Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stephen Harper's Ingenious Plan to Help Pulp and Paper Mills

Yes, apparently prorogue is the word of the week in Ottawa. This means there are a whole lot of dead government bills out there (James Bowie's got the comprehensive list). This also means that there will be a lot of paper required to print new bills and there you have my post title. I don't really care that Harper's decided the house needs an additional six weeks off and a new throne speech. Unlike Andrew Coyne, I don't see the need for a revolution. The Afghan detainee question is by all accounts a historical question dating back to the period between the first reports of torture (whenever those were) and the changing of the guidelines which seems to be a period between 2006 and 2007. There's nothing that is going to change between now and March on the question of the events of 2006 and 2007. If Harper's proroguing to avoid that question, he's not half as politically shrewd as he looks. Otherwise, proroguing is basically the government taking a blow torch to their own legislative agenda. So, with that in mind, I do want to highlight some bills you probably never knew existed that will now be dead.

First, C-40 was an attempt to increase voter participation. The last day of advance would have all the poll locations of election day. I can't say whether or not this would help turnout. In my experience, advance polls are mostly filled with people who would vote on election day anyway with a couple of regular voters who find themselves unavailable on election day. I suppose having a polling station around the corner on an extra day might help turnout, but I wouldn't expect huge numbers. I would expect the cost of the election to go up considerably this gets reintroduced and passed.

C-61 is a very peculiar bill to kill seeing as it is back-to-work legislation for CN workers. I would have thought they would have rammed this through. There's a joke about trains and timeliness in here somewhere. Who knew Stephen Harper was a union man?

The killing of C-63 I believe delays the plans of the Squamish First Nation out in BC to develop reserve land. As is too often the case in First Nations issues, one step forward, two steps back.

Any plans to sue Al Qaeda in this country will have to be put on hold after C-35 bites the dust. The interesting part of this bill is an amendment to make it possible to sue states who sponsor terrorism in Canadian courts. How you would get them to pay up is another question.

C-23 and C-57 are trade deals with Colombia and Jordan that will now be postponed.

Finally, stop the presses: Stephen Harper kills senate reform! Okay, not really. Just C-30 which would have merged the Senate's ethics overseer with the House's. He is also supposed to be taking the time to complete the tiring task of appointing senators. This apparently requires his undivided attention.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Want the Job Because I Want to Do the Job

Michael Ignatieff can be frustrating to watch as a Liberal leader. He's currently doing his year-end interviews. Radio-Canada's interview is fairly generic stuff really, stuff you'd expect Iggy to just nail. Then why in the name of all that's holy are we getting this stupid answer to "why he wants to be Prime Minister." Basically, his answer was that he wants to be Prime Minister in the future because he wants to lead Canada into the future. He then went on to describe some future challenges and says that the Liberals will be the party to think about those challenges. We don't need to think about how to overcome those challenges in office. If you want to think about those challenges, you should have stayed in academics. Politicians act. They do things to overcome challenges. You've had four years to think about how to do that. Enough thinking.

I appreciate that the party is a little gun-shy after The Green Shift but you didn't have to be specific. Say, "we're going to invest in education and research" instead of "we're going to think about what we're going to do about investing in education and research". Stop treating politics as an academic exercise and maybe, just maybe, people will stop thinking of you as an academic and start thinking of you as prime minister.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

10 Events to Look Forward to in 2010 (Not The Olympics)

I don't know what it is about human nature that makes people suckers for a good list. As this year draws to a close, we look ahead to 2010 and what will be making news in the year to come:
  1. Elections in the UK: Conservative leader David Cameron has looked like a Prime Minister in waiting for a while now. He should get his chance to take the reins as the Labour government's time is up in 2010. Expect the EU to be watching with great interest as David Cameron could rock the boat.
  2. Midterm Primaries: The actual midterms will make an appearance further down the list. However, I think the primaries may be the most telling part of the American 2010 elections. The Democrats are facing divisive fights in places like Pennsylvania and the Republicans are going to have to figure out how to avoid Scozzafava-ing (Yeah, it's a verb now) themselves out of major gains in both houses (check out Charlie Crist's fight in Florida). My fearless prediction is the party that purges the fewest moderates will come out ahead. This will also provide a great preview of the Republican race in 2012.
  3. Canadian General Election: I had to include this on the list. It might not happen. The budget may be austere enough to be pass. Ignatieff may also be unwilling to scrap his Thinker's Conference in March. Still, when a government is walking a tightrope as narrow as Mr. Harper's, an election just feels like it has to be close.
  4. A Binding International Climate Treaty: Okay, maybe not.
  5. New Brunswick Election: Fixed elections have come to New Brunswick and September 27th is marked on the calendar for Shawn Graham and his Liberal government to face the people of New Brunswick. It should prove interesting with NB Hydro undoubtedly dominating the debate.
  6. Ontario Municipal Elections: See, I'm not Toronto-centric. Actually, while Ottawa should be interesting, Toronto has the potential to be a three ring circus: Rocco Rossi v. George Smitherman v. Unknown right winger (John Tory?) v. Unknown NDPer (TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone?). Also, Hazel McCallion will probably continue to defy age and democratic history in Mississauga. No one outside of Carolyn Parish will be at all upset about that.
  7. Midterm Elections in the US: The Dems are probably due for a fall. That said, Republicans will need to find bodies for all those vulnerable seats. At any rate, prepare to be inundated by "Will Obama Lose Congress and What Does That Mean for 2012?" stories.
  8. Afghan Torture Scandal: The Continuation: This one isn't going away folks.
  9. The Start of the 2012 Presidential Elections: I'd say the day after the first Tuesday in November should mark the start of the endless fight for Iowa and New Hampshire. Look at Sarah Palin in front of a tractor! Mitt Romney is spending more of his own money! Wait, what did that fringe candidate just say?
  10. Yukon General Election: Dennis Fentie's Yukon Party government appears to be up for renewal in 2010 as well. Hey, elections are elections.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Top 10 Political Deaths of 2009

