Monday, November 26, 2007

What's wrong with the ZENN car?

Within the past couple of weeks, there has been talk of the previously unknown ZENN car. The Canadian company Feel Good Cars has had their low-speed electric car, ZENN, publicized on CBC News and CBC's Rick Mercer Report (click here to watch) within the past while. Just this month, Transport Canada deemed that the car can be sold in Canada. However, it is still up to the individual provinces to licence the car. In fact, only British Columbia has so far allowed it on its roads. (The reason that the company is afloat is that it can sell cars in the United States.)

For a simple car, it has attracted a lot of controversy. So why is Canada so reluctant to licence it? It is actually a Canadian-made car! It is environmentally friendly! What's the problem? The only flaw with it is that one cannot drive on a highway or expressway with it because its speed is limited to 40 KM/H (which is still plenty good for a city, where the speed limit is often 50 KM/H, but usually traffic is not nearly as fast!). The car is a wonderful environmentally-friendly alternative to a gas consuming car (you argue that electricity still burns fossil fuels? Pay a little more and buy green power!).

Now let's talk about the specific provinces. I could understand (although not agree with) Ontario not approving it for economic reasons, being that it should, economically speaking, support Ontario's auto sector and thus buy its cars, instead of buying Québec made ZENNs. In the territories, there could be too much snow for such a little car. Alberta would have to support gas-hungry vehicles. Okay, those provinces have their excuses. But what about the rest? In my home province of Saskatchewan, life isn't really fast-paced in the rural areas anyway; and with our boom, which has brought a lot more traffic jams, one could easily use a ZENN car for commuting during rush-hour in Saskatoon. And what kind of excuse could Québec have (other than the fact that their drivers probably go to fast to accommodate a slow car)? The car is actually made right there!

And unlike many past electric cars which have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, ZENN's basic model starts at only US $12,750 (and it does include a lot of features for such a low price). For that price many people in places without transit could get a very cheap method of transportation, not to mention the gas savings.

So please support this green Canadian car! Sign ZENN's petition online now! Still not convinced? Luc Couillard of the Agence Métropolitaine de Transport tried out the car for two weeks in Montreal. Read his review now!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What happened to the Blogging Dippers?

One of the first things I did when I got up this morning was go to my computer and go to the Blogging Dippers website wanting to see if there had been any commentary yet on the Saskatchewan election. There was only one article by "Giant Political Mouse" that mentioned that there was an election last night. (Even as I refresh the page as I write this article there is still only my own article on the election.) I know that there are bloggers here that are from Saskatchewan, but where are they?

When I started blogging just about a year ago, the Blogging Dippers was an action-packed place to be; there was commentary on everything under the sun, and lots of it. There was also pages and pages of the summaries past articles that had been written; now there are only fourteen (so in order to actually get a look at everything a Blogging Dipper posts, it's necessary to check the site every 8-12 hours!). And why is it that, out of those fourteen spaces, I see only six different blogs? With less summaries to see, there is less to see and thus less of a reason to go to the site and see (get my logic?).

I do realize that people have lives outside of writing on their blogs, but it is a real shame to see the only New Democrat blog aggregate having so little life to it any more. Every week, a woman from Macleans (her name is Katie O'Maley, or something like that) appears on CBC Politics with Don Newman to talk about what's going on in the blogosphere. When she first started (at the beginning of this season of the show), she did the recognize the existence of the Blogging Dippers. However, it has been weeks since she has mentioned us; now she talks about what's on the Blogging Tories, Lib Blogs and the Progressives. But no us; no NDP. Perhaps it's because there just isn't as much life here anymore. Perhaps that means we need to give it life.

And lately, out of the articles that are written, there has been barely anything about actual current political events. Not too much about the mini-budget, the Liberals abstaining, etc. etc. (That's why we don't get our opinions on CBC, because we aren't really giving the NDP view on the current, top stories anymore!) While I do enjoy reading the articles written on topics that I've never actually heard of before, and I have no problems against that, I do wish that we could be actually discussing current affairs, too. If we don't the NDP and Jack Layton are the ones who lose, because they don't get any backing from the blogosphere, like Dion and Harper do.

As far as I know, I don't even think we have an active blogger who lives in Ottawa! I know for instance that the Tories have Stephen Taylor. But who do we have actively blogging from the centre of the action?

Let's get this sorted out. Let's get the NDP message out again through blogs. Let's start writing precise political commentary. Each of us doesn't have to do it everyday, but if we all write even once a week something really great, the Blogging Dippers might just rise from the dead.

End of the SK election, end of an era

What can I say about last night's Saskatchewan election? While I was obviously hoping that all the polls were wrong and that the NDP could narrowly get into power once again, everyone was expecting a Saskatchewan Party government. Yes, there were some specific seats that surprisingly went from NDP to Sask. Party, but the grand total, province-wide results weren't all that different than I was expecting.

What the Saskatchewan Party will do in government is anybody's guess. They could go along with what they've promised to do, or who knows, they could go back to the Devine-times style of government. But either way, the 16 year string of NDP governments is over. While it would have been nice to add at least another four years to that, one can't expect to be in government forever. At some point, people are going to change, and when you really think about it, we should be thanking the Saskatchewan people that they didn't decide to change in the 2003 or 1999 elections (which even then would be a pretty good run for a single party to be in government). I guess this is just the type of rotation that naturally occurs in politics.

To a more local level, I was expecting that Frank Quennell (NDP) would get re-elected in my own constituency of Saskatoon Meewasin. However I was upset that Serge LeClerc (Sask. Party) won in Saskatoon Northwest (although not actually surprised). I was really hoping that Ken Winton-Grey (NDP) could pick up that seat, and for awhile, it was looking possible.

So in conclusion, I am not going to at all speculate as to what the Saskatchewan Party government is going to do with it's next half-year (until next summer) and it's next four years in government, and I think that anyone who does start speculating is quite irresponsible (unless that person is an opposition politician, because that's what politicians are supposed to do; they get paid for that). The soonest real hint that we're going to get will be their first throne speech that should be delivered within a couple months.   But I guess that's the way politics flows.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

20 years since the death of Rene Levesque

I know, I know, the anniversary was on the first of November, but it's never too late. In commemoration of René Lévesque, the Parti Québecois is selling t-shirts with René's face on them, the leaders of all three parties in the National Assembly delivered speeches in his honour, and because of those two things (along with some smaller commemorations), René Lévesque has risen again as a topic of discussion; of course now that someone's dead, people usually just talk about how great he was.

While Lévesque was one of the first real Québec sovereignty leaders (which is what Pauline Marois highlighted), he also made inroads for social change, the nationalization of resources in Québec (such as Hydro Québec), and cleaning up Québec's government (which is what Mario Dumont and Jean Charest highlighted).

Even though I've lived in English Canada all my life, I am too much of a Francophile/'Québecerphile' to provide a truly English Canada 'review' on him. So this time I can just report the facts, but I would love to read a take on him written by a true Anglophone.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sask. leaders' debate observations

Last night, the Saskatchewan election leaders' debate took place in Regina between Brad Wall (Sask. Party), David Karwacki (Liberal) and Lorne Calvert (NDP and incumbent premier).

Here is what I noticed last night, written in point form:
1. The format of the debate must have ticked a lot of people off.
      While the statement speeches were handled quite well, I felt that the bickering that occurred during the actual debate times must have turned off people who already had a hunch that politics is 'skum-bag' sport.
2. Brad Wall focused much more on the NDP's history and his independent review than his actual policy.
      Last night, Wall focused on two broad points: a) his platform has had an independent review by an economist (and that economist said it was balanced); and b) Saskatchewan pretty much is falling apart under Calvert. However, Wall really didn't mention much about his exact ideas and—for the ones he did bring up—how those ideas will make Saskatchewan better. I think if people should know exactly what this change that's being proposed to them is, and how this change is actually constructive and will make everyone's lives better (i.e. that the change is not like switching from sugar-packed Lucky Charms cereal to sugar-packed Captain Crunch cereal).
3. David Karwacki did surprisingly well.
      While I am in no way handing my support to Karwacki's platform, I was surprised how well Karwacki did in the debate. He didn't seem like the unelected leader of a third party who-has-no-current-MLAs type of guy. He did truly seem like a real contender who has a good chance.
4. Lorne Calvert ought to have made the point more clearly that the boom was started under his government.
      While Calvert did mention several times that Saskatchewan is experiencing a boom and has increased prosperity, I never actually heard him take credit for that. The job boom logically means that there is more jobs, meaning that either companies are starting here or are expanding here, meaning that the business climate is good here, and since the jobs are getting filled, it means that people have a desire to live here. That is definitely something worth taking credit for; all of this did happen under this NDP government.
5. Karwacki was fixed on Saskatoon.
      While Wall and Calvert gave a pretty provincial take on things and issues, Karwacki's points were very much Saskatoon-centric. He was talking about Saskatoon crime, Saskatoon traffic and infrastructure, Saskatoon as a young people magnet, and Saskatoon people who he talked to during the campaign. While it is true that his own constituency where he is running is in Saskatoon, and his party's only real shot is in some select Saskatoon constituencies, it really doesn't make him look fit to be a party leader—never mind a premier—who actually has the interests of such foreign places like Estevan and Regina in mind (kinda reminds me of Gilles Duceppe's 'geographical bias').
6. The taped questions by Saskatchewan residents often had a bias against the NDP.
      I noticed that many of the questions asked by the people had a strong, obvious bias against the status quo (a.k.a. the NDP). For instance, one guy from Swift Current said that the roads in Saskatchewan are terrible and that it's impossible to drive somewhere without stuff falling off your car. Since it's currently the NDP who is in charge of the roads, and is backing up their track record on highways, that question is completely out of line. The question itself shouldn't have a political position.

