Tuesday, December 30, 2008

9 Political Predictions for 2009

1. John Tory's days as Ontario PC leader are in the very low numbers, and will not survive past the end of the spring sitting of the Queen's Park.

2. The contenters for Ontario PC leadership will be Tim Hudak, Michael Chong, and Lisa Macleod.

3. Peter Tabuns will narrowly defeat Micheal Prue for Ontario NDP leadership.

4. Rodney MacDonald's minority PC government in Nova Scotia will fall, and be defeated by the NDP.

5. The NDP will defeat the BC Liberals in the BC provincial election.

6. Gilles Duceppe will step down as BQ leader, Pierre Paquette will take over the leadership.

7. The coalition will not be asked to take power, but it will not be formally disbanded either.

8. Elizabeth May will be forced out as Green leader.

9. No federal election in 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Premier Dad" strikes again


McGuinty already caused some grumblings within the OYL ranks with his proposed driving legislation, and raising the price of beer for reasons of "social responsibility" makes me think the OYL will have an increasingly hard time reaching out to youth by promoting the Ontario Liberals as a party that takes them seriously. Something the OYL has tried recently has been to promote itself as a real youth-centric organization, with an activist spirit, but it is hard to recruit new young members and supporters with the rally cries of driving restrictions and more expensive booze.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good on Charest


For his second straight ministry, Charest has implemented a gender equitable cabinent, including having women in the important positions of Finance Minister, Deputy Premier, Treasury Board President, Justice Minister, and several others. Charest and the PLQ had plenty of female candidates with heavy use of a quota system or leader appointments, and the federal Liberals can learn from this.

For example, lets look at our current frontbench critcs. Women are critics for only 9 portfolios, and out of the high-profile critic positions like Finance, Defense, Foreign Affairs, Industry, Environment, Justice, etc, a grand total of 0 are held by female MP's. Only Carolyn Bennett in Health, Ruby Dhalla in Labour, and Judy Sgro in National Revenue have somewhat important positions, and for a party while claims to promote women in politics, this needs to change. We cannot mirror the Conservatives who appoint (albeit in this new ministry a record number of) women to middling positions. Copying this and downplaying the role of women in politics is no way to win back voters of all genders who have abandoned the Liberal Party recently.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I for one welcome our new Iggy overlords

I believe the events of the last 48 hours is probably the best outcome that could have been salvaged out of the situation. We have a leader with caucus support, wh0 will be secure in the job for quite some time. Is the way the situation resolved perfect? No, of course not. But we as a party have to make due with what we have, and move forward together. The constitutional, procedural thing was done. Those who talking about the grassroots being disenfranchised do have a valid point, however, and I believe one of Iggy's top priorities should be to re-engage with the grassroots, opening up any new policy process. I believe Rae's suggestion of utilizing our online resources here would be valuable.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Big Lebowski

Pauline Marois may use slightly more eloquent language in her speech tonight, but with the PQ performing well above the poll predictions, and keep Charest to a very slim majority (the night is young enough to even keep him to minority) this famous quote from The Big Lebowski will sum up her feelings towards Stephen Harper and his Quebec baiting/bashing, which most commentators tonight are citing as a significant factor in the PQ's surprising result, when almost everyone had the PLQ at a comfortable 70ish seat majority, as opposed to the narrow majority he will get. Harper and the Conservative/ADQ stock is collapsing in Quebec, and the federal Liberals need to pounce on this weakness.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Coalition Fantasy Pool?

Here are my picks:

Prime Minister: Stephane Dion, Saint Laurent-Cartierville, Liberal, Montreal
Minister of Agriculture and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency: Wayne Easter, Malpeque, Liberal, PEI
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages: Marlene Jennings, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Liberal, Montreal
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration: Navdeep Bains, Mississauga-Brampton South, Liberal, GTA
Minister of the Environment and Western Economic Diversification: Linda Duncan, Edmonton-Strathcona, NDP, Alberta
Minister of Finance: Ralph Goodale, Wascana, Liberal, Saskatchewan
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans: Siobhan Coady, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, Liberal, Newfoundland
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Jack Layton, Toronto-Danforth, NDP, GTA
Minister of Health: Ujjal Dosanjh, Vancouver South, Liberal, BC
Minister of Human Resources and Social Development: Gerard Kennedy, Parkdale-High Park, Liberal, Toronto
Minister of Indian Affairs: Anita Neville, Winnipeg South, Liberal, Manitoba
Secretary of State for Northern Development: Larry Bagnell, Yukon, Liberal, North
Minister of Industry: Scott Brison, Kings-Hants, Liberal, Nova Scotia
Minister of International Trade: David McGuinty, Ottawa South, Liberal, Eastern Ontario
Minister of International Cooperation, Minister of State: Pacific Gateway, Sport, 2010 Olympics: Hedy Fry, Vancouver Centre, Liberal, BC
Minister of Justice: Irwin Cotler, Mont Royal, Liberal, Montreal
Minister of Labour: Libby Davies, Vancouver East, NDP, BC
Minister of National Defense and Vet Affairs: Denis Coderre, Bourassa, Liberal, Montreal
Minister of National Revenue: John McCallum, Markham-Unionville, Liberal, GTA
Minister of Natural Resources and FEDNOR: Anthony Rota, Nipissing—Timiskaming, Liberal, Northern Ontario
Minister of Public Safety: Thomas Mulcair, Outremont, NDP, Montreal
Minister of Public Works and Government Services: Brian Murphy, Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, New Brunswick, Liberal
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs: Mark Holland, Ajax-Pickering, Liberal, GTA
Minister of Transport: Joe Comartin, Windsor—Tecumseh, Southern Ontario, NDP
Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec): Alexandra Mendes, Brossard—La Prairie, Liberal, Montérégie
President of the Treasury Board: Maurizio Bevilacqua, Vaughn, Liberal, GTA
Secretary of State for Democratic Reform and Government House Leader: Carolyn Bennett, St. Paul’s, Liberal, GTA
Secretary of State for Multiculturalism: Ruby Dhalla, Brampton-Springdale, Liberal, GTA
Secretary of State for Women’s Issues: Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Winnipeg North, NDP Manitoba

Total: 29 (including a few Secs of State)

NDP: 7
Liberals: 22

Women: 9

Newfoundland: 1
Nova Scotia: 1
PEI: 1
Nova Scotia: 1
Quebec: 6
Ontario: 11
Manitoba: 2
Saskatchewan: 1
Alberta: 1
BC: 3
North: 1

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thought for the Day

With the coalition looking more likely, a thought crossed my head. Any chance of Elizabeth May getting appointed to the Senate and serving in cabinet? The NDP's hostility towards the Greens (not to mention the Senate itself) would be a big roadblock, but a Green in cabinet might further give the Coalition a boost to the all-encompassing progressive image it will seek to send. Ironically given the Greens failure to win a seat, Elizabeth May, who has long promoted coalition politics and cooperation between progressive party, May's ideas may turn out to be the long run winner of the election.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Public Finance Shmublic Finance

Gotta love how well the Tories headline grabbing move to eliminate subsidies and MP's perks has worked on changing the channel on the economy and the upcoming deficit. A look at the blogs today demonstrates this success. Bloggers, we cannot be part of this game. I thought about what I was going to write today to help get us focused back on issue number one, the economy, and I think this sums up what we, as bloggers, should be talking about:

Deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit no long term economic plan.

Deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit no long term economic plan deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit skyrocketing spending and pointless tax cuts which did nothing to help the economy eliminating surplus deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit no long term economic plan deficit deficit.

Deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit surplus destroying deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit deficit.


Clear enough?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who knew an economic crisis could be so boring?

Look at MacKay sleep like a little baby on his tax-payer funded jet. I understand how being the deputy leader of the party which will take Canada into it's first deficit in an decade might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but one would figure he might have a little more spring in his step then this. The Conservatives told us during the election that a steady hand was needed in order to maintain economic stability, that the Liberals would plunge us into deficit and crisis.
Well, with Flaherty and Harper about to proudly unveil the centre-piece of 2 and a half years of Conservative economic policy, a $30 billion deficit after inheriting a surplus, we see now that the Conservative hand on the wheel was asleep, and the car has crashed. Seeing MacKay slump down in his chair only brings one thing to mind: how low can the Conservatives take us?

CUSA flip-flops


So all it took was becoming a national joke eh? A good step, but the relevant councillours should still make a public apology for putting forth a blatantly false and discriminatory motion.

CUSA makes Carleton an international laughing stock

I've heard reports of the CF story getting airtime in Germany and on CNN internationally, and if you do a google news search, you'll find an Australian reference. Good job CUSA!

