jack layton

Like Jack Layton’s Passing, Jim Flaherty’s Death Exposes the Worst Among Us

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The Far Left Proves it can be just as shameful as the Far Right in Canada

By: James Di Fiore

 

 

When Jack Layton died his legacy was such that many people who did not share his politics felt the deep sadness one feels when a member of the family passes away. Layton had a quality that blurred political lines and embraced emotional collectivism instead.

Today, another man in politics passed away, and he had much of the same effect on those he worked with, and the people he represented. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suffered a massive heart attack and died at his home at the age of 64.

Immediately the news carried sentiments from people on all sides of the aisle. Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair could barely hold in the tears as he expressed his condolences. One after another non-conservatives told stories of the lovable leprechaun and his ability to connect with his political opposites.

But of course, like seagulls with irritable bowel syndrome on a precariously windy day, bombs start falling from the vitriolic fringe. “Good riddance,” said one genius. “I guess he won’t be able to mess up another budget,” said another. And while we all know the Internet is a place where taking things personally is both silly and pointless, it still remains depressing to know there are people in our midst who have lost the ability to censor their virtual selves.

I am reminded of Christopher Hitchens when he absolutely destroyed Jerry Falwell on the day the good reverend died. I think the difference between Falwell, Layton and Flaherty is twofold: first, Falwell was repugnant and used religious dogma to judge other people. Second, Hitchens was so much more intellectually clever than the sloped-brow contingent online.

It’s been about an hour since Flaherty passed away. I had to stop reading the comments. I had to do the same when Layton passed away. Instead, I’d like to point out something that should give us all pause.

As when Layton died, the one demographic who demonstrated the most poise, the most civility and the classiest sentiments is the same demographic whom we universally chastise on the regular: politicians. Politicians are often dishonest, almost always self-serving and probably wouldn’t blink an eye if their policies made you lose your job. But in a time of mourning they are precisely the embodiment of how people should behave, like in the immediate aftermath of Layton and Flaherty’s deaths.

So do yourself a favour…don’t read the comment section of any media outlet for the next few days. Then, never read them again.

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Why Occupy Toronto Failed

 How the opportunity to advance liberty was doomed from the start

By: James Di Fiore

I wanted to be there with them, shoulder to shoulder, as they marched to St. James Park in downtown Toronto. I hoped we were to stand in solidarity with the protesters in New York, participating in a conversation about corporate corruption and their governmental enablers. I, like many, felt like we were watching history unfold. The Arab Spring had planted a seed of revolution of sorts, and while we were a watered down western version motivated by different circumstances, apathy was being replaced with passion…and I liked it

And then I watched it all fall down.

Being a moderate, it is difficult to get behind any movement. Moderates can usually see both sides of a coin and view ideology as a barrier between problems and solutions. While I witnessed New York City mobilize against Wall Street corruption I was simultaneously witnessing Toronto ride the coat tails of that movement. At first I gave the protesters a pass for not having a coherent message. After all, conservative ideologues were already lobbing those kinds of critiques against Occupy Wall Street activists, ignoring the underlying issue of crony capitalism or the lack of prosecutorial vigour against white collar swindlers. But as the first week progressed it was clear that Occupy Toronto had lost any tangible or even symbolic connection with OWS, to the point that I found myself agreeing with some of the milder criticisms leveled by the likes of Charles Adler or Rex Murphy. When you are agreeing with the editorializing of Adler, you know something is not how it should be.

St. James Park’s tag line is ‘A City Within a Park’, but a quick stroll through the makeshift camp and it became clear what went wrong. For all the talk of other movements being co-opted by the Koch Brothers or public sector unions, rarely have we seen a movement so rapidly co-opted by Kensington Market anarchists and Queen and Bathurst squeegie kids, many of whom viewed St. James as a temporary hangout rather than a home base for serious political discussion. And let’s be honest; a leaderless movement has a quicker expiry date than organic sour dough, especially when participants spend more time worrying about tent pegs than political consensus.

And there is a list of problems Occupy Toronto could have spotlighted. Corporate welfare, the omnibus Crime Bill, campaign financing legislation, draconian drug laws, federal overspending, provincial overspending, and a host of other issues that directly place corporate favourtism over personal liberties, but when your movement is dependent on the communications savvy of an inarticulate, unsophisticated mob, your chances of making any political or social headway disintegrates.

