Friday, May 30, 2008

If You Take Credit for the Economy Being Up Then You Should Wear It When It Tanks

after 21 months in office, our economy is strong
- Stephen Harper – November 7th, 2007

“our economy is on solid ground….Our economy has grown by six percent in the last two years and unemployment is at the lowest levels in the past ten years.” Hill said those numbers did not happen by accident but rather through strong leadership at the federal level.
- Jay Hill, MP, Prince George-Peace River, Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip – January 30th, 2008

“As we settle into 2008, Canada's economy is strong, thanks to good economic stewardship and strong leadership.”
- David Sweet, MP, Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale (ADFW) – February 22nd, 2008

There are surely many more examples one could find with a little more time, but if Conservatives credit Harper and Flaherty’s leadership as being responsible for a strong economy (even though that strong economy was in place when he took office from the Liberals), then surely Conservatives will be stepping forward to accept that that very same “strong leadership” is responsible for our economy now teetering towards recession.

Canada's economy contracted in the first quarter of the year, the first time in five years that the country's output shrank outright, raising the spectre of a recession. But Finance Minister Jim Flaherty quickly dismissed such fears.

Real gross domestic product declined a harsh 0.3 per cent at an annualized rate, Statistics Canada said Friday, exposing an economy far weaker than economists' projections of 0.5 per cent growth in the first three months of the year.

“This is a bitterly disappointing and surprising result,” Dale Orr, chief economist for forecasting firm Global Insight Canada, said in a note to clients.

Canada's contraction stands in stark contrast to the 0.9 per cent expansion registered for the first quarter in the United States, where recession fears weigh heavily.

Friday's Canadian numbers raise the possibility that Canada may be in a mild recession, while the United States may be able to avoid one.

Global Insight has been forecasting growth to weaken further in the second quarter in Canada - although firm numbers won't be published until next week. The popular definition of a recession is two straight quarters of decline in real GDP.

The Conservatives spent the cupboard bare and budgeted so close to the line that now there is an extreme risk of plunging our country back into deficit. What Flaherty’s forecasts say we won’t? Ok well Flaherty’s forecastssure didn’t say there would be negative growth in the last quarter either. He has absolutely failed as a finance minister putting our economy at tremendous risk with reckless spending and moronic cuts to the GST that no one has actually noticed in their day to day lives (because you guessed it so many retailers just increased their prices accordingly to compensate). As a result the Treasury has been drained at no benefit to the economy and we have Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper to thank.

Come election time Conservatives will have to explain how we went from the best economy in 30 years with large surpluses to (actual or near) recession and close to being in deficit all the while cutting the sorts of taxes that have provided no benefit to the economy. Some strong leadership for the economy alright.

Canadians deserve better and will be better able to trust a Liberal government that fixed a Conservative mess and managed a strong economy for 13 years rather than a party that brought our economy down the tubes in the span of just 2 years. If Conservatives are going to run as strong economic managers or even fiscal Conservatives in the next election I say good luck to them.

Recommend this Post

Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Those Who Thought Canada's Image on the World Stage Would Improve with Bernier Gone....

Well Stephen Harper and his office have faithfully carried on where Bernier left off:

PMO retracts message about Italian troop commitment

The Prime Minister's Office had to quickly backtrack on Thursday, after incorrectly telling reporters that Italy was loosening the restrictions imposed on its troops in Afghanistan. Officials made the erroneous comments to Canadian reporters as they took their seats on a plane in Italy in the morning, ready to fly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to London for the British leg of his three-day European tour.

Officials told the group that Harper had met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on the previous night, and Berlusconi had told Harper he was removing the conditions imposed on his country's soldiers. Italy, like some other countries in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, has come under fire for imposing restrictions that keep its troops out of many battles and other dangerous activities.

About 40 minutes later, the Prime Minister's Office backtracked. Berlusconi hadn't removed the conditions and was only considering it, they said.

"The PMO's staff … said, 'Oops, sorry, not true,' and then a parade of journalists went up to the front of the plane where the only secure and operating telephone exists, to correct those stories," the CBC's chief political correspondent Keith Boag said. "This could have had a very damaging and embarrassing effect in terms of a diplomatic gaffe," he added.

Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said the prime minister and his staff should have had their facts straight after a two-hour meeting with Berlusconi. "That is not competent, that is more than embarrassing. That's really stupid," said Ignatieff. "I don't want a prime minister who goes in to talk to an Italian prime minister and doesn't understand what the Italian prime minister tells him on an important matter of state."

Just how many times is Stephen Harper and his government going to embarass us on the world stage this summer? Remember when Maxime Bernier mused publicly about removing an Afghan governor Canada might want to be quietly removed? Well as a result of Bernier's blunder it never happened.

We would like Italy to remove its combat restrictions to help carry a bigger burden in Afghanistan but because of this public blunder I would guess now it won't be happen. This is yet another Afghan blunder and all the while our soldiers are the ones that get affected.

After two years of bumbling overseas and making us a pariah on human rights and environment, Harper sure isn't off to a good start in repairing the damage.

Recommend this Post

For Those Who Thought the Bernier Affair Wouldn't Affect Canada's Reputation with Our Allies

Well it seems we have some cause for concern:

Left-behind papers could harm Canada's reputation

TORONTO — Ottawa's former top public servant Wednesday called the Bernier left-behind papers incident a significant international embarrassment for Canada that should leave the government concerned about how British and U.S. intelligence officials are assessing what goes on in the country.

Mel Cappe, clerk of the Privy Council from 1999 to 2002 and later high commissioner to Britain, said that if the briefing book that Maxime Bernier left for five weeks in his former lover's Montreal home had contained top-secret documents, “he should be drawn and quartered as well as fired.”

He cautioned that there are intelligence officials in allied governments who will form an opinion of Canada as a result of the Bernier affair.

“What we should be [asking] is what is the cabinet Co-ordinator of Security and Intelligence in the U.K. thinking about it? He's the guy who speaks to [British Prime Minister Gordon] Brown every day. The chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee in the U.K. will have a Canadian intelligence liaison officer attend part of his meetings. That was a tough day for that guy.”

Similarly, said Mr. Cappe, the Canadian government should be concerned about what the new director of security in the White House is telling the U.S. President.

“So it's what's going on in the executive office building in Washington and what's going on in 70 Whitehall [the cabinet office] in London that matters. Because those are the people who are looking at this” – people, said Mr. Cappe, who assess security risks and are going to ask if Canada “has dropped down the scale of trustworthiness."

Shouldn't something so serious be worthy of a wide ranging investigation to assure our allies that we are taking this seriously, we want to know how wide-ranging any breach was, and that we are taking measures to ensure it never happens again?

Well you'd think so if you weren't a government so secretive as this one where Conservative party interests always come before the national interest.

Recommend this Post

Ideology Over Saving Lives

This is shameful. So after dithering and refusing to show leadership on the issue of Insite for so long the Conservatives have come off the fence and made it clear that they fully oppose its continued operation by their decision to waste taxpayer money to appeal the decision of the BC Supreme Court that will leave Insite open for another year. In the meantime the program everyone knows works will continue to operate thankfully but this government’s serious disregard for science and what’s morally right is extremely troubling. Did Canadians vote for a party that would put ideology before saving lives?

Recommend this Post

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bernier's Resignation: What Did the PM Know and When Did He Know it?

This article says Bernier submitted his resignation Monday morning, yet we had Peter Van Loan fully backing up Bernier in Question Period later in the day, Deepak Obhrai saying all the Conservatives think Bernier is doing a "marvellous job", the PM himself saying in the afternoon "I don't take this subject seriously" and Bernier's official resignation letter itself saying "I informed you late this afternoon that last night I became aware that I had left behind classified government documents at a private residence."

