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iraq war

As I watch the US presidential campaign unfold, it’s easy to feel a bit smug. Our election issues are – on the whole – pretty boring, mostly because things are – on the whole – pretty good here. Not to discount the importance of Arctic sovereignty or softwood lumber tariffs or anything. But compared to some of the issues before Americans, our elections are downright tame.

Here are the top 5 issues being hotly debated south of the border that are thankfully not really on the radar screen in our election:

  1. The war in Iraq. Because, well, we’re not actually fighting in it. The war in Afghanistan is, of course, an issue here, but it’s not nearly as divisive as Iraq is for Americans.
  2. Terrorism and national security. Canadians are just plain less worried about this issue than Americans are, no matter what side of it they are on. Whether it’s because we’re more rational or more naive, the fact is that most Canadians don’t really believe that there is an imminent threat of terrorism, and the issue really isn’t showing up in our election discourse.
  3. Gay marriage. It’s been legal nationwide since 2005. Since then, thousands of same-sex couples have tied the knot in Canada, our wedding industry has benefited from an influx of marriage “tourists” from the US, and everyone else basically yawned and went on with their lives. Even Stephen Harper isn’t bothering to rehash the issue in this campaign, recognizing the futility of beating a dead horse.
  4. Abortion. Yeah, there have been a few rumbles, which have mostly consisted of scare-tactics by the Duceppe camp against Harper – who has stated that he has no plans to re-open the issue. As explosive as the issue is in the US election, here, it’s basically a non-issue, just as it has been in virtually every Canadian election campaign since the 1970s.
  5. What our candidates look like. While Americans choose between their first-ever African-American president and their first-ever female VP, us Canadians have an election that’s about the candidates’ politics and not about their skin colour or background. Of course, that’s because they’re all a bunch of white guys (except for Elizabeth May). But I suspect that even if our PM candidates were a bit more representative of the country, we’d still manage to talk less about their skin colour or gender than the Americans do. Besides, Kim Campbell won’t exactly go down in history as a great Canadian leader, but I’d still rather have her than Sarah Palin any day.

The economy is, without a doubt, the #1 voting issue for both Americans and Canadians. As it should be. Polls have shown that the other top election issues for Canadians are healthcare, the environment and poverty. We can hopefully expect these issues to dominate tonight’s debate, and the above issues to hardly rate a mention.

Sometimes, it’s good to be Canadian.

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Saddam sentenced

11.05.06

The verdict is in for the Butcher of Baghdad: death by hanging.

I’m sure that the US administration expected this to be a pivotal moment and a resounding victory. Instead, Saddam’s execution will probably pass as a mere footnote to the ongoing violence in Iraq.

Still, there cannot be a punishment quite bad enough to befit the crimes that Saddam Hussein inflicted in the course of his dictatorship, and there really couldn’t be any other verdict but a death sentence. So, barring an unlikely appeal victory, Saddam Hussein will probably hang by next month, and one less horrible dictator will be alive in the world.

It won’t solve Iraq’s problems. Far from it. But now, that seems almost besides the point.

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Catch-up time

09.14.2006

Believe it or not, other newsworthy things happened in the world yesterday and today. You’d never know it from watching the local news, of course, which has been covering Dawson nonstop since yesterday afternoon. But here are a few things that happened in the world outside our little corner: Sadaam’s judge doesn’t think he was […]

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Meanwhile in Iraq

07.18.2006

Remember Iraq? They must be getting kinda antsy over there with the fact that they’re getting zero media coverage these days, because today’s publicity stunt took the form of a suicide bombing that killed 59 people: The explosion, some 50-100 metres from the gold-domed Shi’ite shrine of Kufa, tore through the van shortly after it […]

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Democracy in action… tentatively

12.15.2005

Say what you like about the mess in Iraq, but when turnout in Iraqi elections exceeds turnout in most North American elections, that’s saying something. After all, we don’t have to take our lives in our hands to go vote. We can’t be naive and assume that the mere fact that today’s election took place […]

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Defending the devil

11.08.2005

Saddam’s lawyers keep getting bumped off: Gunmen killed a second defense lawyer acting in Saddam Hussein’s trial on Tuesday, renewing questions over whether the former president can get a fair trial amid Iraq’s daily violence. Another defense lawyer was slightly wounded in the attack on their car in Baghdad, police and defense team sources said. […]

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Really big stuff that’s happened that I’ve been too busy to blog about

10.14.2005

Of course, the big story is the earthquake in Pakistan that has claimed a staggering 30,000 lives so far. All the aid organizations are accepting donations, as they do their best to rush aid to the survivors. Iraqis vote on their constitution tomorrow, as they struggle to implement democracy despite increasing attacks and sabotage. And, […]

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They’re attacking the mosques! They’re attacking the mosques!

09.16.2005

No, not the Jews (despite what most of the Mideast believes)… the Islamists: A suicide car bomber blew himself up outside a Shi’ite mosque north of Baghdad on Friday, killing 11 and wounding 24, the latest attack in a three-day surge of violence that has killed more than 200 people. The blast came two days […]

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Stuff that happened

07.17.2005

Some news breaks: An Iraqi bomb attack killed 98 people. We barely even blink anymore with the news of terrorist attacks in Iraq – maybe because they’re so commonplace, maybe because people assume it’s a country at war so for some reason these things are expected, maybe because some people even tacitly support them in […]

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Why isn’t this more encouraging?

06.30.2005

By all logic, this ought to be good news, right? Foreign ministers of Muslim countries on Thursday pledged cooperation with Iraqi authorities to help end a bloody insurgency waged there by Iraqis and foreign Arabs. Ministers of member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in Yemen agreed to help “rebuild Iraq […]

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