Sunday, August 24, 2008


Trudeau: Calling it as he sees it

I noted this weekend that both The Globe and Mail and The Calgary Herald editorial page took shots at Alexandre Trudeau for his recent comments on Afghanistan. See

He had recently stated that Canada should end its “aggressive military operation in Afghanistan.” He thought that the Pashtun people should be left alone because they had “extremely different values than ours, values we may not agree with.” In his view we “have no reason to tell . . .how to live their lives,” and that “It’s not our business to try to teach them lessons.”

The Globe first of all pointed out that the Pashtuns was only an ethnic minority in the country, with about 42% of the population. Whether it is 42% or 50% as said by some observers, the Pashtuns are by far the largest ethnic group. The other six major ethnicities in the country are ranging between 3% (Turkmen) of the population, to 18% (Tajik). But I quibble.

The Globe’s editorial then resorted to the usual emotional and graphic rhetoric that we have come to expect from the supporters of the war. It said the Taliban were oppressors and were the “champion of the global league of utterly odious societies,” who, if returned to power, would “resume exporting abroad the venom that fuelled its barbarity.”

The Globe acknowledges that the mission “is far from perfect,’ and that progress towards secular democracy had been erratic – a very rosy description given the view of many on-the- scene observers who would say that progress has been non-existent and is now in considerable retreat.

But the most glaring, misleading statement of the editorial was the statement that there was a question as to whether NATO could defeat an insurgency without “a substantial reinforcement.” The Globe has excellent people on the ground reporting on the war. They must know that the use of such a benign term as “a substantial reinforcement” to describe what NATO needs to win in Afghanistan is further evidence – if any was needed – of a continuing deception on the Canadian people. If the Globe had said, NATO has 50,000 troops in Afghanistan but needs 300,000 to 400,000 fighting men and women - at least! - to win the day and establish democracy, that would have been a true statement. But the Globe didn’t come clean.

At least Trudeau told the truth as he, and many other observers who have hunkered down in alien cultures with bullets whizzing past their heads, sees it. In his opinion, this is not a good war, and its best we get out.

The Herald as is its wont these days, now that it has relegated itself to being a mere pamphleteer of neocon causes, accused Trudeau of uttering ‘defeatist remarks.’ It took issue with his description of Canada’s role as “aggressive” and conveyed astonishment that Trudeau seemed to consider that Canada was part of a 19th century ‘Great Game’ for dominance in central Asia. Well, its not such a hare-brained idea. No doubt the Herald writers – boneheads as most of them are these days – did not know that it is widely rumored that President Karzai was a consultant for Unocal (since taken over by Chevron) regarding the proposed but now stalled Trans-Afghanistan Gas Pipeline to transport gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, thence to Pakistan and India. Chevron, in fairness, is no longer part of the deal. In fairness to Karzai, he denies the rumor. However, in judging the veracity of the rumor it should be kept in mind that Karzai is not popular in the country, is distrusted by most of the people and his government is corrupt.

Then, in a character assassination worthy of the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy, the Herald poses the thought that Trudeau’s use of the word “aggression” to describe the NATO Afghanistan operation exposes Trudeau “to the suspicion he does not wish the military mission well.” Get it? He doesn’t support the troops. Warming to the subject, the writer describes Trudeau’s words as “a slap in the face to every Canadian who grieves a fallen soldier.”
We’ve heard this cowardly stuff before, during the war in Viet Nam and more recently during the Iraq war. The people making the war and their cheerleaders say, you must support the war, and if you don’t, well, then you obviously don’t support the troops – and if you don’t support the troops you are unpatriotic, perhaps even a traitor, etc. That’s what they said about Muhammed Ali when Uncle Sam tried to throw him into the slammer for failing to go to Viet Nam.

The fact is that there are times – and I believe this is one of them – that to advocate getting the hell out of the war, you do support the troops. Our NATO partners are not pulling their weight. Things are going backwards not forwards. There are still bumper crops of poppies, and plenty of corruption. And the Taliban are using our troops for target practice. The Herald ignores all of that. It continues its mindless jingoism and tries to assassinate the character of a young man who dares to tell the world what he thinks and sees as the truth.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Anxious to join his pals? Or, just plain dumb?
I note in yesterday's Calgary Sun, the last remaining Tory neanderthal columnist not yet hired by Premier Stelmach's propaganda office - Neil Waugh - wrote about the recent downturn in Alberta housing construction:

“ . . . The senior market analyst immediately concluded that when it came to single-detached starts: 'last month's activity represented the worst July performance since 1986.'
That harkens back to a time when the Alberta economy was still locked in the economic winter that Pierre Trudeau's NEP caused. . . .”

Either Waugh is getting desperate to join his pals Olsen and Stanway on the Stelmach gravy train or, he really is ignorant. Either way its an even money bet.

For the real facts read:

Monday, August 11, 2008


Lewis MacKenzie
"Gets It" about Afghanistan
Will Never "Get it" about Afghanistan

As those of you who read my blog from time to time know, I don’t give Tories very much credit. The truth is though that I liked some of the old PCs when it was a kinder and gentler party than the Conservatives are today. I liked John Crosbie. And I liked Joe Clark too. There are several others. There were some good men and women in the old PC party and some great Canadians amongst them. My hat goes off to them.

