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The courts hand Harper and the Cons another defeat.

The Conservatives haven’t had much luck in the court system of late, and that pattern has continued (read more) […]

Bev Oda channels Sarah Palin

Canada has our very own version of Sarah Palin in the Conservative government, and her name is Bev Oda (more). […]

Tuesday Afternoon Random Musings

Here are some Tuesday afternoon random thoughts on a variety of topics I’ve seen today. Put together, a few short random thoughts equals a nice-sized blogpost. (Read More) […]

Cost of Afghanistan mission: approximately 18.1 billion$. Ouch.

That’s what the Parliamentary Budget Officer said the Afghanistan Mission will end up costing Canadians by the time it ends in 2011 – presuming of course that Stephen Harper keeps to his word that this is the definite end of the mission. The thing is, 18.1 billion might not be the final tally:

But after poring over the books of federal departments, even Page had to couch his findings and admit that the real cost could be much higher…The report serves up more bad news for the federal Conservatives, who have already come under criticism for their secrecy and lack of disclosure surrounding many aspects of the mission. Page, an […]

Report: US wishes to have sole command of NATO in Afghanistan?

This story caught my attention. A report in the England-based newspaper The Independent from yesterday claims that the US is seeking sole control of the NATO Afghanistan mission against the Taliban:

The Bush administration is pushing for sweeping changes to the military command structure in Afghanistan, so that the head of international forces would report directly to US Central Command instead of Nato…The Independent has learnt that the proposal to streamline the complex chain of command, enabling US General David McKiernan to be answerable to superiors at Centcom in Tampa, Florida, rather than Nato, is before Robert Gates, the American Defence Secretary…Any move to make the Afghan war an American-run […]

Friday snippets: Conservative “cut and run”, copyright stuff and Conservative war room hijinks.

– Does everyone remember the Conservatives more or less accusing Dion and the Liberals of aiding and abetting the Taliban for being insistent on a firm pullout date for Afghanistan? (A little link for you if you don’t). Now that Harper has come around to agree with Dion and the Liberals position on Afghanistan, I’m waiting to see if all those Conservative bloggers who took up the cries of their Conservative politicians and said the Liberals were “cutting and running” will now issue the same condemnation of Harper. Send them in to me if you find any criticisms of their beloved strong leader. It appears even some Conservative strategists are wondering what is going on with Harper.

– Ezra Levant is part of the Conservative War Room? No wonder they’ve been committing gaffes.

– On a related note, here’s a pretty telling line from a Conservative insider about the Conservative War Room and the headaches it’s caused the Harper campaign so far:

“We’ve said for years that the hyper-partisan Republican-trained true believers around Harper were going to cause him trouble,” reflected a veteran Conservative strategist. “The stuff they just wanted to kick out to media knew no limits.”

– On yet another related note, we find out through Kady O’Malley that the “Notaleader” site was using clips from TVO without their permission.. and these folks want to pass Copyright Reform legislation?

– Speaking of copyright legislation, Professor Michael Geist says in an update at the Fair Copyright For Canada Facebook Group that this election offers the chance for all those Canadians who oppose the provisions outlined in Bill C-61 to make their voice heard:

Over the past two months, the reaction to C-61 has overwhelmed many politicians. Some have acknowledged that it was the top issue among constituent correspondence, others have held town hall meetings in response to local concerns, and yet others have sought to make it an election issue…Raising the profile of copyright has required thousands of Canadians to pro-actively contact their elected representatives. Starting today, those same representatives (and would-be representatives) will be seeking you out. They will be knocking on doors, making phone calls, attending all-candidates meetings, and generally doing their best to convince voters that they will best represent their interests. This presents an exceptional opportunity to ask the question – where do you stand on important digital issues such as C-61 and Canadian copyright reform? Does your local Conservative candidate support the reintroduction of Bill C-61 or would they work toward amendments before it returns? Is your local Liberal candidate willing to commit to public consultations before the introduction of any new copyright bill? Is your NDP or Green candidate firmly against the approach in C-61? These are the questions that need to be asked again and again and again this fall.

If there was to be a “sleeper issue” in this campaign, it could very well be the copyright legislation known as Bill C-61. I believe A fair number of people will turn against the Conservatives if the word can be spread that people are potentially liable for lawsuits up to $20 000 for merely copying songs from their legally purchased DVD (because the DVD has DRM) to their Ipod under this legislation, if it were to get passed. You see that potential for voter backlash when the Facebook group has over 91 000 members. So, I hope this issue is brought up more by the opposition parties, because there’s a lot of potential votes and anger against this legislation that could be tapped. A lot of young voters will get rather ticked off over this issue if they are made aware of it.

UPDATE: I almost forgot this: An extremely good response by Dion to Harper’s ridiculous accusations that national unity would be put in peril if the Green Shift was implemented:

While [Stephen Harper] was busy talking about building firewalls in the West, I was fighting to keep my country together…. I do not need any lessons from Stephen Harper on fighting for the national unity of my country.

Take care of your own house first.

