Sunday, May 31, 2009


The Incredible Shrinking ex-President

The Clinton-Bush Toronto snore fest of a few days ago was as revealing as it was reported to be dull. For one thing, the event proved that Calgary isn’t the only Canadian community to be so crass and insensitive that it would welcome a putative war criminal to speak to its citizens for hundreds of dollars a pop each. Nor was it the only city to reward him with guffaws at his ghost written jokes and a standing ovation after listening to his nonsense.

Predictably, Calgary has been joined by its big bucks, greed is good, sister Canadian community – namely, Bay Street. Hell, the Bay Street pin-striped brigade turned out a crowd of 6000 to hear these two clowns. Calgary couldn’t hold a candle to that. However, the cowtown is still well up there in the crass department. By my last count, it has welcomed no less than three of the Bush outlaws to regale its corporate citizens about shock and awe, the war against terror, and other shibboleths of that sorry administration. Karl Rove, then Bush, and more recently Condi Rice have graced Dallas North – at prices ranging from $400 bucks a head (Bush and Rove) to Condi (the most expensive at $500). Hogtown – a label better applied to Bay Street than the rest of the great city of Toronto – have only had two – Rove and Bush, with Rove generating $700 a head. Bush and Clinton in TO again made Calgary look like pikers, getting up to $2500 a ticket.


As might be expected for a man whose classy speeches were a staple of derision on the David Letterman show over the past year, Bush’s repertoire of jokes at the affair included two that dealt with animal fecal matter, and another apparently cribbed from the tired joke file of the disgraced Brian Mulroney. Nonetheless, the crowd chuckled and guffawed and at the end of the day, the two sorry comedians left the city like a couple of absconding pool sharks, a few hundred grand to the good.

Apart from the corporate big wigs and their minions shelling out the big bucks to hear Bush and groveling to him with chuckles and ovations, the big story of the day was that neither Clinton nor Bush knew anything about the new U.S. requirement of Passports for all Canadians going into the States. Well, we shouldn’t be surprised. Bush appointed an Ambassador to Canada whose previous Canadian experience was limited to one previous trip to Niagara Falls and who knew sweet tweet about the country. Clinton’s wife thought that some of the 9/11 terrorists had made their way into the United States from Canada, as did Janet Napolitano, Obama’s new Homeland Security Czar. By the way, Napolitano’s only venture into Canada until now was to see polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. And people like Jack Granatstein believe that we are anti-American when we get fed up with some of this stuff!

All of which is interesting in a sick sort of way. But what really sticks out in my mind is how far Bill Clinton has fallen. I liked Bill Clinton from the moment he arrived on the political scene. He was thoughtful, smart, and could give a speech like no President before him in my memory. I thought his dalliances were reckless but certainly not impeachable, and the resulting attacks on him were launched largely by right wing Republicans most of which lived in glass houses. I thought he was a good President and was saddened when he stepped down from the Presidency. I even paid to hear him speak once.

But what the hell is he doing traipsing around the world at events such as this where he shares the spotlight with such a twit? With a man who sanctioned torture, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, lied to and divided the American people, pushed the United States into becoming a pariah state, let New Orleans flow into the Gulf of Mexico, did nothing while the economy went to hell, and rewarded greed like no President before him? I guess he does it for the money. And in the process he diminishes himself daily. Indeed, the Toronto Star thought Bush was the more entertaining of the two. See:

I think its time Bill Clinton gave it a rest. He had his turn at the plate. If he wants to make some big bread by giving speeches, he hardly needs to do it with riff-raff like George W. Bush at his side. And there is certainly no reason why he should be interested in salvaging Bush’s legacy or reputation. Better he give more help to Barack Obama who is saddled with the responsibility of cleaning up Bush’s mess.
See also:

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Harper just doesn’t get it. His bully-boy meanness, his surliness, his lack of discretion, his inclination to mislead the public to further his ideology, his intuitive pursuit of totalitarian or dark objectives have all consistently stood in his way to forming a majority government.

