Tuesday, December 21, 2010

11 Policies For Canada in 2011

People keep saying that Canadian politics are stale and boring. Michael Ignatieff needs some ideas just to get people talking. So, here's a quick list of 11 things that likely won't get done in 2011 but should be done:
  1. Raise the GST to 6%. This one is fairly straight forward. The government needs to close the deficit hole and the faster the better. The GST cuts made in the last five years were too expensive. Hike the GST. It's the easiest way to raise taxes without damaging the economy to severely.
  2. Start a high-speed rail connection for the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. Yes, this will add to the deficit but much like adding an addition to a house is a good reason to bump up a mortgage, high sped rail in Canada is worth the debt burden.
  3. Double the number of foreign student visas available by 2020. Why? Well first, it would really piss off Maclean's. Second, foreign students pay 2 to 3 times more for university than Canadians. That means universities have more money and don't need to hike tuition for Canadians or ask the government for more money. Finally, with US student visas becoming harder and harder to come by, the world's best and brightest are looking for somewhere to study. Why not Canada?
  4. Make the House of Commons as rep by pop as constitutionally possible. Being a nation, doesn't mean you're more important. Either that or pass a resolution in the house declaring English Canada a nation.
  5. You know what would save more money than eliminating the penny? Eliminating the senate.
  6. Raise the GST to 7% and give the extra cent on the dollar to the city where it was spent. Cities are massively underfunded, particularly our core cities which provide services to non-residents while receiving no tax revenue in exchange.
  7. Cut landing fees at Canadian airports. This would be a boost to tourism and business. Why is Canada the most expensive place to land a plane?
  8. End the mission in Afghanistan. Why exactly are we training an army for Hamid Karzai? He's proven to be corrupt and two faced at the best of times. Do we really think he'll get better once NATO leaves?
  9. Side the with the developing world in the Doha round of the WTO. Pledge to reduce or eliminate agricultural tariffs and subsidies, if the rest of the developed world comes around. All the foreign aid in the world won't do as much as opening the world's markets to their goods. Almost every developed country started with a strong export driven agricultural sector.
  10. Get an inter-provincial agreement to make building codes more environmentally friendly. Maybe we don't need to go as far as a solar panel on every roof, but no new building should need to be improved on things like insulation.
  11. Don't use the notwithstanding clause to uphold current prostitution laws. Even if you don't think a regulated prostitution industry would be safer for everyone involved, can you say tax revenue?

Europe's Growing Deficit

For once, I'm not talking about the fiscal mess Europe finds itself in. No, the biggest deficit in Europe these days is a democratic one. What am I talking about? Well, it starts with the EU, but that really isn't new. It is a growing concern as the panicked union attempts tries to contain a fiscal crisis that threatens the Euro itself. But that may be the least of Europe's worries. In Greece and Ireland, unpopular governments push through less popular austerity measures. This is not undemocratic in and of itself. The people elected these governments. However, it seems highly unlikely that the next government of Ireland or Greece will overturn the current decisions. There doesn't some to be anyway for the people to change the course of their government. That might not be bad economic policy, it is distressing for the state of democracy. This philosophical concern may be the least of Europe's democratic worries.

For the second time in two elections, government formation in Belgium is proving virtually impossible. Proportional Representation and a deep linguistic divide has paralyzed the seat of European power. This lack of government is all the more distressing as bond markets start to turn their eyes toward Belgian debt. Canadians complain about the seeming deadlock of our legislature. At least governments get sworn in around here. The political deadlock is exacerbating the economic problem in Belgium, which in turn won't make political negotiations any easier. A vicious cycle.

In Italy, the last week has shown how thin that country's grip on democracy has become. Silvio Berlusconi's time as Italian Prime Minister are not exactly a lesson in democracy. From his media control to his massive wealth, the Italian PM governs his country at times like the leader of a banana republic, replete with parties that would be the envy of most tin-pot dictators. Berlusconi may have reached a new low last week with accusations that he literally bought the votes he needed in the Italian lower house to avoid defeat. A sad state of affairs.

Finally, in Hungary the new government has taken an ominous turn. State control over all sorts of major institutions, including the media seems to be the order of the day in Budapest. This Hungarian government was elected in a landslide to get rid of the old horrible government. The old government was doomed by a leaked tape which had government leaders callously joking about lying about the nation's books in order to win re-election. The new government seems intent on not letting another such media leak bring it down.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

White Man's Burden Protocol Should Die

The Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. It has accomplished very little and deserves to die. The problem with the Kyoto Protocol is pretty straightforward: it blames the West for climate change, or more accurately the European world for climate change. Consider the following two countries:

Country A:

Population: 48 Million
Total GDP: 1.362 Trillion USD (PPP)
Member of the OECD
G20 Member
Carbon Emissions per capita: 10 Tonnes

Country B:

Population: 2.2 Million
Total GDP: 25.93 Billion
Not a member of the OECD
Carbon Emissions per capita: 3.66 Tonnes

Objectively, country A is far more of a target for environmentalists than country B. The Kyoto Protocol doesn't think so. Country A is economic giant South Korea. Country B is tiny Latvia. Latvia is bound by Kyoto, South Korea is not. There's a lot of European guilt on climate change. The science doesn't back it up. The fumes put out by Europe and North America during the 19th century did virtually nothing to the world's climate picture. The bend in Al Gore's famous (or infamous) hockey stick graph is in the twentieth century, somewhere around the end of WWII. The West didn't have enough time to do this alone. The white man is not solely culpable for global warming. It would be easier for some progressives if it were the case. But it isn't. This makes the "Europe +" Kyoto Protocol all the more a joke. The Kyoto Protocol includes no gulf oil producing states. It includes Japan but not South Korea, Singapore or Taiwan. Oil producers Russia and Norway received sweetheart deals. Even so, Russia now wants out. If we are to do anything about CO2 emissions, it will require a global effort. The EU and a couple of friends cannot change the course of climate history. As long as the mindset of differentiated responsibilities outlined in Kyoto survive, the world will continue to fail in this fight. Real environmentalists should be cheering the death of this joke of a treaty.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Potash Deal Hits the Wall

"No matter who controls the company, however, the damage to Canada’s reputation as a place to do business is done. Now that the Conservatives have joined the protectionist bandwagon, investors have lost their chief ally in Ottawa. Other countries will doubtless be more welcoming."

