Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vandalism in Guelph Absolutely Shameful

The stories of the vandalism in Guelph are shocking and shameful. It seems that at least 10 homes with Frank Valeriote signs were vandalized, and at least 6 cars were keyed and their cars brake lines were tampered with and cut.

The joint release from all major 4 party Guelph candidates is below. Frankly I hope a similar statement comes for all the party leaders because when this happens anywhere the rest of the country deserves to know and a clear call needs to be made this isn’t tolerated ANYWHERE.
Frank Valeriote, Tom King, Mike Nagy and Gloria Kovach denounce criminal damage to property: Joint Statement

GUELPH — August 29, 2008 - Frank Valeriote along with the other candidates in the Guelph by-election have unequivocally denounced the criminal damage that was done to at least ten homes and 6 vehicles in Guelph which had Frank Valeriote lawn signs in the early hours of Friday morning. They made their statements at the home of one of the victims this afternoon.

Families woke up in the early morning to see the brickwork of their houses spray painted with political graffiti as well as the brake lines to their automobiles cut.

This violence follows on the extensive damage to campaign signs that has been occurring to varying degrees to Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and Green signs throughout the by-election period.

“What happened in the early hours today is a despicable and cowardly act that endangered innocent people’s lives,” said Valeriote. “The cutting of the brake lines was intended to at the very least to severely injure people, who have chosen to participate in one of the most important processes this country has to offer to its citizens- they chose to exercise this right and have a political sign on their lawn. We live in a lawful and peaceful society where we have the freedom to express ourselves politically. No one should be subject to this kind of violence and intimidation,” Valeriote concluded.

Frank Valeriote and Tom King spent most of the day visiting and consoling the owners of the houses that have been criminally vandalized. “I join Frank Valeriote in condemning these vicious attacks in ourcommunity,” said Tom King. “The vandalism to political signs and the targeting of private homes and property must stop immediately. This kind of activity has nothing to do with the NDP or the Liberals. We’re sad to see politics take such an ugly turn. We hope the police will find the criminals responsible and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”

“Greens totally disapprove of any acts of vandalism. Political motivated attacks on people’s homes and property insults the values that Canadians hold sacred regarding safe a free elections” said Mike Nagy.

Gloria Kovach agreed with all the candidates stating ” This is an escalation in behaviour and his kind of activity has no place in Guelph especially whe we all strive for free and fair process”.

All the candidates denounce the criminal violence, and give their sympathies to the victims whose private property was damaged.
See here and here for more.

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The Chase for Change 2008: Sarah Palin Vs. Hillary Clinton – It’s No Time to be Fooled

So I've said what the pick means for Obama, but what do I think of Sarah Palin as VP? Well first of all kudos to McCain for picking a woman. We do need more women moving up the ladder in politics and it’s more than about time the Republicans finally did this. BUT while it’s important to have more women it’s MORE important to have those women fight FOR women’s issues and women’s rights. Hillary Clinton was certainly that kind of woman and Obama and Biden may not be women but I know they’ll fight for them. Sarah Palin? Well let’s see how she stacks up against Hillary Clinton on the issues:
On a woman’s right to choose: She is against abortion EVEN in case of rape. That’s even MORE conservative than the Bush administration’s official position.
On the environment: Doesn't believe that humans cause global warming and is in the pocket of Big Oil and mining companies. I thought John McCain was going to be a champion of the environment? I guess this pick says otherwise, no wonder the Sierra Club is angry.
On education: Wants creationism (not just intelligent design) taught in public schools
On life-saving research: Opposes stem-cell research (which McCain says he supports)
On pork-barrel spending: She supported the infamous "bridge to nowhere" that McCain claims she opposed.
On ethics: She’s supporting Alaska Senate Ted Stevens Senate re-election campaign while he is under indictment in a corruption scandal (don’t think that a big deal? Well the video in the post I link to curiously disappeared from her website). She also was a staunch backer of Pat Buchanan who has said so many offensive things that even the bulk of the Republican Party shun him these days.
On Hillary Clinton: Nothing but a whiner. According to Palin’s own words sexism is “just part of the game” in politics and she seems to imply that it should just be accepted and that it’s something women shouldn’t talk about. And the P.U.M.A. crowd like this woman? Palin mocks everything they stand for!

