January 11, 2007

 

Paying fair dues should not have to unfairly fund leftist activists...

From: The Wall Street Journal

Labor's Money Grab
January 10, 2007; Page A16

Compulsory dues are the financial foundation of Big Labor's political power. So you can bet union officials will be paying special attention today as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case that could affect how that money may be spent.

The appeal consolidates two cases from Washington state, where even nonmembers of unions can be forced to pay collective-bargaining dues as a condition of employment. In 1992, Washington voters rebelled against that obligation; they overwhelmingly approved a paycheck protection law that requires unions to get "affirmative authorization" from workers who don't belong to the union before spending their dues money on politics.

The state teachers union, the Washington Education Association, challenged the voter-passed law, and a state Supreme Court ruling last year struck it down on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment free-speech rights of union officials. It's a novel rationale, to say the least.

After all, every other special interest group trying to raise money for a political cause has to contact people and persuade them to contribute. That includes the National Rifle Association, Emily's List, the trial lawyers and Chamber of Commerce. But the Washington Supreme Court held that such opt-in provisions were "too heavy an administrative burden" for unions and thus unconstitutional. The state appealed the ruling, and the U.S. Supreme Court now has a chance to decide in Washington v. Washington Education Association and Davenport v. WEA.

Washington is one of a half-dozen states to pass a paycheck protection law. And if the lower court ruling is upheld on the principle that unions have a constitutional right to extract money for political activities from even nonmembers, these laws could be jeopardized everywhere. Such a ruling could also undermine so-called "right to work" laws in 22 states, where workers currently can decide for themselves whether to join or support the union. If the High Court says unions have a First Amendment right to spend nonmember dues on politics, a right-to-work law that prohibits collecting dues from nonmembers becomes problematic.

The good news is that the U.S. Supreme Court has plenty of case law to work with. In its Beck and Abood rulings, the court said workers couldn't be compelled to support a union's political expenditures. And its Hudson decision spelled out procedures for how the competing interests of the union and nonmember workers could be balanced. Namely, the court said workers must be given an opportunity to opt out of political spending and receive a refund for dues money that isn't used for collective-bargaining purposes.

Washington state's law takes this a step further, requiring workers to actually opt into political activities, not merely opt out of them. And that's the way it should be if workers' rights are to be protected. Why should unions be able to take money from someone who objects, put it to use for lobbying and organizing, and then refund it after the fact?

The High Court has an opportunity to clarify these matters - and in the process stop Big Labor from continuing to trample the rights of employees averse to funding a union's political agenda.

Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal

 

Conservatism, Freedom, Prosperity...

From: The Wall Street Journal

Jokers to the Right
By: JOSEPH RAGO

January 6, 2007; Page A7

WASHINGTON - Who's funnier, on the whole, liberals or conservatives? It's an old question, but a terrible one. Even to inquire after it reduces the whole curve of human comedy to politics; and besides - sad to contemplate - perhaps the most accurate answer is that they're both humorless. On the liberal side of the register, you can hardly be funny if you're constantly feeling guilty about things; many conservatives meanwhile believe that everything is going to pieces, and there's nothing funny about that.

P.J. O'Rourke, the political satirist, neither hesitates nor hedges. "Conservatives generally tend to be funnier in their private lives," he explains, "because of the hypocrisy factor. I am of course a big fan of hypocrisy, because hypocrites at least know the difference between right and wrong - at any rate, know enough to lie about what they're doing. Liberals are not nearly as hypocritical as conservatives, because they don't know the difference between right and wrong. But anyways the personal lives of conservatives tend to be funnier: They've always got the embarrassing gay daughter, and so on."

In public policy, Mr. O'Rourke claims, "liberals are always much more hilarious. Liberals are always proposing perfectly insane ideas, laws that will make everybody happy, laws that will make everything right, make us live forever, and all be rich. Conservatives are never that stupid. Having conservatives in government is like having a stern talk with your dad in the den about what your allowance will be... Of course, the Republicans always end up giving in: You know, giving you more money than you should have in your pocket, and the keys to the car, and then also a bottle of whiskey."

