Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blackjack Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the agreed that Ontario would get an extra 21 seats under the House of Commons redistribution plan, where before Ontario MPs represented on average about 115,000 residents, where the average in other provinces is 105,000.

At first I was like, "Oh no! Not more for Ontario! More Liberals!"

Then I thought, "Wait a sec .., the Conservatives didn't get a majority because Ontario didn't pull through, they did very well in Ontario. It was Quebec where they lost to the Bloc. But the Bloc ain't gonna run in Ontario are they?" If Ontario had those 21 seats in play and the Conservatives only needed 13 of them.... um, majority?

Another brilliant political move by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Many have argued that REDUCING the number of representatives would be better and cheaper. But would it?

Look at it this way... what would be the reasonable number be? 200,000 per MP? 300,000? How far do we go? What's the right balance? Or how about 1 MP per million. Now we're further from a representative democratic system aren't we? If we had 1 MP per 100 people, now THAT would be democracy, wouldn't it? But expensive.

Despite the myth, Members of Parliament work quite hard and are under a lot of pressure. Sure some stay in it for a long time, but there are many who leave on their own accord due to being away from their families and flying back and forth from Ottawa all the time. It's a difficult job. Not only that, but you have a pile of constituents requests to try and handle. Sure they have local and Ottawa assistants, but why would we want to pile more work on them? Then if they've been in politics for so long, makes it difficult to return to private life, unless you're a lawyer.

Anyway, I just hope Alberta and BC get their fair share as well.

Man, the House of Commons is going to get crowded! Pretty soon it'll look like the the British House of Commons (no desks, just MPs packed like sardines on benches).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh those Liberals...

From ctv.ca:

Liberal Sen. Céline Hervieux-Payette, who participated in the conference call, was reportedly furious over the process by which Ignatieff will take power, [Bob] Fife said.

"This will destroy the Liberal Party, I'm devastated by what this will do to the party, they don't understand anything about democracy," she said, according to notes obtained by Fife.

And how did you get your job Senator?

Egging on Iggy

Bob Rae just bowed out of the Liberal leadership as well in the name of "party unity", when just yesterday he was saying that not having a race probably wasn't a good idea. Man, Bob Rae is the master of changing his tune when it suits him, doesn't it? Anyone doubting he's a Liberal should have no doubt now!

So nicely played, Mr. Ignatieff. Use a crisis and panic to have everyone unify around you. Paul Martin didn't even do as well.

At least Stephen Harper fought TWO contentious leadership races, unifed two parties, and has won a second mandate. Martin didn't. Ignatieff lost a leadership race to Dion (!), isn't going to unify two parties, and I predict he won't win the next election either.

That is, if he wants a fight come January.

Even if Ignatieff is the leader of a coalition, Canadians don't want it. Iggy knows this.

So now we're left two scenarios for Ignatieff:

A) Defeat the budget and fight an election in February/March, which the Liberals would lose, and Iggy is mired as opposition leader for 4 years.

B) Build the Liberal party and fight an election next fall or thereafter. Much better chance at winning.

But don't you find it amazing how all Liberals sign a letter supporting Dion as leader of a coalition gov't, then the next week in a two day period, they dump him, and two leadership candidates drop out and support Ignatieff.

Just like that.

There was some MAJOR backroom play going on for Ignatieff and the Liberal party membership was completely shut out of the whole thing. And this coalition is shutting out the Canadian voter.

It's the Liberal way folks. Circumvent democracy at every turn.

Completely opposite of how Stephen Harper and the Conservatives climbed their way to the top.

Oh, and congratulations to Premier Jean Charest in winning a 7 seat majority in Quebec last night. Mario Dumont quits as ADQ leader (that party is done like dinner). I'd like to know how many folks who voted Bloc in the federal election voted Liberal in this Quebec election.

Anyway, back to federal...

You know what I think Harper is going to do? I think he and Flaherty are going to present another modest budget with some help for the auto and forest industry, but it just isn't going to be good enough for Iggy and Co. And Iggy is going to be caught in a tough spot. Now that he's crowned, and the Liberals are "unified", many Liberals are going to want to push for an election with their new leader.

Harper WANTS an election. He knows he'd win a majority.

Is Ignatieff's ego that big that he'll call Harper's bluff and have an election?

Or will he do the smart thing and wait?

The egg awaits.

Monday, December 08, 2008

That's the Iggy

Well, it "seems" that Michael Ignatieff wants to follow his party's constitution and have the leadership race in May. But that'll only happen now if his old roommate Bob Rae stays in the race.

I'm telling ya, if Ignatieff becomes the interim leader and the Liberals defeat the budget in January, he'd wouldn't be smart embracing this coalition government. He also wouldn't be smart in him asking the Governor General for an election, but Stephen Harper would, because the Conservatives would get a majority.

So what Ignatieff will do is threaten an election or dangle the coalition so Harper puts a half-decent budget together, then pulls the numbers game to avoid both a coalition and delay an election until a later time. He'll have 15 or so of his caucus members abstain and the budget will pass.

Look, Iggy's a smart guy like Harper. They both see the long game and aren't much different on policy.

It's a very interesting chess game.

That's my prediction.

Rob Silver asks the tough question

I've been glued to one of the best new political blogs, "Silver-Powers", a dual (duel?) blog on GlobeAndMail.com by two very bright party strategists, Liberal Rob Silver and Conservative Tim Powers.

One of Rob's latest postings asks THE tough question for Liberal MPs...

So either:

(a) The Liberal caucus was UNANIMOUS in supporting both the coalition and Dion as leader until May; or

(b) There are a bunch of MPs in the Liberal caucus who are both cowardly and whose word means little (or whose opinions change with the wind).

Really, this is a binary situation - make your choice.
Rob, a very good question, and I have an answer for you regarding why Liberal MPs do these types of things...

Very few have principle, they go whichever way the wind blows at the moment (or seems to blow), and thus, they have miscalculated the overwhelming view among Canadians that the coalition government isn't what we want, and why the polls show the Liberals at their lowest point in HISTORY.

Friends, that is NOT leadership. And this party wants to form government? That's how they've always been and always will be. If they can't even decide or stand up for anything, you really want them managing the economy at this time?

What drove them ALL to sign the letter for the Governor General? As your blogmate said, "The sniff of power."

Canadians saw that too.

Now that the sniff of power appears to be with Michael Ignatieff, leadership contender, Dominic LeBlanc has ended his bid and joined with Iggy. Too bad. Too bad the Liberal party doesn't respect democracy.

While the other contender, Bob Rae, has embraced the coalition because he's going to need new members joining from the NDP to be delegates at the Liberal convention, perhaps Ignatieff set him a trap and he fell into it.

Ignatieff never publicly said he's for or against the coalition and Bob Rae even had Ignatieff and LeBlanc show their public support for Stephane Dion as leader of the coalition government. I guess that is a wash, now that it appears Dion will step down (read: pushed out) in a few days at the Liberal caucus meeting instead of the originally planned May leadership convention in Vancouver.

Ignatieff's gut instinct was correct though, that the coalition is not a way to build the Liberal party, where it's Bob Rae's way to go.

Now that Dion is gone, and the party needs to accelerate that processes in getting a new leader, and that the coalition is now the so-called the backup plan, the Liberal caucus' new "instinct" is either:

A) the Liberals will support or abstain on the Conservative budget when the House starts up again in January, and resume with its May leadership convention, with Ignatieff having recently shored up caucus support, and Bob Rae will likely retreat from the coalition, but he'll be damaged goods,

or

B) the Liberals will vote against the budget and with new interim/permanent leader, Michael Ignatieff, already in place they will be 'ready' for a new election, and excited that they'll do better.

Ignatieff left the door open for Harper to have a strong budget.

I didn't mention the machinations of how the Liberals are picking their new leader, because frankly, it doesn't really matter. If the Liberal caucus does it this week and names Ignatieff as interim to replace Dion and decides it's not going to have a convention and says Ignatieff is permanent leader, it's going to divide the party for a while, but eventually, Liberals will balk, because "Ignatieff was going to be leader anyway, so get behind him or go hang out with Bob Rae."

So in my opinion, this coalition idea is as good as dead. And you know who's to thank? You. It's the thousands of Canadians who went out to show support for democracy and against the coalition takeover.

So now, it's up to Michael Ignatieff to decide if he wants to fight an election in February/March or if he wants to wait until May and spend cash on a leadership bid that he'll win anyway, raise money for the Liberals and then fight an election next fall.

Because I think he knows the Conservatives would win a majority in February/March, and so he'd will be opposition leader for 4 years.

That would be the smart thing to do, to wait, as it gives voters an opportunity to see who he is as opposition leader while they grow weary of Harper, otherwise, if he fights an election this February/March, people won't know him as well, and will be hesitant, while the Conservatives go neg on his ambition for power with the coalition, exposing his actual view against it and dividing the Liberals, while economic numbers improve, showing the Conservatives as good managers.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Parliamentary Wars

On Thursday, after a long two hour conversation, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was able to get (convince?) Governor General Michaelle Jean to prorogue (dissolve) parliament until the end of January.

