Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mankiw on raising taxes

This is a notable development in the U.S. conservative spectrum, an op-ed from Gregory Mankiw in the New York Times today dares to talk about raising taxes and on the middle class, at that: "Too Much Wishful Thinking on Middle-Class Tax Rates."
Which brings us back to the middle class. When President Obama talks about taxing the rich, he means the top 2 percent of Americans. John A. Boehner, the House speaker, talks about an even thinner slice. But the current and future fiscal imbalances are too large to exempt 98 percent or more of the public from being part of the solution. 
Ultimately, unless we scale back entitlement programs far more than anyone in Washington is now seriously considering, we will have no choice but to increase taxes on a vast majority of Americans. This could involve higher tax rates or an elimination of popular deductions. Or it could mean an entirely new tax, such as a value-added tax or a carbon tax. 
To be sure, the path ahead is not easy. No politician who wants to be re-elected is eager to entertain the possibility of higher taxes on the middle class. But fiscal negotiations might become a bit easier if everyone started by agreeing that the policies we choose must be constrained by the laws of arithmetic.
Mankiw, as noted in the brief bio at the end, was a Romney adviser but more importantly was an adviser to President George W. Bush as well and is a leading light for U.S. conservatives. Talk of raising taxes, any taxes, as we know is anathema for them but things seem to be changing. What prudent conservatism is supposed to be about, after all, is balancing budgets and fiscal discipline and all that.

And you don't have to agree with the rest of the content of Mankiw's column, which trots out Romney's campaign talk on relative percentages of paid income taxes as between the wealthy and the middle class, to take away from it the point that he is now willing to speak of raising taxes. It's good for the House Republican bunch to hear that key message from one of their own.  

We, of course, have a VAT, the Americans don't. And while we don't have a carbon tax, unless you live in B.C., it's quite the thing to see this notable American conservative float it.

2012 in viral video

The Guardian's version of 2012's top viral videos. Some classic political moments from the year are featured. And what do you know, a Canadian with a British connection makes an appearance near the very end for his very Nixonian protest during a British media interview.

My apologies for such a predictable year end blog post, ho hum. I'd go with a Canadian version but I don't think one exists.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pondering Lincoln

Haven't seen it and not sure I want to after watching David Carr eviscerate Spielberg for it. This is fun.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday night

Crazy "drop," as the house peeps put it, but it's growing on me. I close out the year with....drum roll...Kaskade!

Have a good night!

Most and least worthwhile Canadian initiatives 2012

Taking some inspiration from Ezra Klein on this who in his year end wonk piece distributes various awards. He includes a most worthwhile and least worthwhile Canadian initiative. (The term "worthwhile Canadian initiative" once won a contest held by The New Republic on the most boring headline that one could imagine. Thus, Ezra's use of the titles today.)

First, Ezra's picks for Canada with which I strenuously disagree:

"Most worthwhile Canadian initiative: Mark Carney

Mark Carney is just cleaning up with honors these days. First, Reader’s Digest named him the “Most Trusted Canadian” in the entire country. Then, British officials tapped the very-trustworthy Carney to become the next governor of the Bank of England. Now, we’re giving Carney a wonky for his work as Canada’s central banker. While the rest of the global economy was in free-fall, Canada saw a relatively minor economic downturn. It avoided the big banking crises that played out in the United States and England. For his stewardship of the Great White North, Carney racks up yet another accolade.

Least worthwhile Canadian initiative: The NHL lockout

Canadians are usually known as a polite people, quick to resolve a conflict. That’s not the case with the National Hockey League lockout, which has lead to the cancellation of 625 games. It’s also hit the Canadian economy: As Brad Plumer reported earlier this year, Canadian spending on “arts and entertainment” fell by 2.8 percent in the third quarter. Research on a previous NHL lockout, in 2004, suggested that the cancellation of the entire season shaved 0.1 percent off Canada’s overall GDP."

First, on the Carney pick. Let's not overstate the ongoing stewardship that has been solid, yes, but given Canada's relatively better economic position than most of the G-something world is a little like being the manager of the New York Yankees. Sure you can mess it up but if you've got the basics firing well, like a well-regulated financial sector, then your chances of coming off smelling like a rose are quite good. Best of luck though to the man as he shuffles off to Britain shortly. And notice, no mention at all by Ezra, noted economic wonk of the Carney-Liberal dalliance which really is quite gossipy but inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. Second point on the Carney pick, it reinforces the all-economy-all-the-time Canada with which this corner disagrees. We are not Canada Inc., simply put.

Thus, my pick for - cue the bold type - Most Worthwhile Canadian Initiative 2012: The anti-bullying efforts that have been unleashed this year in the face of tragic teen suicides across the country. The country has been forced to reckon with a nasty underside of modern life in which social media has made high school experiences a living hell for many young persons and particularly gay young persons. The Canadian suicide problem has been raised to prominence as a national issue. May we continue to build on the caring response and commit to doing more.

As for the Least Worthwhile Canadian Initiative 2012, while I am tempted to agree that the hockey lockout is possibly a good metaphor for present day Canada where our federal government is similarly unable to engage with its opposition and work out solutions that intelligently reflect a diversity of inputs, maybe we can do better. Ezra is giving too much prominence, once again, to a stereotypical Canadian symbol. There are so many in the least worthwhile category to choose from, what is a blogger to do. The omnibus tragicomedies should figure prominently here but are perhaps too obvious.

So I will go with the one that rises instinctually to the top of mind and choose the Woodworth motion as the least worthwhile Canadian initiative. Dangled in the spring, carried over into the summer and finally voted upon in September, this motion was divisive, a sideshow in the Canadian Parliament that sought ultimately to interfere with a woman's right to choose. The only utility, really, was to demonstrate the reactionary breadth of the Harper Conservatives, which could well come back to haunt them, and smoke out the stamp of officialdom on the Woodworth approach in the form of the Status of Women Minister voting in favour of the motion. Runners Up in this category: Anything touted by the talking points crew of Alexander, Del Mastro, Leitch or Poilievre; This government's appointment of a climate change ambassador who is probably a lovely person but which moved the ball exactly nowhere.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Navigable waters nightmare

Robin Rowland, a B.C. based journalist writes about an overlooked aspect of the omnibus Bill C-45, its drastic reduction of rivers, lakes and streams protected by the Navigable Waters Protection Act from 2.5 million to 159. This is one of the driving concerns underlying the Idle No More movement as these changes will affect aboriginal people who depend on water for hunting and fishing rights and basic access to clean water. As Rowland points out, this may also have further political ramifications for the Harper government:
When the Harper government killed the controversial long gun registry, it claimed it was championing rural and wilderness Canadians, supporting hunters and farmers. Then why are so many of the people I know who were either opposed to or wary of the long gun registry now seething with anger against the Harper government?
The main reason is this: the rural and wilderness way of life doesn't just mean taking a rifle and going hunting. It also includes fishing, hiking, camping and sailing. To hunt or fish, you must protect the habitat of those animals and the ecosystem that allows salmon or deer to thrive. Those ecosystems are now in danger from the omnibus bills. So one has to question whether Harper's campaign against the long gun registry was really a support for wilderness and rural Canadians, or nothing more than imported conservative ideology, driven by Canada's NRA branch plants.
Many non-urban, small c conservatives across Canada are beginning to say, at least on the issue of rivers, lakes and streams, forests and mountains, they have more in common with the green and aboriginal activists on the left, than the blind ideologues in the urban right-wing think tanks, eastern editorial boards and the Prime Minister's Office.
Hope to hear much more from those non-urban small c conservatives across Canada in 2013.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Only in Britain?

