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Monday, November 28, 2005

Covering the bases

Power Corp Proxy Michael Ignatieff is off to a rocky start as the National Post reports: Ignatieff 'coronation' protested in riding. Recall Adam Daifallah's June 29 post on this site. I noted in comments that Ignatieff is an old friend of the Rae family, having gone to university with Bob Rae and even organized pro-China seminars with him in the 1960s. Bob Rae is the brother of John Rae, who sits on Power Corp's board of directors. (In testimony at the Gomery Commission, you will recall Benoit Corbeil testified that when the Liberal Party in Quebec was in dire financial straits, he would call up John Rae at Power Corp and get a quick loan guarantee.)

btw check out the bottom paragraph of this story in Saturday's Globe and Mail:.

Meanwhile, a long-time friend of Mr. Ignatieff, former NDP Ontario premier Bob Rae, announced he would not run. The initial plan was to have Mr. Rae run in Oshawa, Ont.

On Saturday, it was noted on this site by Paul Tuns that Conservative Peter MacKay was seen with Sophie Desmarais, daughter of Power Corp head Paul Desmarais. I wouldn't be too hard on Peter. In my view, this is just Power Corp trying to cover all the bases, as they did with Mulroney whose association with Paul Desmarais dated back to the early 1970s. These guys are Canada's kingmakers, having put Pierre Trudeau in office. No doubt MacKay is going to get a lot of "What are you doing with those Luddites, you're so much better and smarter than they are, and pretty good looking to boot. You should be leader..." etc.

Power Corp probably convinced Ignatieff to run with the with that hoary old Plato saying that Pierre Trudeau would often repeat ""One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." Always good to appeal to the ego.

Addendum: It has been put to me by China watchers in the United States that one of the reasons Power Corp may dread a Harper victory is because of the potential he might appoint Conservative foreign affairs critic Stockwell Day as foreign affairs minister. They tell me that though Day may get ridiculed in this country, apparently the opinion of him in the Chinese dissident community abroad is very high because of his concern for human rights in Communist China. Power Corp has of course spent years kissing Communist Chinese butt and was rewarded for this by being allowed to purchase a substantial interest in CITIC. See "Puppets of Beijing

Posted by Kevin Steel on November 28, 2005 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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Power Corp, Desmarais, Magna, etc, are indeed behind the political system in Canada. It is, after all, extremely easy for our system to be corrupted by a non-elected group. The Westminster parliamentary system is open to corruption because the emphasis is put on the non-elected rather than elected levels of government.

The UK dealt with this imbalance by, for instance, having the upper house open only to a hereditary class rather than to the open patronage of the PM's office (and now, some of these are elected). Canada's upper house has become a backroom mafia-style 'pay-off for loyalty' to the PM, where loyal cronies are rewarded with lifelong wages-for-nothing and pensions etc.

Additionally, the Canadian system, with its enormous number of unaccountable civil service appointments made directly out of the PM's office has corrupted the system completely. Then, the small size of the Canadian population, coupled with the vast geographic territory - and the institution of official bilingualism, has narrowed the range of appointees to a Club, a private membership of people, all of whom know each other, - in the Montreal-Ottawa zone. Canada is not a democracy.

Australia dealt with the potential for corruption within the Westminster system by rejecting patronage and inserting fixed terms for all authoritative positions along with elections.

PowerCorp, Desmarais MUST attempt to control the House of Commons, for it is the Door to Power. That's all it is now, but, they must control it.

Can this corrupt infrastructure continue - where a closed Montreal-Ottawa Club-of-Cronies controls the political and economic system of one country? Certainly, it was set up a generation ago to achieve just that result.

I maintain that bilingualism drastically reduced the majority population of any ability to 'interfere' in and work within the federal gov't. Then, high taxation reduced the development of competitors to PowerCorp, Desmarais, etc. The National Energy tactic kept the West down for almost a generation and enabled the consolidation of this Cartel. Our piggyback economy on the USA enabled a middle class standard of living that didn't require innovation and business development.

But now- I think Canada is at a crisis point. The West has re-emerged, and I don't think that it can be put down with the same tactics as a generation ago.
Then, there is Quebec - and one must wonder whether it can be bought as it could be, a generation ago?

Ontario is weakening because the economy, which has been set up to enable only a small group of wealthy industrialists, now actually requires a larger group - and the Cartel is attempting to prevent this.

I think Canada is at a critical threshold. Can it continue, with its piggyback economy on the USA, with its restriction of its population from engaging in high-investment enterprises, with its restriction of the government to a small set of cronies, - can it continue? I don't think so.
The increase in population, the development of globalization, the rise of the West - I don't think the old centralist gov't style can be maintained.

But, this election is going to be very nasty- as the Cartel absolutely requires that it maintain political power.