So does this woman have ANYTHING in common with Hillary Clinton other than her gender? No wonder the old boys club of the Republican establishment is ecstatic. John McCain/Palin have no plan for child care, poverty, extended parental leave (it’s shameful how far the U.S. is from Canada on that), and pay equity, while Obama/Biden do. If you read the latest article on McCain's website for why women should vote for him it just says McCain will help the economy and that will help women. What a champion!

The reality of the Palin pick though I think is summed up well by the National Organization for Women:
“What McCain does not understand is that women supported Hillary Clinton not just because she was a woman, but because she was a champion on their issues. They will surely not find Sarah Palin to be an advocate for women.”

To be clear again I think Sarah Palin is to be admired for what she has accomplished, being a successful businesswoman and a very popular governor, and I’m not someone who’s gonna say she lacks the experience to be President. It’s good to see a woman on the Republican ticket as it will make it easier for other women to run for the Republican nomination in 2012. I hope Sarah Palin runs for the nomination in 2012, but given where she stands on the issues that matter to me and I’m sure millions of others who want to see women’s rights and issues ADVANCED not moved BACKWARD I can’t say she would be a friend of women as Vice-President or President. Therefore, if she and McCain pick up ANY Hillary Clinton supporters it would be profoundly disappointing because Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin (or John McCain) have virtually NOTHING in common on the issues.

I would have liked to have seen a woman (like the governors of Arizona or Kansas) on Barack Obama’s ticket but as I’ve said from the very beginning (before it was known who would win the Democratic nomination) it’s absolutely essential that all progressives line up behind the Democratic nominee because there is too much at stake on too many issues that matter to the U.S., Canada and the world (certainly not just women’s issues) to allow someone as Conservative as John McCain to become President. I'd say that case is even stronger now with someone more Conservative than Stockwell Day and Cheryl Gallant as McCain's choice for VP.

However, whether Barack Obama admits it or not will need Hillary Clinton’s supporters to win – he would do well to do more joint appearances with her and pointedly reach out to her supporters. The convention was not the place in my view, but I see little harm in doing an event with Clinton where Clinton lays out the case of why Palin is not a friend of women and Obama gives his standard stump speech but with added praise again for Clinton (I know he’s done this), but crucially with some lines about how he needs Clinton’s supporters and all Democrats to win and he asks for their support. Obama could say he doesn’t need 20% of Clinton supporters to win and surely some will never vote for him, but any voters gained leads to a much more comfortable lead-up to, and actual, election night.

I think Obama’s DNC speech made an excellent case for why all Americans should vote FOR him, but he hasn’t yet sealed the deal fully within his party. I hope he takes the next few weeks to do that. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to see him have an insurmountable lead in the polls weeks before Election Day.

h/t to for the sources
Other Liberals have commented on the Palin pick here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

UPDATE: The Democrats definitely should not underestimate Palin’s appeal. As of now her favourability ratings are a fair bit higher than Biden's and I know there were some who argued that Biden’s favourables were a good reason to have him on Obama’s ticket. So for now Palin is clearly positive for McCain’s chances. But again I think the only way for Democrats/progressives to approach this pick is by focusing on her stands on the issues, anything else I think will backfire.

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The Chase for Change 2008: John McCain’s VP Pick - McCain Admits Obama is Ready to Lead as President!

I’ll talk in the next post about what I think specifically about Sarah Palin as VP, but first I should say that I think the Obama camp’s initial response to it has been foolish. Right out of the gate they put out a press release saying Sarah Palin has little to no experience and no foreign policy experience and therefore she shouldn’t be a “heartbeat away” from the Presidency. I think Obama would do well to disavow the press release. Not to mention the release didn’t mention the historic nature of the pick, experience has been the central argument AGAINST Obama. Obama is just not going to win that argument. He’d be MUCH better to say “I believe Sarah Palin has the qualifications to be President, but I think it’s time for John McCain to stop the smears and admit that everyone on our tickets do – the American people deserve better”. If Obama and his supporters want to argue Palin is too inexperienced I think they’ll regret it and it will just end up in McCain ads. Sure Obama has more years of experience and more foreign policy experience, but Palin has executive experience which you really can’t deny is important (sure it’s only 2 years as a governor and being a mayor of a small town but it’s no coincidence there’s been very few Senators who have won the Presidency). Sure there were more experienced women (like Rice) McCain could have chosen as well but I don’t see how Obama benefits from making these arguments.