And finally my number seven point, which, while not really having much to do with anything, is something I still think should be said for those who missed the debate. I noticed that after the first question (which was asked by an older guy in Regina with the subject of what are you damned politicians going to do with my hard-earned money), Karwacki actually laughed a bit (this was caught on tape because he was the first one to answer the question). I think this was because, with absolutely no offence to the questioner, the guy did have a kind of 'funny' or 'different' voice/vocal expression. I am not at all saying that Karwacki is losing all electoral chances to do this, but it does make him look like a snobby jerk.

Despite my above points, there was enough substance in last night's debate. However, I do not believe that there was an actual winner; no one really screwed up or said anything down-right stupid. A week until the election … isn't it all so exciting?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

UN moving to Montreal? C'est possible.

Originally reported in Montréal's La Presse newspaper, but reproduced in Montréal's English-language paper The Gazette, officials from the City of Montréal, the Québec government, and the Government of Canada have been lobbying the United Nations to move its headquarters from New York City to Montréal.

This whole story started when the United Nations decided that its buildings in New York needed to be significantly renovated. They discovered that this would cost $1.9 billion. Canadian officials devised a plan to give the United Nations a chunk of land in Montréal's Old Port that is nine times bigger than its current lot—with a whole new block of buildings on it—for less money than it would cost to renovate its current infrastructure in New York. (Even though it's in a popular tourist district, this particular section is "well removed from tourists".)

I believe that this would be a great move for the United Nations. Montréal is a truly bilingual city, which would be a great compliment to its two official working languages policy (the two languages being English and French). Montréal is also located, at least at the moment, in Canada, which is a lot less repulsive place for the UN to be than the United States.

Looking at it from our perspective as Canadians, this would bring a lot more attention, fancy diplomatic people, money, and quite possibly even more influence to Canada.

While Canada's proposal would still save the UN money, I strongly believe that it needs to be made even more attractive. Canadian officials need to mount an international campaign underlining that Canada is a much more 'authentic' home for the United Nations than is business, money-oriented New York in the cocky United States of America. Montréal has culture, life, and diplomacy ringing through its streets; that's what we have to present to the UN member-nations, as well as the UN itself. (It also wouldn't hurt to make it even more financially cheap for the UN.)

Just FYI, the New York renovations aren't set to start until the spring, so we still have some time to pitch our idea.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Election over throne speech?

My answer: quite likely. Here is what I think each party's motives/thoughts are:

Conservatives:
The Tories have been trying for quite some time to reach 40% in the polls, which is generally considered the minimum support needed to form a majority. This week, they met that goal. Harper and his party desperately want a majority government. Now that they're this far, a decently financed election (which is something they can do) could be enough to actually obtain that majority.

Additionally, Harper has been setting the stage for an election, by taunting the Liberals to either support their throne speech or face an election. To me, this looks like Harper thinks his speech won't be an instant sell to the Grits.

Liberals:
On one hand, Dion and the Liberals are in no health to fight (never mind win) an election. On the other, supporting Harper's throne speech (which he is making sound a bit more radical than we are used to) is only going to make Dion look worse.

However, Dion has been hinting that he very well might vote against the speech. If he thought he wouldn't support it, he wouldn't have done all the ranting against it—and against the possibility of his party supporting it.

NDP and the Bloc Québecois:
Both of these parties seem as though they are prepared to, and will, vote against the government as long as its speech isn't a left-wing suck-up (which it probably won't be).

There's what I think. What's on your mind?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Marois has a seat in the National Assembly, politics changing in Quebec

Pauline Marois, the new leader of the Parti Québecois, has won the by-election in the constituency of Charlevoix.

What does this mean for Québec and the rest of Canada? For federalists, this is in fact good news. Marois has stated that she, at least at this time, doesn't have the intention of pursuing the dominant sovereignty aspect of the PQ's platform. So with Marois winning this seat with 59% of the vote, showing her popularity, it means that Marois should be sticking around for awhile holding back the sovereignty agenda. What she'll do in the Assembly is something that we'll have to keep an eye on.

This adds to the list of recent events that shows a change in direction of Québec politics. All of a sudden in the past year, we have experienced the following:
- the first minority government in Québec since the 1800s
- the rise of a Francophone conservative party (the ADQ), and its position as the Official Opposition
- the federal Conservative Party going from zero to ten seats in Québec in one election, followed by another seat in a by-election
- an uncontested female leader of the PQ who has no immediate intention of pursing the sovereignty of Québec
- the first NDP MP in Québec since 1970

Remember Québec in the 60s and 70s? The passion, the patriotism, the anger of the public were all present; people were genuinely involved and passionate about the future of their province. Also, people were fairly centre-left. Nowadays, it seems as history is no longer an insight into Québec politics. More and more people are going Right to the conservatives, which thirty years ago would have been unthinkable.

In the August 13th edition of Maclean's, Québec filmmaker Pierre Falardeau was quoted as saying, "Quebecers have become imbeciles. This is a population that lives in the suburbs and shops at Wal-Mart. It's a collective problem. Where are the intellectuals? Where are the artists? Where are the thinkers, the ones who are meant to make us reflect?"

While many people would disagree with that interpretation, the former revolutionary-type province of Québec is changing. How much more it will go to the Right, and be like the rest of Canada, is yet to be determined.

Monday, September 24, 2007

California politicians close to deal on health care

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is close to reaching a deal with the opposition Democratic Party on introducing universal medical coverage in the State of California.

While members of Schwarzenegger's Republican Party are very skeptical about it, and even publically against it, many of the groups who are traditionally against such health care reforms haven't really spoken out against it as was expected. Some major corporations aren't even really against it as they, too, are facing problems with rising health care costs.

Click here to read Schwarzenegger's health reform plan

A recent poll found that 72% of Californian adults support the governor's plan.

Isn't it great to see that even a Republican governor is fighting for health care for all, regardless of their ability to pay? We should all hope that this will go forward and become law in California. Between Schwarzenegger and the two leading federal Democratic leadership candidates, the health of low-income Americans is looking a lot better.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thibault to be questioned by National Assembly

A former lieutenant-governor of Québec, Lise Thibault, has been asked by all three parties of the National Assembly to explain some excessive expenses before the Public Administration Commission.

These excessive expenses, in fact, totalled up to $700,000 which she spent on personal gifts and meals; sometimes these expenses of hers were made simultaneously in different cities! During media questioning, she has said that she doesn't regret anything.

In my opinion, it is despicable for a public official to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of non-business expenses using tax money. While she did have some 'royalness' because of her position, that still doesn't make her the God of our money to do whatever she pleases with it.

The Commission is investigating to ensure that this doesn't happen again, and the president, Gilles Taillon (ADQ MNA), even mentioned criminal charges. In the case that these were wrongful expenses of tax money, I hope that the Commission will find out information that could possibly create criminal charges against Thibault, like anyone else, doesn't have the right to misspend so much of other people's money; money that could have been put to healthcare or other beneficial programs.

This case is not closed yet; we'll have to see what the Commission finds out and decides. After Thibault has made her appearance, I'll blog on this again.

P.S. What are your thoughts on this potential scandal? Have any other info? Please leave a comment.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Outremont and Quebec politics

I noticed something recently, there is currently no Blogging Dipper who is regularly blogging on Québec politics. For that reason I am going to take up monitering Québec politics along with federal and Saskatchewan politics, until a Québec resident takes up blogging from the NDP perspective. Since it is necessary that the NDP be an active and noticed presence in Québec for it to make significant gains, there needs to be a blogger who regularly provides his or her take on Québec politics.

Since I have a new 'mandate' in my blogging, I will try to blog more in the future, time permitting.

And finally, my best wishes to Thomas Mulcair in Outremont tonight, along with the other two NDP candidates in the Québec by-elections. Let's get Thomas in the House!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall federal election to go with provincial elections?

Stephen Harper has finally decided that he'd like to wipe the order papers free of the opposition's bills from last spring and start a new session with a throne speech. Of course, a throne speech brings up a very good point for the opposition parties to call an election.

