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More on Ms. Guergis.. and a new blog mysteriously appears.

I see Impolitical is talking about Helena Guergis again this morning, or more specifically, Michael Ignatieff’s visit to her riding last week prior to the hotel library gala controversy where some believe the hotel library directors were warned that he shouldn’t appear, lest federal funding might suddenly dry up for the project. By the way, a big thumbs down to those hotel library directors for bowing to political pressure and/or intimidation and/or threats if this is what occurred.

I also wanted to highlight a blog just started up that was brought to my attention by a reader. The site is called blogging helena, and it’s a rather amusing spoof of […]

Tools that make it easier to blog

A brief break from politics to highlight a couple of blogging tools that I’ve discovered that will make it infinitely easier and infinitely nicer for people to blog with.

The first is Windows Live Writer. Yes, it is a Microsoft product, and while I’m not exactly the biggest MS fan, I have to give credit where it’s due. Don’t let its creator prejudice you against this software, which shows that when Microsoft feels like it, it can do it right.  Better yet, its free. It integrates with and is compatible with many blogging software – WordPress and Blogger included -  and allows you to do the usual stuff you’re used to doing, like embedding videos and pictures, but also other neat stuff, like embedding aerial maps and/or roadmaps.

Highly recommended, particularly if you’re a remote user. It works as a plugin with IE, or you can use it as a stand-alone program (UPDATE: and also with Firefox if you get the plugin for it from the Live Writer menu – H/t Jay in comments).

The other tool that is similar to this is called Scribefire, which is a Firefox extension for a user’s blogging needs. Here’s a screenshot:

Book it, bank it!

Obama IS going to be the Democratic candidate for the President of the United States. I’ve been saying that for a while now whenever I came across skeptics or Hillary supporters up here claiming he couldn’t or wouldn’t win the Democratic race, and I think the voting results a couple of days ago should remove all doubt. The mainstream media in the US has come around to that conclusion too, and the TIME front-page article is one example.

He has weathered Jeremiah Wright (twice), and has shown that while he bent a bit, he did not break.  There were predictions by media down south and up here and in some of the blogs that these episodes would finish him, or show his “unelectability”, but he has proved them wrong.  I believe he will prove them wrong again in the Fall campaign.

Once Dems unite behind Obama and focus their vitriol on McCain and expose him for the hypocrite he’s been on many issues, not to mention wanting to stay in Iraq for 100 years or as long as it takes – whatever comes first -  not to mention voters wanting a break from the current administration under a very unpopular President, I think McCain is going to get decisively beaten by Obama. The  congress, I predict,  is also going to elect increased Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, because of the bad brandname the Republicans have right now, but also because Obama is going to have long coattails for Democratic candidates to use to get elected – particularly out in the Midwest and West.

That will be my new “book it, bank it” statement; I believe both the legislative and executive branch of government will be in solid Democratic hands come the end of that election, with President Obama leading the way. Hopefully by then, not only will we have a progressive government and President in place in Washington DC, but we will have a progressive government in Ottawa as well to compliment him on the things that need to be worked on urgently by North America – global warming/climate change being a key one.

[email protected]:46pm: Some of the bloggers up here like Jason who preferred Hillary are starting to think it’s time for Clinton to step down – moreso because some of the race language she’s bringing into this. Democratic bloggers down south and pundits are also reacting harshly to this. What (the) Clinton(s) is (are) now doing is nothing but destructive politics.

Helena wouldn’t be so partisan as this….

…would she? She is known as a ultra-Conservative partisan in Ottawa, but would she be so partisan that she’d threaten to help axe the federal grant to the new Collingwood library in her own riding just because Michael Ignatieff wanted to attend a fund raising gala for it?

Is she THAT upset at Dion and the Liberals for not forcing an election date yet because she can’t set her own wedding date for herself and Rahim Jaffer?

Let’s look at timelines here:

Ms. Matrosovs, a library board member, paid for Mr. Ignatieff’s $50 ticket and had informed board members at their meeting in April that she intended to bring him. No opposition to her plan was expressed at that time. However, a few days before last Saturday’s event, a staff member in Mr. Ignatieff’s Ottawa office called Ms. Guergis’s Ottawa office as a courtesy, informing her that Mr. Ignatieff would be in her riding and attending the library gala as an invited guest. It was made clear, according to Mr. Levine, the tour organizer, that he would not be speaking. Shortly after this, sources close to the events say that library board officials told Ms. Matrosovs that it would not be “prudent” for her to bring Mr. Ignatieff.

Hmm.. and not just any library board official either – one of the top library officials:

Mr. Ignatieff’s tour organizer, Alexis Levine, says he was advised by library board vice-chairman Paul Dulmage it would “just make things a whole lot easier if he did not come anywhere near the place.” The event was scheduled for last Saturday night. Mr. Dulmage confirmed yesterday that he spoke to Mr. Levine and does not deny his comments.

