Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Income Splitting

It's not even a month now until Budget Day (March 19), and the Tories have backed away from their Income Splitting promise. While I am not in favor of too many tax cuts, I believe in income splitting for seniors. Flaherty will probably not, according to the CTV story, permanently back down from income splitting, but they will for this budget. So instead of I.S., the Conservatives are going to give tax cuts to corporations and middle-class people; the people who don't need it. But when it comes to doing the right thing (I.S. for seniors) or buying votes (middle-class and corporate tax cuts), they will choose to buy votes.

So why do seniors deserve I.S.? It's simple: often, they don't have a ton of money in the bank. They are the people who built up this country. Lots of seniors once had prosperous, middle-class lives, but pensions often can't keep up to that. Seniors have payed taxes their entire lives when they had enough money to do so and live decently, but once they get into older age, have less money, and have given their share to society, they are still expected to pay the same taxes. Don't they ever deserve to be left alone?

But, we have a Conservative government, thus I do not expect good things to happen in Ottawa. So yes, according to the Tories, they will put I.S. on their To-Do List, but in the meantime, they will have to wait while middle-class people save up enough tax dollar savings to get a new SUV (in order to pollute their grandchildren).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Is the CPC website dissolved into the GC website?

Yesterday, it was raised in the House, by a Liberal MP, how Canada's New Government™ is making the Government of Canada's websites political. Quote from CTV story: The website of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada carried the minister's statement, which concluded with a jab at the Liberal opposition.

"At a time when the Opposition parties are being soft on security and soft on terrorism, Canada's New Government remains unwavering in its determination to safeguard national security,'' said Day's statement.


This is something I have noticed for a long time. The GC website has these political statements (not as bad as the above, though) all over it, and it, of course, always refers to Canada's New Government.

Well, I guess the gov. does have the right to promote what it's doing, but, outside of the House of Commons, it really shouldn't make any reference to the opposition parties.

Please note, on the GC homepage, how every news piece refers to Canada's New Government.     Also, note on the PM's website, at the top, it says, "Canada's New Government: Getting Things Done for all of us". Isn't that a bit partisan?

It is the peoples choice which political party they donate to, but tax dollars shouldn't be funding partisan websites.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Story Behind the ATM Fee Platform

Every wonder what's up with this thing that Jack Layton is making a fuss about? They're ATM fees, it's not really a large bill to pay, isn't it? And don't we have free markets like most of the Western world? Can't the banks do whatever they want to?

There is now a little info centre (and petition) on the NDP website, which I'd suggest you check out first.   There is a lot of interesting information on that page, such as the record bank profits from 6 major banks. Also, I learned on this page that TD Bank does not charge its U.S. customers ATM fees, only us Canadians.

And it's not just Canada (or Jack L.) with these ant-ATM attitudes. The U.K. banned ATM fees 7 years ago. And while it seems like a petty thing for an MP to talk about, it is also a basic values issue. Why are we being charge to get our own money out. We pay them to look after our money, so shouldn't that be enough?

My next argument: it's still money. While those $1.50 or $3 bank charges may not exactly drive you to the poor-house, it does add up. For example, if you did not live near your bank, and you needed to withdraw, say, $60 every two weeks, with a $3 charge, that would cost you just about $80 per year, which could take you out to a restaurant a few times, or pay for a Greyhound bus fare, etc. etc. etc.   And anyway, the banks are not going poor. The billion dollar profits that they're making could do a lot for our society, such as fighting poverty. But instead, that money is going to CEOs, and paying for gold platted windows on RBC towers in Toronto.

Finally, if you want to check out a more personal story on bank fees, read Sean in Saskatchewan's ATM fees ... to be questioned by Commons committee.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fair Traded Coffee: Are we doing enough?

For many Canadians, coffee is an essential part of life. Everyday, I have a cup of coffee, and chances are, so do you. But do you think about that coffee (other than how it tastes)? I don't even think much about where my coffee came from before it arrived at Starbucks. We all know that it comes from fairly temperate climates, mostly in third-world countries. But how much of this coffee is actually fairly-traded (meaning that the farmer of the coffee plant gets a reasonable deal when selling his coffee)?