Only in Britain, you say. Pity:
I only ask because a few days ago the government released a transparently self-serving “response” to a request from its own MPs, showing that it costs as much as $150,000 to respond to a question tabled by an opposition politician in Parliament, and therefore that opposition politicians should not be permitted to ask questions of the government.
This is yet more evidence of the fantastic fiscal competence of “Canada’s responsible majority government,” I must say. The British government says that the average written response to a question costs just £164.
Oh the fun stuff you find on the internet blog things. What a bunch of ongoing hooey from our self-proclaimed bunch of supposed fine fiscal managers. Surprising that Mssrs. Cameron and Osborne haven't seen the bit of partisan hay they could be making of such measures, followers that they are. I suppose though that this kind of utter nonsense wouldn't play in the U.K.

Amazing bit of contrast there that deserves to be highlighted.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Republicans on the no new taxes road to ruin

The Republican party in the U.S. has taken that road for almost two decades now and our Prime Minister has imported that no new taxes philosophy to Canada. Conservative sycophants all over the country have followed his lead. Yet at years end, take a look at what's happening in our neighbour to the south. The budget negotiations in the U.S. over the fiscal cliff have laid bare where the absolutism of the no new taxes stance can take you. Instead of permitting tax increases on upper income earners, the Republican radicals would rather let the fiscal cliff kick in and cause tax increases for all Americans and massive spending cuts, sending the U.S. into recession. Tying themselves in knots over being seen to raise taxes. The New York Times has a story today on how the Republicans arrived at this place: "How Party of Budget Restraint Shifted to ‘No New Taxes,’ Ever."

It's the road the Conservative Party of Canada is on as well, and possibly, other federal political parties if they continue to bow to Conservative political pressures. We are not on a fiscal cliff but we do have a structural deficit and other major challenges.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday night

Howdy all! Hope you're having a good week and surviving the holiday busyness and various and sundry politicking all across the country. That's an excerpt above from Jeremy Olander that should be, of course, about twice as long. Very nice and it needs to be loud, very loud. Thought about going with something more mellow, seasonal, but Quite enough of that elsewhere, malls and the like. So progressive house it is.

Have a good night!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Notes from the cooperation front

From a Q & A with Bob Rae, an interesting excerpt on the Canadian political party dynamic:
Speaking of teams, you have, as a New Democrat and a Liberal, probably experienced any number of election results and parliamentary situations. The recent spate of by-elections has stirred up the discussion again about cooperation and mergers and various alignments. Do you think that’s a discussion the Liberals and perhaps the New Democrats have to have, either individually or together? Or do you have to think about 2015 as going in there as distinct parties and rivals?
I think the leadership candidates have now got that issue right in front of them because one of the leadership candidates has raised it as a legitimate issue for discussion in the leadership race. So I’m sure it’ll be discussed. I don’t think it’s an issue we can discuss on our own, otherwise we’re just talking to ourselves. And I think I’ll let the new leader try to figure out to what extent there’s an appetite to do that or not.
I don’t think it’s entirely clear how things will sort of shake out or shake down in the next two years. The one thing I do feel quite strongly is that there’s a substantial majority in the public who do not want another Harper government, another Conservative government. And I think everybody else in the political system has a responsibility to think about what that means and how that result is going to be achieved, without simply blowing their own horn. But I’ll say, you know, after the last election, I mean, the NDP was in a triumphalist mode and then after Jack died and then Tom Mulcair won, Mulcair was in a triumphalist mode. So it’s hard to see how this all happens. I do think in our own ranks, I think there’s a greater sense of self confidence that people will ultimately want to turn to a non-ideological choice than an ideological choice. But, as I say, I think we all have an obligation to be respectful of those people who, well, whatever happens, I don’t want to see a Conservative government. And I think the result in Calgary Centre in particular should cause everybody to reflect on what the future might bring.
From Frank Graves' analysis of a recent poll and what the strengthening multi-party dynamic could mean:
The Conservative party may well benefit from a perfect progressive storm of vote-splitting and a futile rise in Green party votes resulting in few or no seats — as in 2008, when almost 7 per cent support for the Greens still failed to produce a single seat. The slightly invigorated Liberal party and the slightly diminished NDP will now saw off about 50 per cent of voters and the lion’s share of the progressive vote. A even more popular Green Party is still far away from levels where their popularity can translate into seats under the first-past-the-post system. So it may well be the case that a relatively stagnant and diminished Conservative party is in position to post another majority with even lower numbers than they had going into 2011.
...nothing in the current churning patterns suggests that we are going to see anything much different than what we’re seeing right now: two almost equally matched Liberal and NDP parties and a slightly more muscular Green party which would further siphon off the centre left vote in a rather seat-inefficient manner. So the new political arithmetic suggests that the new minority-majority, which is increasingly offside with most Canadians, will continue to be majority government for some time.
Things to mull over the holidays and onwards. We live in interesting times full of possibilities.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Carney brouhaha

This is causing a bit of a stir in some circles today in light of the Globe piece yesterday: "The Carney affair with the Liberal Party: It will all end in tears." I'm not sure exactly who would be the ones ending up in tears here so I leave it to others to determine that.

But I do recall some tears that were shed on Carney's departure. They were those of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, pictured here in an emotional gaze toward the Bank of Canada Governor. If there were any questions about Mark Carney's judgment in speaking about Dutch Disease or the content of what he said in a speech to the CAW, cited by Gordon, surely Mr. Flaherty would have been much less emotional on Carney's departure. The fact that people are only now giving a hindsight look to those speeches means that at the time, those Carney speeches certainly didn't do enough to raise any question about Carney's judgment as Governor.

Conflicts of interest abound in small circles Canada. They should always be disclosed and whether Carney did that internally with the Bank of Canada on the Brison holiday is unknown. Has anyone demonstrated that he didn't disclose it within the Bank by the way? Irrespective of that point, on its face, a conflict of interest doesn't mean that Carney's judgment was or is tarnished. Those asking questions now should demonstrate that there were decisions made by Carney that exhibited any taint. In the absence of that, this is all about appearances.

And on the appearance scale, it's all not great. He probably should have done more to keep Liberal advocates at a distance. But this seems to be more of a political question about his political instincts and not core to his Governor role. That's the way I see it, anyway. The party needs a political leader with good political instincts first and foremost. And why he was not the best choice to be courted in the first place.

I think it bears mentioning, as well, if we are going to now suggest that a few wayward Liberals courting Carney to run somehow taints the very Governor's role by making that position a place of possible political ambition, that over the past few years the closeness of Carney and Flaherty et al. should be examined to a greater extent. In the post-2008 financial recession era, our Bank of Canada Governor, whoever it might have been, might have achieved the stature that Carney has. Might have. We had Carney though and his profile made him more of a star-like figure. This government has never hesitated to hitch themselves to Carney. So let's consider that as well if we're going to talk politicization of that position.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seen in Ottawa

Two people who enjoy politics very much, consulting about leadership advice, etc. Very nice photo.