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2008/11/25/ot-081125-shinerama.html UK

http://www.inquisitr.com/9716/canadian-students-pull-support-for-cystic-fibrosis-charity-saying-cf-is-a-white-disease/ Australia

http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSBNG6759520081126 Reuters, international

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CUSA lives up to its reputation again

As CFS Local number 1, CUSA is prone to being ridiculous, usually making at least one totally boneheaded move a year, and CUSA has not disappointed: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2006/12/06/carleton.html

This is what happens when you have an under 20% voter turnout rate.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Learning from the Lib Dems

Now that the Green Shift sadly seems to be a thing of the past, I think looking at this: http://www.libdems.org.uk/home/green-tax-switch-439116;show example of Green Liberalism is worth doing.

The Lib Dems under current leader Nick Clegg have taken a refreshing turn towards economic liberalism, away from trying to copy "Old Labour" policy ideas. This over-arching economic liberalism is reflected in the "Green Tax Switch", which while in terms of actual policy, is quite similar to the Green Shift, but is presented quite differently. My personal favourite parts:

It's about using taxes in a new way to change behaviour, not to simply raise money for the Government.

This is why the Liberal Democrats have argued for fairer and green taxation, but not for higher taxes overall.

Green taxes will continue to yield substantial sums to the exchequer if they do their work properly, and there must be a clear understanding that this revenue is handed back to the taxpayer in tax cuts on activities that we are not trying to penalise such as work effort.

The plan is presented as one of a tax cut with environmental benefits, not vice versa. I think in selling the Green Shift that is an area in which we allowed the Conservatives to paint us into. Any future policies which build Green Liberalism have to be based, first and foremost, around helping individual Canadians save money and helping build a free-market economy for the 21st century. Note that when it comes to actual implementation, the very first thing mentioned is:

We will give everyone a green income tax cut of 4p giving people more of their hard-earned money in their pocket.

Not a lecture on how great the environment is, not how Canadians have to look into their hearts and social conscience, but telling people you will have more money in your pocket. The plan is presented as part of the overall package of less government intrusion in your affairs, responsible spending, and building towards tomorrow. We Green Liberals in Canada can learn much from our liberal cousins in the UK

Green Liberalism, not a bail-out.


Interesting and true words by McGuinty. While the auto-sector is obviously not in the best shape, the best way to deal with it is in dispute. McGuinty is correct when he talks about not wanting to take Ontario deep into a structural deficit. But the most interesting thing he says is this:

But McGuinty said taxpayers and governments also have to be realistic in demanding carmakers switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, noting that five out of the top 10 selling vehicles in Canada are trucks and minivans. "If we want them to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles we need to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles," he said.

A simple observation of supply and demand economics opens up some deeper examination. One, is that I believe the environment is subject to something of a "Bradley Effect". People, when asked if they believe the environment should be a high priority, or they want governments to take action on the environment, etc, will say yes. After all, who wants to say they are against the environment, or believes that no action should be taken? However, when an actual cost is associated with the environment, or a more important issue like the economy develops, support for environmental action drops dramatically. The other big examination is that we do, in fact, not buy a whole lot of fuel efficient cars. I believe these factors are somewhat linked, and that Green Liberalism can help solve it.

Rather then writing a giant cheque to the auto sector, the McGuinty government should use this opportunity to implement and help build the 21st century economy, and develop some of the ways Green Liberalism can move past an implementation gap. The Ontario government should look into things like tying in private sector relief with introducing environmental standards, while at the same time, increase tax credits for people buying more fuel efficient cars. Simply dumping more money into the supply side will not guarantee increased demand. Green Liberalism should be about using free-market tools to help the economy and fight climate change, not interventionist corporate welfare or redistributionist ideas.

Harper and the Economy

Gotta love the dance Harper has done around his economic management record. Remember during the campaign when he said The Green Shift would create the worst economic hit since the Great Depression, and that those spendthrift Liberals would put Canada in deficit? At APEC, Harper said:

"The world is entering an economic period unlike, and potentially as dangerous as, anything we have faced since 1929," he said, in a speech to business moguls in Peru's capital for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum.

Canada now faces "the classic circumstances under which budgetary deficits are essential."

Harper created deficits are evidently what Canadians get for trusting in his strong leadership. When Harper says the deficit is a result of factors beyond his control though, I guess he has a point. It isn't like he destroyed a huge surplus which could have helped sustain both social programs and economic competitiveness in a time of global downturns by implementing meaningless tax cuts which not a single major economist agreed with, and delivered no real savings to Canadians or helped stimulate the economy while crippling the fiscal intake of the government. It isn't like he ramped up spending on pet vote-buying projects while drastically cutting government intake. It isn't like he broke his promise on income trusts and made Canadians savings vulnerable in a time of economic downturn. It isn't like he railed against the very same Liberal maintained banking regulations while in opposition that have now prevented a wide-scale credit crisis. It isn't like his government discouraged investment in the province most hit by an economic downturn.

So really, not much Harper can do other then plunge us into deficit. Interesting to see if they will run on their record next election or try and even more inane "Leadership" based campaign. If they had a 44 page platform with 23 pictures of Harper pre-deficit, the next platform will probably just be a scrapbook of Harper in better times.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Idle Curiosity

Does anyone know where I could find the riding-by-riding results of the "Super Weekend" delegate election results from last leadership? I'm just curious at doing some number crunching to see how much MP's endorsements of a particular candidate actually affected how the riding membership elected its delegates.

OYL should oppose proposed youth driving law


As someone who only has a G1, I do admit I would not actually be affected much by this new idea, but I still believe that this is the type of legislation that the OYL should be against, even if it is proposed by a Liberal government. Chris Selley wrote this in the Macleans blog:


"19-through-21-year-olds are not “older children.” They are “adults,” and the government should restrict their freedoms, if at all, with the same caution as any other adults’ freedoms."

It will be interesting seeing how youth position themselves around this issue as it develops.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ontario NDP Leadership

While the federal Liberals go through a leadership race, it is also important to note another leadership race going on right now, that of the Ontario NDP. The provincial NDP here in Ontario is an interesting organization. Since the end of the Rae government, the NDP has struggled to get back into the spotlight, and under Howard Hampton it has failed to reach it's traditional level of support. After the centrist Rae, Hampton brought and has kept the party firmly to the left, but also saw the party's fortunes damaged by strategic voting, and the rise of the Greens. Hampton's "left, best, and last" strategy stands as an interesting contrast to the NDP in other provinces in which it has formed government, (with the exception of BC) as the Manitoba and Saskatchewan NDP have been successful by sticking in the centre, and polarizing the electorate between them and the various conservative parties. Now, that the provincial Liberals are weak in both provinces (2 seats in Manitoba, none in Saskatchewan) probably helps this strategy a lot, but one of the main questions the provincial NDP is facing is one of direction.

With an economic downturn looming, the Ontario NDP is in an interesting position. With the Conservatives in power federally, and the Liberals provincially, the NDP has an opportunity to potentially make gains, if they can escape the Rae shadow which would inevitably be used against them in case of an economic downturn. It is notable that so far none of the declared candidates have any real ties to the Rae government (Gilles Bisson is the only one who was elected under Rae, and only served as a PA to a non-vital ministry).

Gilles Bisson seems to be running a fairly traditional campaign, talking about the same issues and style his fellow Northerner Hampton did, so I would assume that Bisson would probably maintain about the status-quo, not moving the party to the centre or taking it further left. He has experience, but status as a Northerner like Hampton and his party vet status might make it difficult for him to present himself as a leader of the future.

Andrea Howarth is an interesting candidate. A former Hamilton city councillor, and of course, a woman, Howarth has the potential to be able to both claim a connection to the NDP's working class roots, and present herself as a "change" candidate (on her website, she describes herself as a "community organizer") with possible appeal to Southern Ontario, an area the ONDP sees as a prime growth target. After Hampton announced he was stepping down, pundits and some within the NDP said the NDP needed a Toronto leader to broaden it's appeal past northern Ontario. However, with the two Toronto candidates (Tabuns and Prue) now being described as maybe being "too Toronto", (besides, Davenport is the only seat the city the ONDP has a shot at gaining) the focus has shifted to broader Southern Ontario. I can see Howarth gaining some big momentum, particularly if people are turned off the percieved front-runner Peter Tabuns.

Speaking of Tabuns, he is seen as the initial front runner, with a strong organization, close ties to Jack Layton, and the endorsement of Cheri Di Novo, who is widely popular amongst the parties grassroots. Tabuns has some environmental cred, serving as an executive director of Greenpeace, but when it comes to politics, his friendship with Jack Layton shows again, as he comes from the Jack Layton school of environmental politics; making grand annoucements and policies about how great the environment is, how governments must pay attention to it, etc, but then when a non-NDP party unveils an environmental plan, attack, attack, attack. From what I have heard, Tabuns also risks the potential of being the Ignatieff of this campaign, having the most support in a plurality, but perhaps having difficulties bringing people to his side (of course, that the NDP uses a non-delegate system might alleviate his problem somewhat). Tabuns apparently was actively campaigning for leader before Hampton officially announced he wasn't running again, which angered some. Tabuns would probably bring Jack Layton style rhetoric and policy, so expect to hear lots of talk about working families etc, and making a rhetorical play for the centre yet continuing left-wing policy. Given that while the federal NDP did gain seats in Ontario under Layton in the last election, but actually declined somewhat in share of the vote, it is unclear if the ONDP would want to follow that route.