What explains this? In the end this comes down to just being honest about what you know. So maybe at the time of Harper's press conference there was still a hope they could get away with Bernier not resigning and not "taking the subject seriously", but Harper should at least be able to answer why he responded that way and whether he actually already knew at that point about the missing documents. Not to mention there are so many other questions still to be answered on this issue: How do documents go missing for 5 weeks and no one notices? The G&M article says Bernier was always careless with documents was this really the first time this has happened? Why wasn't Bernier fired, why did he have to resign? Why wasn't he fired a long time ago after all of his other mistakes? Why was he even selected for Foreign Affairs in the first place when no one thought he was interested or well qualified for the job? And there are more....

At the least though you'd think you could expect honesty from this government, but then again it is led by Stephen Harper to whom dishonesty and deception comes naturally.

On another note while it's obvious Stephen Harper would be the first to know about this sort of thing it remains possible that other members like Peter Van Loan and Obhrai were just hung out to dry to defend Bernier even when the PMO knew he was resigning. You wonder how much members of caucus are beginning to dislike Stephen Harper over things like this. For instance, I wouldn't be surprised that Helena Guergis hasn't been told by the PMO she's being (I would say justifiably) dumped from cabinet later in the summer, instead she's probably reading it for the first time in the press today.

I think this just speaks to Stephen Harper not caring about anyone but himself and his own inner circle. You can only rule over your caucus by fear for so long Stephen, at some point they will stand up against you and won't hesitate to desert you when the going gets tough.

Recommend this Post

A Ruling That Will Save Lives

I've made it clear before that I support Insite and that the right thing to do based on overwhelming scientific evidence that the program works, was to extend its license. Therefore I was very glad to see this ruling as I had little faith the Conservatives would do the right thing before the license expired June 30th. This is a matter of public health as much as Conservatives would like to argue otherwise. So Insite has been granted a one year reprieve by the BC Supreme Court in line with the wishes of the BC Government and by June 30th, 2009 I expect we will have a Liberal government that will ensure this program that is supported by the Vancouver and BC governments, the scientific community and compassionate individuals alike continues on as it should.

It is unfortunate though that once again Stephen Harper has failed the test of leadership and had to have the right decision forced on him. Harper and Clement said they would listen to the evidence and they refused, bending to ideology instead. I would hope at the least that Harper wouldn't be so galling as to spend taxpayer money to appeal this to the Canadian Supreme Court. Shameful actions to be sure, but what matters most right now is that lives will be saved by Insite continuing to operate beyond June 30th.

Recommend this Post

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Limited Edition: Maxime!

Unfortunately I'm not sure if we'll be seeing any more issues of this. Maxime shall be missed by the media that I'm sure couldn't get enough of him.

Maxime leaves behind a litany of unanswered questions that still need to be answered and Canada's reputation badly damaged.

Where does Maxime go from here?

Who will be the next Harper leadership rival to have their reputation ruined at Foreign Affairs?

Can Maxime really be topped?

Recommend this Post

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bernier Wiser Than Stephen Harper and Conservative Caucus in the End

"The caucus is behind him 100%. We Think He's a Doing a Marvellous Job."
- Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai today (May 26, 2008) just after 5 PM on Don Newman's Politics

Well I suppose Maxime Bernier would be comforted to know that Stephen Harper and his caucus were so confident in (at the same time so blind about) his handling of Foreign Affairs. What does it say though when all the Conservatives are so confident in Bernier's ability, refusing to countenance the idea he could be fired, that it's Bernier in the end who had to break the news that he's not up to the job.

Bernier was put into a file everyone knew he was ill-prepared for and uninterested in. From the very beginning he's bungled it so badly with unforgivable error after unforgivable error. He didn't know who the President of Haiti (a country who we have had a long relationship with) was. He made brazen comments about removing an Afghan governor that in turn embarrassed Canada and Afghan President Karzai and forced an embarrassing retraction that no Canada wasn't publicly trying in interfere in Afghan affairs. More recently he promised a Canada C-17 that didn't exist to be provided embarrassing Canada again. In Bernier's defence though when I was a child my father said I could have any car I would like, so I said I would like a Ferrari and so my father obliged. The Ferrari now sits on my bedroom dresser, so perhaps Bernier was really referring to a model C-17 that he would offer as a symbolic gesture. Unfortunately for Bernier the rest of the world didn't take it that way so it was terrible error for him to make for such a serious national disaster so, once more, Canada was seen as having one of the most incompetent foreign ministers in the western world.

Now we learn he also had zero regard for confidential documents which is what many Liberals were afraid of. Even then Stephen Harper didn't fire Maxime Bernier. Bernier instead resigned. What does it say about Stephen Harper's judgment that he put Bernier in this portfolio and even after so many mistakes he refused to fire him in the end?

I think it says that as bad as Bernier's judgment is, Stephen Harper's is worse.

UPDATE: This story has now made the main page of, something that happens probably about once or twice a year in Canadian politics. Last line of the story: Stephen Harper quoted as saying "I don't take this subject seriously." Once again great optics for Canada on the world stage with Harper in charge.

Recommend this Post

Monday, May 19, 2008

Environmentalists Lining Up Behind Liberal Environmental Plan

When I wrote about how the NDP were throwing in the towel on having the most broad-ranging and effective plan for decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions some NDP supporters commented there was no way environmentalists like David Suzuki would be supporting the Liberal plan over the NDP one. Well suffice it to say I am glad to see we have the first of what I expect will be many highly respected environmentalists endorsing the Liberal approach and slamming the NDP for failing to take the bold action we need.

Suzuki slams NDP, Tories, backs Dion's carbon tax

Famed environmentalist David Suzuki has strongly backed Liberal leader Stephane Dion's emerging carbon tax plan and slammed the NDP and Conservatives.

After hearing the NDP's criticism of Dion's plan, Suzuki said: "I'm really shocked with the NDP with this. I thought that they had a very progressive environmental oppose (the carbon tax plan), its just nonsense. It's certainly the way we got to go"

Now David Suzuki is not just one of the most respected environmental scientists in the country (even John Baird made a point of calling him right after being appointed as Environment Minister), but he's also been strongly supportive of the NDP over the years, particularly on environmental policy. As I noted before, when David Suzuki came to speak at the University of Toronto a few years ago, the event was even sponsored by Jack Layton's NDP, so for Suzuki for come down so hard on this party on this issue is quite telling. I wonder what the NDP talking points will be this time...

All the same I am glad to see wide ranging support from this plan not just from respected environmentalists but economists and small c-Conservatives as well. So it will be clear to Canadians in the next election who has the best plan for the environment and the economy.

Recommend this Post

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cadman Vs. Mulroney/Shreiber

Some time ago the RCMP looked into Mulroney and Shreiber's dealings and decided there was no evidence on which to lay charges against Mr. Mulroney. Yet some people continued to allege impropriety on the part of Mulroney and ALL parties have agreed to the need for a public inquiry into the Mulroney/Shreiber affair because there are still a plethora or answered questions. I agree we need a public inquiry to get to the bottom of the matter.

Yet now the RCMP have similarly decided there is currently no evidence on which to lay charges in the Cadman affair and now we have Conservatives and some other individuals (who are staunch supporters of further investigating the Mulroney/Shreiber scandal mind you) saying we should never discuss this affair again, or even more surprising that the Liberals should apologize before this was even looked at in committee? Do you see the consistency here? I sure don't.

