Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If Ontario can sue tobacco companies, can smokers sue Ontario's government?

smoking blond Pictures, Images and Photos

You may have seen the news today that the government of Ontario is planning to sue tobacco companies for $50 billion dollars in an effort to recoup the costs related to treating smokers. According to the lawsuit tobacco companies inflicted harm on the citizens of Ontario by disregarding public health through the promotion and sale of cigarettes.

Alrightee then, let me take a deep drag and think this one through.

The government of Ontario regulates and generates revenue from the sale of cigarettes, in effect making them a party to any wrongdoing, at least in this blogger's not always so humble opinion. In fact, in the above linked Globe and Mail article, a spokesman for Imperial Tobacco refers to the government of Ontario as a, "senior partner" given the billions generated in tax revenue over the years.

Sounds about right to me.

Politicians are well versed in the sport that is sucking and blowing at the same time, but this takes the practice to an entriely new level. If the government is successful in its efforts then smokers should be able to sue the government for compensation as well.

Why the hell not?

Tobacco companies knew their products were harmful to people's health, but sold them anyway. Government knew about the risks as well, but allowed cigarettes to be sold. Before launching any lawsuits, governments should first ban the sale of smokes. I'm not employed in the legal profession, but it strikes me as pretty weak for the government to be suing over something it both condones and profits from.

What possible argument could government lawyers have to contradict claims by smokers? Were politicians aware of the health risks associated with smoking? Of course. Did they enact legislation banning the sale of this harmful product? No. The tax revenues were just too damn appealing to pass up, as attractive as the woman in the picture above.

Make smoking illegal, then after the government is done having their lawyers pick over the carcasses of the tobacco companies, smokers should then be allowed to go after the government.

If there are any lawyers out there thinking of a class action suit, feel free to contact me...I'll have my pen ready.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blogging Tories go hunting for the hundred acre wood...

At first I found it somewhat amusing, that some bloggingtories were fixated on finding out where the back drop for Michael Ignatieff's woodland commercial came from. Christian Conservative has taken it over the top, certain that Chief Water Buffalo Pubah Stephen Taylor has correctly identified the stretch of forest as being in Toronto's Cherry Beach.

Check the pictures yourself, (linked above) they look similar but I wouldn't bet on them being the same...not even close. Not that it matters, Harper's Conservatives have never let the truth get in the way of some good spin.

I've got an idea, put Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on the case. He won't be able to tell us where it is with any accuracy, but maybe he can provide a guess that will be within 5,000 km. He couldn't be any worse looking for a section of greenery than he is at provding financial least I hope not.

If you don't like the message, go after the messenger. And if that doesn't work? Uhm, look at the back drop.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Understanding the Conservative mindset - Go to an Amway meeting

For those wishing to understand the mindset of Harper Conservatives, I think it would prove useful to attend a meeting where they’re pitching Amway. For those unfamiliar, Amway uses a multi level marketing strategy (MLM) and sells just about every household product available. It’s a network marketing strategy wherein individuals build pyramids under themselves, collecting points and earning commissions from everyone under them.

The most successful reps hold frequent meetings to energize their followers, motivating them to continue purchasing Amway products, and encouraging them to bring more and more people into the network. I’ve known a few people who’ve tried it, but none who’ve been successful. When approached I’ve often heard the line, “I’m going to retire with Amway”, to which I typically respond, “I think its harder to retire FROM Amway, than it is to retire with Amway”.

I should make a distinction here, I don’t think ALL of Harper’s base are of this type. There are of course the Über wealthy who have no need of schemes to make money, but their numbers are so small that they border on insignificance. Hence the need to bring in another less affluent but more numerous demographic, the trailer park conservatives.

Basically these are the middle to lower middle class, not particularly wealthy themselves, but they aspire to wealth…and that is the key point here, aspiring to wealth or riches.

This fixation on wealth is extremely important, some would argue it is the basis of our entire economy. Your neighbour gets a new granite counter top, and you want one. You see a new Mercedes in a driveway on your block. Don’t you deserve one as well? How come everyone else seems to have a plasma flat screen in their trailer?