So yeah.. um, this "Coalition" now reminds me of the Trade Federation and it's falling apart and I'm narrowing down the choices for Darth Sidious.

I was going to say Gilles Duceppe, but the guy is just so straightfoward and honest, so he's not really sneaking around the back rooms, that is unless someone like Jack Layton approaches him first.

It's definitely not Stephane Dion. What, with a crappy video response to Harper's short address, how could he have the dark side with him? As well, he left a crack open for Harper to work with him on the budget after the House returns in January. I think he saw the backlash against this coalition and how he would be viewed by Canadians... a power hungry politician, and not a statesman.

And speaking of backlash, check out the latest poll numbers...

65% of Canadians (55% Quebeckers) approve the prorogation.

And if an election were held today...
IPSOS: CPC 46%, LPC 23%, NDP 13%, BQ 9%, GPC 8%
COMPAS: CPC 51%, LPC 20%, NDP 10%, BQ 8%, GPC 6%

WOW!

So I've narrowed it down to two for the prize of Darth Sidious:
- Jack Layton
- Bob Rae

Bob's been wanting to marry the Liberals and NDP for many, many years and I think he sees it if he becomes Liberal Leader, he could reach out to the NDP and make that happen, like Chretien and Broadbent just did in getting this coalition off the ground in the first place. He's very pro-coalition and got leadership rival Michael Ignatieff to support Dion as the leader of the coalition, but Ignatieff doesn't really want to be a part of a coalition cabinet (very smart move).

So if Harper can compromise with Dion (forget the other two guys) and gain confidence of the house again on the budget in January, then Harper can come out on top and be like Luke Skywalker and defeat the dark side. Even if he doesn't and the Governor General calls for an election, with those poll numbers Harper will kick ass.

But, there's always Ignatieff. Maybe he's got metachorians in him too!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Nightmare on the Hill

I had a very vivid dream last night that played out in the House of Commons. Kind of a nightmare.

I was a page next to the Speaker's chair watching everything unfold with the Liberal/NDP coalition. Governor General, Her Excellency Michaelle Jean entered the chambers and called all the party leaders into her office while we all waited in anxiety.

Ten minutes later, they all returned and I stood next to Her Excellency. MP Jim Prentice stood up and announced to everyone that the Governor General has asked that the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper compromise and work with Opposition Leader Stephane Dion in coming up with a viable solution to prevent defeat of the duly elected government.

Everyone rejoiced. Mostly Conservatives.

Afterward, there was a party to celebrate, and I spoke with Her Excellency and thanked her for her wisdom.

Then I realized that I was dreaming within a dream and a friend of mine who works on the Hill told me that the Governor General actually allowed the coalition government to form with Stephane Dion as Prime Minister.

One of these dreams will come true. And one of them is a nightmare.

I can't understand for the life of me how on one hand that Stephane Dion can say that they will not defeat the government on the Throne Speech one week and the next day push for a confidence motion based on an economic update with basically the same content, save, of course, removing public party financing.

Any Liberal or NDP who says its about the economy is pushing poppycock. Its about a power grab, pure and simple.

And anyone who says the Harper government doesn't have the support of the majority of voters, although our parliamentary system allows a minority government to form, and then supports the coalition using the same parliamentary system to overturn the election results which gave the Harper government a mandate based on their economic proposals during the campaign, flies in the face of our parliamentary democracy.

Hypocrites abound and shameful.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"Good shot [pro]Rogue II" or another Rebel Alliance?

The current situation in Parliament reminds me of the Star Wars series--how an elected official, Senator Palpatine, was elected chancellor of the Galactic Senate, while as Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, secretly creates a mass crisis and war between the clones and robot army, and in order to restore "peace", single-handedly creates the Galactic Empire with himself as Emporer. Then with one swift move, wipes out the Jedi, the protectors of democracy, and rules for over a decade.

Thing is, with Parliament, I can't tell who to compare Palpatine/Sidious to.

With the release of the NDP taped conference call and claims that leader Jack Layton had a deal with the Bloc well before the Tory gov't's economic update, could this make Jack the Sith Lord. Is it Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe in helping to prop up a coalition giving the balance of power to his separatist movement? Or is it Ed Broadbent and Jean Chretien putting the deal together between the NDP and Liberals in the back room? Is it Stephane Dion who would be leader of the coalition gov't and thus prime minister, although he was resoundly rejected by voters. Or is it Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has just prorogued parliament until the new year? Or is it Tory insiders, with new leadership websites for John Baird and Jim Prentice, secretly plotting a coup against Harper, so their future leadership hopefuls have a chance to move in and save the day?

See! Hard to tell, isn't it?

But what I do know is, whomever wins this recent situation in the end and stability returns, will be deemed "The New Hope", a.k.a. Luke Skywalker. That said, by properly applying The Force, the winner will also have to finally defeat his enemies, returning peace, order, and good government to Canada (a.k.a. winning a majority).

And this could apply to Liberal leadership contender, Michael Ignatieff, winning the race in May, raising the Liberal party out of the ashes, and defeating Harper in an election.

But it could also still apply to Stephen Harper, in his quest to destroy the Liberal party.

But as they often say in Star Wars, "I got a bad feeling about this."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Balk

I'm in shock. Absolute shock. I can't believe what's happening in the House of Commons.

1) The opposition parties are clammering the Conservatives for not spending a bazillion dollars on failing industries (auto, forestry, etc.) in the midst of a global economic crisis, while at the same time clammering them for selling of gov't assets, brokering a deal with the public service union, and removing public funding for political parties, all to prevent them from potentially going into deficit. All this, even though the gov't took measures over a year ago and that Canada is in the best shape economically of the G7. Their logic shocks me.

2) Even though we just had an election, the Liberals and NDP, brokered by has-been leaders, Jean Chretien and Ed Broadbent, are moving to form a coalition gov't, with the Bloc propping them up.

This is what happens when you have a weak leader like Stephane Dion who, just last week, said he wouldn't bring down the gov't because it would be irresponsible in this time of economic instability. Well, what happened? Iggy. That's what happened.

Apparently, the Bloc won't support the Lib-NDP coalition as long as Dion is the leader, but will support it if Michael Ignatieff is though. Shocking.

3) As a result, the Conservatives have backed down on removing public funding for political parties. I'm shocked that they backed down. But it looks like it doesn't matter. The Liberals are going to call for a non-confidence motion on Monday, supported by the NDP and Bloc.

To me, this looks like a massive power grab by one Michael Ignatieff, even though we just had an election that gave the Conservatives a stronger mandate, with the Liberals having one of their worst showings since confederation.

4) What's worst is that this coalition (Liberals 77 + NDP 37 = 110 < Conservatives 143) needs the party that wants to tear the country apart. Shameful and shocking.

If Governor General Michelle Jean does not grant the Liberal/NDP/(Bloc) coalition, then there's going to be an election. If that happens, look at voters giving the Conservatives a majority.

UPDATE: Prime Minister Harper has cancelled the opposition day and ways and means motion for another week.

"While we have been working on the economy, the opposition is working on
back room deal to reverse the results of the election," Harper said at a news
conference.

Harper appealed to Canadians to make their opinion on the matter known
to their MPs. "They want to take power, rather than earn it," Harper said of
the proposed coalition. "The opposition is in its right to bring down the
government, but (Liberal Leader)Stephane Dion does not have the right to take
power without an election."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another nail in the coffin

Everyone should probably know by now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been trying to destroy the Liberal party or at least remove the "natural governing party" status it has enjoyed in being the most successful political party in world democratic history.

Whether taking on the Liberal-dominated senate, having snap elections, or limiting donations to parties, the latest move will further "unnaturalize" the Liberals while also sticking a fork in the Bloc Quebecois.

Obviously using the economic downturn as a catalyst, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the $1.75/vote taxpayer-funded amounts going to political party coffers will be completely revoked.

While all parties stand to lose millions, with the Conservatives losing the most, it's the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois who will be hurt most because they don't have nearly as many individual donors (who can donate up to $1100) as the Conservatives or NDP.

Here's what parties received from the public treasury last year and as a percentage of their total revenues.

  • Conservatives: $10 million (37%)
  • Liberals: $7.7 million (63%)
  • NDP: $4.9 million (57%)
  • Bloc Quebecois: $2.6 million (86%)
  • Green Party: $1.8 million (65%)
I've always thought that it's outrageous for Canadian taxpayers to be funding a party that wants to tear up the country.

While it's only about $30 million in savings, if Canadians are going to have a hard time and will reign in their own spending, why they should fund political parties?

Now let's see if there are any Liberals who agree with this.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ra Ra Ras Putin!

Oh those Russians. They don't like the number four.

