Monday, January 30, 2006

The Nuttiest Professors In the World Agree. . .

We’re all a bunch of dupes. The World Trade Towers were really brought down by some kind of elaborately-executed and carefully controlled series of demolitions. So say the "Scholars for 9/11 Truth," and the story has been
zooming around the blogosphere and the message boards for the past three days, exciting the credulous and confirming tinfoil-hat-wearers in their deepest suspicions.

I see our Verbena had the good sense to just post the claim and ask for comments on it, and Polunatic properly describes the press release itself as the work of “conspiracy nuts.”

What I find fascinating is the deft and cunning misrepresentation of the credentials attributed to the “influential group of prominent experts and scholars” behind the astonishing findings:

Morgan Reynolds, Texas A & M Professor Emeritus of Economics, former Chief Economist for the Department of Labor for President George W. Bush, and former Director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Reynolds is actually an off-the-deep-end economist (beloved of the nutcases over at who also says there’s something fishy about the whole Jetliner-Crashes-Into-Pentagon story, too: “It is well-known that the hole in the west wing of the Pentagon, less than 18-foot diameter, was too small to accommodate a Boeing 757.” Hmm. . .

Robert M. Bowman, former Director of the U.S. "Star Wars" Space Defense Program in both Republican and Democratic administrations, a former senior Air Force Colonel with 101 combat missions, who is also a Catholic Archbishop.

Indeed, Bowman appears to have had something to do with some government office, back in the days of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, which may well have mutated into the “Star Wars” office Ronald Reagan set up years later. But a Catholic Archbishop? Well. . . actually. . . not the Roman Catholic kind of archbishop. Bowman’s with something called the United Catholic Church, which has its Vatican in the town of Melbourne, Florida. And he appears to be the only archbishop they’ve got. Here's a funny picture of His Grace Archbishop Bowman wearing a great big hat.

Lloyd DeMause, Director of The Institute for Psychohistory, President of the International Psychohistorical Association and Editor of The Journal of Psychohistory.

That's the same psychohistorian Lloyd DeMause who says incest has always been a fairly normal human custom and the Holocaust was the result of German parents calling their kids bad names and stuff.

James H. Fetzer, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, author or editor of more than 20 books and co-chair of S9/11T. . .

. . . including the book that shows how we’ve all been lied to about the assassination of John F. Kennedy all these years: The Great Zapruder Film Hoax: Deceit and Deception in the Death of JFK.

For such an impressive bunch of influential and prominent experts and scholars, you'd think they could have found at least one nutty engineer or something to explain how it was that armies of people in hardhats were carrying dynamite in and out of the World Trade Centre and drilling holes in walls and stuff for weeks on end, and nobody noticed. But no.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

This Bodes Ill. Very ill. . .

. . . I don’t mean a sneak attack the Americans are about to launch against us from the waters around Nunavut. I’m not even talking about the sticky national-security implications of dropping depth charges on Yankee submarines in peacetime.

I mean that not even a week has passed since the polls closed, and Stephen Harper has already manufactured the illusion (with help from his friends) that he’s “standing up for Canada” in a dispute with the United States - when he’s more likely just doing what the Americans have wanted all along, as our friend Michael Byers explains to the Globe and Mail.

To make things worse, even some of Harper's detractors on the “left” are buying into the charade. I’m not linking to the suckers, but here’s a link to our friends over at the Galloping Beaver, who aren’t so easily taken in.

Or read Thomas Walkom, in the Star. Or Larry Cornies’ take on how journalists have mangled the story.

The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson got it right: “There can be no conceivable reason for Mr. Harper's attack other than to defuse Liberal accusations during the election campaign that the Conservatives were secretly controlled by American interests, to which they would sell the country out unless stopped."

The really sad thing is that this entire escapade is likely to mothball Canada’s long-held plans to invade the United States and subdue the Yankee menace once and for all. Strategic ordnance maps of the reconfigured continent are here and here, but it's now probably just another grand historical-might-have-been.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Vote Result All Canadians Should Like

Famous Mosleyite and Canada-basher George Galloway has been voted off the British trash-television show Celebrity Big Brother.

