Editorial Page
Seeking political change in Canada

Do not be confused by the strong support shown in these pages for David Orchard in his second bid for the leadership of the PC Party. Some of you will remember that we campaigned for David in his first leadership bid and he is not any less of a good choice this time around. In fact, he has garnered more support over the past four years, some from within the party, and nothing would make us happier than to see him be successful in this quest.

If David were at the helm of the PCs, he would have the clout to lead them in the right direction -- fairly, honestly and democratically. So if it is something you are comfortable in doing, we urge you to take out that $10 PC Party membership as soon as possible and give David your vote -- and any other support you can. Actually, you'll have to phone them to see if there's still time to get your membership before the vote in your riding. Please -- tend to this today! Call 1-877-WE STAND.

The NDP leadership convention was most interesting and Jack Layton an eye-opener. We were first drawn by the experience of both Lorne Nystrom and Bill Blaikie, although we were impressed by other talent at the debates as well. To my mind, Layton's good looks and smoothness were, at first glance, too reminiscent of Mulroney for me. But hearing Layton speak after his election, we think they may have a gem there. The man is a dynamic and gifted speaker who radiates self confidence and inspires excitement. He might just be the spark that will ignite his party to bigger and better things. He has many of our concerns on his list. And his apparently open, consultative style is refreshing after what's been passing for a democracy in this country. We'll be watching.

We must emphasize our continued and unabated support for Paul Hellyer and the Canadian Action Party. If you didn't know the depth and strength and honour of this man before, you might realise it when we tell you that he gave his supporters the freedom to support David Orchard some time ago. As a result, some of us now hold membership in both parties.

Can you think of anything greater than going to the polls and having to choose between a David Orchard and a Paul Hellyer and a Jack Layton for prime minister of Canada?

Now there are three men who have so many great ideas in common that they should be sitting down for a chat some day. We tried to interest David in joining up with Paul a few years ago, but that wasn't in his game plan. Nor is the NDP of course. Paul tried to interest the NDP in a joint effort last year but couldn't get their attention.

But just think what might happen if those three men got together under one party banner! Why, they'd be unbeatable! (In our humble opinion.)

Bye bye Bush, bye bye Blair

Millions around the world have spoken. Can Bush, Blair and any other holdout possibly argue that they are right and the whole world wrong? It's impossible to believe such collossal egos, but believe it we must. They continue to sing their songs of war.

It's a lose, lose situation now. If Bush backs down, recalls his soldiers and weaponry and lets the weapons inspections team do its thing, he loses face, without having won the prize: control of Iraq's oil. If he goes ahead and attacks Iraq, with the major countries of the world, and even most of his own people, amassed against such a war, he faces a double threat: repercussions from terrorists on American shores and perhaps even civil war at home. He could also be setting the scene for a Third World War.

Either way, neither Bush nor his British shadow will ever survive another election.

Amazing stories have been pouring in all day (as I write these last words in this issue, it is February 15). World-wide rallies are exceeding all expectations: 750,000 to 2 million in London (depending on who did the counting); 1 million in Rome; a half million in Barcelona. The streets were jammed in Turkey (from where the Americans want to launch their war) and one source said that 90 per cent of the people there oppose the war. In a rare sign of unity, 3,000 Jews and Arabs marched together in Tel Aviv, opposing an attack on Iraq. In Oslo, people showered the embassies of China, Russia, France and Germany with Valentine flowers and letters thanking them for opposing the Iraq war. In Japan, 30 students boarded a plane to fly to Iraq where they will join others in the Human Shields movement. In Canadian and U.S. cities and towns, from the Atlantic to the Pacific -- especially in New York where protesters filled 20 city blocks -- the protesting crowds have been phenomenal.

And how do the American news media react to all this? I just checked CNN and found a news documentary showing 60 journalists being trained by the U.S. Marines, equipped with gas masks and special suits so they can keep safe during their reporting of the second Gulf War.

And while the most massive protest in history has taken over London, Tony Blair is in Scotland telling an audience that it's just not safe to let Saddam Hussein stay free and that the war is so very necessary.

British journalist Paul Foot wrote in the Feb. 12 issue of The Guardian: "Tory and Labour leaders cling together to proclaim the most fantastic and monstrous proposition that before we even have any proof of these weapons of mass destruction or the likelihood of their use, the most powerful armed forces in the world should unleash an attack on one of the weakest and most defenceless countries on earth. Even more shameful was the resort by 10 Downing Street, in defence of this proposition, to the most disgraceful plagiarism and deceit . . . The shame was finally compounded by reading of the performance of the British parliament and its Speaker in preventing parliamentary debate on any of these historic and urgent developments."

Our own prime minister is in an unenviable spot. He sits on the fence, damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Yes, the U.S. is our neighbour and our friend. Yes, we should reasonably be expected to support them. But how can one support a man like Bush in such a self-serving and illegal action? There's little doubt that Mr. Chretien is waiting in hopes that Bush will be forced to call the whole thing off. Then he won't have to make any decision that might damage the American/Canadian connection.

If Bush does ignore all voices and persist in going to war in Iraq, he will have proved one thing to everyone -- that he does not believe in democracy. Let's face it: what is democratic about a government that would go to war against the wishes of the majority of its people?

So sad. Our hearts do truly go out to our American friends who are burdened with a leadership they did not truly elect and do not deserve.

Personally yours

Surrounded by a sea of paper for two months, with news changing daily, this has been one of the most difficult papers to finish up. Already, some stories seem dated. We did our best.

A good friend reminded me that in the history of the human race, the adversity seen during such powerful and momentous times as these has provided great opportunities for good to be achieved. Has there ever been a time when all the peoples in the world have been so pulled together in a common cause? It is truly incredible when one stops to ponder it. Perhaps if we can excise the few negative energies that exist, more new and exciting things can be achieved in the world.

There have already been some beautiful human stories. Here's another. In January, four relatives of 9-11 victims, on a six-day mission of friendship, sat communing with children at a Baghdad shelter where 400 civilian Iraqis had been burned to death through U.S. bombing during the Gulf War. It was amazing. Other experiences included visits to a hospital and an Iraqi home. Terry Rockefeller of Massachusetts, who lost a sister Sept. 11, said Americans did not realise how much they had in common with the Iraqi people. New Yorker Colleen Kelly said they found an immediate understanding of what they'd gone through that they didn't always find in America. Suffering is a universal feeling and these four bonded with the Iraqi people in their suffering.