In my recent travels and discussions with seasoned foreign policy experts and politicians in the U.S. and Europe, I haven't met one who took Canada seriously anymore, except as a posturer, a poseur, a political game player. Canada is seen as the international equivalent of a Ted Cruz filibuster in the Senate. Is this really the best we can do?
In a recent Toronto Star column, the normally staid columnist Tim Harper, was squealing like a starry-eyed political groupie. He breathlessly reported that Prime Minister Harper and Toronto Mayor Ford were spotted in Toronto. Together in public, embracing, for the first time, in a long time. OMG!
Faith would not be such a negative force in society if it were just about religion. However, the magical thinking that becomes deeply ingrained whenever blind faith rules over facts warps all areas of life.
Despite all the craziness, our Mayor, the happy warrior kept repeating the simple message of "Subways, subways, subways." Lo and behold, Prime Minister Harper just announced this week that he is coming up with $660-million to complete the financing of the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line from Kennedy Station, underground along to the Scarborough Town Centre.
I must confess that there was an awful lot about Canada's 2011 General Election I simply didn't "get." But I certainly didn't get why Michael Ignatieff, a perfectly ordinary if uninspired Canadian party boss, stirred such loathing his Liberals plunged to a historically unprecedented third-place standing. And neither, it seems, does he.
John Greyson and Tarek Loubani have had the misfortune of being caught up in a repressive climate. The Conservatives clearly support Egypt's military rulers, which is tied to an extreme pro-Israel outlook. If these two courageous individuals are further harmed, blame the pro-Israel/anti-Egyptian democracy forces in this country.
Under Stephen Harper, household debt has exploded. The average household debt-to-income ratio (the amount of debt the average Canadian household owes for every dollar of their annual disposable income) has risen from $1.31 to $1.64 -- which is where the United States was before the housing market crashed.
A government's claims of economic competence must surely depend upon a sound record in certain crucial areas -- such as economic growth, debt reduction, balanced budgets and management of the tax burden. On all four counts, the Harper regime is a serious disappointment. As for taxes, that's where Mr. Harper brags the most. But check reality! While claiming they never raise taxes, the Harper Conservatives have in fact increased the net tax burden on Canadians in each of their last four budgets. It happens in dozens of nefarious ways which they hope you won't notice.
It wasn't too long ago when Canadians were shouting at the top of their lungs about George Bush, the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay, Gay Rights and a myriad of other "American" issues. But the tides have turned quickly. Canada is now what the U.S. was in the George W. Bush days. I can't point to exact moment, but all I can say it happened really fast.
Dear Steve: Ordinarily, I'm not in the habit of writing to sitting prime ministers. But even I have to pause and wonder what the heck is going on with your gang up there in Ottawa these days. Have you all been starting cocktail hour at lunchtime or smoking all that excess B.C. bud confiscated by the RCMP?
The outlines of the Justin Trudeau Liberal election strategy are now appearing. Purposeful or not (and I think it is), he is getting Canadians to first look, then think, and finally accept him and, by extension, his party as the natural voting alternative to Mr. Harper. Voters do not all wait till election day to make up their minds.
Well, leave it to the Conservative government to beat up on some of the smallest of small businesses. In a stunning decision, the result of either incompetence or cynicism, this government has levied a new charge on small clubs, bars and restaurants that bring in foreign artists to perform.
Dora Award-winning playwright Michael Healey's play Proud has also courted controversy throughout its history. The play is thoroughly political but it also transcends politics. If you're in any way engaged in political discourse in this country you owe it to yourself to see Proud.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty went to Russia for the G20 conference this week, and decided that this would be a good time to pressure the world into cutting government spending and implementing austerity measures. Unfortunately, to the leaders at the G20 -- stuck as they are between deficits and sinking economies, between the option of printing money and doing nothing -- Harper and Flaherty are just as likely to come off as a bunch of self-righteous jerks.
Recently, Treasury Board President Tony Clement reportedly floated a trial balloon which would see federal government retirees' annual health insurance premiums double. For my family, that would mean an extra $500 expense -- an amount which will add up to thousands of dollars over my lifetime. I deliberately chose to leave the private sector and join the government based on what was on offer.
Conventional wisdom suggests Prime Minister Harper should tread lightly on Quebec Premier Marois' proposed Charter of Quebec values. However, my uns...