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Welcome to Harper’s bubble

Nothing unexpected, no one uninvited, everything in its place


 

Photographers are summoned to a spot behind an office building on Parliament Hill for 8:15 a.m. There they are provided with directions to that morning’s photo op—this one in the living room of a nondescript, middle-class Ottawa family whose three sons, all under the age of 12, play the violin, viola and cello respectively. Shortly thereafter, a dozen reporters board a small bus from the same Hill location and are driven to the Conservative party campaign headquarters, located on the second floor of a nondescript two-storey office building on the outskirts of the capital.

Inside a makeshift television studio, that first family is joined by a second nondescript, middle-class group, this one with four girls and a boy. And with children on either side of him—the kids looking variously perplexed, frightened and bored—Stephen Harper makes another small, but not insignificant announcement aimed at another small, but not insignificant segment of the Canadian population (an offer of a tax credit to parents whose children are enrolled in artistic activities). Afterwards, reporters are permitted to ask questions, following a predetermined order. Speaking out of turn is not tolerated.

“I think what the Prime Minister has learned from previous campaigns is that it’s important to have discipline and focus in all aspects of the campaign,” says Tim Powers, a Conservative strategist, “from the way the tour is run to the messages that you’re giving out.”

The Prime Minister, though looking a bit tired on this Monday morning, dispatches the queries handily. Unfortunately, one of the human props behind him is less sturdy: the young girl, seemingly overcome by the stage lights, looking glassy-eyed and wobbly as she’s helped off stage.

The odd bout of light-headedness aside—it’s not the first time a human prop has been overcome during the campaign—this is what some reporters have come to call Stephen Harper’s bubble. Nothing unexpected, no one uninvited, everything in its right place. The Liberals, who have been faulted for constructing a less impressive bubble, have found great glee in quantifying the Prime Minister’s isolation—keeping weekly count of how many of Harper’s events have been open to the general public, compared to those of Stéphane Dion. At last count it was Dion 38, Harper 0. The Prime Minister did take time from the campaign trail to attend his high school reunion. Though in that relatively uncontrolled setting, he was subsequently heckled.

The only other heckler to reportedly breach the bubble did so at an event in Rockland, Ont. The RCMP quickly removed him from the premises. The Mounties were similarly dispatched to block reporters who attempted to question the Prime Minister shortly after the party’s use of a digital puffin led to the suspension of a campaign staffer. Reporters trying to question Dona Cadman, a Conservative candidate in British Columbia and the widow of former MP Chuck Cadman, were also stymied, reportedly at the behest of an aide to Harper.

“Certainly,” Harper said recently, asked about his campaign, “my security situation changed radically once I became Prime Minister.”

All of which may mean something or nothing at all. “I think it’s a lot of the chatter in the chattering classes and the people who pay more attention to this than perhaps we all should,” Powers says. “I think what [ordinary] people are interested in seeing are what their leaders are doing and what they are offering them and they’re not as interested in the mechanics.”

For sure, all candidates are, to some degree or another, isolated. And most of everything in a campaign is mechanics. So perhaps the question is how far the mechanics push the campaign from reality. And whether mastering life inside the bubble qualifies one to govern life outside it.

Later this day, it’s off to Val d’Or, 500 km north of Montreal. As the campaign buses roll from the airport through town, a woman leans out the passenger side window of a stopped car and extends a middle finger at the caravan. Her salute is seconded by various other passersby. Apparently blessed of advance notice, 100 union protesters are waiting at the conference centre where Harper is scheduled to speak.

Inside, there are only supportive faces, each attendee stamped with a blue Stephen Harper sticker and squeezed into a nondescript ballroom sans air conditioning, where they will cheer at the appropriate points and, if necessary, bang thundersticks together or wave placards. The Prime Minister speaks efficiently and almost entirely in French, save for a couple of clips dismissing Stéphane Dion en anglais for the evening news. Another small, but not insignificant announcement aimed at another small, but not insignifcant segment of the population (this one about support for older workers).

Behind Harper are three rows of human props, the youngest children seated up front, a representative smattering of teenagers and adults standing behind them. The people here of obviously more rugged stock, not one of them collapses under the lights.


 

Welcome to Harper’s bubble

  1. This guy was such a creep. it scares me to think of the power he took over these young peoples life. He’s not far off of that creep from Swift Current Sask.

  2. Where’s a lawyer when you need one? Throw a rock.

  3. Wait a minute – this is completely misleading:

    “…yet the number of law students who graduate each year is “virtually unchanged,”

    “in 2006, 2,973 law students were admitted to the profession, just 133 more than a decade before.”

    “Graduating” and being “admitted to the profession” are two completely different things. If you are going to demnstrate that the number of graduates is virtually unchanged, then why not provide the number of graduates? This is poor journalism and shoddy writing.

