Friday, April 13, 2007

The NDP on "Defense"

I was watching Mike Duffy Live earlier on CTV Newsnet and they had a segement with Dennis Coderre the Liberal defense Critic, and Dawn Black the NDP defense critic regarding the announcement that Canada was purchasing 100 tanks from the Netherlands and leasing 20 from Germany. I always find the panel segments on this show a bit tiresome when they have a government representative on earlier, and the opposition later given that the opposition has the benifet of responding to what the government has said in full while there is never any refutation of the opposition.

Needless to say its a shocking moment when Denis Coderre is coming acrose as the reasonable fellow on camera. After all his unbiased point of via involves participating in Hezbollah demonstrations, however, Dawn Black managed to make Coderre look like the voice of reason. Given that her reaction to the purchase of tanks was to suggest that the tanks would do "nothing to help secure Vancouver for the Olympics, or fight flooding, ice storms in Quebec or snow storms in Toronto." She also suggested that Afghanis draw no distinction between the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and the UN's eviction of the Taliban. She also rather shrilly called for more development work to be done, because Afghanis need clean water and food but for all troops to be withdrawn immediately, presumably because soldiers aren't suposed to be fighting wars they're suposed to be used to shovel the walk if it snows in Toronto.

I'm not sure what world the NDP are living in, if they believe that development work can continue with any sort of sucess if there isn't a commitment made to the physical security of Afghanistan. You can't send in aid workers and not protect them or people will die, only it will be the aid workers not soldiers trained to deal with the conflict in question. It seems hypocritical to call for the government to do more on the humanitarian front, while failing to acknowledge that achieving peace is necessary for many of those advances. You'd think that a group of people that cherish every suposed "human right" imaginable would see the value in fighting the most backward, violent and oppresive regimes ever seen in the modern world. If you don't find the Taliban objectionable..who is really? But apparantly the NDP only wants poverty to end and peace to spring into existance through the magical waving of some sort of wand rather than through hard work. I'm told they'd also like a Unicorn and and a choir of winged faeries to seranade them.

Beyond that I'm not entirely sure what purpose possessing a military would serve if we're not suposed to commit it to the pressing conflicts of the world. Apparantly these days even the blessing of the UN, which apparantly sanctifies any other cause in the eyes of the left isn't good enough. The fact a few lives are tragically lost means we should do absolutely nothing. Our military is apparantly to be kept at home for the occasional bought of sandbagging, firefighting and snow shoveling. Clearly its for those dangerous tasks that we train them to use guns, fly planes and drive tanks. Its unforunate that some soldiers lose their lives fighting for their country, but joining the military is premised upon those risks. All our soldiers are volunteers and they know the risks involved with their decision. Their bravery is commendable and they undertake to preserve and spread some of the most noble principles of our society. However, the NDP apparantly believes the military is some sort of multi-billion dollar Odd Job Squad and the freedom of other people and nations is worthless.

These days rather than calling for the damned and hungry of the world to "arise" and "cast off their chains", the NDP wishes them well provided doing so doesn't really require any sacrifies or participation on our part.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Danny Willians - Not about to let the truth get in the way of a good argument

Cudos to the Canadian Press for this story.

I've spent the last week or so watching Danny Williams perform his song and dance over equalization. Essentially Williams is angry because somehow, in some vague manner that he really can't describe in any detail - Newfoundland got the shaft. How you might ask? Well Stephen Harper broke his commitment, he went back on his word. Now the natural question is what was the consequences of this? Danny Williams isn't saying - but surely it must be DIRE, given that Williams has felt the need to run ads in newspapers across the country and vent bile and bitterness on national television right?

"Newfoundland and Labrador will end up getting $5.6 billion more under the federal government's proposed equalization formula than under the status quo, says a Memorial University professor.

In the first attempt at crunching the numbers, Memorial University economist Wade Locke - one of the province's leading experts on offshore revenue deals - has found that if Newfoundland were to stick with the Atlantic Accord and the old equalization formula until 2020, it would receive $18.5 billion in combined revenues.

But if the province follows an optimal strategy - where it would leave the accord in 2009 and opt into a formula where a fiscal cap is implemented and 50 per cent of non-renewable natural resource revenues are included - it would receive $24.1 billion over that same period, Locke said".