If Obama just cedes the argument that Palin has the qualifications necessary than what do the Republicans have left? I’m sure the plan for the RNC was to have speaker after speaker say Obama is “not ready to lead”, well it’s hard to argue that, if all agree that Palin is ready, that Obama isn’t. I know the Republicans are saying she has more exec experience, but the argument was always about Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience so they can’t change their arguments credibly this far in the game.

So I hope the U.S. media does its job and calls John McCain on this question and just asks point blank “if you think Sarah Palin is ready to lead, how can you say Obama isn’t?” After spending so much on ads saying Obama is not ready to lead, I wonder what he’ll say?

If experience is no longer an election issue then change, judgment and the actual policy stances become the bigger issues. Palin definitely brings the change card, but Republicans trying to win on that is like Liberals in Canada saying they want an election to be all about crime, it’s just not their strong suit, just like national security remains a Republican strong suit whether Obama likes it or not (hence why I thought the 3 AM ads were dumb because it was trying to elevate an issue that Democrats lose on). Then there’s judgment, also where Obama wins and same with policy stances.

That said, Democrats would do well not to underestimate what Palin brings to the ticket. She’s very charismatic, is an extremely popular governor and her life story will appeal to many Americans. Rather than go after her experience which is dumb, they ought to focus on where she stands on the issues and point out what kind of President she’d be. That’s the topic of the next post here.

Other Liberals have commented on the Palin pick here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

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The Chase for Change 2008: DNC Thoughts

Despite John McCain stealing the thunder the day after I think the Democratic National Convention in Denver this week went as well as can be expected. The case was made better than ever for why Democrats should vote FOR Barack Obama and finally many Democrats went full blown after John McCain – it was more than past time for that. Aside from Obama/Biden I’d argue the best speeches were from Hillary Clinton (Obama could not have expected better), Bill Clinton (I was pleased that he made the parallel back to the dynamics of the 1992 race), John Kerry (finally got his revenge for the “Voting for it before you were against it” smear you got in the last campaign), Bill Richardson (made the points I’ve been making about how on the very few principled stands McCain has taken like on taxes, the environment and torture, he’s reversed on every one) and Al Gore (good to see he noted the uncanny Lincoln parallel in terms of their experience and that at least 1 and up to 3 Supreme Court justices could be selected by the next President which will resonate for decades not 4 years). I wish others got more time like Kathleen Sebelius or Janet Napolitano because with less time you obviously can’t give the show stopper speeches others could. They still did well though.

Joe Biden did quite well, but I wasn’t blown away – still he’ll make an excellent VP and I think he’ll be great for the ticket.

Obama’s speech was definitely as good as it had to be. Not sure I can say it was his absolute best, but definitely blows away what anyone at the Republican convention will offer. All in all I can’t say the Democrats have much to be disappointed about from their convention and early news is they’ve gotten a bump in the polls from it.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stephen Harper is NOT on YOUR Side

So the Cons are exploiting our elections laws by running an ad the week before Harper officially calls an election. The ad is false on so many levels, but honestly it’s a well done ad to be tailored to an audience that they are hoping has never actually seen Stephen Harper in action over the past 2.5 years. I guess the Cons just hope people watching this ad haven’t seen the Stephen Harper who talks about everyone being screwed and who insinuates his opponents support terrorists. But if you watch CTV they are ALREADY completely swallowing the ad’s spin, so Liberals should be careful not to dismiss this and instead fight back. So what’s wrong with this ad? Well essentially every line. But it appears the Liberal media has struck again so it’s left up to others to do the real analysis. So let’s cover each of these “ordinary Canadians”…

“Stephen Harper knows where he stands, he’s a straight up guy”

- Should we be saying that about a guy who’s broken upwards of a hundred promises from the last election, from income trusts, to accountability, to his own fixed election law? Does “knowing where you stand” and being “straight up” mean lying to Canadians to get more votes or changing where you stand based on political convenience? Or lying repeatedly in the House of Commons?

