Tuesday, March 30, 2010

For the fourth time ... Senate term limits

Originally, I read that the Conservatives and Liberals agreed on 12 years but the bill that will be introduced in the House of Commons is 8 year senate term limits.  I think they should be 6, but I'll settle with 8.  This is the fourth time this will be brought forward in the last four years.

And here we have some classic "insenaty now", but not from the Liberals, but from the NDP...

NDP MP David Christopherson called changing the term limits of senators "tinkering around the edges" and not real reform.

"What we care about is not so much how long senators are in the Senate, but how they get there," he said, speaking to reporters after the news conference had ended.
Oh brother.  So there Mr. Christopherson, you genius you, if there are rarely ever any vacancies in the senate, we'll sure have a lot of elections for it, won't we?

And I thought the NDP simply wanted to abolish the upper chamber, not caring about reforming it.

But if we have term limits, we'll have the potential for more vacancies and thus more calls for elections.

Remember, Stephen Harper plays the long game and reforming the senate has proven it is not going to happen overnight, over one election period, or in some failed accord.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Liberals' Big Ideas

So after the hoopla, what were the big ideas that came out of the Liberal Thinkers (Not Doers) Conference over the weekend?

Freeze the corporate tax rate
Two-tier health care (!)
Carbon tax

The Liberals believe that when they had a similar conference back in the 60's and early 90's that it helped propel them into power shortly thereafter.  Do any Liberals believe that's really going to happen now, especially in discussing the dismantling of the very big idea that they created stole from the NDP out of the conference back in the 60's... public health care?

It's obvious that this whole event was a charade to simply raise money for the party and get old party hacks like David Dodge and Frank McKenna involved again. At over $650 a pop to attend, they claim it was non-partisan and using technology, they reached out to over 50 places (read: Liberal MP offices) in Canada. 


To prove it was non-partisan, the Liberals left out the actual people who would implement the big ideas coming out of this conference if they ever came to power--Liberal MPs.

Let's look at the ideas...

They want to freeze the corporate tax rate.  After coming out of the recession, Liberals want to choke hold the very engine that actually creates jobs and provides wages, and thus more income tax revenue.  What thinkers!!!

But with the Liberals opening the door on private delivery of health care, will the Conservatives use this as a wedge issue for the next election, or will Canadians have to finally open up to the idea that our cherished public health care system won't be able to afford to cover everything into the future?

On the carbon tax... this again?  Ignatieff doesn't seem warm to it anymore, but don't count it out.  Notice though, that whenever Iggy comes up with an idea that there's backlash against it and he ends up backtracking by saying, "Canadians have said loud and clear they don't want a (carbon tax, election, etc.)".

I don't know about you but I think all three ideas are unpopular with the majority of Canadians and the Conservatives can use them to their advantage.

Instead of invigorating ideas that might get them elected, it appears that this Thinkers Conference did the opposite.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Iggy and The Grits

Many of you have heard that this coming weekend, the Liberals are having a "Thinkers Conference" in Quebec somewhere, but Liberal MPs, are being left out. That's right, the democratically elected Liberal Members of Parliament weren't invited. So does this now show that Liberal MPs don't have to do any thinking for the party?

Well, not necessarily...

Yesterday in the House of Commons, Toronto-Centre(of the universe) MP and Liberal Deputy Leader Bob Rae introduces a motion on maternal health for developing countries...

"the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options, including contraception," and "refrain from advancing the failed right-wing ideologies previously imposed by the George W. Bush administration in the United States"
The motion, which called on the government to include a broader range of maternal health programs, including contraception, in an initiative for developing countries, was supported by all three opposition parties and was designated a whipped vote by the Liberals.
The Bloc and NDP supported the motion, but when several Liberals failed to show up [*1], three voted against it [*2], and one abstained [*3], the Liberal's motion was actually defeated 144-138 thanks to.. well, Liberals.

And so it does appear that there are three Liberals who can do some thinking of their own!

But Iggy can't have that!  Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he's going to internally discipline the three that voted against it. But even if they voted in favour, the motion would have still lost because it would have been tied 141-141 and the Speaker votes with the gov't.

Anyway, the question arises:  Did these three renegade MPs vote against their own party's motion simply because:

a) they're representing their constituents feelings and want to keep their voters happy against strong Conservative contenders in their ridings,

b) that they're pissed off that they weren't invited to the Thinkers Conference, or

c) former/current Liberal leader hopeful Bob Rae was trying to embarrass Iggy's leadership but secretly sabotaging the vote on a motion he introduced and had MPs not show up and some vote against it?

But if you picked c), then check this out..
After first losing their own Opposition day motion on maternal health, the Liberals proceeded to royally mix up how they voted next, on the supplementary estimates attached to the budget.
The Liberals were supposed to vote NO [to oppose the government's spending plans], but confusion reigned, and instead a handful of MPs on the front bench voted YES.
After realizing their error, the MPs tried to correct the parliamentary mishap by voting AGAIN: this time AGAINST the estimates.
So what does this have to do with Bob Rae?  Well, apparently, one of the MPs who mistakenly voted yes was BOB RAE!!!  Maybe we can call him BOB YEA now.  So any thought of him secretly sagotaging, I think, is out the window, unless he was openly doing it to embarrass Iggy!  While it's fun to speculate, I think the correct answer is the simpliest, most boring one and that's a) They were simply representing their constituents.  But wow, is this Liberal caucus ever disorganized.

