Saturday, July 25, 2009

Greens and the NDP co-operating? NDP desperate

It would seem that there is a movement afoot calling for cooperation between the Greens and the NDP, so as to present those "who stand for the environment and for social and economic justice." Here it is:

Dear Jack Layton,

Our country is stalled in regressive leadership.

Canada stands as a bastion of neo-conservatism under Stephen Harper. We need to bring more progressive voices into Parliament at the expense of the Conservatives. Given the direction the Liberals have taken and Ignatieff's capitulation to Harper, we can hardly expect many of those forward looking voices to be Liberal.

This coming election we can help make history. We have an opportunity to rise above the fray of partisan politics and deliver for voters throughout the country who stand for the environment and for social and economic justice. Our party can contribute to making gains for all of these by cooperating with the Green Party to reduce Harper's caucus and send the message that his regressive domestic and international politics do not represent the country's majority.

We, the undersigned, ask that our party leadership and administration seriously consider the options available to us to form an agreement with the Green Party that increases our number of seats in Parliament. We request that our leadership enter into negotiations with Elizabeth May, as soon as possible, in order to realize the many gains a mutually beneficial agreement will deliver.

We stand strong in our resolve that what we are proposing is of benefit to everyone involved as there currently are ridings where our own excellent candidates would prevail against Conservatives if they received support from Green party supporters.

We urge our party's leadership to consider the many positive attributes of negotiating winning strategies for targeted ridings, including support for either a Green candidate or an NDP candidate alone to run with the support of the other party.

By working together with others who hold similar socially and environmentally responsible values, we have an opportunity to build the movement that reflects the will of Canada's majority. A movement that can defeat Stephen Harper and his regressive agenda.

It is our time to shine!


Anne Bomford, former CVRD Regional Director
Jim Bomford
Chris Bowers, Editor, The Flying Shingle Newspaper
Peter Dimitrov, former BCNDP Leadership Candidate
Brian Fisher
John Hill
Richard Hughes, former CVRD Director,NDP Candidate
Sharon Jackson, Duncan City Councilor
Kevin Logan, former MA in BCNDP Government
Phil Marchant Hugh Mcleod
Jenny Mcleod
Rowland Morgan, Former NDP Caucus EA
Maureen Shaylor
Lorraine St. James
Michael Wallace, UBC Professor Emeritus
Jerry West, Editor, The Record, Newspaper
Muriel Wiens

According to this petition they seek to represent those who care about social justice issues and economic issues and the environment? Do these Dippers know that on social justice issues and especially economic issues, the Greens are much more closely aligned with the Conservatives than the NDP?

The NDP must be desperate.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Compromises and why evangelicals should give their heads a shake.

Even with the plethora of political parties in Canada, it is highly unlikely that any single political party comprehensively represents anyone's views. For that reason, although I am an evangelical christian, I support the Liberal party of Canada, and not the Conservatives or the Christian Heritage Party.

In discussions on one of the posts at Canadian Soapbox, I commented that in fact Christian evangelicals should be just as likely to vote for the Liberals as the CHP or the Conservatives. Immediately a CHP supporter let all hell break loose. Why? Because, being a Christian, I decided there were other things than personal morality issues that should determine how I vote.

There is a social morality too, and Jesus talked far more about giving to the poor and caring for the oppressed than about homosexuality. I am not saying that Jesus supports homosexuality, as the incensed CHP supporter maintained.

One has to make a tradeoff. And Jesus talked a whole lot more about certain issues than others. This same CHP supporter said that they support limited government. Well, that is not a position I believe Jesus would have taken. Evangelicals need to give their head a shake and realize the Liberal party, and maybe even the NDP, are in line with many of Jesus' teachings, far more than the Cons or the CHP.