He’s doing a good job”
- Seriously? How’s the economy these days? How’s our standing on the world stage?

“He’s the steady hand we need when the world’s economy is so uncertain”
- Even more ridiculous. They spent the cupboard bare and put us back into deficit. Meanwhile Harper has NO economic plan to put us back on track. Is that the hand we want?

“I like the fact that he’s lowered taxes for all of us”
- Except NO ONE thinks they were the right taxes to lower and the GST cuts are what put us back in deficit (yes I know we are not currently in deficit, but we were quite recently and would be again with another Harper mandate)

“I appreciate the support for our troops”
- Yes, like cancelling crucial contracts for the Navy

“Finally someone has toughened up our justice system”
- Yes because building more prisons, following the U.S. mold and putting 10 years olds in prison is the way of the future

“I’ve never been more proud to be a Canadian”
- I would be shocked to learn this guy didn’t either work for the party or was a paid actor (well maybe all of these “ordinary Canadians” are but especially this guy). But I’d love to know what makes this guy so proud – is it our “leadership” on the environment? Human rights? Foreign aid? At the last G8 Summit? Personally I’m not proud that we’ve become an international pariah.

“I like the idea that he’s a family man with young children”
- Apparently Stephane Dion can’t be trusted because he’s a family man with an older child!

“He’s in it for the right reasons”
- Yes just as Tom Flanagan says, I’m sure that’s what this girl meant.

Proud guy again: “He’s on the right track”
- If you count having no plan for the environment or the economy the right track sure.

Picture of Harper with slogan: “Stephen Harper: Strong Leadership On Your Side”
- If they were really gonna go all out his cat is missing from the picture, I think that really might have sealed the deal. More on the slogan below.

“I’ll be voting for the first time and I’ll be voting for Stephen Harper”
I hope that girl lives in Calgary Southwest or she might have some trouble doing that... Newsflash to Conservatives: we don’t have a Presidential system as much you might wish we did.

But back to the slogan “On Your Side”, how can anyone who has paid any attention (I’m looking at you media) hear that without laughing? Is he on YOUR side when his government is busy meeting with oil executives, pandering to to his base, and mocking a serious health crisis that is the ultimate result of his “leave it to the market” ideology? When his government attacks provinces, doctors and anyone else who challenges them even when all the evidence says the CONSERVATIVES are the ones that are wrong?

Stephen Harper is NOT on your side unless you are in one of his key target demographics that he is hoping gets him enough votes to eek out a majority so he can do whatever he wants. Even then Harper would surely throw any group that helped him win under the bus if what he promised them didn't fit his ideological vision. It's very telling I think that the ad features mostly men and the main woman featured just speaks of tax cuts and crime - makes the picture very clear that Harper's record on the major women's issues and advancing gender equality has been abysmal and that he doesn't even care to put on a front that he's a friend of women (as we know the rest of the ad was full of enough fabrications).

Liberals must get the message through in this election that only they want to govern for ALL Canadians and I’m sure when both the Conservative and Liberal platforms are released it will be clear who has more Canadians’ interests at heart. Stephane Dion has shown consistently that he will put his country before his party and Stephen Harper has consistently shown he will do the opposite.

So who’s really on YOUR side?

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Harper Off His Game, Terrified of Parliament Holding Him to Account

Surely the blind Conservative partisans won’t see this, but it’s plain to see that in the past week Harper has been all over the map and now seems to realize he’s between a rock and a hard place. Take just over a week ago when we saw this story.
Harper plans pre-election trips as Tories say Dion will 'cave' on vote
OTTAWA — The Conservatives are laying the ground for a charged political season this fall by taunting Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion with assertions his own party's support for his key policy is shaky and that
he will again “cave” on triggering a vote.
So on August 13th he’s taunting Dion saying he doesn’t have the guts to bring him down - basically daring him to do so. Then Harper calls a by-election he didn't need to in Don Valley West for September 22nd. Whether that election happens or not, millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent because of that call. Then just days later when absolutely nothing has changed, and after being so sure there would be no fall election, Harper decides to throw up his hands and say “Parliament is dysfunctional!” This is when he knows full well nothing has changed and any “dysfunction” is due to Harper and the 200 page Conservative chaos manual all his MPs have on how to disrupt Parliament themselves.

