Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Tax Year

It looks like 2011 will be a good year for big government.

Or at least big government will get richer while taxpayers get poorer.

So says the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which calculates that we will all be paying more in taxes next year, with residents in Ontario getting dinged the hardest.

Oh well, try and have a Happy New Year anyway.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Attacks on Private Property

The Ontario Landowners Association has a list of some of the more outrageous abuses of private property rights that have taken place over the past year.

Check it out.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 a good year for Canadian conservatives

All things considered 2010 was a pretty good year for Canada’s conservative movement.

True, by American standards, conservatives here are still pretty quiet – we don’t yet, for instance, have the equivalent of a boat-rocking, Tea Party-style political operation – but in the past year we had our victories and more importantly we saw new voices emerging.

Here’s a quick rundown of conservative highlights in 2010:

  • Maxime Bernier
    In January 2010, former Conservative Cabinet minister, Maxime Bernier declared, “If we want conservative principles to win the battle, we have to defend them openly, with passion and with conviction.”  Then for the rest of the year he lived up to those words, travelling across the country promoting the ideas of smaller government and individual freedom. In the process he gave Canadian conservatives something they have not had for a long time: a politician we could actually cheer about for something other than his singing prowess.

  •  Rob Ford’s Victory
    Conventional wisdom confidently states the Greater Toronto Area is a death zone for conservatism. In fact, we were told the only way for a conservative to win in Toronto is to disregard principles and start talking like Karl Marx. But then Rob Ford came along and disregarded the conventional wisdom. He talked about reducing waste, reining in public sector union bosses and lowering taxes. And he won! Perhaps this will act a blueprint for other conservatives seeking Toronto votes. (Yes, I am looking at you Stephen Harper and Tim Hudak) As a side bonus, the Ford victory even resurrected the “left wing pinko”phrase, courtesy of Don Cherry.

  • Wild Rose Alliance Party
    In Alberta, the conservative/libertarian Wild Rose Alliance Party continued in 2010 to increase its popularity, proving even a dopey name can’t stop good ideas. If nothing else the WAP’s success shows how politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. If a conservative party, like the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, ignores its base, then its base will move somewhere else. Again, this is a lesson for other political parties.

  • Reseau Liberte-Quebec
    The Reseau Liberte-Quebec, or to use its English name, the Quebec Freedom Network, is a brand new organization dedicated to promoting the ideas of “individual responsibility, free markets and personal choice” in Quebec. And although this group is still small, it’s already punching well above its weight, garnering tremendous media attention for its cause. What’s really impressive about the Network, however, is its goal of putting principle ahead of politics. It does not wish to become a political party and win elections. Rather it wants to win the war of ideas. And that’s the battle that really counts.

  • New Conservative Network
    One of the hot topics in 2010 was the emergence of Sun News, a new conservative-oriented network that would act as a counterweight to all the left-wing propaganda that emanates from other mainstream media. If Sun News does indeed surface in 2011 as conservative-friendly network, this would be a true breakthrough for the movement. In the US, media personalities like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have helped to shape American conservatism. The same could happen here. Never underestimate the power of TV when it comes to getting out a message.

So as 2010 draws to a close, Canadian conservatives have reason for optimism.

But we have many challenges ahead and still face many roadblocks, not the least of which is a nominally conservative federal government that is taking the country in the wrong direction at least when it comes to fiscal matters.

Let’s hope conservatives in 2011 keep pushing to make Canada a freer and better country.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Suzuki's pagan cult

Scientist David Suzuki likes to think of rivers as the "earth's veins."

Or at least I heard him say that recently on a TV interview.

It made me  wonder if the scientist Suzuki also likes to think of mountains as the earth's acne and forests as its hair? And I don't even want to know what body part comes to mind when he ponders the Grand Canyon!

Anyway, what this shows is that while environmentalists like Suzuki like to trumpet the "science" of global warming, what really seems to be their motivation is some sort of bizarre mixture of socialism and pagan mysticism.

In short, they believe a free-market-based, industrial society is evil because it offends the goddess Gaia.

Bolivia's socialist president Evo Morales summed this attitude up best when he recently declared, "either capitalism dies or Mother Earth dies."

So I fully expect in the not too distant future, Suzuki or Morales or Al Gore will be calling upon us to toss a virgin SUV into a volcano to appease Mother Earth.

But of course, it will be done in the name of science.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I must be at 101

The Ottawa Hill Times newspaper recently listed the top 100 most influential people in government and politics.

In what must be an oversight, I didn't make the cut!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kinsella's tactic is wrong, but strategy is sound

Liberal spin doctor Warren Kinsella is offering, free of charge, an idea to the Opposition parties which he says "could blow Harper’s campaign to smithereens".

What's the idea?

Well essentially Kinsella argues the Liberals and NDP should appeal to Canadian nationalism by opposing a trade agreement the Harper government is apparently negotiating with the United States.

Writes Kinsella: "leak of the entire agreement, a few days ago, suggests strongly that Harper is giddily hitching our wagon to a declining U.S. economy, and — in exchange for a few paltry trade changes — we are going to see our policies related to immigration, refugees and national security decided by the aforementioned (Secretary of State Hilary) Clinton. In Washington. To whisk a few trucks across the border in two hours instead of three, we are going to lose control over some of the very things that distinguish us from our neighbours to the south."

Harper is "erasing the border", says Kinsella, which will enrage Canadians from coast to coast.

Basically, this is a suggestion to replay the 1988 Liberal campaign which opposed freer trade.

But the Liberals lost in 1988. And I sincerely doubt the Liberals would gain much from embracing this particular issue in the next federal election.