All they had to do was create a comprehensive vision with the list of inequalities and injustices that already exist in Canada, but they opted for a disjointed and sloppy squat posse destined for failure. Not only did they fail at shining a light on any relevant issues, they may have succeeded in snookering the progress real activists had been working towards by becoming their accidental spokespersons, rallying an incoherent cry and killing all credibility in the process. 

Jack Layton’s Death Means Vitriol Lives On

Leader of the Opposition was last hope in Canada’s deteriorating political landscape

By: James Di Fiore

This is not your mother’s Canada anymore.

All across the country, from conservatives to socialists, the apathetic to political junkies, the universal response to Jack Layton’s losing battle with cancer was unmistakable. Not surprisingly, his supporters were quite emotional, tearing up on live television as they reminisced about their leader, their mentor. Liberal party members were next, echoing the sentiment and paying their respects, calling Layton their friend and a worthy adversary. Conservatives also showed the kind of class we should expect from our leaders, telling stories of battles waged in the House of Commons with a man they held in high regard. It was as if Layton’s passing could serve as a watershed moment of sorts, breaking down barriers between people or at least slowing down Canada’s slide into the depths of polarization. Liberals and Conservatives were certainly not about to trade in their red and blue for bright orange, but for once they were able to speak with civility about someone who they disagreed with politically.

‘Not so fast’, said the loudest, most ignorant and most extreme voices in the country.

In a surreal display of cowardice, and a testament to the internet’s greatest misgiving, up popped the lunatic fringe who expressed glee over the death of their socialist enemy. Sure, there are crazies everywhere, and the internet is crawling with them, but what once seemed like a tiny minority is now appearing to become a growing phenomenon. These aren’t your typical nut-jobs, pranksters or mentally disturbed people – they are regular, every day folks who have decided that since they no longer believe in evil concepts such as political correctness, they are now free to kick a man on the day he dies, especially if that man disagrees with their point of view.

The comments from these regular folks reflect a new way of interpreting the now omnipresent political battlefield. Canada is experiencing a variety of social symptoms where the fabric of decency is being unraveled and restitched with ideological threads once seen exclusively during campaign season. Journalists like Dave Naylor and Christie Blatchford, desperate to differentiate themselves and provide an alternative perspective, tweeted jokes about Layton’s death or penned long winded columns about how the coverage (on the very day our Leader of the Opposition died, no less) was over the top. And while Blatchford has had a wonderful career and is a magnificent writer, her need to appear original and crafty actually made her look petty and amateurish.

Amazingly, and it is worth repeating, it was politicians who showed true leadership when the news broke. In fact, these moments in history often produce an ethical hubris where politicians act like statesmen while bias media organizations and maverick journalists take on the role of children, championing the classic public relations strategy of personal exposure through controversy instead of simply writing and reporting. Opinion news, the new and oxymoronic method of ideologues and partisans, has morphed from a watered down version of journalism to a full time, hatchet wielding concept meant to assimilate people into specific political philosophies. The aforementioned mainstay issue of those with opposite views of Layton is now political correctness. By hiding behind free speech, far right radicals are convincing regular folks to feel infallible if they cheer the death of someone they disagreed with.

Jack Layton’s passing is a stark reminder of how our leadership can sometimes shine, even if some of the people they are leading distort its reflection.

No sir, this is not your mother’s Canada.

Canadian Politics: Mind the Middle

The decimation of the federal Liberals provides new hope for Canadian moderates

By: James Di Fiore

Canada is becoming a very strange place. Historically, our political landscape was shaped by the apathetic, sprinkled with some conservatives, liberals and socialists. Policies were drafted and negotiated based on the reality that ideologues did not yield power in this nation. Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien – all of the most significant leaders this country has seen over the past 40 years have governed from the center, their base providing a lift and moderates providing their political survival. The apathetic played their role too – they stayed out of it. Canada had a brilliant international reputation as being fiscally prudent peacekeepers who brokered free trade agreements, hosted Olympic Games, milked internet bandwidth for all it was worth and extremely potent marijuana. It is cynical, but today we have a growing portion of our electorate who know how to say words like ‘socialist’ or ‘fascist’ but clearly have trouble defining either term. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is running rampant in the great white north.

