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Sun-media strikes again.

A news headline a week or so ago in the Toronto Star read more or less “Harper to Cities: Drop dead”. That set off a round of indignation in the right-wing blogosphere bordering on hysterics, with some suggesting the Toronto Star could or should be sued for daring to interpret Harper’s brush-off of helping to fund cities infrastructure in the manner in which they did. I am waiting to hear some equal outrage from those folks over Sun Media’s title of Greg Weston’s column today that reads: True Grits or twits? Ontario loyal to federal Liberals, despite qualms about Dion.

That is in response to the SES poll yesterday […]

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Where there’s smoke….

…there’s fire. First, the smoke part:

Canadian officials have uncovered a “credible” case of torture involving a Taliban fighter whom Canadian forces had turned over to Afghan authorities. The admission that Canadian detainees are being mistreated in Afghan prisons by local authorities is the first of its kind from the Conservative government.

Remember, this is the same government that has claimed all such claims of mistreatment and torture of prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities as being “Taliban propaganda”. Apparently not.

Now, the fire part:

It came just before the foreign affairs department released about 1,000 pages of files late last night that suggests widespread abuse of prisoners – including those captured by Canadian soldiers – continues to occur in Afghanistan.

These documents wouldn’t have seen the light of day but for a Federal Court order to the government to release them so Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Union could examine them. Those 2 organizations have a lawsuit ongoing to force the government to stop the transfer of the detainees to Afghan authorities. These documents – which the 2 organizations had been unsuccessful in obtaining before the courts stepped in (the government claimed they couldn’t be released on that now-familiar excuse of national security) will aid the organization’s court cases significantly.

It is a disgrace that we are going from a country that has been a leading advocate of human rights to now following the George W Bush method:

The revelations contained in the documents released yesterday show Canada is still “handing detainees over to known torturers,” said Amir Attaran, the University of Ottawa law professor whose searches through military documents first uncovered the allegations of torture of Canadian-held detainees in Afghanistan. “Canada is following the American lead; this is the same as the American program of rendering detainees,” he said yesterday in a telephone interview.

(H/T Impolitical on that last quote)

I and a couple of other bloggers said yesterday that this story was probably bigger news then the Mulroney/Schreiber stuff, and it was unfortunate it was going to get buried under that. I’m starting to think however, that it may not get as buried as I first thought, and that’s a good thing. This government must be held accountable for being complicit in torture by turning over prisoners and putting them in a situation where torture is very likely to occur, which as we saw yesterday, is a violation and flaunting of international law.

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SES: Polling deadlock. More Cons begin to cry.

Greg Staples (of Political Staples) has been on a bit of a hiatus, but he’s been back to comment on polls. Specifically, he was grousing about the Strategic Council Poll that shows a political tie/deadlock and was inferring they weren’t accurate, while also grousing a bit about today’s Decima poll)

Well, I wanted to point out to Greg (and others do as well) that SES has now confirmed the deadlock that SC saw, and at the same time basically confirming their leadership poll they did the other day (that had Blogging Tories and SunMedia columnists crowing alike about how done Dion and the Liberals were) to be as irrelevant to polling intentions as I’ve been arguing for awhile. We elect parties, not presidents.

Cons. 35
Libs 34
NDP 17
BQ 9
Green 6

Note the substantial lower Green Vote in this poll as compared to the SC poll (and other polls) as well as the substantially higher NDP vote – more at traditional NDP voting levels.

I’ll wait with baited breath to hear from Greg Weston and other assorted Sun Media hacks who were proclaiming the death of Dion and the Liberals from a couple of days ago how this poll might actually prove they aren’t quite accurate on that count, and that it actually reflects badly on Harper and the Cons for failing to do anything with this supposed “leadership advantage”

I’ll wait, but I won’t bet money on seeing such a column, though I’ll admit that Mr. Weston is the “fairest” of the Sun columnists when talking politics, so maybe he’ll surprise me.

[email protected]:33pm: Darren quotes a key part of Nik Nanos’ analysis, which I was referring to earlier about electing parties, not presidents:

This research shows that the Harper leadership advantage has not converted itself into the ballot box nationally. For the Tories to move the dial, they have to realize they are fighting the Liberal “brand”

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That “other” issue Canadians aren’t going to like either.

It’s almost unfortunate this Mulroney stuff has to be happening at this particular moment, because the Afghan detainees issue is probably more important in the scheme of things, and it has popped back up in the news as well, with a sweeping condemnation of Canada by Amnesty International in being complicit of torture in Afghanistan:

Last May, under the threat of a federal court injunction, the Canadian government negotiated an improved arrangement. But the new arrangement has failed to work. According to Amnesty International, transferred detainees remain “at substantial risk of torture and other ill-treatment.” The human rights organization also criticizes Canada for downplaying the number of transfers that occur. […]

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The Blogging Tory canaries in the Cons/Mulroney noxious gases mineshafts perhaps

It’s an observation of some out there who observe this in the media and the blogging world that you can tell how serious an allegation against a party or a government is by how vehement the proxies for that particular group deny the allegations, or by how much smearing and obfuscation they attempt to fling at the other side in an attempt to distract from the issue troubling their favourite political side.

If that is the case, then the initial reactions from the Blogging Tories and some online conservative commenter trolls to the Mulroney-Schreiber Airbus controversy and how it seems to have entangled Harper and the Cons are very telling, […]

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Poor Steven Harper: He can’t buy the people’s love (or votes).

