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 »

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Hansard

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.

~Gnomes

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?

~Gnomes

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?

~Manatee

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Implausible deniability

Perhaps it’s all due to Al Gore, but the flare-up in public awareness and media coverage of climate change over the past few months seems to be taking on an entirely new light. Primarily, despite the inevitable relics of a bygone era, the media has not been framing the issue as an active debate. The industry-driven denial of the science involved seems at long last to have lost its footing.

AtlasIt certainly had a good run. As excellent article in This Magazine describes the history of the phrase “Made in Canada Solution”, from its birth to a poor but loving industry-backed faux environmental group, to its harsh youth spent wandering the countryside from mouth of pseudo-intellectual to pseudo-intellectual, and at last its glory days, being seized and hoisted aloft by none other than the future Prime Minister of Canada, who proclaimed the full glory of its witless, rabid nationalism for all to see and bask in.

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Not having to deal with constitutional challenges: Priceless

It seems a little redundant to write two posts slagging the Tories for access to justice issues in just three days, but I couldn’t pass this one up. A recent announcement of $1 billion dollars in cuts includes giving the axe to the Court Challenges Program, which provides federal funding (about $3 million per year) for minority groups wishing to challenge laws they believe violate their constitutional equality rights, and unable to finance their own legal team to face off against the goverenment’s.

The program operates at arms-length from the government, and on the basis of solicitor-client privilege does not disclose whom it approves funding for, or how much. Justice Minister Vic Toews has been particularly critical of this aspect of the program recently, though one would suspect that the Tories would need little excuse to get rid of a program which provides access to constitutional justice. When you decry any recognition of constitutional rights as judicial activism, it makes very little sense to provide those equality-seeking thorns with funding.

Read the rest of this entry »

Attrition tactician

One of the more baffling actions – or rather an omission – by the Tory government over the recent months is the delinquency of Justice Minister Vic Toews in filling judicial appointments. This peculiar volition is exacerbating the already difficult condition in which the members of the judiciary find themselves, unable to meet the requirements which the definition of access to justice requires.

Vic ToewsWhen questioned a month ago, Toews replied only with the banal supposition that more judges won’t solve court congestion, though he seem to exhibit some recognition of the problem and assured that judges would indeed be appointed to the vacancies. Yet this assurance, at the time seeming to convey some degree of contrition for the failure, has yielded only the most meagre fruition.

With the effects of this reluctance to fulfill the duties which his position demands being immediately felt, the least Toews could do would be to deign to share with us the mysterious cognition which is guiding his actions. According to the above rendition of this issue by the G&M, the Tories, while in opposition, urged reforms to the appointment process. While proceeding according to tradition may provide ammunition to his critics, the justice system is simply too important to be put on hold while the Toews orchestrates a transition to a new order, and already too overloaded to absorb any further imposition of systemic malnutrition.

~ Gnomes