Archive for December, 2008

Come again? Harper appoints separatist to Senate in order to stop separatists from being appointed to the Senate

harperRemember all of the Conservatives and Conservative surrogates who claimed that a coalition would appoint separatists to the Senate chamber and that having separatists in a powerless, toothless chamber would be a grave risk to national unity?

In this latest sheaf of Senate appointments, Stephen Harper has appointed — you guessed it — a separatist who worked for the “Yes” side in the 1995 Quebec referendum.

The proud Harper Senate selectee in question is Michel Rivard.

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.”
-Voltaire

Propaganda in Action: CBC News anchors uncritically parrot Tory talking points on Senate appointments

stephen-fletcher-cbc-senate-appointmentsToday two news anchors uncritically parroted Conservative Party talking points on Harper’s senate appointments, gave on air rebuttals to opposition parties’ talking points without doing the same for the Tories’ talking points, and only gave air time to the Conservative Party spokesperson without affording the same courtesy to opposition parties.

No, it wasn’t a broadcast of Mike Duffy Live where political opinions are expected and encouraged.

On the contrary, this was the putatively neutral news anchors of CBC News who are failing to uphold even the most basic rules of journalistic practice.  Moreover, factually incorrect statements — some may go so far as to call them lies (see bolded text below) were allowed to pass without correction or indication that they were lies.

Partial Transcript:

“Canada has 18 new senators and a whole new partisan squabble.  The prime minister made the appointments to the upper chamber despite his own reluctance to do that…”

This opening sentence says a lot in relatively few words.  By setting it up as a partisan squabble and then only giving the Conservative Party a chance to explain why these appointments were necessary what this really implies is that — in the absence of contravening soundbites from the opposition — the government is doing something necessary and the opposition parties are the ones engaging in ‘partisan squabbles’.

“… So Margot, I guess that tells a little bit about the government’s position.   Presumably you would expect to see the opposition saying something about this.  Have they come out yet?

“Well they have come out yet and they’ve been very critical about what the government has done.  Obviously they’re saying that the government is being hypocritical because the prime minister has always said he didn’t want to have an elected senate, that he wanted to have it appointed.  But it never happened.  He couldn’t get the legislation through parliament and only two provinces agreed to actually have their senators elected, so the opposition is already saying that this is pretty hypocritical.  But we did speak to the Minister for Democratic Reform, Stephen Fletcher, a little earlier in the hour and he explained why they needed to do this.

Stephen Fletcher: “There were so many vacancies in the senate that it wasn’t able to function. There was 18 vacancies, we had an unelected body blocking legislation from an elected body, the House of Commons, and it wasn’t a sustainable situation.  The Prime Minister is committed to Senate reform, we are going to bring forward the legislation, these Senators are committed to Senate reform, they have a limit of 8 years and they have also committed to stepping down once an election is held in the province in which they represent, whichever comes first.”

For the purposes of this story, we will ignore the fact that Stephen Fletcher is a known racist and that it boggles the mind that any reputable news agency would let an avowed racist on their airwaves who unapologetically called Japanese people “Jap bastards”.  [Note: apologizing with "I am sorry if anyone was offended" is not an apology]. See also: Non-apology apology.

Turning to what Fletcher actually said: we see that no hard questions were asked of Fletcher.  Most importantly, if Stephen Harper’s plan to not appoint any Senators was causing Parliamentary gridlock as the Conservatives were claiming (it wasn’t, but let’s assume that it was) then one would presumably expect a question directed to Fletcher around the lines of “So then the Prime Minister admits that his strategy of not appointing Senators was fundamentally flawed?”  No such question is shown.

Fletcher also states that the Senate was not able to function due to it’s lack of membership.  This is a blatant lie that any journalist should have picked up on.  Parliament hasn’t yet sent any legislation to the Senate since the election because Parliament was prorogued by the Governor General.  The first item to be sent to the Senate was to be the economic update and that wasn’t allowed to be voted on by the prime minister because he knew he would lose the vote.

