Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


janvier 9, 2009

Remember when the Bush White House refused to let the Obamas  use Blair House so t hey could start their girls to school  on time.  The Bush people said BlaIR house   was occupied.Now we kn ow the  whole miserable story. President Bush  wants to honour John  Howard, the former Australian Ptrime  Minister who joined Bush in the immoral and illegal wafr against Iraq.  Bush will fly  Howard and his wife to Washington, put them up in Blair  house for one  night (JAN. 12)  and present them with the Freedom Medal.

There is a delicious piece of iron y here.  Howards  government was just defeated and Howard lost his own seat in the election.  Why secufritywould Howard   wanto receive the Freedom Medal when the Australian psent;preeople have just given him the boot?   But I digres

Why would Bush force the Obamas and ther two little girls into a public hotel (where the security woulod be difficult )  f0r ONE night so that Bush could  present  medal to his war crony, Howard.Does this reveal how selfish and   miserable the Bush crowd is?
It  does to me.
What about you?


janvier 8, 2009

In  the last days of his presidency George Bush is doing what he can to save his legacy.  This means also doing what he can to honour those who followed him into the Iraq  disaster.   High am ong   these is  the former prime  minister of Australia,Joh  n Howard,

So Bush is arranging  for Howard and his wife to fly to Washington, to stay in the presidentiaL guest house, Hfor one night (January 12), then B ush will invite him o ver to the White and ;present him woth the prestigious Medal of Freedom.

There is a delicious irony here.  ,Howard,s unpopular goovernment has just australianbeen thrown out of office  and Howard lost his own  seat.Why  in the world would Howard want the Medal of Freedom when  the  Australian people have just given hi m the boot?  B ut   I digress.
Can you believe the reason the Obamas and their children were forced to go to a public  hotel where security wlould be  more difficult, was  because  Howard and his wife were goin g  to staY In Blair House (which has a hundred rooms) for  ONE night
it is hard to believe the  Bush people could be as small as this.
Do you  agree?



juin 27, 2008

What an experience.

We left for Unity, New Hampshire (1507 pop.) about 10:15 Thursday morning. We arrived in New Hampshire four hours later. We knew we needed tickets which we didn’t have. So first off, we checked into the two locations where cars were to be dropped off before taking a bus to Unity.

There were no tickets at either site. Then we checked in to a Best Western and asked the effervescent young woman on registration if she would try to get us tickets on the Internet. She would. Sadly,the answer was all the tickets for the buses were gone.

With hearts sinking we drove a few miles to Unity and stopped at the school where the outdoor event was to be held on Friday. Jim stayed in the care, I went inside the school. Finally, I got to speak to a young Obama supporter named Duncan. I t old him our story. Duncan was impressed we had bothered to drive so far. Then he gift wrapped a huge Christmas present six months early. He would put Jim and me on the list for VIP parking. I couldn’t believe it. In one stroke we finessed tickets, buses, the whole ball of wax.

Friday was a lovely, hot, sunny day. We arrived in the meadow behind the school about ten-thirty, early enough to get a seat. People continued to pour in for the next two hours. Local politicians brayed away. The most interesting was the popular former governor, Jeanne Shaheen, now running on the Democratic ticket against the incumbent Republican, John Sununu. I expect she will win.

The smiling crowds pouring in were happy, the air electric with anticipation. Only one incident marred the pleasant scene. A few yards down the fence from us there was some kind of scuffle. A state trooper ushered a fiftyish man wearing a T-shirt of the National Rifle Association off the site. I had no trouble with the T-shirt but the man’s face, scowling and suffused with anger, resembled nothing so much as a cracked sidewalk. The incident left an aroma of apprehension.

Promptly at 1:15 the music stopped, the cheers swelled and Hillary (in a robin-egg blue pantsuit) and Obama (in a white shirt, blue tie and no jacket) walked onto the stage.

Obama made it clear he needed Hillary (and Bill too); Hillary made it clear she was on board for the duration. The crowd roared their approval. It felt like a tide of change was flowing, that something historic had occurred. It felt good to be there.

