December, 2004 Archives
December 29, 2004 - The news from Southeast Asia is unbelievable, and as Rex Murphy so eloquently pointed out on CBC last night, how the western world deals with this tragedy will be the true global test that is often spoke about, but never defined. TDH Strategies has family links to Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Sri Lanka, and so this ever-evolving story of suffering hits particularly close to home.
Daily commentaries will resume on Monday, January 3, where readers will find TDH Strategies` predictions for 2005.
Until then, Happy New Year to all, and as always, thanks for reading.
December 24, 2004 - To all of those readers who reside in central Canada:
TDH Strategies offers our condolences from beautiful Vancouver, where golf is a perfectly suitable activity this time of year, snow is something we find on top of mountains, and the only tires we need to change are those on our rollerblades.
December 24, 2004 - This article might provide the real reasons that Stephen Harper stopped campaigning in Ontario towards the latter half of the election campaign.
These positions, if officially adopted by the party, could really take away the Liberals' ability to portray the Conservatives as "scary." Although, with Harper spending time with his family back in Alberta over the holidays, no one should hold their breath for these types of changes to occur anytime soon.
December 22, 2004 - Question about the Criminal charges -- including fraud, accepting bribes and breach of trust -- that were laid Tuesday against two former B.C. ministerial aides and a government employee:
Why is it that charges are laid against the government employees that apparently accepted bribes and breached the public trust, and not against those (Erik Bornman) who offered those bribes and attempted influence peddling?
TDH is going to see if this question can be answered.
December 22, 2004 - Here in Vancouver, the Todd Bertuzzi soap opera is on the verge of ending, as the big power forward entered a guilty plea in the assault case against Colorado Avalanche player Steve Moore this morning. Bertuzzi has apparently agreed to a plea bargain of some sort, prompting the Crown to bump up the court case to accommodate the agreement.
Bertuzzi has been through enough since March, and this kind of an arrangement is appropriate for the action. On the other hand, the fact that Moore will not receive his day in court seems like an injustice that adds insult to injury. Moore, who suffered three broken vertebrae in his neck and a concussion, did not apparently take issue with the deal that Bertuzzi signed, but rather with the fact that the Crown is not giving him the opportunity to enter a victim's impact statement into public record, and more importantly, for Bertuzzi to hear it directly from his mouth.
This is a slap in the face for Moore. There are many in the hockey world that feel this incident should have never been brought into the legal system, a viewpoint that TDH Strategies doesn't completely agree with, but understands. However, once that route had been taken, Moore had every right, as promised by the Crown, to be involved in the process. By avoiding a trial, they have in fact deemed him and the assault's effects as irrelevant.
Bertuzzi will go back to being a hero in Vancouver, now that his sins have been "repented" for. It is just a shame that his road to salvation forgot about the victim along the way.
December 21, 2004 - Prime Minister Paul Martin's "working holiday" in Morocco is the latest controversy originating from a seemingly tired and desperate press corps looking for some fireworks to populate the pages of holiday newspapers.
The bottom line is that Martin, whether fulfilling the responsibilities of the job, or going on vacation over the holidays, is severely restricted by the RCMP because Prime Ministers are not permitted to fly commercially.
Martin is paying $2000 per family member who joins him on the trip, and is planning, according to the spin from the PMO, to meet with "influential leaders in the region." Regardless of the work that is actually done on the excursion, however, unless there is a law put in place that restricts Prime Ministers from traveling abroad for personal reasons, there is really nothing wrong with this trip.
The costs of having a jet on call for the two weeks would be a constant regardless of how many people were going along with Martin. Thus, if the only objection to the holiday are with the provisions of protection, staff and a plane made available to the Prime Minister while outside of Canada, then it seems to be the creation of much ado about nothing.
Before anyone goes and feels bad for Mr. Martin and the criticisms being levied against him and his family, though, this quote should stop the sympathy dead in its tracks:
"I'm going on a holiday where I'm going to be able to do a lot of work and I'm going to be seeing a lot of people that I would not be able to see at home in terms of North Africa...this is the way I like to do a holiday and I can't do that in Florida."
That last quip was an obvious attack on Jean Chretien, who regularly went golfing in Florida over the Christmas break.
