Posts tagged ‘barack obama’

September 8, 2011

2012 U.S. Presidential Election: Huntsman wins Republican debate, no one will notice

It’s an indictment of American politics and the conservative movement that the Republican candidate who speaks the most sensibly is running at 1 percent in the polls. Jon Huntsman Jr., the U.S. ambassador to China under Barack Obama for nearly two years, displayed a level head, candor and a global perspective during Wednesday’s GOP candidates’ debate held in Simi Valley, California.

Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman, a reasonable man, which means he has no chance of being president.

For that, his views will be buried in the majority of news accounts because his name is not Rick Perry or Mitt Romney. This debate was essentially set up as a boxing match that pitted the governor of Massachusetts against his counterpart from Texas. Such a dramatic plot buildup left no room for networks or commentators to manoeuvre away from that script. If this was coverage of a sport, an underdog could win with a definitive moment. Multi-candidate political debates rarely have knock-out punches, though, and with eight people on stage and less than two hours of coverage Huntsman and the non-headliners had little opportunity for a game-changing achievement.

Huntsman impressed, nevertheless, answering some questions that showed he’s a right-winger with a conscience. He spoke about the “humanity” that should be involved in immigration policy, the tragedy and “un-American” nature of the “fortress security mentality” the country has adopted since 9/11, and, most distinctly of all, backed science full-heartedly when some of his peers continue to stubbornly declare their disbelief in climate change and evolution.

“We can’t run from science, we can’t run from mainstream conservative philosophy,” Huntsman said, commenting on Republicans’ need to appeal to mainstream, independent voters, millions of whom are educated enough to know humans and velociraptors didn’t co-exist and that extreme flooding and other bizarre weather patterns just may be a hint that something big is happening with the planet. “If we’re going to win in 2012, we have to make sure we have someone who can win the numbers.”

And, yes, it was nice to hear a Republican politician point to Canada and say we are an example to follow.

“Why is it that Vancouver has the fastest-growing real estate market in the world? It’s because they let people in legally and it lifts all boats,” Huntsman, the former Utah governor, said during the immigration discussion.

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June 17, 2011

One man’s crusade to heal Canada’s health-care woes

When the NDP made getting more foreign-trained doctors practicing in Canada a part of their election platform, Jerry Green felt a sense of victory. Green has been advocating for federal and provincial governments to correct what he believes are injustices in the form of the onerous impediments foreign-trained doctors contend with in order to practice in Canada and the continued lack of accessible health care for many Canadians.

Green, a Torontonian who is a Canadian-trained doctor, has been fighting to get back his full medical licence for nearly 25 years. He says he lost the licence in 1987 “for prescribing vitamins instead of drugs” and years later, after many requests and battles, received an educational licence from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

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June 1, 2011

Lots of political moxy at Spirit of Hope in Toronto

Alan Dershowitz and David Gergen at Spirit of Hope panel discussion

Alan Dershowitz and David Gergen got into it at Spirit of Hope panel discussion in Toronto on Tuesday night.

David Gergen has a lot of fans — me included — because his even-tempered demeanour only seems to get broken when it meets blatant hypocrisy. On Tuesday night, Gergen, the CNN political analyst, winced and shook his head and appeared to be struggling with a virtual straitjacket as he forced himself to stay seated while colleague Alan Dershowitz spouted some bewildering balderdash in front of an audience at Beth Tzedec Congregation at 1700 Bathurst Street.

Gergen and Dershowitz, colleagues at Harvard University, were joined on the Spirit of Hope panel by the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama’s former White House press secretary. The night featured some fascinating discussions and revelations.

Woodward, whose recent book is “Obama’s Wars,” thinks “the Arab Spring has been misnamed. It’s more like the Arab Convulsion” and it could be “this president’s 9/11.” The situation is so tenuous, he said, that it threatens to dominate the remainder of the Obama administration’s first term, which would be damaging considering the president and his staff need to concentrate on the U.S. economy. Gibbs, who left the White House in February but remains a staunch Obama supporter and adviser, told the audience of about 2,000 that the president has had more close, private conversations with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu than with any other world leader since taking office. Gergen said the killing of Osama bin Laden “blunted the opposition argument that Obama was weak on foreign policy” so much that it could win a second term as long as the economy shows some improvement. “Obama got Osama. The Democrats are going to shout that at their convention.” And Dershowitz revealed that Netanyahu changed “the speech he wanted to give to Congress” last week in response to a perceived slight in an address Obama gave announcing his support for returning Israel to the 1967 boundaries that divide it from Palestine.

Dershowitz’s comments all evening seemed politically motivated rather than analytical and while that won him applause from the audience, it rankled the other panelists, who each took turns correcting his errors. Dershowitz, who had been asked by Netanyahu to be an Israeli ambassador, even went so far as to say, “The United States can always count on the support of Israel but Israel cannot always count on the support of the United States.” Fact is, the U.S. gives at least $3 billion annually in economic and military aid to Israel.

Gergen was continuously agitated by Dershowitz’s comments and in his closing remarks at the event sponsored by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies called for more conciliatory language from both American and Israeli politicians and commentators. Otherwise, he said, Israel could continue to lose support globally, leaving just Canada and the United States on its side. “That wouldn’t be good for Israel and it would be a concern for North America,” he told the attendees, which included moderator Heather Riesman, founder and president of Indigo Books & Music.

With the United Nations General Assembly ready to pass a motion in September that will recognize an independent Palestinian state, the Middle East tensions are only going to ratchet up it seems. But Woodward had a more dire concern.

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