Already, Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québecois, has said that his party will vote against the throne speech if it does not make a firm commitment that Canada will withdraw from Afghanistan in February of 2009. Stéphane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party, has stated that his party will vote against it if it doesn't say that it will comply with Kyoto.

So it is starting to look quite possible to have a fall federal election. However, the opposition parties may be a bit more reluctant (hopefully they'll be reluctant, for the sake of election workers) to bring down the government when there is an Ontario election scheduled for October and the likelihood of a Saskatchewan election, too.

While I think it is a good idea to end this Harper-cratic government as soon as possible, I just don't think this fall is the time for that; let's wait until spring.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Sask. NDP's pre-election campaign

Wow, who know what all can happen with Saskatchewan politics during summer? But quite obviously a lot can happen, and don't forget the controversy with that.

To start off, I should mention what is becoming a pretty controversial thing in this province: the NDP campaign. Currently, the most noticeable aspect of the pre-election campaign are the 'Wolf-in-sheep's-clothing' ads, which appear of buses and billboards (the linked news article only really mentions the pamphlets), and will be in a pamphlet come election. Ever since this campaign came out (about a week ago), there has been at least a couple of articles on it every day in both of Saskatchewan's major newspapers. During this time, the Saskatchewan Party (essentially SK's Conservative Party) has spent all their efforts on trying to attack the NDP's campaign (surprisingly, they're not really attacking the NDP itself).

The next portion of the NDP's pre-election campaign is called, "The Same Old Sask Party". The website pretty much just speaks for itself. So far, it is an internet-based campaign.

I will post yet again a couple times in the near future on other matters in the Saskosphere (by the way, that's not a real word).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Long time no post ...

As one might notice by viewing my archives, I have remained in a political cave this summer. But now that the Monte Bello Summit is over, Québec by-elections are coming up, and the House of Commons is due to sit in three weeks, I thought it may be safe to return from my cave.

However, all the political action of the summer is now quite past tense, so anything I add to the blogosphere would have no point (if you wish to read the general idea of my views on recent events, please see ndp.ca).

I'll try to put up a posting or two this week on les affairs en Saskatchewan, which might even be of interest to some of you Ontarians! In the mean time, check out another goof-up by the non-media world: http://politicsblog.ctv.ca/blog/_archives/2007/8/20/3170563.html

Friday, July 6, 2007

Will not be posting for awhile

I will not be able to post anything here for awhile, as I will be gone for 3 weeks starting today. So no, I did not abandon the blogging world, but am just on vacation from it.

In the meantime, why not join (for free) the Conference Board of Canada and download some of their reports on Canada's economy or sustainable urban transport. Interesting reads ……

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Secret gov. study backs $50 carbon tax

A secret report to "Canada's New Government" from a "world renowned energy economist" (quote from Green Party website) has concluded that a $50 carbon tax would in fact lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and have an insignificant effect on Canada's economy—contrary to what Prime Minister Harper would have you believe.

(see the Green Party press release)

While there has been no commentary yet by Harper or Environment Minister John Baird (at least to my knowledge), I am not even certain that they could start fighting the findings of this study. Thanks to this study, Canadians can now know the truth—the truth about a carbon tax; and the truth about this government.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Very soon, C.N.G. (Canada's New Government) must implement Kyoto

Do you still remember that private members' bill by Pablo Rodriguez to legally force the government to implement Kyoto? Well, it is poised to pass the Senate today, making it law for "Canada's New Government", along with succeeding governments, to meet the Kyoto targets.

Harper's government said it would not be in the interest of the country to implement Kyoto, and is willing to go to court about it (Steve sure likes going to court). So while it is a toss-up whether this bill means anything or not, it is still an achievement for Canada to have such legislation passed, and I applaud Mr. Rodriguez for drafting this bill.

But if this does go to court, it might very well bring out the less-Canada oriented side of "Canada's New Government".

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jack made no wrong at "private clinic"

You may have heard the critisizm of Jack Layton that he went to a private clinic for a hernia operation. But according to the article below, he in fact made no wrong (meaning not abandoning the public system) by doing so:

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton has a legitimate beef with Dr. Brian Day, the new head of the Canadian Medical Association.
Day is calling Layton a hypocrite for having a hernia repaired at a private clinic while denouncing private health care in the political arena.
He is referring to the Shouldice Clinic, a specialty operation north of Toronto where doctors perform nothing but hernia repairs.
Day is right insofar as the clinic is privately owned, but Jack didn't pay much out of his own pocket. The Shouldice has been in operation since 1945 and was grandfathered into the national health plan when medicare was introduced.
Thus, Ontario patients have the procedure paid for by their provincial health-care plans. Other provinces reimburse patients at a level equivalent to their own fee schedules.
Thus, Layton's hernia repair involved no hypocrisy because the public system paid for it. This is the kind of health-care model Day says he supports.
It seems odd that he would attack a politician for using it.


        - Randy Burton, The Saskatoon Star Phoenix, June 19, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

Commons Environment committee crashes

Yesterday, another House of Commons committee crashed thanks to, yet again, the Conservative chairperson.

This marks the second time a House of Commons committee has been shut down since the leak of the handbook for Conservative chairs to shut down committees. This 200-page handbook also outlines how to control witnesses for the benefit of the Conservatives. (Yet another undemocratic habit of the Conservatives.)

It is completely unacceptable for the government to be orchestrating a Commons committee's 'malfunction', especially when it has such important work to do (for the environment), which includes hearing witnesses.

Well, in the next election, the Conservatives are going to have a lot of explaining to do to sort this all out to the public (especially MP Bob Mills, who was the chairperson who literally walked out from the committee). As was shown in a recent Decima poll, the Conservatives are lagging behind the Liberals; their support is slipping.

I doubt there is any Canadian who truly believes that it is acceptable for a government to interfere with democracy. The Conservatives are going to lose support for doing this; and since, according to a poll released ealier this week, the majority of Canadians don't want Stéphane Dion to be prime minister, there is a great opportunity here for the NDP in the next election.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Great Hill Times Poll (it's a different type of poll)

The Hill Times (a popular weekly Canadian politics newspaper) has now published it's annual survey of MPs. Who and about what did they survey? They surveyed political staffers, MPs and interns (for a total of 102 people) on everything from who's the "hippest" MP to the "Biggest Gossip":

Sexiest Male: Peter MacKay (Conservative)
Sexiest Female: Ruby Dhalla (Liberal)
Best Dressed Male: Scott Brison (Liberal)
Worst Dressed Male: Myron Thompson (Conservative)
Best Dressed Female: Belinda Stronach (Liberal)
Worst Dressed Female: Sylvie Boucher (Conservative)
Best Sense of Humour: Peter Stoffer (NDP)
Worst Sense of Humour: Stephen Harper (Conservative)
Best House Orator: Stephen Harper (Conservative)
Best Speeches Outside the House: Michael Ignatieff (Liberal)
Most Discreet: Paul Martin (Liberal)
Biggest Gossip: Belinda Stronach (Liberal)
Hardest Working: Ralph Goodale (Liberal)
Hippest: Rahim Jaffer (Conservative)
Best Hair, Male: Pablo Rodriguez (Liberal)
Best Hair, Female: Helena Guergis (Conservative)

To see the profiles and pictures of these MPs yourself, go to the list of current MPs.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Medicare Part 4: We can afford a better system

For the last part in my medicare series, I want to focus on how we need to make our current system work. The reason that we are having so many problems with wait-lists, hospitals closing down and doctors moving to more urban centres is because we are not properly funding the system. Essentially, we are starving our hero and wondering why he doesn't make as much of a difference as he should. Without an adequately funded health system, it is obvious that it won't work to the degree that we'd like it to.

1. We can spend more on health
Many anti-medicare groups say that Canada can't afford to spend more on our medicare system, or else we'll have serious financial troubles. What they don't see, however, is that a private system would in fact cost more; the only difference is that it will cost Canadians more and the government a lot less. No matter if we have a public, private or a two-tiered system, it will still cost people money, if not by taxes, then it will cost more by hospital bills.

A private system would only serve to add profits to healthcare. We would be paying more (for those who could afford it) and only getting slightly better service. However, if we instead put some more money into our public system, we would have less wait times, more hospitals and better care for all Canadians. Obviously the latter is much more in the interest of the public.

2. Isn't health worth the cost?
Canada spends so much money on the military and corporate tax breaks, yet the anti-medicare advocates (often the same people who support big spending on the military and corporate tax breaks) say that we don't have the money to sustain a good public health system, therefore we should dismantle it and institute a private, for-profit system.

Health is one of the most basic components of life; it can't be put behind corporate tax cuts and the military. We are talking about providing healthcare to all Canadians, we can't just limit that to those who can pay.