To be ratified soon, whomever becomes the next Russian president after Medevevededevev (gee, I wonder who that'll be?) will now get to enjoy SIX year terms. Forget FOUR.
FOUR is cliche. FOUR is too short. SIX! AH AH AH!
Also, deputies in the Duma will sit for FIVE YEARS, not four.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Federal Liblead Race -- The Roommates and the Visitor

Many people know that Liberal MPs Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff were once college roommates. Funny that.

Monday night I was discussing with a friend about how I now think this federal Liberal leadership race is turning into a coronation for Bob Rae. How so?--by eliminating the competition before the race even starts and "taking over" the party, which Bob seems to have done using his old Powercorp/Demarais connections, etc.

The Quebec Liberal wing tried to put into the rules that candidates had to be debt-free from the last race. While it didn't get implemented, the idea was put out there and basically immediately knocked out those with debt. They also put in a $90,000 entry fee (yikes!) and are limiting spending to $1.5 million (which isn't much).

Both play well for Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff.

So the other day Martha Hall Finlay decided not to run. Gerard Kennedy today announced that he's not running either. Both have around $200k of debt. It's too bad (for Liberals). I think Gerard is the type of renewal guy they need and not having any women doesn't look good either.

Bob Rae, on the other hand, did no such thing (not noticeable anyway). He actively supported Dion, and even defended the Green Shift. Iggy, not so much.

We also know MPs Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae are running. Michael Ignatieff hasn't decided if he's running yet, but he probably will. I think there's no doubt that Iggy and Co. were undermining Dion throughout his leadership, the by-elections, and especially watching him in the House of Commons whenever Dion spoke. Iggy is relatively new to Canadian politics and doesn't have the same power connections that Rae has had for some time.

I have no idea who LeBlanc is and likely neither do a lot of Canadians. Ontarians certainly know who, Bob Rae, their former premier, is, and while the left like him, the centre and centre-right likely does not at all one bit. The hope for the Liberals in this sense is that they would try to unite the left without actual merger with the NDP and Green. This would require fear mongering and attacking Stephen Harper to no end in typical Liberal fashion. Bob Rae doesn't stand for much other than trying to come across as a happy politician but attacking opponents whenever possible. With Iggy it's different. It would be a battle for the centre and a debate of actual ideas, yet I'm sure attacks would be in there for sure.

If no other candidates besides these three enter, LeBlanc has no hope as there are no other lesser candidates to support him on subsequent ballots like Kennedy did with Dion to allow him to shoot up the middle between Iggy and Rae. Which means Iggy can't win.

I'd assume LeBlanc has been well tied into the Liberal family for some time, with his father Romeo as a past Governor General, meaning I'd guess he'd be convinced to support Rae on the 2nd ballot for a plum cabinet post. Or more likely is his friend Warren Kinsella convincing him to go Iggy.

However, I don't know the insides of the Liberal party all that well and if there is a genuine desire for actual "renewal" like the Democrats and Americans did by electing Barack Obama, then LeBlanc has a chance. But I don't that's what Liberals want... an unknown. So if that spirit is there then Ignatieff is the guy. He's well spoken and intelligent.

But I do know the outsides of the Liberal Party (as do many of us) and when they mean "renewal", that's Liberal-speak for "power at all costs", so that translates to Bob Rae.

But I wonder if Bob Rae was supporting Dion so actively to try and chum his way into the Liberal party. Maybe Ignatieff has had the actual reins on the party since his last race.

Regardless, as I mentioned, Dominic LeBlanc is the guy visiting those old college roommates and the king-maker. Who will be the first to offer him a beer?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

US Election: Obamanation Prediction

Here's my final Electoral College prediction, which I think is pessimistic for Obama and optimistic for McCain.
Obama 311
McCain 227




Monday, November 03, 2008

And another Taser death...

Edmonton last week--Calgary this week.

The Canadian Press
CALGARY -- Calgary police say a man has died in hospital after officers used a Taser while arresting him on the weekend. Police say the dead man is Gordon Walker Bowe, 30, from Castlegar, B.C.

Bowe was rushed to hospital Saturday night in critical condition after
police responded to calls about a break-and-enter.

Officers found a man in a basement of a home and used a Taser to try to subdue him, but were unsuccessful.

Police say the man was eventually arrested, but went into medical distress while being assessed by paramedics.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has taken over the investigation.

Addendum:
CBC has been keeping track of these deaths for the most part. Here's a map of the Taser-related deaths in Canada...

http://www.cbc.ca/news/interactives/map-tasers-canada/

U.S. Election Prediction: Hope of Obamanation


"Red: Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It's got no use on the inside. You'd better get used to that idea." -- from The Shawshank Redemption.
Back in February '08, the night of the "Potomac Primaries", whilst working in Alexandria, Virginia, as some of you know, I "crashed" a John McCain rally at a small hotel only 5 minutes from my hotel in Old Town. It was this night that he basically clinched the Republican nomination.


Here's a picture I took of how close I got to the man.
I remember his speech and how it spoke to my libertarian-conservative principles and I remembered back in '99 when I was rooting for John McCain over George Bush. I still believe John McCain is a libertarian-conservative at heart. That is until he tapped Sarah Palin to secure the conservative base and began to use the Karl Rove tactic to paint his opponent as too left wing for the nation. It reminded me of what the Liberals try to do in Canada--and that is paint Harper and the Conservatives as too right wing.

Now let's look at ideology, shall we?
You see the thing is, as a long-time Stephen Harper supporter, and him telling me directly that his core ideology is "classic liberal" (which is similar to libertarian-conservative), that despite being painted as a far-left liberal, Barack Obama is still to the right of Stephen Harper on most major issues. Here are a few to note:
Harper wants most Canadian troops out of Afghanistan by 2011. Obama wants to end the war in Iraq but send more troops to Afghanistan (and covertly, possibly into Pakistan).

The Canadian Conservative gov't supports a publicly-funded health care system where everyone is covered. Obama wants to ensure that almost every American can get health care, but it's not quite the same as a national health care system.

On taxes, Harper has lowered taxes on the GST from 7 to 5% (which the Americans do not have), and given tax targetted tax credits mostly to families (child care credit, trade tools, diesel fuel tax which helps farmers,
On trade, while Canada is smartly looking at a free-trade deal with the European Union, Obama hinted during the Ohio primaries that he would take another look at NAFTA. I think it was talk to secure the union vote and he hasn't mentioned it during the main race at all. What he has mentioned is that he'd give tax cuts to businesses that hire Americans and that do not "ship jobs overseas". I'd say that's classic conservative protectionism, not anti-free trade per sae.

On gay marriage, Obama hasn't really talked much about these wedge issues but I'd assume he's in favour of it--although there are several American states that are having direct votes on whether to "Ban Gay Marriage?" You'll recall in Canada a couple of years ago when the issue was up in the House of Commons. Harper let his caucus vote freely on the issue and now gay marriages are legal in Canada.

On the recent economic crisis, Senator Obama voted in favour of the $700 billion injection into big investment corporations. In Canada, the Harper gov't recently injected $25 billion over 5 years to buy up the few defaulted mortgages (less than 1%) from the CMHC Crown corporation.

There's no doubt that Barack Obama has taken the nation by storm and inspired a new generation of young voters. His campaign has been the most advanced, most disciplined, and most engaging one in election history... at least in North America, if not ever in the entire world. His speeches and confidence have intrigued everyone, including this conservative. After 9/11, America hasn't healed itself and has been living in a state of fear ever since. A fear much of what has been driven by ignorance, by ideology, and perhaps by religion from a presidential administration that without intentionally knowing it, took away hope. Oh sure, they pat down old grandmothers at airports to make them feel safe (?) from the terrorists. That's not hope. That's fear, playing on innocent people's trust in their leaders.
The War in Iraq has crippled the U.S. in casualties, broken families, a massive debt and trade deficit, and in its reputation around the world.
The United States of America needs Barack Obama to lead it out of the 20th century, get passed the racial lines, heal itself from the war, stop living in fear, and learn to hope and dream again.
John McCain, as noble a man I believe he is, knowing what he went through as a P.O.W. in Vietnam, simply does not inspire like he used to. As much as he tried to distance himself from Republican Bush policies, a lot of it stuck. Americans appear to want a fresh start, rather than be mired in the past.

I love Americans. I have many friends and family there and enjoy working there immensely. I want to see it become the nation that Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and King dreamed of it being... that shining beacon of freedom and democracy.

Economic ideology aside, this election is not "about the economy, stupid"--it's always been about hope for a better future. That covers not just who's got the best economic plan, but who can truly lead and inspire hope in everyone.

While Senator Obama has asked Americans to hope again, let us all, everyone, truly hope that during his time as president, he'll help fulfill the dreams and ambitions of those who've been left behind and open up that last remnant of hope inside of them.
"Andy: I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company...[He points and taps his head] It was in here. [And he gestures over his heart] And in here. That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you. Haven't you ever felt that way about music?...Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so we don't forget...that there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone, that there's, there's somethin' inside that they can't get to, that they can't touch. It's yours."

