Pettigrew shakes finger at Iran

The front page of the Globe and Mail today outlined the injuries of Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian photojournalist who suspiciously died while in Iranian custody.

An Iranian doctor who had examined Kazemi, while she was unconscious, noted the following strange injuries:

  • Bruised from forearm to ear
  • Skull fracture
  • Two broken fingers
  • Broken and missing fingernails
  • Severe abdominal bruising
  • Evidence of ‘very brutal rape’
  • Swelling behind the head
  • Burst ear membrane
  • Bruised shoulder
  • Deep scratches on the neck
  • Broken ‘nose-bone’
  • Evidence of flogging to the legs
  • Crushed big toe

Pierre Pettigrew, Liberal Minister of Foreign Affairs, maintained the government’s soft power approach as he said:

“Iran is continuing to not respect the most fundamental human rights, and this must stop… This new evidence only strengthens our position and confirms that this was not an accident. It does not change our position. Quite the contrary. The family wants answers. Canadians want answers, and we will be pursuing this until justice is done.” — Pierre Pettigrew

I doubt Iranian officials have taken notice.

Conservatives are calling for political action, not simply obvious yet vacant words. Stockwell Day, foreign affairs critic for the Conservative Party of Canada issued this strong statement:

“The federal government must acknowledge that its strategy of soft diplomacy towards the brutish Iranian regime has been an utter failure.” — Stockwell Day

Day continued to press Pettigrew and the Martin Liberals to withdraw our ambassador from Tehran to protest Iran’s inaction concerning the determination of the truth surrounding the death, and now confirmed torture, of one of our citizens.

Senate appointments and the erosion of Canada’s representative democracy

When the Fathers of Confederation assembled to hash out a representative system, most would agree that they were quite aware of the idea of checks and balances as a senate assembly could trump the wishes of the cabinet, and by doing so, would protect the voice of the political minority in the House of Commons. Therefore in principle, those that argue for the abolishment of the senate and those who would champion a system of unicameralism, do not wish to protect the voice of the political minority as they may claim, but rather would wish to consolidate rule from the top down. For this reason, I find the NDP’s calls for senate abolishment particularly troubling. Similarly, Layton’s calls for proportional representation are an insult to representative grassroots democracy and to the wisdom and vision of the Fathers of Confederation and the system that they had envisioned.

The latest insult to the Fathers came most lately from our current Prime Minister, Paul Martin. Our Prime Ditherer’s appointed another six Liberals to current Liberal senate caucus of 47 appointed by Jean Chretien reconfirms a majority of Liberal seats in our upper chamber merely by appointment. Martin’s announcement last week allowed the appointment of two Progressive Conservative senators but this merely served as a poke in the eye to the Conservative Party of Canada as the PC Party no longer exists and instead sits opposed to the Conservatives. Paul Martin is not acting as a Prime Minister with a minority government.

The upper house cannot merely be an echo chamber of the House of Commons. In fact, in 1865 Sir John A. MacDonald advanced a similar opinion:

“There would be no use of an upper house if it did not exercise, when it thought proper, the right of opposing or amending or postponing the legislation of the lower house. It would be of no value whatever were it a mere chamber for registering the decrees of the lower house.”

Paul Martin and Jean Chretien have essentially appointed a majority in the Senate and in his precarious position as the leader of a minority government, Martin is at least protecting his popular political minority by maintaining an appointed majority in the upper chamber.

If only it were so.

Unfortunately, John A. MacDonald would have shaken his head if he could have witnessed this current crop of Liberals who have ruled Canada with Commons majorities (and with appointed Liberal senator after Liberal senator) for the majority (and then some) of the past 100 years. The protection of the political minority, one of the fundamental advantages of the bicameral system, has been ignored by the Liberals and this irony is maintained in Paul Martin’s current slate of senators.

Most Canadians believe that the senate, as it has become, requires reform in one sense or another. Proponents of change in Alberta have even taken a grassroots democratic approach by electing their own senators. Unfortunately, Paul Martin has chosen to ignore these elected (and therefore representative) senators of the West in favour of maintaining his own party’s grip on power. Ideas such as an elected and representative senate are Conservative ideas which are well intentioned (for the mitigation of western alienation, for example). Sadly, these ideas, supported by a broad section of the political minority, and indeed by most Canadians, fail the Liberal test.

