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Babel-on-the-Bay: The boredom of bitumen.

The wife does not want to read another commentary on tar sands bitumen. She thinks that some people who worry about bitumen should get a life. You have to admit that it does give one pause when writing yet another commentary on bitumen, its producers, its pipeline devotees and its favourite government.

But it is necessary. Hearing of the Pembina Institute’s analysis of where we humans stand in the battle against global warming is both disquieting and concerning. Frankly, folks, we are losing the bloody battle. We are not only going to lose coastlines down the road but we are (Read more…)

Calgary Grit: Vote Out Anders

It was Ron Liepert by a nose for the Calgary Signal Hill Conservative nomination.

“Secret Liberal” Ron Liepert has done what a mayor, cabinet minister, and premier failed to do – defeated Rob Anders. And, boy, do typing those words ever feel good.

First elected in 1997, Rob Anders gained notoriety in 2001, voting against honourary citizenship for Nelson Mandela and calling him a “terrorist” – a sentiment Anders doubled down on earlier this year after Mandela’s death. In between, he has been a punching bag for progressives, and pretty much everyone who follows politics (except for former (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Goddamn the CPR; God save the CBC.

One of our favourite Canadian journalists, Allan Fotheringham, wrote years ago about a Saskatchewan farmer who had everything go wrong who ends up blaming all his problems on the CPR. That is understandable. The Canadian Pacific Railroad has been a major factor in the economy of our west since Confederation.

But other than that cornball W.O. Mitchell series, Jake and the Kid on radio and television, what has the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ever done to the west? Certainly Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairies were not that bad? Even Rex Murphy on Cross Canada Checkup listens to (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Shoring up the declining empire.

If you are destined to become a saviour of the British royalty, you start young. It was eight-month old Prince George who flew in to wow the colonials in New Zealand the other day. Somehow his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, carried him down the steps of the aircraft without tripping. (She also made it down without the strong wind blowing her skirt over her head.) At least young George was rescued shortly afterwards for a diaper change and naptime.

But they were there to quiet the natives. Not the Maori natives who are actually quite loyal to the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Reading the entrails of the Quebec election.

When you kill the beast, rip out its guts and use them to foretell the future, all you really need to do next is have a long, cleansing shower. And that shower is what all the pundits need after Monday’s provincial election in Quebec. The election was a watershed. It told of change. It forecasts a very different future.

The most interesting forecasts were for next year’s federal election. All federal parties took the outcome as a good omen. The drop of the Parti Québécois to just a quartile of the vote was welcome news to all. It left the (Read more…)

reeves report: Rebuilding ‘science team’ at ELA a tough task

Researchers at the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario.

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on May 17, 2012 that funding for the Experimental Lakes Area would no longer be renewed by the federal government, scientists and environmentalists saw this for what it was—another salvo in Harper’s ever-expanding conflict with science and the products of that research.

Long before the ELA—a vast, 58-lake living freshwater laboratory near the Manitoba-Ontario border—was saved by an 11th hour deal between Ottawa, two provincial governments and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Thomas Mulcair has been found lacking.

In a recent commentary about women and politics, we left out Catherine Pinhas, New Democratic Leader Thomas Mulcair’s wife for the past 47 years. The reason she was not mentioned is that she is not political. She takes him away from the political world and is not your typical mistress of Stornoway, the Official Opposition Leader’s residence in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park area. Being apolitical, she can be both a help and a hindrance to her husband.

Mind you, being apolitical is not necessarily as much of a negative influence as it was with Maryon Pearson when her husband was Opposition (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The pheromones of political power.

You can listen to the man but study the wife. Too many people think of politics as a man’s game but the real answers are from their women. Laureen Harper tells you more about Prime Minister Harper than he will tell you. Sophie Grégoire tells you a lot about her husband Justin Trudeau. These women are also politicians. Not all political wives are political but you better know about them before you write them off.

A political apparatchik can work for the husband but it is the wife who has the last word when he goes to bed at (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The perseverance of Pierre Poilievre.