————————————
As I have shown in the past four posts on medicare, we cannot continue on the track that we are on now. We desperately need to expand our public health system so that people can get care faster and be able to receive the necessary drugs in order to get healthy (pharmacare). Too many Canadian provincial governments—and the federal government—are simply ignoring the issue of health, and trying to give the responsibility to the private sector. We need to show these governments that health needs to be a much bigger priority for their governments. Without it, all too many Canadians will simply be 'turned down' for health.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Why can't Sask. MPs do the same?

As we all know by now, Bill Casey, a Nova Scotia MP (who at the time of the vote was a Conservative MP), defied his government by voting against its 2007 budget. By doing so, he was kicked out of the Conservative caucus.

Here in Saskatchewan, there has been a lot of talk about why the Saskatchewan Conservative MPs also didn't dare to vote against the budget, seeing that many—if not most people (including some members of the media)—people here are upset that Stephen Harper broke his promise to Saskatchewan. While people (particularly the provincial NDP government) have been talking about that for quite some time, this debate has very recently got to be more interesting: If a Nova Scotia Conservative MP can put his province first, why can't a Saskatchewan Conservative MP do the same?

Saskatchewan Conservative MPs have clearly shown a lack of leadership; MPs are supposed to put their constituents before their party, just as Mr. Casey did for Nova Scotia (and it did pay off for him; many news articles, such as in The Star Phoenix, have said that Mr. Casey has had an even greater popularity boost for doing what he did). It has clearly been shown that the people have Saskatchewan are upset that the federal government has broke a promise, and they are also upset that their elected representatives are not standing on their side.

Already, the polls have shown that the Conservatives have been having some problems in Saskatchewan (particularly with the Wheat Board). With this issue added on, I think these MPs are going to have a lot of explaining to do if they are to get any decent portion of the vote in the next election.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Medicare Part 3: Extending the system to cover health

Going back to the medicare series, I will be talking about two crucial elements for the next generation of strong medicare: home-care and pharmacare. The reason we needs these two more elements is simple: health doesn't just include a trip to the doctor or hospital. Health means taking medication to get better, and having medical and domestic help while resting at your own home.

1. Pharmacare
While "Canada's New Government" has been trying to pretend that the concept doesn't exist, the NDP has lately been raising the issue of a national drug plan (which Manitoba already has a version of) so everyone has access to the proper medication.

Obviously, Canada has had our "medicare" system for quite some time, and we've been proud of it. We have been saying that everyone has access to the proper treatment, and thus we are all a bunch of health Canadians. However, while our system does provide access to see a doctor, or even get surgery, etc., our system still doesn't guarantee the access to prescription drugs. For many, if not most, somewhat major health problems, a free surgery won't do the trick without having the proper medication after the hospital visit.

The above means that we need to have a national pharmacare plan soon. Without it, people still won't have the proper treatment. Without it, we can't at all claim that everyone has access to health, when drugs are one of the most common ways of treating a health problem.

As a quick side note, I would also like to provide the cost of a pharmacare system, as told by Joel Lexchin. He says that currently Canadians spend about $20 billion every year on drugs. A pharmacare plan, thanks to bulk buying, price negotiations, etc. would only cost $7-8 billion, and everyone would be covered!

2. Home-care
Once again, I will start off with information that I learned at the conference. From what I understand, our current system only provides home-care, to people who need it, for two weeks. While in many (not most, though) circumstances that would be enough to 'rehabilitate' the patient medically, that person still may not be able to do many things on their own: shopping, picking up medications, going to the doctor, taking a bath, etc.

So in those circumstances, when the patient does not have adequate insurance to pay for home-care, the only people remaining to help are family members. In Canada, there are only approximately 50,000 home-care workers, however, there are 3 million family members who help—on average—ten hours a week (many insurance plans don't even pay for ten hours a week of home-care).

As you can see, there are problems pertaining to the current home-care system. Home-care should be just something for people who can afford it, or who have hard-working, willing family members; home-care is something that is a right, just like a visit to a doctor is currently a right in Canada. Too many people need assistance at home with, in addition to medical help, help with basic day-to-day items which most of us take for granted the ability to do them independently.

———————
So as I have shown, we in fact currently do not have a full service, 'health-to-all' medicare system. Until everyone has access to both drugs and home-care, there will still be people who are not receiving the care/treatment that they need in order to be healthy. And in Canada, health is supposed to be a right. Let's actually act by our principles.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Quebec budget woes

I will wander (just for today, though) on my series on medicare. I want to talk about the more political woes in Québec regarding the budget.

I am sure that most people by now know a lot about this whole flurry regarding Mr. Charest's most recent budget (but we can go over it again). In it, he spent all of the new money from Ottawa on a tax cut pour les Québecois that he has been promising for years. Both of the opposition parties have publicly opposed the budget. Even though the ADQ (Action démocratique du Québec) is on the Right and thus for tax cuts, they oppose it in this case arguing that the money should be spent on debt relief. The PQ (Parti Québecois) also is against the budget, saying that the money could be better spent aiding the healthcare system, and funding the education system as well.

At the beginning, Charest and the Liberals were not at all thinking about backing away from their proposed budget, even if that meant an election (the last Québec election was in March). But then a new poll came out, and that of course changed everything. It changed because the Liberals are now in 3rd place, with the ADQ poised to form a minority government. Now, the Liberals are not being so tough.
(CBC: The Liberals change their mind)

"But in the end, I want everyone to know: I'm not the one who is going to decide about the future of this government. The two other political parties, they all have a decision to make on what we'll vote on tomorrow."

I would just like to remind Mr. Charest that yes, he does have a pretty big say on the future of his government; he can just make a better budget! He should remember that politics isn't all about agreeing with governments and having as few elections as possible; politics is about getting this done to make a better province.
So my thoughts on all this. I think that Quebecers deserve better; a better government. (This is only backed up by the quote on the left.) In Québec, you have the two largest parties both wanting to spend money on tax cuts or debt relief when the health system has many problems, the education system needs more funding, and the environment needs as much money as possible in order to reduce emissions to combat global warming.

There needs to be a real change in the way Québec does politics.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Medicare Part 2: Cost is not a problem

Again, I will start off by mentioning an argument against our treasured medicare system: our health care costs are going through the roof; the government simply can't afford to continue to fund health. Once again, there are fundamental flaws to one of their central arguments.

The main 'theme' in this argument is that our costs overall—for health—are accelerating, and therefore it is not feasible to continue to fund this as a country or a province. But it is not like they're lying; our health care costs are in fact rising. However, we cannot keep it to such simple terms as some people do. So while medicare costs are rising, they are not in fact rising in comparison to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) According to economist Robert Evans.

Also speaking of health expenditures in comparison to the GDP, we can also look to Taiwan for some answers. At the conference I attended, there was an "International Perspective" session. One of these 'perspectives' was from Taiwan (provided by Tsung-Mei Cheng). In Taiwan, they too have a form of government-subsidized healthcare (modelled after Canada's). In 1994, 4.8% of Taiwan's GDP was being spent on public health care, which covered 58% of the cases/population. However, now Taiwan is spending only slightly more (5.7% of the GDP) on health, and more than 99% of the population is covered!

Finally, we must look at what part of our health system is increasing the costs of health. At the conference, Roy Romanow pointed out a common myth about our health system. Many people believe that every aspect of our system is publicly funded. This, in fact, is not true. An all too large percentage (more than 20%) of the health system is privately funded. We must also remember that when groups like the Fraser Institute say that our costs are rising, they are also including the costs of the private health sector as well. So when they say that we're paying too much, that also includes non-governmental funds, with budgets, fees and profits that are not at all controlled by the government. Romanow also gave us an example of the difference in cost increases, and while I was not intelligent enough to write down the time span of these increases, I did get the increases themselves. Over this certain time span, public health expenditures only rose by 4.5%, while private costs went up 6.6%; it is not, then, the public medicare system that is mostly driving up costs, it is instead the private system that is doing this.

So just remember, don't take the arguments exactly as they're told. The public system is still the way forward.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Medicare Part 1: Our system v. America's

Last Thursday and Friday, I attended the S.O.S. Medicare conference 2 in Regina. The main objective was to establish a clear goal for where to go now in terms of medicare, particularly relating to the "second stage" of medicare. Today, I will start a series on medicare (with no definite end date).

" 'Everyone for themselves!' said the elephant as he danced among the chickens."

– Tommy Douglas
As we all know, there are several groups in Canada trying to fight against our medicare system, including the Fraser Institute. One of their arguments is that our medicare system is becoming unsustainable due to increasing costs. But, as was pointed out at the conference by economist Robert Evans, health expenditures in Canada are not rising in comparison to the GDP, and the biggest increases in health are, in fact, in the private system (which governments are quietly letting through the door). He also reminded us that we must remember that more than half of Americans who declare bankruptcy due to health costs actually have private health insurance!