I'm going to talk about the 'fair traded-ness' of Starbucks coffee. In fiscal 2005, Starbucks paid approximately 23% more per pound for high-quality coffee than the average New York "C" (some type of coffee price index or pricing). While this seems quite good (at least in our world plagued with corporations), is this really high enough? Starbucks pays US $1.28 per pound of high-quality coffee. But if you walk into a Starbucks store, a one-pound of coffee costs more than CAD $12. Do you see the gap in price? The ones who probably work the hardest, per pound, to make coffee get the least amount of the money.

Overall, how much Starbucks coffee is actually fairly traded? According to the Starbucks Social Responsibility brochure, there are two categories for 'social responsibility' in buying coffee. To start, the first, and original, Fair Trade Certified™ (FTC) coffee. Of all FTC coffee imported into America in 2005, Starbucks purchased 21% of that, which means that it is the largest
purchaser of FTC coffee in North America. Again, this sounds (and is) great, but despite this, FTC coffee made up only 3.7% of the total Starbucks coffee purchases in 2005 (I will give them some credit: this number is up 2.1% from 2004). The second category: Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) practices (another somewhat fairly traded coffee guideline). Of all 2005 coffee purchases, CAFE made up 24.6% (up 10.1% from 2004).

The total percentage of Starbucks coffee that is of the fair trade background: 28.3%. Not even a third. While I do applaud Starbucks for being a leader in social responsibility regarding coffee (and it's quite amazing that a multi-billion dollar company would do this), I want to ask why 100% of coffee is not fairly traded. If you do not agree with me, try thinking of it this way: 71.7% of Starbucks coffee is not fairly traded. And remember, fair traded does not mean that there was a little extra money for the farmers to put into the bank so they can get a new Toyota in a few years, it means that the farmers weren't 'ripped-off'.

So what can you do? Check (or ask) how much fair traded coffee is in the coffee you drink at a coffee shop, or the coffee that's in a tin can from a store, make sure that you drink only the most fair traded coffee you can find, and tell your friends about the wonders of fair trade!

Also on fair trade:

On January 2nd, 2007, there was a very interesting letter to the editor in Saskatoon's Star Phoenix about fair traded chocolate. It's an interesting read.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Re-Cap

Quite busy today. For those who don't follow politics too much, here is a brief summary of yesterday in politics:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Poll Time

There was a very descriptive poll released last night by the Strategic Council for CTV and The Globe and Mail. The questions and answers are quite interesting, and are thus worthy of an article. Here are the results for the different categories:

Overall Opinion Poll

(changed based on Dec. 3rd poll)
Conservatives: 34% (+3)
Liberals: 29% (-8)
NDP: 14% (same)
Greens: 12% (+5)
Bloc: 11% (same)


Best Approach to the environment

Liberals: 23%
NDP: 21%
Conservatives: 20%


Who is the most decisive

Harper: 53%
Layton: 20%
Dion: 19%


Meanwhile, when asked which party leader had the clearest vision of where he wants to take the country, Harper showed a significant lead over his rivals

(percentage-point change from a Dec. 3-4 poll in brackets)

Stephen Harper: 50 per cent (+ 18)
Stephane Dion: 22 per cent (- 16 from when Paul Martin was leader)
Jack Layton: 20 per cent (+ 1)
Gilles Duceppe: 8 per cent (- 4)


Here are the results when voters were asked who was the most charismatic

(percentage-point change from a Dec. 3-4 poll in brackets)

Harper: 35 per cent (+ 18)
Dion: 20 per cent (- 9 from when Martin was leader)
Layton: 36 per cent (- 2)
Duceppe: 10 per cent (- 4)


There you have it. Let's look at Jack Layton's achievements in this poll:
  • Most Charismatic
  • Second best approach to the Environment
  • More decisive than Dion


This knowledge is really good to have. While Harper is (for some reason) surpassing everyone in just about everything, the NDP is getting to be a more recognized party. All we need to work on now is the overall opinion of the NDP.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Family Day

Happy Family Day to those of you in Saskatchewan and Alberta. As I am in Saskatchewan, this is my first Family Day. Another stat, but I am still going to work, and write this blog. But enough about me; let's look at the politics of the Saskatchewan Family Day. Government of Saskatchewan announcement on Family day

This new stat was first announced at the last Sask. Throne Speech (October 26, 2006). As I was attending, I remember the Family Day being mentioned among the flurry of other great things that our NDP government is doing! Ever since that, and especially this February, this Family Day has been mentioned in just about every speech (that I've heard) by Labour Minister David Forbes and Premier Lorne Calvert. Last night at a Chinese New Year concert in Saskatoon, Minister Forbes got up to say a few words, including wishing us a merry Family Day.