Micheal Prue has the deepest political resume of the contenders, serving as a councillor and Mayor of East York, and a councillor in amalgamated Toronto. Prue raised eyebrows when he openly discussed rethinking the NDP's position on funding Catholic schools, as the NDP was unable to make any gains out of John Tory's faith-based funding debacle, with the Green Party's call for totally secular public funded schools giving them a big leg-up, and the Liberals positioning themselves as the defenders of the public system, while Hampton failed in his attempts to work around the issue, with the NDP's "status-quo" position not exactly galvanizing voters. This potential to take policy risks, and his political experience has somewhat given Prue the image of the centrist in the race.

Given that Prue and Tabuns have probably the highest profiles of the contenders, and have scooped up most of the early endorsements, they are probably the intial front-runners, with Howarth being an interesting dark horse and Bisson running decently, but not lighting things up. Prue vs. Tabuns is interesting, as if things develop as I have predicted, it could turn into a battle between the more leftist elements of the party rallying around Tabuns, and the centrists rallying around Prue, with Howarth perhaps having cross-appeal and being able to come up the middle. We'll see how things play out.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Yes, Yes, and Yes again

I agreed so much with this article I was nodding while I read it: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081107.wcoessay1108/BNStory/specialComment/home

Some parts I particularly liked:

The overarching promise the Liberals make to Canadians at election time is actually not about left or right but about delivering sound and pragmatic government. Competence has been the core of the Liberal brand, wherever the political winds have blown their policies.

The Liberals' humbling in the 2004 election under Paul Martin, and their subsequent defeat in 2006, were in no sense results of an ideological splintering like the one that Canadian conservatives suffered. The Liberals were brought down by the erosion of their reputation for sound governance, rooted in the sponsorship scandal, and abetted by the sluggishness that afflicts parties too long in power.

Still, a significant number of people said they had voted Liberal in 2006 but were switching to another party this time. Where did they go? Nearly 44 per cent of them said they were moving to the Conservatives. Thus, the Liberals' largest loss in the last election was to the Conservatives — not to the NDP or the Greens.
Now, consider this: The Liberals may be in a five-way fight for votes, but they are in a two-way fight with the Conservatives for government. That means that votes shifting directly between them and the Conservatives are more valuable.

This article shows the importance of building and renewing from the centre, and defining ourselfs as a resposible centrist party, one who can do more then just critize Harper, but can replace him.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


The Canadian Federation of Students had the annual "National Day of Action" recently, and I kinda of accidently was there. I have proudly boycotted the ultrapartisan, misleading campaigns of the CFS the previous two years, but this year I just happened to stumble upon the Human Rights Monument during the protest. The rhetoric was same old, same old, "Students United", "You are either with us or anti-student", etc. The rally served also as the effective kick-off of the campaign to get the U of O student union to join the CFS in an upcoming referendum. The Charlatan, Carleton University's newspaper, did a fact check on the CFS lit, showing the kind of things U of O can expect if they vote yes:


A collection of mis-represented stats, unbacked up claims, and bald faced lies. As the CFS is basically the twin organization of the NDP Youth, it is hardly shocking for them to use such tactics and rhetoric, but it is important for people to know that the CFS does not speak for all students.

In Ontario, The CFS-O has lobbied for years on behalf of “lower tuition fees”, claiming that only big loud protests, angry partisanship, and "solidarity" can bring about change in this matter. Despite the rhetoric of “The Students, united, can never be defeated”, the CFS-O has failed to deliver on being able to have lower tuition fees. Yet year after year, CFS councils pat themselves on the back for "standing up for students" and ask for higher student levys for themselves. The CFS in its campaigns set student groups and faculties against each other, students against administrators, students against governments, etc. This divisiveness only further prevents students from making real positive gains. By promoting such negative and childish projects such as the F**k Tuition Fees campaign, the CFS reflects poorly on the potential maturity, capabilities, and and prevents student movements from being taken more seriously. Childish rhetoric? Overheated partisanship? Claiming to be standing up for those they represent yet never actually accomplishing anything? Wow, I never would have guessed the CFS and the NDP are in bed together.

A look at BC shows the real CFS. When several schools had referendums on leaving the CFS, documents got leaked showing the CFS formed a secret plan to counter and influence the referendums, which allegedly included bringing non-students from outside BC on campus, including fulltime staffers of other organizations including the NDP. A document also contained lists of known and prospective CFS supporters at schools across Canada graded according to their perceived campaigning ability, (including Carleton's CUSA, shockingly enough, last years CUSA prez who got an "A" now has a CFS-O position) as well as the names of several individuals the organization evidently planed to secure employment for at various student unions. The CFS also intended to both hire and train all poll clerks for the referendum vote, as well as personally design and print the ballots.

The CFS: Proudly united (unless you aren't a rabid Dipper, in which case we will do all in our power to limit your influence on campus) for Students (as long as you support us wading into social issues that have nothing to do with education, and again if you are a rabid Dipper) since 1981.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Reform Partyization" and re-thinking "Progressive"

I have been somewhat reluctant to blog about American politics during the last few months, because I believe as a Liberal blogger, my main concern should be the state of Canadian politics, and the Liberal Party. However, with the script seemingly written for tomorrow's election, I believe some interesting Canada-US parallels can be drawn.

The Republican Party, and the conservative movement in the US in general, is going to undergo a period of "Reform Partyization". While I don't mean this in the sense that a 2nd conservative party will emerge in the US, an offshoot of the Republicans, I do believe that the right will enter into an ultimately unhealthy period of navel gazing, with the result being an overriding sense of "We lost because we abandoned our conservative principles!" rather then "wow, American conservatism needs to adapt to the times again." The liberal movement in the US had the same problems in the 70's and 80's, with uninspiring liberal Democrats getting smashed by Nixon, Reagen, and Bush (Carter gets a post-Watergate exception). Rather then try and recapture the centre, the Republicans, like the true-believing Reform Party of the 90's, will proudly remain outside the mainstream. This process will be helped as the Republican Party looks to be reduced to a socially conservative Southern and Prairie rump, with incumbent moderates in now-friendly Democratic areas like New Hampshire and Oregon (Maine's locally very popular and moderate Susan Collins will buck this trend, and Minnesota's Norm Coleman should hang on thanks to a strong third-party candidate, however) and Democrats making gains in at all levels of voting in newly purple states such as Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico, etc. The lack of moderates within the party will further push the party away from the centre and the new mentality of the swing states. The GOP will suffer internal struggles as the remaining moderates in the party are pushed out by the remaining true-believer conservatives, damaging attempts to re-build and re-new in the short term.

What Liberals can learn: As much as Liberals obviously will be rooting for Obama, the sad fact is that right now, we resemble the Republican Party in too many ways. Like this election will do to the Republicans, the last election reduced us largely to our strongholds of the Maritimes (although suffering slightly there) and urban and suburban areas in Ontario (again, even taking some losses) with a lone bright spot being a mini-revival in Quebec, including a psychologically important second seat off the island of Montreal. Additionally, Liberals do not need any more internal personality or policy splits, regardless of who emerges as the Leader. What we as Liberals must not allow is for us to go through a "Reformization", focusing only on concerns, issues, and polices that appeal to a base that is no longer large enough to win an election solely on its own. Lots of Liberals have talked about building on Howard Dean's 50-state strategy, and how Liberals must focus on every election, in every riding, to build a nation-wide base. What many of the people who would copy Dean's rhetoric and planning is why many internal Democrats opposed the plan. They feared that Dean was the product of the leftist activist part of the party, and that the 50-state strategy would attempt to shove New England liberalism down the throats of every congressional district in the country, which would only further hurt the party (Here we have shades of Democrats worried that Dean represented a "Reform Partyization" by dragging the party to the left). However, rather then simply export New England liberalism across the country, Dean tailored the Democrats as a national party that would listen to local concerns, and would run candidates reflective of local concerns and politics. If this meant running more moderate candidates in moderate areas, then so be it, a Democratic victory is a Democratic victory. Efforts to renew and rebuild the party around the lines of the 50-state strategy must realize this, that in order to win in places we have either traditionally lost, or win back areas which are traditionally ours, be must expand the Liberal values and big-tent to fit local concerns, rather then export GTA liberalism to places like rural and northern Ontario, where we got hammered this election. The bright spot of Quebec, and the skill of the Quebec team in the last election serves as an example of this, as they ran a campaign focused on local issues, and were able to take advantage of the Conservative drop in the province to establish ourselves back in many parts of the provinces as the federalist alternative (arguably more important then winning seats in Quebec in terms of long-term rebuilding of the national party is that we had more second place finishes to the Bloc then the Conservatives did across the province) particularly as I have read many blogs the past few days suggesting that the LPCQ is either being too nationalist, or is making too many policy demands, etc. While I do not want to diminish the concerns of these bloggers about the need for coherent national policy across all provinces, rather then be overly critical of hard-working Liberals, I suggest we examine the LPCQ campaign this election to see the things they did right, and learn from the lessons of localism.

