Saturday, November 24, 2007

Harper’s world allies down to one

This could not have made Mr. Harper very happy. Australians have just given the boot to one of Harper’s biggest allies. After all, Mr. Howard was the first major foreign dignitary Harper invited to address the House of Commons and it’s well-known that Harper was even advised by Howard on election strategy. Just take a look at the Liberal Party press release on this and I think you’ll see that the new Australian PM doesn’t exactly share the same world view as our Conservative Government (something tells me there won’t be anything nearly as glowing coming from the mouth of Mr. Harper).

This is nowhere more true that on the environment. While Australia joins the Western world consensus on Kyoto, Canada moves away. While Harper blocks progress on the environment on the world stage, he will now find there is essentially no one in the Western world (except George Bush) to back him up.

How can you say you are “leading the world” when no one agrees with you? Care to answer that Mr. Harper?

Canadians want their country to be leading the way on issues such as human rights and the environment. Harper continues to take us backward instead. No independent group and now no other Western nation (except the U.S. who’s President who long ago reached lame duck status) thinks he’s doing a good job on these issues.

He’s certainly on pace with his track record to meet the same fate as his good friend Howard once his record goes under the microscope in the next election campaign.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

People Came for Trudeau, but Will Return for Banham

Monday night, federal Liberal Hamilton-Mountain candidate Tyler Banham hosted a town hall event. His guest of honour to respond to issues was Justin Trudeau, and I’d also include the Greek community who also served as very good hosts.

Quite honestly and obviously, most people came to catch a glimpse and get a photo with Justin Trudeau, who cannot avoid comparisons to his father and is beginning to work up a lot of fan fare. He definitely has a lot on his shoulders with high impressions to meet, and I think given the chance he definitely proves himself to be a candidate worthy to keep an eye on for the future. His ‘newness’ to politics, (and smile) is also what makes him a refreshing and approachable person. He is an idealist Liberal who hasn’t been burned by anything yet and with his background, he has a lot of reason to be an idealist. I think Justin is using his ‘star quality’ as well to expose himself to as many situations as possible to improve himself as a politician, and you can’t criticize that. The people at the town hall event definitely left satisfied with their expectations on Trudeau.

While the town hall attendees were definitely impressed with Trudeau, I think the real person who came out shining from the event was local Tyler Banham. This event gathered him a lot of exposure, and with a looming election, it’s never too soon for him to be getting out or too much exposure is probably a good thing for him. Furthermore, Banham I think impressed a lot of people with his ideas, but more importantly, he showed his ability to grasp and understand the issues of Hamilton for Hamiltonians. This is the number one thing people want in a representative, a representative who will act in their interests and an informed way. I learned for the first time that Banham is a life long Hamiltonian resident, which may explain his knowledge of Hamilton. Banham proposed that if he’s elected he would hold a minimum of 10 town halls a year for the electorate to meet with him, to discuss what they want and give him any constructive criticism. I think this proposal is excellent. It takes a lot of guts to do town halls once elected because it pits you against the masses and you never know what kind of questions will come your way. But town halls were originally key to new democracies and they are very useful and I think can help reverse the trend towards increasing apathy among voters.

Banham reminds me of a kid outside the window of a candy store: he has a passion for politics (candy) and will works as hard as it takes to be allowed in the store (House of Commons). I know Banham would be a good choice for Hamilton: he seems very committed and open to discussion from the people at the grass roots, and not just once every four years. If the NDP haven’t realized yet, this guy is a force to be reckoned with!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Conservative and NDP deception on poverty

Recently, BC’er exposed fabrications on the part of the NDP when it comes to Liberal record on poverty. They actually claimed poverty went up while the Liberals had surplus budgets which is a complete lie.

Now we have the Conservatives jumping on board parroting a similarly deceptive line :
Child poverty actually rose under the Liberal watch

They fail to update their website basically for 3 weeks (h/t Kady O'Malley) and this is what they come up with?

