Thursday, January 29, 2009


Think about it. Not two months have passed since the opposition unsheathed the threat of a coalition to stop Stephen Harper's Canadian neocon revolution. When it happened it was like the ninety-seven pound weakling giving the muscle-bound bullyboy on the beach a swift kick in the gonads. It was as if the opposition said, "Take that!" for all of the many insults and slights he made it suffer during the three years he had been kicking sand in its face.

Although Harper's first reaction against his unlikely tormentors was invective and divisive rage,
just like a bully he quickly and gingerly inched his way in retreat to behind the comely skirts of the Governor General. She gave him a reprieve from what was sure to be his government's fate - an ignominious departure from power.

Since his near death experience a lot of good things have happened.

1. Instead of continuing to bamboozle Canadians that there was no cause for alarm about the world wide economic catastrophe, the government finally admitted that yes, we were all in trouble.

2. Instead of trying to implement some hare-brained neocon solution to our economic woes in the tradition of say, Herbert Hoover or R. B. Bennett, the government's budget yesterday adopted a more sensible Keynesian stimulus approach in the wise tradition of FDR.
3. The former bully boy abandoned his plans to create an extreme right one party state.

4. The Liberals fast-tracked their leadership contest with the crowning of Michael Ignatieff in a bloodless process which achieved party unity for the first time in almost a decade.

5. Ignatieff has shown himself to be a polished performer and wise strategist, with a gift for coining a phrase for the moment. The words "This government is on probation" are likely to be heard frequently in the months ahead, as furrowed-brow Canadians carefully peruse every step the government takes to deal with the economic crisis.

6. In the polls Liberal fortunes have risen exponentially, particularly in Quebec where the people have wisely decided that Harper is not their friend. See:

7. The budget itself has been universally characterized as a Liberal budget primarily driven by Liberal policies. And it is the Liberals who will play the major political role in looking over the government's shoulder to determine its commitment to its provisions.

8. Mercifully for all concerned, the coalition government is, at the moment at least, history. But its threat of resurrection hangs over Harper's head like the Sword of Damocles. See: It will forever be in his attention.

The Liberals and the Opposition parties - and here Stephane Dion must be given much credit - have shown Canadians how to respond to a bully. See Darryl Raymaker blog

The swift kick was not only the great equalizer. It was the secret weapon that within the year will be responsible for the bully being forced to take up another line of work.

Monday, January 26, 2009


An interesting piece in this morning’s Herald reminds us of the dark and petty side of the
Alberta Tories. It also tells us about the slow and creaky Alberta wheels of justice – especially when it is the Tories that have their nuts in a wringer.

See, RCMP Probe Searches For Truth Behind Withheld Alberta Tory Flight Logs,
Here’s a quick review of the facts of the story:

1. In April of 2004, an intrepid reporter for the Edmonton Journal, Charles Rusnell, embarked upon a project rarely undertaken these days by the CanWest press. He actually began an investigative reporting project.

2. The subject of his investigation was who it was that were using government of Alberta aircraft at the taxpayer’s expense. Accordingly, he asked the government for the records of who had traveled in government planes.

3. The government promised to supply the information and then reneged on the promise.

4. In June 2004, Rusnell responded to the government inaction and filed a Freedom of Information request to see the records.

5. Although the government normally had 30 days to respond, they did not. In fact they only responded 5 months later, on November 25, 2004 – 3 days after the provincial election.

6. Rusnell then filed a complaint with the office of the Information and Privacy Commission, which thereupon ordered an Oral Public Inquiry.

7. In March 2005 the inquiry was held to find out why the Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation department delayed releasing the flight information until 3 days after the provincial election in 2004.

8. During the inquiry government lawyers representing the department of Infrastructure and Transportation (to which the request for information was made) introduced in evidence an Email memo stating that senior bureaucrats within the department had been told by its freedom of information coordinator that they had to turn over the documents “on or before November 25th 2004.”

9. However, it was revealed that the Email memo entered as evidence appeared to have been altered. This was discovered because of another application filed by the diligent Rusnell under the Freedom of Information Act. As a result of that second application, Rusnell had obtained the records of the response from the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation to his original application. Among those records was the original Email memo dated November 12, 2004 which used the words “on or after November 25th.”

10. As a result of the inquiry, the Information and Privacy commissioner ruled that the Infrastructure and Transportation department deliberately delayed releasing the records of the flights until after the provincial election and manipulated Rusnell’s access to information for political reasons.