I welcome someone to explain to me how can you support the Mulroney/Shreiber inquiry (which again Stephen Harper said he was firmly committed to holding) when no RCMP evidence was found to charge Mulroney in that case and yet say the Cadman affair should be dropped entirely just because there was not enough evidence (the RCMP does not lay charges unless they have very solid hard evidence that would hold up in court remember) to charge anyone? I wonder if Stephen Harper could explain.

In both cases there are a still a large number of unanswered questions and that I believe Canadians deserve answers to (has Stephen Harper even tried to explain the tape?) and more avenues to be explored and in BOTH the cases of Mulroney/Schreiber and the Cadman affair, I think we need to get to the bottom of them. There is more work to be done on both fronts, not to mention something can still be highly unethical and worth investigating even if it's not criminal, we need to hold our MPs to a higher standard. Many parliamentary committee investigations have proceeded on that basis and I would hope the NDP will finally agree to let the Cadman affair be investigated by the Ethics committee.

One would think though that if those involved with the Cadman affair really have nothing to hide they wouldn't be screamly loudly to have us forget about all this right now just because there is no evidence on which to lay charges at this point.

Recommend this Post

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Conservatives Come to Grips with the Damage They've Done to Canada's International Reputation

The Conservatives have done so much damage to our international reputation on issues like human rights and climate change that Stephen Harper seems to expect we would lose to Portugal in the bid for the next seat on the UN Security Council. So they are considering pulling us out of the race I'm sure a Liberal government would have won.

Canada is back alright....

Recommend this Post

Conservatives Failing Canadians on Economic Policy

While the NDP are throwing in the towel on environmental policy, from the very beginning, the Conservatives abandoned their principles on what they know is sound economic policy in favour of trying to win extra votes. However, Conservative disregard for good policy is only getting worse with their latest attacks on tax shifting.

Many economists are solidly behind the idea of tax shifting - it rewards work and investment, it lowers the tax burden where it matters most and it punishes behavior that has a real cost to the environment. Economists agree that this is the best way to address climate change while having sound economic policy at the same time. Conservatives may say "well we don't care what economists think!", well you sure do when it suits you - Conservatives have quoted Jack Mintz (who it seems has contributed most of the ideas of the tax shifting plan) before to defend corporate tax cuts and have used whatever economist they could find that ever criticized something Stephane Dion said and then put the economist's quotes on their website.

Yet why do Conservatives oppose tax shifting? Because in their view everything proposed by a Liberal must be condemned and because they don't really care about the environment or sound economic policy - all that matters to them is staying in power.

In the end tax shifting isn't a strictly Liberal idea though, it was proposed by an economist (not known to be a very left-wing field) and the idea of putting a price on carbon has been embraced by staunch conservatives such as Preston Manning and Andrew Coyne, not to mention the Economist magazine (known for having a right-wing bent). Not to mention the Conservatives have frequently praised Gordon Campbell as a model Premier, yet it is Campbell who has implemented a carbon tax-shifting plan (that sounds quite similar to what the Liberal policy is shaping up to be) and John Baird paid Campbell's tax shifting approach a mild compliment saying it might work in BC. There was certainly no strong criticism of the Campbell plan, yet now something similar is proposed at the federal level and Conservatives are pretending it would be end of the world? How do Conservatives explain these contradictions?

Well by distortions and dishonesty that's how. They will refer to the past and say the greenhouse gas emissions went up (even though intensity went dramatically down and the Conservative environmental plan only has intensity targets) as if somehow that discredits the plan, they will claim the policy will raise the price of gas at the pump when it won't, and they will use whatever other scare tactics they can think of. In fact the willful distortions have already started, as we have Baird saying it's a "gas tax increase" and Marvin Tweed (maybe he's next in line as their spokesman) saying it's a "new massive gas tax". I guess this is all they have.

Conservatives will continue to distract and distort, but they certainly won't try to explain why economists and other staunch conservatives back a tax shifting plan and yet they don't.

When the Liberal policy is actually presented Conservatives will have to explain why they spent so long misleading Canadians instead of actually presenting a real plan to help our economy and our environment.

In the end it will be clear that Conservatives are more interested in attacking the Liberals than putting forth sound economic policy. It was the case with the GST cuts that no one believes is sound economic policy and in the end very few Canadians have saved money off it, as retailers just increased their prices to compensate. Stupid policy but they thought it would be good to club the Liberals with. They have even risked bringing us into deficit just so they could run an ad saying Dion would raise the GST. Again more about scare mongering than saving our economy. The same is true with this their vicious opposition to a tax shifting plan.

Conservatives have always been poor economic managers, Brian Mulroney and Mike Harris being the worst recent examples, but few have been as reckless in their economic policy as this Conservative government. They spent the cupboard bare, have no plan for the economy and expect Canadians to believe we can trust them in a recession?

The Liberal record is clear - we fixed a Conservative mess and ushered in the strongest economy in decades. Canadians will see that record matched up against the Conservative one in the next election. Fiscal responsibility is now a Liberal bedrock and it never has been for Harper's Conservatives. Though it is now time to match fiscal responsibility with environmental responsibility, but it's important to do it in a way that's best for the economy.

That's what the Liberals are proposing and that's why economists and small-c conservatives support it. It's using market mechanisms to help our economy and the planet and anyone who is environmentally conscious will have MORE money in their pocket and that I think is really the bottom line for many voters.

So the message to soft Conservative voters (no point wasting time on those who don't believe in climate change and the hardcore partisans) in the next election will be clear: The Conservative party doesn't know how to manage the economy and only pretend to care about the environment. If you want solid economic managers who will use solid market mechanisms to be a world leader on combating climate change then the only party that will get the job done is the Liberal Party.

Recommend this Post

The Chase for Change 2008: Democratic Prospects for Congress Looking Good in November

In other news on the U.S. election front, while many news outlets focused on the race in West Virginia, Democrats had another great night in a Congressional election as Travis Childers won an open seat for the House of Representatives in Mississippi, further increasing the Democratic majority. This has been a running trend with the Congressional by-elections we've been seeing this year.

I thought this quote from Jonathan Singer at sums things up for how dire things really are for the Republicans:

"this is as bad news as the GOP could possibly get at this point. They lost a district that leans 6 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in Illinois in March. They lost a district that leans 7 points more Republican (went 7 points more for Bush in 2004 than the nation as a whole) earlier this month in Louisiana. Now they lost a district that leans 10 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in Mississippi. If they can't win in Mississippi's first congressional district, where can they win? The Republicans tried to make this election about two people: Barack Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And despite running this type of campaign, they lost."

A Democratic President with strengthened majorities in both Houses of Congress is exactly what the country and the world needs right now and so far I have reason to be optimistic about that :).

Recommend this Post

The Chase for Change 2008: West Virginia Edition

So last night was not a great for Obama, but it also wasn't unexpected. Last week many journalists predicted a 40 point blow-out and that's what we saw (67% - 26% was the final tally -though am I the only one wondering where the rest of the 7% went? The numbers added up roughly to 100% in every other primary). I'm sure Obama hoped to close the gap though and he failed to do so. I do note though that he got more votes last night than John McCain did :). I'm not sure he will win West Virginia but I'm confident that with the massive Democratic turnouts in every state in these primaries Democrats will turn out in November in large enough numbers in enough states to give him the White House.

