The case for prorogation

Buzz about Ottawa these past two weeks (there’s really nothing else going on here) is talk about the Prime Minister asking the Governor General for a prorogation of this session of Parliament to recall MPs to the legislature in March of next year.

Opponents on the opposition benches and in the media have been cynical of such a move citing that Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament just last year and that like last year a prorogation would be a dodge rather than for anything substantive.

Indeed, the Prime Minister asked the Governor general for a suspension of Parliament last year after the coalition government attempt to replace a freshly elected Prime Minister and his cabinet just six weeks after an election, ahem, for no substantive reason beyond cynical bickering that the governing Conservatives were moving to remove public financing (read: party welfare) from all parties. The loudest opponents to this move were the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois, two parties that find that collecting tax monies is an easier option that appealing directly to their respective bases for funding.

And this year, what substantive reason exists for a reset of Parliament? The opposition will argue that because an Afghan detainee transfer was hit with a shoe by a Afghan prison guard and that problems may have existed with our trust of transfer of Afghan nationals to the sovereign national Afghan authorities was at times tested, the Prime Minister is again running away from his problems. They will say that prorogation is political despite the Conservative lead in the polls and despite the fact that this detainee issue isn’t doing too much of anything to affect the Prime Minister’s standing in the polls.

However, let’s step back and go outside of the Ottawa bubble wherein the last two weeks of reporting of any period contains the most important news stories ever told. In 50 years, when they look back at the prorogation of 2010, how will they recount this event (if at all)?

For the first time in twenty years, Conservatives will have a plurality in the Senate of Canada. Our parliament is a bicameral body consisting of a lower and upper house. While its activities may not be conducive to the lust of the cut and thrust of politics for the average Ottawa watcher — and who called whom “fat” on Twitter in committee this week — the Senate is constitutionally important to the parliament of Canada. When a new plurality exists in the lower House, the Governor General asks the party leader that can lead a stable government to form a cabinet. When a new plurality exists within the Senate, the government’s opponents accuse the Prime Minister of politics when the Prime Minister asks the Governor General for a chance to reset parliament so that its committees and functions may represent the new reality.

The case for prorogation is constitutional.The case against it is political.

For your information…

I received this from a friend yesterday. It was taken on a mobile phone in Copenhagen where world leaders are meeting today in, as one newspaper amazingly put it, “the most important international meeting since World War II”. “Brad Pitt is saving planet Earth in Copenhagen” is printed on the side of a 20 ft long reflective metallic trailer parked in the streets of Copenhagen.

Here is another image of this monstrosity from (of all places) the America.gov Flickr photostream:

The caption?
“Brad Pitt is Saving Planet Earth in Copenhagen”… a fun experimental project that will feature 12 non-Brads dressing up like the megastar to promote climate change action.

Yes, this comes from a US government social media account.

On the other side of the trailer is a web address which reads “bradpitt.dk”. When I checked the website, I found this awesome image:

In other decidedly non-warming news, Copenhagen was hit with a blizzard last night dumping 4 inches of snow on the Danish capital.


Copenhagen, December 6th 2009


Copenhagen, December 17th 2009

Drastic climate change in our lifetime.

Do I have to tell you about the ice caps of Mount Kilimanjaro?

Liberal reaction full of holes

Too illustrative, too offensive? The Liberal comms strategy on this IS full of holes I’m sorry to say.

Yesterday, I went on Evan Soloman’s Power & Politics show to talk Photoshop faux-pas and the illustration that was put on the Liberal Party website showing the PM in a Liberal partisan “assassination fantasy”. I mentioned that ad hominem always fails in communications; personal attacks such as the Liberal photoshop failed and the Conservative poopin’ puffin failed too.

Soloman mentioned another illustration (which was not available at airtime) of “bullet holes” around Stephane Dion’s head that appeared on the Conservative Party website.

Here is the is the illustration in question, held up by Kinsella on P&P yesterday and today on CTV’s Canada AM:

One of the tools in a web designer’s toolbox is the stock photo. For a buck or two, a designer can grab a professional illustration or photo to accent a base illustration or photo. In this case, a Conservative web designer grabbed a stock photo of
“holes” from a website called iStockphoto (a website I highly recommend, btw).

Here is the image from iStockphoto:

and the name of the file on the iStockphoto website? Not “Bullet Holes” but “Paper Holes“:

Holes in Dion’s plan, holes in Dion’s platform?

Why do the Liberals only see death?

Let’s consider the process of the Liberal apology:
1) An apology from “The Web Team” at Liberal.ca if the assassination photoshop may have offended some people.
2) An apology from Ralph Goodale suggesting that social media does not allow for editorial control. This is so absolutely wrong and misleading. The Liberal.ca photoshop contest had a screening process (ie. “editorial control”)
3) An accusation from Warren Kinsella that the other guys are just as bad so let’s all just forget the Liberal transgression.