The Economist

There was a time when Stephen Harper actually stood for something. The decision by the federal government to kill the potash deal is proof that those days have long since past. We'll never know if the deal BHP was offering for Potash Corp was good for Canada or not. We do know that it's dead. We also know that this so-called conservative government is responsible for the only two rejections of foreign takeovers under the existing legal framework. Brad Wall's provincial concerns about the coffers of his rentier state should not come above national interest. Saying no to foreign direct investment in the midst of a major recession is reckless and endangers the future economic welfare of this country. If I were BHP, I'd be asking the government of Australia to take this to the WTO as it seems to be a clear violation of the principle of national treatment. The Mayor-elect of Toronto boasted that Toronto is now open for business. Under Stephen Harper, Canada is now closed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Fighter Jet Farce

There's a lot of squawk from the right about the virtue of paying billions of dollars to have fighter jets constructed somewhere else. The argument seems to be a) Chretien scrapping the helicopter deal cost us some money, therefore don't scrap the jets, b) we've already put this much in we may as well keep going or c) the Russians are coming! These arguments don't hold water and they hold even less ice.

In order to justify buying 65 fighter jets, you need someone with an air force to fight. The Taliban may be a menace, but there's no red baron in their midst. Future missions in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo would be similarly free of significant air-to-air challenges. Thus, we have Stephen Harper's great Russian canard. "Arctic sovereignty" is a wonderful idea. It gets political scientists all hot and bothered. I mean how can you be a country if you can't protect your own borders? Logical? Maybe, but completely irrelevant. The people we would have to theoretically protect our "sovereignty" from are the Russian Federation and the United States of America. In case we've somehow forgotten, they are nuclear powers. Canada is not. Let me get this scenario straight: The Russians send fighter aircraft into the Northwest Passage to prevent... well I'm not quite sure... maybe us bombing their boats? (This is a naval passage after all, you can fly over the pole right now.) Anyway, there are Russian fighter jets in the northwest passage. Are Conservatives actually suggesting we threaten to shoot them down? Are we going to unilaterally declare war on Russia? The answer is of course no. A policy of "shoot down the plane and hope they don't retaliate" is almost as stupid. There are almost no conceivable scenarios where a top of the line jet fighter would protect our "arctic sovereignty".

So, if there's no purpose to these jets why are we wasting taxpayers dollars on it? It costs money to cancel any program. I don't hear Conservatives decrying Rob Ford's attempts to stop Transit City, in spite of the cancellation fees involved. Yes, cutting government waste long term may have short term costs, but our deficit, thanks to Tory tax-cut and spend policies, is a long term problem. This is pork at its worst. I don't care who originally signed the deal. It needs to end.

Finally, the sea king ghost. Canada's military actually does need helicopters. It also needs armored personnel carriers. We could probably use some more air lift capabilities if you want to spend the money on the RCAF. If you don't want to cut the military budget because that's somehow sacred, spend it on things we actually need. Fighter jets have got to be just before inter-planetary spacecraft on the most needed list. We can debate whether or not ending the misconceived helicopter contract 20 years ago was a good idea or not. There are two sides to that argument. It is not relevant to the current discussion.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mayor Ford... Ugh

Quick thoughts from a quick election night:
  • I'm putting the over/under on strike days during Rob Ford's four years as mayor at 150 days
  • Toronto's political scene is going to have a giant hole without George Smitherman around
  • Jack Layton, leader of a federal party and would-be Prime Minister, spent his morning at a subway stop campaigning for a city council candidate in one of the smallest wards in Toronto. Yes, Mary Fragedakis won (thanks to a huge vote split from Jane Pitfield and Jennifer Wood), but really? Layton doesn't have better things to do?
  • Apparently, Jim Flaherty doesn't have anything better to do either. He was hanging out at the Ford victory party. Can we stop the charade and just have political parties in municipal politics in Ontario?
  • Sandra Bussin was humiliated. Some good news.
  • Paula Fletcher escaped. Not good news
  • Chantal Hebert should probably visit Mississauga. Hurricane Hazel is back. If you want to limit yourself to three cities and not count the two female mayors Toronto elected back-to-back in the 90's... Well, gosh darn, there are no female mayors.
  • Ms. McCallion was punished by the voters for her ongoing scandals receiving a paltry 76% of the vote.
  • Oh and Ms. Hebert forgot to mention that aside from Mme. Marois and Ms. James (who are near locks right now), Danielle Smith is seen as a strong contender to be the next premier of Alberta. So, if Alberta, BC and Québec all elect female premiers, will Chantal complain because Andrea Horwath loses in Ontario?
  • We need more women in politics but it doesn't help the cause when columnists make transparently weak cases for it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Six Cities, One Mayor

In a couple days, Toronto will elect it's third Mayor since amalgamation. Six cities with different political cultures merged over a decade ago, but the differences still linger. It's too simplistic to say that this is a race between Rob Ford's suburbs and George Smitherman's downtown core but there are elements of that. Rob Ford comes from Etobicoke: the western edge of the city sandwiched between Toronto and Mississauga in more than just geography. Ford's tax fighting approach has always appealed to his constituents who have looked enviously west at Hazel McCallion's thrifty city for years. Etobicoke has 13% of Toronto's population but 20% of its landmass making it more less dense and therefore more suburban, then the packed condo towers of downtown.

