Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Study in Contrasts

Liberals: Positive hopeful ads portraying a vision for Canada's future
Conservatives: Negative deceptive ads ranting about a coalition that has been ruled out (as they ally with those same parties themselves) and accusations of Liberals wanting to raise taxes as they raise them themselves.
NDP: Prefers to keep the later in government in return for what their own supporters and MPs call "paltry" and "crumbs". They certainly have a lot of explaining to do.

UPDATE: Speaking of ads and contrasts, Steve calls attention to another:

The Conservative government is spending more than five times as many taxpayer dollars on promoting its economic plan as it is on raising public awareness about the flu pandemic.

The TV spots are just the latest $4-million salvo in a $34-million media blitz trumpeting the Conservative's recession-fighting budget.

Meanwhile, with public health officials fretting over an onrushing fall flu season, the spread of the H1N1 virus and widespread public apathy about the need for vaccination, no television ads are in the works to combat swine flu.

Health Canada's home web page, however, does include a prominent link to the Conservative economic action plan website (

Recommend this Post

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Congratulations Eric Hoskins!

Queen's Park and St. Paul's are lucky to have him! Eric's final share of the vote at 47.6% stands at even better than Michael Bryant's from 2007 when Dalton McGuinty was returned to office with a larger majority. I understand some pundits argued that this was a referendum on the HST (which in combination with the off-setting PST rebates and income tax cuts actually leaves more money in the pockets of 90% of Ontarians) and was supposed to be an omen for the federal Liberals . Well I have to say I'm now inclined to agree with their analysis and I'd hope these same pundits would too! ;)

Maybe some of those skeptics out there can finally come to terms with the idea that Ontarians actually do happen to appreciate McGuinty's strong leadership on the environment and the economy. Either way, regardless of how you feel about the Ontario Liberal Government, I think we can all agree that Eric Hoskins will make a fabulous MPP for St. Paul's!

Recommend this Post

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Are Reforms You Call "Paltry" Really Worth the Price?

So apparently the NDP have decided to prop up Stephen Harper till March (as the EI reforms go through committee, 2nd, and 3rd readings) SOLELY in return to what NDP MP Pat Martin flatly calls “paltry improvements to EI.” Well the NDP seem to have quite a sense of priorities because by propping up Harper till March (when he pulls the plug himself and perhaps before these EI reforms even receive royal assent) that means:
- There will be NO MORE significant enhancements to benefits or fixing regional disparities for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers NOT covered by the Conservative reforms (the reforms are said to affect at best 60,000 people a year) (so much for helping the little guy)
- Canada will be sending Harper the obstructionist to the most important climate change negotiations in history this December who will go with the goal of torpedoing the whole thing (so much for the environment)
- Canadian citizens will continue to languish in foreign prisons with no help from their government (so much for human rights)
- Government stimulus funds will continue to go predominantly to Conservative held ridings that actually have lower relative unemployment rates (so much for fairness)
- Harper will bring in ever more right-wing legislation knowing you will pass whatever he wants until the EI reforms are passed into law as you are promising (so much for principles)
- Harper gets an election at his preferred time and you will be giving him what you in your own words called a "de facto majority" (so much for electoral strategy)
- Harper will give you no credit for these EI reforms he was already going to do, he will throw in some mockery and more humiliations here and there and you will have no real accomplishments to go to the electorate with in March (so much for pride)

And that's just a short list and it's all so Tom Mulcair can hold his seat a little longer and Jack Layton can hold the NDP leadership a little longer.

When the two of them lose them both as a result of the election Harper triggers post-Olympics, I somehow doubt their supporters will look back on it and think it was all worthwhile. Even though I think the Liberals still stand a good chance of winning then too, it will be after more damage was done to our reputation and finances that will have to be repaired thanks to NDP short-sightedness.

