Coyne vs. Kinsella: the health care debate

The Munk Debate guys asked Andrew and I to debate whether Canadian politicians were afraid to debate the health care system.  Always being one unafraid to have my keester kicked by a superior mind, I said sure.  The bloody results can be eyeballed here.

“Close consultations.” Conditions may apply.

Harper in Opposition, then: “The opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation…consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options.”

Harper in power, now: “Losers don’t get to form coalitions.”

That is, he wanted a government led by conservatives, even if it involved the “separatists,” because it would get them power. But he’s against “close consultation” for the federalist centre and left, because – among other things – it means conservatives would lose power.

Starting to get the impression he doesn’t want a coalition to happen, perhaps?  That it worries him?

I am.

Readying with readiness

When the current crew in Ottawa shut down Liberal election readiness, the Reformatories noticed.  They knew, among other things, it meant that the Liberal Party would not be seeking to defeat the government for a long, long time – however much they planned to huff and puff about bogus stimulus cheques or women’s reproductive freedom.  In politics, when you throw it down, you have to be prepared to back it up.

In the context of a minority Parliament – where you can be plunged into an election at any time – shuttering your war room and sending your election team home is also highly, highly risky.  Readiness means being ready; that is, being fully prepared for a national, multi-million-dollar election campaign that lasts for weeks isn’t something that can be turned on like flipping a like a light switch.  When you are in Opposition – where, let’s face it, you are not running much of anything – there is no excuse for lack of readiness.  None.

Thus, my friend Ian’s op-ed in today’s National Post. I’m delighted that he’s back swinging, and I’m in agreement with much of what he has to say.

A sampling is below.  Check it out:

There is no way of predicting the duration of a minority government. The current composition of the House suggests that the Conservatives might be tempted to engineer their own defeat before the other three parties align themselves. The rule of thumb, then, is to be ready to go at any time. Liberals need to move expeditiously on election readiness. That means being fully prepared, with money in the bank and the team and the leader set.

Coalition poll! Vote now!

There’s quite a bit of coverage of this issue today, so I thought I would put together another one of my Highly Scientific and Fair™ online polls.

I’m counting on you being a Liberal.  Reformatories aren’t allowed to vote, because we know all of them are against it.  (Because the prospect of a unified Centre-Left scares them shitless, among other things.)

Comments are open, naturally.  Beer and popcorn are gratis if the “no” side somehow wins!

Kid Kodak Kontroversy, ad infinitum

Some folks have asked me whether I disagree with Ontario politicians – of all stripes – who voted to reappoint the Ombudisaster.

Yes, I disagree with them.  All of them. Among other things, the solipsism and hypocrisy and recklessness of this egomaniac makes John Gomery look like a publicity-adverse chartered accountant.

Oh, and look!  From today’s Toronto Star:

André Marin, in his previous job as Canadian military ombudsman, created a dysfunctional workplace rife with complaints and 150 staff departures from the small office during his tenure, a federal report says.

Marin, who has served as Ontario Ombudsman since 2005, was re-appointed for another five-year term yesterday…

The federal report, commissioned by Marin’s successor Yves Coté, and based on interviews with 46 staffers, found that staff expressed an “overwhelming relief . . . to see the new leadership take its place.”

The human resources department was a “failed” and “woefully inadequate” system that “may actually be contributing to inefficiency in the organization.” There was confusion surrounding job descriptions due to few standards or policies. “People have real difficulty not knowing what is expected of them in the workplace.”

The lack of standards is also a problem in Marin’s current job as ombudsman for the Ontario government. A half dozen current and former employees have told the Star that policies and standards were shelved when Marin took over and that staff no longer had rules to guide job performance. Some have said they were condemned for actions that others were applauded for. The sources say this lack of standards allowed managers to criticize and fire employees on a whim…

The mass exodus of federal staff — 150 during his tenure — in the “relatively small organization” was “far in excess of the sort of staff transition one should expect.” A review of the Defence Ombudsman’s annual reports from Marin’s tenure shows his organization staff levels ranged from only 14 people in his first year to 50 in his last.

Star sources have said that under Marin’s leadership, about 70 Ontario Ombudsman’s workers have left.

The turnover has been expensive to taxpayers. A review of Ontario public accounts shows $780,000 in severance payments since 2005. Williamson said this number does not only reflect money paid to those who left involuntarily but also those who get paid upon resignation or retirement.

Many of the employees who received severances were fired. They were paid out by the ombudsman’s office after hiring lawyers to complain about unfair termination. One condition of the severance package was the former employee sign a gag order, agreeing to not publicly or disparagingly speak of the ombudsman’s office.

And this! From today’s Globe:

…there was also hard evidence he had spent money in ways that, while technically allowed under the rules governing his conduct, very clearly didn’t meet the current standard.

