Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Volpe and Israel

Not sure why everyone's surprised by Volpe's commitment to Israel. You can't exactly be anti-Israel and expect to win an election in Eglinton-Lawrence. For me the only rational position is pro-peace. I don't really care who's to blame anymore (everyone as far as I can tell) I just want peace for all sides.

Kudos to Gerard Kennedy for taking a similarly balanced approach


Policy Voids - Real and Imagined

As a Kennedy supporter, I am always a little dismayed when people say that Gerard has a deficit of policy out there. In reality, Kennedy is basically the only candidate with anything new to say that is more than just platitudes. A quick browse of the 5 real contenders for Stornaway's websites (Kennedy, Ignatieff, Dion, Rae and Dryden) reveals that the deficits lie with the other candidates.

Dryden- A host of platitudes. All no more than 500 words and certainly nothing that we haven't run on in the last 13 years

Rae- A hodgepodge of reactionary statements. Mostly just criticisms of Harper. Anything else is more platitudes.

Ignatieff- Hard to tell. He has a policy forum message board which ranges from real Ignatieff issues to things completely unrelated e.g. Volpe's campaign donations and Layton on Afghanistan. Otherwise, a bunch of speeches with more platitudes. Oh, and a carbon tax so that Liberals will never ever win in Alberta.

Dion- Some hard policy on the environment. Unfortunately, it's a government report from 2005 which makes it pretty much the Martin environmental policy. Otherwise very little in the way of hard policy.

Kennedy- An admitted lack of breadth of issues but on the issues where policy has been released- hard targets and new ideas. Some examples:

On the environment: - tax breaks for environmentally friendly cars and taxes on gas guzzlers
- hard targets on power creation through wind power ( 5000 MW by 2010; 10000 MW by 2015)
- An acknowledgement that any environmental policy must work with the oil and gas industry not against it.
-25% improvement in environmental standards

On Immigration- Acknowledgement that immigration only way to fund social programs with retiring baby boom!!!
- Acknowledgement of real challenges immigrants face in getting credentials recognized/upgraded

We tried the host of platitudes approach in the last election and it got us nowhere. People had no idea what Liberals stood for. The only real policy we had was the 50/50 education plan which was a good plan but a horrid soundbyte. If we want to win, we need to steal a page from Harper's playbook. We need specific ideas in key policy areas that are implementable and understandable. It is not enough to "stand for truth, justice, all that stuff."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Election Timing

I like to fall on my own sword as much as the next guy, but why exactly is Bob Rae calling for the Liberals to provoke a fall election? The softwood lumber agreement is not exactly great for Canada granted, but how are we going to fix it if the Tories are sitting to the right of the speaker with a majority? Rae of all people should know how important election timing can be. After all, it was an overenthusiastic David Peterson who handed Rae the Premier's office when he went to the polls too early in 1990. What we need is for the committees in both the senate and the house to take their time with the softwood deal. Parliament doesn't sit for all that long in the fall and there's no reason we can't push the vote until the beginning of the new year when we have our house in order.
Softwood lumber is a big issue in British Columbia, Northern Ontario and Northern Quebec and is little more than a confusing footnote anywhere else. Harper has been politically shrewd in his moves to date but he has to start giving something to his Alberta base. I say let's wait for the homophobic comments the same-sex marriage debate is likely to induce from the backbench of the Conservative caucus. Wait until he actually tries to make a move on senate reform. Or at very least wait until the next Conservative budget when they realize that there's no money left for any new promises. Mr. Rae is new to the Liberal Party and therefore probably doesn't fully appreciate the idea that when you are part of a party people elect more often then Halley's Comet you have to be measured and tactical in your response. No matter how odourous the softwood deal may seem, we need to suffer it until we have a snowball's chance of winning the election.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Liberal Leadership Race

I'll add my two cents to the hundreds of dollars worth of opinion out there. First of all, 11 candidates is an absurd number but I'll go through them one by one. Here they are from worst to best:

Joe Volpe-
Say it ain't so Joe! Say you aren't still in this race. Someone with some sort of common sense should be able to say no to $5400.00 from 14 year olds. I mean I've heard of engaging the youth but that is just ridiculous. Volpe along with his pal Jimmy K. have lots of connections in the cultural communities of Toronto and have somehow managed to pull the wool over enough eyes to get some people signed up. Carolyn Bennett, who hasn't done much right in this campaign, was dead on in her Globe article this morning: Volpe is embarassing the party and needs to set his ego aside and bow out.

Maurizio Bevilacqua-
The member from Vaughan always manages to get himself elected with large pluralities and for that I can only praise him. As a national candidate he has been taking lessons from Houdini: he's made himself completely invisible. I think Volpe probably took his angle: long time Grit with good connections with the minority groups, because I cannot for the life of me figure out why he deserves to be leader.

Carolyn Bennett-
Before today's Globe article I would have assigned the Houdini remark to Bennett. Another great local politician who has been unable to find her feet. First, Gerard Kennedy and now Stephane Dion took her women in politics angle and with two other women in the race she hasn't been able to get support from people looking for the first female leader of the federal liberal party. It is high time that the party had a woman in charge, but Bennett has certainly not shown that she deserves that honour.

