Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fired


As you have probably heard already, the Environment Commissioner of Canada has been fired by the Auditor General. Johanne Gelinas has been constantly saying that the Government, nor its representatives, has not whatsoever interfered in this. She also has said that she has been talking to the Auditor General about leaving the job herself, and had the intention of doing so in the future. Then she goes on to say that this announcement was "a complete surprise to me."

While this is officially 'non-strange' or suspicious, it does have me thinking that there has been some doings by the government, and even if it was not the government itself, it could have been a senior official. While I may have dismissed this at a different time, it's just that the environment has been such a big issue lately, and that the Conservatives have been criticized for its initiatives, and Gelinas has been one of them. It is also interesting to toss in the fact that the Chief Electoral Officer resigned lately, even though, as I remember, he was to retire (or get his pension) in the near future. So this totals to two mysterious and suspicious departures within a month and two days.

Again, as I have no facts or any knowledge at all (like 99.999% of the population) as to this firing, I just wanted to actually raise the question: was she not doing the job right, or was she not doing the job 'right' (CPC definition: to do something right: to support the Conservative Party if you are a government employee)

Just before I go, let's look at a Tory blog article about this:
Here's one posted when this was just a rumor. They don't say that it would be a good idea. So this person must now think it was wrong.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A 2007 Election & Budget 2007

Recently, I received a letter from the NDP, and of course, it was asking for donations (this time, Jack wanted $1,100). One interesting thing in the letter, though, was that on the bottom of each page, it said it was from the 2007 NDP campaign office in Ottawa, or something like that. This is even more interesting seeing the NDP holds the balance of power, and they are saying that there will be an election this year.

But it all makes sense. The NDP is constantly being criticized for "being in bed" with the Conservatives. If Jack doesn't support the budget, he isn't really in bed with them, is he? Personally, I would probably not vote for Harper's budget, as it will, like Harper said recently, be a budget full of more tax cuts, and, I would guess, even more money for the military, and bad environment programs.

This, however, does not mean that the government will fall. Remember the 2005 budget? The first NDP budget ever? That was in done in a Liberal government, and in order to make it worthy of the NDP, Paul Martin let Jack tamper with it by canceling billions of dollars for corporate tax cuts, and turned it into more transit, foreign aid, small business tax relief, and lowering the debt at the same time. If this could happen in the 39th Parliament, the NDP would be seen as a party that can get things done, a party that is not in bed with the Conservatives, and will get good programs for Canadians.

But if this dream that came to be in the 38th Parliament won't happen in the 39th Parliament, this won't be the shortest minority government ever. The average minority government in Canada lasts only 1 year, 5 months and 22 days (which would mean that the next election would be July 15, 2007).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Another Free-Trade Agreement?

House resumes today

The House of Commons will have its first sitting in 2007 today. So as usual, you can catch all of the happenings on CPAC. Question Period is at 1pm CST on both news networks.
I am currently reading a book entitled Sacré Blues, by Taras Grescoe, which is about the culture of Québec. According to this book, 2/3 of Quebecers believe that NAFTA benefited their economy. So seeing Quebecers like free-trade agreements, and that Charest is a bit nervous about an election, it is no surprise that Jean Charest, the premier of Québec, is looking into a Canada-European Union Free-Trade Agreement.

You may have noticed that I put a link above where it says NAFTA. Just for the sake of things, I will put it here again. I invite you to read my NAFTA blog article if you haven't already. It explains how NAFTA did anything but good for Canada, and how it handed a lot of our powers to the U.S. As the E.U. is more powerful and more populous than Canada, I am sure that the E.U. would, like the U.S. in NAFTA, receive a better deal, despite what Charest says.

Unfortunately, Charest has told the press that he has already talked to PM Harper, and the other premiers, and has received a positive response. I hope that you can see the problems with this: Canada's leaders are looking into the future without taking into consideration a similar agreement in recent history that was a disaster for Canada. I would like to know, however, which premiers, and how many, actually supported Charest on this topic.

The following is a quote from the CBC.CA story about Charest's suggestion:
Canadian government data suggests a free trade deal with the European Union would boost Canada's exports by $2.4 billion annually.

