Saturday, May 12, 2007

I'm sure we could add to this list

The magazine Xtra is publishing a "Top 60 Reasons to Dump Harper" list. Here's a few samples:


"In the 1950s, buggery was a criminal offence, now it's a requirement to receive benefits from the federal government,"
-Garry Breitkreuz, Conservative MP, in 2000 in response to same-sex benefits Bill C-23.

"I want the whole world to know that I do not condone homosexuals. I do not condone their activity.... I think it is unnatural and I think it is totally immoral. I will object to it forever."
-Myron Thompson, Conservative MP, 1995

"The fact is that homosexuals aren't barred from marrying under Canadian law. Marriage is open to everybody as long as they're a man and a woman."
-Jason Kenney, Conservative MP, Jan 2005


We used to be so smug. That smugness just got a little harder to justify, thanks to controversial Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day's recent musings on hiring a rent-an-army. The US has spent the last ten years privatizing its military operations. Scrutiny has become particularly intense since the start of the Iraq war in 2003 and the American system has been roundly criticized for its high cost, poor conditions and the companies' lack of accountability to the public and its employees.

Now, Canada is considering the same with Day repeating the same derelect reasons as his American buddies. "To get the best system delivery at the best price, there's a possibility for the private sector there."


It's so grade four. Calling a classmate gay (or using a more colourful version thereof) is something we thought we left behind in the school yard. Certainly, if Stephen Harper were to stoop to that, he would be called a bad role model.

Alas, a cryptic comment to then interim Liberal leader Bill Graham has gone unrebuked. After coming back from the Asia summit last year, Harper was teased by Graham for having his photo taken in a silk Veitnamese robe. Harper responded that in contrast to Graham, he wears silk on the outside.

Not a big deal. But if he's making gay jokes in the House Of Commons, what is he saying behind closed doors? Shame.


Twice, actually.

The 2006 budget first. Three months after Stephen Harper won his minority victory in January of 2006, Mike Harris-era MPP cum finance minister Jim Flaherty unveiled his budget. It was largely perceived as a stay-the-course budget, garnished with 25 narrow tax breaks. Spending was mostly intact, but there was an $800 million hole where phase one of the $5.1 billion Kelowna Accord was supposed to be. The agreement represented the largest payout to the First Nations in Canada's history. About half that amount was allocated instead and Flaherty called it a "down payment."

Tensions — already brewing — erupt in Caledonia, a small town in southern Ontario. Residents, shocked at the anger and violence of the First Nations protesters, can't wrap their minds around why. The town's residents gear up for a fight; several counter-protests draw hundreds of residents within a hare's breath of rioting.

A year later, Caledonia is still unresolved. A private member's bill calling on the government to honour Kelowna — introduced by the man who inked Kelowna, former prime minister Paul Martin — passed Mar 21 with the support of the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP. But private member's bills cannot allocate money in the budget, so the bill has no teeth. Indian affairs minister Jim Prentice says no, so that makes twice.

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