I maintain, however, that this infrastructure that we set up a generation ago, which has moved control of the political and economic system of Canada into a clique - must and will collapse.

Posted by: ET | 2005-11-28 8:20:45 AM

ET wonders whether Quebec "can be bought." The better question is "should we continue trying to buy it?"

It will be interesting to see whether Ignatieff can withstand the level of public discourse in Canada and the type of politics prevalent within the Liberal party.

Posted by: Joan Tintor | 2005-11-28 8:54:36 AM


.... and the culture of entitlement goes on - does it really matter if it is the liberals or the ontario conservatives as to which group runs the political wing. It is/has always been the "kingmakers" who drive the "who is entitlted to enter the political wing" along with the commensurate prices attached that will make it happen.

The reform movement in '88 in the west came out of a desire to break down this entire eastern culture of entitlement that was/still is so prevalent in both parties. For the die hard conservatives - reflect on the Mulroney Tapes and how much of what the conservatives were about during the "conservative years" that is really a whole lot different than what the liberals were/are about.

In the 1992 federal election, western die-hard conservatives couldn't bear the thought of chancing that a significant number of reformers were likely to be elected. They systematically began taking over whatever ridings that seemed to have somebody running who was not/had not been "part of the culture" and made sure that, if possible, someone from "within the culture" got the '92 nomination and voila - we had instant reformers appearing in many ridings. The reform workers between '88 and '92 were very quickly replaced within the riding associations after the '92 election by people "within the "culture". This has been ongoing to the present time so the culture of entitlement remains alive and well execept for some noteable exceptions.

For people with short memories, Stephen Harper at this time was one of the "brilliant young" inside thinkers/strategists operating in Calgary while this systematic process was operational. It was all about doing whatever it takes to win so the process continued and has been operational to this date.

Most all of the reformers elected in '92 who were reformers and not "closet conseratives" have gone by the way - you be the judge as to the why's. This election will be about the conseratives "culture of entitlement" vs the liberals "culture of entitlement" and there has to be a lot of voters out there who reject both of these culture who in this election, really don't have a good place to park their vote - except of course for the Block in Quebec and it is not much of a secret where their vote will be.

How patently and pathetically ironic that Harper today is wailing on the liberals culture of entitelment when the largest faction (not all) within the existing Conservative party is so immersed in their own culture that the trees and the forest are all one. Harper has been one of the main artictects as well as the biggest single benefactor in terms of where the conservatives are today and may well become one of the biggest losers. And life goes on.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2005-11-28 9:04:27 AM

Thanks but no thanks Robert; Ignatieff is not a shift to the right.

Ignatieff is an academic and many academics are economic lefties.

We do know where Ignatieff sensibly stands on the WOT but we have no idea where he stands on economic matters or state intervention or the size of government or cartels etc. So we really don’t know what he stands for, which is what makes him the perfect Librano$$ - he’s yours, finders keepers.

Speaking of cartels, fortunately we live in a competitive age of lots of choice where the consumer rules not the corporation, as much as Naiomi Klien tries to convince us otherwise. Even incestuous political swamps such as India and China have figured out that they must move forward with freer markets. Canada too will eventually bust up the Librano$$ cartel, hopefully this election helps push it over the edge.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2005-11-28 9:39:58 AM

Just to round out the background, Michael Ignatieff's great-grandfather, Count Nicholas Pavlovich Ignatieff, appears in "Flashman at the Charge" and "Flashman in the Great Game" by George MacDonald Fraser.

Note also this, about Michael Ignatieff's father George, regarding Count Nicholas:

"As he relates with humour in his memoirs, The Making of a Peacemonger, his father was the Tsar's last education minister; and his father's father, an adventurous soldier and diplomat, who settled 'a border dispute with China in 1860 and then rode on horseback from Peking to St. Petersburg - a two-month journey-to bring first word of it to the Tsar, and to stop the British and French from undermining the treaty!"


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-11-28 10:06:34 AM

Michael Ignatieff is not a 'move to the right'; that's a very strange statement, Robert McClelland. Since you never do more than, like Justin, post one-liner insults - I don't expect you to explain your post.

It isn't that Ignatieff is 'an academic' and therefore a leftist (I'm an academic and most certainly not a leftist); I think it's his choice of being a Liberal, that positions him as a leftist.

Calgary Clipper - the Ontario Conservatives??? Who, what?

I think that you are ignoring the history of Canada - which developed, economically, first in the East. Naturally, the gov't will settle in and about that geographic domain. This isn't an evil or corrupt act; it's basic business and social 'good sense'. BUT - The last two decades have seen an enormous demographic and economic shift- and the political infrastructure hasn't caught up with this shift to the West. Why not? Well, old habits 'die hard' - People aren't robots; you can't switch them on and off like a machine. AND...there is something else that has made the maturation of the Canadian political system - almost impossible.

