Least of the Weevils

I think that the improbable and utterly unforeseen resolution to the current crisis in Parliament may have finally been hit upon.  The situation was quickly becoming a cluster of impossible options.

We can not have another election so soon after the last one, which was called prematurely to begin with and resulted in very little change.

Harper can not continue to govern without the confidence of the House, and has no prospects of winning it back.

Dion can not become Prime Minister of an unstable minority coalition after being thrashed in the election and being scheduled to resign in five months.  Read the rest of this entry »

The President of Canada

Three and a half years ago, I grumbled about Stephen Harper’s dismissive and insulting attitude towards members of other parties. Not much has changed since then. Harper has repeatedly, and ever increasingly, shown himself to be belligerently divisive and utterly disrespectful towards any elected Member of Parliament not from his party, as well as to the Canadians who did not vote for his party. In a minority Parliament, this has proven damaging to the country and possibly fatal to his government.

In his mental construction of our constitutional framework, Harper was elected the President of Canada on the 14th of October. His opponents had been defeated: the soon-to-be leaderless Liberals greatly reduced in their seat count, the NDP making only modest gains, and the Bloc – as separatists – dismissed out of hand as always. To his binary world view, all that mattered in the end was that he had defeated them.  A land in turmoil cried out for a hero. He was Harper, a mighty warrior economist forged in the heat of the Commons.

So when Harper’s attempts to ram the most extreme and partisan elements of his policy through the new Parliament met with genuine resistance, it is quite natural for him to claim (as he truly believes) that the opposition are overriding the results of the election. They lost. He won.

Except he didn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

Crazy Enough to Work?

Say what you want about the Westminster System, it does make for some interesting politics when it gets going.

When the Conservatives moved late last week to cut off the per-vote public funding that Chretien brought in as part of his donation cap system, it very quickly pushed the Liberals and NDP to a new level of desperation.

Harper, for his part, seems to have completely lost touch with the idea of his government being responsible to the House, instead governing from some imaginary majority mandate.  To be fair, the Liberals under Dion have been so absurdly agreeable that it was a fairly good bet they would have agreed to almost anything; anything, that is, except for their own demise.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Past-the-Post Café

At the recommendation of several people, I dined at a nearby restaurant last week. The positive reviews of the place were not based on the menu – the choices were, to say the least, uninspiring – but rather on the fact that it was locally owned and operated. I was supporting the community by going, they said.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Economist

Despite Manatee’s perspicacious analysis of a month ago, I must say I doubted that an economic downturn would have a significant negative impact on the Conservatives.  I thought that the view of Harper’s Conservatives among the public as the party to turn to for cold hard cash-handling ability was simply too entrenched for any other party to capitalize on dire financial news.  Yet that seems to be just what has happened since the leaders’ debate last week.  The Conservatives still have a healthy lead, mind you, but certainly don’t seem to be anywhere near majority territory these days, and are instead poised to make only modest seat gains.

Read the rest of this entry »

2008 M&G Election Pool

Well its that time again. Two weeks from today all Canadians (or at least 65%… I hope?) will partake, in what has become a Canadian bi-annual tradition, yet another Federal Election.With the impending election Manatee and Gnomes will keep its tradition going with the latest installment of the M&G Election Pool.

The rules are simple: each member of Manatee and Gnomes will submit their prediction for the party seat counts by the end of today (Sept 30th) and, come election day, the member with the most correct distributions will be declared the winner. Good luck Guys!


2008 Election Predictions

   Manatee   Gnomes   O’Smiley 
Conservative 148 141 147
Liberal 76 81 77
NDP 47 46 37
Bloc 35 37 44
Green 0 0 0
Independent 2 3 3

Parting Shots

“By the time it was known he was running, it was too late to do anything about it.”

Just when I thought that we had heard the last from Ken Epp before his impending retirement, he delivers a final quote for the ages.  Epp, of course, is maintaining neutrality in the bitter dispute over the nomination of Edmonton-Sherwood Park Conservative candidate Tim Uppal (head on over to Gauntlet.ca for details, but in short, some disgruntled Conservatives have rallied around independent candidate James Ford).  Neutrality, however, doesn’t mean Epp is above sandbagging his successor on the way out.

Read the rest of this entry »

There is nothing dirtier than a giant ball of oil

This report from the Pembina Institute, in great detail, explains the potential pitfalls and roadblocks of the consultative process on which Alberta Environment relies when deciding policies related to Alberta’s oil sands. According to the report, Alberta Environment “does not set royalty rates, issue oil sands leases, or have the final say about whether a given oil sands project is in the public interest.” I guess this lack of power should come as no surprise. While not surprising, the subservient relationship of Alberta Environment to other ministries has resulted in Alberta Environment negotiating with First-Nations and conservationists, developing policies to protect an area of land at the very moment when another Ministry is issuing a lease develop the same land. This seems dishonest, even for the Alberta Government.

Read the rest of this entry »

Freddie, Fannie, and that other guy

First Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, now AIG. Although details are just becoming available, it seems todays buyout of the beleaguered insurance company by the US government is, if nothing else, acknowledgment from the highest levels of the global capitalist elite that markets are incapable of self-policing. Potentially, this bale out will lead to much more than the nationalization of AIG, and regulations to prevent what might have been a “financial crisis worldwide.” Potentially, this bale out will trigger a public examination of all the failings of a market so widely and blindly believed to be the most efficient means of running an economy. Potentially, law makers will examine the increasing reliance on the market to educate and re-train workers, build infrastructure, feed the hungry, and protect the environment. Potentially, the public will discover that unfettered markets have led to an increased gap between rich and poor, in Canada, North America, and around the world. Potentially, Canadian voters will question whether the leader who reminded Canadians Friday that he leads “a party of free enterprise, free markets and free trade” is fit to continue to lead Canada in a time of economic crisis. Potentially, the Left will seize this opportunity and come up with a coherent alternative to what clearly hasn’t been working.


I drink your Milkshake!

While perusing the Globe and Mail this morning I happened to come across the latest election poll snapshot and notice something amusing. According to Angus Reid, yesterdays polls are currently showing:

  • 37% for the Conservatives
  • 26% Liberals, 21% NDP,
  • 10% Green, and
  • 8% for the Bloc,

or in other words:

  • 37% Right,
  • 57% Left, and
  • 8% Bloc.

Is it just me or does this look like a strange, mirror image, deja-vu of 90’s politics. If I am remembering correctly, it was only a short time ago that the Progressive Conservatives/Reform Parties were suffering from a very same vote sharing situation that faces the Liberals, NDP and Green this time around. And to compound the problem, as I browse through the various party websites and pamphlets, I find, perhaps more so than any previous election that I remember, the campaign platforms of each of Left-winged parties are extremely similar; each placing the environment center stage.

As I’m a little more concerned about the economy than the environment this shot around, and will be voting to the Right, I’m not too worried about the vote sharing of the Left, however, I think my colleagues should be at least a little concerned. It is this sharing of the milkshake, if you will, that will play right into the majority aspirations of the Conservatives.


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