That is all.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

"Panic all over" on the F-35 at Mr. Harper's feet

If this is true, that aerospace contractors are suddenly all aflutter given the news out of Ottawa on the F-35, then it's squarely on the shoulders of Stephen Harper and his government: "‘It’s panic all over’ as Ottawa rethinks F-35 purchase." Harper and his crew inflamed and sensationalized the jobs issue for contractors for political reasons when they had no need to do so. Here's a reminder of Harper in high form on the F-35s back in the day of 2010:
“To do what Mr. Ignatieff and his allies suggest now is to put in jeopardy every single job in this room and every single job that depends on the aerospace industry with no possible upside whatsoever for the Canadian air force,” he said. “Their position here is playing politics with the lives of our men and women in uniform and the jobs of the people in this room, and we will not stand for it.”
That's what the Prime Minister of Canada did while on site at one of these contractor locations. It was totally inappropriate.

The Memorandum of Understanding that Canada is a party to and that permits contractors to bid for jobs pursuant to, is the principal contract that has always governed our bidding regime. It provides for companies to bid and we paid money in joining this regime in order for these companies to do so. The contracts were never guaranteed to Canada but given our aerospace sector, the contracts came. They may continue to do so.

Some of the panic might have to do with a contractual conflict between what aerospace contractors signed with Lockheed Martin versus what Canada's Memorandum of Agreement with Lockheed Martin states. Again, that's something that never should have happened in this mess but all these people are grownups and they knew all these details. The contractors seemed to be willing to go along with Lockheed Martin to in effect pressure the government into buying the F-35. But governments are ultimately controlled by we civilians, thankfully, and this one finally has had some sense knocked into it by the astounding costs of this plane and the sheer risk now to their political viability (Conservatives of conscience, time to step up, hello).

Back to the main point, setting up aerospace contracts as a condition of our purchase of the F-35...that framing is all on the shoulders of Stephen Harper. And it is partly why this entire episode is so sorry. People's jobs are not political playthings to be gamed for electoral success. But this is the era Stephen Harper has ushered in, so now let's make him live with it. Maybe all those areospace types might want to re-think their photo-op availabilities next time someone comes knocking too.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

December 6th, 1989

Where were you? I will never forget. I was in my first year of law school in Windsor and watched this, or maybe it was a CTV report, on the national news with my roommate Marian. There was no internet (!), no smart phones, no Twitter, no blogs, nada. This is how we saw the news, old school. We were shocked, horrified, stunned. I remember the nighttime, the December cold and thought about a dear girlfriend in Montreal who I called that night. I graduated from McGill in the summer of 1989 and felt a special connection to the city. At the law school the next day and for a while, there was a lot of camaraderie, a closeness, a sharing of what we felt.

Every year on this day, like most of us, my thoughts are about those women and the horror they lived. It is still a day that leaves you with utter sadness and a lump in your throat about their loss. Never forget.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Mercer does Liberal leadership

Addressing the supporter category the party has adopted: "an astounding experiment in democracy." Could be indeed!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Electoral reform debate - video

Parkdale High Park Liberal Debate on PR vs FPTP Part 1 from June Macdonald on Vimeo.

For those who are interested, this is the first 20 minutes of our debate (more to come) held on November 15th in Parkdale-High Park on the topic of electoral reform. The introductory statements by the debaters begin at around the 7:00 minute mark.

It's relevant to a national debate that's taking off on electoral reform, so this was a happy incident of timing. Mr. Dion's presentation of his electoral reform proposal at the Green Party convention at the end of the summer was our jumping off point in deciding to pursue this topic.

Hope you find it informative.

A big thanks to Fair Vote Canada, the debate co-sponsor, for videotaping it and sharing and of course to all the PHP Libs who kicked in as a team to hold this substantive event.

More on cooperation

Noted in this op-ed about the Calgary Centre byelection aftermath:
Leadership is important but it may not be party brass and power-brokers who usher in co-operation. If it happens, it is much more likely to occur at the local level when frustrated political activists and volunteers devise new strategies for coming together to defeat Conservatives.

To that end, a meeting has already been planned for this week in Calgary. The anti-Conservative faction may have lost the byelection but they haven’t given up hope.
This democratic element of local organization is something that is usually overlooked in all the debate over cooperation in favour of what leaders and party brass have to say.

Democracy is messy sometimes and how you deal with it in politics can be telling.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Joyce Murray's Vancouver launch

That's video of Joyce Murray's Vancouver launch that happened Saturday afternoon. I recommend watching the full video as by the end of it you'll get a good sense of what she's about and the bold policies of her platform thus far. It is Sunday after all, come have time to watch a video. If you do need to get right to the heart of it, skip to about the 7:00 min mark and following for the official Vancouver based declaration of her candidacy and continue on from there. She was clearly happy and comfortable with her home crowd of about 200.

There are a few good quotes in the accompanying Georgia Straight article as well that is worth reading. There's this, on the party:
"Liberal governments have introduced most of the practical and bold initiatives that have made this country great," Murray said to a capacity crowd at the Jericho Saling Centre meeting room. "And that's what we need right now: a vision that's not only bold, but is achievable through experience and pragmatic decision making."
Continuing with that thought about the tradition of the party and its bold initiatives, there's more on the cooperation plank that is getting some favourable attention:
"I am against a merger," Murray noted, "but what I am for—for the next election only—is working with my party to adopt a system of voluntary cooperation at the riding level with riding associations having the veto."

She added that the "worst thing would be to continue to let Prime Minister Harper and his government dismantle our democracy and dismantle our social-safety net, and more than that, dismantle our environmental-safety net".

"I find it unimaginable that we can't find the will to cooperate on these key issues for Canadians," she said. "So I will be leading the charge on that."
 One more excerpt on another of her policies:
"In Canada, we have to end the phoney debate in Parliament," she said. "We need to put a price on carbon, and I will work with Canada's CEOs to discuss the best way to implement this carbon price and ensure that they have the predictability and stability that business needs. Business does need to be involved here and be a leader."
Murray is clearly not shying away from big issues of the day that need to be addressed.

Have a great Sunday.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday night

This is way too short but it's suiting the mood tonight. Optimism in major key! Enjoy and have a good night.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The week in Harper's judgment

Harper appointed this Senator:
Housakos, a member of the Conservative caucus since late 2008 and an influential fundraiser for the party, came up at the inquiry Wednesday. According to testimony, Housakos met at an exclusive club with two men who now face numerous criminal charges in an unrelated affair, including Catania.
He was described as having attended two meetings and hosting one, all in 2007 and 2008, before he was appointed to the Parliament of Canada. His name appears in a detailed ledger of people who frequented Club 357c, a high-end establishment located at that address on de la Commune Street, in the heart of Montreal's old city.
The document was deposited Wednesday at Quebec's Charbonneau Commission and it included Housakos' name as well as those of two former Quebec Liberal cabinet ministers and local municipal councillors, among others. Investigators said that names of people they did not recognize or considered irrelevant to their probe were blacked out in the documents released Wednesday. However, Housakos' name appeared three times in the 10-page document. In the interview with The Canadian Press, Housakos said he welcomed the commission's work but challenged some of the details.
When asked about Housakos, Harper mumbled a French proverb in response about a man who saw a man who saw a bear.

Harper appointed this Senator too, in the news over a week ago:
Sen. Patrick Brazeau receives an annual $20,000 taxpayer-subsidized housing allowance for claiming his principle residence is in Maniwaki, Que., but other residents tell CTV News they’ve rarely seen him there.
Harper's party hired this firm:
Liberals are demanding an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper after a Conservative pollster was censured for conducting a misinformation campaign against MP Irwin Cotler.
An investigation by the market research industry's watchdog concluded Wednesday that the actions of Campaign Research Inc., brought the industry into disrepute. "The actions of Campaign Research have likely caused the Canadian public to lose confidence in marketing research and have tarnished the image of the marketing research profession," says a ruling by three-member panel of the Market Research and Intelligence Association.
The panel was struck after the association received seven complaints of professional misconduct against Campaign Research. The complaints related to a voter identification poll the company conducted last autumn on behalf of the federal Conservative party in Cotler's Montreal riding. The company's callers suggested to constituents — falsely — that Cotler either had or was about to quit as the Liberal MP for Mount Royal.
Hello, Conservatives, when are you going to get tired of this? Anything stirring in those heads of yours? Any folks of ethics or integrity to be found anywhere in your midst?

