Thursday, February 28, 2008

Federal Budget Thoughts

So budget day just happens to have come at a really busy time for me, but I thought quickly I’d let my thoughts be known.

I have mixed reaction really. On the hand, I was confident that if we went to the polls over the budget we would win and I was looking forward to that campaign, so I’m a bit disappointed it doesn’t look it’s going to happen.

On the other hand, I agree with people like Dan Arnold (Calgary Grit) and others that this probably wouldn’t have been the best thing to run an election against. The budget is not great but it’s not nearly as terrible as the last two and does have some initiatives that the Liberals have advocated for in it (but it was certainly lacking in many areas and it's clear these guys have recklessly squandered the surplus the Liberals left them). So there are pros to picking another issue to go on.

I hope Dion leaves the option open of bringing down the government on a non-confidence motion later this session before Parliament rises for the summer (maybe over the government’s refusal to bring back the Clean Air Act or something). Maybe he could get all of caucus behind him then with Rae and Martha in the House.

I understand that many people think Dion should have over-ruled those in his caucus and election team that wanted to wait but if the people running the campaign (like David Smith) are certain that it is wiser to wait then you have to give their opinion some weight too. They want to go when they are certain they will win and while you may disagree with that view and may think things won’t get better by waiting but if the guys running things are really certain in their convictions that the Liberals will win for sure if they wait then you can’t fault them for digging in their heels. Ultimately, if the Liberals don’t win (or at least increase their seat count) in the next election you could argue the whole exercise was a waste (as we just end up in the same place) so you want to be confident going in. But as I said I think we would have won had we gone now.

So I understand the disappointment others feel, but we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Everyone who was looking forward to the campaign still I’m sure would like Harper gone tomorrow. Well no matter what your misgivings over the Liberal reaction to the budget remember we still have a leader who would be 100 times better Prime Minister than we have now and if we want to see Harper gone I don’t think taking your ball and going home is the answer, as Harper will only benefit. You won’t always agree with what the Liberal Party does but if you were ready to go to bat for them over this budget I hope you can look at the bigger picture once the campaign does finally come (everyone is entitled to vent though of course). We need a better Prime Minister and a better Canada and I still just as strongly believe that the Liberal Party will give us that.

So a part of me is disappointed, but I haven’t lost confidence then when we do on the campaign trail we will have the platform and the vision that will win us the next election.

Back to the books…

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

John Tory Decides He Wants to Be Kicked Around Some More

So he says he's staying. He's flip-flopped on big issues before, so maybe he'll change his mind again before the month is out, so we'll see what happens, but given his pretty clear statement on the matter, I'll assume he's staying for now. Now John Tory just has to get himself a seat. Good luck to him convincing one of his caucus members to step down....

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

66.9%: Has Any Leader in Canadian History Stayed On With Anything As Low As That?

So 66.9% of delegates voted AGAINST a leadership review. A clear majority to be sure, but in order to win an election don't you need more than that from your own party to win?

Has anyone ever stayed on with a rating this low? For comparison purposes, Bernard Landry (PQ) received 76.2% and resigned and Joe Clark received the exact same 66.9% and also resigned. Dalton McGuinty stayed on with getting more than 80% support.

That said the rating is not so low as where he couldn't credibly claim to be able to lead the party, it's still a clear majority and it's not as bad as Ralph Kelin's 55% which forced him to step down. A leadership review is the proper way of deciding whether a leader should go or not, but ultimately the real decision in cases like this reside with the leader himself.

But the historical comparisons are pretty clear so John Tory will be against that. He definitely has some thinking to do....

If I had to guess, I would say he doesn't make it past the month. I guess 30% of those who voted in my poll predicted this range (60-69%) (a biased and small sample to be sure), and a majority of votes here said he won't hang on.

We'll see if they are right, but the decision ultimately rests with Tory.

UPDATE: As it turns out, apparently, there was one leader in Canadian history who stayed on with less support: Joe Clark. He got 66.5% in 1981 and hung on, but decided that John Tory's number wasn't enough in 1983 so he called the leadership race then (thanks to CalgaryGrit for pointing that out).

So I guess both John Tory and his detractors can use Joe Clark as an example!

For the record here are the poll results the following questions:
“How Many Ontario PC Party Delegates Will Vote No to a Leadership Review Next Weekend (Feb 22-24) At Their Convention?”

The results were as follows:

80% + - 8% of votes
70-79% - 0% of votes
60-69% - 30% of votes
50-59% - 39% of votes
Less than 50% - 21% of votes

For the question:
"Will John Tory Resign After The Leadership Review Vote?"

The results were as follows:

Yes, Within One Day - 30%
Yes, Within One Month - 25%
No, He Will Hang On - 45%

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Liberal Policy Series #4: End Atrocities in Darfur (Etobicoke Centre Young Liberals Policy)

It's time to hear about the 4th policy in this 5 part series about Ontario Young Liberal policies. The first three were Enforcing Standards of Practice for Canadian Mining Companies Operating Abroad (a policy I authored which was put forth by the Brant Young Liberals) and Giving Green an Advantage: GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products (put forth by the Peterborough Federal Young Liberals) and Opt-Out Organ Donation: Saving Lives and Saving Money (written by Janie Fischer and put forth by the University of Western Young Liberals). I strongly encourage you to read them if you missed them.