In the first place, Canadians in 2010 aren't as spooked by free trade as they were 25 years ago. But more importantly, Kinsella's "secret" agreement is a complicated issue, an issue that would first need to be explained to voters before it could be attacked.

And that's a serious weakness. In politics any communication process that requires a two step process is not likely to succeed.

Still, although Kinsella's tactical idea is flawed his overall strategic concept is correct: the Liberals desperately need to latch onto some issue to mobilize their moribund base.

And they need one fast because it looks more and more like we will have a federal election in the Spring.

In short, if Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff doesn't come up with way to rally his troops, Harper and the Tories could stomp him bad.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Interim

If you're a conservative Roman Catholic, or if you just care about social/moral issues, I would strongly suggest you subscribe to The Interim newspaper.

It's a paper which will give you a thoughtful and insightful perspective on news and current events that you just won't get in other media.

And while it's geared toward a social conservative audience, the paper would also be a great read for conservatives of any slant.

Besides interesting news items, it features great regular columnists like Michael Coren, Rory Leishman, Rick McGinnis and Paul Tuns, plus great guest columnists as well.

So check it out "Canada's Life and Family Newspaper".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The speech the PM never gave

About a year ago, I wrote a column in the Toronto Sun which presented the speech I wished Prime Minister Stephen Harper would give.

Now in light of Harper's recent less than conservative economic decisions I thought just for fun, I would run it up the flag pole one more time.

Besides its Christmas, the season for reruns.

Here it is:

My fellow Canadians,

Starting today you are going to see a dramatic change in me and my party. That's because from now on, I am going to start acting and talking like the real Stephen Harper.

No longer will I listen to those advisers, pollsters and spin doctors who for the past five years have convinced me to act like a sweater-vest wearing, big spending, quasi-Liberal.

That's not me.

In fact, I am every Red Tory's worst nightmare: I am a dyed-in-the-wool, honest-to-goodness, small "c" conservative.

That means I believe government should be a lot smaller, that free enterprise is superior to socialism and that the only good thing about the CBC is Don Cherry.

I also believe government must live within its means. Simply put, deficit spending is wrong; today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes.

So to help eliminate the deficit, which admittedly my own government wrongly created, I am going to cancel many of the spending projects previously announced as part of my so-called "stimulus package."

Let's face it, the only thing government spending stimulates is more government.

Rather than increasing spending, I am going to do something I have wanted to do ever since I became prime minister, which is move the capital of Canada to Calgary.

Ha, ha, just kidding.

What I really want to do is cut spending. Under my government there will be no more corporate bailouts; no more handouts to special interest groups; no more pork-barrelling and no more regional subsidies.

Plus I want to make deep tax cuts. I would rather Canadians keep and spend their own money rather than hand it over to bureaucrats who will use it to subsidize things like balloon festivals in Quebec.

And speaking of Quebec, I now realize how much time, energy and money I wasted trying to win seats in that province by pandering to nationalists voters.

That's going to stop.

I will now treat all citizens and all provinces equally. There are no "nations" within Canada, there are no special groups with special rights, there are just Canadians.

Now I fully understand the Opposition will resist my new conservative agenda and force an election.

But that's OK. I welcome the chance to offer Canadian voters something they have not had for a long time: A true political choice.

In the next election, voters will have an opportunity to support the Liberals, who stand for big government, or the NDP, who stand for even bigger government, or the Bloc Quebecois, who want to run a foreign government.

Or they can support my party which wants to get government out of people's lives.

That's an election I can win.

Thank you and God bless Canada.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Canada still in trouble

Twenty years ago William Gairdner came out with a book called The Trouble with Canada.

A devastating critique of Canada’s leftist economic and political failures, it was a must read for every Canadian, especially for those Canadians who cherished our freedoms and traditions.

Gairdner, who by the way, is a brilliant political philosopher, laid out in stark terms how wrong-headed government polices were wrecking our country.

And for me, The Trouble with Canada was also an excellent resource. Whenever I needed a fact or an argument for some case I was making, my first move was to consult Gairdner’s book.

That’s why I am happy to say that Gairdner has a new book out called The Trouble with Canada … Still!

More than just a revision, The Trouble with Canada … Still! updates the case against the leftist ideology which, unfortunately, still motivates much of Canada’s governing and media elites.

And Gairdner pulls no punches. He goes after big spending politicians, enforced bilingualism, activist judges, radical feminism, official multiculturalism and a whole herd of sacred cows.

In the process the book touches on a myriad of topics including the national debt, the battle against terrorism and socialized medicine.

You may not agree with all of Gairdner’s arguments, but I guarantee you will find his ideas both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

If you care about fixing what’s wong with Canada and if you want an clear, concise outline that provides the answers, then get a copy of the Trouble with Canada …. Still!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Book ideas for Christmas, really

The holiday season is here, meaning all of us are experiencing the same traditional Christmas feelings, feelings which at any other time of the year would be called extreme stress and anxiety.

And lots of that stress is associated with finding that perfect gift.

Well, you can relax and start enjoying your eggnog.

After much research, I have come up with a list of Canadian political books that would even please grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge, assuming, of course, Scrooge … you know actually cared about Canadian politics.

Anyway here’s the list of 10 gift books:

  • How to annoy left-wing kooks and pinkos, by Don Cherry. (Special foreword written by Rob Ford)

  • Crush, Kill, Destroy: My life in politics, by Stephen Harper

  • My obvious intellectual superiority – political asset or liability? by Michael Ignatieff.