* * *

So - clowns to the left, jokers to the right: not an uninteresting answer to the "who's funnier?" question, mainly because it presupposes politics as the object of satire and not its wellspring. The circumstance, for Mr. O'Rourke, runs in the other direction: He is one of the foremost comic writers in the Anglophone world, and his mirth derives, as much as anything, from his politics. Over the last several decades Mr. O'Rourke has crowded his C.V. as the scourge of fashionable causes at home and also abroad, serving as foreign correspondent to "the absolute, flat-out, goddamn worst places in the world," as he puts it. His 150-proof journalism is savage, profane, relentlessly irreverent, throwing in various breaches of decorum and moral trespasses for good measure - and usually vertiginously, caustically hilarious. When I meet him, he looks well marinated, cured even, as though he'd be great company for steaks and stiff drinks, with several orders of first and second-hand smoke on the side. In fact, he is.

Mr. O'Rourke divides his time between D.C., where I join him for lunch, and a country place in New Hampshire. His views are firmly of the live-free-or-die variety, though he is unsparing in his commentary on the last election, in which all but one of the New England Republicans were dispatched in favor of "some left-wing gals and other complete nonentities." "I think it was all about the war, and about George Bush," he says. "They just hate Bush in New England, even in New Hampshire, and I don't know why it is that they seem to loathe him more than everybody else. Is it because he's a traitor to the New England tradition of transcendento-liberalism? ... Bush went to Groton, and then he goes to Yale, then Harvard, and at the very worst he should have emerged boring like his old man. Instead he comes out this Southern, borderline-evangelical, hard-right conservative."

Hold one beat. "Except as a hard-right conservative myself," he continues, "Bush has been a pretty miserable failure on that front. It's called failure. Bush and the Republicans are offering a Newer Deal, a Greater Society. Where the hell did this come from? And there's no other word for it but failure: failure to control spending, failure domestically and failure in Iraq."

Mr. O'Rourke is particularly cutting on the situation in the Persian Gulf, which he covered most recently during the war proper, and also in 1990 and intermittently thereafter. "I was very much in favor of the Iraq invasion," he says. "What were the questions? Is Saddam Hussein a bad man? Is he doing bad things? Does he have the oil money to do more bad things? Is he likely to do more bad things? If these were the questions, was the answer more cooperation with France?"

In the aftermath he expected "a great spontaneous return to order," much like, he says, what he saw after the Iraqis were expelled from "devastated" Kuwait. "After they got chased out of there the Kuwaitis totally took control, and it was as though somebody had been chased out of, I don't know, Dayton. Everything was working again within days. Civil society came to the fore - Hayekian social forces. It was amazing. We thought - I know I thought, knowing a fair number of sophisticated, intelligent Iraqis - that this would happen in Iraq. You remove the oppressor, and there would be these self-organizing forces. Well, nooo," he says, drawing out the word. "Instead what you got was Yugoslavia. Triple Yugoslavia. You might call it the really violent Bosnia.

"I have no idea if some societies, anthropologically speaking, aren't really suited for democracy. I don't think that's true. But there certainly are societies that just love to fight. Northern Ireland, for instance. You couldn't stop that problem because they were having fun - they were really, really enjoying themselves. It would still be going on full-force today if the sons of bitches hadn't accidentally gotten rich. What happened was, more and more people started getting cars, and television sets, and got some vacation time down in Spain, and it wasn't that they wanted to stop fighting and killing each other and being lunatics, but they got busy and forgot.

"So our job," he says, "is to make the Iraqis get busy and forget. 'You know, I meant to kill all those other people but, well, jeez, I had to get the kids off to school, the car was filthy and I had to take it down to the car wash, the dog got sick on the rug. Killing all those Shiites is still on my to-do list...'" Mr. O'Rourke argues we are well on our way to creating "Weimar Iraq" - a grave phrase - and concludes, mordantly, "I'm so glad the problem is above my pay-grade."

