Canada & Colombia: Partners in Human Rights

Scott Brison Op-Ed in the National Post:

After decades of narcoconflict a new Colombia is emerging from the shadows. The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), fortified by a human rights Treaty proposed by the Liberal party, represents more than simply the opportunity for economic gain. Canada and Colombia now can embark on an important social partnership that goes far beyond dollars and cents.

Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe made huge progress in returning his country from narco-terrorists back to the Colombian people. His successor, Juan Manuel Santos, has said that the government will not let its guard down “until the last centimetre of the country is safe.”

In his August inaugural address President Santos made it clear that he intends on furthering the security and economic gains made under president Uribe, and will place a strong focus on social progress. Prior to being sworn in, Mr. Santos held a symbolic inauguration ceremony with indigenous people, the first time a Colombian president was blessed in an indigenous ritual in what was seen as an important act of national unity.

Colombia, like Canada, has struggled to ensure that the prosperity created with its land was re-invested and shared equitably with its founding peoples. A generation ago many of Canada’s indigenous peoples deeply opposed the activities of Canada’s extractive sector. However, by working in consultation with our aboriginal communities Canada’s extractive sector has developed corporate social responsibility (CSR) best practices to help make mining profitable for all.

Labour rights and security for labour leaders in Colombia has improved dramatically in recent years, and those with lingering concerns were comforted by the appointment of Angelino Garzon — who spent his life as a labour leader and labour rights activist–as vice-president. In a meeting with a number of union leaders, Mr. Garzon confirmed that he will be playing a leadership role in the implementation of the human rights reportage mechanism and wants to lead a delegation to Canada to meet both labour and indigenous leaders. He showed a clear commitment to economic growth and social progress, as well as to human rights and respect for indigenous peoples.

The reintegration of former combatants back into productive society is also essential to Colombia’s progress. In a roundtable with Canadian companies, I expressed the importance of their taking a more central role in the reintegration process by actively seeking out opportunities to hire former combatants. Good CSR is good for business as hiring these combatants will prevent their return to violence and help maintain Colombia’s path to stability.

During a visit to a reintegration program in a community comprised of demobilized combatants living among those they only recently saw as enemies, I saw a group of citizens who have replaced fear, resentment, shame and hate with mutual respect and forgiveness. Among their heartwarming stories, one from a former fighter, who lost his leg in the narco-war, stood out. He said, “Please buy our products so we can have legitimate jobs.”

Trade creates jobs. Legitimate jobs create stability. Just as demand for Canadian newsprint in Colombia creates jobs in Quebec and Nova Scotia, our demand for Colombian fresh flowers and textiles creates jobs in Colombia. And Canadian extractive, oil and gas, and infrastructure companies can create further opportunities that Colombians need. More trade and more investment simply means more jobs for young Colombians.

The Canada-Colombia human rights treaty commits both governments to report the impacts of the FTA on human rights in both countries and to table these reports to both Colombia’s Congress and Canada’s Parliament. I was heartened on my recent visit by the strong commitment from the Colombian government and civil society,

and from Canadian companies to this progressive new vehicle.

Colombia’s new Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism told me that Colombia sees the human rights treaty “as an opportunity, not simply an obligation.” Human rights leaders including Christian Salazar, the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, shared this enthusiasm for the potential represented by this groundbreaking treaty.

The Colombian government is committed to winning the battle against poverty and violence. With the new FTA between Colombia and Canada, and with the human rights treaty proposed by the Liberal Party of Canada, we have secured a partnership role which goes beyond simply dollars and cents.

-Scott Brison is the Liberal Member of Parliament for Kings-Hants (Nova Scotia). He is the Liberal critic for finance and chairman of the Leader’s Advisory Committee on Economic Strategy.

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Is Barack Obama bad for Canada?