Ford's surprising strength among ethnic minorities may come in large part due to Etobicoke's eastern cousin Scarborough. Toronto's much derided Eastern half is a majority minority inner suburb with whites making up just 32% of the population. Still, as demonstrated in Calgary, people don't need to vote for someone who looks like them. Particularly, if they are speaking to their issues. The TTC is a joke in Scarborough, with 600,000 people served by just 6 LRT stops and patchwork maze of buses. Scarborough is an excellent portrait of the new Canadian experience: semi-successful, semi-peripheral. City Hall can feel a long way away when you're standing on the banks of the Rouge River and Ford speaks to that and hey, at least he acknowledges that they work hard (okay, yeah, a lot of political analysis is trying to explain the inexplicable and trying to explain Ford's success among visible minorities is one of those moments). There may be some Torontonians who like to forget Scarborough and Etobicoke exist but they do and electorally, they matter.

A lot of people may have forgotten the tiny borough of East York ever existed. Just 100,000 people call the former borough home and East York covers just 21 square kilometers. However, it has its own political dynamic. East York was always a tiny, slightly right wing version of the bigger city. It produced right wingers like the retiring city councillor Case Ootes, deputy mayor to Mel Lastman and right wing NDPers Beaches-East York MPP Michael Prue who served as its last mayor. East Yorkers are proud of their corner of the city and local issues have always been top of mind in this part of the city. From wealthy Leaside to the poorer Thorncliffe Park, tiny East York is not homogeneous by any stretch. It may surprise some outsiders to know that the borough is over 12% Muslim and about half of it's population is foreign born. In 2003, the three wards which contain the former city, voted for Miller over Tory by a margin of about 5:4.

East York is not the only former city to have faded from the memory banks. The old city of York, sandwiched between North York, Toronto and Etobicoke, is often similarly forgotten. In 2003, John Nunziata carried his only ward in York where his sister, Frances Nunziata (now on city council) was wrapping up as York's last mayor. York is far too familiar with crime making law and order an issue here. Almost as small as East York, at just 120,000 residents, York's electoral impact may not be as large its neighbours like Etobicoke, and North York.

North York
provided Toronto with its first mayor in the post-amalgamation era and much of what we are talking about today has something to do with Mel Lastman. The political juggernaut from North York brought his populist sound bite brand of driven brand of politics to new city hall. Whatever Mayor Mel did or didn't do, he was certainly a big enough personality for the new big city. Lastman's North York is famous for its high level of service, for not a lot of taxes. How to deal with some of those legacies (like city-shoveled sidewalks) has been one of the challenges for the new mega-city. North York straddles the rich and poor divide like no other part of the city. It encompasses the ostentatious Bridle Path and the troubled Jane and Finch. North York is almost as large as the old city itself and neither Ford nor Smitherman can afford a poor showing in North York.

The old city of Toronto, generally seen as Smitherman's strength is a strange political animal. The NIMBYism which saw Miller's opposition to a tiny bridge to the island airport is part of the dynamic here. But the champagne socialism of Miler has not gone down all over the old city. The dense townhouses and semi-detached houses made for resistance to Miller's new garbage bins which often have to be left on front porches for lack of options. The money made on Bay street and enjoyed in Rosedale is part of the mix too. The old city may be what most outsiders think about when they think about Toronto, but it is a small part of the city. It's voters may find themselves on the outside looking in if Rob Ford is able to win.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Garbage Fallout 2010 Rocco Rossi Edition

Rocco Rossi has finally realized that he has no chance of becoming Toronto's next mayor. Rossi's campaign was highlighted by excellent media savvy and lots of ideas (ranging in quality). Problem was nobody really knew who Rocco Rossi was. With Smitherman and Ford now apparently deadlocked in the polls, Rossi's departure from the race makes the race a lot simpler. Torontonians can vote for George Smitherman, they can vote for Rob Ford or they can throw their vote away and vote for Joe Pantalone. I think the choice is pretty obvious. Smitherman has been a men amongst boys (and Sarah Thompson) in this race and is the only person capable of leading Toronto into the next decade. You can vote for anger and vitriol or you can vote for a man of substance and character.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Harper Wins Win-Win Scenario

Stephen Harper is not a tactical genius, but he did pull off a tactical victory in this whole UN mess. Really, he couldn't lose. If he had gotten a seat at the security council it's a diplomatic feather in his cap. Canada's at the big boys table etc. etc. However, he always had the other side to play. The UN is not a very popular organization among the core of the Conservative Party. It's even less popular with the pro-Israel wing of the Conservative party who view it as a fundamentally anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian organization because of the numbers the Muslim world can bring to bear at the General Assembly and other UN bodies. Harper couched his withdrawal by making it about Israel.

I don't think he expected to have to force the issue as much as he did by conjuring up some story about deepening and expanding the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA). However, it did the trick. Harper comes off to his base as 'a friend of Israel who wasn't willing to sell himself to the evil UN just to win a seat at the ineffective Security Council'. Of course, Harper already made nice with most of the same Muslim leaders when he was still trying to win the seat, meeting with leaders like Pres. Abbas, but pay that no mind.

What really gets my goat professionally is seeing him talk about expanding free trade after allowing the Colombian and Jordanian FTA's to die not once but twice on the order paper. All those wonderful things they were telling that we're getting out of CIFTA we could be getting out of trade with those two countries as well. Harper, of course, preferred to prorogue parliament than do something good for the country. CIFTA, of course, was brought in by Jean Chretien's government back in the mid-90's. It was deepened slightly in the last years of Chretien's government. How exactly you make it any deeper is anyone's guess. There are some goods that it could probably apply to in each country that are currently not on the list but this is not a weak FTA. There's not a lot of room for big economic gains there... at least without touching the agricultural sacred cow... all puns intended.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Garbage Fallout 2010: Sarah Thomson Edition

For a blog called All Politics is Local I do a piss poor job covering municipal politics. My life has gotten in the way of blogging the last few months anyway, but Toronto's mayor race is starting to head into the home stretch. In a lot of ways, the campaign starts next week. That's when lawn signs will start dotting the streets of Toronto. The ban on signs is lifted Monday October 4th at 12:01 so expect some hammering in your neighbourhood Sunday night/Monday morning. The mayor's race got a lot more interesting when Sarah Thomson dropped out and gave the semi-conscious George Smitherman campaign a needed jolt. Smtitherman is the guy that is supposed to win this thing by all logic and reason. Thomson's endorsement may be enough to solidify him as the only guy capable of avoiding the Fordcalypse.

