05.19.2010 08:33 AM

Hot-button Wednesday morning bits and pieces

  • Abortion: the Harper Reformatories’ machinations are getting people angrier – although I don’t share Hebert’s optimism on Harper getting stopped at the provincial level.  R. v. Morgantaler was principally about barriers to therapeutic abortion that had been built at the provincial level.
  • CBC: Going after a stand-up guy like Frank Graves – who has done work for the Conservatives, and has donated to the Conservatives – is Epic Stupid.  I know the Reformatories feel they need to occasionally pander to the Anti-CBC Clown Posse that makes up part of their vote.  But couldn’t they have come up with a better example?
  • Liberals: I was at that Ignatieff dinner, and I had a wholly different impression.  People there were delighted to hear from a federal leader who was prepared to defend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, reproductive choice, Pride parades, and a few other things besides.  When was the last time, in the past four years, you heard Stephen Harper even mention the Charter?  He hasn’t – because he hates it, and he hates what it represents.  Equality.
  • Banks: It has been refreshing to hear Paul Martin (yes, I said that) speaking up about the banking system.  It’s helpful, too: it helps remind people that Jean Chretien and Paul Martin resisted the bank-deregulation hysteria championed by the likes of Stephen Harper c. 1999 – thereby avoiding the sort of chaos that has battered the U.S. banking system ever since.
  • Terror: This bombing in Ottawa – not far from where I used to live – was an actual act of terror. I am therefore amazed that it has not generated more headlines.  (And don’t tell me we shouldn’t give these guys the publicity they crave – if the bank I use faces a probability of being blown up, I’m sort of interested in that as a customer and all that.)


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    Dennis says:

    Warren, while I’m sure the Liberal crowd was happy to hear the Liberal leader reciting Liberal values, Simpson is right that Ignatieff doesn’t excite the electorate. I’m a former Liberal supporter who just moved to Paul Dewar’s riding, so I’m with him until I see something to win me back.

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      James Smith says:


      Guess you didn’t have any money in income trusts

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      Ted says:

      Harper didn’t excite the electorate in 2006. Nor did Pearson ever or St. Laurent or King. I’d even say McGuinty never “excited” the electorate in 2003 and 2007 in stringing together back-to-back majorities.

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    Elizabeth says:

    Re Jeffrey Simpson

    But in his Monday speech at a fundraising dinner, Ignatieff emphasized the differences between the Liberals and Conservatives. ?We didn?t end a 25-year consensus on a woman?s right to choose; they did,? he said. ?We didn?t cut Toronto Pride and attack the CBC; they did. We didn?t divide rural and urban Canada over gun control; they did. We didn?t tell women?s groups to ?shut the f— up? or lose their funding; they did.?

    In other words, on these wedge issues, Ignatieff is prepared to stand and fight rather than roll over. This is a welcome development.

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    Sandra says:

    All the pundits/journalists are trying to say Ignatieff has nothing new – well, considering what Harper’s doing, I’d say what’s old is new again.

    What we have built up in this country through depressions and wars and the hard work of Canadians is about to be destroyed.

    I say we have to go back to defend our rights, our institutions, respect for others and the movement forward for women before we can go forward.

    An example of the Reformatories’ view of women:

    “We should try to keep our mothers in the home and that?s where the whole Reform platform hangs together.”

    – Garry Breitkreuz, Conservative MP for Yorkton-Melville, in the Vancouver Province, October 11, 1993.

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    Reality.Bites says:

    I don’t know about the other provinces, but the current Ontario government and any conceivable Quebec government, present or future, are strongly pro-choice. They couldn’t do anything much about an attempt at recriminaliztion, but a federal attempt to defund abortion would almost certainly be considered by both governments to be an unacceptable intrusion on their jurisdiction that they’d fight in court.

    I’ve been reminded lately of the adoption of the Charter of Rights. The provinces insisted on being allowed to override the non-discrimination provisions of Section 15. Women’s groups sprang into action, leading to the override of the overide, with “28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.”

    The governments were given the ability to override the rights of minorities, but not women’s rights, because the political heat was too much to take. I think this is equally true today, and that Harper’s reopening of the abortion debate will result in either his defeat or capitulation on his part. After getting away with gutting Status of Women, killing grants to equality groups, Harper thought his incrementalism was working, but there is a line in the sand. There are too many women who’ve had abortions, or whose daughters/sisters/friends have had abortions, or, perhaps most importantly, can easily imagine the circumstances under which they or their daughter/sister/friend may need to in future.

    What Harper has done is reminded them that on this issue, despite years of him protesting otherwise, they absolutely can’t trust him.

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    Herman Thind says:

    Sandra… bang on! The “Back To The Future” mode is all Harper’s doing. We DO indeed need to fix what Harper and his Reform-a-Tory nutjobs could (and have) bring about in past hard-fought battles… or there won’t be any need for “future vision”.

    What’s old IS new again. If the very principles/cornerstones this young land are built on are made shaky by neoCon machinations, there can’t be room for moderate ideas in the future.

