Megapundit: Rebranding the NDP



Must-reads: Graham Thomson and Scott Taylor on Afghanistan; Dan Gardner on missile defence; George Jonas on the wrongfully convicted; Norman Spector on climate change politics.

Power to the people
On the end of cheap oil, the dawn of trans-Canadian hydroelectricity, the Green Shift, and that total hack, John Lennon.

In the Montreal Gazette, L. Ian MacDonald says inter-provincial electricity transmission is the “whole new game of Canadian federalism,” as Ontario—”we’re talking about 40 per cent of the Canadian economy here”—struggles to meet its electricity needs even while it still burns coal, and Quebec and Newfoundland ponder where best to direct their excess hydroelectric capacity. Except for Newfoundland’s bitterness over its disastrous arrangement to sell power to Hydro-Québec at 1969 prices, MacDonald says “selling to Ontario, through Quebec, [would make] the most sense.” And if anyone can soothe Danny Williams’ jangled nerves and bring him on board, he believes it’s Jean Charest. Included in the Premier’s limitless arsenal of talents, MacDonald opines, is that he’s “very good at relationships.”

Lorne Gunter renews his many objections to Stéphane Dion’s Green Shift in the National Post: federal revenues are only fat and happy during this “economic slouch” because of Albertan oil sales, thus it’s unfair “to make the West the bad guy”; Alberta and Saskatchewan families would suffer a disproportionate burden under the scheme, one that would dwarf the fiscal imbalance Dalton McGuinty’s constantly complaining about; and it’s not an environmental plan anyway, but, in the helpful words of Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff, “the most aggressive anti-poverty program in 40 years.”

Norman Spector, writing in The Globe and Mail, suggests Stephen Harper might be leery of adopting “a firm foreign policy on the issue of climate change” given Canadians’ wavering commitment to the Afghanistan mission, and their aversion to tough policy initiatives in general. Afghanistan is a “Liberal war,” it “satisfied all Jean Chrétien’s professed reasons for staying out of Iraq” and it fulfilled our stated desire “to play an active role on the international stage,” Spector argues, but for many Canadians, “foreign policy is about feeling good about themselves, not about Afghans … or any other people.” Chrétien understood that perfectly, Spector suggests, when he agreed to aggressive Kyoto targets with no intention of honouring them. And Harper may be catching on as well.

“Is it not presumptuous to suppose that we humans, with our SUVs, have the power, to influence nature and destroy the world?” Peter Worthington asks in the Toronto Sun. The answer is yes—because climate change science is not settled, because the UN excludes dissenting scientists from its reports, because Kyoto was just a wealth-transfer mechanism, and because carbon dioxide is “nature’s fertilizer.” We feel so much better!

The Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe looks at the efforts of a local group, the Vancouver Peak Oil Executive, to push the city ahead of the curve when it comes to managing perpetually rising oil prices and promoting the side benefits—less traffic, less urban sprawl, improved health from walking and cycling everywhere, and so on. We especially like Yaffe’s suggestion that “governments need to relax regulations so that … Segways are welcome everywhere.” It’ll be like a city of G.O.B. Bluths!

In the Globe, Rex Murphy unflatteringly compares John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” to Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” We know what you’re thinking: um, why? Well, because a piece of cardboard on which Lennon scrawled the lyrics just fetched $800,000 at auction even though they’re pure dreck, while “Puttin’ on the Ritz” is “clever and highly ingenious” and… uh, the lyrics probably wouldn’t fetch as much. That’s our best attempt, anyway. And while we agree “Give Peace a Chance” is rubbish, calling Lennon a “song-writing klutz”—even compared to Berlin—might be the silliest thing we’ve ever read from Murphy.

Here’s a typical piece of trash from Mr. Lennon, accompanied by some other untalented Scousers of no historical importance:


(In fairness to Mr. Murphy, the Brits do still ski exactly like that.)

Canadian justice
“Fifteen judges reviewed [Steven] Truscott’s case in three levels of court,” George Jonas writes in the Post, and the one who disagreed with his conviction “turned out to be right.” This is proof, Jonas argues, that one mustn’t be satisfied with “jury verdicts or appellate court opinions”—or any other “official” opinions—simply because they’re “the last word of duly constituted authorities.” To do so “means acquiescing in the … wrongful conviction of a Donald Marshall Jr., a Thomas Sophonow, a David Milgaard, a Guy Paul Morin,” and—wait for it—”in the wrongful conviction of Conrad Black.”