You know, I’ve been loud as any on the blogosphere saying I thought the Liberals should be going to an election sooner, not later, but I have to admit that if this election uncertainty is putting Helena’s nose out of joint this much, that might be an actual unintended side benefit.  Besides Pierre Poiliviere and John Baird, she’s one of the worst partisans in the House, and one of those I’d like to see most knocked out of office when the next election comes. She hasn’t exactly performed that well in my opinion in the House (most notable action – blowing Dion and Iggy’s security cover in Afghanistan in order to get a partisan attack in on them), and from what I’ve read, she’s not exactly been getting glowing reviews in her own area’s media coverage.  This situation, whatever the truth of the matter, won’t exactly help her in her re-election bid.

(H/T: Impolitical)

Going nuclear

Maybe someone on the Opposition Benches should be seeing what the Harper government will say on the record in Question Period about their efforts to allow Canada to enrich uranium, if they refuse to discuss it publicly.

I mean, do you want to have a country start building a nuclear bomb that was helped by Canadian enriched uranium, and have that on your country’s head?  This lobbying effort needs to be publicly discussed, and I think it’s another question that should be asked daily in the House.

(H/T to Impolitical and Jurist)

Defining the issue before the other folks define it for you.

I’m going to write about today’s Chantal Hebert column without taking potshots at her, because she’s actually talking about Dion without taking potshots at him – a rarity since Dion has become leader of the Liberals.

What I’m going to focus on from her column is whether Dion should make a carbon tax a key policy plank in the Liberals campaign or not, and that he needs to decide soon. I do agree with that; if we’re not going to have an election this June (and many of us, even those who are election hawks, are increasingly resigned to that), and Dion is going to go on a summer tour with key Liberals, then this policy needs to be pushed up front and centre and he and his spokespersons and surrogates are going to need to be out there on the circuit explaining what a carbon tax entails, and more specifically what it does NOT entail.

If Dion and the Liberals let this policy sit without proper explanation, that is what you’re going to see from the Conservatives – trying to equate it to a “gasoline tax”, when it is nothing of the sort.  There will not be a direct raise of gasoline prices because of any carbon tax implemented, and it will also involve lowering taxes in other areas; what is known as a tax shift.  But Ms. Hebert is correct when she says policy nuances like this get lost in the middle of an election campaign.

Start promoting it and explaining it now, or risk losing the spin war.  Choose BC and Quebec as the first 2 places to do the explaining too; both have implemented versions of it, both (if Ms. Hebert is accurate) have been well received there, and both are provinces where the Liberals have to win additional seats to win government.  I can’t think of 2 better provinces to start talking about this carbon tax proposal.

Liberals setup the Victory Fund, encourages netroots/grassroots participation.

Everyone knows that for the past couple of years, the Conservatives have been far and away the best of the political parties at getting contributions from their party members and others under the new campaign financing rules. The Liberals have been playing catchup for quite awhile.  Much of this was due to the fact that the party at one time relied heavily on corporate donations and not enough from the individual party members, and it has struggled to find a way to tap individual contributions. I think you’ll find with a bit of research that CPC members donate far more to their own party’s coffers then LPC members do.

There has been debate why that is, and I’m sure it will continue, but today the Liberals announced the first step in trying to remedy that financial gap with the Conservatives with the formation of The Victory Fund, which the LPC hopes will a) make it easier for LPC members to contribute, and b) motivate them to contribute.

I’ve added a new logo to my one sidebar where my logos reside – you’ll see it’s called victoryfund.ca. If you click on it, you’ll see it goes to a link where you have a lot of easy ways to donate.  I’ve noted these popping up at many other Liblogs sites, so perhaps the LPC’s efforts at getting more grassroots involvement is getting noticed and embraced by Liberal bloggers – many who have been asking for more netroots/grassroots involvement for the past couple of years.

Most Canadians remember when Brian Mulroney was PM, Steve

Check out yesterday’s Hansard on the questioning of Harper about why he would kill off the Co-ordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS) and what his answer was:

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the government took another step to limit transparency and accountability. It quietly killed the CAIRS, which allowed everyone to know what information Canadians had requested about their government through access to information.

Why did the government shut down the registry? What does it have to hide?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):

In fact, Mr. Speaker, this is a government that has actually widened access to information. The database in question was created by the previous Liberal government. It was called the product of a political system in which centralized control was an obsession. That is why the government got rid of it.

Perhaps Steve doesn’t think the media investigates what he claims in QP or does any follow-up, but fortunately, they do:

NDP Leader Jack Layton pointed out that the system was actually implemented in 1989 by Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney “so the criticism seems a little misplaced by Mr. Harper and his team.”

They were also trying to make this story go away by quoting an “expert opinion” in the House claiming CAIRS was flawed – but also unfortunately for Harper and Vic Toews, reporters also do follow-up on that too:

The Conservative government has killed a flawed but workable information registry rather than open itself to real public scrutiny, says an academic who was quoted glowingly Monday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Conservative party line backfired when Alasdair Roberts – “a leading expert on access to information law,” according to Treasury Board President Vic Toews – trashed their talking points moments after the daily question period… neither Harper nor Toews mentioned that Roberts had recommended fixing the problem by making the registry public online – something the federal information commissioner reported in 2004 could be done “at virtually no cost” to government…”They really don’t care what I think about CAIRS or any other aspect of ATI,” Roberts said Monday from New Delhi, India…Roberts, a Canadian who’s about to take a new academic posting at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, suggested the Conservatives have simply gone to a less transparent method of centrally overseeing sensitive access requests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,  you are witness to what Stephane Dion correctly called “the most secretive government in the history of our country.”

