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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

On the road again

Stéphane Dion is now on his cross-Canada road trip, which is designed to have people see the Dion which the Liberals want to see. This, of course, comes after the Liberals are shown to be dropping in the polls, and the Tories had their attack ads against Dion specifically.

There was a national poll published in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on Saturday. However, I accidently threw out the paper, and I cannot retrieve it on the internet without a password. This poll, though, was different than the one publish a day or two earlier by Decima; this was a Canwest poll. In it, I remember the NDP being 15% (and with the margin of error, that could be up to 18%, which is about the same as the last election), and the Greens down to 8%. This is significantly different than the Decima poll from a few days earlier, where the NDP and Greens were tied with 13%.

This shows how unreliable polls really are.
From his point of view, this is something that is really needed. The polls have been falling; less people are supporting the Liberals. The reasons? Well, probably due to the Tory attack ads, Dion himself, and how no one really knows anymore what the Liberals are wanting. The latter is probably so due to Dion's vote against the terrorism legislation last week. Personally, I agree with the NDP stance, and the Liberal stance now, that we also have to protect civil liberties. Imagine if you were arrested and put away without any evidence on the suspicion that you were a terrorist. It's completely disgusting. But anyway, the problem with the Liberals vote was that it was the Liberals that introduced that bill in the first place. It just seems funny to Canadians for a party to vote against its own bill.

The fate of this road trip will depend on who he meets. If he is just planning on meeting Liberals, then it's a waste of money. But if he is going to really try to paint a self-portrait, then he might have a chance.

Friday, March 2, 2007

A few notes & an interview with Jack Layton

Here is an article concerning NDP policy, and an interview with Jack Layton, that you need to read/watch:

NDP Taliban policy:


If you have any other articles concerning the NDP and Jack (preferably left-wing), please post it on the comment page


Interview with Jack Layton (15 min.)

Latest Poll by Decima

Released March 1


± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20


Conservative: 36%
Liberal: 27%
NDP: 13%
GPC: 13%

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A spring election over the budget?

While lots of the political pundits and journalists are saying that we won't have an election until fall, or even 2008, I am thinking now that we are going to have one very soon.

Why? Well, of course, it's just about budget day (March 19). I am quite sure that Jack and the NDP will not support the budget, unless they could strike a deal to modify the budget, like they did in 2005. I don't think Jack wants to break his record for the only party to vote against the Tory government on every single confidence vote. But the Bloc is a different story. They supported the last Flaherty budget in 2006, and it's more likely that they will support the upcoming budget, as it is expected to include big bucks for Québec.

And the Liberals are an even longer story. For one, they are not doing too good in the polls. But, they should look like they are working in the best interests of Canadians, and it would not be good to have voting to keep themselves alive on their record. Also, they are always complaining about everything that Harper does to Canada, especially concerning the environment. And it is also not expected that the upcoming budget will be 'Liberal-worthy'.   So I would think that the Liberals would want to look like the heros and rescue Canada from Harper, as long as they don't cause an election where Harper gets a majority.

Even if the government does fall soon, it wouldn't be a sin. The average minority government lasts about 1 year 5 months, meaning that if this were an average minority government, the next election would be late June, early July.

But I think that, no matter what happens later this month, we should all start preparing for an election; this Parliament can't last forever.