Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When Passive Aggression Meets "Microagression"

Ralph Haddad's recent column in the McGill Daily is more than just a reminder that dumb people also go to university; it's also essentially the nadir of anti-oppression ideology.

Haddad penned more than 1,000 words denouncing the Movember campaign -- in which men grow moustaches in order to fundraise to fight prostate cancer, but his column can essentially be summed up in two words: fucking stupid.

Haddad insists that Movember is "sexist, racist, transphobic and misinformed." In order to back this up he falls back on some of the most comically-flawed counter-logic to ever make it to newsprint in a Canadian newspaper, even in a student newspaper.

For example: he claims that Movember is sexist because it doesn't include women, who tend to not like growing moustaches.

And while this is certainly dumb, it doesn't even begin to match the sheer stupidity of his racism argument. Prostate cancer affects black men at a disproportionate rate. Yet it tends to be mostly white men who participate in Movember. So get this: all those white guys fundraising to help cure a disease that disproportionately affects black men? Racist.

It's the kind of logic that has become far too common among those indoctrinated into anti-oppression ideology. The flimsiness of it is actually reinforced among those who share this ideology by the need to denounce anything and everything heterosexual white males do as oppressive. And even if the evidence doesn't fit this -- even if Haddad's own evidence actually contradicts it -- then it must be warped and twisted until Haddad can at least say it supports his argument. Which he would have said no matter what. And he did.

It's enough to make you hope that this spurred one of Haddad's professors in the English and Cultural Studies department to roll up this issue of the McGill Daily and gave him a good, hard smack in the nose with it. It isn't as if Haddad hasn't embarrassed his department and his university as well as himself.

I imagine the past week has been rather tough on Ralph Haddad, but it's hard to feel sorry for him. For example, if his father is alive I imagine he has some 'splainin' to do about how he actually tried to take cover behind his battle with prostrate cancer. But that's just for starters. In writing -- and then actually publishing -- this column, he has metaphorically magnetized his own crotch and then distributed steel toed boots. Not wise in the slightest.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Justin Trudeau is >Not< Qualified to be Prime Minister

Come 2015, if the Conservative Party hasn't adopted new leadership -- and it certainly looks that they won't, as talks of replacing Prime Minister Stephen Harper are not even on the party's radar screen -- a good number of people who have lost confidence in him will likely hold their nose and vote Conservative anyway

I know that I certainly will.

Neither of the party's principle competitors offer anything even resembling an alternative. Thomas Mulcair would be an absolute disaster as Prime Minister, but at least he possesses some experience that could be considered as qualification for the role.

Not only does Liberal leader Justin Trudeau not possess any experience that would qualify him to be Prime Minister, during the past week he managed to actively disqualify himself.

This came on the back of a question asked by a wannabe political maven trying far too hard to be anything more than what she really is. At the #AskJustin "ladies night" event that has been nothing short of a complete disaster for Trudeau and the Liberal Party, Amanda Alvaro asked what she must have imagined was a real substantive question: which foreign political administration he admires the most.

Trudeau's answer has reverberated disturbingly across Canadian politics, despite the Canadian media's best efforts to not report on it. "There's a level of admiration I actually have for China," Trudeau quipped. "Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime."


Trudeau admires China's dictatorship for the things it can do because it's a dictatorship. Which means, in short, that he admires China's dicatorship FOR being a dictatorship.

The CBC's Terry Milewski fell all over himself trying to pretend that Harper had said anything even remotely similar. As close as it gets is Harper lauding China for specific economic achievements. Not quite the same thing as admiring a dictatorship's dictatorial powers.

It's really not so stunning. Justin Trudeau's dad was very much the same way.

For anyone who aspires to leadership of a democratic country to publicly express admiration for a dictatorship very much immediately disqualifies them for such leadership. Not that this will matter much to the no-information voters currently planning to vote Liberal in 2015.

Monday, November 11, 2013

So Exactly What Was it All For?

So, Prime Minister Stephen Harper got his way. Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau have been suspended without pay, presumably because they allegedly violated Senate spending rules -- although Canadians still don't know for certain whether or not they did.

And now that they have been suspended, what do we find? That Senator Brazeau won't have to pay a dime on his alleged expense bill for the duration of his two-year suspension.

Presumably he won't be alone to this end. Which once again provokes a very serious question:

What exactly has all of this been for?

It obviously wasn't to get to the bottom to the entire affair. In fact, the suspension of Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau seems to have been calculated to avoid the sort of due process that would lead to a definitive answer to just what, if anything, these three have actually done wrong.

And it very clearly wasn't to prompt Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau to get the money repaid. Duffy paid -- part of an ethically-dubious deal hatched with the PMO -- despite the conclusions of a Deloitte audit that found his total ineligible expenses was much lower than the $90,000 Nigel Wright gave him to repay. And on top of all this, we now have the revelation that Brazeau won't have to pay for quite a while because of his suspension.

The Senate scandal has been a textbook case of how the actions taken to head off an embarrassing incident can balloon into an embarrassment far greater than that, and in time grow into a quite-genuine scandal.

In the wake of this revelation, Stephen Harper owes Canadians a damn good explanation. What was the rush to suspend Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau really for? At this point only Harper really knows for certain.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Stephen's Chosen, But the Hope of the Party Remains

As I recently noted on this blog, I've lost confidence in Stephen Harper as Prime Minister and as Conservative Party leader. His refusal to rein in the secretive backroom behaviour in the Prime Minister's Office, and his determination to double down on that by circumventing due process have become an utterly untenable position for anyone who values democracy.

That being said, I'm not pulling a sonakent. What I mean by this is that, unlike some, I never supported or joined the Conservative Party merely as a means to gain political prominence. Rather, I supported and joined the party because I cherish the values for which it stands, and principles upon which it was built.

To allow the political destiny of Canada to be dictated by unelected officials in a backroom of the PMO flies in the very face of that. It's the reason why then-Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay turned his back on the demands David Orchard made in such a backroom and put the destiny of that party before its membership.

Stephen Harper should know this very well. In the end, he was a beneficiary of that decision. It allowed him to negotiate the merger of the PC and Canadian Alliance parties. The events that followed culminated with him becoming Prime Minister of Canada. He seems to have forgotten this. But I haven't.

Today, rank-and-file delegates at the party convention voted to tighten party rules regarding financial reporting. It's an imperfect means to discourage -- if not outright prevent -- unilateral decisions to use party funds for questionable purposes, but it does serve to one very specific, and important, end: it reminds party brass that they are not to simply use party funds for any purpose they deem fit, up to and including making potentially-embarrassing episodes go away.

Interestingly enough, a number of labour unions in Canada -- those who donated funds to help Pat Martin fight a defamation lawsuit that he eventually settled -- have a very similar issue of their own to plumb. I'm not aware of any of these unions holding a convention since these donations became public knowledge, but whether or not rank-and-file union members try to head off such actions in the future will be interesting to see. As it will be interesting to see how hard their leaders may resist such rule-tightening.

The Stephen Harpers and Nigel Wrights of the party brass need to take note of the message rank-and-file members have sent today: we expect that party officials will take their direction from party members, and that unelected bureaucrats will take their directions from elected officials, not vise versa. Any of you who cannot abide this had best vacate your positions.

As for myself, I will not turn my back on the party and on my fellow party members; not so long as they continue to stand for the values and principles for which this party -- and this country -- stand.