Wednesday, April 27, 2005

CHOICE?

Current headline at Bourque:

BATTLE LINES DRAWN: CON/BQ vs. LIB/NDP

I think its time to start looking seriously at these guys. Where are the Rhino's when you need them?

Posted by Matthew @ 3:53 PM :: (4) comments

CLARIFICATION

Over at 401Blog, CharLeBois discusses the methodology of the aforementioned blog rankings. As I suspected, the methodology was a little off.

In his post Charles also refers to me as a 'Liberal,' and mentions me in the same sentences as CalgaryGrit, who is in fact a Liberal. Let me clarify. I may espouse 'liberal' or 'left-leaning' principles, however, I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Given the current corrupt state of the Liberal Party I would hope Charles would be careful about who he calls a Liberal.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:55 AM :: (2) comments

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

BUGS

Kingston, and hence my office, has been invaded by swarms of little bugs. They are currently buzzing about my office impairing work. What the hell?

I am told by friends who would know (i.e they've taken biology classes) that the bugs are immature male mosquitos, the numbers of which are likely a result of the unseasonably warm weather of late.

I try to tell people, there's nothing wrong with it being winter until May.

I'm going home.

Correction, Saturday April 30: It seems upon further review from the aforementioned biology students that the bugs in question are not immature male mosquitos but in fact immature mayflies, presumably of the male and female sex. Living in a Society apologizes to all immature male mosquitos who were inappropriately blamed for the infestation of my office. However, the infestation continues.

Posted by Matthew @ 9:32 PM :: (1) comments

I FEEL I SHOULD SAY SOMETHING

This has been getting some attention and has resulted in an increase of traffic for me over the past two days.
Now let me just say its cool that some undergrad computer science student's honours project revolved around blogging. Secondly it's great that his methodology ended up ranking this blog as the tenth most popular Canadian political blog out there, but really people: that can't be right.

1. Any list of Canadian bloggers that did not include Paul Wells, Andrew Coyne, or Colby Cosh has a serious flaw.

2. You'll note I mentioned my traffic has increased over the past two days. You'll also note that I say that with the full knowledge that this site received an overwhelming 62 visits yesterday! That kind of traffic doesn't qualify me for the top ten of anything.

3. Whatever the methodology was it seems remarkably left-wing and Liberal skewed. Kinsella is nubmer one, while CalgaryGrit is number two. Other than Monte Solberg, there is no one on the top ten I would qualify as 'conservative.'

Knowing nothing about computer science I can't really comment on the methodology of the project. However, the results seem a little off.

All that being said...

I'M NUMBER 10!

Posted by Matthew @ 4:50 PM :: (1) comments

Friday, April 22, 2005

CANADA NEEDS SOMETHING BETTER

The prime minister last night:

Let me speak plainly
A bad start. I feel like I'm about to be patronized.
What happened with the sponsorship file occurred on the watch of a Liberal government. Those who were in power are to be held responsible and that includes me.
But he doesn't (immediately) go where I thought he would. This was actually the best recognition of responsibility I've heard from Martin on this issue. It's not good enough, but it is the best yet.
I was the Minister of Finance. Knowing what I've learned this past year, I am sorry that we weren't more vigilant — that I wasn't more vigilant. Public money was misdirected and misused. That's unacceptable. And that is why I apologized to the Canadian people a year ago.
Good, but not good enough. Martin recognizes some of his ministerial responsibility (not being vigilant enough) but he still is not accepting responsibility in the right way. He apologized for not knowing something was wrong, which is different from apologizing for being in charge when something went wrong. It is clear by this point that Martin is not going to resign, or even offer to as I had guessed he would, which is really what needs to happen.
But taking responsibility is about more than words. I want to tell you what I've done as prime minister to deal with the sponsorship scandal — to make sure it does not happen again, to make sure that those who violated the public trust will be identified and will pay the consequences.
Now we're going to move on to explanations, recriminations and damage control...
I committed to acting on the recommendations of Judge Gomery when he brings forth his final report. And I myself testified before his commission, answering any and all questions.
Grammar pet peeve: he has already testified, 'any and all' is unnecessary; 'all questions' would have been just fine.
If so much as a dollar is found to have made its way into the Liberal party from ill-gotten gains, it will be repaid to the people of Canada. I want no part of that money.
It should not have taken sixteen-months and mulitple Gomery witnesses to make this pledge.
As prime minister, I will never hesitate to describe what happened on the sponsorship file for what is was — an unjustifiable mess.
This is were he completely lost me. An unjustifiable mess ?! That's how the prime minister characterizes the worst kind, the often illegal, misuse of public money for partisan and personal gain? This wasn't an accounting error. This wasn't a few details missed. This was rampant, organized, partisan violation of the machinery of government and the public trust. Those two words finished it. If unjustifiable mess, is the terms under which the prime minister refers to the sponorship problem, he has to resign right now.
For that reason, I commit to you tonight that I will call a general election within 30 days of the publication of the commission's final report and recommendations. Let Judge Gomery do his work. Let the facts come out. And then the people of Canada will have their say.
The people of Canada will have their say, where and when ever we so choose. My mind is made up. Martin and his government must fall.
When I was young, I practically lived here in the Parliament Buildings. My father was a cabinet minister in four Liberal governments. He taught me that those who serve in public office have a duty to protect the integrity of government.
And to cap it all off Martin reminds us that the only reason he really wanted to be prime minister is because his father never was.

