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How not to have a disappointing new year

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"All governments lie." -- I. F. Stone, America's greatest investigator journalist.

"Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'but.'" -- Mary McCarthy of writer Lillian Hellman.

Some heartfelt advice for 2011: Keep these words of Izzie Stone and Mary McCarthy engraved on your heart. Trust no one. You're less likely to be disappointed by year's end. Trust me on this.

The Canadian evidence alone for this helpful hint -- for the curmudgeons among us who still prefer evidence to faith and fabrication -- could fill a year of columns. Let me employ painful triage to highlight only the most egregious cases where assertion and reality flagrantly clashed. Please note that following the rarefied rules of the House of Commons, the word "lie" will not be introduced. In Parliament, even someone universally known to be lying can't be said to be lying. This considerably elevates the tone of the House, as everyone can see.

In a closely fought battle, the winner of the Mary McCarthy prize has to be the Harper government's vicious attack on Rights & Democracy, the once-proud world-renowned Canadian human rights organization. As an independent audit documented, every single accusation the government and its carefully selected hatchet-men threw at R & D was untrue. Who cares? Mr. Harper successfully undermined an organization that dared to support the rights of Palestinians, the only group in Canada the Conservatives are not attempting to woo.

A close second was the government's decision to end funding to Kairos, a terrific church-supported NGO. CIDA bureaucrats approved Kairos funding, only to see the handwritten word "not" mysteriously added to the final decision. The president of CIDA did not write that word. The CIDA minister insists she did not write that word. I certainly did not write that word. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who smeared Kairos because it too cared about the rights of Palestinians, probably wanted to write that word. Who knows? Someone in the Harper government with real power did.

Looking further at our government, Izzie Stone's cup runneth over. Case studies: John Baird (who single-handedly does more to discredit parliamentary government than anyone since the Liberal Rat Pack a quarter century ago). Tony Clement (a huge player this year). Lawrence Cannon (who)? Stockwell Day (promoting new prisons for prisoners who don't exist). All government spokespeople who claim cutting the deficit is the priority while promoting mega-billion-dollar stealth fighters and more prisons.

Also: Ezra Levant.

The Prime Minister and minions who tell you Afghanistan is not a lost cause.

The Prime Minister who wants to control lobbying except for the asbestos lobby or the Big Pharma lobby. There are more important things, after all, than the lives of people in poor countries.

Anyone who calls the Prime Minister an economist.

The entire Harper government that cherishes our soldiers in Afghanistan and treats them with callous indifference when they return with inevitable wounds.

Stephen Harper, who boasted to the United Nations of his passion for human rights for all, excepting fellow Canadians with names like Khadr, Abdelrazik or Suuad Hagi Mohamud, all of whom happen to be Muslims.

Ezra Levant.

A special tribute here for Peter MacKay, who deserves far more recognition than he gets. Begin with him winning the Progressive Conservative leadership in 2003 by solemnly vowing he'd never merge with the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance, which he did within months. Move to his sliming of diplomat Richard Colvin, who dared tell the truth about Canadian treatment of Afghan prisoners. Add all the reasons he offers why Canada needs F-35 stealth fighters (watch those invading Russkies!). Then add the following: As Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. MacKay told a conference on child soldiers how important child protection was for his government and its determination to help solve the problem of child soldiers. "Concerted action is required by actors at all levels to prevent and respond to violations of the rights of children." Sure. Just ask Omar Khadr.

Fitting naturally into his new Conservative home is Julian Fantino, now junior Harper cabinet minister for seniors, who considers that his critics are guilty of using "the Hitler theory" against him. Old-timers will embrace him -- or else.

Ezra Levant.

This year we inaugurate the Tom Flanagan award "for outrageous comments that don't hurt your career or reputation." While Mr. Baird and Mr. Clement were deemed front-runners, late-year developments give us a clear winner -- Mr. Flanagan. This conservative guru first called for the assassination of Julian Assange of Wikileaks, then threatened a woman who told him she disagreed. "Better be careful," he emailed her. "We know where you live." Just joking! It's enormously gratifying to live in a country where such comments discredit you neither at your university nor as a public commentator.

I mustn't overstay my welcome on the trustworthiness of our government and its friends, though there's so much more to say. Let me not neglect other deserving parties.

Liberal Pinocchio moments include any time Mr. Ignatieff says he doesn't regret jumping into politics and that he can't wait for the election in which he'll be bumped out of politics. Also, Liberals who tell you Afghanistan is not a lost cause. Liberals who say it's not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel unless you criticize Israel. Liberals who think it's hunky-dory to ship Quebec deadly asbestos, unusable in Canada, to poor countries. Liberals who pretend to understand they're no longer the Natural Governing Party.

Talking about the NGP, there's the NDP. An exception is appropriate here. It's possible that New Democrats genuinely believe the party is on the verge of replacing the Liberals (once again?) and is attracting hordes of new supporters. They may be delusional rather than dishonest.

Turning to the declining giant to our south for one brief moment, Izzie Stone would have been gratified to see how accurate his operating principle remains over the decades. But he would have made a huge exception for Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator and (believe it or not) a self-identified socialist. Don't miss Mr. Sanders's passionate December 1 speech meticulously documenting the war waged by rich Americans -- "whose greed knows no end" -- against those with less. Check YouTube under "Sen. Bernie Sanders amazing speech!" And to reflect my unwavering belief in free speech, I should point out that you'll also find there an eloquent eight-word rebuttal from one DNS, beginning "Bernard Sanders..." The rest, alas, cannot appear in this newspaper, even virtually.

And a happy new year to us all.

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