Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Little War that Could

As you probably know, two hundred years ago a major historic event took place which helped shape the destiny our great nation.

But this posting is not about the discovery of maple syrup.

Instead, I want to discuss another equally important historical event which took place two hundred years ago, a little something we like to call, The War of 1812.

Now some might say this conflict is the Marc Garneau of wars, in that it’s celebrated, but dull.

Certainly it lacks the panache of other famous conflicts such as World War I, World War II or The Clone Wars.

That’s not to say, of course, the War of 1812 doesn’t get any attention. In fact, a respected group of military scholars recently voted it “The War with the most Boring Name Ever.”

But clearly it needs some better PR.

Thankfully the Conservative government is on the case. It’s spending millions of tax dollars on War of 1812 TV commercials,  War of 1812 stamps,  War of 1812 coins, and War of 1812 lunch boxes, posters and T-shirts.

Word has it, if this campaign is a hit, the government will soon produce a sequel commemoration called “The Revenge of The War of 1812.”

Meanwhile, as a result of all this spending and commemorating, Canadians, who once knew next to nothing about the War of 1812, now realize it was a conflict where, for some reason, guys in red coats shot at guys in blue coats.

Yet, despite all this government-sponsored propaganda … oops … I mean public-spirited education, more needs to be done to inform Canadians about this key clash in our nation’s history.

With that in mind, I have decided to fill in some of the “historical gaps”, mainly with information I just made up.

The first thing you need to know is that technically speaking the War of 1812 actually started in 1813; it got its name due to a careless typo, which is historically significant when you consider the typewriter wasn’t even invented yet. (Nobody has the heart to point out this error to the Conservative government.)

Also interesting is the War of 1812 is known by different names in different countries. For instance, in Britain it’s generally known as “The War of What?”

Anyway, at one point during the War of 1812, invading American soldiers burned down our Parliamentary buildings. This action shocked and angered Canadians who decried it as an “outrage”; the Americans, on the other hand, called it a “parliamentary prorogation,” thus setting an important precedent in Canadian politics.

By the way, rumours are flying that US President Barack Obama may soon come to Canada and apologize for this act of arson. He will reportedly blame it on the Bush Administration.

Of course, later in the war we got back at the Americans when British troops burned down the White House. This is considered to be the worst thing to ever happen in America’s capital, other than the Washington Nationals shutting down the season of pitching ace Steven Strasburg.

So you see the War of 1812 is actually an extremely important part of Canada’s legacy, even more important in some ways than Justin Trudeau’s hair.

After all, because we managed to fend off an American invasion, Canada was able to maintain its cherished status as a backwater colony of the British Empire.

Ultimately, this paved the way for Canada to become a fully sovereign nation, a sovereignty we celebrate today by removing the Canadian flag from the Quebec National Assembly.

And it’s all thanks to the War of 1812. (Really the War of 1813.) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NCC President Owes the CTF an Apology

After Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he was going to (finally) reform the gold-plated MP pension plan, National Citizens Coalition president Peter Coleman quickly claimed it as a victory for his group.

Nothing surprising about that.

I certainly expected Coleman would try and claim credit, but what I didn’t expect was that in doing so he would also launch a classless and pathetic attack against another conservative organization.

Yet, unbelievably that’s what he did.

In a recent note posted on the NCC blog (which was also emailed to the group’s supporters ) Coleman interrupted his boasting about the  NCC’s supposed triumph, to express his annoyance that other groups had the audacity to believe they also had a part to play in making MP pensions an issue.

As he put it, “there have been many groups coming out of the woodwork trying to claim credit for pressing for these reforms.”

While Coleman doesn’t have the courage to name the other groups, “coming out of the woodwork” it seems obvious he is referring to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which is also taking credit for MP pension reform.

Coleman then tries to “set the record straight” by linking to some NCC anti-MP pension ads from the late 1970s and adds, “It was the NCC that first started researching and exposing outrageous MP pensions nearly 35 years ago, and it is the NCC that has put this issue in the spotlight once again.”

