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Notwithstanding the debate confusion ...

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:00 p.m. December 16, 2005]

Prime Minister Paul Martin speaks to reporters after the French-language debate. 

OTTAWA  — People watching Thursday night's French-language leaders debate must have wondered if Prime Minister Paul Martin was reading from a prepackaged script given the way he handled one exchange with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. 
After the moderator asked Harper point blank if he would use the notwithstanding clause to overturn court rulings in favour of same sex marriage, Harper responded with this tidbit of news: "I will never use the notwithstanding clause on that issue."

Following Harper's comments, the PM said the following: "We're talking about integrity. That means being honest. Either Mr. Harper is going to try to change the law of the country that protects the rights and freedoms of gays and lesbians or he's not going to. If he's going to use the notwithstanding clause, he should say so, and the people will at least know what his position is."

After the debate, the first question the PM received from reporters was about that exchange. 

Terry Milewski of CBC News asked him, "It seemed to us that Mr. Harper said he would not use the notwithstanding and then you responded by saying, 'Why won't he tell us whether he'd use the notwithstanding clause' and some of us thought, well he just did, didn't he?"

Martin's response was that it was the other way around. 

"I thought it was the other way around. I thought I said to him he has to say that he would not use the notwithstanding clause or say that if he's going to use it he has to tell us and then he answered the question. In any event. In any event regardless of which way it came up, his position is simply not sustainable."

Meet the U.S.'s new enemy -- Canada

A former high-ranking Republican writing in the Washington Times Friday is suggesting Prime Minister Paul Martin's decision to campaign against U.S. President George W. Bush goes much deeper than simple name calling. 

In a column headlined "Oh, no, Canada," Douglas MacKinnon, a former White House and pentagon official, asks the question: Can Canada really be considered our "friend" anymore? 

"In what some in Canada are saying is a desperate bid to win reelection, Mr. Martin has decided that slandering the United States will win him the most votes among the millions in his country who have a strong dislike of our nation, George W. Bush, the war in Iraq, sensible immigration policies and the rule of law," MacKinnon wrote. 

"As someone whose family comes from Canada, a country I grew up loving as a child, it pains me to ask the question. That said, what other question can be asked when the Canadian government not only willingly allows Islamic terrorists into their country, but does nothing to stop them from entering our nation."

MacKinnon, who worked at the pentagon, suggests Canada's immigration policy has been an issue with the U.S. "for years."

"For years, our intelligence services have warned and even begged Canadian officials to do something about its dangerous open immigration policies," he wrote. "Immigration policies that continually allow highly suspicious people into Canada with a free shot at the United States. 

"U.S. politicians from both sides of the aisle have joined with U.S. law enforcement personnel to ask Canada to address this growing security threat. In response, Canadian politicians from the left have basically said, 'Drop dead.'"

He concludes by saying, "Our once great friend is turning against us. Common sense and our national security dictate that we can no longer afford to ignore that fact."

Immigration is just one of the list of gripes the U.S. has about Canada. 

A Fox News story that aired on the day the Martin government fell noted that while officially the U.S. said it had good relations with Martin, unofficially the PM "has been frustration for the Bush White House."

"Martin was opposed to the war in Iraq, said no to a continental missile defense shield, has pushed to legalize gay marriage in Canada, and was slow to respond to administration complains about the re-importation of Canadian prescription drugs," Fox reported. 

Mini Ignatieff

The Conservative war room has spent the entire campaign sending out a daily quote from the past of Liberal candidate Michael Ignatief. The hook is that each of Ignatieff's intellectual musings appears to run counter to the Liberal party's platform.

Iganatieff and the candidacy of a Conservative running in a close race with the NDP in the B.C. riding of British Columbia Southern Interior is a lesson to all those radical free thinkers out there who have to get their ideas on paper but who also having running for Parliament in the back of their heads -- Be careful what you write. 

The Penticton Western News is reporting about a column Conservative candidate Derek Zeisman wrote when he was out of politics in 2000 that praised Prime Minister Paul Martin and suggested he would make a great leader of the Canadian Alliance party. 

In 2000, Zeisman wrote that Martin "would make a fabulous (Canadian) Alliance leader." The candidate also wrote columns that year criticizing then Alliance leader Stockwell Day for his "obsession" with social issues such as gay marriage. 

The same paper also discovered an essay from 1998 that Zeisman wrote for a "national contest" in which Zeisman had some ideas for reforming Canada, including the abolition of all federal corporate and business taxes, the introduction of a flat tax, monetary union with the United States and the abolition of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

No hidden agenda there. In fact, it's all in the open. 

According to the Western News, Zeisman has since "disavowed himself" from the essay. 

B.C. Southern Interior is among the ridings the NDP is looking to win. In the 2004 election, Conservative MP Jim Gouk won the riding by just 680 votes over NDP candidate Alex Atamanenko,

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