He was turfed from the Big Brother House by a public vote after three weeks of antics with such carnival attractions as failed Baywatch flake Traci Bingham, dreary pop singer Pete Burns, a rapper known as Maggot, and some Paris Hilton impersonator whose name I can't remember. Even they couldn’t stand him.

George Galloway is the “outspoken British MP” who made headlines across Canada last September when he came to Toronto and Mississauga to shout at us and call us names for sending our soldiers to Afghanistan.

Galloway, the leader of Britain’s homophobe-funded “Respect” Party, is the darling of certain pseudoleftists who insist, for instance, that Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan is an “illegal” and "imperialist" war of “occupation.”

Or at least he was their darling last September, when he was calling Canada a stooge of U.S. imperialism for working with soldiers from 35 other countries to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country after decades of war and fascist tyranny.

While Canadians have been getting killed and dismembered doing that brave work during the past three weeks, Galloway has been on the telly every night in Britain, crawling around in a fluffy white bathrobe pretending to be a cat, doing Elvis impersonations, dressing up like Dracula, and dancing around in a red leotards (you can Google all of the above for yourself).

But the pseuds have been quiet about George lately.

You’d think they’d be crowing about the British court decision this week that upheld a libel ruling Galloway won against the Daily Telegraph for its handling of documents reportedly found in Baghdad that appeared to show that Galloway had been getting huge annual payoffs from Saddam Hussein.

It could be that the silence is because the decision came down around the same time as the publication of fresh pictures of Galloway having a few laughs with Saddam’s son, the now-dead psychotic rapist and torturer Uday Hussein.

But for some time now, Galloway has been making it increasingly difficult for his friends to make excuses for him. After that pit stop in Canada during his shout-and-hector tour of the United States, the Bethnall and Bow MP put in some face-time with his pal the Syrian strongman Bashar “breath of fresh air” al-Assad. Then Galloway got voted Britain’s most expensive backbench MP by the London School of Economics. Then he found himself further embroiled in scandal related to his dubious “charitable” work.

Don’t get me wrong: The left has not been universally quiet about Galloway.

Last year, long before Galloway climbed into his red leotards, the popular left-wing writer Greg Palast was describing him this way: “Mr. Galloway isn’t really opposed to the war in Iraq. He simply supports another side. Apart from being a shill for Saddam (and for Stalin), Mr. Galloway is also a sleazy and corrupt dandy.”

Progressive columnist Marc Cooper described a Galloway speech to a Boston crowd last fall this way: “Since he clearly sides with the suicide bombers, the beheaders and the other psychopaths that murder civilians in Iraq and elsewhere, a wave of horror washed over me when I realized that the people in the generally well-dressed, well-educated crowd cheering Galloway were, in essence, cheering for their own deaths.”

And there’s Harry, whose headline on the Galloway’s Big-Brother House eviction on Thursday was the best: “Vacuum Cleaner Sucks Up Budgie.” And of course there’s always the ever-delightful Pop-Trotskyites.

If you’d like to give the Honourable Mr. Galloway your own opinion of him, directly, you can email him, here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Calm Down, Cheer Up, Dump First-Past-Post

Sweet moderation - heart of this nation -desert us not, we are between the wars.

Less than one-quarter of us – 5.4 million of 22.8 million registered Canadian voters - marked an X beside the name of a Conservative candidate yesterday.

The only reason the Conservatives managed to do even that well was by hiding their truly right-wing candidates and policies, and by campaigning almost solely on the argument that they were the choice for moderation and honesty.

Roughly two-thirds of Canada’s voters chose parties of the centre-left. Even among the Conservative candidates there were many wrong-but-reasonable old-school Tories (they’re not all radical-right ravers).

Rick Barnes gets it. So does Dirk Buchholz.

We desperately need some form of proportional representation in this country. I’ve been bitching about this for ages.

After the 2004 election, NDP leader Jack Layton vowed to support the minority Liberal government we elected back then if Paul Martin would agree to hold a national referendum on proportional representation. Martin said he was open to the idea. “Our voting system is broken," Layton said back then, pledging to put his shoulder to the wheel of “a rebirth of our democracy."

