Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Tonight's Top 10!

The top 10 reasons Stephen Harper is grasping at straws to force an election down the throats of Canadians, that is:
10. Despite Harper's saying that an early election has doing to do with the by-elections on the 8th and 22nd, any election before then is in fact, simply because this round of by-elections is going to return crappy results for the Tories. In Guelph, internal polling is showing us with a comfortable lead over the Tories in a riding that should be low-hanging fruit for them, given it's semi-rural nature, and habit of voting for the government. However, Gloria Kovach's PMO managed campaign of fear has so far been ineffective, and in Saint Lambert, the Liberals are beating the Tories in terms of voter ID and momentum, given the poor reception things like arts cuts funding have had in Quebec, and while an upset over the BQ might still be wishful thinking, the Liberals have a good shot of retaining second place in the by-election, and the Conservatives are going to do anything to hide from the Canadian people that their status as the federalist party outside Montreal is in threat.
9. Following the Quebec theme, the release of Julie Couillard's book on the 14th of October, and while I doubt it will have anything we don't already know, it will inevitably bring the issue of Maxime Bernier back into the headlines.
8. The use of extra-writ tactics like ad bombs, and the infamous 10%ers are having little to no effect (even a backlash) so the only way the Tories can continue the negative blitz on Dion is via an election.
7. The Conservatives, while still seen as having an advantage on economic issues, do have a fear of an economic downturn, particularly when the Conservative economic plan so far has consisted of having the Finance Minister say not to invest in the largest province in Confederation. (It is worth noting the seat of the Finance Minister is one of the ridings to be have hit particularly hard, and that Flaherty has a pretty small electoral cushion).
6. In response to constant and unprecedented attacks on a provincial government, Dalton McGuinty has said he will play an active role in the campaign, and given that McGuinty and the provincial Liberals are doubtlessly more popular, this is something that the federal Conservatives will try to neutralize by holding an election while QP is in session, limiting the time Dalton and other provincial Liberals can spend on the campaign trail.
5. The decision in the Elections Canada case is in all likelihood going to come down in the fall, and a decision in favour of EC during an election would cause obvious problems for the Conservatives.
4. Related, the Conservatives are getting dangerously close to contempt of Parliament in regards to their actions toward the Ethics Committee (great having an "accountable" and "open" government, isn't it?) and at this point, the Committee doesn't even have to make an actual findings, the existence of the Committee and it's investigative work is already a huge lost PR battle.
3. Against the wishes of the so-con grassroots of the party, the Tory leadership shelved Ken Epp's abortion bill, probably because passing it would remind swing voters how regressive the Conservatives are on social policy. With the Tory convention coming up, many pundits thought the Conservatives wouldn't go for an election until after the convention, so that they had some actual policy proposals to put forward during an election, instead of minor tweaks to taxes and crime law, and tons of negative attack ads. Given that an election in the fall would push the Tory convention back, was some of the policy being proposed at the Reform Party dominated grassroots level a little less then, how shall we say, presentable to the population as a whole?
2. Harper is afraid of an Obama victory in the US election, which would inspire the Liberals and give them some wind in the sails going into or during an election campaign.
and the number one reason Harper is breaking his word and forcing an election down our throats....
1. Stephane Dion has started to get some positive optics, momentum, and an issue he is comfortable to fight on, and Harper wants to go to the polls and save his own ass before Dion and the Liberals get any stronger.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back In Guelph

I spent basically the entire Friday-Sunday period being as Young Liberal as I could. Friday morning was spent volunteering at the Toronto-Danforth Green Shift event, which was pretty good, and then went down to Guelph, to work one last time in the summer for the Frank Valeriote campaign. Overall, it was an extremely successful weekend, the campaign managed to get 50 polls done. Talking to people at the door, the response was mostly positive, with most people who would vote ("Undecided" in a by-election usually means "I'm not gonna vote) saying they would vote for Frank, which means at the very least, we are maintaining the Liberal base in the riding. In terms of lawn signs, I would give Frank an edge over Gloria, but surprisingly, Mike Nagy of the Green Party had far more signs then Tom King of the NDP. While a Liberal victory of course is the main objective, the Greens beating the NDP into third would make a Liberal victory that much sweeter. Of course, given that Harper might just break his own laws and ram an election down Canadians throat, it might all be for not. Two headlines I've seen sum up Conservative hypocrisy: "Harper says Parliament is dysfunctional", and "Pollivere calls Ethics Committee 'irrelevant'."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Talkin' with Dion