    Maybe it’s a dearth of journalism schools we should be lamenting…

    • Family law – at least in my law school – has a bit of reputation for being a dying area. It’s being taken over by professional mediators, some of whom are also lawyers but many of whom are not. Students would rather take corporate or IP tracks that will make them serious money than take a prohibitively expensive 3 year degree (plus one year articling and a bar admissions course) just to compete in the same space as mediators and paralegals. Moreover, cuts to legal aid funding have made practicing in the area much less lucrative – a lot of lawyers won’t accept legal aid certificates even when they get them because they don’t pay well, and the hours run out before the work is done.

      You also remember that there are schools in this country where a law degree runs $30,000 a year. While there may be a lot of people writing their LSATs and applying to law schools, there is only enough money to offer financial support to a certain number of them.

      The other reality is that a lot of Canadian law schools are packed to the gills as it is. Expanding them is costly, and naturally requires the faculty to expand as well. A great many law school courses are already taught by practicioners as it is. How many more can be recruited to accept teaching positions at new or expanded law schools in addition to their day jobs?

      • this mostly makes a great deal of sense. also add in the rural factor mentioned in the article – no matter the need, I can’t see a great deal of money to be made in family law in a small town on the prairies.

        One thing law schools (esp. in large areas) won’t lack for is teachers, however. I imagine there are a lot of practitioners who would love to add a professorhood at Osgoode or U of T to their resumes. The quality of a practitioner/instructor may be another matter, but the supply would be there.

  4. The first thing we do, we legalize everything, then we won’t need to kill so many. ;-)

    Seriously though, it was not that long ago that there were articles going around about how our legal system has become so bureaucratic that we now have way more lawyers then any civilized country should need. A bit of the KISS principle would then resolve the issue.

  5. This article’s wrong on a number of issues, but I think this one’s important:

    The claim: the deregulation of tuition in Ontario in the 90s was bad for poor students
    The quote: “In Ontario, where law school tuition was deregulated in 1997, two-thirds of law students come from the wealthiest 40 per cent of families in the province, a 2004 study found, and just 10 per cent from the bottom 40.”
    The reality: Statistics Canada did a great study on what deregulating tuition did to the sociodemographic makeup of professional programs. The result: the percentage of students from the wealthiest and poorest families increased. It was the middle class that was squeezed out. That article, by focusing on the top and bottom 40 percent of income earners, misses the point that it’s the middle of that range that’s where the action is.

    Finally, the article doesn’t point out that the demographic makeup of law school classes is dependent on the demographics of undergraduate classes, and poorer Canadians are much less likely to get undergraduate degrees. And the reason for that isn’t financial: the percentage of students who don’t attend university (in general, not just professional programs) who report that money was a factor in their decision when surveyed: 9%. (Statscan) Looking exclusively at students with parents from the bottom income quartile, that number only goes up to 13.4%.

    Source 1: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11f0019m/11f0019m2005263-eng.pdf
    Source 2: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/070208/dq070208a-eng.htm

  6. Well two possibilities.

    1.Open the Legal market to foreigners with legal equivalent law studies
    2.Repeal the articlying requirement so then qualified candidate will be more attracted to the Canadian Lawyer Market.
    3.Waiver for interprovincial Lawyer profesionnal employment

    easy, what is weird is that we will need to wait the next 5 years before a change. That is the problem with over regulated profession.

    A canadian trained Law Student from abroad

  7. “1.Open the Legal market to foreigners with legal equivalent law studies”

    While this might sound like a simple solution, the reality is that many legal skills simply aren’t transferable from one jurisdiction to another. Unless the foreign lawyer has been trained by a quality school from another common law jurisdiction, this is recipe for disaster.

    “2.Repeal the articlying requirement so then qualified candidate will be more attracted to the Canadian Lawyer Market.”

    Articling is hardly the primary barrier for those who want to become lawyers. It’s law schools where the bottleneck lies. And I seriously doubt many people are dissuaded from becoming lawyers because of the articling year. It is hardly a major hurdle to overcome.

    “3.Waiver for interprovincial Lawyer profesionnal employment”

    Lawyers can already transfer from one province to another (with the exception of Quebec) trivially easily. There are very few interprovincial barriers on lawyer employment.

  8. I agree with Andrew, articling should be scrapped. I’m a Canadian-trained lawyer who chose to start his career in New York, where passing the bar exam is the only requirement to join the profession. This is a phenomenon that the article fails to address — dozens of Canadian law students take high-paying jobs at big U.S. firms each year.