So why did the gov. make this new day? While I have not talked to any government officials about this issue, I would guess that it was made to give people a day off. That's the great thing about NDP governments in Canada, they actually care about people, and they won't forfeit to keep the companies happy. Speaking of companies, this will cost them money, of course. It is estimated that this will cost $140 million. But for some reason, the Saskatchewan government has been giving corporate tax cuts (and the Fraser Institute of all things likes our government), to the amount of just about $100 million. This doesn't quite cover it, but everyone knows that the more rest your employees get, the better they can work.

Despite the celebration in the NDP, the Saskatchewan Party has been criticizing this move. They've been saying it is a pre-election tactic to get votes. So anything that is announced half a year or more before an election is a pre-election tactic? It is quite surprising that they are against another day off for working people (who before this didn't have a stat in January or February), especially seeing that even the Conservative Alberta has had this day for several years (which Brad Wall, leader of the Sask Party, said has done many great things for Saskatchewan. Like taking our people away??).

While the holiday isn't really going to affect me, I think that it is great to have another day off for people who really work hard, and for single parents. It would be nice, for a change, to see the Saskatchewan Party supporting working families, not just their wealthy friends.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Kyoto Bill

Most people have already heard of the Liberal Private Member's Bill (by Pablo Rodriguez) to force the government to comply with Kyoto. This is a very interesting case. At first, Harper said he would not comply with the bill, but yesterday, he changed his mind (like he changed his mind with climate change).

While there is not consensus from constitutional experts, some do believe that Harper would legally have to comply with this bill, or face court challenges (possibly from the Liberals or environmental groups). For the first while, Harper said that this was just a stunt, and that it would have no real meaning, and he would be prepared for a court challenge, or a non-confidence motion.

This sounds too good to be true: Harper saying he'll meet Kyoto targets. But in fact, it is not too good, there is a catch. Yesterday during Question Period, he said, "I'll just point out that the bill has no plan of action in it; the bill gives the government no authority to spend any money to actually have a plan of action."

Well, Harper at least has good intentions. He said he would comply with the bill, except he can't because it doesn't let him spend money. For those who don't know, a Private Member's Bill cannot deal with or spend money.

The political reasoning behind this (for Harper) is simply: he doesn't want to do Kyoto, some backbencher has a bill that will pass to supposedly make him do Kyoto, people support this bill, Harper doesn't want to look like a party-pooper, Harper says that this bill doesn't let him do anything, now Harper looks as if he has good intentions, and says the bill from the evil Liberals won't let him do anything anyway.

But, as the Liberals (and I think NDP, too) points out, he doesn't have to do anything involving money, he can also set regulations, etc. to help achieve the target.

So while the Conservatives have a good excuse to use publicly for not supporting this future law, and—in the news at least—it is looking a bit pointless now, this still could have some legal binding. If after this someone does decide to sue the government, they will still have a case that the Conservatives are not complying, because it doesn't take money to have more regulations. As I am personally not a lawyer, judge or a constitutional expert, I do not know how far this could possibly go, but I do think that a descent case could be put against the government.

Originally, this bill was designed to embarrass Harper (and make him do something, too), but as most negative campaigns and bills do, it backfired on the sender: the Conservatives say they can't do anything with it, anyway. So while this bill takes the time of Parliamentarians, more time is being wasted while the environment waits. Hopefully the electors can see: Liberals don't do anything for the environment, Conservatives don't do anything for the environment and the Bloc supports Harper's budgets. The only (electable) party left: the NDP (which, by the way, is great at governing provincially, with fairly good environment programs).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Elizabeth May Not Quite as Different as she wants to be

Today, I'm just going to simply post someone else's blog article, as it is something that, I think, we should all know about. This one is by Eugene Plawiuk on Le Revue Gauche. It is entitled Elizabeth May Closet Liberal. It is about how May is not quite as non-partisan, different and 'get right down to business' as she and her party make her out to be. Seeing it is quite likely that the Green Party is a rising party in Canada, and they are trying (and succeeding) in taking NDP votes, we as New Democrats need to know the merits of May and the Greens.