How did we get here? When did we go from affable to laughable, and who is to blame for our new trot towards the mindless recitation of talking points from talking heads? The Reform Party may have been the first domino – a stringent, ideological crew from western Canada made from a mix of Libertarian and Evangelical roots. They successfully dismantled the federal Progressive Conservatives, turning a reasonable right-leaning party into an ideological posse ripe with partisan beliefs and an unwavering philosophy. Former prime minister Joe Clark, once seen by his political rivals as a conservative stalwart, seemed not only tame but reasonable by his former opponents on the Hill. Alberta, disgruntled by Trudeau’s energy policies which cemented an air of resentment within the province, yearned for a voice better suited to the narrative being recited for decades. That narrative was stark, a sort of provincialism reminiscent of Quebec separatists only without tales of an unfair confederacy nestled inside the rhetoric. Of course, Albertan conservatives would disagree, claiming decades of injustice had passionate reactions among regular folks, but in Canada this was brand new: a dismantling of a Canadian political institution and the beginning of the new conservative indoctrination project.

The new Canadian conservative movement has been fueled by two incontrovertible facts. The first is an easy pick: Liberal Party incompetence. While Liberals tend to blame member infighting for their woes, the Chretien vs Paul Martin beef is propped up by residue from the sponsorship scandal and most recently exacerbated by two leadership conferences that produced two lackluster leaders. Meanwhile, the NDP has collected the scraps from the Liberal table and now sits at the head, creating a polarized Canada and the perfect storm for the Conservative Party.

But the most troubling recruiting tool currently being sharpened by the conservative right is the encouragement of demonizing political rivals by right wing strategists, pundits and politicians. Regular right-leaning Canadians are answering the call with American-inspired attacks on all who lean left. Evidence of this deliberate tactic is everywhere. The caricature is hockey grump Don Cherry who mused at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s inauguration about ‘left wing pinkos’ and ‘bike riding communists’. Message boards and comment sections on newspaper sites contain a treasure trove of vitriolic statements and ideological rants that not just disagree with non-conservative views but vilify and marginalize those who think differently.

Hardcore leftists are equally repugnant in their brief and rather unlettered manifestos, often describing Stephen Harper as a fascist while creating conspiracy theories about his ties to corporations and the state of Israel. Talk of Canada’s national identity being reshaped by fundamental Christians is complimented by maniacal claims of hidden political agendas and treasonous takeovers by oil companies.

And the Liberals, a party who had tried to brand itself as Canada’s only band of moderates, suddenly find themselves pushed aside. They deserve their political demotion, but the need for political moderation has never been more dire. Canadians are being driven towards polarization through the politics of fear, a dangerous yet potent ingredient in mobilizing party support in any country. But this task of extracting reason from panic is an uphill battle for the Liberals who have spent the bulk of the last 7 years focusing on their rivals rather than their constituents. Pundits who muse about a possible merger between the Liberals and NDP are dreaming out loud. Jack Layton is finally reaching his potential and would never relinquish his new found role as leader of the opposition. Nor should he. Nor could he. Ideologically, the NDP and Liberals are worlds apart, mostly because the Liberals do not have a well defined ideology.

Perhaps the old adage of finding opportunity nestled inside crisis is too idealistic for Canadian moderates, but the prospect of throwing in the towel would spell disaster for the nation. The Liberals are a blank slate – bruised, beaten and bloodied – but they have wiggle room. Without any real influence over their conservative and socialist counterparts they have no choice but to redirect their gaze towards the very people who voted them out, while simultaneously engaging the only constituency who continue to be unrepresented – the youth. Incorrigible as they seem, not since the 60s have we seen a climate where young people are finding their voice. Their sloth-like pace is a frustrating testament to the outdated method of engagement undertaken by politicians stuck in an ancient ritual of long expired recruitment methods. It may be a colossal challenge, but without young people there can be no base, and without that youthful base there can be no party.

It has been the better part of a decade since Liberals engaged honestly with Canadians, and the better part of two decades since they last showed an alliance with them. Canada is not the United States…yet. But the symptoms of drifting towards a two party system are ripe, and without the emergence of a new centrist manifesto we could be in for a dark age in federal politics.