"Andy: Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy. "
And I think this final quote from the movie, sums up what a lot of Americans are feeling right on the verge of an Obama win:

"Red: I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope. "
"Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free."
And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "dream" is perhaps coming to fruition...
"Free at last! Free at last! Thank GOD Almighty, we are free at last!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Frickin' Taser Death

There's been a couple recent taser deaths in Canada. But this one is right in Edmonton, and the attack happened right next to a pub I frequent.

The assailant was on drugs, no doubt. He attacked and chased an innocent man. He ran into a pawn shop and was wrecking the place. Police tried to detain him but he rushed them. Then the taser came out and they zapped him. He laid unconscious. He later died.

First, I hope the innocent man who was attacked is okay, which I think he is, but that would certainly be traumatic.

Secondly, I hope the pawn shop employee(s) and owner will be okay.

Thirdly, I hope the police are okay in this difficult situation.

Fourthly, did the attacker deserve to die?

No. If he did then he should have been shot by police. But he wasn't. A taser was used to subdue him, but it was the cause that killed him. I do not blame the police one bit in this situation. They were doing their duty and their job. I blame those who thought tasers were a good idea.

But this situation, kind of makes the Rodney King video (remember that?) look like a massage because Rodney King is still alive.

Some say it was because of the drugs that this assailant was on that the taser enhanced the effect and killed him. Which is exactly why tasers shouldn't be used. There's a slew of medications, drugs, and other physical defects where a policeman would not know whether the taser could kill.

Call me a bleeding heart, but I'm far from it. This attacker should have been detained (beaten with a club on the legs perhaps to subdue him), arrested, and locked up for a long time.

And I'm all for more police here. I called for it on Whyte Ave, where they parked their cars at each block to prevent any rogue riots. They stepped up (obviously not on my account) and incidences are way down on the popular bar strip. The Edmonton Police Service have been actively recruiting and advertising for more officers and hope more and more people sign up and become what is touted as one of the best police forces in North America.

But we all know that the law regards reasonable doubt as the defining line between innocence and being guilty.

And it is because of that doubt, that time and time again, the use of tasers goes beyond that line and the judge and jury be damned, because the taser has proven it decides the ultimate sentence right then and there.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quebelection 2008: And they're off!

It appears that Quebeckers will head to the polls on December 8th. Last week, two ADQ MNAs crossed the floor to the Liberals.

With that and other things there are some preliminary questions:

1. Will Mario Dumont's ADQ Party continue with the momentum from last election or has Liberal Premier Jean Charest staved it off with good management and the trust of Quebeckers?

  • My bets are with Jean Charest. Conservatives federally didn't make a breakthrough and although there is a loose affiliation between Harper's Conservatives and Dumont's ADQ, voters may equate the two. Charest is the middle ground.
2. With the Bloc Quebecois continuing to have 49 seats in the House of Commons federally, will this translate into voters flocking to the Parti Quebecois provincially?
  • No. A lot of the Bloc voters weren't hard core separatists like the PQ are.

3. What will be the defining issue this election?

  • It's the economy, stupid!

Overall, unlike 10 years ago, I'm hearing a lot of great things about Quebec, Montreal in particular. With the 400 year anniversary of Quebec City, Quebec pride is at an all time high. But it doesn't seem to be equated with sovereignty/separatism other than seeing that the rest of Canada does, in fact, see them as a special nation within our dominion.

So we'll see which party gets glued to that Quebec pride on December 8th. I predict a stronger Charest Liberal minority.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Canadian Federalection 2008 - CPC War Room mishaps

Here are my thoughts on where the Conservative War Room and Stephen Harper disappointed me in this election (and I know many other Conservatives whom I've spoken with agree):

- The famous puffin poop dropping on Dion in a website animation. Who approved this? Absolutely immature and unnecessary.

- Announcement of new policy to treat 14 year old serious offenders as criminals, etc. Duceppe's argument that sending them to jail would be dangerous to them was right and this issue lost the CPC votes in Quebec. This announcement was not a major issue, wouldn't have shored up more support than they already had, and totally unnecessary to bring up during the election.

- Harper's comments on "rich galas" when quickly the media and Liberal war room brought up the fact that his wife, Laureen, was chairman of a gala committee nullified his statements. While his comments solidified core support, it along with the massive arts-cuts spin lost him tonnes of votes and seats in Quebec. (But then why these arts folks who want more funding voted Bloc who would get no funding if they separated have any credibility on this issue is beyond me.)

- When the Liberal war room and Bob Rae exposed the plagarism of a speech Harper gave that was exactly the same as then Australian Prime Minister Howard's regarding the War in Iraq, the fallout was the resignation of a guy in the CPC war room who stole the speech. It wasn't until a week later did the CPC war room expose a plagarised speech Dion gave regarding Kyoto. It got little legs in the media as compared to Harper's. Too little too late boys.

- Harper in the debates. In French, he didn't go after Duceppe as much as he could have on Duceppe not talking about "sovereignty". That issue doesn't play as well in Quebec anymore which is why the Bloc got so many votes--not that their soft supporters actually want to separate, but now they're no different than a western protest party. In English, he didn't go after Duceppe again on this issue. Which leads me to...

- Harper's leadership. He was trumpted as a "strong leader" at the beginning of the campaign, but when the U.S. economy tanked, and Canadians stocks tanked, that leadership didn't come through as much as Canadians were told to expect. He should have trumpted more and more how the Canadian banking system is #1 in the world, how our mortgage lending system is rock solid, how Canadians are smart people, and basically provide some sort of inspiration and hope, and how we differ from the U.S. on these aspects. Luckily the few days before the election, he got that support back, as voters had no where else to turn to.

- The spin on Stephane Dion's re-re-redo-interview on CTV. CTV and the media were already running with it, so why did the CPC war room and Harper have to mention anything about it again. That tactic backfired due to the Liberal Party (LPC) war room and Bob Rae spinning it back very well. This resonated in Quebec.

- And locally in Edmonton-Strathcona, on the Rahim Jaffer campaign, whoever thought of printing up and distributing flyers spouting NDP leader Jack Layton's quotes on marajiuana being "a wonderful substance" and contrasting it with Conservative policy criminalizing it when Rahim himself was quoted a couple years ago in favour of decriminalization, had poor political judgement and no understanding of the riding. This policy stance was irrelevant and a very poor choice for a wedge issue in a riding that is the most libertarian one in Alberta. This mishap was quoted in the Edmonton Journal editorial leading up to election day, and now knowing the NDP implied stance, people from all over the left side of the spectrum probably caused an exodus to the already well-run NDP Linda Duncan campaign. I'm not saying it was the main cause, but it was a cause.

- Finally... TV ads. Conservative TV ads spent most of the time attacking Dion's carbon tax. Some of them looked cheap, reminding me of old Progressive Conservative ads. While there were positive ads of Harper in his "sweather", there were no ads spouting the positive Conservative record and their current platform. The Liberals did it in 2000 and won handily.

That's all I gotta say... for now anyway. Anyone looking for a political strategist/spin doctor?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canadian Federalection 2008 - Hatrock on GlobalTV and Results

Hey if you were watching Global TV last night, you would have seen me at the Rahim Jaffer Campaign wearing my Conservative Party hockey jersey giving a live interview with Carolyn Jarvis. It was fun, and she thanked me for a good interview. I can't find the interview online though. Oh well. I also had a short interview on CFCW radio.

I basically said that Rahim has always been a grassroots kind of guy and that the race was tight because even Liberals in the riding rejected Dion's carbon tax and they all rallied behind the NDP, who were running an excellent campaign and I commended them for that.

Then I got tonnes of calls, texts, and emails.

All that said, I'm disappointed that Rahim didn't win. His wife, Helena won handily, so Rahim is certainly not out of federal politics, and hopefully Conservative supporters who didn't show up to vote are now motivated next election. Voter turnout was 65% in the riding, which is one of the highest in the land and especially Alberta, so the lefties in the area were well organized and did a great job in GOTV (get out the vote).

Recap of my predictions...

At beginning of campaign (with actual results):
157 Conservatives (143)
70 Liberals (76)
40 Bloc Quebecois (50)
40 NDP (37)
1 Independent (2)
0 Green (0)

Election Day Revised (with actual results):
147 Conservatives (143)
75 Liberals (76)
50 Bloc Quebecois (50)
40 NDP (37)
1 Independent (2)
0 Green (0)

Not bad eh?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sign vandals

One thing I noticed in Edmonton... there are a lot of Conservative signs that were destroyed, moved, or broken, particularly Rahim Jaffer's signs in Edmonton-Strathcona and Laurie Hawn's in Edmonton-Centre. And I'm talking the big signs.

I noticed absolutely no NDP, Green, or Liberal signs treated the same way.

It'll make No Difference, Parlicularly when this stuff usually backfires.