Yes, damn that rascally Harper - increasing your equalization payments to the tune of 5.6 billion additional dollars. If your looking for sympathy from the rest of Canada Premier Williams, that's the tune of the world's smallest violin playing.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Iranian Mullahs Need to Go

The current situation with Iran by its own admission invading Iraqui territorial waters and kidnapping 15 British soldiers is unacceptable. Its bad enough when the Iranians are developing nuclear weaponry, funding terrorism and organizing holocaust denial conferences. Now they're engaging in kidnapping and attempting to provoke a war. I've always been of the opinion that Iraq was the wrong middle eastern country to invade. Iran is twice as crazy and out of control as Saddam ever was. The fanatics in control of Iran need to be stop, thrown down and brought to heel. At this point the Iraquis can fight their civil war - the Iranians are a large part of the problem there to begin with funding, supplying and covertly fighting in Iraq.

Iran's actions currently constitute an act of war. As a result the only responsible course of action is to cease the earnst hand wringing that's currently occuring as a "diplomatic solution" is being sought. Kidnapping is not a diplomatic matter, its not a terse note sent between countries to express disatisfaction. This was deliberate, dishonest, agregious and entirely unacceptable. Iran must return these hostages immediately, or the only rational recourse for the UK and all of NATO is to go to war with Iran. There is no middle ground.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I support Ted Morton

I voted last Saturday and shall vote this Saturday for Ted Morton. Three candidates remain in the Progressive Conservatives Party's race for the Premiership, Morton, Dinning and Stelmach. I contend that Ted Morton is superior to either of those options.

As it currently stands, the PC Party of Alberta is an organization upon the brink of collapse. Its lack of ideas, direction and energy left it staggering through the last election like the walking wounded. Taking but a brief look at the numbers will very easily explain why the Progressive Conservative Party lost ground in the last election. It was not that former PC voters went over to the Liberals or the NDP - their numbers have essentially been static in provincial and federal elections. The PC Party lost 200,000 votes because many Conservatives in the province chose to vote for the Alberta Alliance to protest the party's poor performance or they simply stayed home.

"During 2001, in the provincial election, 627,252 people voted for PC Alberta. Contrast that with 358,193 people who voted Lib/NDP. I'm counting the Libs and the NDP as a single block for several reasons, which will become clear later on. In the 2004 provincial election, 416,886 people voted for PC Alberta, compared to 352,566 who voted Lib/NDP.Going federally, in 2004, 786,271 people voted for the CPC. Contrast that with 401,745 who voted Lib/NDP. In 2006, 931,701 voted CPC, compared to 386,608 for the Lib/NDP."

Essentially the threat to the Progressive Conservative Party is not the growth of its opponents, as they are for the most part static. The parties on the left can attract between 350,000-400,000 voters to the polls. Whereas the provincial and federal conservative parties can field anywhere from 500,000 (counting PC and AA votes in the last election) - to 900,000 voters.

In the last provincial election the Progressive Conservative Party lost ground not because the NDP or the Liberals had done anything different or special. The Progressive Conservative Party lost ground because it lost touch with the grass roots of the party. It lost touch with the ideals, the priorities the aspirations and beliefs of the average conservative voter. Conservative parties and Alberta have thrived when they've been populist, but run afoul when they smacked out of elitism and faux conservatism.

The route to victory for any conservative in Alberta, is not to try to convert Liberals and dippers. Rather the route to victory is to appeal to the majority of the province, with its populist, capitalist and conservative outlook. Tapping into that sentiment is the difference between Kim Campbell's campaign and Preston Manning's.

Only one man of those remaining captures that spirit - Ted Morton.

Ted Morton had the energy, ideas and policy to reinvorgate the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party and lead us into the future as a strong and proud province. Ted's firm stance in favour of provincal rights, working towards a more assertive Alberta, reforming health care and leading the province into reclaiming jurisdiction over services such as policing and a pension plan will provide a needed injection of policy into the listless provincal Tory void. His commitment to a referenda promoting saving 30% of future fossil fuel revenues for the future, will also establish a needed commitment to our future and also indicates Ted's deep commitment to democracy.