  • Take your long census form and shred it, by Tony Clement

  • Ten naughty ways to stimulate your economy, by Jim Flaherty

  • The brain-dead moron’s guide to building a lasting political coalition, by Jack Layton

  • Don’t let irrelevancy stop you from thriving, by Gilles Duceppe (Available in French only)

  • Crying polar bears: climate  fear-mongering  for fun and profit, by David Suzuki

  • Thanks suckers!,  the Chairman of General Motors
 (OK that's only nine books, but given the sorry state of Canadian politics this is the best I could do!)

Believe me these gift books will at the very least be excellent door stops.

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Good luck to Stephen Taylor

Finally the folks running the National Citizens Coalition have caught on to their own irrelevancy.

After years of wallowing in obscurity, they have hired Stephen Taylor, who unlike the people currently running the operation, actually possesses media and political savvy.

So they deserve credit for making a good move.

It says here, Taylor will be a "director" and will apparently be  in charge of the group's social media.

And God knows the NCC's social media desperately needs help. Both the NCC Facebook page and Twitter accounts are jokes.

But I hope Taylor does more.I hope he takes on a broader range of duties in terms of directing the NCC's policies and media strategies. I hope he can become the new "face" of the NCC.

After all, social media alone can't make a difference. You also need to have a vision. You need to engage issues that actually matter. You need the ability to communicate in a persuasive manner. You need the courage to take on battles even if it means going against the odds.

I know Taylor and he has what it takes to embrace these challenges.

In any event, I would like to offer him the following suggestions to help restore some of the NCC's lost grandeur:

* The NCC must stop cheer leading for the Harper Tories. To have any credibility, the NCC must be an ideas-oriented, tough, non-partisan organization, not a lap dog for the Prime Minister.

* Bring back the old NCC-style ads which were fun, had zing and generated news. Today the NCC, if it advertises at all, sticks to the bland. Boring doesn't work for an advocacy group.

* Once you announce a campaign follow it through. All too often, the NCC will announce a campaign with great flourish, but then you never hear of it again. For instance, more than three years ago the NCC promised to produce a report on how to reform health care. It never materialized. What happened?

* Develop a professional look. The NCC blog is jammed with spelling and grammar errors. And the writing style is awkward.

* Send out a news release once in a while. As far as I can see the NCC only sends out a release once every six months.

* Develop a media presence. Get quoted in papers. Appear on news shows. Write op eds. Since I have returned from the US, I have appeared on six TV programs, five radio shows and had op eds published in four different newspapers, which is more than the combined media for the NCC all year!

Anyway, I wish Stephen Taylor all the luck in his new job.

I have a special place for the NCC in my heart. I want it to do well.

Canada needs all the principled conservative voices it can get.

Monday, December 06, 2010

What's wrong with our skools?

When I was in grade school, way, way back in the early 1970s (yes I am that old) I was subjected to (victimized by?) education reforms that were considered "progressive."

This included "open concept" where five different classes were taught in one massive room, with no walls to divide them; a "teach yourself" model, where students were expected to create their own lessons using the teacher as only one of many resources and "fun Fridays" which meant we got to go bowling.

At the time I thought this sort of "progressive" learning was great, but as it turned out the only thing I really learned was how to graduate without learning anything.

High School turned out to be a bit of a shock: "What do you mean there's no bowling?!"

Anyway, I am bringing all this up because I recently attended a meeting put on by the Society for Quality Education where a Manitoba teacher, Michael Zwaagstra, was speaking about what's wrong with public education.

And he made it clear that unfortunately progressivism is still alive and well in our schools.

Protecting "self-esteem", it seems, is deemed more important than you know, actually teaching kids stuff.

Zwaagstra has co-written a book on this topic, which includes ways to set our schools back on the right track.

It's too late for me, but perhaps we can save a future generation of students.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Canadian democracy explained


Canadian democracy is in grave danger.
Or so say lots of pundits, journalists and academics who keep warning us about how the politicians in Ottawa are slowly eroding away our traditional democratic institutions.
They point out, for instance, how an “unelected Senate” recently killed a “Climate Change” Bill and how the House of Commons didn’t debate Canada’s military role in Afghanistan and how Prime Minister Stephen Harper was recently seen getting fitted for a medal-bedecked general’s uniform.
But fear not.
Despite what some critics are saying democracy is alive and well in Canada, although admittedly it’s a unique form of what might be called Canadian-style democracy.
What’s Canadian-style democracy?
Well, it’s a form of government we have developed over the last 100 years or so which manages to blend ideas adapted from the political traditions of Britain, America and the Byzantine Empire.
Unfortunately, however, given the pervasive influence of American media in Canada, many people mistakenly compare our system with the republican system south of the border.
Hence they wrongly assume democracy is in trouble in Canada.
So in the interest of setting the record straight, here’s a short primer of Canada’s distinctive political institutions:
  • Members of Parliament
    Elected directly by the people, Canadian MPs have two key responsibilities. 1) Blindly and obediently obey their party leaders 2) Stay in the House of Commons long enough to qualify for gold-plated pensions.
  • The Opposition
    Under our Constitution, the “Loyal” Opposition performs the extremely important democratic function of putting forward ideas that are so ridiculous they make governing party look good by comparison. 

  • The Governor-General
    The Queen’s representative in Canada, the Governor-General once had no real power, but today he or she must perform the crucially vital duty of understanding, pronouncing and spelling the word, “prorogue.”

  • The House of CommonsThe heart of Canadian democracy, the House of Commons is a place where MPs from different parts of the country and from different political parties gather with a democratic mandate to hurl juvenile catcalls at each other.

