Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So much for Dion not going negative, or hanging Gerard Kennedy out to dry

Even a brief perusal of their website will confirm that CBC has brazenly become a shill for the Liberal Party of Canada. If that's not enough proof, last Sunday, just as the Liberals were desperate to turn around their sagging fortunes (tied with the NDP), CBC Radio magically comes to the rescue granting Stephane Dion a full hour of free (or rather tax payer funded) air time, on a very popular nationally broadcast show on politics, Cross Country Check-Up. I await to see if the same courtesy (invitation to appear in this highly coveted time slot) and hospitality (serving up easy questions and allowing Dion uninterruptedly to proselytize, to mischaracterize his opponents, to misrepresent their platforms,  etc.) is extended to Jack Layton and Stephen Harper. 

That The Star should do the same is shameful and irresponsible, but it is not, in my opinion, an obstruction of democracy and fair elections as is the case with the CBC, which is publicly funded. The Star is privately owned and supported and may express, however prejudicially or irresponsibly, whatever opinions it wishes. In fact, I'd be surprised if the Star's editorial board doesn't come out and officially endorse the LPC. But again, that the CBC, a publicly funded network for all Canadians, is essentially endorsing one party over the others, refusing to engage in responsible reporting and not informing Canadians as best it can, all with money that I cannot voluntarily donate, is a basic affront to democracy and a clear obstruction of free and democratic elections. 

Anyways, I don't pretend to be surprised or even shocked that Dion and the Liberals have thrown all principles over board and have gone decidedly and desperately negative. I knew it was around the corner when CBC started using the words "more aggressive" and "feisty" to describe Dion's approach heading to the debate. Of course, that was simply code for "going negative in a big way." And have Dion's Liberals ever started the mud slinging and the gutter politics. They're desperately looking through everything candidates has ever said or done that might rightly or wrongly be construed in a negative light. They're looking for "truthers", exposing Harper's "plagiarism", tapping into old fears in Ontario that a Harper government would be worse than a Mike Harris government, demanding apologies and resignations. Some of it strategically motivated (i.e. looking to hurt NDP candidates in BC where Liberals were really slipping), while some is just perpetrated out of malice and distress. 

And the Liberals have gone negative because it works! To get votes that is. Except it also works to cheapen democracy and to decrease voter interest and turnout.

Yet there might be some collateral damage in all of this. Gerard Kennedy will likely become a casualty of this approach.  The few Liberal candidates actually running on the Left of the Liberal Party and running on principles rather than Liberal brand will likely be hurt by this.

Gerard Kennedy, whether principled or not, has been forced to run on principles, because otherwise he's seen as either the kingmaker with poor judgment who served up Dion and ensured the return of a Harper government. Or the king maker who chose selfishly to position himself to for a future run at the leadership, thereby ensuring the return of a Harper government.  Kennedy's only tack now is that of principle: he truly chose Dion out of principle, which conveniently fits in with the whole food bank activist thing, working together thing, etc... Kennedy is running on a principle and a clean campaign.

Problem is, as Kennedy begins to adopt more and more the desperation of the Liberal Party and goes decidedly negative, he also undermines his electability. For instance, at an all candidates meeting last night, when pushed on Liberal absenteeism as the Official Opposition, Kennedy couldn't respond with a tactical justification (i.e. our squabbling and infighting coupled with our low polling meant we would have lost an election). Thus, Kennedy responded that the Liberals' ineffectual opposition was, in reality, honourable and done on behalf of all Canadians. Of course, he was rightly and resoundingly booed. There is never an upright reason to abdicate a basic democratic duty!

At that same meeting, constituents also began to see a more desperate Kennedy, who like the Liberal party, is resorting to fear mongering and tapping into the fears Ontarians have regarding the Harris/Eves governments. This tack can easily backfire on Kennedy. It wasn't the Canadian people that handed Stephen Harper a "majority" the last couple of years, it was the Liberal Party of Canada. Many Canadians, thanks to the LPC experienced the Harper "majority" as "not horribly bad government" (the same strategy made so successful in Ontario by McGuinty), and thus, the fear mongering is likely to be less effective. Thus, resorting to fear mongering undermines both the credibility of the LPC and the honour on which Kennedy is running.

Going dirty in this riding also is not very wise, since one of the nastiest smears in Ontario politics happened in Parkdale High Park and constituents seemed to vote resoundingly to denounce negative campaigning. Constituents here are intelligent, ethical, and not easily deceived. Kennedy is implicated in two ways. First, it was his abandoning of the riding to seek, rather impossibly, the leadership of the LPC that sparked that fateful by-election in the first place. Second, Gerard Kennedy was a DIRECT participant in the smear campaign against now MPP DiNovo.  So much for principle, honour, and the high road!

Going decidedly and nastily negative is not "Progressive". Just another reason for "progressives" not to vote for Liberals.

Monday, September 29, 2008

re: Cherniak's frenzied zeal to pin label of "Truther" on anything that moves

Cherniak wakes up this morning and goes "wee look at me! Look ma, I made it I made it! I'm a totally disingenuous windbag who long ago traded in integrity, principles, and critical thinking for good ole Liberal opportunism and entitlement."  That plus some of his other views might explain his zeal to pin a "truther" label on anyone who dares to question the Official 9/11 story. 

To parrot Cherniak: "I give no commentary.  I only ask that my readers (and hopefully some professional media) be the judges."  See here and here.

P.S. It is very interesting to watch Stephane Dion hypocritically claim that he is above gutter politics and that he will conduct a different kind of campaign.  Dion neurotically whines that he's been the target of a massive Conservative conspiracy. Dion vilifies Harper at every turn. He deliberately misrepresents his opponents' positions. He gutlessly sits idly by as his thugs engage in his dirty work.  This may qualify him as a Liberal, but not to the claim that he is doing things differently.

I should note that when Cherniak, then blog campaign co-chair for Stephane Dion, shamelessly participated in what John McGrath (Queens Park reporter) described as the worst smear campaign he'd witnessed in Ontario politics, Dion, presumably aware, never condemned the tactics. 