The concept of "renewal" is not merely one of energizing and re-building local associations, it is one of having the right policies and ideas to get the Liberal Party firmly back in the middle of the Canadian spectrum, having a strong "progressive" centrist answer to the big questions of today. I put progressive in quotation marks because I believe as Liberals that we need to re-define our own use and meaning of the word. "Progressive" in the past few years has too easily become just another way to use the words "centre-left", and the inability of the Liberals to define progressivism, rather having progressivism define us, is a big problem. Progressive public policy and politics to me, is not simply a way of saying "leftist" without saying left-wing. To me, any policy that looks to moving society forward, advancing towards tomorrow with new ideas, is progressive. It should not be associated with any particular wing of political ideology. Under my definition, for example, I would not hesitate to ideas associated with the right-wing such as Thatcherism and the Common Sense Revolution. These ideas are progressive because they were rooted in looking towards the future and finding new solutions, rather then simply re-using old ideas for new times. In this regard, I would define both the NDP and Conservatives currently as unprogressive, as the NDP continues banging the same drum on economic policy (while admittedly being ahead of the curve on some social issues, such as gay marriage) it has for 70 years. Under Jack Layton, the parties bad habits of declaring itself the "holier then thou, above Liberal-Tory mudslinging, social heart" of Canadian politics while at the same time having no problem voting down Liberal minorities which promoted NDP friendly policies on child-care and aboriginal affairs and standing arm in arm with the Conservatives attacking forward-looking Liberal policies like the Green Shift. For the Conservatives, Harper's view of the role of public policy doesn't go beyond ways he can use it to re-create the Mulroney coalition and re-cycle old Liberal and PC ideas to an effort to be moderate (at least until he gets a majority), while offering little in the way of forward-style thinking that could be deemed "progressive" under my definitions. We must not be merely a "progressive party" in the old style mode, Canada already has 3 of those more then eager to steal our votes, be must be a new-school party of the progressive centre, offering new ideas and policies, with an ear for local concerns and politics. Renewal must take place from this main plank of new progressive centrism, and be unafraid to examine ideas and policies we have previously rejected as being not "progressive" enough. To restate what I said earlier, if the Liberal Party has any hope to rebuild and renew in a real way, we must take bold steps to define our progressivism, rather then let progressivism define us.

Friday, October 31, 2008

What the Party (and Liblogs) do and don't need.

My last idea-centric blog post got some positive attention, and maybe got some people thinking of ways we can "re-discover" liberalism and build up again. However, a quick look at Liblogs today shows that we are in danger of falling into bad habits, slandering each other, thinking plots are behind every corner, and acting overly defensive. I don't want to bog myself down in the same things I have just criticized, but I do feel the need to say that as someone who volunteered for Adam Miron for the past several months, I know he is as dedicated and committed to the Liberal Party as anyone who you will ever find, and who has done/did an excellent job both pre and during the election in ensuring that the Young Liberals, and particularly our online vector, were prepared, ready, and active during the writ period.

Now, on to more substantive ideas for renewal and invigoration of the party:

-Don't ghettoize women's issues. I am very proud of the Liberal Party that in the last election we ran the most female candidates of any party, exceeding the quota of 1/3rd that Mr. Dion had set out, and we elected strong female candidates like Bonnie Crombie. However, overall, this election was a failure in terms of reaching out to female voters. As Harper noted (correctly, sadly) during the election, "We no longer have a female problem, the Liberals have a male problem." The Conservatives elected a number of new female candidates, have lots of women in cabinet, and made gains with women despite only running 20% female candidates, attacking women's funding, etc, while the Liberals made great efforts to promote and present female candidates and women's issues, including the Pink Book. These results I think bust a few myths about winning the female vote. One of them was that the centre and centre/left can take the women's vote for granted. I think after we rolled out things like the Pink Book, going over the quota, the gender equity etc, we assumed we would maintain our advantage with female voters. During the election, other then a couple of times when we "highlighted" female candidates, we never really focused on women's issues, and never gave female voters a strong message to vote Liberal other then "Hey, we are running lots of women and have a 2 year old policy document! Vote for us!" Tied into this approach was our attacks on the Conservatives for attacking Status of Women and closing regional offices. Rather then tie it into an overarching theme as to how Conservative ideology damages the advancement of women as individuals, which in turn damages our society and our economy, we tried to turn into into the "scandal of the day" approach, like we did with ever issue we thought we could nail the Conservatives on, which in hindsight broadly failed. The Conservatives, while offering a weak platform, that while not going into specifics, was broad and generally pushed themes like security, while attacking the Liberals as dangerous. While this attempt may not have directly focused on women (although the kitchen ad released near the end of the election was definitely targeted at them) but the gains the Conservatives made over the last weekend of the campaign reflected overall growth across demographic lines. I think this speaks to the need for broad platforming and messaging, particularly as we re-build from the centre. We need to learn how to send a message to Canadians that cuts across demographic lines, rather then tailoring policies or issuing demographic specific documents that speaks to Canadians as individuals. Obviously women do bring different skills and perspectives to the table, and they need to play a big role in crafting party policy, but we cannot ghettoize the important policy inputs and perspectives they have. The exact same thing goes for multicultural groups as well, another important groups of individuals we can no longer take for granted.

-Don't abandon the environment. Many pundits are speculating that the party will move away from environmentalism in order to escape the shadow of Dion's defeat and the Green Shift. This is something we need to avoid. Certainly, we need to re-focus our message into one of individual based, market-driven Green Liberalism, rather then of a redistributionist environmental plan, but the environment and the economy of tomorrow are both pillars the Liberals must continue to tie together. The need to maintain active on this file is demonstrated by the recent moving of Jim Prentice into the Environmental portfolio by the Conservatives. Unlike the climate-change denialist Rona Ambrose, and the hyperpartisan John Baird, Prentice is not a man who is sent in to neutralize an issue, but to develop a moderate, pragmatic solution. If the Liberals back away from the issue, expect Prentice to deliver an actual Conservative plan for the environment, to fill any policy vaccum left by a Liberal retreat. We cannot allow the Conservatives to own any issue.

-Do fight the Conservatives on their own turf. A few months ago, I was talking to a high-profile Liberal who is identified as being on the left of the party, and I asked him/her about any potential danger our new Green Shift could be painted as a tax grab, and that by focusing on the environmental aspects of the plan, the tax cut aspects would be overshadowed, and they answered that we weren't going to really attempt to fight the Conservatives on the tax issue, that we wouldn't do things like match or go beyond tax cuts promised by the Conservatives. As it turned out, that the Conservatives did, in fact attack the Green Shift as a tax grab, and that the tax cutting elements of the plan were, in fact overshadowed, while the Conservatives won an economy focused election. With all due respect to this Liberal, who does bring many good and new ideas to the party, and who was talking about renewal before it was a fad, we must refuse to cede an inch of ground to the Conservatives on issues like tax cuts and the economy, even if these are traditionally seen as conservative friendly issues. If we do not define ourselves as a party which has, and will in the future, be able to deliver balanced budgets, and more money in individuals pockets, then we allow the Conservatives to paint us as just another centre-left party, indistinguishable from the NDP or Greens, and not the effective economic managers we are. In terms of using this to link economic and social policy, I quote Frank McKenna; "The best social program is a job."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What the Liberal Party should and shouldn't do


This article by a vet of the "unite the right" outlines some of the steps that would have to happen for the Liberals/Greens/NDP to unite as one progressive party. Near the end of the article, the author says the united right hopes that any calls to unite the left will not be as successful for the hypothetical party as the Conservatives have been so far. While Conservatives say that a united progressive party would be a serious threat, the reality is that a united centre-left party would be the key to making the Conservatives the new natural governing party of Canada.

The Liberal brand is a centrist brand, and the party fails, at different levels of government, when it strays too far from the centre, or is unable to capture the centre. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, for example, the provincial Liberals have struggled in recent years, due in large party to being shut out of the centre, thanks to a centrist NDP in both provinces (funny how NDP parties that actually get into power regularly have a bad habit of doing things like being responsible and being pragmatic, while the permanent opposition federal NDP blasts the Liberals for being "unprincipled") and particularly in Saskatchewan, where the Liberals have been shut out for 2 elections in a row as Brad Wall brought the Sask. Party into the middle. In Ontario, the provincial Liberals struggled for decades as the Red Tory machine that was the Ontario PC's dominated the centre, often times being more centrist then the rural based, prohibitionist Liberals, who have only found long-termish success under McGuinty by ensuring the centre does not slip from them. Federally, Liberals have failed when we have not been successful in upholding the centrist mantle, such as when Diefenbaker was able to break the decades long electoral hold of the Liberals by running on a Red Tory, spending platform, under Turner, who despite being a centrist leader was unable to shake off the leftist Trudeau shadow, the defeat of the similarly centrist Paul Martin who focused on social programs while in power in an attempt to target the NDP, and the last election, as we were unable to break past the image the Conservatives painted of Dion as a leftist. The Liberal base and coalition contains centre-right as well as centre-left parts, and a significant part of the base on the centre-right (myself included) would not hesitate to break away from a united left party to go to the Conservatives, and would be unable to win back swing areas like semi-rural and suburban ridings where the Conservatives have established themself, which would further cement efforts by them to build themselves as the new party of the centre. The Liberal brand, while definitely needing some re-building and re-imagining, still has strength, and this strength is in the centre.