H/T to David over at CDLU and Cam at his blog for being some of the few bloggers to highlight this story, and just another example of the lengths Harper and his Cons government will go to hiding potentially embarrassing information from the public – first the suggestion that independent agencies must vet their commmunications throught the Privy Council Office, and now this.

Guest blogpost: A tribute to Charles Caccia

(Foreword: Joseph graduated from the University of Toronto with his Masters in Political Science in 2002, and is completing his Ph.D at the London School of Economics in Political Science. He was the former media director for the NO MMP campaign in the 2007 Ontario Referendum. He is currently the administrator of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Appreciation Society at Facebook. He is also an avid blogreader. The opinions expressed by Joseph are not necessarily those of Scott’s DiaTribes).
_________________________________________

Over 35 years ago, my father moved to this country . One can imagine how challenging it is for a person to move to a foreign country where you don’t know anybody and don’t speak the language. He did know Spanish and Italian – and that helped of course. He settled in the Davenport riding. He met the MP of that riding – a quiet, intelligent man from Milan – who gave him invaluable advice on things one should do when they first come to this country. He also made sure that my father knew that Canada is a welcoming country to anyone who wants to come and make something of their lives.

That MP was none other than Charles Caccia. It was very sad to learn that he passed away on Sunday at age 78.

“Gentleman” is usually a term that most people use when they described Charles Caccia. “Class act” is another. If you go around the Liberal Party, it is next to impossible to find someone who has a bad thing to say about him. For someone who served as an MP for 36 years, that is quite an accomplishment. He was a devoted servant to the constituents of Davenport , and would have easily won an incredible 10th term in office if circumstances had allowed it.

Charles Caccia was an environmentalist in a time when it wasn’t cool to be an environmentalist. He argued that there should be less cars, more trees, and more public transit way back in the 1970s, long before most people thought C02 emissions were a problem.

He was the last Trudeau minister to serve in the House of Commons. He was a tireless worker and promoter of the Trudeau vision of Canada. He also was an eloquent critic of the War in Iraq, which Canada luckily stayed out of.

While I was working for No MMP, Charles phone my house while I was away doing an interview for the CBC (Charles was one of our supporters). My father got to speak to him. He mentioned to Charles about his first experiences in Canada and thanked Charles for the help that he gave him so many years ago. Charles said that he was glad to have helped and that it made him happy that he was appreciated after all these years.

That was Charles Caccia. Given all the rancour and bile thrown around in the House of Commons these days, every elected official in Canada should look to Charles as a role model both as a parliamentarian and as a worker for constituents.

He is missed. May he rest in peace.

Conservatives hope public cynicism towards their acts means they go unpunished by the electorate.

There is an op-ed in the Toronto Star today penned by Nelson Wiseman,  politicial science professor at the University of Toronto which asks a very good question: “What kind of country has a ruling party that mounts an assault on its election watchdog?”

A question that is difficult to answer. Even in Zimbabwe, where the tyrannical Robert Mugabe and his party rule with an iron fist, the country’s electoral commission wasn’t attacked when it finally released results showing Mugabe had lost his parliamentary majority.  Canada and its governing Conservatives are in very isolated and dubious company indeed.

More importantly is the observation by the professor that such things as this attack on Elections Canada, the Mulroney-airbus affair, and the stonewalling of the parliamentary enquiry on the Chuck Cadman affair by the Conservatives will reinforce the publics cynical view of all parties, if not the electoral system in general.

I can’t help but think that is what the Conservatives want to happen. They want the electorate to believe that “everyone does in-and-out financing”, and they want to make the general electorate cynical towards the whole electoral process.

Why? Because, it will blunt anger toward them, and it perhaps will even depress turnout  in a future election, in a country that is already experiencing falling participation rates in elections.  The combination of low turnout and a cynical electorate, plus using these attacks on them as a way to rally the Conservative base to come out and vote to save them from the federal civil service/Liberal Party/media conspiracy (and the base of the Conservatives will come out and vote, as they believe these bogeyman stories) may prevent the Cons from getting deservedly booted out of office.

It is that  Cons. strategy that needs to be fought against both by the opposition parties and the progressive blogosphere in order to prevent this cynicism from developing amongst the voting public. The job on the anti-Conservative side is to stoke the anger of the public against the acts of this Cons. government, to make the public or the majority of the public want to remove this government.

[email protected]:30AM: A reader from the UK informs me in comments that since the release of the election results, Mugabe and his police have started harrassing and arresting certain election officials with the eye of being able to influence the results of the presidential runoff, so post-election, Zimbabwae is obviously attacking its electoral body with much more venom then Canada’s Consrvatives are.  It still doesn’t say much for Canada’s government when they share places with Zimbabwae in attacking their own country’s electoral commissions, even if Mugabe is more extreme in his case of doing it.

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