That said, two things are clear after last night: Clinton will now almost certainly stay in until the last primary state has voted and Obama has to pick his VP very carefully with an eye to bringing in voters in states where he did not perform as well. Once the nomination race is officially over and assuming Obama wins (which is still extremely likely), I'll lay out my thoughts on who Obama's VP should be, but how these next few weeks play out I think will play a role in that, as it will be important to see if Obama does manage to do better in areas where he hasn't in the past.

I think it's absolutely terrible of Clinton to be focusing on how whites versus blacks vote and making any arguments versus Obama's candidacy on that basis, but Obama does need to do better in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida then he has in these primaries so hopefully his VP will help with that.

As for Clinton going forward, her victory speech was interesting. It had some good messages and good lines - the one about the woman who was born before women had the right to vote who cast an absentee ballot for Clinton in South Dakota literally from her death bed was a compelling story (though I didn't think the story of how an 11 year old boy was donating to her campaign was a particularly strong follow-up). Importantly she refrained from attacking Obama directly, but the speech did sound mostly like a final plea to superdelegates (in fact her speech said plainly they will decide the race) and a plea to be the VP if she loses (before North Carolina and Indiana I supported the idea as her as VP, but after the past week and some of her comments I have had second thoughts though I think an experienced woman definitely should be on the Democratic ticket). Though saying no Democrat was won the White House since 1916 without West Virginia ignores that Democrats owned the deep South and pretty much the opposite regions of the U.S. than they do today right up until the Nixon years (and Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are the only Democrats elected since then and Bill Clinton won with heavy vote splitting on the right). It was interesting though that she only said she would be in the race until the last state had voted (as opposed to the convention) and talked about how "we" will come back to West Virginia and win. I would say though the speech didn't focus enough on John McCain which I hope she will do more of if she's staying in the race.

I think at this point Clinton knows she won't win, but despite what so many were saying about her refusing to be VP it seems she wants to be on the ticket more than Obama wants her. No matter what though Obama would have to find some way to reach out to her supporters when it is all said and done, he will regret it if he doesn't.

So now it's on to Kentucky and Oregon, where we will see a repeat of West Virginia in one state but Obama should at least be able to cushion the blow with a win in another. It will all be over soon though...

UPDATE: John Edwards endorsing Obama tonight will certainly help towards bringing this race to a close.

Recommend this Post

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NDP Throwing in the Towel on the Environment

You used to be able to count on the NDP being the boldest party on the environment. That was their issue for a time. Well no longer. The former party of the environment have surrendered their principles once and for all on this issue.

The NDP used to be in full agreement with the environmental groups and individuals like David Suzuki (in fact I remember when I was at the University of Toronto when David Suzuki came to speak, the event was sponsored by Jack Layton's NDP), but no longer, they've thrown in the towel on the environment in favour of trying to become a more populist party. More interested in proposing policies aimed at saving a few dollars here (ATM fees, knocking a cent or two off the price of gas) than actually meaningfully taking on climate change.

How else do you explain their strong opposition to tax shifting? Jack Layton says: "We don't see putting a charge on the backs of individual Canadians through taxes as the way to go." Does that sound like something an NDP leader would say in reference to tax shifting? I'm thinking he's just upset that Dion proposed this policy before he did and he feels duty bound to treat anything coming from the Liberals as inherently evil.

Not to mention Layton being completely dishonest about what policy is on offer here. It won't harm low-income Canadians as it is said that the policy includes "programs aimed particularly at cushioning the blow for lower-income and rural Canadians who'd be hardest hit by increased fuel and electricity costs." Not to mention it does NOT affect prices at the pump. So then why does the NDP have a problem with this?

If low income earners aren't hard hit then this is a progressive policy and one that is the soundest for the environment - those who consume less energy will have MORE money in their pocket (certainly more then they would then if the price of gas dropped a cent or two) and very few will pay more. The multi-millionaire with a huge mansion (or a few of them) will pay more for the massive amount of energy his/her home consumes. You would think the NDP would agree with that wouldn't you? Why not? Because it's a Liberal idea and that's about all there is to it.

I can imagine what the NDP response would be to these arguments - they'd make reference to the past saying people who care about the environment can't vote Liberal because greenhouse gasses went up (though the NDP remain dishonest about what the record really is), but when it comes to the environment what matters most is the future and who is putting forth the best policies NOW to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions substantially over the next decade.

Do you think ANYONE (except NDP partisans of course) will agree in the next election that the NDP have the best policies to accomplish this goal?

Instead it will be the Liberals who will be universally seen by environmental groups to have the most sound plan. NDP supporters may say "we don't care what about environmental groups think!", well Jack Layton sure used to care, so what's happened here?

The NDP will say "the Liberals didn't vote on our no confidence motion on the environment - we obviously care more!", well if that were true then you would endorse policies that will get the job done on the environment not oppose them just because they are coming from a party you want to destroy. And you wouldn't support re-electing a government that has done nothing on the environment and has made us an international pariah on this issue.

Once the NDP discover that people care more about what parties would implement in the next parliament than what motions they voted on in the last then they will probably say "don't trust the Liberals, they won't actually implement these policies!" Of course that would be an admission that the policies being proposed are actually sound and better than what the NDP have on offer. Not to mention Jack Layton has given Stéphane Dion high praise, referring to him as a “committed Canadian and a man of principle and conviction” so the argument that you can't trust Dion doesn't fly.

And so in the next election the message to NDP voters will be clear: If you care about the environment and implementing the policies we need to meaningfully address climate change then the Liberals have the best policies to get the job done and you as an environmentally conscious person will have more money in your pocket as an added benefit.

While the NDP give up on the environment in their opposition to this policy, Conservatives continue down a path of failing Canadians on economic policy with their blind opposition to tax shifting (which will be the subject of the next post on Canadian politics).

Recommend this Post

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Bold Environmental Policy

Now this hasn’t been officially rolled out, but I think this is the kind of approach we need to show Canadians we have a serious plan to combat global warming:

The plan, according to sources, would shift the 10-cent federal excise tax on a litre of fuel at the pumps into a broad-based carbon tax that would also apply to other fuels, such as for home heating. Sources say that the plan would not add more taxes to gasoline.

But the key is that the money raised – estimated as much as $17-billion – would be returned to middle-class and working Canadians in personal income tax cuts, making it revenue neutral. There could be corporate tax cuts as well.

Some people are skeptical, including a “veteran” (probably John Turner years) Liberal strategist that always pops up in a Jane Taber piece (why those anonymous Liberals think they are helping the party with such comments is beyond me), but I think we need to give Canadians a lot more credit than those worried about a policy like this this are doing.

Canadians could understand five simple things:

1) We need to be doing much more to be combating global warming. The Carbon Budget was a start but this builds on that and is even more bold. Conservatives have put our reputation in the dumps (especially at Bali), we should be seen as a leader and not a laggard on this issue.
2) In a time of economic uncertainty, we want a plan widely endorsed by economists. This one is.
3) You won’t be paying more at the pump with this proposal.
4) You won’t be paying more taxes overall with this proposal. It is a tax shift not a tax increase.
5) If you are someone who doesn’t consume much energy you will come out ahead.

The important thing though is that Liberals frame this issue before the Conservatives do.

Though I have faith in Canadians that they would embrace a plan like this and so far I would say that the evidence shows that I am right.

Recommend this Post

A Bloc Without A Cause

So Governor General Michaëlle Jean tells France President Sarkozy to not
forget about the million Francophones outside of Quebec and Duceppe loses it? I’m just as puzzled as some others out there. Seems pretty clear to me that this should be something our Governor General saying.

