"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Was Harper's Ego Simply Too Big For Lynton Crosby?

Election 2015: And they're OFF...
in more ways than one...
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the beginning of "Horse Race 2015", marking the longest election campaign in modern Canadian history, it was believed to have been a strategic move. 

The Conservative party had by far the largest war chest of any of the federal parties. This is what happens when you have corporate Canada in your pocket...or Corporate Canada has you in THEIR pocket. Which ever way you look at it, the Conservatives felt that they had more than enough cash to spend their way to another election victory.

Long time Harper confident and adviser Jenni Byrne was instantly dispatched from the PMO to the Stephen's campaign tent to manage what many believed would be the battle of a life time. 

As an aside here, I have to wonder about the constant flow of personnel to and from the PMO and Conservative Party Central. To my mind, this has a profound effect on the nature of the governance of the country, given that the PMO, in it's current form, exercises  vastly greater power over the country than the collection of elected MPs in the House. And that has led to the blurring of lines between where the Government of Canada ends and where the Conservative Party begins. To many observers, there HAS been no distinguishing between to two in the last nine years. But that's a story for another day. 

Anyway, Harper's campaign got off to a less than glorious beginning. With Thomas Mulcair riding high on the afterglow of an NDP victory in Alberta, The Conservatives actually saw their popularity drop to third place in the polls at one point. 

Like the Old Reform Party, who were the original incarnation of the
The Reform-a-Cons 2015
current Conservative Party (there are a great many who believe there is absolutely NOTHING Conservative about the way this collection of thugs does business), the Harper team tends to attract a great many "loud mouthed schnooks" (to quote Bugs Bunny). Hence Harper's need for constant message control, lest the loose cannons in the party demonstrate to the Canadian people, the insanely true nature of the New Conservative Party.

But even tight message control couldn't keep the spectre of angry old white men calling journalists "lying pieces of shit" on camera or being caught on video peeing into a coffee cup. Not to mention Conservative candidate Ryan Leef, jumping from behind bushes wearing camo to handcuff a woman. The loonies were getting loose. 

Lynton Crosby: Master of the dark political arts. 
So with the profound dip in the polls that accompanied the escape of craziness from Harper's asylum, poor old Jenni Byrne was sent to her room. It was at this time, that Maclean's Magazine announced that the "Lizard of Oz", spin doctor extraordinaire and master of the dark political arts of wedge politics and fear mongering, Lynton Crosby was taking over the Harper campaign.  

It was not long after this report that Harper let slip the phrase "Old Stock Canadians" in a campaign debate. A comment which many have referred to as "Dog Whistle" messaging, meaning it was a comment sent directly to the ears of xenophobic, Anglo Saxon, Protestant Canadians. And soon there after, the debate about a woman's right to wear the Niqab surfaced along with a so-called snitch line for citizens to report "barbaric Cultural Practices" of their neighbours. Yet another swipe at Muslim Canadians. 

These tactics seemed to have Lynton Crosby written all over them. And they seemed to be working. Riding a wave of xenophobic fear and racial tension, Harper and his Merry Band of Loonies jumped to a first place tie in the polls.

No Mr. Harper. Canadians aren't drinking your
cool aid this time. 
But then a funny thing happened on the way to the finisn line. The politics of fear and division began losing ground to a much wider debate about values and freedom. Harper began losing ground once again as Canadians were refusing to swallow his cool-aid. 

So now, in the dying days of Election #42, it has been reported that the "Lizard of Oz" has abandoned Harper's sinking ship.  Some, have speculated that this move may have been because of Harper's decision to seek the support of the "Buffoonic duo", Rob and Doug Ford in Toronto, which most observers regard as a supreme act of desperation. 

Many Canadians like to feel that Crosby's racist tactics simply won't work here in Canada, so he packed up his didgeridoo and went home.

Others have speculated that the presence of Crosby in the Harper campaign has been greatly exaggerated in the first place. Curiously, no one in the Conservative campaign would either confirm or deny Crosby's involvement. But Election Canada saw fit to announce that it was ok for a "non-Canadian" to advise or consult with a political party in a campaign and that this was not contrary to the Elections Act. 

