Avoiding the Duffy factor

Two more months, you say, before Canadians can finally put an end to this longest federal election campaign in more than a century. Well, a few days shy of two months. But who’s counting? Who, for that matter, is paying attention?

A recent poll found most people haven’t made up their mind how they will vote, and fully a third said they likely won’t decide until election day, October 19.

October 19, it still seems unreal, incredible. Perhaps only Stephen Harper knows why he chose to go to Governor-General David Johnston Sunday, August 2, to formally ask him to dissolve Parliament and call an election.

That was a formality. In the Prime Minister’s Office they call him “the boss” for a reason. He has the power, and he likes it that way, the more the better, to remake this country as he sees fit.

How’s that working so far? Continue reading

You can’t say I didn’t warn you Stephen

(Note from Phil: as I take another look at this column before publishing it on my blog I feel compelled to offer this update: now-former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper did indeed fall victim to election winds he likely didn’t imagine possible when he called the longest election campaign in Canadian history in midsummer, 2015. His right-wing Conservative government was defeated, and he is no longer leader of the Conservative Party. Canada now has a Liberal government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised a much more open and accessible approach to governing, while celebrating Canada’s cultural diversity.)

 My corn is not happy.

Neither are the tomatoes.

And not just because of the confusion about why one is singular and the other is plural. Fortunately I keep them far apart in order to avoid argument and bad feelings in my rather large garden. Never underestimate the ability of plants to pick up on bad vibes. Go out in the morning among your fruits and veggies with love in your heart and they will thrive. Continue reading

Long gun registry data destroyed illegally

The Harper government may have thought it killed the Long Gun Registry more than three years ago. But it’s back in the news again, and likely to stay there long enough to show up like an unwelcome ghost just in time to cast a shadow over Conservative chances of re-election.

One can only hope. It certainly should give voters pause to reflect on the state of Canadian democracy when the issue now before the courts is whether or not the government pressured the RCMP to break the law by destroying Long Gun Registry data while it was still the subject of an Access to Information request.

That’s a serious offence under the Access to Information Act, punishable by up to two years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Continue reading

Oh, Larry, what have you done?

Oh, Larry.

Larry, Larry, Larry, what have you done?

You certainly haven’t done Canada’s reputation as a peace-loving, tolerant and inclusive country any favours; that’s if it ever really had such a reputation, except in the mind and imagination of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and his ilk.

I confess I, for example, have indulged myself right here in this space often enough in such possibly wishful thinking. I’ve said Canada is still a work in progress, but it works: it has become in just the past 50 years or so perhaps this troubled world’s best example of a country where people of every different racial, religious, and cultural background can live together in peace.

And, like Trudeau said just last week in a speech in Toronto, that’s important for the world, as well as Canada. It proves there’s hope at this critical time in world history when the extremes of religious, cultural and racial intolerance are threatening to tear the world apart as never before.

I read the transcript of Trudeau’s speech about how he believes the tolerant, inclusive nature of Canadian society and its democracy has become an integral part of our identity as a country. And that’s despite terrible mistakes that were made when the country was far less tolerant and inclusive, when people of certain races and cultures were treated badly by the dominant white culture.

But as I read a nagging worry kept coming to mind: maybe it’s an illusion, maybe Canada isn’t anywhere near as tolerant even now as some of us would like to think. Maybe an undercurrent of racial and cultural intolerance that has long run through “traditional” Canadian society culture persists.

Then Tuesday just after noon, a little later than usual, I Googled my daily check of news headlines.

I was certainly surprised, to say the least, to see Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller’s name right at the top, in the space normally reserved for the biggest, national or international breaking news of the day.

It just took a moment to find out what it was about: all the coverage from the various news media sources from across the country understandably focused on the most inflammatory and controversial of Miller’s comments on last Monday morning’s CFOS phone-in show. Continue reading

Playing the war card a dangerous game

Playing the war card is the lowest, most cynically opportunistic political manoeuver in the book. Is Stephen Harper playing that card?

Has he found the election platform that’s going to win him a majority in the next federal election, in October, or sooner?

Might Canadian voters have started asking questions about the Harper government’s ability to manage the internal economy in the wake of the collapse in crude oil prices and its impact on the Canadian economy and the government’s balanced-budget plans?

Is it convenient then to able to tell Canadians they have something much more serious to worry about, that being the threat of “violent Jihadism,” as Harper called it time and time again, at a well-staged recent political event in Richmond Hill? Continue reading

Harper’s meeting with Wynne: not such a good idea after all

(Phil here, having another look at this column dating back to January, 2015 before posting it on Finding Hope Ness. I guess it wasn’t such a “masterful stroke of political choreography” after all. Premier Wynne actively supported Liberal Party of Canada leader Justin Trudeau in the long election campaign that began in August and ended Oct. 19 with the Liberal majority-government victory. There were lots of reasons. But something must have happened here that bothered the Ontario Premier big-time. Or maybe it was just that Harper’s body language, as I suggested, was too obvious. After all it’s possible, I think, that the biggest factor in his election defeat was people were starting to question what was behind the mask. That and the NDP leaving an opening in their platform big enough to drive a Liberal truck through.)


The body language said it all:

The Prime Minister of Canada, and the Premier of Ontario, the country’s most populous and, shall we say, most vote-rich province in the country in this election year had just finished their first face-to-face meeting in more than a year.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had apparently been giving Premier Kathleen Wynne the cold shoulder ever since she said afterwards he “kind of smirked” when at their first meeting she talked about the need for Canada Pension Plan improvements. That quickly got a bad reaction and a denial from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Harper smirk? Certainly not. Continue reading

Harper Government Hell-bent to Abolish the Long Gun Registry

You would think Nathalie Provost had long ago paid her gun-control dues, by a long shot. You would think she deserved universal respect after being shot four times with the unrestricted semi-automatic rifle Marc Lepine used to murder 14 young women. Six of them died near Provost. She was among the 13 others wounded 22 years and four days ago at Montreal’s L’Ecole Polytechnique in the Montreal Massacre.

Yet an article Provost wrote that was published in the Sault This Week a week ago didn’t just get a lot of comments, most of which disagreed with her gun-control point of view. Some were downright contemptuous, disrespectful, and even scary. Continue reading

Conservative Crime Bill

Nobody can accuse me of not having a sense of humour. It’s a bit on the dark side, I must admit. Like, I sometimes get a laugh out of things that really aren’t very funny, or so some people might think.

For example, Canada’s Conservative government, newly re-elected a few months ago with a majority government despite getting just 40 percent of the popular vote, now has the numbers in Parliament to do pretty well whatever it wants. And all it took was one day of the new session of Parliament to demonstrate that the Harper government is out of touch with the real pressing issues this country and its people are facing. Continue reading

Last Words of Jack Layton

The outpouring of public grief since Jack Layton died less than a week ago is the most interesting and significant aspect of one of the most important events in Canadian political history. That’s for what it reveals about the kind of person Canadians would prefer to see running the country on their behalf. And it extends all the way from Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, and cabinet minister, to lowly backbencher from any party, or no party. Continue reading