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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

NORMAN'S SPECTATOR

Link: NORMAN'S SPECTATOR.

I'M TAKING THE DAY OFF.

A quick scan turned up this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this.

Before signing off, two matters:

At the Gomery Inquiry yesterday, Georges Clermont testified that political intervention into the operations of Canada Post began in 1993, well before the Quebec referendum, the ostensible reason for the sponsorship program.

As far as I can tell (it is my day off, after all), no English-language newspaper reports this today. Isabelle Rodrigue, of Presse Canadienne, is the only one to report the testimony--here.

(UPDATE: Here I am taking a day off, and whom do you think I hear from? It seems that Warren Kinsella resents my bringing Isabelle's story to your attention. Here's his email:

"Clermont is a liar. He perjured himself yesterday. This morning I have sent a 72 page document to the commission detailing the sponsorships and sports boxes that Clermont set up as CEO. When we told him to stop, he didn't.

When I told him, personally, that we did not want Canada Post to do anymore advertising because they were a monopoly and we did not see any need for them advertise, he ignored us. When we insisted, he hired Joe Thornley to lobby his own minister.

We fired him when it was established he took cash payments from Jose Perez, and authorized CPC to sponsor his own son's race car.

Don't write to me anymore. As of today, you - and your tenure at PMO and as ambassador - are going to be featured prominently, and regularly, on my website and elsewhere.

You want a fight, Norman? You've got one. Ask Kim Campbell and Stockwell Day how much they enjoyed being a focus of my attentions.")

POSTSCRIPT:

Here I was hoping to have a quiet day--alternating between walking the dog on the beach in the spring-like weather, and listening to Dexter Gordon while reading Azar Nafisi's gripping tale of life in Teheran. And into my life comes Ottawa's most fearsome attack dog--Warren Kinsella.

Aside from accusing a former Canada Post CEO of committing perjury in his testimony at Gomery yesterday, over on his site he's re-writing the history of my departure from ACOA--a position to which I was appointed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

I suppose I could have stayed, and accepted personnel "suggestions" such as the one about Chuck Guité contained in Warren's infamous letter to my colleague, Ran Quail, with whom I shared a minister--David Dingwall.

So let's see if I have their story straight.

Kinsella's minister, David Dingwall, testifies that they wanted Chuck Guite in the job because he was a star and was "universally acclaimed" after the 1995 referendum. That would be the referendum, by the way, in which their team almost lost the country.

Today, Stéphane Dion--the minister responsible for national unity--testified he had no involvement with the sponsorship program and, after he looked into it in 2001, he concluded that it had zero impact on national unity. 

I can see why all this would make Kinsella, a former Chrétien staffer, uncomfortable.  At the risk of further upsetting him with the truth about the sponsorship program, here's Isabelle Rodrigue's enlightening report from today's hearing.

And here's the English version, which adds the news that lawyers for Kinsella's old boss--Jean Chrétien--are seeking the dismissal of Judge Gomery.

For the record, here's the Globe and Mail editorial on my resignation from the public service of Canada in 1996:

The end of ACOA

3 July 1996
The Globe and Mail
A12

"THE last veil was stripped from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency last week with the departure of Norman Spector. The veteran public servant had been appointed president of the federal government's East Coast regional development body last year in order to clean up ACOA's operations and repair its shady reputation. His exit is an acknowledgment that such attempts are doomed to failure. There is no longer any sense pretending that ACOA serves any useful economic purpose.

Created in 1987, ACOA is the latest and most expensive in a long line of schemes to resurrect the Atlantic economy by giving money and low-cost loans to corporations -- or, as its detractors have always said, to buy votes for the governing party by handing out highly visible money.

We now know that ACOA's role is entirely political, that its protests of economic beneficence have been cosmetic. Mr. Spector tried to steer the agency into independent, objective economic-development activities, and he was rejected outright by the Atlantic Liberals. Listen to New Brunswick MP Paul Zed: "All we wanted was for Mr. Spector to do his job and have a relationship with us." Or Nova Scotia MP Ron MacDonald: "There was a complete lack of connection on the political side. He didn't inform us in advance of decisions that would have a negative impact on us or our constituents." Since when should elected officials have a "relationship" with aid agencies? Since when have business loans and grants had a "political side?"...

ACOA officials protested that they had changed their ways. But eight weeks ago, Mr. Desautels reported that ACOA was still at it: much of the agency's largesse went either to companies that didn't need the money or whose success would likely come at the expense of other local companies. Many suspected that the loans and grants have more to do with politics than any genuine aid. Mr. Spector's departure has confirmed the suspicions."

ANYWAY, back to the main story today.

As I argued in yesterday's Globe, there's considerable reason to suspect that the principal goal of the program was not national unity, but to elect more Liberal MPs in Quebec--a matter that figured prominently in Mr. Chrétien's self-proclaimed legacy when he left office.