    With a favorable economy and exchange rate, these first-year associate positions offer the newly-minted graduate up to $100,000 more than they would receive as an articling student at Canada’s most prestigious Bay Street firms. Facing increasing student debts, these lucrative jobs are too good to refuse. Plus the lack of articling period means quicker access to the profession and job security (most Canadian law firms do not guarantee their articling students permanent positions once they become admitted).

    Canadians need to realize that they’re competing in an international market for legal professionals. The most competitive legal markets offer low barriers to entry, vastly higher salaries, and more significant legal work. With its much smaller economy, the only way for Canada to compete is to lower the debt loads of law graduates and eliminate the articling requirement.

    Boosting enrollment and eliminating articling at the same time would also foster innovation, forcing lawyers to compete for clients. This will put downward pressure on fees and provide greater access to legal services. Articling is an archaic institution that allows the legal establishment to shield itself from competition by playing gatekeeper.

    Articling cannot be justified on the basis of training. The American system ensures that lawyers are qualified by testing their substantive knowlege through a series of grueling examinations. In New York, for example, the exam is closed-book, with 40% of its questions being essays. The pass rate is approximately 70%. Conversely, the Ontario bar examinations are little more than a formality — open-book, multiple-choice tests with pass rates well over 90%.

    Having proven their substantive knowledge, Amercian lawyers acquire their practical skills like most other professionals — on the job. In spite of this, the quality of American legal services is at least on par with any other major economy.

    If Canada wants to keep more lawyers, it has to compete internationally. Canada must reduce the allure of salaries at big U.S. and U.K. firms by lowering the debt loads of law school graduates. And it must make the criteria for admission to the profession a solid substantive knowledge of the law, rather than a year-long training program controlled by the legal establishment, which has a vested interest in stifling competition for legal services. If a recent graduate can pass a tough bar exam, let them compete for clients right away.

    The result will be more lawyers and lower fees, and Canadians will benefit.

    • Actually, law in Canada is pretty sedentary. As you point out yourself, the number of students who go to new york is measured only in the dozens – not an appreciable difference. And that’s about 90% of those practicing abroad.

      • Sure…maybe only 200-300 of the 3000 law students that graduate from Canadian law schools every year go abroad to ply their trade – but I guarantee those that do are not our worst students, but a good chunk of our best. Talent follows the money – in ever industry – and that’s the real danger for the Canadian legal system, it needs to figure out how to hold on to its most promising young lawyers.

        • Certainly those who leave will be a large number with the highest marks. But there won’t be that big a detriment to the system if Bay St. is forced to hire a few more A students instead of A+. Of all the problems facing the Canadian legal community, this is in absolutely no way one of them.

  9. I worry that an increased number of spaces will mean lower qualifications necessary to get into law schools. Lower standards will snowball into lower quality graduates (law school is marked on the curve, so it would be possible to admit classes of lawyers who are all substandard and for them to stumble through together and graduate) and lower quality legal services.

    The impact of substandard lawyers on the legal profession and the cost of legal services is two-fold:
    1. firstly, all the lawyers will have to ensure that the fees that they bring in will cover off the hike in our professional insurance that will occur when we are paying out to cover off all the problems that these substandard lawyers cause;
    2. Secondly, an efficient lawyer who knows their stuff ultimately costs the client less. An inefficient , less qualified lawyer stumbling along will end up charging the client more in billable time and end up causing counsel on the other side of a file more time. Ever been accross a file with a lawyer who doesn’t know what they’re doing? It can be quite a roadblock to moving things forward efficiently.

    I’m ok with making more spaces available to law students, just as long as it doesn’t mean that overall quality will slip. What we need is more good lawyers, not just warm bodies.

    • Skyrocketing tuition already killed it. There’s no way you can increase tuition 400% or more to $20,000+ and keep the same calibre of student.

  10. ….With salaries like that on offer, who’d want to hang out a shingle in Kapuskasing?

    Well, we did!

    do you have lunch at home with your family? we do
    does it take you less than 20 minutes to get to work from your cottage? yes for us
    what is your mortgage for a condo? a 3 bedroom bungalow? a cottage? ours is surely 25% of yours
    while you are in your car for 2 hours a day, we ski, play hockey, play squash, have lunch with friends, play outside
    get it?
    quality of life my friends, is worth lots more than a rat race
    do come to visit us in Kapuskasing, life does not get any better..