Monday, November 26, 2012

No more secret fishing trips for the buds

Good times with his bud on Harrington Lake are likely in the rear view mirror for Mr. Ford. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Busy news day: Murray, Carney, Ford

Ok, obviously I was interested in this as the big event of the day but you cannot control for what the political gods of the day have in store for you: "Joyce Murray joins Liberal leadership, calls for co-operation with NDP, Greens." That's the leading Canadian Press coverage that should give you everything you need to know. Making the most news is the cooperation proposal more of which can be found here.

In a surprising development that Carney himself had downplayed, Mr. Carney went off to England to run their Bank of England. The new governor of the Bank of Canada may be the senior deputy governor "Tiff" Macklem. Would be the most interesting name for a Bank of Canada Governor ever.

And Mr. Ford may be shoved off. Or something like that. He is handling it with all the dignity and aplomb we Torontonians have come to know so well.

By-election results on deck for tonight.

For Joyce Murray for Liberal leader

I have decided to support Vancouver Quadra MP Joyce Murray in the Liberal leadership race that has just officially begun. That's not a big surprise after my blog post last week writing of the importance of a track record of electability for leadership candidates. That post was essentially an endorsement but not fulsome enough. So this post will hopefully do the job. I am supporting Joyce with real enthusiasm and hope as I look forward to this campaign.

I met Joyce in Toronto in October and a number of things just clicked in terms of mutual views on the party and issues. In addition, it was quite apparent that Joyce is an impressive and substantially accomplished woman.

She is, above all else in my mind, a seasoned politician who is a fighter. That's who I believe the Liberal party needs right now as a leader. Joyce fights and wins and has repeatedly. She has successfully fought through three contested nomination contests, not two as I wrote last week. How many politicians in the Liberal party can say that to begin with? That they fought, there was no riding handed to or held for them. And then to say that they have won four elections? Very few except those who have substantial experience. She has also lost. And yet has come back to win again.

Why is this particular aspect of leadership, an electoral track record, so important? I would suggest that it instills deeply a sense of democratic accountability and respect for the democratic process for someone who has gone through it. This is a sense that I wish for the next leader of the party to have. To know through and through that you have to fight to win. To know the importance of winning each vote and to know how to do it.

To know that policy has to be grounded in values that connect with people otherwise you're not going to get re-elected next time. To know that you have to create that policy in a way that is collaborative, not top-down, so that your members and supporters connect with your party and then you indeed have a thriving party. To know that this is a political and democratic organization that the Liberal party is. It's not a club for the powerful and personalities. It's about doing good things for people and the country and we do that by getting elected!

So this is why I value electoral experience and believe in its importance for this leadership race. This is not a job that just anyone can do. Joyce has that experience, having been elected both provincially in B.C. where she was the Environment Minister and federally. I believe she shows the discipline that this democratic sensibility forces upon a seasoned politician.

I also believe it is important for our next leader to have a business sensibility, an on the ground depth of knowledge about what it takes to build a business and achieve success. Joyce also has that, having built a successful business with her husband of 35 years. The business they built has 600 full time employees and I believe about 800 seasonal employees. They reforest, among other things, demonstrating a real dedication to the environment as well. Building a successful business from the ground up over time. That shows a stick to it-ness and determination that the party needs as well.

Political acumen, business savvy, those are some pretty substantial credentials. That she is from the West, that's also a persuasive factor to me. It's time to have a Western leader of the party.

I would add the personal qualities as well that have impressed me. Integrity chief among them. You can sense when you are dealing with someone who sees the humanity in people and is fair. There is a likability too. She stands up for women (3:10 min mark here). She reminds me of some leading dignified women politicians of the day that I respect, including Alison Redford and Hillary Clinton. Why can't we members and supporters of the Liberal party choose that too? I think we should.

There are a number of policy reasons for my support as well but I'll leave those for another day (or days) as this campaign goes on.

Joyce is announcing her leadership bid at 11 am ET today. See you there!

See also: "Joyce Murray: Representing the Canadian Experience," "Joyce Murray will be a Formidable Liberal Leadership Candidate." 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wrong way Harper

"Poll points to lagging support for monarchy and universal pride in medicare."

Shorter version of this fun little poll on a Sunday afternoon, Canadians for the most part aren't buying what Harper is selling. Monarchy? No thanks. Charter? Oh yes, we like that no matter how much this government tries to downplay and ignore it.

A lot of things money just can't buy, PMO Comms staffers.

Carry on, Canada! You're on the right track.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

David McGuinty statement

Here is the appropriate accountability for David McGuinty's remarks:
Statement by Liberal MP David McGuinty

OTTAWA– Liberal MP David McGuinty made the following statement today:

"As Member of Parliament for Ottawa South I would like to unreservedly and unequivocally apologize for comments which I made with respect to Parliamentary colleagues from the province of Alberta. My words in no way reflect the views of my party or leader, and I offer my apology to them as well as my colleagues from Alberta.

I hold all Parliamentarians in high esteem, and I regret my choice of words, as I can understand the offence they have caused.

I have offered my resignation as energy and natural resources critic to my leader, and he has accepted. I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents in the House of Commons."

People step in it from time to time. It's the right thing to do to own up to it and take responsibility. As opposed to many other political actors in present day Canadian politics.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

If you lost your seat, should you compete?

While the Liberal leadership race formally began this week, with the party's official opening date, it seems like it's been going on for quite a while. Many leadership aspirants have been testing the waters and speaking with Liberals and supporters across the country for months now. During that time, and having had a chance to meet many of them, I've come to prioritize a few qualities when considering what kind of candidate I'd like to support.

One of my top criteria is indeed whether they have a proven track record of electability. This is a political party, after all, not a debating club as I believe Bob Rae put it in one well stated observation during this past year. Implicit in a proven track record of electability is political experience and acumen that only that electability brings. It matters to me. This party has to be more committed to the democratic process and walking the walk on that score. I want my leader to have been tested in that way.

That is a priority for me in this leadership race and I will judge all the candidates on that score. And that is how I read Warren Kinsella's article last night, with my criteria in mind.

Oh, and one other point on Warren's Sun piece. I just want to point out that in order to be complete he should have included one of the leadership candidates who will announce shortly, MP Joyce Murray. Who happens to have been through two contested nomination battles and has won four elections (one provincial, three federal).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday night

Oh you've got green eyes, oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got grey eyes...

Have a good night!

Summerville making waves in Victoria by-election #yyjbyelxn

Great video report from the local Victoria TV station. It's clear that Paul Summerville is the candidate who has shown leadership on an issue that is resonating with local citizens. Hope they give him the credit for the foresight and his political gut instincts on election day.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Last call: Electoral reform debate tonight #php #cdnpoli #topoli


Info on location and resolution all above on our great flier designed by Graham Bolton, riding volunteer.

The debaters are all quite enthused about the night which has been inspiring to hear. They are prepared and looking to get into the issue. We are fortunate to have such a great panel willing to give of their time to further this policy discussion.

