Thursday, May 24, 2007

PM Stephen Harper Displays Leadership

Are we fighting for our enemy? Recent high-level meetings are an attempt to convince Afghan President Hamid Karzai to oppose the Taliban our way and only our way. This is not surprising. When you fight a war for some other country you should be able to decide the eventual outcome. That is the US and Canadian position.

Prime Minister Harper’s recent visit with President Karzai can be praised as a morale boost for our troops, but I don’t believe he made a risky visit for that purpose alone. President Karzai has been keeping so-called back channel communications open with the Taliban. It is reported that the Afghan parliament's upper house voted to end offensive military operations and enter into direct talks with the hard-line Islamists. And it is reported that in March the lower house passed another controversial bill promoting national reconciliation that would grant all warring factions, including the Taliban, immunity from prosecution. So, are we fighting for the enemy? We are certainly fighting for the government of Afghanistan that has a different view of how peace shall be determined than that of the western world.

Prime Minister Harper didn’t go to Afghanistan to deliver hockey sticks to our troops and pencils to Afghan children. He went to tell Karzai to get on side with our troops and stop offering olive branches to the Taliban and Islamic extremists who are killing our troops while they are fighting Afghan’s war. Harper went to tell Karzai to show some leadership that will support the Canadian troops effort in Afghanistan. Harper even went to the front lines and no other serving Prime Minister of Canada has been closer to the danger zone. Is there a better example of leadership? Prime Minister Harper wants to be sure we are not fighting for our enemy and so do Canadians. Prime Minister Harper deserves a lot of credit on these counts.

The west has had a military presence in Afghanistan for over five years. How are we to end the war? Is an end possible? Harper stated on his visit to Afghanistan in a speech to our troops that we couldn’t simply lay down our arms and hope for peace. I agree, but the larger question is how do we obtain peace that is only on our terms? This is an Al Qaeda driven war and we can never kill all our enemies or negotiate with them. This is an endless war, and as in all wars, takes the lives of thousands of innocent civilians.

Finally, democracy has nothing to do with this war. A vote in the Afghan parliament or in our parliament or in the US congress will not end this war. It will end the way the west wants it to end and on our terms or not at all. If not, then have we been fighting for our enemy?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Canada - For Sale?

The take over of Canadian companies recently has to make one wonder if Canada is flaunting a For Sale sign. The most recent sale was Alcan Inc. to American Alcoa Inc. for a price tag of 33 billion. One also has to wonder if it is time to take at least a casual look at whether or not the sale of Canadian companies to foreign investors will be in Canada’s interest in the long term.

Some argue it is time to step in and protect Canadian enterprises. At this time I disagree. The federal government was well informed prior to the latest sale of Alcan Inc. I am prepared to give Stephen Harper the benefit of the doubt at this time. I may be taking a risky position considering how the Harper conservatives managed the now infamous trust accounts where individual Canadians lost millions.

Regardless, the Canadian investment business had better be playing heads up ball or things could get out of hand. To that extent, it needs to be noted that Canadian companies invested in foreign companies to the extent of 70 billion in the last quarter of 2006. So it would seem we now have trade deficits and investment deficits that must be balanced if Canada is to be anything more than a price tag relying on other countries to provide many of the consumer products Canadians are buying.

The Stephen Harper conservatives need to pay very close attention to what is going on in the investment world. They should at least read the 1985 Investment Canada Act.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Alleged Fraud

The public is left with less respect for both NDP and SaskParty politicians after a lengthy debate in the Saskatchewan legislature over allegations of fraud. The SaskParty released confidential police documents in the legislature they claim were obtained in a brown envelope. Was it really a brown envelope or was it lily white or environmentally green? Why are leaked confidential documents always sent in brown envelopes? As the debate unfolded it became apparent that a former employee of the NDP caucus in 1992 allegedly had committed fraud according to her own letter of confession.

It was also alleged the NDP was involved in some form of cover-up by not reporting all the information to the Regina City Police until 1994. Interestingly, the police failed to lay any charges after they received the 1994 report from the NDP. The NDP stated their submission to the police was a full and complete report regarding the alleged fraud of a former employee of the NDP caucus.

It is now reported that the Regina police have launched an internal investigation into how two confidential department files made their way into the hands of Saskatchewan Party MLAs. Additionally, it is reported by the police that there is also a review underway of the investigation of the alleged fraud in 1992. Police are attempting to determine whether the information they've received merits reopening the probe.
The information the police had on this alleged fraud apparently had no merit to lay charges in 1994. Why would this same information now have merit in 2007? I can only assume that the police had some good reason not to lay charges in 1994. What was the reason? On what merit should the case be now reopened?

It could be that the police investigation will expose who leaked the confidential documents to the SaskParty MLAs. If that person is found to be closely linked to one of Saskatchewan’s political parties then a whole new debate will unfold regarding this sad trail of events in Saskatchewan politics. If the police reopen this case then others may be implicated and the plot will thicken. It is unfortunate to have all this happen at the same time when we are attempting to promote Saskatchewan as a great province. Regardless, it is the cost of seeking the truth.

The public, based on all that has been argued regarding this whole affair by the NDP, the SaskParty and the Regina City Police, deserves to know all the facts. To this extent, Premier Calvert has asked the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to investigate and report sometime in June of 2007.

It is now time for our well-paid politicians to move on with other important public issues. It is now time to let the police and the Conflict of Interest Commissioner perform their reviews and investigations. It is apparent our politicians cannot fully investigate this matter in the Saskatchewan legislature. It is apparent they have embarrassed themselves and lowered the bar of respect the public holds for our politicians. Move on!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Smart Government

The new Stephen Harper conservative government once apparently stated that it is easy to get smart when you are in the opposition side of the House of Commons. This comment was apparently made while the conservative government was condemning the liberal opposition. Conversely, one could argue that it is easy to get stupid when you are in government and the new Harper conservative government is beginning to prove that argument. It has always been more difficult to govern than to oppose. Stephen Harper and the new conservative government are learning that hard lesson every day.

It could be when the conservative government denied the need to address environmental concerns and after pressure from the public and the opposition they have developed an environment plan that has only satisfied a few at best. The conservatives are trapped in the extremes of hard-core environmentalists, the profit line of industry and the inconvenience and cost to everyday Canadians.

It could be when the conservative government messed up at various times regarding the war in Afghanistan. The latest mess up being how they handled the issue of setting policy for how Taliban detainees turned over by Canadian troops to Afghan authorities is monitored to assure they are being treated in a humane manner. The many calls for the resignation of Defence Minister O’Connor has now shifted to condemnation of Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay for apparently not even knowing what the policy was.

It could have been when the new conservative government argued for tax cuts, paying down the national debt and reducing government spending while in opposition and then turning around in government and doing the very opposite.

Yes, it is easy to be smart in opposition, but does that mean you have to be stupid in government? The answer is no and the new Stephen Harper conservative government can perform intelligently as long as they stay on their agenda and at their pace. Hasty decisions to craft policy to defend against criticism from the opposition parties in the House of Commons will only cost the conservatives government and land them back in the opposition benches.

It is not so much what the conservative government has done, but rather how they have done it that has kept a majority government out of reach. It would seem an election call is out of the question for about a year or so while the new Stephen Harper conservative government gets old and smart.