Thursday, December 31, 2009

Prorogue to insenaty or senate reform?

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that Prime Minister Harper might prorogue parliament. Well, he has, until early March.  Thirty-five bills die, but several important ones got amended and some were stalled in the Liberal-dominated senate. 

So now that's done, I don't think this had much to do with the Afghan detanee issue, but that the next question is whether Harper will then appoint the vacant senate seats giving the Conservatives a majority in the senate, which Canada hasn't had in a long time. And, it's been so long, I don't remember, but I'd guess around the mid-90's after Jean Chretien made a pile of appointments. So I'd like to point out again that the Liberals have no credibility if they make a huff about senate appointments when they have never made any progress when in government on making the senate elected, equal, or accountable with their long list of appointments in Canadian parliamentary history.

My guess is that Harper will definitely make those appointments.  Then after resuming parliament again and introducing a new budget and reintroduce the bills the died, the real question at hand is...

Will we continue with "insenaty" (i.e. all talk and no action on senate reform) or will Canada finally see some real progress toward modifying the senate and improving our democracy?

Read more here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"I" is for Ignatieff

Today I watched CTV's "A Conversation With The Prime Minister" with Lloyd Robertson and Robert Fife.  I was particularly struck at how often Mr. Harper, who also was newsmaker of the year, answered with "We", as in "We are working with ..."  

Then afterward was Craig Oliver's interview with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff (which I can't find the video for right now). What I noticed is that he often answered with "I", as in "I'm getting better", "I'm learning", "I'm resilient".  I couldn't believe how often he he said it compared to Mr. Harper's "We".

Sounds like Iggy is a real team player.

Then in the post interview analysis, CTV's Robert Fife, noted the frequency of Iggy saying "I" a lot as well and how Mr. Ignatieff referred to his policy as "stuff that's out there".

Yep, there is no "I" in "team" but there sure is one in "Ignatieff".

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

From all of us here at Hatrock's Cave, we would like to wish our kick-ass readers and your families a very happy Christmas and joyous New Year!

To our courageous Canadian soliders fighting for the freedom for others, you especially have our best wishes of a Merry Christmas and to return home to your families safely.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You tell 'em Ed!

Responding in this manner is how Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach can win my vote back.

Premier responds to harsh comments made by Ont. and Que.

Updated: Wed Dec. 16 2009 18:15:04
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is fighting back against some harsh comments made by Quebec and Ontario in Copenhagen. The premier is now questioning the rationale behind the two provinces calling Alberta's oilsands as an "embarrassment."

The two provinces also used terms usually saved for activists like tar sands instead of oil sands when referring to Alberta at the UN Climate Change conference.

"Our biggest fear is that the feds may try to use the good work that's been done by [Ontario and Quebec] as part of their overall goal, and thereby allow the tar sands development to proceed without hesitation," said Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen.

Stelmach told CTV News Wednesday that the "finger pointing" by Quebec and Ontario was frustrating to deal with. 

He said Alberta sends more than $21 billion to help other provinces, believing all of Canada is cashing in on the oilsands.

"If this leads to really killing Alberta's economy who is going to support the programs in other provinces?". 

Laurie Adkin, a University of Alberta political professor believes Stelmach's message may be more than just environmental concerns.

"He may be trying to say the Conservatives are strong defenders of Albertan's interests even if their framing of Alberta's interest is a questionable one," said Adkin.

Actually professor, he's simply saying to socialist ministers out East that they're a bunch of hypocrites and can't have it both ways.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Insenaty of Prorogue

When did I hear this before?  Oh yes, it was one year ago.  Apparently, Prime Minister Harper may ... wait for it...PROROGUE this session of Parliament once again.

And it all has to do with the current Liberal dominated Senate and their continued stalling of key legislation.  But one of their Senators is turning 75 soon, which with the current vacancies, leaves 5 spots for Mr. Harper to appoint some Conservatives and, for the first time since the 1980's, the Liberals won't have a majority in the Senate. 

If he shuts everything down, appoints the Senators, the committees will get reworked to pass legislation. But by ending the session, there's lots of legislation that will die.  Forty bills in fact.

I can't but help think that if we had an elected and equal Canadian Senate, we wouldn't be talking about any of this stuff.

Then again, by proroguing and stacking the Senate and its committees with Conservatives and gaining a majority, THE TIME FOR REAL SENATE REFORM WILL NOW BE AT HAND.

I'm trying not to get too excited though.  I've heard it all before.

Insenaty now!  Insenaty now...

Read the Journal article here.

h/t calgarygrit

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can the Liberals stoop any lower? Probably.