Count on the Globe‘s Margaret Wente to counterbalance the sometimes annoying harm-reduction fan club (as opposed to those who support it, as we do, as an experimental necessary evil) with her own brand of “harm reduction doesn’t work” hyperbole. What’s interesting is that none of her three sources—a cop and two doctors specializing in addiction—explicitly condemns harm reduction except as a substitute for, or in the absence of, treatment (which is a perfectly salient point). In fact, in a recent letter to the Globe, one of the doctors, Milan Khara, suggested “it may be that Insite should be available as part of a continuum of addiction services.”

The Star‘s Rosie DiManno finds all the usual plot points in the story of yet another Saturday night shooting in one of Toronto’s most violent neighbourhoods: “multiple gunshots heard, brazenly public, no witnesses coming forward”; resentment over disproportionate coverage afforded to white victims; and accusations of police insensitivity. “This city will lose a good chunk of its soul if the dead and wounded … are prioritized by race, affluence, school ties or even random circumstances,” DiManno opines. And she suggests the blanket coverage recently afforded a young man (and his two friends) who “drown[ed] in daddy’s overturned Audi after speeding along country roads in the Muskokas” exposes “that chasm—the variance in human value, compassion versus condemnation.” (We, on the other hand, are not quite sure what a car accident has to do with a shooting.)

Afghanistan’s future
In the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Scott Taylor recounts his meeting with “the slightly built Ramazan Bashardost, a former cabinet minister in the Karzai government turned anti-corruption crusader, and if he has his way, the future president of Afghanistan.” Bashardost—who seems to be something of a contrarian—believes more than enough money is coming into Afghanistan to rebuild the country, but progress has been slow because most of it goes to foreign contractors and various NGOs who aren’t “actually providing aid to the people.” Asked by Taylor “how exactly he intends to eradicate the warlords, corrupt politicians and drug lords when he possesses no private army of his own,” Bashardost “shrugs” and says, “It will be the people’s will.”

The Globe‘s Christie Blatchford looks at the charitable efforts of Maureen Eykelenboom—mother of Cpl. Andrew Eykelenboom, a Canadian medic killed in Afghanistan in 2006—whose organization has so far donated $128,000 to the Assistance to Afghanistan fund. Blatchford’s impression has always been of a “resolutely composed” woman, “seeming if not quite cheerful, always sanguine.” But after a recent trip to Afghanistan to view the fruits of her and her son’s labour, Blatchford reports Eykelenboom finally became “alive to the enormity of her loss and the grief she had kept at bay with the work and travel.” After all, Blatchford notes, for her and other parents of fallen soldiers, the question of “is it worth it?” takes on a particular poignancy.

The Edmonton Journal‘s Graham Thomson speaks to a Dutch Air Force helicopter pilot about what it’s like to fly a retrofitted 34-year-old Chinook around Afghanistan, and gets rave reviews. “It’s honestly one of the best helicopters in the world,” the pilot gushes. This is all rather “galling,” Thomson suggests, since the Dutch Chinooks were ours until we sold them as part of a “cost-cutting effort in the early 1990s,” and we’re now reduced to begging, borrowing and renting replacements.

The Khadr equation
The Toronto Star‘s James Travers believes Canada’s decision to let Omar Khadr rot at Guantanamo can be understood as simple mathematics: “After considering the legal realities and political risks, consecutive federal governments calculated that the interests of more than 33 million Canadians are greater than the rights of one”—particularly when those governments were and are obsessed with convincing Washington that Canada isn’t a haven for terrorists. But for a country trying to maintain its place in world affairs—or reestablish it, if you listen to the Tories—Travers says “failing to take a stand,” and abandoning a 15-year-old citizen, has significant consequences. What those are, exactly, he doesn’t specify.

The government’s stance on Khadr is much like its insistence on “boycotting Hamas and Hezbollah” even as Israel softens its approach, the Star‘s Haroon Siddiqui believes, tipping hat to Alexa McDonough, who bemoans that “We have a Prime Minister who alone in the world still considers George Bush his political hero.”