NEWSFLASH TO MARTIN: The leadership race is over. Jean Chretien has retired. You won.
December 21, 2004 - Politics is a dirty game, and personal attacks are unfortunately a part of the job. That being said, TDH Strategies was literally sickened upon hearing this quote from Ukraine Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych be translated from yesterday's heated televised debate:
"The country has seen your real face -- you have opened it."
Now, when you have supporters beating up opposition supporters in the streets, etiquette or common decency might not exactly be your first priority. Nonetheless, in light of the confirmation that his opponent, opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, was poisoned, causing his frightening facial disfigurement, this is clearly one of the most vile political utterances that this website has ever witnessed.
December 17, 2004 - Paul Martin is correct in assessing the same-sex marriage legislation that is to be introduced in the new year as a wedge issue that he can play to his advantage. As TDH Strategies wrote on December 14, Stephen Harper looks as indecisive as ever on this issue, and is doing a horrible job of communicating the Conservative position on the matter.
That being said, when Martin uses his doom and gloom predictions of how Harper is being dishonest about his willingness to use of the notwithstanding clause, one has to wonder whether there is enough knowledge amongst the general public to understand the magnitude of such an action. Taking away the rights of Canadians on a whim? Well that is a daunting accusation. But invoking the notwithstanding clause to disregard a law? Does that really carry as much weight as the first description?
Regardless, Harper is barking up the wrong tree if he thinks, as he has claimed in his comments yesterday, that he sits on the side of the majority of Canadians on this issue. Unlike the US, our exit polls will NEVER identify "moral issues" (as they like to classify them) as a prominent reason to vote for a party or not.
December 17, 2004 - Ignorant quote of the day:
objectivity is exactly the same as it has always been. I haven't made
any judgment or pre-judged any issue. I made a comment on the personality of
one of the witnesses, that's all.''
Well of course...your objectivity is beyond reproach, Mr. Gomery. It isn't as though you publicly called one of the chief witnesses "a charming scamp" or referred to the sponsorship program as "a government program which was run in a catastrophically bad way." Because then, one might actually have reason to question your impartiality.
What an idiot.
December 16, 2004 - Here is this morning's Vancouver Sun editorial on the Larry Campbell political development that occurred on Tuesday.
This is the most telling quote from the piece:
"Part of Campbell's popular appeal has been his apparent independence -- the impression that he is nobody's man but his own, with no obligations to anyone and no favours to be called in. That's a rare quality in a politician, and not an easy one to sustain; the nature of politics in a big city makes it inevitable that some groups and individuals are going to feel they have some kind of claim on their elected representatives."
TDH Strategies sincerely hopes that this type of spirit in Campbell will not be lost as he forges his way through his new political endeavour.
December 15, 2004 - What a day in British Columbia politics!
For those of you who don't already know, Finance Minister Gary Collins, who has worked since 2001 to get to the point of a $2 billion surplus that the province will record this year, has resigned as Minister and MLA, choosing to become CEO of Vancouver based Harmony Airlines.
Mayor Larry Campbell, on the other hand, announced that he had formed an "independent" COPE caucus with 3 fellow councillors, claiming that the mechanisms of his party are badly damaged and that this move was an attempt to fix them.
For what it's worth, here are the TDH Strategies assessments of each situation.
The communications behind the message delivered by Larry Campbell yesterday are muddled, confusing, and indeterminate in terms of potential political benefit. TDH Strategies is aware that a move to create an independent entity within the COPE sphere was an attempt to appease many of the backers and union support that the mayor does not want to lose come next election. On the other hand, telling the public that you have not left COPE, but that your political machine is broken, and that you are not sure if you are going to be running as a COPE or independent mayoral candidate come November, does not exactly give clarity to a move that was supposed to usher in a new era for Campbell.
If TDH Strategies had had the opportunity to advise the Mayor on a direction, this is the speech that would have been delivered. Instead of creating another political entity that simply emphasizes the differences you have with some of your partisan colleagues, why not remove yourself from the politics altogether. State that you aren't a politician, you are here to implement a vision, and that you are prepared to work with a broad group of individuals, regardless of party affiliation. Larry Campbell is so popular and well regarded in this city, he does not need a political machine behind him to get re-elected. But alas, we shall see how this new endeavour will shape up.