They provide a link to the supposed evidence at least, but what do we find at that link? Click to the next page and you see:

It is a positive sign that the rate of child poverty dropped for the fourth consecutive year

The same link at Campaign 2000 also provides a graph of child poverty rates from 1989-2000:

As we can see poverty was declining under the Liberal watch from 1996 on. So while the Conservative line was not an outright lie like what came from the NDP, it’s clearly meant to imply that child poverty was worse when the Liberals left office then when they came in.

But ok, let’s pretend the Conservatives really meant to say that poverty just went up until 1996 (3 years into a 13 year mandate before declining every year thereafter). Now why might child poverty have gone up in the first few years? Could it be because the Conservatives left behind such a mess economically that Canada was being referred to as a borderline third-world country and there were even calls for the IMF to be brought in? Could it be because some damn hard choices had to be made to clean up the mess Conservatives left behind? The link at the Conservative site also mentions that some poverty programs were cut during the deficit slashing days, but weren’t Stephen Harper and the reform party calling on the Liberals to go further at the time? That the cuts should be much deeper?

Let’s not get all revisionist here, the Harper Conservatives have never cared about the poor. Once we got back to surpluses again you can see child poverty did go down each year as Campaign 2000 notes and many social program cuts were restored (something a Conservative government would never have done). Child poverty continued to decline each year after 2000 and was 11.7% when the Liberals left office.

Clearly, the people who do research for the Conservatives and NDP need to give their heads a shake.

But I don’t want to sound like I’m white-washing the Liberal record, even Stéphane Dion says the Liberals did not do as well as he would have liked (the link at the Conservative site also gives us the shocking news that Ken Dryden said the exact same thing as Dion). But Dion has laid out a plan to achieve ambitious targets and he’s indicated that what gets revealed on the campaign trail will be the most detailed poverty plan Canada has ever seen and will be fully costed. He deserves credit for taking this issue by the horns and calling on all the poverty groups to hold his feet to the fire on it.

You might ask why is the only ONLY response from the NDP and Conservatives to mislead Canadians and set up a straw man to attack (the “Liberal record”) instead of discussing the plan itself? I think Canadians know Stéphane Dion was not PM in the last Liberal government and therefore couldn’t call all the shots, just like no one in the NDP holds Howard Hampton responsible for the decisions made by Bob Rae while Hampton was at the cabinet table. Even then, neither the Conservatives nor the NDP can even honestly attack the Liberal record because they just don’t want to admit that poverty went down on the whole over the course of the Liberal term in office.

You might also wonder why many poverty groups are praising Stephane Dion for his poverty plan, yet the other parties only attack him in a completely misleading manner for it?

Could it be that the Conservatives and NDP are afraid that Dion’s found the right approach on this issue and that his plan will resonate with Canadians? That they know that if given the chance, Dion would get the job done?

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So this past weekend I went up to Huntsville for the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) AGM, which also includes the Ontario Women’s Liberal Commission AGM on the final day. I thought the weekend was a huge success, but there's always few improvements that could be made for next time.

I always prefer to start with the bad and end with the good (which heavily outweighed the bad) so here goes. First of all, I was not very pleased with how some sessions were scheduled. I believe Aboriginal issues are quite important, yet the LPC(O) scheduled the Aboriginal Commission AGM for 5:30 PM on the first day (Friday). This was obviously at a time at which many people had not yet arrived in Huntsville yet so maybe people who might have attended could not. Secondly the OWLC AGM was scheduled up against a policy session on social justice hosted by Ken Dryden on the Sunday at the very end of the AGM. Issues of social justice have always been of extreme importance for many Liberal women and this kind of scheduling first of all meant that women had to choose between discussing social justice issues (and hearing a great speech by Dryden) and attending their own AGM. Also there were many people, particularly candidates and MPs who would have liked to have attended the OWLC AGM but had to be back in their ridings for events on Sunday so they couldn’t stick around for an AGM that only began close to 11 AM on the Sunday. Next time, I very much hope that either the OWLC AGM occurs as a separate event altogether or takes place earlier in the weekend and NOT up against an important policy session. I also hope the Aboriginal Commission gets to hold their AGM later in the weekend when more people are there. I hope that those of us who feel passionately about this will make their voices heard and that there will be better scheduling next time.