Elizabeth May Closet Liberal

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, interviewed on CTV's Question Period today spent most of her time attacking Jack Layton. Using Liberal talking points.

Like how the NDP brought down the government last year just when the International Climate Change Conference was happening, why that's straight off Scott Reids talking notes for the 2006 election. A challenge that the Liberals have used for the past year in attacking the NDP.

And how the NDP and Conservatives are collaborating on the Climate Change Accord in order to prop up the Harper government. Straight from the Liberal press clippings.

Clearly she see's Jack Layton and the NDP as her biggest threat.

She admited that the Greens took votes from the NDP and Conservatives in the London byelection. And she is thinking of running again there.

Is there a potential merger here between the Greens and Liberals......since they share the same talking points and share a common opponent; the NDP.

Luckily Jack and the NDP can take credit that they get things done in parliament, something neither Green Party or the Liberals can.

Published Jan. 7, 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NDP and Economics

I wanted to point out Jack Layton's speech to the Ottawa Economics Association outlining his vision for the Canadian economy. He points out 4 "foundations":


  • Building a bridge to the green economy.
  • Leveraging private sector investment.
  • Creating fairness in a trading world.
  • Strategically investing in social, knowledge and economic infrastructure.


In my opinion, these are a start, but not quite completed. Yes, it is mostly based on the Left views, it is important that we also attract votes from the center-left Bay Street people, too. It has a bit of that (mostly #2), but not far enough on that scale.

Great plan, just needs a bit more thought, and it needs to appeal to the NDPers, but also it needs to show that the NDP can build a prosperous economy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Fifth Priority

Last night, I was watching Talk Politics on CPAC. Ken Rockburn was discussing the Conservative doings in the last year with Paul Wells from Macleans and another columnist from The Globe and Mail. Anyway, they were briefly discussing an interesting story about Harper's "5 Priorities". This is what I got out of what they were saying:

Last summer, Stephen Harper wrote an article (or had an interview with) a Conservative Alberta paper. In it, he tried to change his 5th priorty (remember the priorities? Accountability, GST cut, crime, child care (in some order) and wait times guarantees). You may have noticed that Harper has been struggling with the fith one (wait times guarantee) for some time. So last summer, he tried to change it. In this paper, when talking about the priorities, he named #5 as something like Canada's role in the world. Now this is something Harper can handle! 'Tis would be why he tried to change it. But alas for him, the scheme didn't work. Someone picked up on this new priority, so Harper had to go back to the one he was elected on (if you count 40% of the vote being elected).

And ever since then, he has still not fufiled the misfit in the Tory family: #5.

This is one thing I had to mention. The following is an exerpt about NDP Sask. Health Minister Len Taylor. I can't believe that a New Democrat would try to help cover up the Tories!

Saskatchewan Health Minister Len Taylor sounded a positive note about the conference Friday, saying much is going on behind the scenes.

"A lot of action has taken place," he said. "It's not always clear, it doesn’t hit the front pages of the newspaper or the first item of the radio or television news.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Joke is on Saskatchewan!

I saw this story in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix today. Our NDP Minister of Industry, Eric Cline, gave a BC radio station a Juno (which is in Saskatoon this year) prize package, in order to promote Saskatchewan. So how are they giving this out, you ask? By seeing who can come up with the best "You know you're in Saskatchewan when …" joke, of course.

Here is the link to the story: The Joke is on Saskatchewan in B.C Juno tickets contest.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Getting The Message Out

Today, I'm not going to write about an issue. Instead, I will write about the need to get the NDP message out. Anybody who reads the papers, and news magazines, would know that the media is not as NDP-friendly as we may want it to be.

Martensville (SK) By-election

For those Saskatchewan people out there who don't know already, the Martensville by-election has been called for March 5. The NDP candidate out there is John Tzupa, who is a young candidate (24, I think). Please visit his website, and get involved in his campaign.
Yesterday, I got the Macleans magazine. There was an article which, in part, was talking about Jack Layton and Harper. The author was mentioning Jack's speech at the Quebec City convention last year, and how he wanted to form an NDP government. Then, he went on to say that it was the most unpublicized political speech of that year. Now, I cannot say if that was true or not, seeing I was actually there, and thus could not watch the news at that moment. The traditional news media is not the way (it would be a great way, just that they don't like us) to get the NDP message out.