This was a public servant making more than $200,000 annually, and expensing toothpaste, body wash, shaving products and a shopping list of other toiletries. Meanwhile, he was using public money to accessorize his Ottawa home with a new TV, while the government was paying for a second residence and a per diem in Toronto.

One of my closest Ontario Liberal friends told me other day that some political folks think I’m “crazy.”

On days like this, I admit, I feel like I must be crazy.  I mean, I clearly am missing something in the Kid Kodak farce that everyone else sees.

Am I?

Kid Kodak’s measured, mature response

And now, the next time this guy has anything to say about workplace harassment, or prejudice, or bullying of others, or reckless spending of other peoples’ money, or arrogance, or hypocrisy…well, people will laugh.  It’s a joke.  He’s Gomery Lite (and I’m familiar with the species).

This is the self-described “watch dog” the Opposition wanted?  This? Well, now they’ve got him.

And, with his conduct and his arrogance, the “dog” has neutered himself.

(And, boy, do I now have a story to tell about him.)

The legacy of Brian Mulroney

  • William Johnson, Ottawa Citizen: “A coherent image emerges of Mulroney as a leader of Canada who chose to wallow in sleaze. But no coherent scenario can be discerned to explain all the strange events, documents, testimonies and lies.”
  • The Globe and Mail: “THE INAPPROPRIATE LEGACY OF BRIAN MULRONEY…It is now a matter of record that he acted inappropriately in many ways. And in the end, what was it all for?…Judge Oliphant also urges ethics training for public office holders, but the dishonour Mr. Mulroney has done himself may be lesson enough. A former prime minister took cash-stuffed envelopes while he was an MP and in private life soon afterwards. Even to Judge Oliphant, it is unclear why, except that he knew it was inappropriate.”
  • The Times-Colonist: “MULRONEY’S POLITICAL TAINT…The first casualty of the Oliphant inquiry is Brian Mulroney. His reputation, already tarnished, is severely damaged by the report on his relationship with German businessman-felon Karlheinz Schreiber.  The greater damage has been inflicted on all politicians as images of cronyism, privilege, dishonesty and cash-filled envelopes are burned into the public’s mind… This has been a sordid, disheartening spectacle.”
  • Edmonton Journal: “And so ends Brian Mulroney’s bid to haul his reputation out of the mud of tawdry business dealings at the close of his political career. What a sad coda to his nine years as Canada’s 18th prime minister…What should Canadians conclude? Clearly, that we have a right to expect better of our politicians.”
  • Hubert Bauch, Montreal Gazette: “[Oliphant] judged that Mulroney’s transactions with Schreiber violated just about every principle of how honest folk do business and that in effect – though again he doesn’t use the word – Mulroney gave deceitful testimony in a court case about his relationship with Schreiber…Mulroney’s line is that he wasn’t asked the right questions [in his libel action] by government lawyers, and that had he been he would have told all. In uncouched terms, Oliphant called that “patently absurd.”
  • London Free Press: “MISTAKES WILL OVERSHADOW ALL ELSE IN MULRONEY LEGACY…the mistakes Mulroney has admitted will forever be how Canadians remember him — rather than for his leadership, two massive majority governments, efforts at national unity, free trade, environmental initiatives and other significant contributions. In fact, Mulroney’s legacy will be one that stoked the flames of voter apathy, distrust of politicians and government. That is a sad legacy.”
  • John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail: “MULRONEY’S LEGACY WILL BE FOREVER POISONED…The incredulity and anger that any reasonable observer must feel over the former prime minister’s conduct is the highest price Mr. Mulroney will have to pay. He is a man who cares deeply about his legacy. That legacy is stained at the least; for many, it will be forever poisoned…to a large chunk of the population, he was Lyin’ Brian – too smooth, too slick, not to be trusted.”
  • Kelly MacParland, National Post: “MULRONEY’S REPUTATION IN SHREDS…If Brian Mulroney had a reputation left, Justice Jeffrey Oliphant shredded it today…Mr. Schreiber didn’t have any reputation to speak of when the proceedings began. Mr. Mulroney was holding onto hope he could salvage what little he had left. He might as well forget that now.”
  • Ian Austen, The New York Times: “FORMER CANADIAN P.M. TOOK ‘KICKBACKS’…A Canadian inquiry has found that former prime minister Brian Mulroney acted inappropriately when he accepted ”cash-stuffed envelopes” during three meetings with a German arms and aviation lobbyist.”

Oliphant: Mulroney broke ethics law (or, we want the $2M libel settlement back)

“This Inquiry provided Mr. Mulroney with the opportunity to clear the air and put forward cogent, credible evidence to support his assertions that there was nothing untoward about his dealings with Mr. Schreiber. I regret that he has not done so. I express this regret on behalf of all Canadians, who are entitled to expect their politicians to conserve and enhance public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity, and impartiality of government. Mr. Mulroney’s actions failed to enhance public confidence in the integrity of public office holders.”