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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Harper's Teflon is Cracking - Can He Stand the Heat?

Reading the Globe and Mail this morning I was engaged by the editorials on Prorogation and Senate reform.  More particularly I was drawn to the op-ed pieces by Gary Mason and Lawrence Martin. All of these pieces connected with my theme of citizenship for 2010.

The unilateral and conniving tactical appraoch by Prime Minister Harper to use prorogation to delay  accountability of his government and defer the truth on Harper and his Ministers knew about the torture of Afghan detainees.  This is an affort to democracy as we know it.  His contempt of Parliament in stopping the business of the country in it tracks because of the Olympics and "recalibrating his government" is laughable. He presumes Candians are suckers.

As for Senate Reform the hypocracy of the Prime Minister is monumental.  He is appointing 5 more Senators to add to his personal record for such appointments to the Upper House and pandering to his base by trotting out the last old Reform policy chesnut of a elected Senate.  He is not anymore serious about this policy charade than he was about not eliminating Income Trusts.

Lawrence Martin is continuing his very dispassionate but effective pressure on the credibility and integrity of Prime Minister Harper. The Harper government is all about messaging, raw politics and personal power for Prime Minister Harper.  The sense is the teflon coating of Harper is cracking and some light is shining through and Canadians are waking up and not liking what they are seeing. 

Gary Mason's piece is such a nice complement to the edictorials and the Martin column.  We says we citizens have been indifferent and disengaged from our citizenship responsiblities for far too long. The decline of our democracy at the hands of Prime Minister Harper is the direct result. We have enormous policy problems at hand and on the horizons but the debate and discussion in Parliament and amongst politicians and people is stifled.  The lack of public outcry he says is "eerie."

All this underscores the personal energy and citizen re-engagement I am seeing in and around Reboot Alberta. Democracy is fragile and needs nurturing, even in mature states like Canada.  Alberta's democrcacy is also seriously undermined and our institutions are ill-equiped to deal with the pace, scale and intensity of change we are seeing. 

Citizens sense the political culture systems need a Reboot.  Citizens haved to retake CONtrol of their democracy.  We have to start to exercise our rights and assume our responsibilities to be informed and engaged in the politics of our times.  We need viable ALTernatives to  the current state of affairs and distructive aderserial political posturing of the Conservatives in Ottawa and Alberta.  We need to DELete a buch of politicians and policy approaches that are ideological but not practical or pragmatic in the face of current and emerging realities.

If you share some of thiese concerns, visit http://www.rebootalberta.org/ and start reading about a New Progressive approach to politics and public policy in Alberta.  If you want to start doing something about the democratic deficit and the policy approach of the conventional political parties, join in the Reboot conversations and register are part of this movement.

4 comments:

  1. Graham Fletcher7:14 pm

    Ken: IF detainees were handed over to Afghan police and tortured by the Afghans, which may or may not have happened, the people directly involved with this would be our soldiers. In other words, the end result of a 'successful' review would mean that someone - our people in uniform specifically - will be the ones that did this. In this war, it is not relevant whether politicians or diplomats were or were not aware of any torture: the end result is that in the butt protecting that goes on, the final verdict was that the soldier or soldiers, acting on the orders of the day, will or will not have turned prisoners over to the Afghans.

    I am not sure that this is a road that any political party wants to go down, unless that party is so desperate, sick, and treasonous as to endanger our men and women in uniform that that party will chase down what will be at worst a few incidences of mistreatment of enemy combatants.

    Personally I don't give a damn whether these mysogynist, children killing murderers are found to have been, on occasion, mistreated. Certainly with all the publicity and noise, that won't be happening any more.

    But to continue to rabidly demand further investigation that will eventually only serve to damage our troops in the middle of a war is in my view irresponsible.

    However, I can arrange a meeting with some of the rank and file that were in and will be going back to Afghanistan at the local Armory here in Edmonton. I've been there several times, and can only tell you how blown away I have been by how smart, tough, professional, and brave these people are, whoever I talked to. I think it would be interesting for me you to explain to them why you think it is so important to cast them in a poor light.

    Damaging Harper on this issue only damages our fighting people on the ground. The pursuit of this issue is a disgrace. But this may not be all that important to the people who are so keen to score political points, however it should be.

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  2. Graham you are wrong on every point and in fact you mostly miss the point with this reply. There are legalities and moralities at issue here - not political conveniences.

    Harper is damaging himself.

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  3. Graham Fletcher7:34 pm

    Ken: Unless you are suggesting that Harper or other Tory politicians are on the battle field themselves and arresting Afghans and handing them over, how am I wrong? It is absolutely clear that suggesting detainees turned over to Afghans are war crimes - statements made by Iggywaffles, McCallum, Kinsella, the whole stinking group - says specifically that our soldiers are war criminals.

    Tell me about legalities and moralities in a war zone will you?

    What's next - Miranda rights for Taliban? Oh yeah - that's the Obama Rules of Engagement.

    So explain it to me. I find all these war crime allegations horrifically offensive and poisonous to our troops. I don't think you have thought this through. I've met some of these terrific Forces guys who have lost their friends in Afghanistan, and I do not understand the stupid drift of this Liberal drivel in the middle of a war.

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  4. Graham - ethics are not supposed to be situational. Sure there are value tradeoffs but the trade off is not between obeying the law or not. We are a better people than what you suggest and YES Harper is the top dog in our country. He does this becasue that is his power and within his responsibilities - including putting out troops in harms way. BUT HE DOES IT IN OUR NAME IN A DEMOCRACY BECASUE WE ELECTED HIM. WE EXPECT OUR LEADERS TO BE EXEMPLARY CITIZENS AND THE MINIMUM TEST OF THAT IS TO OBEY THE LAW.

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