Canadian Federalection 2008 - Typical Liberal last minute strategy

In the 2000 election, the Liberals poigned the thought of a Stockwell Day led Canadian Alliance government. They took Stock's cockiness and translated it as a beacon call to leftists to unite under the Liberals. It worked. It especially worked because the right was still divided.

This divide and conquer method is a sneaky trick in Canadian politics, one the Conservatives tried this election by painting Dion's carbon tax as THE issue, dividing the already divided Liberals even further and having those old left Liberal votes drip to the NDP, Greens, or Bloc.

The method didn't work so well in Quebec, where the drip went to the Bloc as the Conservatives failed to divide and conquer properly there by announcing changes to the Young Offenders Act to try 14 year olds violent offenders. While that policy shore up support in Southern Ontario and the West, that coupled with the arts movement in Montreal shuttered any big Quebec breakthrough. Too bad really.

Watch for British Columbia though, where the big vote split on the left will allow many Conservatives to "shoot up the middle" and win.

With the Conservatives at about 34% going into the weekend, they'll be shy of that majority by about 20 seats. Some say if they hit 38%, then it's possible, due to the pile of votes splits on the left.

And the Liberals know it. Which is why Dion, on the last day of the campaign, called for an end to vote splitting. This is the same strategy they used in 2000, but this time, they'll fall short.

But here's what I don't get.

Many of these "progressives" on the left, including soft NDP supporters call for a proportional representation (PR) system. Perhaps if you actually voted NDP and Green, more MPs from those parties would get elected and you'd have more of a say on the issue rather than being all "scared" about Harper and being coyed into voting Liberal--a party that doesn't support PR.

As well, the more folks that vote NDP and Green, the more money they get from the new election party finance laws... $1.75/vote to be exact.

The Liberals are broke, in debt, and Dion's still in about $700,000 of debt. They have no grassroots support so little money coming in. Their old big corporate donors can only give $1100 or so.

The NDP and Greens have run excellent campaigns with leaders saying smart, articulate things. The NDP particularly have had slick TV ads, and Jack Layton has been outstanding right from the first day. He is an effective MP and opposition leader--much more effective than Dion ever was this past session.

The Liberals won't win this election, so voting for them is a waste. I encourage all of my NDP and Green friends to for once vote for the party they actually WANT to vote for, not against, which is never a wasted strategy.

Heck, I did it in 1993, 1997, 2000 when I voted Reform/Canadian Alliance. I wanted a strong opposition and while I didn't agree with all of their policies, there were some major issues that I did agree with. I never thought they'd form government but I didn't ever vote Progressive Conservative either.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadian Federalection 2008 - Prediction - Slight Conservative Majority

My prediction from the beginning of the election still stands for the most part. I'm usually way, way off.

157 Conservatives
70 Liberals
45 Bloc
35 NDP
1 Ind
0 Green

But I actually think the Bloc will be still at around 50 and the NDP 40, putting the Conservatives at around 147. But yeah, my previous prediction still stands. It's more hopeful.

Don't forget to vote early and vote often! (I already voted at an advance poll.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Canada Federalection 2008 - [insert colour] Shift

A lot has happened since my last post 6 days ago... the debates (including the Canadian ones..lol..), the U.S. bailout, and looming world economic recession.

Polls indicated that the Conservatives were teetering close to a majority if not there. The Liberals remain stagnant in the mid 20's, the NDP are edging close to that, and the Bloc has regained its earlier losses.

But with a week left, and a weak left (get it?), Harper is poised to continue on as prime minister.

So what's happened in a nutshell?

Gaffes
The old Harper, er..., John Howard speech from five years ago I think was spun well by the Liberals; the story had legs over a few days. The Conservative war room seem to be asleep in trying to point out heavily that Bob Rae and Dion have both plagiarized themselves. But all the parties have had candidates quit over some controversy. I don't think this has affected the national campaigns overall that much.

Debates
Duceppe won the French debate, Layton the English debate, while Dion improved and went beyond his very very low expectations, where Harper didn't wow anyone, and has remained calm, cool, and collected throughout it all... as a prime minister should do. Chretien did it in 1997.

Ads
The Liberals have gone to the old playbook in equating Harper with Bush. I think Canadians are really tired of this line and reeks of desperation from the Liberals. The Conservatives are coming out with another warm fuzzy one with a positive message, which will work and gain them a couple points.

Quebec
So let me get this straight... arts folks in Quebec are complaining about Harper's so-called cuts to arts and now putting their protest vote with the Bloc, a party that wants to separate from Canada and no longer receive ANYTHING from the federal government. Hmmm... yeah, makes a lot of sense to me. With 5000 people marching in Montreal today, you wonder why they're not working instead.

Economy
I don't think people are buying Dion's carbon tax approach and Harper needs to remind everyone of that, which he did in the debates. Today, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Harper both went on national TV to calm investors and mention the aspects of the Canadian economy that have controls on it and the foresight they had a year ago when they put in these measures such as requiring 5% down on a mortgage and eliminating 40 year amortizations. They need to continue to hammer this all week to ease people's worries.

Dion's plan to have meetings within the first 30 days will be too late and Jack's plans will also be too late, which is why the Conservatives need to explain that they already put in measures to protect the Canadian economy.

Summary
Most of all, if the Liberals get near the margin of error, then you can expect soft-NDP votes to go Liberal again. It's these folks who seem to determine how well the Liberals do by preventing some vote splitting. But luckily for the Conservatives, the NDP have put together an excellent campaign and Jack Layton's performance has been very good.

Noise Filtering
This week, we're going to see more campaign TV ads, spin, rhetoric, polls, and pundits than we've ever seen before. How Canadians filter the noise and soak up the one or two emotions they get will determine their vote.

I think people see a Conservative gov't as inevitable, and the only way Harper will get to the magical 155 seats is with a split left happening in 20 more ridings this time around. I think they've gained their lost seats in BC (+5), will still grab more in Ontario (+10) and double their seats in Quebec (+10) which puts them awfully close to a majority. If they hit 37.5%, they'll get the majority.

Therefore, I still stand behind my 157 seat prediction for the Conservatives with the Liberals around 75 and as a result, the Red Green Shift will have turned Blue.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bob Rae giving talking points to Dion

I love ads that simply directly quote people... and with Pink Floyd to boot! (h/t Steve Janke).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Day 13 of the Federalection: Green Shift gets Shafted

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said today that his Green Shift plan featuring a controversial carbon tax is not a major part of his election platform.

"You have said it was but never me," Dion told reporters.

His surprise declaration follows by a day campaign appearances in the Toronto area where he failed to mention it once in his speeches.

Dion released the Green Shift plan in June in Ottawa with great fanfare. It proposes to tax fossil fuels while cutting taxes for lower and middle income Canadians.

"I have always said it was an important policy for Canada. I strongly believe it would be good for Canada," he told reporters.

Dion said: “Okay, maybe I didn’t use the word `green shift’ ” but denied he was downplaying the policy.

It appears that the Conservatives continued bashing of Dion's Green Shift in TV ads and on the campaign trail, even so much so that Liberal MPs had a hard time selling it, that more people were calling it a carbon tax, Dion himself is putting the policy on the backburner (pun intended).

Will voters now say, "Oh, it's not an issue anymore, so I'm okay with the Liberal brand" or will they say, "What DO you stand for now, Mr. Dion?"

This is a major flip flop on Dion's part, and the Conservatives will likely come out with TV ads and run with this. Well they should anyway.

This could be a major turning point in the election if spun properly by Harper and Co. Just when polls showing the Liberals catching up again and Conservative support slipping--there's still three weeks left in this puppy, so a swing around with the Conservatives above 38% means they're in "m-word" territory.

I suspect Harper will get a 1-2% bump after the debate after he (hopefully) hammers Dion on his Green Shift shaft.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Day 12 of the Federalection - H vs. H, ep II

Haught vs. Naught Episode II - Election version

Double Naught
- Conservative Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz for his comments regarding the 12 terrible listeria deaths and if Liberal MP Wayne Easter was one of them. Funny? Yes, but because it was in bad taste at a very poor time ... like um... during an election, he was obviously smart to apologize immediately, but this story has a few days legs in the media. Conservatives will drop 1-2 points as a result and have no hope in PEI and perhaps other Maritime ridings of winning.

Naught - Conservatives. After a strong week, their lead is slipping in key ridings. The above comment won't help. But if they stay focused with key daily policy announcements and good fuzzy ads, a majority is still a possibility. I believe Harper will easily win the debate as everyone will gang up on him, but he being cool and calm, he will look ...well. .. cool and calm.

Haught - All parties for releasing policy platforms that truly define who they are. But the Greens and NDP are looking awfully similar (Bloc too). But as Warren Kinsella said, "campaigns are about emotions", so only if these platforms translate into positive warm fuzzy feelings about the future, then they translate into actual votes. But why does everyone but the Conservatives want to raise the GST? Even when they say they'll lower income taxes, I don't think anyone believes any of them.

