The candidate who wouldn't die

Must-reads: Graham Thomson on Alberta’s oil revenues; Rosie DiManno on Robert Baltovich.

Please, just make her stop
Despite the pleas of Canadian columnists, Hillary Clinton refuses to hand Barack Obama the Democratic nomination. How rude.

The Globe and Mail‘s Margaret Wente believes a Hillary Clinton presidency, just like the Bill Clinton presidency, would feature “high-minded ideals, lowered execution, half truths, outright lies, take-no-prisoner politics, [and] a presidential spouse given to wallowing in anger and self-pity,” to say nothing of the “endless psychodrama.” Wente doesn’t think she’ll be able to endure it, and implores someone in the Democratic establishment to remove Clinton’s pit-bull jaws from Barack Obama’s calf before America’s last great hope bleeds to death.

Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean is making similar entreaties, John Ibbitson notes in the Globe. And polls reflect the increasing vitriol between the Clinton and Obama camps—70 per cent in Pennsylvania said Clinton had unfairly attacked Obama, and 50 per cent vice-versa—and, which is worse, that Americans are buying into it. “Only half of all Clinton supporters say they would vote for Mr. Obama if he became the candidate,” Ibbitson notes; roughly a quarter say they would switch allegiances to the GOP. And as the “enthusiasm … for an unprecedented contest that will choose either the first black or the first female Democratic presidential nominee [is] eclipsed by the antagonism between the two camps,” everyone seems to realize, it’s John McCain who benefits most.

The most important thing for Hillary, the Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington argues, is that “the spigot for more campaign contributions has been turned up a notch” after a long period of fundraising torpor. After all, he notes, “there’s no way she’ll end the primary season with more delegates than Obama, more states won, or a greater percentage of the popular vote.” Her only hope is to persuade the superdelegates “that she has the best chance of beating McCain.” The only way to do that is to stay in the race, and the only way to do that is with oodles of cash.

A whiff of Ottawa
Terence Corcoran
, writing in the National Post, is unimpressed by the “elephantine swagger” Canadian politicians have adopted on the subject of renegotiating the oil-and-gas provisions in NAFTA. Are we willing, he wonders, to become “the first nation in the history of global free trade negotiations to enter talks with an open-ended blanket threat to cut off its main export products”? Certainly Stephen Harper owes us an explanation as to his motives, he suggests. But we don’t really understand Corcoran’s confusion. The Prime Minister was very clear in New Orleans about preferring the status quo, even as he hinted at using energy as a trump card: “My preference is not to negotiate what we talked about in the past,” he said. “It’s to talk about the future.”

When it comes to George W. Bush’s “orgy of folly,” the Globe‘s Lawrence Martin argues Canadians “have shown, with a few exceptions, considerable forbearance and politesse.” We’ve been patient in waiting for the “nightmare to end,” he contends, and have produced “hardly a whiff of moral condescension.” This is one of the craziest things we’ve ever read from Martin or anyone else. “Moral condescension” towards the Bush administration is as ubiquitous in Canada as it is vigorous. It’s everywhere. If that’s a “whiff,” what’s an odour? Or a full-blown stench, for that matter?

Speaking of stench, the Toronto Star‘s James Travers marvels at the Harperites’ consistent implication that they’re “being bullied by entrenched capital forces,” which if it was ever true most certainly is not in the case of the in-and-out affair. “What a court will eventually resolve is the most public of concerns,” Travers writes—namely, whether the Tories “operated what would commonly be known as a money-laundering scheme”; whether they “cheated in capturing a prize already tainted by the unexplained RCMP income trust intervention.” The suspicions of “committed Conservatives” when it comes to “bureaucrats, Parliament’s independent watchdogs and, of course, the mainstream media” are genuine, Travers argues. But it’s highly dubious that “a party that sees advantage in being a victim” could win a majority.

An innocent man
Pay no attention to the Globe‘s editorial board, the Globe‘s Christie Blatchford advises, when it comes to the matter of Robert Baltovich. Dismissing the case against him as “entirely circumstantial” misses the point entirely—”DNA, for God’s sakes, is circumstantial evidence,” she notes, “but also the strongest and most reliable evidence there is.” There was a case against Baltovich, she insists, based on “opportunity, motive and after-the-fact conduct.” But Canada’s “wonderfully high standard” of proof simply won the day. “Mr. Baltovich is lucky, as are we all, to live in a country where probably is not good enough,” Blatchford concludes.

The Star‘s Rosie DiManno believes it’s ironic that James Lockyer, Baltovich’s defence lawyer, would be so adamant about the lack of evidence against his client even as he pushes the theory that Paul Bernardo was Elizabeth Bain’s actual killer. “There is simply no quantifiable evidence to support that position,” she writes, and certainly nothing in Bain’s 1981 Toyota Tercel, which was recently tested for Bernardo’s DNA at the defence’s request. Even if a new trial had gone ahead, DiManno notes, the amount of evidence excluded by the judge meant jurors would only have had “a narrow window … to consider Bernardo as an alternate suspect.”

Duly noted
“It was quite something to hear a veteran black African National Congress politician … say that criminal bastards [should] be shot dead—bang!—just like that,” Haroon Siddiqui writes in the Star. But a few civil libertarians aside, he notes, “everyone else cheered” when South Africa’s junior minister of safety and security implored police officers to shoot first and ask questions later. That’s what happens, apparently, when you have a completely out-of-control violent crime problem.

The Alberta government, the “liberal-ish” Parkland Institute and a growing consensus of other Albertans “agree on a crucial point,” says the Edmonton Journal‘s Graham Thomson—that the government needs to stop “spending its oil and gas revenues almost as quickly as the energy companies can pump them out of the ground.” The Parkland Institute recommends putting all of the province’s oil and gas revenues into the Heritage Fund for ten years, and making up the difference by raising taxes to something like what other provinces levy. “I can’t imagine an Alberta politician of any political stripe supporting a huge tax hike and not being run out of town on a pumpjack,” Thomson writes. But based on the government’s own projections of declining oil resource revenues, he argues, something’s got to give.

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