Lately on the official Liberal Party of Canada website, they have a contest running and have been showing mocked-up photos of Stephen Harper submitted by folks who take up the 'challenge'.  This is a total rip-off of Rick Mercer's Photo Challenge, and waaay less humourous.

Now I'm a pretty easy going guy, and I love mock photos, and having it on a third-party blog or website is one thing, but when you show the Prime Minister of Canada (I don't care which party) being assassinated on Canada's official opposition party's official website, it says something about your party and organization doesn't it?


Here's their response:
A note to all viewers:

We thank all participants in this photo challenge who have submitted their entries for consideration.  Our intent was to engage Canadians concerned about the Prime Minister’s reluctance to attend the climate change conference in Copenhagen.

The photos here are created by visitors to our website, and do not always reflect the views of the Liberal Party of Canada
[emphasis mine]Though we continue to screen submissions before posting, we have removed certain images that may have been offensive to some viewers.

We apologize for any offence these images may have caused, and continue to strive to present a progressive and dynamic web experience for our site visitors.

The Web Team

What a bunch of friggin' cop-outs.  Nice screening there.  I have no clue why anyone continues to support this joke of party.

h/t Ezra

UPDATE:  Kady O'Malley over at has commented on this as are a lot of people, saying pretty much the same thing.

UPDATE DEUX:  CTV Politics has picked it up as the main story.  It'll probably make the 6:00 news.

UPDATE TROIS: And CBC has it. Now it's out there and on TV.

Friday, December 11, 2009

WRAP warps into first

In a recent poll, the Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta is now way out in front of Ed's PCs, who are now tied with Swann's Liberals.

39% Wildrose
25% PC
25% Liberal
 9% NDP

h/t daveberta

If I was Danielle Smith, I would ignore this poll.  There's still much to be done in the party to build it into a strong, disciplined organization.  They don't even have 87 constituency associations setup yet, let alone a sound, prioritized policy platform.  They have a long way to go yet, especially funding.  My sources tell me they lost some potential big donations due to a lack of judgment by hiring Stephen Carter who posted a derogatory comment on Twitter about Premier Ed Stelmach's speech.

Besides that, from my cheap seats, I read that Smith recently spoke about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) being a myth (very bold of her), and appears to be buddy-buddy with the energy and oil industry (a good thing in this province).

It's obvious that Alberta conservatives are simply not happy with the PCs and are merely parking their vote to the Wildrose in protest.  Or are they simply impressed with Danielle over Ed as an articulate spokesperson for Albertans?

Is there also a deeper issue in government democracy, accountability, and transparency?  Perhaps. Everyone knows how secretive and tight the PC caucus is.

So the questions remain...

1) Will Danielle Smith be able to harness Alberta conservative frustration of the PC government and continue the momentum she apparently has?

2) From this, will the party attract quality candidates?

3) Will they be able to raise enough funds to run a credible campaign?

Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

History of Canadian Senate Reform (with comparisons to Australia)

After reading today that the Australian senate has blocked a gov't bill on implementing a "Cap and Trade" system, here is an excellent paper I stumbled upon that I strongly recommend about the detailed history of Canadian senate reform with comparisons to the Australian model.

As a proud Albertan, Canadian senate reform has always been one of my most contentious issues and so I am always interested in hearing and reading people's opinions about it.

The paper was written by Hon. Dr. Ted Morton, a former professor of political science, senate candidate in Alberta, former Alberta PC leadership candidate (whom I voted for), and current Alberta government Minister for Sustainable Resource Development. 

The paper provides a thorough understanding of the Australian parliamentary system, notably their senate, and outlines the several attempts at senate reform in Canada, and the reasons for it--usually spurred on by Western alienation in Canada, but halted by the need to appease Quebec. 

Dr. Morton also mentions that because of the lack of an elected Canadian senate, the voice of minority rights  are heard through challenges in the Supreme Court referring to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Whereas in Australia, with their lack of such a Charter, minority rights are heard through their elected regional senators as members of minor political parties can be elected through their proportional representative single-transferrable ballot system. 

I learned a lot from the paper and Dr. Morton's opinions on and reasons for senate reform in Canada exactly match with my own.  I'm not a big fan of the P.R. system in voting for the lower house as popular as it is with minor parties like the NDP and Greens, but applying it to the upper house as Australia does now interests me.

So with that, I believe Canadians should look strongly at the Australian system as a model for our own. 

Australian Senate
Number of states, territories:  6, 2
Senators per state, territory:  12, 2
Total senators:  76
Half of state senators elected every 6 years
All territory senators elected every 3 years
Senators can hold cabinet positions in gov't.

Read more on the Australian system here.