While some are content to have a car that is paid for, and for a home that is affordable, others want to exude affluence. Go to an Amway convention and you’ll hear ‘testimonials’ from those who’ve made it big, talking about their homes, their cars and expensive vacations. I’m not very religious, but I understand the button being pushed, in the Bible it is referred to as being covetous.

And there at the top of the Conservative pyramid are the Über wealthy, telling the great unwashed how they too can have all the things they’ve been unable to attain through Amway or other MLM schemes. They have the answer to all those who’ve watched ‘The Secret’ and countless self-improvement gurus who’ve drilled it into their heads that they deserve it all.

The answer? A Harper led Conservative government that will slash taxes and useless government programs, programs that won’t be needed because these new initiates to wealth will be able to afford it all themselves.

Why do people look at their pay cheques and see so much money being siphoned off by various levels of government? Why are we forced to fork out even more of our after tax dollars for the goods and services we purchase in sales taxes and surcharges?

Its because of things like the gun registry, official bilingualism, entrenched multi-cultural programs, funding for women’s groups, gay groups and just about every special interest lobby imaginable.

Here’s the real skinny folks, it won’t work. We could reduce taxes down to levels not seen since before World War I, and it wouldn’t matter. The balance of rich and poor would not be altered in the least. This is something the Über rich understand well, but they’re counting on the greed of the Julians, Rickies and Bubbles of the trailer park.

We’ve evolved from societies which extolled the virtues of self reliance, preferring low taxes to a collective effort to elevate society as a whole. It brought us child labour, work houses, health care available only to those who could afford it.

An individual who aspires to wealth can still make it big in this country, with our current system of government and with the same levels of social programs available today. That fact is proven out every day, every week and every year.

Eliminating the gun registry, ending official bilingualism, taking our health care and moving it to a private model will do nothing to improve the lives of the vast majority of Canada’s citizens. Taxes might drop, but ultimately the biggest beneficiaries would be those who already have the most…and just like their trailer park cousins, the rich want even more.

But they can’t get more unless they’re able to convince Canadians to elect a government that will give it to them. Here's hoping enough of us are smart enough not to.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

When did Socialism become a bad word?

My children attend public schools, paid for by taxes and run by the province of Ontario. When I go to the doctor or hospital, the services I'm provided with are invariably paid for out of the public purse. The police who enforce various laws, and the courts and justice system which uphold them...the entire apparatus is financed by levies, charges and taxes collected by various levels of government.

And yet I am constantly being bombarded with messages about the evils of socialism.

The U.S. media is full of them now due to Obama's continuing efforts to reform the world's most expensive health care system, a system which leaves tens of millions with no health coverage whatsoever. Well, costs may be out of control and millions of American children may not have access to even basic medical care...but at least its not "socialist".

I want to be clear on one point here, I do not view pure unadulterated socialism as a panacea for all of society's ills, far from it. Likewise I don't consider unfettered capitalism the answer either, we've been down that road before with work houses and child labour. There are areas of vital public importance that are best removed from the sphere that is dominated by the need for profit. And there are entities under government control that would benefit from the discipline market forces impose.

So why is our Prime Minister fanning the rhetorical flames against socialism, while at the same time making modest improvements to EI, a social program? Why is socialism suddenly an evil word? the case of Stephen Harper, he only seems to speak his mind when the doors are closed or when the microphones are off. Thankfully in this modern age some of his musings sneak through the cracks, I say thankfully because so many of his public utterances are little more than political pandering. Candid remarks seem only to come when the Conservative leader believes his words to be safe from public scrutiny.

Such was certainly the case recently when he railed against separatists and socialists at a closed door rally. And also back in 1997 when he was VP of the National Citizen's Coalition, speaking to a right-wing U.S. think tank called the Council for National Policy. It is thanks only to this neo-conservative group that the Prime Minister's words have been saved for posterity, and can be read on CTV's website:

That speech offers a wonderful little window into the mind of Stephen Harper, and given the lack of microphones or media scrutiny I assume these words to be a much more accurate reflection of his views. I would suggest anyone with even the slightest interest in Canadian politics to give it a read, here a few direct quotes:

Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.