* * *

When Mr. O'Rourke set out into the world after a youthful Maoist phase (it was, after all, the '60s) there was an element of novelty to his insouciance, and his beliefs, like the larger movement of which he was a part, constituted their own kind of insurgency. Now, all that was fresh and scandalous then has become the stock-in-trade of every other pundit, blogger and radio-show bore, while the right has also made its own establishment - and correctness, of any kind, cripples humor. "Well, I'm almost 60," says Mr. O'Rourke. "It'd be a damn shame if I was the avant garde." But, he allows, "I don't think there'd probably be a place any more for the kind of stuff I was writing," and says, "There is a power to seeing things for the first time, with fresh eyes, that you can't duplicate."

There does, in truth, seem to be a seriousness increasingly smuggled into Mr. O'Rourke's work - if still impertinently expressed. Humor, he argues, comes from "distance, not disengagement," and humor that "stands for nothing, means nothing."

Consider his latest book, "On 'The Wealth of Nations,'" a foray into Adam Smith's 1776 masterwork. Mr. O'Rourke argues we can't understand Smith as a "personality" - "In the 18th century, the neo-Ptolemaic view of the cosmos hadn't come into fashion: the self had not yet taken the earth's place" - but we can understand his ideas. "My book is defiantly middlebrow, the poor, neglected middlebrow," says Mr. O'Rourke. "You're never going to read 'The Wealth of Nations,' and you shouldn't really. It's 900 pages... I wanted to (a) give people a sense of some of the things Smith was getting at, and (b) give normal people a kind of Michelin guide to what they might like to read. And I also hope (c) to send some people back to 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments,' which can actually be read through from left to right in its entirety."

"Moral Sentiments" was published 17 years before "Wealth of Nations," and Mr. O'Rourke sees it as central to Smith's thought, noting that Smith wasn't an economist but a moral philosopher, who argued for the fundamental morality of the unfettered market as a form of social organization and the lodestone for prosperity.

It's a bit odd to hear P.J. O'Rourke - who is always calling attention to the fraudulence of earnestness and its Siamese twin, sanctimony - talk about morality. But his is almost no morality at all, a non-morality, in that it demands nothing: The only basic human right, he says, is "the right to do as you damn well please" and take the consequences. He is not, however, a true libertarian. They're "too logical," he says. "It's a failed but admirable mission. They keep making these suicide attacks on principle, Kamikaze raids on the aircraft carrier of government... Libertarians suffer the same problem that Smith runs into in the last book of 'Wealth of Nations,' which was a pretty considerable failure. He tries to make proscriptions for government that fit his rationalist philosophical and moral logic. Everything comes apart. He's self-evidently wrong, wrong by his own reasoning. The problem with politics is that philosophy and morality are never really options.

"The important thing," he continues, "is negative rights: freedom from. But politics is all about positive rights: what're you going to give me? In a democracy it's always vibrating back and forth. People want the government to do everything for them, then when they see that it sucks, they want the government to let them take charge, and when that doesn't work, they want the government to come back and fix all the problems that they themselves caused when they took charge." There's a kind of separation of church and state, Mr. O'Rourke contends: "You simply cannot put your ideas into action."

Mr. O'Rourke's cynicism is finely ground, but it's also the foundation for his humor: He revels in the untidiness and chaos of the world. Things are funny to Mr. O'Rourke precisely because they're already in pieces, and there's nothing that can be done. You may as well have a good laugh about it.

* * *

Mr. O'Rourke says he is adjusting well to middle age, or, he prefers, "very late youth": "I can't complain. Well, I can complain. It's a f**king nightmare."

