Saturday, April 30, 2011

Time to decide on the kind of politics we want....

This should have been an election about ideas, an election on Harper's record over the past five years, an election about competing visions of the kind of Canada we want now and in the future. 

Sadly this election is none of those things. 

This election is about something far more basic...its about democracy and how we practice it in this country.

What Canadians must decide on Monday is if we'll endorse the politics of 'anything goes'.  Do we endorse a form of democracy which puts personal attacks and winning at all costs above things like openness, integrity and the issues.

Stephen Harper has lowered the bar, lower than I ever thought possible in this country.  He didn't have to do it, he chose to.  Never ending election style ads designed to smear his opponents, only allowing reporters to ask him 4 questions per day while campaigning, refusing to answer questions on what he'll do if he fails to win a majority of the seats in our House of Commons.

This is our democracy, we the voters decide how it is conducted.  Sadly it might take only 1 in 3 votes for Stephen Harper's scorched earth version to be validated. 

That's why I am urging every eligible voter in Canada to do their civic duty on Monday and take the hour or so needed to cast a ballot in this election.  And if you feel the same way I do, I implore you to get as many people as possible out to the polls. 

The last time we voted roughly 10 million Canadians stayed home, and Harper's Conservatives came within spitting distance of majority rule, despite gaining less than 40% of the overall vote.  But that's the way our democracy works, those are the rules, and until or unless that rulebook is changed (meaning our Constitution) then that's the system we have to work with.

I am worried about what will happen should Harper fail in his crusade for 155 seats, I hope he does fail but I'm still concerned about what actions he will take if faced with losing the title of Prime Minister. 

If the majority of Canadians choose to be represented by Members of Parliament other than Conservatives, that's democracy.  And if Stephen Harper cannot put forth an agenda that gains the support of a majority of MPs representing a majority of the electorate in this country, then he will once again lose the confidence of the House and it will be incumbent on another leader to try to try and gain that confidence.

That's the way our system works.  You don't have to like the rules, but they must be respected.  Many Canadians don't like having a Prime Minister whose party is only supported by little more than 1 in 3 Canadians, but the integrity of our system demands that we accept it. 

Please Canada, do not endorse Harper's Machiavellian approach to the practice of something so fundamental and important, our democracy. 

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Sun Media - Smear trumps journalism

Okay, we all know the story by now.  Jack Layton went to a licensed massage clinic something like 15 or 16 years ago.  Yawn.

That an organization that tries to pass itself off as a source for news would even bother reporting this is one thing, but the least they could have done is some research into the matter.  But of course with an election looming in just 72 hours or so...well, journalism got tossed out the window in favour of sensationalism.  But then, this is the Sun we're talking about, and the target is NDP leader Jack Layton.

The article (which I won't deign to link because it doesn't merit it) makes numerous allegations, citing an unnamed source, that among other things the establishment in question was a "suspected" bawdy house.  For those unfamiliar bawdy houses are sometimes called "rub and tugs".

Okay, now here's where things like journalism and integrity come in.  Start digging Sun Media.  Before going to print with a story like this just before an election, check out some facts. 

Was this place ever charged with any offences relating to rubbing and tugging?  Were any "Johns" as Jack Layton is portrayed, ever charged with soliciting?

Pffffffffffffft, that would take work.  And besides with the vote so close and Jack's NDP surging in the polls, well there just wasn't time.  Will it work?  That's for Canadian voters to decide.

No wonder so many people consider the Sun a worthless rag.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Québecois et Québecoise - Canada a besoin de votre aide...

Français c'est ma 2eme langue, donc s'il vous plait excuse mes plusieurs fautes et lire ce que j'ai a dire a vous autres.

Pour moi, Québec c'est la couer de la democracie içi en Canada.  Vous etes toujours au courant au sujet de les nouvelles, et au lieu de suivre les reste vous etes presque toujours en avance de le Canada anglophone. 

Sans doute vous avez déja entendu les nouvelles concernant Jack Layton, chef de la NPD, je vais pas le répeter.  Quant à moi, il y a un chance que ca peut effectuer les resultat lundi dans la reste du Canada, mais je pense pas avec mes ami(e)s francophones. 

Vous avez la chance d'effacer les Conservateurs à Québec quand vous votez, et c'est mon opinion qu'ils l'ont merité suite a cette campaigne, surtout quand un organisme comme Sun Media essaye d'influencer le vote avec un histoire comme ça le vendredi avant le vote. 

J'espère que nous, les anglophones, vont répondre dans la même façon, mais j'ai pas la même confinance à mes ami(e)s anglophones que j'ai avec mes ami(e)s Québecois(e).

Canadian Soapbox Exclusive - Jack Layton hit a girl in kindergarten

Jack Layton is alleged to have hit a girl when he was in pre-school back in 1955. 

A now retired kindergarten teacher has made startling allegations against NDP leader Jack Layton.  The stunning revelation about the current leader of the New Democratic Party comes days before the federal election, at a time when his popularity is reaching new heights with his New Democratic Party threatening to topple the Stephen Harper led Conservative government.