We do plan to have an audience vote at the beginning, as a temperature check, and then at the end, to see who has prevailed on the night. All in fun, of course. It will be a very high tech show of hands. That's how we roll in PHP. Although we will have wireless mikes for audience Q & A.

If you are in Toronto, hope to see you there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Liberal leadership is on

Mailboxes are all aflutter with press releases and there's this nifty new video. This is going to be big, people. The officialdom of it all is starting to set in. Debate schedules and whatnot. Exciting.

Ontario's leadership race should be finished just as this one is starting to heat up. Debates commence roughly around the time when Ontario's campaign will come to an end.

I should have an endorsement - federal - up some time next week.

Monday, November 12, 2012

An answer to the carbon tax rhetoric

Postmedia's Mike De Souza uploaded this Environment Canada presentation on to Scribd and it is getting a fair amount of attention.

Notably, it includes some information on the dollar costs of climate change in Canada over the last decade or so. If you look to slides 25 and 29 for example, the increased costs of fighting fires in B.C. due to drought conditions and the increased costs on the east coast of hurricane damage are set out, respectively. The costs of fighting the pine beetle are on slide 23. And look at this one, the losses suffered by farmers in the west on slide 21, entitled "Increased temperatures can exacerbate drought conditions":
"While no single event can be attributed to climate change, increasing temperatures are expected to cause increased aridity and more frequent drought; Impacts of the extreme drought of 2001-2003 were far-reaching, though hardest hit were agricultural producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan: $1.33 billion in 2002 while Saskatchewan was $925 million in 2001and $1.49 billion in 2002; More than 41,000 jobs were lost, and GDP was reduced by $5.8 billion"
On slide 32: "An overall 10-14% increase in Northern Quebec river flows is projected - In anticipation, Hydro Quebec is making significant capital decisions."

The job killing carbon tax? No, it's the economy killing lack of action, stupid.* 

Key Climate Change Impacts - 2012 02 17

*A play on the famous "It's the economy, stupid" framing of the 1992 U.S. presidential election by James Carville, of course...

Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday night

I go with my old faithful, Kaskade, mashing two good ones. He released it this week, something he played during his summer tour.

Can you believe I did not blog anything this week with so much going on. That is just unacceptable and will have to change.

Have a good night!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Reasons to vote

In this week before the U.S. election, noted film maker Errol Morris had a great short film that ran in the New York Times. It's about voting and is meant to encourage people to get to the polls. He does it in a light and humorous way by coming at it from the other direction. One of the best things seen online this week. Enjoy!

Friday, November 02, 2012

It is on: Electoral reform debate

In west end Toronto, on the evening of November 15th, the Parkdale-High Park federal Liberal riding association will be hosting a debate on electoral reform featuring some fine Canadian public policy leaders. We are very appreciative that they will be taking the time to participate with us in this event. The debate will be held in the auditorium of Bishop Marrocco High School (at Dundas West subway station on the Bloor line) from 7 – 9 pm. Fair Vote Canada has kindly agreed to co-sponsor the debate.

This is a little different from the usual town hall variety event that you might see going on in your ridings and that is the idea behind it. To raise an issue with some subject matter experts in a manner that is not partisan but rather puts a policy front and center. To seek the community's input on the issue. And to hopefully have some fun in doing so!

Here is our flier, below, with details and which is also available for downloading and sharing at this link.


There are a lot of people here in PHP working hard to put this together. All are welcome and please mark it down on your calendars.

Related links:

Facebook event for Facebookers to RSVP.
PHP Association.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Romney punts on climate change

Excellent video of Romney at a rally and his tin ear non-response, when given the opportunity, to respond to a heckler who challenges him on climate change.

Hecklers shouldn't be allowed to commandeer an event. But in these crucial few last days, when climate change has been brought to the fore and the ground is shifting in the form of Michael Bloomberg's climate change driven endorsement of Obama, wouldn't you think a gut instinct politician might take the moment to say something? Romney did not. He followed the chanting crowd and missed a moment.

André Pratte on Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay

This is essentially a call for the Mayor's resignation from the influential Pratte. Written in the wake of the tawdry cross-examination of witness Martin Dumont before the Charbonneau commission by the lawyer for Union Montreal. Union Montreal is Mayor Tremblay's party. Here's Pratte:
Et qui est le chef de ce parti nauséabond? Gérald Tremblay. Ce qu'a dit mardi Martin Dumont sur ce que savait le maire du financement occulte de son parti n'est peut-être pas exact. Il faudra attendre le témoignage de M. Tremblay devant la commission avant d'évaluer précisément le niveau de sa responsabilité dans les différents rouages du système de collusion et de corruption.
Toutefois, quoi qu'il ressorte de ce témoignage, il est clair depuis des lunes que le maire ne jouit plus de l'autorité morale pour gouverner la Ville. Selon la rumeur, il annoncera bientôt qu'il ne sera pas candidat aux élections de 2013. Ça n'est pas suffisant.
Le contre-interrogatoire répugnant mené hier par l'avocat du parti du maire n'est qu'un incident de plus montrant combien la situation est devenue malsaine. Mardi, M. Tremblay demandait qu'on le laisse «travailler pour la Ville de Montréal». Pourtant, ce n'est certainement pas en se cramponnant à son poste comme il le fait qu'il contribue à la bonne gestion de Montréal.
The mayor is taking a sudden leave of his job: "With his administration under fire, Montreal mayor leaves for a break." Further:
A Leger poll commissioned by the Journal de Montreal newspaper and published Thursday showed 76 per cent of respondents think Tremblay should quit his post.
Might he be on the verge of taking a longer vacation than an extended long weekend? Things could be moving faster than expected for keen federal observers of all varieties.

Natural Resources asks media outlet to destroy records

Postmedia had a report last night on Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver writing to his officials, in email, on his needing briefings on major energy projects in Canada so he could speak to them knowledgeably. He made the request in the aftermath of a Jim Prentice speech which mentioned a number of big energy projects. Prentice is the former Environment minister who left for CIBC. So the emails make it appear that the Natural Resources minister is playing catch up on issues that a former minister, now departed, is making waves on.

Notably, Oliver asked for information on a $15 billion bitumen upgrader mentioned by Prentice that Oliver says he did not know very much about, the Northwest Upgrader. Given the centrality of the oil sands to Oliver's file, that raises doubts on his competency. Given how central the pipeline and energy issues are on an ongoing basis for this government, and the pending energy takeover deals, it's an embarrassing revelation. The release of Oliver's comments have the effect of undermining his credibility as minister.

Postmedia obtained these documents through access to information. Instead of offering an explanation and addressing this issue on that level and leaving it at that, the government made this brazen request of Postmedia:
The office at Natural Resources Canada, which processed the request through access to information legislation, said that the content of the emails was released by accident and should have been withheld under provisions of the law that allow the government to protect information under consultation or deliberation.
Postmedia News declined a request from the office to destroy the email records that included Oliver’s comments.
The Access to Information Act requires the government to release public records upon request from someone who pays a $5 fee.
Given that the emails are from late 2011, to argue that they should be withheld as "information under consultation or deliberation" seems to be a very weak argument. The emails themselves can't be credibly characterized as containing information under consultation or deliberation. The advice sought by Oliver is still ongoing is their position? That would be a bizarre stretch.

And to ask, on top of that, for a media outlet to destroy the embarrassing email records shows how sensitive they are to this revelation. It's not very democratic either.

