In between volcanoes and tornadoes, yes we can...

Welcome back;
It's been a whirlwind of a month and a long time since I've posted. My travels have taken me from one end of  the country (St. John's Newfoundland) to the other (Vancouver) with stops in Toronto, Edmonton and Washington DC. Then the second week.....
However, just when the world seems completely out of control (yes including you Arnold!) with tornado season sowing its destructive path in Missouri and elsewhere, what happens to top it off? A volcano in Iceland erupts (a different one than last year no less!). So maybe that wacko that said the earth was going to end last weekend got it slightly wrong.
Obama Searches for his Apostrophe 
The visit of President Obama (searching for the apostrophe tour) was a smash hit in Ireland as it was destined to be. As an Irish ex-pat myself, I couldn't help but be proud of the welcome they gave the First Couple, and how they, in turn, wowed them. Take a look at this column from the Irish Independent to get a flavor of what it meant for the Irish. He's had a great couple of weeks in terms of his personal biography - he not only proved he was American born, but also he found his Irish roots.
Meanwhile back in Canada...the Senate inaction.....
The Harper government is settling into its majority government phase, setting off a firestorm over the appointment of three former candidates to the Senate. the fact that one of them was a defeated MP and two had been appointed to the Senate last year and then stepped down to run for the House of Commons triggered an avalanche of protest. Some thoughts on that:
1. Their real sin was in stepping down and running for office. If they had just shut up and remained in the Senate it wouldn't have been such an 'outrage'.
2. Although they quite obviously did not know they would be appointed back to the Senate, apparently they should have turned the offer down on the premise that they are 'soiled goods' because they decided to um.... face the electorate.
3. Although they are not fundraisers for the Conservative party, they are apparently 'bagmen' as the continually outraged Pat Martin would have it. One - Fabian Manning - is a former Newfoundland provincial Minister, and the other - Larry Smith - is former Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. Same thing eh? The third Senate appointee, Josee Verner, is a former Conservative Cabinet Minister who was defeated. Surely there should be shame there!
4. The fact that the Prime Minister unilaterally changed Senate appointments to a maximum eight year term, instead of a cash-for-life lottery is um....well terrib uh...unilateral of Harper. [although I have suggested that to help de-fuse it, he should deduct the several months that the re-appointed Senators have already served from that eight years].
5. Finally, as has already been suggested by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, there is nothing stopping the provinces from taking Alberta's lead a number of years ago, and holding an election to determine who their next Senate appointment might be. For years, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien refused to recognize Alberta's elected Senator [Bert Brown] and received very little criticism for that. When it comes to the crunch the cognoscenti don't respect incremental reform of our unelected chamber. It's all or nothing.

So we all look forward to comprehensive change of the Senate under the majority government watch of Stephen Harper. Even if the provinces hi-jack the process with unrealistic Constitutional demands, at least he will have made it a signature move on his part. And if he goes down fighting, it is definitely better than avoiding the fight.
Until next time...


Looking back...and looking forward

Welcome back!
I'm heading back from a few days' golfing trip with some friends in one of my favorite places on earth, Martha's Vineyard. Golf is a great sport to keep you grounded (at least my club was grounded on a regular basis....). It's certainly humbling. On Thursday - my first game of the year - I actually played decently (no numbers but my game was surprisingly solid). Then of course on Friday I ballooned by 11 strokes on the exact course in perfect weather. No excuses! It was the 11th annual Cinco de Mayo Tournament with 20 men - half representing Connecticut and the other half, New York. As an Irish-born Canadian, apparently it made perfect sense that I be part of the New York team! As I am currently on my way back home, the outcome is still uncertain, but trust me, my absence in the final round will not be a game-changer.

Bringing Justice to Bin Laden
With the elimination of Osama Bin Laden, the world is a better place, and it's a small measure of justice in the twisted story of the millionaire manipulator and mass murderer. Of course, the usual suspects come out of the woodwork with their plot stories and fake photos posted on the internet denying reality. Let's leave that to the Pakistan authorities. Talk about denying reality! Good for Barack Obama and the Navy SEALS. I know it's unfortunate that the President won't release the bin Laden photos. However, I can understand why, given the ability of the Jihadis and nut-bars to use the internet as a vehicle for leveraging their hatred. Too bad for Donald Trump. Rumors are that he was all set to sign up bin Laden for Celebrity Apprentice...

Donald and the 'Birthers'
Speaking of the Donald, his championing of the 'birther' movement has smacked of desperation from the get-go, but Trump does follow the rule that 'there's no such thing as bad publicity'. [Tell that to Charlie Sheen, whose fifteen minutes of fame are quickly coming to an end.] Although, the President could have ended that so-called controversy a long time ago by releasing his long-form birth certificate, which he has now done. It's understandable that he didn't want to be bullied into it giving it up, it did contribute to a ludicrous situation snowballing into something larger. So, it was the right call to do it.

Looking Back on the Canadian Election
With a few days to process the federal election, here are my thoughts on what happened and what it all means.
1. Stephen Harper won a solid victory, with 167 seats. He needed 155 seats in the 308 seat House of Commons, which gives him a comfortable cushion for the next four years. I note that quite a number of panels and expert commentators seemed to have 'buried the lead' in journalistic terms. They focus more on the NDP phenomenon than on the main story.
2. The NDP were indeed the surprise of the entire election and totally exceeded all the projections and pollsters. Why did the NDP do so well? The NDP does well when they represent a clear alternative to the status quo. This, Jack Layton was able to do, and in an even greater surprise in both English and French Canada. Layton virtually obliterated Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Quebecois in the process.
3. Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals triggered the election and you really have to question, why they did that? They were well back of the Conservatives when they triggered the House vote of confidence on the
'ethics' issues. They could have kept their powder dry until their Leader was better known in the public, and their resources and positioning were stronger and marketed better.
4. Fundamentally, the Tories won the ballot question, "stability vs. partisan, risky minority coalition governments". This was particularly effective as Michael Ignatieff had already been defined by the Conservative attack ads for two years leading up to the election.  Negative attack ads among the parties probably cancelled each other out.

For some of my other comments on the election, check out my interview on Theo Caldwell's 'The Caldwell Account'

Until next time, if you have a few minutes, kindly keep my younger sister, Nora, in your thoughts and prayers as she fights for her health.