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A few gripes about the Tories’ hardball style

They are a hard bunch, those federal Tories. They revel in nasty attack ads and are unrepentant whenever caught out on actions that seem to fly in the face of what's proper. Even with a minority government, they are as controlling a bunch as this country has had in power for years.

I mean, say what you will about Michael Ignatieff's leadership skills or lack thereof, and the polls are not doing him any favours, how many times can you attack a guy for having myriad experiences in the wide world out there? For this, he is continually mocked by "the Harper government," as if the major qualification for prime minister is liking hockey and spending copious amounts of time at Tim Hortons.

Mr. Ignatieff has deep Canadian roots. Why, just yesterday, he told the government to "hold on a cotton-pickin' minute." Okay, maybe not the best example…

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But still, is there not something a mite distasteful about the Conservatives' spit-in-your-eye approach to governing that does not make this country stand very tall at all?

Meanwhile, a handful of federal cabinet ministers revels in being all jolly-jolly on Twitter (unlike this crabby old Tweet-meister). Too cool by half, guys. If you're so rad, what about backing Vancouver's daring, innovative safe-injection site?


After 68 years of non-stop male leadership, the B.C. CCF/NDP has had no gender but female at the helm since 2001. Joy MacPhail, Carole James, and now Dawn Black. That will end on April 17, when one of five male candidates will be chosen to lead the party into the teeth of Christy Clark perkiness.

Ms. Black says she's been enjoying her interregnum role between elected leaderships. "I call it 'minding the gap,'" she told me the other day, with a laugh.

Incidentally, Ms. Black will also go down in the archives as a good trivia answer. When her time is up, she will have served the shortest term of any previous NDP leader – just three months. The current briefness record is held by former B.C. Supreme Court justice Thomas Berger, who lasted a mere seventh months.

And, since one of you out there may be wondering, who is the only leader in the party's long history to increase its share of the popular vote in consecutive elections? Surely not Carole James, victim of an internal cabal of dissident MLA's that prompted her to resign late last year? Er, yes.

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After taking the provincial government's online HST quiz, I have decided to support the tax.

How many of you anti-HST whiners out there know, as I learned from the quiz, that the tax on children's disposable diapers has actually gone down under HST? Good enough for me.

The government's stated reason for offering such multiple-choice fun? What is "research shows there is confusion and concern around the facts of the HST in B.C," Alex.

That's the best euphemism I've seen yet for more than half a million signatures on a petition to extinguish the tax, more than enough to force the government to hold a referendum on the 12-per-cent levy.


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Although aging in chronological terms, I remain, on occasion, amused by sophomoric humour. I do draw the line, and mercifully the curtain, at Pee-wee Herman. But Soupy Sales, the Three Stooges, bring 'em on.

Which is why I couldn't resist giggling at a radio report on the NDP-password-Facebook-Nicolas Simons mini-flap that contained the words "Simons says..."


I was remiss last week in not observing the passing of veteran politician Allan Williams, who served many years as a Liberal MLA and then helped seal the fate of Dave Barrett's rambunctious NDP government by jumping to Social Credit in time for the 1975 election.

I particularly remember Mr. Williams's tenure as then-premier Bill Bennett's first labour minister, being a young pup labour reporter at the time. (Daddy, what's a labour reporter?)

While Mr. Bennett's administration hacked away at so many other NDP initiatives, Mr. Williams left the far-reaching labour code mostly intact, accepting that unions have the right to bargain collectively, no matter the stakes. I wonder what Mr. Williams would have thought of the evisceration of collective bargaining currently taking place in Wisconsin.

I also loved the fact that Mr. Williams, 10 years after stepping away from provincial politics, re-entered the arena as a lowly councillor in his Gucci stomping grounds of West Vancouver. He served three terms on council before retiring for good at the age of 80. A true public servant.

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