  • The Senate
    Yes Canadian Senators are “unelected”. But let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be a Senator and get paid lots of money to basically do nothing? It’s the Canadian dream job. And it’s a job that’s open to anyone regardless of race, creed or colour, so long as you’re a loyal party hack or on good terms with the Prime Minister.  Isn’t that a sort of democracy?

  • The Prime Minister
    Some say Canada’s Prime Minister has the dictatorial powers approaching that of a Latin American despot. That’s a complete and utter falsehood. In fact, his powers are more like an African despot.


  • The Media
    Although not a government institutiona free media is also crucial to our democracy. Indeed, through hard work, insightful analysis and courageous reporting, the Canadian media helps us understand the great importance to democracy of the Canadian media.
 And finally, as the ultimate safeguard of democracy, Canadians have the power to regularly vote in federal elections.
 That means if we think a government is bad we can always replace it with something worse.
Crossposted at Libertas Post

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

By-Election Blues

As we all know by now the big winner in the Monday by-election was, of course, Don Cherry.

Other than that, the three by-elections were notable for their lack of passion, excitement and intensity. Witness the dismal voter turnout.

And that, I believe, reflects the mood of the Canadian electorate. Simply put, when it comes to federal politics, the voters are apathetic or at least not engaged.

This is quite a contrast to the mood in the United States. As someone who worked for nearly a year as a political consultant in the US, I can tell you there is a boat load of intensity, emotion and excitement in American politics.

The voters down south are angry and they wanted Washington to know it. Hence the November 2 mid-term election, in which voters spanked the Obama regime pretty good.

But here in Canada it’s different.

There is no great desire among voters to remove Prime Minister Stephen Harper from office, nor is there a great desire to keep him in office.

It’s kind of a political limbo.

And this is the challenge all the political parties must face in the months ahead.

How will they reach voters on an emotional level?

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be on CTV's Power Play today as part of the "strategist" panel.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Save the LSS

One of my favorite all time events is the Liberty Summer Seminar. Held every year at a beautiful, bucolic estate near Orno, Ontario, the LSS brings together conservatives, libertarians and free-thinkers to discuss and debate issues associated with liberty.

And if that's not enough to entice you, it also features the greatest meals you could imagine!!

Unfortunately, however, bullying government bureaucrats are doing what bullying government bureaucrats always do: blindly and stupidly squashing freedom.

More specifically they are trying to punish the owners of the property where the event is held.

But the organizers are fighting back and taking the case to court.

I would highly recommend you support their efforts.

A summer without the LSS would be like a winter without Christmas.

Impressions from the Munk debate

Had an amazing time Friday night attending the Munk Debate in Toronto between former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and author/journalist/iconoclast Christopher Hitchens.

The two squared off on the question as to whether or not religion was a force for good in the world.

The event left me with a couple of impressions:

1/  It was so refreshing to see two people actually debate ideas and clashing visions. What's more they used erudite, witty and coherent arguments. What a welcome change from the partisan, insipid spin doctoring that passes for political debate in this country. 

Here's what we usually get:

Liberal: You're a bully!

Conservative: You're a wimp!

NDP:  Let's raise taxes on the rich!

2/  I expected left-wing demonstrators prior to the event and was not disappointed, they were there with their placards, megaphones and newsletters. What did surprise me however, was the inanity of the protests. Here's one of their actual chants: "Liar, liar pants on fire."

I mean come on, with all those arts grants the government throws around, you would think these guys could come up with something a little more creative.

Also, they kept shouting, slogans about "Getting out of Iraq". Isn't that a little passe, a little too 2003? 

Maybe, as my friend Rondi Adamson put it, they just couldn't come up with anything that rhymed with Afghanistan.

 I wonder why these "peace activists" weren't protesting North Korean aggression? Oh yeah, I forgot North Korea isn't America or Israel.

3/ The event was also a reminder of the sad state of the times. As a security precaution, all the debate spectators had to be searched. That didn't bother me so much, as did the fact that they confiscated my Swiss Chalet toblerone chocolates! Since when is chocolate dangerous? Fattening yes, dangerous no.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Media Alert

I am scheduled to appear on CTV's Power Play today at about 5:10-5:15 PM ET.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Emotion of fundraising

I am quoted in this Hill Times article explaining how the Conservatives have successfully used the emotions of hope and fear in fundraising appeals.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Simpson wrong on taxes

Here's a letter to the editor I sent to the Globe and Mail in response to Jeffrey Simpson's call for higher taxes.
*****

Jeffrey Simpson decries politicians who use “old ideas” to solve economic problems, but then oddly he suggests the US government raise taxes, which is surely the oldest idea of them all. (“Those old Bush ideas haunt us still” November 19.)

How do you think governments in the olden days paid for new pyramids or for wars to glorify the Emperor/King/Pope or for massive palaces?

They simply increased taxes on hapless peasants.

The historical record also shows that high taxes and big government never resulted in healthy or prosperous economies.
.
Only when citizens were allowed to keep more of their own money and invest it in the framework of a free market economy did societies grow wealthy.

And by the way, the notion that government should keep its hands out of the wallets of the people is a, historically speaking, relatively recent idea.

 So if Simpson really supports "new" ideas to spur the economy he should call for lower taxes and smaller government

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harper decision hurt us all

Michelle Kraft was once a co-worker of mine at the National Citizens Coalition.

She has the good sense not to work there any more and unlike the NCC, she still retains her conservative principles.

So when the Harper government opted to embrace economic nationalism over free markets when it came to Potash, she sent out a letter to the editor to express her disappointment.