Truth is, as Cherniak inadvertently admitted yesterday, the Liberals and Conservatives are part of the same family, neither are above running dirty, smear filled campaigns. They are, in fact, virtually indistinguishable.  

Holy Sh*t: I agree with Cherniak

Today, Cherniak finally admits a point I've been trying to make far less eloquently and forcefully. Cherniak concedes Stephen Harper is an uncle and that he doesn't scare! Yes, indeed, the Conservative and Liberals are birds of a feather: corporate socialists and private capitalists. I wonder how much they'll end up rewarding their corporate friends for overextending their greed. 

ps. I realize Cherniak wrote "Uncle Steve [Harper] doesn't care". But it could have been a Freudian slip. Besides Cherniak did say "UNCLE". How fitting, Liberals conceding already. But the CBC and The Star are only now ramping up their shilling of the Liberals to try to make sure their patrons don't get wiped off the face of the political spectrum in Canada. One little problem, the CBC is paid for by all Canadians, but let's not let a basic affront to democracy get in the way. 

Dion: women, whine, and song

From The Toronto Sun.  I was listening to a documentary last night, which discussed how the language and linguistic style of our political leaders (in this case the French language) helps shape the public's perception of them.  When, Dion's French was discussed, it was referred to as exact, refined, but also that his speaking style was detached and "professorial". Professorial is a patronizing attitude that conveys superiority, and it also is used derogatorily to refer to insensitivity, detachment, and lack of connection.  As one commenter put it, great leaders inspire in the public a perception that they are there to listen to them. To some extent, all our political leaders are "professorial" but Dion's particular weakness, one conveyed either in his effete French or his body language is his awkwardness and failure to connect with people. Fair enough, if I were standing that close to Ruby Dhalla, I might too feel "uncomfortable" (that's all I call it), but this is common body language for Dion. I mean, there seems a dis-ease about Dion when he's too intimate and close to people (see also his reaction in photo with Rae).  I believe this is why he's not connecting with the electorate, not because of relatively poor English. Chretien massacred the English language (apparently French also) but he nonetheless connected with the public.

On Dion and women.  Dion sided with a Conservative budget that announced massive cuts to women's programs. For 13 years, the Liberals promised a Child Care program (arguably the most obvious and important way to help women), and failed to deliver.  Dion may have a number of women candidates, but its clear he doesn't listen to them. Some of his prominent women candidates like Martha Hall Findlay and Carolyn Bennett, not to mention most "progressives" have repeatedly called for electoral reform. In ignoring all those pleas, Dion forfeits any right to call himself a "progressive".

On Dion and song. Well it's the same old song and dance.  Dion asking "progressives" to reward the Liberals for failing to perform their basic duty as Opposition, for squandering an opportunity to present a credible challenge to Harper, and for insulting their intelligence. 

The NDP is the only credible choice for "progressives". Women will be much better represented in choosing NDP.  41% of the last NDP caucus were women, the largest percentage of any party. Moreover, Layton's plan of investing in people and families, rather than the corporate socialism of the Liberals and Conservatives, will strive to create a just and fair society where every man and women can have an equal opportunity to participate fully in their society. Layton has announced poverty reduction targets, chid care program, chid benefits, increased minimum wage, pharmacare. It is the recognition that social justice is not only ethical, but smart business.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dion: whine and cheese!

From The Globe & Mail. This was supposed to have been a photo-op to showcase Liberal unity and the leader's confidence, but it looks to me that Bob Rae has just planted the kiss of death on Stephane Dion.

Note that Stephane Dion keeps getting invited on CBC radio where he is served up big fat slow pitches to hit. Dion prattles on with old baseless canards about the NDP and indulges his delusions of grandeur by whining about being the most targeted man in history. Today he was on "Cross Country Check-Up for a full hour.  Has the CBC officially endorsed the LPC or will the other leaders be invited to appear on this publicly funded station?

A couple of reactions to Dion's "blasting" of the NDP. Dion has no justifiable claim to calling the Liberals a "progressive" party. He propped up a Conservative government for over two years, and kept agreeing to extend the war in Afghanistan. Dion voted for a Conservative budget that cut funding to women's programs, cut the court challenges program, cut literacy funding and attacked social spending.  Moreover, until the Liberals run on electoral reform they continue to support a flawed democracy and have no right to call themselves "progressives".

Dion attacks the idea of repealing the corporate tax cuts and the strategic investment in business, particularly the green economy, which he misrepresents as an "old-fashioned socialist approach" that is not being used anywhere. Well, the idea of closing loopholes that allow greedy corporations to eschew their responsibility, and not slashing corporate tax seems good enough to be a cornerstone of Barack Obama's economic plan.  In fact, slashing corporate taxes, and a trickle down economic philosophy seems to me the outdated approach, and we might consider Layton's approach as the truly "progressive" approach. 

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a study conducted by economist Jim Stanford found that corporate tax cuts will only increase gap between oil-producing provinces and rest of country. The CCPA states:
"Despite what Finance Minister Flaherty says, corporate tax cuts are an especially uneven policy tool,” Stanford says. “These corporate tax cuts constitute a significant net fiscal shift in favour of Alberta, and away from Ontario and every other non-oil-producing province.”
According to the study, Canada’s three oil-producing provinces, which account for 15% of the population, generate 36% of corporate profits—and can be expected to reap a similarly large share of the benefits of corporate tax reductions. On a per capita basis, companies operating in the oil-producing provinces can be expected to receive three times as much benefit from the tax cuts as companies in the rest of the country.
The study also questions the economic impact of corporate tax cuts. Despite the dramatic decline in corporate tax rates this decade, business spending on capital equipment and R&D has been remarkably sluggish—even as Canadian companies are enjoying all-time record profits.
“Corporate tax cuts, as expensive as they have been and will continue to be, have had no visible impact on the broad pattern of business investment at all,” Stanford says.
“In addition to asking whether the regional and sectoral impacts of the Harper government’s $15 billion annual corporate tax cuts are fair and acceptable to the majority of Canadians, we should also ask whether they will have any beneficial impact on Canada’s economy at all,” concludes Stanford.