So now he’s actually musing about calling a general election BEFORE any by-elections take place!

If he does this it will signify several things to the public:
A) He knew his party was going to lose badly in all 4 by-elections
B) He knew the Liberals were going to win all 4 by-elections and get strong momentum out of them
C) He has NO regard for the views of the people in the ridings where by-elections were scheduled. To call an election days before they would get to cast their vote is extremely anti-democratic - if he calls an election anytime before Sept. 22 this still applies - remember he didn't have to call that one. Surely we should ask a PM to have made up his mind about an election call sooner though I guess it’s not easy for Harper to make priorities. EVERY Conservative candidate in these 4 ridings should be asked this week what their view is on Harper calling an election before the people in their ridings have a chance to cast their vote.
D) He has NO regard for taxpayer money whatsoever. While some Conservatives will try to claim Harper is respecting taxpayer money by having a general election before the by-elections, that argument falls to pieces because Harper didn’t have to call a by-election in Don Valley West and millions will have been spent for no reason. Not to mention all the money that went into drafting and passing Harper's own fixed elections bill that he will be showing to have been useless. In such tough economic times Harper would be showing he could care less about wasting taxpayer funds. No matter that the money could have gone to crucial priorities - all that matters is serving his partisan interests.
E) He is fine with going into an election with his word meaning ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Harper specifically promised to take away the advantages of the PM to call an election at a time of his/her choosing and leave the decision of whether to go before 4 years up to Parliament. Add to that to the incredibly long list of other lies Harper has told, but this one would DEFINITELY be an election issue Harper would have to answer for. How can he trusted with ANY of his promises in a campaign when he has broken others so blatantly? Dion certainly doesn't have that kind of reputation (even Layton has praised him as an honest principled man) so it would be a great contrast.

So why would Harper willingly take all these risks by calling a premature election?

- He’s terrified of having it fully revealed what a financial mess we’ve been put in. Flaherty’s hocus pocus yesterday certainly does raise a few questions and it does seem ominous for what’s to come.
- He's terrified of the result of the U.S. elections helping the Liberals.
- He’s terrified of what will be revealed in more committee hearings on In and Out.
- He’s terrified of what would come out in the Mulroney Inquiry.
- He’s terrified of more investigations into the Bernier Affair.
- He’s terrified of facing a confidence motion with the opposition unified against him (I might remind Conservatives that Martin didn’t have a fixed election law and yet he still faced a no confidence motion when he could have called an election instead – quite the contrast) amongst other reasons.

Harper knows there is nowhere to go but down. Despite what Paul Wells (whom I read often and like) has consistently said about Harper wanting to go the distance - the PM has clearly given up. No matter – whichever option Harper chooses it will be very far from his ideal election scenario. Someone so terrified of governing should surely not be given a renewed mandate. If Harper calls an election it will be out of weakness not strength.

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The Chase for Change 2008: A Missed Opportunity for Obama's VP

So the worst kept secret is finally out of the bag – it’s Joe Biden. I never got around to outlining what I thought was required for Obama’s VP pick, but had I done so I would have said (you’ll just have to trust me on this) that the VP pick should have executive experience (e.g., be a governor), be able to put some Southern and Midwestern states in play (e.g., be from the South or Midwest), be a woman (because so many female Democrats felt let down by Hillary’s loss and it would give them a milestone to still fight for, not to mention it's well past time), be able to reach out to Hillary Clinton’s supporters (e.g., someone who worked on Hillary’s campaign or Hillary herself) and have solid foreign policy experience. Joe Biden only has the last one so I would count him as a disappointment and a missed opportunity.

What states is Joe Biden going to help Obama with? Will he help win Virginia, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado? I’d say no – in fact McCain will be happy to cast the ticket as two liberal Northern Senators who don’t represent the rest of America.

How does Biden help counter the critique that Obama has no executive experience?

