Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Liberal Policy Series #2: Giving Green an Advantage: GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products (Peterborough Young Liberals Policy)

Not too long ago, I wrote a post talking about a policy I am very passionate about: Enforcing Standards of Practice for Canadian Mining Companies Operating Abroad. I strongly encourage you to read that if you missed it, because I think it's hugely important for Canada's reputation in the world and for us serving as a prominent example on human rights.

I also mentioned that the particular policy I authored on that issue was passed as official Ontario Young Liberals policy at the Sumer Fling event in North Bay (August, 2007). However, there were 4 other policies that were passed then too and I thought it would be good to let some of the individuals who contributed to those policies to have a chance to tell you about them as well.

So this is the second post in hopefully a series of 5 as I have contacted some of the individuals who contributed to the other policies that were passed and have received some positive responses back so far. Therefore, I hope you will see something up for the other 3 soon. In each case, I will post word for word what I have been provided by the authors of the policy. In that way, you can read about them in their own words.

I think these policies need to get more promotion then they have been getting and at the same time any policy could probably make use of some constructive feedback. So for each policy, feel free to give your thoughts. I think in all cases the ultimate goal is get the Liberal Party (either in Ontario or the federal party or both) to adopt them as official party policy.

So the next policy (#2 of 5) that is being promoted here today is called "GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products" and was authored by the Peterborough Federal Liberal Youth Association. Few Liberals have accomplished more in such a short time than this Peterborough club. The President, Jonathan Pinto and the policy chair Kelly Jamieson are huge credits to the Liberal Party. They have been especially productive on the policy front, going so far as to have one of their policies on bilingualism become an Liberal Party of Canada prioritized national party policy in December 2006 at the Montreal Biennial & Leadership convention.

So what you see below is the submission I was provided by policy chair Kelly Jamieson on the policy that was passed this past summer at the OYL Summer Fling in North Bay.

Giving Green an Advantage: GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products

The “race to the bottom” is a real concern when it comes to the products Canadians consume. Typically items that yield higher profits for business have cost the environment a great deal of damage both in production and after sale use. Manufactures react to public pressure as exemplified by the crackdown on CFC’s, but, Canadians should want the businesses we buy from to be proactive. Liberals understand that there is wealth we can make through going green in our daily lives: a cleaner environment for all and a marketable advantage for business. We need to start a “race to the top” amongst the producers we buy from.

The Conservative Party’s recent ecoAuto program has proved to be more politics than action on the environment. New car owners get a rebate to replenish money they have already paid to the dealer; we are indirectly compensating producers instead of the consumers. This program has, however, demonstrated that manufactures will make more environmentally friendly products if they believe they can make a profit. The ecoAuto approved list has been expanding every year and now the hugely popular Honda Civic will be eligible in 2008. Removing taxpayer subsidization from the equations is the key to making this kind of producer response sustainable.

A consumer will use thousands of pounds of products throughout his or her life. The manufacture, use and disposal of everyday items has a profound effect on the environment. If a producer were to make a product that is top of its class in environmental friendliness in manufacturing in Canada or abroad, ensure a neutral effect when in use and an assurance of green biodegradation, then the Canadian Government should drop GST against this item and award it with a seal of approval. This measure will reduce the point of sale cost to consumers and gives the manufacturer a more marketable product. No tax funded rebate necessary; this will be a real market transaction.

Products that are more marketable as a result of being ecofriendly leaders create a race to the top. The government will control what products are GST exempt and make sure that the bar is raised higher so that business will continue to do the right thing as technology and cost improvements make a better product. This investment on the part of business can result in higher sales volume and a betterment of their brand with the backing of the Canadian Government. Consumers will have the opportunity to save money buying green. The savings will be tangible for family shoppers; this exemption being applied to a weeks worth of groceries or even a single box of diapers. It will add up quickly.

After the Conservative GST cut for no apparent reason, we can appreciate cutting more for a good reason: going green in our daily lives. Being green has to become part of Canadians’ daily lives, and that is why I am pleased that the Ontario Young Liberals have adopted this policy.

- Kelly Jamieson, Policy Chair, Peterborough Federal Liberal Youth Association

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The Chase for Change 2008: Florida Edition: Hillary and McCain Move Closer to the Noms, Edwards and Giuliani Out

So last night in Florida the two front-runners moved further ahead.

On the Republican side:

By winning Florida, McCain actually gets ALL their delegates (unlike in other states where they get divided up proprotional to the vote) so this puts him near Romney's current total (Romney is stil ahead if you include superdelegates who have pledged support). Add to that, that he will almost certainly be getting Rudy Giuliani's endorsement soon (and probably Fred Thompson's too, unless I missed that), he's going to be tough to beat.

Romney though still has way more money than McCain so if he keeps finishing a close second in lots of races where it's not winner take all he can still make it to the convention and have a chance, but it's looking a bit less likely now since I think McCain is likely to pull far ahead of Romney in delegates after Super Tuesday.

Giuliani's strategy of putting all his eggs in Florida was absolutely a horrible failure that no one will try to replicate anytime soon.

As for Huckabee, I don't know where he goes from here. I don't think he'll do that well on Super Tuesday, so maybe he'll drop out after that or try to go play kingmaker at the Convention if the Republican race manages to stretch out that far.

On the Democratic side:

I had predicted that Hillary Clinton would win back more momentum going into Super Tuesday and she has. Even though there are technically right now no delegates being awarded in the Florida democratic primary, they may yet be. As well her 50-33 victory is large enough to counter the trouncing she got in South Carolina. To boot Florida is much more consequential in the Presidential contest then South Carolina (a state I really don't think the Democrats would win no matter who the nominnee). So yes Obama got some key endorsement from the Kennedys and Teddy and Carolyn will be campaigning for him hard, but I think Hillary goes into Super Tuesday will more wind at her back and will pull way ahead in the delegate count on that day. Obama can stay in the race though by enough close second place finishes and I think he'll pull that off. SC and the Kennedy's have certainly helped to keep the media from counting him out.

Edwards apparently saw the writing on the wall and it's now being reported that he is officially quitting the race. I thought he still had a chance to play kingmarker, but I guess he didn't think so.

On to Super Tuesday....

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The State of the Union Adress 2008 (Cont.)