These sorts of dilemmas applies to anyone, not just those with religious affiliation.
There are always compromises one has to make if one is to choose a political party to support. If one unconditionally subscribes to all the tenets of a political party, then they are likely either its founder, or a blind follower.
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Abuse of Charter prevented

The Supreme Court of Canada voted today by a 4-3 margin that Hutterites, a sect who believe that being photographed willingly is sinful, are obliged to have a picture on their driving licenses. And it was the right decision. To do otherwise would have gone against the Charter.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been abused in significant ways in the past. Remember Mark Steyn's article on Islam, and the incensed complaints to the Human Rights Commissions over an infringement of the Charter? That was ridiculous, and an outcome favouring the Hutterite position today would have been a worthy equal.

If photographic identification is not provided on these licenses we may as well not bother with them. Let the four year olds drive! Okay, that's not what the Hutterites were asking for, but abuse of the system would be simple without photo ID. How can the police enforce the system if they don't have this crucial information? It's impossible.

That is any other ruling would have been inadmissible. In the Charter, the Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms states that it "guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."

In other words, any rights or freedoms can be limited by reasonable demands of the law if they are justified, and photo ID is clearly such a limit. Were the judges to vote in favour of the Hutterites, they would have been disregarding the Charter, and that was the basis of the Hutterites plea!

If only people would read that first clause of the Charter...
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Obama's opponents on Health Care Reform

Patients United Now, an advocacy group opposed to the reforms to healthcare envisioned by Obama, has enlisted the help of a Canadian in one of their ads that greatly distorts the issue.

Shona Holmes, who had an unusual brain tumor, was told that she would have to wait 6 months in the Canadian system before she would see a specialist. She decided instead to go to the US, while mortgaging her house to pay the $100 000 to see the American specialist. Now she is speaking out in a Patients United Now ad claiming that if Healthcare a la Canadian were attempted in the US, "deadly" waiting lists would ensue.

What people like Shona Holmes and the good ol' conservatives at Patients United Now don't seem to want to understand is that it is equally deadly to not have proper healthcare that is available to all, regardless of financial situation. How are people in the lower classes to get access to even simple healthcare, let alone treatment for brain tumors when they cannot pay the prices demanded in the US without seriously compromising their already precarious situations?

This is not to say that there are not problems with the Canadian system, but it is considerably superior to that in the US. In Canada, medical setbacks do not mean that your whole life is setback. In the US, you have to be quite wealthy to escaped unscathed financially.

The problems brought up by these ads, notably the long waiting lists, need to be addressed, and all parties in Canada recognize that (although I doubt the Conservatives track record). Proposals have been put forward for more doctors and nurses to reduce severe shortages in the sector, and thus reduce waiting times.

However, in the grand scheme of things, I would much rather have the Healthcare system we enjoy in Canada than the mess in the United States. Our system benefits more people, harming less than the American one does with its deadly prices to the average citizen.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Ignatieff's "knowledge society" would be a "leap for mankind"

Today was the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, perhaps the greatest example of human innovation. And it also provides support for Ignatieff's calls for a "knowledge society."

The Apollo missions were the result of such knowledge that would be encouraged in a "knowledge society". All those that worked on the mission and made it possible received significant education. They, and the mission, were the results of education.

Ignatieff has implied that in his "knowledge society" access to post-secondary education would be freer and more money would be put towards this. Such measures would make our post-secondary institutions more likely to yield significant research and innovation, continuing a long Canadian tradition.

Not to mention that engineering and scientific innovation in particular also contribute to the economy in significant ways, creating many jobs and wealth.

Although the improvements Ignatieff envisages are unclear, they would hopefully yield small steps for man and large leaps for mankind.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Harper creating ads attacking his own party

Stephen Harper must be a great strategist to be able to pull such a stunt off. To run ads that eventually reduce public support for your own party is certainly something that hasn't been tried before.