In a caucus of drones, Prime Minister Stephen Harper must have searched hard for one with the traits and training of a pit bull. He found that he had just the one in the person of Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre. Harper made him a Minister of State less than a year ago to push through the Conservative’s massive and undemocratic elections act. And Poilievre has certainly kept up his end. He has stayed at the helm as the ship carrying the legislation goes down.

Nobody paid much attention to Poilievre before. There was not much to report. His francophone (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Pot prices plummet.

Who said that nobody benefits from the Conservative’s mismanagement of the country? Look at what they have done with growing marijuana. By trying to regulate the growing of everyone’s favourite toke, the Tories have driven the street price for a nickel bag down to as low as $2 per gram. The Tories might have driven our economy down the crapper but they have at least lowered the price of getting high.

And these big, new commercial grow-ops thought they had struck the mother lode! They were anticipating prices for legally prescribed medical marijuana to get them as much as $13 (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Does Harper have to show you how Justin?

No Justin, you do not have to listen to some cranky left-wing liberal from the boonies of Ontario. When we first met four years ago, you were as easy to read as an open book. You had a direction and you were on your way. And we wish you well. Do not get us wrong on that. You are going to be the next Prime Minister of Canada. All you have to do is keep your word and be yourself.

There are two current problems with this. The first is keeping your word to the Liberal Party about open nominations (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: He lies, you know.

It was a critical moment. It was not quite an epiphany. It was the realization that the much acclaimed panel on CBC late night news is not as smart as we thought it was. This is the panel with the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert, Post Media’s Andrew Coyne and pollster Bruce Anderson. And if news reader Peter Mansbridge would just shut up and let the panellists talk, many think this would be a consistantly excellent bit of television.

But not when the panel buys into the lies of Stephen Harper. These people are supposed to be smarter than that. Can (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Is the White House burning?

The last time Canada and the United States went to war on some pretext, our British troops went to Washington and set fire to the White House. That was 200 years ago. The current campaign against the American capitol is being run by the Ottawa office of a communications company called Fleishman-Hilliard. In a time of false austerity in Ottawa, this company has a pot of Canadian gold to win the hearts and minds of U.S. law-makers to the side of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Why Canadian taxpayers are funding this campaign is a question for another time. The (Read more…)

the reeves report: Time running out on ELA interim agreement

Researchers working at one of 58 lakes in the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario.

Only three days remain to finalize the interim agreement to find a new operator for the Experimental Lakes Area laboratory in northern Ontario, but the province’s resource minister is “optimistic” things will work out.

“We are optimistic that we’ll have some positive news very shortly,” said Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti Thursday.

It’s possible all parties may agree to an interim continuation of the already interim agreement if no permanent arrangement can be found, he said, but currently the Liberals don’t believe more time will be (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Crockatt competes for CRAP crown.

Calgary Centre Member of Parliament Joan Crockatt has taken an early lead in this year’s CRAP Awards. In an award category usually dominated by party leaders and cabinet ministers, this year’s winner could easily be the Conservative backbencher from Calgary.

Fondly referred to as Crappies, CRAP awards are named for the political penchant for speeches and news releases that are nothing more than Consolidated Reports on Approved Policies (CRAP). These are the pre-approved positions taken by political parties to expedite the production of speeches and news releases. This provides material to fill the gaps between anything that might be meant (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: On a play date with the Hair in Holland.

The Hair and friends are not going to let that kid Vladimir play in the G8 sandbox this time. The newly described G7 are meeting in The Hague this week and all the talk is about the member who is not there. It is all about Vladimir the Victor: He corrected history and easily won the Crimean War.

And the emasculated G7 are sitting around asking each other what to do. If they would just let Old Vladimir play, he would certainly be the one to tell them what they can do with themselves.

Now the G7 can understand Neville (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: You can do better Justin.

Now the kids are fighting. Ontario Liberal campaign organizer David MacNaughton is rejecting potential candidates. You get the bellicose complaints of Zach Paikin in Hamilton who is obviously trying to make a name for himself (other than his father’s). And you show up in Trinity-Spadina to try to smooth the waters and nobody is happy. You do not get many chances to do this right Justin, so listen up.

