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 »

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.

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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.

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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.


Elections past and future

So, Gnomes doesn’t think the Liberals have a chance at winning an upcoming election. Of course, he is right. Liberals should take comfort in the seeming economic downturn befalling our nation, at least the heartless, power-hungry among them should take comfort, for economic downturn breeds a bitter electorate. Liberals with a heart should…vote NDP.

Let’s take a look at those important elections in Canadian history where Canadians opted to throw the bums out. You will see that few things rile a Canadian voter like a sluggish economy. But first, my prediction: The Conservatives will win any upcoming election, but I’d bet the farm they can’t make it three in a row. Here’s hoping they don’t pull off a majority. The sooner my dissatisfaction with a Conservative government can become dissatisfaction with a Liberal government, the better.

2006 – The RCMP accuse then Finance Minister, Ralph Goodale, of insider trading on 27 December 2005.
Cause: Liberal Corruption/Perceived Liberal Corruption. I’m not even going to try to pass this off as being about the economy!
Effect: Change of Government

1993- In Mulroney’s second, smaller, mandate the Conservative government set their sights on the Federal Debt. Bank of Canada Governor John Crow embarks on an ambitious interest rate increase. Economy stagnates, unemployment increases.
Cause: Economy
Effect: Change of Government

1984- “You had an option, Sir.” I wonder what might have been if Cornelius the First had been allowed to enter the leaders debate.
Cause: Liberal Corruption
Effect: Change of Government

1979- High unemployment, high inflation, high time for a change in government.
Cause: Economy
Effect: Change of Government

1962 and 1963- High unemployment and sluggish economy transform Diefenbaker’s then record majority to a minority in ’62, then cast the Tories to the opposition benches the following year. Things got so bad that Pearson actually suggested in the House of Commons that the Tories hand the reigns of government over to the Liberals without an election.
Effect: Change of Government

1957 and 1958
Cause: Young Conservative supporter falling off stage at Liberal Rally.
Effect: Change of Government. No kidding, look it up.

1935- Great Depression!
Cause: Economy
Effect: Change of Government

1930- Watch out! Here comes the Great Depression!
Cause: Economy
Effect: Change of Government

1921- Conscription Crisis Fallout
Cause: Election tampering and the distrust it creates
Effect: Change of Government

1911- The free-trading, prairie supported Liberals versus the protectionist Conservatives (No kidding, look it up) with a pinch of Quebec Nationalism to make things interesting .
Cause: I’m going with Economy
Effect: Change of Government

~ Manatee

One of these things is not like the other?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, in the last election we promised Canadians a genuinely free vote on the issue in the House of Commons. My party, including the cabinet of my party, will vote freely on this issue.

I know that the new Leader of the Opposition has said he will not allow a free vote by his caucus members. I hope that proves not to be the case because I think the rights of members of Parliament are some of the most important rights we have in this country.


In case you were wondering, the issue in question is not whether Québec is a nation. For that vote, held just over a week ago, Harper whipped his cabinet, forcing a minister to resign rather than support it. Apparently Harper doesn’t think recognizing ethnic groups as nations constitutes a moral issue. Or he’s just a hypocrite. One of those.


CIDA: More bite than bark

Despite remarkable past success in Togo, where the Canadian Red Cross, with funding from CIDA, distributed 900,000 bed nets in the malaria torn nation in a single week, CIDA’s bed net distribution funding for the Red Cross is scheduled to end next month. Instead, CIDA will help fund a UNICEF program which sells bed netting to Ethiopians for $1 per net. According to Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa the UNICEF program pales in comparison to the historic work of the Canadian Red Cross.

Malaria kills about 900,000 people a year in Africa, mostly children under the age of five, yet is considered controllable by using various vector controls and medical treatments. In South Africa, bed netting programs combined with effective, responsible spraying of DDT resulted in a nearly 90% drop in malaria cases in one year.

Minister Verner, please do not abandon such a successful program. Refund the Canadian Red Cross’ bed netting program and allow the responsible use of DDT in future CIDA funded programs.


Loose lips

What is one to make the one-two takeout by the Conservative Party this week, removing outspoken MP Garth Turner from caucus, and the equally unabashed Anne Cools from all of her Senate committees?

All this could possibly accomplish would be to draw more attention to Turner and his blog – he didn’t think much of David Emerson’s floor crossing either – and further the view that the Harper government is becoming far too secretive and protective. Only the most diehard Conservative supporters ever bought the party line that the new government deserves its privacy because the media won’t be fair to them “like it was to the Liberals.” Can anyone who supported the Cons under the pretence of grassroots reform see that quality in the current party in power?


The knell of corporate income tax sounds

Converting a corporation into an income trust appears to be the latest Canadian fad. What was once a tax loophole few, and only mature corporations exploited appears to be becoming business as usual, after today’s announcement that Bell Canada will follow Telus’ lead and transform their corporations into trusts. In the past RBC CEO Gord Nixon has suggested taht Canada’s largest bank could benefit by converting to an income trust structure. In the last five years, the number of income trusts in Canada has more than quadrupled. With every new trust conversion, upwards of 80% of its corporate income is filtered through unit holders avoiding all but personal taxation. The impact of the proposed telecommunications’ trust conversions on Federal coffers looks to be $1.5 billion annually, according to NDP finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Will the Conservative Party of Canada act to ensure the stability of Canada’s revenue raising system and finally close this loophole?


Defence of reason

Ted MortonI certainly expected no less from Ted Morton than his regressive Bill 208, but I was quite surprised to hear that the federal Conservatives are considering a similar Defence of Religions Act, presumably aimed at keeping their socially conservative supporters and MPs in line by attempting to specifically allow discrimination specifically against same-sex couples.

I dearly hope the title of that act was something salacious cooked up to sell papers over at the G&M, because if that’s the sort of language being tossed around in Ottawa backrooms these days, I will be deeply worried. Defence of religions? Where do they think they are, Battleground Homosexuality? Let’s keep that kind of ignorant hostility on the Internets where it belongs, please. A party in government has no excuse for adopting language which buys into the offensive and wrong characterization of religious persons and gay and lesbian persons as two disctinct, opposing groups. Remember that the first same-sex marriage in Canada took place in a church before a minister. Exactly which religions were the Conservatives planning on defending?

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