Friday, November 28, 2008


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

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.

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