Their other main argument is wait times. They say that if there was a second tier of health care—involving the private sector—people could simply pay and get treatment faster. They sometimes refer to the U.S. where there are barely any waiting lists. The thing, though, is that in the U.S. they have very little waiting lists, because many people simply can't get onto a list due to financial reasons! It is completely unacceptable to have a society where money buys health; all people should be treated equally, regardless of ability to pay.

In New Zealand—where they have a two-tiered health system—specialists spend only 48% of their time in public hospitals; the rest is spent at private hospitals treating people who can pay more.
Opponents of public medicare also point to the shortage of doctors and nurses as a sign that government medicare is not working for Canadians. However, we must remember that everyone is getting treated by these professionals; they don't have a shortage in America because, again, they have a smaller per capita population who 'deserves' to get health care.

Health care is not a privilege for the privileged few; it is a right for everyone. I believe it is quite obvious that a private, American-style system won't get us anywhere; and I think most Canadians believe that, too. However, the real fight is going to be to improve our current system to make it even more accessible to everyone, in order to stop a two-tiered system. We need to move forward to make health in Canada an even greater right for everyone, not make it a corporate profit-making business.

The next part of this series will not be posted until May 24th or 25th, as I will be out-of-town for the next two weeks.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Another P.M. Trudeau? Doubt it.

Justin Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has won the Liberal nomination in the Montréal riding of Papineau.

And already, even before he has started to campaign to try to win Papineau, people are speculating that he might be a future Prime Minister.

Personally, I highly doubt that he will be the leader of the Liberal Party someday, let alone prime minister. I am quite astonished by people who think that just because his father was prime minister, he will also be a prime minister, just because he is entering politics.

From what I've seen (and heard) of him, he does not (yet) have the qualities and talent that would be needed to even consider the job.

So while the Liberals really need to get a new leader, I don't think they should be turning to Justin Trudeau (or even thinking about it right now). Just because he had a special prime ministerial father doesn't mean that he should have any fast-track through politics. The public and the media should just let him develop 'naturally' like any other politician.

Monday, April 23, 2007

O MY GOSH! The opposition is destroying the world as we know it!

Last week, Environment minister John Baird released his brand new report on what would happen to Canada's economy if the opposition's (particularly the Liberal's) environmental plan came to be.

According to this report, if the emission standards of Kyoto were implemented in Canada, our economy would basically collapse, and many Canadians would lose their jobs (and the Conservative's will implement "meaningful" and "tough" action to combat climate change without hurting the economy).

Baird told the committee that analysis from economists shows implementing the Kyoto Protocol would mean the following:
- Gasoline will cost more than $1.60 a litre over the 2008-to-2012 period
- 275,000 Canadians working today will lose their jobs by 2009
- Job loss will cause unemployment rates to rise 25 per cent by 2009
- The decline of economic activity in the range of $51 billion

And by the way, I don't think anyone is sure what "tough" and "meaningful" action implies. Compared to what we should be doing (Kyoto), the original Clean Air Act was far short of being tough and meaningful (it was more like soft and easy-to-do action).

See, the thing that Baird doesn't realize is that Canada can actually create a 'green' economy which would be able to employ all the people who won't have jobs (note that his estimate his quite extreme), which in turn (by having the green businesses) would be able to bring more money to Canada's economy. And most importantly, the environment would benefit significantly.

Nor does Baird realize that if we don't actually fulfil Kyoto, all that supposed economic loss would really mean nothing when compared to the environmental consequences that will face our health, etc. etc. etc.

(To read more "Nonsense by Baird", read CTV Question Period's interview with him.)

This whole report of the Conservative government is simply a scare tactic to make it acceptable to Canadians how little the government is doing for the environment. It is not the government's job to scare people; it's the government's job to do what the people say needs to be done (also, polls indicate that the CPC is not the enviro-party of Canada; it's the NDP). Now wouldn't it be nice if the environment minister stopped wasting his time of scare-reports, and started to actually do something that is progressive?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Railway Continuation Act vs. Labour rights

I am sure that there were a great deal of people watching CPAC last night due to the debate and voting on Bill C-46 (Railway Continuation Act, 2007). Unfortunately, the bill was passed by 195 votes, versus 71 against (please note that CTV recorded, on the internet, the second reading results versus the third reading; the latter really means more).

The bill was passed, of course, by the Liberals and Conservatives, while it was contended by the NDP and the Bloc Québecois. (If you would like to see who exactly voted which way, please see Hansard, and go to the vote near the bottom of the page.)

What really is the railway continuation act of 2007? Well, it is intended to end the strike/lock-out (different people see it differently; I like the latter) of the United Transportation Union workers at Canadian National railways. The reason that the Conservatives and Liberals cite for passing such legislation is that the 'non-working status quo' is hurting the economy and the farmers, financially. However, the reason of the Bloc and NDP for voting against the bill is that the conditions pre-'non-working' period were not at all good for the workers, especially concerning safety.

So my thoughts on this ordeal. While I am an associate member of the National Farmers Union, and thus on the farmers' side, I would have to stand with labour on this one. While the initial strike was started by the workers, they did have good cause: their safety while working was compromised by CN in favour of more money. So it was completely acceptable for the workers to strike. However, they are now locked out, not on strike; why should labour have to continue to suffer now at the benefit of CN? It makes no sense.

It would be nice for a change to have the Liberals and Conservatives on the side of labour and the people for once, instead of on the side of big business. But yet, they continue to claim that they are. It just doesn't make sense that if they are on the side of labour, that they'd vote for this bill (actually, they never even really mentioned labour at all in last nights events, they know they have the weak side). They may not get the message now, but we can sure show them next election.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

NDP taking on pet food regulation

A couple weeks ago, there was quite a lot of talk on pet food, as there was the pet food contamination at Menu Foods. However, all that talk has now died down, at least on the news.

As a pet owner (and one who buys Iams and Purina), I was particularly concerned about this whole event. But as much as I was concerned, I also spotted it as an opportunity for the NDP to make gains among pet owners. It is for that reason that I sent a short email to Jack Layton (or his office, I don't really know who checks it):

I obviously don't have to say anything regarding what has happened; it has been all over the news. As a pet owner, I find this particularly troubling. But, of course, I am not the only pet owner in Canada; of the people I know, at least 60% of them have pets. And many people, of course, are very attached to their pets, and would do a lot for them; possibly even move their political support.

So it is for that reason, as well as that this has made such a big impact on the news, that I would like to see my party, the NDP, move very quickly to take up the issue of pet food regulation in Canada. With pets being such an important part of many families in Canada, it only seems natural that the NDP, as the party of the people, should also become the party of "man's best friend". Also, I cannot for the life of me see any Canadian arguing against pet food regulation.

I hope that you agree with me that this is something that could be a great 'feature' to add to the NDP's family-friendly agenda: advocate for pet food regulation in Canada.


Close to a week later, I read in the newspaper that the NDP, particularly Olivia Chow, is now calling for pet food regulation in Canada. While I do not think that I was the only one to write, I do think that each call upon the NDP led to this. And as far as I know, no other party has taken the cause for the pets (another political victory for the NDP).

To kick-start this campaign for regulation, Olivia Chow released a video on YouTube concerning pet food:


Also, she created a petition (PDF) that we can all print off, get people to sign, and send it back to her office. I would encourage you all to do that.

So in conclusion, I would like to encourage you all to back up the NDP and Olivia Chow on this battle. While it may not be as big of an issue as, say, climate change, it is something where the NDP can score "brownie-points" with the electorate, and, of course, is a good cause, too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Part 3: Why and how you should support Barack

This is the final part to my 3-part series on Barack Obama (Democratic Party leadership candidate, U.S.). For my final part, I will highlight why Canadians should support Barack, and how this can be accomplished.

What Barack as President would do for America, and why we should support that
    This topic is answered by my previous post, and I would ask that you refer to that one. Barack's platform for America comprises several important topics, such as universal medicare, ending the Iraq war, and creating green cars and green fuel.

What Barack as President would do for Canada
    Of course, if elected, he would not be working for a better Canada. However, from what I've heard from other Canadians who support him is that he respects the importance of the relationship between Canada and the U.S. While I don't expect him to ditch NAFTA for anything like that, I believe that from the row of candidates for Democratic leadership, he would benefit his own people (Americans) and Canada more than any other candidate.

How you can support his candidacy

  • If you have any American friends, especially those who are eligible to vote in the Democratic primaries, call or email them, and talk about American politics, and Barack Obama
  • Buy Barack merchandise and wear it. Do this especially if you are taking a trip to the States.
  • Write blog articles on Barack, and why Canadians (and Americans if they read our blogs) should support him
  • Write a letter to the editor to an American paper and hope it gets published
  • Finally, you can "join the campaign" by going to his website, and at the top, enter your postal code and email address. I haven't figured out yet what this whole process is about, but I'm sure it's great.