Ted Morton is uniquely positioned at this point in our provinces history to lead our province forward. He can bring disenchanted conservatives in the Alberta Alliance back to the fold, and sooth the conserns that the Party under Ralph had began to list to the left spending money like it was going out of style. He can also bring many disaffected conservative voters who chose simply to stay home or to participate solely in the federal party to the PC cause, which is invaluable as the need to fundraise and recruit volunteers is ever present in politics.

Two men currently are the alternatives to Ted Morton, one is Jim Dinning and the other is Ed Stelmach. I like Ed Stelmach. By all accounts is a decent guy and he's been a good MLA for a number of years running and I've read some interviews with him and he sounds like a humble and honest fellow. I'm happy there are guys like Ed Stelmach in politics, and he'd be a great deputy Premier or Minister of Something in a Ted Morton government. Likeability and the lack of anything offensive about him are one thing, but Stelmach doesn't provide the needed sense of Zeitgeist to the PC Party. The charisma, the ideas and the direction aren't coming from Ed, he's a competent manager and a good MLA but he's not the man to lead the charge for renewal. Although he is preferable to Jim Dinning.

Speaking of Jim Dinning he's the remaning candidate for premier. Dinning has been running to be Premier of Alberta for the last decade and at the moment he appears to be seeing all his dreams slipping away from him. Over the last number of days he's been ranting and raving and making the whole leadership campaign about Ted Morton. If you changed the name Jim Dinning to Paul Martin and Ted Morton to Stephen Harper, I feel like I'm living through a rerun of the last federal election. Apparantly Ted Morton has a dragon in his shed, whose going to consume small children while reading passage from the book of Revelations - Jim Dinning is not allowed to make this stuff up.

Jim Dinning has the same, I'm everything to everyone campaign platform as Martin did too. Jim Dinning loves puppies, rainbows, and candy and doesn't seem to propose any substantive change. Not to mention the rather infamous fact that Jim Dinning wrote a 25,000 cheque to the Paul Martin leadership campaign and attached a personalized love letter to dear old Paul. While Nancy McBeth whose last forray into electoral politics saw her running against the PC Party as leader of the Alberta Liberal Party is also a big Jim Dinning supporter. Heck he even ran he campaign against Ralph Klien for the PC Leadership. Dinning's apathy towards meaningful change, and his apparant fondness for all things Liberal will only antagonize the rank and file of PC party support.

The only difference between a Jim Dinning PC party and a Kevin Taft Liberal Party would be the names. That's not acceptable to me, and that's not acceptable to a whole lot of others Conseratives in this province. Hence on Saturday its Morton for premier - everyone get out and vote Ted needs your support to lead this province forward.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Whither Individual Responsibility?

Canada as a country is beset by many problems, however, arguably none bedevils this country like the decline in individual responsibility. I could direct this particular line of thought towards the infantalizing qualities that bloated social programs have insidously inflicted upon the country. Yet while those are detrimental, wasteful and often misguided in their intentions its the constant news stories of kids in their early teens committing crimes which I happen to find chilling. (scroll down towards the bottom)

Youth violence has become a serious problem in this country. I've posted links to instances in both Edmonton and Winnipeg, as they happen to be the cities I know best. However, kids under the age of 18 are committing murder seemingly over the most frivolous of things and truthfully out legal system seems woefully inadequate to deal with it. The Young Offenders act is one of those sorry manifestations of the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau that Liberals love to embrace. Rousseau's claim to fame is that man himself was perfectable but it was bad systems of governance and social order that sullied his nature. Essentially - its society's fault, not the kid's fault but that their parents, community etc have failed them. Leading to the misguided notion that the response for the most part should be a slap on the wriste and a stern and earnest talking to, suggesting one not assault or murder any further people as that's undesirable behaviour.

I'm not entirely dismissive of environmental reasons for deliquent and criminal behaviour. I accept that broken homes and abusive parents can produce some screwed up kids. However, I refuse to accept that such a background as a "troubled teen" constitutes a get out of jail free card, or warrants the few years of jail time that teenage murderers recieve. Truthfully, its a farce that such outcomes aren't abnormal in what's entitled the "justice system".