For the benefit of my Conservative Party readers I will simplify his plight by using a baseball analogy to describe his three years as party leader. In those three years he has been up to the plate three times. The first time he was thrown out at first base, and the last two times he managed to fluke two Texas league blooper singles – a minority defeat, and two narrow minority wins. Days after his second single, he was bloody near picked off at first base, and since then has been playing as though he was trapped and ran down between first and second – the distance between the first baseman and second baseman ever narrowing for the tag. And all because of his very own and personal errors on the field.

Most people learn or try to learn from their mistakes. They get up in the morning after suffering a setback or defeat, look at themselves in the mirror and try to figure out what happened. They talk to their wives and friends for objective advice to learn what went wrong and how they might change themselves or their tactics to avoid a similar fate in the future.

Not Harper. He still believes he’s the smartest guy in the room. He hasn’t read a helluva lot. He knows little history. His knowledge of economics is rudimentary at best and what he knows is burdened down by ideology. He hasn't traveled much. He surrounds himself with sycophants and ideologues who share his misguided views on people, events, and juvenile political dirty tricks. He fumbles, trips, runs into walls, does his pratfalls, and edges ever closer to oblivion, but he picks up no wisdom along the way. Alas, he remains the same Stephen Harper that most Canadians know and have learned to increasingly dislike.

Yesterday in the House, he was at it again. In question period while delivering a blistering attack on the government's response to the recession Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff demanded that Harper fire his finance minister James Flaherty for having misjudged the ongoing recessionary deficit. Harper’s response was vintage Harper. He replied,
“I cannot fire the Leader of the Opposition and with all the tapes I have on him, I do not want to.”

Ignatieff said that Harper’s response was the “most Nixonian” of anything he had heard Harper say and that, “Every day that goes by, he’s more like Richard Nixon.” Warming to the analogy to the deeply flawed – not unlike Harper – former President of the United States who was forced to resign over Watergate, Ignatieff said, “We are in the middle of the most serious economic crisis since the Second World War and the Prime Minister . . is wasting his time listening to tapes of me.”

Unhappily, Ignatieff is right. Rome burned while Nero fiddled. Canada’s jobless struggle and Harper listens to tapes. The country suffers while Harper tries to get the goods on his political enemies. Very sad.

Harper remains Harper. Or Nixon.

For those who might be interested in the Nixon - Harper joined at the hip phenomenon, read:

Sunday, May 24, 2009



For years I have watched the illustrious career of Jack Lawrence Granatstein wend its way through my generation. I have read many of his writings (I admit I have to be up for it), and I have intently watched and listened to him on the tube and radio. Granatstein is a genuine political and military history scholar who has earned many university degrees from good schools including a PhD from Duke University. He served in the Canadian Army for ten years and so possesses much more than academic knowledge of that field. He has taught at universities and written over sixty books including some distinguished prize and medal winners. We see his avuncular personage frequently on our television screens providing mostly trenchant and wise observations of historical and current events. Honours and medals have followed him throughout his adult life. By any standard, he is a great Canadian. For more on Granatstein’s career read:

Alas, he has his blind spots. For example, for some years now he has taken every opportunity to hector Canadians about what he sees as our endemic anti –Americanism, particularly from what he perceives as the Canadian left. He believes Canadian anti-Americanism exists, and he believes it is bad and unfair. He was at it again in a column that appeared in this morning’s Calgary Sun. Unfortunately, as of this writing it has not made it on line. However, I will review it and pass on my comments.

His entrée into the subject is Barack Obama's popularity in Canada. Granatstein asks the question, “How will his presidency sit with the great Canadian anti-American coalition, many Liberals, the New Democratic Party, the Greens, the Bloc Quebecois and all those raging grannies of whatever age who despise the United States and all its works?” His answer was, “Not well, is my guess.” He goes on to say that history leads him to believe that by the summer because of their innate anti-Americanism Canadians will be attacking Obama.

To back up his conclusion, he argues that even though Canadians were largely sympathetic to the U.S. Democratic Party, they denounced even John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton during their terms in office. He writes that Kennedy suffered the wrath of Canadians because of the Bay of Pigs Invasion and for risking nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis.