Along with this lack of catching up to demographic and economic reality, something else has, historically, happened within Canadian politics. This was a system that would inevitably reduce the power of the electorate and insert a corrupt political infrastructure. That system, as I keep ranting on- was the establishment of official bilingualism, which in one swoop effectively disenfranchised the entire population west of the Ottawa River. This then trickled into setting up a closed Clique of PowerBrokers in the Montreal-Ottawa area. This has set up - what can be called the 'culture of entitlement'. This group will do everything they can - to maintain their economic and political control.

BUT - can they do it? It means a continuance of the denial of governing rights to the majority of the population, a continuance of the denigration of the House of Commons to being merely The Door to Power, a continuance of corruption and patronage to enable the Cartel to maintain its economic grip on the country. How long can such a system be maintained, within a growing population - and an economy that requires more popular input than a Closed Cartel?

My point- is that Canada is at a threshold; can it move out of this old system...which will, if kept..reduce it to irrelevance (I should say, 'further irrelevance')..OR - can it make the switch and begin the long road to maturity?

Posted by: ET | 2005-11-28 10:51:28 AM

[Remi; similar to your comment on Friday, I have created a thread for this comment and moved it over there. It is titled "Pardon our French." Thanks for your thoughts and keep 'em coming.--admin]

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2005-11-28 10:57:08 AM

The Ignatieff debacle strikes to the very core of PM and the LP's contention that they have put the scandalous conduct of the Cretien LP behind them:

The Standing Liberal MP has gracefully stepped down... for what luscious patronage plum this time? The mint has a position open...

And, of course, the way Ignateiff was able to get his nomination papers in without any rush (were the signatures collected and dated that day?) and thus he had the inside track (insider-trading?) actually the only track to the nomination. What does that say about the "Democracy deficit?" Will Belinda be investigating?

And, of course, Ignatieff's White Russian snobbery regarding Ukrainians and Poles says so much about the LP and the Left's "tolerance". (Can you imagine what the response to comments like this if they had be directed towards pre-columbians and their cmpaigns for nationhood?)

Posted by: Gord Tulk | 2005-11-28 11:01:48 AM

Gord Tulk: Any snobbery of Ignatieff's is "Great Russian". The White Russians are the Belorussians.

By the way, in older times Ukrainians were also known as "Little Russians".

And Ignatieff is no leftie.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-11-28 11:09:11 AM

Gord Tulk: Unless you meant White Russian in the sense of Anti-Red.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-11-28 11:10:23 AM

Mark, I think Gord probably meant "Great Russians". Hard to keep them all straight.

And yes, in older times Ukrainians were indeed known as "Little Russians." But in these times, most Ukrainians (and descendants of "Little Russians" the world over) deeply resent still being called that.

They also resent the hypocrisy of those who tout "tolerance" for everyone, it seems, except them. Even as superficial as it is.

I suppose it does, however, keep them from voting in a bloc as they tended to in "older times" here in Canada.

Posted by: PM | 2005-11-28 11:32:14 AM

Mark, Igantieff's Dad was a 'white Russian' as in 'emigre' to escape 'red' (Bolshovic's); his Dad was not a Pacifist but he was a DEMOCRACY advocate in Russia ie Dad Igantieff supported more power in the Duma and the limited contol of the Dictator, Czar Nickolas II. He was likely the best education minister Russia ever had. Ever wonder why many serfs could read? " A little education is a dangerous thing" is maybe correct. All humour aside, Igantieff Sr. was a true old style Liberal but his Mom was a dyed in the wool Aristocrate of the old school. Michael wrote a book about his family, the dismissal of their ideas and to a degree , them, is quite telling. He is either a Conservative "plant" or he is as dangerous as turdo (who the latter backed up as a dippy- hippy). Time will tell..I think he has the Liberal elitest entitilement mindset but I'd like to be wrong. If he does not have the 'entitlement' mindset branded on his hide, what is he doing with that gang of liars and thieves? His choice does not bide well for his charactor, or lack of..

Posted by: jema54j | 2005-11-28 11:58:28 AM

White Russian - a shot of vodka, a shot of kahalua and milk to taste. Just ask the Dude.

Belarus is white Russia but I also seem to recall that the ruling elite - the tsars et al - were also known as white russians but perhaps it was Great Russians. Anyway, I think you got the drift of my comments above.

Posted by: Gord Tulk | 2005-11-28 12:11:00 PM

Perhaps Conservative Canadians should join the Liberal riding association in Etobicoke to protest this latest blatant display of Canada's "democratic deficit" under the Liberals.

Before it gets any worse, and the Liberals start annointing MPs, perhaps we should also demand the government bring in election observers from, say, Ukraine?

Posted by: PM | 2005-11-28 12:31:04 PM

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