In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.

But the important point is that Canada is not a bilingual country. It is a country with two languages. And there is a big difference.

What the House of Commons is really like is the United States electoral college. Imagine if the electoral college which selects your president once every four years were to continue sitting in Washington for the next four years.

The NDP could be described as basically a party of liberal Democrats, but it's actually worse than that, I have to say. And forgive me jesting again, but the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.

(Of the LPC) In the last Parliament, it enacted comprehensive gun control, well beyond, I think, anything you have. Now we'll have a national firearms registration system, including all shotguns and rifles. Many other kinds of weapons have been banned. It believes in gay rights, although it's fairly cautious. It's put sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act and will let the courts do the rest.

(Of the old PC party) They were in favour of gay rights officially, officially for abortion on demand. Officially -- what else can I say about them? Officially for the entrenchment of our universal, collectivized, health-care system and multicultural policies in the constitution of the country.

So there we have our current Prime Minister's views, spoken in private...away from cameras and microphones. No doubt they resonate with a small but committed core of Conservative party followers, which is why they're only spoken when the doors are closed. Give Harper a majority mandate however, and I suspect we would see these ideals being positioned more prominently.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Conan's brilliant Gaddafi spoof....

FIXED LINK on Feb. 22/2010

I've been a bit too busy to blog of late, but couldn't resist the temptation to pass this little gem along. If you saw Muammar Gaddafi's rambling speech at the United Nations you'll appreciate this even more...his ranting reminded me of a late night coffee shop denizen.

Can you help?

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

So the recession is over? Just don't tell the unemployed....

Watch the TV, pick up the paper or flip on the radio for news these days and you're hearing how the economy has turned the corner and that we're now out of recession.

Maybe...but I'm reserving judgement for the time being.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, and while we're hearing that tepid growth returned to the economy in June, (0.1% being reported in the Globe and Mail) you'll pardon me for sticking with cheap beer instead of more expensive libations.

Why am I cynical about all the so called 'green shoots' being reported in the media and by government officials? Simple, because our economic prosperity hinges on the willingness of consumers to take on debt.

Car companies, appliance manufacturers...any business with products to sell, they desperately need consumers feeling optimistic. And media outlets hungry for advertising dollars have been hitting us with lots of feel good stories about the worst of the downturn being over. Canwest site had this story out today: What ever happened to the Great Recession?

We're reading how the banks and government officials are all signalling that a return to growth is imminent or already underway. Banks need people willing to borrow money, and with the U.S. heading into midterm elections, to say nothing of Canada's current political climate...elected officials on both sides of the border are eager to tell us what a great job they've been doing.

But then we have news out that the OECD is predicting that our unemployment rate in this country will be checking in around 10% next year. We haven't seen double digit unemployment in Canada for a long time, but still that means 90% of us are working. Making sure the 9 out of 10 still lucky enough to be in the work force are optimistic about future prospects has become the cause celebre of government, banks and big business. The consumer is king, and so we're being told that the garments representing our economy are brilliant and sure beats telling us we're naked.

Even if someone has been forced into a lower paying position, and/or found it necessary to work two or three jobs to make ends meet...its important people feel that the good times will soon be rolling again. Otherwise consumers might forgo that home purchase, leveraging almost the entire purchase price thanks to record low interest rates. Elected representatives may find themselves hunting for a job if voters believe things aren't as rosy as we're being led to believe.

The Kool-Ade stand is open for business, but I'm going to wait another six months to see how well it settles.

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Now its just Peter and Paul - Rest Peacefully Mary

This year might just go down as the year of celebritry deaths, Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, Patrick Swayze...and now Mary Travers of folk music trio Peter Paul and Mary.

Being one who grew up listening to everything from Arlo Guthrie to The Weavers, I thought I'd take this oppourtunity to share a little known song by the famous trio. No, its not 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' or 'Puff the Magic Dragon'...its called "All Mixed Up".

Sometimes one can look at the world and see things as being incredibly mixed up, without a doubt. But looking at it another way, maybe that's the way things are supposed to be.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harper's photo-op in Washington flops...

