Monthly Archives: April 2007
Update: Ian Urquhart wrote an interesting piece on the sorry state of the government’s response to these allegations. I recall being similarly disillusioned with the decorum in the Legislature when I attended Question Period at Queen’s Park last fall.
In a letter to the National Post, April 19, 2007, Elizabeth May reacted with fury at having her views on abortion variously characterized as regressive, conservative, and, most incendiarily, “anti-choice.” So strong was May’s indignation that she thought it worse than being associated with a nominated candidate who described the 9/11 attacks as “beautiful”. In her attempt to set the record straight she wrote:
“I am strongly in favour of a woman’s right to access a safe and legal abortion. However, I think the polarization of the issue does our society a disservice.”
However, based on her comments during her run at the by-election in London North Centre, she confirms that she is vehemently against abortion, believing that a woman doesn’t have the “frivolous” right to choose. Although, she concedes that “therapeutic abortion” is necessary to avoid women dying during illegal abortions.
Still, her personal views are to me of less concern than the position of the Green Party of Canada, about which Canadians know very little. “The party’s position,” says May, “is that we must maintain access to therapeutic abortions.” The Leader of Green Party speaking on behalf of its policy says:
“what I’d like to do in politics is to be able to create the space to say, “Abortions are legal because they must be to avoid women dying. But nobody in their right mind is for abortions.” I’ve talked women out of having abortions. I would never have an abortion myself, not in a million years. I can’t imagine the circumstances that would ever reduce me to it.”
It mustn’t be missed that what she is strongly in favour of is access to therapeutic abortion, not strongly in favour of reproductive freedom. A woman’s choice is not a matter of morality, right, or principle. It is not about the right over her own body (incidentally one of the fundamental rights of liberalism, Greens consider this “frivolous”). The Green Party seems to support abortion not as a matter of reproductive freedom, but out of reluctant necessity. Abortion is a pragmatic, not a principled choice. Abortion must be made legal solely to circumvent the possibility of a woman dying while performing an illegal abortion. Any other reason is “frivolous” or crazy.
Is this grudgingly conciliatory stance simply one Christian person attempting to reconcile her faith with a contentious moral issue, or is this about a Party taking a position that could possibly placate the religious right or the morally conservative down the road? I have yet to be convinced that the Green Party is not composed of right-wing Libertarians who posture as environmentalists either to obfuscate their ideological core and make themselves more palatable or to overcome white middle-class guilt. Granted this last statement is a bit of a cheap shot, but I am really interested in the Green Party revealing its ideological core and its stances on social, political, economic issues. We know so little. A perusal through their blogs reveals a fractious, disorganized picture. Nominated candidates too seem to be all over the place.
Seems the Liberals can no longer take the immigrant and ethnic vote for granted. They prefer now simply to buy those votes rather than earn them. This was just the tip of the iceberg.
Watch for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Mike Colle eventually to resign over this. This slush fund is a disgrace. McGuinty admits the system of disbursement needs to be improved. And Sorbara has the nerve to call this mismanagement “a pittance”. There is no accountability. There is no transparency. This was graft and corruption pure and simple.
>The Dion-May deal is unscrupulous because it is completely cynical and disingenuous in the sense that it pretends to be:
1. not a “back-room deal”
2. genuine and desperate non-partisan concern for the planet (read the Green Party’s open letter to the NDP-plleease!), and
3. mutually beneficial. Green Party candidates and members were sold out by their Leader and have nothing to gain and everything to lose by this.
This was so transparently a dirty back-room deal intended to bleed the NDP and I wouldn’t have had any issues with the improprieties of the deal had it been presented as a united front against the NDP. I still would have thought it a dumb move and a good sign for the NDP, but not a scurrilous one. The corrupt heart of this deal was its deception and disingenuousness. I should say I am not in principle against backroom deals, nor do I think is any politician. I am against dirty, deceitful backroom deals.
So was Layton’s denouncing of and refusal to come to the table on this particular deal truly unprincipled? Obviously to the extent that the May-Dion pact was corrupt, then Layton’s refusal to participate was ethical and principled. I’ve desperately tried to understand the indignation over Layton’s refusal to deal with May, but I can’t. I think his rebuffing Elizabeth May and indirectly Stephane Dion was both pragmatic and principled. Perhaps he saw that he was being ambushed and chose not to be a willing participant! Perhaps he is sincere when he says “New Democrats don’t think that Peter MacKay or any Conservative deserves to go unchallenged. The Conservatives have a lot to answer for.” Since his party is in the best position to challenge that seat, why should he forfeit competing for it? I mean the charge that the NDP is not anti-Conservative is preposterous. The NDP is not only the sole voice of leftist party politics, but also the sole hope for any “progressives”.