Next, a few points about the law professors in today's Globe and Mail who say there's no alternative but the notwithstanding clause to preserve the existing definition of marriage.

First, with all respect to their legal knowledge, there are no facts in the future. Probability is one thing, but no earthly being--not even a law professor--can guarantee absolutely how the Supreme Court would rule on the issue if presented with legislation.

Second, judges, like other Canadians, read the newspapers, and they are sensitive to public opinion--as the editorial in yesterday's Globe and Mail suggested.

Third, the most that any law professor--or pundit, for that matter--can say at present is that the Supreme Court would likely strike down the traditional definition of marriage.

A politician who refuses to answer the hypothetical question of what he would do in these circumstances would not be creating any precedent I know of.

Fourth, any law professor who suggests that Stephen Harper is dragging the Supreme Court and the Charter into the political arena, who has not publicly condemned the government for referring the issue in the first place, is playing politics now.

Fifth, Prime Minister Martin says polygamy--a separate but related matter--will remain a crime as far as he's concerned.

However, he can only make this commitment honestly if he's prepared to use the notwithstanding clause. I don't see the professors demanding that he come clean on whether he would. (Here's a recent Globe column in which I set out the analysis.)

Let's  face it: the law professors are playing politics in today's Globe and Mail.

Having entered the political arena, these professors--who by-and-large did not condemn the government for abusing the reference power, support same-sex marriage and oppose using the notwithstanding clause--should understand they have one vote each, just like every other Canadian.

They should also understand if, as I suspect, Stephen Harper does not look to them for advice on how to manage political issues--one step at a time, never more than are absolutely necessary---or on how to present himself and his Party to the Canadian people.

One final point.

Whatever your view on same-sex marriage, as the debate heats up toward the Parliamentary vote we should all keep in mind that most journalists and editors are way outside the mainstream. It will be no surprise if the coverage reflects their personal views.

Lester Markel, who worked at the New York Times for 40 years, put it this way:

"The reporter, the most objective reporter, collects fifty facts. Out of the fifty he selects twelve to include in his story (there is such a thing as space limitation). Thus he discards thirty-eight. This is Judgment Number One.

"Then the reporter or editor decides which of the facts shall be the first paragraph of the story, thus emphasizing one fact above the other eleven. This is Judgment Number Two.

"Then the editor decides whether the story shall be placed on Page One or Page Twelve; on Page One it will command many times the attention it would on Page Twelve. This is Judgment Number Three.

"This so-called factual presentation is thus subjected to three judgments, all of them most humanly and most ungodly made."

Markel points out where bias starts, but not where it ends. And, no Canadian media organization has a completely independent Ombudsman to whom we can complain.

Your only protection as a reader and as a citizen--as it is mine, on this issue and on every other--is to read and watch a variety of sources in different languages and with different perspectives. And, of course, to leave plenty of time for the indie, non-mainstream media, especially blogs!

HAVE A GOOD ONE. BACK ON-LINE TOMORROW.

Posted by Norman Spector on January 25, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Blogs are now a crucial factor in the fight to shape public opinion. Long live blogs and bloggers.

Those "law professors": two words used to shock and awe the stupid readers. Is that called speaking from authority? Do the "law professors" have a monopoly on wisdom? Perhaps, it is wis-dumb?

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-01-25 6:50:30 AM


"A quick scan turned up this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this."

Thanks for being courteous enough to use hyperlinks.

*cough*

Posted by: Sean | 2005-01-25 7:12:28 AM


Sean, using the link that Norman does provide gets you to where you want to go. This has been his convention from the get-go at the Shotgun.

I disagree with Norman as often as I agree with him, but I do appreciate his daily efforts.

Posted by: MLM | 2005-01-25 7:34:37 AM


"Prof. Choudhry said that while nothing prevents Parliament from enacting an obviously unconstitutional definition of marriage, it would be doomed to fail and IT WOULD ALSO HARM THE POLITICAL PROCESS.

"At some point, the process would wear down the gears of the Constitution," he said.

INVOKING THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE IS LIKELY TO HAVE A SIMILAR EFFECT, Prof. Choudhry said, since it must be renewed every five years by succeeding governments."

Norm, you better write Professor Choudry and the other 133 law professors and enlighten them regarding the "robust role" parliamentarians have in our system of "constitutional supremacy".

P.S. I'm still waiting for your examples of politicians actually using the notwithstanding clause (and I'm aware Quebec, who I don't believe ever ratified the constitutional amendments that include the Charter, invoked it with respect to their racist language laws - wow, there's a powerful precedent for subsequent invocations!)

Posted by: firewalls 'r us | 2005-01-25 9:04:07 AM


firewalls,

I see you're still having trouble reading, including the rebuttal points I raise today

As to the notwithstanding clause, it's been used by Saskatchewan. You can look it up.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 9:06:47 AM


"Sean, using the link that Norman does provide gets you to where you want to go. This has been his convention from the get-go at the Shotgun."