Instead, we need to do it in other ways. I will be the first to admit that it is not easy to 'preach' the 'good news' to friends (especially the Conservative ones). But it is a chore that needs to be done. People do switch their vote (note how we can go from a Liberal majority to a Conservative minority in a few years). People often say to me, "A Conservative can vote Liberal, a Liberal can vote NDP, but a Conservative cannot ever vote NDP". This, of course, is wrong. Provincially in Saskatchewan, the only two elected parties are the NDP and the Saskatchewan Party (a nice name for the Conservative Party). And every election, seats change hands both ways.

So to go to the ways of going about this. Talk to people (who you know and don't know), increase the Blogging Dippers blog roll to the size of the Blogging Tories, donate to the NDP (for advertising), get involved with your NDP executive and have events, and, if you haven't already, BUY AN NDP MEMBERSHIP.

Jack can't do all the work. The grassroots parts (aka us) need to take on a load.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Wow, See Garth Jump

It's already old news (that's the thing about politics). Garth Turner because a Liberal. Booo; Yahhh. Canadians got it. He was a Conservative (but he will always be a PC), got kicked out because Harper didn't approve of his blog, and the fact that he was a journalist. He sat as an Independent for awhile, did "town hall" meetings with his constituents (none of them suggested he become a Liberal), and he became a Liberal (but as a PC at heart).

Because I am really constrained with time today, I decided that I'd get a summary of the blogosphere about Garth. Here is some of what I got.

Floor Crossing - Another Garth Turner Quote

Why Garth's move to the Liberals may have been smart

A TSUNAMI OF MUNDANITY

Garth the Grit

But seeing this is my blog, I might as well throw in what I think. Well, the NDP did lose its balance of power, unfortunately. For ethics, the NDP, and people in Halton who voted Conservative, this is bad news. But for those PCs there, for PCS across Canada, for the sake of getting this done, and for Garth, it is a good thing. Personally, I agree with the NDP: no floor crossing. I will admit, though, Garth's decision was more justified than, say, Emerson or Khan. The Conservatives did kick him out, and no MP deserves to be homeless.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Ezra Levant on CBC

If you regularly watch CBC Politics with Don Newman, you would be quite familiar with Ezra Levant, the publisher of the Conservative (note the capital 'C') Western Standard paper. Unfortunately for all that is good in the world, he was once again with Don Newman yesterday, talking about Harper's environment stance. While most people in Canada are almost offended by Harper's environment stance and platform for being too weak, Levant thinks it is too STRONG of all things.

Here is a short, "rough" transcript of some of the things Levant was saying yesterday, from the blog thoughtinterrupted:


We are sympathetic to the Conservatives. We believe, though, that we are keepers of the ideological flame. And if the party we intend to favour strays from that, you’re right. I think your “shot across the bow” analogy is exactly right. I have enough faith that what they are doing is merely a tactical move. It reminds me in a way of when Stephen Harper came out in favour of the idea of the Quebecois as a nation. Holy cow! Is this distinct society, status and all the west was against when the Reform Party was founded? Or was it a short term tactical move to remove a hot potato from the agenda so that he could get down to his real business? I hope - and we would like to encourage - the Conservative government to do some “window dressing” thing like the Liberals did for 10 years, to make some noises, concede the stuff he’ll never win, do some things that won’t damage the economy too much, get this off the table.


The Western Producer also made its latest cover page about this topic. It depicts Harper as the Green Hulk, because he is taking (supposedly) greenness to extremes! It looks like he is tearing apart the Alberta Wild Rose.

This guy is a big shot at a some what major newspaper, and this is what he is saying! He was actually denying climate change, and hoping that Harper actually does nothing. We can only hope that this backfires on Harper.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Canadians Support Bilingualism

Canadians have finally supported the idea that Canada is and should be a bilingual country. In fact, 81% of the people polled said they supported this idea. This is a great achievement for Canada. French is an integral part of Canada's history and culture, and Canadians have finally recognized that. It has been, for all too long, that the English Canadians thought all Canadians should speak English. Personally, I find it great—not quite fascinating, but great—that when you go into a Government of Canada building in Whoknowswhere-ville, SK, one can get service in French.