Hay Research International has released the results of a survey they conducted concerning one of the "Michael Ignatieff: Just Visiting" ads, and the numbers come out decidedly against the Conservatives. (numbers here)

In total, 59 % of respondents said that they "had a less positive view of the Conservative Party as a result of this ad. 38% of respondents who voted for the Conservatives in the last election had this response.

In contrast, only 48% of all respondents said the same of the Liberals, and only 20% of Liberal supporters said this ad made them view the Liberals less favourably.

Furthermore 56% of respondents expressed their dislike of this ad. This means that, not only is Stephen Harper hurting the cause of his party, he's hurting the cause of all politicians. Well done, Steve.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

EKOS poll reveals 2% Conservative advantage

An EKOS poll released today reveals a story many of us do not want to hear: the Conservatives are back, ahead by 2% with 34.1% and the Liberals at 32.4%. Although this can be covered by the margin of error, it is of some concern seeing as the blame is entirely on Liberal shoulders.

Can anyone think of anything substantial and positive that the Conservatives have done since Ignatieff's potential election? All I can come up with is the settlement they produced, the commission to review EI, with 3 Liberals and 3 Conservatives. Other than that, it has been mostly scandals. Not to mention that before the election scare, they weren't doing much better.

So, it seems to me that our leader, Ignatieff, is to blame for fomenting an election scare, and subsequently revealing it was just that. The public is reacting predictably to what it perceives as politicians playing games, instead of performing the duties for which they were sent to the capital.

What's more, these results are probably down because Ignatieff is losing his new leader aura, an aura of something new and fresh. Although every leader loses this after a while, it was all the more confirmed by what is seen as waffling.

The Liberals do not have the Conservatives to blame for these numbers. However, it is too harsh to say that the Liberals made wrong decisions. Ignatieff made a principled decision of compromise, and attempts at co-operation. He is to be admired for that.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Green Party don't do themselves a whole lot of good

The Green party's main goal, as one can easily infer from the name, is to protect the environment. However, a case could be made that in fact this environmentalist party, at its essence, makes difficult what it purports to strive for.

This contradiction stems from the Green Party's very essence. At its core, the Green Party is a single issue party. Most of their supporters do not support them because of their masterful ideas for health care, or superior policy on crime, or Afghanistan. The focus of the Green Party here in Canada is solely the environment, and that becomes an impediment for the very protection of it.

Why? Well, as a single issue party, the Greens draw away from the multi-issue parties many of the environmentally minded political individuals. As such, this reduces policy making with an environmental focus in these parties.

The greater waste is that the Green party splits the environmental vote. An environmentally conscious voter is presented with a dilemma. Vote for the Greens, who will never be able to implement their policies, or for another party that could form government, but has a weaker environmental policy.

All in all, what the Green party as a single issue party becomes is an advocacy group, a political lobbying party. This is a rather ineffective way of getting the policies you deem necessary implemented. Wouldn't it be more efficient to work from within the Liberals or the NDP?

If that approach were taken, those two parties would develop tougher environmental policies that could get implemented, instead of getting wasted by a party that will never have the power to implement them.

Furthermore, the Greens make themselves a weaker bloc than they could be. The Green party inherently creates division within the environmental bloc. Instead, if they moved in great numbers to either the NDP or the Liberals, they would be more united, and have a lot more clout.

Although it may seem to be the environmentally righteous thing to vote Green, you really are delaying the implementation of policies that would help the environment.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And Stephen Harper's an economist? Make that libertarian or anarchist

I'm sure all readers have heard or read the Harper comments on taxes. What I wondered when I saw these comments was how Stephen Harper could claim to be an economist. How could any economist say that no taxes are good taxes? It doesn't stand to reason, and the inevitable conclusion is that Stephen Harper is a libertarian at best, an anarchist at worst.

As Jeffrey Simpson puts it in his column today:

"There is no “school,” to use Stephen Harper's word, anywhere in economics that says “no taxes are good taxes.” Not even Milton Friedman and the Chicago school think that. Nor do Mr. Harper's former mentors at the University of Calgary."