So it wasn’t much of a barn burner after all. A very blah speech. Not too many surprises, though apparently there were 71 applause lines.

Things Bush covered: (with my comments interspersed between)

- There’s unfinished business to be done!


The Economy:
- There’s economic uncertainty to deal with, but the stimulus package is coming
- Need to cut $18 billion in spending (anywhere but Iraq please!)
- Need to make tax cuts permanent so the U.S. can go further into debt!
- Must help the housing market

Health Care:
- No to government health care! (because surely we shouldn't trust the government to do anything except wage wars)
- Need to take on those darn trial lawyers (because victims of medical malpractice don’t really deserve any compensation apparently)

- No Child Left Behind is an undisputed success! (Any teachers in the U.S. watching must have loved that part)
- Wants $300 million for pell grants to take kids out of crumbling public schools and helping them go to private or faith based schools. Just the attitude we need, let’s abandon the crumbling schools completely and just encourage all the students to leave (maybe I didn’t get that 100% correct but that’s what it sounded like he was proposing)

- Wants a trade deal with Columbia ASAP (Democrats did not look too impressed, justifiably so, Columbia has a horrible human rights record and is far from the model for the region Bush claimed)
- Said for the millionth time he wants to conclude the Doha round

- Believes technology will save us from the problems of climate change
- Wants a new international clean technology fund to help developing countries (sounds like the Clean Development Mechanism from the Kyoto protocol to me)
- Wants an international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but everyone else in the world must sign on first (otherwise known as the Harper/Bush strategy for doing nothing)

- Need more constructionist judges! Those judges have gotten out of control.

- Working to secure the borders, hired more border guards
- Need to have lawful way for foreign works to come support economy and needs sensible solution for illegal immigrants (Bush is at least more sensible on this issue than most other Republicans, but I’d put much more trust in the next Democratic President to handle this issue best)


- Democracy is on the march, etc…
- Mentions assassinations of Hariri in Lebanon and Bhutto in Pakistan (interesting comparison since the U.S. agreed to have an international UN investigation of Hariri’s death, but not Bhutto’s, wonder why?)

- It’s a new young democracy, new roads/hospitals. Everyone is hopeful now.
- Will add 2000-3000 marines

- U.S. changed course with the surge, it’s working!
- Iraqis welcomed the extra troops with flowers. They were so happy we weren't leaving (yes this is pretty much what he said).
- Iraqis being trained performing well.
- There’s also an Anbar awakening and a "grassroots surge” going on with the Iraqis.
- Few of us could have seen this a year ago
- Al Queda used to have safe havens, no longer!
- Terrorist attacks down, militia fighters captured and defeated, mission accomplished! (ok but he almost said it)
- "Al Queda is on the run!" (I called it!)
- Soldiers will get everything they need, this time we swear!
- Of course, wants Congress to give more money to Iraq
- Iraqi Parliament making progress, must be patient (we've been hearing that for awhile....)
- Must win in Iraq or U.S. will be attacked again (because of course Iraq was linked to 9/11)

- He’ll succeed where the past few decades of Presidents have failed.
- Two state peace agreement will come by end of 2008 (believe it when I see it)

- Wherever freedom advances, Iran opposes it
- Bush loves the Iranian people. But he’s got a warning for the government, they have to suspend uranium enrichment and stop supporting terror or else. (didn't sound quite as gung ho as in previous years)

Counter-Terrorism efforts:
- Takes credit for there being no attacks, says they stopped some
- Still needs to spy on people's conversations.
- Need to pass wire-tapping legislation again before it expires at the end of this month (Democrats sit on their hands in response, something tells me Bush won’t get his wish)

Foreign Aid:
- American leads the world in foreign aid and fighting disease and world hunger (in absolute terms maybe, far from it in per capita terms)
- Wants Congress to approve an additional $30 billion for fighting HIV/Aids in the third world (this sounds encouraging, but I’m very skeptical that there won’t be many strings attached such as it going only to abstinence programs or something)

- Need to treat our veterans better
- Need to allow troops to transfer their health and education benefits to spouses and children (this got applause from both sides)

And the usual finale: “God bless America.”

So I was wrong, Bush didn’t say the State of the Union was strong. I guess he doesn’t think so. The speech was basically typical Bush though. There were a couple initiatives that sounded decent, but as is the case with everything you’d need more info to say for sure. At the same time I think Bush jumped the gun way too much on Iraq in his speech, as things are very far from anything resembling peace there right now, a lull in violence doesn't mean things will stay that way just ask Israel.

Either way, this speech will go down as being pretty inconsequential. Bush accomplished little so far this term, I highly doubt that will change during an Election year. I think few people will be sad to see him go.

Hopefully this time next year, we’ll witness the inauguration of a Democratic President who will turn the page on a sad chapter in U.S. history.

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The State of the Union Address 2008

So the State of the Union is about to come up soon, came back later for the run down.

At the least, I can guarantee Bush will say the following things:
- "The State of the Union is strong!"
- "The surge is working!"
- "Al Queda is on the run!"
- "We caught Osama Bin Laden and brought him to justice!"

Oh wait, maybe not that last one.

Also, watch for Bush to try real hard to convince everyone that there is at least one domestic accomplishment from his past term (I'm trying real hard to think of one though) and to try not to mention that he spent over a trillion dollars on Iraq when they really could have used that money now as the U.S. economy is going down the tubes.

I'm sure it will be a real barn-burner. I can't wait to hear all the reasons why the world should be so thankful for the past 8 years of the Bush adminstration. Stay tuned.

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2 Years of Conservative Kool-Aid Canadians Aren't Drinking

So it’s been just over 2 years since the Conservatives won office and it's about time to look back on how this once “new” government has been doing. I’m obviously biased, but I’d like to take a look back at what were some of the good and bad moves by this government from a political standpoint. They'd have you believe everything they did was strategic brilliance, but it would seem to me that the bad moves clearly outweighs the good, but that may explain why Harper has been so hopeless at raising his party’s level of support among Canadians. Canadians aren't buying the kool-aid they and their supporters have been trying to dish out for so long. So these are my opinions, feel free to chime in with what you think were the major acts of brilliance and blunders that I missed.

