Sucky baby

The documents show that Mr. Marin – the province’s most prominent watchdog who spends his days holding everyone else to a high ethical standard – had taxpayers pick up the tab for personal grooming products, including Adidas body wash ($6.99), Degree deodorant ($4.49) and Gillette Fusion After Shave Balm ($7.99).


But taxpayers didn’t just foot the bill for small-ticket items. They also paid for a 37-inch flat-screen television for his home office in Ottawa. The tab, including a high-definition cable box and wall mount: $1,965.97.


…Braun battery-powered toothbrush ($37.99), Lubriderm lotion ($9.99) and Gillette Fusion Power razor ($17.99) all purchased back in 2006 for his office washroom.


Revelations over his expenses come at an awkward time for Mr. Marin, who was paid a salary of $216,000 last year.

And, the kicker:

Mr. Marin expressed frustration that his expense records were handed to The Globe and suggested he might have been too trusting when former employees were forced to resign. Maybe we should have frisked some of them on their way out, because they obviously left with records,” he said.

Here’s some free media advice, Mr. Body Wash: practice what you preach. Don’t be a bloody hypocrite. Let he who is without stone toss the first container of After Shave Balm, etc.

Can you imagine what this character would have said if someone he’d been investigating over expenditures had said they “should have frisked [departing employees] on their way out?” Hell, he would have launched an investigation into that.

I’m a proud Ontario Liberal, and I can reveal that no one at Queen’s Park – no one – has ever complained to me about Mr. Body Wash, or even suggested I criticize him in any way. No one. There is no vast OLP conspiracy against him – because his worst enemy has always been the preening, narcissistic, solipsistic (but nicely-shaved) mug he sees in the bathroom mirror every morning.

So what I say to him comes straight from me, a taxpayer.

You’re a sucky baby, pal. And pay for your own goddamned body wash, okay?

UPDATE: Con nobody John Yakabuski has issued a press release deploring the above post and, um, me. Do you think it may be because I never pass up an opportunity to note that John is a law breaker and a puffed-up hypocrite?

Good morning. Not.

I could try and spin Ekos’ poll showing a ten-point spread, but I won’t.  (I will say, however, that it certainly puts to rest the notion that Frank Graves is a Liberal Party staffer, doesn’t it?)

The news for Liberals is bad.  This is as low, or lower, than we were with Stephane Dion.

But the paradox is that, for the Reformatories, it’s bad, too. The bottom may be falling out of Grit support, but the Cons aren’t benefitting from that – and, in fact, they remain far, far from majority government territory.  The Dippers, meanwhile, are probably wondering what they’re doing wrong, too.

Bottom line?  Looks like the None Of The Above Party is the dominant choice in Canadian politics.

What’s your view?

109-0: your move, Steve-O

Let’s now see you tell the entire Province of Quebec to “shut the fuck up,” Mr. Tough Guy:

Quebec to Harper: enough with the ambiguity over abortion (Abortion-Flap-Quebec)
The Canadian Press
May 19, 2010 17:13

MONTREAL –  The Quebec legislature has taken aim at the Harper government over abortion and demanded a clear expression of support for a woman’s right to choose.

With that, a debate that remained largely dormant in national politics for over two decades suddenly threatens to become a federal-provincial issue.

Politicians on both sides of the legislature unanimously adopted, by a margin of 109-0, a pro-choice motion Wednesday.

The motion demands that the federal government continue to respect free access to abortion, end its “ambiguity” on the issue, and stop cutting funding to women’s groups that favour abortion.

But a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted the government would not be drawn into a debate over abortion.

“The prime minister has consistently said throughout his political career, before we formed the government and even after, that our government will not initiate or support legislation that reopens the debate on abortion,” said Dimitri Soudas.

While the Harper government has repeatedly promised not to introduce abortion legislation, its refusal to fund abortions as part of a G8 maternal-health initiative is among several recent events that reopened a debate that had been largely absent from federal politics since the late 1980s.

Opponents say they fear a repeat of the strategy being used to kill the gun registry, where a backbench MP introduces a bill with widespread support from the government.

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.)

Choice vs. None At All: the sleeping giant awakes

At Michael Ignatieff’s sold-out fundraising dinner last night – and when I was in Alberta on the weekend with that province’s Liberals, and in emails and messages I have been getting from across the country – women have asked me how to get more involved in politics.  I ask them why. “Because Stephen Harper promised not to go after abortion rights, and now he’s doing just that,” they say. “Because I am afraid of what the country will be like if these sons-of-bitches get a majority.”

Looking at the morning papers, I’d say that many others are starting to express the same feelings.  Canadians – and particularly Canadian women – are concerned that the crypto-Reformers now ensconced in government have a not-so-hidden agenda which will end in abortion again being criminalized.  Examples are here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

On the weekend, I received a powerful commentary from a woman named Amanda.  I think everyone should read it.  It expresses a view that I am hearing over and over, these days.  It expresses the view that Stephen Harper has woken a sleeping giant in Canadian politics – and he will come to profoundly regret it.

Here’s Amanda:

A little over a year ago, I would’ve told you that I was *this close* to thinking about voting for these guys. I liked their stand on Arctic Sovereignty, on Afghanistan and the Canadian Forces (foreign policy being an important part of what I think defines a federal government in Canada), and even to some extent on stimulus and a handful of other domestic issues. I am a great big, bleeding heart, capital “L” Liberal, and I just couldn’t see my way clear to voting for a man in my riding who I have never heard from, who is a member of a party with a leader who can’t see HIS way clear to finding himself a personality or traction on any issues; Except, now, for an issue on parliamentary rules that only people who actually understand the ins and outs of parliament can understand. Let’s just say it’s certainly not a wedge issue, or more to the point, an issue that is going to get into a householder.