My guess is, that regardless of the extent of Crosby's involvement, Harper's controlling, micro-managing, "my way or the highway" nature probably caused a clash of characters with Crosby who is probably himself, used to exercising complete control over campaigns or he wouldn't be doing what he's doing and wouldn't have gained his reputation as one of the top political strategists in the world.  

Both probably have egos larger than some planetoids in our galaxy. We know this for certain about Harper. And with Crosby's winning record and way of doing business in both Australia and in England, it's not much of a stretch to infer that his sense of "self" is also probably "otherworldly". Both are probably used to sucking up every molecule of oxygen in every room they're in. 

So in the end, there probably just wasn't enough oxygen in all of Canada to feed two such monstrous egos. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Harper's Hail-Mary History

There is no shame in Harperland
As I write this, we are in the final week of Federal Election #42. If we are to believe the polls, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is running in second place behind Justin Trudeau. 

Not that I put much faith in polls mind you. They failed to predict the last B.C. election, two of the last three Alberta elections, the last Quebec election or the "Orange Tide" in 2011. 

But I would bet dollars to donuts that Citizen Stephen is keeping a "weather eye" on the polls. You see, at this stage of the game, it appears highly unlikely that he will grab another "false majority". And with both Justine Trudeau and Tom Mulcair saying there is no way they would prop up a Conservative minority (And equally unlikely that Elizabeth May would support him either), the chances of Harper governing, even with a minority, seem equally improbable. 

Depending on how things play out in Quebec, Steve may be able to get into bed with the Bloc if things are close enough. But that also seems pretty unlikely. 

It would appear that we are looking at the twilight of Stephen Harper. And Stephen himself, sees that same setting sun. 

So we have to ask ourselves, would a power hungry, "win at all costs" kind of guy like Harper just sit back and let nature take it's course when faced with immanent death? Not likely. He will surrender 24 Sussex only under a cloud of tear-gas and a hail of bullets. Harper's own history has demonstrated that fact. Consider:

- In 2004, when Paul Martin was leading his own Liberal minority government and Steve was opposition leader, a potential non-confidence vote in the house of commons was so close, that it came down to one vote. Martin's government hung on the "yea or nay" of one independent M.P., Chuck Cadman.

But Cadman had inoperable cancer. Though he was still able to hold his
Chuck wouldn't take the bribe
seat in the House, his time on earth was rapidly coming to a close. So what did Citizen Stephen do in order to ensure he got his non-confidence vote and a shot at the Prime Minister's residence? He tried to bribe Cadman with a million dollar life insurance policy that named Cadman's  wife as beneficiary. Cadman refused the bribe but nothing ever came of the whole sordid affair.  

 - In 2006, Harper finally got his shot at an election against Martin. It was a close run campaign, much like this current one. In the final stages of that election, the RCMP suspiciously announced it was investigating several Liberal Government personnel, including Finance Minister Ralph Goodale in what became known as the Income Trust Scandal. 

Goodale and the Liberal Party were eventually exonerated in the scandal, but much too late. Harper rode the negative Liberal publicity to his first minority government. Then RCMP Commissioner,Giuliano Zaccardelli, was believed to have been "sympathetic" to the Conservative cause. He never explained the timing of his explosive announcement and was never held to account for it. Harper was Prime Minister by then you see.  

Dion, an decent man but an
easy target for Harper's
hate machine
 - In 2008, when Harper was contesting his second Campaign, also a close run affair, then CTV news journalist Mike Duffy, aired an interview with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. After promising not to air the first dismal takes of the interview. Duffy broke his promise and what eventually aired, made Dion seem like a bumbling idiot. Many believe that interview was the turning point in the election. Duffy of course, went on to be appointed to the Senate by Citizen Stephan. And Duffy is of course, currently on trial for fraud as a result of his Senate shenanigans.He never answered for the damning interview with Dion.

 - Also in 2008, shortly after winning his second minority government, Harper faced a Palace Revolt by the opposition parties that would have seen him turfed out of office and replaced by a coalition government. So what did Harper do? He prorogued government with the Governor General's blessing and waited out the storm. The coalition dissolved under Harper's relentless negative spin doctoring and he retained power. 