The problem is that through his actions, Harper seems to be putting into action the ideology his comment professes. Cutting the GST, for instance, whose negative repercussions can be detected in the ever-growing deficit being run by Ottawa.

On the topic of the deficit, Harper must realize that taxes would help to pull the government out of the red. In fact, he probably resents that truth.

I doubt these comments show that Harper is losing control. It is much more likely that this either pandering to his base, as an election in the fall is a real possibility, or under pressure, he uttered what he actually believes. Either option is concerning.

He either believes something no one else in his academic field does, or he's willing to go to any lengths, no matter any measure of economic integrity he may possess. Scary indeed, Jeffrey Simpson.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Tory attack ads are "moderate" (Flanagan)

The article on negative ad campaigning by Tom Flanagan, in today's Globe and Mail, shows how out of touch he is, and consequently his party and his friend, Stephen Harper.

That Flanagan can even consider the ads that the Conservatives have been issuing during their time in government as belonging to "the most moderate" variety is ludicrous. There is nothing moderate about the character assassination that surrounded Stephane Dion. There is nothing moderate about implicitly attacking an individual's "Canadianess", simply because Mr. Ignatieff has not stuck around the country as long as Mr. Harper.

And there is most definitely nothing moderate about insinuating that the Bloc Quebecois are pedophiles, or at the least sympathizers.

Tom Flanagan must have missed what the word moderate means. In addition to this evidence of highly malleable definitions in the Conservative vocabulary, Flanagan maintains that all these ads are based in fact. He points us to Mr Dion's quote "it's not easy being a leader", to Ignatieff's 30-odd years out of the country, and to Bill C-268.

According to Flanagan, ads addressing these facts were merely recalls of the news. What Flanagan fails to mention is that the ads in question were interpretations of these facts, not facts in themselves.

It's not easy being a leader does not necessarily imply that Dion is not a leader. It implies that there are challenges and that he will have to address those. That Ignatieff spends 30 years out of the country does not imply he is "just visiting". That also is an instance of Tory interpretation. The most blatant interpretation is showing a pedophile in the background of an ad attacking the Bloc.

Finally, what about the ads attacking Dion's character? They were never explicitly about his awkwardness, or his difficulties in English, but often came across that way. It was a pure case of character assassination.

I ask you, what definition of moderate is Tom Flanagan using?


For other good reads on this issue:

Conservative strategist Tom Flanagan Defends Tory attack ads at Canadian Soapbox

Flanagan's folly at Liberal Arts and Minds
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The Proper Response to the Conference Board

The Conference Board announced earlier today that the provinces will have no choice. Either they must cut their spending, or be forced to raise taxes. I'm not going to argue with the choice being presented, because I am not in a position to know whether or not this is true. However, if we do take this choice seriously, the right decision would be to raise taxes.

Before anyone responds with "You can't tax, it will make the economy worse", I am not suggesting such taxation. In other words, not taxation that would span all income brackets, all businesses etc... It is possible to strategically tax. In fact, Barack Obama suggested it during his election campaign, and is working towards it.

The idea is to tax those that can afford to be taxed, and still contribute as much as they did previously to the economy. The fact is that the rich of this country, and in America, have consolidated a lot of money. And there is no reason that we cannot raise taxes from this income bracket to balance our budgets.

This may sound like a redistribution of income, and to some extent of course, it is. However, the stimulus that governments are providing to the economy are a requisite for our economic recovery. Virtually every developed nation is following this path. Without this stimulus, the recession would be irrevocably prolonged. It would therefore be very misguided to cut taxes.

Cutting taxes would only further compound the problem if we are to continue to provide much needed stimulus. The only choice should be to tax, and the best form of taxation would be one that increases the rate of taxation for higher income brackets.

This would have no effect on the economy for two reasons. First of all, many of those in the higher income brackets do not invest much of their fortunes, and consequently most of their wealth provides nothing to them, nor the economy.