  11. Do we need more lawyers or should we all be lawyers?

    Tue Feb 3, 2009

    This week’s Maclean’s says that there is a lack of lawyers in this country, apparently due to the limited number of seats available in Canadian law schools–we’re not graduating enough law students each year to keep up with our growing population. That may be the case, but with our complex legal system don’t we all need to be lawyers?
    When I sat in law school, particularly in my first year, I remember thinking how I was receiving an education that all Canadians should have. It’s an education that is necessary in our complex legal system–a system designed to operate with lawyers; created by lawyers. In school I was uncomfortable knowing that the legal system, which is so incomprehensible for most people, creates barriers between those who have the information and those that don’t – it creates an uncomfortable and unnecessary elitist divide. Why should only lawyers know this stuff? What about the rest of us? Shouldn’t we all know what our rights are under the law? Shouldn’t we all know how to represent ourselves in a legal system under which we must all live?
    Someone might reply that life’s not fair (one of my lines), that’s just the way it goes, should everyone be doctors then? Yet the law isn’t like other professions–the law permeates every aspect of our lives. Everyone needs to know the basics of the law to survive in our legal system, yet you don’t need to know the basics of medicine to survive in the health care system–it takes care of you, with or without your own doctor. As it stands now, people not only need a lawyer to explain the law to them, they need a lawyer to protect them from the injustices of the system.
    Just think about that for a minute or two–we all must adhere to the law but only a select group of people is allowed to be educated about it–those that are accepted into the law schools each year. Does that seem right? Instead of creating a few more spots in the law schools how about getting a real legal education into all the schools? Or better yet, how about changing the legal system so that we don’t need a lawyer to inform and protect us?
    Taken from the “Thin Skull Blog”

    Nancy Kinney B.A., LL.B
    Founder of AdviceScene.com
    Democratizing the Law One Question at a Time

    • I read the Thin Skull Blog and am more interested in the AdviceScene.com website. Finally – putting the law on the web. Can’t wait to see how the old school lawyers respond though I am willing to bet that the law students will be all over ‘on-line’ access to the law. The world has changed and access to information has changed but how will the legal system adapt?

      • Thanks for the positive comments Trevor. Yes, it is going to be interesting to see how lawyers react to the site. So far we’ve been able to attract a couple of very senior lawyers that are committed to ‘democratizing the law’ by answering legal questions on the forum. And yes, I expect law students to be very interested in collaborating with each other, lawyers, and the public to create a question-based ‘LawWiki.” I look forward to seeing you on the forum too.

    • haha good one! why don't all the doctors and firefighters become lawyers too…and the lawyers will become doctors, etc. etc. everyone will do everything. Nancy, you are a genius. did you go to Bond?

      • Sam, you are quite the elitist.

  12. Being someone who has been forced by lawyer pickieness, or lack of interest, to learn the law and defend myself in court because most lawyers I met only wanted to ,” pick the dead bull ringer cases”, to further their careers and to do as little work as they can ,I am offended by this article that makes it appear that we need more lawyers. They seem to have a monopoly on the people who can not afford them. I apologize for not reading all the reasons why we need more lawyers in Canada but when I can not get one due to pickieness or lack of interest, it is a whole different story. It is my Constitutional Right to have legal representation. And have to this day I have not been able to have someone with experience do that for me( otherwise known as leagal representation). Nor can I find any help to do it myself. I am not a lawyer and it is all well and good for everyone to give reasons why the legal system is not working and of course we always need more of this and that but really, some lawyers need to get back to helping the people that need the help. The legal system should not be based on profit and loss but on protecting the rights of people without a cost attached, just the difference between right and wrong. I apoligize to those that I offend ,but we do not need anymore lawyers, just ones doing it for the right reason, for people who need it.

  13. Goodie! We can all start another round of “when’s the next election?” !

  14. Past performance suggests that if there’s one thing to be counted on from the Harper party, it’s that when they find themselves in a hole, their instincts are to keep digging.

  15. In my opinion I do think that Mr. Harper’s days are numbered. I don’t think he ever was a Conservative at heart. His beliefs, I think, are something else that slowly began emerging over the course of the last while, but not fully evident. He seemed to have restrained it in the begining, but couldn’t stay there.

    Ralph Klein might have known something about Mr. Harper when he said “unelectable” that the rest of us didn’t.

    It is kind of sad though, here was a man that had everything going for him and then he blew it. Resorting to tactics unbecoming a leader.

  16. A lot of us despise Mr. Harper, but that doesn’t mean we’d vote Liberal. Be careful about equating poor approval ratings for the leader to poor electoral showing for the party.

    • Better ditch Harper then as he is the party!

    • Theoretically, approval ratings can be an indicator of electoral support – and in many cases, they have. This being said, with the HD Poll approval ratings for both leaders so similar, and both under 60%, I can’t wholly disagree with your point either.

      My questions:
      1) What is the intensity of disapproval with either leader?
      2) How many are saying “it’s too soon to say” when it comes to Iggy?
      3) Since when does 36 per cent make a convincing argument that Iggy is the better leader?

  17. As I have said before the time has come for Harper to leave before he takes the party down with him. The sooner the better.