This next policy was put forth by the Etobicoke Centre Provincial and Federal Liberal Youth Association. Their President (and founder) Terry Chemij has agreed to talk to you about their policy. Terry's club Etobicoke Centre has been a fairly active since its inception and has successfully managed to get policies of theirs passed as official OYL policy two years running. Terry has been active with the Western Young Liberals as well, whom as I mentioned last time are one of the most active clubs in the Province.

Terry also serves as VP Policy and Education for STAND Western (Students Taking Action Now in Darfur) so in line with that the policy his club pushed and helped pass is about tackling the crisis in Darfur. No one can say this crisis doesn’t need greater attention and it is certainly true that Harper Government has largely neglected it and needs to do more. Paul Martin made it clear to Rick Hillier that he wanted there to be enough Canadian troops left over to help in Darfur if ever needed and Stephen Harper threw that concern to the wind. It is my hope (that I think is shared by many) that the Liberals make helping alleviate the crisis in Darfur a priority when they get back in Government.

So what you see below is what Terry has provided me word for word on his club’s policy. Feel free to give your thoughts...

End Atrocities in Darfur

It can be argued that there is no greater crisis on the face of this planet as genocide. Genocide is taking place right now as you read this, and what are we doing to stop it?

The empty jargon of NEVER AGAIN is just that, an empty promise that the international community and previous generations have made. My hope is that our generation of youth, who I see as passionate and concerned with what is happening around the world, will not stand by and fail humanity once again. If older generations fail to lead, then our generation must step up. We are fully capable as Young Liberals living in this province and in this country during this time to drive the issues that are important to us.

This policy is a drop in a bucket of the larger movement to stand up against injustice. Canada had a window of opportunity to lead the world into the Darfur region and build consensus on a peacekeeping mission. That window of opportunity came and passed. The second best option is to assist with the implementation of UN Resolution 1769. This resolution calls for an African Union and United Nations hybrid peacekeeping force (UNAMID) to protect the innocent civilians and humanitarian aid workers in the region. Canada has not been asked to commit troops. However, the resolution does welcome ongoing preparations for the Hybrid operation including putting in place logistical arrangements, operational policies (such as the establishment and operation of an HQ), as well as financial and administrative mechanisms to ensure effective management of the mission.

Canada has provided financial resources for the mission; however, the mission has been delayed due to limited transport resources and opposition from the Government of Sudan.

We, the future of Canada have leant the lesson of previous unanswered calls for help while death tolls raised to 800,000 in Rwanda. We, the Ontario Young Liberals will not stand by and watch as the death toll in Darfur increases.

It is time that the Young Liberals demand more from the government of Canada. Especially when human lives are what is at stake. It’s time to drive the OYL agenda.

- Terry Chemij, President, Etobicoke Centre Federal and Provincial Liberal Youth Association

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Liberal Policy Series #3: Opt-Out Organ Donation: Saving Lives and Saving Money (Western Young Liberals Policy)

As some may recall, I wanted to showcase some of the policies that were put forth in the past year by Ontario Young Liberals clubs and passed as official Ontario Young Liberals polices at the Summer Fling event in North Bay (Aug. 2007). I thought what better way for me to do that then to let the individuals who authored these policies promote them themselves in their own words here on this blog. I will be showcasing 5 policies in this series. The first two were on Enforcing Standards of Practice for Canadian Mining Companies Operating Abroad (a policy I authored which was put forth by the Brant Young Liberals) and Giving Green an Advantage: GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products (put forth by the Peterborough Federal Young Liberals). I strongly encourage you to read them if you missed them.

The next policy in this series was definitely the most hotly debated among all those in this series and it remains a controversial one to be sure, but no one can say it's not important to address this issue - the passionate debate simply surrounds how best to do it.

This policy was put forth by the University of Western Ontario Young Liberals club and was written by Janie Fisher. The Western Young Liberals have been consistently one of the most active young Liberal groups in the province so it should be no surprise that they would once again successfully manage to get one of their policies passed as one of the top choices of Ontario Young Liberals. They certainly have every reason to be proud for getting this through and I'm sure they are continuing to work hard to see this issue gets more attention.

So what you see below is the submission I was provided by Janie Fischer on the policy she wrote that was passed this past summer at the OYL Summer Fling in North Bay and about why Canadians and the Liberal Party need to support this policy. Feel free to give your thoughts...

Opt-Out Organ Donation: Saving Lives and Saving Money

Thousands of Canadians are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Their lives are literally placed on hold while they are forced to bear the debilitating and often deadly effects of their diseases and injuries. As a result, all must endure harsh and inadequate treatments, while living in hospitals for weeks or months at a time, only receiving enough medical intervention so that they can go home for a short while until their conditions again deteriorate. ‘Home’ in many cases is a misleading word, usually meaning only a closer local hospital instead of a larger medical facility located in a city-centre.

