NDP is creating jobs… well, sort of

The NDP is hiring! For all of you wide-eyed Jack Backers out there, you could score your dream job of a lifetime working as Jack Layton’s legislative assistant for example.

Writing memos, fetching coffee, coming up with witty one-liners to summarize the Pacific Rim impact on the national trade deficit… YES!

While he’s “Jack” to the whole country, he could be “yes Mr. Layton, sir” to you!

Among the key duties listed:

  • “Research, maintain files, prepare strategy and policy proposals and brief Leader on matters relating to his critic areas”
  • “Liase with labour movement”
  • “answering telephones, reception, sorting mail”

Among the qualifications listed:

  • “Strong writing abilities and editing skills”
  • “Ability to work well in a creative team environment”
  • “Knowledge of the New Democratic Party, the labour movement, government departments, NGOs and agencies as well as riding priorities”

The job posting also states:
“A collective agreement is in effect between the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (Local 232) and the Federal New Democratic Caucus. A ten working day appeal period outlined in article 15.03 applies to this position. All terms and conditions in the Collective Agreement apply to this posting and this position. All applications will be received and held in confidence. Present and former members of CEP Local 232 or PASS should so indicate on the application.”

And while the posting concludes with “The NDP is an employment equity employer”, the posting also boldly states: “NOTE: THERE IS A PREFERRED CANDIDATE FOR THIS POSITION”

hmm….

9/11 Commission Report

The 9/11 Commission report was released at 11:30am EST today. It is 585 pages in length and contains some shocking revelations at the overall unprepared state of the FAA and the military to address the situation. I will not comment at length because I don’t believe that I have more than a common knowledge about 9/11.

You can download the report here

So far, here are some of the more shocking paragraphs that I have found:

At 9:36, the FAA’s Boston Center called NEADS and relayed the discovery about an unidentified aircraft closing in on Washington:�Latest report. Aircraft VFR [visual flight rules] six miles southeast of the White House. . . . Six, southwest. Six, southwest of the White House, deviating away.� This startling news prompted the mission crew commander at NEADS to take immediate control of the airspace to clear a flight path for the Langley fighters:�Okay,we�re going to turn it . . . crank it up. . . . Run them to the White House.� He then discovered, to his surprise, that the Langley fighters were not headed north toward the Baltimore area as instructed,but east over the ocean.�I don�t care how many windows you break,� he said.�Damn it. . . . Okay. Push them back.�

The time of notification of the crash of United 93 was 10:15.174 The NEADS air defenders never located the flight or followed it on their radar scopes.The flight had already crashed by the time they learned it was hijacked… As it turned out, the NEADS air defenders had nine minutes� notice on the first hijacked plane, no advance notice on the second, no advance notice on the third, and no advance notice on the fourth.

More than the actual events, inaccurate government accounts of those events made it appear that the military was notified in time to respond to two of the hijackings, raising questions about the adequacy of the response.Those accounts had the effect of deflecting questions about the military�s capacity to obtain timely and accurate information from its own sources. In addition, they overstated the FAA�s ability to provide the military with timely and useful information that morning.

Martin cabinet

Prime Minister Paul Martin announced his cabinet yesterday. His ministers were sworn-in at Rideau Hall.

Here is a list of the liberal cabinet ministers and their responsibilities:

Paul Martin: Prime Minister
Jack Austin: Leader of the Government in the Senate
Stephane Dion: Environment
Ralph Goodale: Finance
Anne McLellan: Deputy prime minister, public safety and emergency preparedness
Lucienne Robillard: Intergovernmental Affairs
Pierre Pettigrew: Foreign Affairs
Jim Peterson: International Trade
Ujjal Dosanjh: Health
Andy Mitchell: Agriculture
Joe Volpe: Human Resources
Claudette Bradshaw: Human Resources (minister of state)
John McCallum: Revenue
Stephen Owen: Western Economic Diversification, Sport
Bill Graham: Defence
Reg Alcock: Treasury Board
Geoff Regan: Fisheries and Oceans
Tony Valeri: House Leader
Jean Lapierre: Transport
John Godfrey: Communities and Infrastructure.
Irwin Cotler: Justice, Attorney General
David Emerson: Industry
Joe Fontana: Labour
Judy Sgro: Immigration
John Efford: Natural Resources
Liza Frulla: Heritage
Scott Brison: Public Works.
Ken Dryden: Social Development
Tony Ianno: Families and Caregivers
Andy Scott: Indian Affairs
Joe Comuzzi: Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)
Albina Guarnieri: Veterans Affairs
Joseph McGuire: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Mauril Belanger: Deputy Leader of the Government in the House
Carolyn Bennett: Minister of State (Public Health)
Aileen Carroll: International Co-operation
Raymond Chan: Multiculturalism
Jacques Saada: Francophonie, Quebec Economic Development

Every time I look at a new Liberal cabinet, I swear that there must be about half of the liberal caucus sitting in the “front row”. There really are too many cabinet posts and many have been handed out either as a political reward or for the purpose of mending Liberal fences.