This concludes my 3-part series. I hope by now, as Canadians, from what we know about Barack, can all rally around Barack and his campaign to be the next president of the U.S. Yes, right now, Canadians aren't particularly fond of America; this is mostly due to the last four and a half years of Bush as president. But I hope that, by supporting Barack, we can reconcile the relationship between Canada and the U.S.; Barack is not looking to continue what has been happening for the last four years, but instead, he is looking to turn that all around.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why I support Barack Obama, and my views on his policy

Last Thursday, I wrote an article on Barack Obama's (Democratic leadership candidate, U.S.) fundraising. Today, I am following that up with why I support Barack Obama. Let me give my reasons why:

1. Health Policy


"In the 2008 campaign, affordable, universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether, it must be a question of how. We have the ideas, we have the resources, and we will have universal health care in this country by the end of the next president's first term."

– Barack Speech, January 2007
In his health platform, along with several other specific initiatives, Barack supports two central systems: universal healthcare and lowering drug costs.   Lowering drug costs is something that we haven't really accomplished as a country in Canada, but hopefully Barack, as president, could do just that.
While Barack's platform on universal healthcare is very loose, he does believe, as far as I know, that the U.S. should have a universal healthcare system like that of Canada (his platform would do a lot of public consultations).

2. Environment Policy


Just check this out for yourself (click on the link above). His environment program is classified under energy, and includes plans for hybrid cars, reduced energy use, and renewable fuels.

3. Overall Policy


Overall, his policy is well rounded and quite left, as far as America goes (although, I think the platform could be a bit more detailed). I would ask that you check out his whole platform, and see what you think.

4. Barack Himself


By just reading his bio on his website (click above), you can see why he would be an excellent president. The other, smaller factors are that he is not an oil typhoon, terribly rich, or anything like that, which would be a nice change for America. Also, he is an African-American (from what I heard, he is not pure African, though), which, too, would provide a different prospective for America, and would probably make a move more to the left.

Tomorrow, I will have the third and final installment on my 'mini-series' on Barack Obama: Why you should support him, and how.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Go Barack!

Even though I am Canadian, thus my life is not American politics, I am a supporter of Barack Obama. (If you're one, too, please leave a comment here!) And yesterday was one of those happy days for me: Barack managed to raise US $25 million in the first quarter of 2007, versus Clinton's US $26 million.

Most of us (especially the Canadian observers) know that money virtually drives U.S. politics, and, as a general rule, the more you have, the more supporters you are going to get. So while Clinton was able to get a million bucks more, Obama actually has more money to be spent in the Democratic primaries (Clinton has a whack of money she's not going to spend just now).

But I have a funny feeling that, from now on, Obama might actually start to get more money. One stat that backs this up: 90% of his donations were under $100, meaning that there are a lot of people who can still be tapped for more.

While the polls of democratic members supposedly put Clinton as front-runner, Obama actually has a greater donor base: he has more than 100,000 unique donors, while Clinton has half that (50,000).

So, yes, at the moment, Clinton has more overall support (if you like polls), but Obama has a greater fundraising base than she will probably ever have. And yes, Americans have traditionally been (much) closer to the right than Obama is, I think that once they see how much better life would be with his platform compared to the status quo, people might just change ideologies. So if it's true that money buys votes in the U.S., Obama could possibly be the next President of the U.S.A.

Either tomorrow or next week, I'll have a post on why I support Obama, and why you should, too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

NFLD Attack Ad & Tory Campaign Office

This year, we've had Tory ads attacking Dion (in English & French), NDP ads promoting themselves, Premier Williams' ads attacking Harper, and now we have a new batch. Now, the Conservative Party is launching a newspaper ad campaign in Newfoundland and Labrador to counter that province's premier's efforts to discredit the federal Conservative Party.

But that is not the only 'awkward' news story from yesterday and today. The federal Conservative Party has opened their new election 'war-room' in suburban Ottawa. I saw a few pictures of this place, and it has a fairly large size (and looks quite expensive), especially if the Conservatives are saying that they will not push for an election. I am not 100% sure that they would put all that money into the place already if they were not adamantly sure that an election would happen this spring or early fall. In my books, if the governing party is almost 100% there is going to be an election in the very near future (enough so that they'd start spending money), there will be an election in the near future.

(However, it would be a good trick if the opposition parties kept the government afloat for another year, just to help deplete their resources.)

Monday, April 2, 2007

My Thoughts on the Status of Quebec

The whole topic on Québec is a very sensitive one, but alas, I will start to tackle it today. As everyone who lives in Canada knows, Québec officially became a "nation" last fall in the eyes of Parliament. But what comes after that? Should Québec be bilingual, venture into full nationalism, or actually separate? I'm going to start from the last item on the list to the first.

Countries of North America: U.S., Canada, Québec?


There is obviously not too much for me to say on Québec separatism: I am against it. I think it would be one of the worst things to happen to Canada. And it wouldn't really benefit Québec, either. Yes, they would receive all tax dollars collected in Québec, but they would not have access to federal services; they would have to set up their Québec tax system with e-filing, etc. etc., which would cost money.

The Nationalism Argument


While I am not as extreme on this stance as Mario Dumont (ADQ leader), I do agree with the principles of Québec Nationalism. The culture and language of Québec is one of the most important features, in my opinion, of Canada. Resorting to Nationalism, to a certain extent, would protect that status. What I think Nationalism should encompass is the Québec and European traditions, and the French language itself. Québec is not just another province, but a society in itself. I will elaborate on my views on Nationalism at a later time.

Do you live in Quebec? Oui, j'y habite.


I cannot see bilingualism to be a good thing for Québec and its heritage. Once English is given an equal status in Québec, it will slowly and discreetly kill French as the main language in Québec. This is, in fact, completely the opposite direction that Québec should go.


So as you can see, there are many different options that Québec can choose. I do not feel whatsoever that Québec should be eaten up by North American culture and the English language. That is why I do not support separatism, yet, I feel that Québec should seek the Nation alternative.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Jack did it again

Despite what many Canadians thought, the NDP was successful in significantly amending Harper's Clean Air Act.

This, of course, will make the Clean Air Act a much more valuable piece of legislation (although it would help to have some more envir-funding, too). Environment Minister John Baird, however, is not as delighted as the opposition parties are. He says that this new Clean Air Act will in fact be worse for Canada, as there are what he calls new taxes on Canadian industries.

Another 'funny' thing about what he says is the way he says it. Yesterday, when I was watching CBC Politics, Baird said that this bill will harm Canadian industry with the Carbon Tax. But then he goes on to say that the Conservative government will do "meaningful" actions to help the environment. Does that mean that the Clean Air Act now is too good, thus making it extra-meaningful, and Baird wants to stick with just plain old meaningful?

So while Baird goes around and says that this environmental legislation will hut Canadian industry, Canadian industry will continue to pollute Canadians without any financial penalties.

For the records, let it be known that Jack Layton puts people and their health first, and Harper and Baird prefer to give priority to companies that do not much else than pollute.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Prov. Tory vs Fed. Tory

Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Danny Williams has started running ads that attack Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The strange part of this story is that Premier Williams is actually a Tory himself; he just happens to be extremely upset with the Prime Minister. Why? Well, you probably already know: NFLD was kinda 'ripped-off' in the federal budget, at least according to the premier.

Just like Sask. Premier Calvert, Williams is complaining that his province wasn't treated fairly in the budget, concerning equalization (the only difference between the two premiers is the Calvert is NDP and Williams is Conservative).

So while these two premiers battle it off with Ottawa, I am personally going to see what the next province-by-province poll is going to reveal (I don't really like polls, but they give a very general idea, at least).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What last night meant for Canada

The day Canada has been waiting for has passed: the Québec election is over! Everyone now is already familiar with the results (Liberal minority gov., ADQ opposition with a hint of PQ), but what is all this really going to mean for Canada?

Let's start with the obvious. Most political analysts agree that if Charest got a majority, Harper would have started making excuses for an election. If that is the case for a Liberal minority too, I don't know. So either: a) Harper has already decided that a Québec minority government is sufficient; or b) he's going to wait awhile and see what the ADQ is going to as opposition.

The biggest issue for Canada, however, was if the PQ would win, as that is the first step for Québec sovereignty. Obviously, Boisclair is quite far from having a government and being premier. Thankfully, a PQ government doesn't look certain any time soon.

So what did last night mean for Canada? It meant that Canada is not on track to lose Québec (unless the ADQ & PQ make some mischief), and Québec was not destined to never have a minority government again. Last but not least, it meant that Harper's love affair with Québec (which he said he wouldn't do when he was in opposition) didn't actually have the influence he wanted, and thus not getting the results he wanted.

Boy, politically, Québec is a funny place, but that funny place is an integral part of Canada, and I hope that doesn't change.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Poll & My View on the Sask. Budget

Yesterday was budget day in two of Canada's provinces (Ontario & Saskatchewan). But because I live in Saskatchewan, I will talk about that budget.

