Monday, October 27, 2008


Peter Puck (on the left) with unknown acquaintance (on the right)

For years, Peter Pocklington was a legendary figure in Edmonton. To say he was high profile is an understatement. He cultivated the image of a swashbuckling entrepreneur. He was a cocky car dealer, real estate developer, meat packing house owner, promoter of right wing causes, candidate for the leadership of the National Progressive Conservative Party and above all, publicity-crazed owner of the Edmonton Oilers during the legendary Gretzky years. Edmontonians and the sporting world affectionately called him ‘Peter Puck.’

On Sunday the Edmonton Journal published a sad and pathetic story about Peter Puck who for some years now has been living in California. The story tells of Pocklington welching on a commitment he made to junior high school students during the time he was still a leading citizen in Edmonton. See:

The story goes that in 1997 Pocklington promised to pay university or college tuition for all Grade nine students of the inner city McCauley Junior High School who attained an average of 80% or better and who decided to go to university or college when they had completed their high school studies. He even shook the hands of the students who had qualified and gave each of them a certificate and Edmonton Oiler jersey.

Pocklington said he decided that McCauley students should be the ones to receive his largesse because he knew parents of children in that school could ill-afford to pay for their children’s university or college education.

Boe Lefebvre, now 26, was one of those students. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. He said “All throughout junior high, I knew I wanted to be on the list. For my parents, it was a huge weight off their back because there was no way they could pay for my education." Boe graduated from high school and enrolled at college. He fulfilled his end of the bargain. He racked up a total student loan of $11000 while at college. He is now married, operates a business and is working on a degree.

Alas, it has now been the better part of a decade that Boe has put the arm on Pocklington to pay up. So far, there has been not a hint of the green stuff crossing Boe’s palms. There have been sporadic communications between the two and some promises to pay, but still no bread.

Another young man who got stiffed was Sam Ngai. Sam was philosophical about it saying, “I wasn’t so much mad as disappointed, but I guess that’s life.”

When contacted about the matter Pocklington said that he had left some money with the Alberta Treasury Branch to administer the program, but the guy in charge had left. In Peter Puck’s words, "That is the last I know about it. That was 13 years ago, and normally, there is an end to these type of things."

Although Boe’s attempts to get Puck to honor his commitment have not yielded results he seems to be willing to continue the fight. He says “I knew this was going to be a longshot from the get-go, but in my mind, it all comes down to principle.”

By the way, until recently the famed Peter Puck was a director of the Fraser Institute. You remember the Fraser Institute, shurely. It promotes that hard right flim-flam about the perfection of markets, deregulation, rugged individualism, laissez-faire economics and other Aynrandian voodoo which is gospel to much of the business establishment. Why, the Calgary Herald even puts more stock in its studies than it does in the collected works of Stockwell Day.

As I have earlier pointed out in my musings the famed Institute has or has had among its real or wannabe fat cats, former directors and convicted felons, Conrad Black and David Radler, and senior policy analyst and admitted plagiarist Dr. Owen Lippert. Now the former director and welcher Peter Puck joins this distinguished company.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


If anyone needed convincing that the Alberta infrastructure has gone to potholes under the successive Klein and Stelmach regimes, one need not look further than a recent report from the Fraser Institute.

The right-wing, neocon unthinktank comprised of fanatical deregulation fat cat windbags, issued a report ranking Alberta in 7th place out of the 10 provinces in respect to roads in “good condition.” In fact, the report says that only 63% of Alberta’s roads are in good condition. See:

The dismal state of Alberta’s roads were confirmed by an Alberta Transportation spokesman who acknowledged the province was behind in road repair due to insufficient funding, rising construction costs and a shortage of labour and material.

According to the Institute’s study, the top three provinces with roads in good condition are Ontario which is in first place, followed by Nova Scotia and Quebec. See:

Given the Institute’s great affection for Ralph Klein, the ex-Premier primarily responsible for the current dilapidated state of all public services and public infrastructure, the province’s ranking would probably be much lower than 7th place, if the study was performed by an institution with a record for objectivity.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Stephane Dion announced intentions to leave as leader of the Liberal Party in the same manner as he has conducted his whole political career - with honesty, noble purpose, and class.

