Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 2011 Gerry Awards

OK it's time to stop your speculating and guessing.

Here's this year's official 2011 Gerry Award winners!!

Most Dead Terrorist Award
Winner: Osama Bin Laden - US Navy SEALs will drop the award over undisclosed location in the Indian Ocean.

The Medal for Parliamentary Decorum
Winner: Tie - Liberal MP Justin Trudeau and NDP MP Pat Martin. In response to winning this award the two MPs released the following statement: “Go f*%k yourself, you godd#%n piece of sh&t.”

The Lifetime Achievement in Gazebo Promotion Award
Winner: Cabinet Minister Tony Clement for his determination to keep Gazebos in news headlines no matter the expense to Canadian taxpayers.

The Eggheads Don’t belong in Politics Prize (AKA The Stephane Dion award)
Winner: Former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff who in the 2011 federal election clearly showed why intellectuals have as much business engaging in politics as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has of joining the Margaret Atwood Appreciation Society.

Best Deceased Dictator
Winner: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il
Note – Mummar Gaddafi actually received more support for this honour, but judges couldn’t agree on how his name should be spelled.

The General Custer Strategy Prize
Winner: The political geniuses in the Opposition who thought toppling the minority federal Conservative government and running an election on the “ethics” issue was a winning game plan.

The Most Likely to get a Government Bail out Award
Winner: Research in Motion – We tried to email this good news to the company but unfortunately our Blackberry froze.

The Economic Action Plan Award
Winner: Vancouver hockey rioters. Thanks to the damage they did to property after the Stanley Cup finals, massive amounts of spending was undertaken which must have “stimulated” economic activity.  Based on this success, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty now hopes fans across the country will offset a possible recession by going on a similar destructive rampage after the Super Bowl.

The Dirty Harry Award
Winner: The Conservative federal government. This government’s single-minded determination to get those lowlifes off our streets with more cops, more laws and more jails has led to a new Canadian national motto: “Well what about it punk, feeling lucky?”

Keeping Canada Safe Award
Winner: Defence Minister Peter Mackay who has managed to protect our country with a creative combination of free helicopter rides and unlimited expense accounts.

The Boston Red Sox Award for blowing a big lead in September
Winner: Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives

The Lenin Turning Over in His Grave Memorial Prize
Winner: “The Occupy Movement” which sought to overthrow capitalism (or something) by camping out in public parks and chanting a lot.

The "We're Glad She Wasn't Included in the Leaders' Debate Award"
Winner: Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who is also the best Canadian MP ever to represent Papua, New Guinea.

The Teenager Achievement in Politics Award
Winner: The entire NDP Quebec caucus. 

The Houdini Disappearing Award
Winner: The National Citizens Coalition – Thanks to incredible incompetence at the top, this once great organization is now basically irrelevant. (Oh it still has one key function: mindlessly regurgitating Conservative Party talking points.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fighting the good fight

One of the dangers of involving yourself in the rough and tumble world of politics is you risk succumbing to cynicism. If that happens you either give up your ideals or you simply give up all together. Sadly, it happens all the time.

However, one person I know has managed to emerge from the political trenches with both his ideals and his fighting spirit intact. His name is Kevin Gaudet.

I first came to know Kevin when he headed the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a group dedicated to making governments at all levels more accountable. And Kevin did his job with the tenacity of a pit bull. But more than that he displayed a rare combination in politics: he not only embraced political principles but also understood the nuts and bolts of political gamesmanship. 

This is why, although working with a limited budget, Kevin constantly made headlines. He knew how to craft his message so that it resonated with both the media and the public. As a consequence the CTF became the bane of wasteful government bureaucrats and politicians and Kevin emerged as a champion for all taxpayers.

But he wanted to do more. Rather than just lobbing bombs from the political sidelines, Kevin decided he needed to tackle the problems of big government from within. So in a gutsy move he quit his job at the CTF and ran for the Ontario legislature as a Progressive Conservative. True to his nature, Kevin ran a spirited campaign in the recent provincial election, but ultimately came up short.