Luiza Savage recently wrote an article for Macleans that connects Obama’s efforts to remake American energy policy to adverse effects on the Canadian economy. The argument goes something like this:

The oil sands currently export about half of their production of 1.2 million barrels per day to the U.S. According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute in Calgary, that production will more than double over the next 25 years to four million barrels per day, with most of that oil going to the U.S. For Canada, that will mean 380,000 new jobs—and an additional $1.4 trillion in GDP, which will kick off $252 billion in tax revenues, more than half of which would go to Ottawa. Obama’s climate change legislation calls for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (a target Macleans calls ‘whopping’), implementing a ‘cap-and-trade’ policy (which passed the House yesterday by a razor thin 219-212 vote), and requires utilities to get at least 15% of their electricity from renewable fuels. Oh, and provisions that would punish imports from countries whose carbon regulations are deemed by Washington to be less stringent than those of the U.S., meant to address the potential competitive imbalance created for some U.S. industries by the costs of compliance with the new cap and trade regime.

Of course, oil sands production emits up to 15 per cent more greenhouse gases than the production of conventional oil, not to mention the toll it takes on the landscape. Luiza writes: “The reality is that Obama is leading an aggressive effort to remake American energy policy with potentially severe consequences for the oil sands, and by extension, the Canadian economy. … Obama may be a self-proclaimed multilateralist, but the provision holds the potential for a unilateral economic wallop—or at least allowing Washington a very heavy hand in the writing of climate rules of its trading partners.”

According to Macleans’ Luiza Savage, Barack Obama is bad for Canada because he is pro-environment. But we should endeavor to be a world leader in the green industry, and what we’re doing in Alberta is despicable.

For every barrel of synthetic oil produced in Alberta, more than 80 kg of greenhouse gases are released in to the atmosphere and between 2000 and 4000 barrels of waste water are dumped into tailing ponds. The production also threatens Canada’s international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, in which we agreed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 6% from 1990 levels by 2012. Instead, our greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 24%, with the oil sands accounting for nearly 4% of our total emissions. We are ranked as the 8th largest emitter of greenhouse gas, quite high considering our population.

In 2008 we produced 438,000 cubic metres per day of crude oil, crude bitumen, and natural gas condensate. Of that amount, 65% was exported (283,000 cubic metres per day), almost all of it to the U.S. We could be supplying the U.S. with all the oil they want right now while developing green technology and energy that we could supply them with later. This would make us leaders in environmentally friendly energy & technology  (and allow us to enjoy the related economic boon), make our energy policy superior to that of the U.S. (thereby rendering any potential ‘protectionist’ aspect to U.S. energy policy moot), and help us meet our international obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

So is Obama really bad for Canada?

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a conservative minister defends the CBC, and seems to mean it …

In a recent interview with LaPresse, Conservative Minister of Heritage James Moore – under whose department the CBC receives its funding – defended the CBC as a cultural icon, especially for francophones, and said that it plays the vital role in a country as big as Canada of allowing all Canadians to talk to each other, from B.C. to Newfoundland to Quebec.

A translation of the French text:

“I am against the privatization of the CBC,” said the minister bluntly, in an attempt to end rumors used by his political opponents to attack the Conservative government in the House of Commons.

These rumors have been revived in recent weeks after it was revealed that the Harper government had undertaken a review of assets in Ottawa, including eight Crown corporations, to assess the effectiveness, viability and relevance. Some of these companies, such as Via Rail, may be sold at the end of this year.

But the CBC is not part of this review and there is no question of privatizing the national institution.

His strongest defence was for the well-being of French as the minority language, saying that “without the CBC, it would be like Louisiana.”

Of course, comments on the article from Canadians ranged. Some of my favorites:

by Alexander (Sandy):

Nobody could argue that the CBC hasn’t done a splendid job of allowing Canadians to talk to one another. If we didn’t have the CBC, we would probably have two solitudes in this country.

CBC: cheap at twice the price.

by IainGFoulds:

… We must consider all such issues foremost with respect for the liberty of each citizen and their right to their earnings.

… Assuming there was not a radio and TV station that working Canadians were forced to finance, would any government now propose a state-funded broadcaster to compete with Canada’s private broadcasters.

… The answer is no

… The continued existence of a tax-payer funded broadcaster is a regressive left-over policy of social and economic collectivism.

… Let us instead learn to respect the right of others to their earnings.

by Vinnie’sboy:

This is why I love minority governments. They are always so afraid. I love watching all politicians twisting in the wind.

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James Bond is Canadian!

I just stumbled on this interesting quote from Ian Fleming, the author and journalist best remembered for his James Bond 007 series:

“James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is…William Stephenson.”
–Ian Fleming, The Times, October 21, 1962.