The former educator, speaking on condition of anonymity, contacted Canadian Soapbox about the incident which occurred in 1955 when Mr. Layton was 5 years of age. 

"At the time I didn't think anything of it, until recently I'd actually forgotten it", the now 92 year teacher said.  "But then I kept seeing little Jackie in the news and I started going through my old files".

Those files reveal a report dated  September 27, 1955 which outlines the incident.  Canadian Soapbox has received permission to make a copy of the incident report, which says in part:

2:00 PM  Jackie Layton got into an argument with Jane Wilson over an orange crayon just after nap time.  Jackie said Jane had stolen it from his box and rather than notifying the teacher he punched Jane in the arm causing her to cry out and bite him. 

Olivia Chow, Layton's wife, denied her husband had done anything wrong in an e-mail statement late Friday night.

"Fifty six years ago, my husband got into an argument over an orange crayon.  He used to colour regularly and orange is his favourite colour, I don't believe he did anything wrong". 

Asked why she waited so long to come forward with this news Layton's former teacher said she was surprised the story hasn't already been made public.  "I thought this would have come out. This thing within class and by other teachers was so well known."

Jack Layton was warned of the dangers of resorting to violence to resolve conflicts after school that day.  "He came to school on  a bicycle. I escorted him outside and he went away on his bike."

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Harper majority out of reach? DON'T BET ON IT!!!

Surprise surprise, Stephen Harper's tightly controlled campaign machine has sprung a leak. The Toronto Star is reporting that senior Conservative party insiders are saying 'they're just not there' in terms of being able to garner enough seats after Monday's vote to win a majority.  STORY HERE

I usually try to refrain from using profanity, but I gotta call BS on this one. 

I will admit to a nano second or two of euphoria when I saw the headline, but that was quickly replaced by the realization that this is Stephen Harper we're talking about, a micro managing control freak.  The idea that "high ranking" sources within the CPC would break ranks and leak this kind of story...let's just say I'm more than a little suspicious.

Roughly two out of every three Canadian voters oppose and will vote against Harper according to every poll available.  That's not surprising in the least.  What is surprising is that 1 out of 3 will actually vote for Harper's Conservatives.  And it is that math that makes the possibility of a Harper majority a very real possibility, especially in light the numbers coming out of seat rich Ontario.

Don't relax, don't sit back...VOTE VOTE VOTE.  Take your friends, ask everyone you know if they've voted.

Check back soon, I just heard on the radio that Sun TV is reporting some story about Jack Layton being found naked in a bawdy house in 1996, citing a now retired Toronto police officer.  Smells like desperation, and something else too. 

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things Stephen Harper told us...

Stephen Harper talks a good game, I'll certainly give him that.  And the game he's talking now is about doom and gloom should Canadian voters decide to elect a sizable number of Jack Layton's NDP to our Parliament. 

Fair enough Mr. Prime Minister, but before Canadians take you at your word it might be useful to look back at other things you've told us and how they worked it a liability check.

-Harper told Canadians we'd have a government that was more open and more accessible when he became Prime Minister.  Then he shut down parliament and closed our democracy...twice, hiding behind the Queen.

-Harper said a Conservative government would put an end to wasteful spending.  His government then gave Canadians a fake lake costing $2 million.

-Harper promised to get tough on crime.  Then the Harper government appointed Manitoba judge Robert Dewar who let a convicted rapist off with a suspended sentence and no jail time.

-Harper promised he would protect the nest eggs of senior citizens by imposing no new taxes on income trusts.  And guessed right, he taxed them.

-Harper said his government would provide sound fiscal management and would not go into deficit.  Our PM then took an annual surplus of around $15 billion and handed us the biggest annual deficit in Canadian history, all in less than 5 years.

-Harper said he'd stop the practice of stuffing the Senate with patronage appointments....and then set the single day record for appointments to our red chamber.

Harper tells of lots of thing, too many of which turn out to be nothing more than hot air.  Now we're being told that electing a sizable number of Jack Layton's NDP members will spell disaster.  It will mean men marrying men, woman marrying woman and abortion no longer a criminal offence...Oops, things are already disastrous for Harper and many of his supporters.

Take anything Stephen Harper says with a massive grain of salt, especially during an election campaign.

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Advice to help Harper stem the Orange tide....

Jack Layton is cool, and Stephen Harper is...well, he's Stephen Harper. 

I'm fearful that if the Conservatives squeak out a narrow minority we might just see this headline in a couple of weeks: 

PM prorogues parliament permanently

How's that for alliteration?

Harper already suspended our democracy twice, its worked before it could work again.  In an effort to avoid that eventuality, and in the name of Canadian unity, I thought I'd put my political skills to the test in offering some advice to Dear Leader and his Conservative spin doctors.

Ten Suggestions to boost Harper's falling support:

10.  Start using a cane.

9.  Go get a prostrate exam.

8.  Grow a 'stache

7.  Promise to return the government to its rightful owners by switching back to Government of Canada from the Harper Government.

