Tag Archives: Speech

ICYMI: Stephen Lewis lays it down

Image description: The outlines of the letters "L E A P" appear over a background of colourful shapes and patterns drawn in what looks like pencil crayon. The images include a tree, the head of a bird, triangles which may represent mountains, and a building with a smokestack. At the bottom, in small white letters, is a passage which reads: ""Moved by the treaties that formed this country and bind us to share the land "for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow," we want energy sources that will last for time immemorial and never run out or poison the land." - The Leap Manifesto" (Image credit: Matt Forsythe/Leap Manifesto)

Image description: The large outlines of the letters “L E A P” appear in white over a background of colourful shapes and patterns drawn in what looks like pencil crayon. The images include a tree, the head of a bird, triangles which may represent mountains, and buildings with smokestacks. At the bottom, in small white letters, is a passage which reads: “”Moved by the treaties that formed this country and bind us to share the land “for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow,” we want energy sources that will last for time immemorial and never run out or poison the land.” – The Leap Manifesto” (Image credit: Matt Forsythe/Leap Manifesto)

Last September, when the Leap Manifesto burst into the middle of a massively meh marathon election campaign, I was completely in favour of the proposals it espoused and entirely pessimistic about its chances of being seriously considered by any of the major parties.

The Manifesto, in case you came in late, can be read here and is essentially a concrete and detailed plan for a transformation of the Canadian economy, political system, energy infrastructure, racial relations, and worker/capitalist relations, all with the aim of making Earth more habitable and life more enjoyable in both the short and long term.

As I wrote at the time, the Manifesto seemed to be doomed due to its overt hostility towards the ruling class: Continue Reading

Prime Minister Trudeau’s absolutely incoherent statement on Canada’s fight with ISIS

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a town-hall-style interview organized by Maclean’s Magazine. It was the first extensive, wide-ranging interview Trudeau has given since the election campaign ended, and as such was an opportunity for the media and the public to press him on the specifics of his government’s many ongoing projects and proposals.

Details haven’t been Trudeau’s strong suit, either on the campaign trail or since he took power. This is obviously more true of some subjects than others, but on a wide range of issues, from the “fixing” of C-51 to the timing and specifics of marijuana legalization to the government’s thoughts on and plans for electoral reform, what the public has been told so far essentially adds up to “Just wait and see”.

And on no topic has this vagueness been more pervasive than the issue of Canada’s fight with ISIS.

Trudeau and his Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephane Dion, insist that the Liberals’ campaign promise to withdraw Canada’s fighter jets from the conflict still stands, but two months after election day, those same fighter jets are still dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria, and no date has been provided for their mission’s conclusion. Meanwhile, aside from vague statements from the Prime Minister that Canada would bolster its contingent of military trainers, we haven’t heard any concrete details about what the shape of Canada’s military mission will be, what its objective are, how long it will last, where it will operate, or how it hopes to accomplish its goals.

Nor have we heard from Trudeau, during the election or afterwards, a coherent statement as to why he feels that Canada ought to end its bombing mission while strengthening its training mission. No doubt there is a case to be made for this particular course of action, but it’s not a case that Justin Trudeau or his ministers have ever made publicly.

So it was only a matter of time before the subject came up during Trudeau’s town hall. Up to that point, I thought that Trudeau had done a fine job of answering questions in detail – which isn’t to say that I agreed with his positions, merely that he was getting into the nitty-gritty of policy in a way I hadn’t seen him do during the campaign or since he took power. But as soon as the subject pivoted away from domestic policy into foreign affairs, he suddenly seemed like a first-year poli-sci student who skipped the readings and is trying to bullshit his way through a question from the prof that he doesn’t have a damn clue how to answer properly.

I’ve quoted the entire exchange in full here, although Maclean’s edited the plethora of “uh”s and “um”s out of Trudeau’s statements; if you’d like to watch the exchange, it begins at roughly 19:00 here. Continue Reading

Trudeau on surpluses – ours were good, Mulcair’s would be bad

Oh my friends, my friends – the things I do for the sake of political coverage!

I just spent the last half hour of my life – a half hour I’ll never get back, I hasten to add, a half hour which brought me thirty minutes closer to death – watching a Liberal Party rally livestreamed on the CBC’s website. I watched first Paul Martin and then Justin Trudeau lecture a crowd of rowdy partisan holding incoherently eerie clearly-aiming-at-being-subliminal red-and-white signs reading “leader” and “plan”, on the virtues of Liberal economic leadership. I heard Paul Martin tell the crowd that he knew a thing or two about creating a balanced budget, and that the Conservatives had squandered his surpluses, to raucous applause, and then I heard Justin Trudeau tell the crowd that a balanced budget was entirely the wrong decision for Canadians right now, to raucous applause.

