With a final media show, Chief Spence has now ended her 44 day "reduced food" diet. The question should now turn to what did she accomplish? Are Canadians more aware today and do they have a better understanding of the abysmal living conditions in First Nations communities? Probably not, such conditions were already well known and have been for decades.
The issues Chief Spence is raising -- terrible living conditions, deep neglect, poverty and powerlessness -- will not go away, and will not disappear in the face of attack. They are the shame of our nation and must be addressed. But the Conservatives have rejected replacing the Indian Act with a real transfer of power, and the implementation of the self government agreements which all Canadian governments agreed to in Charlottetown 20 years ago. They have offered nothing that even begins to address the issues. We shall all pay a heavy price for this lack of leadership.
Mulcair has made his party and himself invisible while moving his party so far to the right in the blind pursuit of power and it is becoming impossible to distinguish it from the Harper Conservatives. I bet Jack Layton would have been disappointed. For the late beloved leader, he would have settled for continuing to be the "Conscience of the House" rather than sell the soul of the party via a short cut to power.
There's an aura growing around Trudeau, or perhaps there has always been one, that gives liberals (I use the small "l" intentionally) hope for the future. Especially in the face of Stephen Harper's quietly draconian governing style rising up again in the form of a new omnibus bill as the fall session starts. "Can Trudeau reignite the flame of the centre-left?" Canadians wonder. Trudeau's aura brings with it a halo effect to liberal/Liberal politics that's been missing since, well, I don't know when. Yesterday, for example, I got an accidental phone call from a disaffected NDP supporter in Montreal (which is odd, since I'm based in the provincial Liberal office in Edmonton). She was upset that the NDP in Quebec were drifting toward what she termed "soft nationalism" and she didn't want to remain with a party that supported separation, no matter how softly. Toward the end of the conversation she asked whether I knew if Trudeau had officially declared his nomination. "Ah, there it is," I thought.
Why is it that some in the Liberal Party of Canada are using the disturbing and polarizing language of ageism? It has become open season on the "old guard". Older people seem to be framed as out of touch and constitutionally unable to cope with change. Of course, fresh thinking and new energy is indeed vital to any organization. However, "fresh" doesn't necessarily mean young. To me, "new" and "fresh" has nothing to do with age and everything to do with mindset, values and sincerity of purpose.
The reality is that the seals being hunted are not an endangered species and are not being hunted in numbers that might cause them to become endangered. In the areas of the world where seals are hunted there are few, perhaps no, viable alternatives. There are limited economic opportunities and few other food sources.
Once we acknowledge that virtually all of us agree that the oil sands are vital to Canada, we recognize the absurdity of claims that this is in any way a nationally divisive issue. Even Justin Trudeau, the man poised to be the next Liberal leader, knows that developing the oil sands is the only choice for Canadians.
Bill Maher wrote to interim Liberal leader Bob Rae expecting the Liberals to do better than the Conservatives in their blind support of Canada's commercial seal hunt. Sadly, the response was typical of what's usually seen from politicians: excuses and sad attempts to deflect from the issues at hand.
My vision for Canada's future is one that appeals to our higher aspirations and hopes for the future, rather than to our fears, distrust, and resentment. In running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, I want to appeal to all those Canadians who are uncertain where they fit into Canadian politics, but want to talk about the kind of nation we are building, and what it is that makes us Canadian.
You'd have thought Maclean's would have blazoned the death of Section 13 all over its front cover. With a massive headline along the lines of "SCREW YOU, CENSORS!!!" Or "WE WON!!!" Instead, the cover featured a generic picture of an innocuous youngish woman and an innocuous youngish man grinning maniacally and the silly headline: "The majority of us are singles. So why do we still live in a couples world?"
When he took the interim job, Bob Rae pledged that he wouldn't run. So who's likely to be chosen liberal leader? It's a sorry field when Justin Trudeau seems the choice of many -- a callow fellow who many claim has charisma -- as if that's a substitute for wisdom and judgment. In fact, looking over the field of Liberal hopefuls, the only one with apparent substance of leadership is... Bob Rae.
Bob Rae's decision not to seek the position of permanent leader of the Liberal Party was a dignified one. But now the way forward for the Liberal Party is to rebuild in the best possible way. It's time to end the old boys' club mentality. Liberals are given an opportunity to show this to Canada by breaking down barriers for women in politics.
In what must have been a very difficult decision, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has decided not to throw his hat into the ring as the party approaches its 2013 leadership convention. His decision not to seek the leadership of the Liberal Party has increased the chances that the party will be able to reinvent itself and focus on what counts: A classy move by a classy guy.
Last week I dropped in to see Bob Rae at his Parliament Hill office. We were alone, and he was in a very reflective mood. I left with the sense that he had made up his mind not to seek the permanent leadership of the Liberal Party. After hearing the news, while I have great respect for his decision, I am disappointed.
It doesn't come as a complete surprise that Bob Rae has decided not to run for the Liberal Party leadership. Every politician has his "best before date" and Rae must have realized that his best years and his best opportunity to lead the Liberal Party back to government have come and gone. Rae's stepping aside will leave open the opportunity for generational change in the party.
Gossip about the political future of acting Liberal boss Bob Rae seems to appeal to precisely two sorts of people: the gossips themselves -- who were in full force this weekend -- and Bob Rae. Meanwhile, Toronto City Council's Wednesday night decision to ban plastic bags from Hogtown supermarkets will provoke some manner of "national discussion" on the issue.