Jack Layton is still savoring his party's success at the last election, and well he should, because the "honeymoon" will be brief. He and his "fresh" troops already under media scrutiny, will find themselves on the "hot seat" on the issue of Quebec separation, military involvement in Afghanistan and Libya, medicare and child care,and climate change, especially as it relates to the delaying tactic of Harper, and of course the greenhouse gas emissions from the Alberta oil sands. His "shadow cabinet' will be sorely tested and even though there are some veterans, the "rookies" will have to deal with the bullying/rough and tumble tactics if Beard et al. It will be a challenging task and mistakes/misspeaks will be plenty.
Layton has to come back to ground. His 50%+1 is already freakng out many and his facetiously comparing it to Harper's 40% election win is disingenuous to say the least. You cannot compare breaking up a country to the winning od an electoral mandate. The Clarity Act is fair, and the Supreme Court ruling is clear...clear question with aclear majiority begins negotiiations. The so call Sherbrooke Declaration is no more than a tactic to get support from the "soft" nationalists. It worked because the Bloc was stuck and had run its course. They voted with the NDP this time, but in four years the NDP will be judged by its overall performance, not just "cozying up ' to Quebec. The rest of Canada will punish Layton and his NDP in the same way they punished the Liberals and the "soft nationalsits" will do the same. The NDP has to emphasise its social democratic values, protection of workers rigts, medicare, child care etc. and tie it to climate change and a return to Canada as a Peacekeeper. Enough of wars'
Jack's Pack has to be weaned very quickly or it will be a sorry mess.
The blustering Netanyahu, fulminated with feign anger,( beholden to the 300,000 govt.funded and subsided settlers, armed to the teeth, the irredentist religious right with its racist rabbis, the fascist Lieberman and AIPAC, his amen lobby in the USA, to whom the interests of Israel are paramount, even when they clash with those of the USA) and "disses' the American president, over his mention of "pre 67 borders with land swaps", not bothering to check and see what Obama actually said or that what he said was the policy of of previous presidents. The difference was that Pres. Obama had the courage to say it himself, while the others had their aides say it.
AIPAC listened and evn cheered the president when he repeated that the dividing line has to be negotiated with accomadation for settlements and Israel's security needs. and a chastened Netanyahu had to make nice. Israel exists and that existence is "rock solid", but the president warned that the survival of Israel is threatened if there is no peace deal. Obama also stated that the Palestinians have tough choices to make also, especially as to the role of Hamas.
Pres. O'Bama left on his trip to Europe with a stopover in Ireland to visit his ancestral village. The Irish welcome was joyous. He won their hearts and loud cheers and had a pint of Guinness and claimed the apostrophe for his name.It was a much needed respite from a tumultuous week in Washington.
He was returned with a majority, but with no seats in Montreal and only one in Toronto he was quickly named to the Cabinet (Oliver, important for the Jewish votes, which Harper is trying to wean away from its traditional Liberal support, Zaidel failed to win in the Mont Royal and so " ). Harper was forced to appoint his cabinet from rural Canada and the West. He had to maintain the tradition of appointing a minister from each of the provinces and that he did, but it was slim pickings. The only MP fom Newfoundland, an Innu from Labrador was chosen and this caused immediate concern in Quebec, because he was named inter-governmental affairs minister and has to deal with among other things, the promised $4 billion loan guanantee to develop Lower Churchill hydroelectrical project, as well as the disputed boundary between Quebec and Newfoundland, running through the Old Harry formation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.( Watch the P.Q. and the remnants of the Bloc try to make a huge issue of this and try to revive their call for the defence of Quebec interests...remember that Quebec rejected the Ref/Con, only 5 elected).
