Must-reads: Christie Blatchford on blowing up a perfectly good native fishery; John Robson vs. the anti-Monarchists; Dan Gardner on harm reduction; Lorne Gunter on young offenders.
Another big load of potatoes
Pundits search for ulterior motives in the PMO shakeup, Garth Turner expresses his undying loyalty for Stéphane Dion as only he could, and all the other Ottawa goings-on.
Ian Brodie’s departure as Stephen Harper’s chief of staff may not “cause many ripples” outside the Queensway, John Ivison argues in the National Post, but the consequences of botching the appointment of his successor would be “as serious, if less publicly embarrassing, as appointing a greenhorn Cabinet minister” simply due to the breadth of his responsibilities. While Guy Giorno “may not have been first choice,” Ivison says his “background in strategic communications and crisis management” will likely serve this accident-prone PMO well—and his wonkish leanings and superior media savvy will be welcome “at a time when the governing party is in desperate need of some new policy.”
The Calgary Herald‘s Don Martin suggests Brodie is simply one drop in “a flood of resignations expected next month” so as to limbo just beneath the razor wire of the Federal Lobbying Act—which comes into effect on July 1 and bans many public office-holders from registering as lobbyists for five years. (Under no circumstances would we claim expertise in this area, but word on the street is that Brodie is subject to the ban, irrespective of his resignation date. Feel free to bash that out in the comments!)
Garth Turner, a.k.a. the future NDP member for Halton, tells the Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe he’s “in a bit of trouble right now” with his caucus colleagues for being so goddamn steadfast in his support of Stéphane Dion, and so goddamn outspoken in his disapproval of ambitious types like Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff. In this case, Turner’s penchant for team-play manifests itself in helpful statements such as, “Dion is reaching the point where he’s going to lose more altitude if he doesn’t take the bait.”
“Resentment doesn’t qualify” as a “theory of government,” a royal blue-faced John Robson writes in the Ottawa Citizen, “and neither does insolence.” The insolence in this case belongs to the “anti-Victoria Day crowd,” which Robson says is perfectly happy to rail against the Queen of Canada but seems unable to nominate a suitable replacement head of state. We could have “an elected chief executive who is also head of state, on the (gasp) American model,” he suggests, or someone appointed by the Prime Minister to “rubber-stamp” his or her decisions. “But who then guards the guardians in our brave new constitution?” Robson asks. “Bud the Spud?” (A fabulous idea, we think.)
The fact that Health Minister Tony Clement “has balked at declaring Insite a success despite having … 22 [favourable] peer-reviewed studies on his desk is easily explained,” the Citizen‘s Dan Gardner sarcastically argues. “He simply has very demanding evidentiary standards.” So he imagines Clement will be shocked, horrified and devastated to learn that there’s far less evidence supporting the law enforcement, treatment and prevention arms of the war on drugs than there is supporting harm reduction. “Why, he will be shocked senseless,” Gardner predicts. “When his aides bring him round with smelling salts, shock will turn to outrage,” a “wholesale review of drug policy” will ensue, and Insite’s mandate will surely be extended.
Lorne Gunter, writing in the Edmonton Journal, is “not entirely alarmed … that the Supreme Court took away the zero-tolerance, youths-to-adult-court provisions of the YCJA.” Indeed, he argues that “like zero-tolerance policies of any kind,” the struck-down policy “remove[d] from the equation the discretion of people who have all the facts before them in a particular case.” On the other hand, he notes, violent youth crime is on the rise, and most of it is committed by repeat offenders. Thus, he hopes judges take this opportunity to start better separating the brand of offender that should clearly be tried in an adult court from the brand that is more receptive to, and deserving of, rehabilitation.
In 1820, The Globe and Mail‘s Christie Blatchford reports, a rockslide near Hazelton, B.C., partially blocked the Bulkley River and thereby created a natural salmon fishery, which in turn led the Hagwilget native band to settle in the area. In 1959, the Fisheries Department blew up the rockslide and destroyed the fishery. Good work, gentlemen. There followed, according to a recent Federal Court of Canada decision, decades of broken promises—”at one point,” Blatchford notes, “the judge said the government was so desperate to make some sort of repairs for the ruined fishery that it ‘seems to have supplied canned salmon to the village.'” More recently, Blatchford notes, there have been 23 years of legal wrangling by the Hagwilget in search of redress, which continues to this day, and will continue at least until the summer of 2009.
It’s not over until it’s over, and even then it’s still not even close to being over
It is “highly unlikely” Hillary Clinton will get any love from the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee when it comes to seating the Michigan and Florida delegates, John Ibbitson reports in the Globe. Such a decision would punish Obama “for no other reason than that he respected the DNC’s rules,” he notes, and would have serious potential to “tear the party apart.” “Seating the delegations at half strength,” as the Republicans did, is the most likely solution, but it won’t give Clinton the delegates she needs. And if she takes this fight onto the convention floor, Ibbitson warns, it might very well “hand the election” to McCain.
The Globe‘s Jeffrey Simpson explains all the ways in which John McCain is less a mainstream Republican than Barack Obama is a mainstream Democrat, all of which seem pretty darn self-evident to us, and not quite the threat to the Obama campaign Simpson claims. Surely Obama’s considerable “unusual” personal qualities will have more crossover appeal among Republican voters than, say, a GOP-friendly approach to ethanol subsidies.
“Countless feuds and revenge attacks [are] mounted” in Afghanistan, the Toronto Star‘s Rosie DiManno reports, often costing lives of Afghan soldiers and police. The “seeds” of a recent attack on a member of parliament’s family near Jalalabad, for example, “were apparently planted years ago during the mujahideen era, one family purportedly aggrieved over the power wielded by another.” “To the outside world, it’s all lumped in as insurgency,” DiManno writes. “It isn’t.”
“If the IAAF had treated any living sportswriter the way it did [Oscar] Pistorius,” Colby Cosh writes in the Post, “all the ink in the world wouldn’t be enough to channel the outrage.” Track and field’s governing body scientifically examined whether the legless sprinter “enjoys an advantage in straight-line acceleration” but ignored his obvious disadvantage at the starting line, Cosh argues, then misled board members about the findings and made comments that strongly suggested the ultimate vote was rigged. Now that Pistorius’ appeal has been upheld and he’ll be allowed to compete (if he qualifies) at the Olympics, Cosh suggests it’s time to concede that nobody really knows whether he has an advantage or not—and that if he “win[s] the odd meet or medal along the way” to finding out, it really won’t be the end of the world.