Haught - Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer for hosting a party this Saturday. Looking forward to it. A good way to get people out to then motivate them to hammer some signs. Rahim's a great guy and stellar MP.

Haught - Two blogs that kicks ass: Warren Kinsella's Daily Musings, especially his "Warren At Arms Length" vlog, and Steve Janke's "Angry In The Great White North", who's attention to detail is amazing, how he's got Liberal MP Garth Turner on his toes, slams Dion whenever he gets the chance with hard cold facts, but how he finds the time is beyond me.

I'm now also pondering on adding some video to this blog using my old Canon 3.2Mp camera.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day 8 of the Federalection - Another seat projection

Harris Decima seat projection - Sept. 14/08:

169 Conservatives
62 Liberals
46 Bloc Quebecois
30 New Democrats
1 Independent
0 Green

I think the Conservative and Bloc predictions are too high, and the NDP is too low. I still stand at 157 seats for the Conservatives, Bloc around 40, NDP around 35, Liberals around 80, and Greens 0.

But that is much different than this... which would translate into another minority.

CPAC-Nanos released Sept. 15/08:
37% Conservatives
31% Liberals
18% New Democrats
9% Greens
6% Bloc Quebecois

Don't forget that Liberal grassroots support is very soft, where Conservative is quite strong. Are the soft Liberals even going to vote or trickle through the NDP to the Greens? My guess is that voter turnout will be very low this election <60%. Conservatives who want a majority are going to vote.

The key for the Conservatives and Harper is to not peak too soon, which is why the campaigns on the ground aren't going full tilt. Heck, the Liberals don't even have enough candidates!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day 5 of the Federalection - Seat Projections

Here's some seat projections from various sources:

CalgaryGrit has the following based on some serious statistical calculations:
Conservatives: 137.9 (95% CI from 132 to 144)
Liberals: 98.5 (95% CI from 93 to 104)
NDP: 28.8 (95% CI from 25 to 32)
Bloc: 42.0 (95% CI from 39 to 45)
Indepent: 0.8

Hill and Knowlton have a cool seat projector map tool you can play with as well as predictions from several polling companies:

C=Conservatives, L=Liberals, N=NDP, B=Bloc Quebecois, G=Green, I=Independent/Other

Harris-Decima (Sep 8):
C: 133
L: 100
N: 26
B: 46
G: 0
I: 3

Angus-Reid (Sep 11):
C: 152
L: 61
N: 44
B: 50
G: 0
I: 1

Ekos (Sep 11):
C: 143
L: 80
N: 39
B: 46
G: 0
I: 0

No majority gov'ts in any of the scenarios. I still think the Bloc and Liberals are going to lose seats and the Conservatives and NDP will gain. One independent seat in Quebec. So from above I think Harris-Decima are out to lunch and of Angus-Reid and Ekos, I'd like to say Angus but Ekos is the happy medium. I just don't see the Liberals keeping the seats they have, especially now with strong NDP and Green campaigns.

But campaigns matter and we'll see if voters look beyond the gaffes and style and simply to Harper's record, Dion's policies, and Jack's Obamaness.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 4 of the Federalection - Haught vs. Naught version

Hatrock's Haught vs. Naught is back. If you didn't know, it's a muse on CTV's Jane Taber's Who's Hot and Not feature, but it's my version.

So a quick NAUGHT: CTV Election 2008 "Racebook" website leader profile pictures. Could you have picked worse photos? Didn't think so.

HAUGHT: Green Party leader Elizabeth May for being included in the televised debates because Jack Layton and Stephen Harper changed their minds and she didn't give up.

HAUGHT: Jack Layton and Stephen Harper for changing their minds on this. I was on the fence on this one but the latest poll shows the Greens bleeding votes mostly from Liberals as a "catch all" alternative to the Liberals, so smart strategy. And have you seen Elizabeth May talk at a podium yet? You're in for a treat.

HAUGHT: Stephen Harper for ending the Afghanistan debate. We're pulling out in 2011. Next question.

HAUGHT(naught?): Stephen Harper's remarks that he'd rather be a fruit.

HAUGHT: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty for staying neutral in this election.

NAUGHT: Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach for not staying neutral. Shut the f**k up!

NAUGHT: Has-been prime ministers Clark, Turner, Campbell, and Martin on promoting climate change solutions. Does anyone care? Next. (Nice try Dion?)

In America:

HAUGHT: McCain-Palin. Big jump in the polls as white women move to Palin and independents leaning McCain. Can Obama counteract?

HAUGHT: Democratic Senatorial candidate and comedian, Al Franken for clinching the nomination in MinnesOta.

NAUGHT: Joe Biden for his crafty implied comments regarding Gov. Sarah Palin special needs child. Obama, you'd be best to muzzle the guy, but don't say some didn't warn ya when you picked him.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Day 3 of the Federalection

Some thoughts on Day Three...

I'm looking forward to some policies, but now we have dominating the media...

- Dion calling Harper a liar on Harper stating that Dion would raise the GST (which he DID say) especially when Dion said he wouldn't go negative. Bad taste.

- Conservative website notaleader having comic with a bird defecating on Dion. Very bad taste. Harper agrees. Story will have one more day of traction. But here's a page where you can make your own Dion attack ad. It's kind of fun actually.

- Conservative attacks on Dion's Green Shift Carbon Tax plan really hitting home in BC where they already have a carbon tax. A few more days of this and Canadians will want to hear something else but they don't want to talk about the carbon tax because it sounds like a new tax. Harper saying any politician that claims a new tax would be revenue neutral is misleading the public. He's right.

- Liberal plane an old junket from 1979 is a big polluter. Dion says they contributed carbon offsets to a green technology company that's only built a windmill back in 2001. Story will die in 1-2 more days.

- Green Leader Elizabeth May not allowed in the televised debates. I think most people want her on but strategically, a smart move by Layton and Harper to not want her on. Issue won't die.

- It's day two and I'm already tired of Harper's "family man" campaigning. Looking forward to some campaign policy planks.

- Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe. BORING. He used to not be boring.

- Jack Layton still being exciting .. riding Obama's wave, not mentioning the Liberals, attacking Harper on policy

- Stephane Dion counteracting Conservative attacks on his leadership with online ads of him in the outdoors doing outdoorsy things. Good plan. Also admits that he has a hearing problem and is the reason why he has difficulty speaking English with a clear accent because "English has a 'music' to it that I find difficult to hear". Humbling.

But two policies announcement did come out today:

- Conservatives will lower the diesel tax by two cents. Not a real kitchen table policy. Translates with truckers but will trucking companies pass that savings on to consumers? Unlikely.

- Liberals will DOUBLE the child care tax credit from $1200 to $2400 per year per child. THERE YOU GO! Taking Conservative policy and making it better right at the kitchen table.

Winner today... Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. He's been taking punches and fighting back with good policy and a humble nature.

But is it simply too late to shake the weak leader image portrayed in Conservative attack ads? Time is running out.

My prediction still stands at a slight Conservative majority, due to Bloc and Liberal loses in Quebec, Ontario, and BC with NDP gains also causing vote splitting on the left.

The Conservatives under Harper with three parties on the left now remind me of the Liberals under Chretien with two parties on the right from 1993 - 2004.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Leader Kick-Off Speeches and Campaign Ads

Well after day one of the Canadian federal election here are my first impressions.

Stephane Dion (Liberal) -- Very poor speech. It's still difficult to understand what he's saying sometimes. Mentions their "exciting" platform, but doesn't specifically mention his Green Shift carbon tax plan. No ads that I've seen, not all candidates have been nominated, lack of money, and no campaign plane! Good start! (D-)

Jack Layton (NDP) -- Very good inspiring speech and very good campaign ad. He seems upbeat, optimistic, specific, and even acting like a consumer advocate which is new and refreshing. Jack doesn't mention the Liberals at all, just Harper and the Conservatives. With a backdrop of the Parliament where he spoke across the river in Gatineau, it was an excellent stint. His French is much better than Dion's English, that's for sure. Hints at Obama and "change" and "hope" and all that good stuff. Says he's shooting to be prime minister. I think this is excellent strategy... making it a choice between Conservative policy or NDP values. He then takes a balsy move and gets on the NDP airplane to Harper's riding in Calgary to give another excellent speech. His supporters seem very enthusiastic. The NDP have an opportunity to win more seats in Ontario and Quebec. In BC, the Conservatives are doing well again and will gain seats where the NDP may lose. Excellent campaign ad against Harper. If Jack continues on like this, he can solidify those soft-NDP supporters who are often weary of a Conservative majority and vote Liberal. If I was a lefty in Canada, I'd be voting NDP for sure. (B+)

Elizabeth May (Greens) -- Good speech. Very fiery but received little to no media coverage. But she's annoying to me. I think she's too lefty for what I thought the Greens were--libertarian, fiscal conservative, low tax, environmentalists. Now it just seems they're about the environment. I still don't think they're going to win any seats but will come close in many ridings. (B-)

Gilles Duceppe (Bloc) -- Boring. Says to prevent a Harper majority to vote Bloc. Duh. I like Gilles Duceppe, but I think Quebeckers are tired of him, as they're tired of the separatist thing. Conservatives are doing well there because of their open federalism policy which to me is holding the country together better than Trudeau/Chretien Liberal centralization. (C-)

Stephen Harper (Conservative) -- Relaxed, but a bit boring. He admitted that he's still learning "your language (French)" which came across as humbling in an odd way. He outlined the difference in choice on taking a risk or a "steady course". The Conservatives are simply going to coast through the election on Harper's leadership. I wonder if that's risky by also not highlighting the rest of the team. Paul Martin did the same and look where it got him. (C+)

Voter Turnout... I think this will be worse than last election and less than 60% will vote. People just don't seem to care as much.