11. The question that remains outstanding is, was the Email memo intentionally altered or tampered with? If it was, it may be a criminal offence on somebody’s part within the government.

On July 18, 2008 after two years of squabbling between the RCMP and the government, the RCMP legally seized documents and computer records from Alberta government departments to look for evidence of who was behind the falsification of the Email memo.

In the warrant documents, the RCMP allege that the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation freedom of information officer who handled Rusnell’s request told police she was instructed not to release the flight log records until after the provincial election. It also alleges that an information technology employee of the department who tried to find out how the Email memo was altered was ordered to stop his investigation by a senior bureaucrat in the department.

It gets worse. Since July 18th 2008 – 6 months ago!! – the seized documents have remained sealed because government lawyers argue that the documents are protected by solicitor-client privilege.

A deal has now been struck between the cops and the government. The government is turning over all the documents they feel are not protected by solicitor-client privilege within “the next couple of weeks.” Any documents not released will be taken before a judge who will rule whether or not those documents are protected by the privilege.

Alberta Justice has hired a Special Prosecutor to handle the RCMP investigation of the government.

And don’t laugh - the government says that it is protecting its employees’ rights.

Expect more litigation, stone-walling and in all probability, some white-washing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009





Canada lost a great public servant last week with the passing of Jean Pelletier at the age of 73. Pelletier was a highly successful and longtime Quebec City Mayor before becoming Prime Minister Chretien’s chief of staff. Later he served as Chairman of Via Rail. In whatever post he occupied, Pelletier served with honor, dignity and effectiveness. He made a tremendous contribution to both his city and his country.

Sadly, near the end of his career he became embroiled in the Adscam scandal and in the eyes of many fell from grace. The chief instrument of his downfall was former Canadian Olympic medalist Myriam Bedard.

Bedard was an Olympic medalist who had worked at Via Rail’s marketing department in the early 2000’s. On February 27, 2004 she made public allegations that she had been forced to leave her marketing job at Via Rail in 2002 after raising concerns about the company’s corrupt dealings with one of the Adscam scandal’s central players, Groupaction.

In response to Bedard’s allegations, Pelletier was quoted by La Presse as saying,

“I don’t want to be mean but this is a poor girl who deserves pity, who doesn’t have a spouse, as far as I know.”

He remarked further,

“She is struggling as a single mother with economic responsibilities. Deep down, I think she is pitiful.”

A public furor arose from Pelletier’s remarks coming from opposition politicians and women’s and sports organizations, all of which branded his words as sexist. On March 1, 2004, only two days after his statement about Bedard, the Martin government fired Pelletier for his remarks.

By late March 2004 it became clear that Pelletier’s remarks were not so much off the mark. Bedard, in testimony before the Public Accounts Committee alleged that Groupaction was involved in drug trafficking, that her companion had been the person who convinced Jean Chretien to keep out of the Iraq War, and that Quebec car racing icon Jacques Villeneuve had been paid 12 million dollars to wear a Canadian flag on his uniform. All of these allegations were hotly denied and widely regarded as ridiculous. Certainly none of them were ever proven. Later on, an Arbitrator concluded that Bedard had left Via Rail voluntarily.

In December 2006, Bedard was charged in Canada with abduction of her daughter. She was arrested in the U.S. and detained while awaiting extradition. During that time her daughter was placed in the care of the U.S. government. In January 2007 the child was returned to the father and Bedard returned to Canada to face her charges. In October 2007 she was found guilty of child abduction and violating a child custody agreement. She was sentenced to two years probation.

By March of 2004, Pelletier believed that not only was he wrongfully dismissed but that his reputation had been severely damaged as a result of his treatment by the Martin government. He sued Via Rail and the government for defamation and wrongful dismissal. The Federal Court ordered him reinstated to his job in November 2005. The government appealed, kept Pelletier off the payroll, and fired him again. In March of 2007 the second firing was ruled improper and once again set aside by the Federal Court.

In November 2007 The Quebec Superior Court ruled that in firing Pelletier the Martin government had acted in a “cavalier and precipitous” fashion and showed “a total lack of consideration” which did not “meet the standard of diligence expected from a contractor when a contractual relationship is ended.” It awarded him $335,000 in damages. And in June of 2008 a federal judge cleared both Pelletier and Chretien of any responsibility for the sponsorship scandal.

