Posts Tagged ‘Steven Harper

A cartoon featured a dutiful secretary advising her boss, “Rahim Jaffer on line one.” She continued: “And on line two.” I believe it was a National Post Cartoon, back when Rahim Jaffer was an Member of Parliament representing an Alberta riding.  He’s out now. His wife will be soon. No idea why the Prime Minister is holding back.

The use of office staff to impersonate the boss, is not what Jaffer’s wife, Helena Guergis, the Minister of for the Status of Women, was doing. Let’s be very clear. When confronted, she pleaded innocence, said the staff were doing their own thing, and said it was all inappropriate. So there.

Uh-huh. Would you fall over yourself writing letters praising your boss in a newspaper if you were yelled at to fetch her shoes? She had a tantrum and wanted to sue Air Canada because people found out she had a tantrum? She lords it over staff like that and we are expected to believe the praise of Miss Is-My-Crown-On-Straight is voluntary among staff and, what this- her mother wrote one of the letters? Uh-huh.

I’d list who wrote what, but the Star has done that. Here’s the article.


Some news items become household conversation, then at work,  fodder for water cooler grazing. These issues are bigger than themselves. They are elephants released from envelopes and cannot be stuffed back in.

Helena (not just Helen) Geurgis, the former beauty pageant contestant and mall soap peddler sued her pageant way back when. Now she’s a federal cabinet minister. Reportedly she aimed legal sights at Air Canada somehow thinking she was victim after she yelled at airport workers and called the PEI community she was trying to fly out of a “shithole”. She was “working her ass off” for us, she said, apparently. Must have been hard work indeed as she yelled at a staffer to fetch her shoes. Must have been so tired. I wonder if she still wears that beauty pageant crown or just abstractly feels its on her head still. It must be tight.

There’s more written about and said about Miss Simcoe-Grey, sorry, it’s Mrs. but more about that in a minute. I mention all this only because one must. Otherwise, those who scan these things would think it’s not an issue at all if I didn’t write about it.

While we’re at it, let’s quickly pen in her husband, too, Rahim Jaffer, former MP, again Conservative, somehow walking out of court with a cocaine possession charge tossed out. Again, it’s been written about, in is it really-us-and-them fashion. But, that’s what good lawyers are for, I suppose.

Again, apologies all round, I only mention it all because if I didn’t, someone perusing this blog might think, well if I didnt mention it there’s no issue.

And actually there is. This blog is written in Alberta, the bastion of Conservatism.

Here’s a prediction for you. If Guegis isn’t tossed overboard with the garbage, crown and all, Rahim Jaffer will only be the first Alberta Conserative MP to lose his or her seat. This issue is that big. Actually, I take that back. It’s bigger.

The pair really are beyond words, but so soon after her husband should have laid low, Miss Simcoe-in-grey really illustrated to us peons who’s important around here. One would think we couldn’t vote.

That and I haven’t mentioned the letter writing. My goodness. There is something rather gallling about that. But skipping nearly to the end, it was a newspaper response of sorts to it all that could only come from a Conservative source. The gist of it was, the Liberals have done it, too.

Really, now. Not being a Liberal, I’d still venture to say at no time in Canadian history has there ever, ever ever, I mean, ever, been anything quite like this.

And with all that ugly mess mentioned, I’ll wash my hands. The anonymous staff-praises-Helena (not just Helen) Guergis through coordinated letters to newspapers after being ordered to fetch her shoes must come later.

A National Post writer has presented a historical fact I had not been aware of previously. In 1873, Sir John A. MacDonald, also facing a vote of non-confidence, asked the then Governor-General, Lord Dufferin, to prorogue parliament. He did so.

Here is that interesting story from a writer with the unlikely name of Barbara J. Messamore. (Doesn’t the middle initial mess the name up more?) You just know by her presenting her name with the middle initial she is a lawyer or professor.

The opinion of Barbara J. Messamore appears to be Governor-General Michaëlle Jean did the right thing by proroguing parliament. She is dead wrong, of course.

I have no idea what channel I’ll be watching Thursday when the debates come on.

The English-language debate between Canada’s political leaders? Or Sarah Palin and Joe Biden south of the border?

I’m more enticed by the prospect of a Palin-Biden debate. I want to see if Palin gets destroyed or merely looks silly. If she surprises and holds her own, that in itself would be a victory.

Back in Canada I have the feeling I can predict how our debate will go before it starts.

Harper won’t have a hair out of place, his back will be ramrod straight and he will present monotone lines to the camera.

Stephane Dion will be at his school-boy best, and on the defensive over his carbon tax. This debate is his only chance actually to get outside of the Conservative attack ads trying to define him for voters. Albertans will be surprised he does not have horns growing out of his head. Ninety-four per cent of Albertans watching will refer to him as Pierre Dion.

Jack Layton will be on the attack, he may even be in shirt-sleeves, and will crack the only joke during the entire thing. No one will laugh.

Gilles Duccepe will call everyone on everything, which is all he really has to do to win any votes in Quebec, the only place Bloc runs.