Fletcher also states that these Senators would have a term limit of 8 years which is not only a lie, but it is actually unconstitutional, against constitutional convention and unenforceable to ‘require’ these Senators to step down after 8 years.  No document — not even a contractual document — can force a Senator to step down before his or her constitutionally-protected term is expired.

The broadcast then concludes:

Margot McDiarmid: “Now Danielle, there is another political reality to the appointments today.  The prime minister did say shortly after he prorogued Parliament that he was actually going to make these appointments.  And the reality is that he is also concerned that if Parliament comes back at the end of January and his government loses a nonconfidence vote for its budget, the Liberals may come back in and form the government and then appoint yet more Liberals to the Senate and it will remain top-heavy for years to come.  So he needed to make these appointments now before Parliament resumes at the end of January.

Danielle: “Fascinating strategy, thank you very much Margot.”

So it’s just factually obvious that Harper needed to make these appointments now, according to the CBC hosts.

How much more propaganda will progressives take before they grow a pair and begin challenging the ridiculous Blogging Tory claim that CBC stands for “Communist Broadcasting Corporation” and counter with the far more tenable counter-claim that it is more aptly characterized as the “Conservative Broadcasting Corporation”?

On the closeness of victory & the nearness of defeat

This quote is from Henry Ward Beecher and it is one of the best quotes I’ve read in months, if not years.

“It is defeat that turns bone to flint; it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle; it is defeat that makes men invincible. Do not then be afraid of defeat. You are never so near to victory as when defeated in a good cause.”

I’m out of town visiting my parents right now, so I’ll be back to blogging more regularly next week.

Happy holidays to all!

“Gentlemen, as you can plainly see: workers’ wages have gotten out of control”

The recent anti-union rhetoric coming out of both the United States (Re: Auto bailout) and Ottawa (Re: OC Transpo strike) is simply disturbing.

The idea that all of the vitriol is directed toward workers as the cause of the problem is simply laughable.  A non-profitable, failing company is a non-profitable failing company no matter what it’s employee pay structure is like.  But I find it interesting that nobody seems to be directing any hatred or anger toward the rate of pay of CEOs and executives who don’t produce anything, but collect a very hansom salary on the backs of workers who actually do the work.  The average salary of CEOs is now more than 821 times that of minimum wage workers and more than 262 times that of the average worker (both unionized and non-unionized).  But yeah, the problem is the workers.

workers-wages

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See also:

Our entire existence summed up in one cartoon

The return of the right-wing liberals

Charlie Smith of Straight.com has an absolutely fantastic piece on Michael Ignatieff.  This piece is definitely worth the read for any progressive who still foolishly thinks that the Liberals under Ignatieff have more in common with the NDP, Bloc and Greens than they do with the radical right wing Tories of Stephen Harper.

From Straight.com:

Triumph of business Liberals: Michael Ignatieff will lead the party

“I believe I have the judgement, the character, the values and the experience to lead at a very difficult time in the life of our country.”

This is what Bob Rae says on the front page of his Web site for his now-defunct Liberal leadership campaign.

I’m left wondering if Michael Ignatieff, the Liberals’ chosen successor to Stephane Dion, has the judgement, character, values, and experience to lead Canada at a particularly difficult time in its history.

Let’s look at the record.

When it comes to judgement, Ignatieff supported the Bush administration’s attack on Iraq even though there was no United Nations approval.

As far as his character goes, some Canadians were no doubt very troubled by a lengthy profile of Ignatieff written in 2006 by the Globe and Mail’s Michael Valpy. There were shocking revelations about how Ignatieff treated his younger brother while both attented the elite Upper Canada College as teenagers.

Ignatieff’s ruthlessness, which was on display in the Valpy profile, suggests that Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally has some competition in this department.

