Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Clinton States Obvious; Canadian Media Loses It

Diplomacy can be a tricky thing. Stephen Harper is learning that the hard way this week after his failed arctic meeting. Hillary Clinton made what would seem to be fairly innocuous comments about theoretically wanting the Canadian military to stay on in Afghanistan. Of course the Americans would like to continue to have forces from a country that has a) been in Afghanistan for almost a decade b) been willing to pay the ultimate price in Afghanistan's most dangerous areas unlike certain NATO partners. From the US perspective, this is common sense. Well, that is unless you read the Canadian media response to Clinton's comments. What is probably fueling the Canadian media firestorm is that the Conservative government has been not so quietly hinting for a while now that they would like to extend the Afghan mission if only Parliament would let them. How much of that sentiment is driven by a desire to look tough and how much is based on the Tories actually wanting to extend the mission isn't entirely clear. The politics of extension are murky at best when you consider Ignatieff's unequivocal love of all things peacekeeping.

The politics are interesting but everyone seems to be forgetting one key part of the story. The Canadian military has already said that it effectively can't continue the mission in Afghanistan beyond 2011. It doesn't have the available personnel or equipment to sustain the mission any longer. It needs a break. Whether or not Canada could sustain a smaller non-combat role is a different question, but we probably shouldn't be envisioning another five years in Kandahar here. Thank God for that. I personally cannot wait for the day when our brave men and women can come home safely. February 2011 cannot come soon enough.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nobel Committee Searching for Topper

Surely if talking about peace gets you the Nobel prize, making significant nuclear arms cuts should be enough to for the Nobel Committee to rename the peace prize after President Obama. Or perhaps Nobel could award Obama the 2nd Annual C. Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence. It is a nuke deal after all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Empty Symbolism Hour is Back

Remember Earth Hour? It's back. In honour of Earth Day? Week? Month? Fortnight?, people around the world will sit in the dark for sixty minutes. This is somehow supposed to stop global warming or raise awareness of people's personal ability to stop global warming or something like that. It is a real shame that the environmental movement is leading the climate change fight. This movement is filled with professional protesters and very few pragmatic politicians. What we need is a binding international treaty with some teeth. Without that no amount of people power is going to stop global warming. No amount of people sitting in the dark is going to make countries make the tough choices they need to make to avert climate change. All this stunt accomplishes is to provide the average person out there a false sense that they've done their part. The sooner Earth Hour and the other Movement stunts are gone from the debate, the sooner we'll have a chance to stop climate change.

That's A Tad Embarassing

It's one thing for a couple of people to vote the wrong the way on something, it happens. It really shouldn't be your front bench. I'm sure House leader Ralph Goodale and Whip Rodger Cuzner are suitably embarassed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Passed in US; Winter Weather Warnings in Hell

The Dems get something passed by passing the weaker Senate bill through the House. Politically, the most important thing is probably that they got something done. The American people wanted action, the got action last night.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

US Gets Hit With A BRIC

Stephen Harper has been a huge proponent of increasing Canada's presence in the Americas. In fact, he's been criticized for making a priority of the Americas over everything else. Well, here's Harper's opportunity to actually do something to strengthen Canada's relationship with the continent's other superpower, Brazil. See, there's a trade war a-brewing between the US and Brazil over US cotton subsidies. The US is unlikely to budge because, well, have you watched the US Senate lately? Brazil probably sees this as an opportunity to ween itself from America's influence and has a vested (all puns intended) interested in protecting its own cotton industry. The great news is Canada doesn't produce a whole lot of cotton and has no horse in this whole trade spat. The bad news is that the powers of business tend to get these sorts of things settled rather quickly. So, while the iron is hot and American goods are costing an arm and a leg, let's get a Team Canada trade mission to Brazil. Increase Canadian exports, revive manufacturing, create jobs? Check, check, check. This isn't political this is just good business.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


In Iceland. The tiny Atlantic nation has rejected the original bailout plan offered to them by the UK and the Netherlands. They did so in a manner that is statistically improbable. The tally as of writing was 93% against, 2% for and 5% spoiled ballots. Unlike a drowning shipwreck victim refusing a life-jacket, Iceland is expected to actually be better off for telling the Europeans off.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Stephen Harper's New Recalibrated Priorities

  • Senior's Day!
  • More War Memorials!
  • Changing the Words to the National Anthem! (English only)
  • Vimy Ridge Day!
  • Protect Arctic Sovereignty... From Space!
  • Teach Canadians About the War of 1812!
  • C. Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence... or Prime Ministerial Award for Volunteerism! (take that Governor General!)
Now that was well worth the wait!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Olympics: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Because no one wants to return to real life quite yet, a gratuitous Olympics post is in order.

The Good:
  • 14 Gold, 7 Silver, 5 Bronze: The Men's Hockey Team did what they had to do yesterday: win gold so that the other 13 champions wouldn't be drowned out by the nation tearing its hair out. Go Canada Go.
  • Joannie Rochette: Courage, personified.
  • Consortium Wall to Wall Coverage: Want to see the first qualifying run for the women's ski cross? No? We'll show it to you anyway. I don't think there was a single event they failed to cover. Choice is good.
  • The Hockey Panel: Sure Bob Mackenzie occasionally looked like he wanted to punch Nick Kypreos in the face, but they provided decent insight and actually had some nice debates.
  • Humour at the Closing Ceremonies: From Shatner to the giant beavers, Canadian comedy at its self deprecating best.
The Bad:
  • 4th and 5th Place Finishes: Being fourth or fifth best in the world at something is an amazing achievement. Unfortunately, there are no medals awarded for such achievements.
  • The Death on The Track: Words don't really add up here.
  • The Opening Ceremonies: I didn't know something could be boring and alienate half the country at the same time.
  • Canadian Pop Stars: My ears, my precious ears! No wonder NBC cut away... speaking of NBC:
  • NBC's Olympic Coverage: Commentary of NBC's Olympic coverage has been taped and will be aired at some point in the future. You already know it sucked.
  • Holding the Winter Games in Spring: I love Vancouver, but they don't get winter out there.
The Ugly:
  • Alpine Canada and the Rest of Canada's Crumbling Medal Hopefuls: Alpine Canada came home with a giant goose egg. Only a couple of more games and they can join Jeremy Wootherspoon in Canadian Olympic lore.
  • Wayne Gretzky's Pick-Up Truck Adventure: Open the door? Nah. Provide Security? Nah. Make sure this route is quick? Nah.
  • Jack Layton's Camera Mugging: Truly disgusting.
  • Sportsnet Play-by-Play People: Gerry Dobson is a poor play-by-play guy for soccer games, which is what he specializes in. What made them think he'd do better at Alpine? Jamie Campbell isn't good enough to call a Jays blow out in the dog days of summer, but the ideal candidate to call Canada's first gold medal at home?
  • The Foreign Press: The less than perfect start gave much of the foreign press the idea that these games were going to be the worst ever. They started writing that narrative and continued in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
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