I give Martin some credit for trying to take responsibility but it is far too little, far too late.

Harper sounded good, he not only hammered the prime minister on corruption but also on the government's total lack of direction, rightly so.

Layton talked about governing and issues. My first reaction, was to think, 'what the hell is he doing?' Then I realized that of all four national leaders, he was the one most concerned with governing.

Duceppe didn't have to do much, but he did it well.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:57 AM :: (2) comments

Thursday, April 21, 2005

MY GUESS

In just over an hour Paul Martin will address the fraction of the nation that is willing to tune in. At that point along with all the requisite claims of 'getting to the bottom of adscam' and distancing himself from the scandal, he will plead with the opposition and the nation to allow the Gomery inquiry to report, before any election is called.

He will then promise to resign, IF the Gomery inquiry implicates him in the scandal in anyway.

Posted by Matthew @ 5:58 PM :: (0) comments

WILL HE CRY?

Talking with my girl friend this morning about tonight's television spectacle, she said:

"every time I've seen Paul Martin in the news in the past month he's looked like he was about to cry."

Ha. So true.

Posted by Matthew @ 11:19 AM :: (0) comments

TUNE IN TONIGHT

Obviously, this is a Liberal crisis that Martin is attempting to turn into a national crisis.

My guess: Lowest ratings for a national telivised address by a national leader. Ever. Anywhere.

I know I have better things to do than watch a leader who can't lead, blame his inability on a corrupt former leader.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:58 AM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

SPEAKING OF TIE-BREAKERS

Mader, prompted by Coyne, has a great discussion about the power of the legislative tie-breaker, particularly as it applies to the Speaker of the House in Canada.

Normally, I would add my brief two cents in the comments section over there, but since Mader has unfortunately removed his comments, and since like Mader this is a topic I find really interesting, I'll try and post something on it here. The brief, un-thought out version, I think, is that the Speaker should always vote to maintain the status quo even if that means voting to maintain his own party in power.

Regarding the revival of my blog. I posted more last week than I had originally thought I would. I still have a lot of end-of-term work to get through, so blogging will still be sporadic for the next couple of weeks. The serious revival begins mid-May.

Posted by Matthew @ 11:07 PM :: (0) comments

PLEASE NOTE

Making fun of the term 'explosive' as used in referernce to Gomery testimony has now become as cliche as the term itself originally was.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:43 PM :: (0) comments

Saturday, April 16, 2005

FOCUS

Amongst all of the inane and mostly useless 'analysis' of recent poll results from both the MSM and bloggers, Carol Goar, as usual, focuses her attention on a few actual issues. Its a lesson for the media, the PM and, dare I say, us bloggers.

If Paul Martin's government were to make significant movement BEFORE an election, on even half the issues Goar mentions, I might consider voting for a Liberal candidate, as long as it is not one of these people.

Election promises are not going to cut it this time. We got promises from Martin when he took over the Liberal party leadership (remeber his 'Making History' acceptance speech? I was actually enthused about it at the time.) We got promises from Martin during the last campaign. Martin has to show he is capable of taking action on serious policy issues. Incumbent governments have to run on their record. If they can make the campaign about the things they have done well, they stand a good chance of winning. Right now I'm struggling to recall something, anything, that Martin's government has done whatsoever.