The most heart-breaking aspect of this state of affairs is that there is a cure available for all of these people in the form of an organ transplant; unfortunately, this cure isn’t available to them. Last year 147 Canadians died while waiting on the donor list. I personally have seen these people suffer, and I have watched them die waiting.

I wrote “Opt-Out Organ Donation: Saving Lives and Saving Money” in 2006 because I believe that the Liberal Party of Canada has always worked to alleviate human suffering, ensuring that all Canadians have a chance at life despite their personal circumstances. The Liberal Party must not shy away from a controversial debate that would be in the best interests of all Canadians. The Liberal Party must take a stand that it is unacceptable for Canadians to die while waiting for donor organs.

Presently, Canada has one of the lowest organ donation rates among the industrialized nations. Approximately 3700 Canadians are currently waiting for kidney, heart, lung or liver transplants, and thousands more are waiting for tissue replacements such as corneas, heart valves, skin, and bone grafts. With the statistics for successful transplants increasing every year, such as a 98% success rate for kidney transplants in Canada, it is a travesty that Canadians continue to die because too many Canadians are either not educated about the importance of organ donation, or choose not to make a decision out of their lack of interest or concern.

The opt-out, or assumed consent, system of organ donation is already in place in many nations, including Spain, Poland, Austria, and Hungary. The simple switch to an opt-out system has proven extremely successful, with the organ wait lists in these nations either extremely short or non-existent. By adopting this system of organ donation, all Canadians will automatically be organ donors unless they register otherwise with their provincial or territorial health authority. While saving lives, this policy has also been proven to save money, which is currently a major concern for the Canadian healthcare system. As one example, the cost of maintaining a patient on kidney dialysis in Canada averages $50,000 per year, while the cost of a kidney transplant is approximately $20,000, plus $6,000 per year thereafter. This means that the cost to the healthcare system will be $250,000 over five years for a patient waiting for a transplant, and only $50,000 over five years if a donor kidney is available.

This policy would only be put into operation after the Federal Government has implemented an organ donation awareness campaign, targeted at all provincial and territorial health authorities and healthcare providers, that would educate Canadians about the importance of organ donation and the new changes to the organ donor program. No Canadian will be forced to donate their organs, as the name “opt-out” makes clear; the new system will simply be one of assumed consent where all Canadians are assumed to be organ donors until they decide to opt-out of the system. Individual Canadians will still retain personal control over the decision to donate organs, but with this system the Liberal Party will take a clear stand in support of organ donation.

This policy garnered significant debate at OYL’s Summer Fling, and is clearly a contentious issue. However, when this policy is viewed as a life-or-death matter and as a clear means of implementing timely and cost effective medical care, it is clear that this policy is of benefit to all Canadians. While preserving the individual right to choose not to donate organs for any reason, this policy moves not only Canadian healthcare forward, but the Liberal Party and Canada in addition. Through the adoption of this policy, Canada would become an example to other nations of the positive outcomes associated with opt-out organ donation. This would only serve to strengthen Canada’s role as an international leader. After my own experiences, I believe strongly in this policy and its ability to save lives and maintain our Party’s position on working toward alleviating needless suffering of individuals here and abroad.

- Janie Fischer, University of Western Ontario Young Liberals

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: WIS, HI (D), WA(R) Editions: More Big Wins for McCain and Obama

So on the Republican side not much new news, McCain contnues slowly waltzing to officially wrapping things up with comfortable wins again in Wisconsin and Washington. Huckabee still pulls a respectable showing but I think he will be out for sure after March 4th.

On the Democratic Party side it was a huge night for Obama and a very rough night for Hillary Clinton. I said previously that until I saw some polls that showed her lead in Ohio and Texas narrowing to less than she needs to have a convincing win there I would still consider her in good shape. However, now we have seen polls showing her with just a single digit lead there and she needs more than that to get the momentum back. Worse for her, Obama did significantly better in Wisconsin that almost any poll indicated he would. Many people thought she would keep close or maybe even squeak out a win and instead she did about as well as Mike Huckabee did percentage wise and Obama tripled her vote in Hawaii (which is definitely much worse than what her campaign had predicted). So this all has to be pretty disappointing for her.

So I would say now it's safe to say Hillary has become the underdog in this race given the thumping she took last night and the must-win big scenarios she will need to get back in this race to make up for last night's poor showing.

She's not out yet though. If she does pull off big wins in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania she'd be able to confidently go toe to toe with Obama for a long time yet. But those big wins she needs seem just a bit less likely right now.

Though she may be tempted to go strongly negative against Obama to try to blunt his momentum after 10 straight wins, I think that would be a huge mistake for her. Obama didn't get to the front of the pack by being strongly negative, he got there I think because he gave Democrats something they would want to vote FOR (you may not buy everything Obama is saying but you can't deny that a lot of Democrats like what they hear from him).