The Good/Smart Moves:

- The cabinet shuffles: One in January 2007 and then one near the end of the summer at the least moved out some people who were doing really poorly in their posts (e.g., Toews at Justice and Ambrose at Environment – though the latter was really Harper’s fault since he controlled everything on that file – in January and O’Connor at Defence and Oda at Status of Women this past summer). They also showed that Harper can at least absorb some of the criticism directed towards his team (of course and realize when some of them need to go elsewhere.

- The Quebec By-elections (Sept. 17): Calling the byelections when he did was an extremely smart move by Harper. Obviously if had any integrity he would have called the ones in the other parts of the country at the same time, but we all know why he didn’t. The Conservative win in Roberval definitely provided a big boost for Harper and seemed to show that his Quebec strategies seemed to be winning him some support in rural Quebec

- The appearance of a plan for the environment: The actual plan goes in the bad below, but as late as last year the Conservatives were seen in polling as being horrible at the environment and very few people thought they took it seriously (after Harper has a long written record expressing doubts that man made climate change is happening and seemed to think Kyoto was the worst thing Canada had ever signed on to in our history). So the Conservatives were at least smart enough to make it appear like they cared – shuffling out Ambrose and primping up their Green Plan to make it appear real tough (this has continued with Harper’s fear mongering on the economy saying that his tough green plan is gonna hurt). Even though I don’t buy it, I’m sure many other Canadians may now think that Harper cares more about the environment than he did before. If he didn’t do this, I think you’d be seeing them in the mid to high 20’s in the polls now so this a must for Harper to accomplish.

- The first set of attack ads on Stephane Dion: This seemed to work quite well at first. Define Dion before the Liberals did and their impact still shows to this date in how the media talks about him. Since then Dion has done a lot to battle the perception that “he’s not a leader” and by now the saying is getting pretty old from the Conservatives but it’s been something he still is fighting against. He’ll show his leadership skills well on the campaign trail I’m sure, but he’ll still be up against that Conservative narrative.

- Re-instatement of Liberal tax cuts: The GST cuts never should have happened, but neither should the Conservatives have raised taxes in their first budget. So re-storing the Liberal tax cuts that were in place before they took office was a sensible move.

- The Afghan Panel: I can’t believe John Manley agreed to it, but even though the panel was still somewhat critical of Harper it has put Liberals on the spot now and if the Americans agree to pony up more troops for Afghanistan this panel will serve to benefit Harper in the long run as he now will continue to point to a prominent Liberal (and former Foreign Affairs Minister no less) who agrees with him on extending the mission.

Though it’s a shame that the PM has to play politics with absolutely everything though and can’t just sit down with the opposition to actually work out a sensible way forward in Afghanistan. I personally think the Liberal position is the right one and that’s supported by a majority of Canadians, but Harper seems willing to do whatever it takes to ram through whatever path he wants to take.

The Bad Moves:
I don’t have all day, so I’ll just list a bunch of things that come to mind:

- The Afghan detainee scandal: Allegations of torture of prisoners Canadians handed over completely threw the Conservatives off their game. Stories and fresh denials were all over the place each and nobody knew the heck they were talking about as ministers would start contradicting themselves. This was the first time (that I can recall anyway) people in the media started referring to the Harper government as incompetent. Things have gotten even worse lately with the revelation that detainee transfers stopped months ago and the government hasn’t been honest about what it knew when or what is even happening to prisoners now. A complete disgrace and continued black eye for Canada for sure.

- The isotopes fiasco: Blaming the looming shortage of medical isotopes at Chalk River on the Liberals and Linda Keen was low-ball politics. In the end this was a very serious issue and there were serious questions about whether the reactor was safe to go back online. The Harper government essentially should have seen this shortage coming and it was more convenient for them to blame and then fire Linda Keen then own up to their own mistakes. It didn’t have to end up this way and Harper’s handling of it just made the conservatives look like they have no respect for independent regulators and more may yet be uncovered that might show just how much they could have done to prevent this kind of crisis from taking place in the first place (we already know from the AG report that Lunn wasn’t honest about when he was first informed of the reactors problems..

- Endorsing the Death penalty and Backsliding on human rights: I’ve said it before but I’ll say again because I think a lot of Canadians aren’t happy where the government has gone on this. Canada up until now was seen as a world leader on human rights and there have been several troubling new directions this government has taken us in that greatly threatening that reputation:

- Cozying up to Columbia (which has a terrible human rights record) on free trade
- Praising Barrick Gold (a mining company which has been cited for treating its workers extremely poorly and for multiple human rights abuses) while ignoring all the allegations against them and the complete lack of interest in enforcing standards for Canadian mining companies operating abroad
- Withdrawing Canadian support for the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people
- The shocking lack of concern for the possible torture of prisoners handed over by Canadian soldiers (whom if actually tortured might make Canada complicit in breaking international law)
- Being the only western country in the world that supports Guantanamo Bay and that has refused to lobby to have its citizens stand trial (even Harper’s ideological soulmate John Howard lobbied to bring his citizens home to stand trial and those people have now served their time in prison).
- Essentially endorsing the use of the death penalty abroad by refusing to appeal for clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty in the U.S. and withdrawing Canadian sponsorship for a motion at the UN to impose a moratorium on the death penalty.

Amnesty International even put out a report back in December ago noting that Canada has gone from leader to laggard on human rights. Meanwhile Peter Van Loan has the nerve to say this Government is “second to none” in the world on human rights? That’s one of the biggest flat out lies I’ve ever heard from this government. I hope this becomes a real issue in the next federal election, because it really should. I highly doubt the Conservative stance impressed many Canadians

- Sham of an environment plan: Introducing an environment plan that was condemned by every single independent group basically showed that this government is more interested in smoke and mirrors than actually doing anything about climate change.

- Bali: Further to that, was the disgrace in Bali. Canada has never fared so badly on the world stage: We were tied for the lead in fossil of the day of awards (and had the most first place finishes), we won the fossil of year award, and has Harper pasted in ads right alongside fellow obstructers Japan and the USA, Baird skipped most meetings and scheduled and Canada was essentially condemned by the head of the UNPCC. Never has Canada been so isolated in its stance on a major issue. When the final declaration was agreed upon even the USA signed on before Canada did (who only did so once Baird realized that Canada and Russia were the only hold-outs). It was simply an absolute disgrace for Canada on the world stage on an issue that is slowly becoming the most important for Canadians. Dion was smart to go to Bali and meet with many dignitaries and show that Canadians don’t actually support the approach Baird brought to Bali and I was impressed by how much blogging he did ( while he was there (unfortunately the media didn’t give much coverage to his blog though).