If Obama really wanted experience he should have gone with Bill Richardson, he doesn’t meet all my criteria (to be fair no one did), but at least he’s a Midwestern governor with solid domestic AND foreign policy experience, ties to the Clinton administration (even though Carville hates him now) and would have been another first – the first Hispanic (the fastest growing demographic) on the ticket. For those who say Americans couldn’t stomach two "firsts" and Obama needed an old white guy I say that’s offensive and I just don’t think that holds water.

I also thought the argument against Hillary Clinton was that she had been in Washington too long and it would go against his “change” message? So he picks someone who’s been in Washington two decades who has made countless gaffes while he’s been there and who said quite emphatically and he did NOT want to be Vice President? (Yes I know there was the Bill Clinton problem too but that could have been managed) How does Biden help reach out to Hillary supporters? The fact that he slammed Obama so much during the race doesn’t seal the deal I’m afraid and the disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters I fear are going to be fuming.

My top picks would have Kathleen Sebelius (Governor of Kansas) and Janet Napolitano (Governor of Arizona). While they lacked the foreign policy experience Biden has and were Obama supporters they satisfy the other criteria and were strong female governors (which would appeal to many disaffected Hillary supporters who still feel it’s crucial to have a woman in the oval office) who could have helped Obama win in the Midwest and ultimately that’s what Obama needs to win and Biden doesn’t really help much with that from what I can see.

John McCain may now pick a female VP (though I’m certain she’ll be anti-choice and not really onside with the women’s movement) and while I hope not many women get fooled (just imagine someone like Cheryl Gallant leading the country) – I think it would win over some former Hillary Clinton supporters and Obama has left this opportunity wide open for McCain by not just choosing a well-qualified woman himself.

To be clear I’m sure Joe Biden will make a great VP and he is well-qualified and certainly miles better than anything John McCain will put up. To be fair, I’ll refer you to two posts on why Biden will be good for the ticket. Still, from a strategic standpoint I personally just don’t understand this and I happen to feel strongly that there were better, more qualified people who deserved the position more. And as a woman I'm disappointed that this sends a message to wait until 2016 for a woman on the ticket.

The fact remains though that America and Canada and the rest of the world still needs Barack Obama as President. I’m disappointed because I think this pick works against that. No going back of course, but I’ve been frank on the faults made through this Presidential race by any candidate and will continue to do so. Obama is only human and he can learn from his mistakes pointed out by his supporters and recognize the weaknesses that still remain for a Obama-Biden ticket.

In the end I (and I hope many others, particularly in the U.S. so the media takes notice) and many others will continue to point out that John McCain would be MORE CONSERVATIVE on domestic policy and MORE HAWKISH on foreign policy than George W. Bush and would therefore be even worse on both fronts, not to mention he would set back women’s rights 30 years. And I will continue to point out all the great qualities an Obama Presidency would bring. So it won’t be hard to say Obama-Biden is by far the best option for Americans on November 4th. I still look forward to watching the Democratic Convention.

UPDATE: So after reading more posts in favour of Biden and watching his speech in Springfield with Obama, and a couple other videos, I must say I feel a lot better about him as the choice, I think he'll do better in states like Ohio than I gave him credit. When you are getting praise from Republican Senators AND Michael Moore at the same time, along with the high favourability ratings Scott Tribe noted, that is quite a good testament of cross-partisan support. I now feel better that he'll do well for the campaign and he definitely had some good lines in Springfield. That said some of the drawbacks I outlined remain - no executive experience, no regional balance to the ticket, and kind of goes agains the long-standing Obama arguments of "you can't change the culture in Washington by sending the same old faces back and expecting a different result" or that you can't credibly run against John McCain on Iraq when you voted for the war (which Biden did). Also the fact that Biden is on record saying he would be proud to be ON John McCain's ticket and that he encouraged John Kerry to take McCain as his running mate will take some of the sting out of Biden's attacks on McCain. Obama would do well to be well aware of these remaining weaknesses and Biden ought to have an answer ready of why he said he would be willing to be on McCain's ticket or wanted Kerry to have him in 2004.