The Bloc just seem to be grasping at straws these days, hoping they can find some cause that will salvage their chances in the next election. I'm pretty sure Duceppe's bizarre rant won't be a winner for them though.

Recommend this Post

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: Obama Vs. McCain?

So after what I noted was a very bad night for the Clinton campaign and a good night for Obama, we have heard many voices now say the race is over for the Democratic nomination.

However, what's most telling this time is when you actually look to what Clinton's own supporters are saying.

For instance, one of her supporters George McGovern (someone who is no stranger to having party division damage the Democratic Party's chances of winning the Presidency) today has called on Hillary Clinton to withdraw. I won't be surprised if some of her other supporters follow suit.

You see as well among Clinton supporters on the blogs that they now see the race as essentially finished. For instance, if you go over to (which I read every now and then for progressive commentary on American politics) you have one Clinton supporter (Todd Beeton) who regularly posts there who says "there is no way to spin away what happened tonight: Senator Clinton had a really bad night and Senator Obama had a phenomenal one. ...sadly I no longer see a real path to victory for Hillary Clinton and I now believe Barack Obama will be the nominee of our party. "

Another Clinton supporter (Jerome Armstrong) posts "As for Clinton's chances going ahead, they are minimal. I gave about a 10% shot after she won TX & OH, and upped that to 15% after her PA win, and around 20% a week ago. Now, it's slimmer than ever before. There's little doubt that, considering any marker, Obama is on the path to the nomination, now more than ever. Congrats to all his supporters on a good night."

But do I think the race for the nomination is over? Well the math is now very close to impossible now for Clinton even if Michigan and Florida are counted (and if they are, it's reasonable to presume that at the the least Obama will get Michigan's uncommitted delegates) - you can see CNN's delegate counter for the evidence (h/t).

I'm cautious never to say it's over until it's officially over as I know a week is a lifetime in politics and things can change in an instant, but if I were a betting person, I would be putting my money heavily on Obama at this point. Hillary Clinton will win big in West Virginia and Kentucky most likely, but she faces extremely long odds now. Just because Obama made a dumb comment about Indiana being a "tiebreaker" (and even then she barely won there) doesn't mean all the superdelegates remaining will believe that. She would have to at this point take more than 60% of the remaining pledged delegates AND more than 60% of the superdelegates in order to win and I think that's why her supporters are quite somber today.

The second question though is should she now drop out? I would argue actually that she can stay in the race until the end of the primary season without harming the Democratic Party and if something very dramatic happens to shake up the race that leads a huge majority ofsuperdelegates to flock to her, then she could at least in theory still win (but yes the chances are extremely remote at this point). However, in order to ensure she is not harming the party's chances in November by staying in she should stick to a few things:

1) Stop running negative ads directed at Obama. Given his huge front-runner status she's not going to be winning over superdelegates now by throwing the kitchen sink at the guy most Democrats now are sure is going to be the nominee. At the same time I would hope Obama stops running any negative ads directed at Hillary Clinton.

2) Continue to push for a fair solution to have Michigan and Florida's delegates counted. This has to be resolved or Democrats will pay the price in November. I think a fair solution might be to either count both delegations at half-strength (the Republicans did this and you don't hear the cries from their side about being disenfranchised) or if they are to count fully then at the least Obama has to be given the uncommitted delegates in Michigan (it is simply not reasonable to assume that Clinton should get to take such advantage of no one else being on the ballot there). This will have to wait until the end of the month until a decision is made but it must be addressed.

3) Focus her message now primarily on why John McCain needs to be defeated in November and why Democrats need to be united. By spending the next few weeks rallying her supporters with this message and still holding large rallies for the cause she would be promoting the same message Obama is. She actually started this well last night, but continuously saying "we" need to stop John McCain and by complimenting Obama. Of course she can continue to stress her own personal positives, but her supporters have to get the message loud and clear just how awful John McCain is and how badly the Democrats desperately need to win back the White House in November. If Obama becomes the nominee and she fails to get her supporters to back him, then even if the Democrats lost in November (which would be a catastrophe for Americans and the world at large at this critical stage) Democrats might not ever forgive her if it's perceived she didn't pull her voters to vote for the Democratic nominee. If by contrast she is seen as contributing to a Democratic victory even if she isn't on the ticket (which will be the subject of a later post - I think she should be on the ticket but I'm not sure it will happen) then Democrats won't forget it either and she would become Obama's heir apparent (if you say she would be too old, just look at McCain right now who took his party's nomination 8 years after losing the first go at it).

If she sticks to these things without going negative then I think she should be able to stay in the race as Mike Huckabee did on the Republican side until Obama reaches the magic number for an overall delegate majority (which could happen in the next month if enough superdelegates come off the fence) or either until all the states have voted (whichever comes first). If her and her supporters continue a negative path against Obama then I think it will backfire and the calls for Clinton to withdraw will grow louder so I think it would be in her own self-interest not to take that road. As of now though it looks like she definitely wants to continue on to West Virginia at the very least.

So it's far from clear if Clinton might concede anytime soon. Regardless there are still primary states left and the Chase for Change series will continue to cover them as they go on. So there will another edition next week when West Virginia votes. Till then I think it will be a tough week for the Clinton campaign.

UPDATE: So she hasn't followed my advice. This is quite disappointing. Her remarks were completely wrong and I think the calls for her to withdraw will get louder now.

Recommend this Post

December 08 YLC Race: And they’re off! My Questions for Danielle and Sam

This is an exciting time for political junkies, young and old. We've got the Democratic race in the US with two good candidates still battling it out (ok many voices are saying it is done now but it has been a very strong and exciting race), we have the hype and potential of a Canadian federal election to bring down a terrible government (though I do realize a summer election is a slim chance I at this point, but there's still the fall), and seven (….yes SEVEN!) months in advance (and that’s not including the months of campaigning that have already occurred) we have the Young Liberals of Canada (YLC) exec race underway that will culminate at the Liberal Party of Canada Biennial Convention in BC in December.

As of today, two candidates have put forth their name to become the next YLC president. (I also noticed that a new individual has also recently put their name forward for another position). In one corner, we have Sam Lavoie, who will no doubt bring a strong and dedicated contingent. He’s also the current YLC Policy guy. In the other corner, we have Danielle Keenan, who is the President of the Manitoba Young Liberals of Canada.

Before this campaign, I had not heard of either of these individuals and I have not met either of them; however I did note that Danielle did attend the OYL AGM in February. Besides what I stated above about these candidates, I currently do not know much more about these people – except they have Facebook groups that indicate they are the right change/vote for the YLC (Sam’s group is here and Danielle’s is here). I have joined both groups to become an informed voter aware of their ideas, whereabouts etc – but as of yet, I have not received a message. I guess I cannot complain about that however, as I was a little shocked about the 2/3 of year advance campaigning of this. Someone might say to me then why then why I am blogging about it? Well the campaigning is occurring – even if I ignore it, and it’s in full, competitive steam. So then I would like to learn about each candidate. And with a possible election coming up, it may be a good idea to see what they’re currently up to what their future plans are. I believe that who leads the youth of the party at the national level is extremely important so that makes this race important to me as a Liberal.

Therefore, to learn a bit about these candidates, I will shortly be sending them an email with questions to learn a little bit about them, their campaign and ideas (Surprise! You’re on notice Sam & Danielle!). The questions I will be asking them are below. And if any readers would like to add a question to my questionnaire, please list them in the comments and I’ll include some of the best ones.

In the mean time, if any youth out there are considering a run for the YLC presidency you might want to jump and get started ASAP. Candidates are busy campaigning, fundraising and getting supporters. That said don’t let (any) head start advantage of these two deter you – every voice should be heard, and just running is a great opportunity and experience.