Today saw Stephen Harper meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, obviously punctual because with just 40 or so minutes of face time there isn't a second to waste.

While the meeting does absolutely nothing for Obama in terms of gaining or losing political points, for Stephen Harper the chance to be seen on newscasts from coast to coast in the US capital had at least the potential to boost his fortunes at a time of heightened political instability back home.

The U.S. president was perhaps so committed to limiting his time with Harper that he didn't even bother to greet him upon his arrival, as CTV news is reporting.

I did see Harper on NBC news this evening, there was a video clip of Obama being peppered with questions about former President Carter's comments on racism at the Whitehouse. Harper was sitting there and to my eye he was looking like a wall flower at the prom, all decked out nicely and just hoping someone might notice him. I haven't found any video on that yet, but I'll add it here if it becomes available.

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Conservatives to "fast track" immigration for hundreds of Afghanis

Listening to CBC radio last night I heard a report that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is opening up a "fast track" for Afghanis who have been supportive of our war effort in that country and who've worked for the Canadian government for 12 months or more. The National Post is also reporting the news HERE, quoting Mr. Kenney as saying there is the potential for "hundreds" of Afghan citizens who would be offered a quicker path to Canadian citizenship.

It will be interesting to see how much play this gets with Stephen Harper's religious right Christian base. Personally I'm a big fan of immigration, with Canada's low birth rate its not simply a matter of humanitarism and multi-culturism, but of economic need. Still, many fundamentalist Christians I know are quite hostile to the Islamic faith, viewing it as something of an "evil" religion.

I wonder how many will choose to settle in Calgary?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Harper promises no new taxes or spending cuts. He's lying...AGAIN

There's a very simple method for those who wish to discern whether or not our Prime Minister is lying, watch his lips. When they're moving, be on guard.

To be fair Stephen Harper is far from being the first Prime Minister to say one thing and then do another. Pierre Trudeau ridiculed wage and price controls, then implemented them. Brian "Brown Bag" Mulroney dismissed the idea of pursuing a free trade agreement with the U.S. before being elected and negotiating one. And of course Jean Chretien feigned amnesia about his repeated pledges to axe the GST.

With Stephen Harper there are a number of choices which spring immediately to mind when it comes to Olympic flip flopping. There's the promise he made in the last election but one (I think it was a couple weeks back) when he said a Conservative government would "never" tax income trusts. Then there was his promise backed up by legislation to eliminate snap election calls, a promise he broke when he last sent us to the polls, (that was a few days ago if memory serves).

And then of course there was his pledge not to stack the Senate with partisan cronies...a promise broken with flair as Mr. Harper unseated the likes of the aforementioned Messieurs Trudeau, Mulroney and Chretien to become Canada's all time patronage champ.

Apologists for the Prime Minister are quick to offer up excuses or course.

Finance minister Jim Flaherty had no choice but to tax income trusts they say, because leaving them tax exempt would have decimated the federal treasury. In other words Paul Martin's Liberals were telling the truth while Harper lied to garner votes among seniors worried about protecting their retirement nest eggs. Well done, it helped give Pinocchio the keys to 24 Sussex.

As for last year's (yes, I know it wasn't a few days ago) snap election call, that was necessary because parliament was dysfunctional according to the spin masters. This despite the fact that the Liberals under former leader Stephane Dion nearly set a Guinness Book world record for sitting on their collective hands. Last year's election was a blatantly obvious attempt to attain majority status, to rid Harper of the need to be conciliatory...something he's horrible at.

He had to break his promise not to stack the senate because...uhm, well everyone else does it. Assurances that there would be no recession and no deficit, well...even if CTV's Craig Oliver saw it coming...uhm, nobody else did...and like things are really really bad.

Anyone who believes Stephen Harper please sign a copy of the Fixed Election law and have Mike Duffy deliver it to me.

While past performance isn't always an indicator of future results, it can be used as a pretty decent measuring stick when trying to decide if Harper is telling the truth or just piling on more lies in an effort to win votes. The big lie now is that the Conservatives will be able to bring government revenues back into balance without any funding cuts or tax increases. Anyone who believes Stephen Harper please sign a copy of the Fixed Election law and have Mike Duffy deliver it to me. I'll redeem it for a 100 units in a tax exempt Income Trust.