Election 2011: How Canada is Replicating America’s Hyper Partisan Politics

 

 NDP surge means more than a political shift – it completes the national polarization process

By: James Di Fiore

As far as Parliamentary systems go, Canada once had an international reputation of demonstrating fiscal prudence, strong social policies and a peacekeeping military. It wasn’t too long ago when our national identity was predicated on our ability to differentiate ourselves, respectfully of course, from our American cousins. Canadians, a patchwork of various political leanings, had a reputation of not letting ideology trump civil discourse, even while their politicians took cheap shots or when Question Period looked like Romper Room. Americans, by contrast, treat politics like a blood sport, a tug of war between polar opposites fueled by cable news, conspiracy and the tendency to vilify opposing views. And while the two countries are easily separated by this political distinction, that gap is shrinking ominously.

The 2011 election has been preempted by deliberate tactics of aspersions meant to reinforce political differences rather than spotlight honest disagreements. This reinforcement seems logical on the surface; after all, this is an election of partisan ideas and genuine dissimilarities between the parties. But the tactical trends indicate an increase in hyperbole, demonization and vitriol between regular people, not just the leaders they support. Evidence of this new mindset among voters can be seen on social networking sites, the opinion sections of news outlets and in pubs and coffee shops across the country. The two sides are drifting from the center, espousing far right and far left ideals while warning their fellow Canadians of the perils of political views opposite from their own.

By attacking Stephen Harper on military spending, corporate tax cuts and perceived government secrecy, the Liberals and NDP are inciting reactionary rhetoric from their loyalists rather than a frank discussion on policy differences. Rooted in these talking points may be reasonable concerns, but the conversation is routinely fertilized with fear mongering and allegations of conspiracy.

The far right, disciplined in their ability to robotically stay on message, firebomb the left with labels like ‘socialist’, ‘fiberal’ and ‘anti-Semite’. The latter smear is telegraphed and eerily reminiscent of Evangelical America, the slur being delivered arbitrarily and deliberate. The term socialism, as the Obama era has demonstrated, is now the political equivalent of calling a person a Brownshirt, stoking a reaction among those conservatives who still cynically dub Canada ‘Canuckistan.’

Identical to American politicos in tone and delivery, these two groups have become the loudest voices during this campaign. Television broadcasts may not espouse or endorse the same kind of language, but journalists and pundits quietly recognize the behind the scenes trend of tar and feathering political opponents. As the Conservative base digs in, the rise of the NDP marches on. Ideologies are continuing to drift farther apart. The rhetoric provides the kind of cover that helps avoid the effective discourse needed to reconcile opposing views. You might never hear Stephen Harper publicly utter the word Canuckistan, but you can hear his base cackle enthusiastically when the term is used. Jack Layton probably won’t point and yell ‘Fascist!’ if Harper wins a majority government, but many of his minions are already wearing t-shirts bearing the message.

The chances of further polarization among Canadians is high. Engagement in politics is rising, moods are shifting and party strategists are encouraging an ongoing spirit of anger among their respective loyalists. Torches and pitchforks have been replaced with internet trolling and reactionary, inflammatory language.

Disinformation. Relentless name-calling. A dangerous and tragic replication of American discourse is being born, and many Canadians are unwitting, tragic accomplices.

Debate Performance Measured on Harper’s Ability to Evade

Prime Minister’s media training leaves Canadians in the dark

By: James Di Fiore

Back in November I had the opportunity to attend the Christopher Hitchens/Tony Blair debate at Roy Thompson Hall. Hitchens, one of the world’s leading intellectuals, was masterful at creating context and tackling questions directly. Blair was no slouch either, braving a pro-Hitchens audience and delivering rebuttals succinctly and with specific examples to back up his thoughts.

By comparison, Tuesday’s federal leaders debate in Canada felt more like a public relations role playing exercise than an exchange of ideas, policy and leadership ability. Prime Minister Stephen Harper fended off relentless attacks by his three rivals, calmly staying on message and delivering his responses through a very relaxed tone. His inviting cadence aside, Harper was missing a key component from his responses; actual answers to the questions posed to him.

While Blair and Hitchens weren’t running for public office when they exchanged words and ideas (the topic that night was religion’s place in the modern world), their example is clear – debate victories are measured by one’s ability to sway an audience through compelling dialogue. In Canada, debate victories are being measured by one’s ability to spin, deflect and avoid answering questions. The Canadian media and Canadians themselves seem apathetic towards political non-answers, all but accepting this watered down version and waiting for poll numbers to tell them what people are really thinking. But for those of us with extensive media training or experience in public relations, last night’s debate was a buffet of transitionary phrases, rehearsed body language and masterful spinning. These tactics, while effective with the press, are not among the qualities of an honest debate. Harper played Canadians for children, relying on a collective lack of sophistication in regards to language, issues and the ability to spot obvious spin. The sad part is he may be right. The tragic part is it shouldn’t matter. Harper should show leadership qualities, not political savvy. He should be expected to prove to Canadians that he is not just a typical politician and rise above the media training and trickery, not to mention outright lies.