One might also find it ironic to see Scott Brison in cabinet. Not because he’s a turncoat Tory, but because he now represents the very ministry he so viciously railed against as an opposition MP.

The re-emergence of Reg Alcock is also puzzling. His declaration that the sponsorship scandal was a fraction of its actual size was a significant Liberal gaffe before the election. The civil service was also shook-up by Mr. Alcock, and by doing so, he suspended a problem rather than fixing it. The bureaucracy may not end up functioning as well as Mr. Martin may require in his minority government reality. But there he stays… Reg Alcock is the minister responsible for the Treasury Board.

The appointment of Ujjal Dosanjh to the Health portfolio moves Martin’s policy in this department to the left. Is this a pre-campaign measure to stake a clear difference on healthcare from the Conservatives?

Also, what’s Jean Lapierre doing in cabinet? Didn’t this separatist lose Quebec for the Liberals? Is he really going to help the Liberals break through in that province the next time around?

Hockey Star Ken Dryden also makes the starting line in his rookie year. Dryden is another example of how Martin is crafting a campaign cabinet.

I guess we’ll see how this one goes…

Stephen Harper to remain leader

Perhaps a day late on my part, but yesterday Stephen Harper wrote an open letter to the National Council confirming that he will stay on as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Good for him and good for the party.

Stephen Harper ran a good and an overall positive campaign and should not be blamed for the 11th hour loss of the election. He has always put up a good fight against the Liberals on the issue of Liberal sponsorship dealings and was even fighting that battle long before Sheila Fraser’s report. His calm and professional campaign showed Canadians that while we weren’t granted the priveledge to lead, we were granted the responsibility of holding this new Liberal minority to account, and as a party we have been dubbed a government-in-waiting.

So kudos to Stephen Harper! This member is glad he’s staying on.

Here’s his letter:

July 19, 2004

Mr. Don Plett

President, National Council

Conservative Party of Canada

Dear Don:

This is to advise you formally of my intention to lead the Conservative Party of Canada through the next federal general election.

Since the federal election of June 28th, I have engaged in wide consultations in order to make a decision about my personal future in the best interest of the party and of our country. In the course of those consultations, I have detected no body of opinion in the caucus, in the party, or in the public at large that would seem to favour a leadership change at this time.

Broadly speaking, there is a consensus that our party has made rapid progress in a short period of time and has the capacity to make even more over the coming months. I want to lead that effort and ensure that the Conservative Party becomes the next government of Canada.

I am pleased to assure you also that this decision carries the unwavering support of my family, who understand what this renewed commitment will entail as we prepare for the next election.

In closing, please let me express my heartfelt thanks to you and to the rest of Council for the resounding support expressed to me in our meeting of July 7th and my genuine appreciation for the hard work you all continue to do on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Sincerely,

Stephen Harper, M.P.

Leader of the Opposition

Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Charge Michael Moore

Michael Moore is an American filmmaker. I’ve seen Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine and I’ve even seen Canadian Bacon. Recently, I took in the matinee of Fahrenheit 911 on opening day and thus was one of the first Canadians to see the film.

Michael Moore made a film. Whether credible, half credible, or incredibly incredible doesn’t matter to me all too much because I am Canadian; I don’t vote in the United States, I vote in Canada. I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I eat Heinz ketchup with my fries, yet I also watch Fox on occasion. Half of what I found entertaining about Fahrenheit 9/11 was the debate that I knew would ensue in the United States concerning this self-contained thesis on American policy. Bravo to Michael Moore for sparking debate and for presenting his argument. I thank him for his alternate view into his country’s politics.

So what was Michael Moore thinking when he started to talk about our politics?

“Reagan and Mulroney start to look good when you think about Bush and Harper”, Moore quipped weeks ago to, ironically, Ben Mulroney. Earlier in the day he addressed another crowd while he was promoting his movie here in Canada, “I really need you to make sure that Mr. Harper does not take over the prime ministership”.

This seems a little unfair, a little, say, none of his business. If I’m a guest in your home, I won’t tell you how to raise your kids. Did Michael Moore overstep his bounds?