A few months ago and knowing that he was about to meet his Maker, Pelletier gave an interview to Quebec City newspaper Le Soleil. It was to be released only upon his death. A report of the interview appeared today in the Toronto Star. See: Chretien Ally fires Last Shot at Martin,

The piece is worth reading.

A remarkable speech given by Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974 to his White House Staff upon his resignation and departure from public office is also worth reading in the context of the Pelletier tale.

It is a remarkable speech in many respects. But the words which will undoubtedly withstand all of the ravages of time and be remembered through the ages are:

"Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

Friday, January 09, 2009




1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20520


* I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been 'lost' and is not available.


* I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam .


* I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.


* I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.

* I began my career in the oil business in Midland , Texas , in1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

* I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

* With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry (Including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.


* I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.
* I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

* I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.

* With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President of the United States , after losing by over 500,000 votes.


* I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

* I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

* I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

* I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

* I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any12-month period.

* I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

* I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

* In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues.

* I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history.

* My 'poorest millionaire, 'Condoleezza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

* I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President.

* I am the all-time U.S. and world record -holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

* My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history, Enron.

* My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.
* I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.

* More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

* I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.
* I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

* I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

* I appointed more convicted criminals to my administration than any President in U.S. history.

* I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States Government.

* I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.

* I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

* I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

* I refused to allow inspector's access to U.S. 'prisoners of war' detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

* I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 US election).

* I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

* I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period.

* After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

* I garnered the most sympathy ever for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

* I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.

* I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, preemptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U..S. Citizens and the world community.

* I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families in wartime.

* In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.

* I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

* I am supporting development of a nuclear 'Tactical Bunker Buster,' a WMD.

* I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.


* All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

* All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

* All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President attended, regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

* I specified that my sealed documents will not be available for 50 years.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


A Horse (according to Bruce Miller)
According to a piece that appeared today in the Calgary Herald some Alberta Grits along with a few interested others are conducting sub rosa meetings with a view to starting a new Alberta political party. See: Some Liberals Weigh Starting Party,

Bruce Miller is an affable, intelligent, and well-meaning former United Church Minister who represented the riding of Edmonton Glenora for the Liberals through one term until the March 2008 election. He has been one of a discreetly silent and shadowy group of real or wannabe politicos who are conducting private meetings to get the ball rolling for the new party. He believes that no existing party has a chance of beating the provincial Tories. According to Miller, "It's obvious that the Liberal brand doesn't work. How many times do you have to lose in a big way? I think enough is enough. It's time to look at other possibilities."

I have two problems with Miller’s statement.

First of all, it fails to take into account the success of Laurence Decore as provincial Liberal leader in the late eighties and early nineties. In 1992 Decore’s Liberals won 32 seats and 39% of the vote. They also won a by-election in Three Hills, the buckle of Alberta’s bible belt. Surely a party that is that strong in a general election and can win seats in highly unlikely ridings has a chance to go all the way and win.

Perhaps the question that Miller and his band of revolutionaries should ask is, why is it that the Liberals have not done nearly as well since Decore was the leader? The answer is obvious. Laurence Decore was a leader. He worked the length and breadth of the province, came up with attractive policies, and sold them well enough to have given the Tories their greatest scare since they took power in 1971. Had his health remained robust, he could have gone all the way. But tragically, it was not to be. As far as leadership skills were concerned, no Grit leader in the province since Decore - and we have now had four of them – was able to touch him. So when Miller asks the question why the Liberal brand doesn’t work in Alberta, he should think of Decore, and if he thinks of Decore he will come to one conclusion. It is all about leadership, stupid!

The second point I would make to Miller and his insurrectionists is that the Alberta Liberal Party has through the years stood for being “business friendly and environmentally and socially progressive.” This is exactly what Miller wants his new party to be. That being the case, does he really believe he can hoodwink Alberta voters into thinking that Miller’s new party, whatever its name, and with its membership comprised of a bunch of Liberals, is a different party than the Alberta Liberal Party. Does he believe that Albertans will conclude that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a horse? That, with respect, is contemptuous of the intelligence of the people of Alberta.

Finally, Miller and his band of plotters should heed the advice of new leader David Swann and political scientist David Taras. A new party will only further split the anti-government vote and make life easier for Premier Stelmach and the provincial Tories. Hopefully, that will give Miller and his pals some pause.