A quick search for William Stephenson came up with this:

Stephenson was born William Samuel Clouston Stanger on January 23, 1897 in the Point Douglas area of Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. … was a Canadian soldier, airman, businessperson, inventor, spymaster, and the senior representative of British intelligence for the entire western hemisphere during World War II. He is best-known by his wartime intelligence codename of Intrepid.

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Banned Aid

I recently read a wonderful piece in the Globe & Mail written by Geoffrey York about the effects of the CIDA cuts to Malawi and Africa in general. I believe it to be a great example of the potential power of journalism.

Without further ado, I present Banned Aid – How Canada’s decision to restrict foreign aid is affecting Malawi :


Geoffrey York

Lilongwe From Saturday’s Globe and Mail, Tuesday, Jun. 02, 2009 04:33AM EDT

In the fall of 2004, when Paul Martin was prime minister and Irish rock stars were chattering ceaselessly about the need to help Africa, Canada raised the flag on a shiny new embassy here in the capital of Malawi.

It was the culmination of a warm and close relationship that has sent $440-million in Canadian assistance to the small republic wedged between Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique in southeast Africa over the past 45 years.

Optimism was in the air. Malawi was making progress – it was holding democratic elections, its farm output was improving dramatically – but it was still one of the world’s 10 poorest countries, heavily dependent on foreign donors. And Canada was one of the most faithful of those donors.

Today, the mood has soured. In late September, barely five years after the opening, a small band of diplomats will watch morosely as the Maple Leaf is hauled down and the embassy closed for good.

There has been no announcement, nothing but a discreet notice buried deep in a government website, unnoticed for weeks. One diplomat in a nearby country called it a “stealth closure.” With staff at the embassy (technically a high- commission office, as both countries are in the Commonwealth) prohibited from talking to the media, Canada seems to be sneaking away in the night.

In the corridors of power, Africa is no longer fashionable. The government of Stephen Harper, which feels that Mr. Martin was a naive romantic about Africa, has taken a cold, hard look at Canada’s overseas aid. A new list of priorities has been drawn up, with 20 countries or regions on it. Deleted from the list were Malawi and seven other African countries, including Rwanda, still recovering from genocide; Niger, struggling against terrorists who kidnapped two Canadian diplomats last December, and Burkina Faso, whose leaders helped to negotiate the release of the diplomats in late April.

The deleted countries will still receive aid, but on a much smaller level, since 80 per cent of Canada’s $1.5-billion in annual bilateral aid will go to Caribbean and Latin American countries and others on the new priority list. The reasons are obscure. There is rhetoric about “effectiveness” and “focus,” but nobody from Canada has given an explanation to the people who will feel the brunt of the cuts.

“It’s very abrupt and sudden, and no proper reason was given,” says Emma Kaliya, chairwoman of an independent Malawian organization that had worked on women’s-rights issues with Canadian aid.

“I was very shocked. I was more or less jumping out of my chair. In the spirit of accountability and transparency, which the West is always preaching to us, they should be prepared to explain why they are leaving.”


The real reason for the shift, of course, is a new calculation of Canada’s business and geopolitical interests. Instead of Malawi and the seven other African countries, where most people are so desperately poor that they earn less than $2 a day, a bigger share of Canada’s foreign-aid money will flow to middle-income places such as Peru, Colombia, Ukraine and the Caribbean, where Canada’s commercial interests are more attractive. Canada’s foreign aid seems to have become an instrument of its trade policy.

Ottawa insists that the “established need” of recipient countries was one of three main factors in the new priority list. But when eight of Africa’s neediest nations are dropped – in favour of places where incomes are much greater – most observers find it hard to believe that “need” mattered much.

The Harper government is not the only one to lose interest in Africa. With the global recession deepening, the idealistic era of Bono and Bob Geldof seems to be ending. The West is sinking into an inward-looking funk, obsessed with its own domestic problems, and Africa has fallen off its mental map. Africa’s supporters worry that we are entering a new era of navel-gazing parochialism, where nobody cares about the plight of the outside world, where sympathy for the poorest nations has become a disposable luxury, like the Rolexes that the formerly wealthy are now pawning.