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    e says:

    I’d hate to see an election fought over abortion… I happen to believe life begins with brainwaves and that view has no political home: to the CPC that view is radically too liberal, for the LPC that view is too conservative. I’d like to see Mr. Harper defeated and an election on abortion would do it; but some of us would find ourselves in no-woman’s-land on the issue.

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    nastyboy says:

    This only plays to people who already hate Harper an buy the whole “hidden agenda” canard. It won’t shift the electorate…only harden the base. Just watch the polls over the next few weeks, they won’t move a bit. It would be nice if the LPC would come out with some policies instead of pinning their hopes on the next gotcha moment.

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      Ted says:

      The problem for Harper is that, because of Ignatieff’s questions about maternal health, his agenda is not at all hidden.

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        allegra fortissima says:

        Canadian Women will be Harper’s problem – and I am looking forward to it 🙂

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      James Smith says:

      For what it’s worth the press have not focused on the examples of the fella’s hidden agenda. Every example is just reported as a one off, not to sound all Scully & Mulder, but the dots need to be connected.

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    James Bowie says:

    Scott Bradley is a lock on Ottawa-Centre. Paul Dewar’s libellous ass is cooked.

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      Sandra says:

      What do you mean by “… Dewar’s libellous ass is cooked”?

      I find him totally obnoxious and sanctimonious just like the rest of the NDP

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      JStanton says:

      oh please. Mr. Dewar won’t even break a sweat. I’m sure Mr. Bradley is a swell guy, but that’s all he has. Mr. Dewar used to be like that, but now he looks positively seasoned next to Mr. Bradley.

      It’s too bad that Liberal delegates elected the candidate who brought to the table nothing that the incumbent couldn’t trump, rather than the candidate who already had a solid record of wins.

      Sound familiar?

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    John Buck says:

    The strategy worked to great effect when Jean Chretien defeated Stockwell Day: (pushing all the hot-button issues, and calling people “bigots”). But Harper is a much better politician than Day. And Ignatieff is no Jean Chretien. I think it’s a flawed strategy because by taking such an active stance on these divisive issues, it puts the Liberal party firmly on the Left of the spectrum. Even Chretien didn’t do that. Remember that it was a Chretien parliament that passed the resolution that marriage is between a man and a woman in 1997. The Liberal party has always had the Catholic vote. While mores have changed, Chretien was smart enough to realize that you don’t want to OVERTLY put people in the position that they have to choose between their Church and the Liberal party. So while he did everything he could to advance “progressive values”, he did it in a seemless way that made people feel comfortable about it.
    Finally, there’s no more split on the right vote, but on the left, it’s split between Green, NDP, Liberal and Bloc (in quebec). So by taking a firm stance to place himself on the Left, Ignatieff is going to bleed votes.

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      Lipman says:

      Dude, you’ve been hitting so many homers for the Jays this year! What is your secret?

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    allegra fortissima says:

    “The Liberal Party has always had the Catholic vote” – and the Liberal Party will keep the Catholic vote! Don’t underestimate the “Catholic Left” and Social Movements within the Catholic Church. And when we look across the border, how many Catholic Americans got tired of their pro-life, sword-swinging Republican Leadership…

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      James Smith says:

      Amen Allegra!

      You mentioned how American Catholic voters tired of their Decider. I also note in the Simpsons article he suggests about the present PM that some folks “… like his decisive style…” – Hmm. Perhaps if Canadians were reminded of how one can be both decisive AND wrong (as in the afore mentioned Decider) the worm may start to turn.

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      Uhh says:

      Uh, traditionally the US Catholic vote was Democratic, and it’s been pretty evenly split since the late 1960s. I’m sure many Catholic Americans in recent years have tired of the Republican party, but my impression is that there’s a fair bit of back-and-forth these days.

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    Winnipegger says:

    You’re right, Warren. That firebombing of the RBC branch is terrorism. Well said.

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      JStanton says:

      get a grip, and stop whining like a baby. This is not “terrorism”. The destruction of the Twin Towers was terrorism. The civilian-targeted bombings in India and Indonesia were terrorism. The similarly targeted bombings in the London Underground were terrorism.

      This was a bit of arson by a group of idealistic wankers, who probably went to absurd lengths to ensure that there were no folks around at the time. If they were actually terrorists, they would have fire-bombed the building on Friday payday, when it was full of working shlubs cashing their meager cheques.

      More importantly, calling these people “terrorists” helps to de-sensitize society to actual terrorism, and then the terrorists win. If we are “terrorism-outraged” by simple arson, what is our proportional response if blood is actually shed, on, say, the scale of 9/11?

      There is an unfortunate tendency to throw out these terms too thoughtlessly. For example, calling some dumb-ass redneck politician a “Nazi” because he, say, says foolish things about gay people, just make you appear as dumb as he does. Unless he encourages or has undertaken the literal extermination of gay folks, he doesn’t merit the label of “Nazi”.

      I can assure you, Jews had no problem slapping down intolerant wankers. It was only after the entire state apparatus was used to coerce and oppress, that Jews were overcome.