But I think there's a lot of soft conservatives/former liberals out there who are pleased with Harper's leadership and are tired of these minority parliaments and get more done.

But I'll be honest, why I'd never vote NDP from an ideological stand-point, I'm inspired to follow Jack Layton and his style, speeches, and see how it resonates with voters and translates into votes. It's certainly on day one, the most exciting campaign. But why am I doing this? Because the better the NDP do, the worse the Liberals do, and the NDP are a much more effective opposition, which a good democracy needs, and I'm sure that's also why Stephen Harper is so relaxed and humble.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Elections in North America

And a way we go!

Dion vs. Harper vs. Layton vs. Duceppe vs. May

McCain/Palin vs. Obama/Biden

Obama Biden
O_ama bi __den
Osama bin Laden

Neat eh? Sorry, just playin' around and don't read into it. Please! This election will Palin comparison to others where many were just Biden there time. Oh, stop the insanity!

Everyone knew the American election was coming, but did anyone see a Canadian one? I seriously thought Harper was going to ride the minority train until October 2009 when his own fixed election date law set it.

Speaking of this fixed election date law, I saw MP Pierre Polivere on TV state that the law allows the prime minister to call an election. Sorry, but I'm confused. Did the law already essentially just move up the five year limit to four years? Does it only apply with majority governments?

Anyway, I'm going to make some early predictions and analysis in both N.A. elections:


U.S.: Obama/Biden by a nose and a work buddy owes me lunch.

It comes down to this... Can the Republicans mobilize and get their base excited about John McCain and scared about Obama the way Karl Rove did for Bush? I call it "tapping into the xenophobe". I don't think this will happen as much and I think the Dems have a much better and inspiring candidate in Obama than they did with John Kerry. The Dems need to remind Americans about the staggering debt under Bush and pin McCain to that same policy (which they have).

I watched Gov. Sarah Palin's speech last night. She's feisty alright. I'm not a big fan of the Democratic spin against her, especially on her experience--kind of hypocritical when Obama doesn't have much at an executive level. I think the Dems are actually a bit scared of her. But what I do know is the best speech came from former Senator and actor, Fred Thomspon and his emotional story telling and introduction of John McCain.

America's economy and foreign debt is staggering. Each American owes about $35,000 to pay off their $10 trillion debt where in Canada... it's $14. Fourteen dollars.

There's no doubt that the manufacturing sector in Canada is hurting because of loss of exports to the weakened American economy, but other sectors are doing pretty well.


Canadia: Harper/Conservative majority by a nose.

I say this because the Conservatives are in a much better position with a high approval rating on Harper's leadership than they were going into the 2006 election. They will gain in BC, Ontario, and Quebec and this will put the ball just over the crossbar. The allegations against the Conservatives on the "In and Out Scandal" and the "Chuck Cadman Affair" just haven't stuck.

The Liberals under Dion have been weakened with a lack of decisiveness, a confusing tax policy, no grassroots, and a lack of cash on hand. So much so that they're still paying down debts from the leadership race.

The NDP will gain slightly with some actual sound policies and lefties liking Layton much more than Dion. The only thing that might prevent this is the usual soft-NDP strategic voter who'll be asking two questions:

1) Are the Conservatives on the verge of a majority and if so, can I stop it by voting Liberal?

2) If I vote Liberal, will it actually make a difference because they're not that strong, so would parking my vote with the NDP give them more voice in parliament?

Jack Layton needs to hit home that the Liberals have been a terrible opposition party (probably one of the worst in history) and if "you truly care about working families then stick with us because we actually oppose the Conservative gov't". Keep hitting that home Jack!

The Bloc will be weakened in Quebec due to their tiredness and bordem of Duceppe opening it up for the NDP and Conservatives.

So there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Joe Biden for Veep!

As a libertarian conservative Canadian who is a fan of Obama (not that I don't dislike McCain), I was hoping he'd choose Biden.

Biden is to the right of Obama, but left of McCain.

I think Biden is "biden" his words when he said that Obama was unfit in that debate and the McCain campaign did an excellent job in pointing that out with the TV ad. Perfect actually.

But I also think Biden's been mighty impressed with how well Obama's campaign is run. I'm not sure if Biden will fit into the dynamic campaign as much as a lesser known veep choice, but I think he can tow the line.

Overall, I think Americans aren't choosing the lesser of two evils here but could certainly live with either candidate as president.

The Iraq debate is pretty much over as it appears US troops, for the most part, will be out of there in a few years anyway.

Obama choice in Biden really comes down to who can best serve as president if need be, and Joe Biden has the foreign policy know-how and experience to step in better than most.

I watched Biden closely over his run for the candidacy and was impressed with his opinions on Iraq and the whole region how he recognizes that there are essentially three nations within Iraq, caused by the British drawing odd borders for countries like that, Jordan, and Syria.

Anyway, the issue now is similar to 1992... "It's the economy stupid" and McCain has admitted that he doesn't know much about economics.

With a 7 trillion dollar debt, rumours of defaulting on that, millions of lost jobs, housing credit crisis, and a bloated gov't, the Bush hangover has begun.

It still comes down to which economic ideology and plan will the American people buy into this time?

Ra Ra Ras Putin at it again

Can anyone name the prime minister who was under former Russian president Vladimir (Ras) Putin?

Can anyone name the current Russian president? Well it's not Putin. He's now the prime minister, but is certainly still acting like a president.

A derranged one nonetheless.

Putin is accusing the U.S. of orchestrating the Georgian conflict in Ossetia. WHAT?

I've said it for years to watch out for this guy, a former KGB officer.

Chechnya, Georgia, and now which former Soviet state is next on the list? Maybe not "next" but "always" on the list. And that's my grandfather's home country of Ukraine.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beheading

By now, you've probably heard of last night's incredibly horrible and unbelievable stabbing and beheading on a Greyhound bus going from Edmonton to Winnipeg. Being from downtown Edmonton where I live, work, and play, I can actually see the Greyhound station from my window, which is only a couple blocks from my office. Which means, this deranged lunatic was walking amongst us and me yesterday.

We're talking about it in the office and either the murderer is completely insane, was on drugs (although people said he was normal during a bus stop break), or it was a gang hit. Hits are usually quick aren't they? Or is this trying to send a message to rivals? What would possess anyone to stab someone who was sleeping on a bus 70 times all over and behead them. It's totally barbaric.

I think the nation is in massive shock right now, let alone what the other passengers and bus driver must be going through.

There's been a string of absolutely crazy crimes happening around here this past week. Flashers, rapes, setting pets on fire, arsons, break and enters, murders, ... like what's going on here? Is there some new goofy drug in town?

Monday, July 28, 2008

5 provinces not 3 or 1

The above historical map taken from here shows a very different Western Canada divided into five provinces, Athabasca, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Assiniboia, and Manitoba, with the NWT Keewatin district taking what is now Northern Manitoba and Northwest Ontario. It was ultimately then Liberal Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier's idea to carve them vertically, similar to British Columbia, into three basically equal sized provinces. There was even a proposal to have British Columbia grab Alberta. Of course, the other big proposal was from Frederick Haultain, Premier of the NWT, whose name rests on a building north of the Alberta Legislature, to have one big province called Buffalo to compete with big provinces like Quebec and Ontario. But Laurier wouldn't have it.

It's interesting to think of what could've been and to note that the Athabasca in the above map would be a very rich province being that it's where the oil sands are.

But I also wonder if Canada were carved up more like the United States, with smaller geographical provinces, would they get treated as equals in the senate, unlike it is now in Canada. I still don't think Liberals respect the West, with their lack of leadership on senate reform, the national energy program, and now this dumb Green Shift idea from now Liberal "leader" Stephane Dion which will basically transfer even more money from the West to the East.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Big Brother E-Town

Well, to think they're going to solve problems, the brilliant city is now installing security cameras at Jasper Avenue and 109 Street.

They tried the same bloody thing on Whyte Avenue years ago, yet someone was still stabbed--right next to the light post which had a camera on it.

And of course a local bar owner is going to cooperate. What's he supposed to say?