I was *this close* to simply allowing my mind to ponder under what conditions would I cross the aisle and betray my party. Had the LPC (including the MPs and the Office of the Leader of the Opposition) done enough to shake my life-long faith in the Natural Governing Party? It began with the Prime Minister Chretien/Minister Martin debacle, and I never could get behind Prime Minister Martin. He had no interest in working with Premier McGuinty, despite being fully aware of the role Ontario plays in Confederation, and dashed the hopes of many who finally had a longed-for Liberal Ontario/Liberal Canada. It didn’t live up to hopes, and Prime Minister Martin began a sorry history of not being able to get traction on any issue – the very thing which is poisoning the party now, and which is a clear sign of a leader who is a compromise, rather than someone the party faithful really wanted to lead us. Prime Minister Martin, followed by Mr. Dion, and now Mr. Ignatieff. I feel like the only time the party actually got together in all this time was when Mr. Graham was interim leader. Did they shake my faith with horrifying incompetence, ridiculous attempts to grab power and a total inability to communicate on issues? Absolutely. This is not the party I felt drawn to as a newly-aware teenager. This is not the party of Prime Ministers Trudeau and Chretien.

And so, one turns to other options. The NDP is too silly to be serious about anything, although I have the utmost of respect for Mr. Mulcair. Green is a lovely idea, but it’s a wasted vote when the Leader can’t get elected to the House. The only other option is the Tories, and so the question must be asked – are they REALLY that bad? I don’t particularly like Prime Minister Harper as human being, but I don’t really believe in the general maliciousness of humans (See? LIBERAL!), and I do believe for the most part, he thinks that what he does is what is best for this country. His Ministers have not been impressive, obviously, but I have found myself nodding in agreement when foreign policy issues have been at the forefront. I believe in our mission in Afghanistan for many reasons, and I believe in protecting our sovereignty in the Arctic. I believe in our relationship with Israel, I thought that appointing Ambassador Doer in Washington was brilliant, and on other foreign policy issues, I thought this government was going mostly in the right direction.

Until now. This issue of denying abortions to women in developing countries is a way to start the debate here in Canada, after Prime Minister Harper said he would not – that abortion in Canada is established and he wasn’t going to be pro-active in opening the issue. Women everywhere have a right to choose to do what they want with their own bodies, particularly with reproductive concerns. It never occurred to me that Canada would be a country to implement a gag rule and would not provide funding to those who provide abortions. Removing funding from this essential health care service and from Pride festivals (Toronto may be relatively well-funded, but other places are not, and it’s no more acceptable to stop providing Pride funding than it would be to stop providing funding to a jazz festival because the Prime Minister doesn’t like people who play the trumpet) is not acceptable. Telling women to “shut the fuck up” was so revealing about who this man is and what his party stands for. And they are in government and as such, so very dangerous.

We are not that. We are, simply, not that country. And I will never, ever consider changing my vote again, and I will come back to my party and love it so much as to make sure I do all I can to ensure it gets to its fighting weight for the next round. We are not Prime Minister Harper’s Canada. We never will be.

There was another political dinner last night, BTW…

…and the featured speaker was Little Timmy Hudak, the youngster who wants to gut human rights in Ontario.

The media, per usual, provide the best summary of last night’s shindig:

“Hudak’s speech was short on policy specifics.” (Toronto Star, May 18th, 2010)

“He attacked the 13 per cent harmonized sales tax that takes effect July 1, but pointedly refused to promise to repeal it.” (Toronto Star, May 18th 2010)

“With a nod to the populist rhetoric of the right-wing Tea Party movement in the United States, Hudak said a Tory government would “make Ontario freer.”” (Toronto Star, May 18th, 2010)

“Hudak . . . .suggested his administration would be open to slashing services in order to rein in spending.” (Toronto Star, May 18th 2010)

“Hudak wouldn’t be specific about which taxes he would cut.” (Canadian Press, May 17th, 2010)

“Hudak received polite applause when he talked about tax cuts, but the mainly business audience fell silent when he also vowed to end corporate welfare in Ontario.” (Canadian Press, May 17th, 2010)

“Hudak said a Conservative government would cut both spending and taxes.” (Canadian Press, May 17th 2010)

Get your Alberta Liberal coverage here!

Live! From Edmonton! It’s that guy from Calgary!

Interesting bit from the bottom of the story:

On Sunday, delegates will vote on a controversial resolution to co-operate with other “progressive” political parties in the next election. The NDP has voted down similar resolutions at their last two party AGMs.

Kinsella said the federal Liberals and NDP are inching toward some sort of co-operation, which may put pressure on provincial counterparts to do the same.

“If the other guys are splitting up, is it a good idea to consolidate to take advantage of that? I don’t think it’s such a bad idea at all,” Kinsella said.

UPDATE: The Journal guy is good-humoured about my jabs at the paper’s editorial board.

Harper, God and cynicism

I’m about to give a speech to 200 pumped-up Alberta Liberals, so I don’t have time to opine about this issue at length. But let’s just say that Susan Delacourt’s take on Stephen Harper and the Almighty is the same as mine.

I go to church more than Stephen Harper does. If you are only an occasional church-goer, you are also a lot more diligent about your faith than the Conservative Prime Minister.

Confused? Don’t be. I’m not suggesting that Marci McDonald’s thesis – that the Canadian Christian Right is getting a lot cockier, and a lot more aggressive, in its efforts to smash down the wall between Church and State – is wrong. If anything, she’s understating things.

What I am saying is this: the abortion-related machinations of the Harper PMO – or the top guy, at least – is all about politics, not faith. It’s about throwing a bone to a well-funded, well-organized conservative lobby. That may be good strategy, but – as Susan suggests – it isn’t very honest.

It’s the most despicable kind of cynicism, in fact.