Vickky Angstrom in the comments section of the G&M article linked to above, puts it well:
Dion doesn't understand what the NDP knows: the strongest economic platform IS healthcare, education and childcare. These stabilize the society so that the creativity of business can flourish. Investing in people is smart business.

Liberal SEXISM and other comments on Andrew McKeever

The whole Andrew McKeever debacle has become a bit fascinating to me. It has so many angles. 

It has become part of one of the dominant narratives of this election campaign: lazy journalists, often being fed trash by unscrupulous campaigns, more preoccupied with "Gotcha" journalism than laying out real issues so that voters might make informed decisions.

It shows we need to do a better job of educating and socializing our children. What often happens in the virtual world is structurally similar to urban violence on the streets. Emotionally and intellectually stunted people incapable of dealing with anger and frustration lashing out in the most vile and inappropriate ways at people with whom they feel no human connection.  Now I get that the consequences are often different, and that this scenario avoids the analysis of power and class structure for instance, but there are interesting similarities.  We haven't appropriate ways for discharging aggression and dealing with confrontation and conflict. By the way, those who ignore McKeever's defense that his comments were exchanged in the heat of the moment, ignore that posting on the web is potentially more explosive than face to face heated exchanges. One often discounts that there is a human being on the other end and lashes out in the most dehumanizing ways.

Next, and I say this tongue and cheek, but also with a great amount of compassion. We are seeing the emergence of a new class of political beings: the Cyber Dweebs (unattractive, insignificant, socially inept people who are so desperate to feel empowered and gain some sense of control that they take refuge in cyperspace, where they bully, attack, and insult others while feeling immortal and unassailable).  Traditionally politicians and those in positions of power or  aspiring for them could bully, attack, insult people to their face with impunity (their rants, unsolicited sexual advances and insults directed at their staff haven't been preserved for posterity).  Those days are over!

I am serious here, and the irony isn't lost on me that I sometimes engage in this very behaviour myself.  Look at Cherniak, look at McKeever. They are obviously pitiful and pathetic figures. I cringe at the thought what their childhood and high school experiences might have been like. However, it is interesting that even in cyperspace a kind of social stratification still pertains, and that class distinctions still apply. Cherniak has the monetary, cultural, and social capital that situates him in a certain place in cyberspace and McKeever doesn't and thereby is situated in a different position.

Should Andrew McKeever be fired? Personally I don't really feel strongly either way. His comments were completely outrageous and venomous. His view on war resisters was completely baseless, unethical and not in keeping with NDP policy, but they were made prior to representing the NDP in any official capacity. Perhaps he's changed his mind, perhaps he respectfully disagrees with that aspect of NDP policy. Perhaps policy and debate on dealing with war resisters could be the focus of a report, but that would require work.

Lastly, and most importantly, there's the issue of SEXISM. Sexism, like classicism, racism, ageism, ableism, etc. knows no bounds. The discourses, values and narratives which inform our existence shape all of our realities virtual, fantasmatic, "real," and otherwise.  McKeever's comments were offensive, abusive, and sexist. He should rightly be condemned for his comments. He has openly acknowledged and actually sincerely apologized to all he directly offended. In fact, the very woman, Krystalline Kraus, he outrageously offended has openly accepted his apology, and they have issued a joint statement which we should all read before passing judgement.
Here, however, I would like to point out two significant differences between "progressives" and Liberals/Conservatives. McKeever took ownership of his offense, and apologized contritely. Within a "progressive" online community such as babble, there was open dialogue, debate, and dissension. Contrast this to a conservative online community, where dissension is often not tolerated. Or to online discussions by Liberals around Lesley Hughes, none of which were substantive, all of which were concerned with polling and improving the public perception of Dion.  For instance, is there no room to critique the official account of 9/11 or the events leading up to and following 9/11?

Anyways, Kraus openly accepted McKeever's apology and in today's Toronto Sun called the attempt to make political hay out of this by the Liberals a "dirty tactic".  You see, even when they "defend" women, Liberals can't help being sexist. They don't necessarily want to be sexist, and often do it the most subtle way, but Liberals can't help being sexist. Civil rights and social justice are merely Liberal strategies to get votes, but Liberals can't change what they are: ideologically committed to the oppressively wealthy.

Is it lost on Durham Liberal candidate Bryan Ransom, that his indignation on behalf of Kraus is nothing but patronizing and self-serving. She's accepted the apology, she's moved on, but somehow the Liberals know what's best for Kraus. As she says:
"If they [the Liberals] were so concerned about how I was treated, they would have contacted me first."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Toronto Star should be ashamed!

I was wondering when The Star would ramp up it shilling for the Liberal Party of Canada, and I guess today's Saturday edition must have been decided as the best time to do so. I suspect that next Saturday is when we'll see the editorial board come out and officially endorse the LPC. I still maintain The Star should have been claimed as a campaign expense by the McGuinty Liberals last year and that they failed the public miserably in their coverage of  the provincial election.

It's unfortunate that the Left and progressives in this country need to be dependent on the whims of  the CBC and The Star in order that occasionally and inconsistently their voices may be heard in the MSM. But, it's downright shameful when The Star resorts to this kind of irresponsible, transparently biased, reporting.  Seriously, in this story The Star approaches Cherniakian levels of desperation and disingenuousness. As we've seen in the last couple of days, The Star's story line to aid and abet the Liberals is going to be to attempt to refashion Dion's image as leader and to create the impression that the tide is turning. 

Thus, under the banner of Winning Support, we see the bold headline "Dion in need of converts".  We are then told the story of conversion of  Sue Cox.  I think Sue Cox was chosen because apparently women supporters of the Liberal Party have been drifting over to Conservatives for a more phallic leader. But anyway, this articulate woman had come to see Dion with a certain negative predisposition and amazingly walked away "completely changed".  Cox's conversion was of biblical proportion. It was like Saul becoming Paul on the road to Damascus. The tide is turning, Dion is a really leader (note how, he defended Lesley Hughes, then after flip flopping, following apparently heavy influence from Jewish community groups, he showed leadership and fired her, without even telling her).  The tide is turning, the campaign isn't over. We have a leader. Right? Well, not so much. (numbers today showed NDP and Liberals tied in support at 21% and Liberals bleeding support to Conservatives).