- Lack of an independent foreign policy: Time and time again, Harper’s government has not be able to stake out an independent foreign policy for Canada. For instance, on Pakistan after the tragic assassination of Bhutto Canada should have been doing as Lloyd Axworthy suggested playing a positive role in helping Pakistan establish order and set a clear date in the future for holding elections under better circumstances, not parroting the American line of elections being held on January 8th even though the situation on the ground was completely inhospitable to that. And on countless other issues such as the possible development of Iranian nukes (which a recent report showed hasn’t really been happening), at Bali (taking the exact US “you first” environmental stance), on Guantanamo (Harper has not once criticized it and seems to think fair trials occur there) and Bush’s War on Terror policies in general, Harper has mimicked the U.S. line when there were saner more sensible approaches that could have been followed.

Name me ONE issue where the ultimate response of the Harper government didn’t pretty much exactly that of the Bush Administration? Personally I believe the whole Harper is the same as Bush line is tired and stale and not completely accurate, but for goodness sakes he hasn’t taken a single independent stance for Canada on any foreign policy issue. Canadians don’t want a leader who is bashing the Americans all the time, but we also don’t someone who always follows their lead. Harper should remember that.

- Handling of Mulroney-Schreiber: This made Harper look ridiculous. So full of bravado in saying there will be no inquiry and then within a very short time holding a press conference looking completely depressed saying there will be a public inquiry. Harper knew about a lot Mulroney’s shady past before he so thoroughly embraced, he should not have gotten so close to Mulroney. There also remain serious questions of Harper’s willful ignorance of all those letters Schreiber sent him. Was he covering for Mulroney? These things have yet to be answered satisfactorily. At the same time Rob Nicholson looked ridiculous by continually insisting that he couldn’t halt Schreiber’s extradition despite all evidence to the contrary and then basically admitted he was wrong.

- The second, third, fourth, fifth (and sixth?) attack ads on Stephane Dion: The Conservative gained a lot of ground in the polls after the first set of attack ads so those definitely paid off for them, but I really think they were getting diminishing returns with the seemingly never-ended new sets of ads telling us new and exciting ways how Stephane Dion against was “not a leader”. The latest GST ad against him completely flopped. I didn’t see any evidence that anything beyond the first set of attack ads helped the Conservatives and instead I think the 3rd, 4th, 5th installments were starting to frame up the Conservatives as a government with nothing positive to say about itself and that can only attack all the time. It’s played right into perceptions that Harper is a completely cold uncaring Prime Minister who is only interested in partisan advantage at all costs.

- Their continued unquestioning defence of the RCMP at all costs: After multiple scandals involving the RCMP this year the with the taser scandal being the latest it seems Stockwell Day is always out there front and centre saying “nothing to see here, this isn’t as bad as it seems, let’s talk about drunk drivers instead” or something along those lines. Stock and Harper need to realize that the force needs a real overhaul because its reputation is going down the tubes.

- The continued caving to the gun lobby: Harper and Stockwell Day continue to be advised by gun’s rights groups and continue to trash the gun registry despite all the evidence that the police were using it regularly, that it helps and even intense efforts by the police associations, the Ontario and Quebec Premiers themselves to keep the gun registry working this government won’t listen to reason. If Harper really wants to win urban voters, he’s got to out of the holster of the gun lobby.

- Dumping Candidates in Toronto Centre and Guelph: It’s terrible optics to be dumping democratically elected candidates. It’s even worse when one of your candidates is dumped solely because he wants to talk about urban issues that matter to voters in his riding such as poverty. Basically it’s saying screw you to the cities by kicking someone like Mark Warner out just for speaking his mind. Some democratic grassroots party they’ve got there. The lack of free debate in the Conservative party today is quite scary indeed and by booting these candidates it just puts that on display to the public.

- Continued Neglect of Ontario and cities: Harper’s government and Peter Van Loan in particular continues to pick fights with Ontario (calling McGuinty the “small man of Confederation” weeks after his landslide victory). The electoral reform bill is a blatant attempt at gerry-mandering that is completely unfair to Ontario (you just can’t justify fixing an injustice for two other provinces and leaving another in place for the third). Meanwhile other Premiers have backed the Ontario position and you don’t hear the same criticism directed towards them from the Conservatives. This government just seems to keep saying it doesn’t care about Ontarians, well keep it up and good luck to you in keeping the seats you have let alone one in new ones in this province.

Harper’s doing the same thing with cities. Conservative and Liberal mayors alike have joined forces to point out the huge funding needs of cities these days that if they aren’t met will cause huge economic and infrastructure problems down the line. The Conservative response: “suck it up and stop whining!”. You see the Conservatives had some support among these mayors before and this kind of approach just flips them over to another party. Meanwhile Harper has ignored the issues many progressive minded city voters care about: poverty, gun control, the environment and so on and he keeps out candidates that talk about these things. Harper can’t win a majority without cities, but I guess he just can’t help but hide his disdain for them anyway.

- The GST Cuts: Everyone says this is great politics, but it sure as heck didn’t help the Conservatives gain in the polls and instead the latest cut is draining the federal coffers by $6 Billion a year at no benefit to the economy just as we may be on the cusp of a huge economic slowdown. Smart move guys and it’s one you’ll have defend come election time and I’m not so sure you’ll be able to do so very easily.

- Eliminating the Court Challenges Program: You know maybe they didn’t realize it, but Canadians believe strongly in the Charter and the rights its given to Canadians. By tearing down a program designed to help Canadians uphold their Charter rights, Harper showed Canadians where he stood. His utter silence on the 25th anniversary of the Charter was further evidence of this. I think really didn’t do this homework on this though, because many of the biggest court victories derived from this program were on language issues coming out of Quebec and the program was very popular there, so Dion would do well to keep bringing this issue up again and again there when he can.

- Income Trusts: Sloppily made decision that cost seniors billions. Unheard of in Canadian history and I think will come back to haunt them when seniors turn out to vote in big numbers next time as the Liberals actually have put forth a fairly reasonable solution.