Well, if there were Canadians who felt that way, they were hardly on the radar screen. I was around in those days and paying some attention to the news. I never observed a helluva lot of antipathy from Canada towards Kennedy at any time. The only Canadian I recall as not having cared too much for Kennedy was John Diefenbaker, who was reported to genuinely dislike the man. But let's say there was a bit of it. Was that anti-Americanism or was it anti - American foreign policy on some level - like, say, the Bay of Pigs Invasion or the growing commitment to the folly of Viet Nam? In any event, at the time of the assassination Kennedy was overwhelmingly in the good books of the vast majority of Canadians.

About Bill Clinton, Granatstein says, “those on the left soon complained about NAFTA and his use of American troops around the world, and Prime Minister Chretien tried hard to camouflage his good relations with the Arkansan.”

Well, again, I recall some pockets of criticism in Canada, but it was hardly discernable, even from those on the left. As far as Chretien trying to hide from his buddy – buddy relationship with Clinton, that is pure bullshit and Granatstein surely knows it. And if there were some Canadians who opposed NAFTA or the U.S. led NATO bombing of the Balkans - and there were - does that make them anti-American, or anti - aspects of American trade policy or foreign policy?

Granatstein says, “The Canadian left sees the US. as the great Satan.” I suppose that explains why most Canadians are so hooked on American culture like its movies, pop stars, fast food joints and cities. He predicts that Obama will ask for further troop commitments in Afghanistan beyond 2011, and that “the response from the anti-American Canadian left will be as vehement as if it had been George W. Bush asking.” But whether people are on the Canadian left (as he describes it) or not, if they oppose such a request, does it make them anti-American? Or could they be merely opponents of come components of American foreign policy that is going nowhere and will likely go nowhere unless there is a troop commitment of some three hundred or four hundred thousand strong?

Granatstein continues his rant saying that when Obama does ask for the troop commitment, “The shouts won’t initially include the same sneers hurled at Bush, but Canadian critics, I suspect, will attack the U.S. and the Obama administration with equal fury. Over time, as Obama fails to live up to expectations - no one could meet the high hopes he has created – new personalist slurs will emerge.”

That is highly doubtful. Canadians whether on the left or right, recognize honesty and competence as paramount values in leadership. Obama has both in spades. Granatstein’s pal Bush, had neither.

After a little more haranguing and whining which makes him sound more like Rush Limbaugh rather than the scholar we take him for, Granatstein concludes, “Obama is on his Canadian honeymoon today, but tomorrow he is almost certain to become merely another target for those who reject America’s world view. Canadian attitudes almost demand this.”

That there will be Canadian critics of Obama’s policies there is no doubt. But they will certainly not be critics of the American people and probably not personal critics of the President himself, unless he is perceived to have done something dastardly wrong - like having lied about a war, or condoned torture.

To criticize U. S. policies is not being anti-American. It is to have an opinion about policies. Those who demonstrated in Canada against say, the war in Viet Nam or those who demonstrate today in Canada at the presence of Dick Cheney or G.W. Bush within their environs are not anti-American. They are demonstrating against American foreign policy, or rogues and charlatans who lied to the world. In fact, to paint such demonstrators or opponents of policy as anti-American is akin to Joe McCarthy calling all those on the left or moderate left, or merely those who got in his way, communists. Jack Granatstein, a Canadian icon, scholar, feted author, and so on should be so much better than this.

Friday, May 22, 2009


DICK CHENEY (taken when he was CEO of Halliburton)

DICK CHENEY (leaving the White House for the last time)

"Cheney's speech contained omissions, misstatements"

…. By Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers Jonathan S. Landay And Warren P. Strobel, Mcclatchy Newspapers – Thu May 21, 7:10 pm ET

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.

In his address to the American Enterprise Institute , a conservative policy organization in Washington , Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."

He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair , as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."

In a statement April 21 , however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

FBI Director Mueller Robert Muller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.

— Cheney said that President Barack Obama's decision to release the four top-secret Bush administration memos on the interrogation techniques was "flatly contrary" to U.S. national security, and would help al Qaida train terrorists in how to resist U.S. interrogations.

However, Blair, who oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, said in his statement that he recommended the release of the memos, "strongly supported" Obama's decision to prohibit using the controversial methods and that "we do not need these techniques to keep America safe."