Hedy Fry-
Not to burn a cross on her lawn or anything, but what about Hedy Fry's cabinet career makes her a good leadership candidate? If I want an angry Westerner who shoots their mouth off, and I say this as a card carrying Liberal, I'll take Deborah Gray. At least she's fun. Fry will forever be remembered as the woman who knocked off a sitting Prime Minister back in 1993 and she will be very useful for whoever wins in making sure that David Emerson never comes back to Parliament Hill. I've heard varying rumors about who exactly put her up to this leadership campaign. Whoever it was, it's time to sacrifice your pawn: there's no reason to waste time in the fall debates.

Martha Hall-Findlay-
She has made an admirable run for someone who will make a very good parliamentarian if elected. However, there's nothing on her resume that indicates to me that she's qualified to be the next Prime Minister of Canada. Still she's done a good job at getting her name out there and her presence is good for the race. If the next time around she has some cabinet experience under her belt, who knows she could make a run.

Ken Dryden-
How you spend as long as Ken Dryden did in Montreal and pick up as little French as he did, is beyond me. However, his unilingualism would be manageable if he had anything else going for him. Congratulations, you helped to create a child care program which died a year after it was born. All eleven candidates would try to revive it if elected and frankly there are more impressive resumes when it comes to starting social programs. I haven't even mentioned the fact that he makes Stephen Harper look like Trudeau in terms of charisma. He's been able to create a small following across the country so he deserves to be in the middle of the pack but I'm not sure a cut-out drawing of Ken Dryden couldn't have garnered the same support.

Scott Brison-
The best leader the Progressive Conservatives never had. I mean that as a compliment. When he ran against Peter McKay I thought he was the right man for the job. In this field he looks out-classed. The youth are supporting other candidates and he has been left in fortress Nova Scotia abandoned. The stupid e-mails which helped sink the last federal election campaign don't help matters. He was probably the best minister in question period in the Martin government and should get another shot at the cabinet table.

Bob Rae-
John Rae and Eddie Goldenberg have it figured out. Find a semi-retired politician with a checkered past and trot him out as the white knight that will save a crumbling Liberal Party. Unfortunately for them, this is not 1990 and Bob Rae is not Jean Chretien. Rae has no credibility as a liberal and his election as leader would be the ideal way for the NDP and the Conservatives to squeeze the Grits right out of national politics. A lot of people have praised Rae for standing up to Harper on the softwood lumber issue and urging the party to fight an election. I agree it is a bold idea... but then again so is jumping off a cliff. If we tried to run this campaign leaderless the NDP would raise the spectre of Michael Ignatieff and the Conservatives would raise the spectre of Rae Days. In other words the worst of both worlds. Rae is a smart man who fell in with the wrong party and got into power at the wrong time. I don't doubt his ability to be a great PM but I seriously doubt his ability to get elected.

Michael Ignatieff-
All hail Caesar! Seriously, read Empire Lite before you vote for Ignatieff. You can agree or disagree that an overwhelming hegemonic force is the only means of curbing third world anarchy, but just picture the NDP ad campaign. I shutter at trying to sell renewed imperialism to my neighbours here in Toronto-Danforth. No one will be happier with Ignatieff's victory than old Jack-in-the-box-Layton. That's one person I don't need to make happy. Furthermore, Ignatieff makes Harper look warm and fuzzy. He's too far right and too little of a politician. NEXT!

Stephane Dion-
The great federalist intellectual has now decided that he is the great environmentalist intellectual. The environment is a hot issue and Dion has some credibility on the issue. Notwithstanding the fact that I disagree with him and the rest of the party on Kyoto (it's bad ecological policy but I'll save it for another post), Dion has a serious lack of ideas on how to actually fight global warming. Most importantly though, he has a mountain to climb in his home province. The clarity act made him public enemy number 1 in Quebec and I cannot believe he is the one who will lead us out of the political wilderness in that province. A Quebec candidate who can't win in Quebec? No thanks.

Gerard Kennedy-
If you have been counting you'll realize that this is the eleventh candidate and therefore my choice for the next leader of the Liberal party. Kennedy's only major problem is his French and frankly its a lot better than Harper's was when he moved into Stornaway. Also, his wife is Acadian so he should have no problem improving his French. Otherwise his record in Queen's Park and as the leader of a charity is impeccable. He is willing to talk about the impending problems which are going to be caused by the retirement of the baby boomers and his immigration success policy is a good strategy to deal with it. He has a strong following among youth and has proven (read the Star article if you've missed it) that he can campaign with the best of them. He is the only candidate who can do real damage out West and he is popular in Ontario where we must keep our base. Is he the perfect candidate? No, but that's because there's no such thing. Kennedy is the only candidate that won't leave Conservative and New Democratic spin doctors enough ammunition to blow a hole the size of Saskatchewan and he might actually be able to grow the party. Therefore, GK for PM.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


This blog is dedicated to the random political ramblings of my brain. I never intend to offend but I probably will offend somebody. I'm a Toronto based Liberal speaking his mind. I believe that political camaigns are won and lost on the local level and that our system of government should reflect that. More to come...
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