This notion, that debates are won by playing cat and mouse with answers, was echoed by former Harper colleague, Gerry Nicholls.

Politicians never or rarely answer questions directly,” Nicholls mused on his Facebook page. “I graded Harper based on how well the political game is played. In politics, a key skill is staying on message. He did that quite well.”

In other words, Harper did a good job at not being direct with Canadians. This cynical way of deciphering Canadian politics serves an elite political class who have been conditioned to believe there is an accepted amount deception one can get away with. Canadians, who are among the world’s most apathetic citizens to begin with, should take Nicholls words with a grain of salt. Not surprisingly however, it is only apathy that allows this ‘political game’ to even exist in the first place, meaning voter turnout and a competent media (sic) can realistically disarm politicians from using dishonest tactics when speaking directly to Canadians.

Public relations used to be about being concise with the public. Today, public relations has become an industry in politics for those who wish to cling to power and nurture their self interests. The worst part may be the general acceptance of this dishonest practice by those who have been inside the political game for decades. Like aging athletes, it may be time to tell the old guard to step aside. If that happens, the only casualty will be apathy itself.

The Toronto Election 2010: An Analysis From the Fringe

The 11th hour recap from a guy who won’t be Toronto’s mayor on October 25th

By: James Di Fiore

The night before the election and I did what any fringe candidate would do. I went grocery shopping.

It’s been a crazy ride. Nobody expected me to win, which is probably a solid prediction, but I really can’t complain. I walked to the neighbourhood Metro with a thousand thoughts and flashbacks dancing in my head. I registered in August even though I told everyone I was going to register on January 4th. OK, that was actually pretty funny. But even though I waited so long to register, I was still able to garner a fair amount of press, especially for a fringe candidate.

Several people have told me that I am not qualified to be mayor. They might very well be right, but if you look at what qualifies a person to hold public office, and the general consensus is that most lifer politicians are generally untrustworthy, then I am certain I am different from the cast of characters vying for the top job in 2010. On paper I am a freelance writer and an events producer, but I have never misused public money, I have no criminal record (much to the surprise of anyone who went to high school with me), and I do not have trouble getting along with my professional peers. And since my entire campaign has been directed towards the daunting task of eroding voter apathy among young people, I think my qualifications are sound. I may not win this election, but I am one of many young Torontonians who have made it our mission to shine a spotlight on the one item that defines politics today – young people, the largest demographic in the city, have been left out of the process.

On October 18th, Calgary residents went to the polls in their own mayoral election. Ric McIvor, often compared to Rob Ford, was the right-of-center front runner in all of the polls. Barb Higgins, a former local news anchor, was polling a close second, and a political novice named Naheed Nenshi was a distant third, polling at a paltry 18% just three days before the election.

On September 30th I traveled to Calgary to attend an event and met with McIvor and his campaign manager to talk about the youth vote. I was given a surprising response when I asked what he thought the turnout among young people would be.

“We don’t really try to reach young people. They don’t vote, so why bother?”

Nineteen days later McIvor lost the election to Nenshi who credits the mobilization of young voters as the key ingredient to his victory.

Toronto does not have a Nenshi, and contrary to a sparsely held belief, Joe Pantalone does not resonate with young Toronto voters. Incidentally, Pantalone will still receive a higher percentage than the current polls indicate as there is a movement of anti-strategic voting taking place as you read this. People are growing exhausted at the political construct and the media alike. Toronto is being dictated to by pundits, smarmy journalists, political lifers and their handlers, all caused from a  subliminal consensus that has convinced them of the following: Rob Ford and George Smitherman are the only two politicians who can win this election.

Even the polls are showing a lack of depth as it pertains to critical thinking and execution of facts. EKOS, an otherwise reputable firm, recently admitted to using an automated dialer to conduct a poll that claimed Ford was ahead of Smitherman by 9 points. Of course, these robocalls cannot distinguish between the target receiver of the phone call or a 12 year old child. Additionally, this poll was conducted over a period of 9 days, an eternity in election time when many people change their minds about their choices more than once.