I've been skeptical of Ford's numbers to begin with. I think part of it is I admittedly don't want them to be true. However, I think there is some reason in my thinking. Municipal politics don't generate a lot of attention from the public and those that do pay attention tend to be those who are the most pissed off. Thus, early on in a race (and we're still almost a month to E-day) the people most willing to commit in any poll are those who are angriest in this case Ford supporters. Another thing to consider is that people are much more likely to say they'll vote for a third, fourth or fifth place candidate in a poll a month out then they are on election day. Municipal polls are also terrible because nobody actually knows who to poll. There's no way for a pollster or analysts to look at the results of a poll and say "that's not right". There's just not enough data to compare it to. Miller was, according to one poll, at 70% the week before the vote in 2006 but ended up with 55%. I think we're in for a tight race. I honestly don't have a clue who wins.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Far-Right Kingmakers Following Swedish Election

For proponents of proportional representation all over the globe, Sweden has always been held up as a paragon of virtue. Stable majority coalition has followed stable majority coalition. The fact that Sweden has become a de facto two party system (with The Alliance and the Red-Green Coalition being the only choices) is largely ignored by PR's advocates. Yes, there are seven different ways of choosing one or the other but at the end of the day only two people could become prime minister after yesterday's vote: the incumbent New Moderate Fredrik Reinfeldt or Social Democrat Mona Sahlin. The winner last night was Reinfeldt's alliance which won government with fewer votes than the Social Democrats, because he is part of a larger coalition. However, Reinfeldt has a major headache in the form of the upstart Sweden Democrats. The far-right party broke through the low 4% threshold which kept them out of parliament in 2006 and look to hold 20 seats in the Riksdag. With The Alliance 3 votes short of a majority, the Sweden Democrats hold the balance of power in their xenophobic hands. While they are apparently vowing "not to cause trouble," what Reinfeldt will need to do to either get their support or the opposition's support will be interesting to say the least.

The Sweden Democrats earned no more than 11.2% in any region of the country. Their largest support came from areas in southern Sweden with high levels of immigration from Muslim countries like Somalia and Iraq. Still, with such low levels of support, they would never have won election in a single member plurality (or what is dismissively known as first-past-the-post) system. A proportional system, like the version of MMP used in Sweden, encourages the growth and continued success of these small fringe parties. Once elected, you can never guarantee that the electoral calculus won't break down like it has in Sweden: with the radical fringe holding the country's future in its hands.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sweden Votes 2010

This Sunday Swedes will head to the polls to elect a government. Swedish politics are a fairly static business, or at least they used to be. Until 2006, the Social Democrats and their allies had held power for all but seven of the proceeding seventy years. So when Fredrik Reinfeldt and his New Moderate led Alliance won in 2006, it was a major victory. Like the previous centre-right government it looked like Reinfeldt was going to be doomed by a terrible economy. However, Reinfeldt has proved more resilient and a week out the opinion polls show that he and his allies have opened up a significant lead. Of course, this is all academic depending on what happens on election day. All the drama will revolve around the 4% threshold to hold seats in the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament, under Sweden's PR-based MMP system. Three parties seem to be hovering around that number and how many of those parties reach the threshold will likely determine the stability of the Riksdag.

Sweden has traditionally been a seven party system with two stable coalitions. The Social Democrats currently led by Mona Sahlin are supported by the Left Party (Communist) and the Green Party. The New Moderates led by Reinfeldt are supported by the Liberal Party, the Centre Party (a farmers' party reminiscent of the old Canadian Progressives) and the Christian Democrats. The Centre Party and the Christian Democrats have fallen on hard times, in spite of being in government, and are perilously close to political oblivion. Should either party fail to reach that threshold, the Alliance may fall short of a majority in the Riksdag if the Swedish Democrats are able to break the threshold and crash the party. The xenophobic, nationalist Swedish Democrats are politically radioactive for the mainstream parties but should they win seats, they have a very good chance of holding the balance of power. If that happens on Sunday, the normally consensus-driven Riksdag may find itself at an unprecedented impasse.

Friday, August 27, 2010

US Senate Preview 2010

With just over two months left until the US midterm elections, a quick preview of some key races for those of you just tuning in:

Florida: Sen. Mel Martinez' (R) somewhat unexpected retirement has left Floridians with an open senate seat. The early consensus is that Gov. Charlie Crist (R) would just walk into the role, but a funny thing happened on the way to the senate. That funny thing is named Marco Rubio (R). Rubio became the darling of the tea party movement and ended up so far ahead of Crist in primary polling, that Crist decided to save himself the embarrassment of losing a primary, and just run as an independent. All of this should mean good news for the Dems but they've been making lemons out of lemonade all year. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) ended up winning a stunningly nasty nomination battle with a billionaire opponent but is widely expected to be an also ran in a Republican v. Republican battle with many Dems preferring the centrist Crist over the lesser known Meek.

Kentucky: More Tea Party fun in Kentucky, where Rand Paul, son of Ron, swept the Republican nomination out from under the feet of the establishment candidate. Now, what was supposed to be an easy hold for the Republicans (Jim Bunning (R) is retiring), may become more interesting if enough people in Blue Grass country can't warm up to the radical Rand Paul. The Democrat who could benefit from a Republican implosion is state AG Jack Conway.

Nevada: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is about as popular as a card counter in Vegas these days. In fact, many had him as the first domino to fall in a Democratic collapse in November. However, the Republicans have once again made their lives difficult by nominating walking gaffe-machine Sharron Angle. This woman has to be seen to be believed.