Mike Sainchuk, co-owner of several bars in the area, said he supported the pilot project..

"I think it's great. We're a huge proponent of the cameras coming downtown," he said.

Sainchuk uses cameras both inside and outside his bars.

"People know there's cameras in here. Nobody wants to be the guy that next day that has his face stuck on camera, doing something dumb, so they work. They work great," he said.

So Mike if it works so great, then why do problems still persist? Why would they need to put more cameras near your establishments even though you have cameras? Didn't thwart a friend of mine from being beaten to a pulp by some thugs behind your bar just because he's gay. Where was security? What about the cameras? Did they catch the guys? Um... no.

People. People. People. Thinking that more robocops will help enforce anything is nuts and dangerous. Why aren't we simply using more actual real police.

Since we've had more police on Whyte Avenue, reports of problems have dropped.

And let's take Las Vegas for example. You don't see too many cops around on the strip. Why? Well yes because there's tonnes of surveillance outside and inside the hotels and casinos. But these are actually manned, plus the countless pit bosses, and plain clothes security guys all over the place. PLUS the fact that these are PRIVATE establishments.

The gov't has no business or right to put cameras outside to monitor your actions despite whether it's a trial project, only used at certain times, whatever.

And I never buy the argument that, "Well, if you're not doing anything illegal, then there's nothing to worry about". Watch that slippery slope there! Who knows what's next. Regulating drink prices? Oh wait...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Forget what I said about happy

Premier Ed Stelmach's Conservatives are setting minimum prices of $2.75 for a 12-ounce bottle of beer, or an ounce of spirits or liqueurs; and $1.75 for a five-ounce glass of wine. Under the new rules, happy hour -- when drinks are often sold below the regular price -- must end by 8 p. m. and cannot offer drinks at prices below the new minimums. Limits also will be placed on the size and number of last call drinks. "There's concern with the rising violence in and around drinking establishments," said Fred Lindsay, the Minister responsible for the liquor commission.
Well Fred, so what happens when the violence and fights continue? Because they will. Then what? Raise them even more?

Drug pushers and gang members who often cause violence could care less about this.

And what about the bars that have low drink prices for their regular patrons to enjoy but have never had an altercation as a result? Why is the government meddling in private business like this and setting prices?

I couldn't be more angry with the PC government in Alberta and not happy at all with Ed. This has to be one of the stupidest laws I've ever seen in my lifetime.

You know what's next? Raising the minimum drinking age to 19 or 21. Just you watch.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Come on get happy! or Happy happy joy joy!

Canadians are gettin' happier.

Yesterday was Canada Day (formerly known as Dominion Day) and I think Canadians are also getting more proud of their country. I know I am. Our military makes me proud. Very proud. Our culture, where we take the best of the UK and the US, whether music, comedy, arts, makes me proud.

And I especially enjoy the freedoms we have. Here's the key find:

"The results clearly show that the happiest societies are those that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives," University of Michigan political scientist Ronald Inglehart said in a press release.
You can't find a better endorsement of libertarianism than that. While it seems the gov'ts at every level intrude into our lives more and more with useless laws and the like, it's still not all that bad. We really do have it pretty darn good up here.

The more and more I travel in the U.S., the more and more proud I am to be Canadian.

So in the mortal words of Stephen Colbert ... "I Am [Canada] and So Can You!"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On Dion's Green Shift Carbon Tax

The big buzz in the Canadian blogosphere is how Liberal leader Stephane Dion wants to tax carbon, lower income taxes to "balance" it out. I'm not going to bother getting into the debate on this policy. Why?

Because I'm asking, why does anyone believe that Stephane Dion and the Liberals will even win the next election?

They won't. And you know who knows it? Ignatieff and Bob Rae. Do you hear them standing up and defending the Green Shift policy?

Monday, June 23, 2008

2.6 million dollar pyramid

Interesting how Edmonton City Council figures out that waiting to start a project ends up costing much, much more on this useless gateway idea.

Now if they understood that logic to the 23rd avenue interchange, the LRT, and a myriad of other infrastructure projects when they were deemed necessary, gone into debt and still paid less in the long run, would they have been completed by now?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tasers are a cop out

I think all that needs to be said about stupid tasers can be found here.

'If there is injury and illness, as a physician, I would have to say those people, even if they are accused criminals, should be taken care of.'— Dr. Paul Dorian, cardiologist
You got that right.

But the cops still push...

The Canadian Police Association stands by stun gun use. President Tony Cannavino said the association would like to see every police officer in Canada armed with a Taser and that there is enough evidence to show that Tasers save lives.

"They have to get the proper training, and also not only the proper training, there should be consistency across Canada about the training and the fact that they should also be requalified every two years."

The CBC investigation into Taser use has also found that RCMP officers are likely to fire their electronic stun guns multiple times during an altercation, despite a policy that warns it may pose health risks.

It still amazes me how London Bobbies don't even carry guns, just clubs.

I'll say it again and again. We don't need robocops. We need more cops. Much more. Especially in Edmonton. I read over and over again how "investigations are pending" on theft, rape, murder, and other offenses.

If you want more info on unsolved cases, go to unsolvedcanada.ca or here for Edmonton and poke around.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

Now that Hillary is out of the way, Obama and McCain have been going back and forth lately on the U.S. economy. In watching both speak, Obama, while clearly the better public speaker, McCain continues to fumble while trying to read the teleprompter. That said, each candidate's positions on taxes, spending, budgeting, and trade have been quite clear and their arguments have for the most part been articulate, convincing, and serious.

McCain has been trying to convince voters that he is a true fiscal conservative, where Obama has been trying to paint McCain's ideas as a continuation of Bush's failed policy.

What's interesting is Americans have two distinct choices in economic policy. The question is, who is offering real fiscal conservatism.

The thing is, Obama's policy is tied to the war in Iraq--by getting out immediately, they free up billions, but not necessarily. There's a huge deficit and debt now, and the next generations will be paying for it for quite some time. I imagine any money "saved" will pretty much have to go toward that. But Obama also proposes a pay-as-you-go policy where he would legislate that if you want tax cuts, you need to cut spending somewhere.

McCain believes the war in Iraq should end successfully in 2013, five years from now. How much more will be spent and what will be the result? More deficit and debt?

I could compare their tax policies now, but I think the real issue here isn't the economy, it's the Iraq war, and the effect it's having on the U.S. economy.

So what I'm trying to say is, if Obama continues to remind voters that no matter what McCain proposes, his policy to continue the war by also pegging him to Bush's "failed policies", this will only cripple the economy further.

I'm not saying I agree with either of them, as they both have policies that fit with my view. I'm saying that from the speeches that I've seen, I'd say that Obama's been more convincing in this area.

It's also refreshing to see two candidates simply debate the issues on real policy.

Friday, June 06, 2008

RFK

Forty years today, someone shot that nice man.


"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage such as these that the belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

(These are pictures I took in March '08 while visiting the Arlington National Cemetery.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Obama Nation

I'm currently refreshing CNN.com and its results of superdelegates that are chiming in for Barack Obama. In a span of one minute, the number jumped by 13.

It's over. They're all moving toward him. He needs 21 more total delegates to reach 2118 (as of 5:35 EST). Clinton hasn't gained any. Only a handful more superdelegates and this won't go to the convention floor.

The Republicans are already highlighting clips of Hillary and Jimmy Carter saying stuff against Obama. This is probably to ensure she doesn't get on the ticket as veep.

Geez, even some pledged delegates have moved to Obama. And Hillary lost three superdelegates. As of 5:45pm EST, it's now:
Obama: 2102
Clinton: 1914

Obama needs 16 more...
[Edit:] Now 12 more...
[Edit:] Now 10 more...
[Edit:] 7...

Ed Raise

Is it me or when Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said he's giving himself and cabinet a 30% raise that it's because they want to attract brighter and better people to public service--isn't he kind of saying that all the existing MLAs and all the candidates that ran weren't quite good enough?

Hey, don't get me wrong, I do think our elected officials should get paid more, but I would rather start with Edmonton city council. Those folks truly don't get paid well enough to attract brighter and better candidates (although some definitely are), but keep in mind they did just give themselves a big raise last year.

But that's the key, ... in both situations, our provincial and civic elected officials gave THEMSELVES the raise.

While I don't think many of them deserve it, the amount spent doesn't even compare to the other cost savings in many city departments that council brushes over.

And on another note, doesn't everyone wish city council approved the Calgary Trail and 23rd Avenue interchange as well as the southern LRT expansion, like a decade ago, and perhaps at different times? Now that both Calgary Trail AND 111 Street are filled with mass construction, getting to the airport is daunting in the day time.

As well, if city council went into some debt at the time to pay for these projects, the amount of interest paid would not have been as much as skyrocketing construction costs that have accumulated since.

Poor planning. Which is why with the amount of growth Edmonton is experiencing, the infrastructure spending can't keep up, so property taxes are raised by a lot each year, which simply hurts fixed income folks like seniors.