In 2004 voters barely had a clue who Stephen Harper was. So he appeared in those hilariously contrived ads in which he complained about the Liberals, offered some kind of solution, and then paused and added, slowly, "My name is Stephen Harper." Viewers came away wondering about his speaking style but pretty sure, whoever this guy was, his name must be Stephen Harper.
The most troubling concern about the Fair Elections Act is the restriction it will impose on our voting rights. In the past, the Voter Identification Card (VIC) used to be a legitimate and sufficient identification of voters, which is what happened in the last election with 120,000 citizens. Potential voters will need additional evidence of identity such as a driver's license or an address on a utility bill, items which some citizens do not have. Vouching, used in the past, will also be eliminated. The net result is that many young students, the unemployed, the homeless and First Nations Canadians will not be able to vote.
Even the most ardent Conservative supporters must wonder what principled position is behind the recent government-sponsored arms deal with Saudi Arabia that will send over $10 billion worth of Light Armoured Vehicles to one of the most anti-woman and repressive countries in the world. Outside its borders, the Saudi royal family uses its immense wealth to promote and fund many of the most reactionary, anti-women social forces in the world. The Conservatives have ignored these abuses, staying quiet when the regime killed "Arab Spring" protesters and intervened in Bahrain. Worse still, the Harper government's hostility towards Iran and backing of last July's military takeover in Egypt partly reflects their pro-Saudi orientation.
As citizens of the "free world" -- North Americans, at least -- we have a great power bestowed upon us: the right to vote. Yet this basic right is often taken for granted. Understandably, enacting one's support for politicians can be frustrating, but fundamentally they are chosen by us to manage our tax dollars. And listen up: you pay taxes.
I guess Prime Minister Harper is busy finding a new finance minister along with all the other stuff involved with his single-minded pursuit of the Alberta carbon bubble. Because he sure doesn't have time to join the hand wringing over a key engine of growth in a once prosperous province called Ontario. I'm talking about the so-called "free" trade agreement with South Korea and the future of the auto industry.
Canada's economy has lost its balance. Trouble looms. Those are not words you will hear from Prime Minister Stephen Harper but it is the grim reality of the unsustainable economic ethos of his Conservative government. Instead of the telling us the truth, the government is spending unprecedented gobs of our money to mislead us about the health of the country with the Canada Action Plan advertising campaign saturating the airwaves. In reality, our petro premier has transformed a balanced country into a petro-state that is "hollowing out" the economy.
The occupation contradicts the values and wishes of most Israelis. There is no need for incitement to drive a wedge of hate between Palestinians and Israelis. The policy of occupation and the behaviour of the settlers is enough. I condemn terrorism and incitement, but the truth must be said: some of us, Israelis, engage in incitement.
The Shi'a Imam spoke about the increased conflict that characterized our world, the tensions between Sunni and Shi'a interpretations of Islam and that pluralism -- an ethic in which diversity, not just in its spirit, but in practice -- needed to be valued and championed.
All people are sinners and all are good and bad in differing degrees at different times. I am not a moral relativist and am a believer in law and order, the confession and repentance of sin, and the punishment of crimes. But I also believe in forgiveness where the adjudicated penalty has been served, there is remorse and a determination to avoid past misconduct.
It has become more and more urgent to -- as the proposal for a First Nations Education Act was titled -- work together for First nations students. This agreement, and the federal budget framework into which it is embedded, is an opportunity to do just that -- whatever one's skepticism and mistrust may recommend to the contrary. On the First Nation's side, the time has arrived to take both the concept and practice of self-control and self-determination to their logical conclusions. Let's call it getting our collective Indian act together.
This pipeline project will not survive public scrutiny. Enbridge and Kinder Morgan do not have, and will not have, our permission. We will stop these pipelines and the Harper regime would be smart to listen or at least get out of the way. A government can only hide the fact that they do not represent the values of the people of their country for so long before people wake up to it and show them the door.
I'll leave it to others to sort through the constitutional implications of what Justin Trudeau did this week. But I want to comment on what Justin's move did for his "brand", because that's my expertise. Trudeau's naysayers attack him as vacuous. He's a nice guy -- but where's the beef? Well, Trudeau just showed substance and leadership.
As the Serial Minister of Various Affairs, the man has blustered and blundered, alienating constituents and stakeholders and using the resources of his office to engage in partisan attack. His latest insult, this time against war veterans, is proof of his unsuitability -- one more instance in a long career of similar proofs. The time is overdue for him to reap the final reward he so richly deserves. Rehearsing the long career of this one-time Toronto shopping mall security guard, one can't but notice the unbroken and uniform trail of soot which seems always to have attended him. Indeed, a pattern emerges.
In the radical chic post-modern world which La Presse journalist Agnes Gruda and those like her inhabit, one cannot be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. According to this mindset, pro-Palestinian support requires the negation of any identification with the Israeli narrative. "An honest broker", therefore, is defined as one who is at odds with the Israeli position.
Justin Trudeau probably shocked his Senate caucus colleagues more than the voting public today when he announced he was removing Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus, thereby limiting the caucus to elected members of parliament. Eventually the dust will settle and the real reason for this move will become evident, but for now Trudeau is in the limelight and he will have the Conservatives scrambling and perhaps the NDP as well. The truth is no one including Trudeau knows and we will only find that out down the road and closer to the next election.