Now these EI reforms that Pat Martin calls paltry are worthwhile, but I'm sure they could have been applied retroactively after an election and are far from all the reforms that should be made or even that the NDP said must be made. And it should have been obvious to the NDP that leaves Harper in office for the next 6 months means NO MORE "results for people" beyond what their own MP said was paltry while having all the negative consequences above and more.

But I guess protecting Jack and Tom matters more. That's really some leadership the NDP have isn't it?

The irony is that by extending the government till March and giving us an election on Harper's terms, IF Harper actually won I wonder if the NDP would even survive to fight the election after that? First chance Harper would get post-election he will cut public financing of political parties, which no doubt will be a big thank you to Jack from Steve for the 6 months or so Jack helped HIM survive.

In the meantime, should the NDP grassroots just fall in line with Layton and Mulcair's wishes and not force them to back down, then we must just resign ourselves to six more months of spiraling deficits, more debt, more unemployment (without any new significant assistance), more division, and no leadership or vision at home or abroad. And then we can get an election exactly when Harper wants.

I think we can do better.

Recommend this Post

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why the NDP Should Go Now

It seems the NDP is between a rock and a hard place. While I don't feel so much for Jack Layton who helped to put Harper in office in the first place, I do have some sympathy for many NDP supporters who's hearts are often in the right place. So let me just give 10 sincere reasons why it's not in the NDP's interest OR Canada's interest for the NDP to be propping up the Harper government. I hope they are taking these things into consideration before making up their mind.

1) You prop up Harper now, he will pull the plug on himself right after the Olympics with a poll-tested budget with a poison pill or two (elimination of public financing perhaps) anyways. Don't believe me? Harper's strategists let that cat out of the bag months ago, and when Con House Leader Jay Hill's newsletter says: "History has demonstrated that voters are less likely to vote for change and against an incumbent government when feeling patriotic and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics in February will undoubtedly inflame a greater sense of patriotism and excitement across the country", you can rest assured they will do all they can to ensure that's when they get their election. Do you really want to go at the preferred time of the guy you voted against 79 times?

2) A six month reprieve is hardly much new time to fundraise and if opposing the Harper government constantly for almost 4 years didn't bring in new money, you really think propping up this guy your supporters hate will?

3) Playing into Harper's hands increases the risk your party will be killed by the end of public financing. The Liberals have shown they can survive without public financing. Your party clearly can't. If Harper wins the next election, public financing is gone. He'd rather go in March than now. The Liberals could still likely win then too, but why would you help Harper's chances even in the slightest when you know him winning would be the end of your party?

4) You've said yourself again and again, Harper can't be trusted. You will get nothing from him in return for your support he wasn't going to do anyway, because you know even moving an inch towards your real stated priorities would be toxic to his base. If he did give you something that looked like a past NDP priority, it's pretty likely it would die on the order paper when he pulls the plug in March. What would you run on then? "We tried to get results for people, but Stephen Harper fooled us and gave us nothing for the support we gave him." Not really a winner I'd say.

5) Copenhagen. The environment has been a major issue for the NDP for years now. Propping up Stephen Harper means HE will be OUR representative at the most important Climate Change Conference in history this December in Copenhagen. Michael Ignatieff has pledged his support for a REAL cap-and-trade system with absolute caps and a 1990 baseline for emissions targets. He will propose more of what I'm sure the NDP would agree with in the campaign. Isn't it obvious, Ignatieff would bring to Denmark a position that's much more in line with the interests of Canada, not to mention your party as well? The main obstructionists at Bali were Japan, the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. and Japan now take climate change seriously, so that leaves just one hold-out left. One can be enough to significantly undermine whatever consensus based agreement comes out of the conference. Wouldn't the NDP want to see Copenhagen succeed?

6) Putting Your BC Seats at risk. You know all those seats you hold in B.C. where the Conservatives have traditionally finished second? Well just where might Harper's Conservatives' see its greatest boost in support in a post-Olympics election?