Yes, and it has been an annoyance from the get-go. There's no reason why he can't be courteous enough to:

a) Include functional hyperlinks, or

b) if he's going to force me to go to a second site to get working links, limit the post to this site to a single paragraph so I don't have to spend so much time scrolling.

He takes up a disproportionate amount of space and bumps other good authors down the page with his postings, which are for the most part useless without links.

Here's the bottom line for me. If Spector keeps posting to the Shotgun, I'm not renewing my WS subscription (it's due shortly). If Spector is turfed, I'll renew. If he is turfed AND Kathy Shaidle returns (I may disagree with her on religion but I still enjoy reading her posts), I'm buying two gift subscriptions for friends in addition to renewing.

Posted by: Sean | 2005-01-25 9:25:34 AM


firewall,

I'm reluctant to disturb your profound ignorance, but most recently Quebec invoked the notwithstanding clause to permit the teaching of religion in public schools.

As Quebec, like the other provinces, is a democracy in which everyone has the right to vote, I have no problem with the elected representatives of the people using a constitutionally and legally valid provision of our system to reflect majority sentiment.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 9:27:09 AM


Sean

Anytime the proprietors of this site change their minds about the desirability of my postings--be it to save your subscription or any other reason--I'll be pleased to desist. I'm doing this as a service--as I do for Macleans--and hardly need the traffic or the exposure.

As to the volume, you may have noticed that I introduced a new feature last week on my site to assist readers who are pressed for time; it is this summary that I am now posting, which should serve to minimize the degree to which other Shotgun content gets pushed down.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 9:33:08 AM


"I see you're still having trouble reading, including the rebuttal points I raise today."

I read your "rebuttal points" and essentially concur with them. The problem, of course, is I'm not one of the 134 - ooooo! - law professors, thank you lord, whose views I suspect are likely to receive just a teensie weensie bigger audience than your rebuttal (if the drool from the breathless 134 - ooooo! - law professors!!!! Grope hack who wrote the story hasn't smudged the type).

Strange as it might seem to you, I, too, favour "constitutional supremacy" IN THEORY. The problem here in Trudeaupia is that, Quebec separatists appeasers aside, a politician that even whispers the word "notwithstanding" is immediately set upon by the screeching Lieberal hordes, the yapping dogs at the Grope and the Corpse and then 134 - ooooo! - law professors swoop in and finish the job.

I don't doubt your response will be to suggest the reason the "notwithstanding" clause hasn't been widely used is there hasn't been suffient "public support" for its use with respect to a particular issue. Norm, the feds didn't even have the balls to use it two months after the U.S. was attacked on 9/11 (and 20 some Canadians perished) in enacting their "security act" tripe. So much for a "robust role" for our esteemed parliamentarians. In the meantime, the total re-engineering of our society by our judicial sanhedrin continues apace, albeit one incremental step at a time.

"As to the notwithstanding clause, it's been used by Saskatchewan. You can look it up."

I don't recall this - perhaps Ms. McMillan could assist (maybe she's depicted it on a goalie mask). I can tell you that here in Alberta, even braveheart Klein, in possession of 93% of the seats in our legislature, couldn't sell using the notwithstanding clause to prevent that most highly respected of professionals, the PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS, from gouging exhorbitant fees out of their unfortunately sterile clients.

Face it, Norm, you've put your faith in a dead letter.

Posted by: firewalls 'r us | 2005-01-25 9:44:42 AM


I seem to recall that a certain premier in Ralph's World showed a decided lack of cojones when it came down to the crunch.

Lots of huffing and puffing, as on health care--but all it amounts to is bitching and moaning and an unwillingness or incapability of doing anything about it.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 9:57:01 AM


S. 33 was invoked by Saskatchewan after the Court of Appeal in that province ruled that a back-to-work labour law impaired union worker's freedom of association, as enshrined in s. 2(a). This occured way back in 1985 (the relevant case is RWDSU v. Sask). At the time, the government of Saskatchewan was appealing the case to the Supreme Court, which later overturned the lower court's judgment.

Also, we should keep in mind that the clause cannot be invoked to override *any* ruling that a government takes exception to. S. 33 can only operate on s.2 and s.7 to s.15 of the Charter.

Posted by: Clement Ng | 2005-01-25 10:55:09 AM


Clement

That's correct.

One slight precision--the power is lodged with Parliament and the provincial legislatures--not governments--and may only be used with respect to legislation that is intra vires their respective jurisdictions.

For the information of Shotgunners, here's an excerpt from a secret letter Pierre Trudeau sent to Emmett Cardinal Carter of Toronto, at the height of the patriation debate, back on Dec. 21, 1981:

"Should a court decide at some future
date that sections 7 (the right of women to security of the person) or 15 equality rights) establish a right to abortion on demand, Parliament will continue to legislate on the matter by overriding the court's decision and the specific charter right."

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 11:12:08 AM


1) Actually, I was about to subscribe before Norm showed up and ran a lot of good people off the Shotgun.