I'm wondering if this was data from Canada's New Government or from 13 years of Liberal government, both of which would probably support free-trade agreements. This also reminds me of when NAFTA came in. Brian Mulroney was telling Canadians how much NAFTA would benefit Canada and all Canadians. But, as we know, NAFTA was great for corporations and their CEOs, but terrible for the workers and average Canadians. It's obvious, as I have already stated, why Charest would be pushing for this, I cannot see why or how our (English-Canada's) politicians can support another economic failure.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Attention: Deadbeat Parents

Are you a "deadbeat" parent? Deadbeat parent: a parent who does not pay child support Do you live in Ontario? If so, you could become an internet celebrity! By February of 2007, the Government of Ontario will have a website set-up to post pictures of deadbeat parents.

So why would a government do this? Well, it is quite simple: if you see someone you know on the site, they are betting that you will report them, and if you are on the site, they're betting that you'll start paying up. I would imagine that being on a deadbeat parent website would be embarrassing, especially if, say, your boss was visiting the site.

Here are a couple of exerpts from the CTV story:


Renate Diorio, founder of Families Against Deadbeats, says they support the move.

The maximum jail time for offenders was recently doubled to 180 days, and the province started suspending driver's licences for non-payment. Since then, the Office says, deadbeats have started paying up in larger numbers.


Moral of the lesson for deadbeat parents: either move from Ontario, or pay up.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Harper and Co. Emission Consulting, Inc.

Poll by Leger Marketing, Released Jan. 24, 2007

± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20

Conservatives: 35%
Liberals: 32%
NDP: 13%
Greens: 9%

Yesterday, the Canadian Press (CP) conducted an interview with Stephen Harper on the issue of regulating emissions. Here are a few quotes from Harper,
"The government does intend to regulate emissions across all sectors including the automobile sector,''

"(But) we have to consult the industry and ultimately come up with targets that make progress on the environment while being achievable for industry in a way that doesn't jeopardize Canadian jobs,'' This is one of my problems with the Conservatives and the Liberals: so many "consultations".
Maybe it's just the way the government has to work, but with all of the consulting happening in Ottawa, it takes 1 year just for something to really happen. And with the constant elections happening lately, and all the 1-year consultations, it is surprising anything is happening.

Harper said he is considering imposing targets on industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

"We're looking at that,'' he said.

Oh, that's great to know. Our new-old government is looking into imposing targets on industry emissions. Is there any reason to not do that?

But Harper doesn't really care about being lowering the consumption of oil, as Canada is looking into being an energy superpower (with Harper in, it defiantly won't be green power), he said,
"President Bush's speech . . . when he talked about these things was really talking about it in the context primarily of energy security and the United States shortage of energy and their dependence on foreign supplies of energy,''

"That's not a problem here. Canada is an emerging world energy superpower. We have an abundance of all forms of energy. We're an exporter of virtually all forms of energy.''
Okay, we are not heavily relying on foreign oil, but that doesn't mean we should just keep using more and more. It may seem like I'm taking this out of context, I can't see much of a reason to bring up being an energy superpower in an emission-targets interview. While If you buy a house filled with explosives, it doesn't mean you use them. If anyone didn't think he had too many friends in Calgary oil business, this should change that view.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Harper in 2006; Harper in 2007

Stephen Harper is proud of his government's accomplishments over the past year. It was exactly one year yesterday that Harper ended the "13 years of Liberal government". Since that, things have changed in Ottawa. While I could not defend what the Liberals were doing, I would prefer to have Liberals in power than the Conservatives. Let's now look at what the Conservative government did in the past year, according to Harper:


  • The Federal Accountability Act

  • All of the tax cuts (incl. GST)
    • Which, of course, caused the cut of several key social programs, only to give more money to the wealthy

  • Universal Child Care Benefit
    • Which, of course, is taxed, so that some people only get $200 out of it

  • Softwood Lumber Deal
    • Which of course, caused many people to lose their jobs and have to move away

  • Crackdown on street racing and money laundering
    • What really happened? What did they do?

  • The rebuilding of the military
    • Which, of course, caused more Canadians to be in Afghanistan longer (2 years) so that they can be killed



Now that's a record to be proud of! A record that rewards the rich and punishes the poor. But maybe they will do something good in 2007. Let's now look at what they have in mind:

  • Senate Reform

  • Fighting Crime
    • Resonable enough, but of course it depends on the tactics used. There has to be some form of crime prevention involved

  • Economic Growth

  • Tax Cuts
    • Horay! Less social programs! Less healthcare (or private)

  • A Strong Voice on the world stage
    • … like Mr. Bush did with his two wars in one presidency.



