Malley, columnist and blog writer at Maclean’s. I’ve had the opportunity to meet her in person twice – once at the Liberal Convention last December, and once when I was in Ottawa for the Progressive Blogger chapter get-together. Ms. O’Malley is no flaming liberal – the libertarian POV seems to be up her alley – so when she lays into this latest Harper scheme of message and press control, you know there’s problems, and make no mistake, she’s ticked off:

If this double plus Machiavellian madness actually comes to some sort of fruition, and WeThePressGallery consider going along with it for so much as a nanosecond, we may as well just hand over our press passes, turn in our BlackBerries and move on, en masse, to some other profession; one, perhaps, not quite so essential to a functioning democracy….We are journalists. We are not typists. We work on behalf of the people, not government – not this government, nor the next one, or any government in waiting..We do not have to justify our existence, or our need for independence, to anyone. We are not a tame lion. If this goes ahead, it’s time to roar.

One would hope that the rest of the National Press Corps has as much anger at this attempt at stifling the press and as much backbone as she does.

UPDATE: Another blogger, who is not exactly a liberal, also condemns the planned stifling of the media by Harper and his cronies.


Book review: The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein

Like many others out there in blog world, I was given an opportunity to get a copy of Ms. Klein’s new book and to review it. It’s taken a while for me to actually get to read this book due to several factors, but I’ve done so now, and I’d like to give my thoughts on the book. I’ve seen many other reviews which stretch into a full page essay, but I’m going to try and keep this to a basic summary. That is as follows:

1) Economic theory is usually a pretty dry topic that even most politics junkies find tedious and boring. Even with Klein, a fairly provocative […]


On comparing conservative reactions to Nobel Peace Prize Winners

We’ve seen the wingnut-o-sphere get completely unhinged at Al Gore being rewarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Examples of that include what’s been left in my comment section, as well as Pat Buchanan getting so frothy, he denounced the Nobel Committee as being “Swedish socialists”, which is kind of hard for it to be, since the reward committee is based out of Norway. Apparently, the base root of the criticism once you cut through its rabid frothiness, is that somehow the Nobel Committee either politicized the award on giving it to Gore, or somehow “cheapened” its worth, or that Gore’s personality means he didn’t deserve to get the honour.

That said, […]

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