Here's the text:

Dear Sir/Madam:

I have always been an ardent Conservative supporter, which is why I found Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to block the proposed buy out of Potash Corp. (PCS) so profoundly disappointing.

In taking the action he did, Prime Minister Harper betrayed his own conservative principles, let down PCS shareholders and damaged Canada’s reputation as “open for business”.

His betrayal of principle is obvious. Conservatives are supposed to believe in private property rights, meaning citizens are free to sell their property to buyers at a mutually agreed upon price. 

That’s a right which has been denied to PCS shareholders.  In fact, they weren’t even able to negotiate with the potential buyer! 

But it isn’t just investor-types who are hurt by the blocked sale.  If you have a pension fund, chances are you have shares in Potash Corp, shares which will be less valuable now that the fund cannot sell them to international buyers. 

And just consider the message our government just sent out to the world: Canada does not want foreign investment. 

The ramifications of this message could be devastating to our economy.  Who in their right mind would want to invest in Canada now?

Why go to the trouble of investing your money in a country where your proposal could be blocked for a murky “net benefit” calculation. 

Less international investment in Canada means fewer jobs for Canadians.

In short, Prime Minister Harper’s decision hurts us all.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Helping the Liberals pick the next Trudeau

These are troubling times for the Liberal Party of Canada.

I mean, here's a party that once ruled the Canadian roost, winning federal election after federal election without even raising a sweat.

They were to Canadian politics what the New York Yankees are to baseball; what Lady Ga Ga is to pop music and what Betty White is to 90 year olds.

How good were the Liberals? 

Well they were so good they could win elections even when they hired advisors like Warren Kinsella.

But those halcyon days are over. Today the once mighty Liberal Party is a 98 pound weakling, who keeps getting tar sands kicked in its face.

What's the problem?

Well in my opinion, it's leadership.

Simply put, the Liberals haven't had a decent leader since Jean Chretien retired from the sponsorship advertising business.

The Liberals, of course, understand this too. They realize that Paul Martin was an over-hyped, indecisive, chicken-heart; Stephan Dion an arrogant, English-mangling, academic and Michael Ignatieff a Harvard-educated, charisma-challenged, stuffed shirt.

This is probably causing many Liberals to pine for the glory days of their greatest, most charismatic leader --- Pierre Trudeau.

They are likely saying to themselves, "If only we could get another Trudeau to lead us, we could smite our enemies and return to our rightful positions of power and prestige." -- Only they would say it in French and English.

To help the Liberals find such a leader, I have come up with the traits a politician would have to possess to be truly considered another Trudeau.

Here they are in no particular order:

* Must be apologist for freedom-crushing totalitarian regimes.

* Must hate all things military -- especially the Canadian military.

* Must admire bloodthirsty tyrants, ie Fidel Castro, Mao Tse Tung and Joseph Stalin.

* Must hold Western Canadians in contempt.

* Must believe government should control the economy, as this will make it easier to destroy Alberta.

* Must have obsessive desire to brush away any of Canada's historical traditions.

* Must believe in creating massive deficits and increasing any sort of taxes.

* Must hate America.

So there you  have it. If any of you Liberals out there see a guy or gal with such a belief system, then voila you have your next Trudeau.

Mind you, it might be hard to find a guy like this nowadays.

Might I suggest you start the search in North Korea.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Attack ad truce?

Both the Ontario Liberal and PC Parties are talking about staying positive in the next provincial election.

And they might  mean it.

But as I argue in this Ottawa Citizen column, circumstances will likely force them into negative campaigning whether they  like it or not.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The words MPs dare not utter

The late comedian George Carlin used to talk about words that were banned on TV.

Well, there are also some words which have been officially banned in the House of Commons.

And when I say banned I mean banned. You will never, ever hear these outlawed words spoken in Parliament.

In fact, any MP impudent enough to utter any of these forbidden words would in short order be ejected from the House and kicked out of his or her Party.

For informational purposes only, here’s a partial list of the words MPs must never speak:

* Freedom

* Individualism

* Free Markets

* Smaller government

* Individual liberty

* Private property rights

* Personal responsibility

* Self-Reliance

* Freedom of expression

* Free enterprise

I am not sure who banned these words or why.

All I do know is our MPs from all parties are certainly respecting the rule. I mean when was the last time you heard an MP talk about “freedom?”

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Harper and Israel

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Harper government is its resolute support for the state of Israel.

Indeed, few Prime Ministers, if any, have been as pro-Israel as Prime Minister Harper.

It’s easy to dismiss this as a pure political move.

After all, for Harper strongly supporting Israel is good domestic politics in that it plays well with a key Tory constituency – social conservatives.

For a whole host of reasons social conservatives can be more pro-Israel than even many Israelis.

And of course, it might even help win the Tories a few Jewish votes.

But for Harper this is about more than just politics.

Back in the days when we worked together at the National Citizens Coalition, long before he needed to make any sort of political calculation, Harper used to regularly tell me that he was as he put it, “extremely pro-Israel”.

He simply thought it was important for Western democracies to support the only democratic state in the Middle East, a state which also happened to shared many of our values.

So Harper’s Israel stance represents a rare intersection of policy, principle and politics.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Media Alert

I will be a guest on The World Today on CKNW radio at 7:30 PM EST.

Topics: Banning political ads and the state of the Liberal Party.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Media Alert

I am scheduled today to debate Green Party Leader Elizabeth May on CHCH TV's Square Off program at 5:30 PM ET.

Topic: May's loopy idea to ban political TV ads.

This could bet messy.

