They still love him in the Beauce, we hear

Must-reads: Jonathan Kay on racist child services policies; Rosie DiManno on opium-addicted Afghan children.

The end of an error
You can take Maxime Bernier’s portfolio, and his ex-girlfriend, and his reputation and his dignity. But you’ll never take his…fashion sense!

The government will be “damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t in the coming days, if not weeks,” says Sun Media’s Greg Weston. The “salivating” opposition will be peppering Harper and Co. with questions—about what was in the documents, who saw them, how long they were at “[Julie] Couillard’s pad,” etc.—in full knowledge they couldn’t divulge the answers even if they knew them. And at Bernier’s former office, Weston says, it “doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture the phonelines buzzing [from] Washington and other capitals around the world” seeking assurances that the ministry, and the government as a whole, isn’t being run by monkeys.

Indeed, The Globe and Mail‘s Lawrence Martin points out, for once it turns out “the opposition was doing its job” in hammering the government over Bernier’s relationship with Couillard, and the government’s righteous indignation now looks rather stupid. There is always the chance that “greater embarrassments” lie ahead as the story unfolds, too—and just as Harper sets out on his tour of all those foreign capitals, no less. This is what happens, Martin concludes, when a Prime Minister with a “tight ship” reputation appoints a “total greenhorn” for purely political reasons.

By deadline last night, the Calgary Herald‘s Don Martin wasn’t sure “whether this was a serious breach of Cabinet confidentiality or a fabricated excuse to get rid of a minister whose quota of missteps had finally exceeded Harper’s low tolerance for ministerial misconduct.” Why anyone would concoct such a convoluted, self-defeating scheme to get rid of Bernier when everyone was expecting him to get shuffled out of sight in the near future is way beyond us. But mysterious “insiders” tell Martin “it’s highly doubtful Bernier left of his own accord.”

Emissions and omissions
The National Post‘s Terence Corcoran pours gallons of cold water on Stéphane Dion’s carbon tax, or “green tax shift,” or whatever non-“tax” verbiage they eventually arrive at to sell it to Canadians. It might end up being “revenue neutral” to the government, he argues, but not for “individual taxpayers.” And while two recent polls have shown significant support for carbon taxation, the lack of “very positive” impressions in one case and the Pembina Institute’s sponsorship in the other leave Corcoran unconvinced.

The problem with promising to offset carbon taxation with income tax reductions is that “income status does not necessarily drive carbon consumption,” the Herald‘s Don Martin argues, pointing to gas-guzzling suburbanites and cash-strapped seniors living in draughty “heritage family homes.” Rebates, refunds and exemptions are all well and good, he says, but Martin wonders how much of the money collected will be left once it passes through the sucking bureaucratic vortex the government will have to create to administer the system? On the bright side, he concedes, the Liberals are “alone as carbon tax cheerleaders”—we imagine a single tear running down Elizabeth May’s cheek as she reads this—and they’re getting support from unlikely places, including the “hardest-right conservative columnists” like our own Andrew Coyne.

Unless Alberta completely revamps its emissions reductions framework, the Globe‘s Jeffrey Simpson warns, “the United States will blow past [it], leaving the province’s exports of energy subject to the political vagaries of Washington and relentless targeting by environmental groups.” Not only that, but Stephen Harper knows his own government’s targets are unattainable unless Alberta “changes course,” and he’s willing to “pick a fight” over it if he needs to. If Edmonton digs in its heels, Simpson argues, it “could wind up like Newfoundland with its seal hunt: defiant, proud and battered.”

Machiavellian conspiracy, with a side of bumbling incompetence
James Travers
‘ “multiple sources” tell him that the famous memo about Barack Obama’s views on renegotiating NAFTA was leaked to the Associated Press by the Prime Minister’s Office itself—via one Frank Sensenbrenner, son of a Wisconsin Republican Congressman, who agreed to an interview with the Star yesterday morning only to drop off the face of the earth by the time it was scheduled. “This was a very deliberate piece of business for political purpose,” one of these multiple sources tells Travers. “It puts political ideology ahead of what’s good for the country.”

(At times like these we always like to note the following assertion from Sharon Burnside, formerly the Star‘s public editor: “The Star does not quote unnamed sources who make critical comments about others—and that’s as it should be, since readers would have no idea who the sources are, nor if they had motive for mischief-making.”)

Forget Huseyin Celil and Mohamed Kohail, says the Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington, reprising yesterday’s column about how useless our foreign service is at protecting, and demanding justice for, Canadians in trouble abroad. The best example, which he had forgotten about, is one in which a Canadian was robbed and assaulted in Rio de Janeiro, and offered next to nothing by the embassy… in 1984.

Bumbling incompetence, with a side of racism
The Globe‘s Christie Blatchford files what is, as far as we can see, just a longer version of an earlier piece about the fisheries and Indian affairs ministries’ tag-team mismanagement assault on the Hagwilget Band fishery in northern British Columbia.

The Post‘s Jonathan Kay tells the story of “Sylvia,” a foster mother in western Canada whose native charges are routinely put in danger by our “dysfunctional, and officially racist, child-services system”—i.e., by ordering them returned to their substance-abusing parents or transferred to inferior situations in the name of keeping them among people of their own race. The particular irony in Sylvia’s case, Kay notes, is that she “is fixated on raising [“Dianne,” one of her foster children] to be proud of her native ancestry”—which is, he suspects, far more than she’d have gotten “living with her train-wreck of a biological family.”

Duly noted
The Star‘s Haroon Siddiqui makes a very trenchant point: Aly Hindy, whom he describes as “the controversial imam of Salahuddin Islamic Centre in Scarborough,” can “rationalize” the Muslim practice of polygamy all he wants, but in admitting he’s presided over multiple marriages, he’s admitting to having broken the law, “period.” Siddiqui, as is his wont, also makes a very odd point: that we’re hypocrites because we “remain queasy about polygamy” even as we “become voracious consumers of sexually explicit TV and movies and media, as well as the soap operas surrounding the infidelities and mistresses of the rich and the famous.” What one thing has to do with the other, we have no idea.

The Montreal Gazette‘s Don MacPherson notes a “hair-raising” suggestion in a report commissioned by the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, namely, that the Quebec press council and the CRTC “be given the power to suspend the right of media or individual journalists to publish or broadcast for ‘negative coverage’ that harms social cohesion.” Particularly given the nuisance press council complaints the Gazette routinely fields from the likes of militant separatist Jean Dorion and noted statue-urinator Gilles Rhéaume, he doubts this is a good idea.

“In Afghanistan,” the Star‘s Rosie DiManno reports from a hospital in Mazar-i-Sharif, “rehabfor the very lucky, the very few—can start as young as this.” By “this,” she means the ripe old age of six months. “Opium for colic. Opium for labour pains. Opium for women’s troubles,” she writes of the drug’s homeopathic popularity among the uneducated. “And, routinely, opium as pacifier to soothe a baby fussing.”

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