- Softwood Lumber deal: The deal was not what Conservatives promised in the election and was basically a bad deal all around that did not solve the problem once and for all like they claimed. The United States’ continues to challenge Canadians effort to help its forestry workers to this day and in turn they are worse off now than they were before the deal was put in place.

- Neglect of Aboriginal Issues: Aboriginal issues seem to be an extremely low priority for this government and I don’t think we’ve heard much of anything from this portfolio since Jim Prentice was shuffled out of it. Their continued defaming of Kelowna which was signed by all 10 Premiers and the Prime Minister and his complete unwillingness to tackle is taking us further backwards on an issue that has too long been a Canadian disgrace. We need much more action on this file and Kelowna was a positive and the PM ripped that to shreds and that’s something no one should be happy about. I guess they feel they aren’t enough votes here to be won

- Neglect of Women’s Issues: The slashing of funding for Status of Women was absolutely shameful, as was changing its mandate and the government’s fantasy proposition that gender equality had already been achieved so there was no need to fight for it anymore. To date Harper has shown no evidence that he cares what women think, he has shown no commitment to bringing more women into politics and one cannot point to a single powerful woman in cabinet who has Harper’s ear right now. The only powerful woman who was around was instead made a scapegoat for Harper’s first disastrous climate plan and shown the door. On women’s issues, Harper is taking us back decades and not only are Liberals ashamed but I’m sure privately all of the PC supporters form the days of Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell must be as well. This will hit Harper hard in the next election I’m sure.

You know right now I can’t think of a single accomplishment of their own by this government that I am proud of, but given the list above I think I’ll be writing about a different government this time next year.

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An Iraqi POV on Canada

This weekend I had the opportunity to meet a very nice interesting young man. Interesting because he informed me of some of his personal thoughts on his home country of Iraq. Seeing I'm obviously a political junkie, he asked me to describe to him the political process in Canada, and how things become law. After a brief explanation of this to the best of my ability, he looked at me with this look of disbelief on his face and said, in his Iraqi accent “Gee, and I thought things were bad in Iraq”.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: South Carolina (D) Edition: Obama Gets Some Mo Back Again

So I've been away for the weekend, but now able to write on my blog again, here's my run-down from last night in U.S. politics.

No matter what Hillary Clinton's camp says, South Carolina was a complete blow-out against her. You can't frame 55-27 any other way. To put things in perspective Obama did as well against Hillary in South Carolina as Hillary did against essentially NO ONE (or "uncommitted" to be more precise) in Michigan. While everyone knew Obama was going to win South Carolina the margin of victory is what's brought back some momentum to his campaign. Endorsements now from Corolyn Kennedy (JFK's daughter) and Ted Kennedy will add to that further.

I personally think that, while the exit poll data on this is a bit muddled, Bill Clinton didn't do Hillary any favours in South Carolina. He needs to scale back his campaigning and let her shine on her own for awhile. He seems to have a knack these days for saying dumb things such as that the first act of a Hillary Clinton Presidency would be to send Bill and George W's FATHER overseas to tell everyone "America is open for business again" (which was obviously dismissed by George Bush Sr. within 5 minutes of him hearing the statement), that Obama was too young to be President (he's the same age Clinton was in 1992) and his comparison of Jesse Jackson to Obama the morning of the SC primary came off quite badly as well. Sure Democrats love the Clinton years, but Hillary needs to distinguish herself from her husband and it doesn't seem like he's been helping much of late.

He should be a bit more low key until after February 5th at least I would say and rather than being an attack dog start showing the similar level of class shown by other former Presidents (If I'm not mistaken, George Bush Sr. didn't go around attakcing John McCain so heavily when his son ran in 2000). If he keeps a more positive tone then I think both Hillary and him would be better for it.

All that said, Hillary is still the front-runner for three reasons. One, South Carolina rarely picks the winner. It was low of Bill Clinton to try to make the Jesse Jackson comparison as if to say Obama is no more likely to win than Jackson was(though Jackson still did pretty good back then, but far from getting the nomination), but even so, this state didn't pick the winner in 2004 either. Edwards won then and still came far shy of the nomination (so he must be once more disappointed with the latest results). Secondly, Hillary leads Obama heavily in Florida and even though technically right now it's not clear their delegates will count a big victory for Clinton there will give her back momentum for Super Tuesday February 5th, which is where the bulk of delegates will be won. Third, Hillary also leads in most of the delegate rich states voting on Feb. 5th such as California and New York. I can't see how Obama ends up ahead in the delegate count after Super Tuesday. Just how many he wins though will determine whether or not this thing will stretch to being decided on the convention floor.

Hillary may be the odds on favourite but I won't be putting all my money on her just yet.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Canada Halts Transfers of Afghan Prisoners: Will the Conservatives Finally Admit They Were Wrong and Apologize?

Well, well. It seems after all the bluster that there couldn't be any torture going on, that anyone who said there could be was a Taliban lover, and that Canada could not possibly stop transferring prisoners to Afghan custody (Dion was told he was crazy for even suggesting the Conservatives look into other options), well I guess a certain government wasn't being very honest:

The Harper government quietly stopped transferring prisoners into Afghan custody months ago after compelling evidence of torture was discovered, the government admitted Wednesday on the eve of a federal court hearing.

Surely now the army of Conservative supporters who derided any suggestion of there being torture going on in Afghanistan will line up now to correct themselves and apologize to Stephane Dion and others who have been calling the government on this issue for almost a year now.

Surely Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper and Gordon O'Connor will also line up to admit they were wrong to make misleading claims in the House and to impugn Stephane Dion's character for raising this issue.

Though there remains a real question now, just what is being done with the prisoners if they aren't being handed over to Afghanistan authorities? After so much obfuscation from this government, Canadians deserve answers and an apology for such horrible mismanagment of an issue that has given Canada a black eye on the world stage.

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Why go to the movies tonight when...

You can catch The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos at 11 (EST) on CBC?? Tonight the brains and brawns that is Mr. Stephane Dion will be the guest of honour, and I hear you'll want to sit down with your popcorn and tivo it. I'm making it a girls night out.

UPDATE: I told you it was not to be missed!!!

So back on Wednesday I mentioned that Stephane Dion's appearance on the hour was not to be missed. I hope everyone tivo'd it like I suggested! If not, I'll jump on the bandwagon of liblogs posting this highlight.

