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Archive for February, 2007

Democra-who?

The Democrats are choosing who will, god willing, become the next President of the United States. And, even thought my blog, currently a mere (blank space) in the TTLB Ecosystem (We’re working on that – we have no idea what’s wrong), I feel like I can lend its considerable political weight to a Democratic Primary Candidate.

But who?

I hate to say it, but I just don’t know about Barak Obama. I am filled with meh. A je-ne-sais-quoi. An indifference. It’s not like I disagree with what he stands for, or his approach to governance, or really anything, but I just can’t seem to get behind him. He seems to be political pablum – easy to swallow. I am reserving judgment as it stands, but I just don’t see myself getting behind the Junior Senator from Illinois.

Hillary Clinton I do like, althought there is something there that nags at me. I really wish I knew what it was, because it is bothersome. While I disagree with some of her positions, she seems eminently capable. Additionally, had she gotten us into a war in Iraq, I’m pretty damn sure that she would have had a … I don’t know … plan. I will be watching her as the race unfolds. I don’t think she has the propensity to make such gaffes as has happened in the past, but its a possibility. I worry that she could appear Kerry-esque, but this won’t be a problem if she’s as media savvy as I think she is.

Two candidates who are not running (yet) and I do really like are Al Gore (Gore – Klobuchar 2008!) and Wesley Clark. But, seeing as how they aren’t running, I’m not weighing in at the moment. (Run, Gore, Run… PLEASE!) Biden, Dodd, Gravel, Kuchnich… These are the also rans, the Maurizio Bevilacquas of the Primary Vote. Although, I do like that the Chris Dodd podcast is called the Dodd Pod. As for Bill Richardson, well, his wikipedia profile lists him as the 44th President already. Which really just annoys me.

Finally, John Edwards. He’s who I’m leaning towards at the moment, but am still undecided. I think Corey may have some thoughts on this guy, so I’ll leave it to him.

Any thoughts any of you have would be great – I’d love to hear anything.

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Nomination Watch

So, a couple of people are running for the nominations across the country. Here’s what I know so far, and a bunch of rumor and hearsay.

Vancouver Quadra:
I voted in my first federal election last year – my first election ever, actually. And I cast my vote for Stephen Owen, but he has now decided to step down as the candidate. Which is fine, I guess – I had no strong feelings on the man one way or another. Nevertheless, I am elated that he has stepped down, because it opens up the riding for Joyce Murray, the former campaign chair of the Team Dion in BC, and a really great woman. There are a couple of people running against her for the nomination in this fairly safe seat, and I don’t particularly know who they are, but I am just so impressed with Joyce that I would never consider supporting anyone else. I just want to see how she’s going to preform in question period – whether she is going to be great, or excellent – that is the question.

Papineau:
So, good ole JT is running in Papineau. And I am duly impressed that he has not decided to go for the nomination in a place like Outrement or Lasalle-Emard, safe seats both, and instead elected to go and try and get elected in a Bloc riding. A winnable one, yes, but a Bloc riding nonetheless. So, kudos to you, Justin.

Toronto Centre:
I have no idea Meredith Cartwright is, but she somehow got a hold of the email address (both of them that the party has, in my case) for every Liberal in the nation. And she’s running. For Parliament. In the most annoying way possible. That said, she seems qualified, but I’m going to reserve judgment on how the race shapes up. The only other person that I’ve heard considering this riding is Bob Rae, but I think he should run in Toronto Danforth.

David Orchard:
He’s going to run. I just have no idea where. Saskatchewan, rural Ontario or Manitoba, and even Quebec has been bandied about as a potential home for this “blackberry-wielding organizational colossus”.

Calgary in General:
Who’s running? Heesung Kim probably, and maybe Jennifer Pollock again. The campaign chairs are Pat Raymaker and Kevin Feehan, the Dion Convention Chair and the RRO for Alberta respectively. They are so qualified, I think we may be able to win more seats than the 2004 election. I’m interested to see who we put up against Jim Prentice, and if Art Hanger is retiring, and we get the right candidate (and there is … one) then Calgary North East could be in play.

Edmonton Centre:
Annie, who still runs this riding, has apparently picked Nicole Martel to succeed her. I wonder if there will even be a nomination race.

Other things going on:
I was elected as the VP-External of the Alma Mater Society of UBC, after a fairly hard fought battle against The Knoll and other candidates. So, I have to fill out Lobbying Registration forms now, and get on lobbying for Post Secondary Education to Minister Coell in BC. Expect to hear some more about PSE in the year to come. If you are at all interested in what my platform was, check out www.votenaylor.com, or see the introduction of Jeff Friedrich and me in the BC Legislature by Rob Fleming (at two minutes and forty five seconds in). And, I’m pretty sure he meant to say “not the last time”. Anyway, let’s lobby together, and am interested to see how the SFU Defederation campaign turns out.

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Harper the Decider

The Globe and Mail has released it’s most recent poll and the Conservatives have rebounded to their pre-Liberal convention numbers. Some might say the political honeymoon is over and now the real work begins. Some would be right. But before we rush forward without a plan, we would do well to consider what we learn from this poll.

There are some pretty clear trends in it as to how Stephen Harper is seen, and combined with the messages of his most recent attack ads, a strategy is blindingly obvious. I claim no special insight when I tell you the Conservatives are attempting to paint Stephane Dion as a weak leader, and Stephen Harper as a strong one.