  18. There is no better way for harper to earn more votes than read some of the posts by harper haters.

    • Er, does the obverse apply then as well? Is there no better way for Iggy to earn votes than to read some of the posts by “Lieberal” haters?

      • possibly I wouldn’t know as I used to be a Liberal (until the Martin putsch) and don’t hate liberals.

        • There is no better way for harper to earn more votes than read some of the posts by harper haters.

          That principle ceased to be effective as a warning when we hit peak wingnut with McCain/Palin.

          It really is just a passive-aggressive demand that people only say nice things about Conservatives.

    • The trouble with this theory is that Harper Haters post much more coherently than anti-LIEberals.

      The reason a lot of the right-wing blogosphere doesn’t speak to me is because I only comprehend English, French & Chinese. I don’t speak drool. Neither, I suspect, does Uncle Iggy.

      For example, Wayne, your post seems to suggest that Harper needs to read more posts by Harper haters, which, being the thin-skinned litigative crybaby that he is, will only cause him to push his head even farther into the sand. Although, given the lack of grammatical clarity (and, well, correctness) of your post, your meaning is nebulous. While I suspect you meant that Harper’s popularity will increase if more voters read the posts in question, that is not what you wrote. And you’re one of the more coherent.

      I have no problem with the right in general. For example, I give Brad Wall in Sask a passing grade so far. It’s just that during the 80’s & 90’s, the right-wing slowly surpassed the left as the larger stupid magnet.

      At any rate, I’m glad to add another post to the oueve of Harper-hating. Lattes away.

      • Although, given the lack of grammatical clarity (and, well, correctness) of your post, your meaning is nebulous. While I suspect you meant that Harper’s popularity will increase if more voters read the posts in question, that is not what you wrote. And you’re one of the more coherent.

        Shenping, while I’m sure Wayne is dazzled by your intellect and erudition, I hope you realize that you’re coming off as a bit of snob. Wayne’s meaning was clear to everyone. You should save your scorn for those who actually deserve it.

        • You should save your scorn for those who actually deserve it.

          Like those who make the insane claim that speaking critically of Harper will only increase his popularity.

          I agree.

          • Wayne’s claim was not “insane”, and it applies to all politicians, not just Harper.

            The average citizen is not exposed to the stream of partisan invective that we, as blog readers, have become accustomed to. When the average citizen reads extremely negative political commentary, they are more likely to be repulsed by it than to be swayed by it. Just ask any of those elite political consultants who occasionally grace us with their wisdom.

      • lol.

        Shenping thx for the chuckle.

        being an independent never felt so good. and, by my estimation, our so-called Parliamentary democracy seems to have devolved into gangs (so-called parties) of hooligans instead of more independent parliamentarians forming responsible govts or getting rid of “crybaby”, “thin-skinned” “litigative” narcissism.

  19. Harper’s actions have made Jim Prentice an obvious well balanced alternative to Harper for Conservatives disappointed with Harper’s judgement and decisions. Harper no longer truly represents the Conservative Party of Canada but Conservatives have yet to fully awake to that fact and probably won’t until he loses an election. Its too bad we can’t have Jim Prentice or someone like him take over with Harper stepping aside the way Bob Rae did for Ignatieff. If Jim Prentice had been leader we would have a majority government by now and that without selling our souls to compensate for Harper’s gaffes both during and after the election. Only the emotional and the weak minded might blindly love Harper the more gaffes he makes and the more criticisms he garners. Where have the strong men have gone that forged the Alliance and Progressive Consrvative Parties together to create the Consevative Party? They seem to have all been neutered by the cult of personality that surrounds Harper and his PMO. It sucks the life out of the rest of the party and apparently the brains as well. We can do better.

  20. Glad to hear it! Been a long time coming.

    Stephen Harper is not good for Canada.

    There is a deep-seated and abiding disregard for Canadians apparent in everything Stephen Harper does.

    Thank all goodness that Canadians (and a lot of the world) is waking up to just how bad Harper and his past-century(ies) ideas are for Canadians in the 21st century.

    May Harper get Raptured already, see his world crumble and fall away while he hies off to a better place.

    • Yes, if Harper has demonstrated anything in the past three years it’s that he’s a crazed 19th century religious fanatic.

      • He hides it well. He has paid professionals helping him hide it. Taxpayer-paid professionals to boot.

        Harper is abandoning his base and they are waking up to it. Obama’s gonna get ’em! Harper failed ’em.

        Hard for someone, anyone, to come from the low minority that Harper counts as his base to a position of dominance in the face of Obama and his brand of realistic thinking and action. Engaging the people, not dividing them. Harper seems only able to divide, cause rifts and problems. Harper should save most of his speeches for his religious venues, not just his scripted photo-ops and staged announcements with only the invited from acceptabled CPC lists. Harper is simply not a man for any great amount of Canadian people.