Harper Halloween video

In case you missed it. Unfortunately, there is no sound. Or, fortunately because it looked a little too awkward of a photo-op and likely wasn't too festive.

On the right of Harper there, in the costumes...I think that's Fantino in the blue overalls/red shirt, maybe Diane Finley in the striped get up, and looks like Poilievre in the pink and yellow polka dotted gear. I could be wrong though.

Ignatieff is right

In this excerpt in particular as highlighted by John Ibbitson earlier Wednesday, I agree with Ignatieff:
When you think of your opponent across the aisle as an adversary, “you reject arguments, not persons; question premises, not identities; interrogate interests, not loyalties,” Mr. Ignatieff said.

But when politicians look upon each other as enemies, “legislatures replace relevance with pure partisanship. Party discipline rules supreme, fraternization is frowned upon, negotiation and compromise are rarely practised, and debate within the chamber becomes as venomously personal as it is politically meaningless.”
Well said. And I don't think his comments apply solely to Conservatives either.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clinton on Sandy and global warming

Good for Clinton for speaking about climate change in the post-Sandy moment. What better time to point out the effects that rising ocean levels will have on coastal areas as these storms get more intense due to warming effects. What better time to challenge Americans to think about it and make that connection.

Two notes on what Clinton said. Romney actually mocked Obama during his convention acceptance speech. And Bill is referring to himself as a New Yorker, clearly. "In my part of the country..." jars you a little as he's such a southerner in style.

Who knows, maybe the Clinton words here bode well in terms of some budding leadership on climate change. After Americans have been walloped like this, you'd like to think so.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brooks with a stinker column

A real head shaker of a column today from David Brooks as the U.S. campaign enters its last week: "The Upside of Opportunism." Basically, Brooks writes that Romney is more likely to get stuff done if he's elected President because Republicans in the House will go along with him. And Democrats in the Senate will work with him as well, because they'll be willing to bargain.

Meanwhile, Brooks says, if Obama is re-elected, there'll be the same old cast of characters and gridlock. Therefore, Romney gets the benefit of Brooks' thesis that there is an upside to opportunism. Romney should be rewarded with a win because the Republicans are just too intransigent to work with a Democratic president.

Brooks doesn't couch it as being wrong. He doesn't write that this may be what some voters are thinking - and they well might be - he's not pointing it out as an observation. The sum of his column is to suggest going with Romney because of the gridlocked mess the Republicans created. Who knows, maybe Brooks has looked north to us for inspiration where Harper was re-elected after having had a contempt motion moved successfully against his government. It has that same sort of stench to it.

There is no consideration from Brooks, at all, of what Republicans should properly do if Obama gets a second mandate. That is, recognize the choice of American voters and work with him. Doesn't rate a mention. 

In total agreement with Kevin Drum on this who frames it as rewarding the hostage takers. What an absolute load of immoral hooey.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mother Nature weighs in

Not going to talk about climate change during the U.S. presidential election? Mother Nature may be taking her revenge, in the form of the storm bearing down on the U.S. east coast and which will affect many here in eastern Canada. Joe Romm has some of the science explaining how the warming climate is manifesting itself in this storm:
“A meteorologically mind-boggling combination of ingredients [] coming together: one of the largest expanses of tropical storm (gale) force winds on record with a tropical or subtropical cyclone in the Atlantic or for that matter anywhere else in the world; a track of the center making a sharp left turn in direction of movement toward New Jersey in a way that is unprecedented in the historical database, as it gets blocked from moving out to sea by a pattern that includes an exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure aloft near Greenland; a “warm-core” tropical cyclone embedded within a larger, nor’easter-like circulation; and eventually tropical moisture and arctic air combining to produce heavy snow in interior high elevations. This is an extraordinary situation, and I am not prone to hyperbole.” [Stu Ostro]
Being fueled in part by “ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast [] about 5°F above average,” so “there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain” [former Hurricane Hunter Jeff Masters]
Also being driven by a high pressure blocking pattern near Greenland “forecast to be three standard deviations from the average” [Climate Central and CWG]
And what's causing that high pressure blocking pattern near Greenland that is driving the storm toward the eastern U.S. instead of it remaining out at sea? A scientist at Rutgers who does work on the impact of the loss of Arctic sea ice says it is consistent with the fallout from this summer's record low sea ice:
The jet stream pattern — particularly the strongly negative NAO [North Atlantic Oscillation] and associated blocking — that has been in place for the last 2 weeks and is projected to be with us into next week is exactly the sort of highly amplified (i.e., wavy) pattern that I’d expect to see more of in response to ice loss and enhanced Arctic warming. Blocking happens naturally, of course, but it’s very possible that this block may have been boosted in intensity and/or duration by the record-breaking ice loss this summer. Late-season hurricanes are not unheard of either, but Sandy just happened to come along during this anomalous jet-stream pattern, as well as during an autumn with record-breaking warm sea-surface temperatures off the US east coast. It could very well be that general warming along with high sea-surface temperatures have lengthened the tropical storm season, making it more likely that a Sandy could form, travel so far north, and have an opportunity to interact with a deep jet-stream trough associated with the strong block, which is steering it westward into the mid-Atlantic. While it’s impossible to say how this scenario might have unfolded if sea-ice had been as extensive as it was in the 1980s, the situation at hand is completely consistent with what I’d expect to see happen more often as a result of unabated warming and especially the amplification of that warming in the Arctic.
I haven’t read the entire Noren paper yet, but it does not surprise me that severe flooding in the northeast could be linked with periods of negative AO [Arctic Oscillation]. When the AO is negative, the jet stream tends to be wavier, just like the situation we’re in now, which favors slow-moving weather systems that can cause floods. Losing ice, reducing the poleward temperature gradient, and warming the entire climate system should contribute to increasing the likelihood of condusive to anomalous storms.
There's much more at his post to take in on this "warming-driven monster" that is asserting itself with a vengeance in the last week of the U.S. campaign. Maybe more attention to the global elephant in the room would have been warranted.

P.S. It goes without saying that our government, of course, is not doing any better in addressing the challenge.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday night

Going with something a little funkier tonight. Great part around 1:30 mark.

Have a great night!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rae nominates Malala Yousafzai for Nobel Prize

Just wanted to share this excellent nomination of 15 year old Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban. More on the nomination:
Rae's support helps the campaign, as Nobel Peace Prize regulations place requirements on who can submit a nomination. Rae, as a member of Canada's Parliament, is eligible to make a nomination, as are members of international courts, some academics, people who have previously been awarded the peace prize and others.
There is a petition urging all party support.

Rae Nobel Nomination Malala Yousufzai En

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fate and timing

Dalton McGuinty is not running for the federal leadership it is now fully confirmed. Just wanted to highlight one of the things he said in his interview with Joan Bryden of Canadian Press:
"One of the things I've discovered in talking to people in different parts of the country is there's a tremendous bedrock of goodwill and enthusiasm. It's not being manifested on the surface at this point in time but it is there nonetheless," he said.

"I would also argue ... that we are, by inclination and in terms of our history, we are small 'l' liberals, we Canadians. And it's just a matter now of doing the necessary work to recommit ourselves to Canadians, to show people that we are hungry, that we have good ideas, that we understand the future, we know where our place for success can be found in that future and to get on with the work.

"So I am, in fact, very optimistic about the future of my federal party."
That is the classic optimism and positivity of McGuinty that he would have brought to the federal level. I hope the next federal leader will have their own personal version of it as well.