Colorado: Barack Obama raided the Senate benches extensively to form his cabinet and that is noticeable in some of the elections this year. Colorado is one of those place as Sen. Salazar's move to the cabinet table has left an open seat. Appointed senator Michael Bennett will try to defend the seat for the Dems, he will face yet another Tea Partier, Ken Buck. Buck like Paul and Rubio knocked off the establishment candidate in his primary.

Delaware: Blue Delaware is the likeliest of the Democratic seats to fall victim to the Obama cabinet table. Vice-President Biden's seat was supposed to be passed on to his politicking, army serving son, Beau. However, Beau surprised the Dems by not wanting the job. That left long-time Rep. Mike Castle (R) a golden opportunity to move into the senate. A chance he will likely take at the expense of Chris Coons (D).

Arkansas: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) is about as popular as mud in Arkansas these days. The Dems know this and tried to replace the fall-through-the-mushy-middle Lincoln with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the primary. Lincoln held on by the skin of her teeth. The beneficiary of Lincoln's narrow victory will likely be Rep. John Boozman (R) who won the Republican nod.

Pennsylvania: A revolt by both parties' bases has forced Arlen Specter into retirement. The long time moderate Republican was in for a thrashing from Republican candidate Pat Toomey and he knew it. So, in order to serve Pennsylvania and save his own skin, he crossed the aisle. The Democrats knew this stunk to high heaven and gave their nomination to former Admiral current congressman Joe Sestak. Both parties have happier bases than they would have with Specter on the ticket, independents may have less to choose from.

Alaska: Sarah Palin made her maverick name by knocking off incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in a Republican primary. Now, Palin has helped do the same thing to the Governor's daughter (who he appointed to the Senate). With Lisa Murkowski gone, the race may be closer than it would have been. However, this is Alaska which is so red it only narrowly defeated the disgraced Sen. Ted Stevens and kept the disgraced Rep. Don Young last time around. All this is bad news for the Democrat, Scott McAdams.

Other races to watch:
  • Obama' seat in Illinois (no longer for sale)
  • Clinton's seat in New York
  • Evan Bayh's seat in Indiana
  • The cursed seat currently held by Richard Burr in North Carolina
  • Almost Obama senate appointee Judd Gregg's old seat in New Hampshire
  • David "DC Madam" Vitter's re-election bid in Louisiana
  • Robin Carnahan's bid to exorcise some family demons in Missouri (her father died in a plane crash weeks before the 2000 election and won from beyond the grave; her mother ended up taking the seat temporarily)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sun "Snow Fox" Media Continues to be Fair and Balanced

I don't read 24 Hours, one of Toronto's two free daily newspapers, on my subway ride to work in the morning. Principally, that's because it has almost no news in it. To boot, it's a Sun Media paper. So when I did come across a copy lying about yesterday I shouldn't have been surprised to see this story about Toronto's mayoral race and right wing standard bearer Rob Ford. Well, the link is the only permanent version I could find (from the Toronto Sun). The 24 Hours story (which you might be able to find here) which was on page 5 of the August 23rd edition is significantly worse. Both papers have apparently taken to printing the Rob Ford campaign's latest press release as straight news. Yes, shockingly the Ford campaign thinks that the scandals which dogged the campaign last week are behind them. Breaking news: the Ford campaign also believes that Rob Ford is awesome. How Sun Media can think that qualifies as news is beyond me. When you see 'journalism' like this, it is easy to see why there are so few journalists left.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Australia Votes 2010: Cliffhanger Edition

The Australian election has resulted in the tightest of outcomes. Right now, it appears the right wing coalition led by Liberal Tony Abbott will win 73 seats to incumbent Labor PM Julia Gillard's 72 seats. Independents will hold four seats and the Green party will have one seat. The punditry seems to be indicating that Mr. Abbott will be able to corral the independents and form a new government. However, PM Gillard is making noises about trying to form a coalition herself. This could get a lot more interesting in the days to come.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stephen Harper's Refugee Problem

The most striking thing about the arrival of 500 Tamil refugee claimants to Canada is that it is news at all. Canada processes thousands of refugee claims every year. So what makes the Tamils so exceptional? Well very little. The boat provides better visuals for the media, but really this is a blip for our system, so why all the fuss? Well, I think we can start to identify a pattern. Stephen Harper has made great efforts to broaden his party's appeal to new Canadians. This despite a reticence among some parts of his base to fully get behind immigration. Harper appears to be drawing the line at refugee claims. While many in his party may be upset about grandmothers being brought over under family reunification and taking advantage of social services, Harper realizes that going after granny makes very little political sense. However, false refugee claims or dangerous refugee claimants are easy targets. Particularly, if you pick on groups that don't have a huge understanding in the Canadian public.

In spite of the large and active Tamil population in Canada, many Canadians probably don't know that much about the civil war in Sri Lanka. A battle between a Buddhist government and a Hindu minority doesn't trigger raw emotions in most Canadians like say the conflict in the middle east does. Furthermore, the Tamil population, while sizable, is unusually concentrated in Toronto making it much more of an enigma in most of Canada. The previous group targeted by Harper as abusers of the system were central European Roma, primarily from the Czech Republic and Hungary. Once again, Canadians don't necessarily have the understanding of their situation in order to evoke retaliatory sympathy. In both cases, Harper has gone after groups that are still viewed as "others" in the minds of many Canadians. Harper also cracked down on Mexican refugee claims in the aftermath of stories of Canadians being killed on vacation in Mexico. He exploited the fear Canadians had about the Mexican drug war to advance his political agenda. The pattern is clear. This government wants to limit refugees entering the country whenever possible. Harper knows its political folly to be against immigration. However, when given the chance, his true colours shine through. In this case, a pasty white.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dutch Deal With the Devil

When Europhiles dismiss the rise of xenophobic, islamophobic, neo-fascist parties in Europe, they often argue that the small number of seats these parties may hold in any given parliament are not all that important. After all, mainstream parties are loathe to make deals with them and thus, they become irrelevant. Well, welcome to the Netherlands in 2010. After eight weeks of backroom dealings, the Dutch may end up with a government capable of pushing through the economic reforms people voted for back on June 9th. There's only one small catch: the kingmaker is Islamophobic fear-monger Geert Wilders. Europe is long overdue in confronting its xenophobic demons, maybe this will encourage some soul searching.