I recommend seeing the full segment from later in the show though here. George really lands a good interview.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: South Carolina (R) and Nevada Editions: We Have Front-Runners but It’s Far from Over

So I would say last night the race for the White House got two clear front-runners for each party:
On the Republican side: John McCain banished the ghosts of South Carolina lingering from 8 years ago and won the state that has picked every Republican nominee since 1980. So that, his win in New Hampshire and his good poll numbers in virtually every delegate rich state I think puts him at the front of the pack for now. However, one interesting fact I was happy to hear from this race was that while McCain won in South Carolina this time, he did it with over 100,000 votes LESS than in 2000 when he LOST to George Bush in that state. Those Republicans sure are excited to turn out and vote this year aren’t they? It’s good news for the Democrats anyway.

McCain won’t be running away with this race anytime soon though, as Romney still leads the delegate count and he nabbed another 18 from Nevada yesterday. Even if Mitt doesn’t finish first in a lot of primaries, as long as he’s close each time he’ll still keep racking them up and with enough super-delegate support (and support from anyone left in the race) he could go over the top at the convention. Also, with many Republican only primaries coming up, McCain might not do as well without the help of independents and Democrats. I’d really rather the democrats go up against someone else besides Romney or McCain though (why Democrats and progressives ought to be worried about both candidates will be the subject of another post)…

My favourite Republican Mike Huckabee (because no one else would be so thoroughly crushed by the Democrats) unfortunately lost a lot of momentum last night. I can’t see where else he is likely to pick up another big victory to get the wind at his sails again. I don’t think he’ll do well in the big delegate states like New York, New Jersey and California (he may do ok in Florida), but he may be able to rack up enough decent close finishes to keep him in till the convention to play to king-maker (it’s looking more likely that’s where it will be settled), but I’ve been wrong before…

Then there’s Giuliani. He’s pinned it all on Florida, if he doesn’t win there on the 29th, well then he’s finished, but even if he does, he’s going to need to win big to get back in contention and have people take him seriously again. I mean he’s behind Ron Paul in delegates right now…

On the Democratic side: I would say Hillary clearly has the big mo now with her win in Nevada. Yes it seems for now Obama got more delegates (13 to 12) through their weird caucus system, but all the media networks and the people at home will take home the message that she won 51-45% even though Obama had the endorsement of the largest union in the state.

Obama though has a chance to get some momentum back with a big win in South Carolina next weekend, but this will be a MUST win for him or people will really be starting to count him out. Though if he keeps finishing so closely behind Hillary in each state (or beating her in some) she’s not going to get the delegate threshold required to win automatically before the convention. So it would be decided on the floor instead.

If it goes to that then there will be squabbling over whether Michigan’s and Florida’s delegates should count, the super-delegates will come into play, and Edwards strategy of staying in till the convention may pay off as he might gets to play king-maker (at this point he’s gonna need a huge breakthrough or a huge Hillary or Obama collapse to do better than that role). But we’ve got a long way to go yet…..

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Issue for 2008: Enforcing Standards of Practice for Canadian Mining Companies Operating Abroad (Liberal Policy Series #1)

This is something that I've wanted to post about for awhile, but I believe with the new year, it's about time something finally get done on this issue.

I have been a supporter for some time of the idea that much more must be done to ensure “Canadian” mining companies (many solely claim Canadian status for the tax incentives) uphold the same environmental and human rights standards that they would if they were mining in Canada.

Specifically, I authored a policy on this issue that my Brant Young Liberals put forth that calls for the Government of Canada to implement the March 29, 2007 recommendations of the "National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries." The recommendations were derived from a series of national roundtables involving the public and governmental and non-governmental experts that were originally commissioned by the former Liberal government in the fall of 2005. The full report can be found here. For shorter summaries of the recommendations and how they came about, please see: here and/or here.

In short, Canada could become a world leader on Corporate Social Responsibility if the federal government and other stakeholders acted on these recommendations. The Brant resolution also noted that if the Government of Canada refused to implement the recommendations, then the Liberal Party of Canada should make it official party policy that they will try to implement them should they form the government in the near future.

This policy is extremely important as it relates not only to upholding basic human rights and environmental standards, but also to protecting and enhancing Canada's international reputation. When these mining companies, (which, at often times are only Canadian for the tax incentives that Canada offers to companies), are responsible for major human rights and/or environmental abuse abroad (of which there are countless examples), it reflects poorly on our country and can even breed resentment in some of these countries of Canadians in general. The recommendations of the March 29 2007 report merely ask that Canadian mining companies adhere to similar practices abroad as they do here at home and a series of incentives and punishments are advocated to ensure compliance. This is an instance where Canada can once again take the lead on an important issue and be a role model to the rest of the world, much as it has been with countless other efforts, such as the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, for example.

This resolution was passed at the OYL Summer Fling as one of the top 3 policies favoured by young liberals and it is my hope that it will be lobbied successfully to the senior party. So far there is much work to be done in that regard; however, this is really is an issue the Liberal Party of Canada should take a clear stance on. The NDP has also taken some interest in this issue and I applaud them for that and I would actually be quite happy if the two parties worked together to get something done on this issue.

That said, I welcome any and all feedback or advice you could provide to improve upon the resolution that was passed to ensure what goes forward from this point on is as sound as possible.

This issue affects a huge number of people in the 3rd world and we can no longer turn a blind eyet to it. The time has come to help ensure Canadian companies don't tarnish our good name and operate responsibly overseas.

UPDATE: I noticed the link to the full report was broken. It's been fixed.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Linda Keen Fired: Conservatives Trying to Silence Their Critics with Strong-Arm Tactics

This story is absolutely shocking. The Conservatives have fired Linda Keen a mere week or so after she thoroughly refuted the government’s main talking points on the isotopes issue and noted the degree of completely improper attempts by the government to meddle in an independent agency (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission).

I really hope the opposition parties demand clear answers from the Conservatives at committee tomorrow on why they took such drastic action. I think they’re trying to send a message: Criticize us and you’ll be fired even if you are supposed to be completely independent from the government.

This seems to be yet another complete disgrace orchestrated by Stephen Harper.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: Did "Democrats for Romney" Win it For Him in Michigan? (UPDATE: Apparently not)

It seems Mitt Romney has already been projected as the winner in Michigan. As of 9:30 PM he leads 40% to 30% over McCain with 22% of polls in.

