Saturday, September 27, 2008

 

PETER, PINCHAS AND TONY...

If it really matters, Ottawa's arts and cultural community is aghast at Laureen Harper's pull-out of next weekend's fundraising gala at the National Arts Centre.

Mrs. Harper's decision comes following this past week's Saskatoon campaign whistle stop by her husband, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in which he referred to artists as subsidy-seeking "gala-goers" whose requests for government support doesn't resonate with ordinary Canadians.

Since coming to the National Capital as wife of the Prime Minister, Laureen Harper has been for three years honorary chair of the star studded gala, an Ottawa social calendar highlight, which supports the National Arts Centre.

This past week celebrated actors, authors, musicians and artists from every media, English and French, galvanized against the Conservative Government's plan to slice nearly $50-million in arts funding. On Saturday next, October 4th, international violin virtuoso and NAC Music Director, Pinchas Zucherman, the Arts Centre's President and CEO, Peter Herrndorf, and celebrity guest, crooner, multi-Grammy winner, Tony Bennett, will be left to explain their patron's absence from the sold-out gala.

Obviously sensitive to the Prime-Minister's complaint that the arts community is made-up of "a bunch of people at a rich gala", the Liberal Leader, Stephane Dion, and his wife have also declined the National Arts Centre's invitation...And, meantime Ottawa dress designer, Justina McCaffrey, putting the final touches on Mrs. Harper's exclusive elegant evening gown, although disappointed, says she understands the decision to bow out of the gala.

The designer hopes that Laureen Harper will...."wear this dress many other times at many other occasions because she goes to many black-tie events." Worse case scenario: If the Tories win big in Quebec in this election, Laureen Harper could always wear the dress as a member of the "Chemin des Sanctuaires" pilgrims.

The pilgrims can be best described as a loony group of faithful who for the past three years have left Ottawa in groups of six every day from late May to June to walk to Montreal's St. Joseph's Oratory. A retired Treasury Board employee, Rudy Latreille, is responsible for organizing the 12-day, 234 kilometre event. Maybe the Harper's should give him a call about next spring.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

 

HELTER SKELTER

The American Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, buffs her foreign affairs credentials cosying-up to world leaders at the United Nations annual summit in New York; and our Prime Minister skips the entire event.

On the premise of the current election campaign, for the first time in decades if not ever, neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Foreign Affairs are attending the world gathering of the 191 member nations. It is already being suggested in diplomatic circles that our absence, which has been noted, could affect negatively our interests at the world organization. Seemingly at a time when we could at least use some support with our Afghan commitments, perhaps as well with other matters.

Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have this election campaign well under control. In my opinion his appearance at the United Nations would have been an opportunity for the Prime Minister to further advance the "Leadership Qualities" which have become his mantra and the main issue of the Federal election. Perhaps as well enhance our political clout amid growing evidence of diminishing western influence at the United Nations.

Here on the election trail, we appear to be witnessing the implosion of the Liberal Party on a grand scale perhaps reminiscent of the Progressive Conservative party's 1993 defeat which left then leader Jean Charest and Saint John's Elsie Wayne as the only P.C. representatives in Parliament.

Back then it was the "right of centre" coalition created by Brian Mulroney which had splintered with the formation of the Reform Party (later the Alliance) in the west, the Confederation of Regions (CoR) Party in the east, and the ugly split between Mr. Mulroney and Lucien Bouchard in Quebec.

To his credit and after 15 years, Stephen Harper has restored the politics of the "right" into one entity, The Conservatives. Now it's the "left" which needs to coalesce under the banner of a strong leader. Stephane Dion really doesn't appear to be that person.

Much in the same fashion those of the "right of centre" splintered and broke apart at the end of the Mulroney era, there is irrefutable evidence of the same thing happening now to the supporters of "left of centre" politics. The Liberals, the NDP, the Greens, and to some degree the Bloc, are singing from the same hymnal, and in the process splitting support four ways.

Perhaps until a strong leader is able to reign-in the "left" under a single banner, the Liberal drought may be of historic proportions.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

 

SLEEPWALKING THROUGH THE ELECTION

If confirmation be needed from my travel observations recently, it comes in the form of an Ipsos-Reid poll published this weekend.

About two thirds of Canadians, 65% claim to be viewing this election with their eyes "wide-shut!" Quite simply Canadians are burnt-out over Federal Elections. And, with good reason. This one is not only the third national election in four years, but it is one clearly without any issues that matter or of consequence to the nation, receiving any substantial attention.

Canadians are sleepwalking towards another minority Conservative government. At the end of the day, on October 15th, the story of the fall election of 2008 will be the collapse of the Liberal brand nationwide.

Here in the nation's capital, residents, politicians and the national press corp are insulated, nay, isolated, in a vacuous bubble seemingly oblivious to the main concerns of the rest of country desperately desirous of direction in a collapsing economy, ongoing concerns about our iconic health-care system and the abject failure of the military mission in Afghanistan.

Instead, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion needs propping-up from the very candidates he defeated for the Party's leadership, Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff, to avoid the total collapse of his ill defined and poorly timed "Green Shift" wish list.

On the flip side: The Harper team, the high profile Ministers of the Prime Minister's Cabinet, are seen only when they are apologizing for the latest gaffe of their campaign.

And, NDP Leader Jack Layton's ridiculous "out of the gate" attempts to reposition himself as "Prime Minister in waiting" at the campaign's launch two weeks ago are failing miserably.

In this election what we are witnessing is an issue-less personality driven referendum on leadership. May the best man win. Woe is us!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

 

ABSENT...THOUGH NOT FORGOTTEN!

Thanks and please be patient.

I am "on the road" seeking the definitive insight on Canada's October 14th Federal Election.

I shall return well enough in time to share my independent commentary and the latest election "buzz" before we head to the voting booths!

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