Danielle & Sam: You may find some questions overlap with your answers. But I see these questions as a way to inform me (and my readers) of your skills and accomplishments that warrant my and other’s support and also a way to spread out your answers and be able to include all of your ideas, plans and accomplishments.

Ok so here are my questions. If Danielle and/or Sam are so kind to reply I will post their answers in full on this blog.

--Why are you running?

--What have you done to help Stéphane Dion since his nomination as Liberal leader?

--What will you be doing specifically to help Dion become Prime Minister in the next federal election?

--What are your past accomplishments on the Liberal executive boards (at the riding/campus, provincial and/or national level) that you have served on?

--Both candidates talk about the need for the YLC to change. What do you believe is specifically wrong with the YLC and what are some of the specific ways you will change what you see as these problems?

--If you lost your bid to be YLC President what do you expect you be doing next? (Sorry, I know it’s early days, but I would appreciate a clear answer that isn’t “I won’t lose” or “I’m sure I’ll still be involved somehow”)

--What would be your single biggest priority if you were elected as YLC President?

--When do you expect you will launch your platform and website?

--What makes you the candidate to get my vote and that of Liberals like me?

J’aimerais bien si tu pouvais répondre en Anglais et en Français à ces questions. Merci beaucoup!

Recommend this Post

Better Know a District: Brant and the Victory Fund

An Open Letter to Calgary Grit

So I'm very glad to see the Victory Fund fully operational and up and running. It's a great initiative with great promise and I hope all Liberals who have been reading about it take part. Sign up to donate at least $10 a month ($5 to a riding association and $5 to the party) (which works out to about $2.50 after taxes) and help Stephane Dion and ridings across the country promote the Liberal cause! Let's do our part to ensure the next quarter's results shuts the pundits and Conservatives traps about our fundraising once and for all!

However, I couldn't help noticing in Calgary Grit's post about this initiative that he is on the market so to speak in terms of which riding his money will go to. Well because I support my riding of Brant and my local MP Lloyd St. Amand so strongly I want to lay out why he
should be supporting us (no pressure though Dan :) ).

Though most of this letter applies just as well to anyone else who can't decide which riding to commit your monthly donation to (though perhaps I might strike a different tone with someone else). For all of those to which this applies, Brant appreciates your generous support.

Dear Calgary Grit:

I see you have offered up your money to a lucky riding somewhere in Canada. As someone always looking to grab spare change, I thought why not take a stab at convincing you why my riding wants (and dare I say deserves) your money most.

First of all, we have an excellent, dedicated, hardworking MP, Lloyd St. Amand. Lloyd is an amazing parliamentarian, and is especially friendly and supportive to our youth in Brant. He's not just intensely focused on keeping his own seat and seeing Stephane Dion become the
next PM, but he's also got his eye on building the riding up for the future. The same can be said of our riding association (BFLA) that, since the Brant Young Liberals were founded over a year ago, has been extremely supportive of our club in terms of providing resources so that we can always grow our membership and promote the party and our policies to other youth in the region.

With this kind of support, we have been effective in promoting the Liberal cause in Ontario which has helped us to gain the Ontario Young Liberals South Central region policy parliament May 24. However, as our members graduate from high school and go onto university, we need to do a recruitment drive to maintain our greatness. Lloyd St. Amand is supportive, and we hope that, as you are a Liberal known for your youth involvement, you might also indirectly support us through opening your wallet to our riding.

But that's not all! The BFLA also does a lot of outreach efforts to get more of the Brant community involved. We have open houses, golf tournaments, community dinners, and we have recently done quite a few policy forums with prominent Liberals from the area leading the

Finally, Brant could use the money because it is being heavily targeted in the past few months by the Conservatives because in the last election, the Liberals won by just over 500 votes. We continuously get those silly and misleading crappy postcards from Tory MPs out of touch
with our riding. So any money we could would be helpful for a future campaign to further get our message out.

Brant has been Liberal for 15 years and hasn't been Blue since 1958 and it'd be a shame to see it go to the Conservatives next time all because Calgary Grit wouldn't fork over at least $5 a month to the riding (yes it could just make all the difference :) ).

So I hope you (and others) heed the call! Help ensure Brant stays red for decades to come! With your support victory is assured!

Recommend this Post

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: Indiana and North Carolina Edition (Live Blog)

So will tonight be the turning point that ends or dramatically changes the dynamic of the race? We shall see.

Here are my predictions for tonight:


Clinton 54%
Obama 46%

North Carolina

Obama 55%
Clinton 45%

I was almost on the mark for Pennsylvania, but this time I could easily be hugely off base. Anyways I'll be live-blogging as the results come in.

7:05 PM: So the polls have closed in Indiana and Clinton has an early lead: 58% - 42% with 4% in.

7:20 PM: Clinton still leading huge 58% to 42% with 11% in (you see the results as they come in here). If this holds that would be very bad news for Obama. I expect a call for Hillary in this state soon.

Polls stilll aren't closed in North Carolina. When they do close at 7:30 PM, you can find the results as they come in here.

7:35 PM: Ok with no results officially in, Obama has been called the winner of North Carolina and yet Clinton is up 58%-42% still in Indiana with 20% in and it hasn't been called for her yet. Curious, makes me wonder why Obama's margin in North Carolina will be tonight.

7:50 PM: Hillary Clinton has held at least a 14 point lead in Indiana ever since results started coming in. Still 57%-43% with 28% in. I can't help but wonder what kind of data they have that's preventing CNN for calling it for Clinton when she's been leading so strongly since the polls closed.

8:03 PM: Obama leading 69% - 31% in North Carolina, but less than 1% is in. I think a 15 point win or greater in North Carolina would look good for Obama, but I don't see how he pulls out a win in Indiana. A double digit loss (or close to that) in Indiana would be enough for Clinton to justfy continuing.

8:10 PM: Obama has a 30% lead still with 5% in for North Carolina.

8:23 PM: CBS has has called Indiana for Clinton, no one else has though. I'm sure they will follow soon. Obama will 28% lead still in NC.

8:49 PM: Gap has narrowed somewhat in Indiana - now 54% - 46% with 53% in. CNN still hasn't called it, Scott noted in the comments that it could be because Obama strongholds still remain.

Obama keeps his 28% lead in NC with 15% in.

9:10 PM: Obama is out to speak in NC.

- Mentions he's won in a big state and a swing state, trying to counter the Clinton talking points against him
- Says he doesn't believe her supporters won't support him or vice-versa. Good touch and I think this needs to be in both Obama and Clinton's speeches from now on.
- "We will have to remember who we are as Democrats. We are at our best when we lead with principle, with conviction, to a higher purpose. We all agree that at this defining moment in our history - two wars, economy in turmoil, a planet in peril, a dream that feels like it's sleeping away - we can't afford to give John McCain a chance to complete George Bush's 3rd term, we need change and that's what we will be united"
I hope he's right.
- More stump speech stuff he's said before: anecdotes of people taken advantage of the health insurance industry, people suffering from the economy, an energy policy written by the oil companies, a recklessly waged war on terror that has left veterans uncared for, etc.... Even though we've heard it all before he does make the case well why McCain needs to be defeated in November.
- Talks about the importance of government aid to give people the leg to succeed. His and his wife's story provides some great anecdotes - loans to buy a home and financial aid to help them go to school allowed them to make the country more prosperous - didn't just reward wealth but those that created it.
- Talks about McCain's attemps to do nothing but divide the country.
- "The question isn't what kind of campaign they will run, but what kind of campaign we will run. It's what we will do to make this race different. I wasn't running for President to avoid this kind of politics but I am running because this is the time to end it."
- "We will end it by telling the truth forcefully, repeatedly and confidently and trusting that the American people will embrace the need for change even if it comes from an imperfect messenger." That's great in theory, but in American politics, I think that's a bit naive to think that will be enough
- Says again election is about the people not the nominees and about securing "your portion of the American dream. We can choose not to be divided to finally come together. This time can be different. This is the time to answer the call by insisting that by hard work and sacrifice the American Dream will endure."