The government, by the way, was elected using a PR system. The eight week negotiation and not so desirable outcome is a pretty standard by-product of PR. All that is of course completely worth it because they have pleased the golden idol of proportionality. It could be worse, just look door in Belgium. The Belgians voted four days after the Dutch, but no amount of Belgian lager has been able to cobble together a coalition. However, this is still early days in Belgium. Last time it took more than a year.

Slow News Summer Run Down

Quick hits:
  • Mr. Ivison completely misses the point in trying to defend Stockwell Day. Mr. Day was trying to defend increased incarceration rates which simply cannot be moved by unreported crime no matter how serious those crimes are.
  • A quick reminder that coalitions are a fragile business. Silvio Berlusconi has managed to survive his first test after his government coalition fragmented chaotically. The break-up is reminiscent of the reform split under Stockwell Day. Even if the government does fall, the money is still on the richest man in Italy to keep his job.
  • Okay, so I guess the Greens subscribe to the Bryan Burke "pugnacity and truculence" school of team-building. They might not win but they will be tougher to play against and their supporters will be entertained.
  • If the Greens actually wanted to win, they'd find a viable candidate for Simcoe-Grey, where Helena Guergis is threatening to divide the Tory vote in two. Huronia/Cottage Country has proved fertile territory for the Greens. Then again if Chuck Cadman and Bill Casey are any guide, my money's on Guergis.
  • If only all of California's stupid propositions had been struck down so quickly; the state might actually be governable.
  • Rob Ford meanwhile continues to tilt at windmills. I'm guessing he wouldn't be marching in the pride parade as mayor.
  • Taste of the Danforth is this weekend. I urge everyone to come to my neck of the woods for the great food, music and general frivolity. I encourage everyone to get to my neck of the woods by TTC. There's no parking on a regular weekend, you can forget about it this weekend.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It Must Be Summer...

While I understand why some of my friends in the Liberal blogosphere are exercised about Census-Gate, can you honestly tell me that this would be a story any other time of the year? No, we shouldn't be cutting the long census. No, StatsCan is not going to sell your personal, confidential information to the highest bidder. Yes, the information acquired in the long census is useful. But since when have the Tories cared about doing the right thing for Canada's future? The actual political football of the census is its impact on the new electoral map that will follow. When you hear Republicans belly-aching about the census they're worried about cities being over-counted not about any privacy concerns. However, gerrymandering is not a major part of Canadian politics and nobody expects Elections Canada to start drawing ridings that look like American congressional districts. Long census or not, we will know where the seats are going come the end of the 2011 census. Bring on the open nominations, merged ridings and all the associated in-fighting. The last redistribution brought us the epic Valeri-Copps nomination battle in Hamilton. Now that is political fodder you can sink your teeth into.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Haper's Summer of Fiscal Austerity Continues

Stephen Harper lectured the world this June on the importance of governments reigning in soaring deficits. I guess this is another "do as I say, not as I do" type of thing for the Prime Minister. Harper's belt tightening expenditures now include billions for new boats for the navy, $1 billion plus for G8/G20 security complete with a fake lake, and the latest: a 9 billion dollar no-bid contract to Lockheed Martin for fighter jets. At least the boats and G8/G20 security provided jobs for Canadians. Lockheed has a tiny (given the size of the company) operation in Canada with just 600+ of its 136,000 employees based in Canada. Why on earth did they get a no-bid contract? All of this wasteful spending will surely counteract any deficit reduction gained by the unexpected strength of the Canadian economy. I don't understand how these people can call themselves Conservatives.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Stupid Quote of the Week

Goes to Ontario Liberal MPP Kevin Flynn for his comments on youth mental health. Trying to make the case, I guess, that we need to treat mental health seriously, he said the following:

“(Mental illness is) an illness like any other illness. You don’t send a child to a different hospital when they break their arm, you send him to the same hospital you send the adults to.”

Perhaps, the MPP for Oakville should take a walk over to Toronto's renown Hospital for Sick Children more commonly known as SickKids. It seems Mr. Flynn has forgotten that the place exists along with the world's thousands upon thousands of pediatricians.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

HST Arrives; Sky Fails to Fall

The Harmonized Sales Tax has arrived in both British Columbia and Ontario. Life, surprisingly enough, kept going. The HST has been called a lot of things by a lot of people. What it is in essence is yet another tax shift away from business taxes and on to personal and consumption taxes. That's really all the HST does. That's why it is good for business and that's why people are upset about paying 8 cents more on the dollar for a liter of gas in Toronto. The HST allows businesses to account for provincial sales taxes in the same way they account for the Goods and Services Tax. GST, and now HST paid by businesses in order to produce or acquire a given product are considered to be an input tax credit. That credit can then be claimed when the business sells that product to the final consumer and charges HST. In essence, the government only receives the HST from the final consumer. All the transactions made to get it to the final consumer should be tax neutral. That's why businesses like it. It also means they pay one tax instead of two which means less paperwork and aggravation in the long run. Final consumers will only notice a difference on goods that were previously exempt from provincial sales taxes and have not been granted an exemption on the HST. Governments have tried to lessen the burden on consumers by lowering income taxes. That's it. Much ado about nothing if you ask me. Once the sticker shock wears off, we'll forget it wasn't always that way. At 5-13%, Canada still boasts a relatively low Value Added Tax when compared to many countries in Europe.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Giant Exits