Thankfully for Canada, the support for Conservatives is going down. Hopefully, before anymore wild things happen (and if they are low enough in the polls), an election will occur this year.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The cost of homelessness

Homelessness is not free in our society. Homelessness costs taxpayers, and the homeless person still has no home, nor a livelihood. But for some reason, governments don't seem too intent on doing something about this problem; a problem that is not going away. In an article in The Tyee, Monte Paulsen shows the problems on homelessness, and how much it costs taxpayers. Here are a few excerpts from it, but please go to the main article to read more.

… in Canada, homelessness is on the rise; and in the Vancouver region, the official count of homeless persons almost doubled from 1,121 souls in 2002 to 2,174 in 2005.


Homelessness is not cheap. Provincial taxpayers spend up to $40,000 annually per homeless person, according a 2001 study. That money is spent on police calls, hospital visits and other emergency social services.


Housing them all would cost less than half that much money, and numerous studies show that people who live indoors go to jails and hospitals far less than people who live on the streets. The average Canadian spends only $11,200 a year on housing. Even government-run supportive housing -- where residents get social services, such as counselling -- costs only $28,000 a year.


It's cheaper -- not to mention more humane -- to help people pay their rent rather than rescue them after they fail. The majority of Vancouver's homeless are on welfare.


Welfare pays $510 a month to single, employable adults aged 18 to 64. That's broken down into $325 a month for rent, and $185 a month -- or $6 a day -- for everything else. Those rates have not been adjusted since 1991. But the Vancouver area real estate market has changed dramatically. By 2004, according to a report by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the average market rent for a bachelor apartment in Greater Vancouver was $678 per month.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Equalization Debate

I have no clue what Stephen Harper is thinking lately. Saskatchewan is one of the two Conservative bases where they always get most of their seats, and now they're going to risk that. It's kind of like gambling, isn't it? Harper takes some of his salary (base) and wants to grow it, so he decides to throw away some of that salary in order to get more (Québec). But I guess I can't really blame him, the Conservatives are down in the Québec polls, and unless Harper does something that will please Québec very much, he will loose a lot of his seats.

Personally, seeing finance isn't really my thing, it is not the biggest deal for me whether he sides with Québec or Saskatchewan. But what does really matter to me is that he promised that non-renewable resources would be out of the spectrum, and now (like so many other promises), it is going down the drain.

For those of you who live in Saskatchewan, you may recall getting one or two small mailings about why non-renewable resources should not be included in equalization, and you would have also seen how much the Sask. government is pushing this, the Sask. government obviously being NDP. I've been wondering why Jack Layton has never really brought up equalization, and I'm sure that others are thinking the same. My guess is the following: NDP wants Saskatchewan and Québec. But, if I were Jack Layton, I would openly side with Lorne Calvert. While I really do want to see a Québec NDP MP, it is far more likely that there will be a Sask. NDP MP sooner.

The NDP is gaining ground in Sask. due to the Wheat Board, so why not add to this growth?

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Prince of the Environment

Let's say that you won an environmental award (only for actually speaking about climate change a few times) and you live in Britain and the award is in the U.S. Should you go to the U.S., or do the enviro-option via video-link? Well, seeing your government wants you to go to the U.S. to show that Britain supports the environment, you decide you might as well go. Now, do you fly economy, or should you go all the way and take a jumbo jet and 20 other people along?

Unfortunately for the environment and for the sake of non-hypocrisy, Prince Charles decided on the latter option. He will be going to receive a Global Environmental Citizen award because he has, quote (from CBC), "spoken publicly on the threat of climate change". I've told people about climate change, I'm not going to the U.S., neither is Jack Layton or Elizabeth May. Environmental campaigner Joss Garman put it well when he said, "Flying to an environmental award ceremony is a bit like turning up to an Oxfam award ceremony in a stretch limo,".

As I said in the first paragraph, the British government wants Charles to fly there so that he can promote climate change as a key priority for Britain. I have this funny feeling that it is not the top priority for them. Even though Britain has a Labour government, this is one of those times when they are not quite as they should be (for example, the invasion of Iraq).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why Canada needs Quebec

Québec has been getting a lot of attention in the media for the past several years, for issues such as the referendums and Québec sovereignty. Most recently, the House of Commons has recognized Québec and the Québecois (nobody, not even Harper, knows who is and is not a Québecois) as a nation. This motion was

One little piece of info


There is a very good column written by Larry Zolf, who is a regular contributor to CBC News Online. This is a very interesting article written last November entitled Harper's Quebec Strategy.
introduced by Prime Minister Harper in November of 2006, and was supported by most Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP. The motion was to recognize Québec as a nation (I guess kind of like the First Nations) within a unified Canada (a nation within a nation). But there is controversy over the motion. There is a very interesting article from the CBC about this Québec motion. It says that Quebeckers now have another argument for their side: that Canada will try to make us special, but we won't really get anything out of them.