For no particular reason the top 10 political collapses of the year. I'm really trying to focus on things that are done and dusted as opposed to deaths that are still in process:

10. David Caplan: This probably wasn't self-inflicted but still a major minister of the largest province resigning in scandal justifies a spot on this list.
9. John Tory: Okay, maybe this is wishful thinking on my part. If he does come back it will be a surefire case of political zombeeism. He did manage to prove that no seat is safe... at least when he's around.
8. Rodney MacDonald: The former Premier of Nova Scotia is cooked. Can we all say it together now, "Don't take over a party after an electorally successful leader."
7. Rahim Jaffer: Okay so the shot was probably fired in 2008, but the patient killed any chances of a comeback while in political hospital. I remember a time when Mr. Jaffer was going to be the new face of the Conservative party.
6. Tony Blair: The former UK PM lost his bid to be the first President of the European Union... to a Belgian bureaucrat. Oh, and his party is toast in next year's elections thanks in large parts to his efforts.
5. Ed Stelmach: Steady Eddie was a premier, Steady Eddie had no base, Steady Eddie wasn't very Steady was he?
4. Fair Vote Canada: Okay, maybe not big fish, but they do seem to constantly get caught in the political lines. Andrew Coyne was spreading half-truths again this week on the National for an example. Losing the BC referendum and losing it badly effectively killed any hopes for electoral reform over the next ten years. Fair Vote has basically conceded this point and is now focusing on campaign finance reform which is great but not really their original target.
3. L'ADQ: Qu├ębec's third party had the shelf life of Egg Nog. Their collapse has been just pathetic.
2. Mark Sanford: Do you want to hike my Appalachian Trail?
1. Taro Aso: For any LDP leader to lose a Japanese election requires a political death viewable from space. Mr. Aso's culpability in the defeat is debatable.

What did I miss?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Developing? I Don't Think So

Here's an interesting release out of Copenhagen. South Korea is the kind of country that will doom any treaty to failure. South Korea by almost any objective measure is a developed country. Its GDP per capita is higher than 12 members of the European Union. South Korea is the world's fifth largest importer of oil and the eleventh largest consumer of crude. It's a member of the OECD for goodness sake. It's developed. Yet, for some unknowable reason the Republic of Korea is described as "developing" by the geniuses in Copenhagen and praised for making commitments that would be embarrassing from a developed country. In fact, Canada's being lambasted for setting targets dramatically lower than those coming from South Korea. If you are wondering why Korea is setting its targets based on 2005 levels, well, it's emissions almost doubled between 1990 and 2005 making a 1990 date impossible. So why the double standard? Search me. Kyoto set the precedent of ignoring the developed countries in Southeast Asia and Copenhagen looks to continue the trend. South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are developed countries (or whatever you want to call Taiwan). As I've said before, the European Union cannot solve the climate crisis. Canada can't solve the climate crisis. The earth's fate lies squarely in Asia. That's where the growth is going to come from. It may not be comforting to Western environmental activists who would like to blame big domestic corporations, but reality, the scientific reality, doesn't back up the politics.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Projection Update: Chanukah Edition

I haven't run a projection update lately because there are perilously few polls out at the moment. Only five national polls have been put out in the last thirty days. Even those polls that are out have ridiculously wide ranges, especially at the regional level. So with all those caveats out of the way, here's how the numbers breakdown. The riding results are now included at the bottom of the projection.