— Cheney said that the Bush administration "moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and their sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks."

The former vice president didn't point out that Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahri , remain at large nearly eight years after 9-11 and that the Bush administration began diverting U.S. forces, intelligence assets, time and money to planning an invasion of Iraq before it finished the war in Afghanistan against al Qaida and the Taliban .
There are now 49,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan fighting to contain the bloodiest surge in Taliban violence since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention, and Islamic extremists also have launched their most concerted attack yet on neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan.

— Cheney denied that there was any connection between the Bush administration's interrogation policies and the abuse of detainee at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, which he blamed on "a few sadistic guards . . . in violation of American law, military regulations and simple decency."

However, a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report in December traced the abuses at Abu Ghraib to the approval of the techniques by senior Bush administration officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld . "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own," said the report issued by Sens. Carl Levin , D- Mich. , and John McCain , R- Ariz. "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality and authorized their use against detainees."

— Cheney said that "only detainees of the highest intelligence value" were subjected to the harsh interrogation techniques, and he cited Khalid Sheikh Mohammad , the alleged mastermind of the 9-11 attacks.

He didn't mention Abu Zubaydah, the first senior al Qaida operative to be captured after 9-11. Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan told a Senate subcommittee last week that his interrogation of Zubaydah using traditional methods elicited crucial information, including Mohammed's alleged role in 9-11. The decision to use the harsh interrogation methods "was one of the worst and most harmful decisions made in our efforts against al Qaida ," Soufan said. Former State Department official Philip Zelikow , who in 2005 was then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's point man in an internal fight to overhaul the Bush administration's detention policies, joined Soufan in his criticism.

— Cheney said that "the key to any strategy is accurate intelligence," but the Bush administration ignored warnings from experts in the CIA , the Defense Intelligence Agency , the State Department , the Department of Energy and other agencies, and used false or exaggerated intelligence supplied by Iraqi exile groups and others to help make its case for the 2003 invasion.

Cheney made no mention of al Qaida operative Ali Mohamed al Fakheri , who's known as Ibn Sheikh al Libi , whom the Bush administration secretly turned over to Egypt for interrogation in January 2002 . While allegedly being tortured by Egyptian authorities, Libi provided false information about Iraq's links with al Qaida , which the Bush administration used despite doubts expressed by the DIA. A state-run Libyan newspaper said Libi committed suicide recently in a Libyan jail.

— Cheney accused Obama of "the selective release" of documents on Bush administration detainee policies, charging that Obama withheld records that Cheney claimed prove that information gained from the harsh interrogation methods prevented terrorist attacks.
"I've formally asked that (the information) be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained," Cheney said. "Last week, that request was formally rejected."

However, the decision to withhold the documents was announced by the CIA , which said that it was obliged to do so by a 2003 executive order issued by former President George W. Bush prohibiting the release of materials that are the subject of lawsuits.

— Cheney said that only "ruthless enemies of this country" were detained by U.S. operatives overseas and taken to secret U.S. prisons.

A 2008 McClatchy investigation, however, found that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees captured in 2001 and 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan were innocent citizens or low-level fighters of little intelligence value who were turned over to American officials for money or because of personal or political rivalries. In addition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Oct. 5, 2005 , that the Bush administration had admitted to her that it had mistakenly abducted a German citizen, Khaled Masri , from Macedonia in January 2004 . Masri reportedly was flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan , where he allegedly was abused while being interrogated. He was released in May 2004 and dumped on a remote road in Albania . In January 2007 , the German government issued arrest warrants for 13 alleged CIA operatives on charges of kidnapping Masri.

— Cheney slammed Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and criticized his effort to persuade other countries to accept some of the detainees.

The effort to shut down the facility, however, began during Bush's second term, promoted by Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates . "One of the things that would help a lot is, in the discussions that we have with the states of which they (detainees) are nationals, if we could get some of those countries to take them back," Rice said in a Dec. 12, 2007 , interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. "So we need help in closing Guantanamo ."