I'd say this speech was better than his speech after Pennsylvania. I think it lacked policy specifics though.

He finishes up as it's now 52% - 48% in Indiana and Obama still leads 57%-41% in NC with 51% in. Clinton must not be happy at all with tonight's results so far. CNN still won't call it.

10:12 PM: Alright not much has changed in the past 30 minutes. Obama leads 56%-42% in NC with 70% in. Still 52-48% with 83% in.

CNN still won't call in: Scott Tribe (noted Obama supporter) has an explanation (see comments) at least: "Lake County in Indiana (where the city of Gary is) is not going to start reporting til 11 pm EST. A late night perhaps.. at the very least, Clinton's victory speech will be after everyone goes to bed in the East :)"

10:40 PM

- Clinton is out. I knew she would bring up the "tiebreaker" comment (which was a really dumb and unnecessary remark by Obama), but I didn't think it would be the first thing she said.
- Says she's going to the White House because she won this "tiebreaker" (well CNN still hasn't called it yet)
- Crowd chants "Yes She Will"
- Needs their support and wants them to go to to support her campaign against someone who outspends her.
- Talks about people feeling invisible under the Bush administration. "I will never stop fighting for you"
- Stump speech stuff: Ready on Day 1, knows how to make economy work for the middle class, etc...
- Talks gas prices (I haven't endorsed either candidate, but I think Clinton is wrong on this for the same reasons a GST cut was wrong, not to mention the fact her plan will never pass Congress this summer like she claims and is bad environmental policy with gas prices already exremely low in the U.S.)
- Talks about sticking together - good.
- Talks about how close the race and that it's good Democrats are so exciting about the primary process.
- Says she will work hard for the Democratic nominee and her supporters cheer - Good we need to hear more of this from both repeatedly so their supporters get the message.
- Thanks Senator Evan Bayh for his support. He may have made the difference for her between winning and losing given the narrow margin.
- Thanks Governor of North Carolina for his support.
- Gives condolescenses to victims of cyclone in Burma and calls on the junta to let the rest of the world in to help. I commend her for calling attention to to this, very good on her.
- She's going to compete for Indiana and Kentucky in the genearal election. Mentons West Virginia too where everyone knows she will win next week.
- She's running to be President of all America - "That's why it's important to count the votes of Florida and Michigan" Crowd chants "count the votes". I agree they have to resolve this somehow.
- Wants everyone to start acting like Americans again. Exits to This is Our Country.

I still don't think her speeches inspire like Obama's do, but at least she seemed to attack Republicans more in this speech then after her Pennsylvania victory and stressed the importance of party unity more. It seems she is going to continue on while pushing hard to get Florida and Michigan counted to close delegate gap.

I think it showed though that she was not as pleased with tonight's results as after Pennsylvania. She may dominate in West Virginia next week, but she has now lost the momentum she had after April 22nd and I'm not sure that's something she can afford at this point in the race. She faces much longer odds after tonight now.

86% in for Indiana, CNN still won't call it.

11:26 PM: Only 87% in still in Indiana, no change, I thought the results were coming in at 11 PM? 97% in fo NC, Obama wins 56% to 42% that will probably be the final margin.

11:28 PM: CNN says their exit polling indicates that Obama did much better among white women then they expected. They speculate it may be because they were turned off by Clinton's negativity. Perhaps that's true, I've said before both candidates need to stop running excessively negative ads against each other - it does not help the cause in November.

12::02 AM: So this night has gone on later that I (or probably the journalists covering it) thought. The gap is definitely narrowing - 91% in, the lead is down to just over 20,000 votes. If Obama took about 65% of what's left he will win. I don't think he will but this is definitely closer than the Clinton campaign would have wanted.

1:12 AM: FINALLY! CNN calls Indiana for Clinton.

Final results tonight.

North Carolina: Obama wins 56%-42%
Indiana: Clinton wins 51%-49%

I think an unbiased observer can clearly say it was a great night for Obama and a bad night for the Clinton campaign. I think it will be a tough week ahead for Hillary Clinton for sure.

Recommend this Post

Monday, May 5, 2008

In and Out Grows More Scandalous By the Day

So if these were local ads then why (as was reported in Le Devoir and then by Paul Wells) do we keep getting more evidence that all the decisions regarding the transactions were being made by the national campaign without consulting the local ridings themselves? The Cons seemed to just have no regard for the national spending limit or the concerns of their local candidates.

Not to mention that there are now suspicions that another “In and Out” operation may have been done with the Cons polling as well.

What will be Pierre Poilievre’s response to all this?

Given that all the Con talking points have been completely shot down one by one, maybe finally we’ve gotten to the point where all he can say is “no comment”.

Then again, it certainly doesn’t hurt the Liberal cause whenever he opens his mouth :)

Maybe they should just get MP Mike Wallace as their new spokesman, clearly he's been paying close attention these past two years (as evidenced by his comment "We have been running a solid clean proactive government since we were elected in January 2006" (h/t BC'er)). I think we might all appreciate someone even more delusional than Pierre in charge of Conservative communications.

At the least I hope the English language media does their job and picks up on how much worse the "In and Out" scandal is getting, not to mention all the other scandals Harper and the Cons are embroiled in.

Recommend this Post

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Harper the Common Man: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Steve over at Far and Wide had a post up today about how Harper lacks the common touch. How very true, but I couldn’t help being reminded that there are much worse examples than the recent one that Steve cites (see below at the end of this article from the archives). It’s a long running pattern for Harper, but Steve’s post reminded me of an article I read a few years back about this very problem Harper has – he’s not just out of touch but an extremely angry man whose modus operandi is tearing people down, so of course he just feels so out of place when he’s supposed to be nice and friendly. Anyways I thought I would dig up this old article for you all to read (the link is dead unfortunately) – I will leave it up to all of you to decide what has changed.

I can't help but notice the Richard Nixon reference even then (that many bloggers have made since) - well we all know what happened to him in the end. Anyways enjoy....

The Toronto Star, Canada Jun. 5, 2005. 08:28

After 23 years in politics, Stephen Harper still has a penchant for marginalizing moderates within his Conservative caucus, ridiculing the patriotism of Liberal voters and working out his anger issues in public

David Olive

Look at that face, that hateful face.
-Sam Rayburn, Democratic speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, watching a televised address by Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon somehow made it to the top of the greasy pole. It's helpful to take that view of history in trying to imagine Stephen Harper as the man who can lead a united right to the New Jerusalem.

As dysfunctional in his own way as the dethroned Stockwell Day, Harper has twice squandered the chance effortlessly gained by the sponsorship scandal to form a government. He is, Tory insiders began saying last week, girding for a third try this fall, hoping the potency of the Grewal tapes matches that of the Gomery revelations.

It, too, will likely fail.

In a nation that favours public figures who project a sunny optimism, Harper traffics more heavily in bile than any major political party leader since John Diefenbaker.