        Stephen Harper works for very few Canadians. The majority of Canadians desire someone who can work for many Canadians. Canada wants its own Obama and hope and change.. Harper is decidedly not.

        It’s just that simple.

        • Liz, well put. glad to know that i’m not alone in my thoughts. $12,000/month personal grooming & astrology services? and ppl think he’s religious? well, perhaps his true g-d is a lot less spiritual and a lot closer to earth–say like when he looks in the mirror. Christians are supposed to rely on G-d not the stars.

  21. Obama should have bought then traditional Beaver Tail, and then would not only have avoided many extra calories, but also would have experienced the true taste of Canada as opposed to a facade put on to impress our neighbors.

  22. Harper won by using the Liberals stumbling and bumbling as a leg up in the election and I personnally don’t favour him, though his Liberal competitor wasn’t much to write home about either. I’m going to remain neutral until I see more from Iggy. I’m not going to jump and say he’s Canada’s Obama before I see what he’s really about. My concern is what kind of a politician he’d be after he wins an election; in short, despite all these polls and surveys, I’m not holding my breath.

    • i believe Bob Rae or Justin Trudeau more befit the Obama-type example of charisma; but from the recent shackling and muzzling and leashing of the conservatives by Ignatieff, i’m willing to give him some consideration. but he should have assumed governance; ppl are fed up. i guess he had to get the conservative ring-kissing NDP leader to reveal himself as the self-serving position seeker he really is–afterall the NDP helped to usher in the era of Stephen H; remember?

      something i posted elsewhere: (inspired by the credit card commercial)
      the cost of economic mismanagement by the conservatives who went from $13B of our surplus plus Billions of cash to $0 in less than 3 years?
      $64Billion deficit…

      getting to see Stephen H. and the conservatives muzzled, shackled, and leashed by the opposition led by Mr. Ignatieff?
      ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS…

    • as for the unusual, perhaps awkward, Dion; do you know that on CNN the US is talking “just society” (President Obama), Green Shift/Green Jobs, carbon tax (Exxon), and ratifying Kyoto (mayors in Washington)? Dion was suckerpunched and politically assassinated by the conservative party; remember they hijacked Dion’s ideas on how to deal with the economic crisis that Stephen H said didn’t exist after they “won” the illegitimate broken law election?

      Canadians didn’t insist on fair play; they probably expected to see in Dion a continuation of the examples of corruption we’ve been subject to for the past 3 years but unexpectedly got more of a fair-minded and less political person and didn’t want to believe it–witness his insistance that Elizabeth May be included in the leader’s debate, something even the NDP opposed in a year old pact with the conservatives beforehand (that was reported on either CBC or CPAC). did you buy into his French heritage as a good enough reason not to vote for his ideas/his party? my appreciation for Dion did not translate so much into admiration for his party though.

      Now President Obama has caused Canadians to realize what we’ve lost. Dion’s ideas were brilliant, economical, and socially responsible; backed by real economists (about 70 or 80 if i recall correctly). the US has the Green Shift and is forging ahead. and the conservatives, having derided and campaigned hard against Dion’s idea are not the ones to bring in any environmental, social or economic policy (witness the $64B deficit they try to figleaf as a stimulus package); they have shown themselves to be incapable of integrity in this regard; imho.

  23. fHey Kate, let’s get serious. Obama does not have time to waste man hours to see if he is ordering the Traditional Beaver Tail . In case you did not notice, the man can eat two of those and still remain slim and trim.He can afford to take up the calories. The “true taste of Canada”?? Bullcookies. You sound like a fanatic. You have Tunnel Vision. Wake up and smell the coffee. Or better yet, have a low-calorie beer made only with natural ingredients etc. RELAX!!! I am “cent pour cent pure laine” as the Separatists say. HOWEVER, I am NOT a Separatist. So just sit back and relax. Maybe you need a sugar cure. Did you have your sugar level checked lately?? To make such a fuss over such a trivial thing is not a good sign. Anyway, hope you get beter.

  24. In this age of political correctness where is that culinary delite to one and all – poutine with real cheese curd not that sissy montzrello.

  25. You know what I think we need? Another Liberal-Conservative Coalition, like the one back in 1854.

    If the Liberals are the centralist party, they should be able to form coalition with the Conservatives as well as the NDPs, especially considering how many Conservatives are in the Liberal tent now, if only they can put aside their differences.

    George Brown and John A. Macdonald absolutely loathed each other, everytime John A was drunk because of his emo private life, Brown would print a ‘sick’ notice in his papers. Yet, those two still manage to sit down at the same table and pull Confederation through, because they all put the country first.