Elizabeth May will add the only sparkle. She will be as articulate as Layton, carry the show, knock Harper’s knees out from under him at least once, but will not, in spite of everything, push one hair out of place on his head. We will all realize then his hair is actually a helmet.

Harper will treat the Liberals and the Green leaders as one person and may address Dion as Miss May throughout.

The two million Canadians watching the debate at the start will be reduced, by half time, to a television audience the size of the population of Biggar, Saskatchewan. By the end of the debate Canadians will have decided to vote for either Elizabeth Dion or Jack Harper, while I may put my money on Sarah Biden.

I wouldn’t do this, but after listening the other day to a radio announcer harp on a Liberal campaign television attack ad on the listeriosis deaths, and just now reading his piece, I’m prompted to write.

Now 19 people have reportedly lost their lives to the listeriosis outbreak caused by contaminated food, including cold cut meat, from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Ontario. The plant has since been cleaned up. It reopened September 20.

The radio host- you’d recognize him if I gave the name, but why encourage dribble- made this rant: “Bacteria doesn’t kill people. Conservatives do.” attributing it to a Liberal Party position. Once he created his straw man, he then called the Liberal position “shameless”.

Giving the party that raises the concern about having safe food shameless? Give your head a shake.

Radio talk show hosts are latter-day carnival barkers. Agitate the crowd of suckers, tease them, prod them, prick their sensibilities- they’ll toss you a dollar and throw that ball to win the 10 cent doll or pick up the phone and give their opinion. Or in this case, I suppose, respond in writing.

If you work- I mean at a real job- you pack a lunch. Millions of lunch pails each day going to work and to school with cold cuts in between slices of bread. There isn’t a person in Canada right now who isn’t thinking about that when they pick up pack lunch items at the grocery store.

If the Conservatives, as the governing party, were planning to reduce government inspection of meat processing plants, as they were, that’s a legitimate issue. (Calgary Herald story link.)

For a primer on what listeriosis is and who is most at risk, here is an article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Once linked, download it as a PDF. You’ll need Acrobat Reader or a similar PDF reader. If you don’t have Acrobat Reader, click here and note the link “Get Adobe Reader.”

That journal of the Canadian Medical Assocation has also raised concerns about a government position taken in April, of having industry take more responsibility for inspecting its own meat. Link here for the article, titled, Shifting to food industry self-monitoring may be hazardous, but once linked, you’ll have to download it as a PDF.

Click here for another CMAJ article, Learning from Listeria: the autonomy of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Once linked, you also have to download it as a PDF.

My past posts on the issue: Pomerleau and the lunch meat election; The lunch meat election; and New Democrats understand the lunch meat election.

Thank you for reading Aardvark Cola

Prime Minister Steven Harper’s announcement that a re-elected Conservative government would ban export of oil sands bitumen to countries with lower emission standards is getting reaction not only from Alberta, but from a rural municipality where a number of proposed upgrader projects would be located.

Here is the September 26 Conservative Party news release. Note the points outlined. While the ban might include China- there was a serious plan to export diluted bitumen from Alberta by pipeline to Kitimat where it would be tankered to China- the ban may not include the United States. In fact, the points in the news release include the continued promotion of ” the development of northern pipelines to bring oil and gas to markets in Canada and throughout the world.”

A news item on the reaction to that announcement from Alberta expresses its resource jurisdictional concern, but also the concern of a negative impact to oil patch investment. The federal government has jurisdiction over pipeline to foreign markets.

Meanwhile, a much better reaction- citing a national concern of job and tax revenue loss- is from an Alberta mayor of a rural municipality, warning that the Harper government’s pledge doesn’t go far enough.

Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney – his rural municipality borders Edmonton to its north- says Canada could ship oil processing jobs and billions in potential tax revenue to the United States.

Rigney says if oil sands product is piped for processing in the United States instead of being processed here, it could ship $6 billion in potential tax revenue along with it, and oil processing jobs would also be shipped south.

See a previous post, Alberta not immune to downturn, on the changing plans of companies that had announced intentions of building upgraders in Sturgeon County.

Rigney is warning that changing plans of oil companies now balking at those upgrader projects due to increasing costs and the credit crunch will make it more economical to simply pipeline oil sands product south. The rural mayor has asked all Canadians to express that concern to their member of parliament.

Here’s that story from Marketwire, released this morning.

Upgraders take oil sands bitumen and upgrade it to synthetic crude oil. From there a refinery process cracks off finer products like gasoline. Upgraders do not take the synthetic crude to that level.

These are not small projects. As recently as two years ago upgrader projects proposed for the Industrial Heartland would have been equal to- in dollar terms- of the $27 billion in assessed value of all of Edmonton’s buildings and infrastructure. It would literally take thousands of tradespeople to build them, Once built, hundreds of well-paying technical jobs would result.

To close, here is an article from Theenergynews.com on Connacher Oil and Gas Limited -they have a Montana refinery that processes Canadian diluted bitumen- shows they have perked their ears up at the Conservative Party announcement. Note in the release the company’s indication of confidence that they will pass any Canadian emission standard test that would determine who we export to. Scroll down to find Connacher’s reaction- it’s in the middle of the article.