Now a lot of people might have thrown in the towel after such an experience. But not Kevin. He is already back in action, this time running for the presidency of the PC party, a campaign that sees him taking on two other excellent candidates. Not surprisingly, Kevin is running as a proud “fiscal conservative.”

Will Kevin win this race? Who knows? But in my books just by taking on this challenge he is already a winner.

In short, Kevin is the kind of guy who when he sees wrong, will do everything he can to make it right.

We need more people like that in politics.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa vs Suzuki

Canada’s famed environmentalist David Suzuki had better watch out, he better not pout and he better not cry and I am telling you why.

Santa Claus is coming to town and he is not a happy camper.

That’s right, reliable sources say the Jolly Old Elf is not at all jolly about Suzuki’s latest fear- mongering fundraising ploy

You may have heard about it. Suzuki’s Foundation has set up a website which claims Santa Claus needs to be relocated on account of all the North Pole ice has melted thanks to industrial-induced climate change.

And, of course, the only way to save Santa Claus is to send the Suzuki Foundation lots and lots of cash.

It’s not clear how Suzuki came up with this tawdry idea. Perhaps he imbibed too much eggnog, or maybe he suffered a concussion while engaged in Christmas combat shopping, or maybe his heart is just three sizes too small.

But in the end it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that Suzuki’s propaganda stunt has apparently enraged the world’s most beloved Christmas icon.

And why shouldn’t Santa Claus be angry? First off, Suzuki is cutting Santa and his elves out of the action. They won’t get a single dime out of whatever money the “Let’s save Santa” campaign raises. The same thing happened, by the way, when Santa didn’t receive any royalties from the classic book, T’was the Night Before Christmas.

Secondly, it probably never occurred to Suzuki that Santa might actually welcome a little global warming in the North Pole. I mean let’s face it, Santa’s frigid village makes Winnipeg look like a tropical paradise.

Thirdly, Santa is probably no lover of the green movement. I am sure, for instance, those “clean energy” giant wind turbines, which green power advocates love so much, have cut to pieces more than one unwary reindeer flying too low on Christmas Eve.

And lastly, I bet Santa Claus is actually a strong supporter of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He does, after all, fit the Tory voter demographic to a tee: white, older male who lives in a non-urban environment. In fact, my theory is he moved to the North Pole either to escape high taxes or because he didn’t want to register his firearms.

This is why I fully suspect Santa Claus will hit back at Suzuki and his Foundation by doing everything he can to help the Conservative government achieve its agenda.

For instance, rather than riding on military helicopters, Defence Minister Peter MacKay will now get free lifts whenever he needs it on Santa’s sleigh with Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer leading the way.

And the next time tree-hugging American celebrities amass in Washington DC to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, watch for Santa Claus to air drop a battalion of hungry man-eating polar bears into their ranks.

Then just to stick it to the green crowd even more, I can envision Santa’s elves starting up a new business: selling melted glacier water in non-renewable plastic bottles. They will call it “Ethical Water.”

Plus Santa Claus will also likely offer the Tories invaluable political intelligence. His “Naughty or Nice” list (which contains much more data than the old mandatory long form census) could provide a lot of useful ammunition for the next round of Conservative Party attack ads, if you get my drift.

But what about Suzuki himself? Will he suffer any repercussions personally because of his ill-advised fundraising campaign?

Well, let’s put it this way. On Christmas morning Suzuki will almost certainly find his stocking stuffed with Alberta tar sands.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

(This article originally appeared in the Ottawa Hill Times)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Harper is a big meanie who is making his critics cry

Ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his majority government his management style has come under severe criticism.

Actually, it isn’t so much criticism as it is whining.

Indeed, many of the complaints against Harper can be summarized as follows: “Stephen Harper is a big mean bully who isn’t playing nice. Boo hoo!”