The Liberals under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin were able to finally slay the deficit beast by slashing transfer payments to the provinces, transfers that pay for things such as Health Care. They also reneged on the promise to eliminate the GST, using the windfall from a booming economy to swell government coffers into repeated surpluses.

I doubt Harper would endorse major tax increases, but I can certainly envision the Conservatives taking a scythe to a whole host of government programs...the "socialist" ones Harper so detests. Health Care? Harper has never been a big fan of socialized anything, and that includes medicine. Programs to help the poor and needy? Get a job, or a better one.

Just give Harper his coveted majority and you won't recognize this country...of course if you're among Canada's most wealthy, you probably won't mind.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fire Gary Bettman - Something all Canadian hockey fans should agree on

At the risk of offending a dozen or so Phoenix Coyote hockey fans, I'm going to use my little cyber pulpit to wander off the political path and write about some shinny. Specifically about the way the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is taking hockey loving Canadians for granted.

Back in June I started an on-line petition calling on Canadians to boycott all NHL licensed products until Canada gets a 7th franchise, with Hamilton being the obvious choice. While there are only 35 signatures so far, I have gotten some positive feedback for my effort. The most recent of which was an email from a gentleman named Ken. He's started his own petition which calls for the firing of Gary Bettman, after a nanosecond of deliberation I signed it.

Putting a team in Hamilton would be a no brainer if the NHL had a commissioner who was interested in viable franchises and growing the game. I'm no Rhodes scholar, not by a long shot...but it doesn't take an Ivy league genius to know that sticking hockey teams in places with no attachment to the game is a recipe for failure.

If you're the commissioner of a major sports league the last thing you want is teams playing in front of a bunch of empty seats, unless you're Gary Bettman, who seems to prefer it. Why else have teams in places like Nashville, Atlanta and Phoenix?

You want people clamouring to join your ownership club? How about showing potential suitors arenas filled with rabid fans!!! That's what you'd have in cities like Hamilton, the 'Peg and Quebec city. Instead we have teams in Florida practically giving tickets away, while puckheads in southern Ontario have to take out a second mortgage to go and see a crappy Leafs team.

Part of Canada's national character is that we're 'oh so polite'. Protesting and signing petitions isn't really our thing, but I suggest its time true hockey fans get angry. Stop buying products licensed to the NHL and sign the petition to have Gary Bettman fired.

Click here to sign the 'FIRE GARY BETTMAN' petition.

Click here to sign the 'BOYCOTT NHL LICENSED PRODUCTS' petition.

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Canada's Best Political Blogs - My new aggregator

I've created a new blog aggregator which I've branded "Canada's Best Political Blogs". As regular readers will be aware, I like to take in varying viewpoints from the political blogosphere. There's no point reading only those who share one's partisan slant, not if you're seeking a deeper understanding of the political landscape in this country.

I only have seven blogs listed currently, but I expect that it will grow over time. For those who author a well written blog I invite you to hit the Add My Blog button so that I can review it. I don't promise inclusion, but I won't exlude blogs based on partisan leanings, already I've got Liberals and Tories and Dippers, oh my. The description says:

"The best of Canadian Political Blogs. Opinion and commentary from a variety of sources, well written and representing the full spectrum of political thought".

Of course this blog is included...and measuring it up against the others I've already added, well consider this the minimum standard.

Bloggers who have their site added are welcome to add this widget:

But its not a requirement.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stephen Harper - Running Canada like a Nortel CEO

A common analogy favoured by conservative business types is to compare the job of a Prime Minister to that of a corporate CEO. In this scenario the leader of Canada's governing party is equated to the head of a major business concern, with voters representing shareholders.

As analogies go its not without merit, Canadians are stakeholders after all, no different from shareholders in a company like Nortel. In the market a CEO's performance is reflected in a myriad of ways including: growth, share price, dividends and the balance sheet. A CEO who delivers increasing returns, a strong balance sheet, a robust share price and increasing dividends...that CEO can be expected to have the support of shareholders.