6.  Answer 5 questions instead of just 4 when on the'll show Canadians how flexible you are.

5.  If you're bald, be proud.

4.  Learn how to really smile, not the smug 'I know more than you' smirk. 

3.  Show you're human by saying sorry about blowing $2 million on the building of a fake lake.

2.  Before hitting your talking points say..."When I'm Prime Minister"' 

And finally, the number one suggestion for Harper to boost his falling support.....

Threaten to show up at a piano lounge near voters' homes if they don't elect the Conservative ccandidate. 

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A federal NDP government??? Let's get serious...

Okay kids, its been nice dreaming but let's get serious for a second here.  Recent polling is suggesting that the NDP may in fact have a chance of forming a government after the votes get counted on May 2nd. 

Have Canadians really thought things through on this?  I don't think so.  If the voters of this country were thinking clearly they'd realize what an unmitigated disaster a Jack Layton led government  would be.  C'mon now, you know I'm right.  Think about it, if Jack's NDP were to form the government what would we have to look forward to:

  • Canadians would get stuck with a massive deficit, not like the errrr....okay, wait.
  • The NDP would waste tax payer money on dumb make work projects, like building fake lakes....shit, gimme a second.
  • Alright, I've got one.  Layton will raise taxes!!!  Okay, maybe not your's and mine but he'll raise taxes on corporations like our banks and oil companies and that would be like really bad because those guys are used to making lots and lots of money.
  • Now I'm rolling...Instead of giving money away to big business, Layton will get all comfy cozy with lazy wage earners.  What kind of country will this be with Joe Lunchbucket and Sally Housecoat getting better treatment from their government than billion dollar business interests!!!

And if I haven't yet made a strong enough argument (and I do think I have) then consider this.  Layton represents change, and change is bad.  We need things to stay exactly as they are now, unmoving and completely Stephen Harper's hair. 

Oh, that reminds me, Jack is like bald...really bald.  Tell him to get a piece, like a real leader. 

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

10 Reasons for wanting Jack Layton as Prime Minister

Top ten lists seem to be all the rage, back on March 5th I posted an annotated list of 10 reasons to vote for Harper's Conservatives, (all very tongue in cheek) and its been viewed close to 1,000 times in less than two months. 

So with that in mind here are 10 reasons for wanting Jack Layton as Canada's next Prime Minister.

10.  Iggy's eyebrows are too big and Harper is getting fat.  Vote for Jack, he's skinny and doesn't have bushy eyebrows.

9.   When ignorant Americans visit Canada with zero knowledge about our country we'll be able to honestly tell them...You don't know Jack.

8.  The janitorial staff at 24 Sussex Drive, the one's who clean the bathrooms...they'll be able to tell their friends that they do in fact know Jack shit. 

7.  Jack is using a cane, Winston Churchill used a cane.  Walking sticks are cool, everyone will be wanting one. 

6.  Foreigners will have no idea what we're talking about when we say that our Prime Minister is a "Dipper". 

5.  With Jack as PM every month will be Movember.

4.  The Bare Naked Ladies endorsed Jack when he ran for the NDP leadership.  I'd love to see a NY Times headline that says:  "Canada's new leader makes bare naked ladies happy". 

3.  Jack Layton's wife is a hot younger Asian lady.  Come on guys, you know that is just cool.

2.  Quebecers like him, and everyone knows the French have style.

And the number one reason Canadians should have for wanting Jack Layton as Canada's next Prime Minister....

It will mean Stephen Harper can get on with his next career as a piano playing lounge singer.

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Suffering election burn out? You're not alone...

Thank heavens a Canadian election only lasts a few weeks.  I'm a political junkie, but despite that even I'm suffering fatigue.  Pity our poor American friends who have to endure months of campaigning before electing Presidents and members of Congress.   

I am convinced of one thing however.  No matter what happens Canada will survive. 

Whether its a Conservative minority or majority, Canada will endure as one of the world's great democracies.  If a new Harper government falls and is replaced by a broader spectrum of parties representing a majority of the Canadian electorate, life will continue and Canada will still be a great place to live. 

Forget what the party leaders are saying, all of them. 

A Conservative majority would not be the end of Canada.  If the Liberals or NDP end up leading a minority parliament as the second place party, we won't be plunged into a dark black hole. 

This isn't a religious crusade, its democracy.  If the government we choose doesn't perform, we can replace them in the next election.  But no party, nor any party leader is going to destroy Canada, of that I'm certain.  Obviously our federal party leaders have big egos, it comes with the territory...but seriously guys, you aren't nearly as important as you think you are.   

Maybe that's why I'm burning out on politics, I'm over capacity in trying to absorb all the BS.  Let's hurry up and vote and get on with summer, I'm going camping.   

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Michael Ignatieff - What do Canadians think? Make up your own mind

I have a certain degree of empathy for the leader of Canada's Liberal party.  He came home to Canada after an incredibly successful career internationally as an academic, writer and broadcaster, that's simply a matter of record.  But before he even had a chance to introduce himself to his fellow citizens, he was smeared left right and centre.

He didn't come back for us.  He's just in it for himself. 

We've all heard the ads.