The whiners include media pundits, academics and Opposition MPs who take umbrage with the way the Harper government is limiting Parliamentary debate and with the way it treats its political opponents.

Take for example, Toronto Star columnist Tim Harper who recently moaned about how the Harper Tories, “Demonize opponents and mock their adversaries. Their partisan elbows as sharp as ever.”

And political scientist and former Globe and Mail editor, Geoffrey Stevens argued the Harper government needs to “relax” and “back off”, instead of trampling on opposition MPs.

Then there was NDP MP Pat Martin who famously and unapologetically used the “F” word on Twitter to express his displeasure with the Harper government’s tough Parliamentary tactics.

This made Martin an instant folk hero among the whining brigades.

Of course, Harper, Martin, Stevens and other Tory critics would never consider themselves as whiners. They prefer to paint themselves as defenders of democracy and of Parliamentary institutions and of civility.

Yet, you get the feeling that what really bothers them is that Prime Minister Harper is “running up the score.”  In other words, Harper continues to effectively and efficiently push his agenda through Parliament while steamrolling over his hapless opponents.

For Harper critics and for those sympathetic with the Opposition parties, this state of affairs just isn’t fair. It’s almost as if they think the Tories should voluntarily ease up just to give the Liberals and NDP a chance to get back in the game.

And who knows maybe that would happen if the Conservatives had a different leader.

But like it or not, the man in charge these days is Harper, a politician who likes to wage total political war. And right now he faces an Opposition that is leaderless, weak and generally ineffective.

So why shouldn’t Harper take advantage of this weakness? Why shouldn’t he use the rules of Parliament to advance his agenda? Why shouldn’t he promote his own political interests?

Plus it’s important to keep in mind that for Prime Minister Harper winning a majority government wasn’t by any means his end game.

In my view, his overall strategic goal is to eliminate the Liberal party as an effective political force in Canada. And now that he has the Liberals on life-support, Harper is not about to let up and show them any mercy. Nor is he about to give up on degrading as much as possible the NDP. And why should he?

In fact, it’s unrealistic and na├»ve to expect that Harper would give up on tactics that so far have paid him rich political dividends.

Now admittedly Harper’s no nonsense approach doesn’t exactly make him a cuddly leader, but it doesn’t make him a wannabe dictator either.

And that’s something the whiners should keep in mind. They should also remember that most Canadians are OK with Harper’s approach to leadership. He did, after all, recently win a majority government victory.

That’s not to say the Conservatives should not be vigorously criticized. But instead of bellyaching about Harper’s Parliamentary procedures or about his supposed “bullying” tactics, his critics should focus instead on issues that actually might resonate with Canadians.

And here’s one more word of advice for Opposition MPs. If you don’t like Harper’s Parliamentary practices, the solution is quite simple: win the next election.

(This article originally appeared in the Hill Times.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chretien's first draft

You have probably heard the news about former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien sending out a fundraising letter. But you probably didn't know that the letter talked about in the media is actually a second draft.

Fortunately, I managed to uncover the first draft.

Here it is:

Dear federal Liberal:

Remember me, I used to be your leader. Those were the days when we Liberals actually …you know won elections.

In fact, I won three majorities in a row. Not bad, eh? Not even the great God, Pierre Trudeau ever did that!

But then that Martin guy, the guy who thought he was smarter than everybody else, he took over the party and led it straight into the toilet.

Not that I am bitter or anything.

And then there were those two losers that came after Martin, what were their names again? Stephane … something and …I forget the other guy.

Anyway, I am writing because the Liberal Party is basically broke. It’s getting so bad Bob Rae might have to start busking for change on some Ottawa street corner.

So they came to me to help with the fundraising. Yeah, that’s right, the same guys who stabbed me in back now want my help.

Ironic, aint it?