As for Ignatieff’s values, I’ve been bothered by his rather one-sided view of the war in the Balkans in 1999. It’s a viewpoint he seems to share with the CBC’s Carole Off but which has been challenged by retired Canadian Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, former B.C. NDP candidate Rollie Keith, University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus Edward Herman, and Osgoode Hall law professor Michael Mandel.

Honest commentators who can look back with the benefit of hindsight know that the Serbs slaughtered Bosnian Muslims at Srebernica in 1995.

But they also know that the creation of Kosovo was based on fraudulent claims of genocide perpetrated by the Kosovo Liberation Army four years later. Ignatieff helped build his reputation as a human-rights advocate in part on the basis of these now-discredited claims.

Unfortunately, the Canadian media are too ignorant about this issue to call him on this point.

As for experience, Ignatieff was out of the country for 29 years, which leaves me wondering if he’s ready to serve on the average city council in this country, let alone occupy 24 Sussex Drive as the prime minister.

This week’s coronation of Ignatieff is a triumph of business Liberals like John Manley who always wanted Canada to be on friendlier terms with the United States.

I’m guessing that those in Vancouver who will applaud Ignatieff’s rise to federal Liberal leader are likely some of same people who apologized to former U.S. ambassador Paul Celucci in writing for Canada’s refusal to join the coalition of the willing in Iraq.

Don’t be surprised if some on the left wing of the Liberal party decide that now is the time to rip up their membership cards and join the NDP.

Quebec voters decimate only provincial party that supported Harper

dum_ar_081207-harper-dumontTonight, Quebeckers utterly destroyed Harper’s closest Québec ally in what is undoubtedly the first referendum on the future of Harper’s government in light of the potential for a federal coalition.

Tonight, the far-right wing provincial party, the ADQ, was reduced from official opposition status with the 41 seats it won in the last provincial election, to third party status with just 7 seats projected by CBC as of 11:03 EST.  Due in no small part to Mario Dumont’s support of Harper, his party went from official opposition status to losing its official party status in the Quebec National Assembly.

If there is anything the prime minister should glean from tonights stunning repudiation, it’s that his recent bump in the polls nationally may well prove a Pyrrhic victory for his Conservative party.  The Tories may be up in the polls in the more reactionary, Anglophone parts of the country, but tonight shows that he purchased that lead by selling out his party’s chances in the province of Québec.

Victory! Marxist/Anarchist party wins seat in Quebec election!

The most successful far left party in all of North America (excluding Mexico) is, without a doubt a provincial party in Québec called Québec Solidaire.

As of tonight, QS has become the only party in North America containing various sub-party groupings which openly identify as: Anti-Stalinist Marxist, radical, pacifist, anarchist, socialist, environmentalist and feminist, to hold a seat at the state or provincial level.

chretien-strangling-clennettUnfortunately, the Québec Solidaire candidate in my riding (Hull), Bill Clennett, only placed third after the Parti Québécois and the Liberals.  Clennett, for those of you who don’t know, rose to fame in that quintessentially Canadian way:  he was once literally strangled by then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on national television.

While I strongly disagree with Québec Solidaire’s sovereigntist leanings, the victory tonight in the provincial riding of Mercier is nothing short of one of the most important victories for the far left in the industrialized world.  This is one of the first times that I’m aware of since 1872 where anarchists and Marxists did that which commentators of all stripes had long claimed to be impossible:  They worked together within a single party structure and they succeeded.

red-flag-2If you want to see democracy in action, look no further than Québec Solidaire.

If you want to see the kind of anarchist/Marxist/social democratic co-operation that must characterize 21st Century struggle, look no further than Québec Solidaire.

If you want to see victory in the riding of Mercier, look no further than Québec Solidaire and Amir Khadir.

“Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose, but their chains…  Workers of the world unite!”

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See also:

Is Capitalism Justified?

Is socialism violent or is liberalism hypocritical?

Marx on religion: Dispelling more myths about socialism

Great Quotes: Marx


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