In disucssions I've had with people over the course of the past several months I've heard those themes parrotted by many when the name Ignatieff comes up.  People like to appear informed, like they're up on the issues and the personalities of our political leaders. 

But I have to wonder.  Are attack ads and smear the sum total of Canadians' knowledge of Michael Ignatieff?  I'd hope not, but sometimes I put too much faith in people. 

My father spent about 10 years working in the United States...yet I consider him a passionate Canadian, I'd say that of my entire family regardless of the fact that we lived many years in places like New York, New Jersey and Oregon.

If you haven't yet taken a hard look at Michael Ignatieff and are still mulling over who to vote for on May 2nd, then I urge you to take just 30 minutes to watch this video.  That's less time than it takes to watch an airing of American Idol. 

Perhaps you'll like what you see, perhaps not.  But our democracy works best when voters attempt to make an informed choice based on their own opinions, rather than those of paid mouth pieces and political hacks. 

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Layton giving Canadians against Harper something to vote FOR

I don't want to come across all feng shui and zen like, because that's not what I'm about.  But at a core level I think many frustrated progressives realize that being against Harper isn't enough, you have to be for something.  Its the whole negative energy thing...but I digress. 

I share the frustration of the majority of Canadians who are fed up with Stephen Harper. 

Fed up with the lies, the deceit, the dirty politics, the wasteful spending, the cronyism, the arrogance and the utter disdain for basic Canadian democratic values.

But what is the alternative? 

That is a fair question, given the long history of the Liberal party under the likes of Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien.  Conservatives are doing now what Liberals in this country have done for a long time, ignoring their own faults while hypocritically waving their arms about the faults of  'that other party'. 

Liberal and Conservative partisans, doesn't matter, the script is the same....

"You guys are bad"!!! 
"Oh  yeah, you guys are WAY WORSE". 

And the non-partisan Canadian electorate goes yawn.  

Into the abyss steps Jack Layton, and a significant portion of the electorate stands up and takes notice.  Removed from the sniping of the Liberals and Conservatives, voters can look at the NDP platform and find ideas worth supporting.

-Capping credit card interest rates at 5 points above prime.  With Canadian debt levels at an all time high its not hard to see why a proposal like this would find traction.

-A promise to hire more doctors at a time when so many Canadians are without a family physician.

-Reducing  taxes for small businesses to spur job creation.  Sure sounds better than giving billion dollar tax breaks to the big banks and oil companies when they're rolling in record profits.

Those are the big three from where I sit, and its not hard to understand why Canadians are suddenly warming to Jack Layton and filling up NDP rallies. 

The Liberals and Conservatives can go at each other all they want, tooth and nail...but with only about 1 week left for Tory and Grit mud slinging I'm thinking their arms must be getting tired.

And frankly, Canadians are sick of it.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Canadians are coming home to the NDP

Put a group of Canadians together and ask them to define what it means to be Canadian.  It won't be long before the subject of health care comes up, or the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).  Canadians are justifiably proud of our social programs, proud that we judge our success as a nation on how we look after all of our citizens...not simply on the wealth generated by the most affluent.

The Canada Health  Act, CPP...both initiatives of the NDP. 

And now, in this election, the NDP is surging in the polls as Canadians come home to the NDP.  All across Canada people are seriously considering voting New Democrat, many for the first time.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, the NDP has long been the conscience of our democracy.  While most Canadians have traditionally  voted either Liberal or Conservative, I'd argue that many Canadians have always had a soft spot for Canada's third party.

In horse racing there's an old saw that goes: 

'When the odds are split between the favourites, bet on the long shot'. 

Well, they might have been long shots at the start of the campaign, but they're looking anything but now.

I've already voted, and I went with the Liberals based largely on strategic considerations given my riding.  But I have voted NDP in the past and even held party membership at one time.  With that being said I'm going to go channel my inner speech writer and suggest to Mr. Layton a theme he may want to drive home in the closing days of this election.

Come Home to the NDP

On May 2nd Canadians have a choice.  Canadian voters can go back to voting for Liberal and Conservative candidates.   Back to voting same old, same old, giving us governments that have brought scandal and distrust to our democracy. 

Or Canadians can take another road, and come home to the NDP.  Home to a party that stands up for Canada's most vulnerable citizens, home to a party that realizes Canada's strength and prosperity is not complete unless it is enjoyed by all.  Home to a party that isn't held hostage by corporate donations, a party that advances the issues of importance to hard working Canadians.  Sustainable health care, fair treatment for our seniors, interest rates on credit cards that are reasonable, not usurious. 

All across this country, from coast to coast to coast, fishery workers and loggers, in offices and on  factory floors, les anglophones et les francophones...Canadians in every region are realizing they have another choice, a different road, a better option.

Many Canadians will be voting for the NDP for the very first time.  Voting for the first time for a party that truly reflects their values, their hopes, their belief in what Canada is and in what Canada can become.  

Come home Canada, home to the New Democratic Party.   

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My reasons for voting for Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals

My vote is in, and after flirting with the idea of voting NDP I finally decided to cast my lot with Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals.