"I'm still getting out enough, as much as I like," he permits. "I spent about a month in China recently. I was over in Kyrgyzstan. But I can't do it like I used to. It's a matter of age-appropriate. Again, a lot of the fun of seeing the Third World is first impressions. I covered my first war in Lebanon about 22 years ago. Everybody just gets exasperated. Twenty years ago we were all very interested in what was making these people fight each other, and who was right and who was wrong, and after a while you say: Sit down and shut up. Go to hell."

Mr. Rago is an assistant editorial features editor at The Wall Street Journal.

Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal

 

Yeah, Do ya?

From: The Wall Street Journal

Remember Cindy Sheehan?
January 6, 2007; Page A6

When Cindy Sheehan became a celebrity for her "peace" vigil outside President Bush's Texas ranch in 2005, the antiwar left hailed her as a heroine. A DailyKos.com blogger anointed her "Mother Sheehan, ... the bringer of life who has been wronged by state power." A mainstream media columnist proclaimed that "the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute." Even before Mrs. Sheehan became a media darling, minority House Democrats called her as a witness at a June 2005 hearing about Britain's so-called Downing Street Memos.

Well, she's their problem now. On Wednesday members of the new House majority tried to hold a press conference to discuss their legislative priorities, but a group of hecklers, led by Mrs. Sheehan and chanting, "De-escalate, investigate, troops home now," forced Representative Rahm Emanuel to shut it down. Thursday, Representative Louise Slaughter was treated to an encore, although her press conference was merely delayed 45 minutes. "I was a little perplexed about why they were protesting us," Ms. Slaughter said.

She shouldn't be perplexed, for Mrs. Sheehan is not just the grieving mom of media lore, or even a liberal war opponent. She is an outright anti-American activist, who has called the U.S. a "morally repugnant system," said that "this country is not worth dying for," and during Hurricane Katrina demanded that the President "pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans," among many similar utterances.

Many who once lionized "Mother Sheehan" have simply gone mum. We found few comments about her latest antics on the left-wing blogs. It's heartening to realize that her erstwhile backers were motivated by partisanship, not hatred of country.

Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal

January 10, 2007

 

Green hypocrisy must be beat at its own game...

As the responsibilities for MPs is primarily that of democratic oversight I do not think it should be a requirement, but wouldn’t it be nice if every once and a while we put an MP in a cabinet position with some technical background in that area on occasion if only for the impression that we actually have some, well, technical background in public policy?

I like Baird a lot. I do not think you need technical experience 99% of the time for an MP to oversee a department. Indeed, in most cases it is a better idea to have someone not previously connected in any way with a department to oversee it (so long as they are skilled in overall portfolio management) from a democratic perspective.

That being said, rightly or wrongly I have no doubt that the next meeting of the Air Quality Management Association, I am going to have to hear how the Conservatives have replaced someone with no understanding of environmental science with someone with no understanding of environmental science.

Usually I believe that this criticism is unfair - you do not need a technical expert to oversee areas as their responsibility is simply to ensure public oversight of their departments filled with technical experts. Can’t we aim for perhaps 15% of all cabinet ministers, especially those dealing with innovative technologies but with little to no real “political-oriented” stakeholders, to have a Ministry with some technical experience?

As an example, I’m going to use the environmental ministry as an example as I believe it highlights that there is some merit to the idea of aiming to get some technical experts in a Conservative government.

I think it is fair to say that if we really want to tackle the environment and put together a real environmental package with teeth, we should have one developed by some real environmentalists, supported by a technical expert (or something a hell of a lot of a lot closer to what we’ve seen) in Parliament. Given the importance of the environment, wouldn’t it be nice to have a Conservative environmental scientist in government?

There are some real opportunities in the Environment portfolio. Indeed the more I look into the “global warming crisis” the more I see opportunities; opportunity for real research into climate (especially the solar cycle which is far more active in the development of the solar system and with respect to our satellite communications then previously thought), some real opportunities for the agriculture and forestry areas (more CO2, more plants, more oxygen!), genetic research (more CO2, more microbes in the ocean, more oxygen!), opportunities for real international relation development (rainforests), and even opportunities for industry (ICO2N CO2 pipeline in Alberta, gasification biomass plants, fusion power from Helium-3 research with CSA). A Conservative government can take the whole socialist concept of Green credits and turn it on it’s head using it to justify further tax cuts in gasification for biomass, forestry protection, arctic development, the Canadian Space Agency and our energy industry!