Oh my lord the cognitive dissonance was real. To hear about all the compassion that the Liberal Party supposedly has for average Canadians while also hearing Martin extol his many many surpluses in the 90s – surpluses that were racked up on the backs of working Canadians – was borderline nauseating. Continue Reading

Would a recession by any other name sound as bad?

What if, instead of calling it a recession, we call it a cracked tree that might someday maybe fall on your neighbour’s house?

This past Wednesday, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, as was widely expected, announced that the Bank would be lowering its overnight interest rate by 0.25%, down to a mere half-percent, which by historical standards is extremely low. The move comes amidst increasing signs of a slowdown in the Canadian economy, with bank analysts from TD and Bank of America, among others, projecting that Canada entered a recession in the first half of 2015.

While we won’t have the final statistics until September (just in time for the federal election campaign!), the emerging consensus is that growth in Canada has been at best stagnant so far this year. So market analysts were keen to hear what Poloz had to say when he announced the new rate.

Poloz has been extremely careful with his language as of late, ever since he found himself in hot water for (accurately) describing the outlook for the Canadian economy as “atrocious” this past March in an interview with the Financial Times. Though the first-quarter numbers turned out to be worse than even the pessimistic Poloz projected, the backlash against his comments was so strong that he’s been striving to strike a tone of cautious optimism ever since.

So perhaps it was no surprise that he went WAY out of his way to avoid actually uttering the word “recession” this week.

But the disingenuousness – and sheer politicality – of his cautious language deserves calling out.

Let’s let the man speak for himself (while the CBC’s Terry Milewski gently mocks him): Continue Reading

Stephen Harper wants YOU to be terrified

Another deep dive into a Stephen Harper speech designed to provoke fear in your hearts
harper protecting canadians

Good ol’ Steve, keeping us safe! (Image credit: pm.gc.ca)

As the Conservatives continue to slip in the polls going into the summer, Harper and his strategists seem to have seized upon the George-W-Bush-circa-2004 strategy for trying to get a not-so-popular government reelected – wrap yourselves in the flag and hype the so-called “terror threat” for all it’s worth. (We’ll have to wait and see whether the HarperCons employ the same kinds of dirty tricks and low-blow character assassinations that the Bush/Cheney ’04 campaign ran, although given the deep institutional links between the Conservative and Republican Parties, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.)

Harper’s terror fixation has been on full display for the past few weeks. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen him posing in front of the same podium, which vaguely claims he is “Protecting Canadians” from unspecified threats.

First there was his super-secret-undercover-agent trip to Iraq for photo opportunities and fear-mongering, with a bleary-eyed press in tow. (I wrote up his trip here  and his speech to the troops here.)

Then there was the overhyped RCMP raid on a Montreal airport, in which they detained (but didn’t arrest or charge) ten young people allegedly attempting to travel abroad to join ISIS. (Link is to the Toronto Sun purely for the totally unrelated but provocative photo.) These highly-publicized but mostly insubstantial detainments were closely followed by a major Prime Ministerial announcement at that same airport that the Government of Canada was going to give the Mounties and the Canadian Border Services Agency even more money to keep doin’ what they’re doin’.

And most recently, right here in Toronto, Steve announced that we haven’t surrendered enough dollars or enough liberty quite yet to keep the terrorists at bay – we need to also give more money to CSIS so they can collect biometric information on pretty much everybody who enters Canada.

As I did with his fear-mongering hate speech in Iraq, I’d like to take a close look at Harper’s statement in Toronto, examining it both for its truth-value (low) and its propaganda value (high). I think it’s a useful indicator of what we can expect from the HarperCons in the election campaign this fall, and I hope that the more his rhetoric gets exposed and picked apart, the less effective it’ll be. Continue Reading

A close reading of Prime Minister Harper’s absurdly jingoistic speech to the troops in Kuwait

I’m hoping to do an update later tonight/tomorrow on the likely passage of Bill C-51, but I came across this video and it was too good to resist.

I wish I had stumbled across this while preparing yesterday’s post, but oh well, here it is now – Stephen Harper addressing the troops in Kuwait during his recent super-stealthy secret surprise visit to the front lines of the war non-combat operation against ISIS.

I retrieved the full transcript from the Prime Minister’s website, but I wasn’t able to find a full video of the speech. Do check out the link above for the abridged CP video, though – Harper’s tone of voice is priceless, like that of a pompous vice-principal addressing a high school graduation ceremony with the same tired platitudes he’s been recycling for decades.

What I’d like to do with this little gem of an address is to pick it apart, piece by piece, annotating any points of interest we come across. It’s an approach I first saw used by the incomparable Lambert Strether over at Naked Capitalism; check out, by way of example, this lovely takedown of Marco Rubio’s announcement that he was running for president, and the surprising amount of insight it yields into the man and his motives.

I lack Mr Strether’s firm command of the technical vocabulary of rhetoric (as well as his colorful collection of magic markers), but I know bullshit when I smell it, and this speech is full of it.

Let’s dive in, shall we? Continue Reading

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