Little Fish in a Giant pond

Friday, August 17, 2007

Spinning out of control

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion had best be careful. It appears that the Liberal position on the mission in Afghanistan is getting lost somewhere between the press and the public (just to be clear I am not blaming the press or anyone else for that matter).
One need only look at the recent article released by the Canadian Press to see what is happening. The article is entitled Tell Bush we're out of Afghanistan in '09, Dion tells Harper and it is not until one reads further along into the article that the reader is informed that Dion is only asking that Canadian troops no-longer occupy a combat role in the province of Kandahar after our commitment expires in 2009. While the article itself does tell the truth, the title is rather misleading, and after all, not everyone reads the entire article.
The Liberal Leader's position is not pefectly in line with my own, but at least it is not the "turn tale and run" position of the NDP. Unfortunately, that is exactly how the Liberal message is being spun.
We Liberals are going to have to do a better job of getting the message out as to exactly what the details of our position are. Otherwise, we risk losing the ever so Canadian game of brokerage politics.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Same Old Same Old

Well, by the looks of things, Prime Minister Harper did not have a whole lot of surprises in store for the Canadian public with his latest cabinet shuffle. True to form, the PM was big on appearance, and short on substance.

Former Indian Affairs Minister, Jim Prentice, who has managed to establish for himself a reputation as Stephen Harper's most "trusted and competent minister", by repeatedly failing to show up to important Assembly of First Nations gatherings, and ignoring the Kelowna Accord (yes this is what passes for competency and trustworthiness in the Harper government), has now moved over to the Industry portfolio.

I know my old friend Marc-André will be happy about Diane Ablonczy being appointed to Cabinet as Secretary of State for Tourism and Small Business. That's right, there was actually another small position available in Prime Minister Harper's cabinet for a woman... naturally it was a relatively unimportant one, and of course she will not likely last long if it turns out that the public actually cares about this issue. At least that was what happened with the environment portfolio a few months back when the PM opted to replace Rona Ambrose with the much more macho John Baird.

Only Prime Minster Harper could think appointing Chuck Strahl, the Darth Vader of Canadian politics (and not in the cool way), to the position of Indian Affairs Minister is a good move. Native protesters at Caledonia are already calling his appointment a "stall tactic". Just wait until he starts "aggressive negotiations" with them!

Two of the higher profile positions in the Tory cabinet that were bestowed upon female ministers, Heritage and International co-operation, were occupied by Bev Oda and Josée Verner respectively, and now both ministers have swapped positions. At least now this means that the cabinet member who is responsible for Official Languages is actually bilingual (I assume).

But of course, the PM did extend another olive branch to the nation's Francophones. He appointed Maxime Bernier as Minister of Foreign Affairs. All in all, the nation has about 6 Francophone cabinet members (5 of whom were elected!), out of 26 total. Naturally, all of them are from Québec.

But don't fret everyone; “Canada's New Government” still has a few familiar faces. Evidently the PM just wasn't quite convinced that Jim Flaherty had caused quite enough damage as Finance Minister, so he has decided to give him a little more time to finish the job. Minister Flaherty has quite the task ahead of him though, if he is ever going to outdo himself he will somehow have to top eradicating the savings of elderly Canadians by breaking his election promise about taxing income trusts, as well as his brilliant initiative to end federal provincial squabbles by screwing the Maritime Provinces and Saskatchewan out of the equalization payments his party promised they would not do away with.

The most notable change in policy that can be construed from the shuffle was moving former General, Gordon O'Connor from the Minister of Defence position, and replacing him with former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter McKay. Apparently this means that the Harper government has decided to cease its attack on bilingualism in the Canadian Forces in favour of attacking Mr. McKay's target of choice. My sympathies go out to the women of Canada's armed forces, who will all likely be assigned to "knitting" duty.

Now I realize that there might be a few alarmists out there who think that maybe this crack team of thinkers isn’t quite up to the job of running the country, but they need not worry. None of them will be making any of their own decisions.