When the poopin puffin was released, the Prime Minister apologized to Stephane Dion. When will Michael Ignatieff apologize to Stephen Harper for a mock assassination photo that appeared on the Liberal leader’s website?

Jumping into today’s climate hoax

Many of you have now heard of the well-organized hoax against Environment Minister Jim Prentice this morning that involved a fake Jim Prentice Twitter account, a fake Wall Street Journal Article, a fake follow-up press release and now an “accusation” by the Prime Minister’s Spokesman Dimitri Soudas as reported by the “accused”, Equiterre:

Equiterre’s reaction on allegations from the Associate Director- Press Secretary of Prime minister Stephen Harper, Dimitri Soudas

Copenhagen, December 14, 2009- Equiterre reacted in the following terms regarding allegations made today by the Associate Director- Press Secretary of Prime minister Stephen Harper, Mr. Dimitri Soudas. Mr. Soudas accused Steven Guilbeault, cofounder and Deputy Director of Equiterre, to be the source of the spoof on Environment Canada that promotes an important change in the federal government’s climate change policy, The information can be found at the imitation website: www.enviro-canada.ca/index.php.

“Mr. Guilbeault clearly indicated that he is not the source of this spoof. Neither is Equiterre. It is shameful that Office of the Prime Minister is making such accusations without any proof. Mr. Guilbeault and Equiterre are asking Dimitri Soudas to retract his accusations and to present his excuses.

We also deeply regret that Canada’s position on cilmate change is nowhere near the one presented on Environment Canada’s fake website.

Equiterre suggests that the Associate Director, Communication/Press Secretary, Dimitri Soudas, from the Prime Minister office, should stop throwing baseless accusations. A better way to use his time would probably be to advise the Canadian government to change its deeply flawed position on climate.”

– 30 –

Source :
Marie-Eve Roy
Équiterre
À Copenhague
+ 45 41 63 37 95

Éveline Trudel-Fugère
Équiterre
À Montréal
514-605-2000

Where did the “accusation” come from? Soudas had send this email out to the media regarding the Prentice/WSJ spoof:

Dear media,

You may have received a release entitled:

“CANADA ANNOUNCES REVISED FIGURES FOR EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS, RELIEF FUNDS”

This is not a government of Canada press release.

We’re told it may have been issued by mr. Guilbault from equiterre.

If that’s the case, time would be better used by supporting Canada’s efforts to reach an agreement instead of sending out hoax press releases.

More time should be dedicated to playing a constructive role instead of childish pranks.

What made Soudas suspect Guilbault? Apparently, Guilbault forwarded the spoof press release to people and press attending the Copenhagen climate change summit.

UPDATE: A group calling themselves the “Yes Men” have claimed responsibility for the elaborate hoax.

The Senate shall return

The House of Commons wrapped up last week to allow Members of Parliament to return to their ridings for the holidays to meet with constituents and spend time with family. Members will return to work in Ottawa in late January around the time of the Olympics.

Friday morning, most people were under the mistaken impression that Parliament had closed for the holidays. However, the Senate still sits.

The Senate sat all day Friday and went through until midnight Thursday night. Senators debated C-51, the HST and special benefits for self-employed workers. Despite the House of Commons shutting down on Thursday, the Senate still has half of one day’s business remaining including committee hearings and votes. Senator Gerald Comeau, the Deputy leader of the government in the Senate, proposed that the Senate sit through Saturday to finish the legislative agenda. However, his Liberal counterpart refused and the Senate will return to complete one half day’s work before senators go home for the holiday break.

What does this mean?

By delaying the completion of one half day’s work, over 100 senators went home for the weekend, many of them flying business class to reach their destinations only to return on Monday. A conservative estimate of travel costs for 100 pampered senators jetting to all corners of the country for the weekend to come back for a short wrap up would cost over $200,000 including associated taxi, per diem and hotel costs.

And the significance to the larger discussion? While we nickel and dime the expense claims of cabinet ministers in the spirit of accountability (as we should), the Senate flies below the radar of many Ottawa watchers. The Conservatives have been making the case against Liberal entitlement and for them the Senate has been an easy target. The return of more than 100 Senators to the Upper Chamber today may make the few hours of wrap up among some of the costliest in its history.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack has jumped the candlestick

Tonight, Jack Layton attended a local candlelight vigil to mark/protest/mourn/do-something about climate change. The vigil was part of a larger global effort organized via Blackberry, cellphones and Facebook. He tweeted:

http://twitpic.com/taa1o – Joining a moving global candle vigil, in #Toronto, with new friends Anastasia and Michelle #cop15

Throughout our history of scientific achievement as a civilization, progress has most significantly been marked by maximizing outputs while minimizing input and waste output. This is the standard engineering principle of efficiency.

