M.P. Blogging

WebAs previously discussed, the House of Commons in Ottawa held an interesting vote the other day. Monte Solberg, an M.P. from Medicine Hat, blogged the event from the House of Commons during the vote via his BlackBerry Wireless Handheld. Here's his entry:

I hope this posts. Am blogging from my blackberry in the House where I have just voted for our non-confidence motion. The Libs are trying hard to play this down. They have two cabinet ministers out, Efford and Cotler. We'll win, but they'll claim it's non confidence.

Pretty unhappy campers over there! They can't believe that their iron-grip on power and pocketnooks might be loosed. Kilgour just voted with the Libs. Hmmm. 153 to 150. We win!

This is no small event. This is a significant first as far as I can tell. Solberg relayed his opinions and observations to his constituents and everyone else in the world in real-time as it happened. I see this as the future of communication, instant access to information, opinion, and historic occurrences. It's awesome and this is just the beginning.

Unfortunately, Solberg is a member of the Conservative Party, but even that won't stop me from giving him his props.

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Our Confusing Parliamentary System

OttawaI majored in history with a focus on Canadian history, but even I find our parliamentary system awfully confusing at times. This is one such instance.

The House of Commons passed a motion by 153 votes to 150 tonight that calls on the public accounts committee "to recommend that the government resign." That's rather loose language, isn't it? There certainly isn't anything binding there. If my knowledge is correct, a minority government falls when it loses a vote of confidence. The Liberals lost tonight's vote, but this vote wasn't a vote of confidence. The Conservative party can introduce such a vote on an opposition day, the next ones being three days at the end of this month.

So, the House has voted "to recommend that the government resign" and the Prime Minister is choosing to ignore the vote. No doubt, on the next opposition day, Stephen Harper will introduce a formal vote of confidence that would force an election. We could be back at the polls this summer and you know this one is going to be a nail biter.

Who says Canadian politics is boring?

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OttawaNot since Maggie Trudeau and The Rolling Stones hooked up has Canadian politics been this sexy. Coverage of Ottawa politics these days should be rated AA.

"Who's sleeping with whom: parties trade barbs over political bedfellows". That's the CP headline I just read. Jack Layton is accusing Stephen Harper of getting into bed with Gilles Duceppe, Harper is accusing Layton of jumping into bed with Paul Martin and Martin will take any love he can get.

It's getting awfully steamy... it looks like it will be a long, hot, sticky summer.

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Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World

OttawaAs if Paul Martin's troubles couldn't get any worse, he's now angered Bono. In an interview that airs this morning on CBC Radio's "The House", the singer blasts Martin for reneging on a promise to reach a foreign aid goal of 0.7% of GDP.

"We were looking for Canada to lead rather than be a laggard...It's not just about me being a nuisance, this is about Canada's identity in the world...This is what's upsetting about this, is it feels like business as usual."

Accusing Martin of trying to "hold up history," Bono wants us to call the Prime Minister's Office to complain. That number, if you don't already have it on speed dial, is 613.992.4211.

One love, One blood, One life, You got to do what you should.

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My Options

CanadaPaul Martin says he's sorry. He looked quite sincere as he read the prepared speech from the teleprompter. When we do vote in the next election, be it this summer or next winter, we have some fantastic options.

Paul Martin, Liberal Party - We can't vote for him, not after what we've learned from the sponsorship scandal. The party has been in power too long and is corrupt. How can we vote them back in?

Stephen Harper, Conservative Party - We can't vote for him. His social agenda is brutal and his hidden agenda is frightening. A vote for Harper is akin to the selling of one's soul. No can do.

Jack Layton, New Democratic Party - We can't vote for him. He's got some great ideas, but he can't win and we're throwing our vote away on him.

Reviewing my options, we're screwed. The Liberal Party of Canada deserves to be ousted, but who should lead us? Harper would be a mistake and Jack isn't ready for prime time, so we're back to the Liberals. A win by default is still a win, unfortunately for us.

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A Sobering Thought

CanadaStephen Harper could very well win a minority government when we next go to the polls to vote in our federal election. The Liberal party is falling from their perch atop the food chain thanks to damning testimony at the sponsorship inquiry, headed by Justice John Gomery.

I fear many will cast their vote for Harper's Conservative party as a way of punishing the Liberal party. The problem, as I see it, is that Paul Martin is too intertwined with this scandal and with him at the helm all integrity is lost. Harper could win by default despite the fact most Canadians, particularly here in Ontario, disagree with his agenda with regards to social issues.

Damn the Liberal party and this bloody scandal. The thought of Prime Minister Stephen Harper turns my stomach. Most Canadians want to cast their vote for the Liberal party, but need to know integrity has been restored and that means changes at the top. Although this is unlikely to happen, I'd like to see Martin replaced as leader with someone with no ties to the sponsorship scandal so we don't have to sacrifice our strong social beliefs by voting against the big red machine.