4 of the 5 elected MPs from Quebec made it into the Cabinet, one a former disgraced minister(Bernier), and the other is described as a favourite of Harper, because of "unabashed conservatism" and two defeated candidates were appointed to the Senate. These appointments coming so soon after the election were immediately criticized as "cynical, "pathetic"and "in your face"... Harper's reaction to being rejected. The Senate has always been seen as the dumping ground for tired, spent, defeated politicians and as rewards to "hacks and bagmen". Harper did not disappoint. In this instance however, he has shown his disdain for the Canadian voters who dared to vote against his party (another defeated candidate from Newfoubdland was also appointed to the Senate).
British Columbia, the third largest province got only 4 positions, but Haper's home province which voted solidly for his party got 5 positions. Ontario was rewarded with 15 positions, most coming from rural areas. Sasketchewan got 2, Manitoba 2,New Brunswick 2, and NFL, Nova Scotia , PEI and Nunavut 1 each.
Harper has his majority, but it lacks balance. Once again the large urban centers of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are underrepresented and that means that once again he has failed to convince urban voters that he can represent their interests. He has the majority to carry out his agenda...gun registry, prisons, punitive laws, military, oil sands, climate change delaying tactics, farm spending... pollution, prisons, planes and punishment. It should be interesting.
They came , from the four corners,Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and Gaza to remember 1948, when Israel declared its independence and their nightmare began. This is NAKBA..... The Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes into a live of misery and deprivation. They breached the Lebanese border where 10 were killed and more than a 100 were wounded.They did the same at the Golan Heights and 4 were killed. In Gaza dozens were wounded when they crossed a security zone near the Israeli border and on the West Bank they tangled with Israeli troops near a military checkpoint and many were injured. They tried to march from Jordan and Egypt but were stopped security forces."This is war", one 16 year old shouted, "we are defending our country", rock in hand.
The Israeli government response, though restrained, in Gaza and the West Bank was more robust at the Lebanese and Syrian border,a sign of their fears.... ofHizballah and a spill over of the uprising in Syria and the possibility of a war on both fronts. P.M. Netanyahu saw this as a threat to "very existence of Israel" not "over 1967 borders". Abbas, president of PLO , on the other hand said "The blood of the Nakba fatalities was not spilled in vain. They died for a Palestinian people's rights and freedom", and Ali Baraka, a Hamas representative stated that "The Palestinians are not less rebellious than other Arab peoples".
This year's protest was unprecedented. For the first time, supporters from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, and the refugees from Gaza and the West Bank tried to breach the border from all sides. They were inspired by the recent protests in the Arab world and used the same social network to coordinate. It could be also that authorities in, especially Lebanon and Syria, were using the Palestinian cause to deflect attention from internal problems
With no peace talks(broken down,& US special envoy has given up also), and with the Palestinians calling for the United Nations to declare Palestinian statehood in September, violence could be the defining factor, replacing the relative peace of the past two years.
There is no turning back.What began in Tunisia and Egypt, and erupted in violent clampdowns in Syria, Libya and Bahrain etc. is now the raison d'etre in the Palestinian refugee camps.
Iacta alea est.
President Obama made the hard decision. He will send in the Seals and take the risk of the mission being a failure or not finding bin Laden or being detected by the Pakistanis. In the end "fortune favored the brave" and the Seals killed their quarry, picked loads of materials and left with the Pakistanis none the wiser.
He could have taken the easier and safer decision and bomb the compound, but that would have left doubts as to the outcome, especially as it related to bin Laden. He must have been aware of the attempt made by President Carter in 1979 to rescue the American hostages in Iran and the consequences of that failure on Carter's failed re-election. He did not take the safe way out. He wanted proof positive that bin Laden was there, was captured or killed and that was how it ended. In the end, the mission was a huge success. bIN Laden was killed photographed, DNA tested and buried at sea, a treasure trove of information was collected and there was no American casualty (other than a helicopter that had to be destroyed).