Strategic Council Poll

Released Mar. 22, 2007
Conservatives: 39%
Liberals: 31%
NDP: 13%
Greens: 9%
± 3.1%. 19 times out of 20
I am not going to elaborate on the details of the budget (just click here to read more), but I will just quickly say my prospectus on it. While I am a New Democrat, and believe that it is necessary to spend money in order to have a prosperous and equal society, I do find a spending problem in this budget. There are two points which I'd like to mention:
  • 1. The Senior Drug Cap
    The problem with this plan is that it will just cost too much, and it will cover people who don't need it. The plan is to cap prescription costs for seniors (65+) at $15/prescription. The only thing I'd change is to have a cap on income, too. (It makes no sense for taxpayers to cap costs for seniors making $100,000 per year.)
  • 2. The Deficit
    Again, I am for spending on social programs. But, however, I think it was a mistake to create a deficit in the meantime. The thing is that people are always watching to see if NDP governments are going to create a deficit; in fact, they critique them more closely than Tory or Liberal governments. People are going to be all over the fact that the NDP created a deficit. It has always been a pillar of the NDP to have strong social programs and not get into debt/a deficit. There are many people who vote for the NDP based on that.


So yes, I continue to support the Saskatchewan NDP government, but, unfortunately, I am thinking that this may cost the NDP in the next election.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Liberal Gone

You'd think that the Liberals would be trying to keep everyone they can in their party (they already lost Wajid Khan, David Emerson, and someone else to journalism). But yesterday, they kicked someone out: Joe Comuzzi, MP for Thunder Bay—Superior North. The reason he was ousted, you may ask? Because he said he will vote for the Conservative budget.

Briefly, I will just explain why he will support this budget. It contains money for a cancer research centre in his riding, and he says he cannot vote against that (I can't really blame him).

But why Stéphane Dion would actually kick him out over that is another story. The Liberal Party caucus chair actually advised Dion not to throw him out, and Mr. Bonin (caucus chair) actually learned about this through a reporter.

I actually thought that the Liberal Party would be more democratic than this; there is money for his riding, why shouldn't he support this?

But in the end, this is going to be the Liberal's loss. As of now, they have lost three MPs since the last election. And this only goes to show how Stéphane Dion is not the great man that he and his party want him to be.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

SK taxes = Quebec tax cuts?

As you know, Québec got a significant share of the spending in the federal budget (about $2.3 billion). But not all of that may go to basic programs which are in need of funding. Jean Charest, the Québec Liberal leader and current premier, said that if he is re-elected, he will spend $700,000 of that money on new income tax cuts.

Now I do not disagree that Québec should have the right to do whatever it pleases with it's newfound money (however, I do disagree that Québec should be getting so much more from the federal government), I do have a problem with the fact that my federal tax dollars, which are collected in Saskatchewan, are being used to give tax cuts in Québec (if Charest is re-elected).

Well, I can only hope that this will backlash on the Conservative government. Maybe Charest will be re-elected, and this money will be spent on tax cuts. While it doesn't have seem to made into a huge story yet, it very well could. Maybe next time Harper and Flaherty make a budget (if ever), they will consider the fact that people who live in the other 9 provinces and 3 territories don't want their money to translate into tax cuts pour les Québecois.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Budget Thoughts

Enough has already been said in the Blogging Dippers about the budget, and I am now quite confident that everyone who wants to know what is in the budget already knows. So I am just going to talk about what I think about the budget.

Environment


  • There was definitely not as much money as I was expecting for the environment; I think it's only $4 billion or something. This is definitely not enough, in my opinion, to combat pollution. However, I do really like the idea they have about taking off a couple thousand dollars off hybrid cars, etc., and taxing gas guzzlers (13+ L/100 km) up to $4,000. They really should have put a biggar emphasis on the environment, though.


Taxes


  • I was actually quite surprised by the lack of tax cuts in this budget, compared to what they put into my mind concerning tax cuts. Don't get me wrong, I do not support tax cuts, it's just that this budget is not a typical Conservative one; it seems more Liberal. But anyway, even for middle-class people, there isn't as much of a tax break as the last budget. And for low-class people, they actually get no income tax break; the people who actually need it don't get it. And the rest of the smaller tax cuts are just as pointless as the ones from last year.


Poverty and Low-Income initiatives


  • As I just said, there were no tax breaks for low-income people. Also, there were no real programs or funding put forward to help eliminate poverty. This budget was more centered on the middle-class people, and it contains that North American ideology that you should only think about what affects you, and not others. And seeing Flaherty was bragging how this budget is for all Canadians, and how family-friendly it is, it must make the lower-class people feel like they're not Canadians.


Another note that I have to put in. Today, in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix today, when they were talking about the budget, the authors made it seem like it was a fact that this is a family friendly budget. This is just ridiculous what the media can really do. Also, they just included junk about how amazing this budget is; there was no large stories about how not good it is.

So to conclude, I am glad that Jack Layton has decided not to support this budget. It is just a package of junk wrapped in a family-friendly banner. And while I don't at all want this budget to become law, and to actually have tax dollars spent this way, I am somewhat relieved that the Bloc actually will prop-up the government for two reasons:
a) I don't want another election already; and
b) It is more proof how the Bloc has dropped their progressive values, and it is another thing that the NDP can use in Québec to show that the Bloc is not representing les Québecois well.

Monday, March 19, 2007

An election over the budget?

Happy Federal Budget Day!!   While we are not sure on the specifics of today's budget, we have been told a lot already by Finance Minister Flaherty. There are going to be tax cuts, equalization changes and funding, and money for public transit. But the thing is that he did not release any information which would be able to have political parties actually discussing right now. So because of that, we don't know for certain what the parties are going to do.

But that doesn't mean I can't guess. Here is what I think each parties reaction might be to the budget (based on what I think is going to be in it):

Liberals:

  • The Liberals still aren't in a position to face an election; their poll numbers are far too down for them. So their vote really depends on if the budget is even somewhat supportable, or if it is completely filled with right-wing tax cuts, etc. If it is even somewhat supportable, they'll definitely find an excuse to support it (maybe they'll say that they are standing up for Canadians who don't want an election). If it is the latter (tax cuts, etc.), they might have a more difficult time finding excuses (and Canadians won't sympathize with them if they vote for a true Tory budget).


Bloc Québecois:
  • If I had to guess, I'd guess that they'll support the budget. Most political analysts are certain that this budget will contain big bucks for Québec, and some money for the environment. So if it includes enough for Québec (to the Bloc's standards), they'll have to support it (and they're not soaring in the polls, either).


NDP:
  • The NDP is a more complicated story. There is one thing I can bet on, though, and that is that if there is one other opposition party who supports the budget (as that would keep the government afloat), the NDP will vote against it. It would be a real shame to destroy the NDP's track-record of voting against this government on every confidence motion, unless it is necessary. But if both of the other parties vote against the government, that'll be much more complicated, and that decision would be completely based on the specifics and every little tidbit of funding in today's budget.



So will there be an election over this budget? Only time will tell.

Friday, March 16, 2007

L'Election du Quebec en 2007

As you know, Québec is having an election campaign now. It is now really looking like it's going to be a minority government for once (they haven't had once since the late 1800s). Lots of people in Québec don't really know who to vote for, and I can't blame them; the parties are considerably different than in English Canada. I spent most of yesterday researching the Québec provincial parties and their platforms. Here are the main ones, and what I personally think of them:

Liberal Party (PLQ)

  • As you know, the Liberals currently hold a majority government in Québec, under Jean Charest. The PLQ is, in fact, the largest (and almost only) federalist party in Québec, and thus get some votes based on that, and not actually based on their platform and values. Despite being called the Liberal Party, the PLQ is more right wing than center; their platform is quite based on Right values: smaller government, less taxes, etc. The PLQ also, of course, is constantly defending it's record in government.
  • My opinion: While I am a federalist, I would definitely not support the PLQ. It's right-wing policies, and (in my opinion) record in government, it is definitely not the best party in Québec


Parti Québecois (PQ)
  • Well there is not much to say about the PQ. They are currently the official opposition in the National Assembly, and are the biggest supporters of sovereignty in Québec. They have been in government a few times in history.
  • My opinion: This is definitely an extreme, pro-sovereignty party that does not quite represent me. Their platform, however, is fairly good; it has some ideas that a New Democrat would support.


Action démocratique (ADQ)
  • The ADQ is another pro-sovereignty party. Unlike the PQ, however, it is not on the Left; it is a right-of-center party. Also, it has never been in power. During this campaign, they have had a few problems with outspoken candidates (some of whom are no longer ADQ candidates).
  • My opinion: Definitely not my party. It's right-wing and pro-sovereignty.