Oh yes, as a parting gift, I got to shake the hand of the next President of the United States.


juin 26, 2008

Robert Mugabe was brought up a Catholic and taught by the Jesuits. Sadly, he is now one of the bloodiest despots on the face of the earth. He has reduced Zimbwabe to a poverty-stricken, fear-ridden country where bullets and blood are the daily fare.

He has forced the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to flee to the Dutch embassy and refuse to take part in Friday’s election for fear of numerous deaths. Mr. Tsvangirai has asked the United Nations to send in a peace force. The leaders of the International community are now calling tomorrow’s elections a sham although the dictator has refused their call to postpone them. On Wednesday, as a sign of her « revulsion » the Queen stripped Mugabe of his honorary knighthood.

What keeps Mugabe in power are the military and a handful of cronies. Mr. Mugabe bought their loyalty with land and other largesse. Only very personal punishments – freezing their foreign bank accounts and denying visas – will bring them to their senses.

The United States, Canada, Europe and especially other Afican governments must all make clear that if the runoff election scheduled for tomorrow is not delayed — so that Mr. Tsvangirai can campaign without the threat of violence — they will no longer recognize Mr. Mugabe or his government and will use all their powers to punish and isolate them.

Do you agree that every effort should be made to remove Mugabe?

Am off today with my friend, Jim, to motor to Unity, New Hampshire, for the first joint campaign appearance of Obama with Hillary. Should be fun. Back late Friday. Have a great weekend.


juin 24, 2008

Today is the Fete Nationale du Quebec. So, happy feast everybody. The day is especially significant this year because Quebec City is celebrating the 400th anniversary of its founding.

Quebec is a smiling pleasant place these days — at peace, prosperous and readying for a summer of fun festivals of which the Montreal Jazz festival is the most famous attracting thousands of visitors including many Americans. Today, my wife Catharine and I will go to the Atwater Market to obtain a basket of ruby red juicy Quebecois strawberries.

And there is more good news on the political front. A new nationwide poll suggests that a strong majority (71 per cent of English-speaking respondents and 78 per cent of allophones) of Canadians – including most of the country’s French-speaking population – believes Quebec is « destined » to remain part of Canada. Only a third of Quebec residents believe the province will one day become a country.

These results suggest the limited appeal of the historical narrative long promoted by Quebec separatists – that « accidents of history » such as the British victory on the Plains of Abraham, have merely delayed Quebec’s inevitable emergence as an independent state.

Instead, most Canadians including Quebecers, appear to find the classic federalist story line – which emphasizes inexorable progress toward reconcilation of the French-English conflict at the heart of Canadian history – more compelling.

Furthermore, all the political polls show that the strongly federalist government of Jean Charest would win a majority were an election to be held today.

So deck the halls, blow the trumpets and ring the bells. Quebec’s heart is beating strongly at the centre of the federation. And we are off tonight to celebrate at a Quebecois concert in the Old Port.

What about you?

And do you agree with the large majority of Canadians who believe Quebec will remain in Canada?


juin 20, 2008

There has not been a big issue separating the federal parties since the election of 1998 was fought on free trade. Now, as a result of Stephane Dion’s announcement there will surely be a big issue in the next federal election. It is called a carbon (pollution) tax and its purpose is to slow global warming.

There is no longer much scientific disagreement of the close connection between the emission of greenhouse gases and the inexorable rise in the earth’s temperature. Nor is there much disagreement that the burning of fossil fuels is the primary culprit. An essential part of a market-based solution must involve imposing a cost on those responsible for those emissions. The result would be a greater incentive to find ways either to reduce the burning of fossil fuels altogether or to continue burning them while preventing the toxic emissions from polluting the atmosphere. It’s simple. Tax fossil fuels and reduce global warming.

But that’s only the first half of the policy which will raise more than 15 billion in new taxes. The other half is that every dime of these carbon taxes will be returned to Canadians in the form of tax cuts and tax credits. So « the green shift » at one stroke creates the right incentives to reduce fossil-fuel use while not increasing the government’s tax take.

