Sunday, 22 November 2009

What Janine Krieber can teach the Liberal Party

Janine Krieber, wife of former opposition leader Stephane Dion, gave her Facebook Friends an honest and personal appraisal of her experience in the Liberal Party. Somehow the party hacks got hold of it and made her remove her blog post.(No doubt, some of those who asked her to take the post down wanted to spare her and her husband from harassment by party zealots. But Liberals who think making Krieber take her post down will contribute to rebuilding their party are mistaken.

Most Canadians probably don't agree with her contention that the Lib/NDP/Bloc coalition was the right decision for Canada. But suggesting she should not have written it smacks of the kind of 'thought policing' Conservatives have long accused the Liberal elite of. That suspicion that the Liberal elite was a social engineering machine is also the root of calls to demote or remove Human Rights Commissions and other 'progressive' institutions established by the Liberals.

It may be a shock to Liberals, but many Canadians consider the now defunct Liberal regime as the source of forced unhistorical identity.(I love our flag, but did we have to push it though despite the objections of many Canadians? Did we have to bring the Constitution home without Quebec's approval?) That arrogant re-engineering has made word liberal a profanity in parts of Canada. (To be sure, Conservative accusations that the Liberals curtail free speech are a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, but tackling Tory thought policing would take more than one blog post.)

I confess that I agree with most of Krieber's comments about the way the Liberals treat their own.

I remember the fake smiles and coercive tactics party brass used to elicit silence when I belonged to the Alberta Liberal Party and the Liberal Party of Canada. The well-being of individuals was clearly not as important as the overall goal of winning.

So many memories. So little time to write them down.

Here's one: A young woman broke out in tears after she had been treated callously by other workers in the Calgary McCall campaign office during a by-election. She was a far better worker than they were, but they thought they had better links to the brass.

I also remember calling the police after a zealot phoned my house and told me I had to leave town because I had contested a nomination against his preferred candidate. "You are finished in Lethbridge," he said and went on to assure me that if I didn't leave I would hever find work. The verbal abuse went on for about 15 minutes. (I was dumb in those days, I wouldn't hang up on crank callers.) A police constable payed him a visit I understand. Strangely, for years after that I heard the strangest stories about my personal life from all sorts of people, including the guy that's now my husband.

Oh, and then there was the witty fellow who gave me this sage advice, in front of the boards of Lethbridge West and Lethbridge East: "Jane if you want that nomination, you better get out there and start talking to people and it wouldn't hurt if you started sleeping around." Did the members of this progressive party say anything when these comments were made month after month? No. Some of them looked away. Some of them looked down. But nobody made a move to stop it. (Later I got phone calls from other women who'd been harassed by this individual.)

When I brought the issue to the attention of the party brass, they sent the wolves out (in order to protect their Liberal stronghold in Southern Alberta). I wanted them to create a Code of Ethics which would have ended discrimination at the constituency level. They were terrified I was going to 'go public' and destroy them. As one elected official told me, "This could destroy lives." He was right. It nearly destroyed mine.

About this time I was asked to work with the federal party's women's commission. Another phone call to inform me that was not going to happen. I was told, "There's a lot of concern about you being involved in the Women's Commission." Never heard from them again.

I have long since forgiven everyone involved. I did it because my faith tells me I must. And because it frees me to live in the present. Some people actually merit the forgiveness and are genuinely sorry. A few have learned that character assassination can get out of hand and destroy a person's job prospects, family life and health. As far as I'm concerned those individuals are off the hook. They are in God's hands. I believe, many of them would never react the same way again.

But if the federal and provincial Liberals want to make it up to me, do this: Clean up your act. Stop acting like a cult. Stop acting like the mob. Listen to people when they tell you want you need to hear to fix your own party.

One of the wisest comments I got from a friend during those crazy days after the nomination in Lethbridge East was this: "You didn't win because you didn't get enough votes." Sometimes the truth seems like a simpleton.

Federal and Provincial Liberals: You didn't win the last election because you didn't get enough votes. Canadians don't trust you enough to vote for you. Turning it around has nothing to do with silencing critics. It has everything to do with re-evaluating and re-building something Canadians want to vote for.