Duly noted
Michael Byers takes time out of his effort to upset Hedy Fry in Vancouver Centre to tell the Globe‘s Lawrence Martin that he wants the NDP to change its name… to the Democratic Party. And not in spite of the obvious shout-out to Washington—of which the NDP rank and file isn’t particularly fond, in our experience—but because of it. “In many ways,” says Byers, “Barack Obama’s platform is close to Jack Layton’s platform.” Martin agrees: “When you’re a party out of the era of Guy Lombardo and Sputnik, the adjective ‘New’ doesn’t quite cut it.” He suggests a name change could “widen the party’s reach” and serve as an “attention-getter” in the absence of a “breakout issue.”

“Crudely photoshopping a picture of the launch was not the dumbest thing about” Iran’s missile tests last week, Dan Gardner argues in the Ottawa Citizen. That honour goes to Tehran’s sense of timing, which served to bolster Washington’s dubious claims of ballistic missile proliferation even as vocal critics question the necessity of anti-missile installations in Eastern Europe. Particularly given Moscow’s fury at “the placement of American military installations in what was so recently Russia’s front yard,” Gardner can’t understand why the project would go ahead “if it’s not absolutely necessary”—which nobody has yet managed to convince him it is. Unfortunately, he concludes, “in some very powerful circles, missile defence is the solution … no matter how the world changes.”

And finally, if you’ve read every single other opinion column in Canada and in all other countries whose languages you speak, and then exhausted your local supply of bathroom graffiti, here’s Jeffrey Simpson‘s embarrassingly slapdash attempt in the Globe to explain why Toronto sports teams are perennially mediocre.


Megapundit: Rebranding the NDP

  1. Great comment on Murphy on Lennon.

    Column dishonest from the start since Give Peace a Chance lyrics is an historical not a musical document. After all it was written by a committee in a hotel room wasn’t it?

    Berlin’s contribution to the dismantling of the Soviet Empire and the rise of democracy behind the former Iron Curtain has not, as far as I am aware, been documented.

    Rex Murphy is a writer who has suffered from having never been exposed to the works of Ernest Hemingway, or for that matter John Lennon.

  2. Manitoba has also attempted to sell our hydro to NW Ontario. A dedicated transmission line West to Saskatchewan has been briefly analyzed. A line south to Minnesota has been looked at in detail, but MN has a law that doesn’t treat large hydro dams as green (instead of obviously looking at the dam footprint). A past MB dam flooded lots of land, but not so much in present designs. It is likely only tropical dams that release soil-sequestered CO2 anyway. A dedicated line to Ontario has been looked at too. MB needs one of its potential customers to get serious. Or MB could keep all the power and try to attract power hungry industries like some chemical sectors and the robotic greenhouse prototype offshoots of current MB Hydro research.
    I don’t know why the National Post is having a hissy fit. AB got a free ride back when people didn’t know/care about future AGW. I don’t see any parties asking for retroactive emmissions payments. Maybe the NDP or the Greens should? I’ll say it again, the present Conservative environmental position amounts to dead-ended corporate welfare. For the same reasons alcohol and cigarettes are taxed, GHG and soot emissions should be taxed. It’s nice to have a free ride AB, but eventually you have to grow up. If historic federal oil subsidies were instead directed towards building up AB’s wind turbine manufacturing base, the future would belong to AB instead of Denmark, China, Germany, Silicon Valley, etc. I’ve yet to see AB or S.Harper say one word about the minimum $25 billion tailing pond debt on AB’s balance sheet. Is that Canada’s, is it AB’s? Lets just take the Conservative AGW stand and pretend the issue doesn’t exist. The AB government is already blocking research into 3x cancer rates in Northern AB and (ironically for water hungry oil) a survey of aquifers in the province.
    Presumably the government of AB (in the future) will be on the hook for class action medical lawsuits in the billions at least? Or am I missing something?

  3. Let Canada Post do whatever it wants. On one simple condition. Let any other enterprise set up competitive mail delivery, too.

