Tag Archives: John Baird

Eve Adam’s Floor Crossing

There is nothing noble about Eve Adams floor crossing according to Murray Mandryk

If you are looking for the slightest bit of nobility in Eve Adams’ decision to abandon Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and move to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, you would be well advised to quickly move on.

About the kindest thing to be said is that it represents just the latest episode of self indulgence that has defined the soap opera political career of the Mississauga-Brampton South MP.

Far worse, however, is that it’s this kind of cynical manoeuvre that feeds the public’s appetite to stay as far away from politics – and polling booths – as possible.

Coincidentally, Adams’ sudden conversion to Liberalism comes after her failed bid to win a Conservative nomination in the newly redistributed Oakville-North Burlington seat. Adams wanted the seat not necessarily for reasons of having represented the people there. She has been in Oakville for only two years, but had lived in Mississauga for 14 years – seven of which she served on its city council. Oakville, however, is a much easier seat for a Conservative candidate to win.

We are now supposed to believe that after a nasty nomination battle – in which Adams either started or gleefully engaged in the many skirmishes – she suddenly has recognized her problems with the Harper government over matters such as income splitting or, less specifically, its "values" and the PM’s "mean-spirited" leadership.

"The values of the Conservative Party are not the values of the original Progressive Conservative Party and they are not the values that I hold," Adams said Monday, adding she now prefers Trudeau’s kinder, more optimistic style. "I want to work with someone who inspires, not with fear-mongers and bullies."

What sheer and utter nonsense.

Of course Mark Critch has some thoughts

Mr. Trudeau just accepted somebody that Harper thought was too tainted to touch. Think about that for a second. Harper thought she was too dirty. That’s like Rex Murphy accusing someone of "loquaciously rambling in their discourse."

The low point came when Adams met with the prime minister to beg him to spare her. Harper also said that Adams told him she had broken up with his former communications director, Dimitri Soudas. Harper then leaned forward and told her that he knew Mr. Soudas was sitting in the lobby waiting for her.

Can you imagine that conversation? "Oh, did I say we broke up? Yeah, well, we’re not, like ‘BROKEN UP’ over. We’re more like ‘taking a break’ over. I mean, like, he thinks we go out but I’m so over him and, well, my Facebook status says ‘it’s complicated.’ You can totally check that."

I’m actually relieved that the PM knew. When the Prime Minister’s Office was surprised that John Baird was leaving cabinet, I thought "What’s the good of having CSIS spy on everyone if Frank Magazine knows your foreign affairs minister is leaving before you do?"

Will defending gay rights cost Tories?

It’s alienating the religious right and Maurice Vellacott

The Conservative government’s defence of gay rights abroad appears to have sharply divided Canadian conservatives. Some say it’s a natural fit for a government that has made the promotion of human rights on the world stage a priority, and aligns with the priorities and values of Conservatives and non-Conservatives alike.

“It’s just the right thing to do, to stand up for the rights of the individual no matter what country they live in,” said Stephen Taylor, director of the conservative National Citizens Coalition. But others have warned it will cost Prime Minister Stephen Harper support from within his own party.

“I’ve already seen some feedback from some of the conservative, the real conservative base,” said Brian Rushfeldt, president of the right-wing advocacy group Canada Family Action. “I think the potential of Harper and the Conservatives losing some support is very real.”

Even Conservative MPs are divided over the issue, which on the surface appears to be an outlier among many other foreign policy positions the Tories have adopted since coming to power.

“We’ve got much more important things to be doing in terms of a foreign affairs agenda along the lines of trade and health issues and various other issues that we can help these countries in,” said Conservative backbencher Maurice Vellacott. “So I don’t think we have to be promoting that in other countries. We have far too much and far more important things to be doing.”

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird refused to say Friday whether he was worried Conservative members and supporters will turn against the government over the issue.

I am not sure that Vellacott speaks for many others than himself on this issue.  Even the right wing Toronto Sun is speaking out in favour of John Baird.

Canada is a defender of human rights. Full stop.

That’s pretty much our response to REAL Women of Canada picking a fight with John Baird.

The foreign affairs minister has recently spoken out against the oppression of gay people in various countries — such as Uganda, with their proposed “kill the gays” bill.

REAL Women don’t like that. They think Canada has no business poking around in Uganda’s affairs — despite the fact we send them tens of millions in aid every year.

They also don’t like Baird chastising Russia for their bizarre new law against non-traditional lifestyle propaganda — whatever that means.

What it seems to mean is that gay people could be arrested for waving a flag, writing their opinions or having a parade.

Well, sorry ladies, but Canadian athletes will soon be heading to Russia and we should do all we can to make sure they compete and come home safe and sound.

Telling other countries what to do and wading into their social issues should be kept to a minimum. But sometimes you’ve just got to stand up for your values. And persecuting people because of their religion, gender, sexual orientation and so on, is one of the things we oppose as Canadians.

And there you have the problem of the religious right in Canada.  They scream loud and clear when someone they agree with is persecuted but if that person doesn’t, they don’t even want them protected and everyone sees that.  I have no problem in having a belief system but no one deserves to persecuted for theirs.  

The distractions piling up on Stephen Harper’s desk

From John Geddes in Macleans Magazine

Even before the media-shy Wright stumbled unintentionally into the spotlight, the Conservatives had arguably sunk to their lowest point since Harper first won power in 2006. They’ve spent most of 2013 on the defensive over controversies such as companies using a federal immigration program to hire foreign workers instead of Canadians, and an auditor general’s report that found the government couldn’t account for how $3.1 billion earmarked for public security was actually spent. Promised trade deals haven’t been inked. Highly touted pipelines are in doubt. Overall economic growth is tepid. Tory attack ads against Justin Trudeau evidently fizzled, since the Liberals now top the polls under their new leader. And Harper can’t count anymore on lock-step discipline from his MPs, after some defiant Conservative backbenchers recently asserted their right to speak in the House without permission from the party leadership.