Sadly, I do not have much faith in Mr. Dithers becoming an actual leader between now and Canada Day, which may be all the time he has left.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:06 PM :: (0) comments

Friday, April 15, 2005

RESPONSIBLE

When considering the sponsorship debacle, there are two types of responsibility. There is the direct and criminal responsibility of those who stole and embezled public money, those who knowingly accepted it, and those who immediately facilitated or covered up the illegal and innappropriate activity. The people who are directly and criminaly responsible will be held accountable by the justice system.

The second type of responsibility is political. The activities of the sponsorship program represent a massive betrayal of the public trust. This betrayal was perpetrated and directed by members of the Liberal Party of Canada under the government of prime minister Jean Chretien. Politicians must be held accountable for the illegal activities that went on within the sponsorship program.

Our parliamentary democracy relies on the principle that the cabinet is responsible for the acts and decisions of the government. While the worst of the sponsorship program likely occurred without the knowledge of many members of the government, they still must be held responsible. Cabinet members must be held responsible, even for actions they did not directly commit, because they were elected and appointed as guardians of the public trust. When that trust is violated, no matter how secretly, the cabinet is responsible.

Canadian parliamentarians generally, are already facing a huge level of public mistrust as a result of the sponsorship scandal. Parliamentarians can only do their jobs well, they can only fullfill their obligations as representatives of the general will, if they hold the trust of the public. Canadians have to believe that whomever is elected as their MP, that the member who is elected will protect the general intersts of Canada.

Members of cabinet must be held to the highest standard possible. Obviously, as I have said, Jean Chretien holds the most responsibility, but he can no longer be brought to account at the polls. However, there are many MPs who were members of cabinet at some point during the operation of the sponsorship program who can still be held electorally accountable.

Consequently, the following is a list of current MPs who served in cabinet under Jean Chretien during the period of the sponsorship program. To maintain the standards of responsible government, all of these members must be defeated at the next opportunity avilable to their constituents.

ANDERSON, David - Victoria
AUGUSTINE, Jean - Etobicoke—Lakeshore
BEVILACQUA, Maurizio - Vaughan
BLONDIN-ANDREW, Ethel Dorothy - Western Arctic
BOUDRIA, Don - Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
BRADSHAW, Claudette - Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
BYRNE, Gerry - Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte
CHAN, Raymond - Richmond
CODERRE, Denis - Bourassa
DEVILLERS, Paul - Simcoe North
DION, Stéphane - Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
DROUIN, Claude - Beauce
EASTER, Arnold Wayne - Malpeque
FRY, Hedy - Vancouver Centre
GOODALE, Ralph Edward - Wascana
GRAHAM, Bill - Toronto Centre
KILGOUR, David - Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
MACAULAY, Lawrence A - Cardigan
MARLEAU, Diane - Sudbury
MARTIN, Paul Edgar Philippe - LaSalle—Émard
MCLELLAN, A. Anne - Edmonton Centre
MINNA, Maria - Beaches—East York
MITCHELL, Andrew (Andy) - Parry Sound—Muskoka
OWEN, Stephen - Vancouver Quadra
PARADIS, Denis - Brome—Missisquoi
PETERSON, James Scott (Jim) - Willowdale
PETTIGREW, Pierre S. - Papineau
ROBILLARD, Lucienne - Westmount—Ville-Marie
SCOTT, Andy - Fredericton
THIBAULT, Robert - West Nova

Posted by Matthew @ 5:02 PM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

SPONSORSHIP: SO I WAS WRONG

Last year, when the sponsorship scandal first broke, I wrote a post in which I argued the whole thing was not that big a deal. Certainly, it appeared that the Liberals had acted somewhat improperly and I was perfectly agreable with holding a public inquiry but I felt the country could have been focusing its primary attention elsewhere. I did not vote for the Liberals in the last election but that had nothing to do with Adscam, and even though I didn't vote for them, I was relatively pleased with the minority Liberal government outcome of the election.

My opinion has now changed.

Last year, I did not pay much attention to the sponsorship issue and I assumed that the Liberals had acted improperly by some people's (mostly Conservative's) standards. It now appears, and I am making preliminary and not final conclusions, that the Liberals not only acted improperly but absolutely illegally. I recognize I'm a little late to the entire party, but it is now becoming clear to me that the sponsorship program constitutes a massive, illegal betrayal of the public trust.