Interestingly, however, Coleman doesn’t link to any ads of more recent vintage, say within the past five years.


It’s simple, while the NCC was indeed a leading voice on MP pension reform in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, it became virtually silent on the issue after Harper became Prime Minister.

For some reason reforming MP pensions was no longer a top priority for the NCC.

This is why it’s so absurd for Coleman to now be demanding all the attention, like some spoiled child.

The truth is the issue of MP pensions might have fallen off the public radar completely had it not been for another conservative organization that worked hard to keep the flame of reform alive.

I am talking, of course, about the CTF.

For the past seven years, it was the CTF, with its relentless, informative and creative ad campaigns, which almost single-handedly ensured that the issue of MP pensions stayed on the national agenda.

In other words, during the Harper era, it was the CTF and not the NCC which put a “spotlight” on MP pensions.

That’s why the CTF has every right to take a bow for its victory.

Ironically, if anyone is crawling out of the woodwork on the MP pension issue, it’s the NCC president.

So why did Coleman launch such a graceless attack on the CTF? I don’t know, maybe he’s jealous of its success. Maybe his own supporters were wondering why the NCC didn’t challenge Harper on the MP pension issue. Who knows?

All I do know for sure is that Coleman owes the CTF and its supporters an apology.

Setting the NCC Record Straight

Last week, in his Toronto Sun column, Warren Kinsella  took a negative swipe at my old group, The National Citizens Coalition. Alas, I was certain the people currently running the NCC would fail to respond to this attack; so I decided to send the following letter to the editor. It was published today:

Dear Sir/Madam:

Re “Justin Trudeau’s resume compares favourably to Stephen Harper’s” (Oct. 14): Warren Kinsella took a cheap shot at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, by taking an even cheaper shot at the National Citizens Coalition. 
Mind you, Kinsella doesn’t actually mention the NCC by name; he just says some nasty things about the “group” Prime Minister Harper used to head up. As a former employee of the NCC, I’d like to set the record straight. 
Yes, Prime Minister Harper was indeed NCC president, back in the late 1990s. But he was not, as Kinsella asserts, a “lobbyist.” 
As NCC president, Harper’s job was to use advertising campaigns, constitutional court challenges and media appearances to raise public awareness about the importance of free markets, smaller government and individual freedom. 
To my mind, that’s an important job. And yes, any job where you have to argue policy, articulate a clear and consistent message to the public and deal with the media, prepares you for a life in politics. At least it seemed to work for Harper.
Gerry Nicholls
Former vice president
National Citizens Coalition

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Just in Case You Don't Have Enough Trudeau News

Hey, somebody in the Liberal Party accidentally emailed me a copy of Justin Trudeau's itinerary for the next few months.

Thought I'd share it:

Justin Trudeau campaign itinerary:
Oct. 8 – Thanksgiving Day – Visit farm near Montreal -- raise turkey from the dead.

Oct. 14 --- Toronto rally: Brief talk to supporters, followed by turning water into wine.

Oct. 22 --- Niagara Falls –Part the Niagara River just for the heck of it.

October 29 – New York - Attend labour negotiations between NHL and Player’s Union, so that idealism and youthful energy can end hockey lock out.

November 2 -- Ottawa -- Talk to CBC producers about casting for planned bio pic, tentatively titled: “Justin Trudeau: The Most Impossibly Handsome Canadian” 

November 5 -- Organize the hordes of once apathetic but now inspired and energized youthful Canadians into obedient legions.

November 8  – Winnipeg – Raise funds for leadership campaign by turning base metal into gold.

November 11  – Regina -- Take day off to re-charge charisma.

November 13 -- Edmonton -- Bask in media adulation. 

November 19 -- Calgary – Announce detailed policy platform. (Ha, ha just kidding.)

November 25  ---  Red Deer -- Wear Stetson and smile adorably. 

December 2 – Vancouver – enter city via chariot drawn by four snow white stallions.

December 15 – Victoria – visit local restaurant – order sizzle without the steak.

December 25 – Montreal  -- Join the world in celebrating my birthday.