But that’s it for the bad, there are lots of great things to report. First of all, I am extremely pleased to announce that I am now officially the new VP Young Women of the OWLC. I greatly look forward to working on behalf of young Liberal women and female members of the Ontario Young Liberals (OYL). Feel free to check out my campaign website: let me know what you think of my ideas.

I was also extremely pleased to see that my riding of Brant was awarded the top award for the South-West Ontario region (22 ridings) based on a combination of new memberships and fundraising. Congrats to Lloyd St. Amand, Joy O’Donnell (past riding President) and Andrew Hunter (Current riding President) for the award (and to my Brant Young Liberals for boosting the membership rolls and forming a new chapter that I founded earlier this year!). As for other elections, congrats to Jason Cherniak for his victory as the Central Region President, I’m sure he’ll do a great job for the region.

Then there were the events/sessions. The first night there was an excellent reception hosted by the OWLC which Stéphane attended and refused to leave until everyone that wanted a picture got one. The attendance at the event was massive and it was good to see some recognition for such a great organization. The next day Bob Rae gave a fantastic run-down of where the Liberals stand on the platform (we will be ready any time, rest assured) and some of the great ideas that will go on the trail. I know the Liberals will have an excellent platform to bring to Canadians. There were also some great policy debates on some of the more important issues of the day and other sessions on the policy process itself, campaign preparation and fundraising. All very worthwhile. Tom Allison’s’ presentation on campaign management was especially good, as always. He is definitely a person at the top of his game. The Liberals are vey lucky to have him on our side.

Of course one of the main highlights though was Stéphane Dion’s excellent speech to the 700+ Liberal delegates in attendance. It was the best speech I’ve seen yet. Made some good jokes, hit all the right issues and got us all fired to take the Liberal message to the people to win the next election. Saturday night there were some excellent parties held by different candidates and the one hosted by the OYL, all hugely packed.

To finish off the weekend was the OWLC AGM. We had fantastic speeches from National Women’s Liberal Commission President Nicole Foster-Woollatt, departing OWLC President Michelle Simson (the new candidate in Scarborough South-West), incoming OWLC President (Liana Turrin), MPP and Minister of Children Services and Women’s Issues Deb Matthews, MP Carolyn Bennett, and some excellent discussion for the year ahead. I am very excited for the first meeting of the new executive.

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Danielle Takacs: OWLC VP Young Women

I want to take this opportunity to announce that I am now the new VP Young Women of the Ontario Women’s Liberal Commission (OWLC). I greatly look forward to working on behalf of young Liberal women and female members of the Ontario Young Liberals (OYL).
Feel free to check out my campaign website: (or
let me know what you think of my ideas.

I would just like to specially thank some of the great people who lent their support to my campaign:
Lloyd St. Amand (MP Brant) for his constant support, guidance and work that he has done to spread news of my campaign;
Jane Stewart (Former MP Brant, PC) for her words of support and promotion;
Mike Morrison (nobody of Liberal importance) for his web-site services;
Zac Spicer (President McMaster Young Liberals and the new OYL South-Central Regional Coordinator) for his assistance and words of advice (I’m sure one day soon he’ll make a fantastic campaign manager for a lucky federal/provincial candidate);
Joy O’Donnell and Nancy Smits (Brant Federal Liberal Association Execs) for their support and belief in me from the start;
Denise Brundson (YLC VP Organization), who has become a good friend and for welcoming me into the National Young Women’s Liberal Association;
Justin Tetreault for his encouragement and for being my first big supporter
As well as every other individual who lent me their support

Thank you!

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

On this day...

From the loss of one great those fighting today

and to those still struggling to be recognized and remembered

we say Thank You

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dion Establishing Right Priorities

Yesterday, Stephane Dion gave us another reason why he would make an excellent Prime Minister (conveniently its getting buried under Harper’s news of a Mulroney probe). The plan Dion mapped out yesterday and the targets he is setting on reducing poverty levels in this country is exactly what stakeholders on this issue have been calling for and the plan is definitely worthy of high praise.