Why did I pick Michael's party?  Part of the reason was strategic certainly.  My riding has been solidly Liberal the past few elections, but it has swung back and forth between the Conservatives and Grits in years past.  The NDP does not have a history of polling well here, and I wanted my vote to count.

With that being said there's plenty in the Liberal platform that I can enthusiastically support. 

Making child care accessible and affordable for all Canadians.  As a parent I know how difficult it can be to find quality care for a child.  Those who can afford options like Montessori and such probably prefer cash in the form of tax credits, but for struggling families with both Mom and Dad working...I prefer the Liberal option.

Helping students earn a post secondary diploma is huge in my books.  With the knowledge based economy that's evolved and evolving, Canada can't afford having our young people missing out on the learning opportunities they'll need for themselves and for our nation to compete.

Reversing Conservative tax give aways to business is of course paramount.  Canada is both its citizens and the corporations that employ them, and our corporate sector has as much of a financial responsibility to this country as do individual citizens.

Finally its about trust.  Watching Canada's financial situation going from hearty to bleak in just five years is to say the least disconcerting.  Ralph Goodale has run the finance portfolio before and been very successful, handing Stephen Harper's Conservatives a very healthy surplus.  Should he get another crack at finance in a Liberal led government I trust he'll be able to make Canada financially solvent again.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Give me a majority or we'll have a constitutional crisis - Harper

The rules of Canadian parliamentary democracy are pretty basic.  When no one single party garners a majority of the seats in our House of Commons after an election, the party that wins the most seats is asked to form a government. 

But with a minority the ruling party has to appeal to enough opposition members to ensure passage of its bills.  If an important piece of legislation is defeated, say something with dollars attached to it, then the House is said to have 'lost confidence' in the government.

This is where things get interesting.  The Governor General then has the option of calling another election, or the GG can ask another party (usually the party with the 2nd most seats) to try and win the confidence of the house.

Those are the rules, this is the way the game is played.  Unless you're Stephen Harper.

In an interview on Thursday with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, Harper was asked what he would do if such a scenario played out.  Given that Harper is bent on giving big businesses like our banks and oil companies billions of dollars in tax breaks, his budget would likely be defeated.  In other words in this scenario he'd lose the confidence of the house.

Mansbridge asked Harper if he would play by the rules.  He wouldn't answer.  He basically said that it would be a constitutional question, one that will be crossed when and if the situation arises.

Don't have to squint too hard to read between the lines here.  Having a government comprised of parties representing a majority of Canadians would be undemocratic it seems in Stephen Harper's Canada. 

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Brad Trost - The real face of the Conservative party

Stephen Harper's reputation of ruling his party with an iron fist is well earned.  Ask the likes of Garth Turner or Helen Guergis, both booted from the  Conservative party.  Garth was shown the door it seems for being too open and too accessible, keeping his constituents engaged through a, (heaven forbid) blog.  Guergis was smeared by the Prime Minister's office over unsubstantiated and unproven allegations.  No room in the CPC for men and women like these. 

So...should Brad Trost be worried?  Don't hold your breath.

I wrote about Brad Trost back in July of 2009:

Brad Trost was all excited back then because the Tories had just cancelled funding for Montreal's GLBT festival.  The Tories were tossing millions around the country for all manner of festivals and tourist centred events back in the early days of the financial crisis.  This was even before they wasted tax payer dollars on a fake lake.

Well Mr. Trost is back again, this time bragging about Planned Parenthood being denied government funding after years of receiving it.  STORY HERE

Will Stephen Harper kick Brad out of caucus?  I won't hold my breath, I think there's plenty of room in the CPC for homophobes and for those who are against a woman's right to choose.  The PM might yet prove me wrong, but I'm guessing he realizes that guys like Mr. Trost serve a valuable function, keeping the base happy. 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Harper disrespects Israel, thinks Jewish state undemocratic and reckless

Everyone now knows Stephen Harper's opinion of coalition governments.  They're reckless and undemocratic, at least they are opposed to when he was looking to head one in an effort to topple the Liberal government of Paul Martin.

But hey, opinions change.  Lord knows Harper views can turn on a dime depending on the direction of the political winds. Stuffing the Senate is bad, no wait its good.  Deficits will never happen, until they do.  Open and accountable government is only to be talked about in opposition then totally ignored when in power.

Right now though, in this election campaign, Harper is telling Canadians that coalition governments are not to be trusted, they're not only reckless, they're also undemocratic.

Damn, and here we thought our Prime Minister was a supporter of Israel.  It seems we  were wrong.

Israel you see is ruled by something Harper considers to be a great evil, a - GASP - coalition.  In fact Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud party has less seats than rival party Kadima.  The horror, bring our ambassador home right now and impose sanctions.

Some might suggest I'm being disingenious here. 

Bite me. 

I'm merely following basic Conservative logic and its too bad if Harper and some Tories don't like it, we all know how they love to dish it out but whine and moan when its tossed back their way.