Just this afternoon, myself and several other liberal bloggers (we are all hosted at www.liblogs.ca) from across the country had an interesting and interactive experience with Stephane Dion. Bloggers submitted questions before hand, and then Dion himself answered them on a conference call. Subjects discussed ranged from election strategy, to the upcoming by-elections, what the Liberals would do in government, and of course, the Green Shift. My personal question was:

"I come from the western suburbs of the GTA. Over the last few election cycles, it has voted Liberal, although the Conservatives historically have done well, and even as it has voted Liberal, a strong undercurrent of small c, fiscal conservatism has remained, and it is an area the Tories will need to win seats in if they want a majority. My question is that do you feel that with the Green Shift, a risk exists of the tax break aspects of the plan, which would appeal to these voters, being overshadowed by the carbon tax idea and the environmental measures of the plan, which small c-conservative suburban voters are more wary of."

Mr. Dion saw the question as basically if the Conservatives propaganda regarding the Green Shift will work or not; if the alarmism and negativity of the Tories work, the plan will fail, but if the Liberals stay on message, and stay positive, they will win. I found this an interesting piece of metathink by Dion. I only thought about it in the sense of worrying that the party itself was presenting the plan with too little emphasis on the tax breaks associated with it, not about WHY the tax break elements could be overlooked. When I asked Gerard Kennedy (check my earlier post, I blogged about it) basically the same question, Kennedy gave me the answer that on tax issues, and more broadly, on economic issues, the Liberals couldn't match the Conservatives, as an election about the economy would both play to the perceived strength of the Conservatives, and that the Liberals would be unwilling to make dramatic (and economically damaging) tax cuts. Kennedy's answer kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, as it seemed that the Liberals would be giving up the economy file during the election. I appreciated Dion's answer of having the Green Shift at the centre of the Liberal platform, while staying on message and ensuring the election is fought over the environment so that Tory attacks on the economy and "leadership" are ineffective. Overall, I think the conference call was a great success, and look forward to participating in more to come.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hugh Arrison doesn't know his riding very well

This is Hugh Arrison's website. Hugh Arrison is the Conservative candidate for Mississauga South, whenever the next election is. (Probably fall or next spring) As a guy who wants to be a local representative, you would think he would know his riding inside and out, right? Well, take a look at the top left corner of the site. Hugh's grinning mug, and "In Mississauga South" superimposed over that classic, Mississauga South landmark, the one that everyone thinks of when one thinks of Mississauga's lakefront....City Hall? Er, something is amiss, particularly when City Hall is put in place next to "In Mississauga South". Lets review a few basics: The boundaries of Mississauga South are from the Etobicoke Creek to Winston Churchill going east-west, and from the waterfront to the Queensway north-south. City Hall is...significantly north of that. Mississauga City Hall is at 300 City Centre Drive, postal code L5B 3C1, and a quick trip to the Elections Canada website reveals that City Hall is not, in fact "In Mississauga South", but rather Mississauga East--Cooksville. (Of course, this could just be Elections Canada's famous anti-Conservative bias at work) It's not even on the border, it is right smack inside Mississauga East-Cooksville. Given that Arrison largely won the Tory nod based on the outsider status of his main rival, the Etobicoke based Ted Opitz, one would think that he would maybe want to highlight his knowledge of the local geography. Also gotta love the note that Arrison has while his website is still being developed, saying that if elected, he will be an (caps his, not mine) EFFECTIVE VOICE in Ottawa. Something tells me that Arrison's version of being an "effective voice" isn't much different from the current Conservative voices incumbent Liberal MP Paul Szabo is hearing, which boil down to "Point of Order!". He also makes a shout out to Lakeview re-development plans, which is funny given that that area is a provincial jurisdiction, and the provincial Liberal government, led by the Conservative dubbed "Small Man of Confederation" has made the real progress on the site. The last line though, is of note, saying that it is "time to return Mississauga South to its Conservative roots". Given the draaaaawn out and hostile Tory nomination process (because we all know how well things go for the Mississauga South Conservatives when they have internal feuding and nomination strife) Szabo's increased profile with his Ethics committee chairmanship, the slump of Tory numbers in Ontario generally since the last election, something tells me the glory days of Don Blenkarn and Douglas Kennedy are not due for a sudden comeback on the coattails of the Alberta imported Arrison.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ontario helps farmers move forward on the environment