With regards to the Collins announcement, this is the second high level Cabinet Minister to resign from Gordon Campbell's cabinet in the past 3 months, the first being former Deputy Premier Christy Clark. The most striking implications of the move are twofold. First, Collins is just latest of a long list of MLA's who have announced that they will not be running again, many of whom have been prominent federal Liberals. The Campbell government has always been a coalition of different ideologies, but the departure of Collins and Clark seem to indicate that the party is moving farther to the right of the spectrum in the makeup of the caucus. There are many rumours that new candidates like Mary Polak, the "don't talk about sex in schools" candidate who had her political career served to her in a recent by-election trouncing, and organizers with strong connections to the federal Conservative party, represent the new face and direction of the Campbell government, creating the impetus for many of these recent departures.
The second implication is that Campbell's government, in spite of enjoying the political fruits of having so much money in the kitty, is in a public relations crisis. Campbell is still extremely unpopular in terms of personal appeal, the NDP is gaining ground, both in terms of popular support and grassroots organization, and other cabinet ministers like Attorney General Geoff Plant might also be inclined to leave office before the onset of the election.
While TDH Strategies still cannot quite picture NDP leader Carole James as Premier quite yet, the slate of ads that are on the horizon from the NDP should create quite an impact when released in the new year. Couple this with further charges that are expected to be laid next week regarding the BC legislature raids, and you might have a recipe for a significant NDP comeback.
As politicos on the west coast like to sing, "we're still crazy, after all these years."
December 14, 2004 - It is somewhat of a juxtaposition to see the Conservative Party of Canada largely staying away from the idea of holding a national referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage, while Liberal backbencher Pat O'Brien and his merry band of fellow MP bible thumpers push for such an initiative. On the other hand, the issue of a referendum is still accentuating the inherent flaws evident in their own party leader.
On most topics, when Alberta premier Ralph Klein speaks out, people listen, and so Klein's recent support for a same-sex marriage referendum has ruffled some feathers federally, particularly when it comes to Deputy Conservative Leader Peter McKay:
"It's reminiscent of his musings about health care during the election. At a pivotal point in time, it's anything but helpful for Mr. Klein to be pushing for a referendum on the [same-sex marriage] issue."
The whole concept of using referendums is most often a political grenade that is unacceptable to the majority of Canadians (otherwise, Stockwell Day would now be going by the name Doris). The question remains, however, as to why federal Conservative leader Stephen Harper has not taken a more prominent role in articulating his party's policy on such a contentious idea.
It seems that much of McKay's frustrations lie not with the content of Klein's rants (of which people usually respond to with "that's just Ralph"), but rather with the fact that every time the premier opens his mouth on policy, he tends to outshine Harper and take the wind out of any momentum that might have been built up. Whether calling for a re-examination of Alberta's health care delivery options, or suggesting the construction of a firewall around Alberta and it's wealth, or even coming out negatively towards the prospect of same-sex marriage legislation, Harper has consistently been left in Klein's politically toxic dust.
It seems as though this isn't lost on the leadership hopefuls that took on Harper last spring, as several of the usual suspects (including Mr. McKay) are once again lining up and organizing from within.
As lacklustre as Paul Martin has been over the past year, Stephen Harper has been even more hopeless since the end of the election campaign. As it stands now, TDH Strategies is predicting a Liberal majority should Parliament be dissolved for an election over the course of 2005.
December 13, 2004 - Well it has been a year of Paul Martin rule in Canada, and this website can unequivocally say that Jean Chretien is missed more and more every day.
To contextualize these sentiments, here are three worthy editorials to absorb:
1) Warren Kinsella wrote a wonderful synopsis of what made Chretien great for the Saturday edition of the National Post (check the December 11 update).
2) Jim Travers of the Toronto Star has given this accurate account of why Martin is headed down the path of becoming a historical afterthought rather than a Prime Minister of any significance.
3) Paul Wells of Maclean's magazine describes how Martin's promises for direct democracy within the Liberal party are coming back to haunt him now that he is in the role of a leader growing increasingly frustrated with elements of his caucus.