Putting out the clear target to reduce the number living below the poverty line by 30% over 5 years (and cutting child poverty in half over that time) are the kind of ambitious targets we absolutely need to make real progress on battling poverty (just like we need clear targets on the environment that Dion laid out in his Carbon Budget plan).

Some may say the Liberals did not do enough on poverty when they were in power, well Stephane Dion is clearly making this HIS issue and I have no doubt he would follow through on this plan. He’s even called on all the stakeholders to hound on him on it should he be PM. By Jack Layton’s own admission Stephane Dion is a man of honour and if he says something is a priority he follows through.

I think I can guess the other parties reactions to this though…..

Conservatives: “Helping the poor? How would that win us votes? I think this is sending the wrong message to Canadians. Stephane Dion is not a leader!”

NDP: “The Liberals had 13 years to do something about this issue! We're sorry, we can’t think of anything else to say when the Liberals propose good ideas. Please don’t vote Liberal! I'm sure we could convince a Conservative government to take action on this issue some day”

Bloc: “Does anybody listen to us anymore?”

Seriously though, I hope the opposition can at least can stand together on this plan and the targets Dion has laid out today for the sake of the people who would benefit from it .

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Harper does a 180 and calls Mulroney probe

I have to say I was quite surprised to read this in the news today. Still it’s about time Harper flip-flopped on this issue and established an independent probe looking into allegations against Mulroney. I tend to agree with Radwanski on this though that it is a bit too convenient that Harper announces this the day that Dion announces his excellent proposals on poverty (the subject of my next post). Still, I’m glad to see Harper has made the right call for once though it definitely took lots of noise from Liberals to make it happen.

However even though this is a good start in getting to the bottom of this matter, Liberals still have to make sure that the person chosen to lead the review is completely independent and impartial and that the findings of the review will be made completely public. Anything less is still unacceptable.

It will be amusing though to see all those Tories who so strongly argued against any kind of investigation on this matter to now have amnesia and praise their wonderful leader for having made the right call on this.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tories & Dippers, Sitting in a Tree...K-I-S-S-I-N-G

The NDP have been going around town trying to keep up appearances and convince us that they’re behaving as an opposition party. They’ve even been accusatory towards the Liberals abstaining, allowing the Conservatives to continue their right wing agenda. While they complain, lately they seem very content with the arrangement. The NDP will not rock the boat. They like things they way they are now because they feel there’s opportunity there to show the public that they can be the official opposition or actually even govern one day. They are seriously mistaken though that this will bring them benefits of any kind. The reality is that the Conservatives are using them and are laughing all the way. Jack and his team need to wake up, smell the coffee and start acting like the opposition they want and claim to be (hint: the Liberals aren’t the government anymore).

The NDP have no right to criticize the Liberals anymore. Their silence on the issue of the death penalty is worse than the Liberals waiting to bring down the government on an issue brought to the floor that they disagree with rather than vote against a vaguely defined agenda or tax cuts they 95% agree with. The NDP’s “nays” mean nothing when they don’t have any real importance to change something, it just gives them blank excuses to make themselves seem principled.

Take a look at What do you see? Any mention on the main page of the Tories abandoning Canadian’s human rights on the issue of the death penalty? No of course not, instead there’s bashing of the Liberals (who have been very vocal on this issue unlike Jack and his friends) and the NDP’s unfeasible idea to abolish the Senate (which requires a constitutional amendment which won’t happen).

You would have thought the issue of the death penalty would be an issue that the NDP would be up in arms about. The death penalty is a serious social issue, which discriminates against the poor who often don’t get proper legal access and end being the ones on death row. Not only is the new Canadian position abominable from a human rights perspective and turns back 30 years of Canadian foreign policy (and puts us COMPLETELY ALONE IN THE WORLD in our stance) as it stands now it is inconsistent in its treatment of Canadians over Americans, as Americans get protected by this government from the death penalty while Canadians don’t.

The Tories are turning their back on the UN, the Charter of Rights & Freedoms and Canada’s international reputation. Where’s the NDP criticism? NO WHERE.