Hillary can and should try everything she can to do the same and put forth a strong positive vision of why she would be the best President and resist the urge to go negative. Going negative hasn't worked for her in the past (see Wisconsin for the evidence as she ran negative attacks ads there all week) and she's now losing key demographics she once commanded to Obama. I think she has a chance to win these people back, but she also has a chance to slide further behind if she goes into attack mode. That said, if Obama commits a gaffe she has every reason to pounce on it but other than that I think she'd fare better in this campaign and any future ones by staying above the fray and outlining every way she can why Americans need her running the Oval Office.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Conservatives Get Your Message Straight, You Sound Like Fools

So it seems the Tories may have realized what a foolish thing it was to try to claim that they would be more fiscally responsible than the Liberals since the records of the two parties aren't even close. We know based on performance who would be more likely to put us in deficit: The Conservatives. So now I read this line here from Jim Prentice:
"The Liberals who administered the country in the past are different than the Liberals under Mr. Dion," Mr. Prentice said, advising reporters to be wary if Liberals "try to take you back in a time machine and claim they are the party that slew the deficit."

Wasn't it only a few months ago when the Conservatives were saying, this was the SAME Liberals that were in power before? Didn't they run a Quebec ad that said Stephane Dion learned everything thing he knew from Jean Chretien? Funny that Prentice talks about Stephane Dion and time machines because I also seem to recall this picture on the Conservative website.

Do they think Canadians have such short memories? As I said this whole latest campaign doesn't even come close to standing up to scrutiny and I think Conservatives are realizing it. I guess it's not the fiirst time they directly contradict themselves. Obviously this latest attack is a disaster, but maybe they will change their message AGAIN tomorrow....

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Harper Conservatives Are Best Placed to Manage Our Economy? What a Joke!!

The latest Conservative campaign against Stephane Dion is once again a joke that doesn't even come close to holding up to scrutiny. Canadians are supposed to believe that Conservatives are best placed to keep us out of deficit? This coming from a government that brought in two useless GST cuts that have done nothing to help the economy and drained billions and billions from the treasury for no purpose? This coming from a finance minister who when in Ontario Government lied about a $6 billion deficit? This coming from a government that had the biggest spending budget in history last year? What benefit did that focus group driven budget bring the Canadian economy? Now we are talking about the cupboard being bare and economic hard times on the horizon, I wonder why?

Contrast that with a Liberal government that turned a $42 Billion deficit left behind by Conservatives into a Gonvernment Treasury richer than it had ever been in Canadian history. We've gone from reliable surpluses each year to worrying about deficits? Whose fault is that? Who has done such an abysmal job managing the economy to put us in this position? Did he ever worry about deficits with the Liberals in power?

Yet the Conservatives want to claim it would be Stephane Dion who would run Canada into deficit? The records of the two parties are clear, 13 years of solid fiscal responsiblity versus 2 years of reckless economic management.

Everyone knows the Liberals will have a fully costed platform come election time as they have for many years. Stephen Harper just wants to goad them into realeasing their playbook early. Liberals won't fall for that trick and we know there's no way a Liberal government would run us into a deficit so it's a waste of time for Dion to spend much effort dealing with this spin.

So Conservatives can spin all they want for now, but once Canadians see the Liberal platform they'll know Conservatives were lying and will see how much of a better plan the Liberals have for Canada than the Harper Conservatives.

We'll see who has the last laugh.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Randy Hillier 2011!! Countdown to John Tory's Leadership Review Vote

So next weekend, John Tory faces the music from his party as Ontario PC Party delegates gather in London to decide whether they should have a leadership race. After waging one of the worst campaigns in recent memory he's definitely got a lot of apologizing to do.

Personally I think the best choice for the PC Party would be for them to give John Tory the boot and to replace him with the absolutely brilliant choice of Randy Hillier!

Surely Randy would lead his party back to the government benches as he definitely does represent the viewpoints of most Ontarians. Hopefully the PC Party delegates heed my sage advice as I only have their best interests at heart.

In the spirit of what may be the beginning of the end of John Tory's leadership, I'd like to introduce the next historic poll for this blog. This time you even get two!

Will John Tory get the 80%+1 to vote against a leadership review that would be needed to keep his position secure? Will he even break 50%?

Will he resign? Will he stay? Vote away....

UPDATE: The final poll results can be found here.

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Good Policy, Sad Distortions

I have to say Stephane Dion’s infrastructure plan is the right approach we need for an issue that sorely needs government attention. Infrastructure and transit are in dire need of more federal funding. Bridges, tunnels across the country are crumbling and it would cost more later to fix them then it would now. As well, governments should be doing everything they can to prevent tragedies like the falling overpass in Quebec from ever happening again.

We also need to be building up strong public transit networks in the big cities of Canada to cut the number of cars on the road, decrease smog and decrease CO2 emissions so that Canada can start taking a lead on combating global warming. Unfortunately the right amount of funding is not there to do this and in fact some cities have had to cut back their transit networks. The Conservatives have provided some funding for infrastructure but not nearly enough and if they are allowed to stay in power longer our infrastructure and public transit systems will only get worse.

While Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper don’t care, I’m glad to see Stephane Dion does. His plan is fiscally conservative but also as generous as it should be. At a time of economic uncertainty the right approach is not to make billions and billions of dollars in promises and risk a deficit, but to say that we need to be paying down at least $3 billion a year in debt, but beyond that, additional surplus funds should go to infrastructure. So in tough times we won’t be draining the treasury but when a Liberal government helps get Canada back on its feet again economically and we get a reasonable surplus again, the infrastructure needs in this country will be fully met.

We won’t get this under a Conservative government because they have the wrong priorities for this country, don’t know how to manage the economy, and just don’t care about the needs of cities.

Though you’d think the policy was pretty clear and straightforward: only money over and beyond a $3 billion surplus goes to infrastructure. Still that hasn’t stopped the media from having misleading headlines and people like the NDP making stupid statements based on bad spin.

The headline from CTV: “Dion promises to spend billions on infrastructure

You’d think from that headline that Dion has made an iron clad promise to spend billions each year no matter the economic forecast and no matter if it puts us into deficit.

Then of course the NDP chime in with their nonsense:
“The NDP says they are not sure where the Liberals will come up with the money to pay for all of their promises....Where is the money going to come from," asked the NDP's national capital commission critic Paul Dewar on Mike Duffy Live.”

I’m sorry but I guess Paul didn’t actually pay attention to what Dion said, it would come out of surplus money, so in good economic times there would be more and in bad times there would be less. So it’s pretty clear where the money would come from. Surely next the Tories will say “Dion is going to have to raise taxes to pay for this promise”

Well Dion’s plan is much more sensible than the media or the other parties lay out, you can’t say it’s not fiscally responsible and you can’t say this issue doesn’t desperately need to be addressed.

When the Liberals put out a great policy, like the carbon budget, like the poverty plan, like this infrastructure plan, the response from the other parties (and sometimes even the media) is always the same, pretend Stephane Dion said something else, throw in some scare tactics (“this plan wil ruin the economy, he’s gonna raise your taxes, boo!”) and spin every way possible.

Anything but admit that the Liberals once again have it right.

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The People Have Spoken! Behold: The New Galloping Around the Golden Horseshoe

Surely you are all now blown away. Or most likely not. Either way, what you see is what my readers voted for in this poll. Though I am sure that all of you MMP supporters out there might be disappointed that once again the victor won with less than 50% of the vote.

Perhaps I will change things up again in a month or so, but I'll try this for now.

The results were as follows:

Main Background: Grey; Main Text Colour: White; Colour of links: Grey - 35%

Start from scratch: A whole new template for this blog - 25%

Main Background: Black; Main Text Colour: White; Colour of links: White - 17%

Main Background: White; Main Text Colour: Black; Colour of links: Blue - 10%

Main Background: Brown; Main Text Colour: White; Colour of links: Blue - 3%

Main Background: Blue; Main Text Colour: White; Colour of links: Black - 3%

Keep it all the same. I Love it! (Red background, White text, Blue links - 3%

Main Background: Green; Main Text Colour: Black; Colour of links: Blue - 0%

I would would have hoped for greater enthusiasm for democracy among my readers (I mean after all what is more important than voting for colour schemes), but I"ll be up with another new exciting poll soon (update: here it is: Will John Tory Survive?)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: Potomac Primaries Edition: Obama and McCain Run the Table

So to make sure I'm not missing a beat, I thought I'd chime in on the latest rounds in Maryland, Virginia and D.C..

For the Republicans, it's time to start taking bets on WHEN Mike Huckabee will be dropping out because after a hiccup in the last set of primaries McCain seems ready to steam roll to the finish line. There's no way he'll lose, it's just a question of when he officially wraps it up.

On the Democratic side again it wasn't a surprise Obama won in each race, but the margins were pretty impressive. That said, even though the media seem to be starting to go with a narrative that there may be no stopping him, until you show me a single poll that doesn't show Hillary way out in front in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Texas then she's still easily in this thing and with solid victories in those states she would have the wind at her back again, but she will absolutely need clear victories there to stop the narrative that is currently forming.

On to Wisconsin and Hawaii...

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Monday, February 11, 2008

The Danger of John McCain: Why Progressives NEED to Line Up Behind the Democratic Nominee

Given that McCain has pretty much wrapped up the Republican nomination, I thought it was about time I wrote my thoughts about the man. Well truth be told, I think the man would a terrible President that at best would be marginally better than George Bush and at worst could leave the world (and the U.S. at home and abroad) in much worse shape than Bush did. Here’s a list of reasons why all progressives should be throwing their support behind whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being:

1) I don’t care what Coulter and Limbaugh say, McCain is NOT A MODERATE. His record in the Senate has been VERY conservative. His lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union is a very high 83 (see here). To give some context, everyone said Fred Thompson was very Conservative, yet his score is only 3 points higher (see here), while real Republican moderates like Arlen Spector get a score of 42 and Hillary and Obama both score under 10. That alone should tell you just the starkly different policies the Democratic candidates would put in place compared to McCain. But there’s many more reasons why McCain would be a progressive’s nightmare…

2) Justice Stevens (the most liberal judge on the SC) will almost certainly retire in the next term. McCain has vowed to only appoint pro-life judges. Thus, you could very likely see Roe V. Wade overturned with a McCain Presidency which would lead to about 30 states criminalizing abortion. So there’s a lot at stake for women’s rights here.