Now, we are getting to a point in Canadian politics where bringing in comparisions to the United States president is poor form; the national equivalent of Godwin’s Law. But this bears noting because it is a very interesting tactic of the political right in North America.

Harper, like George Bush, now has the adjective “decisive” attached to his name. The plan seems to be to tar Stephane Dion – like John Kerry – as indecisive. In an earlier time we might have referred to this attribute as reflective, or thoughtful, but the political right knows that many people want somebody with sure answers: they want a decider. But here’s the thing about decisive: being decisive doesn’t mean that you are right. It means you come to a conclusion faster. Stephen Harper jumped to the conclusion that Global Warming was fictional – he has since had to back down from that position. He jumped to the conclusion that Canada should join the War on Iraq – he has since backed down from that position.

Stephen Harper is decisive, yes. But so is a coin toss. If you want clear answers, vote Conservative. If you want right answers, vote Liberal.

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Now, nomenclature is a funny thing. It is also a very dangerous thing, and by this, I don’t mean the role it played in my absolute eviceration during the Organic Chemistry Exam (or, as it is fondly known at UBC, Death Chem). No, I mean that it shapes the debate and discourse of our nation, and on specific topics.

Take abortion for example. There is a type of abortion that is used typically for more late term procedures. It is called, medically, “Intact Dilation and Extraction” (IDX), but has been co-opted, and is now colloquially referred to through the much more emotionally charged term, “Partial Birth Abortion”, or, in some extreme cases, “Brain Suction Abortion”. I don’t have polling data to support this , but I don’t think that I need it to tell me that if you asked people if they supported each of these types of abortion independently, a significantly greater proportion of people could support IDX versus Brain Suction.

But that here is not the issue, at least at the moment. I will undoubtedly revisit it down the road, so everybody, I invite you to save your salvos. The topic today is Islamic Fundamentalism.

The name that we give to the Islamic Fundamentalist movement belies its true nature. It implants in people’s minds a false and ultimately destructive analogy. Christian Fundamentalism is not to Christianity as Islamic Fundamentalism is to Islam. Islam itself is a great religion that has been hijacked by a select and destructive few who misrepresent a larger group of people. It isn’t the equivalent of Pat Robertson who trains, encourages and finances suicide bombers and terrorists. That financier is no better than a Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan (with deference to Aaron Sorkin). I think the public would be better served if the media and our leaders would change the name to something more appropriate – Radical Islamists or Jihadists come to mind.

As it stands, the name co-opts a religion, and does one of two things: downplays the destructive force of the Radical Islamist movement, or implies that the entire religion of Islam is tarred with the same brush as terrorists. We cannot forget that among the victims of terrorists attacks around the Globe have been many Muslim men and women. I was in London on July 9, 2005, two days after the Underground Bombings. The front page of the Independant highlighted the story of a young professional Muslim woman who, like so many others, were killed indiscriminately in the attacks. And what does Islam have to say about indiscriminate murder?

Letter: Muslims must shout loud and clear: ‘Not in my name!’

Sir: The Koran, regarding those who kill indiscriminately, equates the innocent killing of one person as though ‘it shall be as if he killed all mankind; and whoso saved a life, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind’ (Ch5. v. 33). Surely, those British emergency service men and women who saved lives in the midst of Thursday’s atrocity are those whom the Koran describes as having ‘saved all of mankind’, whilst the terrorists are condemned by the Koran as ‘having killed all of mankind’. My thoughts and prayers are with my fellow citizens of Britain.

AHMAD SABAH UL HAQ KHAN
WOODFORD GREEN, ESSEX
The Independent, July 9, 2005

My belief is that the nomenclature does the latter, and that is good for nobody, not us as multicultural Canadians, not Islam as a religion, not anyone in this country, or the world…

… except those who would hurt us.

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Pennies and Other Nonsense

A report came out recently, and was published in the Toronto Star, that states that it is about time to get rid of the penny. Now, before I delve into whether I agree with this or not, I do want to mention that Canada does not have pennies. It has 1-cent pieces. It also does not have nickels, quarters or dimes, although it does have loonies and twoonies.

Now, Canada has already shown that it is a nation that is willing to make cost cutting decisions when it comes to its currency. A little while ago, we had those nice things called the one and two dollar bills, but they were replaced, although every single one of us has a couple two dollar bills stashed away somewhere, because they might be worth something someday (At this point, I’m pretty convinced that they won’t, but that’s not going to keep me from keeping them). Nowadays, we have our one and two dollar coins, which have become a part of our national identity. They cost less in the long run, because there are still loonies from 1987, and twoonies from 1996 in circulation, and there is no way that a bill printed the same year would still be in existence. It has become rare to see old twenties, and that was only three years ago, while some of the two dollar coins are eleven years old at this point.

So, yes, its time to get rid of the penny. They are annoying and useless pieces of currency, and worth less every year in terms of purchasing power. Just recently, it cost more than a penny was worth to make it. While that has changed, it seems preposterous to keep such a pointless piece of currency around. Perhaps when we move the way of the five dollar coin (not yet, but it is a probably eventuality), we will be able to put the maple leaf back on a coin, but it doesn’t seem that the maple will be fading from our national mindscape any time soon.

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