So why does Québec want to separate? To the best of my knowledge, it is because they think (and they are) different from the rest of Canada. So just because you are different, you should separate? In many of the suburb cities of Vancouver (Richmond, etc.), the majority of people are actually immigrants, and the majority of them are from Far East Asia and Southeast Asia. So why don't they separate to make their own country? Just like in Québec, there are still some people who don't fit into this category (meaning English or non-immigrant people), but that can be just pushed off to the side. Finally, just as a little fact, when I was in Québec, all of the Québec government buildings I saw (about 4), and even the National Assembly, only had Québec flags. Every other provincial building or legislature I've been to has a Canadian flag.

Personally, I think Canada would be at a great loss if Québec separated. While I have only been there once for the 2006 NDP convention, it was one of the best places I've been to in Canada. The beauty of it, and the culture, are things that need to be kept in Canada. It is so different than the rest of Canada, and that is something we should all treasure.

How should we keep Québec? We need to show Quebeckers what would actually happen with an independent Québec, and we need to keep a balance on how we treat them: we cannot treat them like royalty, nor like it is just the same as any other province like Saskatchewan. And we need to actually treasure and value the culture and language that one of our oldest provinces brings to us. United we stand, divided we fall. This is the message we need to carry.

Québec is one of our founding provinces; it's capital is just about 400 years old. French culture and the natural beauty of Québec is not something that can be given up just so we don't have to fight the battle of federalism.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Are the Liberals serious?

Latest Poll (Broadcasted by CTV on Jan. 16, 07; poll by Strategic Council)



Liberal: 35% (down 2%)
Conservative: 31% (same)
NDP: 15% (up 1%)
Bloc: 11% (same)
GPC: 8% (up 1%)

± 3.1% 19 times out of 20

As I always say, polls are often a bit off (seeing they only poll 1,000 people or so), but they show a little something (not who will win, though). As the CTV news story says, by the results of this poll, it is unlikely that there will be an election this spring, because no one is really 'winning'.

A couple good things came out of here: the Liberals are down—meaning Dion isn't that great, and the NDP is slightly up—meaning people are regaining their former belief that Layton is the politician that gets things done.
Most people by now have heard that Stéphan Dion was speaking to a group of Bay Street people yesterday about having a green, money-making economy. He was saying how we can be buckets of money by becoming a world leader in green technologies and the like. While I do not dispute this actual claim that we can and should become world leaders in making green technologies and creating a green economy for ourselves, I question the actual promise to do so, and I have good reason.

Let's have a little game to see if there are any differences between the following two quotes:

"The economic opportunities are enormous. Countries that embrace the environment as a core priority will lead the global economy in the 21st century . . . As an energy superpower, Canada should be a global leader in the research, development, commercialization and export of clean energy and environmental technologies . . . And if Canada is to be a leader in green-based industries, we need a healthy concentration of blackberry-style inventions in industries related to the environment."

"Although Canada has a global reputation as an environmental leader and policy innovator, we have done little so far to benefit from the commercial advantages of this reputation. To do so will require supporting sustainable development initiatives taken by business, adopting strict environmental standards that spur the development of cutting-edge technologies, and funding research and development for green technologies. A Liberal government will make environmental technologies and services a major component of Canada’s strategy for economic growth."


Do you see a difference? Probably not. Let's go to the answer. The first quote is from Dion's speech yesterday in Toronto, and the second quote is from the 1993 Liberal platform (pg. 67; written by Paul Martin, former Liberal environment critic). My point: the Liberals have already promised to do this green-economy thing, but even though they had 13 years to do it, they obviously did not follow through.

If there are any Liberals reading this, you are probably thinking, "Well Stéphane Dion will be and is different. All Canadians can trust him." If you listen to a lot of political speeches, and if you were watching the 2006 Liberal Leadership Convention, you would know that Stéphane Dion sometimes talks about the "legacy of Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien". So, if Martin and Chrétien did not follow up of their environmental platform, and seeing that Dion is a big environmental guy (who sees the environment as a top priority), you would think the Dion supports their "legacy".

Obviously, the Liberals nor Dion are really serious about a green economy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

5-leader election debate?

You have probably heard lately that the Green Party is complaining that they are not included in the election debates that are broadcasted on TV, and that they started a website entitled Demand Democratic Debates. Their aim is to get the Green Party and Elizabeth May into the leaders' debates held each election.

