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Friday, December 23, 2005

First half wrap

I wrapped up my two weeks "on the Tory bus" yesterday morning in Winnipeg with a "three-fer" with Stephen Harper. First was his strong announcement about new military spending to boost Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. It was yet another example of how Harper is neatly pushing a conservative agenda (supporting the armed forces), while also winning the capture-the-flag game he is playing with Martin over who gets to be Captain Canada.

Next was a private, half-hour interview with Harper in his suite, at which I finally had an opportunity to ask him some questions about the transformation of the party and of his personal politics. I'll be using his candid and insightful comments in a long story that will be published in the Western Standard just prior to the election. I see that Jane Taber of the Globe also got some private time with Harper, and has published a story today.

The third was a farewell luncheon, at which Harper played Santa and handed out boxes of Laura Secord chocolates to the reporters. I'm told this event got me some serious face time on national television.

Harper is making one more appearance before Christmas, at a toy store this morning in Calgary, and then will take a few days off. As for me, after a week on the Western Standard cruise, followed immediately by two weeks on the campaign trail (with a stop in Vancouver, thankfully), I'll be unplugging my laptop and enjoying some downtime for the next several days. 

Posted by Terry O'Neill on December 23, 2005 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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I really hope that this "Northern strategy" is just an election tactic, because the North is worthless territory of no value to any country other than Canada. No military threat has existed since the end of the Cold War, and none before that. So what if US subs transit the area. The means to counter them are too expensive (such as owning nuclear subs). Assuming they did exist, the consequences of attacking an American sub would be catastrophic. They must be allowed to do it because there is no alternative.

As an election tactic it might work to get some votes, but as a military strategy, it drains scarce and vitally needed resources that would be better used elsewhere such as the Middle East or Central Asia. Terrorists in Afghanistan are a much greater threat to Canada and its allies than chest-beating with Denmark over a worthless island. Search and Rescue should be the only military resource dedicated to Northern operations. The rise in trans-polar air travel makes this more important than ever, so I'd say give them C-130Js, in-flight refuelling helicopters, and the people to do it.

Posted by: Scott | 2005-12-23 11:16:37 AM

I see you are speaking from the viewpoint of someone who has never been there. It belongs to Canada and as such Canada should have a military presence there. As far as being "worthless territory" I'd suggest you talk to a geologist, miner or oilman. The natuaral resources up there are mind boggling and you are willing to let it go? I guess if you live in toronto then Saskatchewan isn't worth your time either, eh? How about if the 82nd Airborne go marching up Younge Street on their way to that "worthless territory" that Canada can't or doesn't want to defend.
Grow up lad and see ALL of your country.

Posted by: Texas Canuck | 2005-12-23 2:14:23 PM

Thanks Tex. :)

Scott: Oil, diamonds, fish and Danish tourists. And all manner of metals (and white bears). I'd vote for Marx before Martin.

Posted by: frank | 2005-12-23 2:32:58 PM

The Tory defence "policy" verges on farcical. Their defence critic, Mr. O'Connor apparently thinks JTF-2 should be quarantined in the deep woods because they, as trained ninja, threaten the citizens of Ottawa. One wonders what O'Connor thinks the citizens of Pembroke did to deserve his moving this gang of anti-social misfits to Pettawawa.I presume he's also keen on armed ice breakers to look for USN subs and is all for rebuilding the airborne regiment so it can parachute onto a pile of rock and gravel in the arctic to shoo away any Danish campers who have entered Canada without filling out a customs card.

Posted by: Michael Shannon | 2005-12-23 2:46:38 PM

There once was a time when Canada did have a military that was capable of maintaining a presence where needed. Our North is a vast trove of resources well worth protecting by whatever means necessary. I seem to recall it was the Liberals who shortsightedly dismantalled Canada's Forces. As the old adage goes:No one can take care of your SH"T like yourself" or "Use it or lose it" Stephen Harper has the right idea when he proposes boosting military spending.Those that think his plan is folly should go give their heads a shake.

Posted by: simon | 2005-12-23 3:33:21 PM

There once was a time when Canada did have a military that was capable of maintaining a presence where needed. Our North is a vast trove of resources well worth protecting by whatever means necessary. I seem to recall it was the Liberals who shortsightedly dismantalled Canada's Forces. As the old adage goes:No one can take care of your SH"T like yourself" or "Use it or lose it" Stephen Harper has the right idea when he proposes boosting military spending.Those that think his plan is folly should go give their heads a shake.

Posted by: simon | 2005-12-23 3:34:28 PM

Harper is thinking long-term, and is his defence critic. And remember, O'Connor is a former high-ranking officer of the Armed Forces and knows whereof he speaks.

The long term issue is control over the resources in the North. In particular, do we want to see Chinese oil production platforms in what we claim are our territorial waters? If not, then we need to recognise the North is of great value---economically, historically, and culturally---to our sense of self as a nation.

