Entries from July 2008 ↓


Hey, who let you in?

So, will there be an election this autumn? Listening to our macho man prime minister at the end of the Conservative caucus meeting this week, you’d sure think so.

Fish or cut bail, he told Stephane Dion. Bring my government down or just back off beanstick, and let us pass what we want. And, you little shifty punk, no more of those “kangaroo court” committee meetings where you make us answer really hard questions. Like cheating on elections, and such. Four eyes. Loser.

At least PMSH did not accuse the Liberal leader of screwing anyone, instead choosing to portray his rival as the screwee. “Either we govern,” the northern Terminator said, chewing on a hollow tip and flicking a gold coin from his chaps at desperate reporters, “or we go to an election.”

Of course, the guy would love to have a vote as soon as possible. The Elections Canada case is going very badly for the governing party, and they’ll likely be found guilty of defrauding taxpayers. The onion called Max & Julie has only started to peel, as we all find out how a biker babe got to represent Canada to presidents. And then there’s Cadman.

Of greater concern is a sinking economy. Jobs being lost, families under stress, real estate being crunched, inflation and interest rates on the rise, Ontario deindustrialized, tourism tanking and the export sector dropping like a stone. This is all just going to get worse over the next year so, yeah, Conservatives want to vote right now.

And then there’s that ice thing. You know, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, which is breaking apart leading to what scientists say will be an ice-free summer Arctic for the first time since Stock Day walked with the dinos. Mr. Harper would love to have an early election, since waiting until the fixed date of October 2009 could put us smack in the middle of an economic and environmental crisis.

Therefore, I think we can all expect a slew of confidence votes once Parliament resumes, slated for mid-September. There will be an economic statement, with one. A crime package with one. Even a new environment plan with one.

And what will Stephane Dion do? Give Mr. Harper the election he wants? Hold his fire for a better shot to come? Roll the dice on a Green Shift platform?

Let’s vote. Nobody abstains here at garth.ca. Yea or nay?

We’re not making this up.

Imagine if you watched neighbourhood kids walking by your house everyday, on the way to school or the mall. Imagine if, like most teenagers these days, they went by in baggy jeans and hoodies. Now imagine you got a piece of information in your mailbox from the government, saying you should be afraid of kids exactly like that.

Welcome to the Harper Years. Fear of others. Fear of young people. Fear of crime.

In their unseemly desire to raise public support by scaring the crap out of people, the federal Conservatives are flooding middle-class ridings like Halton and Peterborough with mailers saying we need to get tough on young thugs.

You know the kind. In the streets. With hoodies. In Canada. We’re not making this up.

Fortunately, there are citizens left in this country who abhor the politics of fear. Some of them have spoken out here. And I add my voice. Conservatives are largely manufacturing a threat, so they can pose a solution. Despite the fact recent stats show a big drop in crime, we’re supposed to be hiding indoors for fear the hoodie people show up.

Shame on my MP colleagues for doing this. It diminishes us all.

BTW. You should have seen me as a young adult. That was scary.

Good questions

A reader asks if I’ve changed. Perhaps it was my party.

Garth, I just started reading your blog a couple months ago, having stumbled upon it while researching some financial info, and finding the commentary resonates with my own thoughts these days. So, can you help me with a couple political questions? You seem to speak highly of the Liberal party in general, yet, for most of your political years I understand you were a P.Conservative. Do you believe the Liberal party changed somehow from the days when you were a Conservative??

I was an Alliance party supporter from S-W Ontario, in a riding that is actually Conservative right now,(Lambton-Kent). I voted for Harper as leader, but am completely disappointed and disgusted by the “new” Conservative party’s arrogance. And I had always considered the LIBERALS to be the arrogant ones! Now I am entertaining the thought of voting Liberal! (I’m sold on the ideals and values of the “Green Shift”.) Even so, I’m still not so sure I really want to *trust* the Liberals either.

Could you give some explanation as to why we disillusioned ones who care about the future, and those around us, shouldn’t just vote Green and be done with the old school politicians altogether…?
Thanks. You’re doing a good thing. – Tina

Dear Tina:
First, thanks for coming to garth.ca. As I’m sure you’ve discovered, it’s a place where people are completely welcome to speak their minds in a free, democratic and unfettered way, until they tick me off. This may sound irreverent but, trust me, it’s simply about common sense. So long as we talk about issues, ideas, leaders, parties, our country and our future together, anything goes. But when people build up their cause by tearing down the humanity of others, the hammer falls.

This is a reason I am a Liberal, not a Harper Conservative. Unlike Stephen Harper, I think leaders should lead by inspiring, not by instilling fear or by ridiculing others. As a Harper member, I sat in caucus and listened to him threaten his own MPs with a “short political career” if they spoke out on behalf of their voters. We have all watched the Conservatives attack Dion mindlessly for “not being a leader” when he was elected one. Any day of the week, the governing party is bullying those who dare believe in other ideals, other ideas.

I’m a Liberal because I believe in independent thought. I believe an MP works for the people, not a leader or a party. The Harper Conservatives demand regimentation, codified thought, and discipline – so I was ousted for simply doing what an MP should. Speaking freely and openly with Canadians, either through the media or here.

I’m a Liberal because Stephen Harper ordered me to shut this blog down just days after the last election (I refused), while Stephane Dion tolerates me daily. He’s a man of intellectual honesty who understands he has to earn the respect and admiration of others, not demand it and then arrogantly flaunt his position. I’m a Liberal because this is what Progressive Conservatives are called these days – people like me who want fiscal prudence, the lowest possible taxes, efficient government, and yet are not fixated on social morals, gay sex or finding backdoor ways of banning abortion. I’m Liberal because this is a party which tries to – and does – reflect our society. Just look at the House of Commons. On one side are row after row of small-town former municipal politicians, ex-cops and Main Street lawyers. On the other is a rainbow of people who have come from the major cities as well as the farms and regions, who reflect groups – like aboriginals and turban-wearing Sikhs – who help make us what we are.

The Liberals are now the centre of Canadian politics, home to small-c cons like me, and people who believe government should look after everyone. We battle, we argue, we compromise and we all grow stronger for it. Liberals also believe in a strong federal government and a united Canada. I opposed granting nationhood status to the Quebecois, while Harper promoted it, for example. This is not a country of autonomous states, and all the prime minister has done is throw red meat in front of those greedy secessionists who want to tear it apart, either in Quebec or the West.

Have Liberals changed? Of course. Political parties have to change constantly if they’re to stay relevant and find support. I’m quite sure this is a different crew with new priorities from the Chretien or Trudeau years. By the same token, today’s Conservative Party is hardly even close to that which existed under Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, Dief or Stanfield. Stephen Harper did a hostile takeover of the Conservative brand, with the complicity of Peter MacKay, and simply pulled the trademark over his Reform sweater.

So, Tina, even if I were not a Liberal, I could not be a Conservative. Not after my false start, based on false promises. It’s not the party I embraced as a young man; was elected into as an MP; whose government I joined or whose leadership I ran for. It’s not the party my brother and sister both served as candidates; that gave awards to my father or engaged my mother as a constituency manager. That party cherished a united Canada, respected individuals, honoured our democracy, left no one behind and believed strong ideas make strong leaders.

I told these things to Stephane Dion the day I first met him. When I was done, he stood up at the table we were dining at, held out his hand to me, and said, “well then, I am so pleased to work with you.”

There’s nothing old school about a man like that. Unlike the leader of the Greens, he can be prime minister and immediately make a difference. Unlike Stephen Harper, he will not remake Canada in the image of a failing neighbour.

I’m a proud Liberal, Tina. And you did a good thing, too. You came here.