The richer we are, the more cars we own, the more air travel we do, and the more oil or electricity we use to heat our larger homes. So a carbon tax which raises the price of these products will collect more tax revenue from high-income households than from low-income ones.

Look at it this way. Imagine three income groups – low, middle and high – and suppose that the amount of carbon tax collected annually from the three groups is $3,000, $6,000, and $9,000 respectively. If there were equal numbers of taxpayers in each group, the government would then need to reduce income taxes by $6,000 for each taxpayer. The low-income households would clearly be better off while the middle-income group would see no change in their total after-tax income. Only the higher income households would be worse off because their income-tax reduction would be insufficient to cover their higher carbon taxes.

So a new Liberal government under Dion’s carbon tax would ensure that lower-income Canadians would end up the real winners. In addition, of course, to the environment.

Do you agree that climate change is happening?

Do you support Dion’s carbon tax?

Can any reasonable person be against such a task?


juin 11, 2008

A confontation is brewing in the Quebec National Assembly between the government and the two opposition parties.

The issue is whether tax payers’ money should be used to cover in-vitro fertilization procedures, which can cost $10,000 and have an average success rate of about 20 per cent.

If both opposition parties hang together, they could defeat the government. Parti Quebecois health critic, Bernard Drainville read a letter from a woman who mortgaged her home and maxed out a line of credit, going $50,000 in debt to pay for in-vitro fertilization.

Drainville says medicare pays for tying fallopian tubes and performing vasectomies to prevent pregnancies, and pays for abortions, so it should also pay for in-vitro fertilization. Also several European countries do so.

A spokesperson for the health minister, Philippe Couillard, argues that in-vitro is expensive and has a low success rate. She added that in-vitro is risky for the mother and there is a higher risk the baby will be born prematurely multiplying the chances of birth defects.

Couillard himself argues it would $20 million to $30 million a year to cover in vitro and that money would be taken away from other treatment.

An editorial in the Gazette this morning echoes the minister: « This is too large a burden for the taxpayer to bear. Our medical system is already staggering under the load of life-and-death interventions that we cannot pay for. »

If we do not have the money to pay for cancer treatment in a timely fashion, should we have the money for in vitro?

On the other hand, Julie Snyder, the TV presenter whose partner is Pierre Peladeau, wants all Quebec women to have access to in vitro. « The result would be « more little Quebecers, more little taxpayers. » (Snyder herself is five months pregnant as a result of in vitro.)

What do you think?

Should Quebec use taxpayers’ money to pay for in-vitro fertilization at $10,000 a pop?


juin 10, 2008

Tomorrow in the House of Commons at three o’clock the Prime Minister will rise to make a formal apology to the thousands of men and women who suffered mistreatment as young residents of a state-funded Christian school system aimed at stripping them of their aboriginal culture and connections.

Two in three Canadians agree it’s high time « that the government and Canadians come to terms with its past actions. »

One in three Canadians disagree with the practice, endorsing the view that today’s government and society « shouldn’t be held accountable » for yesterday’s wrong-doing, so no apologies are necessary.

Generally speaking native leaders support the government’ action.

However, some of them have reservations. The Harper government refused to involve native leaders in the drafting of the apology. NDP leader Jack Layton protested the government’s excluding the native chiefs. The government « runs the risk of that kind of paternalistic attitude of ‘we-know-best and the first nations will just have to accept what we dish out.' »

Secondly, some native spokespeople charge that Ottawa should provide free transport for the survivors and others to attend the ceremony. Harper has relented and some native chiefs will be seated on the floor of the Commons. But they will not be allowed to speak. Why not?

Finally, shouldn’t the Harper government, as well as apologizing, make its policies toward native peoples more sensible? Recently, as part of the residential school monetary settlement, the Treasury doled out $20,000 to each adult in one smaller band. The most visible signs of this misguided munificence was an increase in drunkeness and suicide.

