"Hey! Let Me Tell You the One About the National Health Catastrophe and the Idiot Cabinet Minister":
Has anybody else noticed that, whenever hard-Right, state-hating libertarian ideologues get their paws on power, people die?
But it sure is nice to know that, in the midst of a "stressful" conference call, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz can still find enough sang froid to turn tragic deaths into cheap jokes and glibly wish death upon his Opposition critic. What poise! What sprezzatura!
I find the way this story has been reported to be remarkable. The facts that have not been subject to comment are, to me, the most outré. Everyone is howling over Ritz's oafish quips about "cold cuts" and Wayne Easter while missing the more egregious features of this débacle.
This meeting was not comprised of off-duty stevedores hoisting pints at some pool room or dive bar. The conference call was hosted by the Privy Council Office, chaired by the PCO's deputy secretary to cabinet, and included a wide range of senior CPC political staff, none of whom, it would seem, took exception to Ritz's callow frat-boyisms or his total lack of interest in anything but the "political fallout" from the disaster (I guess, for CPC ministers, the sight of Canadians dropping like flies isn't nearly as ghastly as the fear of dropping poll numbers). My guess is that it was an official from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency who went to the press, as that agency has long been at odds with Harper's ministry (with good cause). The rest of the participants, we must infer, were unmoved--at least, not sufficiently moved to speak up on behalf of decorum.
Thus, a group of state executives--people in whom we have entrusted managerial stewardship of the nation--sat acquiescently, perhaps silently smiling, throughout Ritz's degrading performance, apparently void of whatever modicum of decency is required to detect the utter unacceptability of the man's blitherings and offer admonishment.
Forget Ritz: he's an expendable hack apparatchik who'll soon fade away with nary a footnote to memorialise his trivial political existence. Think of the civil servants and PCO staffers who were on that call: they will still be there when Ritz is long gone; they'll still be making crucial, sometimes life-and-death decisions on our behalf; and they'll presumably still have the moral complexion of slugs. I am not entirely comfortable with that prospect.
Happily, "Conservatives", being resourceful buggers, don't stop at corpses in their quest for vulgar flippancy; they also like to spout off about drunken Indians too, not terribly long after Stephen Harper "apologised" to the Aboriginal community with great self-serving fanfare.
"How Harper Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb":
Stephen Harper seems to think allowing foreigners to mine our uranium is just nifty. He may be on to something there.
Far too many narrow nationalists would smugly assert that Canada has earned to right to monopolise its own uranium mining industry for the most spurious reasons (they might blather on about Canada's proud and inflexible non-nuclear status and support for non-proliferation, and so on), but it's that kind of parochialism that keeps us perpetually short of fulfilling our sacred obligation to remain in resource serfdom to the planet's lords. Our Boy-Scout morality doesn't help uranium get to the people who really need it (like China, India, and Pakistan), and opening up our uranium mines to wholly foreign-owned firms is an excellent way of making our world a more dangerous place, apparently a key item in the CPC agenda (and that of their American Republican doppelgänger, John McCain).
"Well, They All Sound Alike to Me":
Stephen Harper has developed a quirky new way of bribing electoral special interests: rather than tossing the money to them in a straight line, he bounces the cash off a wall so that it lands near their feet.
In a recent case, Harper decided that the best way to "invest" in Canadian Francophone TV programming is to sink fifteen million dollars into TV5MONDE. That the network is based in France and features but a tiny smidgeon of Canadian content seems immaterial to the CPC brains trust, many of whom are, perhaps, so eager to fellate a massive corporation that they're willing to restrain their anti-Gallic instincts long enough for them to stuff wads of cash into a French one.
Shall we speculate as to how many millions will be going to the BBC Worldwide? Surely, as the most accessible vehicle of the Queen's English on a continent whose tongue is held hostage by varieties of the American patois, the BBC deserves equal consideration, and, as it is non-Canadian, it meets the stringent new criteria which the CPC is now applying to its cultural funding decisions.