3) McCain would undermine the UN with his plan for a parallel “League of Democracies” (see here). This would starve the UN of funding and undermine its legitimacy. At a time when conflict is rising in the Middle East this is the last thing we need, as this organization would effectively cut out that entire region (though I bet Pakistan gets to qualify as a “democracy” under McCain’s plan). It would be repeating the mistakes of the failed League of Nations by excluding key countries from the dialogue. I think the UN has gone a long way towards preventing a Third World War and McCain’s plan would be a huge step backward.

4) McCain has been the most fervent backer of going to War in Iraq and openly says he’s fine with the U.S. being there for another 100 years.

5) McCain has openly stated that the U.S. may need to bomb Iran, thus creating a possibly even more disastrous war.

6) McCain firmly believes in the Mike Harris doctrine: cut taxes and slash spending much more deeply. The poorest Americans would suffer even more greatly under John McCain then they have under George Bush as McCain is much more committed to balanced budgets and vowed to accomplish them almost solely through slashing spending. The Bush tax cuts were bad policy and yet McCain wants to extend them through and take out the lost revenue on the poor.

7) McCain will almost certainly select an even MORE conservative running mate. The only reason the fanatics on the right make noise about McCain is because of his stances on immigration (where he stood with Bush anyway), global warming, torture, and campaign finance reform. McCain has not swayed from the Conservative dogma on any other issue that I know of, but the aforementioned ones are so important to Conservatives they will press him hard to pick someone even more Conservative then he is because McCain cannot afford to have them sit out the election (after all Bush would not have won in 2004 without them). McCain himself may not run again in 2012 so that would make his VP the front-runner for the Republican nomination then. Do we want to accord an even stauncher Conservative the benefits of incumbency in 2012 or even 2016?

8) McCain has gone back on virtually every modestly progressive stance he ever took.
- He opposed Bush’s tax cuts, now he wants to extend them even though that would plunge the US into further debt and deficit or mean drastic cuts to social programs.
- He criticized Jerry Falwell and the religious right in 2000, yet this year he spoke at their universities and courted them heavily.
- He stood up for immigration reform (though even then his position was similar to Bush’s), now he says he’ll just focus primarily on border security.
- He once supported gay marriage, now he's firmly opposed to it.
- He stood firm against torture, but then caved and voted for a bill that would allow the Bush administration to define what torture really was (thus waterboarding may be continuing even though McCain says he opposes it).

You could say McCain just went back on his earlier positions to win over Conservatives in the primaries, but isn’t his whole appeal that he’s “principled”. Don’t all these reversals fly in the wind of that?

The only credit I give McCain is for his stances on campaign finance reform and global warming as he is to the left of his party on these issues for sure, but even then both Hillary and Obama have more sensible and progressive stances on these issues as well. On the vast majority of issues he is as just as, or much more, Conservative than Stephen Harper so it concerns me when I read or hear from Liberals thinking about supporting McCain or Hillary supporters saying they can't support Obama or vice-versa. You have to think how would John McCain really represent a step forward after George W. Bush? Doesn't the USA and the world need a radical departure from where Bush has been taking it?

So I’d be curious to hear from any progressive thinking of supporting McCain. Why?

Even though Canadian bloggers aren’t going to have a big impact on the influence the U.S. outcome, some of us have U.S. readers and some Liberals have gone down South to campaign so we aren’t irrelevant to what happens down there and what happens in this election will influence Canada and the rest of the world. That’s why I’ll continue to write about it and that’s why I am really hoping all progressives can get behind the Democratic nominee because the stakes are high and Canada and the world cannot afford John McCain as President.

Now you don’t just need a negative reason to support the Democrats, both Hillary and Obama have reasonably progressive platforms that would bring the USA at least somewhat closer to how Canada operates and the vision the Liberal Party of Canada represents. They support universal health care, a strong plan to combat global warming, campaign finance reform, a better code of ethics in Washington, and a saner foreign policy. They’ve got a long way to go though and I think we’ll need at least 12 years of the Democrats in office before the damage of the Bush administration is even remotely undone. McCain unfortunately would be just a basic continuation of the last 8 disastrous years.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: Obama Wins Big, McCain Suffers a Minor Embarassment

So it wasn't terribly surprising that Obama swept the three races last night or that he won Maine today, but the huge margins of victory certainly now have the Clinton campaign pretty worried (judging by the firing of Hillary's campaign manager). So Obama is definitely going on more momentum here.