Québec Solidaire (QS)
  • The Québec Solidaire is another pro-sovereignty, left-wing party (however, it is more left than the PQ). It does not currently have an MNA, but according to recent polls, is at around 5% support. Even though it is a small party, it does have a fairly broad platform. It has 123 candidates (out of 125 ridings) in this election.
  • My opinion: This is a party that I'd be more likely to support. I agree with much of it's platform, and it has good policy on have a French society (in lieu of a more English one). Again, it supports the idea of sovereignty, but that, of course, is not the only issue. If I lived in Québec, I would definitely consider voting QS, and if there was a referendum, I'd just vote No, but continue to support the rest of their ideas.


Green Party (GPQ)
  • Well, it's the Green Party; we all know them. They are federalist, and mostly focus on environmental issues. They have about 5% in the most recent polls.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Who and what is Ecotrust Canada?

You probably already know about Harper's environmental foundation called "Ecotrust Canada," established this year. But that is not the only Ecotrust Canada. There is a well grounded organization called Ecotrust Canada, that was founded well before Harper's version.

As far as I know, the original Ecotrust is not actually a registered trademark, but it is still slightly offended that the government created a program with the same name. So I do not expect there to be any legal consequences, I don't think that it was the smartest idea to call a program something before checking if the name is actually in use.

Harper hasn't said anything about this mistake, so I am guessing that he is trying to pretend it never happened, and that the real Ecotrust Canada actually exists.

So I wonder if the real Ecotrust will get more or less donations? If people think it is a government program, who's going to donate? I have an idea: maybe Harper himself should put in a few thousand dollars.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Immigration cornerstone to Canada's growth

Information released from the 2006 census shows that immigration is key for Canada's continued growth in the future. Immigrants made up the vast majority of the 1.6 million new Canadians between 2001 and 2006. This means that Canada has the highest population growth in this time frame among the other G8 nations.

In that time frame, we had those 1.6 million new Canadians, but in fact, only an average of 240,000 per year were born in Canada (for a total of more than 1.1 million).

The other problem, though, is that the birth rate is still falling. If it wasn't for immigration at all, we might have come out at about even, as there are people who are dying while others are being born. In this time, it was virtually immigration alone that kept Canada afloat.

While it is a fact that immigration is key to Canada, we still have a flawed immigration system in Canada. There are two fundamental problems: 1. We are not recognizing foreign credentials, thus not tapping into a great amount of knowledge; and 2. We are simply not allowing enough people into Canada. The last I heard was that there are 600,000 immigration applications waiting to be processed; there is not a lack of people wanting to be Canadian. Please see my article: Canadian Immigration Flaws.

So what is the moral of the story? Canada's birth rate is falling; less people are wanting to have kids (and I have a funny feeling that the birth rate is not going to change all of the sudden). It is also necessary that Canada have a growing economy to keep up with the world. So because of this, it is necessary that we allow more immigrants into this country, and actually let them work at their trade, instead of not recognizing their credentials.   Immigration is going to be Canada's future; Canada's immigration policy needs to change.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Conservative appointments show loss of Tory credibility

Another Conservative flip-flop. Did you know that the last 10 federal government appointees had close ties with the Conservative Party or its supporters?

Back in the days when the Conservatives (and Harper) were the opposition, and they seemed like they'd be the perfect government, they criticized the Liberal government for appointing Liberal supporters. But guess what happens when that opposition party got in? Harper did exactly the same thing.

Personally, I am not on either side of appointing friends or not. It makes no sense to have people in your government and administration who do not support you or your agenda, but it is also unethical to appoint your friends and strongest supporters to good-paying jobs; all of this in a sense makes "The Big Boys Club".

The problem that I see, and that Canadians see, is that Harper said one thing and did another. I wouldn't have bothered to write an article on this if Harper, when in opposition, didn't raise a fuss about appointments. But the case was totally different. Harper was hypocritical, and somehow or another makes excuses for things in Question Period that contain household phrases like, "After 13 years of Liberal government,"; "Canada's New Government,"; "A culture of entitlement,"; and sentences having some wording like sure we're not perfect, but look at the previous government. We're better than that.

While this is no new political stunt that has never been tried before, it does show another hole in the Conservatives' we're the good guys plan (along with appointing Senators to be ministers, accepting floor crossers, etc.). This is yet more proof that the Conservatives are no better at keeping promises than the Liberals.

Now both the Liberals and Conservatives have lost credibility. The doors of honesty are wide open for Jack Layton and the NDP.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Harper's Enviro PR Scam

Another day, another announcement. Harper has announced $155 million to research the 'art' of capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground.

This is one of those things that is really pointless but still scores brownie points for the PM. I personally support the idea; it's going to take awhile until we can get off of the tar sands, and I have a funny feeling that Shell Oil is not going to pay for these projects (despite what their commercials tell us).

So to the reason why I support the idea, but not this particular project. The money is being spend on research, not the actual program, which would cost much more than $155 million. The thing is that CO2 capturing is a technology that is already being used. Sure, not in as much of a scale that would be required for the tar sands, but the basic system (it would not cost $155 million to slightly upgrade the existing tech). It is currently used in Weyburn, SK, and has been used for several more years at a company just north of Calgary.

Another Harper PR scam: get the public to think he's a good guy by investing in environment research, but the research is already done. Why won't Harper just put in the real money to start using this technology now?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Rae taking away woman's chance to win

It's official: Bob Rae, former NDP premier of Ontario and former leadership candidate for the Federal Liberals, is running for the Liberal nomination in Toronto-Centre.

It's quite obvious why he wants to run in Toronto-Centre (which, by the way, includes Rosedale, that high-class T.O. neighborhood): it's a strong Liberal seat; he would win it for sure.

But all of this is kind of disgraceful for the party, as the other contestant for the Liberals there is a women, Meredith Cartwright. And time after time, Stéphane Dion has said that he wants more women Liberal candidates. And because Rae is Rae, a former premier with lots of political experience, chances are he'll win that nomination.

Yesterday on CBC Politics, Rae said that, while his nomination opponent is a woman, he does still have a lot of experience, so why should he not try just because of the fact that a woman is also running. While this may be true, I did find at the time that his comments seemed a bit 'Rae-centric' and cocky. But what do I care? They're the Liberals; they've already shown to be: a) hungry for power; b) without any real objectives and no one knows what they stand for; c) hypocrites; and d) to be fans on the good old 'Old Boys Club' system.

So it is not surprise to me to find Rae doing this, but for the sake of political honesty and diversity/acceptance, I wish he'd just step down as candidate and let the Cartwright run!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Afghanistan: A Plan

For those who watch CBC's The National, you would have noticed the significant amount of stories lately on the war in Afghanistan. All of the sudden, this war has been a hotter topic than it was even a few months ago.

PM Harper has been saying that we are there to help the country, Defense Minister O'Connor has been saying that we are there because of 9/11, NDP leader Layton has said we shouldn't be there, and Liberal Dion hasn't said much at all on this issue.

My opinion: we should we helping Afghanistan; not fighting and blowing up its people. In other words, we just need to significantly change the objectives of this mission. We cannot deny that we have the potential to make the country a much better place for its people, but we also cannot deny that we are currently occupied with raw war, and that it is not going to take Afghanistan to where it should be. And where is that, you ask? Afghanistan needs to be an independent country. It needs to have its own military that is properly trained, and it needs to have a much stronger democracy, to ensure that criminals aren't getting elected.

We cannot stay there forever. There is the problem of the home team advantage that the Taliban has, as it knows the people, and the people can, and do, often trust them more than us. By giving the Afghan government the nessecary training for its army, the good side, too, can have the home team advantage.

Now you may be saying this is all well and good, helping Afghanistan to become an independent nation and not have to rely on other countries, but you are probably asking what we are going to do about the Taliban. The supporters of the Taliban are never going to completely go away, but in fact it is not solely them who are doing the fighting. They are paying civilians to risk their lives fighting the West. The reason these people are fighting is because the Taliban pays them more than $200 per month, while most jobs in Afghanistan would only pay less than $150 per year. So the biggest reason that the Taliban is still strong is due to its money. This flow of money, then, obviously needs to be stopped. So where are they getting their money? 'Tis the opium crops, of course. But I do not think, for the sake of people who make a living off of them, we should ban all poppy crops; we should make a system to have all poppy crops sold through a regulated system, to ensure that the money goes to the farmers. Any farmer who cannot prove that he is a member of this system will have to forfeit his crops. It's that simple.

I strongly believe that we have the opportunity to do good in Afghanistan, as long as we do the right things. We should be training their forces, building their democracy, and helping their overall society, instead of this endless fighting. Canadians will continue to die if we are doing the combat work. It would be much more efficient, and have better chances of success, for the Afghan people themselves to save their country. History has shown that countries cannot succeed at all if they are under the oppression of a foreign country; they need to be given independence, and a chance to succeed.