“The truth is that all of us are preoccupied with the economy,” says Liberal MP Glen Pearson, a member of the Commons committee on foreign affairs and international development. “We’re so busy caring about the jobless in Canada that we have forgotten about those without water, food, and now development, in Africa.”

Four years ago, when Mr. Martin was still in office and Tony Blair was Britain’s prime minister, they led the emotional campaign at the Gleneagles summit that prompted the Group of Eight industrialized nations to vow to double its aid to Africa to $80-billion. But as the 2010 deadline approaches, it’s clear the target will not be reached. Meanwhile, the world has provided only a small fraction of the $22-billion in emergency aid it pledged last year to deal with the food crisis in Africa and other developing regions.

Around the world, donations to relief agencies and private charities have plummeted. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a crucial source of support for Africa, is running a shortfall of $4-billion because of cuts by donor nations. In Washington, the Obama administration has warned that it may have to delay its promise to double foreign aid.

At the same time, a posse of provocative new authors is questioning foreign aid. Robert Calderisi, a Canadian who worked for 30 years for the World Bank, proposes in his book, The Trouble With Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working, that all but five African countries should be denied aid unless they accept “political and economic supervision.” Dambisa Moyo, a young Harvard-educated economist originally from neighbouring Zambia, has caused a sensation with her slim essay, Dead Aid , which calls for an end to all aid to Africa within a few years.

Yet Canada’s aid often works very well, making a crucial difference in the lives of the poor. Its impact can be seen, for example, in the impoverished hills of the Thyolo district in southern Malawi, where hundreds of thousands of ordinary farmers are squeezed into tiny plots of land, barely able to survive, while the choicest land is reserved for massive tea estates, controlled by affluent Europeans and Asians.

Before the Canadians arrived a few years ago, the maize and banana farmers of Njale took their water from a dirty stream below their village. They hauled the buckets up the hillside to their shacks, knowing the dangers of the tainted water, yet having no choice but to drink it. Cholera was the inevitable result, leaving villagers sick if not dead.

Then the Canadian International Development Agency launched a $13-million water-supply project for 243,000 people in more than 500 southern villages. Today, the people of Njale take clean water from a tap, and cholera deaths have stopped.

“It has helped us so much,” says Esnat John, a 42-year-old farmer who sells her bananas from a tiny roadside shop. “There were a lot of cholera cases before, but now there are none. This project has allowed us to live. We will always be grateful to Canada. Without it, we would be dead by now.”

Ms. John’s story is powerful evidence that Canadian aid saves lives among the poorest of the poor – and is deeply appreciated. “I’m getting a lot of heartfelt thank-yous when people hear that I’m from Canada,” says Owen Scott, a development worker in southern Malawi for Engineers Without Borders, a Canadian group.

The villagers are hoping that CIDA will expand the water project. Ms. John points to a hill in the distance, where a woman recently died from cholera because her village was too remote to qualify for the Canadian project. “Please assist those people,” she begs.

Yet the project – now in its final weeks of completion – is almost certain to be the last of its kind in Malawi. Under the Harper government’s new policy, CIDA is unlikely to fund something so ambitious in a “non-priority” country.


The villagers are shocked when they learn that Canada is scaling back its aid. “It makes us sad,” Ms. John says. “More people will die.”

Geoffrey Boyidi, who grows cabbages and tomatoes on a half-acre plot in a nearby village, is worried by the news of the CIDA cuts. “It’s a sad story,” he says. “It means the future potential of this project will never be reached. It will affect us so much.”

Not far away, in the hilltop village of Didi, more than 1,000 children are studying from Canadian-supplied textbooks. It’s part of a CIDA project that has provided more than eight million textbooks, posters and teacher manuals to more than 5,000 schools in Malawi. “Without these books, we could not perform,” says McLean Mputeni, head teacher at Didi’s school. “These books are very important for us.”

Across Malawi, people sing the praises of CIDA – and express bewilderment at the Harper government’s decision to axe their country from the priority list. “All of us rejoiced and celebrated when Canada established its high commission here, a fully fledged embassy for the first time,” says Mavuto Bamusi, national co-ordinator of the Human Rights Consultative Committee, an independent group in Malawi that relies on CIDA for 20 per cent of its operating budget.

