The Canadian Independent

Guergis letter writers business as usual, made public

Posted in Blogs & Bloggers, Politics by dave on April 1, 2010

This story broke a few days ago, but I think its important because it really is business as usual for partisan politics here in Canada.

OTTAWA— Embattled junior Conservative cabinet minister Helena Guergis says she had no idea her office assistant has been sending pro-Guergis letters to local newspapers posing as a regular voter.

Guergis, already under fire for an airport security tantrum last month in Charlottetown, says her riding assistant has agreed the letter campaign was inappropriate and has apologized.

The assistant used her married name, rather than the maiden name she uses in her professional life, to send letters defending Guergis to newspapers in her Simcoe-Grey riding northwest of Toronto — without any hint that they came from a Guergis employee.

The practice of parties having supportive letters sent to local papers and even national papers isn’t new at all, and Guergis is not the only “culprit” of this. Generally the way it works is the EDA (Electoral District Association) board members for each party will ghost write letters or atleast set up templates of talking points for supporters to send to local papers. These talking points are often sent out from the political arm of the party in the first place, generally in a weekly or daily email. Occasionally these talking points get leaked out to the media.

Guergis’ sin isn’t that shes doing something thats fundamentally different than what other mainstream political parties in Canada do. Her sin is that she got caught for it, adding another scandal to a a growing list of troubles shes having.

Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal party, as well as Jack Layton are calling for her resignation from her position of Minister of State for the Status of Women. Seems to me the more important question is why should such a position exist in the first place?


Oops, what are you talking about Coulter

Posted in America, Blogs & Bloggers, Politics by dave on March 27, 2010

Coulter calls Canada the least diverse country she’s seen
Few protesters on hand before U.S. pundit tells crowd they’re least diverse she’s ever seen

The polite crowd of 900 listened as Coulter talked about diversity, gays, and bias in the media.

The audience gave a huge cheer when Coulter proposed making Calgary the 51st of the United States.

She said Canada was the least diverse country she’s seen — which brought objections from the audience, but she pointed out that everyone in the crowd looked like she did.

Huh. I guess its too bad Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world.

Picking your Battles: Lefty Profs vs the Military Myth

Posted in Afghanistan, Blogs & Bloggers, Foreign Policy, Politics by dave on March 26, 2010

One of the stories making waves in the Blogosphere are conservative types being outraged by this story. Essentially some lefty profs got together and wrote a letter to the administration of the University of Regina about the “Project Hero” program. This is a scholarship program which provides a $1,000 scholarship to the children of deceased Canadian servicemen or women.

In our view, support for “Project Hero” represents a dangerous cultural turn. It associates “heroism” with the act of military intervention. It erases the space for critical discussion of military policy and practices.  In signing on to “Project Hero”, the university is implicated in the disturbing construction of the war in Afghanistan by Western military- and state-elites as the “good war” of our epoch. We insist that our university not be connected with the increasing militarization of Canadian society and politics.

These guys have the right idea.

Militarism is a real problem for Western societies. For all societies. Its waste, first and foremost. Using resources to produce goods and create jobs that people don’t legitimately demand in society, simply those that the government demands, is wasting those resources. Aggressive foreign intervention ruins our moral standing in the world, and makes Canadians less safe by creating enemies with at no tangible benefit to the Canadian people. In response to these enemies, the Canadian state must reduce our legal protections and privacy to keep us safe from them. The Canadian state must tax us more and take more of our income to maintain an aggressive military so they can “get him before he can get us.” (Even though its this kind of thinking that often creates these “blow-back” enemies in the first place.)

I’ve only had experience with one of the professors on the list. George Buri, Department of History. He and another “labor historian” gave a

The Anti-Imperialist League, a collection of anti-war Classical Liberals.

presentation about how the Afghan war is wrong at a university that I was attending a few years ago. While I do think Afghanistan is a mistake for Canada to be participating in, his was a lot more Marxist in tone. Essentially everything was a plot by the United States to do better for itself.

Then again, what do you expect from “libertarian socialists.”

No matter. These people have the right idea, but they are picking the absolute wrong battleground. You can argue passionately and convincingly against militarism, but the place to take your stand isn’t about a scholarship program for kids whose dads and mums are dead because of bad government policy. The actual valuable point they are trying to make, will just get lost in the noise that ensues.

Duck the debate and lose, Win the debate and win

Posted in Blogs & Bloggers, Ontario, Politics by dave on March 21, 2010

The president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa has barred a volunteer organizer from putting up posters advertising the upcoming appearance of American right-wing columnist and political commentator Ann Coulter.

She is to talk about political correctness, media bias and freedom of speech Tuesday night at Marion Hall as part of a Canadian lecture tour. Canadian conservative political activist Ezra Levant will also speak at the event and introduce Coulter.

“The federation does not support Ann Coulter speaking on our campus,” said student president Seamus Wolfe. “We’re trying to work with the administration to see if we can ask her to do her speaking event somewhere else.”

This is becoming more and more common at University campuses in Canada. Student unions which are obviously leftwing in composition trying to duck debates about controversial topics (Abortion, global warming) and with controversial people (Ann Coulter.) So in order to duck these debates, they remove funding, support and “student space” for groups interested in those topics, and speakers they disapprove of.

I think this is well within their rights. I don’t think it is horrible attack on free speech that some people always like to make these issues out to be. This is an issue to be parsed by property rights, because in a free society, thats how we determine who has authority over what. The student union owns a student union building (often called “student space”), it has money that it can give out to people if it chooses, and can choose not to.

If the student union says that you can’t put up posters in their building, and that they’re not going to give your group or speaker any money, thats not a violation of free speech. Thats not a violation of free speech anymore than if I asked you not to host a meeting of the transsexual NDP caucus in my livingroom. Thats just individuals exercising the right to control their own property.

However, from a strategic standpoint, this kind of strategy is stupid. It takes an otherwise minor event and turns it into a huge struggle. It focuses media and internet attention on the issue. And it makes it look like the left is scared to have a debate. Its a strategy that makes the left look weak.

“There is an interesting line between what is free speech and what is hate speech,” he said. “As difficult as it is to navigate that boundary, Ann Coulter has a history of hate speech and we wouldn’t invite somebody who spreads hate to come to our campus.”

If it is true that Ann Coulter is hateful and awful and stupid, then it should be very easy to have the debate and win it, rather than trying to duck the debate, and in the eyes of public opinion, lose it.

This isn’t the first university that this has happened with on this issue:

via fivefeetoffury

via strictlyright