Week in Review - Feb 16, '08
LISTEN NOW: http://www.noapologies.ca/021608.mp3
We broke a major story on the Free Speech front here at NoApologies this week. We got our hands on a "talking points" memo out of
As for the specifics of Martin's motion, the MP's are instructed to say that the motion was "just recently tabled and will not be up for debate in the near future," and that they should assure their constituents that if and when the issue "comes before the house for debate, (they) will follow it closely and.. arrive at a position at that time."
The document also instructs MP's to essentially shift the focus away from the Section 13 discussion by talking about the government's ongoing efforts to repeal Section 67 of the Act. That section essentially exempts First Nations from any and all provisions or enforcement of the Act in cases where discrimination happens on native land. Nicholson's document says that Section of the Act essentially prevents First Nations people "from receiving the same legal protection against discrimination that is afforded to all other Canadians," and that MP's should use the line "My Canada includes First Nations" when discussing the Section 67 issue.
The release of the document prompted a strong outpouring of anger in the blogospere. Connie Fournier, who runs Canada's biggest conservative web discussion group, FreeDominion.ca, says the story has a lot of conservatives pretty upset. "A lot of people who have been really staunch supporters of the Conservative Party are really starting to vent over this. They feel like the talking points were really condescending."
Kathy Shaidle picked up the story for the National Post - with credit to us - and wrote that it's "too bad the PMO's response to citizens' concerns about the erosion of their free speech rights is to issue a (secret) document, telling our elected representatives to keep quiet or change the subject. Sounds more like a '(Stop) Talking Points' memo."
Some Conservative MP's and candidates were privately skeptical that the document even existed. They said they see all the talking points that come out through the system in
The unconventional path of this document does leave open just how closely the document actually reflects the position of Cabinet, because there's no clear indication that the "talking points" were ever actually vetted through the Prime Minister's office.
Apr. 12th Free Speech Rally
An announcement this week of a big rally coming up on Ottawa on the free speech issue. A group of prominent bloggers, including Mark and Connie Fournier of FreeDominion, John Pacheco at SoCon.ca, and the folks at the FreeMarkSteyn website have set Saturday, April 12th at the date for the rally. They've got a website set up, although they're still lining up speakers for the event.