When I first head their 'cry' for support, I agreed with them: they got more than 600,000 votes in the last election, so why can't they be in the leaders' debates to showcase their platform to the rest of Canada? And now in the polls, they are looking even better, with about 11% of the support of Canadians. They also had a full slate of candidates in the last election. They have a platform that covers most issues (meaning that they are not a one-issue party). Why can't they be in the debates?

As I said, I supported their cause. But I started to realize lately that we live in a society of rules, and we can't just start making exceptions. It has pretty much always been that you had to have at least one seat in the House of Commons before the election in order to have your leader in the debates. That was and still is the line. You need to have a Member of Parliament. And we can't start making exceptions for everyone. Once an exception has been made, then the Green Party will also be saying, "Where's the line?". In the 2006 election, in Nunavut, the Marijuana Party got 8% of the vote. Can they now participate? If the rules can be bent for the Green Party, why not for the Marijuana Party (who got more a higher percent of the vote in Nunavut than the NDP often gets in certain Québec ridings). Again, we have rules for this debate and exceptions can't start flying around for people who ask for them.

Finally, I have one small remark to make about the GPC's Demand Democratic Debates. If you go to their website, they say, "Your tax dollars finance the Green Party. Wouldn’t you like to hear where we stand on the issues?". I would like to point out that it is not the government or event Elections Canada that holds the debates, but the television stations. TV stations don't have to be accountable, nor do they give a care that tax dollars support the Green, so then they should be on the debates. The rules of the debates are created solely by the TV stations; the party leaders get no input. They alone can decide who will be in the debates.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Green Tax Incentives

There was a recent poll by Decima Research that found that 51% (based on those people who were polled) said that they'd prefer a hypothetical "Liberal" promise of a $1,000 tax break that rewarded environmentally-friendly purchases (i.e. Energy Star appliances, etc.) or behaviors (i.e. taking transit, bike, etc.) compared to the 28% of people who preferred a hypothetical "Conservative" promise for a $1,000 tax break with "no-strings attached".

Doesn't this say something? Canadians prefer tax breaks to be granted for saving the environment, thus producing less emissions, or using less water, compared to the Conservative philosophy to give random tax breaks to random (but usually middle/high class people) people for random (but usually to get votes) reasons.       Quickly, I will just explain why I put Conservative and Liberal in quotation marks in the first paragraph. I first read about this story on the CTV Politics Blog, and there was a comment that said, "Why would they assign party labels to hypotheical policies?", and then a reply, ". . . Good question, especially when the policies in question originated elsewhere in large part."

This results of this poll mean to things:
a) Canadians want environmental action, and believe it is appropriate to offer 'bribes' to get people to help
b) The whole Conservative philosophy that the GST should be cut for no particular reason (except to cut social programs) is not sitting well with Canadians anymore.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Harper and the Conservatives: The Immigrant Party?

Yesterday (the 11th), you may have known that Stephen Harper was in the GTA doing two things: a) announcing a whopping $2 million to create a database; and b) to rally support for the latest action of Wajid Khan (defection to Conservatives, of course). But probably b) was the most significant.

Stephen Harper was in some building in Mississauga (watch CBC Politics show covering this story) making a speech talking about the things he is doing, and also 'selling' Khan's decision. So what? What's the problem? Politicians are always doing stuff like that.
The problem was that many (possibly most. It's harder to see on TV) people in the audience were immigrants. There is no point on claiming the immigrant vote for the NDP, as the Liberals and the Conservatives are already doing that. So my point is this: for a long time, immigrants have not supported the Conservatives (even in the last election), but now they are, meaning more support for the Conservatives. After the event, many members of the audience who were immigrants were commenting on how much they "trust" Stephen Harper, and support his 'good work'. And it's not just that those people were supporting Stephen Harper, but that it's sending a message to other immigrants and to Canadians, that Stephen Harper is actually gaining support. But alas for Harper, there were protesters at this gathering, mainly protesting the lack of ethics held by Harper and Khan. The problem? They were all white people from Canada, no immigrants.

So there are a couple things that need to be worked on. The NDP has to revive it's immigrant-friendly label by (like it used to) bringing the issues of immigration up in Parliament more often, creating immigration bills, and rallying the immigrants around the NDP. The Conservatives' immigration agenda has to be attacked more, it cannot be ignored any longer.     And remember, many immigrants are voters, too, and if they aren't now, they could be someday (or their children).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

NDP Picking the Right Strategies

There was a press release by the NDP on January 10, 2007 that Jack Layton said that climate change and working families "pocketbooks" will be their priorities.