He leveled with the Canadian people as to why he lost. The Conservatives had painted him into a corner with unprecedented attack ads well before the election got under way, and they could do it because they had bucks that the Grits never had. He could have said that the Grits never had the bucks because they had spent too much time and effort fighting each other in the few years before he became leader. He did not have to say that though because people already know. He knew that, and he had too much class to remind them.

He defended the Greenshift plan as the forward thinking good policy that it was. I'm sure there will be the usual neocon bumboys who will rant about that statement. However, I refer them to the hundred or so economists who endorsed the plan, as well as to the recent statements of Bill Clinton giving B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell a pat on the back for the same policy.

The right-wing press never stopped talking about Greenshift's so-called complexity. Yeah, complex - a plan that taxed the big polluters who had been ripping off the world with high energy prices, so that some of their excessive gains could be put back in the hands of the little guy, and so the polluters themselves would discipline themselves to produce greener emissions. What was it about that statement they didn't understand?

Dion also made clear that the Liberal Party had to deal with the new era of fund-raising. The party has got to stop talking about it, and do something about it. They have to take a page out of the book of Howard Dean and Barack Obama on mass fund-fundraising. One of the Chretien legacies - and a good one in my opinion (although not in the opinion of the Gritdom's disloyal, bonehead, narcissist-in-chief Stephen Ledrew) - is that political parties henceforth be funded by people. What could be more noble than that? I thought that democracy was all about people. Whatever program the Liberals settle upon must be broad based, and work has to start in earnest on it yesterday. Dion knows that this has to be done in order to protect the same Conservative personality assassination squads screwing his successors as they did him.

He also intends to preside as leader until the convention that chooses his successor. If anyone has the honor and stature in the party to ensure fairness in the leadership process and unity in the face of the result it is Dion.

Dion has always been a respected figure in the party. Today's substance and style of his announcement sustains that respect. His whole career - which happily remains ongoing - and the manner that he has conducted it will ensure his place in the pantheon of great Liberal leaders.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Some of my loyal and faithful Conservative readers of my blog continue to rant and whine about minor inaccuracies in my prediction of the outcome of the federal election. It is my hope that they will accept this publication of my picture upside down as a small admission of such inaccuracies so that they will cease and desist in their mindless drivel about what the result of the election really means.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Joe Clark in 1980

Don Martin the conservative Conservative Canwest parliamentary columnist, no doubt heartily moistened from celebrating the Conservative victory alongside of his Conservative pals at the Conservative victory celebration in Conservative Calgary, had this to say about yesterday’s election in his column this morning:

“The Conservatives have won a majority in political power if not in name” and that “. . . the Conservatives are now set to lead the an[sic] absolute-power minority, perhaps the strongest in history.” See

A combination of unrestrained triumphalism, lubricated by ubiquitous liquid spirits always found at celebratory political events, oftentimes cloud one’s judgment and memory – as was the case with Martin as reflected in his column.

In the federal election of June of 1979 the Progressive Conservatives under leader Joe Clark won 136 Commons seats out of 282 – 48.2% of the total number of seats.

In the federal election of yesterday, the Conservatives under leader Stephen Harper won 143 Commons seats out of 308 - 46.4% of the total number of seats.

After the election of 1979 Joe Clark stated that even though he had a minority government, he would govern as though he had a majority government. See:

He tried to do so. The result was the defeat in the Commons of the Clark government 6 short months after its victory at the polls. In the election of the following February, Clark and his Tories were defeated and the Liberals were returned to power.

The morals of the story:

1. A minority government is not a majority government.

2. Do not argue with simple arithmetic.
3. Don’t get too drunk at Conservative victory parties. It clouds memory and judgment.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Harper (at bottom) having flown too close to the Sun

Hubris: Excessive pride displayed by a character, at times taking the form of a boastful challenge to the gods or other higher powers--often resulting in harsh punishment.

Practical hubris is the hubris of Icarus, son of Daedalus. In Greek myth, Daedalus, imprisoned on an island, devises a novel means of escape -- he crafts wings which enable him (and his son) to fly. Before they make their departure, Daedalus warns Icarus of the dangers of flying too high or too low. However, once they are underway, Icarus gets carried away with the joy of flying and ascends to a great height up near the sun. The heat from sun melts the wax that holds the wings together, and Icarus plunges to his death. See:

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After all, he was the one with the leadership qualities. The Kennedy haircut, the business-like approach to government, the glibness hidden behind a voice with a tone of reason, the self confidence – ah yes, the self-confidence - supreme, ever present, impatient, patronizing.