If there is one thing that can be said about real leadership, it is the fact that it involves risk. At times, Chretien might have fallen down, but he was also always able to rise to heights experienced by very few in public office. Paul Martin, on the other hand, is still fumbling with his "everything to everyone" style of approach, and therefore has eased into a level of mediocrity that he seems hard-pressed to reverse.
Mr. Travers states it oh so accurately:
"Now lugging around the devastating label of a ditherer, Martin's once-sharp image as a leader eager to make the tough decisions that make a difference in public life is increasingly vague and muddy around its edges."
The biggest problem? Well, we still don't really know what Paul Martin stands for. A Jack of all trades, but a master of none, Martin has been a complete failure in effectively communicating to Canadians who he is, what he believes, and how he is going to impact the country. These missing elements are the fundamental principles of building a connection with your constituents.
What hasn't changed since becoming Prime Minister is the quality in Paul Martin that chooses to service and please his "combative, fiercely loyal inner circle" above all others. With friends that always drink your kool-aid, why would you need to serve anything else, right?
Well, only time will tell. Now, please pass us some ice tea.
December 10, 2004 - There is likely one week left before the House of Commons packs up for Christmas holidays. And, over this time span, this is the ongoing legislative agenda that the House will be debating:
Bill C-18, the Telefilm bill
Sorry, as important as the Migratory Birds bill surely is, it looks like the same-sex marriage and decriminalization of marijuana bills will be the perfect tonic needed to counteract a House that has really become devoid of ideas over the past year.
December 10, 2004 - If this article is accurate in the personal path that Paul Martin travelled to arrive at his current support for the legalization of gay marriage, then the man deserves our respect.
As described by one of Martin's advisors:
"He's a man in his 60s who is a practising Catholic and was educated in the Catholic school systems and was taught by Jesuits. So there's no question this was an issue he struggled with."
So Martin must be commended by coming out of a meeting with his Cabinet yesterday and stating:
"This was not an easy decision for me. It is one that I struggle with, but fundamentally, it comes down to the equality under the Charter. I do not believe you can have two classes of citizens."
Aside from the historic decision delivered by the Supreme Court yesterday, this kind of progressive policy-making is yet another reason to make Canadians proud. In this country, one's personal religious convictions do not supersede the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Charter, and in consideration of the ruling group of legislators operating directly south of us, that is a privilege that we should never take for granted.
December 9, 2004 - It is so nice to hear our "friends" talk about us so affectionately.
December 8, 2004 - If such a distinction exists, ID Biomedical Corp. of Burnaby, BC should win the award for corporate power play of the year. First, they begin to negotiate with the United States government in the final weeks of the election campaign to supply the country with their surplus of flu vaccines, after a previous supplier failed to live up to commitments.
Then, just days ago, it was announced that the company has signed a US distribution deal for its Fluviral drug that could reap sales of up to $2.5 billion over its 10-year term.
Now, after that deal was finalized, ID Biomedical announces that it has decided to sell this year's excess supply to the Canadian government, who they refer to as "our most important client and...a long-term partner of the company" in their press release.
Smooth...TDH Strategies loves these guys.
December 8, 2004 - While our military still has a long way to go towards being properly funded and equipped, we certainly aren't the international embarrassment that the opposition continues to portray us as. The question then becomes, if the US understands this, why don't we?
December 7, 2004 - It isn't often that you will hear this website cheer the fact that our federal government has one of the weakest legislative agendas in many, many years on the horizon. But in the case of the government's bill to legalize gay marriage, a lack of ideas from Paul Martin's leadership is poised to expedite a piece of legislation that should have been brought forward years ago.
Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has announced that he now plans to introduce a bill to legalize gay marriages "as soon as possible" in the new year. This comes in anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling on whether the proposed legislation is constitutional, which is to be released on Thursday (and expected to give non-binding approval for the bill).
The Liberal government delayed a decision on the legislation by turning it over to the Supreme Court, in spite of what is now six provinces and one territory who have had their courts strike down the traditional definition of marriage. To put it bluntly, it was a copout by the feds, plain and simple.