While this is an achievement for Canadian culture and language acceptance, it is not quite over. While a vast majority of Canadians support the idea of bilingualism, the vast majority of Canadians are not bilingual. The solution: just give French time.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Voter Turnout

Democracy is something that is all too often taken for granted in Canada. Even though so many people throughout the world are desperate to live in a democracy, most Canadians have known no other way of life. So what are the effects of taking democracy for granted? Well, for many people, watching the news means watching TSN or reading the sports section, and they don't even listen to the biggest issues that are happening now. Also, people don't think much about how they can get involved in politics. Most voters who have always supported a political party throughout their lives are not active in it, and even the majority of party members are not active. For instance, in Saskatoon Wanuskewin, we have over four hundred members (if not five hundred), but there is (if we're lucky) 30 or 40 people at the Annual General Meeting. This also brings me into the next point, the voter turnout. In the last general election (2006) the voter turnout was 64.7%. Do you see what is wrong with that? Another problem: in the 2000 federal election, the youth (18-24) turnout was 25%, while the average of all ages was 61.2%. I'm not sure if they'll grow out of that habit or not as they get older, but if it were to stay like that, or even just double (50%), we would still have a major problem in the future.

Shortly after the 2000 federal election, Elections Canada had a survey of 2000 people from all age groups. The survey was asking people why they think voter turnout is declining. 68% said it was because of the negativity surrounding politicians and political institutions. Also, 32.5 percent felt that it was due to an impression that it is meaningless to vote for various reasons. So, the best ways according to the people to get a better turnout: a) politicians need to be less negative, and politics overall has to be less negative (and actually work); and b) people have to feel that their vote means something.

Let's start on b in Edmonton—Centre. Pre-January 23, 2006, E-C was the riding where Anne McLellan was MP (she was also the Deputy PM for Paul Martin). In the 2004 election, she won by only 721 votes. In fact, in her first election (1993, Edmonton Northwest, she won by 12 votes. While I do not know the voting turnout in Edmonton Northwest in the '93 election, it probably wasn't 100%. I am sure that there were eligiblevoters who supported the runner-up but didn't bother to vote. I wonder how they felt? That was an election where every vote counted. So what should do about that? We need to talk to everyone we know who doesn't vote (and who would vote for our party!) and tell them examples like this and show them why their vote makes a difference for themselves and the party they support.

Problem a. As there is not much that us average citizens can really do about this, I'll keep it short and talk about what the politicians need to do about this. To put it bluntly, MPs and party leaders (especially the Prime Minister) need to actually get work done. Most people do not care (or want) politics to happen, they want progress and plans to happen.

Democracy is something that all Canadians cherish somewhere deep-down (some very deep-down) in them. All we have to do is show them that.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Making Parliament Work

Political alliances are something that has been occurring a lot in politics in the last half-century or so, particularly in Europe, where coalition governments are the norm. But this philosophy has not been accepted much in Canada. And when it does happen, it is not in the form of a coalition, but a simple agreement of certain issues. The most recent case of this is right now, with the NDP and the Conservatives. And this is getting a lot of negative feedback from New Democrats and others who are criticizing the NDP.

People from all sides of the political spectrum are being very negative about the so-called environmental alliance between the NDP and the CPC, who have completely different views on the environment. And it is quite funny how this started out. People started framing this situation as the 'NDP in bed with the Conservatives' (kind of link a couple of years ago. Remember 'NDP in bed with the Liberals'?) last fall, when the Conservatives introduced their Clean Air Act, and the NDP pointed out the dozens of flaws in the Clean Air Act. Just to make it simpler, I'll quote a short paragraph by the T.O. Star's Allan Woods in today's paper:
A potential deal between Jack Layton's New Democrats and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Tories has been rumoured ever since the two leaders agreed last fall to send the government's Clean Air Act to a special legislative committee to be rewritten.
How can two parties agreeing to send an act to a special committee be a "deal" or an alliance? This is the way a minority Parliament works: the government makes a bill, the opposition doesn't like it (but the principle is agreeable), so they each make sacrifices in what they want so that the bill is acceptable for everyone.

To conclude, I'd like to give a message to all those NDPers out there who are getting upset about this so-called Conservative alliance: this is the way politics works. This is the way that the first ever NDP budget came to be. Jack Layton is only trying to make this Parliament work. With the anti-environment parties out there, like the Liberals and the Conservatives, this bill will never be perfect, but it can be improved. In politics, parties on all sides will make sacrifices, but at least something is being done for the environment.