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Archive for June, 2006

On Magnets

As I’ve been driving around this fine province of ours, I have been noticing something interesting. There are these ribbon shaped magnets that people are sticking to the back of their cars, and, by and large, they say “Support our Troops”. I want one of those magnets.

Unequivocally, I support our brave men and women who serve in our armed forces. I proudly count members of my own family amongst those who have answered the call of duty. What I do not understand is the tendency of people to claim that you do not support the troops if you do not support the mission. To me, these are diametrically different things. It is not as if we are personally insulting the troops if we decide that the mission that they are doing is no longer of value to the nation. The troops did not choose that mission, but were ordered to it. As such, I think that any claim to that effect falls outside the realm of intelligent or conscious thought.

What is, however, not supportive of the troops, is any attempt to commit them to something without due diligence. The vote held in the House of Commons was a joke, and does not show the proper respect to the people who would be put into harms way by that action. What message was the Canadian government sending as they voted to send our troops into Afghanistan for two more years? I think, clearly, the message was “Six hours is all the time we are willing to spend on you.” To think that some people in our Liberal caucus shared that sentiment was absolutely unthinkable.

By agreeing to vote in favour of this motion, Michael Ignatieff and Scott Brison failed to defend that which makes our country function, the parliamentary process. I support the Mission in Afghanistan. I do not support putting our troops in harms way on a whim. Diligent debate was required. Stéphane Dion supports the troops, but he voted against the mission. Here, he defended two primary principals – our necessary defense of the Canadian government structure, which the Tories made a mockery of, and the respect for our armed forces. He was unwilling to put them in harms way after think about it for six hours. It is this type of deliberate and principled thought that we need in out next Prime Minister.

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On Jerks

I want to make something very clear. I am fine with being attacked. There is, however, a caveat associated with that statement – I want those attacks and criticisms to be constructive. I realize that many people do not have Blogger accounts, and it would be a shame to loose their input, especially at a time when people are finally beginning to read my blog in any numbers. The problem is jerks like This Guy:

Anonymous said…

Positive? Ha!

(It makes more sense in context.)

If people continue to be like this, I will be forced to disallow Anonymous comments, and that is something I don’t really want to do. I value people’s input, not their crap.

Now, my Iggy post should be up later today.

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Hooray! 1000 Hits!

I’d just like to take this moment to congratulate myself and my blog. Today, we finally passed 1000 hits. These two days in my blog have been the most popular in it’s brief history. Thank you all, my readers, who have come from as far away as England, South Asia and Africa. I appreciate your feedback, and your embracing me into the Liblogs community.

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I am going to simplify my questions. Does he have good policies, or have the potential to make good policy? In the past, Gerard has performed well as a Minister in the Ontario government. I am not convinced that he has the federal experience, or, quite frankly, the federal perspective to create valuable policy for the nation. Experience is important, not necessarily the end all be all, but important nonetheless. Is he qualified to be the leader of a national party, and the country? There are several qualifications that I think are required. One is that you have had some type of political experience. Gerard has that, and, by all measures, has done a good job. As I said before, federal experience is not necessarily required, but encouraged. Will he be able to present his views in a cohesive, substantial manner that will appeal to Canadians both with the method of presentation, and by the substantive content? This is, sadly, where a promising candidate falls apart. He has not demonstrated an ability to present policy, particularly innovative policy (like his GST elimination on hybrids), in a manner that is can appeal to people. To be frank, he doesn’t seem to have presented that policy at all. I don’t think he and his team are giving people enough credit – they will understand policy. He needs to put it forward.

I believe that I have presented a balanced and constructively critical post that presents both the strengths and weaknesses of Gerard Kennedy. I am biased, but I have arrived at this bias through thought, not through mindless following. Gerard has some favorable attributes, but he, until now, has presented himself in a manner which I found overwhelmingly unappealing.

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On Kennedy, Part Two

Gerard needs to start backing up his speeches with substance. The most disheartening thing about this is that I know he must have it. His policies as minister of Education were balanced and well thought out. He was what the province of Ontario needed to repair the damage Mike Harris did to the school system. Perhaps this is an administrative problem, and he needs to get a new speechwriter, because he needs to integrate his policy into his speeches. Whether he is able to do that remains to be seen, but it is an important consideration to make. Gerard, I am convinced, has not realized his full potential, but, quite frankly, he should have been ready to shine with full brightness the moment he entered the race.

Gerard made poor first impressions on me. He made me feel as if I were a nuisance to be dealt with and gotten away from, not a potential delegate. I was not particularly impressed with his speech, but I do give him credit for articulating some policy. He just, to me, didn’t come off very well, either as a person (I frankly felt like I was interrupting him) or as a politician (I generally disagreed with his points, but, at least he was making them at that point). Things about his past performance seemed to reinforce that for me. Gerard needs to share his views, because frankly he has come off as a pontificator. He needs to take a page out of Preston Manning’s book (playbook, not policy book), and get in touch with the grassroots of the party. People can actually have some valuable input regarding policy, and want to hear what you stand for, not only in vague, nice sounding, and blanched terms, but as concrete ideas. It’s this type of aloof attitude that I find is also reflected in his video. He didn’t come and talk to Canadians; he had someone talk about him, and not about the substance of his platform. If Mr. Kennedy is able to present his good sounding speech backed up with his polices and his ideas, his stock will rise dramatically.