As a result I will not be pleased this time if the Liberals are re-elected to only a minority. The Liberal Party has been too long in power and the sponsorship debacle is an example of the type of things that happen when a political party becomes arrogant in its power.

I do not particularly care if Martin and Chretien did not have an amicable relationship or even if Martin knew absolutely nothing about what was going on. Martin was a senior cabinet minister during the entire sponsorship affair and under the principles of cabinet government it is entirely appropriate to hold him responsible. The cabinet is a collective executive authority.

I believe the Liberal party should be defeated generally, and I believe that every member who served in cabinet during the period of the sponsoship program specifically should be defeated. It is unfortunate that Jean Chretien has escaped censure at the polls. It reamins to history to judge his record. Fortunately, I am on my way to becoming an historian.

Posted by Matthew @ 11:39 PM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

KINSELLA: GOOD POINT, BAD POINT

Disclaimer: Lets not drag the ever so popular Canadian blogosphere debate between pro- and anti- Warren Kinsella folks into this post, I'm just blogging here.

Warren Kinsella (no perma-links, you know where to go) makes a good point today when he writes,

Can Stephen Harper win big? Sure he can - if he was leader, caucus and CPC membership rolled into one person, that is. Google "blogging Tories," an you'll see what I mean. Preston Manning used to say a bright light attracts a lot of bugs. That's true. So if I was Stephen, I'd get out the industrial-strength Raid, and pronto.
Indeed.

The CPC might be on their way to a big win in the next election (I think it's safe to assume one is coming). Obviously a big win means a lot of Conservative MPs getting elected, a lot who will have no experience in Parliament, a lot who will win not because of any individual merit but simply because they were not the Liberal candidate. I'm even struggling to think of current Conservative MP's who have experience governing on any level. I shudder to think that Stockwell Day might be among the most experienced having served in the Alberta cabinet.

Let me be clear that this is not an argument to re-elect the Liberals. I am of the firm opinion that the Liberals have to be defeated. However, we're looking at electing a party that has next to zero institutional memory of governance. Sure, everyone has to learn sometime, but the learning process might not be pretty.

Immediately following that post, Kinsella then makes, what he should have realized, is an utterly bad point. Kinsella writes,
You want greed? You want corruption? You want kick-backs and toll-gating and all that? Here you go.
The link takes you to the Amazon page for the book, On the Take: Crime Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years, and one gets the impression that Kinsella is attempting to defend the Liberal party. Oh, how clever Warren, to remind people of the curruption of a past prime minister. By doing so I am immeditely reminded of how Canadians decided to deal with that prime minister and his corruption. Is Kinsella trying to defend Chretien or sabotage Martin with this post?

Posted by Matthew @ 7:21 PM :: (0) comments

POLITICS AS USUAL

Mader, despite abandoning Canada for Texas, still understands Canadian politics, or at least he can recognize the same old pattern of Canadian politics when he sees it. Today he writes,

Conservatives are so terrified of being demonized for asserting conservative positions that they've convinced themselves that simply not being Liberals will be enough.
It may be enough this spring. But then what? Lacking a coherent governing philosophy, a Tory government will inevitably either disappoint by being more conservative than expected, or disappoint by being the same old story. Canadians may have a good reason to vote Tory next month. But the Conservative Party is giving them absolutely no reason to vote Tory thereafter.
Exactly.

Stephen Taylor has been going on about the bankruptcy of the Liberal 'brand' (an aside; I hate the terms of 'branding' applied to political parties, but that's probably the Liberal's own fault more than anyone's). Really though, this situation, as it unfolds, looks a lot like the the natural pattern that occurred throughout the twentieth-century in Canadaian politics. Namely, long stints of Liberal government punctuated by one or two term Conservative governments at times when the public finally got tired of the Natural Governing Party.

For much of Canadian political history most voters have framed their election decision in terms of voting for or against the Liberals. Nothing the Conservatives are doing right now is changing that mentality. And that is not good for them or the country.

Posted by Matthew @ 11:05 AM :: (0) comments

Sunday, April 10, 2005

RUMINATIONS ON THE DECLINE OF THIS BLOG

Well, when people start asking you to post something you know you're neglegting your blog. I suppose though its a good sign that someone is still interested.