“What concerns us most is the reclassification of Malawi as a non-priority country. It makes little sense – it’s ridiculous. Here is a country emerging from political dictatorship, and it has a democracy which needs to be nurtured. This is a time when Malawi needs support.”

With funding from CIDA, his human-rights group was working with Malawi’s parliament on a program to make politicians more accountable. Now, he fears that he’ll have to scrap the program. “We’re not just laying people off – we’re laying off the whole concept of parliamentary accountability,” Mr. Bamusi says. “This is about democracy surviving in Malawi. It sends a wrong signal to other countries – they could do the same as Canada.”

Until recently, Canada was the sixth-biggest donor in Malawi, spending $235-million on aid projects here in the past decade alone. One $20-million program made CIDA the biggest source of textbooks to Malawian schools. Another program saved countless lives by providing $15-million to supply antiretroviral medicine to HIV/AIDS patients.

But since 2006, CIDA officials here have been able to plan no new ventures. The high commission was in limbo while the Harper government drafted its new policy. Its projects wound down, with nothing to replace them.

The shift in priorities has been a disaster for Canada’s image in Malawi. “Canada closing embassy,” blared a headline in The Nation, a leading national newspaper, which told its readers (wrongly) that Canada was terminating all of its aid to Malawi.

Ms. Kaliya, the head of the women’s-rights group, is highly critical of the withdrawal. Because CIDA failed to explain its pullout, Malawians will assume that Canada is punishing the country for some kind of wrongdoing, she says.

“Why are they hiding the reasons?” she adds. “We were not even informed about it – I had to read it in the newspaper. Canada is creating a very big gap for Malawi, and it will take a long time to fill it. It will be a huge burden.”


With CIDA’s help, Ms. Kaliya and her colleagues have been training Malawi’s bureaucrats and school officials to become more aware of gender discrimination. They brought more women into the committees that manage water supplies in villages, and they developed a policy to help teenage mothers to go back to school. “I think CIDA has had a lot of impact here,” she says. “Canada had a very good reputation in Malawi. But now they’re pulling down their flag. It’s a very unfortunate situation.”

More than three years after taking office, the Harper government is still floundering in its search for an Africa policy. In 2005, Paul Martin and the Liberals promised to double Canada’s aid to Africa to $2.8-billion by this year. The Conservative government said it would still meet that goal, but redefined the base year, so that the new target was only $2.1-billion. It also gave no clear goal for what happens after the lower target is reached.

In late February, after years of ruminating, the government unveiled its new aid-priority list. It had 20 countries, versus the Liberals’ 25, with the number in Africa chopped in half, from 14 to seven. “The surprise and shock were palpable,” reports Embassy magazine, which follows diplomatic issues in Ottawa.

International Co-operation Minister Beverley Oda has said little, telling parliamentarians that “this step recognizes the criticisms directed at CIDA of trying to do everything, for everyone, everywhere.”

But a deeper motivation seems to be the government’s distaste for the celebrities who promoted the Africa obsessions. “What I will talk about is not something that aims to please Irish rock stars,” Ms. Oda sniffed in one speech.

Her announcement triggered an angry reaction around the world. Even CIDA’s field workers were upset. Nobody from headquarters had consulted them before the decision, and nobody had consulted the African countries themselves. When the drastic shift was unveiled, African diplomats in Ottawa had to read about it in the newspapers. They calculated that CIDA would be sending only 35 per cent of its bilateral aid to Africa, down from 70 per cent previously.

“Refusing to make a firm commitment to Africa is equivalent to turning Canada’s back on millions of people who are fighting every day to climb out of poverty,” says Sylvie Perras of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. “It would mean leaving Africa on the sidelines. It is now clear that Africa is no longer a priority for Canada’s development assistance, despite increasing poverty throughout the continent.”

Stephen Lewis, the former United Nations special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, says countries such as Malawi are “right on the knife edge” and will be hurt by Canada’s cuts.

“For a country like Canada to desert its commitment in Africa is really destructive,” he contends. “Eight very poor African countries become expendable in the quest for trade with Latin America – that’s the equation. That’s pretty brutal at a time of economic downturn. For Canada to collaborate in the decline of these countries, when they’re struggling for survival, is perverse.”