7) You throw away your entire message of the last 4 years. So you were the "only party that can truly be counted on to oppose Stephen Harper" and now your message would be "we opposed Stephen Harper until that would actually have consequences and then we folded like a cheap suit". Not sure that would sell. You think after you called Liberals supporting a Conservative budget a "Liberal-Conservative coalition" (which it wasn't) wouldn't make it difficult for you to explain how you haven't just formed a "NDP-Conservative coalition"? Well I don't envy who would ever be left to do the explaining.

8) It doesn't pass the smell test for you to claim now all of a sudden you want to "make Parliament work." You've been voting constantly for new elections for the past 4 years. You think the public has that short of memories or that Stephen Harper won't mock you for it at every turn?

9) The proposed Con EI Reforms are nowhere near what you claimed would be essential needed EI Reforms. As Jeff and Steve note, they do not address eligibility, regional differences or access, and it's very hard to square why would you support these but so vehemently opposed the Conservative budget. You would take EI off the able entirely with a proposal that's nowhere near as comprehensive it should be and doesn't truly help the people you said you were fighting for. That's not the results for people you've been promising. By supporting these reforms WITHOUT asking for SIGNIFICANTLY MORE beyond them, you surrender all credibility on an issue you've fought on for years.

10) You know the only way to get real "results for people" is with a Liberal government. Facts are facts, Jack Layton has more in common with Michael Ignatieff in his views that he does Stephen Harper. You will NOT get a coalition with the Liberals, but at least you could have a government who actually listens to all parties and won't reject a good idea just because it came from a party who Stephen Harper's base calls "crazy socialists". On education, health care, the environment and foreign policy, the NDP can find far more common ground with Liberals than Conservatives.

So you want to actually make a real difference in the lives of Canadians? Let's help give Canadians the government they deserve now. You may worry about losing seats now, but you'd be likely to lose more in March, at least now you can hold on to your credibility and still have a good expectation of influencing policy with a Liberal minority government (something that really boosted your profile the last time).

The NDP deludes itself if they think they'd ever have any clout with a Conservative government.
I and so many others have already stated why it is in Canada's interests to have an election. I know in their heart of hearts, many NDP supporters agree with those same reasons. It's narrow considerations that are getting in the way - the party is broke, Jack Layton wants to keep his leadership position awhile longer, Tom Mulcair wants to keep his seat awhile longer, maybe some others want to save their pensions.

Well that's not good enough for Canadians and I would hope that's not good enough for the grassroots of the NDP either.

Now NDP supporters could flood this post with comments talking about how Liberals were propping up the Conservatives in the past (which I've said before was justifiable) as if that somehow absolves the NDP, but really how does that discussion help us forward?

Let's focus on the future now before any decisions are made: what is in the best long-term interests of your party and your country NDP?

Here's hoping they come to realize that theirs and the country's interests lie with ending Stephen Harper's reign in power now.

UPDATE 10:55 PM: If there was ever any doubt that Harper doesn't intend to embarrass the NDP with each new confidence measure, the actual wording of Friday's Ways and Means Motion should make his intentions pretty clear. You still think you can trust this man NDP? This is your ticket to filling your coffers? To vote for things you've given fiery speeches opposing before? Well get ready, Stephen Harper is just getting started with you.

UPDATE 2 Sept. 15 @ 1:45 PM: "the NDP says an email sent last week to Mr. Giorno by NDP Leader Jack Layton's chief of staff, Anne McGrath, has so far been ignored.
'It is telling. It is their modus operandi,' NDP spokesman Karl Belanger said. 'They don't want to work with other parties and they're trying to minimize the contact with other parties. That's been the case with the Prime Minister and his team since they got into power.' "

But yet seems like you will be supporting them anyway. I'm guessing at this point, Harper could come out and say "I will not speak to the NDP and I will offer them no concessions" and it wouldn't make a bit of difference.

Recommend this Post

The Case for Change

As Parliament returned today, so does this blog. And as the Harper government returned to Question Period for another round of evasive non-answers, ask yourself do we really need more of this? What does Stephen Harper have to show for his almost four years in office? Deficits, Debt, Division, Deception and Disarray.

