Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank you Conservatives, for weakening Canada's international moral authority

I was happy when I read this: I'm glad that Canada's government is playing a role in trying to resolve the situation in Zimbabwe, and putting harsh criticism on the electoral process in that nation. After all, a democratic nation like Canada has enough faith, trust, and security in it's democratic process to ensure it speaks with authority on the issue...

Oh, right. Well, that middle power authority was fun while it lasted.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Conservatives around the world

The UK Tories have "Vote Blue, Go Green", which includes green tax shifts as policy tools.

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks for a legacy, the Christian Democratic Union "declared that "sustainability" would be its "guiding light" and climate protection a "core goal"."

The French governing party, the Union for a Popular Movement, includes the Blue Ecologie faction, with one of it's leaders serving as Secretary of State for the Environment.

Even the Republicans, from which the Harperites draw so much inspiration, under John McCain are at least acknowledging the environment, and while they do reject much of the idea of a green tax shift, working towards a cap and trade system and acknowledging the programs of climate change are a significant step forward for a party still in large part dominated by climate denialists.

Evidently all these Conservatives worldwide have been tricked.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Inanimate Carbon Rod for Ontario NDP leader!

After making a soft endorsement of Ottawa Centre NDP MP Paul Dewar for ONDP leadership, I have since found this facebook group, which all Liberals should join:

In all seriousness, I was at the canvass/bbq in Toronto-Danforth today hosted by Andrew Lang, and after a good day of canvassing, the topic of the ONDP leadership came up. Once again, Di Novo was picked as both the likely frontrunner, and the NDP leader Liberals would most like to see. However, one name that was suggested, that I think wouldn't be surprising to enter the race, is Peggy Nash. Nash is looking down at the prospect of a likely thumping by Gerard Kennedy (outside of NDP numbers being either limp or dropping in the GTA, Nash's main campaign theme of poverty is neutralized by Kennedy, who also brings a popular local popularity) and has two attractive exit plans: She had make a run for ONDP leadership, or take over the leadership of CAW and try to bring it back into the NDP fold.
Either way, I still think Carbon Rod is the way to go.

The ONDP and Toronto

Since Hampton revealed he was quitting in 2009, the big narrative, and "expert opinion", is that the NDP needs to pick a leader from Toronto, to help win more seats in the GTA/Southern Ontario. While I am obviously not an NDP supporter, from a simple examination of the numbers, a Toronto leader would not solve a lot of the NDP's problems.

"Having a strong Toronto leader could give the NDP a big advantage, since McGuinty hails from Ottawa and Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory was shut out of a Toronto riding in the last election, he said.
"If they can just increase their appeal a little bit more, they can get started having some of those seats in metro Toronto and Oshawa and some other places start to fall into their lap,'' Jacek said."

Ok, it is obviously true that if NDP support in the GTA picked up a bit, they could win more seats. But lets look at the numbers: Other than the ones they held, obviously, in only 3 seats in the GTA, (Davenport, York South-Weston, and Oshawa) did the NDP come close to winning, and could realistically hope to win next election. So even if a Toronto leader could boost support, it would hardly mean a new avalanche of seats coming the NDP's way. Additionally, almost nothing the NDP could do, with or without a Toronto leader, would change the NDP from remaining a joke in the GTA West.

"They have the north pretty well solidified, and they've had Howard Hampton representing the north,'' he said.

Now this is simply not true. The NDP performs well up north, and Hampton being a regional star helps, but again, lets look at the numbers: While 3 additional GTA seats are up for grabs by the NDP, the North has 4 seats in which the NDP have a good shot in (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Timiskaming—Cochrane, Algoma—Manitoulin, and Thunder Bay—Superior North). So if the possibilities for growth in the North for the NDP are greater, why suddenly become Toronto-centric?

I've heard a few names tossed around as potential NDP leaders, so far with a definate Toronto centricness to them, most commonly Di Novo, Prue, Tabuns, with various NDP MP's from Toronto tossed in sometimes. While I am not going to endorse him, simply because I am not a Dipper, I would like to suggest that perhaps the MP for my riding when I am at school, Paul Dewar of Ottawa Centre, might be a good candidate. As foreign affairs critic, he has a decently high profile (as high as any of the other NDP MPP candidates save Di Novo have), has a good background for the NDP, and has not been a terrible MP. He could bridge the gap between the union/working class element of the party, and the urban activist element, as Ottawa Centre has a large white collar union population, (a population the NDP needs to get a stranglehold on) and as he has a background in the federal NDP, is completely removed from the Bob Rae image (particularly as his job as NDP foreign affairs critic requires competing with Rae, who holds the same critic's position.)