Stephen LaFrenie, nominated Green Party candidate in Trinity-Spadina well enough understands what the May-Dion deal means and why Layton rejected it, why can’t the Liberals? Stephen is worth quoting in full:
“Jack Layton is an honourable man. Stephane Dion is NOT. Stephane Dion voted in line with liberal policy that has strangled Haiti. Joined in the liberal denial of human rights abuses and propped up a murderous temporary Government there. Stephane Dion voted against labour rights by not supporting the anti-scab labour bill to please the corporate power structure rather than actually thinking about what it meant. The Greens would have supported the bill. Stephane Dion did what he was told to do. Which is nothing but shut up and vote the way you are told when he was in cabinet and as leader has stated that he will impose the same rule of discipline. Vote his way or end your career. Stephane Dion was a willing participant in the liberal government of Paul Martin which did nothing but cater to big corporations and did nothing for the environment. The liberals with Stephane Dion’s support would have voted to extend the mission in Afghanistan if they had maintained a second minority government.
For the record it was Paul Martin who stopped cooperating with the NDP in the last minority government. It was Paul Martin who said he would call an election in March. It was Paul Martin who decided to continue the liberal policies of doing nothing for social justice, labour justice, working against everything the Green Party stands for. The NDP joined in defeating the liberal government because the liberals were simply going to use the spring budget to bribe Canadians with empty promises which was the liberal tradition for over a century.
Stephane Dion was elected leader by only a few thousand liberals who could afford to attend the convention. Even then he was elected by Rae supporters who wanted more to stop Ignatieff than support Dion. The liberals don’t even have the awareness to respect their own membership.
Jack Layton has a clear history of fighting for social and labour justice. Stephane Dion does not.Why should Jack Layton show Ms. May and ourselves courtesy when she has done nothing but insult him since becoming leader. She comes from a conservative mind set and has done nothing in her leadership to build the kind of cooperation she now claims to be trying. She has been a liberal sympathizer for many months with little consideration for the NDP. She has continued to praise the liberal record through her misguided support of Dion, a record that pales in comparison to the NDP record which is mind boggling considering they had the power and the NDP does not. Stephane Dion does not believe in electoral reform nor parliamentary reform. Like Stephen Harper he will ignore any and all reform that threatens the dictatorial power of the PMO.You guys are living in a delusion spun by both Ms. May and Mr. Dion that may yet prove fatal for the Greens. Stephane Dion will cast aside any cooperation with the Greens or the environment issues if he gets a majority government.
I continue to find the Layton bashing, partisan nonsense of many Greens on this site to be unacceptable. You are kidding yourself if you think the NDP is going vanish from the political landscape. If we continue to justify failed politicians and political parties like Stephane Dion and the liberals then we will only be seen as liberals and not an alternative.Either we stand for something or we don’t.”(Stephen LaFrenie, nominated Green Party candidate)
Seems the Liberals can no longer take the immigrant and ethnic vote for granted. It used to be an inertia vote but now Liberals opt to buy those votes rather than earn them. A clear sign the Liberals no longer have hegemonic status in the immigrant communities. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. Now we know where the funds from the federal government are being diverted and why the Liberals can’t end things like the child benefit clawback for another four years. The Liberals need to be re-elected on empty promises first. We must keep on trusting them and giving them more time. Don’t forget Smitherman’s words to live by “making doctors is not like making pizzas”.
By the way, anyone catch Fonseca in the Leg yesterday reprimanding the Conservatives for pushing Nuclear energy on the province. Is he so irrelevant and oblivious that he doesn’t realize that foisting a $40 billion (more like $80 by the time it’s built) nuclear megaplant (without reasonable consultation and circumventing any environmental assessment) was McGuinty’s idea?????