Enter Kasra Nejatian, leader of the Ontario Campus Conservatives and a fellow Conservative here at Queen’s. Kasra’s site, www.chargemoore.com quotes Part 11, Division 9, section 331 of the Canada Elections Act:

No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election
period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or
vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person
is

a) a Canadian citizen; or

b) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Did Michael Moore break the law? It’s not even debatable, it’s right there in black and white. The only counter argument that could be dug up by the news organizations that reported this story is “should we care?”

First, we must consider why this law is, in fact, on the books. “Prohibition — Inducement by non-residents” is the section title within the Act. It seems critical to prevent foreign interference into the very sacred process that is not only at the heart of, but rather bestows upon us our own national sovereignty. If a controversial American conservative came to Canada, during an election, and urged voters not to vote for the NDP there would be an equal, if not greater reaction against them.

The Liberals recently reformed the Elections Act to limit contributions by individuals to $5000 to cap influence by Canadian special interest groups so that the limit of their influence is only $5000. Granted, many Conservatives cried foul, but now inaction by the government towards monetary and indirect contributions (read: free coverage of one’s partisan opinion by media outlets) by foreign special interests (ie. Moore) would be absolutely hypocritical and would indicate the inherent bias in our political institutions. While one could argue the legitimacy of Canadian election gag laws against Canadians, there should be a national consensus against foreign interference. There cannot be a double stardard: we can’t gag the Canadians that we disagree with while applauding Americans who come to bat for our political party of choice.

Am I a Conservative? Yes. Am I a Republican? No.

Do I disagree with Moore about George W. Bush? It’s not relevant. However, I did find Moore’s connection of Bush’s dubious business connections to the Saudis very shocking. If Moore were to be accurate, he’d outline the dubious business connections that drive policy and government contracts (sponsorship) in this country. If Moore were to be fair, he’d stay out of our political process all together.

Alberta debt free

Congratulations to Premier Ralph Klein. Alberta can claim that it is now the only province in Canada with its provincial debt cleared.

Oil revenues some say. Prinicipled policy others say.

Consider these words from Premier Ralph Klein:

“Alberta is the first debt-free province in Canada. Let those words sink in for a minute. It’s quite an achievement!

“To put it in context, consider that the federal government currently has a debt of more than $500 billion, and debt and interest payments each year of more than $35 billion. That means the federal government’s single largest program is debt!” — Premier Ralph Klein, July 12th 2004

Indeed.

Again, my congratulations.

Step 1

The National Post reports today that Stephen Harper has privately told his 99 member caucus that he will be integrating more former PC members into his ‘inner circle’ and the move will start moving the party towards the centre.

Good first step.

“Mr. Harper made private assurances to his caucus he wants to steer the party closer to the political centre, and will start by making changes to his office, bringing in people that will help make the party more palatable to Quebec and urban Ontario voters, sources said.” — National Post

As the Post remarks, Harper is being watched as to how he will discipline the MPs and candidates that misspoke party intentions on controversial issues such as abortion, same sex marriage, bilingualism and the charter of rights. I believe that he should usher these people to the fringes. The campaign kept losing cabin pressure as some candidates espoused their views as if they were party policy. However, it will be difficult for Harper to find grounds for punishing these individuals as the campaign, and yes, the party came together in break-neck speed. Indeed, the party didn’t have its choice of election dates and when the writ was dropped, there was a gameplan but no playbook. The Conservative Party of Canada is to hold its formative policy convention at Thanksgiving this year. This will provide the bounds of policy as to where the party stands. The party will need to stake its territory in the middle while battling those who may resist the party’s direction.

Stephen Harper has provided a good first step moving the party towards the centre to appear as a government in waiting. The next few steps may prove to be a little more challenging.

Should the bench be accountable?

Today, two boys reacted angrily as a judge sentenced their adoptive parents to a mere 9 months in prison (eligible for parole after 3 months) for tethering the boys in cages for the first 13 years of their lives.

They were kept in diapers because they couldn’t get to the washroom, subjected to rectal examinations and regularly beaten with a variety of household implements.

Court heard the boys lived in such fear that they ate their own feces to hide evidence of accidents and, deprived of water, felt compelled to drink their own urine.

This judge felt it adequate to hand down a 9 month sentence for perhaps one of the most bizarre child abuse cases ever heard in the courtrooms of this country.

Perhaps judges should be accountable to the people whom they represent. The Crown has not ruled out an appeal of the judge’s ruling, yet I find the poor judgment and absolute power of this unelected ‘representative’ to be a flaw in our justice system.