But for one seat, over one year ago in the 2011 fall election, would McGuinty have been in federally? We will never know.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Obama's closing argument

He wanted it. Yes. Very persuasive closer there. I felt emotion from Obama tonight, as I did in the second debate as well.

This one seemed a little more enjoyable than the other two. There was no awkward mano-a-mano ambling around the stage and confrontation as characterized by the second debate. No sleepy Obama from the first encounter.

Obama seemed focused like a laser. He took advantage of the openings he was given on China, the military and commander-in-chief moral authority. He had that hard stare thing going on that totally worked.

I don't think you could have asked for a better night from Obama as he closed the debates out. Whether it will be enough to hang on and overcome Romney's economy rhetoric...I sure as heck hope so.

Flaherty muses on CMHC privatization

"Flaherty eyes privatization of CMHC." Well that's something big to watch. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is a profitable Crown corporation ($335 million in profit in the 2nd quarter) and has billions in assets. It is a stabilizing force in the Canadian housing market and by providing residential mortgage insurance, encourages home ownership.

Why would Flaherty go here? The burden should be on Flaherty et al. to demonstrate that moving from what is working to an alternative would be beneficial for Canada. Any move to take us down a road that the U.S. has gone by destabilizing a longstanding public and successful institution like this should be treated with great caution.

It sounds like the Conservatives know this and seem to be backing off, a little, as this news broke today: "Ted Menzies, Flaherty’s parliamentary secretary, responded that the government does not have plans to privatize the CMHC “at this time." At this time, he qualified.

This could be a wallet issue that would resonate if the case is articulated well. Flaherty of the 40 year mortgage adventures should be watched on this very carefully.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Summerville for Victoria #yyj

A quick shout out here to a friend in Victoria, Liberal candidate Paul Summerville, who is exactly the type of person we need in the House of Commons. I hope everyone in Victoria gets to meet him. They've hit the ground running...

Here is his nomination statement, "Our Campaign," to give a sense of Paul's approach to politics:
The Liberal point of view is that ‘we’re all in this together’ is much better than ‘you’re on your own’ and that liberalism is not an ideology, it is not a book of campaign promises, liberalism is a movement based on the trust in others to do the right thing, building efficient government to ensure a prosperous, fair, and clean country.

Liberal politics are the politics of inclusion and responsibility, of facts and evidence, of reason and dialogue over dogma and ideology.
Follow his blog for regular updates from the man himself, you will not be disappointed!

By-election palooza: It is on for November 26th

On a Sunday morning, prime time for political news after all, the PM has called the by-elections that need to be called to fill the vacancies in the House of Commons due to various resignations: "Harper calls 3 byelections for Nov. 26." I don't know why he didn't get this out of the way Friday at midnight like the other significant business his government conducted at the witching hour. But I suppose Sunday morning is the next best thing.

These three by-elections address the ridings affected by the resignations of Lee Richardson, Calgary-Centre on May 30, Bev Oda, Durham, on July 3 and Denise Savoie of Victoria on August 23.

The elephant in the room remains the Etobicoke-Centre riding which is in limbo until this Thursday, October 25th at 9:45 a.m. when the Supreme Court of Canada will finally issue its decision in that litigation. The court will either uphold the lower court ruling that would require a by-election or it will overturn it.

Mr. Harper has decided, however, not to wait a few days to see what the Supreme Court will say. Waiting would have made sense, as he is fully aware that the decision is coming. He could then have called all the by-elections required on the heels of whatever the court decides. It would actually be a reasonable thing to do, to wait. It would be a polite signal to the court given that the court just announced at the end of this past week that the Etobicoke-Centre decision is coming.

So why not wait for the Supreme Court? It's probably a little reflection of the ongoing antipathy between the right wing and their agitation against unelected judges having any kind of say on democratic matters. You're going to decide Etobicoke-Centre, well then, I'm going to set my by-election timings irrespective of what you decide. So there's that.

Also, it could very well be that while they won't admit it, the Conservatives want to work for time in Etobicoke-Centre. It's likely the most difficult race they'll face among all of these by-elections. Their party won't be a strong factor in Victoria. The Conservatives will likely hang on, however, in Durham and Calgary-Centre. So get a few wins under their belt and bolster their chances to hold Etobicoke-Centre - if the by-election occurs - is what they may be thinking.

For if they were to lose Etobicoke-Centre, it would be highly symbolic. It would be a permanent marker against the Harper government's democratic bona fides and a major part of the narrative of this government's anti-democratic tendencies would be cemented. Borys Wrzesnewskyj walking the halls of Parliament would be a daily reminder of that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mercer on the Economic Action Plan ads

Yes, I've been posting Mr. Mercer's rants of late. The last three have been bang on and deserve to be widely shared. It's unfortunate that we don't see more of such content on Canadian television given that the majority of Canadians don't support this government yet the venues to see such opposition on our television screens are so limited. Panels on the various political shows just don't cut it.

These latest ads are such a stretch. The notion that there is indeed an "Economic Action Plan" that is being carried out in the present day as an extension of the early 2009 stimulus spending, this neat construct the government has created, is a bunch of hooey. A government can have economic priorities and policies but this idea that there is a document or an official plan of some kind should be losing its credibility. Mercer is right to mock it. The government could call it an EAP at the height of the recession and get away with it. That moment required attention, something different, public assurance. Now it does feel like it's a creation that's living on borrowed time. The real propagandistic feel to these new ads is what makes you take that second hard listen.

Meanwhile, as these ads have ramped up, the expanded meat recall is unfolding. Nice ads on the screens, tainted beef in our homes...too bad this government isn't capable of acting competently when a concrete economic issue in need of a plan presents itself.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Obama's big moment in the debate

This exchange had a level of emotional intensity that rose above much of the rest of the debate, despite how competitive and combative it was in other spots. The emotional intensity was all Obama's. He beat back the partisanship that the Republicans have been playing up in recent days on the Libya tragedy by taking full responsibility for the security situation, despite Hillary Clinton's effort last night to deflect responsibility to her. Romney seemed petty, like he'd milk anything for partisan advantage.

A much better night for Obama.

Monday, October 15, 2012

There goes Dalton

An excerpt from his unexpected resignation speech late this afternoon, more below:
Our government hasn’t been perfect. But when it comes to the big things that families count on us to get right –schools, health care, the environment and the economy -- we've gotten it right every time. Just this afternoon, we updated Ontarians on the state of our finances. We're once again ahead of schedule with our plan to balance the budget... We've beaten our budget forecasts in seven of the last nine years.
I feel very good about where we are as a party and a province. But as Liberals, we're always driving forward. The opposition’s political games are holding Ontario back. They've told us they oppose our plan for a two-year pay freeze for government workers. That means we can't make it law. So, we need to go back to the drawing board.
We're going to make a sincere and determined effort to negotiate a wage freeze agreement with our labour partners. Like the agreements already reached with 80,000 public sector workers. We're also going to consult with the opposition about what they would support to freeze wages.
To this end, I’ve asked the Lieutenant Governor to prorogue the legislature to allow those discussions with our labour partners and the opposition to occur in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancour of politics in the legislature. And when the legislature returns, we will either have negotiated agreements in hand or a firm sense of what the opposition will support.
As the party and government of relentless progress, we’re always looking for new ideas and ways to renew ourselves. And I’ve concluded that this is the right time for Ontario's next Liberal Premier and our next set of ideas to guide our province forward.
Earlier today, I asked Yasir Naqvi, our party president, to convene a leadership convention at the earliest possible time. I will remain as Premier until that leadership convention. And it will be my honour to continue to serve as the MPP for Ottawa South until the next general election.
I know I've asked some hard things of you. But I’ve always been inspired by the ideal that the older generations work hard to build a bright future for the younger ones. And they do this, always, with love and an unwavering commitment. I saw that in my own mother and father. It’s what Terri and I have tried to do for our children. And I see it in the eyes and actions of Ontario families, every day. I thank you for the honour of serving as your Leader and your Premier... In Ontario, the greatest province in the best country in the world.
Note that he stated he will remain as Premier until the leadership convention to choose his successor. There is, however, some early speculation on his future going on, naturally, given the federal leadership race which technically commences almost a month to the day. He'd certainly have a lot of backers should he choose to give it a run. And it looks like there might be something to this or at least a preserving of options going on: "Federal Liberal leadership campaign building around Ontario premier: sources." Very interesting must read material this evening.