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Way to go students!!! Now we need all of Canada's youth voting

I'm loving all the youtube videos of vote mobs taking place all across Canada on university campuses.  Yes the Conservatives tried to have the votes cast by University of Guelph students ruled invalid, but thankfully they failed.

I'm 44 years of age, darn close to 45 in fact and it kind of puts me in a weird nexus.  I'm too young to identify with the baby boom generation as they slip into retirement and Depends undergarments

But I'm also too old to really understand those whose birthdays are two decades after my own.  I sort of have a foot in both camps, but I'm not completely comfortable with either group.

Being in the Canadian Forces I'm surrounded by twenty somethings, kids just starting out their adult lives.  Just for proverbial s###s and giggles I'll sometimes affect a gangsta pose for a laugh, but I know how ridiculous a bald 40ish guy looks trying to act cool.  Heck, my 12 year old son thinks I fart dust. 

I wouldn't trade it though, its keeping me fit and keeping me young at heart which is what really counts in life.  I'm constantly learning, which is essential because when you stop learning you start dying in my opinion.

But one thing that really gets under my skin is the number of young adults I come across who think democracy is a waste of time, particularly among those serving in this nation's military.

Our soldiers are serving in Afghanistan and Libya right now with the stated aim of bringing democracy to those countries.  Across the Middle East people are literally risking their lives for democratic ideals. 

Imagine, having the right to cast a ballot that will help determine the direction your country will take in the coming years.  Nobody has to die for the right to vote in an election here, but that doesn't mean we should just say 'meh'. 

A central theme in this election is that of  tax cuts for profitable businesses.  We're talking billions of dollars that could either go into government programs and deficit reduction, or back onto the balance sheets of major corporations like banks and oil companies.

The Conservatives are telling people that reducing corporate taxes will mean more jobs for Canadians, while others like Jack Layton of the NDP cite cases where companies have closed operations after having their taxes lowered. 

What do young people think?

The Liberals want to invest money in education and child care, the Conservatives are opposed to these types of initiatives, calling them wasteful and inefficient. 

Do young people have an opinion?

One fact is certain, deficits today mean either higher taxes or reduced government services in the future...or a combination of the two. Residents of Ontario used to be able to visit the eye doctor and have it paid for out of the provincial health plan, but not any more. 

Ottawa cut the amount of money it transferred to the provinces back in the nineties.  Doing so meant Ottawa was finally able to start paying down a crippling federal debt. But it also meant a reduction in the number of government paid for services being offered.

Its your future boys and girls?  Do you value government provided services or would you prefer they be handled by the private sector?

If you're 18 years of age or older in this country you have a voice, a say, a ballot.  Nobody can force you to use it, although some may try to swipe the ballot box.  Don't let anyone take away your right to vote, and don't let anyone tell you democracy isn't important.

Here's a video from Memorial University in Newfoundland:

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Your vote does matter - Don't let Harper turn you into a cynic

"It doesn't matter who I vote for, they're all a bunch of liars anyway".

You've probably heard sentiments close to or exactly like this over the past few weeks.  I heard that comment just this morning from a young twenty something guy I shared a taxi with.

And who could blame him?  Harper said he'd never run a deficit, then handed Canadians the biggest shortfall in this country's history.  He said he wouldn't stack the senate, then set the record for most appointments in a single day.  Income trusts were to be left tax exempt, government would be more open and accountable with less waste.  Great promises, but I doubt anyone remembers a promise to build a $2 million fake lake right next to the very real Lake Ontario for the G8 Summit.

So why bother voting?  Whoever gets in is just going to do more of the same....Right?

Wrong.  Yes there will be broken promises no matter what party ends up winning, but the direction our country moves in will be dramatically different depending on the outcome.

Do we go ahead with billion dollar tax cuts to profitable businesses at a time when Ottawa is bleeding red ink?  Today's deficits equal cuts to services and increased taxes down the road.  It happened in the 90s after the runaway deficits of the Trudeau/Mulroney governments.  Health services once covered by provincial health plans were delisted, forcing taxpayers to dig into their wallets for things like a trip to the eye doctor.

Should we really be spending billions of dollars on American style 'Super Jails' when Canada's crime rate is in decline?

Is the F35 fighter jet really the best option for our military?  Is there another solution that would be more cost effective?  Why don't we put it to tender instead of signing a deal without allowing competitive bids?

Canadians deserve better than the government we've been getting in my opinion.  But if we can't be bothered to drop our gaming magazines and I-pods long enough to inform ourselves on the issues, then our elected officials have no incentive to deliver. 

We all hand over significant cash to Ottawa in the form of taxes.  Now is the time to have your say on how you want it spent.  You won't get everything you want, but it can mean the difference between a smoother or much bumpier road down the line. 

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Canada's coporate media in love with...Jack Layton???

Jack Layton seems to be Canada's newest political rock star, at least that's the impression I get watching the likes of CTV news and reading our mostly Conservative press.

Am I the only person who finds this strange?

Business and organized labour do not exactly have the cosiest of relationships, which is understandable.  Corporations want to keep costs down and maximize profits, while unions seek to maximize the wages earned by their members, which negatively impacts a business's bottom line.  Employee earnings and benefits after all are typically the single largest expense a company has. 