But I did want to update this to say I feel better about him than I did before so the title of this post has changed a bit. Still a missed opportunity though, I would have liked to seen a strong female governor chosen and I still believe others would have done better and been more qualified for the ticket, for instance, I've yet to hear one argument why Joe Biden was a better pick than Bill Richarson. Biden will be a great VP though regardless. Still looking forward to the big convention speeches :).

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ever an Opportunist – Harper Calls By-election in Don Valley West

No matter that Harper just said Parliament was so dysfunctional that he might need to dissolve it, no matter that he and his party is the one solely responsible for any current mess, no matter that he pledged not to call an election until Fall of 2009, no matter that he waited until the very last possible opportunity to call other by-elections when it suited him, Stephen Harper has never cared about good governance, spending taxpayer's money wisely, or even being consistent with his past statements, everything, absolutely everything is about partisanship and putting his party’s interests before those of the country. Harper’s calling of this by-election for Sept. 22 in Don Valley West (DVW) is no different. Of course it’s a fairly safe riding for the Liberals, but I think it’s clear why Harper has called it now: to siphon Liberal resources away from Guelph, St. Lambert and Westmount Ville-Marie. The Conservatives are 100% focused on Guelph and I’m sure Harper has no plans to make much of a push for DVW, but I’m just guessing that in Harper’s eyes taking away any Liberal volunteers that would have otherwise been in the other 3 ridings between now and Sept. 8th works to his benefit. All Harper cares about is pushing up Conservative numbers in Guelph and pushing down Liberal numbers in Guelph, WVM, and St. Lambert (they are banking on the NDP and the Bloc to beat the Liberals in the latter two ridings).

I hope Liberals across the province take that into consideration as they think about where to spend their volunteer hours over the next few weeks/weekends (of course as James suggests you can donate to Rob Oliphant in DVW in the meantime), but everyone I’m sure will do what they believe is best for the party, and regardless of any by-election, I think it would be great of all Liberals who can, to come attend Stephane Dion's Green Shift Town Hall with Rob later this week (Thursday Aug 21 from 12 - 1:30 PM in the Telus Conference Room at the Ontario Science Centre). Personally, I believe that a strong push after Sept. 8th (with lots of help in DVW before then from those that live in the area) would be more than enough to keep DVW red, but I’m not the one that makes strategy so we’ll see what happens. Me I’m spending my free weekends in St. Lambert, where I think a real Liberal good news story for September 8th is shaping up. But despite having just had another great weekend there helping our fabulous candidate Roxane Stanners, I’ve come home to disappointment that our Prime Minister just can’t seem to pass up another opportunity to be an opportunist.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Who Says Bloggers Don't Know How to Have Fun?

Sorry Dan, I just couldn't resist, but your recent rejection of Brant for Victory Fund money makes me feel a little less guilt. I'm sure this just was an off-night and that you've had better rounds on the bull at past Stampedes though.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When Your Tin Foil Hats Have Been Knocked Off and Your Legal Case is Going Up in Smoke, What do You do?

Apparently the brains at Conservative HQ think the best response is to hit the panic button and appear absolutely terrified of having to speak about the In and Out Scandal in public anymore. No longer able to defend themselves, it’s time to hide, obstruct, and distractreally makes it appear like they've done nothing wrong. Originally the Conservatives clung to their conspiracy theories in hopes they would hold water. But at the first hearings in July everything went to pieces (live-blogging of those hearings by Kady O’Malley can be found here: Round 1 - Day 1, Part 1, Round 1 - Day 1, Part 2, Round 1 - Day 1, Part 2, Round 1 - Day 2, Part 2, and the scandal refresher here).

Everybody does it? No no one else has in the last two elections since the current elections laws were put in place.

There was a leak from Elections Canada to the CBC and the Liberals on the day of the raid? No, they were there for 2.5 hours before anyone else showed up.

The Conservatives did nothing out of the ordinary? No they were the only party that exceeded the national spending limit and had the national campaign meddle in local ridings to this extent.