I’d love to see some P3 relationships on a Canadian entry into the US NASA Constellation program, get our aerospace industry and fuel cell developers involved in Orion and get our CANDU guys/girls working on figuring out if we can get Helium-3 and if we can actually use it as a power source. I’d love to see cities start to use gasifiers on their waste sites. I’d love to see a real effort to use the ocean and rainforests to convert CO2 into oxygen. These programs are justified even if global warming turns out to be a 100% socialist scam - which of course is why no socialist government touches them (it defeats their goal of using it as a simply excuse for socialism, even though it doesn’t make any sense).

The problem is - no one is going to get it done if we keep putting up a political “fall guy/girl” to simply play politics with the role. Financers, industry and citizens alike won’t take it seriously if we don’t.


And so it begins:


From: The National Post
http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=c93a911d-bb49-4c86-9827-5792654fa6d0

The coming Tory war on prosperity
Terence Corcoran, Financial Post
Published: Friday, January 05, 2007

Who would have thought that a vote for Harper's Conservatives would turn into a vote for David Suzuki's warped war on modern prosperity. That Prime Minister Stephen Harper is now openly flirting with Suzukiism was reinforced yesterday as he explained his Cabinet shuffle and the government's new environmental focus. He said he aimed to tackle long term environmental issues that have been badly neglected. "Most Canadians simply don't understand how far Canada is behind on major environmental indicators compared to other developed countries - not the developing world - compared to other developed countries we are behind."

In a newspaper interview just before Christmas, Mr. Harper said Canada's environmental record is "the worst in the developed world ... in just about every measure." In an interview with CTV, he said Canada's environmental performance "is, by most measures, the worst in the developed world. We've got big problems." Now defunct Environment Minister Rona Brockovich made the same claims earlier in the year.

There is only one study model by only one group in the world that ranks Canada as the worst environmental performer among developed nations, and that's the work of David Suzuki and a collection of academic activists associated with Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria. The latest in the line landed last month from the Suzuki Foundation, a report that begins: "Canada has among the worst environmental record of any developed country, ranking 28th out of 30 OECD countries."

Authority for this claim, absurd on its face - ranking Canada behind the likes of Greece, Poland, Turkey and Mexico - is a 2005 report, The Maple Leaf in the OECD, produced by the Suzuki Foundation and environmental academics from Simon Fraser. That report in turn draws on Canada Vs. The OECD: An Environmental Comparison, a 2001 work by David R. Boyd, eco-research chair of environmental law at the University of Victoria.

The 2001 Boyd report, the founding catalogue of misleading indicators, warped assumptions and outrageous conclusions should send the Harper Tories running for cover. Instead, the government has adopted the report's methodology as legitimate foundation for political policy.

The first and obvious clue that the Boyd report is trouble is the appearance of Mexico as No. 2 in the ranking. Is Mexico a model for green policy? Will Canada send new Environment Minister John Baird to Mexico on a fact finding mission to unearth the secrets of Mexico's environmental success?

Mexico ranks high on the Suzuki-Boyd rankings for one main reason: low growth and dismal standard of living. Take transportation: Canada ranks 26th for distance travelled by road vehicles per capita, while Mexico ranks 1st. Canada ranks 25th in the high number of vehicles per ca pita, while Mexico is 2nd with few vehicles. Why? Nobody in Mexico can afford cars or road travel.

The transportation area captures the overriding moral theme of the New Conservative standard for environmental success. Economic progress, symbolized by the ability of people to own motor cars and travel about, live well, produce energy, keep warm and keep cool, leads to environmental failure that must be corrected. Economic stagnation and reversal produces success. Mexico is good, Canada is bad.