    Most of this publications-industry self-serving whining doesn’t get past this small-c conservative. Mags want their subsidy to help them pay an already discounted bulk rate to stay on? Of course they do. All the right buzzwords come out to justify the unjustifiable (don’t punish Canadians based on where they live, blah, blah). About time this subsidy was killed, although I am not sure if this is the same as the federal government grants that some throw at Coyne whenever he speaks up for economic common sense. No matter, kill ’em all. You know a better way to get your product out? Use it. Spare us the medicare violins…

  4. They certainly should sell Purolator. I was working there in 1993 when Mulroney arranged for Canada Post to purchase 80% of Purolator from his buddies at Onex Corp (subsequently increased to 100%). The takeover definitely saved my job, but it was still an economically backward decision in the greater sense. If they had no excuse to buy Puro back then, they have no excuse to hold onto it now.

  5. I live in Canada, but mail most of my letters and packages from the USA. Pricing is way cheaper and it has nothing to do with exchange rates. Also Canada is charging an additional Fuel Surchage – even though oil prices are down.

    See the price differences below and you wont believe the savings on packages!

    from the USA – Local letter USA – 42cents vs Canada 98 cents
    from the USA – International letter – 90cents vs Canada 1.65 cents

  6. Apologies mistake

    USA local = 42cents in Canada = 54cents

    Canada to USA is 98 cents

    USA to Canada is 72 cents

    and Canada to Worldwide is 1.65 cents

    USA to Worldwide is 90 cents

  7. I believe that the plans of those in control of Canada post are far more incideous then we all realize. For years now Canada Post has catered to about 200 large commercial customers. The reality is the average taxpayer means squat to the big picture of the Corporation.
    With that in mind ask the question, who would benefit most from deregulation or privatization? the answer is the 200 commercial mailers. Why or how? Deregulation or privitization would create compitition that these commercial mailers would profit from lower costs of mailing.
    But how would the other 20 million customers fair. Well, we may see a halt to rising postage for a short term but it has been suggested by C. D. Howe institute that cost and service to rural communities be subsidized by the government or taxpayer. So, instead of paying for only what you use, the average taxpayer pays to support rural communities while those who have big business wallets busting at the seams get lower rates to their high market return areas such as the big urban cities.
    So today, we enjoy fair postage prices based on a global perspective (not just the U.S.) and a postal system that is self sufficiant and producing profits.
    So why increase postage? I believe it is to raise capital to develop a “modern post office” that will rely on automation and reduce jobs, tax paying jobs. The goal to generate more profits and to make privitization more alluring.
    The whole process moves away from an affordable universal postal system towards private enterprise where a few individuals accumilate more wealth at the cost of service and performance and universal service to all Canadians. Prove me wrong tell me how lower wages and fewer jobs are good for the country?

  8. Canada Post has many challenges on the horizon, from the tough economic times, to the 40 year old equipment still used to sort our mail. They have currently embarked on a massive transformation project to rebuild very old plants (see Winnipeg Plant stories) and renew it’s equipment. In order to spend this much money, it needs to make revenue.

    The only other option would have been for government to pay for this massive upgrade required and I’m not so sure our fellow Canadian Citizens would want Canada Post to ask government a few billion dollars to support such a change.

    I’ve Listened to their President talk at many many public speaking events and she defintely sounds like a sound person who wants to continue to offer a public service at a low cost but we have to understand that the rural service support costs everyone in the long run. If we were to move to a private/competitive service, I’m not sure I’d want to live in rural areas as the cost of service would skyrocket.

  9. What is the main idea of this article (cashing in on mail)

    Documentation or summary of the article

  10. Won’t they just go to another bridge that doesn’t have a net? I think the only solution here is to TEAR DOWN all of our bridges.

    • Please read the information at


      This cites studies that show people do not go elsewhere, that restriction of a suicide method is effective.
      Lions Gate had 45 deaths in 16 years whereas the Golden Gate has over 30 EVERY YEAR !

      The Golden Gate Bridge District has approved using a net for prevention and will vote on the final environmental impact report in May.

  11. Ban bridges, or register them into a multi billion dollar registry.

    After all we see how successfull it is with firearms, by registering long guns we stopped suicide, or thats what the coalition for gun control would have us believe.

    Individuals will suicide, whatever the efforts that we take to stop them, we cannot identify every possible potential suicide and treat them.

    The true tragedy is the family and friends they leave behind.