Obvious problems would be his lack of a seat, as Ottawa Centre is currently Liberal held provincially, but he could be parachuted into some other seat until the next election, and besides, parachuting is in his blood (His mother, Marion Dewar, was the Mayor of Ottawa, but was elected as an NDP MP in Hamilton Mountain). However, assuming he would want to run in Ottawa Centre in an election proper has a few problems, firstly being that the riding borders McGuinty's Ottawa South, and NDP's activists might be cool towards elected a leader who probably would be unable to win any other seats in the area, and secondly, as someone who worked on his campaign, Yasir Naqvi puts up a tough fight, and thirdly, Ontario Liberals know how to beat a non-incumbent party leader in his own riding.

Overall though, I think Dewar might be the best candidate for the job, so I guess this post can be seen as a lukewarm endorsement.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ireland Rejecting Lisbon Treaty?

In the only European nation to have a referendum on the treaty, early results have the no side ahead roughly 54-46. A rejection would likely wreck current the current round of implimentation. The Yes side has been criticized for running a poor campaign. More to follow.

EDIT: Irish Justice Minister Dermont Ahern says the No side has won:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hugh Arrison wins it

So Hugh Arrison, the financial consultant, won the Conservative nomination for Mississauga South. Given that Arrison won on the first ballot, it is likely Mississauga South Conservative spurned Ted Opitz, who faced concerns over his outsider image as he is actually from Etobicoke. So what does Arrison as a candidate mean? Well, he isn't a star candidate by any stretch, and Don Plett, when he spoke at the last AGM, openly stated the Tories were looking for one for this riding. I've speculated that the lack of one might further indicate that the Conservatives have moved Mississauga South down the target list. Arrison's first ballot victory (in a 3 horse race) would indicate that his team has at least decent organizational skills, and in a close race, could bring out the vote. Although the economy is always an important factor in any race, Arrison's background as a financial consultant and Szabo's as a chartered account as a finance man for many organizations should bring this to the forefront.
Now, how can the Liberals beat Arrison?
-Talk about (and bring to light more) Arrison's Alberta Conservative roots, (which include an endorsement from Peter Lougheed) and what this means for Ontario suburbs, highlighting the failures of the Alberta-centric Conservative Party towards the needs of the growing GTA suburbs, and how Arrison is an agent for a lack of progress in important local areas.
-Highlight the failures of the Conservatives and how they clash with Arrison's values during the nomination. On Arrison's website, he says:
"But mostly I believe in: ACCOUNTABILITY “Walk your Talk” And in continuing to reform our political institutions and processes to make them more open, democratic and accountable … to YOU."
A rundown of Conservative hypocrisy is enough to paint Arrison as more of the same double-talk that the Conservatives offer.
-Particularly compare the Conservative "accountability" that Arrison claims to represent with Szabo's chairmanship of the Ethics committee.
-While much of the rise in the Green vote in the GTA in the provincial election can be attributed to annoyed Conservatives and pro-secular schools activists, the rise of the environment in the suburbs cannot be ignored. Ridings like Mississauga South show the importance of why the tax shift must be argued, and argued well. If the shift can be sold as a pro-environment measure, with revenue neutrality, it can be a big hit amongst suburban voters, who do care about the environment, but ultimately will put the economy and pocketbooks first. If self doubt about the shift continues amongst Liberals, and real flesh is not put to the bones first, the Tories can jump on it, and tax resistive suburbanites will help make swing GTA ridings like Mississauga South, Oakville, and Mississauga Erindale go blue. These are the ridings the Liberals need to hold/win if they wish to form government.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Conservative website fun

While the dispute between Opitz and the other candidates over Opitz using re-directing web domain names similar to the other candidates back to his own website was settled, with Opitz no longer using the practice, (although he appears to be a hypocrite, with directing to his website, is the website of the EDA) it seems Opitz's rivals at least set-up a counter to this, as they at some point had the domain name registered go to an anti-Opitz text, which I've screencapped using the magic of cache:
If you have trouble reading, or the image messes up, the text states:

Ted Opitz is a nomination contestant for the Conservative Party of Canada in Mississauga South.
Ted bought domain names of other nomination contestants, and used them to direct traffic to his own web site.
Ted says:
"There's nothing illegal about it"
"It's not evil or nefarious"
"It's an electoral tactic."
"A wise candidate would secure all of the domain names that could be potentially used as web sites for their candidacies."
Ted forgot to buy

What is also interesting is that the very bottom provides a link to a blog post written by John Stewart about the tensions in the race, including the disputes around domain names. However, this post was written on the 22nd of May. A later post of Stewarts, on May 28th, says that Opitz has dropped the scheme. The website, while inactive as of now, was at the very least, still up until 1 Jun 2008 00:08:12 GMT, as demonstrated by the screencap. Careless negligence, or a deliberate attempt to try and continue hitting Opitz? Who knows.