Of course, South of Bloor (S.O.B., for short) does not and cannot see this. And the Liberals DO have a "hidden agenda" (though not so hidden if you are willing to look): Maurice Strong, Chinese investment, Martin sucking up to the People's Army and the ChiComms etc etc. We are being sold to the Chinese State, bit by bit, quietly and behind the scenes. Harper knows this. Hence the Defence policy.

Posted by: Patrick B | 2005-12-23 3:54:17 PM

MSM, editors & Fife bury this at the bottom of the article, slurring the Jews with, "Meanwhile, ..."
Code for: Jews don't count/have no memory, & etc. Bfghtjks.>

"Meanwhile, the Jewish community is demanding an apology from the Liberals, for making them the first casualties in what is expected to be an increasingly nasty campaign in the weeks leading to Jan. 23." >>>


Liberal photo 'beyond tasteless,' Harper says

Updated Fri. Dec. 23 2005 6:42 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says a photo circulating within Liberal ranks is a "tasteless" sign the Grit campaign is set to take turn to the negative.

The photo, depicting a quiet conversation between Harper and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, is featured in campaign instructions available to Liberal candidates online.

"I think it's beyond tasteless," Harper said Friday, noting that the photo was taken when all four federal party leaders were attending a Holocaust memorial on Parliament Hill last spring.

"To imply that Mr. Duceppe and I share some sort of agenda other than opposing the Holocaust is disgraceful."

According to the Conservative leader, the material foreshadows an impending negative turn in the ongoing election campaign.

"I think you're just seeing the beginning," Harper told reporters outside the Calgary toy store where he'd stopped to buy presents.

"A corrupt party that doesn't have a record to run on: this is the sort of stuff they're going to do."

Liberal Party national director Steve McKinnon refused to discuss the ads on camera, but in a statement the Grits denied a negative campaign was in the works.

"They were never at any time prepared in the context of an advertising strategy," the statement said, describing the material as part of a list of issues intended to help candidates as they go door-knocking.

The picture was used to illustrate the suggestion a Harper-Duceppe coalition would lead to a weakened federal government.

Pollster Allan Gregg warns, should the Liberal campaign take a negative turn, the party should be prepared for the move to backfire.

"Negative advertising and negative campaigns can have a negative effect on those who launch it -- so they have to be very careful," the Strategic Counsel chairman told CTV News.

Saddled with a nagging reputation for negative campaigning, the Conservatives are taking a more subtle tack in their newest advertisements.

But Harper stopped short Friday of vowing his party would avoid negative campaigning in its bid to mislead the public in his bid to form a Conservative government.

"Anything we will be saying in this campaign will be factual and accurate. I can't promise it will all be pretty."

Meanwhile, the Jewish community is demanding an apology from the Liberals, for making them the first casualties in what is expected to be an increasingly nasty campaign in the weeks leading to Jan. 23.>>>>

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-12-23 5:27:41 PM

Victory declared Christmas Day, 25 December, 1943.

The Battle of Ortona, Italy. Canada lost 1,300 soldier/warriors in the month-long battle. Lest we forget. >

At dawn on Dec. 21, two understrength companies and a half-squadron of Three Rivers Regt. tanks moved cautiously up the main street towards the first of three large public squares. By mid-afternoon the advance had slowed to a halt, and Hoffmeister sent a company of Seaforths to help. The next morning it was apparent the German resistance had stiffened and Hoffmeister committed the balance of the Seaforths, assigning each battalion to half the town.

The Canadians now fought for Ortona house by house, often fighting from the top floor down. They used a "mouse-holing" technique–blasting through walls, lobbing grenades through the gaps and then using more grenades to move down the stairs. Here the Canadians wrote the book on street-fighting. After the war, former Seaforths commander Colonel S.W. Thomson recalled that the standard training film for British and Commonwealth forces, Fighting In Built-up Areas, was based on interviews with Seaforth and Edmonton veterans.

War correspondents anxious to cover the last phase of a month-long campaign arrived in Ortona and quickly revised their initial optimistic reports. Ortona became "little Stalingrad" as radio journalist Matthew Halton and reporter Ralph Allen wrote feature stories on the battle. Christopher Buckley, a British correspondent whose beautifully written 1945 book The Road To Rome should be reprinted, insisted "a painter of genius, Goya perhaps" was needed to record the poignant images of Ortona. In one "half-darkened room," he wrote, "there were five or six Canadian soldiers, there were old women and there were innumerable children. The children clambered over the Canadian soldiers and clutched them convulsively every time one of our anti- tank guns fired down the street…. Soon each of us had a squirming, terrified child in our arms."

The rifle companies had begun the operation at little better than half-strength, so the arrival of reinforcements was particularly welcome. The Edmontons got a draft of 75 men from the Cape Breton Highlanders on Christmas Eve, "tremendously good soldiers" who fitted in right away. The end was now in sight; Kesselring insisted that "we do not want to defend Ortona decisively" and authorized a withdrawal. With 90 per cent of Ortona in Canadian hands and 1st Bde. threatening to cut off any retreat, there was little choice.