These are probably two of the best things for the NDP to focus on. The environment and climate change are the biggest issues in politics lately (and probably will be for a long time), and it's also the issue people are going to the Liberals and particularly the Green Party over. The environment is something that the NDP needs to keep pushing on to show Canadians that the NDP is the environmental party, NOT the Liberals or the Greens (and especially not the Conservatives!).

The other one: finances. This is also a great thing for the NDP. One of the biggest criticisms of the NDP is that they "tax and spend" and that all they want to do is to drive you broke through taxes. People in Saskatchewan and Manitoba know that's not true, but most Canadians don't, so it's great the Jack Layton is saying that the NDP is the party that helps you "pocketbook" and is socially responsible by investing in Canada.
What a great thing for the NDP to do.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

NDP in 2007

What does 2007 hold for the NDP? Recent polls have said that the NDP is losing support, mainly to the Greens, and the Liberals have a new 'environment' leader.

Results of Dec. 2006 Environics Poll (quoted from CBC Politics, Monday, Jan. 8, 07)


          Oct '06 Dec '06  
Cons 37 34
Lib 28 32
NDP 18 14
GPC 7 11
BQ 9 8

+/- 2.3% 19 times out of 20

Atlantic
Lib 37 33
Cons 37 32
NDP 21 26
GPC 5 9

+/- 6.1% 19 times out of 20

Quebec
BQ 38 36
Lib 18 24
Cons 24 18
NDP 12 12
GPC 7 8

+/- 4.4% 19 times out of 20

Ontario
Lib 38 39
Cons 35 36
NDP 20 12
GPC 7 12

+/- 4% 19 times out of 20

Manitoba
Cons 53 38
Lib 26 34
NDP 16 19
GPC 4 8

+/- 8.7% 19 times out of 20

Saskatchewan
Cons 50 40
Lib 25 26
NDP 13 23
GPC 9 10

+/- 8.5% 19 times out of 20

Alberta
Cons 61 60
Lib 15 16
GPC 11 14
NDP 10 11

+/- 6.9% 19 times out of 20

BC
Cons 37 36
Lib 25 35
NDP 28 17
GPC 9 11

+/- 6.5% 19 times out of 20

First of all, the polls show less support for the NDP. But as Jack Layton always points out, this is where the NDP was in the polls this time last year, and they went from 18 to 29 seats anyway. He says that while people may say in a poll that they are a 'Greenie' or a Liberal, they start to think at the polls, "Who is actually going to get things done?", and sure enough, they vote NDP.
As I have already posted in the past, I really don't believe what polls say (and I think more people should share this view with me). Most national polls have a margin of error of +/- 3 or 4%. So whatever the poll says, it could be up to 4% off. They are also 19 times out of 20, meaning that 1 time out of 20, the results mean splat. And they poll about 1,100 people or so. What about the other 15 million+ people who are also registered voters? So while polls can often tell if a party will win a majority or not, it really doesn't mean much.

Stéphane Dion, is he really the answer to saving the environment? I highly doubt it. Now I may think otherwise if he used to be the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, but he was the Minister of the Environment, and that can usually give a good record of whether someone can truly help the environment. Not to sound like Harper, but after 13 years of Liberal government, what really happened for the environment? As you probably know, Green House Gasses went up. While the Conservatives are worse, the Liberals weren't something to brag about (yet despite their wrongs, they are still proud of PM Martin's "accomplishments").

So what will the NDP do in 2007? The NDP seems quite fixated on bank charges, and, of course, there is the environment, which will be one of the biggest issues in the foreseeable future. Especially with the new balance of power given to the NDP (thanks to Mr. Khan), the NDP should have some good opportunities to amend the Conservative Clean Air Act. And, of course, there will be a lot of political game playing in 2007, with the possibility of an election.

Finally, to the Greens rising. This is something that can seriously hurt the NDP, and therefore should be taken seriously. As New Democrats, we have to show Canadians that the Greens are not as 'holy' as they tell us. Many Canadians think that the Green Party is much different primarily because they say that they don't play political games, and will get stuff done. But they have never been elected, so why would they be different? I am quite sure that when—or if— they ever get a seat, that Canadians will finally see that the Green Party is just another political party, that it is not 'holy', and that they don't get more things done than the NDP. In fact, I doubt that it is possible to do more good than the NDP. The NDP is—and always will be—the political party that: a) gets stuff done; b) supports the environment (and takes the best steps possible to fix that); and c) the NDP is the only party that protects the working family.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

What the NDP means to Sean, and probably Canada

The following is not actually my writing, but I decided to make this my post for today. It is a very interesting and inspirational blog article by Sean in Saskatchewan. Seeing I did not actually write it, if you feel that you want to leave a comment, please do so on the original page.