    I don’t think we are at risk of another American invasion, except economical, though the horses have pretty much left the barn at this point. What universal crisis we face that parties should be able to put aside their differences are;
    – The Arctic; if we let other people take our passage, that sets a precedent. We need to protect the route, the Inuit, and the minerals or whatever resource is up there, surely this is something everyone can agree on? We can increase military presence, that ought to please the Conservatives, and put a scientist post up there for global warming or whatever, it’ll have our flag on it. We can also sign a treaty that let Americans use our route within limits…that way our neighbour is happy, and we have recognition.
    – Senate Reform; the fact Mike Duffy is in there should be enough to convince the Liberals that we need Senate Reform, in regards to the rights of appointment especially, I think. I believe we need the Senate as our sober house of second thought, which is why I don’t agree with them being elected, that defeats the point, we already have the MPs…rather, their appointment must be ethically screened first, and required majority approval of the house, and only so many appointments per time, and an age minimum.
    – Canadian Business; no matter how we do it, we need more Canadian Businesses in Canadian hands, in whatever way that doesn’t Break NAFTA, but hey, we never got all our softwood lumber money back.
    – Transportation system; I think getting struck in a traffic jam is something every party can hate on.

  26. Yes Yes, let’s stop talk about Québec seperation (it will never happen) and MOVE ON!!

  27. President Sarkozy has finally put to rest the outrageous audicity of Charles de Gaulle who, after his country was freed from Nazi occupation and its freedom paid for in Canadian blood, implied that Quebec was being occupied by Canada.

    Sarkozy’s dismissal of the soveriegnty movement has done more for Canada than any french president before him. Bravo.

  28. Subscribed to your magazine a month ago. Great job on the article, Paul, as usual. A classic. Keep up the good work with the magazine.

    On that note, i hope you are watching the fallout from the National Post’s attempt yesterday to give the sovereigntists something else to scream about. Quite an unprecedented stance by a Canadian English language paper (with a decent circulation), i think.

  29. Not to get all gooey, but the final paragraph is so good, it’s almost poetry.

    • Gooey?
      CR – are you sure you aren’t a sock puppet for Kinsella?

      • CR – are you sure you aren’t a sock puppet for Kinsella?

        Good Lord, no! Quite the opposite. I see Kinsella as a sniveling, litigious little hack, and a boil on the backside of the LPC. Aside from that, he seems like a nice enough guy. I’ve never met him.

  30. Dear Rogers: Translate this column and publish it in l’Actualité. Please. It is a must-read for all Canadians.

  31. Maybe if l’Asembly National reconized les Accadiens and les Métisses as nations……

  32. As a fed-up French Canadian,i say BRAVO to Sarkozy.

  33. It seems to me that the issue of Quebec independence has been “resting,” as so excellently put, for some time now. They may surge in the polls based on the issues of the day, but separation is no longer the battle cry for anything but the party faithful. It seems to me that the BQ has become a regional party, existing more or less to represent the interests of Quebec. And they ought to always be able to find issues to fight for, as the last election seems to prove.

    For that reason, although separatism may wax and wane as an issue, the PQ and BQ will probably be around for quite a while yet.

    Still, I can’t help but applaud when someone gives the somewhat ridiculous arguments that separatists have made recently the respect they deserve. That is to say, little to none.

  34. The 1995 referendum was close for only one reason. Lucien Bouchard. He was an almost messianic figure who personally almost won for his side.

    The whole quebec project has been remarkably successful. Anyone who saw the changes from the 1960’s to the 1990’s in that province would marvel that such a revolution was pulled off with so very little blood. The revolutionaries got what they wanted; a secular open society.

    Having their own country seemed a step too far.

    Derek

    • The result was even closer for a second reason: insanely prejudicial ballot rejection in more federalist-voting areas. Curiously, the director general of elections in Quebec wasn’t nearly as interested in that irregularity as he was in how much Joe and Marianne Peterson from Winnipeg spent to fly in for the downtown Montreal love-in party, and whether that airfare (and any discount offered by Air Canada to fill the plane at the last minute) should be charged against the No side’s limited budget of expenses.

      So close, as you say. Razor-thin! And no call from the “Oui” side for a re-count. Hmmm. Maybe the true score wasn’t as close after all.

  35. I thought it was close because the federal government gave citizenship to tens of thousands of people who didn’t qualify. Anyway if Quebec wants to go I say let them. Canada would be better off without them.

  36. You write:

    “If the federal government agrees to negotiate the terms of secession and the outcome of those negotiations is successfully ratified according to Canada’s Constitution, no foreign government will hesitate to recognize Quebec. In the absence of those conditions, none would dare to second-guess Ottawa.”