Some have argued that the centre is dead, that Liberal values of pragmatism and gradualism cannot be sold in the era of 24 hour news cycles and spin, in which grand bombast and iron-fisted leadership are seen as positives. Others say that from a fundraising perspective, the Liberals need to drift to the left, in order to gain the support of leftist ideologues, as the centre is not a good position in which to draw donations. While both of these points of view do have some validity, the Liberals don't need to abandon the centre, we need to re-invent the centre in order to be a functional national party. An interesting article in the Globe and Mail the other day compared the policies and voter profile of every party inside and outside of Quebec, and the Liberals were the only party to have any real policy continuity nation-wide. This is a strong fact which which to re-build our centrist party. While the Conservative alliance between nationalist francophones, francophobic Reformers of the west, the Ontario mix of rural social conservatives and more pragmatic suburban centrists, and traditional Maritime conservatism has inherent instabilities that could prevent it from becoming the new natural party of government, and the NDP remains a protest party everywhere, the Liberal centrist coalition, when it is functional, is one of a national scope, but taking local and regional concerns into consideration.

Some new ideas and policies are needed to reinvigorate the Liberal brand as one of solid, reliable centrism, and here are some suggestions:

-Broad support for free trade agreements and real free trade, to capitalize on Canada's advantage as a trading nation, while making us a leader of the Western world in lobbying other developed nations to lower their own tariffs (including our own) to make free trade more effective and fair.
-New federalism. The Conservatives talk a lot about "open federalism", supposedly a landmark change in the way federal-provincial relations are done. In practice, however, it has done little but throw money at whatever province is politically convenient to throw money at, attack whatever province is politically convenient to attack, and overall make no actual changes to administrative frameworks. A Liberal policy of "co-operative" federalism is needed, with provinces and the federal government, on both a one on one and group basis, sitting down, and having landmark discussions like the one Martin had with the premiers over health care, and figuring out the most effective framework for service delivery to citizens. Other aspects of co-operative federalism would be the federal government encouraging provinces to remove barriers to inter-provincial trade and labour agreements, giving all provinces at least a voice in important federal appointments, and ensuring that broad agreement is existent between all provinces in the case of future potential constitutional changes.
-A re-discovery of the individual. Conservatives often claim that they have inherited the mantle of classical liberalism, that both big L and small l liberalism have been overly influenced by collectivist ideas, and that conservatism offers the only place for individualist voters. Often times, we have allowed these claims to go unchallenged, but it is time to stand up as Liberals and claim back the ideas of great liberal individualists like Adam Smith, and re-finding the balance with social liberalism great contributions. Concrete ways this could be done would be the addition of private property rights to the Charter, and making changes in tax law to encourage individual saving and responsibility
-On a related note, building up the ideas of Green Liberalism, and that the free market, with some appropriate government interventions, is the best tool to fight climate change. Measures individuals are taking to make themselves more environmentally aware, such as buying hybrid cars, retrofitting homes, etc, should be rewarded with increased tax credits. Additionally, corporate tax cuts could be tied into how environmentally friendly a business is.

These are just some basic ideas and proposals by a Young Liberal, but I hope the ideas of re-building our broad national base from the centre becomes an overriding theme of the upcoming leadership and renewal period.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mississauga Erindale Speculation

With Bob Dechert becoming the first elected federal Conservative in Mississauga in 20 years, his insider status, (a party insider, former National Director of the Canadian Alliance, representing the Alliance during merger talks, and given the green-light for a third run, unlike Phil Green) and his economics background, more then a couple sources have suggested his name in a re-vamped Tory cabinet, potentially as high as International Trade. So lets get some speculation done, and the plus-minus on Dechert getting into cabinet, and his possible role:

-First elected Conservative in Mississauga in 2 decades, if the Tories want to get a majority, they will need to hold on Mississauga Erindale, and pick up other seats in the Peel Region they consider marginal, like Mississauga South and Brampton West. A Peel cabinet Minister would help in this regard.
-Dechert won by the narrowest of margins, a cabinet spot would help bulk up his chances at re-election.
-Dechert is a party loyalist, given that some have speculated Harper might pull a Bill Davis, Dechert would be supportive of the leader, be it Harper or another.
-His economic background and international experience would be a good fit for International Trade or Industry or at the very least, Parl. Sec. or Sec. State to them. (although it seems Jim Prentice is probably going to stay on in that role)

-The biggest minus against Dechert being given a full portfolio is Lisa Raitt, newly elected MP for Halton. Raitt is a relatively high profile woman with urban experience representing a GTA riding; exactly what the Conservatives needed, and a good potential regional minister for the GTA West. Raitt should be a given for any new cabinet, and given that Halton and Mississauga-Erindale border each other, having both in cabinet might throw off regional balance somewhere else.
-Another gender based minus is that the open portfolio Dechert might be best suited for, International Trade, has had lots of rumours flying around lately that Harper wants to place a woman in it, with the most suggested names being Raitt and Alice Wong (who has the added bonus of being from urban BC and ethnic)
-Ontario balance. Of the current Ontario ministers, Tony Clement and John Baird are very likely to stay on in cabinet, although perhaps in different roles. Jim Flaherty in Finance is a bet to stay in his powerful position, Peter van Loan might get shuffled out of House Leader, but will probably stay in Cabinet, while Diane Finley will probably stay (albeit in perhaps a reduced role) thanks to her husband. The only Ontario cabinet ministers who might get moved around are Rob Nicholson in Justice, after the poor reaction to the Tory crime plan in Quebec, and Bev Oda, likely to be replaced by Alice Wong as Harper attempt at tokenism. Add Lisa Raitt to the mix, and you dont have a whole lot of wiggle room for Dechert.

My prediction: Dechert gets either Parliamentary Secretary to whoever the Minister of International Trade ends up being, or a Sec. of State appointment for an economic related portfolio.

Now of course, with an election possibly only another 2 years away, the question has to be asked, who will run for the Liberals against Dechert? Some possibilities:

Omar Alghabra
I think Omar making another run for it might be the most likely, assuming he wants it again. Omar was criticized by some however for spending not enough time in the riding, which might make it difficult to knock off an incumbent, particularly one which might get a cabinet post that will have him...out of the riding a lot. He already has the infrastructure in place, however, he might face a wild card or too.

Harinder Takhar
Takhar, however, I dont see as being one of those. I cant see him giving up a cabinet post to fight for what would probably be a tough nomination (if history is any guide) and a tough fight to even get elected. If he is maybe shuffled out of cabinet in the future he might think about it, but I cant see Takhar jumping from provincial to federal, although some jumping from one level to another is definitely possible for some others.

Steve Mahoney/Katie Mahoney
This is where things start to get interesting. Steve is the former MP for the area, and has remained in the public eye as Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, while his wife Katie is a city councillor for a Ward which is part of the riding. Either one would be very credible candidates. The interesting part is that both have had speculation about runs for mayor of Mississauga at some point, and both would be credible candidates in that as well. The question is, if they did want to run for mayor, when? Hazel will be mayor for exactly as long as she wants, and more then a few people have suggested it is unlikely she would ever resign voluntarily, and her dying in office is a very real possibility. If a special election happens before the next federal election, be sure to see one of these two running municipally, if not, having one of them seek the federal nod would not be surprising at all. However, the the Mahoneys could be further motivated to seek whatever course of action by the ultimate wildcard:

Carolyn Parrish
She beat Dechert once, in 2004, remains fairly popular locally (as given her election to City Council) and has a good network within the City. Parrish wants to be mayor, and would run in a second if given the option, so even if no one else volunteers for Mississauga Erindale, I can see her staying out and focusing on municipal politics. The Mahoney-Parrish dynamics come into play here, as while a Mahoney is almost certain to run for mayor, they might not run for the federal nomination. Parrish could probably get the nomination if she wanted, the question is, what does she want?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Young Liberals and New Liberalism

A National Post article a few days after the election brought up the important fact that two of the Liberal Party's most attention grabbing policies, decriminalization of marijuana and gay marriage, came not from internal pollsters, backroom boys, or the caucus, but the Young Liberals.