Oxfam, which is active in Malawi, worries that Canada is penalizing African countries by pulling out without lining up other donors to fill the gap. “You can’t turn good development off and on like a tap,” says Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada. “Multiyear commitments are essential for poor countries to hire the teachers or nurses they need for long-term development.”

George Roter, co-founder of Engineers Without Borders, visited Malawi last month and was impressed by its progress. “The government has its act together, and you’re just starting to see results,” he says. “Canada could be a great partner for Malawi, and it’s a real disappointment that we aren’t. It just doesn’t make sense.”


Across Malawi, people are assessing the toll of Canada’s withdrawal. Victor Mhoni, co-ordinator of a network of agricultural groups, says CIDA’s financial support helped him lobby parliament after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease last year. As a result, the outbreak was contained, avoiding a potentially devastating ban on the export of farm products.

“The support from CIDA was vital. It was almost the only program helping us to be a parliamentary watchdog. For me, the CIDA cuts are very bad. It’s going to leave a very indelible mark. We don’t really understand the reasons. Are we not strategic enough?”

Maxwell Matewere, executive director of a children’s-rights group called Eye of the Child, has worked on a CIDA project that trains teachers to help girls stay in school.

“We’ve been able to see the results – the gap between boys and girls has been reduced,” he says, adding that “Canada is pulling out at a time when Malawi needs it most. It was really contributing to our achievements.

“Why did they decide to close the embassy in such a short time? So much is at stake. They should look at it from the eyes of the poor.”

Geoffrey York is The Globe and Mail’s correspondent in Africa.

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Top Canadian Political Gaffes

Political gaffes have gained quite the following over the past few years. People loved to hear the misunderestimated Bush stumble verbally, and the topic has become the subject of many books and websites. I thought I’d share some political gaffes and insults from north of the border. So without further ado …



Top Canadian Political Gaffes:


“As long as I am Prime Minister, I remain the Prime Minister.”

Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister.


“They don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t know who this group is. I’ve never heard of them before. I had never seen them before. They’re located somewhere in Geneva.” 

Mel Lastman, former Mayor of Toronto on CNN talking about the World Health Organization during Toront0’s SARS crisis.


“My conduct had nothing to do with me.”

Al McLean, former Ontario MPP and Speaker of the Ontario Legislature, defending his conduct during a sexual harassment case.


“Your majesty, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and Madame Houde here thanks you from her bottom, too.”

– Montreal Mayor Camillien Houde speaking to King George VI in 1939.


“My strategy has always been to stay on course unless a change, of course, is announced. And if it is, of course, we will announce it.”

John Turner, former Prime Minister.


“Canada is the greatest nation in this country.”

Allan Lamport, Mayor of Toronto from 1952-1954.


“If this thing starts to snowball, it will catch fire right across the country.”

Robert Thompson, leader of the Social Credit Party from 1961-1967


“What the hell do I want to go to a place like Mombasa? Snakes just scare the hell out of me. I’m sort of scared about going there, but the wife is really nervous. I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.”

– Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman prior to departing for Kenya to promote Toronto’s 2008 Olympic bid.


Jean Chrétien talking about the Middle East conflict:

“The best positive thing you can do is not to tell them to stop on both sides to fight and to go back to talk is the only way out of that. And it’s what I said and I said that.”


“My style of leadership, uh, and in my former role as well, was to state what my idea was but also to encourage, uh, you know, I know what I know and I know what I don’t know.”

– Conservative Leader Candidate Belinda Stronach in 2004.


“I am not denying anything I didn’t say.”

– Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.


Top Canadian Political Insults:


“Paul Martin commits to positions like Britney Spears commits to marriage.”

Stephen Harper, while announcing his candidacy for leader of the Federal Conservative Party in 2004.


“You little fat little chubby little sucker.”

Darrel Stinson, Reform MP referring to federal PC leader Jean Charest in the House of Commons.


Ontario Premier Ernie Eves: “Mr. McGuinty just says whatever pops into his little, sharp, pointy head because he thinks that’s what you want to hear.”

Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty: “What if I spear you with my head?”


“Gentlemen, we all must realize that neither side has any monopoly on sons of bitches.”

C.D. Howe, Liberal cabinet minister representing Canada at a Washington DC meeting to resolve a shipping dispute.


“My honourable friend on the other side of the House is big enough to swallow me, and if he did he would have more brains in his belly than he has in his head.”