You'd think Jack and the NDP would be public enemy number one for mainstream media outlets that rely on corporate advertising, to say nothing of their own battles with organized labour. 

But such is not the case of late, Jack can do no wrong.

But maybe there's a method to their madness.  If Stephen Harper's Conservatives poll  just 35% of the popular vote, then a strong NDP showing could help Tory candidates in tight 3 way races, and possibly hand Harper his coveted majority.  If the Liberals garner 30% in close ridings, the NDP 22 and the Greens 3 or 4 points...then the road to unfettered rule for Harper becomes that much easier.  Even 34 or 35% for a Conservative candidate would leave a comfortable margin of victory. 

On a personal level I would like to see a strong contingent of NDP members in Canada's next parliament.  But not if it comes along with 155 Conservative seats. 

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Will seniors trust Harper on Health Care after he screwed them on Income Trusts?

You have to love little Stevie Harper.  So nice, well dressed and polite.  Oh, and his hair!  Isn't he just adorable? 

Just don't believe a word he says, especially during an election campaign.

Remember back in 2006 when he told seniors how he'd protect their savings by leaving income trusts alone, not like those horrible Liberals.  Those awful Grits were going to tax income trusts, but not our Stevie, oh no.  He was going to protect aging Canadians struggling to make ends meet with many on fixed incomes.

Of course that was when he wanted votes, after he got them...well, things changed.  Steve taxed them and with that news the Conservatives caused the value of Income Trusts to plummet, thus hammering the retirement savings of Canadian seniors.

And it wasn't the only time Stevie has lied.  Stuffing the senate, never running a deficit, making government more open and accountable.  I could go on and on and on.  

So what's Pinocchio saying now?  That he'll continue to provide sustainable funding to Health Care?  Do you believe him?  Especially after he said many times that we should scrap the Canada Health Act when he wasn't in politics and didn't need anyone's vote.  (READ HERE

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Why disgruntled Conservatives are hanging with Harper

Pity the Conservative minded Canadian voter.  Tired of waste, secrecy and mismanagement they finally got hold of the big prize in Canadian politics...and were forced to watch five years of Stephen Harper. 

  • Five years of funding for dubious projects, the most recent example being revelations about spending on the G8 Summit in Huntsville.  (STORY HERE)

  • Five years of withholding information from Canadians like the Veterans Health Services Review. (STORY HERE

  • Five years of watching a 13 Billion dollar surplus turn into a massive record setting deficit.

Yet despite the scandals, controversy and all that red ink, a significant minority of Canadians still seem willing to vote for Mr. Harper's party.  Why?

Part of the reason is attributable to the Tory war chest and their ability to turn voters off of Michael Ignatieff.  In something of a juvenile move, Harper's machine managed to convince the kids on the playground that the new guy wasn't cool.  Not exactly classy, but effective.

Then there's the perpetuation of the myth that Harper's government has done a good job managing the economy.  Granted Harper did inherit a very stable balance sheet, and Canada was better poised to withstand an economic crisis than our neighbours to the south.  But none of that was the doing of Harper's Conservative governments.  In fact, Brian Mulroney deserves more credit than Stephen Harper for putting this nation on solid financial footing....but perception always trumps reality in politics, especially during an election.

So where's a disgruntled Tory to turn?  The Liberals???  Yeah right...not with that globe trotting egg head in charge.  The NDP?  Oh yeah, right!!!  Green?!?!  Let's be serious. 

And then of course you have those who fill the fundamentalist pews every Sunday who are thrilled at having one of their own in the Prime Minister's office.  Sure he hasn't done anything about outlawing gay marriage and about putting abortion back in the criminal code...but give him a majority and then we'll see what happens.

In my opinion Michael Ignatieff needs to talk more about the need to return to surplus, and the path he intends to take to get us there.  Grandiose national programs are all well and good, but first let's get our financial house in order.  In Ralph Goodale the Liberals have a strong card to play against Jim Flaherty's dismal performance. 

There are plenty of Conservative voters out there who are less than pleased with Harper, with good reason, and many who fear a Conservative majority.  Dirty politics and smear have kept many on-side, but a strong end to the campaign could yet still bring some around. 

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Stephen Harper - Taking us back to the Trudeau-Mulroney years

Some might find this a strange admission, but I actually consider myself something of a conservative, certainly in terms of all things fiscal.  I have in fact voted Conservative in the past, I take a bit of pride in being able to say that I've voted Conservative, Liberal and NDP at different times.

While there are a legion of voters out there who will vote Liberal or Conservative EVERY ELECTION, no matter what, to me that is the ultimate in stupidity.

The Conservatives are not always the party to vote for, (in my opinion certainly not now, and not with Stephen Harper's disdain for our democratic traditions and his secretiveness).  And neither are the Liberals.

But Canadian voters can be stupid.  The electorate of this nation continually voted for both Liberal and Conservative governments in the seventies and eighties that put this country in a huge financial hole.  Of course I'm talking about Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney.  You can argue about the differences between the two until the cows come home, but in one respect they were indisputably joined at the hip.  Racking up huge deficits which meant Canadian tax dollars being wasted on debt service instead of anything of tangible value.