Stephen Harper was so obsessed with banishing "surprise Liberal surpluses" and yet now he wants us to cut him slack for ever rising surprise new Conservative deficits.

Stephen Harper boasted about how much debt he was going to pay down, only to pile up more than had been paid in the last decade.

Stephen Harper said when he was first elected that his he would "govern for all Canadians" only to be the worst wedge politician Canada's ever seen as he writes off 60% of the population completely.

Stephen Harper said he would bring open, honest and accountable government, only to give us the opposite.
He promised us no recession and no deficit and we got the worst of both.
He tried to take credit for the lowest unemployment rate in 33 years, only to blame everyone else but him when he faces the highest.
He railed against Liberal patronage and cronyism and felt compelled to top it.
He promised sincere cooperation on EI this past summer and turned the whole thing into a charade.
He accused the opposition of wanting to raise payroll taxes on EI (which we were told would be a "job killer"), only to do so himself.
That kind of deception is tough to top.

And he's left our country in complete disarray with no vision or long-term domestic or foreign policy goals. Can someone point to anything Stephen Harper has planned for even next year? As every other major industrialized country makes targeted investments and restructures to compete in the global economy, Stephen Harper just puts his head in the sand. Does anyone still listen to Canada with Stephen Harper in power? When Stephen Harper says Canada is "back" under his leadership he must mean back of the pack.

It's really quite the legacy to leave behind and that's just the short list!
Well we needn't let him add to it any longer.

Canadians deserve better.

We face the toughest times in a generation with a Parliament Stephen Harper refuses to make work (Overdue EI Reforms still don't make the grade).

If you give Stephen Harper your hand, rest assured he will do everything he can to tie it behind your back (Jack Layton take note...).

Every day more Harper is in office our potential as a country is further squandered as he obsesses over crushing his opponents instead of governing the nation.

There is little positive to be gained by keeping this government in office any longer. We can do better.

We need a government willing to actually govern and make Parliament work rather than one focused entirely on electioneering and trying to come up with the best "plausible" lies about their opposition.

We need a government willing to lead on the world stage, rather than one that's happy to be a bit player.

We need a government with a team of strong capable ministers, rather than a one-man show who forces the rest into hiding.

We need a government that listens to research and science instead of one driven only be ideology.

We need a government willing to stand up for women's and minority rights and the disabled, instead of one that sees them as "left-wing fringe groups".

We need a government that protects Canadians abroad instead of abandons them.

We need a government that believes in our institutions, from public broadcasting, to the courts, to Elections Canada, rather than a government trying to tear them down.

We need a government that knows we must invest more in post-secondary education, instead of one who mocks those with a university education.

We need a government willing to show real environmental leadership at the largest ever Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December, instead of one that would go with the goal of being the biggest holdout.

We need a government that knows that good child care policy is good economic policy, instead of one that is seemingly proud not to have created a single child care space.

We need a government willing to level with Canadians and give straight answers instead of one that stonewalls and deceives at every turn.

We need a government that's fiscally responsible and has a social conscience to replace one that's neither.

We need a government that's focused on building the Canada of the future to take over from one that can't see beyond the next election.

We need a Prime Minister that unites Canadians rather than divides them.

Only Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party can provide this kind of government to Canadians. A Prime Minister and government that provides real vision and leadership we can all be proud of.

A majority of Canadians may say they don't want an election now, but that's because they are not yet convinced an election would change much or that there's no single defining issue. But an election can give us the real debate about our future we didn't get in the last and that we really need as economies restructure across the globe.

Liberals will present a truly alternative compelling vision for this country and Canadians will see we can be so much more than we are.

Stephen Harper was given another chance by Canadians almost a year ago and in every way, he's blown it. The stakes are too high to grant him another reprieve. These tough times demand better.

When Canadians are faced with a choice of positive change and more of the same, the choice will be clear.

Canada needs a new direction and it can't come soon enough.

For more on why we need an election, see here

Recommend this Post