— Cheney said that, in assessing the security environment after 9-11, the Bush team had to take into account "dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists."
Cheney didn't explicitly repeat the contention he made repeatedly in office: that Saddam cooperated with al Qaida , a linkage that U.S. intelligence officials and numerous official inquiries have rebutted repeatedly.

The late Iraqi dictator's association with terrorists vacillated and was mostly aimed at quashing opponents and critics at home and abroad. The last State Department report on international terrorism to be released before 9-11 said that Saddam's regime "has not attempted an anti-Western terrorist attack since its failed plot to assassinate former President ( George H.W.) Bush in 1993 in Kuwait ."

A Pentagon study released last year, based on a review of 600,000 Iraqi documents captured after the U.S.-led invasion, concluded that while Saddam supported militant Palestinian groups — the late terrorist Abu Nidal found refuge in Baghdad , at least until Saddam had him killed — the Iraqi security services had no "direct operational link" with al Qaida .

Thursday, May 14, 2009



The gang that couldn’t shoot straight rides again. No matter that their sleazeball tactics secured only a minority win in what should have been a romp in the last election. No matter that strategies such as infantile and tasteless ads featuring defecating puffins and talking oil drips miserably failed to do the job even when its opponents were still on the canvas at the count of nine. No matter. Like Stephen Harper’s commitment to the preachings of Bushism, the Fraser Institute, the National Citizen’s Coalition, and other loony-bin nonsense still offered up by the now discredited neocon movement of the University of Calgary Economics and Political Science departments, he and his band of merry brownshirts continue to stick to sleaze and dirty tricks – this time to attempt to get Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and a prominent and promising colleague, Ruby Dhalla.

Only the naïve and stupid would deny that the Dhalla affair is a Conservative operation all the way. Anybody who believes the testimony of those two pathetic nannies who gave testimony against Ruby Dhalla earlier in the week would probably swallow Brian Mulroney’s evidence given at the Oliphant inquiry, or indeed believe that his tears were real. The two ladies, who were hired by Dhalla’s brother, worked in the Dhalla household for a very short time – one for three months and the other only for days. Furthermore, it took them more than fifteen months to make their vapid allegations public. And when they were made public, who was around for the soundbite? You guessed it - that champion of new Canadians who would have them all learn English before they set foot on Canadian soil, Harper’s full-bodied hatchet man, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Kenney, by the way, relates to new Canadians about as well as Maxime Bernier relates to diplomacy.

Reliable sources say that Kenney is a pal of one Parm Gill. Gill, like Dhalla, is from the Sikh community in the Ontario riding of Brampton-Springdale, for which Dhalla is the sitting Liberal MP. Gill gave her the run of her life in the last election, with Dhalla winning by only a few hundred votes. Kenney has been described as being very tight with Gill. They travel to Conservative snorefests together in and around Toronto, and Gill has even accompanied Kenney on a trip to India. Read this interesting piece on their interesting connections:
Also, a must-read is:

Thanks to Kenney and his pal Parm, Nanniegate does not even come close to passing the Conservative aroma test. So look to Dhalla keeping her seat with a handsome majority.

And so we now turn to the latest negative ads. Don Martin, one of the Calgary Herald’s few remaining good writers, used to be one of the big cheerleaders of the old kinder and gentler PCs for which he was always a good and loyal soldier. I mean, he was such a pal he even laughed at Ralph Klein’s jokes about dinosaur farts and chuckled when Klein bailed out of a Premiers meeting on health care to play the slot machines at a casino.

But the excesses of the Harperites are even too much for Martin. His column today describes the tasteless ads and gives his readers the address of the Conservative website on which the ads can be found. The domain name is registered in the Balkans – Montenegro, to be exact, which as an aside he tells us is governed by a coalition. The web administrator is based in Arizona. The Conservatives have taken as much trouble to obscure the particulars of the website as Mulroney did to hide the cash he got from Schreiber. In addition Martin tells us that websurfers have told him that the domain is used frequently to exhibit pornography! For more on Martin’s piece you must read:
All of which means that Harper has learned nothing in the more than three years he has been Prime Minister. He is sinking and sinking fast. Look to his early departure, and a Liberal majority in the next federal election. Prime Minister Ignatieff. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Kevin Lynch

Top Aide Guy Giorno (on the left) with boss Prime Minister Harper (on the right)

Our most recent Clerk of the Privy Council, deputy minister to the Prime Minister, secretary to the Cabinet and head of the public service, Kevin Lynch, has joined the ranks of the genteel unemployed.