As pointed out by Red Tory today, we had conservative bloggers like Steve Janke howling with glee at the personal leaders preference out of the Sun yesterday which showed Dion’s personal rating in 3rd place, and also showing that he’s a concern troll, asking how much more us Liberals would tolerate of this supposed weakness we have at leadership.

Unfortunately for Janke, and others of like mind, we elect parties to power here in Canada, not presidents. Leadership ratings aren’t the be-all and end-all to getting elected (as pointed out by Darren here). This morning, the Con. party that Mr. Harper leads has now, with all this supposed Liberal leadership weakness, and with all these tax cuts designed to give them a boost in electoral fortunes, managed to fall into a dead-heat tie with the Liberals in the latest Strategic Council Poll:

The survey by the Strategic Counsel for The Globe and Mail/CTV News shows the two parties each with the support of 32 per cent of Canadians. The Conservatives had led the Liberals 34 per cent to 29 per cent in a poll taken two weeks before the mini-budget, which included income-tax relief and a one-percentage-point cut to the GST.

I love this quote by Peter Donolo:

“Two weeks ago, when they had their mini-budget, with billions and billions of tax cuts, they couldn’t have imagined that the Canadian public would thank them by seeing their numbers drop,” he said.

Maybe I should be asking Mr. Janke and other BT’ers how long is it going to take to realize that voters and people simply aren’t that comfortable with the Con. party or their policies to trust giving it a majority government. An example of one such policy that makes voters uncomfortable? A majority of voters disagree with the Cons. decision to no longer seek clemency for Canadians who face the death penalty in other countries.

At the moment, there is enough discomfort out there with Con. policies to not even guarantee the Cons’ re-election, despite what voters may think of Mr. Dion, and despite the Cons. attempts to seduce voters with tax cuts.

I could have also talked about the NDP drop in support in this poll, or the fact the Greens are now, for the first time, actually ahead of the NDP nationally (though obviously within the MOE and for all intents and purposes a dead-heat) , but I’ll leave others to talk about that angle of the story. I believe the real story here is the voting public isn’t buying what the Cons. are trying to sell.

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Another Cons. talking point debunked.

This story was on Page 1 of that well known Liberal-supporting rag, the London Free Press, which talks about how the claims by the Con. that they are the “party that supports the military” isn’t being borne out when it comes to the financial reality:

The initial plan was to boost the size of the Canadian Forces to 75,000 regular members and 35,000 reservists. The increase was to happen in two stages, with the first target of 70,000 active and 30,000 part-time members during five years and the remainder to follow at some undetermined point. But the report says the government has not allotted enough money to meet even the […]

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More Flaherty propaganda on Canadians tax situation debunked.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been bragging about how many Canadians he took of the tax rolls with this latest budget. His online supporters at the Blogging Tories have been parroting the same line. However, the financial experts have looked at this claim, and as this article says, they’ve literally scoffed at it:

…there’s widespread agreement the tax changes introduced by Flaherty do little to improve the lot of low-income earners. “Don’t get sucked in by that,” says TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond when asked about Flaherty’s claim 385,000 people won’t pay federal tax as a result of the Oct. 30 mini-budget. “Most of those people were paying $5 or $10.”

I can just hear the Blogging Tories grumbling about those biased liberal economic bankers throwing out inconvenient facts like that to screw up Flaherty’s narrative. It isn’t just bankers either; its also researchers as well:

“There are people who would be just barely above the amount of the non-refundable credit, so, in effect, you put them in a zero tax position,” says Hugh Mackenzie, a research associate with the Ottawa-based Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “They’re not eliminated from the tax rolls. The position that they find themselves in is that when they go through the tax calculation, they find at the end of it they don’t owe anything. “It’s not as if these people are exempted forever from paying tax,” Mackenzie added. “As inflation goes on and economic circumstances change, you could have a very similar income and find yourself taxable again.”

In otherwards, this pronouncement by Flaherty is nothing more then semantics at best – propaganda at worst – designed to fool Canadians into actually thinking this government has done something dramatic, when, as the article says, “savings for low-income earners are, at most, 39˘ a day”

The one measure where the analysts say Flaherty did go in the right direction was the Working Income Tax Benefit, but critics say he needs to do far more to get maximum value for low-income earners. It is this benefit that Stephane Dion has said he will dramatically increase as part of his “30/50” plan to fight poverty under a Liberal government.

UPDATE: I see Prog Blogger Dan wrote as well this AM about the same propaganda tactics the Cons. are trying with this, too. The Star’s article is a good start, but its up to the rest of us in the non-Conservative blogging world to help stop this narrative before it gets rooted as a fact by the Cons and their blogging and media allies.

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I remember

On this Remembrance Day, I will of course be remembering all the Canadians who have served and died for this country, but as the moment of silence comes and the Last Post played, I will also be thinking about my 2 grandfathers – both who served in World War 2 and both who are still alive.

I will be thinking “Thank You” to both of them.

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More of this, please

Despite the predictable whining and pronouncements about how you can’t trust Liberals with promises from the Conservative and NDP crowd, the “30/50” goal announcement by Dion on reducing poverty rates yesterday (a target to reduce the number living below the poverty line by 30% over 5 years, and cutting child poverty by 50% over that time frame) is exactly what many of the Liberal netroots/grassroots have been asking the Liberal leadership to put out there, rather then keep talking about the vague “3 pillars” pronouncements we’ve had since last December, and you can see the approval across the Liberal blogosphere at the unveiling of this announcement.

We can now point […]

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