Update: It did get messy. But I demolished her. Score: Gerry 1, Green Party 0

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Future of the Tea Party

In the wake of the US midterm election, lots of people are using political scorecards to rate the Tea Party movement, ie chalking up how many of “Tea Party candidates” won or lost.

But the future of this movement can’t be determined by its won-lost record. The Tea Party is not a political party and can’t be judged like one.

Rather it’s simply a collection of Americans fed up with big government, high taxes and massive deficits.

More importantly, Tea Partiers are willing to fight for the values they believe in, even it means taking on the Republican Party establishment.

And it’s a fight they are winning.

Love it or hate it, the Tea Party is getting the message out as to what’s wrong with America and what it will take to set the country back on the right track.

It’s now a force that can’t be ignored by either Republicans or Democrats.

But will the Tea Party survive its own success?

That’s a question that’s more important than whether or not the Tea Party helped or hindered the Republicans on Election night.

And it’s a question that’s relevant because the movement faces some serious challenges in the near future.

First, it’s possible the Republican Party, flush with its November 2nd victory, will seek to co-opt the Tea Party.

This, of course, would rob the movement of its independence and its credibility.

Consider what happened here in Canada with the National Citizens Coalition. Once an independent voice for conservative principles, the NCC is now basically a cheerleader for the Harper Tories.

Will the Tea Party like the NCC, allow itself to be co-opted?

A second danger facing the Tea Party movement is much more basic: it just might run out fuel.

And the fuel of the Tea Party movement is anger. Tea Partiers are angry with bad government and angry at what the Establishment is doing to their country.

But anger is a difficult emotion to sustain over a long haul, a fact which could dampen the movement’s intensity.

I hope, of course, the Tea Party is up to these challenges and remains a vibrant political force.

Now more than ever America needs a voice for fiscal sanity. And Canada’s conservative movement needs the example.
  

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest tonight on The World  Tonight with Rob Breakenridge. Time: 11:00 PM ET. Topic: The US Election.

The Green Party's Bad Idea

Apparently the Green Party believes political “attack ads” are not good for the environment.

Or at least they are not good for the political environment.

In a hysterical tone usually reserved for its pronouncements of impending ecological gloom and doom, the Green Party today called for nothing less than the banning of all political TV ads.

Get that, not just “attack ads” but all political ads.

“Canadians have been horrified by the vicious television ad campaigns waged as part of the mid-term elections,” says a Green Party news release. "We recognize that our own political culture is increasingly being contaminated by the same kind of poisonous manipulation seen in the US. Before Canadians next go to the polls, we want to propose sweeping new changes to protect our political commons.”

And so to protect our “political commons” (whatever that is) the Greens say “Canada should ban the use of television for political advertising before and during the writ periods.”

This idea disturbing for a whole bunch of reasons.

First, as someone who has been involved in producing attack TV ads both south of border and here in Canada, let me tell you what the Greens call “vicious” and “poisonous”, I call comparative and effective.

As long as attack ads are truthful, as long as they stick to issues and refrains from besmirching personalities, they are legitimate and useful forms of communication – certainly just as legitimate as those “positive” TV ads featuring smiling candidates posing with their wife, kids and dog.

There is a reason why these sorts of ads work.

Secondly, the Green Party’s desire to ban TV ads indicates the complete lack of faith the party has in the intelligence of Canadian voters.

Simply put, Canadians are too smart and savvy to get “manipulated” by a TV ad. Yes, a well-crafted ad will persuade voters if it makes sense and if it resonates on an emotional level.

A badly produced ad that hits the wrong note, on the other hand, will often backfire and hurt whichever party put it out.

In other words, we don’t need laws to protect Canadians.

Third, a ban on TV political ads will only help incumbents. Consider that holding office is a huge advantage for any party, at least when it comes to communicating with Canadians.

Often the only way Opposition Parties can reach out to Canadians is through TV ads. If you take away that power, you will take away their ability to build up support.

Last and certainly not least, a ban on TV ads is clearly a serious infringement on the right to free political expression.

You can’t help democracy by silencing those who wish to speak out.

In short, the Green Party call to ban TV ads is an idea that should be buried in the nearest composter.

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest on AM 640 Radio today at 1:40 PM EST to discuss the US election.

Update: I just got bumped by the Omar Khadr story. As if I didn't have enough reasons not to like that guy./

Analyzing the Liberals

Remember that column I wrote for the Hill Times last week, where I explained the strategic difficulties of the Liberal Party?

Well, today, Vancouver Sun columnist Barbara Yaffe, analyses my analysis. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween vs Christmas

Here are a few reasons why Halloween is better than Christmas:

* There are no politically correct demands to replace "Happy Halloween" with "Happy Fall Festival" or "Merry Costume Day."


* No one gives you righteous lectures about the "real meaning" of Halloween.


* You don't have to invite your in-laws over for a traditional Halloween Dinner.

* The Rocky Horror Picture Show is more fun to watch than It's a Wonderful Life.


* There are no Halloween Parades to cause traffic jams.


* When Halloween is over old pumpkins don't leave a billion, jillion needles in your house which keep turning up until July.


* No one ever broke his neck putting Halloween lights up on that tall tree in the front lawn.


* Stores don't incessantly play Halloween songs. (In fact, there really is only one Halloween song.)


* You don't have to pretend to be cheerful all the time.


* For little kids a fat guy, with a big bushy beard in a red suit, is a lot scarier than any ghost.


* Candy, candy, candy!!!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Agenda and Me

If you missed me on The Agenda, the other night -- good news. You can watch it right here!