Harper for PM? Not if I can help it.

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Gomery Blogging

JusticeI'm not in the mood for a contempt charge. The Gomery Commission has imposed a publication ban on the testimony received from Jean S. Brault, Paul Coffin and Joseph Charles Guité and this publication ban has been violated by an American blogger. The original intent of this entry was to link to this blog that's sharing details of this testimony, but apparently I can be charged with contempt of court for doing such a thing. Instead, I'm going to link to this Globe & Mail story and let you Google your own way there.

In this age of blogging, is a true publication ban even possible? This American blogger that is posting the details feels safe in doing so because he's not on Canadian soil. Yet, the Internet is borderless and I'm able to read every word as easily from Toronto as I could from his next door neighbour's home in Minnesota. Information is so easily shared I'm not sure how you'd even police such a publication ban. It's easy to monitor the releases from the main stream media, but is there really someone monitoring what appears on torontomike.com?

As I said off the top, I'm not in the mood to find out.

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The Politics Are Dancing

A NewspaperPrime Minister Paul Martin is insisting that the United States seek permission before firing any missiles over Canada. Our big buddies to the South have said that the United States would not consult us before firing at incoming missiles over our airspace. To that notion, the Prime Minister says, "This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission."

This of course stems from Martin's courageous decision to not sign on to the U.S. missile defence program. I was never comfortable with Dubya's eager desire to have us sign on. We're not the 51st state and I feared the possibilities should we have buckled to his pressure. Make no mistake, America is our ally, but our role in the missile defence program reked of subserviency.

In a less courageous move, our Ontario government passed legislation yesterday recognizing same-sex marriage. Don't get me wrong, I'm very pleased this legislation passed, but I'm not proud of the manner in which the votes were registered.

The government approved the bill by a simple voice vote, which allowed it to pass without forcing Liberal MPPs who object to same-sex marriage to go on the record as having voted against their party. This is cowardly. We have the right to know which MPPs don't want to recognize gay and lesbian marriages. They need to be accountable for their vote and permitting them to vote anonymously is a serious blow to the entire democratic process.

Regardless of how they were implemented, these are two positive political actions on the Federal and Provincial levels respectively. The politics are indeed dancing because we've got da groovy beat.

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Stepping Up On Bill C-38

The Canadian FlagRead the address by Prime Minister Paul Martin on Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act. If you're too lazy to read, play the video while you surf the web. Sometimes I'm unsure about Martin's ability to lead, but on this issue he's stepped up to the plate and hit one out. The following two sentences sum it up nicely.

The people of Canada have worked hard to build a country that opens its doors to include all, regardless of their differences; a country that respects all, regardless of their differences; a country that demands equality for all, regardless of their differences.

If we do not step forward, then we step back. If we do not protect a right, then we deny it. Mr. Speaker, together as a nation, together as Canadians: Let us step forward.

A colleague of mine, aware of my views with regards to this subject, attempted to "enlighten" me this morning. I won't divulge too many details, but the gist of her point was that homosexuality was a violation of God's law and therefore recognizing the rights of a homosexual was a horrid sin. For a little while I tried to reason with her explaining that a literal interpretation of the bible had no place in our law books and that this was question of equal rights and freedoms, but she simply pitied me and condemned me to hell. This colleague of mine is why Bill C-38 absolutely must pass. Hatred cannot be condoned by our laws.

Let us step forward.

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A Word About Strippergate

A Word About StrippergateImmigration Minister Judy Sgro has been under attack this week because of our government's policy of admitting foreign exotic dancers to work in Canada. Essentially, strip clubs in this country can't find enough "talent" from the pool of Canadian-born women and have been recruiting women from other countries. These immigrants are granted special work visas enabling them to come and stay in Canada.

I'm wondering how you prove stripping is a skill you behold. Considering this is being used as a way for some women to jump the immigration line, is it as simple as putting "stripper" next to the "Occupation" line on your application to enter this country? There has to be some criteria as to what exactly defines a stripper, much like there's criteria as to what exactly defines a doctor, engineer or plumber.

First and foremost, we want our strippers to be aesthetically pleasing. A fit body and fairly pretty face is a prerequisite. Also, some rhythm is required when dancing with that pole. These are rather subjective traits, so I assume there's a bureaucratic body that would review the woman's performance and deem them Canadian stripper-worthy, or not. Each applicant is judged on a scale of one to ten on body, face and grace. The highest and lowest scores for each is dropped and the remaining scores are averaged together. Then, if the final score is greater than X, she's granted her special work visa and welcomed to our home and native land.

To do it any other way would be unfair to our hard-working strip club attendees.

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