The National Post calls the apology « the greatest grovel in Canadian history. »

Perhaps the reason is that every time your turn around, some group pops up asking for a government apology.  Back in 1914 a group of Sikks was turned away from a port in British Columbia.  Today their descendants want compensation and an apology.

Do you agree the Harper government should apologize for the abuse of native children?

Or do you think the whole thing is in the past and should be forgotte?

Should the government have involved the natives in drafting the apology?

Should the government have provided transport for survivors to come to Ottawa for the ceremony?


juin 6, 2008

As Barack Obama closed in on the Democratic presidential nomination, Catholic supporters of the Illinois senator have been challenged on the nominee’s pro-choice stance.

Douglas W. Kmiec, a friend of Obama and a former aide to two presidents, says he was denied Communion by a priest because he has publicly endorsed Obama. Mr. Kmiec, a legal scholar, claims he was was publicly « excoriated » by the celebrating priest when he attended a Mass following a gathering of Catholic chief executives.

« I did not expect to be clobbered by co-religionists, » he wrote in a newspaper column for what he described as his perceived « Obama-heresy. »

  • Then in the city that will host this year’s Democratic National Convention, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called on a formal group of Catholic Obama supporters to urge the candidate « to act differently » on his support for abortion rights:
  • « Changing the views of ‘pro-choice’ candidates takes a lot more than verbal gymnastics, good alibis and pious talk about ‘personal opposition’ to killing unborn children. » the Archbishop stated.

As the Archbishop requires, should Senator Obama change his views and « act differently » by opposing abortion?

Other Catholic heavyweights are also starting to crack the whip on Obama’s supporters.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is the Catholic Governor of Kansas. She is also high on Obama’s short list to be vice-president. Under very restricted circumstances she supports the pro=choice position on abortion. Recently Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann wrote Governor Sebelius warning her to stop receiving Communion at Mass until she dropped her pro-choice position. He threatened her with further unspecified actions unless she obeyed.

Should Obama change his position and opposer abortion?

What do you think?


juin 4, 2008

Now that Senator Obama has won the Democratic nomination, he will turn to the challenge of rounding out the ticket. Who will Obama choose to run with him? What will he do about Hillary Clinton?

Yesterday Clinton told her Democratic colleagues from New York that she would be open to running as vice-president. But will Obama offer it to her?

Offering Ms. Clinton the vice-presidential nomination might help assuage the anger of many women who feel sexism, especially within the media, helped rob their candidate of her victory. Senator Clinton might well help the Democratic ticket where Senator Obama is weak and she is strong: white blue collar workers, older women and Roman Catholics. This might well help Obama win states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, both with high Catholic populations.

On the downside, Ms. Clinton comes with pretty strong negatives of her own: About 40 per cent of Americans say they would never vote for her. Asking people to vote for a black president and a female vice-president may be a bridge too far.

Perhaps worst of all Ms. Clinton comes with an opinionated husband who was president himself and would have plenty of advice for the new one.

Of course, choosing Hillary with a gun to his head, might well reveal Obama as a wimp.  If he is unable to withstand the pressure from the Clintons, how could he deal with hostile foreign leaders. Remember Walter Mondale in 1984 who succumbed to raging feminists and named Geraldine Ferraro to the ticket.

Which raises t he central puzzle in this whole drive to make Ms. Clinton vice-president. Way back in the sixties, Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York turned down the veep job because, he said, « I am not stand-by equipment. » No one would say about the Clintons that they are stand-by equipment. Yet here we are with Bill Clinton pushing for his wife to be veep and his wife saying she is open to it.

Why? And here’s where a black thought emerges from the shadows. The Clintons think it is only a question of time before something happens to Obama and Hillary will be in the wings, ready to take over the Oval office.

Do you think Obama should offer Hillary the veep slot?

If he does, do you think she will accept?

If she does do you think Obama-Clinton would be a strong ticket both to win theelection and to govern together?

Are there others that Obama should consider?