Americans celebrated, the Pakistanis fumed and atleast for a while Obama's political enemies were caught off-guard (some even gave reluctant and half-hearted credit and the Birthers were dumfounded). President Obama "the Lord of War"(as I referred to him previously), showed his nerves of steel and his willingness and ability to make the hard decision, irrespective of the political fallout. He was also tough on Pakistan, not telling them ahead of time, for fear that someone woul inform bin Laden, and questioning how the Pakistani military, intelligence and government did not know that bin Laden was living in their midst for over five years and even had a fortified compound built in an area where many military officials live.
Paskistani politics "is Byzantine and double -dealing"(Time,May 20).The government of President Zardari,(he blames al Qaeda for the killing of hiswife, former President Benazir Bhutto), the Military and the Inter-Service Intelligence have their own agenda. While the government and some parts of the military are fighting the Taliban and other terror groups, other parts of the government and the military and especially the ISI are aiding,abeting and supporting them...the Taliban, Laskar-e-taibi, the Haquanis etc. In the case of bin Laden, he was pursued, protected and ignored, all at the same time.
Now he is no more. His last years were lived in isolation, in a fortified compound, a prisoner of his own making, with no cable/internet/phone, looking at grainy pictures of himself on television(in the "good" days), with 3 "old "wives. Now, in death he gets the martyr's reward, 72 virgins...."It is a far, far better death that I go to". Ain't death grand.
It is going to be an exhilarting time. They are young, unspoiled and eager, and they will be alright.Remember the Rat Pack and the fun Sheila Copps and her mates brought to Parliament, harassing the Mulroney Conservatives in 1984? The Liberals were in shambles but in 9 years they were back with Chretien and a majotiry. Remember 1958. the Liberals were "taken to the woodshed" by Diefenbaker, but they came back in 1963 and with Pearson and Trudeau, stayed in power until 1984(except for the hic-cup of Clatke in1979). Such is democracy, so take a valium and enjoy.
The Liberals have a great opportunity to rebuild, retake their base and not make the mistake of ignoring it or take it for granted, becoming lazy and allowing the Ref/Con to infiltrate and seduce them. The "ehtnics"( Jews, Italians, Greeks, Indians, Sri Lankan etc.)will be turned off in a while, just like they did in Ontario, when Harris wooed and then lost them. They have learnt the art of self-interest, especially the youinger generation whose loyalty They have learnt the art of self-interest, especially the youinger generation whose can be rented.
In 1984 Mulroney had a lot of MPs from Quebec and Alberta, who were also inexperienced ad untried, but they were small buisnessmen, chicken farmers and notaries, middle-aged and incapable of learning on the job and it was a mess, with indictments and convictions, because they were set in their ways. Jack's "babies" are young, educated and willing to learn. Some wil fall by the wayside, but most will endure.
Take a valium, pull up the chair and enjoy. In the meantime' watch the unrestrained Ref/Con try to undo the social safety nets, while rewarding their corporate bosses, especially in Bat Street and the Oil Patch.
In a democracy, you always get the government you deserve. The Canadian electorate have spoken and the result is a majority for the Ref/Con, humiliating defeat for the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois, triumph for the long-suffering NDP and even a seat for the Greens.
The wind of change that has swept across the Canadian electoral landscape has ushered in a new era. There will be a majority government, and those who have long held the belief that Harper has a "hidden" right wing agenda will have an opportunity to see whether this is so. He will be able to get rid of the gun registry, build more prisons, pass draconian criminal laws, cut taxes for the wealthy and for big business, continue to develop the environmentally dangerous tar sands, cut social and cultural programmes, frustrate climate change debates, expand the military(spending billions buying fighter jets) and join USA and NATO in more wars and nation-building.