What ever happened to that promise?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Good Thing About The Election

I win $10 from my colleague Charlie Smith, editor of the Georgia Straight, for making the prediction closest to the result. I said: Conservatives 122, Liberals 103, Bloc 50 and NDP 30. The result, as of about 10:30 PST: Conservatives 124, Liberals 103, Bloc 51, NDP 29, Nutcase Quebecois Shock-Radio Host: 1.

Pretty close, eh?

I’ll spare Charlie the blushing. Let’s just say he was more pessimistic than me.

Other good news: Liberal Stephen Owen won in Vancouver-Quadra.

Bad news: New Democrat Randall Garrison lost in Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca.

I could go on with the good news and bad news all night. Most of it would be bad, so I’ll stop now, and bring to your attention three new links that I’ve just pasted on the side to cheer myself up:

Under Brits:

Drink-Soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for War (“for internationalism and all-day opening hours”).

Under Yanks:

The brave and brilliant Lost Magazine.

The wise and venerable journal Dissent.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Amazing, appalling, arcane = anti-fascist.

My essay on the Canada and the New Internationalism, published over here last week under the headline “Reinventing Diplomacy,” has set off a bit of a row. Among the letters is a particularly amusing one from a leading Vancouver anti-war-committee-goer, who is both “amazed” and “appalled” with me. He says the UN's "responsibility to protect" doctrine, the Ottawa Landmines Convention, the International Criminal Court and the Convention on Cultural Diversity are just attempts to "put a human face on objectionable political projects, particularly in the international sphere." Or something like that. I could be wrong. It's hard to say.

(I hope these people save some of their vitriol for my dear friend and fellow islander Grant Buday, whose review of Jasper Becker’s Rogue Regime describes Hero of the People and Dear Leader Kim Jong Il as “a short man who resembles a toad in a toupee.” They should surely be amazed and appalled at that slight. And perhaps compelled to write more letters.)

But the complaints about "Reinventing Diplomacy" have not been universally frivolous. The nationalist Robin Matthews (Treason of the Intellectuals; The Death of Socialism and Other Poems) takes me to task on the Vive le Canada webzine for my “very strange reading” of Canada’s emerging muscularity in global politics. I think Robin’s got it wrong. But of course I would say that.

The debate in play here, while a bit marginal in the clichéd “broader scheme of things,” is actually quite closely related to a very turbulent current of contemporary controversy. Last September, the British “pro-liberation” leftist Harry Hatchett (see my link to Harry's Place at the side, under "Brits") described that controversy this way: “Of course the left has always had its splits, divisions and in-fights and if we look back to the Spanish civil war there was certainly no love lost between the Anarchists, the Trotskyists and (Stalin's) Communists. But the difference with today is that back in the time when the International Brigades were fighting fascism in Spain, no-one on the left actually urged support for Franco.”

Meaning, you should gather, that nowadays you can find British pop-culture pseudosocialist George Galloway (who is arguably some sort of Mosleyite anyway) slobbering on Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad's slippers, and a “peace movement” weirdly quiet about Iran’s holocaust-denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with his covetousness for nuclear weapons and all, and throngs of protestors going all where-have-all-the-flowers-gone about the overthrow of the Taliban. That kind of thing.

Here’s how I tried to express similarly amazing and appalling ideas this week, in response to Robin Mathews, on Vive le Canada:

As the author the essay ("Reinventing Diplomacy", Georgia Straight, 12-Jan-2006) that my friend Robin Mathews critiques in his thoughtful column here, I thought I would take the liberty of responding to some of Robin's points, and raising one or two of my own.

Robin writes: "For some arcane reason, Glavin wants us to believe the `new internationalism defies old left-right clichés'. He writes that the new ideas `defy the conventional categories of left and right in global politics'. That is, with respect, a very strange reading. . . that the left/right conflict is somehow no longer present, or is fading."

First, I should point out that Robin has read rather more than I intended into my essay, in some respects, and less, in others.

I most certainly do not argue that the left/right conflict is "somehow no longer present" in the development of independent Canadian foreign policy or military policy. Robin sufficiently resolves any doubt about the Canadian foreign-policy posture associated with the "right" by mere reference to the Conservative Party's foreign affairs critic - the Bible fetishist, creationist and homophobe Stockwell Day.