Oh well, here goes: Please hand over some cash. Why? Well because, the Liberals are …. Um, we plan to … no that won’t work.... our policies are ....hmmm, that's unbelievable. 

Man, this fundraising is hard.

In the old days getting money was really easy. I just sent some flacks to meet my corporate “friends” in a secluded Montreal restaurant, where a mutually beneficial arrangement was agreed upon, if you get my drift.

Nowadays, it’s different. Now we have to ask regular people like you to fork over the dough, without even being able to offer any advertising contracts.

It’s crazy.

So what are you waiting for? Get some cash, stuff it into an envelope and mail it to Liberal Party Headquarters … and do it now!!!

If you don’t send any money, I will go to your house and throttle you! Ha, ha, just kidding. (No I’m not.)

Yours truly,



Seriously, you have to admit I am the best Prime Minister Canada ever had, and that includes that dandy Pierre Trudeau! Not that I’m bitter.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

MacKay’s Air Force Needs to be Grounded

Remember the old TV comedy McHale’s Navy?

Well now we have a Conservative government production called MacKay’s Air Force, and it isn’t very funny.

In fact, if the Harper Government knows what’s good for it, it will cancel this program sooner rather than later.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Canada’s Minister of Defence, Peter MacKay, is quickly gaining a reputation for flying high on the hog.

It all started when news emerged that MacKay had used a Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopter to pick him up from a lodge where he was spending a private vacation.

This was followed by other reports which indicated the Defence Minister had racked up nearly $3 million worth of flights on government Challenger jets.

Needless to say these stories were a gift to Opposition MPs who were quick to suggest MacKay was using government air craft as his own “personal limousine.”

That’s not only a good zinger, but it’s also a line of attack that could leave a serious mark on the Tory government.

Indeed, Mackay’s travel choices can hurt the Conservative Party in the eyes of voters much more than the so-called “ethical” scandals that helped bring down the government earlier this year.

Why do I say that?

Well first off many of the “ethical” issues the Opposition tried to stick on the Tories during the election just didn’t make great political weapons.

Take, for instance, the infamous “in out” scandal.

This was supposed to hurt the Conservatives because Elections Canada had charged the party with some sort of convoluted accounting shenanigans.

The story went something like this: Elections Canada charged the Conservatives with allegedly shifting $1.3 million in ad expense from its national campaign for the 2006 election to 67 individual candidates, who paid for national produced ads through bank transfers ….oops sorry dozed off there for a second.

Anyway, you see what I mean;
 you need to be a CMA to follow or even care about all the money trails laid out in the “in out” saga.

My point is an issue so complicated and so dull will never translate into an effective 30 second attack ad.
That’s why this “ethical” question was such a flop in the last federal election.

Voters just didn’t care.

On the other hand, people do care about political misbehavior when it’s easy to comprehend.

A voter who might not raise an eyebrow about his government amassing a $30 billion deficit, will be outraged if he learns $5,000 of his tax money was used to subsidize a study on erotic Norwegian literature.

And this brings us back to Mackay’s Air Force follies.

Opposition attacks on the Defence Minister’s use of government equipment will resonate with voters because, unlike the ethical stuff, everyone will understand the narrative.

It’s simple: We have an arrogant, out of touch, politician frittering away hard-earned tax dollars for his own personal comfort.

Plus the Conservatives are especially vulnerable to this sort of attack because they keep talking about the need for government austerity.

In short, MacKay can be cast not only as wasteful and arrogant, but also as a hypocrite.

The attack TV ads practically write themselves!

Cue Announcer: “You may have lost your job, you may be struggling to pay your bills, but Peter MacKay isn’t suffering. He likes to gallivant from posh vacation resorts on military helicopters. It’s time for the
Conservatives to come down to earth.”

This is why the Tories should ground MacKay and make sure other cabinet ministers don’t make similar mistakes.

Otherwise, the Conservative government might find itself in some not so friendly skies.

(This article originally appeared in the Ottawa Hill Times.)