And the chief opponent, struggling with a distinctive French accent and a mangled English syntax, the boring professor with a back pack, to whom he thought he had put the boots to with the TV attack ads well before the election.

And the socialist – old hat by now, and doctrinaire, leading a party in its final chapter on the way into the history books.
To say nothing of that pesky woman. Yes, a woman. A fanatical tree hugger no less, with the temerity to challenge the safe seat of Peter McKay. Surely, the good burghers of Central Nova or anyone else in the country would pay no attention to such an extremist.

Surely it would be a romp, he said to himself as he appraised the situation on September 7.

Finally he would be given the opportunity of governing as he wished. He would have a free hand in changing Canada at last. He would change its values, move it further within the orbit of the United States so that they would fight side-by-side for all of their shared neocon principles – private medicare, massive deregulation, glory on the battlefield, deep corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the rich to create those private dynasties that are so effective in creating wealth. Now was his time.

Such an easy romp he thought it was that he could even break a basic election promise of a specific date for the election. And why not? He could say that parliament was dysfunctional and the Canadian people would believe him. Because it was him who was saying it. Look at who his opponents were. And look at the polls. And his party had plenty of money - not the green shift but the green stuff. Now was the time.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the polls.

First of all, there was plenty of baggage. The Canadian people had never really warmed up to him. They saw him as a brooding and cold character. He was smart enough, they thought, but weirdly different, and even dangerous. He was too close to the United States for some. His drum beating for the war in Afghanistan to shed blood for a seat at the table did not go down so well for many. They remembered his support of the war in Iraq. They remembered his attacks on Medicare and some of his more extreme statements when he was the head honcho of the National Citizens Coalition.
Even many in his own party distrusted him. He was known to have been disloyal to colleagues. Even Preston Manning distrusted him. He could also be curt and surly. He was a control freak.

He had lapses of integrity. He was not above poaching speeches made by others – even important speeches exhorting the country to have its young bleed in a foreign war.

His slashing partisanship was in a class of its own. He accused his Liberal opponents who dared question some of his policies of supporting the Taliban and not being friends of Israel. When a bereaved father who lost a son in Afghanistan subsequently criticized his government for its policy there, one of his minions said that it was because the father was a Liberal. In the Commons, when a Sikh MP criticized government policy, he said it was because the MP was attempting to protect a relative from testifying at the Air India Inquiry.

And he had a mean streak. He relished seeing his opponents humiliated. He enjoyed holding over their heads the constant threat of an election that he knew they weren’t ready to fight. He approved the running of attack ads that centered on the Opposition leader's French accent in communicating in English as being indicative of a lack of leadership.
He carried on with unsettling behavior during the campaign. When reminded during one of the debates that a medical journal published a letter from a Doctor attacking the government's food inspection system, he said it was because the Doctor was a Liberal. His partisanship was so infectious that an overzealous campaigner created a cartoon puffin doing its private business on the shoulder of the Leader of the Opposition in a TV ad. He took a cheap shot at struggling Canadian artists who, he said, are not appreciated by ordinary Canadians because of their rich taxpayer subsidized galas.

And he hated to admit mistakes. During the English language debate, despite the repeated badgering of Gilles Duceppe, he side-stepped, evaded, bamboozled, and muttered his way into an ignominious corner until he had to cry uncle with an abject admission that the Iraq invasion was a mistake.

Then along came the economic meltdown.with stock markets crashing, foreign banks going broke and real estate values plummeting. There was fear in the hearts of ordinary Canadians. They were worried about their jobs, their savings, their retirement, their children’s future, and they were looking for answers and reassurance.

Far be it for the neocon to come to their rescue. Neocons live and die with the market. They believe in hard-nosed laissez-faire, market forces and rugged individualism. And they will hear no belly-aching, thank you very much. That is the neocon’s solution to the problems the little people are facing today. And that is what he offered.

He was unprepared for the tough times. He had no platform. He had no solution beyond the rigidly conservative provisions of his earlier announcements of a little here and a little there. And he certainly had no compassion. Not even an appearance of compassion. Compassion is the last thing a neocon would even think about.