When the Chretien-Martin Liberals came to power in the early nineties about 25 cents out of every tax dollar we sent to Ottawa wasn't going to Health Care, the military, transfer payments or anything was just paying interest.  That is just plain stupid.

A lot of the credit for bringing our fiscal house in order belongs to Preston Manning.  He campaigned playing a one string banjo, and the note he hit over and over and over was the need to balance the books.  And while the Liberals actually did the deed, I doubt they would have had the political will without Manning's presence on the political landscape.

And now we have Stephen Harper, ugh. 

Its right back to the Trudeau, Mulroney years.  Spending billions more than government revenues will support. 

And Stephen wants a majority???  Yeah right!!!

Will he get it?  I don't know.  I like to think Canadian voters are intelligent, but history suggests otherwise.  We kept reelecting Trudeau and Mulroney despite the financial disaster they were creating. 

Hopefully voters will be smarter this time around, future generations will thank us. 

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dismantling Canada's social safety net, one tax cut at a time....

Health care, CPP, education, programs for the needy and disenfranchised.

Canada has for a long time maintained an enviable position in the eyes of the world based on how we look after the most vulnerable and poorest members of our society.  The strength of a chain is measured by looking at the weakest links, not the strongest.  Likewise a nation should be judged by the wealth of its poorest citizens, not the richest.

Are we perfect?  No, of course not.  There never has been and likely never will be enough money available to solve all of Canada's social failings.  But we try, and more often than not, we succeed.  Or at least we have until now.

The Conservative governments of Stephen Harper have done yeoman's work in chipping away at the fringes of Canadian identity, looking to mimic the neo-conservative views of their American cousins.  And with a massive deficit we'll be paying more and more for debt servicing with less and less available for things like health care. 

While the overall size of government has been growing during the Harper regime, tax revenues have been declining thanks to big tax cuts to our wealthiest citizens and businesses.  And Harper and his crew just keep running up the Visa bill...ensuring that more and more of the tax dollars they do collect will be thrown down a black hole of interest payments. 

Already those unable to afford access to the courts have had their standing in Canada's democracy weakened.

Your rights are being trampled?  Ahhhh, that's too bad, hope you have the cash to be able to afford some justice.

We'll find out if the slick advertising on the veneer of Conservative economic mismanagement will be enough to garner Harper a majority government and the ability to pursue his Libertarian agenda and to make his old bosses with the National Citizens Coalition very very happy.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Afraid to debate Iggy, Harper finds another way to score...against kids

Stephen Harper is looking an awful lot like Sean Avery these days.  An annoying pest who likes to stir things up, but doesn't have the stones to back his words up with action. 

If you missed it, and no doubt many have....our Prime Minister challenged Ignatieff to a one-on-one debate, which the Liberal leader readily accepted.  Now Harper's backing out, saying he'll only take part in the traditional format, nothing in addition to that. 

Hardly surprising.  Harper even  limits the number of questions friendly corporate news media can underhand at him. 

So why won't Stephen debate Iggy mano-a-mano?  Simple...Harper may be many things, but he's not stupid.  And it takes smarts to know when you're over matched.  With the Conservative record of the past 5 years Ignatieff would wipe the floor with him. 

Many Canadians don't pay close attention to all the noise coming from Ottawa about the Harper Regime's secrecy, the waste of tax dollars, the accusations of fraud, the association with individuals of dubious character. 

A Harper-Iggy faceoff would draw a lot of attention, and with the Conservative record being what it is...suffice to say that Conservative organizers are likely hoping voters stay asleep until after the election is over. 

That's not to say the Prime Minister is going to be invisible.  Today's Globe & Mail reports on Harper joining a bunch of kids for some street hockey.  He even scored a goal!!!  Playing some hockey against kids sure beats dropping the gloves and battling someone his own size. 

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Stephen Harper Video - Why he won't debate Iggy

Conservative leader Stephen Harper has finally spoken up about why he doesn't want to go toe-to-toe with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.

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C'mon Harper, don't wimp out. Debate Ignatieff!!!

Ouch!!!  This is gonna leave a mark.

Stephen Harper challenges Michael Ignatieff to a debate, one on one, mano-a-mano.  Ignatieff gets his gloves on and says: "Anyplace, anytime...let's go"!!!  Then Stephen runs and hides. 

This would be great drama, the new kid and the bully. Well, it would be if the Conservative leader had any cajones.  Rick Mercer is even offering to book a venue and moderate on twitter.  

Now Stephen has his media toadies making excuses for him in the press, like George W. Bush speech writer David Frum in the National Post (Column Here).  Or Shelly Fralic in the Vancouver Sun saying such a debate would be meaningless (Column Here).

Nobody likes a bully.  But even worse is a bully who kicks sand then runs and hides, leaving his friends to make lame excuses. 

No wonder Canada lost its place on the U.N. security council. I mean seriously, why give a seat to a country led by by a wimp?

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