Thursday, April 21, 2011

If you want progressive, democratic government, vote Liberal!

The opinion polls have recently shown a significant uptick in NDP support. This would be great news, if it were taking the vote away from Stephen Harper. However, it is actually horrible news, because the support the NDP is gaining is coming in large part at the Liberals expense: witness that the Liberals are going down in any poll in which the NDP is going up. If this worrying trend continues, vote splitting would most likely increase the Conservative seat total at the end of this election (I am aware the EKOS poll predicts the opposite of this. But this poll also claims the NDP will gain 13 seats in Quebec. Call me cynical, but I find that very hard to believe. Everything is possible though). This vote splitting could be the factor that tips us into the abyss known as Conservative majority government.

We cannot afford a majority Conservative government. A majority Conservative government will face none of the fetters they have faced in minority government. Freed at last, they will ride roughshod over Canadian democracy. If you thought they were in contempt of Parliament now, think again. This will be nothing compared to when the Conservatives know they will never need to face the House finding them in contempt. Indeed, if a Conservative majority is elected, expect more untendered contracts, prisons to combat a rise in "unreported" crime, and refusal to hand over important documents that Parliament has the right to examine. In other words, a Conservative majority in Ottawa equals less democracy in Ottawa than even now.

Furthermore, if the Conservatives obtain a majority thanks to the NDP's vote splitting, they will continue their ill-advised policies that will negatively effect Canada. For instance, they will increase tax cuts to corporations instead of helping the poor and lower middle classes, contributing to the continual rise in income inequality in this country. They will continue to avoid getting tough on greenhouse gas emissions and the environment. They will continue their policy of building prisons that the facts say should not be needed (since the crime rates are going down). They will not address the rise in tuition costs to students. They will not offer publicly funded childcare. The list goes on and on.

The only surefire option to stop this is to give most of the seats to a party other than the Conservatives. This cannot be the Greens or the Bloc. The choice must be between the NDP or the Liberals. Apart from the EKOS poll, the polls still put the Liberals ahead of the NDP. Therefore, the sensible option would be for NDPers to vote Liberal, rather than vote NDP. After all, Layton himself said only this week that the Liberal and NDP platforms are pretty similar. There should be no ideological problem preventing NDP supporters from casting a ballot for the Liberals. Voting for a cancellation of wasteful tax cuts, for cap and trade, for a learning passport, for assistance to seniors and for childcare are all right up the NDP alley.

Therefore, if an NDP supporter wants to definitely stop Harper, and elect a democratic, progressive government, they need look no further than the Liberals. A vote for the NDP is a vote wasted, unless of course the Liberals have no chance at all in a particular riding.

The Liberals are still the second place party. They are the best chance to kick Harper out. The NDP should want to kick Harper out. Their best chance to do so must therefore be to vote Liberal.
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

We're Not Gonna Take It!

Last night Ignatieff urged Canadians to RISE UP!, referencing Bruce Springteen. I suggest the next song should be WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT! by Twisted Sister. On May 2nd, let's show we won't take anti-democratic government anymore!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Conservatives are prudent fiscal managers?

Conservatives are great managers of money. Huge deficits aside, and wasting money on jets and prisons, they really know what they're doing. Truly. I would never, ever think otherwise. That's why it's such a surprise to find out that when they spent $50 million ostensibly on a G8 legacy fund, it actually was spent on building sidewalks 100 kilometres away. And what is even more shocking is that they built a $26 million command centre, despite knowing it would never be used.

I mean, it's not as if this is part of a pattern. Cutting taxes for rich corporations at a time when we are running a deficit cannot be anything but responsible. Or spending money on an untendered bid for fighter jets. Or wasting millions on a fake lake on the banks of the great lakes.

As our Conservative friends will tells us, these are just a few, "isolated" events. In fact, some even tell me that 1.1 million spent on sidewalk and tree upgrades 100 kilometres away is a legitimate spending item for a summit of world leaders.

I for one believe them. I mean, wasn't this the government that was elected due to its accountability.

And for any of you that doubt Conservatives have left a great legacy to our country
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stop Stephen the Creeper!

After all of yesterday's controversy surrounding the expulsion of two students at a Conservative rally, the Liberals are seeking to capitalize on this opportunity to show Canadians the type of anti-democratic organization Stephen Harper leads. They have done so through an original funny ad showing Stephen Harper creeping people on Facebook. Looks to me like a great way to connect with that elusive group of voters, the young. They will understand best what is going on in this video after all. Anyway, here it is...

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Harper Wants to Weaken Democracy...Again

Yesterday, Stephen Harper brought a campaign issue that literally no one else was thinking about. He informed the public that a Harper majority government would remove the per0vote subsidy that political parties receive. He tried to look moderate in doing so, suggesting that the subsidy would be phased out over three years. And while this is better than his now infamous plans in 2008, it is still an attack on democracy. Why? Because this subsidy helps to eliminate the influence of rich donors in politics. And guess who would benefit from rich individuals' donations being a greater share of the whole of party funding? That's right, the Conservatives.

The per vote subsidy allocates money solely based on how many votes a party received. It does not vary based on how rich the voters are. This means that parties like the NDP, based on lower-middle class voters, benefit significantly. Their supporters are less likely to be able to donate in the same amounts as the Conservatives' supporters. So the public subsidy levels the playing field. After all, if we have some parties based partly on these economic divides, the party with the richer supporters will have more funding than those with the less well off supporters, unless some public funding is provided. This is the raison d'etre of the per vote subsidy. Clearly Harper wants to benefit from increasing the importance of the donations he receives from his rich donators as a proportion of the funds going to all parties. This will undermine democracy, giving the Conservatives an advantage over other parties.

The Harper defense of an action that serves to skew the political playing field in his favour is two-fold: he maintains that we don't need 3 public subsidies to parties and that the state shouldn't be supporting parties that taxpayers don't want to support themselves. The 3 subsidies are the per vote one, the reimbursement of 50% of electoral expenses nationally and 60% locally, and the income tax credit of up to 75% given to donators to political parties.

However, as you might have guessed, the two latter subsidies do not help to level the playing field as much as the per vote subsidy. The reimbursement benefits most the parties that have the most expenses, and thus in general those who had lots of money to begin with. Furthermore, the local reimbursement of 60% requires having received 10% of the vote in the constituency. This hurts smaller parties like the Greens.

As for the income tax credit, it clearly helps most the parties that have the richest donors and thus the largest total of donations. To benefit from an income tax credit, you have to already be receiving money. Guess which party receives the most and thus benefits the most? The Conservatives.

Due to the influence of these latter two subsidies, the Bloc received 5.91 of public finance per vote, the Greens 4.59, the Liberals 7.75, the NDP 7.87 and the Conservatives 8.11 So these latter two subsidies that Harper are inherently less than perfectly democratic. The one that is, the per vote subsidy, is the one he wants to get rid of.

Doing so would clearly benefit Stephen Harper. There is no other motive. The idea that the state should not pay for services that taxpayers don't pay for themselves would eliminate countless programs. Is Harper about to eliminate healthcare for young people who would not buy it if it were left up to them? No. Why? Because doing that would not skew the political playing field in his favour.

Here's a radical idea. How about the state be the sole provider of funding to political parties? This could be done on a bracket system. The top 5 parties in the past election would receive the same amount, the next 5 would receive another amount, and so on. That would make each voice equally loud. That would eliminate any skewing effect of money in politics. Just an idea. Rather than undermining democracy, we could be building it up.

So both these latter forms
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