And secondly, this taxation would be a measure allowing for economic stimulus negating any recessive effect of taxing the higher income brackets.

In conclusion, the provinces should raise new taxes, or increased taxes, on the richer Canadians, assuring thereby that the economy recovers. After all, according to many of those that would be taxed, a good economy benefits everyone.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

What happened to no deficit?

It's official, Stephen Harper has admitted that the federal government may run a deficit for five years, if the recession lasts or economic recovery lags behind. Of course, the parliamentary budget officer has already been telling us this. All Harper's doing is admitting what we all already knew.

It's nice to see that Stephen Harper has come such a long way from the federal election. Soon he might admit that cutting the GST was not such a good idea. WE can always hope.
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Forgive me if I don't believe Harper and co

It would seem that Harper and co don't consider the G8 climate change deal achieved today. Even though the deal requires that our emissions be reduced by 80% by 2050, Jim Prentice, the environment minister, has declared that these new goals will not require changes to policy direction. In other words, we are doing just fine.

But we are not doing just fine, and Prentice knows it. How can being so far behind on our Kyoto requirements and being last in the G8 on climate change action constitute "just fine"? It is anything but just fine.

There are two ways to take this unashamed lying to the public, both of which are unsettling. Either the minister is incompetent, and sincerely believes that our policy direction will lead us to all the international goals on climate change we have signed up for. Or, and this is much more likely, he, along with his Prime Minister and the rest of the Conservative government, hold the public and the issue in disdain.

One can just see how this course of events is going to play itself out. The Harper government is going to stall on taking any concrete policy measures to move us towards these goals. In essence, they will do just what Jim Prentice has described: continue their policy.

Once we discover a lack of policy is no way to address climate change, it will be too late. If Harper is still in power, we will be told it's too late, and that we need an exception for Canada, so that we can meet our goals.

To sum it up, with Harper in power for much longer, we have no hope of moving anywhere concrete towards the goals set out today. He will stall, and make it overwhelmingly difficult for any government after him to meet emissions targets.

So, the sooner Harper's gone, the sooner we will meet these targets. Or else, be ready for more straight-faced lying from your Conservative government.

And remember, any trouble on the environment, it's all the Liberals fault.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The three ills of Corporate Canada

It is no secret now that there are many ills as a result of Corporate Canada. The corporate kingdom everywhere is responsible for the current economic crisis. It is because of these corporate kingdoms that there is great social inequality now in Canada. And finally, it is a reason for political discontent and disengagement among the whole population, significantly youth.

There is no arguing that the corporate world is not responsible for the economic meltdown. They are the ones that benefited from the risky, adventurous, and damaging ventures, such as sub-prime mortgages, that have damaged the economy. Even worse, some have also reaped the rewards for running their companies into the ground.

This greed is no less expressed by their insatiable desire for greater incomes. In the decade of great economic growth from 1991-2001, incomes in the top 10% rose by 14.6% in real dollars, whereas those in the bottom 10% only rose by 1%. (Consult this analysis by the Canadian Council on Social Development).

Their incomes are so great that the prime ministerial income of $300 000 is a joke. They earn that countless times over. Which leads to my third point. Some suggest that these incomes that outstrip those of politicians quite easily may be responsible, in part, for youth disengagement with politics. Why should one go into public service and all its sacrifices, if one can earn more for less troubles in the corporate world. Of course this is of a more pragmatic than principled point of view. However, we live in a pragmatic world.

Therefore, for reasons of economic soundness, social equality, and democratic engagement, action needs to be taken that reduces the power of Corporate Canada. This is what President Obama is doing in the States.

This is what the Liberals in Canada should be striving for. They should push Stephen Harper to take action against the greed of his corporate entourage. It would be quite the popular move.

