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Barack Obama

Obama’s visit to Ottawa – some perspective, please.

OK. Right up front I will say that I am just as happy as most Canadians that there is once again a Democrat in the White House and that said Democrat goes by the moniker “Barack Obama”.  ‘Tis a great time for a President who possesses the cult of personality that will be necessary to drag America and the world through the big financial mudhole that I like to call the “Holy crap! We’re screwed!” years.

Yup. He’s bright. He’s charismatic. He’s young (as in my age!). Wow. The Yanks got it right this time.

Better than the last guy, eh?

And he is coming to Bytown as his first foreign visit as the Commander-in-Chief. He will arrive tomorrow morning, travel to the Hill in his motorcade taking an undisclosed route (likely Colonel By). Then he will meet Stevo, shake hands with Iggy and then hop back into his end-of-the-world proof limo for a trip back to the airport using yet another undisclosed route. Then back to Air Force One and home in time to tuck in the kids.

Ottawa is positively a-twitter over Mr. President’s whistle stop here. Folks are planning their days around heading to the Hill in order to maybe, just maybe, get a glance of the Chosen One. CBC Radio Ottawa is positively gushing. Birds are singing. And all are certain that the skies will clear and spring will arrive early as B.O. steps onto mayorlarry’s realm!

Even my Resident Love Goddess – normally a measured and fairly sane individual – is acting like one of those big-haired teenagers from a Loverboy video!

Amen! Hallelujah! He has come!!!!!

OK folks. Let’s all take a deep breath. This is REALLY NOT SUCH A BIG DEAL.

There, I said it. Let the flaming comments start.

But really, he is the President of a foreign country. And he is visiting our PM for a short meeting and a working lunch. No speech to Parliament. No public address. No walking through the throngs of screaming fans. Nada.

The cops are saying that the BEST anyone of the Hill tomorrow can hope for is a glimpse of the back of the guy’s head. That’s it. That’s all.

All I’m saying is that we Canucks are so desperate for dynamic and charismatic leadership – being that there exists no such beast in our current inventory of political rascals – that we grasp onto a foreign leader as a proxy. Kinda shameful, really, all of this fawning and drooling.

All that being said, I do welcome Mr. Obama to the Great White North and I hope that his leadership and his vision lives up to the advance billing.



The American Election

I thought I would scribble a quick note about the election to the south of the 49th.  I had meant to do this quite a while ago but between work demands (been travelling quite a bit – I am writing this in the business centre of the Montreal Delta) as well as things to do around the house, and being a daddy and a hubby, I just haven’t found the time.

Today stands to be one of the most important in our neighbour’s long history. The choice that Americans make today will resonate for decades to come and around the world. We in Canada cannot ignore the ground shift that is happening in the States. I believe there is a fundamental change happening in the way Americans – particularly young Americans – view their country and their leaders.

It is suddenly important and cool to participate in the electoral process.

And this is, for the most part, due to one guy – Obama.

He has inspired our neighbours at a time when they needed it it the most. Years of blundering by Bush. A deficit and debt that is staggering. A loss of respect around the world. A confused and rudderless domestic policy. All of these have been the trademarks of the past 8 years.

I am not saying that Obama and the Democrats will have a magic pill at their disposal. The once proud country has been dragged into a deep and hollow abyss that will take some effort and pain to climb out from.

Friends and family have from time to time accused me of being anti-American.

This is not the case.

I dearly respect our southern kin and think that the American experiment has been one of the greatest achievement in the annals of human history. And I truly weep to think what Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al have done to belittle this accomplishment. True, I am a proud Canadian and share that Canadian paranoia-envy-wonder that is so typical of my fellow citizens. But I try to temper this with the recognition that Americans are a fine people with a rich heritage that deserve our respect and admiration.

So – in closing – if there are any Americans who are reading this post, please, PLEASE do the right thing today and do not make the same mistake three times in a row! Vote for a future that may reposition your country to that level that it deserves to occupy.



Why Steven Harper is breaking his own law


Here we go again. It looks almost certain that Stevie and his neocons are going to break the fixed date legislation that they themselves introduced only a short while ago.

Harper is claiming that Parliament has become dysfunctional and that he needs to be sure that the Government can put their agenda into place before proceeding.

I have 2 issues with this:

  1. Parliament is not dysfunctional. Yes, Committee hearings have become a circus because ReformCons have been ignoring summons to appear and they have been using their handy-dandy PMO (Karl Rove-ish) contrived manual on how to make Committee meetings dysfunctional. But these are the PMO’s antics – not those of the other parties.
  2. Not going to the House to test a claim of confidence but rather using the opposition leaders’ willingness to meet with his holiness is pretty damned cheeky; if not illegal. Unfortunately, the days of GG Byng are long gone and it is doubtful that our current GG will do anything but dissolve Parliament and trigger an election as the Harperites want.

So why is Mr. Harper so desperate for an election now and not willing to wait until his goivernment has been brought down legitimately on a matter of confidence?

The reasons are simple:

  • Liberal candidates are winning in all four of the by-elections currently underway – the Conservatives didn’t anticipate this shift, and they cannot afford the perception that they are losing traction.
  • Harper’s concern is only enhanced by the continuing Elections Canada investigation into the Conservatives alleged “in & out” scheme.
  • the House of Commons continues to investigate Brian Mulroney’s dealings with KarlHeinz Schrieber.
  • A late fall ot early winter election would ride on the coattails of a likely (yes, likely) Obama win to the south and this would benefits the Grits.
  • The economy will continue to feel the effects of the recession in the States.
  • The visions of more poor boys making the trip home from Afghanistan in caskets are not pleasant.
  • The somewhat distant possibility that M. Dion will begin to appeal to Canadians.
  • Conservative polling numbers remain stagnant in Ontario and Québec.

So Stevie is rolling the dice and calling Stèphane names as a prelude to one full-blown hissy fit that he’ll launch as soon as the writ is dropped. Like a bully in the schoolyard, he has beaten up all of the other kids and now is taking his marbles and going home.


Attack ads

I don’t know about you, but I think attack ads used in political campaigns are not only despicable and cater to the whims of the lowest common denominators, but totally remove any semblance of honest and constructive debate from a political battle.

The penultimate attack ad is this one – shot at the height of the Goldwater / Johnson campaign in 1964.

A little while back, the McCain camp put out this ad, implying that Obama is more celebrity than substance and that being popular in the public eye doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ready to lead the country.

Note the clip of a certain Paris Hilton? Well, Paris put together her own clip as a retort to John McCain. I must say, my opinion of Ms. Hilton has multiplied a thousandfold upon seeing this!

Of course, our own little Stevie Harper, being an admirer of all things negative, cynical and especially American, hires his own team to sic his attack ad dawgs on anything and anyone that disagrees with the Conservative dogma.

All told, these ads, while they do make for some good chuckles, deflect attention away from real policy debates. Stephen Harper wants to debate the environment? well, put something on the table to talk about it and then talk about it! Demeaning an opponent’s argument by attacking the debater is a debating no-no and such attacks are called ad hominem – meaning that the attack is against the person rather than the argument or point. This implies, of course, that the person making the counter-point has no or little basis to pull apart his adversary’s point.

Alas, the Harperites are flush with cash and we can expect more of these inane ads as we gear up for what likely will be a fall election in this country.