Since going from the suburban GTA to Eastern Ontario for school, I have picked up more of an appreciation for the needs and wants of rural Ontario, and particularly, farmers, who often serve as the lifeblood of rural communities. In terms of climate change, rural Ontario and farmers have been (somewhat justifyingly) split on how to best deal with the issue. While naturally as farmers, they have a close connection, both personally and economically with the earth, they have often been wary of certain environmental legislation and programs, fearful that well the legislation/programs may be well-intentioned, they are not designed with rural conditions in mind.

This is why these 3 carbon offset programs, designed to help farmers both join the fight against climate change, and make farmers more profit from bringing them into the green-collar economy is a very positive step forward. While obviously these programs are just in the testing stages, it is refreshing to see an environmental program directly take into account the experience, needs, and wants of farmers and rural Ontario, particularly as the federal government continues its retreat of responsibility for action on climate change.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Life after Hazel, and wrapping up Montreal


Interesting piece in the Globe about Mississauga municipal politics after Hazel is not longer mayor. I think Carolyn Parrish, the former controversial Liberal MP and current city councillor, hits the nail on the head when she says:

"No one of substance will run against Hazel McCallion. She is just too revered in this city."

Hazel's level of being revered can be debated, but it is certainly true that no big-name figure will risk embarrassing themselves running against Hazel. The article names all of the currently discussed contenders for the job, Parrish herself being the consensus front-runner, but other names include city councillor Katie Mahoney, her husband, Steve Mahoney, councillors and Hazel loyalists Pat Saito and Maja Prentice, and a non political challenger. This brings us to some interesting scenarios. A rematch of the 2004 Mississauga-Erindale Liberal nomination between Parrish and Steve Mahoney would probably be the most hard fought of any potential campaigns, as Parrish and Mahoney have plenty of bad blood between each other, and the feud they formed from the nomination shows no signs of having been cooled. Although it is generally thought that Parrish would be able to get most of the support of the Mississauga Liberal machine, Mahoney would probably be able to get the support of a significant chunk of it, as well as become a standard bearer for any "Anyone but Parrish" movement. A second scenario is that of a more openly Conservative aligned candidate running, and attempting to come up the middle and take advantage of a potentially split Liberal vote. Of course, a Conservative challenger could also take votes away from Mahoney, spliting the anti-Parrish vote and assuring victory for her. A third possibility is an election with many various councillors running, perhaps up to 4. I think Parrish would also have an advantage here, with her superior name recognition and political machine able to pull votes in areas that might otherwise vote for the local council member. If you are noticing a theme here, it is that Parrish is the favourite in all the scenarios I've listed, which I think is accurate. Parrish (for now) is the only possible candidate with real city wide name recognition, a powerful political machine, and regardless of what you personally think of her, to not recognize her as the favourite is ignorance.

I liked all the various comments on my last couple of blog posts telling me that the great hand of the Liberal Party had come and smacked down on a lowly blogger. In a stunning development, the natural governing party of Canada has bigger fish to fry then concerning itself with an errant youth. Here's what happened: Concerned about the impact of my blog on a campaign I wanted to win and help out, I went down to W-VM office the next day, and had a good long chat with the campaign manager. He apologized for the way I had been turned away, and that that had been a mistake on the part of a volunteer who didn't know what proper procedure was for dealing with would be volunteers, and that he had used my blog post as a tool to get his team more motivated and focused, and I apologized for not going through proper channels to voice my concerns. I pulled the original blog post and posted a new one, and I then spent the rest of the day doing what I wanted to do from the start: helping out Marc Garneau's campaign. I made phone calls for a few hours, then went out canvassing with Marc himself to ID some voters, the result of which was a couple dozen Liberal or likely Liberals ID'd, a hand full of BQ supporters, and zero NDP or Tory supporters. So after all the false drama that was attempted to be whipped up by rabble.ca and such, the end result? A happy local campaign, a happy party, a happy volunteer, and Liberal voters being ID'd.