So while we heard then of many of the shady practices and why the Conservatives were set to lose their legal case we had yet to hear from many of the Conservative party officials directly involved in this scandal. So they were called in this week. Best coverage again goes to Kady O’Malley (see here: Round 2 - Day 1, Part 1, Round 2 - Day 1, Part 2, Round 2 - Day 2, Part 1, Round 2 - Day 2, Part 2, Round 2 - Day 3, Part 1, Round 2 - Day 3, Part 2, Round 2 - Day 3, Part 3). So we’ve seen Doug Finley throw a tantrum and have to be escorted out in a desperate attempt to take the story away from the hearings and very troubling allegations that there has been intimidation of witnesses not to appear at hearings for which they have been summoned. Only 3 of 26 summoned have appeared and Conservatives claim there’s no reason to be suspicious?

We can see why they don’t want them to appear. With the latest hearings we heard from candidates and ad executives who said they had serious questions about the legality of what the Conservatives were doing and said that Conservatives were blatantly telling local candidates to give their local campaign money over to the national campaign and it was “none of their business” what it was for and they didn’t care if the local campaign benefited.

So with the Conservative party running scared on this issue perhaps the media should start paying more attention to the seriousness of the allegations here. Only more shady practices are coming to light and it's about time the public starts hearing more about them so they can know just how "accountable" this government is and how much respect they have for our institutions.

For those voters in St. Lambert, Guelph and Westmount Ville-Marie who want a government that will actually respect our democratic institutions instead of undermine them at every turn there’s a clear chance to send a message that you support our institutions that are revered across the world (and only hated in Conservative circles) – Vote Liberal on September 8th and put Harper on notice.

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Not Content to be Slammed for Our Own Human Rights Record, Harper Decides He Wants to Cover Up Abuses for Others

We’ve already been slammed over and over again for going from a leader to a pariah on human rights - by supporting the death penalty, dropping support for the international treaty on indigenous rights, turning a blind eye to torture in Afghan prisons, and voicing strong support for Guantanamo Bay. In every case we’ve stood virtually alone in the Western world, with our only ally usually being the Bush Administration. Now Harper’s government is trying to cover up the records of other countries? NO other western country does this! It wasn’t good enough to be on level with the Bush Administration, I guess we just had to do worse.

And Peter Van Loan wants to claim the Conservative government has been “second to none” on human rights?

Why don’t the media just call these guys for what they are – liars. Not only do the Conservatives have an extreme problem with telling the truth, in just 2 and half years, they have set back Canada’s international reputation on every major issue – a reputation that has taken decades to build up. For those voters in Guelph, St.-Lambert and Westmount Ville-Marie who want that proud Canadian reputation back, there’s a clear chance to send a message that you’ve had it with Canada’s backsliding – Vote Liberal on September 8th and put Harper on notice.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Go Green Vote Red!

This past Saturday, the youth campaign in support of the Green Shift, Go Green Vote Red was launched in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Navdeep Bains and YLC President Cory Pike were on hand to lay out the details of the campaign and the youth campaign website (see photos below). The website ( has a great video by Stephane talking about the value of the Green Shift to youth and importantly there are also Videos of Liberal youth who tell us why they believe the Green Shift is the policy Canada needs for the 21st century. I encourage all young supporters of the Green Shift to submit their videos as well (instructions can be found here) – you could even win a VIP trip to Ottawa for having the best French and/or English video! There are other prizes as well. You can also join the French and English facebook groups for this campaign, find out how to share the plan with others, and even follow where the Go Green Vote Red Tour will be going after its initial launch in St. John’s this past weekend. There will be more stops I’m sure than what’s listed now so keep checking back to see if it will be coming to your area.

Through this campaign the Liberal Party is showing once again that it values and promotes the views of youth. It doesn’t seek to hide or minimize them or make the youth into puppets of the senior party. And the Young Liberals of Canada and other young Liberal groups across the country consistently pull their own weight in coming up with innovative initiatives like this in return. I think it’s clear that the Liberal Party is the best home for youth across the country as it is only there where youth have a real voice and have their ideas accepted by the party at large. I’m sure the Liberals will succeed in convincing a large majority of youth to Go Green and Vote Red!

I hope to be back soon with a report on the Young Liberals Atlantic Caucus where this campaign was launched. It was definitely a great weekend! Having now returned from a week in Atlantic Canada and some other things out of the way I hope August will be a more busy blogging month than July.

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