Likewise a Prime Minister who delivers on election pledges, lowers or holds the line on taxes and balances the books...or better yet delivers a surplus, that PM should expect to have the backing of the electorate.

So how is our Conservative Prime Minister performing?

Well...that depends. Are we looking at job performance or polling results? If we look at the polls the verdict could be seen as tentative approval. If we look at the actual results though, the picture is anything but pretty.

Just three and a half years ago Mr. Harper lead the Conservatives to a minority victory in Canada's parliament. Part of his campaign platform was to never tax income trusts, and he did it with panache. Even for those of us skeptical of political promises, this Calgary MP's conviction seemed truly genuine. Watch for yourself.

Notice how convincingly Harper lied back in that campaign, its absolutely masterful. I'd rate it right up there with Jean Chretien's repeated promises to scrap the GST.

Fast forward to our last election in October of 2008. With the same unwavering and reassuring tone, Harper pledged that Canada would avoid recession, and that there would never be a need for deficit financing under his watch. Again, if you missed it or forgot, here's the video:

I could cram this blog with more videos I guess...I could include pledges made by our Prime Minister not to stack the Senate with partisan cronies and about all the failed budget forecasts. I could include Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's laughingly absurd assertion that "nobody" saw this recession coming. Oh, what the's our forecasting challenged Finance Minister making a fool of himself in front of Canada's Senate...although it probably doesn't matter.

Polls right now show that a sizable number of Canadians either aren't paying attention, or they don't care.

There's much truth to the political axiom that voters prefer a tasty lie to an unsavoury truth. That's something Stephen Harper seems to understand very well. But like a CEO who keeps making rosy promises amid declining returns, eventually reality slams stakeholders in the face.

I just hope Canadians realize it before this country turns into the Nortel nation state, a one time corporate champion reduced to penny stock status...then sold off in a foreign takeover.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11 - The Mother of conspiracy theories....

With this being the 8 year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks I feel it something of a necessity to offer up some thoughts.

Like many people I spent the day relating and listening to stories centred around: 'Where were you on September 11, 2001'? For my own part I was in downtown Toronto, first at my sales office and later at a meeting around King and Bay streets. I went to the meeting knowing the first plane had hit, and left the meeting after hearing the news of the second. I remember weighing the options of heading back to Yonge and Dundas either through the bank district, or up University. Given the that the US consulate is on University I opted to pass under the shadow of Canada's bank towers.

It was because of 9/11 that I started investigating 'alternative' news sites: whatreallyhappened, prisonplanet, rense among them. While I prefer gathering my news from more respected sources, I found the mainstream media sadly lacking when it came to investigative reporting. Instead of seeking answers to many unanswered questions, the MSM became simply a conduit for government statements.

What were those unanswered questions?

-Why did World Trade Centre building number 7 collapse when it was never hit by anything? As far as I'm aware this is the first time in history a steel framed building imploded due to fire.

-Why are the images from the plane striking the Pentagon so crappy? I thought the Pentagon was one of the most watched buildings in the world in terms of video surveillance.

-What caused the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania to almost completely disintegrate? I've seen photos of plane crashes before, with large sections of the plane strewn about, parts of wings, engines etc. According to emergency workers on the scene in Pennsylvania that day, there was nothing left bigger than a telephone book.

-Why was golfer Payne Stewart's plane tracked so quickly years back when it went off radar, yet on 9/11 the US military was unable to get planes in the air to intercept the hijacked planes?

-Why did the Secret Service let G.W. Bush stay at Booker T. elementary for so long? Given that the president's itinerary for the day was on the White House web site you think the best course would have been to remove him as quickly as possible.

-What was the source of all the short interest on companies like UAL in the days leading up to 911? Shortly after the event reports were given that in some cases short interest had climbed as much as 2,000% over historical norms.

-Was there ever any investigation of the early warning messages received by WTC employees of instant messaging company Odigo?

-The anthrax laced letters that started appearing around Washington after the attacks, that later turned out to have originated from a US military base. Why were the perpetrators trying to frame Muslims and what was the motivation?