Fundamentally, I consider the problem to be two fold with youth crime. Firstly, many of those committing offenses don't respect the legal system, the rule of law and the standard of behaviour expected of decent citizens. Secondly, they aren't afraid of the consequences of their actions, either in so far as getting caught or what they'll be subjected to should they be caught. To put it succiently the administration of justice in Canada needs alot less of Jean Jacques Rousseau and alot of more of Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes' characterization of the human instinct, with its animalistic passions and nasty demeanour if not kept in check is likely far closer to the mark than the noble savage corrupted by the system that Rousseau espoused. He of course advocated the need for the corressive power of the state to keep peace and order where otherwise there would be chaos.

Being naturally inclined towards libertarianism I find it odd to find myself pitching for more government and more cohersive government at that. However, I've always found the cries for a privatized police force from some corners of that movement to be dogmatic and ill considered and a departure from thinkers such as Locke and Nozick. At this point in time, the state is failing in its one fundamental responsibility - maintaining the safety of its populace and subsequently in its administration of justice.

I applaud the efforts of Vic Toews to lower the age at which teenagers will be tried as adults serious criminal acts. However, I'm inclined to believe that more wide ranging action is necessary than that. I've never seriously understood how the claim could be presented that anyone over the age of ten short of mental defects could be unaware that murder and the like were fundamentally wrong. The reprehensibility of murder is culturally ubiquitious.

Beyond charging violent offenders as adults at a younger age, its necessary to raise the minimum sentence for violent crimes. I'd also suggest raising the maximum and denying parole for violent offenders. Aside from that the practice fo trebeling time served pretrial should be reduced to being credited on a one day to one day basis.

Increasing criminal sanctions applicable to youthful violent offenders (and violent offenders of all types for that mattter) is a very useful starting point to a comprehensive approach to turning the tide against the leniancy that has allowed this particular virus to incubate. Other measures are also necessary, including a substantial increase in policing across the country. Throwing the book at offenders is only useful, insofar as the offenders are caught. Furthermore, a substantial increase in law enforcement presences in communities will act to discourage those contemplating crimes due to the increased likelihood of being caught.

Finally, I lay alot of the blame for youth violence at the hands of the educational system. There are many fine teachers and would be teachers out there, I know I'm related to some of them. However, the educational system is first exposure that most kids have to the state and authority figures aside from their parents. As such schools play an important part in instilling children with the necessity of following the rules and discouraging anti-social and violent behaviour. Teachers, and principals for the most part are afraid of dealing with hostile parents and as such for the most part are notioursly lax in dealing with school yard bullies and misbehaving children. At this formative period children learn that the system coddles them and there aren't serious consequences for breaking the rules and one can get away with most anything. Schools need to take their disciplinary role seriously, and take stern action with misbehaving students and expell bullies. The need for the education system to eliminate the free pass, where one has to work hard not to pass one's academic course work also undermines the sense of responsibility that our education system needs to instill.

In short it should be a priority for Canadians to see that young offenders are punished more seriously in a court of law, that a larger police presence deters possible offenders, and that our educational system instills in deliquent youth a grudging respect for the system. Some of the people one reads about in the paper are likely lost causes, no alteration of procedures or deterents would set them on the straight and narrow. The sad fact is some people must be incarcerated to protect law abiding citizens from comming to harm and we shouldn't feel any compunction about doing so. However, many youthful offenders could likely be kept within the bounds of the law if fear and respect for the justice system were restored. Its time to start ingraining people at a young age with the concept that they are responsible for their actions.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Why We Fight

For quite a while I've felt disinclined to return to the small podium or soap box that is this blog and speak my mind upon the happenings of the day. Why? School, sports, and the daily grind of life have played their part, and perhaps the presence of a Conservative government ensconed in office have at once both distracted me and convinced me that the effort was perhaps not needed. However, of late the calls for Canada to retreat from Afghanistan have stirred a visceral enough reaction within me to cause me to seek to write once more.

With the death of each soldier in Afghanistan some suposedly sagely, hand-wringing potificator will declare Afghanistan a quagmire and call for a withdrawl of Canadian forces from the country. The effete latte sippers of the world find it horrifying that are soldiers aren't playing a traditional "peace keeping role" but are actually engaging in an armed conflict. Amidst this Liberal leadership candidates squabble among themselves over whether they should adopt a rational outlook upon a conflict they took Canada into or join Jack Layton's "Peace in our time" crowd.