Stéphane Dion’s criticism may have been harsh, but it was also valid. Gerard Kennedy (who, to be fair, took the first strike), hadn’t presented new ideas in the debate, and he needs to. Gerard’s ideas, from what I’ve heard of them, aren’t the best, but they do exist, and he needs to tell people what they are. This will also help him overcome some of his liabilities. He does not have a university degree, and sharing policy will help overcome the perception that he does not possess the substance acquired in an institution of higher learning.

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On Kennedy, Part One

In response to a comment by missasaugapeter on an earlier entry, I would like to make a fairer post. I am not a fan of Mr. Kennedy, but that does not mean that he is without his merits. As such, I my posts on Michael Ignatieff and Carolyn Bennett will be delayed (Sorry Jade), and I will be examining the strengths and weaknesses of Mr. Kennedy in the most unbiased way possible. I should mention though, that I have, at no point, claimed that I am unbiased, because to do so after endorsing a candidate is dishonest. That said, this post it the next best thing. It may not be overwhelmingly positive, but I will try to make my criticisms constructive. As a note, this post, due to its length, will be three posts. I wanted to be as clear as possible in my thoughts on Mr. Kennedy.

Regarding Gerard’s experience, he does have some. I am impressed that he was able to start the first food bank in Canada – this is by no means an achievement that can be underestimated. To create an organization that is capable of doing such good is a commendable achievement, and he should be lauded for it. My primary question is whether the experience that he possesses qualifies him to be the leader of the most successful political entity in the western world. We must realize that we are not only electing a party leader, but also, in all likelihood, a Prime Minister. For over one hundred years, the leaders of the Liberal party have held, at some point, the top job, and this is something that we cannot forget.

This record of victory is also something that we want to preserve. Can Gerard win an election against Stephen Harper? Like it or not, we as Liberals must accept that for all his political shortcomings, Harper is a shrewd and intelligent man, and will be, with the wrong candidate, hard to defeat. When I look at the people who are running to be our leader, I see only three that could possibly achieve our vital goal, Michael Ignatieff, Scott Brison, and Stéphane Dion. My reasons in thinking that the others cannot vary widely, from a lack of political experience (Ms. Hall Findlay), misperceptions (Ms. Fry) or a disastrous NDP premiership that would alienate Canada’s largest province and our biggest base of support, despite having good policy ideas (Guess).

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On Hall-Findlay

On Friday, June 9th, 2006, Martha Hall-Findlay rolled into Calgary. Or, rather, she flew, which was frankly somewhat of a disappointment, because I had been looking forward to seeing her big red MarthaBus. Alas, it was not to be, but I won’t hold that against her.

The event itself was well done, if a little out of the way. I do commend the location though, for its proximity to the Airport – very logistically practical, but I can’t help but feel that more people would have showed up if they had a more central location. The event was also ridiculously overcatered, which actually ended up with them pushing sandwiches on people as we left. That said, its better than running out of food.

Martha herself was personable and engaging, but frankly did not command the attention of the room. I frankly wonder about he ability to stand up and make something heard, rather than just saying it. This is because I fear that her good ideas (and her bad ones) could get lost, and make her seem quiet and irrelevant.

That said, she was on message for the evening, but I think she needs to work on crafting her message. She seems a lot like the last campaign: good ideas, poor delivery. If she can work on that, she will appeal to any more people. Martha comes off as a very populist Grit, which is something that I can really get behind. Her ideas about rebranding and representing the party are valid and necessary, and she has a lot to contribute to the party. When she did pick up on the need to prevent all Liberals from being tarred with the same brush as the few who were corrupt in the party, and I think this is something we need to address.

She seemed somewhat unclear to the point of being contradictory when talking about her foreign policy. She spoke about something that equated to triage, which is a good program that will promote greater impact for each dollar that we spend, but she also seemed to say that we should be in many places around the world. Again, this comes down to message crafting – she needs to firmly believe in a position, and stick to it. She didn’t do that on Afghanistan either – but she did defend our parliamentary institution, which is something that I think should have been done by people like Brison, Ignatieff and Graham.

She spoke of the need to do more about Kyoto, and spoke out against having two elected houses and keeping the senate as a house of Sober Second Thought, one point where I agree with her more than Stéphane Dion. She defended the gun registry, citing that 60 of 170 gun murders were committed with long guns. She also seemed to make a lot of the fact that she lived in the West. We get it. You lived here. Good for you. Now move on to substance. (She did, but not without mentioning is several more times).

All in all, Martha has a lot to offer this party, but not as our leader.

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