As the party goes through a period of renewal and reflection, it is important for the Young Liberals, and for the party as a whole, to recognize the potential role and influence we can have as the party re-focuses. During the election, Young Liberals were the most solid volunteers and campaign workers the party had. Some of us dropped lit, some knocked on doors, some put up signs, some of us dressed up as kangaroos, some of us even managed campaigns or ran as candidates. No Young Liberal was ever a nameless "senior Liberal source" spreading discord, but we were out, working hard for the party. We will have 1/3rd of the delegates to the leadership convention, it is time for us to have 1/3rd of the power and show that we will be a united, progressive centre of power for change within the party, regardless of who we support in the leadership race. With this in mind, I present a few points that any leadership candidate who wants broad Young Liberal support should follow, and that Young Liberals themselves should remember:

1. Stress rebuilding over any other factor.
As many have said, regardless of questions of leadership, what the party really needs is re-building and re-focusing. In terms of turning "renewal" and "visions" from ideas into on the ground practices, the Young Liberals are very well equipped. The YLC is raising the most money for the party it ever has, which is critically important given that the party needs as much cash as possible right now, and needs to change fundamentally the way it raises money. Young Liberals can play a leadership role in terms of helping the party finances, and leadership candidates would be advised to acknowledge the role of youth in the party coffers.

2. Unity, Unity, Unity
Young Liberals should not be dragged into internal leadership debates. In the past, one reason we have no been as an effective force as we could have been is that we have reflected past divisions within the senior party. From a Young Liberal perspective, this is not something that helps. Regardless of who is the leader, the Young Liberals form the future of the party, and we need to realize the power and influence we can have for the better, and work together at every point of the race, upholding our shared values and goals regardless of who we support.

3. The Young Liberal Policy Voice
As mentioned, the Young Liberals have given the party in recent years some of the better and attention grabbing ideas it has come forward with. If the party is to rediscover what it means to be a Liberal in this country, the Young Liberals must play a crucial role in this, and leadership candidates need to acknowledge that.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who is lying, Stephen Harper or Dean Del Mastro?

Harper has ducked and weaved around the abortion question as much as possible, much to the dismay of the theocratic wing of his party. He killed Ken Epp's anti-abortion by stealth private members bill, and said specifically that he would not support a bill to re-open the debate on abortion. Of course, as Harper has to accept that he is stuck with a thin minority or worse, that has to be taken with a grain of salt. It seems though, that Dean Del Mastro, Conservative MP for Peterbourgh, and a point man for the In and Out scandal, disagrees:


Between 1:15 and 1:20 is where we see what the Conservatives would do with a majority government, and why they cannot even be given the chance with another minority.

"The laws will change in this country, I believe that, God Bless you all"

So who is lying, Dean Del Mastro, or Stephen Harper? What is the true Conservative position on issues like abortion, equal marriage, and other social issues that they are radically out of touch with the Canadian mainstream on?

Progressive Government, or a handfull more seats?

The NDP is likely going to end up with more seats then they had going into this election, and while being a small victory for them, is not the breakthrough they had hoped. At most, they will gain a few swing seats and get up to their traditional ceiling of 20% of the vote. Not a bad result, but considering the hype Layton built up for himself, and the potential consequences of another Conservative government, not so great. Conservative Ministers like John Baird, Jim Flaherty, Peter MacKay, and Tony Clement all stand good chances of being re-elected with well under 50% of the vote. Elizabeth May said it best:

"Life would be simpler if I acted like Layton and didn't care if Stephen Harper formed government again. Life would be simpler if I were a complete hypocrite like Jack Layton and pretended I cared about the climate when all of his strategy makes his own personal success more important than survival of the climate and decent climate policy."

The NDP is against the Conservatives, the Liberals want to replace the Conservatives. The NDP fought, in fairness, a good campaign, and will be rewarded with some seat gains, but they ultimately will be returned as the 4th party of Parliament, talking about the right issues, but unable to get much done on them. The Liberals want to move Canada forward, Jack Layton wants 5 more seats.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

YLC Vid: Harper in the Hot Seat


A great new YouTube vid by the Young Liberals of Canada, starring a couple good friends of mine from the Carleton Young Liberals. Spread the word!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tories lose riding association member in marginal riding


With any Liberal drop in BC seemingly have stopped, this is further good news for the Liberals on the left coast. Support in a tight riding like Fleetwood-Port Kells can be fluid, but this defection is no mere volunteer:

Gill, who holds several university degrees, said he joined the Conservative Party three years ago and became a member of a multicultural committee that passed along concerns of the local ethnic community to the party leadership.

That Gill was an active and loyal member for 3 years doesn't fit with the local Conservative spin on this one. Look for the Liberals to make a big play for this swing riding.

EDIT: http://communities.canada.com/shareit/blogs/thetrough/archive/2008/10/10/oh-surrey-what-can-t-you-do.aspx
Well this got more interesting. Turns out Gill was the Vice-President of the riding (so definitely not just some volunteer) and one reason he gave for his turn to the Liberals was "the disrespectful treatment" given to Dion in regards to the Conservatives shameful response to the CTV video. So the backlash begins, as predicted by several pundits.

Conservative victory bad for national unity

With the national polls showing that the Liberals are the clear alternative to the Conservatives, I think it is important to take a look at the province that at the start of the election was supposed to be the key to a Tory victory: Quebec.

The Conservatives invested heavily in being able to pick up seats in Quebec this election. Pundits lauded Harper's outmaneuvering of Dion and Duceppe, predicting a continual decline for the Liberals in the Quebec, and the Bloc being replaced by the Conservatives as the voice of francophone Quebecois. However, just as Kim Campbell discovered, the Conservative grand alliance is inherently unstable.

Harper, after having muzzled the theocratic and anti-bilingualism wing of his party in order to make gains in Ontario and Quebec, threw them a bone in the form of attacks on culture and draconian and backwards crime policies. These, however, went over extremely poorly in Quebec, allowing the Bloc Quebecois to get back in the game. A constant of all the polls recently has been the hemorrhaging of Conservative support in Quebec, with the BQ storming back and the Liberals making some gains from the 2006 results.

If these trends were to hold up, and the Conservatives were to form government, this would be terrible for national unity. The Conservatives are unlikely to pick up an additional seats, including those of star candidates and sure-fire would be cabinet ministers Micheal Fortier and Andre Bachand, and likely to lose marginal seats such as Louis-Hébert, Beauport – Limoilou, Charlesbourg – Haute-Saint-Charles, and even perhaps Pontiac, the seat of Lawrence Cannon, Harper's Quebec lieutenant. The Conservatives are going to be reduced to a handful of seats in the province, a terrible situation for a government to be in, considering the BQ's resurgence will require an adept federal government with strong Quebec members. The Tory rump in Quebec will consist of a couple faceless backbenchers, the disgraced Maxime Bernier, Josee Verner, the culture minister widely disliked in Quebec for the attacks on culture, Christian Paradis, the do-nothing Public Works Minister, and Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the Labour Minister most notable for flipping-flopping on wanting to re-open the Constitution and building up a local patronage network straight out of the Union Nationale days. For voters outside Quebec who are concerned with national unity, this motley crew is wildly insufficient to combat a swellinh Bloc tide largely created by the Conservatives.

The Liberal team in Quebec is going to grow, with very good chances for pick-ups in Papineau, Ahuntsic, Brossard – La Prairie and elsewhere, on top of strong, accomplished MP's and candidates such as Marc Garneau, Irwin Cotler, Denis Coderre, Marcel Proulx, Marlene Jennings, Lise Zarac and others. This is a strong, capable team, with many former and future Ministers who know how to run a government and take on the BQ. For voters outside Quebec who are frightened by a re-strengthed Bloc, and want to elected a strong national party with effective representation inside and outside Quebec, the only choice is Liberal.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jack Layton a Strong Leader indeed

Jack Layton talks about being a Strong Leader a lot, and of course, a big part of being a Strong Leader is to have a Strong Team. Jack says it best himself:

“Over the last five years, we’ve built a very impressive team of New Democrats.”
-Jack Layton-Sun Sept 8, 2008

“…since 2003, he has been building the strongest possible team”
-NDP website

and so on and so forth. Well, you can have a look at some of the strongest members of Jack's Team at http://www.jacksteam.net/.

The website features such Strong Candidates as the famous Tokin' Twosome of Dana Larsen and Kirk Tousaw, Internet sensation Andrew McKeever, and many others.

Jack himself demonstrated his Strong Leadership last night, by making the Strong move of skipping his own all-candidates debate that had been organized around his timetable. http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_27728.aspx After all, why should a Strong Leader concern himself with piddling matters like being accountable to his own constituents? The Conservatives, who have a Strong Leader of their own, have been skipping debates all over the place, and Jack is only too eager to follow the tactics of the Conservatives, particularly when the polls show them actually on the verge of defeat.

Isn't to re-assuring for the Conservatives that Jack is a Strong Leader with a Strong Team behind him ready to help them get re-elected?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Harper trades sweater-vest for life jacket as Tory support collapses

This isn't the election Stephen Harper planned. His plan were to steal John Howard/George W. Bush negative attack ads and wedge politics, run a personalized campaign around the loose concept of "leadership", and talk about how doing things his way - his laizzez faire, hands off, "we need steady leadership" way, all on the road to a majority government.