I thought it would be novel for friends to come over and see a copy of the Western Standard on my coffee table.
"What's that?" they would ask.
"Oh," I would say blandly, "that's the pre-eminent Canadian conservative magazine. You should read it."
An atmosphere of my acknowledged cosmopolitanism would settle over the room.
"Canada," one of them would say, "that's not Mexico, right?"
"Absolutely, it's north."
"No kidding, like around Wyoming or something?"
"Even further north."
"My God, Greg, you're really in touch with the world."
I smile nonchalantly as we head to the pistol range.

So sure, if Norm goes, I'll subscribe.


2)We need Kathy Shaidle back. In the States, the religious argument is changing, and becoming more vital. The old crew that argued against evolution has moved into a more sophisiticated argument of "intelligent design", which is very similar to the teleological argument for the existence of a supreme intelligence.

The teleological argument basically says that if you found a pocket watch on a deserted beach, you would surely conclude that it was created by some intelligent being.

This can be argued against, but not easily. One scientist has suggested that for our world to be an accident of evolution, it would be the equivalent of a tornado hitting a junkyard and creating a 747.

Now in President Bush's inaugural address, he argues for the position of natural law which is very similar to the basic premise that American founding documents are based on. This can be linked with the argument for intelligent design.

So the argument has shifted from a religious venue to a philosophical venue uniquely American in its character.

Needless to say, we need Kathy to help us sort all this out.

Posted by: Greg outside Dallas | 2005-01-25 11:42:44 AM


"So the argument has shifted from a religious venue to a philosophical venue uniquely American in its character.

Needless to say, we need Kathy to help us sort all this out."

Total agreement on this. While I'll quite often disagree with Kathy's position, I still feel that it's worth knowing. And, yes, she occasionally causes me to change my thinking. ;-)

Posted by: Sean | 2005-01-25 12:02:36 PM


Greg

As I mentioned, I'm at the disposition of the owners of this site.

In the meantime, do you realize how much like the "Ugly American" you sound?

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 12:47:50 PM


"In the meantime, do you realize how much like the "Ugly American" you sound?"

Norm. Stop trolling.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-01-25 1:17:14 PM


Yes, thank you Norman. The authority to invoke the clause indeed lies with the Parliament and the legislatures, formally speaking.

Now regarding what ebt wrote. I think you're mistaken here. It does not matter at this point whether or not the Supreme Court has reviewed the marriage law. Once a lower court rules that a statute is unconstitutional, it *is* unconstitutional, until the judgment is reversed by a court higher up (and that of course does not have to happen). The Supreme *can* have the last judicial word, but it is not required to have the final say. If a legislature declines to appeal a case, then the impugned law remains unconstitutional (although a court may decided to temporarily suspend invalidation. giving the legislature time to ammend the offending section of the statute).

Accordingly, it is a Harpur government that would have to appeal one of the lower court cases in which the common-law definition of marriage was invalidated, and the time limit for appeal has passed with respect to several of those cases. Parliament cannot simply "reaffirm" laws that has been struck down (the situation is all the more complicated by the fact that provincial laws that make reference to the federal law are also at stake here). At this point, the only way to save the common-law definition of marriage is to enshrine it in the constitution or do what the Conservative's are proposing (establishing a seperate legal category that applies to same-sex couples).

BTW, before anyone gets the wrong impression, I should note that I'm not a lawyer by training. Persons more knowledgeable are welcome to correct me.

Posted by: Clement Ng | 2005-01-25 1:36:28 PM


Ebt:

Yes, I think you're correct. My bad. Until the replacement provision is ruled unconstitutional, it stands.

This stuff about the federal government starting an appeal, however, is lost on me. How could the feds start an appeal in a province where the law has not yet been struck down? What would they be appealing? I think you know more about this stuff than I do.

Posted by: Clement Ng | 2005-01-25 2:09:03 PM


So if I'm tallying correctly, in the two decades since enactment of the Charter, we've had three invocations of the "notwithstanding clause" - one (Sask) that appears to have been a purely pragmatic (and ultimately redundant) way to resolve a regional labour skirmish and two (Quebec) that can only be viewed as being motivated primarily by "distinct" Quebec political considerations. I'm not sure I'd regard any of these uses as an example of our parliamentarians demonstrating the "robust role" our constitution allegedly affords them.

Norman, these examples may convince you that the notwithstanding clause remains a viable option to restore the proper balance between parliament and the courts. I remain utterly unconvinced. Please do not disparage me for it.

P.S. where were those 134 - ooooo! - law professors when that Saskatchewan thing was happening?

Posted by: firewalls 'r us | 2005-01-25 2:20:22 PM


Norm, do you realize how much like a "Bully" you sound?

Re-read my post. You'll see that I make Texans -- and myself -- all sound pretty silly.