A year later, Harper prorogued Parliament once again to avoid accountability over the Afghan detainee issue. Harper never accounted for the prorogation, nor the potential torture of the detainees. 

 - In 2011, when Harper knew he needed a Majority government in order to implement his ultimate agenda or face expulsion by his own party, we saw the largest case of fraud ever committed in a Canadian Election. The Robo-Calls affair. Despite damning evidence of a coordinated effort to thwart voters seen as hostile to the conservatives through the use of misleading automated phone calls, The Harper Government (as the Canadian Government is now called) never accounted for this misdead either. They went to great lengths to stonewall any and every investigation into the matter and in the end, the only one held to account was a minor Conservative party operative. Harper had his majority and he rapidly and ruthlessly began reshaping Canada in his own image. 

So as demonstarted above, Stephen is not one to run a clean campaign when the stakes are high. And in Harperland, the ends always justify the means and there is no such thing as shame. 

So we have to ask ourselves, with the stakes being just as high in this election - Harper's political life hangs in the balance -  just what trump card does he have up his sleeve?

He brought in the "Lizzard of Oz", a divisive Australian spin doctor extraordinaire, to breath life into a sagging campaign. Initially, it seemed like Harper had pulled himself out of the fire one more time by use of the "Niqab" issue, thus stoking the xenophobic flames of discontent within a small portion of the Canadian population and diverting attention from his dismal economic record. 

But to a certain extent, this ploy seems to have backfired as we are 
now seeing a much wider debate based on the general issue of "values" - an area where  Harper is at a distinct disadvantage with all but his most loyal base. 

So what will Harper do in his final days in order to ensure his
continued existence? Will it be a terror based event? An arrest? Another dire warning from an alleged extremest group? 

There is also a possibility that, like the Robo-Calls affair, we won't know what ace Harper played until after the election. But rest assured, Harper will not go queitly into the night. He is dying and he needs to play one last Hail Mary. One last desperate, loathsome gasp from a man with no shame.  

So what will Harper's last big play be?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Just How Significant Is The Niqab Debate

So who is more oppressive? The culture that
the Conservatives claim, compels women to
wear the Niqab, or the Conservatives who
Say they cant?
It is being said that the Niqab debate is nothing more than a "con-trap" - a wedge issue to distract Canadians from a dismal Conservative track record and a Prime Minister who has absolutely nothing of value to show for his nine years in power. 

We say that  there are more important issues to discuss, like healthcare. Which is indeed a critical issue and one that has been grossly mishandled by the Harper Government. 

But the fact of the matter remains, that Harper, Kenney and I would think, a great many other members of the conservative caucus, are racist, misogynist pigs. And that should be a significant fact for many Canadians. 

Do we, as a nation, want to be led by a bunch of angry old white men
Just another angry Old-Stock Canadian
who's values create varying levels of citizenship - that Old Stock Canadians are more - well - CANADIAN than several million newly arrived people?  Do we want leaders who are as misogynistic about women's rights to their own bodies and what they wear, as the culture they claim oppresses them? Are women now, also second class citizens? 

This exclusive, male domineering, racist mind set  sits at the core of the conservative ideology and it becomes reflected in everything that they do, such as how they treat first nations, how they remove health care for refugees in need, by use of racist slogans, rather than elevating the level of health care for all Canadians - How they support harassment of women who seek abortions. Not to mention how  foreign aid for Maternal Health Care denies support for countries with exploding populations but permit abortions. 

We don't cotton to them kind
of folks is these here parts!
So maybe there are more pressing issues to discuss, but this one speaks to the nature of the beating heart of the man who would be our Prime Minister for four more years. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Less Money I Earn, The More Taxes I Pay

Ok, so why is it that the less money I seem to make, the more I seem to be paying in income taxes? Oh yeah, it's because I can no longer afford those TFSAs and RRSPs etc. So I guess the message is clear. It's not the upwardly mobile folks, those with the BMWs parked up their arses who are contributing the lion's share to our social programs via our taxes. It's the people who need them most. 