Thank you for reading Aardvark Cola

I’ve seen a lot of Conservative ads on television, beginning two weeks before Prime Minister Steven Harper asked Governor-General Michaëlle Jean to dissolve parliament. However, I can’t remember one single Liberal ad since the campaign began on September 7. I had to turn to You Tube to find one.

I hope the ad was not supposed to be endearing, because it’s not. It does look like it is supposed to be a wake-up call. Nothing wrong with a wake-up call, but where is the motivation to vote for these people?

The message here is not a statement of concern. That’s the problem.

Political messages manage, if successful, to fall in line with concerns of the viewing public. The clapping hands (I really hate to use this as a comparison, but it came immediately to mind when I heard it) sound like storm troopers marching. I was puzzled at first, then a bit reassured when I saw Stephane Dion (beside him Bob Rae and Michael Ignatief, and in a later shot, Ken Dryden) joining in on the Russian clap-pause-clap-pause-clap theme.

Yes, yes, I’m sure everyone cares about the whole God-damned global warming thing.

But this ad is even more irritating than Rich Mercer and his supremely smug presentation in those “one ton challenge” ads he was paid handsomely for.

I get it. Global warming is a problem. Species are threatened, the earth is warming, we’re oil addicted, and we could eventually turn this planet into a Venus look-alike. Yeah, I get it, but I still have to drive to work, keep warm in winter and I still want to fly in a jet once a year to somewhere else. All that costs money. (A ton of money.) Taxing my doing it is not a welcome thought. Sound harsh? I know I am spewing carbon. Saying Stephane Dion and his M.P. friends each heat a bigger house than I do is a poor answer but it’s still there as a thought.

I may be becoming immune to listening to crisis warnings. In my life I’ve been informed we could blow ourselves up with a button push, turn Earth into a toxic desert, turn the oceans into giant dead zones, kill a species a day, and create planet-eating black holes with the Hadron Collider. I’m crisis-proof. I don’t need more doom messages. I need ear muffs so I don’t have to listen to more doom messages.

The Green Shift plan of the LIberals hasn’t been explained well. Tell me that I’ll play less in income taxes and I’ll be taxed on carbon outputs instead, and maybe it’s a sell. Maybe. But don’t clap your bleeping hands about it.

The Libs should have sold the strong points of their Green Shift plan. Lower income taxes.

By contrast we have Steven Harper in a sweater vest who hasn’t shown much sympathy at all for global warming, but he sounds like a regular guy. And you know, that’s the whole key right there. It’s like the pilot of a plane in turbulence. You know he wants to land the thing safely just as much as you do. You’re in it together. He understands you want someone in control who knows the regular guy fears and can fly the plane. Here is the Steven Harper sweater ad:

It starts off patriotic. The flag waving. Then the ad makes patriotism equal to love of family with three words superimposed on the heart-warming scene of that slow-waving Canadian flag: family is everything. There is not one word of policy or politics in the whole thing. The whole message is one ordinary people understand. Love of country and love of family. Full stop. Steven Harper as a regular guy.

The regular guy theme may be a chief reason in the United States Sarah Palin raises such excitement. Though obviously not a guy, she is “one of them” in being a self-proclaimed hockey mom and former small-town mayor who says she has a record of kicking crony ass. She lives in an ordinary house, drives an ordinary car, has ordinary kids, has a husband with an ordinary job.

Staying with the U.S. election for a moment, one right-wing columnist’s blogsite, Michelle Malkin, has had featured a small bumper-sticker-like cartoon of Barak Obama with one four letter word, SNOB. I believe the charge is damning this year, in either Canada or the U.S. This is the year of regular folks. This is the year of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Experts can’t be trusted. There have been Enrons and Bear Sterns enough. Ordinary folks, people we understand, have to be in charge.

The sweater-wearing Harper talking about his family is reassuring and definitely not the image a snob. (Actually Harper has come across a supreme snob which is why the whole flag-sweater-family thing smells so much of gimmick even though it works.) Stephane Dion performing a Russian hand clap among shots of foxes and snails and polar bears along with a glance at the ever-snobbish face of Ignatief spells SNOB with capital letters.

In the U.S. the mantra is “change”. In Canada, the mantra is “trust”. That sweater vest of Steven Harper is meant to make the man look cozy (or at the very least warm a cold heart). Cozy equals trust. It means come on over for coffee. It’s okay. You’re welcome. Really. Clapping hands loudly means lets get this damn game started already, or, wake up, you big stupid cow and get off my lawn.

What in the name of our warming earth possessed the Liberals to think this Russian hand clap ad would either raise enthusiasm or get a message of trust across?

Who knows? Maybe it didn’t run. I haven’t seen it on tv. Maybe the ad is only a reject from a ad company who only suggested it. If they suggested it seriously, they should be fired. Harper’s sweater may be the most obvious gimmick since the prize in Cracker Jacks, but it worked then and it’s working now.


  • None
  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence