Dirty Politics the Saskatchewan Norm

A curious day yesterday in the Saskatchewan Legislature. Brad Wall pretty much set the mood for this session early by claiming, during his welcome to the new Leader of the Opposition, Dwain Lingenfelter that, the last time the two of them had talked was in 2003 when Wall claims Lingenfelter gave him advice as to how to beat then NDP Leader Lorne Calvert in the next election.

What wasn't clear was if the advice was followed by the Saskatchewan Party because Calvert won that election.

Dwain obviously denies the exchange ever happened. I don't really claim to know Lingenfelter but, I'd wager that there are more than a few old style New Democrats think that Brad's words ring true.

Brad Wall embarrassed Lingenfelter right out of the gate. It is pretty clear. Dirty politics will rule the day. I'd say hold on to your hats. we are in for a pretty raucous, no holds bared session.


I thought it was all About the Truth

I find it ironic that as I write this blog this morning in Saskatoon, the building I am in is swarming with security personnel here to protect George “Dubya” Bush, one of the world’s most infamous war criminal/public speakers who did a great deal to get us all into the mess I am writing about.

I would guess that neither I, nor any reader really knows what the Government was told about prisoner abuse in Afghanistan. It has to make you wonder though, why Harper and his gang have fought so hard to keep people from testifying about it. I don’t know but, unless they are complicit in some way, why would the government not want the truth to come out.

Almost three and a half years ago Richard Colvin, a senior Canadian diplomat, sent the first of more than a dozen internal reports warning of the suspected torture and abuse suffered by Afghani detainees. He reported that soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces routinely handed over prisoners to local "authorities," yet Harper's Conservative government apparently, has yet to hear of it officially

Moreover, that same government has done everything they can to stop Colvin from testifying. One has to ask, why would a career diplomat go public with the charge that he informed the government of his about Canada’s involvement in this abuse if it wasn’t the absolute truth. Surely his attempts to bring the truth forward are a significantly career limiting move.

On top of that, several civil servants who have been call to testify have been threatened with discipline if they do give evidence and worse, perhaps even face criminal charges.

Peter McKay, a politician whose credibility was severely tested during the Conservative/Reform merger, has come forward to say, the government never saw the scores of memos sent to it, about the prisoner abuse. When no one seemed to believe young Peter, Harper jumped into the fray backing up his defense minister.

Now the Chief of Defence staff is saying that he is going to do an investigation to find out what happened to the memos. Call me cynical but, that sounds to me like just another attempt to do just the opposite. Can you imagine the Chief of Defence staff coming forward and announcing that there were no problems with the flow of information and that everything was sent to government through the appropriate channels. This guy is in a tough spot. Don’t hold your breath if you are looking for clarity.

What is also interesting is that Rick Hillier has resurfaced. A good deal of these alleged abuses supposedly took place on his watch. In his new book, which is about to be released, retired general Rick Hillier clearly not happy with the PMO and their treatment of him. Perhaps that is another piece of the puzzle or on the other hand, perhaps the PMO's new strategy is to just piss everyone off.

So like I said, I guess we don’t know who is telling the truth. I don't know about you but my money is on Mr Colvin. I haven’t believed much Peter McKay or his boss have said for several years now.


It just Leaves a Bad Taste in my Mouth.

Well Little Stevie has got caught out, playing that crass old patronage game. It is becoming more clear every day. Economic stimulus money is being targeted to Conservative ridings and where they can get away with it, big Conservative Party logos were being attached to the cheques. Harper used to try to pretend that his style of politics didn't include that sort of partisan conduct. I wonder what happened to that line.

Harper has called out the damage control team to try and find a way to minimize the fallout from his very crass attempts to link every bit of stimulus money to the Conservative Party.

I find it really interesting that old party hacks like Norman Spector and others are spilling a good deal of ink in the Globe & Mail and other newspapers trying to justify the Conservative Party's modus operandi. What is surprising is that the newspaper editors are letting them do it and in some cases buying in to the game.

What Spector and his ilk are saying is basically, "Ok, it was a bit over the top but...What about those Liberals. Now they were the masters of this patronage game. What a few MPs did here is no big deal"

That isn't the point Norman. We should not be justifying this latest round of unacceptable behavior by Little Stevie and his gang. Trying to brand economic stimulus money with the Conservative seal is wrong and you should be saying so. Pretending that the amount of money being spent in Conservative ridings doesn't far exceed that being made available to non Conservative riding is simply wrong. Duplessis style politics has no place in this century.

It is kind of like saying, "We just caught these bank robbers red handed with $3,000,000 of the loot still in their pockets but, you know, that isn't nearly as bad as that $4,000,000 robbery those other guys pulled off a few years ago. Boys will be boys."

I'm sorry but it isn't ok. Harper should go on national television and apologize to the nation. Canadian's should be letting him know that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. Most off all, Canadians should be trying to extend their capacity to remember so that it extends at least as far as the next election,


Old Korean War Photos

Late last week I went looking for some old photos of my father. When I was seven or eight he was shipped off to Korea to take part in the conflict there. I don't remember a great deal about it except that he brought us all back some really neat silk jackets he picked up in Japan on the way home.

He was a R.C.E.M.E. tank mechanic and as a Canadian Army sergeant he was in charge of a tank without a gun on the turret and which was fitted with a crane on the back. It was a sort of tow tank and carried the rather odd name, the Contented Cow. My father and his crew's role was to, at times, go to the front lines to repair and recover damaged tanks.

The photos I found were badly faded and creased. I photographed the old pictures with my camera then PhotoShopped them. I think they turned out rather well. There are a few more on my Flickr site.