But the "right" in this country at the moment is, I'm afraid, quite different than anything we are used to. It is an alliance of American-inspired neoconservatives on the one hand and the Canadian adherents of those exotic, cargo-cult American folk religions (usually described generically as "evangelicals") on the other. Led by Stephen Harper, they have captured the infrastructure and command of Canada's venerable old Conservative Party. These people despise the conservative values and the politics of conventional Canadian toryism. They are completely outside the traditional Canadian consensus among and between tories, liberals, social democrats and socialists. Their politics are American.

Meanwhile, the liberal internationalism that Canada has pioneered in recent years, against the consistent and vigorous opposition of the United States, is quite robust enough to embrace ideas that lie across the spectrum of Canadian toryism, liberalism, social democracy and socialism. But there is an American-influenced "left" in play in Canada, as well - the neoconservatives' opposite. That "left" opposes the new diplomacy for its own, usually incoherent "counterculture" reasons. The tendency is almost universally opposed to the more robust assertions of the "new diplomacy" when it requires critical, armed Canadian solidarity with democratic forces in the failed states of Afghanistan and Haiti.

I am unapologetically of the "left," but I do not recognize the hard-line "troops out" crowd as my comrades on these questions. In coming to terms with the way Canada should discharge its duty of solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, for instance, I am much more interested in what the people of Afghanistan have to say on the subject than in what George Galloway, Noam Chomsky, Cindy Sheehan or any other British or American demi-celebrity has to say.

I'm interested in what people from Canada's young and progressive Afghan community have to say. And these people say, quite emphatically, and overwhelmingly, "stay the course."

It was the Afghan Women's Network that first cried out for Canada and our NATO allies to move into Kandahar, where Canadian troops are now temporarily engaged alongside American forces in a hill-by-hill rout of the fascist remnants of the Taliban. I am not at all ashamed that we have heeded that call.

The Canadian Forces should be there, and the fact that the Yanks are there too is completely immaterial to the question of whether Canada's soldiers should be engaged there.

In that respect, Canada's role in Haiti is similar. There may be many worthwhile and necessary questions to be raised about the effectiveness of Canada's role in Haiti, but running away from Haiti is simply not on. In English Canada, the left appears content to accept an American-style "troops out" posture with regards to Haiti. In Quebec, "the left" is less susceptible to the practice of adopting American counterculture postures without scrutiny. The Quebec "left" is fully engaged with Canada's UN-sanctioned mission in Haiti, which enjoys the support of the Liberal Party (obviously), the Bloc Quebecois (enthusiastically), the New Democratic Party (fitfully) and Quebec's trade unions, civil rights activists and feminists.
It is in these ways that the "new internationalism" doesn't fit neatly within the standard "left-right" analyses of developing-world solidarity, international law, or national sovereignty.

As for me, I see no reason to engage in those elaborate circumlocutions necessary to the work of characterizing Canada as an "imperialist" power in either Haiti or Afghanistan. To find the historical roots of Canada's missions in Afghanistan or Haiti, I do not rummage around in the clippings files related to the abominable U.S. expeditions in Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua or elsewhere. I see the origins of Canada's engagement in Afghanistan and Haiti in the armed struggle waged by Canada's Mackenzie-Papineau battalion against the fascists in Spain, during the 1930s.

On Sunday, Glyn Berry - a progressive, an ardent champion of the "new diplomacy," a senior Canadian diplomat, and a loyal comrade of the Afghan people - was murdered near Kandahar. He died in a Taliban-orchestrated suicide-bomb attack, which also killed two other civilians and wounded three Canadian soldiers.

A couple of years ago, here's what Berry had to say about the duties of solidarity that progressive people everywhere owe to one another: “In today's world, sovereignty is no longer exclusively about rights, it is about responsibilities. The primary responsibility of a government to protect its own people is integral to the very concept of sovereignty. When that responsibility is not or cannot be exercised in the face of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing, there can be no realistic option but for the international community to take collective action, including, as a last resort, the use of force. . .”

Of course it would be nice if this solemn responsibility could be discharged by having Canadian soldiers in blue berets wander around the bazaars of Kabul passing out packages of sweets to children. But sadly, in order to engage in peace building, militia-demobilization, well-drilling, landmine clearance, school construction, vote-tallying, and hospital building, you sometimes first have to kill some fascists.

Oh well.