Also of note, is that Phil Green (the previous Conservative candidate in 04 and 06, who was banned from running again, and has made no secret of his displeasure) has a title at the top of his (still fairly regularly updated) website, saying "I'll be back". Green is supporting Hugh Arrison for the nomination, and it will be interesting to see what role Green will play if Opitz, who has been attacked (most notably by Arrison's campaign manager) as being Tim Peterson Mark II, wins the nomination. Tim Peterson Mark I still got Effie Triantafilopoulos to vote for him, but many of her supporters and other Conservative die-hards either stayed home or protest voted Liberal/Green.

Just for kicks, here is Effie's (still active, hmm) website:
Lots of fun tidbits about Tim Peterson too!

Worrying Precident?

While obviously I am not going to defend a Neo-Nazi that much, I believe this action by the Manitoba government sets a bad precedent. The writing on the child was likely what pushed the authorities over the edge, and is quite understandable, (as well as concerns about drug and alcohol abuse) but I can't help but feel unease when I read this quote:

"The children may be at risk due to the parents' behaviour and associates. The parents might endanger the emotional well-being of the children."

I wonder if similar action would have been taken had the child had a hammer and sickle and "Workers of The World, Unite!" marked on them. I doubt if the child had an NDP logo and a Tommy Douglas quote written on them much notice would have been taken.

In short, what political ideologies does the State find it acceptable to raise a child, for the sake of the child's "emotional well being?" in? That this question needs answering at all should worry all those who are active in politics, from the left, to the right.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

In An Alternate Universe...

Montreal, Quebec, December 2nd, 2006:

The results flash across the screens to the sides of the main stage, with a final result: St├ęphane Dion 2,521 votes, 54.7%, Michael Ignatieff 2,084 votes, 45.3%. Before the convention co-chairs can even finish saying the results, roughly half the assembled crowd, clad in various degrees of green, go nuts, as cameras flash, fireworks go off, streamers fall, as the red and white clad section of the crowd politely but reservedly claps.

Eventually the crowd and the commotion settles down enough (although it is still very rowdy) enough for the formalities to start. The victorious Dion makes his way to the stage, and various high-level Liberals embrace each other. The most important embrace is supposed to be between the winner, Dion, and the runner up, Ignatieff. However, Ignatieff shuns any sort of significant embrace of Dion, other then a glancing handshake before storming to the microphone.

As the runner-up, Ignatieff is entitled to a concession speech, but the atmosphere is somewhat…off putting. Ignatieff starts to speak:

Thank you all so much. Thank you and thanks so much to Yukon and The North West Territories. Despite being small and overall insignificant to the delegate count and federal elections, on the Super Weekend, You had the last word in this, and it was worth the wait.

The crowd, and some of the assembled party elders on stage begin to look confused and mumbles and grumbles start to form.

I want to start tonight by congratulating Mr. Dion and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run. Mr. Dion has inspired so many Canadians to care about politics and empowered so many more to get involved, and our party and our democracy is stronger and more vibrant as a result. So, we are grateful, and it has been an honor to contest this race with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend. And tonight, I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize him and his supporters for all they have accomplished.

Now, eight months ago, you and I began a journey to make history and to remake Canada. And from the hills of Quebec to the mines and refiners of Newfoundland, from the fields of Saskatchewan, to the factories of Ontario, from the Plains to the frozen North, from the Bay of Fundy, to right here in the great city of Montreal, we saw thousands of Canadians registering to vote for the first time, raising money for the first time, knocking on doors, making calls, talking to their friends and neighbors, mothers and fathers lifting their little girls and their little boys on to their shoulders and whispering, "See, you can be anything you want to be."

And the people who drove for miles, who waved their handmade signs, who went to all the events that we held, who came to (the red and white clad elements of the crowd chant along the website name) and showed the tangible support that they felt in their hearts. And I am just enormously grateful, because in the millions of quiet moments, in thousands of places, you asked yourself a simple question: Who will be the strongest party leader and the strongest Prime Minister?

At this point hardcore elements of the red and white clad group begin to chant loudly “Mic-ale! Mic-ale!” and "Mic-ale, Michael, Michael, Michael, Mic-ale, Mic-ale!", as the green clad group, a majority of those assembled, start to talk angrily amongst themselves, while the party elders quickly walk to either the green or white and red clad section of the stage.