Back to the article, and Sue Cox could have been one of those women lured to the dark side by Stephen Harper, but having seen Stephane Dion, she has become a "CONVERT". This is all well and good if by "CONVERT", The Star actually means "shill, decoy, Liberal hack, and Gerard Kennedy campaign worker.  I repeat, The Star, and Bruce Campion-Smith particularly, should be ashamed of their grossly incompetent journalism. Just about everyone in Toronto knows Sue Cox's direct connections to the LPC. 

While Gerard "don't hate me cause I'm a spoon fed white boy "Professor" who fights poverty sitting on a chair earning good coin" Kennedy was building up his "incredulous" reputation as a poverty activist, Sue Cox was his right hand woman, who eventually became herself the Director of The Daily Bread Food Bank (this is not a shot a the Food Bank which has served our community admirably, but to the extent it has done so, it is largely because of the many people who volunteer and who actually roll up their sleeves and go meet poverty head on).  Sue Cox endorsed Kennedy's run a the Liberal leadership, and has been working on his campaign to represent Parkdale High Park. She is also part of the Parkdale-High Park Federal Liberal Riding Association.

So, I'm left wondering. How can anyone with any integrity refer to Sue Cox as a convert. Perhaps, the headline should have read "Liberal insiders finally starting to respect Dion". But then again, perhaps that headline should've come ago so that the Liberals could have mounted a credible challenge and alternative to Stephen Harper.  More worrisome, however, is the brash and transparent attempt to propagandize for the Liberals and deceive the reader!  This article was clearly contrived to attempt create a different image of Stephane Dion and to reverse the trend for Gerard Kennedy, whose star is rapid falling here in Parkdale High Park.

Friday, September 26, 2008

In this week's NOW Magazine

Kingmaker Kennedy’s crisis

It’s a glorious, sunny Saturday morning, the second-last day of summer, but Gerard Kennedy is standing in the middle of a shitstorm.

Mainstreeting on posh Bloor West Village, where even the No Frills seems high-end, Kennedy, shirt sleeves rolled up, suit jacket perpetually thrown over his shoulder, spends much of the morning sticking up for the guy he made Liberal boss, Stéphane Dion.

“You picked the wrong guy,” says more than one passerby.

“You should have been the leader,” remark others.

A number of the locals stop to give him an earful about how bad Dion’s sales job of the Green Shift has been.
While it isn’t all bad news, it’s clear that there’s more on the line for Kennedy than simply knocking off popular NDP incumbent Peggy Nash. Like maybe his political career.

“That’s a no-brainer,” he says of the stakes in this campaign.

He’s still in debt from his failed leadership bid, his party’s campaign has yet to catch a big wave, and many blame him as leadership kingmaker. The former provincial education minister needs a win.

Though he won here provincially twice with massive percentages, the contest in this lefty riding, which runs the gamut from million-dollar digs in High Park to the homeless hanging on in an increasingly yuppified area, is far from in the bag.

One passerby sums up the mood. “He’s great, but I wish he wasn’t running in this riding. I’m voting for Peggy.”
Indeed, many feel that if Kennedy was really serious about stopping Stephen Harper, he’d use his star power in a riding with a Tory rather than NDP incumbent.

“I did consider running in western Canada since I have roots there,” he tells me, “but in the end it would have been too much on the family to pull up and move out west.”

“You have to have a reason to be in a community,” he says. “Look, I have a lot of regard for Peggy, but I have to run in a place where I have an affinity. It isn’t that easy to just drop yourself into a riding.”

Probably not, but this concentration of competing lefty cred has gotta be the kind of thing that soothes Harper to sleep at night.

If Kennedy is waging a shadow campaign, fighting the demons of leadership races past and carrying water for a weak leader, Nash seems by comparison to be travelling very light indeed. Credit the strong loyalty she inspires and the near flawless national NDP campaign.

Nash has a formidable organization. With provincial counterpart Cheri DiNovo, who first took the seat in the by-election created by Kennedy’s resignation, riding shotgun, she’s door-knocking on West Queen West, home to beautiful Victorian renos and a high concentration of new immigrants.

Nash, as the NDP’s industry critic, took a string of initiatives that include introducing a bill for a federal $10 minimum wage, campaigning against the foreign takeover of space company MacDonald Dettwiler and pushing for a resolution making the Dalai Lama an honorary Canadian citizen.

She’s worked hard with the growing Tibetan community in her riding, and many recognize her. She and DiNovo seem to be having a ball as they cruise through the ’hood. I’ve never seen canvassing politicians having such a good time.

But her lightheartedness shouldn’t be misread. A former CAW labour negotiator before bagging the riding in the 2006 rematch with Lib Sarmite Bulte, she’s tough.

“People here don’t want you to just show up at election time,” she says pointedly about the fact that Lib leadership contender Kennedy was a no-show pretty much everywhere for two years after the convention.

“There are ongoing community struggles, and people want to see representation,” says Nash.

They also want to stop Stephen Harper. Kennedy, who uses the word “progressive” countless times today to describe his politics, says he’s really concerned that, even if a majority of Canadians vote against the Harper agenda, the Tories will still form the next government.

“It’s in the country’s interest to have a progressive coalition. We’re trying to create one within the Liberal party. Is that gonna work? We’ll find out. If it doesn’t work, there may be other ways to get things done.”

But Nash isn’t having any of it. “How is voting to stay in Afghanistan until 2012 ‘progressive’? How is supporting a budget that cut funding to women’s programs, cut the court challenges program, cut literacy funding and attacked social spending a progressive alternative?” she asks.

Sure, the Tories don’t have a ghost of a chance here, but it’s all still music to Stephen Harper’s ears. 