What a shame reality has a liberal bias. As the economy slumps as a result of the very same Bush-ian economic policies Harper has been inspired by, Harper's poll numbers has slumped dramatically, resulting in a horse-race for the last week of the campaign. Canadians are turning away from the Conservatives, and today's release of the Conservative platform, the "inaction reaction" is nothing more then a series of hail mary passes and policy reversals as Harper's numbers slide while Dion's and the Liberals numbers grow. With the race so close, progressive Canadians have a choice, they can vote against the Harper government by voting for a smaller party, which only assures the re-election of the Conservatives, or they can vote to replace the Conservatives by getting behind Dion and the Liberals.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bounce Back and Forth

Some of you may have seen this, but it really is the hottest new joint right now, so we are gonna keep playing it! Check out Bounce by Baba Brinkman, rapidly becoming the unofficial theme song of the campaign.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sexy Candidates

http://lasoubrette.webs.com/f_candidates.html and http://lasoubrette.webs.com/f_candidatsparti_fr.html

This project was done by a very good friend of mine, so I'm pimping it out a bit on her behalf. It also helps that the Liberals have the most candidates on the list. One of the candidates on the list even made note of it on his website (http://www.davidgregoire.ca/), so do my friend a favour and check it out.

Monday, September 29, 2008

NDP refuses to dump 9/11 conspiracy theorist candidate

The Liberals made the right decision in ditching a candidate recently who had made incorrect remarks regarding 9/11. It demonstrated the leadership of Dion, who didn't hesitate to get rid of a candidate who brought disgrace to the Liberal name, as well as re-enforcing the status of the Liberal Party as a party of the progressive mainstream.

Jack Layton's NDP, however, cannot say the same.

I've written a couple blog posts now about Bev Collins, and how shameful it is that the party of Tommy Douglas and Ed Broadbent has, under Jack Layton, become an entryist target for every non-mainstream leftist movement, from radical pot activists, to nudists, to 9/11 truthers. The failure of Jack Layton to remove Collins as an NDP candidate demonstrates the true hidden agenda of Jack Layton. As much as we Liberals attack the Conservatives for hiding a true, radical right message under the blue vest of Harper, we must also realize that the NDP has a just as radical, and just as frightening hidden agenda for Canada. Layton says of Collins:

""She has acknowledged that the attack was a terrorist attack, and she hasn't made any attacks against any particular group or element of our society," NDP Leader Jack Layton said in her defence. "I'm satisfied with that."

Interesting. Lets look at this pamphlet from the Canadian Action Party issued while Collins was party president:

Do you believe we should be formulating domestic and foreign policy on the basis of the highly suspect US government story of 9/11 or should we demand a new and open investigation?

And: http://www.canadianactionparty.ca/_Library/Brochures/CAP_SEATWARMER_3_PANELS.pdf
(this one is great because it attacks Jack Layton as a supporter of the SPP and "NAU")

What are the differences between the mainstream parties? They have all accepted the completely unproven “official story” of 9/11 as a pretext for a sweeping attack on our civil liberties. They are all complicitly silent as bureaucratic, military and corporate players use the same 9/11 pretext to surrender the last shreds of our sovereignty to US military and corporate interests.

And from Collins pen itself:

While Bush and Cheney are trying to prevent impeachment proceedings against them, there are talks of terrorist attacks hitting America this summer from Michael Chertoff head of Homeland Security and Republican Rick Santorum,. Another false flag terror attack, to bring about this merging of Canada, US and Mexico?

This is pretty clear evidence that Collins did in fact, harbour vicious conspiratorial views, and at the very least, proclaimed a clearly unparliamentary attitude towards our ally and friend, the United States. The failure of Jack Layton to remove her speaks volumes about the radicalism in the NDP which has prospered under his leadership. Actions like these betray the illusion that the NDP is a contender for power, or anything more then a protest vote.

Friday, September 19, 2008

BC NDP candidates: Strong Leadership for 9/11 truthers, and radical marijuana activists

Another example of the fine candidate recruitment done by the NDP in BC:


Kirk Tousaw, Dana Larsen, and Bev Collins: The NDP's radical hidden agenda can run (pun intended), but in BC, it can't hide.

Hugh Arrison and Jim Flaherty don't get the job done.

So Jim Flaherty was in town last night for a fundraiser with his close supporter and policy follower, Hugh Arrison.

"This riding is, quite frankly, ripe for a Conservative Member of Parliament and the member-to-be is someone who has the business background, is the right candidate for the right riding at the right time."

Interesting that Jim talks about the importance of the riding to the party, not you know, the people of the riding to the government, but I guess Jim Flaherty lacks the political sense to say something less cold-sounding.

Flaherty also talked about the funds the Tories have set aside for infrastructure in the GTA, a not so subtle attempt to try and make Mississauga voters forget about the times he said not to invest in Ontario and rejected Hazel McCallion's advice on balancing budgets.

So Jim must be pretty proud of himself, n0? Go into a riding they think they can win, put on a dazzle, $250 a pop show for the crowd, and leave Mississauga with the wind at his back.

What a shame that reality has a liberal bias.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, vocal in her demands for a better deal for cities, said Dion's plan is just what she's been asking for.

"And it's not for potholes," said McCallion, taking a swipe at Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's statement that Ottawa isn't in the business of fixing city roads. "It's for transit and sewage treatment and bridges and hospitals and colleges and all sorts of important things."

You know all those hard-working, middle class Canadians the Conservatives keep trying to win over? A whole lot of them live in Mississauga, and a whole lot of them like a government that doesn't bash their home province and city.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jack Layton: Strong Leader for Families...and 9/11 truthers

The tossing of one NDP candidate overboard in BC has already been noted aplenty in blogs today, but I think the NDP still has some work to do, considering that in Cariboo-Prince George, the NDP is running a little lady by the name of Bev Collins. Collins is well known on the wing-nut community of Canada, having run for the National Party in 93, and then in 97, 00, and 04, for the even more wing-nutty Canadian Action Party, whose main platform seems to be a mish-mash of left-wing conspiracy theories, with a particular thirst for the SPP's evil plots, and that 9/11 was an inside job. But Collins wasn't simply just a candidate for the party, oh no, she was the President of the Party as recently as last year. Let's look at some of the fine policy positions endorsed by the party Ms. Collins was until recently the President of:

The justification for Canada's draconian anti terrorism laws is the official story of 9-11 - that the US was attacked by Islamic terrorists led by Osama Bin Laden. The problem with this justification is that the official story of what happened on 9-11 is physically impossible...

This is followed by a link to the hilariously discredited Loose Change documentary.

Collins herself says this about the SPP, and moves towards it:

While Bush and Cheney are trying to prevent impeachment proceedings against them, there are talks of terrorist attacks hitting America this summer from Michael Chertoff head of Homeland Security and Republican Rick Santorum,. Another false flag terror attack, to bring about this merging of Canada, US and Mexico? This is exactly what Robert Pastor said could be needed to bring this about.

Another false one eh? Wonder what the first false flag terror attack that Collins is referring to? Oh wait, it's plastered all over the CAP website.

An in a pamphlet issued while Collins was party president:

Do you believe we should be formulating domestic and foreign policy on the basis of the
highly suspect US government story of 9/11 or should we demand a new and open investigation?

And in another pamphlet during Collins presidency:

They (other parties) have all accepted the completely unproven “official story” of 9/11 as a pretext for a sweeping attack on our civil liberties. They are all complicitly silent as bureaucratic, military and corporate players use the same 9/11 pretext to surrender the last shreds of our sovereignty to US military and corporate interests.

Collins also has attacked HPV vaccinations as a conspiracy, just as a cherry on the top.

Collins candidacy for a major party, one that this election claims to be a serious contender for power, is an insult to the innocent people who died on 9/11, particularly the Canadian victims. Collins running for the NDP shows that the NDP is not, in fact, a serious party working for Canadians, but has a hidden agenda just as frightening and radical as anything the Conservatives could whip up. As long as Bev Collins is an endorsed NDP candidate, the NDP cannot claim to be a serious party.

Harper's Mississauga blitz


Harper has paid plenty of attention to Mississauga since the campaign started, which makes logical sense, as I and others have written before, the GTA suburbs, particularly the Western GTA suburbs, are an area the Conservatives will need to make gains in in order to win a majority. The last quote of the article is interesting:

"This is quite an impressive crowd," Harper said. "And they used to say there were no Conservatives in the GTA."

The suburbs of the GTA have plenty of conservatives, just not so many Conservatives. The provincial PC's used to dominate Mississauga, but lost power when small-c conservative voters switched to the provincial Liberals. The last provincial election was evidence of that, when the PC's failed to even be competitive in the former true-blue stronghold of Mississauga South, as Charles Sousa, who while being socially liberal, could uncontroversially be called a moderate fiscal conservative, held on to the small c-conservative vote.

Given that Harper has such a focus on Mississauga, lets take a look at each seat in the city. I'll try to keep my partisan bias a bit more in check then usual.