Indeed, bicameralism, as intended by the Fathers of Confederation, serves as an appropriate model to ensure checks and balances, protection of minority political opinion, and regional representation. Unfortunately, the Paul Martin and Jean Chretien Liberals have molded this vision of the Fathers of Confederation according to their own purposes at the expense of all Canadians.

Convention wrap-up

The last day of the convention, Saturday was the most interesting day (at least business wise) of this “most successful gathering of conservatives in 20 years”.

Going on about 3 hours of sleep I arrived at the convention hall after checking out of the downtown Montreal luxury hotel known as the “Econolodge” by most and as “home away from home” by cheating spouses, high school lovers, thrifty travelers and students like myself. A relatively clean place, at a relatively cheap price… and what’dya know… just across the street from the Cool Blue Belinda dance party.

I was pleased to find out that I could check my luggage for the day at the convention centre. The Palais de Congrès is definitively world class and I was very much impressed by the extensive facilities loaned out to the Party last weekend. Toronto’s convention centre is on par with Montreal’s, however, Montreal’s convention centre was a lot more colourful while Toronto’s is drab and more ‘starched shirt’. In short, the Palais de Congrès reflected the fun, youthful, and yet professional tone of the convention.

The plenary session was progressing pretty well until the issue of the definition of marriage came up. “We’re going to reinitialize” the Chair said in a dry tone while, in contrast, the room’s attention peaked to the ‘hot button’ issue that was before them. Reinitialization is the process by which delegates must be sitting at the tables in order to be counted incase the vote is so close that it goes to the keypad vote. On the issue of traditional marriage the “yays” beat the “nays” clearly but for some reason they went to the keypad vote. 75% in favour of maintaining the traditional definition, 25% opposed.

This result was particularly surprising, in my opinion. Not that I expected a different outcome, but the numbers suggest that 1 out of 4 delegates (25%) are in favour of the redefinition of marriage, while 4 out of 99 CPC MPs (~4%) share the same sentiment. Are the MPs not representative of the delegates or are the delegates not representative of the MPs? The answer lies somewhere in between, I believe.

On the issue of abortion, another surprising result. 55% of delegates favoured the party not supporting legislation on abortion while 45% want our MPs to support limits on abortion. Perhaps social conservatives are simply more vocal on this issue than the silent majority of conservatives.

A cameraman and a reporter from CPAC rushed over to us (we were standing at the back, instead of sitting at delegate tables) and asked “Can we get your comment on this result on camera?” It didn’t take me any time at all to add up the situation. Speaking on camera about my reaction to a highly polarized issue? “No, I don’t think so” I said. Even Stephen Harper didn’t go on record about abortion until his speech Friday night. I certainly wasn’t going to that day.

The other interesting moment of the plenary was the youth wing debate. The best moment was when the Chair told the crowd that enough points were heard for option A (youth wing) and asked for someone to speak for option C (no youth wing). Tony Clement takes the microphone, (I’ll paraphrase) “I’d like to speak for option C”. I thought this was odd as Clement was the former president of the conservative youth at the University of Toronto. He went on to speak on option C labeling it the wrong option and he then brazenly encouraged the delegates to vote for option A. The ‘Yes for Youth’ crowd went crazy and I chuckled to myself having found new respect for Tony Clement and his sneakiness. The youth wing was voted down by perhaps the smallest margin seen that day.

The plenary session allowed me to meet some more interesting people including Amy Leindecker who marveled at the hawtness (yeah, that’s the ticket) that is liveblogging from the convention floor. She must have been inspired because she now has a blog of her own (check it out). In fact, she took a picture of me and Queen’s CPC club president Bryan Cowell, and sent it to me today. I’m liveblogging and he’s um… live surfing.

Thus, dear reader, I do now present liveblogging from the convention floor:

Blogging from the CPC policy convention – Click to enlarge

Perhaps next convention, we’ll have special credentials like our American blog brothers (and sisters) who blogged from the GOP and Dem conventions last year.

After the votes I had another chat with Peter Mackay. We found ourselves talking about the Belinda Dance Party(TM) and he told me about a party he was having that evening.

I laughed, “You’re tempting me away from my graduate thesis!”

Mackay replies, “Bah, what’s another night?”

It wasn’t to be. The Econolodge and I had already parted ways and I was able to score a ride home early anyways.

So, there you have it. The first successful policy convention of the Conservative Party of Canada. T’was a great time!