The Toronto Mayoral Election of 2010 is a first of its kind for the people of this city. We are seeing tactics normally reserved for American political races (Rob Ford has also used robocalls to reach thousands of voters) as well as a media who have become cheer leaders for particular candidates not just in their editorials, but in their so-called balanced reporting. So blatant has this year’s biases been that many readers have called for the termination of journalists who have openly endorsed a candidate, not because it hasn’t been done before, but due to the uniformity of opinions in the columns of their colleagues. Like it or not, the media is not only editorializing the election but shaping the outcome. Writers from The Sun took Rob Ford. Star readers think Smitherman is their guy. The National Post also selected Ford, and The Globe and Mail held their nose and took Smitherman. NOW Magazine still doesn’t matter.

And we sit here, looking at suspect poll results, sifting through each newspaper and countless online publications, listening to the incessant sloganeering of each campaign and gasp at how our electoral process devolved into something so blatantly artificial. A glimmer of hope can be found in the 34 candidates who are not projected to make the top three. Fringe candidates, while endlessly marginalized, include a handful of people who have surprised the media and turned more than a few heads in the electorate. What a statement it would be if these candidates collectively stole 25% of the vote. And while I include myself in that figure, the bigger picture is the libertarian idea that the individual still has the ultimate say over how he or she exercises their self given right to vote for whoever they please.

I don’t know how many votes I will receive, and frankly I don’t really care either. During the process of registering, campaigning, encouraging young people to vote, debating the mainstream candidates and writing about this election, I have learned one invaluable lesson: it is much better to be engaged in the political process, however flawed it may be, than to sit idly by and wait for the results determined by the mechanism itself.

On the way out of the grocery store I ran into Olivia Chow who was handing out leaflets for her son, Mike Layton, who is running for council in Chow’s old stomping grounds of Trinity-Spadina. We know each other from when I voted three times in her riding back in the federal election of 2004. I asked how Jack was doing in his cancer battle and wished Mike good luck in the election before sauntering away with my groceries. It was a fitting way to end my engagement in this exhausting political season.

Happy voting, and don’t believe anything you read in the paper today.

This Week in Question Period – December 11th, 2009

By: James Di Fiore

Poor Peter MacKay.

Not since his heartbreaking split with nepotism-soaked heiress Belinda Stronach a few years ago have we seen such a flustered Minister of Defense. Peter McKay faced loud and sometimes obnoxious calls to resign by members of the opposition this week, capping off a week that brought the prisoner abuse scandal to a new level.

After years of steadfast claims that Canada has never acted improperly when handing detainees over to Afghan officials on the battlefield, a field report surfaced that showed one detainee had been photographed with Canadian soldiers before being handed over and subsequently abused at the hands of his Afghan captors. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff lambasted both Prime Minister Harper and MacKay after General Walter Natynczyk acknowledged that the military had been aware that transferred prisoners risked being abused. The report contained a note from a Canadian soldier stating the following – “we then photographed the individual prior to handing him over to ensure that if the Afghan National Police did assault him, as has happened in the past, that we would have a visual record of his condition.” The field report is dated 2006 and was apparently only discovered on Wednesday morning by General Natynczyk.

The opposition leaders and back-benchers took turns calling for MacKay’s resignation both directly and through the PM.

Coincidentally, MacKay was scheduled to appear in front of a parliamentary committee concerning Afghanistan on Wednesday afternoon, where he once again faced scathing criticism from opposition members. The government has consistently stated they have no credible evidence of detainees being tortured after being in Canadian custody, and attempted to spin the controversy into ‘military bashing’ by the Liberals and other opposition parties.

This desperation tactic may be a watershed moment for the parliament as they head into the holidays. The new developments related to the military police complaints commission’s stated determination to begin hearings in March over Afghan detainees, but many on the Hill feel the Conservative government will not appoint a new commissioner in time. 340, 000 documents currently being reviewed and redacted may thwart the committee’s ability to uncover the underlying issues. The government has stated the redacted material are a matter of “operational safety” for the troops still stationed overseas. Michael Ignatieff sees it differently.

“This is a government that tried to strangle the military police commission from the beginning,” Ingatieff stated. He added, “The risk of putting anybody in operational danger is about zero . . . It’s too ridiculous to discuss.”