Cherniak keeps digging and digging....

An update from this morning... Lesley Hughes has been fired.

Cherniak denounces Liberal candidate and supports her dismissal, for which, incidentally, he is largely responsible. Hooray, a moment of integrity, the ship is righted, and my faith in politics restored, right? Wrong!!!!

As someone who saw Cherniak throw Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Michael Colle under the bus in order to spare McGuinty the embarrassment of running a "slush fund",  I'm not surprised to see him discard a Liberal candidate to suit his ulterior motive: Cherniak wants his shit to somehow end up sticking to Jack Layton. Let's read his "denouncement" carefully. 

My how quickly he refers to Lesley Hughes as "the former candidate". Just this morning Dion was defending her, then an about face, a she's dropped just like that.  But what we shouldn't miss here is that Cherniak ultimately wants to connect the condemnation of Leslie Hughes to a need to similarly condemn the leader of the NDP.  Thus, rather than denouncing her for  writing on the 9/11 Truth Conspiracy, he rebukes instead her support of Truth theorists.  This way, when, in the next sentence, he decries that "it is far more serious when the leader of the NDP encourages 9/11 truth conspiracy theorists than when one Liberal candidate has to be dropped because of it", the reader is meant NOT to see the enormous differences. Hughes didn't simply encourage or support this position, she adhered to, wrote about, and perpetuated the Conspiracy. Jack Layton refused to be rude and impolite to a Truther. At worst, Layton could be accused of pandering, which all politicians do. To attempt to think otherwise and to link his actions with those of Lesley Hughes is well... Cherniakian ("thoroughly scurrilous, desperate and disingenuous").  Hope Cherniak is proud of himself.

Of course, another issue would have been what an honest discussion might look like. Was Hughes wrong in everything she wrote? Was there prior intelligence that suggested an imminent attack? Is the "official" version all there is to say about 9/11? Certainly we know that governments never manipulate their electorate.  I mean who doesn't believe that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11 and that it was harboring loads of WMD's which required military intervention?

Cherniak fall down and go BOOM!

Not content to help elect rival candidates one at at a time through his sleazy attacks, his inane arguments, and his complete lack of scrupples, Cherniak seems to have stepped up his game and joined the chorus to eliminate the LPC altogether.

Note to Cherniak: You did such a wonderful job electing NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo in my riding of Parkdale High Park, I was wondering if would mind attacking Peggy Nash and consolidate her position as the favored candidate in the riding?

When last we saw Cherniak, he was like a dog with a bone, trying desperately to unravel some "Truther" lead that would result in damage to the NDP. Problem is Cherniak's puerile and desperate pranks have exploded in his face, possibly leading to the resignation/ firing  of one of his own candidates. As Dr. Dawg notes, I suspect Cherniak will now come out and denounce the Liberal candidate, Leslie Hughes, especially given that her words had such an anti-Semitic hue.

Cherniak was hoping to break a story that would gain traction. Well he has, here, here. Even the MSM has picked up the Cherniak's "story", except the report is that Liberals are running a "truther", here.

Cherniak has been in the wrong party all along. Rest assured, he'll be able to ply his "talents" for the CPC soon enough. This video thanks to Sean in Saskatchewan  sums up pretty well what was reprehensible about his attacks.  Cherniak is part of the evolution of negative campaigning. First it was reluctant, strategic use of negative attacks, then it was the unabashed not always strategic use of negative attacks. Now it's throw as much shit as you can and pray it sticks.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pundits beginning to predict a Kennedy loss in Parkdale High Park

(image courtesy of janfromthebruce)

I usually agree with Christina Blizzard, who always calls them as she sees them
Political recycling bin
No reducing, lots of reusing as many past politicians use name recognition en route to ballot box


Checking out some federal lawn signs these days, you could be forgiven for thinking you were caught in a time warp.

The political space and time continuum seems to have become bizarrely bent out of shape. A former premier, a former NDP cabinet minister, one of McGuinty's former cabinet ministers, a clutch of Mike Harris-era former provincial Tory cabinet ministers and the odd backbencher all have their names on the hustings.

They're '90s names in an '08 world.

It's like reduce, reuse and recycle for politicians....

A lot of Liberal insiders are wishing it were Rae taking on Prime Minister Stephen Harper, New Democratic honcho Jack Layton and Green Leader Elizabeth May in the TV debate.

Rae is a formidable debater, with experience in televised debating. And his French is better than Dion's English.

Rae is set for an easy win -- especially since the Tory candidate running against him, Chris Reid, was forced to quit over some oddball blog entries.

Which brings us to former McGuinty education minister Gerard Kennedy. He's in tough in Parkdale-High Park against NDP power chick Peggy Nash. Provincially the riding is held by another popular New Democrat woman, Cheri DiNovo. Between DiNovo and Nash, they have the riding all sewn up.

If Kennedy loses, it will be poetic justice. He was the guy who foisted Dion on an unsuspecting party by throwing his support behind him in the leadership convention.


Most pundits predict it will be adieu, Gerard. And the end of his political career. Any openings at the food bank, I wonder?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is Cherniak a global warming denier who concedes he's the dumbest blogger in Canada and believes the Liberal Party is in ruins?

Yesterday, Cherniak posted a comment by a nutter named Jay Currie. Currie is a global warming denier who fears we're possibly on the cusp of a new Ice Age.
I suspect that, as the planet cools and the science underpinning “global warming/climate change” unravels there will be a rush to the exits on the part of politicians who are discovering that climate hysteria was a mile wide and half an inch deep.
Now, not even M. Dion’s supporters really have a clue what he is prattling on about with his Green Shift and, if he has any wit, he will quietly shelve the program and run on some issue people actually care about.
Currie espouses the view that Canada only needs two political parties (a right & left)  and believes the Liberal Party has reached the end of its shelf life, proving thereby that he's not completely nuts.
Cynics have suggested that this election is about financially bankrupting the Liberal Party. I would not be at all surprised if they are right. It is time for the Liberal Party to end. It is time for Canada to have a left party and a right one. The Liberal Party is simply in the way.
The Liberals climbed on board the dying Green/Kyoto trope and, finally, have found the issue which could finish them. They will make assorted noises about national unity and assorted women’s issues and just how very scary Harper and the CPC are; but I suspect those noises will be their death rattle.
Oh one final thing. Currie seems to think that Cherniak is Canada's dumbest blogger:
Canada’s dumbest Liberal, Jason Cherniak, desperate to wedge his nose just a little further up M. Dion’s derriere has just accused the Lying Jackal [nutter talk meaning Warren Kinsella] of criticizing M. Dion’s brilliant (won’t raise the price of gas a penny, no, really) carbon tax because the Lying Jackal lies on behalf of energy companies who are Daisy’s clients.