Ortona was a victory for all of the Canadian troops–and all Canadians. Ordinary men, leaving civilian life behind because they were needed, had forged regimental extended families and small cohesive sub-units that fought with skill and determination. Looking back, Maj.-Gen. Brown spoke of mutual confidence between officers and men "built on the rock of accomplishment." >

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-12-23 5:44:57 PM

Glad to see someone bringing up Maurice Strong, Patrick B. It is beyond me how the CBC can headline with "Old Harper speech resurfaces on debate day", but hasn't mentioned Strong during the election.

The only reference to Strong on cbc.ca is in the 'leader profile' of Paul Martin, where it is noted that Strong was his personal adviser for decades. There is no mention of the serious allegations against Strong or that he's in China during the campaign.

If you read the Globe and Mail comments below Taber's piece, all you will hear is the same old same "Harper is scary" mantra. We have a man who's personal adviser (who has also been one of the most powerful men on the planet and the architect of Kyoto) is accused of accepting bribes from Saddam's regime, and people can't stop mentioning that Harper correctly called Canada a welfare state in 1997??

If Martin wins on the 23rd, I think I'm going to have to get very drunk to cope.

Posted by: Angela | 2005-12-23 6:18:56 PM

Like Dorian Grey some Canadians prefer to sell thier souls to the "Devil they Know" rather than look into who is realy running this country.

Posted by: Rosie | 2005-12-24 4:40:44 AM

Buried at the bottom of this story [ see comment at 23-Dec-05 5:27:41 PM ]is:

"Meanwhile, the Jewish community is demanding an apology from the Liberals, for making them the first casualties in what is expected to be an increasingly nasty campaign in the weeks leading to Jan. 23."
link provided >>>

B'nai Brith Canada: Please provide your comments/reply to this story.

Tuesday 20 December 2005
B’nai Brith Canada Election Task Force Guide addresses widespread issues of Jewish community concern

Toronto, December 20, 2005... With the federal election campaign in full swing, B’nai Brith Canada has announced the release of its Election Task Force Guide, now accessible from the organization’s website.

“This document outlines priority issues of concern to the Jewish community and offers recommendations for action,” said Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada’s Executive Vice President. “It covers a full range of issues relating to domestic and foreign policy and includes sections on hate-related activity and the need for increased security at Jewish institutions, Canada’s anti-terrorism legislation, affordable housing, Aboriginal affairs, and Canada’s response to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“We reiterate at this time the call made during prior election periods to all politicians to maintain a respectful dialogue and to keep a focus on the issues. Already there have been reports of candidates’ signs being defaced, in at least one case with Nazi symbols. We therefore also call on the Canadian public at large to behave responsibly, while holding our politicians to account and participating fully in the political process.

“B’nai Brith is Canada’s only independent, non-partisan national Jewish human rights organization, active in this country since 1875. Its members are affiliated with a full range of political parties and are active in the political life of the communities in which they live. The organization will be convening Town Hall pre-election debates across the country to bring issues of Jewish community concern to the fore.”

The Election Task Force Guide titled, ‘Issues of Concern and Recommendations for Action’, can be accessed at: www.bnaibrith.ca/ElectionTaskForce2005.html.

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-12-24 5:19:20 AM

According to Elections Canada, in their last annual filing, the Liberal Party of Canada was $34,818,257.32 in debt, by way of 13 bank loans.

If you review the published fundraising activities of the Liberal Party, they reported $1,702,974.83 in fundraising in the first quarter of 2005, which still left them $33 million in debt.

The Bloc Quebecois has more than $10 million in outstanding loans, mostly from the Caisse Desjardins.

The NDP has several modest loans outstanding, totalling a little more than $3 million.

The Conservatives are debt-free.

Some of the Conservative ads seem to have been made with home movie cameras. They might have had the media giggling, but the party laid off no employees during the holidays. They will enter the New Year with a full war chest.

Sheila Copps

Posted by: Chazz | 2005-12-24 6:18:17 AM

Harper: "Beyond Tasteless".

Gimbol posts at freerepublic.com. Good work.

Liberals demean the Holocaust and Jews. By doing so, the Liberals demean/slur all of us. It's but a short step to denial of the Holocaust.

Will Irwin Cotler speak? Will SSMartin speak?

Liberals must reject this slur against the Jews.

Liberals must apologize for the slurs against Jews, Harper & Duceppe and all Canadians.

RSVP, Martin????

Liberals latest screwup.

Posted on 12/24/2005 4:38:54 AM PST by gimbol

The latest screwup by team Martin.

They "leak" their attack ads in the hope of getting some free ad time. Problem was that they used a photo of Harper and Duceppe at a Holocast memorial service to suggest they are concocting the destruction of the country.

Presently the Jewish community is demanding an apology from the liberal party of canada.

You can't make this stuff up folks, sucks to be a liberal in Canada right now. >>>

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-12-24 6:23:34 AM

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