Jack Layton has decided instead that the issue of senate reform is a much more important issue to the NDP than the UN Charter and the poor and potentially-wrongly accused Canadians who wind up facing the death chamber. And the Tories are all too supportive of their new found relationship. They can continue to bond over bashing the real opposition – the Liberal party, who I believe does the right things at the right time for the right reasons.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Harper: Standing up for Americans, but not Canadians on the Death Penalty

This Government Continues to Disgrace Canada. This story is getting more insulting every day. I’d love to hear Conservative supporters leap to defense on this one.

The Conservatives have now said that they will continue to uphold the traditional Canadian policy of not extraditing AMERICANS to the USA if they face the possibility of execution…and yet Harper will allow his fellow Canadians face the death chamber nonetheless!

The death penalty should be opposed on all grounds EVERYWHERE, but what the heck is wrong with these people? First of all, they won’t help Canadians sentenced to death in the United States or elsewhere. That was supposedly because the US has a “fair, democratic justice system” (one in which dozens and dozens of innocent people have been put on death row).

FURTHERMORE, the Conservatives decide that that stance isn’t good enough they have to go farther. So now they no longer sponsor a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty at the UN, something sponsored by 73 nations and that Canada fully supported until now. Apparently it’s too difficult for this government to raise a hand at a meeting to stand up for human rights abroad. I bet when the donoughts get passed out at meetings Harper has his hand up for one right away though.

Why the change of heart on this fundamental issue? Why the lack of debate in the House?

You wanna know what the difference is though with this latest episode on extraditing Americans? Well we happen to have a law on the books that forbids sending suspected criminals abroad to possibly face execution. The Conservatives want to kill any debate on this issue while they still have a minority, so the law still stands because they'd have to bring this to the House to change it. But talk about inconsistent, Americans can live, Canadians can die under this policy. A cowardly approach might I add too. One that cannot stand. PLEASE Mr. Harper just restore 30 years of Canadian foreign policy on this issue, OPPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY EVERYWHERE. If not, you MUST bring this issue to the House for debate.

With each passing day, Canada is made to look to the world like a chicken with its head cut off. How Harper can defend such an inconsistent approach that now stands up for one group of people and not another, especially his own, is beyond confusion. Is it too much to ask that Harper might actually stand up for Canadians' human rights abroad? DISGRACEFUL! Canadians deserve answers from the Conservatives on this issue and should really question what Conservatives next plan is. They have shifted Canada’s internationally renowned public policy position on this issue to one that is unclear and inhumane in an undemocratic, private way. He’s pushing his agenda down the majority’s throat who would disagree with him. He’s turned his back on Canadians, the right to life under the UN Charter and at the same time has stood up for Americans.

Canada’s reputation is going down the tubes the longer the Conservatives remain in power. With each passing day, Harper is giving us more ammunition. So continue Mr. Harper, giving us hints of your true right wing, American agenda and at the next election we’ll give your keys back to Stornoway.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Layton's Delusional Dreams

So from this article it seems Layton told his supporters out in Manitoba that he is planning on blowing as much money as possible on the next campaign. Because of course they’re due after all these years to this time finally get more seats than the Bloc! Oh wait, he actually thinks they can form the next government? Well ok Jack.... Or is it just that you want another Conservative government and you think these kinds of tactics might give you an extra 5 seats or so (which is after all, all you care about).

Aside form Jack’s dreams though, one of his delusions in this article caught my eye (or perhaps its a new shift in fed-NDP direction):

There is, however, a perceived distance between the Doer government and Layton's party, with Doer often described more as a Liberal in NDP clothing. Doer's centrist policies are one of the reasons the provincial Liberals have struggled to gain a foothold since he came to power. Some traditional NDP supporters have expressed disappointment in Doer, accusing him of selling out to tax cuts rather than sticking to helping the underdog. But Layton said he doesn't think there is a gap between the federal and Manitoba wings of the party. "Doer's policies are the same as ours," said Layton.