National Picture:

CPC 143
LPC 77
BQ 53
NDP 35

BC: CPC 20, NDP 11, LPC 5
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 10, NDP 3, LPC 1
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: CPC 52, LPC 38, NDP 16
QC: BQ 53, LPC 14, CPC 8
NB: CPC 6, LPC 3, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, CPC 1, NDP 1


Seat Projection-12142009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Well That Was Quick

Remember all those long months ago when Rocco Rossi was brought in to save the Liberal Party of Canada. Apparently, everything's fixed and he can go and fix the city of Toronto. I assume he'll run on a platform of tenacity and seeing things through to a successful conclusion... that is until he decides that really he wants to run Dalton McGuinty's war room in 2011. I'm sorry, I've got nothing against Rocco Rossi. Heck, who knows, I might even be persuaded to vote for him, but this looks terrible. If he was thinking of running for mayor, why did he take the Liberal job in the first place? Why does it seem that everyone just wants to use the Liberal Party as a stepping stone these days? No wonder we're stuck in the mud.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Harper Should Stand Up for Canadian Values

The Ugandan parliament is considering a bill to criminalize homosexuality. In fact, they want to make it punishable by life in prison. The death penalty is also on the table. This is in blatant contradiction of Canadian values. Canadian values govern our aid efforts all over the world. At least they're supposed to. If this bill is passed, which would be disastrous, the Canadian government must cut off aid funding to Uganda. While it may not be fair to the people of Uganda, governments rarely respond to small moves. At fairly least, the honorary consul (our high commission in Kenya is responsible for Uganda) should be withdrawn. Canada cannot be giving 23.5 million dollars per year to country that thinks homosexuality is a crime to be punished by life imprisonment or death. Mr. Harper make this intention clear to the Ugandan government now to try to talk them back off the edge of this cliff. If they do not respond, cut them off.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Earth To Canada: You Don't Matter

There's a lot of hullabaloo about Canada's climate record. Heather Mallick has decided to apologize to former imperial masters on our behalf. Apparently, Canadians have lost their way on climate change... oh and also the media sucks and we stupidly keep voting for people we really don't want or something like that. I really could care less about Ms. Mallick. I do care about facts. The fact is that Canada's environmental record is terrible but it's inconsequentially small. Do the math. Canada's total CO2 emissions in 2004 according to the World Bank was 639 MT. The INCREASE in China's CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2004 was 2617 MT. That's more than four times greater than our total output. The US saw its emissions go up by almost twice Canada's 2004 levels in the same time period. If Canada had met its Kyoto obligations it would reduce the 2004 number by about 250 MT which is a lot in Canadian terms but almost nothing on the world stage.

The reality is that the future of our planet doesn't lie in Canadian or even Western hands. In 1990, the countries actually bound by Kyoto made up 58.6% of world emisssions. By 2004, that number had dropped 49.1% in spite of the fact that those countries on the whole were 1600 MT over their Kyoto targets. If the world is going to become insufferably hot it will be because China, India and a few other major players failed to achieve what on the surface seem to me to be unreasonably optimistic targets. In 1990 the world's two most populous countries accounted for just 13.5% of the world's total. In 2004, that number had jumped to 21.9%. The world can no longer be entirely shaped by the decisions taken in European capitals by old white men. Asia is where the climate battle will be lost or won.

We can get warm and fuzzy talking about per capita emissions. The earth doesn't care. The earth cares about the total. A 0.1 T increase in China's CO2 emissions per capita represents a 139 MT in the world's CO2 levels. In other words, the disastrous record of Canada between 1990 and 2004 represents less than 0.2 T increase in China's CO2 emissions per capita. If heaven forbid China were to have the CO2 per capita of EU star Denmark (2004) it would add 8328 MT of CO2 each year. India would add about 9328 MT at a 2004 Danish level. That is a non-starter. All of this doesn't mean we in Canada shouldn't try to reduce our emissions. It just means that if there is drought and floods destroying the world in the coming years, it really won't be our fault.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Canadian Sovereignty Must Be Maintained

There are a lot of Europeans and European sympathizers in a fuss about Canada's expected recalcitrance at the upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change. While I am all in favour of taking steps to reduce Canada's carbon footprint, we should not be be bullied into doing things which would hurt the long term economic fortunes of this country. We are an oil producing developed country whose oil reserves are just starting to be exploited. Most of the rest of the developed world either has no oil (see most of the EU) or coping with depleting reserves (Norway and the United States spring to mind). That doesn't mean these countries don't need oil today or that they won't need oil in the future. Creative accounting (economic collapse can do wonders for your environmental figure) shields Russia from Euro-scorn and allows the Europeans to fuel their cars with Russian oil and heat their homes with Russian gas (assuming the pipeline is turned on) . The oil-rich Arab states face no consequences for their drilling under Kyoto and are unlikely to face much pressure going forward for reasons unknown. Canada stands alone. We face unique circumstances, we should not accept a generic deal. The truest test of sovereignty is being able to listen to your people and say no even when everyone else wants you to do something.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Good Idea Is A Good Idea

This is great work from our federal government. No. Seriously. People should know whether or not their certifications are valid in a reasonable amount of time. This is hugely overdue. Kudos.
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