Mississauga South

The Tories most likely prospect for a pick-up in the city, and probably one of the top 10-15 targets for them in the country. Liberal support in the South is traditionally concentrated in "wings" of the riding (lakefront areas like Port Credit and Lakeview, and the areas near Winston Churchill along the city border with Oakville) as it has more younger families moving out of Toronto, and bringing small-l liberal social values with them, and a higher concentration of Liberal friendly ethnic communities. Tory support is located in the interior of the riding, in the more affluent and WASP'y areas like Lorne Park. For this reason, Mississauga South will be a bell weather in terms of the success of the Tories attempts to win ethnic votes across the country. Paul Szabo has the advantage of incumbency, relatively high visibility from chairing the Ethics Committee, and being a social conservative, which gives him a bit of a personal vote that might otherwise go Tory. I've written plenty about the Conservative candidate, the Flahertyite Hugh Arrison (4 of the top 10 entries for him on Google are blog posts by yours truly) who while not being the star candidate the party was clearly hoping for (HQ was clearly rooting for Ted Opitz, while I'm still convinced that their were failed efforts to recruit Effie Triantafilopoulos) Arrison is hoping that his made-in-Alberta conservative credentials will be enough to unite the fractured Mississauga South conservative movement behind him. The Green candidate Richard Laushway could potentially be a spoiler here for both major parties, with the potential to take votes from both, and a solid chance to finish ahead of the NDP in the riding.

Mississauga Erindale

Two time loser Bob Dechert is running for the Conservatives (his party insider status got him the green-light to go for a third run, unlike the South's Phil Green, whose environmental credentials scared HQ) against Omar Alghabra, who has held the riding against Dechert in 2006, when the Tories were slightly favoured (I believe democraticspace predicted his victory). Like Szabo, however, Alghabra has benefitted from an increased profile since the last election, acting as critic for immigration and citizenship in a riding where the Liberal base is largely ethnic. The Tories will be gunning hard for this one, having only lost by 5%, but Omar is a good MP with a strong local profile, so I don't expect the race to be as tight as last time.

Mississauga East—Cooksville

The Tories went to all the trouble of subverting the democratic process to appoint ex-Liberal Melissa Bhagat, at the cost of much of the riding association loyalists, in a riding that should stay safely Liberal. Former cabinet minister Albina Guarnieri hasn't faced a serious challenge since winning that riding in 1988, and even if the Tories hadn't pulled a Tim Peterson, Guarnieri would be able to on comfortably.


The Tories ran a decentish candidate in former MPP Raminder Gill in the last election, and could only muster 33% of the vote. Given the not exactly warm reception Mississauga South voters gave the floor-crossing Tim Peterson, combined with Liberal candidate Bonnie Crombie running a very active campaign, and Liberal HQ pouring resources into this riding, I don't expect Khan to be able to retain his special status as the only ethnic urban representative the Tories have east of Alberta.


A very heavily ethnic riding, the Tories would need not just a shift, but a landslide change in the voting habits of the people of this riding in order to even be competitive. Gurbax has a good local profile, and a good campaign team. A write off.

Mississauga—Brampton South

The safest Liberal seat in Peel, even if Navdeep Bains wasn't a good MP whose star is rising.

So broadly speaking, B-G-M, M-BS, and ME-C are probably off table for the Conservatives. Mississauga Streetsville might normally be competitive this time around for the Conservatives, but they won't win with a floor crosser, despite the resources they are pouring into it. This leaves Mississauga South and Mississauga Erindale as target seats for the Conservatives, although they face up-hill struggles in both, due to Arrison's links to the locally unpopular Jim Flaherty, and Omar Alghabra's increased local presence and profile.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Today, Jack Layton, Later, maybe progress, if we have time

Just watched a clip of the CTV coverage of the big NDP rally, and I thought the intro was good.

"The rally was supposed to be about an announcement on poverty, but that was pushed back to next week, as Jack Layton continues to talk about 'change'"

*insert clip of Layton talking about change here*

I think that pretty much sums up the modern NDP: All Jack and shamelessly lifted slogans all the time, actual progressive policy and ideas maybe later.

I just intercepted a Tory news release!

Tories pick up big endorsement

Canada’s new, strong, masculine, and ruggedly handsome government today picked up a critical endorsement today from a group who strongly endorses, and follows, Stephen Harper’s leadership practices: The Association of Canadian Bullies.

“We strongly believe in Stephen Harper’s leadership techniques and practices’, said Butch Gorowski, the president of the Association, ‘When we see him slash funding for things like the Court Challenges program, to ensure that minorities and the weak can’t protect themselves, that is something that really speaks to our values and priorities.”

Pollsters say that bullies and related groups like meatheads, and jerks, are crucial demographics to the Conservatives, given that the homophobic, sexist, and uncultured positions of these groups line up strongly with the Conservative platform.

A high-level Tory source smugly said that “With this endorsement, the Conservatives are clearly demonstrated to Canadians that we are reaching out to the ‘asshole’ constituent. While the Liberals under Stéphane Dion want to fund little fairy programs like the Court Challenges program, and fight climate change, we know hard working bullies just want to be left alone by the government and be allowed to pollute, keep their wives in the kitchen, and shove nerds in lockers.”

“When I look at him just attack that little nerd Dion, it reminds me of beating up smaller kids for lunch money, giving them swirlies, and then toping it off by pantsing them in front of the whole class,’ said Gorowski, ‘makes me so nostalgic, nearly brings a tear to my ey…” at this point he was jumped by other members of the ACB for showing actual human emotion.

The endorsement of the Association of Canadian Bullies comes after yesterday’s announcement that the United Polluters of Canada, the Canadian Federation against Culture, and the Canadian Association of Inequality.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tom King: "Liberals are the bad guys"

So I was watching a news report on the election in Guelph last night, seemed to touch all the normal bases; The riding is the Liberals to lose, the Conservatives are investing heavily in the riding but still face controversy over the Brent Barr incident, the rise of the Greens, etc. They had a short clip where Frank Valeriote expressed a fear of vote-splitting on the centre/centre-left, and that only the Liberals could combat Harper, they then cut to Tom King, the NDP candidate for a reaction, which was this (paraphrased)

"The Liberals use that line all the time, vote for us, only we can stop the bad guys, well, this time, the Liberals are the bad guys."

So let's review what Tom King and the NDP's message to progressive voters is:

The party of the Kelowna Accord are "bad guys".
The party of a national child care plan are "bad guys".
The party that made gay marriage a reality are "bad guys".
The party that is promoting the most effective and progressive vision of Canada's economy and environment are "bad guys".
The party that will restore the Court Challenges Program are "bad guys".

Meanwhile, what has the NDP, presumably the "good guys" done lately?

The "good guys" have standing arm in arm with the Conservatives in attacking the Green Shift.
The "good guys" sold out the accomplishments of the last Liberal government in exchange for 10 more seats and a Harper government.
The "good guys" are taking such radical, progressive, and boundary pushing positions as err, being against ATM fees and text message fees.
The "good guys" are standing firm with the Conservatives on keeping the Green Party out of the debate, despite 75% of NDP supporters being in favour of letting her in.

If Jack Layton is applying for the job of Prime Minister, he has left his progressive credentials at the door.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tories advertise for the Greens

We've all seen the new image on the Tory website, with Harper talking intently to a young man in a Tim Hortons. Why, this young man, who seems so earnest and clean cut, must be a Tory! Particularly, if he is on the Tory website. I mean, you wouldn't think the Conservatives would be so stupid as to put a non Conservative supporter on the front banner, do you?

Well, given the Conservatives' skill at handling things like the economy, th , it shouldn't be a surprise that the Liberal Bag can tell you that the "Coffee Man" is not, in fact a Conservative hack. He is, in fact, my good friend Chris, the President of the Carleton University Young Greens.

Chris was campaigning to get funding for a community project in Labrador. Harper happened to cross paths with him at a local Tim Hortons, bought him coffee, and listened to Chris about the project. Chris said that Harper listened to him, while the staffers took a bunch of pictures, and then Harper got out of Labrador, never to be seen again.

So there you go, The Harper Conservatives: Strong Leadership, weak fact checking.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Don't Invest In Hugh Arrison

Jim Flaherty, having just dodged a bullet with Mississauga native Buzz Hargrove saying he won't run for the Liberals against Flaherty, looks set to come to town just after the drop of the writ, to fundraise for Mississauga South Conservative candidate Hugh Arrison at the tune of $250 a pop. Flaherty endorsed Arrison as soon as he won the nomination, and according to Arrison, a meeting with Flaherty convinced him to stay in the nomination race back when party HQ was still waiting for a star candidate. Given that Flaherty has spent most of his time as Finance Minister attacking Ontario (and indeed, sometimes Mississauga) directly, I can't help but wonder what kind of rhetoric Arrison will use in his election, given that he is a Flaherty loyalist: "Vote for Me, and the Conservatives won't invest in Mississauga!" The voters of Mississauga South would be better off not investing in Hugh Arrison.