Monday, October 15, 2007

Predictions vs. Preferences

One thing I love about politics is trying to predict what the future holds, whether based on past elections and history, media, or just a "vibe" I get. In conversations with folks I know who are VERY involved in political parties, I sometimes think I actually have a better idea of the broader, unbiased scope and feeling of the people. But then again, sometimes I'm totally out to lunch because I let my preferences get in the way. Regardless, it's still fun, so away we go...

Edmonton Civic Election

Our council has a priority problem and lacks focus. Some of that blame can be put on the mayor, but besides Councillor Mike Nickel, there is general groupthink mentality. Yes, something can be said about consensus and compromise in order to move forward, but there needs to be more concern and opposition as regards spending and priorities to balance out . The last thing this council needs is more left-of-centre tax and spend liberals.

The continued increase in property taxes above inflation is hurting middle to low income folks who have seen housing prices get out of control, plus increased rents. While our infrastructure still lags, traffic congestion explodes, pot holes remain open, and garbage and street cleaning aren't being done, we are completely losing focus of the core services that need to be improved.

Oh sure, the mayor can beg for more provincial money, but it also needs to get its house in order.

I voted for Stephen Mandel for mayor in 2004 with great expectations, but when he showed his stripe by supporting Jim Dinning in the Alberta PC leadership, plus the pot holes, and lack of focus, I ended my support for him. I don't necessarily know Don Koziak, but his back to basics approach aligns with my view. I'm more supporting him as a protest to Mandel.

Mayor: Stephen Mandel*
Ward 1: Karen Leibovici*, Jane Batty*
Ward 2: Kim Krushnell*, Ron Hayter*
Ward 3: Ed Gibbons*, Tony Caterina
Ward 4: Jane Batty*, Debbie Yeung
Ward 5: Bryan Anderson*, Mike Nickel*
Ward 6: Dave Theile*, Amarjeet Sohi

Mayor: Don Koziak
Ward 1: Karen Leibovici
Ward 2: ?
Ward 3: Tony Caterina
Ward 4: Debbie Yeung
Ward 5: Mike Nickel
Ward 6: Chuck McKenna

Throne (thrown?) Speech and Federal Election?

My friends who are very involved at the federal level all say there's going to be an election this fall. You see, I just don't think there will be one. This will require the Liberals (96 seats) and the Bloc Quebecois (49 seats) to vote against the Throne Speech or all or part of the Conservative caucus (126) doesn't show up.

Keep in mind that the prime minister can no longer "call" an election anymore as we now have fixed four year election dates (the first one is set for 2009). He can still determine whether a vote in the house of commons is a matter of confidence, but the seat scenario in this minority government situation doesn't change and only the Liberals + Bloc can do it.

Prime Minister Harper is baiting the opposition parties to bring down the government, otherwise help pass the bills eventually mandated out of the Throne Speech. Liberal leader Stephane Dion doesn't appear to be taking that bait. Although it's a minority, Harper is bullying the other parties into treating it like a quasi-majority. Dion is a pacifist and is appearing to back down from a fight.

And why wouldn't he? Dion is embattled after the by-election losses in Quebec and the sharks are surrounding him. The party has a lack of donors. The Quebec separatist movement is dying and the Liberals can't use the old Trudeau centralization mantra to win federalist support.

Ideology and familiarity are the keys here. Unfortunately, while most people look at political things as either left or right, they fail to look at other dimensions, and a broader principled view. That said, with a lack of sound policies, Canadians aren't clear on who the Liberal party is under Dion ... or is it Ignatieff, or Bob Rae? It's not that comfortable familiarity they once enjoyed.

The New Democratic Party under Jack Layton has a golden opportunity to move to a little to the right here and squish the ideologically defunct Liberals, much like the Labour Party did in Britain. But again, people need to become familiar with the NDP, as the highly respected Ed Broadbent did when he was leader during the 80's. The Green Party movement is essentially filling the void the NDP has failed to invigorate. A stronger NDP in certain parts of the country is good for Conservatives, debate, and Canada as a whole.

Of course, Harper wants a majority, and his grand plan to transform this recently merged right-of-centre party into the new "natural governing party" may perhaps become reality. The longer Harper stays in power, the more opportunity people have to get to know him and how he governs, which is a good thing.

It's all these reasons and more that I don't think there's going to be a federal election, nor would I prefer there be one anyway. I'm just not in the mood, nor do I get a sense that anyone cares or wants one either.

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