P.S. Wondering why Cherniak censored my comment yesterday on his blog where he was gloating over the Dion-May non-partisan deal having already paid off in St. Catharines. Incidentally this the same post where he finally admits the deal was motivated by calculated partisanship and where he very prematurely welcomes back Walt Lastewka, victor in the next election. To that end I simply asked if he intended on extending such a welcoming gesture to Lastewka’s Liberal neighbour James Curran, president of the Niagara Falls Federal Liberal Riding Association and widely expected to receive the Liberal nomination. Seems Mr. Curran has bowed out to spend more time with his family. Oh, and he also was arrested on two counts of fraud- on which he fully expects to be vindicated, as do I. In the meantime, the Liberals are looking for a candidate for Niagara Falls- I thought Cherniak might want to post that.
Previously, the Dion-May agreement was “about the Liberal Party doing what is right for a truly progressive Canada.” Now it’s “the new Liberal-Green squeeze play”. Previously it was principled, now it’s political contrivance to attack the only “progressive” political party in Canada. A Liberal who speaks out both sides of his mouth. What a surprise.
But as is often the case, when Cherniak is right, it’s for reasons to which he is completely oblivious. The Dion-May pact will be about doing right by progressive Canada, but only because the Liberals will disintegrate and be revealed as the unprincipled opportunists they truly are (Liberal/Tory same old story and sadly we’re in for a Harper majority). As for the Greens, the public will finally have to look at the ideological core of this party. These are not the social democrat, anti-globalization Greens of progressive countries like Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. North American Greens are right wing libertarians with a green agenda. They are socially regressive (which is why many make good Conservatives) and fiscally they are anti-government pro-capitlaism (which makes them appealing to Liberals). Thus leaving progressive and leftist Canada only with the NDP for whom to vote.
I’m now fully resigned to the fact that nothing issues from the blogosphere, myself included, which isn’t contorted and knotted up by ideological belief. I’ve surrendered all hope of having non-partisan debate. But might we just put our ideological cards on the table here? If we’re going to play pure partisanship we should at least outline some the basic contours of our own ideologies. I’ve read some disturbing pronouncements concerning the “principled” reasons around the Dion May allegiance.
A bizarre notion is that this somehow unites the “left”. This is really peculiar given that from my perspective neither the Liberals nor Greens are in any way part of “the left”. The Liberals are at their core the political party of individualism, minimal government, of unfettered capitalism. Remember that the liberal in the Liberals has to do with fiscal policy rather than social policy.The Liberals are “progressive” only when they implement CCF or NDP social policy. Being to the left of the Conservatives does not “the left” make. Besides these days it really still is Liberal/Tory same old story, even if some of the names have changed.
The Greens, in North America at least, I see as closer to a right-wing Libertarian party with a Green agenda- also in favour of minimal government, or should I say anti-government, socially pretty conservative (May’s “regressive” views on women’s choice and same-sex marriage are now notorious), and pro-capitalism. To me, “the left” even its social democratic incarnation is pro government/centralisation, is progressive and communitarian in the sense that it puts people (especially people on the margins) ahead of sidling up to big business, and is in principle anti-capitalist, even if social democrats are for the time being having to working within the exigencies of capitalism.
Although I believe this Green Red alliance to be a purely tactical and strategic attempt to blled the NDP, there actually might be ideological reasons for the Green and Liberals to come together- but it has NOTHING to do with “left” or “progressive” politics. The NDP remains the only political party for both “progressives” and/or “lefties”.
From Fair Vote Canada: http://www.fairvotecanada.org/
Dr. Dennis Pilon, University of Victoria political scientist and FVC National Council member:
“Apart from the recent PEI and BC referendums, no voting system change decision in Canada was ever subjected to a super-majority rule. In fact, the establishment of all Canadian federal and provincial voting systems was by a simple majority vote of the designers…[and] all western countries have seen the establishment of their voting systems or any changes in their voting systems handled either through a simple majority vote of parliament or a simple majority vote in a referendum.”
Then of course, there’s a more interesting question as to why this joke among the endless possibilities. At least one school of thought believes jokes to have a profound connection to unconscious aggression and wish fulfillment. After all, it wasn’t the Conservatives spreading this, it was the Liberals. Could Liberal insecurity be more palpable at this moment? Not only are they unsure and deeply divided about their current leader but also they lust for the return their most crooked and fatherly of leaders. Significantly, they chose Chretien not Trudeau as their uberfather (I mean why not create some rumour around Justin and create hope for the future through the Trudeau lineage). No, they lasciviously want no nonsense, unscrupulous, phallic Chretien. I’m sensing serious “leader / papa envy” in the Liberals. Who’s your papi?