The NDP will be the Opposition, with a melange of new and inexperienced members. They will have the huge task of, first of all acquainting its members about parliament and how it works and then hold the Harper government accountable. This will be a task that will be difficult and fraught with danger, because it will expose the weaknesses of their caucus. There has never been an Opposition party with so few skilled and knowledgeable members facing off against a government (in 1984 when Mulroney won 208 seats and formed the government, he was beset with similiar problems of skills, experience and knowledge and it was a fiasco, with many cabinet ministers and MPs accused and some convicted of crimes). If the NDP are not quick learners, then this may well be their first and last hurrah. Layton and the senior members of the party will have to "babysit' them and keep them on a short leash.
The once proud Liberals have been reduced to a mere shell, with barely 30 or so seats. They suffered a similiar drubbing in 1984 and were able under the able leadership of Jean Chretien to come back and win a majority in 1993. They were helped in this by the scandals and incompetence of the Mulroney governemnt, as well as the general disgust and antipathy of the voters (in this election the Conservatives were dealt such a severe blow that they never recovered and they were absorbed by the Canadian Alliance/ Reform Party. This is the Ref/Con that won last night). Is this the fate that awaits the Liberals, to be absorbed by the NDP, described in the past as "Liberalas in a hurry"? This will be most interesting to watch...the Ref/Con on the right and the merged NDP/Lib on the left.
The Bloc Quebecois has run its course and their leader has stepped down. Ther is no coming back for them. They were formed from the chaos of the Meech Lake Accord and rode that "horse" for 20 years and had nothing else to offer. They became discordant and irrelevant and the sameness of their message has could incite the "new" generation, tuned in to social networks and more sophisticated than their parents and grandparents and their dream of separation. They know more and want more and have decided to go with the NDP, at least for the time being. They will move again if the NDP fail to deliver, but not to the Bloc or some reincarnation.
The leader of the Greens was elected. They have an opportunity to grow, but are fighting for the same voters as the NDP and that may be their undoing if the NDP can show that the are capable.
So here we are. The people have spoken, now let the governing begin.
Tomorrow is "The Day". The last week has seen the Ref/Con desperately trying to demonize Layton, with Harper raising the spectre of "socilaism", using the fear of investors leaving Canada if an NDP government is elected (they will not if they want to profit from Canadian resources , they want our oil, gas, timber etc.). The conservative Sun has also printed a story about Layton's visit to a massage parlour in the mid-90s, but this fear-mongering and character-attack will not work.They have also tried to scare Jewish voters, by accusing Ignatieff's grand-father of being a part of the "pogram" in Russia, and also trying to turn Jewish voters by questioning the Liberal party support of Israel (Cotler in Mont Royal is an example of someone being attacked). They have also tried to humanize Harper by getting him to kiss his wife in public..farcical.
The NDP, according to the polls are continuing to pick up support in Quebec and also in Ontario, British Columbia and to some extent in Sashetchewan and Manitoba. If this holds true, then Monday night will be quite interesting. The Liberals and the Bloc are trying to re-vitalize their base. If they cannot, they will be in big trouble. The Liberals must get the 850,000 that did not vote in 2008 to come back into the fold and I feel that because interest has grown as the campaign progressed, they will turn out to save their party from a humiliation, like 1984. The Bloc are a spent force, like the brittle Parizeau. Even some former riding officials are calling on Blociste to voe NDP.
If no one wins a majority, and that seems the likeliest outcome, the party with the most seats will be asked to form the next government. If they are unable to do so, or if they do form a government and they are defeated on a motion of non-confidence soon after, as likely to be the case, then the Governor-General will call on the the leader of the party with the next highest seats to form a government ( in 1926, the Liberals, under King won a minority and when they were defeated on a vote of non-confidence, soon after, King tried to get the GG Byng to call a new electio, but Byng did not accept the advise of King and instead asked the Conservative leader Arthur Meighen to form a government . He tried but was defeated in a motion of non-confidence (the Liberals were supported by the CCF, later NDP). An election was then held and the Liberals campaigning on the issue of the GGs refusal to heed the advice of the PM (the King/Byng Affair) won a majority.
This is the most likely scenario on May3, 2011.