The Suzuki-Boyd standards take economic success and growth - real productivity - and turns them into negatives. The very existence of more Canadians is portrayed as a curse that drags Canada down. "Population is a key element in calculating overall impact on the environment... Surprisingly, Canada places 26th out of the 29 OECD nations in population growth."

Canada's success as a food producer is a cause for low rankings and a liability that must be corrected. "Animals kept for livestock purposes cause a range of environmental problems." Canada ranks 16th in livestock per capita. Per capita! This fits with the latest United Nations scare mongering report that listed farm livestock as a bigger source of greenhouse gas emissions that the automobile. Which industry are the New Conservatives going to tackle first -farming or automakers and gasoline producers?

When Mr. Harper says Canada has fallen far behind the developed world, he is endorsing the idea that Canada should be condemned for its prosperity. Canada uses more energy per capita than Mexico because it produces more energy to sustain its high standard of living - and because Canada has a climate and geography and industrial structure that thrives on energy. Canada exports energy to the world, especially the United States. By rating Canada's energy performance against nations that produce little energy (Switzerland, for example) is ludicrous.

The more recent 2005 rankings from the Suzuki Foundation follow the same pattern, although it managed to correct some of the worst of the original Boyd report. The Boyd version ranked Canada 25th in use of fertilizer per capita, a meaningless measure. The 2005 report managed to rank Canada second by measuring fertilizer use per unit of arable land.

But other idiotic and un-Conservative comparisons emerged. Canada ranked 28th on "environmental pricing," which is a euphemism for higher taxes. Ranked at the top of the environmental tax list were Turkey and Mexico.

By adopting the Suzuki measures of national environmental success, Mr. Harper and his government have signed on to a world view based on the idea that modern industrial society is an evil system. The way forward for Suzuki is to step back into the crude, simple and impoverished world of centuries past. Mexico is better than Canada, Cuba is better than the United States. It's a war on prosperity.

Is this the foundation for Canada's New Conservatism?

Copyright 2007 - The National Post

 

The Wajid Khan saga...

From: The Toronto Star
http://www.thestar.com/article/167788

Questions mount over MP Khan
Answer expected soon on whether PM's Liberal aide will cross floor to Conservatives
January 04, 2007
Susan Delacourt - Ottawa Bureau Chief

OTTAWA - The strange, dual-political citizenship of Wajid Khan - the Liberal MP serving since last summer as "special adviser" to the Conservative prime minister on the Middle East and Afghanistan - may be coming to an end this week.

But whether Khan intends to stay as a Liberal or cross the floor to the Conservatives became more of a mystery yesterday when neither he nor the Prime Minister's Office wanted to answer any questions about the political future of the MP for Mississauga-Streetsville.

"You are best to go to Khan directly on this," said Carolyn Stewart Olsen, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"I will not comment on speculations and rumours," said Khan.

Nor would the PMO, on the eve of today's expected cabinet shuffle, answer questions about whether Khan had been approached to join the Tory caucus, as has been expected.

The mystery may not be allowed to last for too long, though. New Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is due to sit down with Khan by the end of this week.

A spokesperson for Dion said yesterday that the discussion would include questions about the MP's future political allegiance.

"He is scheduled to come in and meet Stéphane later on this week. ... I'm sure it's something that will be addressed when they meet," said André Fortin, Dion's spokesperson.

Khan was named last August to be Harper's special adviser on the Middle East and Afghanistan, even though he reportedly made clear he'd serve the Tory PM while remaining part of the Liberal caucus.

Some Liberal MPs protested, arguing that Harper had effectively planted a "spy" inside the Liberal caucus.

Since then, Khan made a trip to the Middle East and he said yesterday he had recently submitted a partial report on the trip to the Prime Minister's Office.

"I enjoyed writing the Middle East portion of the report for the Prime Minister, which he received recently," Khan said in a brief email.

Yet no one inside the government could confirm the existence of that report; in fact, there were conflicting reports of whether it did indeed exist.