I believe this blog peaked both in quality and quantity of output in early 2004 (second semester of the 2003-04 academic year, which is the calendar I am perpetualy running on). My site traffic, which has always been quite modest, peaked in March of that year with just over 1,500 visitors. Over the summer of 2004 my posting slowed to a near halt. I attributed that to the fact that it was the summer and that I was living at home, which were not my accustomed blogging conditions. I may have taken as a sign the fact that I barely posted despite the fact that there was a federal election going on, but again, it was warm and sunny outside, and that doesn't last long in this country.

However, upon return to the life of academics for a new degree in a new town my blogging did not increase. Again, I could attribute this to new conditions, but really its been almost eight months now doing an M.A in Kingston. I could attribute the lack of posting to the work load, which would probably be partially correct but I'm not trying to make excuses here, all appearances to the contrary.

The fact is that I think over the past year I've been losing interest in blogging, which has been aggrivated by all the above mentioned factors. I still love reading blogs, and commenting on other people's blogs (as some of you have probably noticed), and I love the idea of having my own blog, but I just can't seem to bring myself to post to it.

Most days it just acts as a conveniently personalized home page. The fact that I haven't even been using blogging as a procrastination tool I think is indicative of my attitude. Nor is the problem a total absence of free time. Certainly I'm quite adept at creating free time for myself. If you read today's Toronto Star piece on Leisure and Idleness, I often tend towards the idle end of the spectrum. Nevertheless I have found in my idle moments there are simply other things I would rather be doing. And yet, a little part of me still looks at the daily news and events of life in terms of blog topics; but they are topics that seem destined to never be posted.

With the departure of my beloved blog On the Fence, which was so well written and so regularly produced, I wonder if some people are simply not suited for long-term blogging. The number of abandoned blogs certainly suggests this.

What is it exactly that makes people return to this medium day after day? There are many who do it so well yet even the best and the most read don't reach the audience of most professional newspaper columnists, many of whom clearly couldn't articulate an intelligent opinion if they were paid to do it. And yet most bloggers do this for free.

Anyway, the blog has certainly been in decline, and I thank those few of you who have continued to come by and check on its diminishing status. Most of me thinks that I should simply shut it down, yet I can't bring myslef to do so. Unlike Nestruck I don't have the will power to leave entirely, let alone when I'm at my peak (of course I don't have a national newspaper as an alternative outlet).

So my plan is to keep 'Living in a Society' on life support; it would seem perhaps doubly ironic to withdraw my blog from the 'sphere given its name and my initial enthusiasm for blogs as a 21st century manifestation of the 18th century public sphere. There will continue to be very little here through the rest of this month and into early May, at which point I will make one fresh attempt to re-start.

Currently I am writing three papers (for the aforementioned M.A) in the span of one month (procrastination, research delays, don't ask). Come May I will have only one paper to write over the span of four months. True, this summer paper has to be substantially better than the current three but simply not having to go through the process of starting and researching three different papers should give me more time. With no excuses of time constraints, a settled existence in Kingston and (hopefully) a re-newed inspiration to post, I will try and revive this blog. If by September, Living in a Society is still limping along, that will be it. I'll shut it down.

I try to keep my blog pretty impersonal (in keeping with the principles of the enlightened public sphere), but putting this onto the pages of the blog makes it a little more real and I'm sure somebody will remind me of my committment. I write this, mostly as a bargain with myself (if you've read this far, yeah, sorry this is all you're getting, maybe I should have warned you at the beginning).

Posted by Matthew @ 10:29 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, April 07, 2005

SAVED

When I haven't posted in a long time (more on that soon) I often find it difficult to decide what to lead off with. This time I have no such difficulty.

I can only express my sincerest thanks to Captain's Quarters and the Blogging Tories at large for (again?) saving Canadian democracy. Whew. We were on the ropes there for a few days, what with an independent justice running an inquiry that has been damaging to the Governing Party imposing a temporary publication ban under the principle of protecting the right of individuals to a fair trial.

Thank-goodness that the default positions of the (un-)Official Bloggers of the Official Opposition Party is to assume that Canada is constantly teetering on the edge the abyss of dictatorship (if we aren't there already).

Anyway, the testimony is released, the nation is saved.

Posted by Matthew @ 9:49 PM :: (2) comments