No wonder a crisis mood was setting in before an emergency Conservative caucus meeting Harper called early this week to try to first calm, and then rally, his troops. He voiced predictable disappointment over the Senate mess, didn’t dare to mention Wright and then urged his MPs to get back to basics. “Canadians are looking to us to protect them—their jobs, their families, their communities,” he said. “That is what we must be focused on.” Goldy Hyder, long-time Tory insider and president of the public-affairs and -relations firm Hill & Knowlton Canada, says Harper has plenty of time to orchestrate a rebound. After all, this summer will mark only about the midpoint of his first majority term. “The issue,” Hyder says, “is how you use that half-time break to develop a strategy to execute for the second half.”

Harper’s lecture to caucus, which was open to the media, was his first public show of personal attention to a dangerously volatile situation. A more methodical rebuilding effort is expected to begin with a major speech at a Tory policy convention in late June. Later in the summer, he is widely expected to shuffle his cabinet, before a Speech from the Throne next fall recasts his agenda. All this was in the works before Wright’s stunning fall. Now, Harper must strive to stay on track against howls of opposition outrage. The NDP suggests Wright’s decision to cut that fat cheque was linked to a Senate committee’s agreement to soften the more damaging parts of an audit report on Duffy’s expenses. The official Opposition has asked RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson to investigate. “What we do know is that a secret cheque was written for $90,000,” said NDP ethics critic, Charlie Angus. “And we understand there may have been interference with that Senate report. This suggests a much larger issue that is at the very desk of the Prime Minister.”

Harper finds himself under direct fire after several months of watching many of his top cabinet performers forced into defensive postures. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had to scramble to announce changes to that Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which he had previously promoted as a big success, after news of companies passing over Canadians to make room for cheaper labour from abroad. Human Resources Minister Diane Finley tabled stricter Employment Insurance eligibility rules last year, but still hasn’t quelled the backlash over the impact on seasonal workers, and now faces the Atlantic-province premiers jointly demanding a halt to the changes. Foreign Minister John Baird is fighting in the United Nations to stave off a bid by Qatar to lure away the prestigious headquarters of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization from Montreal, but may be hampered by ill will among Arab countries and beyond, generated by Harper’s unbending support for Israel.

Still, foreign affairs, immigration and EI aren’t essential ingredients of the Harper formula. What matters more is his image as a prudent spender of public money and a smart strategist on the economy. Yet his government is looking vulnerable on both those fronts, too. That $3.1-billion gap the auditor general reported in federal accounting has made it difficult lately for Treasury Board President Tony Clement to boast of the Tories’ attention to every taxpayer’s dime. When it comes to reckless spending, another favourite opposition target is the estimated $46-billion plan to buy 65 F-35 fighter jets. Despite announcing late last year that other fighter-jet options would be considered, the government recently paid about $40 million to remain in the U.S.-led F-35 consortium until at least next fall, which means this drawn-out military-procurement mess remains very much alive.

Maybe it’s a lack of strategic thinking

A shortage of strategic thinking across many policy areas might be a reason the Harper government has lacked a feeling of forward thrust in recent months. David Zussman, a University of Ottawa professor of public-sector management, says Harper’s Conservatives don’t often turn to senior bureaucrats for ideas, relying on them only to “loyally implement” policy, rather than offer advice on its broad direction. Cutting mandarins out of the high-level planning leaves political aides to do more of the deep thinking—and many Conservatives admired Wright as the deepest of them all. Along with managing the Prime Minister’s Office and chairing a key weekly meeting with cabinet ministers’ chiefs of staff, Wright selectively stickhandled problematic files. 

It’s going to be a tough two years ahead.  I am not saying he won’t be re-elected but this isn’t a government that does things easily.

The tale of two Flickr accounts

Take a look at both Barack Obama and  Stephen Harper’s Flickr accounts.  I was absolutely amazed at the difference in them.  The Whitehouse acct is full of thousands and thousands of photos of Obama in a variety of contexts.  The Situation Room, playing with his kids, playing practical jokes, preparing to confront the GOP, shooting hoops, skipping rocks, meeting world leaders, talking with national security advisors, and engaging with peopleStephen Harper doesn’t even have a pro account and the photos that are posted there are of political fundraisers and funding announcements.

Now if I am Stephen Harper (and I am not, he’s a tactical genius while I can tell you what Reggie Lemelin’s GAA was in 1982 off the top of my head), I would be telling my official photographer to be uploading everything to Flickr (and use a version of Flickr’s Whitehouse inspired photo license)   From breakfast with Laureen, to my walking my kids to school, giving John Baird parking money (in case you forgot, Baird often escorts Laureen Harper to cultural events that Stephen doesn’t like attending) cabinet meetings, impromptu road hockey games, buying a burger at a Senators game, visiting with voters, having lunch with the Obamas, practising with his band in the basement of 24 Sussex, playing golf with John Turner… whatever it is, I would use it to show Canadians who he really is.  I don’t know if you remember this classic bit he did with Rick Mercer…

Some more of this and less attack ads could actually remind Canadians that he is likeable.    Of course I realize he may be already doing this and deep down he is an unengaged partisan who works by himself late at night in his office (according to the campaign ads).  I never said my idea was without risk. 

If nothing else, make sure you check out this photoset by White House photographer Pete Souza of Barack Obama’s 2010.