In this precarious minority Parliament, even one MP's defection can make a significant difference.

The Conservatives have 124 seats; the Liberals 102; the Bloc Québécois has 51; and the New Democrats have 29. There are two independents.

Some Liberal insiders say they're sure that Khan has been waiting to make his move when he can exact a maximum price for crossing the floor - like Belinda Stronach did when she left the Tories to get a cabinet seat in Paul Martin's government in the spring of 2005 or, more recently, as David Emerson did when he left the Liberals after last year's election to join Harper's government as international trade minister.

Copyright 2007 - The Toronto Star


From the Prime Minister's Web Site - (http://www.pm.gc.ca/)

WAJID KHAN JOINS CONSERVATIVE CAUCUS
January 5, 2007

Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today welcomed Wajid Khan, Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville, as a Conservative member of Canada’s New Government.

“Despite our past partisan differences, I have always been impressed with Wajid Khan’s intelligence, inspiring life story and his obvious love of our country,” said Mr. Harper. “I would like to formally welcome him to the Conservative Caucus.”

The former Liberal MP volunteered to serve as the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Affairs last June. As they worked together, the Prime Minister said, “both of us began to realize that politically, we have a lot in common.”

“I have come to admire the Prime Minister and his government over the last year,” said Mr. Khan. “Eventually I came to the conclusion that my ideals and priorities, and the interests of my constituents, would be better served if I sat as a Conservative MP.”

Prior to entering public life, Mr. Khan was a successful entrepreneur and community leader in the Peel Region. Born in Pakistan, he served as a fighter pilot with Pakistan’s Air Force before immigrating to Canada in 1974.

Prime Minister Harper said Mr. Khan would continue to advise him on the Middle East and Central Asia, and assist the government on outreach to new Canadians.

Biographical notes follow.

* * * * * * * * * *
Wajid Khan

Wajid Khan was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville in 2004 and was re-elected in 2006.

Mr. Khan has served on the House of Commons Standing Committees on Canadian Heritage and National Defence and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He has also chaired the Canada-Croatia Parliamentary Group and served on the executive of Parliamentary Groups for Poland, India and Pakistan.

In June 2006 Mr. Khan became Special Advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Middle Eastern and Central Asian affairs.

Mr. Khan embodies Canada’s potential through his entrepreneurial success and commitment to community involvement. Before immigrating to Canada, Mr. Khan served for eight years as an officer and pilot in Pakistan’s air force. He and his wife settled in Toronto in 1974, where he established himself as a successful businessman. By 1990, Mr. Khan was president and CEO of one of the largest automobile showrooms in Canada.

Mr. Khan has also played an active leadership role amongst the city’s cultural communities. He has been a strong supporter of community charities and a sponsor of several children’s hockey teams.

Mr. Khan lives with his wife Tasnim, a medical doctor, and his son Omar.


From: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/01/05/khan-defect-070105.html

Ontario MP Khan leaves Liberals to join Tories
Last Updated: Friday, January 5, 2007

Ontario MP Wajid Khan is leaving the Liberals to join the Tories, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Friday.

"I am proud to announce today that Wajid Khan, the member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville, is joining our Conservative caucus," Harper told a news conference on Friday, with Khan at his side.

"I believe that this gesture made by Mr. Khan is a positive message for all Canadians - new Canadians as well as Canadians who have been here for a long time: In our party, there is room for all Canadians," he said.

Khan, formerly a pilot in the Pakistani military, told reporters that while "politics makes strange bedfellows … nothing about my decision to join the Conservative caucus feels strange to me.

"The best leader for Canada is the man who now has the job, Mr. Harper," he said.

As a Liberal MP, Khan has served Harper since August as a consultant on the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion had reportedly told Khan to choose his political loyalties, saying it was "bizarre" that a Liberal MP could serve as a consultant to the Conservative prime minister.

Dion posted a statement on the Liberal party website after the defection that expressed "regret" at receiving word of Khan's decision.