Antiquated legal definitions that do not reflect the realities of the contemporary society we are living in should not be able to trump the equality guaranteed every Canadian by way of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
December 7, 2004 - This is a very shrewd move on the part of the Canadian government. Elections Canada is widely respected as the world's most legitimate and capable independent electoral commission, and this conference is exactly the kind of role that Canada should be playing. There is absolutely no need to send Canadians into the heart of a country that has become a breeding ground for international terrorism.
December 7, 2004 - Speaking of elections, according to the Ukraine Canadian Congress criteria, language qualifications will most likely disqualify TDH Strategies from being a part of this contingent. Regardless, with the amount of election fraud that happens across the world (as detailed in TDH's November 25th commentary), one wonders why this particular election requires a team of 500 observers, which is almost 7 times what the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has asked for from this country, and hundreds of times more than what Canada usually sends to observe foreign elections.
December 6, 2004 - Why when that tower of journalism power, CNN's Wolf Blitzer (ugh) asks Paul Martin whether Canada would be willing to send troops to Iraq, our fearless (fearful?) Prime Minister responds with this:
"Our commitments are such it would be very hard to send troops into Iraq. Our troops are stretched very, very thin."
According to the CBC, Martin "didn't respond directly when Blitzer asked if Canada would send soldiers to Iraq once the forces are larger."
Election monitoring is one thing, but if we are such a "sovereign nation" as Martin has been professing since George W. Bush's visit last week, why does he have to make excuses to such a question...why can't he just tell the truth: CANADIANS DON'T SUPPORT THE WAR IN IRAQ. Period.
December 6, 2004 - If financial assistance is indeed available to those who would like to volunteer for this kind of an endeavour, it would be a historic journey to take and participate in. TDH Strategies will make a phone call or two to check it out.
December 6, 2004 - A funny final paragraph from Susan Delacourt's interesting article in the Toronto Star this morning regarding the national furor that has erupted over missile defence:
"Martin may get a bit of a break in his bid to put a lid on the missile defence debate later this week, when the Supreme Court of Canada issues its opinion on same-sex marriage legislation. The House of Commons may also shut down for an extended Christmas break as early as this Friday, which could also help silence those who need Parliament to keep the issue alive."
So Martin is going to avoid the controversy of missile defence by focussing on the the long-awaited same-sex marriage Supreme Court decision, a process which has been roundly criticized for allowing judges to determine the path of of such a contentious issue? Talk about going from the frying pan to the fire!
It will be very entertaining to see how well Martin can stickhandle his way through both of these issues in the traditional nationally broadcast, year-end interviews with the big three networks. Evasiveness isn't quite as easy outside of the parliamentary protection afforded by Question Period.
December 3, 2004 - TDH Strategies is currently involved in a major project involving people with disabilities, and thus this story particularly rings true in terms of reflecting broadly held societal attitudes.
Perdita Felicien is an amazing person and athlete, and her efforts on the track were rewarded last year by winning the Velma Springstead Award as Canada's top female athlete in 2003. Felicien, however, had a huge disappointment at the Olympics, falling in the 110-metre hurdle final, a race in which she was widely picked as the favourite.
Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc, by contrast, won five gold medals and set three world records in Athens, becoming Canada's most decorated athlete in the 2004 Olympic games.
So, based purely on performance, it is completely understandable why Petitclerc is frustrated by Athletics Canada's decision to award both women joint honours as Canada's top track and field athlete in 2004:
"It's always a little shocking to see what Paralympic medals and world records are worth, to really see it. After Athens, you feel you've come a certain way and had a certain achievement and your sport has grown and been recognized, that you're finally there. And this is shocking."
We have just over 5 years before the Olympic games touch down in Canada, and by that time, it would really be nice to see Paralympics athletes regarded as equals in terms of recognition for athletic output and results.
December 2, 2004 - Who really benefited from the first official visit of this American president? (click here to continue)
December 1, 2004 - As an addendum to the below commentary on Dubya, no matter how much he changes his tone and approach, he will never be able to escape these black marks on his country.
December 1, 2004 - To the man who showed a nation that our history is far from boring, but rather, engaging and exciting, rest in peace, dear friend. Pierre Berton, you will forever be remembered as a Canadian icon.
December 1, 2004 - George W. Bush learns that a new frame can really spruce up an old picture. (click here to continue)