And while Iggy's at it, why not promise to restore the GST to its original rate, once the economic turmoil settles down.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Harper must be wondering why he instituted the parliamentary budget office

One of the measures that Stephen Harper has taken in his time in power is the formation of the parliamentary budget office. The goal was to create an office to ensure government was accountable. Those were the heady days when anything the Harperites did was in service to accountability.

I am sure that Stephen Harper never intended it to make him accountable. He most certainly conceived of it as check on Liberals, once they eventually got back into power.

However, it seems that the Conservatives, by Harper's own standards, are getting to be unreliable, and thus to a degree unaccountable. All this has been revealed by contradicting reports and statements issued by the government and by the parliamentary budget office.

For instance, the Conservatives are maintaining that the deficit we are seeing is in no danger of being structural. This flies in the face of a pending report from the parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, predicting deficits seen through 2014, well after the economy, as predicted by this report, recovers.

Meanwhile, Flaherty and Harper cheerfully assert that these deficits are necessary, but once the economy recovers, so will the budgets.

Inconveniently, the parliamentary budget officer is getting it right more than Harper's government. He predicted larger deficits than the government originally did, and he was right.

Looks like he'll be right again, keeping Harper accountable. A nice twist of fate.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

CRTC supports local channels, how about the CBC?

The CRTC has just announced that it will provide support to local channels to the tune of 100 million $ this year, up from 68 million$, ostensibly because Canadians value local programming. With the entire economy struggling, it is clear that these local channels will be the most affected.

However, that is not to say that national channels and broadcasters, such as the CBC, don't have their own problems in this recession. They have had much-needed loans refused, and as a result they have needed to cut 800 jobs, rerun programming and reduce the amount of original programming.

Not to say that the local stations are not deserving of the funding, and that they don't need it, but the CBC is just as deserving, if not more. After all, it is a symbol of our national unity. It binds the country together.

It's difficult to believe that there isn't just as much interest in the CBC as local channels. It all looks like a case of the government telling the CRTC that the economic downturn is a perfect opportunity to bleed the CBC a bit. Meanwhile, it's important to make sure that local channels survive, probably with special emphasis on channels owned by influential people.

It would fit perfectly into the narrative formed by the Conservative refusal of a loan to the CBC. Not to mention ideological stances of conservatives in general.

What should have been done would have been funding for both.
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Whoever disapproves of Harper's legislation is a pedophile, porn supporter etc...

His Prime Ministerialship has authorized ads that depict the Bloc Québécois as pedophiles, all because they refused to vote with the other parties in requiring minimum sentences for pedophiles.

This is clearly low blow politics at its best, from the best in the business. There are some pertinent reservations that Bloc MPs mentioned in relation to this bill. Their believing that minimum sentences are not dissuasive is an arguable position. What's more, not only might they be on to something, but in no way does this actually pledge the support of the Bloc to all pedophiles within Quebec, or even Canada.

It is not only illogical politics at its finest, it is utterly revolting. As Ignatieff commented today, these are ad hominum attacks that are unacceptable. To actually claim that a politician is a criminal because they conscientiously disapprove of your party's position is a childish game, and anyone should be able to see through it.

Thankfully, it seems that Canadian voters are able to see through such tricks. In 2004, the Conservatives, under guess who, tried the same thing. Paul Martin did not support their anti pornography ideas, and for that reason he was labeled a pornography supporter. Canadians seemed to see through this and elected Paul Martin anyway.

So we see that once again the Conservatives are being dirty. How does this fit in the scheme of things? Well, hopefully Ignatieff will use this to his advantage. The scandals keep coming up with the Conservatives, a list would be too exhausting (though the Liberals tried in the last election with their Scandalpedia).

The problem is making sure these scandals stick to the Conservatives. Hopefully Iggy will be better at that than Dion.

I mean, who wouldn't vote for Ignatieff? With him, if you opposed you're a Dipper or a Con, Bloquiste. Much better than being a pedophile.
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