Robin raises some very important questions about the implications of Canada's new muscle-flexing in world affairs vis-à-vis the United States and the various global designs and ambitions the U.S. is pursuing. These are important questions, and Vive Le Canada readers are well served to pay attention to the questions Robin is raising.

But for me, and I believe for the "left," at the end of the day the fundamental questions are fairly straightforward: Could we really have allowed the complete collapse of order in Haiti because of some reactionary preoccupation with nation-state "sovereignty"? In Afghanistan, are we with the fascist thugs who would throw acid in the faces of unveiled women, or are we with the democratic forces of Afghanistan, the women of Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan?

I think the answers to both those questions are clear.

In Solidarity, Terry Glavin.

Meanwhile, for a solid primer on the questions that arise in any sensible discussion about these sorts of things, you should have a look at Norm Geras' excellent essay on Larry May's Crimes Against Humanity: A Normative Account in the recent issue of Democratiya, here.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thanks a lot, Jack. . . .

Maybe I'm being way too hard on Jack Layton. In my Chronicles column today, I write that most Canadians didn't even want this election, and thanks to Jack’s hubris, we appear to be about to lose the most progressive Parliament since the days of Lester Pearson, quite possibly getting instead the most right-wing government in Canadian history.

But if you think I'm being too hard, you should read what the Winnipeg Free Press columnist Frances Russell has to say: “After surfing all summer on writing Canada's first social democratic budget and boasting of better to come in the fall, Layton abruptly pulled the plug on the government for reasons he never explained to Canadians," Russell writes. "The NDP will soon be back in its usual place, carping ineffectually from the sidelines. Except, that is, for one very large loose end. The RCMP income trust investigation, requested by the party's finance critic, turned the campaign on a dime.

“New Democrats, and particularly, Winnipeg North MP Judy Wasylecia-Leis, must be praying that the Mounties come up with some proof of a leak. Failure to do so can only mean one thing: a democratic government has been toppled, in large part, by a specious politically inspired police investigation. As one observer puts it: `Do not underestimate the seismic magnitude of this investigation's outcome. This sort of thing is what distinguishes a G8 country from a banana republic.’"

Meanwhile, the University of Toronto’s John Crispo, in today’s Globe and Mail, similarly blasts Layton for his “ego trip,” and “the net result of all these political machinations is that there is no realistic political alternative on the left or social democratic side. This is appalling.”

Too harsh?

How to "Fool the World" & Win an Election

This is the way Alberta rightist Ted Byfield described the main challenge he and his fellow oil-patch neoconservatives were facing two years ago in their grand plans to rally Canadians around Stephen Harper’s hopes for regime change in Canada:

“How do we fool the world into thinking we’re moving left when we’re not?”

It’s turning out to be pretty easy, after all.

It’s amazing what you can get away with when you’re starting with friends like the CanWest Global media empire (which includes the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, the Province, and the Victoria Times-Colonist), CTV news, and the Globe and Mail.

But still, you’ve got to make it easy for them. So here's what you do.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Only Election Issue That Really Matters

Climate change has gone past the point of no return, and civilization as we know it is now unlikely to survive. The Independent (UK) reports that this is now the shocking conclusion reached by “the Charles Darwin of ecology,” James Lovelock, the first scientist to explain planetary ecology as a single, self-regulating ecosystem.

Environmentalists are divided about whether to stay at the activist ramparts or retreat into a more defensive rebout. But how do Canada’s political parties rank in their commitment to take this challenge seriously?

In the only comprehensive assessment of where Canada’s political parties rank in the degree to which they take environmental challenges seriously, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are a distant last, with a score of 31 points. The Bloc is at 46, the Liberals 53, the NDP 91, and the Green Party 97.

On the life-and-death question of climate change, environmentalists agree that Stephen Harper is a “significant threat”. Harper has been clear that any government he runs would ignore the Kyoto Accord’s reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and would bail out of the Kyoto process entirely. The main Conservative response: tax-deductible bus passes.

Already, Canada ranks 35th among 40 leading industrial countries in the race to meet the Kyoto targets. Our greenhouse gas emission are actually 24 per cent higher than 1990 levels, and we’re supposed to be six percent below that threshold by 2012. In overall environmental performance, Canada is already 28th among the industrial world’s 30 worst performers.