Maybe I was a bit too quick to count him out of the race completely, but since his father was Governor of Michigan way back a win there hardly put him back at the front of the race. He's still a bigger long-shot than Huckabee or McCain (who I still see as the front-runner because of New Hampshire), but maybe about even now with Giuliani who will have to win huge in Florida.

However, what I'l be interested to see is how many Democrats turned out to vote in the Republican primary and whether they strongly backed Mitt? There were a number of progressive Democratic blogs (and other Democratic Party groups) pushing for Democrats to come out in big numbers to revive Romney's campaign so that the Republican race would continue to be a dog fight with at least 4 main contenders to slug it out. Even if only 5%-10% of the voters in the Republican primary were Democrats turning out to vote for Romney that definitely would serve to have helped give him a larger margin of victory and thus a bit more momentum going forward.

Personally I think Michigan's primary voting system is crazy. Imagine letting Conservative Party members in Canada come vote at the Liberal leadership race. Well that's what it's like in Michigan.

If it turns out it was Democratic voters that carried this race for Romney, maybe Michigan will finally want to re-think its voting system?

UPDATE: Romney wins 39% to 30% over McCain in the final results. However, it sounds as if Mitt Romney won primarily on the strength of some of the more Conservative Republicans. The numbers indicate that Democrats who voted in the Republican primary I think actually went a bit more for McCain. Maybe there will be better number crunching, but it seems if the Democratic Party voters may have only played a very small role in Mitt Romney's victory if any. My thoughts on Michigan's crazy primary system and the current outlook for the Presidential campaign still stand though.

As for the Democratic race, with Hillary running essentially alone among the big contenders, her 55% to 40% (for Uncommitted) I don't think really changes much of the race on the Democratic side. Not an overwhelming victory when you are running alone, but hardly a defeat either.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

John Tory Seems to Have to Lost His Mind

Just quickly saw John Tory on Focus Ontario. He actually said that 50% +1 for his leadership review would be sufficient to carry on as leader. Even when prodded, he kept saying "the constitution of the party is very clear".

Has any Canadian leader in history ever stayed on with any less than 60% (never the mind the many that resigned with just under 80%)? Has any Canadian leader ever set the bar any lower?

Is John Tory losing his mind?

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Lunn is likely done, but Harper should wear this dung

Gary Lunn is now officially the new Gordon O'Connor. Yesterday's story that Lunn knew back in September about the Chalk River problems easily puts him next in line to lose his job. He had the nerve to pen an attack letter to Linda Keen (President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) that she effortlessly refuted in full and now the Auditor General has said that he hasn't been truthful about what he knew when. I'm sure that's the last we will hear from Gary for a long time to come.

While Harper may say now that Lunn went "above and beyond the call of duty", he stood behind O'Connor at one time too before he was eventually shown the door. Harper will most likely make sure to do so before any election. The opposition certainly has every right to call for as much in the meantime though.

But this story has been absolutely shameful just like the Afghan detainee torture scandal that this government fumbled so horribly. Just like the Afghan detainee mess, the isotopes story has been rife with attempts by the Harper government to shamelessly point the blame elsewhere, misleading statements and changing stories, and hiding from the opposition of what it knew when. Does anyone still believe that this is the accountable and open style of government Canadians elected? Again, Canada has been embarrassed while lives were at stake.

Canadians should not forget this fiasco and that it could have been prevented by this government. It was not the fault of the civil service (or gasp "Liberal appointees") but this government alone who knew about the problems for months but did nothing. They can attack all they want, but now the Auditor General and Linda Keen have clearly refuted their main talking points.

However, what the media can't lose sight of is that hardly anything goes on in the Conservative government without it being known to the Prime Minister's Office. So while Harper may quietly shuffle out or demote Lunn in a few months (if he is still in power) as punishment for his poor handling of this file, Canadians have to remember that every misstep, every attack and every misleading statement by Gary Lunn was very likely done with the knowledge and perhaps even blessing of Harper's office.

Thus, all the blame should really be pointed exactly where it belongs: the Prime Minister himself.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: New Hampshire

It's definitely anyone's game again. I guess my predictive abilities still need some work, but at least I did better than the polling companies! The actual results (my predictions in brackets and my thoughts below)....

Democrats: Clinton: 39% (35%)
Obama: 37% (39%)
Edwards: 17% (20%)
Richardson: 5% (6%)
Others: 1% (less than 1%)

Republicans: McCain: 37% (37%)
Romney: 32% (30%)
Huckabee: 11% (13%)
Giuliani: 9% (10%)
Paul: 8% (6%)
Thompson: 1% (4%)
Others: less than 1% (less than 1%)

My thoughts:
I should not have bought into the polls. As I said after Iowa, if Hillary won in New Hampshire then she would be right back in the race and probably become the slight front-runner again. Bill Clinton lost Iowa and then won New Hampshire, Hillary has followed his lead. But this isn't 1992 and there are many states left to go. This time the first two states don't get to decide the nominees and that is really the way it should be. Obama remains the favourite in South Carolina and becomes a must win for him to get back the momentum (or at least he has to beat Clinton if somehow Edwards finishes first) . It would prove he can compete in the South and would set him up well for Super Tuesday. The next few weeks will be crucial for both him and Clinton though.

Edwards may have hurt himself with his moronic comments criticizing Hillary for crying (news flash John: people are allowed to be human in politics) as he didn't do as well in New Hampshire as I thought he would (and I've certainly lost some respect for him). He definitely needs to bring his numbers up down South if he's to get back in the game (or else really hope the nomination gets decided at convention and that he can come up the middle).

At least Obama can say he almost won tonight, but the only real winner tonight is Hillary. Even though Hillary isn't my most preferred candidate of the three, coronations are never good for any party so it will be good for the ultimate winner to have to fight harder to win in the end. Either way, I see no way for this nomination to be decided now until at least Super Tuesday and maybe not even then.

I actually for once was pretty accurate in my predictions on this one. What I said earlier today still stands, I peg McCain as the slight front-runner, but the Southern states will be key and it likely won't be decided till Super Tuesday either. Giuliani, Huckabee and McCain all still have a shot.