  12. i have bipolar disorder and i am plagued with suicidal thoughts..the bridge is an "easy" option as once you jump there is no turning back. i am very upset when i read about other people saying that it is a cry for attention as it is such a public way of ending your life…please remember that people who are so distraught and ready to end their lives are not thinking about such things but just thinking about the 'easiest' way to end their suffering and not about publicity….it's very difficult for me to put this into words,but i have called the crisis line once and the people there were incredibly sensitive and compassionate to my feelings and my situation…..i am very happy to see that people,not money,came first in installing the phones on the lions gate bridge and that the new bridge,the golden ears bridge will have a suicide barrier put in place. i do believe it will be a deterrant,and that any amount of time talking to a compassionate person will help someone gain no matter how small some perspective in their situation and give them some time to consider their options….i do know that it helped me and i was able feel that i was not alone and i had some support,even from a stranger,to help me out of the depths of my despair and continue on…..i read in a report about failed suicide attempts that 90% of people who did survive a suicide attempt did not repeat it again . that gives me a lot of hope. know that you are not alone and there are people,even strangers,who want to help you….

  13. How do they know how many jump from the Lion's Gate? Are there cameras recording? I don't doubt 45 have. Maybe more have? Maybe many more? A half dozen to a half dozen feet have been found on the shore around the lower mainland. Given the unlikelihood of them having floated to the surface, washed up on shore, and then found, I wonder how many people have jumped off the bridges in the BC lower mainland.

  14. I think jumping off a bridge is quite possibly the best way to die, other than being complety drugged and not feeling anything. It was not until I researched forms of suicide that I have come to the bridge as a favourite decision. Some people just can't hang on.

    I think the real matter here should be APPROPRIATE medical and psychiatric therapy. I've gone to numerous Dr 's and 3 different hospitals and have not recieved the intensive therapy I so desperatly need, from a childhood of horror and numerous adult tragedies .

  15. There are some AWFUL dr's at our hospitals that should rethink their career choice.

    I am positive if an average citizen went into the EMERG at a hospital with a broken leg, they would be assesed, x rayed, administered pain medication, put in a cast, maybe even get to stay in the hospital so the Dr's can keep checking on him… Then this average Joe would wait 6 weeks and get his cast off and start 6 months of massage and physio thereapy.

    Now If I, a suicidal/chronically depressed person goes into EMERGE seeking relief from both emotional and physical pain, not only do I not get appropriatly assesed, but I am told to leave. No sedatives, no observation, No counselling and no referals.

  16. Everyone has seen the commercials to go to a hospital if you are thinking of suicide. Well they will tell you to get better coping skills and then the idiot Dr moves on the that old, wheezing guy with lung cancer that has been smoking for 50 years. Poor dear.

  17. For me this has been going on 20 years. I have always been compliant on medications given. But from what I gather The health minister does not care to fund my treatment. My condition is the reslut of a whole childhood of abuse and negelct, sexual abuse and rape. I had no choice in those things. But I do not get appropriate, REAL treatment.I have severe PTSD

  18. I dissociate, It is not just a matter of thinking these things happened a long time ago. My brain has come to know only the negative things in life. My whole family has been torn apart as everyone in my family is so toxic.

    How do I march on as a single Mom? Why can't the Dr's do my kid a favour and sit me down and for one listen to the horrors that have been burned into my mind. I have Dr's telling me "the past is the past".

    I have nightmares. I even drive my car and don't know where I am when I wake up. That is what my child abuse has done to me. What kind of life is this? What kind of person puts themselve through 7 years of medical school to let this suffering continue?

  19. I needed a GOOD Dr to sit and listen to my problems and help answer some of my current issues. I just wanted a bit of guidance. I wanted to be validated and heard. I wanted to be given some sedatives to ehlp me through the rough days. I wanted the nurses to treat me with more kindness.

    And at this point, all I can say is Thank God for the Lions Gate Bridge

  20. dear lim. i hear your pain! i hope you're doing okay. how are you surviving? how can you carry on as a single mom? do you have support? do you have a job? please reply

    i have borderline personality disorder am with a new child, facing lots of financial debt and shunned by family and friends. i am scared and thinking of jumping myself.

  21. please call a suicide hotline and see your doctor immediately if you are having these thoughts. get help. you are worth it. people do care, despite what your brain may tell you.

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