Blog of Mass Distraction

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Take it to the Airwaves

Prime Minister Martin made a televised address the other night. The PM addressing the public on tv hasn't been done since Jean Chretien appealed to Quebecers before the last referendum. Martin made a plea to Canadians to hold off on an election call until after the final report from the Gomery inquiry. He said that within 30 days of the report being released an election will be called.1 Opposition leaders Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe are both salivating at the thought of an election. If an election were to be held right now however, Harper would likely become leader of a minority government and the Bloc would probably sweep Quebec. The NDP has become a surprise ally of the embattled Liberal government as Jack Layton has tried to hold off an election call. Moreover, polls have shown that most Canadians don't want another federal election right now, so all parties are currently waiting in the wings.
Again, I think Martin should step down and remove any of his or Chretien's Quebec political cronies and let the Liberal party make a fresh go at it. Otherwise, there are enough people that see little difference between his corruption and the unknown danger of Harper. There is a palpable fear of Harper in many moderate people, but they figure now that he can't be any worse than Paul Martin and the corrupt Liberals. But they definitely can...

Republican lead Senator Bill Frist has also taken to the airwaves. He's promoting a recent Republican initiative that's been dubbed 'the nuclear option'.2 Republicans have been terribly annoyed by the Democratic attempts to stop appointments. Their specific concern is over Supreme Court Justice appointments. They want to remove the Democratic minority's opportunity of using filibusters to block the appointments. The Republican party is currently looking to appoint some ultra conservative members to the Supreme Court to stop any legal battles over moral and policy issues. To appease the Christian right they want to stop any fights over abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action or deregulation. The Republicans have of course used filibusters to block Democratic appointments and blocked several of Clinton's appointees when they gained contol of the senate, but that doesn't matter because the current administration has no concept for history or context. The filibuster is meant to protect the rights of minority parties in the senate by requiring more than a simple majority (60 votes rather than 51) for decisions such as Justice appointments; the Republicans currently have 55 seats in the Senate.

Not to be outdone, U2 lead man Bono has taken to the airwaves in radio interview in Vancouver. Bono criticized Prime Minister Martin for not living up to his commitments on international aid. Canada currently contributes about .3% of GDP while the goal was supposed to be 0.7%.3 A Martin representative said they are still aiming for that goal, but they feel they can't afford it right now. Bono dismissed this excuse citing the consistent surpluses in the federal budget over the past years, and he said that Martin will regret this decision in a years time (or perhaps whenever the next federal election is called).

Israel, in a move critized by the US,4 has decided to expand West Bank settlements. The settlements, which are illegal under international law, will be expanded despite comments from President George Bush that Israel should abide by the US drafted Road Map to peace. Israel has also decided to delay the Ghaza pullout, prompting further criticism along with recent outbreaks of violence. Israeli soldiers have killed several young Palestinians in recent attacks in Gaza.5 This along with protests and a planned march of pro-settlement groups into the Al-Aqsa site threaten the current ceasefire which has been observed by both sides.6

1. Prime Minister Martin sorry for not being more vigilant.
2. Article on The Nuclear Option by Paul Street.
3. Bono is upset with Martin.
4. Bush criticizes Sharon for for expanding settlements.
5. Three teens killed in Gaza.
6. Right wing group threatens ceasefire.


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