Posted by: Greg outside Dallas | 2005-01-25 2:20:46 PM


Clement and ebt: Question, does Danny Williams in Nfld still have time to appeal that court decision, as it only happened a few months back??
Could he not take it to the Supremes?? Just wondering.
Sean and Greg in Dallas: I think there is room for both Norman and Kathy on here. Like it or not this is the most interesting blog out there and Norman plays a huge part in that. But it sure could use Kathy too. You two and others need to persuade Kathy to come back.

Posted by: MikeP | 2005-01-25 2:36:53 PM


Greg,

I'll reflect on your comment, as you have on mine.

ebt, are you referring to Zarqawi's actions in Iraq, which caught Cheryl Gallant's eye, or the guys who did it to Danny Pearl in Pakistan?

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 2:37:32 PM


firewall,

Conservatives have no one to blame but themselves. If you want governments that have the testicular fortitude to use the notwithstanding clause, you'll have to get involved politically and work for it--rather than bitching and moaning or pissing in the wind or saving souls or engaging in various other fantasies.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 2:43:19 PM


EBT wrote:

"...all he has to do is repeal the provision that was attacked"

My understanding as to what courts have been doing is interpreting various sundry federal and provincial statutes that establish specific marriage entitlements to be unconstitutional to the extent those entitlements are not extended to gays. What remains unresolved because our "apolitical" SCC refused to answer the question, is whether a federal legislative initiative of some sort to affirm that "marriage" is limited to heteros, would, on its face, be "unconstitutional".

In other words, I think this tangled mess of virtually impenetrable legalese essentially distills down to the courts having ruled gays are to have all of the entitlements of marriage, but (undoubtedly with great reluctance) leaving it open for parliament to enact legislation affirming that "marriage" continues to be an exclusively hetero institution (i.e. exactly Stephen Harper's much maligned position).

And for those who suggest the "hetero is constitutional" issue really isn't unresolved, nudge nudge wink wink, because we ALL know that the SCC will strike down any legislation attempting to accomplish this, I've seen the SCC do some pretty stupid things (that whole Marshall/native fishing rights thing comes to mind), but refusing to rule on an issue, allowing parliament to then enact a law on that issue, and then striking down that law would set a new low in "stupid supreme tricks" (although, of course the 134 - ooooo! - law professors would applaud them).

Posted by: firewalls 'r us | 2005-01-25 2:50:39 PM


Mr. Spector is playing devil's advocate.

Some devil. Keep it up.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-01-25 2:55:13 PM


MikeP wrote:

"does Danny Williams in Nfld still have time to appeal that court decision, as it only happened a few months back??"

I'll defer to ebt, as my knowledge of legal procedure exhausted itself after my second post (my interests are mostly in legal philosophy and, although this seems odd, you can study legal philosophy (H.L.A. Hart, Ronald Dworkin, John Finnis) without learning much about legal process).

Posted by: Clement Ng | 2005-01-25 3:29:40 PM


"you'll have to get involved politically and work for it--rather than bitching and moaning or pissing in the wind or saving souls or engaging in various other fantasies"

Does that mean the twenty or so years, hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars I've spent supporting the PCs/Reform/Alliance/CPC, culminating in days spent on the campaign trail away from my family last June because the sheer slimyness of our opponents made victory virtually certain, don't count?

I haven't always been firewalls, but I have grown weary of kicking against the goads and, I assure you Norm, I am far from alone.

Posted by: firewalls 'r us | 2005-01-25 4:03:16 PM


it means you'll have to work harder, unless you're ready to work smarter.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-25 4:05:17 PM


Doing the same things over & over & over; getting the same results=Opposition benches.
There is another word to describe this process.

Work smarter; take risks; articulate your party platform in standard language; build a coalition with the enemies of your enemy; The art of the possible is still the best definition of politics; Study Sir John A. MacDonald's methods, the sly old Scot; study the politics of WLM King. The past is prologue.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-01-25 4:23:49 PM


Sean, Greg-outside-Dallas and Mike; I concur! Norm is good...and all, but Kathy adds an interesting twist to things. She's posted some pretty engaging and thought provoking items at her site.

As for the exchange with Warren Kinsella; I'd never realised just how aggressive and vindictive he was.

His website, you know, has a few factual errors, even though I only parused it for 3 or 4 minutes!

Does anyone know if it's managed by consultants who do sponsorship drives?


Posted by: John Palubiski | 2005-01-25 5:40:21 PM


"It means you'll have to work harder, unless you're ready to work smarter."

Norman, congrats on all the 'smart' work you did for your old party. You know, the one that set new standards for alienating voters, that was reduced to 'rump party' status in the House of Commons, that had an unserviceable debt, and as a result, was picked up at fire sale prices by the Alliance.

You can pat yourself on the back for a success like that for years to come, I imagine.

Posted by: Sean | 2005-01-25 6:55:16 PM


A suggestion for Norm, try to be a little less insulting to people that still have hope and a bit of confidence in conservatism. Just because people disagree with you doesn't mean that they're

"still having trouble reading, including the rebuttal points I raise today"

or have
"profound ignorance"

and of course
"do you realize how much like the "Ugly American" you sound?"