However, even if Obama runs the table on the rest of the primaries this month, I still give the slight edge to Hillary for two reasons:

1) In order to be able to credibly claim he leads in pledged delegates going into the convention (which I think ultimately will be what will swing the oustanding superdelegates) Obama needs a lead greater than the number of delegates Michigan and Florida would have awarded Hillary had those two states not been stripped of their delegates. If he has anything less, his claim to be in the pledged delegate lead would be severely questioned and would cause some huge friction in the Democratic party and put the superdelegates in a very difficult position in deciding who to go to as Hillary would simultaneously claim she has the true pledged delegate lead.

2) The latest polls showed Hillary in the lead in Texas and Ohio which are two HUGE delegate states left. IF (and that's a big IF) Hillary wins in those two states as big as she did in New York and California then that would carry huge momentum going into Pennsylvania (where I think she's also favoured) and then I think she would go on to the nomination.

We'll see though. At one point many poeple thought Hillary would take Maine and she lost by double digits, but at the same time, all of Obama's momentum going into Super Tuesday didn't help him in Mass., New York or California. Still too close to call for sure.

As for the Republicans, I was surprised to see Huckabee win Kansas and Louisana; however, I hardly think it will have much too much of an impact. What it will mean is that McCain will have to spend a bit more money and a bit more time campaigning in reminaing primary states to avoid the appearance that he limped across the finish line, but I am 100% certain that McCain will still win the nomination before the convention. More on him tomorrow though.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

It's time for an OIL change!

You know I’ve thought a lot about this. But there comes a time when maybe you think everything is going ok, but you just know inside that things could be a lot better. You stop being content merely with the same old day to day way of doing things and the suggestions you're hearing just don't go far go enough. So when you reach that judgment, you have to make choice: are you gonna do somehing about it and make some real changes to improve things or will you sit back and let the status quo carry on. So it’s been a tough decision and I’m still not exactly sure where it will end up, but I’ve made up my mind and there’s no turning back now. I say “Enough is Enough and It’s Time for a Change”.

So I would like to formally announce (and this may come as a surprise to many)...

I’m changing my colour scheme!

On a more serious note, this colour scheme I have has been criticized horribly now by numerous people, with the latest being a very public admonishment by one of my favourite bloggers Calgary Grit that it “burns his eyes”. Non-partisan blogger James Bow also piled on with a similar comment. Really I should count myself extremely lucky that I won Best New Blog when I was up against this kind of unrelenting criticism by the bigwigs in the blogging industry.

Anyways I thought I had a pretty cool colour scheme at one point in time and I stuck to my principles, but maybe I don’t know best and maybe my readers do!

So you may all now bear witness the first ever “Galloping Around the Golden Horseshoe” official poll! Start voting like crazy.

Now I wish I actually knew something more about computer programming, so I could set up some kind of crazy poll where you could visually test out colour schemes before voting, but this is what you get instead, you'll just vote on a new combination of background colour, main text and link colour. So vote away (you see the poll on the top right of the screen), or if you think this poll really sucks, but you still support me in my cause of changing the colour scheme, feel free to give a more detailed description in the comments. Or you can register your complete displeasure with the look of this blog and vote for me to start from scratch with a whole new template and everything for this blog (though of course that would mean I would still have to make a dictatorial decision as to what that new template would be).

If if turns out not many people actually really care about my colour scheme (which would be quite shcoking), well then democracy will just have to be thwarted and I'll just have to play Stephen Harper for a day and make a firm decision that goes against the wishes of the large majority of Canadians.

I'll leave this poll up for another week, so make your voice heard before it's too late!

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Thank You!

Thanks so much to all my supporters!

Find out about the rest of the winners here, congrats to all those who made it.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: Super Tuesday Post-Mortem: McCain Pulls Away, Obama Gains Ground

So Super Tuesday is done and one race seems almost over and another somewhat closer than I thought it would be.

McCain hasn't officially won the nomination yet, but Romney was seriously wounded with a loss in California and if he drops out I can't possibly see how Huckabee could win toe to toe with McCain. I was surprised Huckabee did so well last night, but if he has any hope of playing king-maker and being the VP nominee he had better hope Romney stays in in the race. Still I think McCain will officially get the required delegate threshold on March 4th when Texas and Ohio vote.

As for the Democratic race, Hillary won by a wider margin in California and New York than I expected and took Mass. which I had not expected (and also shows the limited power of the Kennedy endorsment there). However, Obama took more states than I had expected, particularly a lot of red states where some people once said he could never play in. Clinton remains ahead though in the delegate count when you factor in superdelegates.

I understand the next few contests favour Obama, which may add a bit more momentum to his campaign, but I also understand the big delegate states Texas and Ohio favour Clinton and it seems Clinton has done really well in the big states so far so I still give her the edge for the nomination, but it's definitely gonna be close and there's no way it will be decided until March 4th and could easily carry on after that.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: Super Tuesday Predictions

Here is the quick run-down of my predicions for tonight before the results, roll in.

I've got a mixed record on these things, but this time I feel lucky! I'm not giving exact percentages for each state because that would be insane, but I am at least ballparking the margins of victories in each state. So here goes...


