Tuesday, March 18, 2008 12:16 PM

Time for a road trip

Adam Radwanski

For reasons explained yesterday (and last year), I'm less than eager to read too much into last night's results. Yes, the Greens should be happy - but they tend to do well in by-elections, where protest votes are a lot easier to register. Yes, the NDP's plunging share of the popular vote suggests its Hamptonesque strategy isn't working - but it only really dropped in Toronto, and one of those two ridings was muddied by having a former NDP premier in the mix. Yes, Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River blew up in Stephane Dion's face - but the events in that riding over the past few months were so bizarre (culminating in the pitiful 25% voter turnout) that it really doesn't tell us anything about national trends.

There is one significant change after last night, though: Bob Rae is now in the House of Commons. And while that result was never really in question, it still significantly alters the dynamic on the Liberal benches.

For reasons best known to himself, Rae sabotaged his own leadership bid by acting like a jerk - tossing away his earnest image in favour of a sense of entitlement that no candidate (let alone one who's spent most of his life in another party) should project. The message, more or less, was that Liberals were so lucky to have him that he didn't even need policies or a vision for the country. Several supporters of other candidates told me that he was so dismissive on the convention floor that going to him on later ballots became a non-starter.

That being said, the Liberals are lucky to have him in the House. He's been a strong foreign affairs critic from the outside, and he'll be better from within. This is a guy who knows how to do Question Period; whatever his faults as Ontario's premier, he more than proved his mettle as an opposition politician before then. And even more so than Michael Ignatieff, he'll help make up some of the gravitas that Dion lacks.

Critics will point out that Dion has already had one front-bencher looking more leader-like in the House; now he's going to have two of them. And they're right, of course. Try as he might, the floor of the Commons will never be the right arena for him - and now it's going to be more obvious than ever. But there's a simple answer for that: stay the hell away.

Truth is, Dion has absolutely nothing to gain from Question Period. Most Canadians don't pay attention to it anyway, and to the extent that they do none of them are going to be impressed by what they see from him. So why not leave Ignatieff and Rae to hold down the fort more days than not, and hit the road in search of places where he can actually help his cause?

Yes, the Tories would have fun mocking him for being an absentee leader. Yes, the press gallery would take its potshots. But while they were doing that, Dion could be off scoring big hits in ridings across the country - landing on the front-page of local newspapers just by turning up in their towns, meeting with key community groups, turning up on local newscasts. Meanwhile, the government could still be held accountable in the House - more accountable than Dion could probably hold it.

It's not an ideal scenario. You'd rather have a strong leader at the centre of the action, and there's a danger of losing control of caucus the more you're away. But Dion will ultimately be judged by the results of the next election, and the time he's spending in Ottawa is putting him no closer to winning it. Now that Rae will be spending more time there, Dion might as well spend less. 




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

The conservatives and the liberals each have their died in the wool supporters who would vote for them almost regardless of who ever was their anointed leader.

Michael Ignatieff's summer tour has show little more than his proficiency at putting on cheesy smile and looking relaxed, a prerequisite for any aspiring politician.

Igy's problem is a failure to demonstrate an iota of leadership ability, any passion, or determination that is necessary to inspire those swinging voters who have yet to hear what they want to hear, which sooner or later will be supplied by sampling and both parties will then apply their own coloured lens and attempt to give Canadians what they think Canadians want.

That kind of mentality is used to give candy to screaming infants, to let infants stay up late when they should be in bed and to let kids have what ever they want etc etc.

Real leadership is a bit like being a respected parent or teacher, the prerequisite quality is respect and that requires principled behaviour and in order to be able to lead, an ability to demonstrate that you have the necessary qualities that win instant respect.

Mr. Harper came to power appearing to be an honest new man who would clean up government and end the corruption of Mulroney.

Mulroney has yet to answer serious corrupt allegations that the press have yet to reveal. The most serious is that on his last final world tour, he used the Government of Canada's Airbus, to load it to the gills with ill-gotten gains, gifts, purchases, literally tonnes of it, was off-loaded into two of U-Haul's trucks without a Customs officer in sight and without any declaration what soever. And there was not just lying Brian on that Airbus.

Both parties should bear in mind that Australia's last change in government was decided on the key issue of a Legal Presumption of Equal Parenting. Canada at present treats father's as second class human beings without any real legal rights.




Mr. Harper's arrogance is similar to that of Gobels who believed that the bigger the lie the easier it was to have it believed.

Mr. Harper's habitual flagrant abuse of the principles of fundamental justice and democracy are mind boggling. He simply refuses to take any notice of judicial decisions, he apparently thinks and believes that he is a higher authority than the judges who have decided against his parties crazy agenda.

Perhaps the worst example of a Canadian Prime Minister is his disgraceful refusal to give legal rights to a child soldier and allow him to continue to be imprisoned until such time that he agrees to a plea bargain that would very conveniently, keep him in Cuba for the next FIVE years, apparently Mr. Harper has chosen this figure of FIVE years, assuming he wins the next election BUT NOT THE FOLLOWING and then Omah Khadah would be transferred back to Canada to finish a 30 year jail sentence.

All out politicians should take note that the issue that grabbed the vote of the swinging voters in the last election in Australia was that of a Legal Presumption of Equal Parenting.

All out parties need to remember that half the population is male and many are fathers. 50% of fathers have their relationship with their children terminated upon separation. While we have an underbelly of the Judiciary like the dishonourable man hater Justice Aitkin in Ottawa, men will continue to have all their legal rights removed and turned into indentured slaves for violent women with personality disorders.

Its time for change and its about time all our politicians sat down and studied the issue of our corrupt family courts and the fact that men in Canada have next to no legal rights and, Canadian Children do not have any rights to an equal relationship with both parents.

What a pity Igy can't read up on this issue.