The basic facts of Afghanistan are that the Taliban regime embraced, aided and abeted Al Quiada. Al Quiada made a direct attack against Canada's ally the United States. The United States having been attacked by Al Quiada called upon its allies, NATO, to aid it in invading Afghanistan and seeking to destroy the Al Quiada and Tailaban forces present there. NATO efforts have been sanctioned by the United Nations as being appropriate.

One would think that an unprovoked attack on our ally leading to our mutual defense treaty obligations being called upon would suffice to justify our presence in Afghanistan. However, for those looking for further reasoning we also know that should the Taliban not be defeated Afghanistan will revert to its previous status as a failed state which harboured terrorists with an agenda of spreading terror among western nations. As a western nation our own security is threatened by the free operation of groups such as Al Quaida within a country such as Afghanistan. Furthermore, beyond the fact that the continued existance of a Taliban dominated country is determinal to our own security they were a morally repellent regime. All the virtues that your average pacifist embraces multiculturalism, education, women's rights, and gay rights were all crushed under the heel of the Taliban.

Canada fights the Taliban for a self interested reason, preventing terrorists from using it as a safe haven. However, it would be wrong headed not to consider bringing democracy to the country and ending what was in truth a barbaric regime that was a pestilence upon its own people can only be seen as a positive externality. People have a say in their own future, women have rights, children are going to school - these are all good things. Preserving our own security and spreading liberty to what had been one of the darker reaches of the world is a just and good undertaking.

What then motivates those who want to see only loss and futility in our endeavours in Afghanistan? For some perhaps there is no more complex an explaination in play than that Afghanistan is far away, nor do they see the very real threat of terrorism looming on the horizon. While the news of every casulty that the Canadian forces suffer is sensationalized by the media as those a detonated mine killing three Canadian soldiers were Augustus' lose of six legions beyond the Danube. Others have developed a rather chronic self-loathing towards Canada and western civilization as a whole. In our country this self-loathing is coupled with a virulent strain of anti-Americanism.

Terrorism is a very real threat foreign and domestically. Those who subscribe to radical Islam are by their own repeated declarations our enemy. They deem our culture decadent, label us all infidels and part and parcel of the evil they deem the west to be. Their hatred is not specific to the United States or Israel, its directed against all those who fall within western civilization. We deal with those inspired by hatred and zealotry. Those promoting neutrality, accomodation and negotiation with such groups as the Taliban embrace the most willful ignorance or cynicism in misleading the naive. The Taliban, Al Quaida and others of their ilk are our enemy. They have no want but our ultimate destruction and for an Islamic Caliphate to dominate the entire world. There is no accomodation that can be made with them, no manner in which our differences with them can be worked our or some sort of compromise establish. They are our enemy and they must be destroyed. Ignoring the barbarians massing on the frontiers of civilization as they are not yet at the city gates was a losing proposition for the Romans, and would prove no less so for Canada and the rest of the west.

As Harper rightly keeps our military on the field, the simply fact the war continues is trotted forward by many among the chattering classes as evidence that somehow "we're losing in Afghanistan". I dare say that if one consults any historical tome one might readily decipher that its not unusual for wars to be lengthy affairs that last a number of years. Nor would any reasonable assessment of a conflict be considered a losing effect where the Taliban have suffered thousands of casualties and find themselves forced to retreat. Evidently suffering a few dozen casualties and not having had this war wrapped up by the end of hockey season clearly indicates that we're engaged in a losing effort.

Some, most often those on the left, find the war noxious because in a conflict between nations that are primarily of European ethnicities and nominally Christian and a Muslim nation populated by those of a different ethnicity there is no question in their mind that the Western nation is somehow at fault. In their way of thinking the West is always at fault. Every war is some sort of imperialist and oppressive adventure that's preying upon some hapless and justified underdog fight off occuping forces. This simply ignores the facts that led to our current situation, the United States were attacked. They in concert with their allies responded and with more a more evenhanded and merciful approach than our enemies would ever adopt.