What the NDP means to me, and probably Canada


It isn't easy being orange these days. What with the rise of the Green Party, supposedly sucking away the vote, the Liberals with a supposed new "green" bent and unsolicited attacks from Conservative and Liberal biased agents (blogs, media, pundits, chat forums), don't you sometime wonder why anyone would hook their wagon to a party who has never grasped that brass ring?

Well I have a confession to make, though I am sure if anyone really cared they could find this out pretty easily, I once was a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party of Canada. I remember taking out the membership during my early political days back in undergrad (oh nine years ago seems so far away) right before the 2000 election. I even volunteered for the campaign of Brenda Chamberlain in Guelph, Ontario.

However, when Martin came into power and started purging the Liberals of anyone with a left-bent I started to get nervous. The final straw was his treatment of Shelia Copps and her nomination fight against Toni Valeri. I tore up my membership card and quietly headed into the political wilderness in search of something new.

I was looking for a party, a candidate that wasn't in "the game" for power, but there to effect real change, and that just isn't something that you get with the Liberals. This idea more then anything is what brought me over to the NDP, slowly but surely.

Unlike the Conservatives or Liberals the Federal NDP has never had a viable chance to form government in this country. To this effect the political bent of the NDP has never been to get into power or stay in power, as these positions inevitably result in party policies and actions that leave a bad taste in your mouth. Instead, the NDP has been allowed to most accurately represent the voice of its "grassroots" on the national stage. Been allowed to push an agenda that doesn't necessarily translate into votes form all sides of an issue.

Granted, this approach never really paid dividends for the party during the past 20 years of majority governments, a system of government not really designed to that effect. However, with the past two minority governments this approach has proven to be quite effective in giving voice to a segment of the population (around 15-20%) that was usually ignored, expect for the odd socially-conscious bone thrown by the governing party of the time in a hopes to increase votes.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the 5.5 billion dollars in spending negotiated in the Liberals 2004 budget (though I must admit I don't know how much of that was ever implemented) and most recently (for better or worse, it is still an open debate) the attempt to re-write the horribly inadequate "Clean Air Act" of the Conservative minority.

The NDP will always be relevant if it chooses the path of being the social and environmental conscious of Canada, a constant thorn in the side of the governing party of the day that they need to remember the plight of the less fortunate of society. Sure you can dismiss the NDP as a "fringe" party, fear-monger by suggesting their policies, if given a chance, would destroy the country, (something I obviously disagree with, but something left for another debate, another day) but if the string of minority governments continues you won't be able to ignore the NDP much longer.

Eventually, the Conservatives and Liberals will have to learn how to work in a minority/coalition style of government, one where they must consensus build on issues instead of ramming their ideology driven measures down the throats of the majority of the country who didn't vote for them. I won't claim that the NDP has been perfect at this style of government over the past 3 years, however, they are at least trying, which is something the Liberals only did so as not to loss their grasp on that ring and something the Conservatives have yet to do.

So, hopefully that gives a little insight to all those out there as to what the NDP means to me and why I have chosen to spend so much of my personal time and energy working for it in my riding. Of course there is a mountain more I could write on cold-hard details, however, that is best saved for another time, another post.

Published Friday, January 5, 2007

Monday, January 8, 2007

Cabinet Shuffle

As you already know, there was a somewhat major cabinet shuffle on January 4th. As I am quite busy today, I will just write a little bit about some of the highlights.

1. Rona Ambrose
As was expected by everyone who pays attention to this kind of stuff, Ambrose
was booted out of the environment portfolio. I was even thinking she might have been kicked out of cabinet altogether (I think that if it was not for the fact that she is a women, she probably would have been). But she was moved over to intergovernmental affairs, which is probably something that—unless some big catastrophic thing happens—she could handle. She's also the new Minister of Western Economic Development, taking the portfolio from Saskatoon Rosetown Biggar's Carol Skelton (Saskatchewan's only federal minister), who is still the Minister of Revenue.

2. John Baird
He, of course, was moved from President of the Treasury Board to the environment portfolio to replace Ambrose. One of the reasons that has been floating about why Baird was moved out of his previous position (which, by Conservative standards, he did quite well) is because his riding (Ottawa West—Nepean) has a lot of civil servants, and I guess John ticked them off with his spending cuts, so Harper is trying to put a nice, new, environmental face on him.