Harper regards Liberals of every description as "corrupt," and their precarious government, in all its grand and sundry aspects, "morally reprehensible." Those who fail to align with Harper's worldview he labels monsters, harlots and underworld figures.

How much more dignified it would be for a leader of the Official Opposition to let lessers handle the scut work of character assassination — and there's no shortage of volunteers. Let Tory MP Jason Kenney accuse Martin of perjuring himself at the Gomery inquiry, for instance, and NDP backbencher Pat Martin describe the Liberals, in Commons debate last month, as "institutionally psychopathic."

But Harper insists on working out his anger issues in public, whether it's kicking chairs backstage at Tory events or shoving photographers out of camera range. Or labelling NDP Leader Jack Layton a slut for backing a slightly amended budget that increases spending by less than 1 per cent.

As they say, the fish rots from the head. Within a few days, John Reynolds, Tory campaign manager and prominent B.C. MP, was saying all Liberals "are whores. I don't like to call them that, because there are probably some whores who are nice people."

In the last election Harper let stand a Tory press release that called Paul Martin a supporter of child pornography.

No surprise, then, that Harper has not rebuked Saskatoon Tory MP Maurice Vellacott's description of turncoat Belinda Stronach. ("Some people prostitute themselves for different costs or different prices. She sold out for a cabinet position.")

Harper is not in tune with his caucus, having marginalized moderates like Stronach and Peter MacKay, who went public with his own misgivings about an early election the same day, May 4, as his then-girlfriend did. Not one but three erstwhile contenders for the Alliance or Conservative leadership — Keith Martin, Scott Brison and Stronach — have been driven into the Grit fold.

"Join your own team, Stephen!" exhorts full-time Tory apologist Don Martin.
But after 23 years in politics, Harper is not a work in progress.

Harper still is in thrall to the armchair ideologues at the University of Calgary with whom he first fell in as a student there, a group currently headed by Tory chief strategist Tom Flanagan.

Accordingly, the latest polls find Tory support at 27 per cent nationally, below the party's 29.6 per cent showing in the last election — itself the Tories' worst performance since R.B. Bennett's drubbing in the Depression year of 1935.

Alarmed by the positive poll readings Martin garnered recently from his encounters with pre-voting-age Canadians who appear to enjoy the Prime Minister's company, Harper's handlers arranged a photo-op of their own at a Wallaceburg, Ont., rehab centre for children.

But the Tory leader was miscast for the assignment. He watched silently, not knowing what to say to these kids. Until, that is, one of the finger-painting toddlers leaned toward his tailored suit.

"Don't touch me," Harper said.

Okay. So what are you doing here?

Recommend this Post

Friday, May 2, 2008

Scientists accuse Tories of 'despicable' interference

Nothing new I'm afraid. We seem to just get a new story every day about how this government doesn’t listen to reason, common sense or sound evidence. Insite is just one more example.

An article published in the International Journal of Drug Policy charges that the Conservative government interfered in the work of independent scientific bodies, attempted to muzzle scientists and deliberately misrepresented research findings because it is ideologically opposed to harm-reduction programs.

When you have “22 peer-reviewed papers published on the program and they have all shown a positive benefit to users, such as reduced rates of transmission of HIV-AIDS and greater use of rehabilitation services” it should be obvious that Insite's license should be renewed, but not with this Government.

Pressure has to be heavily stepped up for Clement to renew Insite's license before it expires at the end of next month (June 2008). If the program ends, undoubtedly more people will suffer.

If an election comes in June then I hope this issue will be discussed (and then a Liberal government will keep it from closing as I feel confident we would win a June election), if it doesn’t then the Conservatives will decide if this program continues. Unfortunately, I just don’t have faith in this government to do the right thing (I hope I am proven wrong on this case).

So sadly I’m sure the Conservative war against science, reason, common sense, the civil service, independent officers and regulators, democratic institutions, and anyone else who dares to criticize this government will continue at full steam…

Recommend this Post

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Is There No End to Harper’s Control Freak Tendencies?

It just gets worse by the day. Conservatives smear Elections Canada in charge of ensuring our elections are free and fair, smear the RCMP for doing their job in carrying out a search warrant, fire independent watchdogs for rightly criticizing the Conservatives and now there is strong speculation that the PMO actually want to be vetting the public statements of independent officers of Parliament?

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser found allies yesterday who condemned the Conservative proposal, which could mean that Parliament's officers must vet their public statements through a wing of the Prime Minister's Office, as an unprecedented attack on the independence of the officers, who are supposed to work at arm's length. The draft proposal would lump in Fraser, along with other officers of Parliament such as the head of Elections Canada, and the privacy, information and ethics commissioners with all other government departments and demand they get high-level approval before speaking out.

The very thought of having the government vet the statements of independent watchdogs who are tasked with holding the government to account is absolutely appalling. Radwanski is right: Harper had better explain himself fast.

Regardless of Harper’s response though this is all in a line with a very troubling pattern: This government’s complete and utter intolerance of any criticism whatsoever is completely unparalleled in Canadian history.

Stephen Harper’s lack of respect for our democratic institutions merits him only one thing: A trip back to Stornoway.

UPDATE: It would appear they have backed down, most likely becuase they realized the huge storm this would create. Paul Wells also has a good take on this.

Everything else I wrote still stands though: no PM has been as intolerant of criticism as this one and his intolerance has grown worse with time.

Conservatives like Stephen Taylor like to claim that the longer Stephen Harper stays in power the more Canadians will see he's "not scary", well I think the opposite is being shown to be true - Harper's control freak tendencies and his attacks on our institutions are extremely troubling and unheard of in this country. The more Harper displays these tendencies the less Canadians will want this man as PM and what a happy day it will be when he's finally shown the door.

UPDATE 2: The Auditor General still isn't convinced the Conservatives have backed down. I think it's clear from everything this government done why she's not willing to fully trust the Cons on this.

Recommend this Post

Bill C-10: Conservatives War Against Reason and Common Sense Continues

If the Conservatives think Charles McVety's bill should be a confidence motion, what does it say when the minister who would be in charge of implementing these over the top measures is said to "hate the bill"?

Is Charles McVety that important to this government that they want an election over his cherished bill that he hopes will end the production of all films he personally deems immoral? Does he have that much clout with the Conservative Party?

Recommend this Post

Congratulations Stockwell Day!!!

You've been voted most likely to be investigated!! This may yet be Day's most monumental victory to date! Honourable mention goes to John "you first" Baird, who finished just one vote behind.

For those Conservative MPs who might feel let down they didn't win this time you may be consoled by knowing that at least one person out there thought you were worthy of being the next Conservative to come under investigation. Keep up the good work and you may yet just be that Conservative.

And to be fair not every Conservative had a chance to be validated by my readers in this poll, so maybe, just maybe, it will be another Conservative who gets the honour of an RCMP, ethics commissioner or other watchdog investigation (Scott notes that Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz may get the honour).

Either way I don't think we will have to wait long to find out who it will be.

For the record here were the results (I should note that it was disappointing to see many more votes in this poll than in an earlier poll about which colour sheme this blog should adopt - makes me wonder what the world is coming to - people need to get their priorities straight here!):

Who Will be the Next Conservative to be Subject to a Formal Investigation (by the Ethics Commissioner, RCMP, Elections Canada, etc…)

Stockwell Day - 22%
John Baird – 20%
Stephen Harper – 12%
Gary Lunn – 7%
Jean-Pierre Blackburn – 12%
Pierre Poilievre – 8%
Jim Prentice – 8%
Lawrence Cannon – 3%

Recommend this Post