      Similarly, Americans have experienced actual acts of terrorism. Try convincing a New Yorker that Ottawan’s were a victim of terrorism because of the incident in question – a couple of people set fire to the vestibule of a small, uninhabited building. How does this equate with the consequences of driving heavily loaded, incendiary aircraft into highly populated, massive skyscrapers?

      Well, of course it doesn’t. And getting oneself lathered-up as if it does is rather silly.

      Remember, the key is proportional response. Otherwise, the enemy wins.

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        Scotian says:

        Sorry, no but I’d say you are wrong about this.

        Look, what makes something terrorism or not has nothing to do with how many are killed, or a certain minimal level of damage occurring. What makes something terrorism is whether it is an act of violence in the service of a political aim and/or with a political message, usually against innocent bystanders or societal symbols that represent an evil in the minds of those sending that political message which this bank clearly appears to be for them, which this was along with having the implied message of further violence. Not to mention that the implied threat was to two major international political gatherings coming in the near future. By any reasonable standard this is a terrorist attack, small scale, clearly intended to cause no harm to people’s lives, but still intended to send a political message via the use of violence and as such using fear of violence to send a political message, terrorism.. Remember the FLQ bombings of mail boxes back in the 60s? That was also terrorism in action, just as this is.

        I do not care what side of the spectrum one is on, in a democratic society governed by the rule of law such as ours there can be NO excuse for the use of violence to send a political message let alone imply further violence at a major political summit. Period. This notion that you put forward JStanton I would argue is what really desensitizes people to what terrorism is. Terrorism is the use of violence to send political messages and/or to modify political behaviour via the use of violence against society (people and/or institutions/places), whether it comes from domestic or foreign sources and whatever the scale of the violence and the lives injured/lost are determines the scale, not the fundamental definition. This was a terroristic act in my books, in my wife’s books, and I suspect in more people’s books than you may be willing to believe. Small scale and with clear consideration to prevent injury to human beings but no less a terroristic attack for that caution.

        We do not use such acts of violence to try to enact political change in this country, we had our fling with it in the 60s with the FLQ and we stomped on it hard with the War Measures Act once it rose to a level high enough with that kidnapping. I have no desire to see this start to become considered anything less serious than terrorism, else it invites more of the same, which is the last thing any democratic society should want. Indeed, I was quite disturbed that the police were not willing to call this for what it was, deal with it in context and not make a mountain out of it sure but not to pretend it was not terrorism either. This sort of thing needs stomping on as hard as possible, there is no good excuse for it and no place in civilized political discourse.

        Calling this terrorism because no one was hurt is to desensitize to real terrorism and then the terrorists win?!? Really??? I really have a hard time understanding that logic, and to be honest it feels a little bit like the sort of thinking that got the US in so much trouble post 9/11/01 where the argument that unless civil rights were sacrificed then the terrorists win being used as a trump card against disagreement. Sorry, but it does come off a bit like that for me.

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          Winnipegger says:

          Yup, my thoughts exactly, Scotian. It was an act of destruction designed to instill fear in a populace for a political purpose. They want people to be afraid of going to RBC branches, and additionally they want to scare/terrorize the RBC and any other organizations into not sponsoring events that disagree with this group’s ideals. It was most definitely terrorism, and as you mentioned terrorism is not defined by the amount of fatalities.

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    Steve Gallagher says:

    The termination of pregnancy is not a political decision. It is a medical one.
    One political party does not even have a corner on this matter. John Turner
    was probably the most honest Canadian man to address it politifcally and that
    is a challenge to a Roman Catholic, as I am.

    But Joe Borowski got beat up for this issue too, on the other side of the ring and
    he was a real old time NDP guy.

    In the end, I just don’t see it being anybody’s business other than the woman and
    her physician.

    I also thought we had agreed on this back in 1988.

    Well, if someone wants to fight about it, that is fine by me.

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    Aurelia says:

    Hebert actually got her references incorrect, (One wikipedia page on abortion in canada is incorrect, the other is better.) Fetuses are not legal persons nor are they human beings under Canadian law, as per the unanimous ruling of the entire Supreme Court of Canada in Daige v. Tremblay, 1989.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tremblay_v._Daigle – for an easy read

    http://canlii.ca/en/ca/scc/doc/1989/1989canlii33/1989canlii33.html – or for the entire text of the ruling direct from the court.

    I’ve read articles over the years that said the Court wanted to act as one so that no one could ever misinterpret them as being unsure. They were quite sure and unified in their work, unlike the mushy ruling of SCOTUS in Roe v Wade or the divisions in R.v. Morgentaler.

    It’s worth asking whether anyone could even introduce a law in the HOC, since it would be contra the courts ruling. I don’t think it’s really about federal vs. provincial. Or R. v. Morgentaler. What do you think?

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    Michael Hale says:

    All of the in-depth comments are interesting, but that kind of detailed thought on the issue won’t matter come voting day. If – and it’s a big if – the Libs manage to make this issue an election issue, then Harper is in trouble. He has worked so hard to push down the “hidden agenda”/ultra-conservative side of the party. Letting it out of the box would just reinforce all the fears that middle class voters ignored the last two elections. Abortion as an issue kills any hope of Conservative majority and makes a Liberal victory plausible.

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