The industrial revolution that started in the 18th century is referenced as a pivot point of human impact on its environment. Since this era of increased efficiency, from the advent of the assembly line and distributed tasks at the outset to the miniaturization of electronics to maximize calculative output most recently, our progress is marked by our giant leaps of efficiency. It may be unpopular, but no less true, to recognize that it has been the industrial revolution — indeed still ongoing — that has and will continue to allow us to produce more from less and waste less in the process. For example, the wheel is one of our earliest innovations and has been improved and made more efficient at least one thousand fold with respect to input costs, labour and yes, even CO2 output.

Tonight, the leader of Canada’s socialist party — a party representing an ideology that has sought to increase the costs of input (organized labour, tariffs on inputs) while diminishing the benefit of the output (taxation on goods produced, regulations of its use) — very symbolically holds a flame for the very principles that would jam the gears of modernization, efficiencies and progress. Instead of allowing the inherent market mechanism that favours efficiency to reduce waste (CO2 as a by-product), Layton and friends use a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel to act broadly against desired outputs and necessary inputs rather than just waste.

While leaders around the world seek to reinvent the wheel outside of market based innovation and progress, Jack Layton is at home tending to our earliest invention. One hopes that Layton realizes that the candle he holds is more symbolic than logical as a burning candle produces 7x more CO2 output per lumen of light than a 40W incandescent lightbulb (calculation here). To decry our own greed and supposed inefficiencies, Layton harkens back to a time before the first refinement of our first spark of genius.

Layton’s flame is symbolic, though perhaps not in the way he intended. Indeed, his burning candle is symbolic to our self-loathing attitude towards a process that brought billions out of relative poverty since the 17th century, has extended our life expectancies by decades through health research and nutritional knowledge, and has allowed mass communicative capacity to organize protests, rallies, vigils and the like. Jack’s flame, much like his solutions, are inefficient and regressive.

Though Mr. Layton would put up flame to the bridges that have brought us health, wealth and happiness since a darker age, hopefully other leaders will have a lightbulb moment and realize that it has been our unbridled innovative capacity and not a misguided effort for central planning, that has and always will move us along the road to enlightenment.

Greenhouse gases over Copenhagen

We’re only partway through the conference in Copenhagen and there has already been criticism of the size of the so-called carbon footprint left by delegates. From flights, to limos to the food imported to feed everyone, the eco-conference is an eco-disaster isn’t it? And if there’s no deal, what was it all for?

Brazil has sent over 700 delegates to the conference while the tiny island nation of Tuvalu has sent 20. Each delegate represents just 750 Tuvaluvians who earn an average of $2000 per year. Presuming there aren’t many direct flights from Tuvalu to Copenhagen, travel costs, let alone hotel costs, would seem to me to be quite prohibitive for the island’s treasury.

The United Nations boasts 30,123 registered delegates and 2,941 media passes granted.

That’s a lot of dead polar bears.

Liberal hot air on climate change

Michael Ignatieff had the following to say about Stephen Harper in a speech to students at Laval University on the topic of climate change,

“Stephen Harper doesn’t understand the environment, either. He’s turned Canada into a veritable saboteur of international climate change negotiations.” — Michael Ignatieff

The “Fossil of the Day” award, sponsored by AVAAZ.org, is an award that “is given to countries that block progress at the United Nations Climate Change Negotations.”

While Michael Ignatieff is tut-tutting about Stephen Harper’s realistic targets of 20% reduction of GHGs by 2020, under (forgive the cliche) thirteen years of Liberal rule, how did Canada do on the GHG file? According to the Fossil of the Day, Canada “won” 89 awards, beating out the Saudis with 88.


Source

FLASHBACK: How does the media cover Canada’s environmental record (Conservative vs. Liberal)?

UPDATE: Michael Ignatieff agrees!

One year ago today… Rallies for Canada

Today marks the one year anniversary of our Rallies for Canada from coast-to-coast-to-coast. We organized these during the week that turned this country’s politics upside down when the Liberal-NDP coalition was proposed and propped up by the Bloc Quebecois. We rallied in over 20 cities from Halifax to Victoria, in places such as Calgary and Toronto and pleasant surprises like Brandon, MB and London, ON. Here’s a video of my speech from the rally on Parliament Hill where the Ottawa Citizen reported that 3500 people attended on a chilly December day to express their shock and outrage over the proposed coalition.