Alabama - Obama (by less than 5%)
Alaska - Hillary (by 5-10%)
Arizona - Hillary (by less than 5%)
Arkansas - Hillary (by 5-15%)
California - Hillary (by less than 5%)
Colorado - Obama (by 5-10%)
Connecticut - Hillary (by less than 5%)
Delaware - Hillary (by 5-15%)
Georgia - Obama (by MORE than 10%)
Idaho (D only, No R primary) - Obama (by less than 5%)
Illinois - Obama (by MORE than 15%)
Kansas (D only, No R primary) - Obama (by 5-10%)
Massachusetts - Obama (by less than 5%)
Minnesota - Hillary (by 5-15%)
Missouri - Hillary (by less than 5%)
New Jersey - Hillary (by 5-10%)
New Mexico (D only, No R Primary) - Hillary (by 5-10%)
New York - Hillary (by 5-15%)
North Dakota - Hillary (by 5-15%)
Oklahoma - Hillary (by 5-15%)
Tennessee - Hillary (by 10-15%)
Utah - Obama (by 5-10%)


McCain will win everywhere by 5-15% EXCEPT:

- McCain will narrowly beat Romney in California (by less than 5%)
- McCain will narrowly beat Huckabee in Oklahoma (by less than 5%)
- Romney will WIN Massachusetts by 5-15%, Delaware, Montana and Utah by 5-10% and Colorado (caucus) by 5-20%,
- Huckabee will WIN Arkansas by 5-15%
- Huckabee has already won West Virginia (52% to 47% for Romney), so I didn't make it in time for that one.

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Videos The Liberals Could Take Points From

Hillary Clinton Versus

Barack Obama

Personally, I think the Hillary one (even though it is a bit older) comes off better but both show the poential for a Democratic Party campaign that will blow the Republicans out of the water.

There's something for Liberals to learn from here too. We should definitely be putting out stuff like this that makes clear the case for why we need a change in government so badly in this country.

I hear the Hillary Clinton video was done by someone at Seneca college. If it's at ANY way possible I say the federal Liberals should really try to sign this guy up before someone else does!

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Reflections on Hillary and the Chase for Change

I’m prepared to go on record and say I’m a fan of democracy (shocking I know). I believe in its purposes and intents. And I also understand and agree with most of the United States’ constitution’s intentions.

That said, I believe in change, openness and the opportunity for everyone to run for elected office. Bringing in different people is supposed to be refreshing for the system and also be a check on the system by preventing the same people from being in power for decades. The next presidential election is also riding on the slogan of change for all presidential candidates.

Last night was the first one on one debate between the two contenders left in the Democratic race. In it, I was struck by Hillary Clinton’s comment that it took a Clinton to fix the problems of Bush Sr, and it’ll take another Clinton (her) to fix the problems caused by the current Bush. I don’t necessarily agree with that, and sure you could say it was a joke, but that kind of comment is basically saying "if my husband fixed the economy last time, obviously the only other person who can fix it now is someone else is in his family." She's been saying for awhile she is different from Bill, but this comment is trying to imply she's the same. It just rubs me the wrong way. That said, this post is not an endorsement for any candidate, it’s just an observatory note.

The U.S. has, at one single chunk of time (which is also the moment we are currently living through), lived through 28 years of some of the same families in office, and has the potential to live through another 16 years of more or less of the same.

We’ve had, consecutively, 8 years of Bush Sr. at VP, 4 years of Bush Sr. as President, 8 years of Bill Clinton, 8 years of Bush Jr., and depending if the Democrats win and where Hillary is on the ticket, potential 8 more years of Clinton if she’s President or potentially up to 16 years with her if she is VP and then becomes President.

The U.S. is in desperate need of change. Its people, its economy and the world are crying out for it. Maybe Hillary can be that positive change. And granted, we all pretty much liked Bill (though I’ve posted recently about how he hasn’t been doing Hillary any favours with his comments of late). But as well, a small part of me wants people to share the opportunities among those interested who are qualified, and there are many. While I absolutely love the idea of a female president, and maybe Hillary is that destined person, I also believe in the best person getting their desserts, and maybe it is Hillary now. But I also think it’s a little disappointing for women who dream of becoming president or those who have tried and haven’t gotten as far as Hillary has, that a big reason for Hillary’s success could be said to be due to her status from when she was First Lady and the changes she brought in with Bill then (the whole “ready to lead on Day 1” is basically derived from that). The female I actually admire most in the Democratic Party is House speaker Nancy Pelosi who is more progressive than Hillary Clinton and has fought extremely hard to get where she is today in the very powerful role of speaker of the House. But she’s not in the race so there must be a choice made between Obama and Clinton.

Honestly I believe that the “American Dream” that so many believe in is based on equal opportunity for all, and fixed terms were implemented as part of the U.S. Constitution for refreshing change and checks and balances. That said, I recognize that Hillary is not the same as Bill and I’ll be 100% behind her should she win.

The Chase for Change continues….

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