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May 28, 2006

Canadian Conservatives deny Zinni honorary degree

Dana of The Galloping Beaver remarks on the latest embarrassing stunt by the ruling Conservative government: Canceling General Zinni's honorary degree from the Royal Military College.

Gen. Zinni was one of the six retired generals who publicly criticized Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the invasion and occupation of Iraq:

Gen. Zinni was particularly critical of Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, saying of his handling of Operation of Iraqi Freedom: "Ten years' worth of planning were thrown away; troop levels dismissed out of hand. These were not tactical mistakes. These were strategic mistakes, mistakes of policy." [National Post]

The Royal Military College had decided to award Zinni an honorary doctorate on May 19, but the Conservative defense Minister personally intervened at the last minute to quash the award.

This editorial in the Montreal Gazette neatly sums up the terrible optics of the sudden "no confer" order from Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor:

It also looks like blatant political interference, and the best evidence yet that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is keen to to curry favour with Bush. Whatever harm this degree might have done to relations between Ottawa and Washington - we suspect not very much - it has been superseded many times over by the bad domestic optics of a kowtow to a president who is viewed by most Canadians. liberal or conservative, as a failure.

Zinni is supposed to have called the invasion of Iraq a "brain fart of an idea." O'Connor's decision could be described with the same phrase.


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This isn't really shocking, but is sufficiently distant from any future election that it will be forgotten. I hear that, were an election held today, the Cons would gain a majority -- clearly this is the result of the Libs being leaderless, but it also shows how sheep-like the majority of Canadian voters must be. In other words, no different than anyone else. Sure, we think Bush is an ass, but we'd elect his fawning admirer to dismantle our own country. Thusly perishes the myth of the superior intelligence of Canadians.

What's up with Michael Ignatieff? Isn't he a liberal, and one seeking election to some high office? Forgive my ignorance about Canadian politics, but if the liberals are looking for a leader, he seems like a good candidate.

Whew. Well Canada seems to be changing politically. verbatim, I lived in Canada during the election year, and though the Liberals were hurt by the Quebec payments scandal, someone also told me that the American Republican Party had lavished money on the campaigns of conservatives across Canada.

I never thought of Canadians as necessarily more intelligent than us, but I did notice that they prided themselves on (and often did show evidence of) superior common sense. I always have felt that the Canadians' day is still coming. (And while Canadian and American conservative politicians make common cause, American singer Neko Case has made a f------ spectacular album with Canadian band the New Pornographers. So all is not lost ;))

1984, I'm not so sure that Canadians are changing politically. The conservative/capitalist alliance is a worldwide phenomenon, and Harper is just the Canadian instance. Canadians are just as open to manipulation as any other group -- something many of us have believed not to be true. Harper is basically playing to the lowest common denominator, and in doing so he is appearing successful and capable to politically-unsophisticated, ideologically ignorant voters who judge a PM's capacity by what the experts in the media say. So, they say, "yeah, I'd give this guy some more time. until he screws up, and then it's back to the Liberals."

Ignatieff looks like a marketing construct to me. I read one of his books, and found it to be a long, roundabout Begging Of The Question. His play for the Liberal leadership is a refined media construct. I am very wary of his actual intentions and capablilities. He's no Trudeau.

It was shocking to me how immediate was the vacuum of power when Paul Martin went down. Whhsssshht! It was as if the whole Liberal Party was just sucked out the airlock. I saw him at a hotel in Vancouver, just as the scandal broke. It made me feel like Zelig.

When Ann Richards, George W. Bush's predecessor as governor of Texas, was elected there, her opponent had had a political disaster before the election, and some said: "she didn't win an election; she was a bystander at a train wreck." I wonder sometimes whether Stephen Harper isn't the same way. I don't see him as a hero to most Canadians, even the politically unsophisticated voters you mention. I know there is a strong conservative current in Canada, but I think a good Liberal or even third-party contender could show strong. The Canadians are by and large such a decent and tolerant people, it's hard to think of them getting screwed politically with a good-looking Archie Bunker.

(I hear it now: "Stephen Harper is 'good-looking'?")

I guess you missed the Day episode, where the Alliance leader ( part of the split right wing period ) was busy posing in a wetsuit. The guy had a classic case of foot-in-mouth disease.
So far, Harper seems to have been handled better. Still, before Mulroney, the Conservatives were a bickering pack of back stabbers who couldn't agree on the Lord's Prayer. Joe Clark wasn't in power a week before some twit precipitated an international incident over the possession of Jerusalem by Israel. Picking P.C.s nationally seems to be a problem. The Albertans have a business friendly group who haven't caused enough public dissatisfaction to get the boot ( and they're conservatives through and through for quite a while ).
All of this has not played that successfully on the national stage : looking like a shill for Washington could torpedo Harper. And the C.I.A. is very likely doing their thing in messing with foreign politics : they do not ignore a huge country on the doorstep.

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