Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On the Take

This story's been around for a while, but now the dirty details are coming out. I thought the title of Stevie Cameron's blockbuster wasoverthe top, and I wondered why Mulroney didn't sue. Turns out Cameron was right. Now that the Refom-Canadian Alliance-Conservatives have assumed the mantle of Tories, they're vulnerable on this. That may not be fair, and people might argue that the party of Kim Campbell and Jean Charest paid the electoral price. But someone -- to use Harvey Kietel's wonderful phrase in National Treasure -- has to go to jail. Will it be Brian Mulroney? And will Harper, who developed a real friendship with Mulroney, disown the old crook?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I like lower taxes...

but I'd like to leave a lower national debt to my kids. The boomer generation is just so damn greedy. They want the tax cuts now, when they're in their peak earning years. In ten years, they'll want better health care and a whole pile of breaks for seniors, including big cuts to property taxes so they can live beyond their means on their pensions. And, oh yes, they'll make sure everything they get from the government is indexed to the penny.
Meanwhile, we've got bridges falling on people's heads. We've got poor people and crazy people sleeping in the streets. And we've got huge public debts and liabilities cleverly hidden by the feds, provinces and municipalities. That's the great thing about being over-governed at three levels: you can stash bonds anywhere.
Now, what happens if, as I expect, we do have a recession next year? Flaherty's tax cuts are now built into the system. They are, essentially, refunds from the windfall the government has been blessed with in a time of incredible prosperity. But if the economy tanks with the US', we'll be running Mulroney-type deficits again as quick as you can say "Michael wilson".

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Press Gallery Dinner

What a blast! A full house in the elegant setting of the Great Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The food was great, the clothes were elegant, the entertainment superb. Marion and I were in exquisite company, with an excellent table near the center of the action.
The GG skipped because she couldn't take criticism from the Quebecois press about a (quite funny) joke she made about the then-leader of the Parti Quebecois. Steven Harper didn't show because (a) he gets very bad media advice and (b) he takes it. Harper always shone at gallery dinners. It was a great way to show he was an upright guy. Now he looks like an ass and a suck.
Those politicians who did show -- Dion, Layton, May, Belinda Stronach, Lawrence Cannon, Bob Rae, Michal Ignatief -- seemed to be having a good time. A very clean-shaven Justin Trudeau was also there, as was Rick Mercer. Peter Newman showed up in a cape, a la Trudeau 1973 Version. Gen. Rick Hillier, the American ambassador, the British High Commissioner, several other ambassadors, some senior cultural poo-bahs, and every non-Tory political mover and shaker who counts in Ottawa was there, along with senior media executives, a few lobbyists, and some party heavyweights. The only people who stayed away were those who are afraid of the Prime Minister -- the members of the Tory caucus and their staff. The rest of Ottawa and a good chunk of the rest of the Canadian elite showed up.
Anyone who thought the century-old gallery dinner was a goner because of the Tory boycott should remember that politicians are the most transient people in Ottawa. They come, they go, but this city has a culture of its own.
The press has many sins, and I've listed a few of them here. Still, it's one of the bulwarks of democracy, and Harper is a fool to try to undermine it.
And anyone who bawls that Harper is snubbed or somehow frozen out should keep in mind that he was invited, and has always been treated well at these events. Those of you ex-Reformers who believed in empowerment for MPs -- things like recall, referendum, free votes -- should remember how hard the Tory caucus was whipped to stay away from this event. Even the lowliest staffers who, two years ago, would have killed to get a ticket, were too afraid to show their faces. Welcome to Harper's vision of populism.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Close the book on Election 2007

A very forgetable politician, John Tory, has lost the campaign to the very forgetable Dalton McGuinty. More important, since there's nothing ideologically different between these two men, Roman Catholic education in Ontario is mortally wounded in the crossfire.
The great conundrum of the funding of religious schools lay in the fact the Liberals supported state funding for Roman Catholic schools and no other faiths'. Now the public can reasonably ask why Catholic schools have this funding and the schools of other faiths do not.
I wish John Tory never raised the issue. My kids don't go to Catholic schools, but almost all the people in my extended family did. My older relatives, including my grandmother, taught in them for nothing when times were tough. Women throughout my dad's family -- nuns and lay women -- fought hard for the Cathiolic system. My great aunt Mary Lehane was one of the Catholic teachers federation executives who pried the pension system out of the hands of the province. Her sister Bernie -- my grandmother-- taught for nothing during the Great Depression.
But how can we justify this system? Irish and French Catholics won it at great cost and in the teeth of Oranbge opposition nearly 150 years ago. Their argument: Catholics pay taxes, too.
So do Jews and Muslims.
And so it goes.
There is an unfairness now. One historical wrong was righted by the funding of Catholic schools. But that was in another time, and now, in the ironic name of multicultralism, that era will close.