And so, the chickens have come home to roost. All of that hubris, all of that narrow ideology has done him in - his government, his leadership and his political career.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Fraser Institute political hack, Preston Manning

Canada's George W. Bush (on the left) with the real thing (on the right)

Preston Manning’s column of this today’s Globe and Mail asks the question: Who would be the best person at the helm of the ship of state as Canada heads into stormy economic seas?

After giving short shrift to Elizabeth May ( “ . .weak, terribly weak, on the economy.”), Jack Layton (“ . . . cut from the same cloth” as “economic disasters . . Bob Rae and Dave Barrett”), Stephane Dion (Dion’s degrees from university “are in political science and sociology – adequate preparation for salon politics but not for economic crises.”) - - surprise, surprise, he recommends his fellow arch-conservative and prodigy Stephen Harper.

Manning these days spends much of his time beating the drum for conservative causes. He remains a Fellow of the Fraser Institute.

You know the Fraser Institute, don’t you? It is that political arm of the Conservative Party that masquerades as a think tank. Amongst its former trustees are convicted felons David Radler and Conrad Black, both of whom helped to fund it. A former Fellow is Dr. Owen Lippert, an admitted plagiarist and patsy who fed Stephen Harper his Commons speech urging that Canada join George W. Bush in invading Iraq. Another Fellow of the Institute is that genius that brought Health Care in Alberta to its knees. Yes, Ralph Klein is also a Fellow of the Institute.

It is the same organization that has recently hosted George W. Bush’s political guru Karl Rove in two expensive dinners in Toronto and Calgary so that they could listen intently about what a great success his boss’s Presidency has been.

Yes, Manning actually believes that Stephen Harper is the best man to lead our country as the economy goes into the tank.

But think about this. Harper is an unabashed cheerleader for Bush and has been during all of the dark Bush era. Whether it was supporting the war in Iraq, mindlessly supporting the lost cause in Afghanistan, sticking a finger in the eye of China, supporting a disastrous course in the Middle East, or telling the Canadian people that the fundamentals of the economy are strong as we headed towards the abyss, Harper has been Canada’s George W. Bush.

And now Manning is telling the Canadian people that they should support Canada’s George W. Bush to manage the Canadian economy! That’s like putting the inmates in charge of the asylum.

Preston Manning is a neocon Reform/Alliance hack, and has been since his first foray into the federal arena. His advice is not only worthless, it is downright dangerous!

Friday, October 03, 2008


Harper (on the left) with John Howard (on the right, or is it Mike Harris??)

There is a new accusation of plagiarism in another speech given by Prime Minister Harper. It was revealed today by the Liberals that in a speech delivered in February 2003 Harper cribbed the lines of neocon Ontario Premier Mike Harris. See

This follows upon last week’s news – proved true – that much of a speech he gave to the Commons urging Canada to join the Iraq invasion were the words of neocon ex-Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

The stolen Harris words were originally delivered by Harris in an address to the Montreal Economic Institute on December 4, 2002. Their text reads as follows:

"Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is never easy. It takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that in taking a new and innovative course, you are making change for the better. ... Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing."

Little more than two and a half months later – on February 19, 2003 - Harper addressed the Commons saying:

"Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is not about reading the polls and having focus group tests. It is never easy because it takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that taking a new and innovative course is going to make change for the better. Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing."

On hearing of this new plagiarism revelation Conservative mouthpiece Dan Dugas accused the Grits of wanting to "deflect attention from their lack of an economic plan." He added that "It's a stretch to say it's the same as the Howard speech, which concerned us and which we took seriously.” He pointed out "Here, they've identified 44 words out of a 4,956-word speech that are similar – not identical – to a speech by another conservative."

So according to Mr. Dugas, the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper believes that if you steal 2500 words out of a 5000 word speech, that is obviously a problem. In fact, so much so, they fired the fall guy. However stealing 44 words out of 4956, with a couple of wrinkles added on for deniability down the road, is not a problem.

That’s like saying if you steal 2500 cars out of a Mercedes Benz new car factory lot containing 5000 cars, that is theft and demands a penalty. But if you steal only 44 and, say, change one digit on a serial number to make the 44 look unique and not part of the 5000, that is not theft. It is a mere trifle deserving of no sanction.

Anybody who is thinking of casting his or her ballot for the Conservatives in the next Federal election better think about this. And if they agree with Conservative spokesman Mr. Dugas, they better consult their spiritual advisor and lawyer - preferably a criminal lawyer.