It was not difficult to campaign in the last provincial election in my Toronto riding on things like full-day kindergarten, the Green Energy Act, and the high rankings the school system has been getting internationally. Those are some impressive legacy flags to have planted.

Further, there are very few politicians who can speak like this on an issue like bullying - "I care about you" - and you know he meant it. 

I leave it at that tonight. Carry on! 

Today's big poll

"Liberal poll numbers climb over NDP as leadership starts." A few quick thoughts...

I looked at the dates over which this poll was conducted, first: "The telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between Oct.4-11 and is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20." OK, right in the wheelhouse of the aftermath of Trudeau's announcement, which was on October 1st. Followed by an avalanche of coverage. It means that Canadians at that time were heavily exposed to the prospects of the Liberal leadership race, Trudeau, yes, and likely had a thought or two swirling around about the state of political leadership in the country.

This poll also occurred at the height of this latest tainted meat episode and I wouldn't discount that factor either as an influence on people's political choices at the moment. Anything but Conservative could be a factor.

While I am very hesitant with any poll these days, my impression is that this is just one of many you will see showing the three main parties all in the same ballpark. Even when other pollsters have Liberals in third spot, the distance among the parties is never so great that it couldn't be overcome in an election campaign given the fluidity these days. So it means something, but whether anyone should write these numbers down as delivered by Nanos today as some kind of gospel, probably not.

It should, however, tell those who would peddle silly existential questions about the Liberal party that they should think about getting a new hobby.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Late night Gillard

Thanks to Dr. Dawg for posting this most excellent video. Had to fly the flag for Julia over here too!

I don't have much to add just hope that everyone watches. Sheer guts and awesomeness from Gillard in calling out Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition and his hypocrisy on sexism.

P.S. Those are nice leather benches they have in Australia. A modern house.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Gerry Ritz should be fired - Part XIII

Agreed: "Mulcair demands Ritz resign over E. coli case." Some of us have been calling for the firing of the Ritz since circa 2008, so we're up to part 13 here on the blog. The listeriosis crisis, also occurring under Ritz's watch and the Conservatives' revision of meat inspection rules, should have brought, at the least, the Prime Minister's patented reshuffling out of this portfolio (which he seems to do in lieu of firing). This gap doesn't look good for the government at all, it's unacceptable in food safety:
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae accused the government of moving too slowly to curb the crisis. Rae said authorities in the U.S. stopped imports from the XL Food plants on Sept. 13 while Canada did not shut down the plant until Sept. 27.
"Americans were protected on Sept. 13 because no product was allowed to be exported to the United States," Rae said.
"All Canadian consumers were not protected until Sept. 27, two weeks later. Why were Americans better protected than Canadians?"
There have been two national food safety crises under this minister. Surely some third party oversight is warranted in the regime at this stage as the Agriculture Minister's leadership has been proven to be insufficient.

Previous highlights in this ongoing series:

Gerry Ritz should be fired - Part XII: In November 2010, Gerry admits no independent audit of Canada's meat inspection regime had been undertaken, as recommended by his own government's commissioned Weatherill report. To date, the audit remains outstanding.

Gerry Ritz should be fired, the original post. Prompted by Ritz's joking during the height of the listeriosis crisis in September 2008.

Ritz should be fired, part II, prompted by family members of victims of the listeriosis outbreak calling for Ritz's resignation.

Part III: Ritz is contradicted by his own officials during the listeriosis crisis when he represents that meat inspectors are spending 50% of their time on meat production floors.

Ritz should be fired, Part IV: Ritz was the author of the plan that sees meat plants self-inspecting.

Gerry Ritz should be fired, Part VI: In which Harper claims, in 2008, that they'd hired 200 new inspectors since 2006 but - in what is a familiar saga - no one knew where those inspectors were.

Part VII, just for fun.

Part XI: In November 2010, the short staffing of meat inspectors was identified. This has apparently remained true until recently, as the Agriculture Union head pointed out yesterday. That is a glaring fact.

Obama post-debate

Good line as he stumps post-debate, at the end here:
"I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney," Obama said. "It couldn't have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year, promising $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy."
"The fellow on stage last night said he didn't know anything about that. The real Mitt Romney said we don't need any more teachers in our schools. The fellow on stage last night -- he loves teachers, can't get enough of them."
"If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth," a fired-up Obama told supporters anxious not to see him fritter away his opinion poll lead with less than five weeks to go before election day.
It's a whole new phase.

Carry on!

The Obama-Romney debate

That video doesn't make it seem so bad for Obama after all, does it?

I had two experiences watching that debate last night. The first, with the sound on, left me thoroughly depressed and thinking that Obama had blown it. My tweets reflected that reaction.

The second, later on, with the sound off, left me more optimistic. I guess I missed the parts that James Fallows watched with the sound off:
If you had the sound turned off, Romney looked calm and affable through more of the debate than Obama did, and the incumbent president more often looked peeved. Romney's default expression, whether genuine or forced, was a kind of smile; Obama's, a kind of scowl. I can understand why Obama would feel exasperated by these claims and arguments. Every president is exasperated by what he considers facile claims about what he knows to be impossibly knotty problems. But he let it show.
My take was that Romney was worse with the sound off. If you think about how things have been going for him lately, the 47% video clip has been truly damning. The idea that he'd say one thing behind closed doors and yet say another in public is underpinning his campaign, it's about trust. His default smile expression didn't help dissuade that perception. He appeared to answer quickly, almost unthinkingly. Like he was trying too hard, too caffeinated. When you combine that impression with some of the consensus that he told a few whoppers last night, then he may not have done so well after all.

Obama did seem peeved at times and the note taking made him look less in charge. But he also didn't have the canned look that Romney had. Obama is the one who is criticized as being too smooth. Not last night. He looked like he was thinking on his feet, he was more deliberative, he had a more earnest quality than Romney.

Factor in the economic substance of the debate and the real world context of Americans concerned about the economy, jobs...and I'm not so sure Obama was poorly served by coming off as the one who was working harder as opposed to the guy who seemed more slick. I certainly don't think it was as bad as Andrew Sullivan was portraying it to be.

A lot of this analysis can be overdone too. This part of the New York Times' lead report on it rang true:
But for all of the anticipation, and with less than five weeks remaining until Election Day, the 90-minute debate unfolded much like a seminar by a business consultant and a college professor. Both men argued that their policies would improve the lives of the middle class, but their discussion often dipped deep into the weeds, and they talked over each other without connecting their ideas to voters.
Anyway, there's lots of opinion to be had.

P.S. Best thing to come out of the debate, the Big Bird memes that were spawned by Romney saying he loved Big Bird but would kill PBS. Maybe Big Bird will get the last laugh.