I think Cherniak should explain himself. Discerning bloggers want to know. Does Cherniak believe the Liberal apocalypse is around the corner? Does he still think the Green Shift is good policy? Or is all the hot air he's been spewing  his attempt to fend off the Ice Age that's about to befall humanity? Does he really think he's the dumbest blogger in Canada? We know Kinsella schooled Cherniak, but how's his nose?

What's that you say? Guilt by association and disingenuousness only counts when done by a petty, little Liberal hack. So sorry. My bad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Holy Sh*t: Cherniak's Blown a Gasket

Last time I saw this kind of desperation out of dweeb hack extraordinaire, Jason Cherniak, he was inadvertently helping elect MPP Cheri DiNovo in Parkdale High Park.  So it bodes well for the NDP. 

This is sheer calumny. The disingenuousness and plain ignorance needed to concoct this kind of frenzied attack on Jack Layton is astounding. It's not as if Cherniak's above this kind of ridiculous scurrilousness. Read more here, here, here, here. Yesterday, when Cherniak  took Jack Layton's bait and helped diffuse his own party's announcement, he simply came across as the buffoon that he normally is. But this is the amped up Cherniak that only comes out when he's truly desperate and afraid he's going to lose. This is the point at which if he were a child, he would either wreck the game or take the ball and run home crying (mind you I've seen Cherniak and something tells me he wasn't much of an athlete growing up). Actually I suspect it was a childhood fraught with overindulgence at home, compensating for a total lack of respect and popularity, that has forged the character of the resilient, intransigent, overconfident and often oblivious little man known as Jason Cherniak.

I find it incredulous that Cherniak, who spends so much time attacking Harper, has no problem engaging in Republican antics. His attack is pure innuendo and  mudslingling. It is a hail Mary pass cast out of sheer hopelessness.  It is akin to "Obama, that's a funny sounding name, must make you a non-Christian, terrorist sympathizing America hating Islamicist".  Note that for Cherniak any questioning of the 9/11 events, is conspiratorial and can take only two forms: the towers were deliberately imploded or the attack was a part of a larger Jewish conspiracy. Whatever 9/11 is, it's clear that it's neither of these two conspiracies, but neither is it reducible to the "official story".  9/11 was an attack, a trauma, a pretext for an imperial war on Iraq, an opportunity for legislate an on attack personal freedoms, the moment the neocons had desperately awaited etc., etc. Apparently, Jack Layton also knows Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, those radical anarchists threatening the very security and foundation of the West. Oops maybe I've already said too much. However, a discussion on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), now that might be interesting!

Anyways to continue would only serve to dignify Cherniak's moronic attempt to raise the specter of anti-Semitism, or the Red Scare, or any other bogeyman that might stick. Perhaps a more topical post could be a real discussion on Afghanistan? I guess when facts and reason don't work in Cherniak's favour (certainly couldn't make the costing of the Liberal platform work), he resorts to this. Keep digging Cherniak, you can always hit a new bottom.

For criticism of Cherniak's desperate smear see here, here, and here.

Gerard Kennedy Put Us on this Path

Another take on Chantal Hebert's comment that"Kennedy put us on this path":

A Vote for Dion is a Vote for Harper!

Good analysis at "Blevkog": h/t to janfromthebruce

I was hoping Cherniak wouldn't blurt out anything too stupid during the election campaign, but

I should have known better.  I've always conceded that Cherniak's a good Liberal (petty, opportunistic, moderately intelligent but not enough to be self-critical, has an abiding sense of entitlement, overindulged, and win at all costs approach that will forego any dignity or integrity if need be).

First, anyone with any intelligence reads Cherniak not for substance but more in the way many watch a Nascar race; that is, secretly waiting for the inevitable car crash. And Cherniak always delivers. Whether its ridiculous gaffes, inane arguments, or malicious assaults on a person's character, Cherniak delivers.  Still, it's especially fun watching him spin out during election campaigns. Sad part is, Cherniak probably believes he is "as influential as the mainstream media", when in fact, what he does share with mainstream media is that he too is purely a shill. In this case, a shill for the Liberal Party, just as are the Toronto Star and, regrettably, the CBC. Sadly, there is no critical, progressive, left mainstream media in this country and I believe Canadians suffer for it.

Anyways, as the only Ontarian that has somehow connected with Stephane Dion (oops I forgot Gerard Kennedy, but we all know Kennedy's support for Dion was purely based on opportunism and best positioning himself for a future run at the leadership following Dion's foreseeable failure), Cherniak must be especially vested in this campaign. Otherwise, why would he do something that's new, even for the shameless Liberal that he is, and simply start making stuff up? I mean we're used to disingenuous misreading, spin, but not complete invention. From this post we read:
This morning, Jack Layton changed his entire campaign and admitted that Stéphane Dion would be the next prime minister in a coalition government. His only argument is now that it should be a coalition with the NDP.
Cherniak was asked in his comments section to provide proof for this unbelievable assertion. And, of course none was forthcoming because he wished it into existence. In fact, if anyone has conceded this race it has been the Liberal Party of  Canada. Note how the fear mongering has changed from we must stop the Harper Conservatives to we must stop a Harper Conservative majority. Any why are Canadians now facing an inexorable return to government by Harper's Conservatives?  Because the Liberals have been too busy pursuing selfish opportunistic politics, backstabbing one another, bungling decision after decision, unable to unite and take on the Conservatives. 