Ok so what are some of Doer’s policies? Do they sound like the latest federal NDP platform to you?
- Doer supports keeping our troops in a combat role in Afghanistan
- Doer supported the Clarity Act (Layton vowed to scrap it in the 2004 election)
- Doer opposes the federal gun registry
- Doer opposed Harper’s nation resolution (which Layton supported)
- Doer fully endorsed Tony Blair’s “Third Way” ("public-private parnerships") and supported
him as leader of British Labour (whose policies I would bet many NDP supporters have
trouble with)
- Doer supported Harper’s 2006 budget and his supposed “solution” to the fiscal imbalance
- Doer enacted and supports tax cuts for corporations (something Layton loves to rail about)
- Doer opposes legislation that would ban replacement workers in strikes (something
Layton put forth in the last Parliament and made lots of hay about)

Are any of these Jack Layton’s NDP’s policies? If so, his supporters must be surprised.

If not, with the blanket statement Layton made, he's clearly redirected his stance on some policies. There's some things Doer's done that I agree with, some not, but these don't sound like "the same" policies as Layton's NDP to me. Which is it Jack? Misleading info or a huge change of course? I suspect the former.

So how can you have any credibility when you tell the media such contridctory info? And why do you make such comments, when many members of your own party know they aren't true? And while you can hope to gain more seats, do you truly expect to form the government, especially when you’ve never been higher than 20% in the polls? And yes, there has been a lot of bad press for the Liberals recently, but there's been ZERO new support has drifted your way?

Well keep dreaming Jack, I’m sure that majority NDP government is just one election away….
Failing that, you can keep complaining about the Liberals and how they're somehow endorsing the Conservatives, so far it's brought you so much new power and influence.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Harper turns Canada's back on (Canadians') Human Rights, snuggles closer to U.S.

Harper slowly turning Canada into an international pariah on human rights

This story is shocking. I guess their next desired step is to bring the death penalty back here at home. Why else would they reverse 30 years (both Conservative and Liberal) of Canadian foreign policy on this issue? They clearly believe the death penalty is a just and humane way of dealing with crime (of course there’s no evidence it works, but these Conservatives don’t listen to any real evidence so there’s no use trying to convince them).

This quote from Amnesty International-Canada really says it all:

It puts Canada in the unenviable position of being the only country in the world that's abolished the death penalty that now refuses to seek clemency on behalf of its death-sentence citizens abroad.

That’s right the ONLY country in the world. Add to that that Canada is the ONLY western nation in the world that refuses to lobby to have its own citizen in Guantanamo Bay returned home to stand trial. Even staunch conservative John Howard in Australia who supported the Iraq war and all lobbied successfully to have his citizens returned home for trial. This is not a Conservative-Liberal issue here. The Harper government is going against standards shared by every other Western country (Liberal or Conservative) minus the United States and wants to reverse decades of Liberal and Conservative foreign policy.

How can we be proud of this? (I'm sure Tory supporters will in their own twisted way somehow try to bash the Liberals over this)

So Canada now stands alone in the Western world next to the United States on both the death penalty and Guantanamo Bay.

This is scary and makes me wonder what is next…. For the sake of Canada’s reputation, Conservatives must be beaten in the next election.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pros & Cons of Flaherty Budget

Earlier this week Flaherty and Harper decided to defy convention by refusing to present the fiscal update to the finance committee and once again trying to control everything so the media gets the Conservative message and no one else's before the evening news.

As for what was actually in the budget, it was not near as bad as I thought it would be. The GST cut is stupid plain and simple and obviously no one thinks it's good policy. The Conservatives can take all the credit for that they want, there will be no benefits to the Canadian economy from it and it disproportionately benefits the rich. I question why the Conservatives went ahead with it anyway, I don't think it's really all that important to their base. I guess it was just to "Keep a promise" and a stupid one at that. But if they think they're going to run the next campaign on having kept all their promises they are sadly mistaken (the gutting of the "Acccountability Act", blustering on Access to Information, Income trusts and softwood lumber all come to mind) so if that was their only reason for doing it, that's poor judgment. This would have been the one broken promise they could have gotten praise all around (myself included) for.

As for the actual real income tax cuts. I liked these. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they stuck to the lowest income bracket (I was afraid they would eliminate the middle bracket or slash the top one or something along those lines) and raised the basic personal exemption. Both of those things were clear Liberal initiatives. Just like Harper did with the environment, he's initially slashed Liberal policies only to return to them later and take credit. The Liberals can't him do that on this one (Dion should be front and centre on this like he was on the environment, that Harper can't take all the credit for completely re-instating Liberal policies). Harper has only now just re-instated virtually the EXACT SAME tax regime vis a vis income taxes that existed before the last election.