To start off with, I was divorced several years ago. I won't get into the details, but let's just say, my wife got the house and the kids, hence the tax deductions. I got the guinea pig. I think I need to have a word with my lawyer. 

Anyway, about a year after the initial separation, I also lost my job. And because of the circumstances, I didn't qualify for E.I. So I spent several month's living off of my credit cards until I could find another job. Those several months created a credit "monster" that I'm still dealing with. 

And one just doesn't walk in off the street into a good paying, permanent job anymore. You start off on low paying contract positions with no benefits. I finally landed a permanent position after about two years. And from those I've spoken with, that's GOOD!

In the mean time, my credit monster got bigger and bigger, and the banks, who used to love me to pieces and constantly offer me new and creative ways to give them money, suddenly became my worst enemies. I went to my old friends, the CIBC to be precise, the folks who I had faithfully done business with for over 30 years, with cap in hand, asking for help. But seeing that I was no longer in a position to give the nice banker-lady money in all sorts of new and different ways, I was told to take a long walk off of a very short peer. All of which reminds me of the quote by Robert Frost: "A bank is a place that offers you an umbrella in fair weather and asks for it back when it begins to rain". 

Anyway, the make a long story even longer (as my dad used to say), I've had to make a deal with the devil (in this case, the federal government) in order to slay my credit dragon and keep Tony the collection guy from harassing me. But I will be paying this credit debt off for a long time to come and in the mean time, I have no credit rating what so ever. The only people who will look at me even sideways anymore are the legalized loan sharks, Money Mart. But I am earning money again albeit, much less than I was before. Which brings me back to my original statement about income tax. 

As an upwardly mobile middle-classer with a combined six digit income, the million dollar family, a house, RRSPs etc, I never paid one red cent in income taxes. The government was always giving me (us)money back. Which was great at the time. But now that I am bringing in only a tiny fraction of what I used to make, the government seems to be hitting me up big time for tax money on a regular basis. I, and all my border-line poverty level friends with no tax shelters available to us, seem to be the ones who are covering the cost of our once proud social programs. 

I can say that as a middle-classer with tons of opportunities to shelter my money - legally - I contributed zip-doodah  to the welfare of the nation. And I (we) were small potatoes. I can only imagine what the REAL movers and shakers with some serious cash can get away with - legally or not. I think of those billions of dollars those guys have squirreled away in off shore accounts and those massive corporate tax breaks that have resulted in zero trickle down. So I know that they aren't contributing diddly to the nation's welfare either. If anything, they're sponging off those taxes you and I contribute. 

And I say "once proud" social programs because they are slowly being gnawed to death by the many headed hydra known as the corporate welfare state. It was recently revealed that the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs failed to spend a billion dollars earmarked for social programs for indigenous people. But what happened to that money instead? Oh yeah, there was that whole balanced budget thing. Have to keep Moodies and all those other big bank type guys who establish credit ratings happy. 

And I see those all pervasive "Economic Action Plan" signs everywhere. They're made in the States or so I've been told. I imagine they don't come cheap. But instead of my tax dollars going toward improving healthcare or education or eradicating poverty, they seem to be going towards free advertising for the ruling party. "Merde"!

Oh, and going back to that whole balanced budget thing, It seems that a HUGE chunk of the money that was used to make the books look all nice and orderly, came from OUR E.I. fund.That money ISN'T supposed to be TAX money. It's supposed to be OUR insurance policy against hard times such as I and the 40% of all claimants who never get a chance to collect experience . I guess that's because OUR collective welfare isn't as important as having well sauteed books. But that's a story for another day. 

So as I said in my opening paragraph, it appears that the lion's share of contribution to our once proud social programs seems to be being covered by the people who can least afford to do so. And the more they pay into it, the less service they get, because you know, signs and illusory balanced books and all are way more important.  So don't tell me the system isn't stacked against us. Don't even THINK of telling me the game isn't rigged. The whole system is rotten beyond belief. And the rot is so deep and so old and so ingrained by folks who care more about votes and their own personal bottom lines that it can never be fixed from within. In my own humble opinion, the whole damn thing needs to be blown up and we need to start from scratch, kind of like what Iceland did. They bailed out the people, put the banksters in jail and rewrote their constitution.