The Liberals were dismal as the Official opposition. In fact, they were absent as an opposition. They allowed Harper to dictate the agenda in parliament and the timing of the election. And most critically they (i.e. Gerard Kennedy) chose the absolute worst leader to position themselves to challenge the Conservatives the next time around. A meek, mild, seemingly neurotic and anxious leader, unable to rein in his caucus, who seems detached and academic, who is resoundingly despised in Quebec, who can't connect and communicate with Ontarians. Might as well have handed the victory to Harper the moment the writ was dropped. Thanks for nothing LPC. And you have the gall to ask me to reward you with my vote. The best that can come out of this now is that the NDP gain as many seats as possible so that we don't end up with a strong and active Official opposition. And, perhaps Canadians will begin to see the desperate need for electoral reform. The NDP and the Greens already have!

One last thing. On the subject of the costing the Liberal Platform, I thought readers might want to read the reaction of The Progressive Economics Forum (The PEF brings together over 125 progressive economists, working in universities, the labour movement, and activist research organizations).  According to Andrew Jackson of the PEF:
I stand by my earlier argument that they [the Liberals] can’t balance the Budget, deeply cut corporate taxes, oppose new taxes (outside the internally consistent green shift package) AND make major new spending promises outside the green shift - all in the context of a slumping economy.

The costing here is dubious at best.

We get four year spending and tax reduction totals with little or no detail on timing. No adjustment is really made for slowing growth and rising unemployment.

Clearly a lot of the good new stuff outside the green shift is shunted off to the future. As a key case in point, last week the Liberals promised to bring in a $1.25 Billion per year national child care program. Today, that program is costed at $1.5 Billion over 4 years. That’s a slow phase in, to say the least. Another case in point is municipal infrastructure spending, which barely increases over the status quo for the next four years.

We get a modest dose of Reaganomics and supply-side tax cut magic. Cutting the tax rate on income trusts will supposedly raise $1 Billion in new revenues.

The Liberals actually raise the ante on balanced budgets, promising Martin era determination to run surpluses to pay down debt. They promise to restore the $3 Billion Contingency Reserve - to my mind implying spending cuts “come hell or high water” even if we go into recession.

That’s bad enough, What is worse is that their fiscal plan depends on unspecificed cuts of $12 Billion over 4 years - a not inconsiderable sum after continuing rounds of “program review.”
Peggy Nash also responded:
“Mr. Dion wants to keep in place every penny of Stephen Harper’s corporate tax giveaway and even cut deeper. It’s not credible to cut corporate taxes deeper than Stephen Harper and still keep commitments to new spending.

Despite releasing his platform, Mr. Dion still doesn’t have targets to reduce greenhouse gases, still has no plan to train more doctors and still doesn’t have a plan to stop the gouging of average consumers.

If this platform was supposed to be the channel changer for Stéphane Dion, it looks like the batteries just fell out of his remote.”

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Golden Boy Gerard Kennedy Not Really So Golden: Response to "The Star" today

In The Star today, the brief synopsis of Parkdale High Park contains a number of questionable assumptions. First, there is the contention that "high-income people in the large houses" didn't form part of the broad base of support that elected incumbent Peggy Nash. I'm not so sure. I would think, in the absence of a strong Conservative candidate, long time Conservatives would just as easily cast their vote for a person they perceive as honest and principled, even if misguided (NDPer), as a person they perceive as an opportunist and an eternal rival (Liberal). In any event, high income people in large houses shouldn't be decisive in this election, but if they were it shoudn't particularly hurt Nash, who is certainly well liked and respected in Swansea, Bloor West, and the Humber River.

Second, there is an assumption that the increased affluence in the riding favours the Liberals. Again, I'm not so sure. We saw a year ago, a riding that voted resoundingly for Cheri DiNovo and the NDP. If the sign war is any indication, as Chantal Hebert notes, Nash's support is strong and holding. In Parkdale High Park, it's not only about gentrification and affluence, it's also about an educated, intelligent and progressive electorate. This was the riding that soundly rebuked a nasty Ontario Liberal smear campaign against DiNovo in 2006. It should not be missed be that Gerard Kennedy himself participated in the mudslinging.

This leads to my third issue with the article. The Golden boy himself, Gerard Kennedy. In my previous post, I argued why Peggy Nash not only does not deserve to be punished, but in fact, deserves to be re-elected. Similarly, it should not at all be self-evident that Gerard Kennedy will reclaim the seat for the Liberals. There are plenty of reasons not to vote for Kennedy. First, he abandoned the riding, and doesn't really have roots in the riding (he doesn't live or work in the riding). Kennedy has shown that he's not above gutter politics. Kennedy participated in the Liberal smear of DiNovo, and he was implicated in anti-semitic slurs against Bob Rae during the Liberal leadership race. Gerard Kennedy is obviously a consummate opportunist. In supporting Dion for leadership, he cast his support in a way that would best position him for a future run at the leadership rather than with a candidate that could actually challenge Harper in forming the next government. Hebert is right in saying that "Kennedy put us on this path".

A rich white boy of privilege who's failed to complete even a BA (although he's quite content to insult all those who have laboured tirelessly to complete a doctorate by accepting a post as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson). A white boy who's worked his way up the political ladder through sheer opportunism and privilege. Never have I seen a politician advance so far on so little. Sitting as executive director of a food bank is hardly the same as devoting life and career with sleeves rolled up among the poor and disenfranchised, changing lives one by one, as DiNovo and Nash have done. Maybe Golden boy is not so golden.

The Liberal Party of Canada may reward opportunism, but discerning voters will not reward the party (nor the candidate singularly responsible for Dion becoming leader) whose infighting, bungling and incompetence have ensured that Harper returns to government unimpeded.