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest "strategist" on CTV Newsnet's Power Play tonight at about 5:30 PM EST.

Topic: A bunch of political stuff that's happening.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The crimes Khadr didn't commit

A lot of people are saying the Liberals and NDPers are a bunch of bleeding-heart, namby-pamby wimps because of all the sympathy they seem to be extending to accused terrorist/murderer Omar Khadr.

Well don’t you believe it!

It’s just that “progressive Canadians” believe individual rights are only for those accused of crimes like terrorism.

Had Khadr committed a different sort of “crime”, one where no one actually got hurt, then he would have been in serious trouble.

For instance, it’s just Khadr’s good fortune that he didn’t commit one of the following sins:

  1. Use guns in Afghanistan that were unregistered.

  2. Talk on blackberry while driving a car.

  3. Smoke a cigarette outdoors within 20 kilometers of a child.

  4. Drive an SUV and let it idle.

  5. Own a pit-bull

  6. Offer private health care services inside Canada.

  7. Sell food items containing “trans fats.”
  1. Post an English sign in Quebec.
  1. Ride a bicycle without a helmet

  2. Vote for Rob Ford

Had he done any or all of these things, both the Liberals and NDP would have happily shipped Khadr out to Gitmo faster than you can say Nanny State.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Media Alert

Be sure and catch me tonight at 8:00 PM EST on TVO's The Agenda as I discuss "The curious case of Maxime Bernier."



Monday, October 25, 2010

Liberals need a theory

I have a column in this week's Ottawa Hill Times explaining the Liberal Party's chief dilemma: They don't have a theory to win.

I have reproduced it below:

Liberals need a theory, running an issue campaign can be risky


Famed baseball hitting coach Charlie Lau once said “there are two theories on hitting a knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither of them works.”


That’s the same kind of unhelpful advice I would offer to strategists working for the Liberal Party of Canada.


Except, I would tell them something like this: In politics there are three basic theories on winning an election, but unfortunately for you Liberals none of them work.


What are the theories, you ask?


Well, one theory is you win an election by having a strong leader. That, of course, can mean having a leader who is charismatic or who has a strong, magnetic personality.


Think Pierre Trudeau or Barack Obama.


It can also mean having a leader is who is a celebrity or a star—fitting that mold would be Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dwight Eisenhower.


Strong leaders work well in politics because they attract resources, they attract media attention and most importantly they can attract voters who may not otherwise be interested in the political process.


Unfortunately, however, for the Liberals, no matter how you slice it, their leader, Michael Ignatieff, falls short in the leadership department.


Let’s face it, although intelligent and articulate, Ignatieff has all the charisma of a sea slug. And while he might enjoy celebrity status among readers of the Harvard Literary Review, he was never exactly a household name in Canada.


So for Liberals, strong leadership is not a path to victory.


The second theory to winning elections is you champion a burning issue. Brian Mulroney, for instance, used the issue of Free Trade in the 1988 federal election to help him achieve victory.


However, typically issue-oriented campaigns usually don’t fare so well. True, candidates promoting a strong issue can often attract attention, resources and volunteers, but that rarely translates into winning over voters. Consider the examples of issue-oriented candidates like Republican Ron Paul in the United States or Green Party leader Elizabeth May in Canada.


A lot of people like their ideas, but not a lot of people vote for them.


What’s more, running on an issue campaign can be risky. If you choose the wrong issue, it can actually do you more harm than good. Just ask St├ęphane Dion who adopted the ill-advised strategy of promoting a “green tax” in the last Canadian election.


And when it comes to issues, there’s another problem for the Liberals: what issue out there today is sexy enough to win an election?


Running on a promise to bring back the long-form census questionnaire, probably won’t do the trick.


That’s why it seems extremely unlikely running an issues-oriented campaign would work for the Ignatieff Liberals.


This leaves the final election theory. And it can be summed simply as the “Us vs Them” theory.


In other words, this strategy entails convincing voters that you represent the interests of the good “us” versus the interests of the bad “them.”


Who is “us” and who is “them”?


Well that depends on which voters you are trying to court. In the United States right now the Republican Party is defining the “us” as regular God-fearing Americans and the “them” as

Washington insiders, lobbyists and powerbrokers.”


For the Democrats, meanwhile, the “us” are “The Little Guy”, while the “Them” are “greedy corporate Wall Street interests.”


Here in Canada, the Harper Conservatives are using this approach with some success. They have cast themselves as representing Tim Horton’s coffee-drinking Canadians as opposed to the CBC-watching, criminal-coddling, champagne sipping, urban elites.


This approach is probably the easiest political path to take. However, it’s hard to see how it would work for the Liberals. Think about it.


Ignatieff, with all his Harvard degrees and his aristocratic pedigree, just doesn’t seem like any of us.


Sure the Liberal leader can try and fake it: he can drink beer out of the can, attend the odd kids’ hockey game and wear plaid shirts, but voters have a way of sniffing out a phony. They prefer candidates who are real.


So it seems “Us” vs “Them” is out.


And that in a nutshell is the dilemma for the Liberals. They simply don’t have a theory on how they can win and election. Indeed, this explains why their party is languishing in the polls with no prospects of turning things around.


Their only hope is if they can come up with a new theory of winning.


If they don’t Ignatieff will have a better chance of hitting a knuckleball then he has of ever becoming Prime Minister.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A splendid book

Given all the publicity the anti-Globalization rioters get these days, it might surprise you to learn that in early nineteenth century Britain there were actually riots demanding free trade!

Yes it’s true.

That’s just one interesting little historical tidbit I discovered while reading A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, by William J. Bernstein.