    The justices of the Supreme Court write:

    103 To the extent that a breach of the constitutional duty to negotiate in accordance with the principles described above undermines the legitimacy of a party’s actions, it may have important ramifications at the international level. Thus, a failure of the duty to undertake negotiations and pursue them according to constitutional principles may undermine that government’s claim to legitimacy which is generally a precondition for recognition by the international community. Conversely, violations of those principles by the federal or other provincial governments responding to the request for secession may undermine their legitimacy. Thus, a Quebec that had negotiated in conformity with constitutional principles and values in the face of unreasonable intransigence on the part of other participants at the federal or provincial level would be more likely to be recognized than a Quebec which did not itself act according to constitutional principles in the negotiation process. Both the legality of the acts of the parties to the negotiation process under Canadian law, and the perceived legitimacy of such action, would be important considerations in the recognition process. In this way, the adherence of the parties to the obligation to negotiate would be evaluated in an indirect manner on the international plane.

  37. ummm it’s a treat; you’re not sposed to count the calories!

    and yummy poutine; how i miss the real stuff.

  38. The political status of Quebec is for the Quebecois to decide. Clarity Act or not.

    • Bien sûr. What the Clarity Act does is articulate on what conditions the ROC would have to be nice to a departing Quebec. Without clarity, the ROC could be as nasty as it pleased.

      • Not the ROC…the federal government. We should keep that distinction clear.

        • Ah, good point.

          It doesn’t look like separation will ever happen now, so it’s a bit moot, but one curious aspect of our (vain) fortune-telling is that we never stop and imagine what Canada would look like without Quebec — not seriously, I mean. Presumably because nobody wants to jinx it — much better to just declare it unimaginable that Quebec would ever separate, impossible that Canada could go on, etc. But given the levels of tension between the other provinces I suppose we’d be looking at a constitutional free-for-all. The Clarity Act might, in the unfortunate event, also help to mitigate that.

  39. Agreed that the U.S. might have higher numbers of lawyer per capita, but it is a very litigious society, and that is a problem. There are frivolous lawsuits and actions that make the headlines all the time south of the border i.e a multi-million dollar settlement for a spilled coffee, but never seem to here. I think you see more ethical violations among lawyers there – perhaps there are simply too many?

    In this country, given how many lawyers are produced every year, and how corporatized law has become, the lack of adequate provision of legal services to the average citizen is a problem. Are more law schools the answer?A costly endeavour and perhaps a misallocation of resources.

    But if one insists on creating a new law school, why not affiliate it with a school in parts of the country that are under-served or under-represented, i.e. northwestern Ontario (I’m thinking Lakehead) or have expected population growth that might justify it? i.e why not McMaster University in Hamilton. TRU in Kamloops has plans for one. What about free tuition for law students who are then obliged to work in the public or non-profit sector for the first 10 years of their career?

    If anything we really need to open up law schools so they better reflect the society they purport to serve.

  40. An update to my post. I had my day in court and the judge was not impressed that I represented myself. I was found guilty and am now facing a fine of $5000.00 for renovating. Representing yourself does not always work especially when you are not aware of the procedure, not a lawyer and if you get a judge who is not impressed you are out of luck. I guess now I will give up eating so I can afford to hire a lawyer

  41. http://www.DynamicLawyers.com allows you to find a lawyer by making a post and getting quotes. We also offer lawyer-prepared and customizable legal forms with video tutorials and written guides. Finally, we give away tons of free legal information to help educate Canadians on the law (so they can understand and take advantage of it).

  42. In principle, I am an Officer of the Court. I yield to no man, no expert, no God, no lawyer, no judge. The law is my master and my slave. I oppose all prejudice, bias, distortion, deception and every judge and lawyer who is influenced by the ignorance that is responIsible for producing every miscarriage of justice.

    The force of logic is my only guide and the truth is the only thing that every bigot will oppose, tooth and nails, to protect the facade that the interests of justice are being served.

    As long as lady justice stands alone, overwhelmed by prejudice, ignorance, bigotry and the inane assumptions that distort the truth, I am a force of logic and the only person who is in fact a worthy and legitimate, officer of the court. It is a hoax to think that lawyers are officers of the court who tell judges the truth, without evasion and locate relevant documents that are necessary and essential to the task of serving the interests of justice.

    Lawyers are what they do, and as long as they are not punished for facilitating miscarriages of justice, they do what they can get away with.

    I am a legitimate officer of the court because there is no compromise where truth and justice is concerned.

    http://ahabit.com/rule.htm

    Have you ever met a lawyer to deserves to be called an officer of the court? Please provide his or her name.

    And there's the challenge, provide me with the name and the telephone number of ONE person who deserves to be called a lawyer.

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