Mdme Krieber, please put your post back up. This is a free country.

Just in case the people I've forgiven haven't reformed, I've got correspondence from those days. Don't even start!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Lest We Forget

The eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month....

With failing hands, they threw the torch. Not just the torch of battle, but the torch of our history, our traditions, our laws, our cultural inheritance. Those who wish to erase our history, our parliamentary tradition, & our ties to the wider Commonwealth they helped to build -- drop the torch & dishonour the people who built Canada.

In Flanders Fields
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

I`m Royally POd by Bored Reporters

Wow, Here's a guy that deserves to try unemployment for awhile! Don Martin,columnist for the National Post, proclaims that he and the other fat cats in Ottawa`s press core are `bored` with one of their current assignments. So out off touch with reality is Martin that he expects his readers, many of whom may be facing pay cuts or the unemployment line, to empathize with his colleague who `groaned and begged off`` her assignment to cover the Royal tour.

The fact that the Ottawa press core is so bored and biased may explain the awesomely bad reporting of the current Royal Tour. (Not only did they mix up the Duchess of Cornwell for the lady who does diet commercials, they haven`t told the public that the Crown is entrenched in the Constitution and can`t be changed without provincial support. Nor have they mentioned that their own polls show the only province where more than 50% of the public favour a republic is Quebec. Can`t let the facts get in the way of an exciting story can we?)

Perhaps boredom and bias also explain the national media`s inability to get regional stories right. Where was the reporting of the nearly 1000 protesters at the Progressive Conservative AGM in Red Deer last weekend? Why has Reboot Alberta, a group of progressives meeting in November, received no coverage while the Wildrose Alliance makes national headlines? Where`s the balance?

It doesn't really matter what your views on the royals are. (I like 'em.) Martin`s comments are an insult to every working person in Canada.

I really don't care if the Ottawa Press Core is bored, sometimes. Nor should you.

Reporters are paid to do a job -- and if they don't like that job, they are free to try another career. Frankly, I cover what my editors tell me to and thank them for the assignment. My editors know me well enough to assign stuff I`m interested in, but I`m also happy to write the odd story that doesn`t `turn my crank.` So are most journalists in the `real world.`

Like most freelancers, I try to keep myself personal viewpoints out of a news story. I save my creativity for my books & I save my opinions my blogs.

I'm sure a lot of Canadians, including freelance writers, who provide the bulk of regional and magazine coverage in Canada, would jump at an assignment like covering the royal tour.

The only thing remotely entertaining about Martin`s column is the idea of the Ottawa press gallery calling the Royals boring. Nothing is more boring than arrogance and self-satisfaction. And Don Martin, clearly is a master of both.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

What the Media and Republicans Don't Tell You About the West

A Navigator poll, released a few weeks ago, indicated that Canadians don't feel our Constitutional Monarchy is relevant anymore. (Most Canadians probably think Harper, Ignatieff, Duceppe and Layton aren't relevant either, but our disconnection from civic life is another post.)

Since the Navigator poll was leaked, national media have been trying to push the idea that Charles, Prince of Wales or his heir, William, will not be King of Canada. They neglected to cite other polls, such as one on CBC's own website that had results opposite to the Navigator poll cited on The National. (That too is another post.) And they've downplayed the crowds in Hamilton, who screamed "We want the Duchess" and "We want the Prince in favour of snide comments about attendence in towns of less than 500 people." (Another post.)

A few day later, Global News released another poll, which the claimed more than 50% of Canadians favoured a republic. They also didn't explain discrepancies in two questions, both asked whether or not Canada should keep the Crown with different results. (Canadian confusion with what a Head of State is, after years of a deceitful agenda by elites to confuse Canadians on this issue is yet another post.)

What Global failed to highlight was that no province, other than Quebec, had more than 50% of poll respondents wanting any change to the constituon. Only British Columbia approached the 50% mark. Yet another, under-reported poll last week suggested BC is pro-Crown. (I need to do a post about how a stint with a polling company led me to distrust polls. I do not believe you get accurate results on constitutional questions in a telephone poll.)

