Speaking of politics and such, I received a couple of responses to a message I sent out. You’ll recall that I was extremely displeased about the memo written by Pubic Works Deputy Minister David Marshall. Don’t even get me started again. Just follow the link if you want more details. The most amusing thing about the situation is the Director himself didn’t know about the memo his overzealous Deputy wrote. I can imagine Marshall got an earful! Anyway, the key part of the memo read:

All persons recruited externally must be from designated groups (persons who are visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and women), except for cases having received ADM/CEO written approval. This measure will be in force until March 31, 2006, at which time we will re-assess our progress.

I flipped out and wrote a tersely worded message to the Public Works comment e-mail address and also sent a carbon copy to my MP. Public Works replied two weeks ago describing what happened followed by an explanation:

However, as a result of the concern expressed in this regard, the Department has rescinded this special measure. We apologize for any confusion this proposed measure may have caused.

Confusion? So I read it incorrectly when I understood the directive to discriminate by race and/or sex? Bullshit. It’s ass-covering that flies in the face of reason. It’s insulting. Those who contacted Public Works in outrage understood exactly what the directive meant.

My MP replied last week, but did so via post with a paper letter:

Thank you for writing to me with your concerns. As you might have heard, Public Works Minister Scott Brison rescinded the directive you referred to on Monday, November 21, as soon as he became aware of it.

I trust that this action swiftly responded to your concerns. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

He signed it and wrote in pen,

Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention — I need your input.

It was very nice, and I feel almost guilty for saying this, but I can’t help wonder if the letter, and especially the handwritten comment, is because an election is coming next month. How’s that for cynical? Either way, I still do appreciate the letter. It’s far better than the idiotic Public Works response.

Same-sex errata

Apologies all around, folks. I made two mistake in my last entry so here I am, your errata guy.

First, I told you Stephen Harper has said nothing about same-sex marriage. This is incorrect. Second, I told you Paul Martin is after him wanting to know what the Conservative policy on same-sex marriage is. This is also untrue. Let me start with the second correction.

Paul Martin wants Harper to announce if he’ll use the notwithstanding clause to bypass the Charter of Rights and reverse the same-sex marriage legislation. Martin knows full well that if Harper says he is willing to do this, he’ll lose more votes than he’ll gain. If he says he won’t, but then does it anyway, people will go freaking ape-shit.

And Harper has spoken about same-sex marriage. In an article from The Washington Post, columnist Patrick Basham wrote, “Free-market economist Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition Conservative party, is pro-free trade, pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto and socially conservative.”

Harper himself sent a letter to the editor saying Basham’s characterization was an over simplification of his position. No wonder, with the political climate being what it is, Harper would be dead in the water if voters saw him as a Conservative Canadian candidate with conservative American values. According to the CBC, he said of the same-sex marriage issue:

Regarding same-sex unions, he reiterated his position that he would vote to bring back the traditional definition of marriage. But he said those who already are married would continue to be recognized as legally wed.

That’s a whole lot of weaselling. He would vote to bring back the traditional definition of marriage, but why would he be voting? Who would call this vote and under what circumstances? I’m uneasy with all those unanswered questions. With what I know of the issues right now, there’d be a fair chance I’d vote Conservative if it weren’t for this one thing. But if Harper noodles about it, there’s no way he’ll get my vote. Right now it’s perhaps an independent, or spoiling my ballot. I’m certainly not going to vote Liberal, and I’d rather vote Conservative than NDP no matter what the Conservatives threaten to do! There are no parties representing my political viewpoint. The Liberals come closest, but in all good conscience I can’t back them this time.

In a same-sex corner

While we’re talking about being lost, sometimes what the politicians don’t say is even more interesting than what they do say. Harper’s been dancing around the pink elephant in the room. During the last federal election, part of his plan was to put the kibosh on same-sex marriage. The Conservatives lost and this time around he hasn’t said a word about it. I had a look at the party’s web site and there’s no mention of it. The closest it comes is saying they’re “Standing Up for Family” in the Key Issues section. Clicking on the link, it then says:

Families are the building block of society. Yet Liberal policies have undermined family and made it harder to get the services, such as health care, that you need. A new government must help parents financially with the cost of raising children, cut medical waiting lists, and protect seniors’ hard-won gains.

While it doesn’t come out and say it, I believe their saying the Liberals have undermined family is the closest they’ll ever come to being explicit about same-sex marriage.

Paul Martin knows that although a passionate group is against same-sex marriage, the majority are not, so he’s been pushing Harper to plainly state his the party line on the topic. An excellent strategy, really. I wonder if Harper will rise to the occasion and state his party’s stance clearly. The Conservatives are at a disadvantage no matter what they do about this issue.

The quick gun fix…

Last week Paul Martin announced his plan to ban handguns. Well this’ll certainly solve all of our problems, won’t it? We all know the majority of gun crime is cause by regular people who legally buy guns, and once banned, the police can easily confiscate all the weapons which could be used in crimes. Problem solved, right? Yea sure.

What I don’t understand is how this Liberal promise even sounds reasonable to anyone. I saw people interviewed and the majority support it like it’ll actually do something to combat gun crime. The part that mystifies me the most is how many people seem to disengage their brains and agree when the politicians make the connection between banning the legal position of guns and the reduction of gun crimes with illegal weapons. I’ll grant you that some guns are stolen from people who’ve purchased them legally, but unless you’ve got some numbers to back yourself up, I doubt those stolen guns would make up even 10% of the illegal weapons used in gun crimes.

I read that of the seventy-odd murders this year in Toronto, fifty involved the use of a handgun. Whatever reporter wrote the story was asleep at the switch because it’s pretty important to know how many of those fifty hand guns were legally purchased and registered. If the number is as low as I suspect it is, the Liberal plan is worse than useless.

I admit I think guns are beautifully simple and elegant devices in the way they work, but I am not a gun lover, nor do I have a gun. I’ve never even seen one in person that wasn’t strapped to the hip of a police officer. Still, I don’t see how banning the legal ownership of hand guns does anything but take guns out of the hands of the law-respecting gun owner who went through the proper procedure to legally purchase and own a gun. There’s a big difference between banning guns and making sure criminals don’t have them. The sooner people wake up and understand the difference, the better off we’ll all be. If the politicians can so easily get votes by spooning these simple logical fallacies, we’ll be more lost than we already are.

So, I expect we’ll be more lost than we already are.

In Your Ass, China

The Dalai Lama is in Canada and when he makes it to Ottawa, he and Prime Minister Martin will meet. China is not pleased.

The Chinese embassy here in Ottawa likens the Dalai Lama to the separatists in Quebec and strongly oppose the planned meeting. I’d point out Canada didn’t invade a sovereign Quebec and take over, seeking to purposefully obliterate their culture and religion. Because of the gall of China for publicly disapproving of the meeting, I’m thrilled Martin will meet with Dalai Lama.

Stick it, China.