Today my hat goes off to another old Tory. He ran as a PC under the leadership of Jean Charest in 1997 in the riding of Parry Sound – Muskoka. Alas, he lost to the Grit, but had he won the people of Canada would have been well-served. Just as he served them well as a career officer in the Canadian Armed Forces for 35 years. He is also an author, sometime columnist and winner of the 2007 Diamond Class Ontario Championship for formula Fords - at the age of 67. He is also one Canadian who ‘gets it’ about our role in Afghanistan. I speak of Major-General Lewis MacKenzie (ret).

MacKenzie has written several pieces about Canada’s role in the Afghanistan quicksand, and was one of the first prominent Canadians to see the conflict in realistic terms and have the guts to talk about it. For some time now MacKenzie has told Canadians that this is a very difficult operation requiring far more resources than our NATO allies seemed to be prepared to commit.
In this morning’s Globe and Mail he comments on Canada finally getting its hands on six used Chinook medium-lift helicopters to help us and our NATO partners in the Afghanistan effort. Those helicopters are to be leased for one year at a cost – to you and I - of three hundred million bucks. In his piece MacKenzie notes that among NATO’s twenty-six countries, there are 3,000 such helicopters sitting around airports. However, none have been made available to Canada for the war effort. He questions NATO’s commitment to the project, and calls upon its member nations to either pitch in, or forget about NATO. MacKenzie sees it and tells it like it is.

Good on Lew MacKenzie – a great Canadian!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Turd Blossom
Former Trustee Conrad Black
Former Trustee David Radler

Yesterday I had a big surprise. I received an invitation to a reception and dinner from the far right wing Fraser Institute, the Calgary Herald's think tank of choice. The event will be held on September 24th at a tony downtown Calgary Art Gallery. The guests will be treated to a lecture by Karl Rove.

Rove, you will recall, until last year was the loyal and faithful servant of President George W. Bush. He served as the President's Deputy Chief of Staff, and headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives. Despite these lofty positions he has been described as 'Bush's Brain,' - not exactly a complement. In fact, Rove is a university dropout. He did attend university for a time - long enough to get draft deferrals until the draft ended in June of 1973.

His boss the President, showing the privileged and Ivy League class for which he is so famous, calls him 'Turd Blossom.' For his part, Rove describes the President as "one of the most intellectually gifted presidents we've had."

Throughout the greater part of Bush II's political career as Governor of Texas and President of the United States, Rove has been his closest political advisor. Thus he has been in on all of the great decisions - like going to war in Iraq and the public misinformation initiative that was its foundation, the woeful lack of preparation for rebuilding Iraq after the invasion, paying little more than lip-service to the war against the Taliban, the feeble response to Hurricane Katrina, public policy that has brought about the near bankruptcy of the United States, the wink-wink approach to torture and rendition, and foreign policy that resulted in the plummeting of American influence throughout the world. And that is only a partial list of the catastrophes of the Bush II years.

Rove's political gifts however, are not something to sneer at. He is an expert in smear tactics and dirty tricks. Rove the draft dodger has been given credit for labelling 1972 Democratic candidate for President George McGovern as a "left-wing peacenik" notwithstanding McGovern's stellar World War II service as a B-24 pilot. Rove has been accused of masterminding a telephone poll to voters in the Texas Gubernatorial contest between Bush II and Democrat Ann Richards, wherein the people being polled were asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for Richards if they knew that her staff was 'dominated by lesbians.'

He has been accused of doing the same thing in the 2000 Republican Primary in South Carolina, a contest between George W. Bush and John McCain. The telephone pollsters asked the question if they were more or less likely to vote for John McCain for president 'if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child."

During his long stint at the President's side, Rove had been up to his neck in other allegations -like being instrumental in the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative, dismissing U.S. federally appointed attorneys for failing to prosecute democrats, and being involved in the 'swiftboating' of John Kerry's military service during the Viet Nam war.

So Mr. Rove is the guest speaker at the dinner to which I was invited. Oh, yes, I almost forgot. If I were to go it is not for free. Tickets are $500 per individual, $900 per couple and $5000 for a table of ten. Mr. Rove does not come cheap these days. However, probably unbeknownst to the Fraserites in Toronto, he comes cheaper in Calgary. On September 23 in Toronto, the Bay Street Harperite cheerleaders will pay $700 for one ticket, $1300 a couple and $7000 for a table of ten. I guess the recent downturn of oil prices from $150 a barrel to $120 or so prompted the better Calgary deal.

The Fraser Institute is a registered charity with Revenue Canada. It is a rabid proponent of competitive markets, less government spending and regulation, less gun restrictions, more privatisation of government services and more private medicine. It opposes government involvement in global warming. Two of its illustrious former members of its Board of Trustees are Conrad Black and David Radler formerly of Hollinger fame, and presently indisposed. The current Board is comprised primarily of Canadian captains of industry, past and present. Among speakers at Institute functions in the coming months are former Socred Preston Manning, fallen Premier Ralph Klein, failed magazine publisher Ezra Levant, and Harper eminence grise Tom Flanagan. Just so you know.

As for me, I'm skipping the Rove banquet.