You should also not assume you are the only one who has been actively involved in politics.

"but all it amounts to is bitching and moaning and an unwillingness or incapability of doing anything about it. "

and
"get involved politically and work for it--rather than bitching and moaning or pissing in the wind or saving souls or engaging in various other fantasies."

Debate is great, and shouldn't involve mud-slinging.

Posted by: ld | 2005-01-26 11:36:18 AM


ld

If it's a question of the tone of debate on this site, I think you'd probably find a better market for generic suggestions. Otherwise, given the context, such observations come off as partisan, at least to these eyes.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-26 12:15:14 PM


maz2

Somehow, I missed your initial comment yesterday in this thread.

I heartily endorse your statement: "Blogs are now a crucial factor in the fight to shape public opinion. Long live blogs and bloggers."

The damage inflicted on these law professors who somehow showed up on the front page of the Globe and Mail is the reason I've been stressing the importance of turning our attention to Canadian issues.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-26 12:20:16 PM


Regrets about the multi-trackbacks. I will correct my webserver settings to prevent this.

Posted by: Joey Coleman | 2005-01-26 1:21:42 PM


Sean, Mike, and John Palubiski, I did contact Kathy Shaidle 2 or 3 weeks ago (did you see the article she wrote on Flannery O'Connor a few days ago?), and she was pretty adamant about not returning to the Shotgun for some pretty good reasons.

My hope is that if a number of us contact her, she would see an opportunity for a "celebrated return to the stage". If we were fortunate enough for this to occur, we would have to bear in mind that Norm's offensive behavior might turn her off again pretty quickly.

Norm doesn't seem to get that there is a certain social element on the blogosphere, and there is an element of friendship and camaraderie that grows over time. Maybe he played power politics for so long that he just doesn't know anything else.

Posted by: Greg outside Dallas | 2005-01-26 3:06:06 PM


I agree. Come back Kathy. You have edge. I like that.

Posted by: Michael Dabioch | 2005-01-26 7:06:00 PM


I've never met Kathy, so I have no comment to make about her personally.

My personal view is that several malignancies are eating away at the progress of conservatism and conservative thought in our country.

I believe it is these malignancies, not the absence of well-funded think thanks--Adam Daifallah's thesis--that explains our lack of success in Canada.

Prominent amongst these malignancies are Canadian self-hatred and its close cousin--US-envy. I understand the presence of both reflexes in the minds of minority groups--which is what Canadians are on this continent, after all--but this does not in any way cause me to admire either when I see them.

I think the colonization of our intellectual traditions is exemplified by the pretension of American citizens on this site that they have a valid role in Canadian domestic debates. While international dialogue amongst conservatives is to be cherished and stimulated, we confuse the international and the national conversation at our peril.

I also regard the pre-disposition against compromise--derived from deeply held religious beliefs--to have had a negative impact on the success of conservatism and conservative thought in Canada.

I believe all of the above should be marginalized intellectually, as they likely cannot be extirpated, primarily through vigorous debate.

However, if an aggressive person met by an aggressive opponent wants to pick up their ball and leave the playground because they cannot stand the heat, I certainly would not object to a second best route to a healthier Canadian conservatism.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-26 10:40:33 PM


"However, if an aggressive person met by an aggressive opponent wants to pick up their ball and leave the playground because they cannot stand the heat"...

I think the better analogy is that of leaving a swimming pool after figuring out that someone has only jumped in to take a piss.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-01-26 10:59:33 PM


I'd say if you're gonna dish it out, you'd better be prepared to take it. And that if you can't stand the heat, you'd better stay in your pajamas out of the kitchen.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-27 1:23:35 AM


Norman (channelling the ghost of Joe Clark) wrote:

"I also regard the pre-disposition against compromise--derived from deeply held religious beliefs--to have had a negative impact on the success of conservatism and conservative thought in Canada."

Actually, the "pre-disposition against compromise" has been the only thing preventing conservatives from morphing into Lieberals. Norman, "compromise" is what LIEBERALS do! - it is THEIR GAME! They set the rules, own the stadium and bring the ball. Conservatives HAVE NO HOPE - NONE, NADA, NIL, ZILCH - of out-compromising the Lieberals.

Want an example? - think no further back than the last election and the big "A" - the position of the CPC on abortion was INDISTINGUISHABLE from the Lieberals and was most assuredly a sizeable compromise of the position held by a large number of conservatives. And was the CPC rewarded for its compromise? Did the MSM have an epiphany and begin extolling the virtues of the new CPC position? Did all of the "progressives" in southern Ontario have the "conservatives are rednecks" scales fall from their eyes? What in heaven's name makes you think it will be any different on any other issue on which conservatives compromise?