Not to worry for him of course. As with all former Clerks of the Privy Council a decent life awaits him – cushy board appointments to august and respected corporations, doting professors and students hanging onto every dull word he enunciates at snore session lectures at great universities, a comfortable pension, etc. And given that one of the retirement gold watches gifted to him by his employer - the government of Canada headed by our very own Inspector Closeau - was an appointment to the Privy Council, Lynch will be able to register in expensive hotels on his future generous expense accounts as the Honourable Kevin Lynch. Life will be good for Lynch. The kid from Cape Breton has done well.

Prime Minister Closeau once again showing the tact and class for which he has become famous was predictably not around to wish Lynch well on his public departure. Instead, he was visiting Afghanistan for a photo-op in the process of taking the scenic route back home from Europe. The story is that Closeau’s fractious relations with the public service caused by the petulance and bully-boy tactics of both the Prime Minister himself and his obnoxious chief of staff Guy Giorno - we shall call him Kato – resulted in such frigid relations with Lynch and other highly placed members of the public service that Lynch could stomach it no longer.

It has been noted in the press - and this is a Harperism if ever I saw one – that the last paragraph of the speaking notes sent out to the Conservative lackeys for regurgitation to all and sundry who may ask questions about Lynch’s departure, reads:

“Upon his retirement, Mr. Lynch will have served as Clerk for three years, four months. Since 1979, the average length of service for a Clerk has been three years, four months.”

Although I am a self-confessed cynic about whatever words are uttered by Closeau I believe that many would agree with my following interpretation of that paragraph:

“Look, we kept him around only for as long as we had to so that it doesn’t look so bad. Now, happily, he’s done.”

The speaking note paragraph is tactless, classless and petty - entirely consistent with the other utterings of Closeau when others got in his way.

Rumors persist that Lynch’s vast knowledge of the workings of government and policy – derived from more than 30 years in the public service - frequently angered Closeau and some of the Neanderthals in the cabinet. That sounds reasonable. I can see both Closeau and his government having trouble abiding intelligent people. It is further reported that the behavior of Closeau and his man servant Kato have pissed off the upper echelons of several important ministries, not to mention the whole Conservative party – including its MPs.

It is also widely rumored that Kato (Giorno, in case you are confused) was the brain behind the Closeau’s fiscal update and the attempted suffocation of opposition parties late last year. Apparently Kato's proposals were met with strenuous objections from Lynch. This too likely hastened Lynch’s departure. In addition, the recruitment by the Ignatieff Liberals of Kevin Chan who had worked closely with Lynch over the years also likely spooked both Kato and Closeau.

But even more troubling than the departure of such a qualified and experienced public servant from the most important public service job in the country is the question, where does that leave Canadians who are fighting their way through these economic troubled times? What happens to the stimulus? We all know that the Closeau Conservatives really don’t believe in stimulus spending, unless it is into the coffers of their pals.

Does Lynch’s departure mean that the likes of Closeau, Kato, the hapless creationist Stockwell Day, the portly motor-mouth Jason Kenney and their ilk are going to be less constrained from enacting their neocon ideology? It is reported that Lynch bent over backwards to make the Prime Minister look good – at times even sacrificing his own reputation in the process. But apparently it wasn’t enough to keep his bosses happy. Does Lynch’s resignation mean that all Closeau and Kato want at the top of the public service are kowtowing yes men that do their ideological bidding come hell or high water (as Paul Martin likes to say)?

As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha!"

See Also:

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


See. What did I tell you three days ago? You can say you read it here first.

"Peter C. Newman to write Michael Ignatieff biography"

TORONTO, May 6 /CNW/ - Random House Canada is proud to announce that it has signed veteran journalist and author Peter C. Newman to write the firstfull-length biography of Liberal leader, prime ministerial contender and public intellectual Michael Ignatieff.

