Domestic donut duties out of the way, Harper was back in New York yesterday to show his statesmanlike self as he met with the Israeli Prime Minister and attend the first-ever meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan. Today is the G-20 meeting, where he’ll be urging countries not to shut off the stimulus taps just yet, and generally avoid making any commitments to Climate Change, except I’m sure if they’re “aspirational” targets.
But wait – Canadian diplomacy’s not over yet. Sometime next week, when Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi stops over in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador to refuel his plane, Lawrence Cannon will be there to express Canada’s disapproval at Libya giving a “hero’s welcome” to the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. No word yet if he’ll simply walk off the tarmac once the plane lands – much like he did during Ahmadinejad’s UN speech on Wednesday.
In more domestic matters, the Liberals and Conservatives squared off in competing press conferences about the Economic Action Plan. The Liberals held a conference in a Burlington farmer’s field that was slated to have been turned into a park by now, and they released their data showing that only 12 percent of stimulus funds have actually flowed. Shortly thereafter, John Baird held his own conference at a bus station to say that 75 percent of “projects slated to begin this year” were underway. Note that phrase – it’s completely weaselling out of their previous histrionics about how the stimulus money needed to flow immediately or the sky would fall. That Baird calls the Liberals attempts to hold the government to account (as is their job – one they’ve finally woken up to) as “opportunistic” and “shameful” is pretty rich.
Things also got more interesting when a Conservative candidate in Markham admitted openly that funds didn’t flow to the riding because it’s held by a Liberal right now. Harper denied this, and said candidate should be receiving his muzzle (or possibly a ball-gag?) any day now, lest he let out any more “inconvenient” facts for this government.
Speaking of the Liberals, one of their former top officials is wading into the whole Coderre-Cauchon feud in Quebec, and is calling out the party for its “appointment culture.” And while most leaders have used this power in the past for “star candidates,” the Liberals in recent memory have been using this to get more women to run in winnable ridings. The former official – herself a woman – expressed dismay that women were being “used as the excuse for the continued political machinations.” That said – everyone (except most Conservatives) agrees that we need more women in politics, and if this is one way of ensuring that they actually stand a chance, should we not use those tools? Well, that’s not for me to decide, but it is an interesting point of debate.
Abousfian Abdelrazik is suing the government for $27 million for his six-year ordeal in and out of Sudanese prisons and in exile. Maher Arar was given $10.5 million and an apology – Abdelrazik is hoping for commensurate compensation. Considering some of the nonsense the government made him go through, including constantly changing the hoops he was required to jump through with little logical explanation – even though he had been cleared by CSIS and the RCMP – he’s entitled to something.
A 235-page deconstruction of the 2007 Conservative “blueprint” for prison reforms was unveiled today, and basically it tore said “blueprint” apart, saying it was the product of ideology that was throwing out years of concrete data which proved that the measures it advocates don’t work. And what was the Conservative response? To belittle it because it came from academia, and we all know that those horrible academics in their Ivory Towers can’t tell us anything, as “emotional truths” outweigh empirical evidence.
And finally, the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt posts the contents of the Prime Minister’s press secretary’s pissy email from Wednesday. It’s full of some pretty incredulous things.
Up today: Michael Ignatieff and Martha Hall Findlay are having a press conference about the government’s use of taxpayer dollars for partisan advertising (under the guise of “Economic Action Plan” ads). I’ll do my best to be there to give you the full report.