Some bluster from Afghan President Karzai:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday said his country has the right to send troops into Pakistan to fight Taliban insurgents who launch cross-border attacks. Speaking at a news conference in the Afghan capital, Kabul, Karzai threatened to send the troops after Pakistan-based Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who vowed in May to send fighters into Afghanistan to wage war on foreign troops.

Tough talk, but considering the Afghan Army currently can’t even stop prison breaks by the Taliban in their own country, I think that Karzai should be worrying about his own country first, rather then threatening to invade someone else’s country.

H/T […]

Does John Manley have buyer’s remorse?

I’m referring to whether Mr. Manley might now regret accepting Harper’s request to do a “non-partisan” panel report on Afghanistan.  My asking that question stems from reading in  Haroon Siddiqui’s Sunday column in the Star where he refers to the Afghanistan mission still being as clear as mud. Look what Mr. Manley has had to say recently about the Conservatives efforts to implement his report:

Amid all the Tory self-congratulation, there’s nary a mention of the civilian measures called for by both the John Manley panel and the House of Commons resolution extending the mission to 2011. Whatever happened to the idea of Harper heading an interdepartmental group to get development and reconstruction efforts back on track? Or engaging regional powers, such as Pakistan, to find a political settlement? Or leaning on Hamid Karzai to seriously tackle corruption and nepotism and wean the Afghan economy off the opium trade? ,,, “Insurgencies are rarely, if ever, resolved by military means,” wrote Manley recently. “So, Canada should encourage political reconciliation” and minimize the factors that fuel the insurgency. He was bemoaning that his report “has been reduced to the simple proposition that Canada should stay in Afghanistan if NATO provides an additional 1,000 troops. “If that’s the only aspect that receives attention, our panel’s efforts will have been in vain.”

Many in the progressive blogosphere felt that this panel of Manley’s was chosen  to ensure it would give a report supportive of keeping Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Manley appeared happy to comply, though it now appears he thought he could convince the Conservatives to look at other aspects of the mission besides military means and troops. I’m not sure why he is surprised that those aspects of the report are being ignored and/or shunned.  This was a panel designed for political points, not real reform. I think anyone who was looking at this from afar knew the Cons. were going to handpick what they liked (get a minimum # of foriegn troops to say to Canadians we’re getting help, and to stay in Afghanistan) and ignore what took them to task.

Mr. Manley should have been/should be smart enough to realize that.  If he really feels strongly about this ignoring of most of his report, what he needs to do is go on the media circuit like he was doing after his report was released and emphasize to Canadians what the Cons. are not doing.

Afghani detainee transfers resumed – will lawsuit restart?

I don’t doubt this might slip under the radar a bit today with the Chuck Cadman bribery affair ongoing, but I noticed that in a short blurb this morning the Canadian military has announced it has re-started transfers of Afghani detainees to the Afghanistan government, because they claim things have improved:

The military says since the transfers stopped, one senior Afghan official has been fired and millions of dollars worth of improvements have been made to detention facilities.

Wow, one whole firing and some equipment ugrades at Afghani prisons. Colour me skeptical that those reasons listed have somehow dramatically improved the situation. Here’s the other kicker: the military won’t […]

Harper leans toward Dion’s and Liberal position on Afghanistan

Well, this is noteworthy and dare I say it, encouraging, from a Prime Minister who hasn’t exactly been known to be the master of compromise:

Mr. Harper said his government will seriously consider the Liberal proposals, which include an end to combat operations in 2009 and full troop withdrawal from Kandahar in February 2011. Mr. Harper said the Liberal commitment to a continued military presence in the country post-2009 is “really very close to the government’s position” and he raised the possibility the Conservatives would introduce a new motion on the matter

Knb said over at her blog it will be interesting to see how the Cons. and the supporters spin this sudden flip-flop on accepting the Liberals position (if they do indeed accept them), which as you note, does contain a definitive end-date. I agree with her that it will be interesting to watch the reaction, particularly when their position has been to argue you can’t set an end-date on combats (such as noted conservative cheerleader Aaron in my comments section in the prior blog-entry saying apparently we should stay there till we win – a la John McCain wanting to stay in Iraq 100 years if necessary. That ought to be a big winner in 2008 down south.. cough… but I digress)

So, if Harper accepts this as part of the Liberal amendments, does that mean Aaron and folks like him all of a sudden think end-dates are good, merely because Harper said it was ok to like them, or will he and his neocon friends skewer Harper for betraying their principles? On another note, I also agree with Jay from the Sleveen Institute, who said over at Knb’s site that Dion has shown real leadership on the Afghanistan issue.

Update: Aaron has clarified at Far and Wide in comments that he still opposes the fixed date of ending the mission. At least he’s being consistent. It will be amusing to see the reaction of him and other Blogging Tories imploding if Harper actually accepts this amendment.

UPDATE 2: One Liberal MP anonymously says in that Globe article this will all be a moot point anyway, as the Liberals will probably bring down the Harper government on the Budget before the Afghanistan motion is brought to the House to vote on. True, but showing in greater detail what you proposed for the mission and showing you were willing to work with the Harper government rather then oppose for the sake of opposing will count for a lot on the campaign hustings.

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