The Liberals should ask Flaherty point blank "Do you now admit it was a mistake to raise personal income taxes in your first budget?" The Liberals have to not let Canadians forget that it was Liberals who lowered income taxes only to have Conservatives raise them again. Good to see they are back to where they were, but let's not let them claim all the credit (so far from reading the media coverate though it seems the Conservatives are getting more credit than they deserve).

As for the corporate tax cuts, I think these were what Dion was planning to do anyway, so again Dion should let the Conservatives claim this was their idea. Dion was out first about it.

It's funny how things change when the Liberal brought down these tax cuts before the last election, it was the Conservatives who voted AGAINST them, while the NDP and Bloc supported them (if memory serves me). Now the Conservatives apparently support these kinds of cuts, while the NDP rails against them, my how consistent these 3 parties are (who all have the same leaders as then mind you). I can understand the NDP ranting and raving about corporate tax cuts, but from the comments I've read it seems Layton opposes the income tax cuts in this mini-budget as well. Why did you vote for them last time then Jack? The NDP plainly just doesn't (or doesn't want to) understand the economy and it's why they can never be taken seriously as a plausible government in waiting.

The Conservatives and NDP can all rant about abstaining over this and that, but Harper abstained on the budget in 2005 which is the EXACT equivalent of what the Liberals are doing now so he's got no argument to make here. Meanwhile, Layton's numbers don't matter (so he's not in the position of where abstaining would make any difference) and his opposition to these income tax cuts doesn't jive with him supporting the very same cuts not too long ago. He just wants to pretend to oppose the Conservative agenda while hoping they get to stay the government for the next few decades, so maybe one day in his most ideal scenario he'll actually be, gasp, Leader of the Opposition! Some dream for all those Dippers out there, really making a positive difference to bring about a more progressive Canada.

So given that Canadians deserve these income tax cuts, I'm glad to see the Liberals did not vote against them. However, even though many other Liberals may disagree I think come election time, the Liberals should say that they are going to raise the GST back to 6% and in return, cut the lowest income bracket deeper (and raise the basic personal exemption subject to taxes higher), while also having a clear plan to combat poverty. As long as Liberals can make clear than the large majority of Canadians will be paying less overall (as only the richest would save more off a GST cut) it could sell. I know the media loves to claim that GST cuts are gold politically (and it seems many Liberals have bought into the idea that a GST raise is poison), but I don't think low and middle income Canadians care that much about saving 1 cent on every dollar as much as the media claims they do. If you're going to save several hundred a year off your income taxes that matters more. It wasn't too long ago that even Conservative supporters would have agreed with that, but if Harper says GST cuts are good, then of course the Tory supporters blindly follow.

If the Conservatives could win the last election on a campaign of cutting the GST while raising income taxes (by a full 1 percent no less which was a huge raise that in the end they didn't even go along with due to outside pressure), then the Liberals can win by raising the GST by 1 percent and lowering income taxes instead. Canadians will benefit more, the poor will benefit more (as long as the poverty plan goes along with it) and economists and the business community will praise it so I think that's the right approach even if it doesn't seem to be the "safest" politically. Liberals can't be afraid to stand up for good policy and defend it to the people in a campaign. Canadians would pay less under a Liberal government it's as simple as that. That's all that needs to be said between now and the campaign.

Though I think it was mistake for Dion to admit to considering raising the GST right now, it should be left for the campaign (and worked out with caucus in the meantime on how to sell it) when the Liberal tax plan can be compared against the Conservative one and all will see that the Liberal plan is better for the economy (on the taxes side) and better for Canadians as a whole (on the social spending side). The Conservatives were bold in the wrong direction on taxes last time (higher income taxes, lower GST) we can bold in the right direction (lower income taxes, higher GST) this time.

In the meantime as I've said many times before we should pick our time to go to the polls and this was not the one to go on.

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