The Province most strongly supportive of the monarchy, according to the Global News poll,is Alberta, In Alberta, 60% of poll respondents rejected a Canadian republic outright. Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Maritimes showed similar results. (This means that the Quebec figure, 60% support for a republic, skews the poll results.

Interesting to note that 40% support the Crown in this 81% Franco-phone province, even after decades of anti-Canada, anti-British propaganda. That result puts to lie the idea that no Quebec Francophones supporters the Crown. (Another post.)

What Canadians aren't told by Republicans:
The role of the Crown in Canada cannot be changed without the consent of the Federal Parliament and all provincial legislatures. I suspect Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories would also insist on being heard if such a major move is ever considered.

Why? The Crown plays a crucial balancing and linking role in Canada. It is the vehicle by which former independent colonies (with their own legislatures and laws) became united in the federation formally known as the Dominion of Canada (Dominion means Kingdom, not colony, by the way.) Provinces, favouring retention of the monarchy, would be well within their rights to secede from a new republic. These new nations might decide to form a new federation or they might become independent Dominions in the Commonwealth. (Although the assumption is that secession from Canada means loss of the Crown, there is absolutely nothing that says an independent Alberta could not be Dominion within the Commonwealth. And if that possiblity were presented, you might well see support for that type of arrangement surge beyond the 15% rating Separation now has in Alberta.)

Canada's place in The Commonwealth, much denigrated under CDN Liberal and ignored by UK Labour regimes, of the past 50 years, has great trade and culture potential for all Canadians. The answer to weak ties between Commonwealth countries is not to sever them, but to revive them. (Another post.)

It took the Fathers of Confederation decades to create an agreement which united British North America.

Our Federation is possible because we separate the Head of State from the Head of Government. And because that Head of State is not partisan. (Nor should her representatives be. Another post.) The Fathers of Confederation went to considerable effort to devise a federation in which one party, one region, one religion, one ethnic or language group could not trample on the rights of citizens and regions.

Electing a Head of State would make that role a partisan one. It would also lead the devaluing of Members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister, and the accumulation of power in the hands of an elected President or Governor General. Undoubtedly, this person would appeal to the political whims of provinces with large populations.

Canada's federal system, so delicately balanced, would be even more prone to tensions and threats of separation from regions not represented by the new elected Head of State.

Republicans seem to think republicanism is a sign of maturity. They suggest that Canadians, who value our Constitution and Canada's traditonal friendships, are out of date and neo-colonial in their thinking.

That is an elitist view. It smacks of the elitist decisions that nearly broke up this country up in the late 20th Century. And it derides the rights of peoples in smaller provinces and the territories to be equal partners in the federation called Canada.

Remember Meech Lake? Charlottetown? Those agreements failed because people in the provinces,including Indigenous peoples who have a special role with the Crown, (Another post,) realized that the elites' agenda to change the rules of Confederation were not in Canadians interests.

Canadians learned something for those horrendous episodes: We don't have to accept what the elites are telling us. We don't have to leave provinces behind (as Quebec was left in the night of the long knives.) It is unlikely Canadians will be cowed by threats and insults telling them to 'get with the times,' when getting with the times means losing constitutional rights.

Should there ever be a real discussion of any Constitutional change regarding the role of the Crown, many Canadians (including Quebecois) who now claim a 'lukewarm' affinity to the Crown may suddenly find themselves with a deep and abiding love for the system that has protected ethnic and religious miniorities and small communities since Confederation.

Our system may look funny to outsiders, but, I believe, most Canadians have moved beyond a childish desire to impress Americans or Europeans. Canada works. Canada is a prosperous, peaceful country. Canada has international links that should be deepened, not eliminated, thanks to her place as a realm in the Commonwealth.

Even though Elites have tried to refute the role of the Crown in building Canada, the wisdom of great Canadians remains. Western Canada's most loved Liberal Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, explained our country to the French this way: "Here in France, people are surprised at the attachment French Canadians feel for the Queen. We are faithful to the great nation which has given us liberty."

God Save the Queen! God Bless Canada!