As Leader of the Liberal Party, you promised open nominations in the ridings. You have not done much else but, we took you at your word. Now you have gone back (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: There’s a hard-ass on the lily-pad.

It would be better to note the resignation of Prime Minister Harper but a change of guard at Finance is a small start. At least we will not have Jim Flaherty croaking from the lily pond any more. Flaherty has been on divergent paths with the big frog Stephen Harper for the past several months and his abrupt resignation was not unexpected.

A cabinet position in government is very much like the frogs in a lily pond. If you croak too loudly, you draw attention from predators. If you are quiet, others jump on your lily-pad and you are in (Read more…)

Calgary Grit: Hanging up the shoes

It’s not a huge surprise, but it’s still big news. After 8 years, the only Finance Minister Stephen Harper has ever known and loved is calling it quits:

Jim Flaherty steps down as finance minister

OTTAWA – Jim Flaherty is leaving the federal cabinet after more than eight years as finance minister to prepare for a return to the private sector, saying the move is unrelated to his recent health problems.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to name his replacement Wednesday.

Flaherty, who delivered his final budget last month, said he made the decision with his family earlier (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Whose robocall are you?

A small change in a robocall the other day was an announcement of the name of a company responsible for the call and a toll-free number to verify the call. And even if you were able to write down the number and you called it, was it real? The truth is that the call could have been from a legitimate survey company or from any of the political parties. There will be a tremendous growth in those automated calls over the months to come and the numbers you press at your end will be recorded and added to growing political (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Canadians exit the Khyber Pass.

To the lament of a single bagpiper, Canadians took leave of Afghanistan this past week. We have been aware of being involved since the winter of 2001 when then Defence Minister Art Eggleton admitted that there were Canadian troops fighting in Kandahar Province. For 12 years, Canadian military fought in a war that they could not win.

And that was why there were no politicians to honour the small cadre of Canadian military and RCMP who lowered the Canadian flag in Kandahar for the last time. There is no popularity for this war left in Canada. World events are passing (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: But the Hair heads for the unknown in Ukraine.

There seems to be no limits to what the Hair will do to win votes next year. Like penguins shoving one of their number into the sea to see if he gets eaten, he sent Foreign Minister John Baird to Ukraine first and now he can go. Whatever he thinks he is going to achieve there is very much open to question.

We have no idea who he is taking on that Airbus A310 besides the hairdresser. Maybe he will include some heavily armed members of the Canadian Military’s elite Joint Task Force 2 for protection. They might even be (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Comments: We are told we still don’t get it.

The argument continues. People seem to think that federalists will help Quebec Premier Pauline Marois if they involve themselves in the provincial election. If these federalists are from outside Quebec, that might be right. Politicians love to take on bogeymen from some other place that cannot fight back. It is the federalist who is also a Quebecer that has to stand up to the separatists.

This commentator is sick and tired of the mealy-mouthed defence of Canada from Quebec politicians. We do not need to wait for another referendum to learn if you like being a Canadian. There is no (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Hair is hands-off Quebec.

The Globe and Mail reports the Hair is urging federal opposition leaders and premiers to adopt a policy of non-interference in the Quebec provincial election. As a staffer reported, the Prime Minister is obviously trying to rise above the fray and wants the federal side to speak with one voice. Good luck to him.

When a Quebecer recently complained to this writer that Anglophones have no understanding of Quebec politics, we assumed that the comment was directed at the Prime Minister. This anglo has been studying Quebec politics for many years and the worst advice we have ever heard is (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: When Liberal infighting is out.

Campaign co-chair for the federal Liberals in Ontario David McNaughton has made his first blunder. When somebody gives you their authority to do a job, you have to do it right. When he told Liberal Christine Innes she cannot contest the nomination in Trinity-Spadina, it made a mockery of Justin Trudeau’s promise of open nominations. Whether McNaughton was right or wrong is irrelevant. He moved a party problem into the public view and needlessly embarrassed the party leader.

McNaughton walked into a party problem that has been simmering for more than 25 years. It was in the 1980s that overt (Read more…)