Newman, with more than fifty years of thinking and writing about Canada's business and political leaders behind him, is delighted with the opportunity the new book will give him to stop and think about what the torrent of news and views breaking around Ignatieff really means, what all the tumult and promise of his life and times adds up to, and how to place him in the Canadian political landscape. "I want to write about Ignatieff because he's the most interesting political figure in Canada today, and while he has written many books himself, including a family memoir and autobiographical novels, nobody has written a full biography of him," Newman says. "We haven't had a political leader whose intellect is his defining characteristic since Trudeau, and it's fascinating to watch the ways in which a man like Ignatieff reaches out to rebuild theparty and create relationships with voters. He has a real shot at becoming ournext prime minister. If he makes it, he'll be in a position to affect this country's destiny, and I feel it's important to have a creative look at him."

Anne Collins, Newman's Editor and the Publisher of Random House Canada, is delighted at the pairing of author and subject. "As June Callwood once pointed out, Peter C. Newman invented 'realism in political writing in Canada' with his book Renegade in Power. Almost five decades on from that ground-breaking book on Diefenbaker, he's about to apply the full Newman treatment to a man with one of the most unusual trajectories in Canadian politics, a true public intellectual suddenly vying in that most brutal courtof public opinion - electoral and party politics - and vying well. I can't wait to see what Newman makes of Ignatieff. I can guarantee it will be an account that will surprise and captivate us all."

Peter C. Newman has been writing about Canadian politics for nearly a half a century, including books on Prime Ministers John Diefenbaker, Lester B.Pearson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Brian Mulroney. The author of twenty-four books that have sold more than two million copies, Newman has won a half-dozenof the country's most illustrious literary awards. In addition, he has received two Orders of Canada and has been promoted to Companion from Officer. A former editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star and Maclean's, Newman has been honoured with a National Newspaper Award and has been elected to the News Hall of Fame.

Peter C. Newman's biography of Michael Ignatieff, as yet untitled, will be published in Fall 2010.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


His next book

will be about him

Making the short walk from the extraordinary new Vancouver Convention Center to my hotel room at the Pan Pacific I passed a stooped gentleman in a Greek Fisherman’s cap gingerly making his way towards the same hotel. Given that there is only one Canadian I know of who wears a Greek Fisherman’s cap, I figured as I overtook him that it must be Peter C. Newman. I quickly glanced back and discovered that indeed it was the great man himself. Never having met him before but knowing that we had a mutual friend, I introduced myself and spoke of our common acquaintance. Naturally, I also told him that I was a great fan and had read most of his seventeen books.

Newman is a giant of Canadian letters. From his first work, ‘Flame of Power,’ published in 1959 to his most recent seventeenth, ‘Izzy,’ published last year, together with countless newspaper and magazine pieces he has written since the fifties, the prolific Newman has entertained and informed his readers about Canada and Canadians as few others. Thus, I was thrilled to be talking to him.

Of course, I asked him what he thought of the new Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff who had just finished delivering his acceptance speech a few minutes before. Newman enthusiastically sang his praises. He said that the party had made a very wise choice, and were now poised to take it all in the next election. He was happy with the quality of Iggy's message and was convinced that the Grits had turned the corner after a very bad time and were on their way to restoration under the new leadership. As a matter of fact, Newman said, he was so fascinated by the life and personality of the new leader – and here is a scoop for all of you out there who follow these things – his next book was going to be a biography of Michael Grant Ignatieff.

We entered the hotel from street level, which requires taking two escalators to get to the lobby. The first escalator was in mechanically good order but the second was not working. I thought that Newman, who is only days from turning 80, had been walking very slowly and tentatively towards the hotel and may have difficulty making his way up the long flight of steps. But with a resurgence of energy he bounded up the stairs as fast as I. Perhaps he was inspired by remembering a few licks from a Stan Kenton jazz recording (He writes best listening to Kenton’s big band music), or perhaps he was thinking about writing the first biography on someone who is sure to become the next Prime Minister of Canada. In any event, Newman is a true Canadian icon, a national treasure, and a helluva writer.