In summary...
  • Liberal MPs can't attend Liberal Thinkers Conference.
  • Liberal MPs vote against their own motion and many don't show up, defeating the motion itself.
  • Liberal MPs vote in favour of something they were going to vote against.
Wow. What a party they are. "Oh, they're weird and they're wonderful.. Iggy and The Grits".

And as one person commented on CBC.ca: 

"The Liberals couldn't host a drunk at a brewery."


Liberal MPs mentioned:

[*1] - Albina Guarnieri, Anita Neville, Gerard Kennedy, Andrew Kania, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Alan Tonks, Marlene Jennings, Joe Volpe, Lawrence MacAuley, Stephane Dion, Mario Silva (paired with B. Calkins), Jim Karygiannis, Albina Guarnieri, and Derek Lee (although he was in the House just moments before the vote)

[*2] - John McKay, Paul Szabo, and Dan McTeague

[*3] - Gurbax Malhi

UPDATE:  Liberal MP Derek Lee gets cornered by reporters to ask him if he thought it was a party whipped vote.  He doesn't think so, although the party whip made it "clear".  More here...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cirque Du Ceppe Ratist

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe (or Du Ceppe Ratist as I like to call him now), made some remarks comparing the French resistence movement to Quebec sovereignists.

"For the moment, we are resisters. But yesterday's resisters will be tomorrow's winners. Long live a sovereign Quebec!" he told supporters, who were gathered for a weekend meeting marking the party's 20 years of existence.
Don't you just love that Canadian taxpayers are footing the bill for the salaries, pensions, and now CAMPAIGNS for the members in this joke of a party?

Even the great Lucien Bouchard admitted that the Parti Quebecois separatists have become too radical. This should probably apply to the party he founded as well, don't you think, after Duceppe makes statements like this?

Oh, in other news... anyone seen Iggy?  After whining about Prime Minister Harper proroguing parliament, when that same parliament resumed, the Liberals decide to prorogue themselves, and it wasn't long after 37% of Liberal MPs didn't show up to vote on the budget, and Michael Ignatieff trotted off to do a cross-country tax and spend tour.

Again, aren't taxpayers paying for the leader of the opposition to be in the House of Commons, and you know, opposing?

If not, then we'll assume that he agrees with the direction of this Conservative government.

UPDATE:  Wow. In reading the comments about the article on the Duceppe slip at CTV.ca and CBC.ca, I'd guess that over 98% of them don't support the Bloc, with many thinking it shouldn't even be a federal party.  And most folks simply want Quebec separatists to leave because it seems everyone is just sick and tired of Quebec continually taking the majority of the provincial transfers, even allowing them to sit in the House of Commons, having former members collect pensions, allow funding for their campaigns, and yet the separatists still complain.  It feels like there's quite the silent majority out there.  Even for CBC.ca readers, I was surprised at the disdain for Quebec separatists.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And MORE Liberal wankery...

So the Liberals, with 37% of their caucus not showing up to vote on the budget, and their leader not showing up this week to embark on a town hall tour, now want to get rid of the "ten-percenters", those mail-outs we get from MPs from time-to-time because they think they are junk mail and would save millions.

Two multi-part questions arise:

  1. So when this doesn't pass and Liberal MPs continue to send these mail-outs, is it just "junk mail" now and can we then describe anything the Liberals say on issues as "junk" as well?
  2. Liberals don't want elected Members of Parliament to be able to send out mail to citizens paid by the taxpayer so we can "save millions".  So is it acceptable that the party continues to receive taxpayer money per vote?  Wouldn't removing that funding also save millions?
Hey, I'm all for removing these "ten-percenters", but also believe that MPs should be able to mail letters to constituents for free.  If the Liberals want to get rid of these ten-percenters then they should also show some credibility (!) by removing the taxpayer vote subsidy.

But you know why they won't?  Now that corporations and unions cannot donate, the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois parties don't have nearly as strong of a grassroots membership base as the Conservatives and NDP do to generate enough revenue for themselves.

No wonder the Liberals elected Michael Ignatieff as their leader.  He's the king of "have it both ways".  Oh but wait!  He wasn't really elected was he? 

Yep, those Liberals, always defending democracy on your behalf.

Liberal hypocrisy at its finest

So after weeks and weeks of whining about Harper having parliament prorogued, the Liberals and NDP staging so-called non-partisan anti-prorogation rallies, and having his members "get back to work" during February, 29 Liberal MPs don't show up to vote on the budget, and this week Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will be absent from the House of Commons as he embarks on a town hall tourRead more from Alberta Ardvark here.

These guys are unbelievable sometimes all the time.  Think Canadians have caught on?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Day to cut 245 patronage posts

Newly appointed Treasury Board President, Stockwell Day, is going to cut 245 patronage positions, many of which are currently vacant.