Who will be ready to take back 24 Sussex and take charge as Prime Minister and lead our country to better tomorrows? People in all 10 provinces, and the territories, all had a chance to make your voices heard and on Super Weekend, you came out in record numbers to cast your ballots. Over 2,000 of you cast your votes for our campaign, carrying the popular vote with more votes than any leadership candidate for the first two rounds of voting. Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week and ballot after ballot that any “Anybody but Iggy” movement was brewing, and that we were about to get caught off guard by a Dion-Kennedy Alliance, you came out and voted.

Open screams and angry chants are starting to brew, as well as shoves between the two groups. High-level Ignatieff surrogates and campaign chairs and co-chairs, such as David Peterson, Ruby Dhalla, and Denis Coderre, start talking to the assembled media, and circulating around the room, that Ignatieff is not conceding, claiming a lead in Super Weekend delegates and on the first 2 ballots, but that he is open to the Deputy Leadership. The hardcore Dionistas in the titular black t-shirts are screaming from their section of the crowd to refuse Ignatieff the Deputy Leadership.

You are the soft Quebec nationalist, you are the right of centre business Liberals, you are the Martin loyalists. You have voted because you wanted to take back 24 Sussex Drive, and because of you, we won together the big provinces which contain 206 ridings.

In all of the provinces you voted because you wanted a leader who will stand up for the deepest values of our party. A party that believes everyone should have a fair shot at the Canadian Dream. A party that cherishes every child, values every family, and counts every single vote. Although we voted down one member-one vote, but that’s besides the point.

The crowd at least agrees on this.

4,605 delegates voted on this ballot, from every province, red, blue, a slightly lighter shade of blue, and some pockets of orange , people of every age, faith, color and walk of life. And we have brought so many people into the Liberal Party and created enthusiasm among those we seek to serve. And I am committed to uniting our Party, so we move forward, stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White house this November.

Despite the talk of unity, hardcore Iggyheads start chanting “Vancouver, Vancouver, Vancouver”(the site of the next Liberal convention) and “Go Harper!”, while the Iggy spokespeople continue to both say they will accept the Deputy Leadership, but are not conceding are still claiming at least a partial victory and the right to not endorse Dion as leader until the next convention, while Dion supporters are growing increasingly angry at the establishment candidate they knocked off against the odds who is refusing to admit they lost.

So many people said this race was over five hours ago when Brison endorsed Rae, showing I had no momentum, but we had faith in each other and you ensured I stayed on the second ballot lead. And just to remind everyone, I won on paper at least, the most delegates from Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Now the question is, where do we go from here, and given how far we've come and where we need to go as a party, it's a question I don't take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight. But this has always been your campaign, so to the 2,000 people who voted for me and to our many other supporters out there of all ages, I want to hear from you. I hope you'll go to my website at (red and white crowd chants again) and share your thoughts with me and help in any way that you can.

In the coming days, I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way. And I especially want to thank all of the leadership of my campaign. Our honourary co-chairman, David Peterson, and everyone who worked so hard. And, of course, my family for their incredible love, support and work. And, finally, I want to thank all of the people who had the courage to share your stories with me out on the campaign trail.

Thank you all very much. God bless you and God bless Canada.

The Iggy surrogates continue to circle around, denying Iggy is conceding, and refusing to outright endorse Dion, while continuing to ask for the Deputy Leadership. Iggy leaves the stage to embrace his supporters, leaving the Dion supporters embittered and deeply considering not making Iggy the Deputy Leadership. Dion takes the microphone, as he starts his tenure as “presumptive leader”.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hazel fires another shot

Hazel, the Queen of Suburbia, and someone who has feuded with the federal government many times recently, has fired another shot at the Conservatives:

"Canada is missing the "vision that built the rail lines across this country," she said."As I travelled abroad a few weeks ago to Taiwan and Korea, they are investing billions of dollars in their infrastructure," she told the gathering here of municipal leaders from across Canada."The economic success of this great country is based on the status of infrastructure in our municipalities. That's where the action is. That's where companies come to operate their businesses," she said.The feisty mayor drew gales of laughter from the audience when she took a shot at remarks Flaherty reportedly once made about Ottawa not being in the "pothole business."He was suggesting municipal infrastructure isn't Ottawa's responsibility."I can think of some potholes that need fixing in Ottawa," she said, a slag at Harper's recent axing of his Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier."

It will be extremely interesting to watch how Conservative candidates in Mississauga react to anti-Hazel remarks made by the government, the Finance Minister in particular.