Tommy Douglas, Saskatchewan Premier speaking to Walter Tucker the Liberal leader of Saskatchewan.


“There is an old saying that is very difficult to hear when your mouth is open.”

– Speaker Myrna Phillips of the Manitoba Legislature speaking to Conservative Don Orchard in 1986.


“What is the difference between a cactus and a conservative caucus? On a cactus, the pricks are on the outside.”

John Diefenbaker, former Prime Minister.


“He’s the greatest argument for birth control that I’ve ever come across.”

Mel Lastman referring to Toronto City Councillor Michael Walker.


“All the evidence suggests that the Liberals want to look after impoverished Canadians – why else would they have created over four million of them?”

– Federal PC Leader Brian Mulroney in 1984.


“Dalton McGuinty. He’s an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet.”

– Ontario PC news release on September 12, 2003.


“The Liberals are a beanbag kind of party that looks like the last person that sat in it.”

Bob Rae, Premier of Ontario 1990-95 and current Liberal MP.


“Damn Americans, I hate those bastards.”

– Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish expressing her disgust at U.S. plans to attack Iraq.


“I rise on a point of order. Is the relevancy rule to be applied or will this jackass be allowed to continue?”

– PC MP David Kilgour referring to Liberal MP Jean-Jacques Blais in 1982.


“Watch out for the wall – as much as I’d like to see some of you guys hit it.”

Stephen Harper speaking to journalists during the Conservative Party leadership convention in 2004.


” The Liberals are the flying saucers of politics. No one can make head nor tail of them, and they never are seen twice in the same place.”

– John Diefenbaker, former Prime Minister speaking in London, Ontario in 1962.


Random Funny Canadian Political Quotes:


U.S. Secret Service agent: “Who are you and where are you going?”

Prime Minister Lester B Pearson: “I live here and I’m going to the bathroom.”

– in 1967, at the Prime Minister’s house at Harrington Lake. The Secret Service agents were protecting U.S. President Lyndon Johnson who was in Canada for Expo 67 and a meeting with Pearson.


“Canada is like an old cow. The West feeds it. Ontario and Québec milk it. And you can well imagine what it’s doing in the Maritimes.”

– Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas.


“I was my best successor, but I decided not to succeed myself.”

Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minister.


“If you’re a mayor and you have a problem, what do you do? You blame the provincial government. And when you’re the provincial government and you have a problem, what do you do? You blame the federal government. And for us, we cannot blame the Queen any more, so we blame the Americans once in a while.”

Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada.


Agricultural Minister James Gardiner: “What do you know about farming? You’re not a farmer.”

Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas: “I never laid an egg either, but I know more about making an omelette than a hen does.”


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Top Weekly Canadian News ~ 28/03/09

1. Petition to save the CBC. The CBC is a national treasure that plays a vital role in Canadian culture. While the private companies of CTV and Canwest are rumored to be in consideration for federal bailout loans, the public CBC has been denied bridging loans from the government and are being forced to cut 10% of their workforce and programming. has started a petition asking the government to grant the loans. Please read more here and sign the petition here.

2. Officials in Ottawa demanded an apology from Greg Gutfeld, host of the Fox News program “Red Eye”, for his mocking of the Canadian Military, Mounties, and culture on his March 17th show. I wrote about it the day after the show here. The show prompted Rick Mercer, Canadian political satirist, to say, “They should be ignored. If you’re going to do satire, three of the most important rules are you have to tell the truth, you can’t be a bully and don’t be an asshole. Being a bully is not satire.” Greg Gutfeld apologized in a roundabout way by issuing a statement through Fox News’ corporate channels saying, “It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize.” But saying you were ‘misunderstood’ is not apologizing. Story at the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, and CTV.

3. The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has eliminated interest on student loans. Education Minister Joan Burke said the province is the first in Canada to make such a move and it will only cost $5 million over the coming year. The government is also raising its student grant programs from $70 to $80 per week and is extending a long-running tuition freeze at several post-secondary institutions. “Almost 50,000 people who currently fall under the student loan portfolio here in the province are going to be in a much better situation coming out of this,” said Daniel Smith, the provincial chair of the Canadian Federation of Students. Story at the CBC and the Western Star.

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