That's just a sampling of questions, there are probably at least twenty or thirty more. Like the Kennedy assisination I think we'll be asking questions for years, with few answers forthcoming.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Harper's Conservatives - The vast left wing conspiracy trumps incompetence

Leaders of Canada's opposition Liberal, NDP, Green and Bloc parties have a monumental task ahead of them in unseating the Harper Conservatives from the seat of power in Ottawa. Monday's Globe and Mail reports that polling indicates the Tories have opened up a 5 point lead nationally on the second place Liberals. The Strategic Counsel poll pegs the Conservatives at 35% and the Liberals at 30, with the NDP and Greens at 14 and 9 respectively.

Stephen Harper has assumed the mantle of Canada's Teflon man, nothing sticks. In his first mandate the Prime Minister broke his promise to "never, NEVER" tax income trusts, still Canadians returned the Tories with an increased minority. In calling an early election last October Harper may have even broken his own law respecting fixed election dates. A judge will now decide if that election call was illegal instead of just politically self serving.

Despite such a short tenure as Canada's ruling party, the Conservatives have done plenty to raise the ire of the voting public. Promises of balanced budgets have joined the tax exempt status of Income Trusts on the trash heap. Jim Flaherty's laughingly inept budget projections should definitely give Canadians cause for concern about the running of the nation's finances.

Add to that Lisa's Raitt's salivating at the 'sexiness' of cancer patients having treatment delayed, the boondoggle of funding for GLBT events in Toronto and Montreal, Harper breaking his promise not to engage in patronage politics to become the all time patronage champion with Senate appointments...its a long list for a party with so little time in power.

And yet despite financial mismanagement and scandal after scandal....Harper's Conservatives continue to lead in the polls. Why?

Simple, Harper's socially conservative base in convinced that there has long been a conspiracy afoot to rob Canadians of certain God given rights. There is a pervasive belief that a "Liberal Elite" is bent on ramming through an agenda that extols the 'dubious' (sic) virtues of things like multiculturalism and equality of the sexes.

The challenge for the likes of Ignatieff, Layton and May is to energize the roughly ten million Canadians who didn't bother voting last time around. Shaking the Conservative tree in hopes of diminishing Harper's core base will yield slim pickings at best. Stephen Harper can run the economy into the ground, break almost every election promise and prove himself the epitome of hypocrisy...and it won't matter to roughly 25% of Canadian voters.

I do believe the Liberals are off to a decent start with their chosen theme of "We Can Do Better". But its going to take more than a catchy slogan to reverse Mr. Ignatieff's fortunes and propel him to 24 Sussex Drive.

The fact that the Liberals are finally willing to state their intention of fighting an election at a time when their polling numbers are less than robust nullifies any appearance that their strategy is opportunistic. When Harper broke his own fixed election law last summer in an attempt to garner a majority mandate, that was political opportunism at its most blatant.

Canadians do deserve better government than what we've been getting recently, but Harper's socially Conservative base will be doing its best to blur reality. Its Machiavellism at its best and worst, Harper is their lesser evil.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NDP will prop up the Tories - And I'll be dating Maria Sharapova

Now that Michael Ignatieff has finally decided to withdraw support for Stephen Harper's minority government it looks like we'll be headed to the polls this fall...or maybe not. The NDP is entertaining the notion of propping up the Tories provided Harper's crew is willing to address some issues near and dear to Canada's labour party. Two specifically mentioned are pension protection and bank fees.

I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking any possibility of the Conservatives agreeing to NDP demands is pretty much dead in the water. Of course anything is possible, maybe I'll wake up in bed tomorrow next to a Russian tennis can only dream.

I'm certain that Harper would much rather be in control of his own fate, so I won't be surprised in the least if he asks the Governor General to dissolve parliament and call an election even sooner.

I'm in the minority in wanting an election, whether its a vote of non confidence or Harper pulling the plug, I don't care. Stephen could even try to curry the favour of the separatist Bloc, but that is likely too fraught with the potential for backlash amongst his base to warrant serious consideration.

So its an election or a dance between the Conservative right and the NDP left. If Jack can get Stephen to play ball though...Maybe my dream can come true?

How would you like your eggs cooked Maria?

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