Peter Milliken, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has announced that he will not being seeking re-election in the next election. The MP from Kingston and the Islands has seen his margins fall as the Liberal tide has ebbed in Eastern Ontario but in all likelihood Milliken has just decided to retire. Milliken is the longest serving speaker of the house in Canadian history. He has been a speaker who has found himself in the spotlight, having to cast an historic vote to save the Martin government in 2005 and more recently being at the centre of the Afghan Detainee storm. The speaker is a parliamentarian in the best sense of the word. He is respected by all parties and his depth of knowledge on parliamentary procedure is unmatched. I had the pleasure of helping out on Mr. Milliken's 2006 campaign. Milliken ran a different sort of campaign in one respect: no signs. He always tried to make an agreement with his opponents (or just the Conservative) that campaign signs would not blight Kingston's landscape. That was more important. Mr. Speaker, Ottawa will be a lot worse off without you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Electoral System Isn't the Issue

A combination of things including an internet outage has scuttled the blog for the past few days. The rest of my world cup preview would now be horribly out of date. On to more political things. For those of you who didn't notice, Belgium had an election a little while back. The result wasn't all that surprising for Belgium but that doesn't mean it was any less complicated. Canadian talking heads *cough* Andrew Coyne *cough* often cite our "antiquated electoral system" as the primary reason that the Bloc Québecois has been able to maintain a presence in our parliament. Well, over in Belgium the results of the latest election in that PR based country have given the Flemish nationalists a plurality of seats in the Belgian parliament. Granted it is a small plurality, about 27 out of 150 seats, or about an identical ratio to the current Bloc presence in the Canadian parliament. So next time Andrew Coyne or some other pundit complains about the Bloc, just thank your lucky stars we don't live in a PR based country like Belgium.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

World Cup Preview: Group C

On to Group C:

England (1st in group 6 in UEFA Qualifying): No country faces the pressure quite like the English. Other countries have must win attitudes, but most of those countries have more recent glories to remember. The English World Cup drought is legendary. This year's side has the talent to break it. They have the players. They have the coach. The goaltending is a question mark. Wayne Rooney may be the most on-form out and out striker on the planet. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are excellent midfielders. The loss of Rio Ferdinand will hurt. The English are good enough to win. Are they strong enough to handle the pressure? Time will tell.

Player to watch: Wayne Rooney (ST)

Prediction: 1st in Group C, Out in the Semi-finals.

USA (1st in CONCACAF): The US had an uneventful run through qualifying. They were far from perfect, but they were good enough to grab top spot and not have to worry about their last couple of matches. The Americans will rely on the positive experience gained from the Confederations Cup last year when they shocked Spain in the semi-finals and had a lead on Brazil in the finals. The US enters the tournament with more questions than answers. Tim Howard is one of the best keepers in the tournament but the men in front of him are riddles. Oguchi Onweyu is coming back from a major injury. Landon Donovan is an enigma at the best of times. Charlie Davies absence in the wake of a car crash that left his companion dead, has left a major hole up top. The Americans have a nasty habit of playing to the level of their opponents. Remember in 06 they played eventual champs Italy to a gritty draw before bowing out of the group stage at the hands of lesser opponents. Slovenia and Algeria may be the key games for the US.

Player to Watch: Oguchi Onweyu (DF)

Prediction: 3rd in Group C

Algeria (Tie for 1st in Group C in African Qualifying; Defeated Egypt in playoff): Few teams can match Algeria's qualifying story, beating arch-rivals Egypt in a sudden death playoff in Khartoum. However, on the pitch Algeria is probably over-matched in this group. Their qualifying group was a two horse race the whole way and one has to wonder if beating Egypt is more than enough to satisfy the Algerians. A relatively unheralded roster will have their hands full in a tough Group C.

Prediction: 4th in Group C

Slovenia (2nd in Group 3 in UEFA qualifying; Defeated Russia in playoff): No one gave tiny Slovenia any hope against Euro powerhouse Russia in a two game playoff. After all, Slovenia had come out of group 3 notable not for its winner (Slovakia) but for the poor performances of its expected powers (Czech Republic, Poland and to a lesser extent Belgium). The Slovenes however, shocked the Russians and won't be afraid of anyone in South Africa. With giants England in the group to distract their opponents, expect the Slovenes to take some scalps.

Prediction: 2nd in Group C, out in the round of 16.

The Low Countries Vote 2010

A busy election year in Europe continues with neighbours the Netherlands and Belgium voting mere days apart. We await results from the elections in the Netherlands where it appears the results will be clear as mud. I can't wait to see how that coalition gets built. Do you work around the anti-immigrant party or with it? At any rate, Europe's flirtation with the far right does not appear to be over. Whatever happens in the Netherlands will look downright organized compared to the ongoing chaos that is Belgium. FiveThirtyEight gives a much better run down than I ever could. Go read it. Coalition building is an ugly process in a lot of countries. It's a near impossible exercise in Belgium. Some countries have an easy time building coalitions, but there are no guarantees that a proportional electoral system will ensure quick and orderly coalition building. You could end up like Belgium did: without a government for months on end. I've said this before, but it bears repeating, how you count the votes has very little impact on what kind of government you get.

Not In My Name

If this story is at all accurate, shame on all parties involved. This is a disgrace. Pierre Trudeau, Lester Pearson, Louis St. Laurent, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Wilfred Laurier, Edward Blake, Alexander Mackenzie, George Brown, Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine must be rolling in their graves. We've been in worse shape. Mulroney wiped the floor with Turner. Diefenbaker destroyed Pearson. Mackenzie King lost office twice including in the wake of the 1929 crash. Laurier's Grits were in tatters after 1911. Before Laurier we held power for 5 out of 29 years. Brown was almost never in government. Lafontaine had to run in Ontario for fear of his safety in Québec.