And Norman, please don't bother responding by chanting your mantra "Cheryl Gallant - Cheryl Gallant - Cheryl Gallant" - if Cheryl Gallant didn't exist, rest assured the Grope, the Corpse and the rest of the Lieberal MSM mouthpieces would INVENT HER - it's not as if they haven't conjured up conservative positions out of thin air in the past (try googling "conservative" "Canada" and "hidden agenda"). And you surely can't believe it's possible to purge a party of all who might on occasion make idiotic utterances. The problem isn't that only conservative politicians say stupid things (think Hedy Fry, Eleanor Caplin, Svend Robinson), it's that conservative stupidity is the only thing the media ever hears (or, in many more cases, thinks they hear).

Norman, I suspect you're right - the CPC is unlikely to ever form a government without further compromise by those of us with "deeply held religious beliefs". Canadians clearly prefer "the shallower the better" when it comes to leaders and, you know what, we're getting what we deserve.

Posted by: firewalls 'r us | 2005-01-27 9:40:21 AM


Driving people out of the kitchen is not what blogging is about.

Driving subscribers from the WS and readers away from the Shotgun is not what the rest of us are about.

Divisiveness is what the old Red Tory party was about, though. And I think it's what you are actually up to - undermining the credibility of a new, intelligent voice in Canadian conservative thought.

I suggested earlier that your behavior may be due to the influence of medication. I will allow that this is still a possibility, and sad to say, the prettier one.

The only other logical conclusion one can draw from your troll behavior in the comments, your petty ad hominems, your intellectual dishonesty in neglecting active links in the diatribes you direct towards the writing of other bloggers (on site and off) - - is that you are intent on driving readers and the best writers from the Shotgun.

I believe its intentional on your part, and I'm calling you out on it.


Posted by: Kate | 2005-01-27 10:09:44 AM


"I think the colonization of our intellectual traditions is exemplified by the pretension of American citizens on this site ... "

Geez, Norm, I don't know if you've noticed, but Canadians have been more than forcefully expressing their opinions (sometimes demands) about America for a long time. You even have Canadian government officials like Carolyn Parrish who actually cuss the US out and call America dirty names.

Many of the posts on the Shotgun are conspicuously about America. You had one the other day about Delta Force and Seal Team Six yourself.

I'm glad the Internet has provided us with places where Canadians and Americans can talk with each other over the heads of politicians.

Fortunately, on the Shotgun we're largely in agreement. My hope is that conservative Canadians will feel the support that conservative Americans have for their situation and their effort.

I admire a lot of Canadian bloggers. Thank God, these days, it's easy to be a conservative in Texas. To be a conservative Canadian must take a lot of courage and tenacity.

Posted by: Greg outside Dallas | 2005-01-27 10:30:05 AM


firewall,

The reason Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has no criminal sanction on abortion, at any stage of a pregnancy, is because so-cons were unprepared to compromise back in the late 1980s.

I believe that was a political error, and a moral error--as saving even one life is, in my book, the moral thing to do. That takes compromise, which is what politics is all about. Those who are not prepared to compromise on such issues have effectively taken themselves out of Canadian politics. I hope so-cons reconize this today.

Kate, Those who know my past know that I am not a Red Tory. I have written countless columns criticizing Joe Clark, for example. Those who know me know as well that I've written many articles about re-uniting the parties. And, on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, I don't think anyone would mistake me for a Red Tory

Your allegations are therefore completely without foundation.

Greg, you're right that Canadians have a tendency to pretend they're involved in your politics. Both on the left and the right. It is a tendency I decry, as I think it's a waste of time and energy.

It's not that we don't have enough to do as conservatives in Canada. For example, I ask myself why none of us is posting on the cbcwatch site, when we see something egregious on the government owned broadcaster.

That would be a hell of a lot better use of our time as Canadians than getting into the minutiae of Iraq, even for those of us who have knowledge of the region and its languages.

That's where I started this campaign, and that where I'll end this post. It's awful hard to be a conservative in Canada--especially if you are a so-con. The temptation to escapism and a fantasy life is strong. I understand all that; but I decry it.


Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-27 10:58:16 AM


Kate

I'm a bit mystified by your reference to the best writers leaving the Shotgun.

While I know Kathy thinks she's in Mark Steyn's class--a comparison I find risible--surely to God you cannot be referring to her.

I know Steyn quit the National Post, but I can't find a single article she's written for that paper--even in its golden age of conservatism.

In fact, in all of 2004, I can only find one article she's written in a Canadian newspaper--and that was a book review in the Toronto Star, believe it or not.

So, to whom exactly are you referring?

I also find it a bit hypocritical for you to accuse me of making ad hominem arguments in the very same post in which you suggest I'm on medication. Not only is that a silly allegation, as is readily apparent to anyone who knows me, but it suggests you're intellectually incapable of debating the issues I've raised, which relate to malignancies retarding the progress of conservative thought and conservatism in Canada.