I have also found a good article entitled John Baird cannot be trusted by Mike on Rational Reasons. It talks about how our new environment minister, when he was President of the Treasury Board, denied funding for an improved rapid transit system in Ottawa (where is own riding is) even when the Departments of Transportation and Infrastructure, Finance, the Treasury Board Secretariat and Baird's own "professional staff" said that is was "well justified". It is a very good read.

3. Gordon O'Connor
Some analysts thought that O'Connor might be 'shuffled-out' of Defense with his somewhat 'ruff-and-tough' approach to things, such as the banning media presence at soldier's funerals and stopping the tradition of lowering Parliament's flag to honor our fallen soldiers. The main controversy surrounding is appointment to defense was that he was a lobbyist for several major defense industry companies. Personally, O'Connor reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld (former Secretary of Defense, USA).

4. Tony Clement
While no one really expected him to be tossed from Health, that wouldn't have been the worst idea. He really hasn't made Canada's health system better. He hasn't appear much in the news, probably because he hasn't really done anything to ruin medicare or exalt it. While his profile would be acceptable in the U.S., where there is very little government involvement in health (especially federally), it is not in Canada, where our whole system revolves around the government and government funding. Finally, his appointment controversy. Clement has a 25% stake in Prudential Chem Inc., a Canadian drug company. He says that he'd love to sell his shares, but they are not tradable on the TSX, and has not yet found a buyer. Okay, we can give him some credit for that, but why would he be appointed Health Minister of all things?

Friday, January 5, 2007

Liberal Floor-Crossing

I know I said I'd wait 'til Monday to post, but this is something that needs to be posted!

Breaking news on this story.Click here to view it

Last week, there was a very interesting story that a Liberal MP, Wajid Khan (Mississauga Streetsville), would cross the floor to the Conservative benches. As for as I know, the story first originated (on the internet) on Stephen Taylor's blog, who is a Tory. The following is what he wrote:


BREAKING NEWS -- Khan crosses floor -- EXCLUSIVE


I am now reporting that Wajid Khan will join the Conservative ranks tomorrow as a backbench MP. Doing so protects Khan from cynicism of the press and opposition of making such a political move for career advancement, or for monetary considerations. Khan joins the Tories without taking a position in either cabinet or as a Parliamentary secretary.

This move has been a long time coming and I expected to report on this just after the Liberal leadership convention as such a move would have been wise political strategy to deflate the post-convention bounce in the polls that benefitted the Liberal party.

Khan is expected to make a formal announcement tomorrow and will likely describe that he is switching parties because of the "values" that the Prime Minister represents.

Published January 4th, 2007

Stéphane Dion, of course, had to say something about this. It was reported by the CBC that Dion said Khan is a "committed Liberal". He also said that, "in politics you hear many things and to me, Mr. Khan is a colleague. He will be part of the caucus; he will work in a positive way."

But it is interesting to think about the possibility of this happening. What would the reasons be? Taylor says that he was not offered a post as a minister or even as a parliamentary secretary (if this were true, the move would have happened before or at the cabinet shuffle last week). In the polls, the Liberals are currently higher than the Conservatives, too, and many (if not most) political pundits and junkies think that Harper won't win the next election. The reasoning of this possibility is quite interesting.


Breaking News


Jan. 5, 2007: 9:37 AM CST
I guess Stephen Taylor was right (who knows how he knew about it). Mr Khan, Liberal MP for Mississauga Streetsville, has crossed the floor to the Conservatives. Now, the Conservatives have 125 MPs, meaning that they only need 29 MPs to support them to pass something, or the other way around, too. Guess who has 29 MPs. The NDP. Depending on how this is handled by both parties, this is one of those things that will go either very good or very bad for the NDP. I'm quite surprised that Mr. Khan would actually do this. This is the third floor crossing in a few years (Belinda Stronach, David Emerson, and now Wajid Khan). I wonder if he'll get elected next election? But it is possible; the reason nobody thinks Emerson could win again is because he crossed right after the election. But it worked for Stronach when she went to the Liberals when they were in power.

One more update …


While it is quite short, I couldn't help but put this small quote by Bill Doskoch on the CTV Politics blog.

However, if this story is correct, we're not talking about someone who bled Liberal red his whole life before leaving the party. So I'm left wondering if Khan's defection says anything wider about blue Liberals.

Published January 6, 2007. To read the rest of the article, please click here.