However, in both races it appears at least possible that either nomination will be decided on the convention floor for the first time in 40 years! Things are definitely getting interesting.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Hampshire Primary Predictions

Here are my predictions for tonight's primaries down South in New Hampshire:

On the Democratic side:
Obama: 39%
Clinton: 35%
Edwards: 20%
Richardson: 6%
Others: Less than 1%

On the Republican side:
McCain: 37%
Romney: 30%
Huckabee: 13%
Giuliani: 10%
Paul: 6%
Thompson: 4%
Others: Less than 1%

We will see if I can do better than my predictions for the Ontario Election!

If these results pan out, Obama becomes the huge front-runner in the democratic race and it will be a tough road for Hillary and Edwads. They will need some big wins in the south and will have to hope for a miracle on Super Tuesday Feb. 5th. Obama will be tough to beat though if he takes New Hampshire and South Carolina (which looks likely right now). Edwards would stand a better shot than Hillary though at becoming the Anyone but Obama candidate.

For the Republicans, McCain becomes the establishment candidate and slight front-runner for that race. South Carolina and Florida will be key though for determining whether Huckabee or Giuliani can get back the big mo and win the nom for the Republicans. Romney I think will be finished and Thompson and Paul already were. That race though is likely to be settled after the Democratic one (unless Edwards or Hillary find some way to get back momentum and win big on Super Tuesday).

Be back tonight after the results are in!

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Race for the White House: Iowa Democratic voters choose change!

Now on the Democratic Side:
The establishment candidate also took a beating, finishing in 3rd place behind Barack Obama who won huge (with an 8% lead) and behind John Edwards.

Now let me first say that I would love nothing more than a female President in the United States (and of course someday soon an elected female PM in Canada) as that would be the ultimate shattering of the glass ceiling.

However, both Barack Obama and John Edwards have much more progressive platforms and really represent a fundamental change in American politics (e.g., Edwards is the only one who actually would give all Americans the option to opt into a single-payer system like we have in Canada - not as good as we have here but that's a huge leap in the U.S. and the other two candidates' health care proposals are not near as progressive, while Obama has the most progressive foreign policy) compared to Hillary Clinton. They are the real change candidates in this election.

I would be quite happy with a Hillary Clinton Presidency, but her platform matters too and while she would move America to the left (which is so desperately needed after 8 disastrous years under Bush), Obama and Edwards would actually move the U.S. much closer to the values the Liberal Party of Canada currently represents on both domestic and foreign policy. Hillary seems to be the cautious candidate who would try to take America in baby steps back towards the centre and her platform is certainly to the right of anything the Liberals would put forth here in Canada.

Obama and Edwards aren't without their faults either (Obama has said some dumb things on foreign policy, while Edwards has been a bit hypocritical by using money from his supporters for a $400 haircut and using too much populist rhetoric and so on), but I must admit that I would prefer each one of them to Hillary. So I'm happy with tonight's results, but at least this race is one where I would happy with whoever wins out of these three.

This race is far from over though on the Democratic side too. If Hillary wins in New Hampshire next Tuesday she's right back in the race and probably becomes the front-runner again. If she doesn't she's in trouble, but not out because like Giuliani polls have her leading in a lot of the delegate rich states like California.

Edwards though has the potential to be the Stephane Dion of this race if he can hang on and win some primaries in the South and on Super Tuesday the first week of February. If (and this hasn't happened in 40 years) this race gets decided on the convention floor (if nobody wins half the delegates after all the primaries that's how it will be decided), Edwards could come up the middle and win as Obama and Clinton might have more difficulty growing beyond their first ballot support. Still he's the biggest long-shot out of the three main contenders right now. We'll see though, interesting times ahead.

Anybody who thinks they can call both the Republican and Democratic races now has another thing coming.

UPDATE: Chris Dodd and Joe Biden have dropped out! This changes everything! Where will their combined 1% of support go? Stay tuned...

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The Race for the White House: Iowa Republican voters choose change

To prove to the blogging community that I know more beyond our own borders and perhaps even gain some U.S. readership :) I give my cents on the Iowa primaries. This will the first in a series of posts between now and November for Danielle Takacs' "Race for the White House 2008: The Chase for 'Change' ". Everyone is supposedly a "change" candidate (I wonder why?), which ones (Dem and Rep) will win?

It's definitely shaping up to be an interesting race down South.

First on the Republican side:
Hooray for Huckabee! He crushed the establishment candidate Mitt Romney (former Governor of Mass. and someone who has flip-flopped on every matter of principle in the past few years) by over 10%.

Now quite honestly he is an incredibly scary candidate who might very well make for the worst U.S. President in history, but of everyone in the Republican field, Mike Huckabee is easily the most likely to specularly self-destruct in a general election campaign and hand the Presidency to the Demorats.

I mean look at this guy:
- Wants to impose a 23% sales tax on all Americans. He might take some lessons from here on how popular that 7% GST was (yes I know he wants to eliminate the IRS, but his plan would still be crushing on the lower and middle class).
- He doesn't believe in evolution and talks as if non-Christians aren't real Americans (maybe he'll someday figure out there are a lot of non-Christians in that country) and is horribly intolerant on so many issues that would repel many moderate Americans
- He would divide his party in two: He has the backing of all the social conservatives, but the more socially liberal Republicans would never vote for him.
- He has a history of troubling ethical issues as Governor in Arkansas that would not play too well in a general campaign

Since the world so desperately needs a Democratic President, I will continue to root for this man. However, we should all remember that Iowa isn't everything.

Bill Clinton didn't win Iowa in 1992 but still won the Democratic nomination so Iowa does not always determine who wins the nominations for each party. Also, Huckabee has been brutal at fundraising and doesn't have much money left for the rest of the primaries. All he has got is momentum, but that may not be enough.

Huckabee also won't likely win New Hampshire. It's a tough battle between McCain and Romney there. Whoever wins there is going go strongly toe to toe with Huckabee for at least the next few weeks.

As well, people might think that just because Giuliani got 4% in Iowa that he is finished, but he didn't campaign in the early states. He's going after the big delegate states like Florida and California and if he wins there he can still win. He has to win Florida on Jan. 29th and get some momentum on his side though as he can't keep losing early primaries without some people starting to count him out. But for now he's still easily in the game as he leads in the polls in a lot of the delegate rich states.

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