"I was never comfortable with Mr. Khan serving as an adviser to a Conservative Prime Minister, as Mr. Khan has done since August of last year," Dion's statement said.

Defection shifts balance of power in Parliament

Khan's move across the floor gives the Tories 125 seats, leaving the Liberals with 101. The minority government will now need the support of 29 opposition MPs - the same number the NDP has - to pass legislation in the 308-seat Parliament.

Khan said he had called Dion to inform him of the decision and said he has received support for his decision from the president and members of his riding association.

In an interview with the CBC following the defection, riding association president Khalid Sagheer said Khan "is my friend, I support him and I will continue to support him."

Asked whether backing Khan would mean switching party memberships himself, Sagheer said "that decision will come in due course."

"I agree with him and my own personal opinion is that the Liberal party has been taking us for granted - immigrants that have worked and supported the party so much, it's been so far only a one-way street," Sagheer said.

Khan offered services to Harper in August

Harper said Dion had pushed Khan to make the decision.

Khan "wasn't asking the Conservative Party [to join], but in the end the choice was made by Mr. Dion," Harper said. "Mr. Dion said Mr. Khan … couldn't be a true Liberal and participate positively in the government of Canada."

"When I'm given a choice … between a political party and my country, I will always choose Canada and that's why I chose the Conservative government," said Khan.

Earlier on Friday, Dion told CBC News that he was confident Khan was a loyal Liberal and that there was "no indication" a defection was coming.

Harper said "the first phase" occurred when Khan first approached him in August to collaborate with the government on Mideast issues, after police foiled an alleged Toronto bomb plot and arrested 17 Muslim suspects.

"He contacted me directly and offered to help in any way he could," Harper said. "The more we worked together, the more both of us began to realize that politically, we have an awful lot in common."

Fellow Liberals questioned allegiances

Fellow Liberal MPs at the time questioned how Khan would balance his allegiance to the party with his new role as an adviser to the prime minister, but Khan noted that he had sought approval from then Liberal leader Bill Graham to take on the job.

During his time as an adviser to the government, Khan said he felt the Liberal party seemed to be out of step with his ideas for foreign policy and family values.

Khan, 60, immigrated to Canada in 1974, emerging in Toronto as a successful businessman and a prominent voice for the Pakistani and Muslim communities. He left the Liberal caucus on Aug. 11, though he continued to sit as a Liberal.

Harper shuffled his cabinet on Thursday, moving several key ministers into new roles, and expanding the number of MPs in cabinet.

In the 2006 federal election, Khan defeated Conservative candidate Raminder Gill by 5,792 votes, taking 46 per cent of the vote.

Copyright 2007 - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

 

Call for papers...

CANADIAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS' (CIIA) YOUTH SYMPOSIUM ON CONFLICT, POVERTY AND INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTIONS

- CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS -

The Canadian Institute of International Affairs (CIIA) invites young Canadians enrolled in a post-secondary education program or in the initial stages of career development and non-Canadians enrolled in a degree program at a Canadian university or college to submit applications for CIIA's 2007 Youth Symposium on Conflict, Poverty, and International Interventions in Montreal, Quebec on 21 March 2007.

Applications are welcome from those wishing to participate as panellists or delegates.

Those interested inpresenting at the Symposium as a panellist should submit a CV and an abstract of no more than 500 words on a topic relating to one of three broad themes: (a) Understanding Security; (b) Conflict, Poverty and International Responses; and (c) Canada in Afghanistan.

Those applying to attend as a non-presenting delegate should submit a CV and a 300-word (max.) statement of interest.

Travel and accommodation subsidies are available for both panellists and delegates.

The deadline for all applications is Monday 22 January 2007 at 9:00am EST. Authors will be informed of acceptance by Monday 5 February 2007.

All submissions are welcome in both English and French. Please submit applications electronically to Karen Lu at
klu@ciia.org.

For more information, please visit
www.ciia.org

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