Now here's the typical NDP-socialist spin for always wanting a bigger government for no other reason than to have a bigger government that we can't afford:

New Democrat MP Pat Martin, the party's Treasury Board critic, said he expects the cuts to be the first of many in what he predicted would be a "clumsy, mean-spirited" campaign against the public service as the government tries to put Canada on the path back to a balanced budget.

"The public service is an easy target. You have to be seen doing something, so you go after the public service," said Martin, speaking to reporters following the end of Day's news conference. 
Well Pat, why not show us what value and services these positions actually provide the Canadian people?  

My guess is that they don't.

Mr. Day, axe away!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Federal Budget 2010

Ok, da buhjits out so whadda I gotta say abootit?

No tax increases
  • Feds cite Canada's strong fiscal situation - lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.
  • Feds say they took ‘unprecedented actions' to support economy without jeopardizing Canada's long-term fiscal position and causing uncertainty about future tax increases.
People also forget that their net pay-cheque will increase because the personal exemption automatically goes up.  But then in 2011, EI premiums go up, so you won't see much difference on your paystub folks.
No cuts in major transfers to people and provinces
  • transfers to persons to increase from $72 billion in 2010-2011 to $77.1 billion in 2014-2015
  • transfers to provinces to increase from $51.4 billion in 2010-2011 to $62.4 billion in 2014-2015.
And here come the baby boomers!!!
$17.6 billion over 5 years in projected savings
  • average annual growth in direct program spending after expiry of Economic Action Plan will slow to 1.3 per cent.
Ok, that's good I guess but that's what,  $3.5 billion per year?  Yawn.

$2.5 billion in savings for defence
  • reduce previously planned growth in spending on Canadian Forces in 2012, after end of Afghan mission.
That's only natural.  How about retiring some generals?
$4.4 billion in savings from international aid
  • Expected savings to grow from $438 million in 2011-2012 to over $1.8 billion in 2014-2015.
Wow, .. most is from Africa, I'd assume.  If the money we've poured in there has only boosted the coffers of corrupt governments and warlords, then not a bad idea to cut 'em off.

$2.5 billion in savings by closing tax loopholes
  • includes new rules where employees surrender stock options to employer, in exchange for cash payments or other benefits.
My company won't let me do this anyway. But wow, $2.5 billion is a whack of cash is it not?
Wage freeze for prime minister, MPs and senators
  • Departments will have to redistribute funds to pay for mandatory annual pay increases.
  • 245 governor-in-council positions cut.
Wow.  Finally.
Departmental operating budget frozen until 2013
  • However, employee pension and other benefits not subject to the general operating budget freeze.
No more 'empire building' for the mandarins!
$22 million in funding over 2 years for ‘Own the Podium'
  • Ottawa doubling contribution to winter sports portion of fund
  • $497 million for radar satellites
Ok, I guess it paid off as I get to brag to my American friends about how many gold medals we won, but what do radar satellites have to do with 'Own the Podium'?
$222 million over 5 years for nuclear and physics research
  • New research on medical isotopes to shift burden away from troubled Chalk River reactor
Well that's good I guess.
$300 million in tariff savings for business
  • Manufacturers to save money on production costs, new equipment
  • A new red-tape reduction commission
"Red-tape reduction" ... almost sounds like cosmetic surgery!
$2 million for a community war memorial program
  • work with communities and contribute a share of capital costs for construction of new cenotaphs and monuments that commemorate veterans.
Can't disagree with that.  If you do, then you don't like veterans. For shame!
$80 million more for an eco-energy retrofit program
  • to finance up to 60,000 additional retrofits -- in addition to the $205 million provided through the Clean Energy Fund announced in December 2009.
Alrighty then... makes me wanna sell furnaces.
$87 million over 2 years for border security
  • to further boost security, CSIS also getting $28 million over two years
But what about that stupid ~$10 fee per round trip I'm paying to have a scanner x-ray me?
Reduce cheque hold maximum from 7 days to 4 days
  • and provide consumers access to the first $100 within 24 hours.
Stick it to the banks!
New longer-lasting bank notes in 2011
  • Bills will be made of polymer material
  • Less expensive coins could lead to savings of $15 million per year
Wow! I do prefer Bank of Canada money to the U.S. Federal Reserve toilet paper.
Cut deficit to $27.6 billion by 2013, and to $1.8 billion by 2015
  • Forecast based on expectation of return to modest economic growth
And without raising taxes?  Liberals have said they would increase the deficit to help spur job growth.
$567 billion federal debt this year; $622 billion by 2015
  • National debt expected to rise even as deficit reduced
Geez that hurts. All those payments made on the debt over the past 13 years...  luckily, interest rates are low so it's not as bad.  But it also means, I doubt we'll see any tax cuts in a while.

All this said, overall, it's a steady as she goes budget, but to get there, let's stop spending on stuff that's bogging us down.

But who knows what next year holds.  A year and a half ago, the Finance Minister didn't even think we'd have a deficit.

I still think government is too big and fat for what we get in return.  This budget is basically saying, "We're going on a diet pretty soon".

I'm just tired of giving them so much food to munch on.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Sweet, like maple syrup

Folks, it doesn't get any better than this...