Western civilization and Canada in particular are worthy of defense. Both share uparreled freedom, culture and a high standard of living. Western Civilization has created the freest, most just, most affluent, most technologically advanced societies known to man. Our scientific, artistic, literary, scholarly and military accomplishments are unparralled. There has been no civilization greater than that of the West. Canada's own contributions to that legacy range from penicillian to the Group of 7, and from hockey to decentralized government to allow for coexistance between French and English. We value freedom, justice and knowledge.

The Taliban and others of their beliefs, reject democracy. Beyond that they reject such things as the freedom of speach, and freedom of religion. Democracy, free speach and religious freedom being the trefica of the west. They do not believe in our open society. They believe fervently in Allah, and that all non-believers are inhuman and lesser than they. Non-believers to the radical islamist are to be converted, subjucated or destroyed. Filmaker Theo Van Gough a scion of the famed artist was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam for having made a film critical of their religion. Expressing disagreement with a film through murder summarizes radical Islam's position on free speach. Their women are treated like chattels which exist to bear their children and nothing more, while their children themselves are simply filled with poisonous hate and propaganda.

In Afghanistan Canada fights an enemy repugnant to our entire way of life. We fight the good fight. We fight for our right to exist, and our freedoms against an enemy that wishes dearly to take them from us. There should be no doubt in the justice of our position, no wavering in our resolve. Somewhere in the soul of our nation lies the courage that took Juno Beach. On this day and all days forward we must call upon that courage, for too paraphrase the Roman orator Cato the Taliban Delenda Est.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I for one welcome David Emerson

I've gotten a little tired of the whole outraged waving of hands, clawing of eyes and tearing of hair. The horror, one of the best MPs on the Liberal side of the house jumped off a sinking ship. While Harper made a move to further court Quebec by temporarily appointing a senator and putting him into cabinet. Sacrilege! Hersey! Rampant abandonment of principle! Harper's clearly lost his mind, abandoned his base, etc etc etc..

Quite frankly these are knee jerk reactions and I have trouble taking them with any great deal of seriousness. Evidently some members of the party think they could run the party and the government better than the Prime Minister who picked up the pieces of a Canadian Alliance party in dissarray, merged it with the Progessive Conservatives. Thereafter held Paul Martin who was touted to win a majority as large as that as Mulroney or Diefenbaker to a minority, and a year and a half later formed a minority government of his own. Yes, all the evidence of past behaviour CLEARLY shows that Stephen Harper is given to whim and caprice and has absolutely no identifiable plan and at the moment he's mostly just going out of his way to tick people off.

Now lets be perfectly clear what this is actually all about. David Emerson and Michael Fortier have one thing in common. They are both extremely well connected and well respected businessmen. For the last decade Paul Martin had Canada's business community firmly in the court of the Liberals. If we want a majority the corporate community is a group of people we want to "come home", David Emerson crossing is a visible sign of that, and elevating Fortier is a further olive branch. It also happens to address some regional criticisms that were leveled, but honestly I think that's entirely secondary to the consideration that we need big business to get on board. After all, we get relentlessly accussed of being their toadies so they really ought to be onside if we're going to take that sort of flak on their behalf.

Chantel Herbert gets it right. Our Prime Minister is in this for the long term and already at work building a majority coalition. Sadly, some people refuse to look past their superficial outrage over suposedly democratic concerns. Rather people changing their minds is how governments change. If more Liberal supporters and members of parliament find the leftward drift of their party both odious and unsavoury, I welcome their conversion to the proverbial side of angels. Just as I welcome David Emerson to our party and believe strongly that he has a lot he can contribute to our party and to the cabinet with his wealth of experience and talent.

As my last post indicates Conservatives have to realize this is simply a singular battle, not the war. We've two years to basically campaign for a majority. Conservatives need to remain united in that goal as we are likely sooner rather than later to become aware than many of the things we long to see implimented in government can neither be done within a two year span, nor can they be done when we must rely upon the NDP, the Liberals or the Bloc. This is a team sport. We must stick together. That means people who should know better than to run their mouth off to the media and stir up controversy should keep quiet or be subjected to a nomination challenge by members who recognize that criticism should be kept internal to party not issued forth daily to CTV.

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