I just can't believe the Liberals have the gall and audacity to ask for votes from "progressives" in order to stop the Conservatives. If the Liberals really wanted "progressives" to unite against Harper, why would they run Kennedy in Parkdale High Park, and not a riding where he could have used his "star power" to take out a Conservative incumbent? Also, notice the Liberals are NOT at the same time asking "progressives" to cast their votes for the NDP or Greens in ridings where those parties have a chance to beat a Conservative candidate. Lastly, if the Liberals were at all concerned with the "progressive" vote, they would run on "electoral reform", and they aren't!

Kennedy put us on this path

If the abundance of NDP lawn signs in the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park is any indication, it is not a foregone conclusion that Liberal Gerard Kennedy will beat incumbent Peggy Nash and enter the House of Commons next month. But even in his absence, the next Parliament would very much bear his indelible mark.

As the kingmaker at the convention that crowned Stéphane Dion, Kennedy is the person most responsible for the dynamics of the 2008 campaign.

His decision to bypass the two front-runners in favour of a Quebec dark horse has changed the shape of the election race among the five parties.

Had Kennedy made a different choice, the election might already have come and gone. When they entered their convention in December 2006, the Liberals had the wind in their sails. With his government running afoul of public opinion on core issues such as Afghanistan and climate change, Stephen Harper's minority regime looked destined to be a mere interlude between Liberal regimes.

Instead, the Liberals peaked shortly after Dion's victory. Since then, not a week has gone by without more evidence of the unintended consequences of the convention outcome.

One of them has been to shut the Liberals out of the biggest shift in the Quebec paradigm in 40 years.

At a time when Quebecers were poised to put the unity wars behind them, bringing upon the party a leader most Liberals from Quebec were adamant that they could not sell was, to say the least, presumptuous.

Another has been to help achieve what scores of past NDP leaders could not, by giving the New Democrats an opening in Quebec. A Léger Marketing poll published yesterday showed the NDP to be a growing threat to the Liberals in Montreal, their last stronghold in the province.

Since the convention, Kennedy's decision has been shown to be the product of two ill-informed miscalculations.

Among the candidates, he took the most vocal stance against the Quebec nation resolution. That and future leadership considerations led him to Dion, a Quebecer and a unity warrior, rather than to a fellow Ontarian.

But if Kennedy thought he was supporting a like-minded federalist or that he was advancing Canadian unity, he was mistaken.

When it comes to federalism, Dion and Kennedy ultimately have precious little in common.

The latter belongs to the school of Liberals – largely Ontario-based – for whom the Fathers of Confederation erred when they designated health care and education as exclusive provincial responsibilities.

Dion is of a different persuasion.

Under Jean Chrétien, he would not go to the barricades for the Millennium Scholarship Fund, on the basis that it was an unwarranted federal intrusion into a provincial jurisdiction. Under Paul Martin, he argued in favour of an asymmetrical agreement on health care with Quebec.

Far from sharing the sense that the term nation, when it is associated to Quebec, is a bad word, Dion goes out of his way to use it on the campaign trail.

And well he should. The nation resolution has cut the legs from under the sovereignty movement and accelerated the decline of its influence.

It has also lifted Conservative fortunes in the province.

Whenever he is in Quebec, Harper mentions the resolution, always to heartfelt applause. Every time that happens, it is hard not to think that but for Kennedy playing the apprentice sorcerer at the convention, a Liberal leader would be getting credit and Quebec votes for bringing the nation issue to the fore.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Federal Election 2008: Parkdale High Park

There are numerous ways to break down this tightly contested race between Peggy Nash and Gerard Kennedy. While I believe that we desperately need to reform our electoral system if we want to revitalize our democracy, given what we have to work with, we should first focus on the strengths of the First Past the Post system to mitigate its inherent unfairness. An obvious strength of the FPTP system is that it allows voters to establish a direct and local connection with their elected representatives. In the FPTP system, each voter really is asked to evaluate the candidates running in the riding and choose from among those the one that will best represent and defend his/her interests. For PHP, in a head to head comparison, Peggy Nash is the clear and superior choice for most voters, particularly progressive voters.

Peggy Nash is the incumbent who, with MPP Cheri DiNovo, helps make this one of the best represented ridings I can think of. Peggy Nash has served this riding admirably and her hard work and commitment are unrivaled. Nash has deep roots in the riding, is very well respected and liked, and is well worthy of re-election. She is a bona fide advocate for small business,the arts, workers, and the poor alike. Her life and career prove that. Progressives and anti-poverty activists surely will find their interests better reflected in Peggy Nash.

Gerard Kennedy, on the other hand, may have provincial political experience, but he has never represented the riding at a federal level. He doesn't live in the riding, nor has he served the riding in any official capacity for well over two years. Although he was quite popular when he served as MPP, it may have been a little presumptuous to expect to return unabated after having abandoned the riding the way he did. Moreover, the title of kingmaker seems to have lost some of the sheen, owing to the fact that Kennedy, by ensuring that Dion would become leader of the LPC, may be seen as partly responsible for the mess in which the Liberal Party currently finds itself. All resulting in what surely looks like an unchallenged road to either a large minority or a small majority government for Stephen Harper.

Still, a perennial flaw of the FPTP system is "strategic voting". "A vote for the NDP is a vote for Harper" say the Liberals around here. No, a vote for the NDP is a vote for the best candidate AND a vote for the only party that stood consistently and vehemently against Harper. It was in fact the Liberals who essentially allowed the Harper Conservatives to govern as a majority government during the last parliamentary session. It is the Liberals who, because of infighting, backstabbing, holding grudges, choosing the wrong leader and policies, have turned this election into a virtual lock for the Conservatives, with the only race being for Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Thus, if we're really going to be "strategic" (i.e. vote to attenuate the dangers of a Harper Conservative government), the call across the land actually should be to vote NDP. Who can doubt that Jack Layton and the NDP as official opposition would be more effective against Harper than Dion and the squabbling Liberals? Why reward the Liberals for their incompetency? Why not give Jack Layton and a united NDP caucus the responsibilities attached to the Official Opposition? Liberals and Conservatives are already complicit on some many fronts. Let's not perpetuate that in our parliament, where the role of opposition is as fundamental as governing.