Dressed For Autumn? But it's Spring!

Dressed For Autumn

Dressed For Autumn is the name of an acoustic band that plays out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Their web site is now up and running.

I haven’t yet heard them play, but I’m interested in the group because the cover designer for their latest album came to us and asked permission to use one of the photographs from our honeymoon, which I’m rather proud of. We agreed, and now it looks like the artistic endeavour has bourne fruit. Erin and I are tickled pink!

Congratulations to the band and good luck!

Bad Move, Mr. Harper!

I had intended to write about this earlier, but others, including Andrew Spicer, POGGE and Matthew Fletcher beat me to it. All have great takes on this story.

To sum up, the new Conservative Party of Canada has taken some heat since some of its leadership contenders have speculated that they might work with the separatist Bloc Quebecois in order to bring down a minority Liberal government, should one be elected later this year. Paul Martin himself weighed in and suggested that this might make Canadians less willing to vote Conservative. This was a somewhat unfair comment; commentators throughout the media and in the blogosphere noted in particular Paul Martin’s hypocrisy, considering that two former BQ members are now in the Liberal caucus and one — a co-founder of the party for heaven’s sake — is now Martin’s Quebec Lieutenant.

But leading Conservative leadership candidate Stephen Harper bypassed this obvious rebuttal — indeed, I know of few Conservative members who have called Martin on this discrepency. Instead, he claimed that the New Democratic Party, which would be as likely to hold the balance of power in a minority government, and which would be more likely to support the Liberals than the Conservatives, were as dangerous to Canada as the Bloc Quebecois.

In Stephen Harper’s words:

“This talk about the Bloc is really a diversion from the real possibility that Martin’s Liberals may need the NDP to hold the balance of power after the next election.

“The Liberals have a history of coalescing with the NDP when in a minority position. This is a very real possibility and a dangerous prospect for Canada: The NDP is against free enterprise, against free trade and against balanced budgets.”

As I said, other bloggers took care of the fallacies inherit in this statement. POGGE points out that painting the NDP as tax-and-spenders is a typical bogeyman tactic, and that NDP governments across Canada have balanced the books more often than either the Liberals or the Progressive Conservatives. Certainly the current batch of “conservatives” can’t claim a monopoly on fiscal responsibility. Matthew tackles the grave insult to the NDP’s commitment to Canada compared to the Bloc and Kevin Brennan talks about just how plain stupid Harper’s comments were, politically.

I find Mr. Harper’s comments distasteful because it’s another example of someone trying to win an argument, not through the strength of one’s ideas, but by trying to limit the number of people who have the moral right to have an opinion in this country. By comparing the NDP unfavourably to the Bloc, the insinuation is that the NDP’s policies are unCanadian. The implication is that, if you choose to stand up for social responsibility and to speak up for the impoverished rather than cowtow to corporate interests, you are so “dangerous” that you don’t have a right to have a say in the running of this country.

No, Mr. Harper did not say that outright, but it is the logical extension of his comments. It shows that he would much rather cut those who sympathize with the NDP out of the political process in Canada than debate with them. It shows that he sees these individuals as being beneath him. This is further supported by his refusal to meet NDP leader Jack Layton in a one-on-one debate.

So much for his image of moderation. So much for his willingness to govern for all Canadians.

I’ve looked back through my own posts on the Canadian Alliance to see if I have pilloried them to the extent that Mr. Harper has pilloried the NDP. I did a search on the keywords “Alliance” and “Dangerous”. I got three posts, one of which talked about how dangerous Liberals are whenever they think they can’t lose, another that had nothing to do with politics, and a third wherein I wrote to Mr. Harper and said, among other things:

I have always applauded the Canadian Alliance’s dedication to holding the current government to fiscal account, and I am as concerned as all Canadians about the cost overruns the Auditor General has uncovered in the government’s gun control registry.

Looking through this blog, I can see that I have never once referred to the Reform Party as dangerous, either, and though I have called one or two Alliance MPs idiots, I have never slammed Alliance members as a whole. Indeed, though I’d never vote for Chuck Strahl, Preston Manning or Deborah Gray (maybe; I might think differently if I actually lived in their ridings), I’d certainly be happy to have these individuals over to an afternoon barbecue.

So, until now, I haven’t thought of Mr. Harper or the Conservative Party that he hopes to lead as being dangerous to Canadians, or beneath my contempt. But it’s clear that Mr. Harper and many of the Conservatives he hopes to lead can’t show me or the people to the left of me the same respect. That’s a real shame.

It also precludes the possibility of an NDP-Conservative alliance against the failing Liberals should a minority government occur. Such coalitions across the centre have happened before and have been used to good effect, but if the NDP ends up propping up the Martin government after the next election, Mr. Harper really has only himself to blame.

Happy Anniversary

A year ago today, the Bush Administration launched the invasion of Iraq.

I think that, after a year, the people of Iraq are better off. The brutal dictator is gone, and the invasion itself went far better than it could have. There is still hope for the future.

Unfortunately, the situation is precarious, and the Bush Administration has shown that, while it can fight wars well, it’s terrible in planning for the peace. They are rushing to get out of Iraq before the country is stable and democratic (and, before you ask, yes I do think Spain has it in the wrong to pull out of the country at this critical time, but that’s their choice), and the Bush Administration’s credibility is in tatters now that it’s clear that the invasion was carried out on a pretext. No weapons of mass destruction have been found. No clear connections between Al Queda and Saddam Hussein exist.

My opinion remains that, while a war with Iraq was inevitable, it represented a diversion on the War on Terror. Bush’s insistence on making it a part of the War on Terror bears the brunt of the responsibility of the breakup of the world coalition that was so ready to fight alongside America (and is still ready to fight, in Afghanistan) following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Bush Administration, through its diplomatic and planning missteps, have threatened the outcome of the very war that had become the key issue of the Bush presidency. In my opinion, it’s time to hand the war off to better managers.

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