What to do?

Here’s what Lovelock says: “First, we have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realize how little time is left to act; and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilization for as long as they can. . . We must do it while we are still strong enough to negotiate, and not a broken rabble led by brutal war lords.”

Last month, Chronicles readers heard the same message from Canada’s own Roy Woodbridge, author of The Next World War: Tribes, Cities, Nations and Ecological Decline. The point we made back then was Canada’s federal election issues consisted mainly of the trivial, the marginal, and the frivolous. That much has not changed; what’s changed is that the worst possible electoral outcome is even more likely now.

Here’s what Woodbridge told me here, last month: “What’s happening is just the same as what happened to New Orleans. That was a disaster that was totally predictable and totally preventable. We face the same kind of choices, right now, and the disaster, if we fail, will be a disaster that was totally predictable.”

Monday, January 16, 2006

Glyn Berry, 1946-2006: One Of Our Own

Some of this might seem idealistic, but in a world of cynicism, there's always room for dreamers – Glyn Berry.

Glyn Berry was a Canadian progressive, a great humanitarian, and a widely-respected diplomat. He was murdered in Afghanistan on Sunday.

Berry was the victim of a suicide bomber. Two other civilians were killed in the incident, and ten people were wounded, including three Canadian soldiers: Infantry Pte. William Edward Salikin of Grand Forks, British Columbia, and engineer Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey and medic Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, both of Edmonton.

Let no one dare say that Berry did not die a hero’s death. Let no one - especially on the “left” in this country - speak a word against Berry or against his mission with the provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar. Berry died a comrade of the Afghan people. He died in solidarity with the Afghan people.

A new, comprehensive poll of Afghan opinion, released only four days before Berry’s death, comfirms that there can no longer be any excuse for the persistent assertion by certain sections of Canada’s “left” that Canada’s engagement with the UN-sanctioned NATO mission in Afghanistan amounts to complicity in an "illegal" and "imperialist" occupation.

The Program on International Policy Attitudes poll shows that the vast majority of Afghans are more than happy to have been rid of the fascistic Taliban. The Afghan people overwhelmingly support the international military presence in that country.

Glyn Berry’s life and work exemplified everything that was progressive about the new strain of internationalism that Canada has so effectively led in recent years, which I wrote about last week. The new internationalism - which is threatened by the prospect of a Conservative victory in Canada's federal elections - is changing the entire architecture of global politics. Berry was a key figure in that brave enterprise, especially as a champion of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that Canada has fought for at the United Nations.

Two years ago, in Canada's Project Ploughshares Monitor, Berry set out the underlying principle of that doctrine: “no state, government, or institution has a legitimate rationale for its existence apart from the interests of the individual human beings for whose benefit they are supposed to act.”

Earlier this year, Berry wrote:

“Bitter lessons such as those of Rwanda and Srebrenica have shown us in tragic terms that there are situations where the international community must take collective action, using all the means available through international law. In today's world, sovereignty is no longer exclusively about rights, it is about responsibilities. The primary responsibility of a government to protect its own people is integral to the very concept of sovereignty. When that responsibility is not or cannot be exercised in the face of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing, there can be no realistic option but for the international community to take collective action, including, as a last resort, the use of force. . .”

Progressive Canadians should take a moment to remember Glen Berry, and spare a thought for his family.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What would Foreign Affairs Minister Stockwell Day do?

You’d never know it from Canada’s federal election coverage, but here’s something rather more important than the cut of Stephen Harper’s new blue suit: If the Conservatives win, will Canada go on flexing its newfound muscles in the world, or will the country retreat back into a Yes-Sir orbit around the White House?

In recent years, against stiff American opposition, Canada has racked up a series of major diplomatic victories, in rapid succession: The Ottawa Landmines Treaty, the International Criminal Court, the emergence of the "responsibility to protect" doctrine at the United Nations, and most recently, the Convention on Cultural Diversity. You could probably add the Kyoto Accord to that list.

Canadian diplomatic activism is emerging as a key component in an entirely new architecture of global politics (I write at some some length on the subject in an essay just published here). At the risk of engaging in “smear and fear” tactics, what would become of all this under a Conservative government?