Your implicit endorsement of and failure to condemn those who've threatened to cancel their subscriptions to the Western Standard is further evidence that you are incapable of making the counter-case. That kind of pressure tactic is simply reprehensible--it represents intellectual thuggery of the first order and you should be ashamed of yourself for cautioning it.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-27 2:28:50 PM


Kate,

On the odd chance you were referring to yourself as one of the best writers on the site--perhaps signalling that you'd made up your mind to leave--I did a search but could not find anything by you in the Post, the Globe or even the Toronto Star. Perhaps there's something wrong with the search engine--maybe it doesn't have permalinks or something like that.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-27 2:37:11 PM


Dear Norm,

Since your online research skills are as crappy as your way with HTML and your ability to write without cliches, let me enlighten you.

I do not consider myself to be in the same class as Mark Steyn -- although he has agreed to marry me, so he must think of me as his equal in some respects :-)

You are, once again, misquoting me. If you're going to obsess over stuff I say, (and you do, as your frequent 2-months-later posts about "saving souls" indicates) at least get your facts right.

I was actually a columnist with the Toronto Star for about 2 years, during one of the Sunday paper's many iterations. I still write for the religion section occasionally.

I was a regular contributor to the old Report before it shut down. My work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Dallas Morning News (my first op ed for them attracted +30,000 hits to their web site in 48 hours, which in turn helped the editor who solicited the piece earn a promotion), the online version of the American Spectator, Seventeen, Canadian Forum, This Magazine and other publications.

I've been quoted in Time magazine, interviewed by Vatican Radio, the Chicago Tribune, MSNBC, CBC Morningside, to name a few.

My first book was nominated for a Governor General's award and has been on the ciriculum at U of T.

I've received four Canadian Church Press Awards (including Best National Columnist) and was recently nominated for a Best Columnist award by the Catholic Press Association in the U.S. I'm a long time contributing editor for the Catholic Register.

To actually earn a living, I've been a copywriter for a few of the largest e-commerce and non-profit organizations in the country.

Better re-subscribe to InfoMart.ca, there, Norm. Tool of the trade and all that. I hear you can even write it off. Baring all else, it's called "Google."

And yes, Norm, I did quit the Shotgun, in part, because I was tired of your vicious post-menopausal bullying, your cliched arguments ("If you can't stand the heat..."), technical incompetence and Kissinger & Associates realpolitik worldview.

A fairly large number of people have told me they've stopped reading the Shotgun because your daily news round up hogs the site and breaks a number of blogging conventions. And because, like me, they think you're a jerk.

Posted by: Kathy | 2005-01-27 4:19:16 PM


Kathy


Do you mean to tell me that Kate really was referring to you! That's truly amazing--but if you say it's true I'll believe you.

Nothing ever in Mark Steyn's National Post, nothing in my Globe and Mail except one book review five years ago, nothing understandably in Le Devoir, nothing even in the damn Toronto Star for god's sake last year except one book review.

And Kate calls you one of the best writers on this site. Truly amazing. Sounds to me like you're washed up, Kathy.

Anyway, I'm glad you're back at the Shotgun. I hope if you stay, you'll engage in substantive debate while you practice your writing. I'm especially interested in debating your position that Canada is a half-assed country, and your assertion that it's more important to save souls than to advance the conservative cause in Canada.

I'd also be interested in debating you about the political strategy of the so-cons, one of the reasons we are one of the few countries in the world that has no criminal sanction on any abortion at any stage of a pregancy. In my view, this is an important debate in order to prevent such horrible mistakes in future.

Kathy, ad hominem attacks are no substitute for substantive debate, and are normally indicative or an inadequate mind. I don't know if this applies to you, as you've not given me an opportunity to test your subtantive ideas, and I've been unable to find any of your material in the quality Canadian papers like the Post and the Globe.

In the absence of any evidence that you can think, write and reason in real debate against me, that's the conclusion I'd inevitably be driven to.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-27 4:59:52 PM


I was dead serious about my speculation regarding medication altering your thought process.

It's not ad hominem. It's called giving you the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-01-27 5:05:37 PM


"On the odd chance you were referring to yourself as one of the best writers on the site--perhaps signalling that you'd made up your mind to leave--I did a search but could not find anything by you in the Post, the Globe or even the Toronto Star."

You're quite right -- Kate isn't widely published like you are, Norman. Indeed, I have one of your articles here right now, although I have to say that I'm not all that impressed with the quality of it. I have decided that Purex chafes less.

Get over yourself, already. No one cares how many dead tree publications you have written for. Either your posts are interesting or they're not. Right now, so far as I'm concerned, you're polluting a perfectly good blog with your uninteresting tripe. There is nothing new or original about your commentary in Norman's Spectator and there is no information provided that can't be found at nealenews.com or bourque.org in a quarter of the time. And the latter provide working hyperlinks, something which is apparently beyond your abilities.

It scares the hell out of me that someone like you was actually involved in running our country at a fairly high level. It does explain a hell of a lot about the sad state it's in, though.

Posted by: Sean | 2005-01-27 5:29:09 PM


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