The book looks at the history of international trade, from the times when cavemen exchanged seashells for antlers to today’s debates over globalization.

And at the risk of sounding like some sort of ubergeek, let me confess I am finding it to be fascinating reading.

Especially interesting is learning how governments through the ages sought to squelch international commerce, usually at the behest of some special interest group.

For instance, in seventeenth century England when the East India Company started importing cheap cotton the resulting competition hurt domestic wool weavers, who demanded Parliament do something.

In response, Bernstein writes Parliament considered a number of bills, “One would have required the wearing of wool by all students, faculty members, judges and lawyers; another, the wearing of wool by all citizens six months of the year; yet another, the wearing of felt hats by all female servants earning less than five pounds per year.”

Sounds like the kind of ideas Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty would consider.

Fortunately, these measures were shot down. (Hurting the chances of these bills passing were East India Company bribes which ended up in the pockets of key members of the House of Lords.)

One bill, however, did pass in 1678 requiring the dead be buried in wool!

The next British protectionist surge was a lot less comical.

In 1815, at the behest of the landed aristocracy, Parliament created a series of “Corn Laws” designed to keep foreign grain out of England and therefore keep grain prices artificially high.

As Bernstein notes, “Protectionist legislation usually strikes at the weak and powerless and the Corn Law of 1815 was no exception.”

Indeed, the price of bread skyrocketed meaning the poor could not afford to eat. Hence the riots demanding free trade.

Eventually, powered by the pro-free trade ideas of Adam Smith and others, a new group of leaders emerged in England who thankfully for hungry Englishmen overturned the Corn Laws.

Free trade won.

But, of course, the fight for freedom never really ends.

There will always be protectionist politicians, business leaders, big union bosses and academics who will put their own parochial interests ahead of the interests of consumers.

Too bad we can’t bury their ideas in wool.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Strange fruit, stranger Ideas

As we all know the CBC never met a trendy left-wing fad it didn’t like.

And so, I was not surprised yesterday to hear a puffball interview on CBC radio with Mark Arellano, a documentary-film maker and professor who was pushing the lastest left-wing fad: “Food Sovereignty”

Arellano has produced a film called Strange Fruit, which from what I heard on the radio, makes the following arguments:

  • Food is too cheap. We should pay at least four or five times more than what we pay today for groceries.

  • Shopping at grocery stores is morally wrong. We should only shop at farmers’ markets.

  • Or better yet, everyone should grow their own vegetables and fruits.

Of course, we once had such a food system in place --- it was called the Dark Ages.

Back in those days, peasants basically ate what they could grow or kill. And many times they would starve to death.

I am sure those emaciated peasants would have felt a lot better knowing they were dying in accordance with left wing principles.

Anyway, I wonder if Arellano thinks we should also slaughter our own pigs and butcher our own cows. That could get a little messy around the backyard.

And I suppose we Canadians should forget all about eating European cheese or American oranges or drinking coffee and tea.

Mind you, there is a bright side to all of this.

If we did take Arellano’s advice and grow our own crops, it would mean we would be far too busy to partake in any other activities, such as listening to CBC radio.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Singing the UN Blues?

The United Nations recently gave our country a collective glove wash.

By now we all know the sad story: Canada wanted a seat on the “Security Council” but the UN passed us over, bestowing seats instead to Portugal and Germany.

Portugal and Germany?!

This clearly proves beyond any doubt that a country’s standing in the UN must be directly related to its soccer prowess.

I suppose that means if hockey were a more popular international sport, we’d be running the world.

At any rate, our humiliating UN loss stunned Canada’s political leaders, who reacted to the bad news the way our political leaders always react to bad news – they instantly blamed each other.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff declared Canada lost out because international diplomats were punishing us for our “blatant anti-census agenda.”

“The horrifying image of those blank census forms is burned into the minds of all right-thinking Europeans” fumed Ignatieff. “To make things right, my MPs and I are willing to fill out all the forms ourselves and mail them to capitals of Europe.”

For his part, the Prime Minister took the high road: “I blame everyone but me for this diplomatic mess,” stated the Prime Minister. “But I especially blame Michael Ignatieff for reasons my speech writers will dream up later.”

Of course, regardless of who is to blame, our failure to win a seat at the Security Council table is the biggest blow to our national prestige since the McKenzie Brothers movie, Strange Brew, bombed at the box office.

In fact, when asked how this Security Council debacle will impact Canada’s international reputation, a leading American scholar, who specializes in the UN, replied, “What’s Canada?”

Even more importantly, our failure to gain a Security Council seat means Canada will not be voicing its opinions at the table when the United Nations performs its vital global functions.

What vital global functions?

Well, take the key role the UN plays in maintaining world peace.

Before the UN was invented, countries would invade each other at the drop of a hat.

Now countries have a chance to defend and debate their policies in the civilized and structured environment of the UN – then they invade each other at the drop of a hat.

And let’s not forget how UN helps to redistribute global wealth.

Every day the UN sucks millions of tax dollars out of countries like Canada and carefully funnels them into the pockets of corrupt UN bureaucrats.

And finally, the UN also gives “international statesman” a chance to shine in the global spotlight.

For instance, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad often takes time off time from stoning people to death, so he can politely and reasonably explain to the UN why Israel must be wiped from the map.

In fact, many give Ahmadinejad credit for the UN General Assembly recently voting to name October 25 as “International Wipe Israel from the Map Day.”

Yes isn’t it a shame Canada isn’t playing a more important role in such a fine and useful organization as the UN?

Oh well, at least we can lick Portugal and Germany in hockey.