The Liberal Party has survived in basically one incarnation for the past 150 years not solely as its critics would tell you because it lusts for power but because it stands for Canadian progress. In its earliest incarnations it stood for democracy. It stood against the corruption of Sir John A. It stood for Laurier's dream of a great nation leading the world into the 2oth century. It stood for Pearson and Trudeau's vision of responsible action abroad and justice and equality at home. It still stands for balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility. Bad poll numbers, even bad elections do not give any party insider the right to negotiate away that history. At very least, a full consultation with the party membership should have been undertaken to ask their opinion.

On Monday evening, the Toronto-Danforth Federal Liberal Association will conduct its Annual General Meeting in its continued efforts to unseat the leader of the NDP. My riding association exists for a reason. My party exists for a reason. May history condemn any person who would sell out their party for the feint hope of power.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

World Cup Preview: Group B

On to Group B:

Argentina (4th in CONMEBOL): Argentina's struggles through qualifying provided one of the most compelling story lines to watch. In the end, the side led by Lionel Messi and coached by Diego Maradona was able to qualify comfortably in fourth. Argentina will not lack for talent. Lionel Messi leads a potent attack which features Manchester City's Carlos Tevez and Atletico Madrid's Sergio Aguero. The most frequently asked question about Argentina is whether or not they can overcome Maradona's coaching to secure glory. Group B shouldn't pose much of a problem for Argentina and a weak Group A should provide knock out round fodder.

Player to Watch: Lionel Messi (ST)

Prediction: 1st in Group B, Semi-Finals

Republic of Korea (1st in Group 2 in Asian Qualifying): If the future lies in Asia, the football world isn't paying attention. Indeed, eight years after Korea and Japan hosted the event, Asia seems to be a forgotten continent. Africa has had an unusually bright spotlight, Europe is always king and South America always draws attention. Asia has been ignored. This probably suits the South Koreans just fine. A lot of ink has been spilled discussing the unexpected qualification of the DPRK, but South Korea, which finished 4 points ahead of their northern cousins has been ignored. Do so at your own peril. The team is led by one of Alex Ferguson's favourite players the always dangerous Park Ji Sung and could well be a nuisance to a bigger country.

Player to Watch: Lee Chung Yong

Prediction: 2nd in Group B. Eliminated in the round of 16.

Nigeria (1st in Group B of African Qualifying): The superpower of Africa boasts no shortage of big names. John Obi Mikel, Obafemi Martins, Dickson Etuhu and the ageless Kanu headline a strong team. The problem for Nigeria has been putting the pieces together. Last day heroics allowed Nigeria to qualify for this tournament and the team looked pedestrian against what was a not particularly difficult qualifying group. Yes, they could get their act together on African soil, but they will need to do so in short order. There are no soft marks in Group B and Nigeria may find it difficult to break down the Koreans and Greeks. Nigeria will probably be a lot of people's choice to move on here. Not mine.

Player to Watch: John Obi Mikel

Prediction: 3rd in Group B

Greece (2nd in Group 2; Defeated Ukraine 1-0 on aggregate): Euro 2004 seems like a long time ago for the Greeks. Yes, they've qualified for their first world cup since 1994, but hopes cannot be high for this team. Then again, hopes are never high for Greece, they weren't in 2004. If their defensive shell is cracked early, it could get ugly for the Greeks who faced little real competition from a weak qualifying group. 2004 was a once in a lifetime achievement for Greece. It's only been six years.

Player to Watch: Georgios Karagounis

Prediction: Last in Group B

Sunday, June 06, 2010

World Cup Preview: Group A

Politics are important. I'll get back to politics. First, a series offering my two cents on the World Cup. Starting with Group A:

South Africa (Hosts): The tournament hosts are, by some accounts, the worst side ever to host a world cup. Then again, the same was probably said about either South Korea or Japan eight years ago and both sides had long deep runs into the tournament. South Africa are led by Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar. Pienaar and the few other non-South African based players will have to be excellent if this team is going to avoid embarrassing itself on home soil. Home turf is important in football, but one has to wonder if South Africa has the wherewithal to overcome the obstacles ahead of them.

Player to Watch: Stephen Pienaar (MF)

Prediction: 4th in Group A

France (2nd in Group 7; Defeated Ireland on aggregate 2-1 in playoff): One of the most controversial qualifiers, the French qualified on the strength of a Thierry Henry handball assist to eke out the Irish for a spot in South Africa. They were forced into the playoff after Raymond Dominic's side limped their way through group 7 posting a shocking opening day loss in Austria, draws at Serbia and Romania and again at home to the Romanians. Serbia beat out the French by a point to win the group. French football is rebuilding but the current squad looks awfully familiar. The 2006 finalists bring six out-field players over the age of 30 to the tournament. Age may be less of a factor in a short tournament like the world cup and there is no doubt that this team is loaded with talent. The question is whether or not the stars will align and France will make a run at this year's competition.

Player to Watch: Franck Ribery (MF)

Prediction: First in Group A, Out in the quarter-finals.

Mexico (Second in CONCACAF): Mexico's qualifying campaign started abysmally. The first group stage saw the Mexicans advance on a tiebreaker after poor results including a draw in Edmonton against a dysfunctional Canadian side. The Hex didn't start much better but after Sven Göran Eriksson was replaced by Javier Aguire, El Tri rounded into form and qualified comfortably in the second automatic spot. Of concern is Mexico's road record. El Tri were 5-0-0 at home but managed just a win and a draw away from the friendly confines of the Azteca. While South Africa's stadiums may be as loud as the Azteca courtesy of the vuvuzelas, odds are the fans won't all be cheering for Mexico. CONCACAF needs the US and Mexico to do well to gain respectability. I don't see it for Mexico.

Player to Watch: Cuauthemoc Blanco (MF/ST)

Prediction: Third in Group A

Uruguay (5th in South America; defeated Costa Rica 2-1 in a playoff): Uruguay famously won the first World Cup but those glories are long gone. The current squad boasts a lot of talent including dynamic Atletica Madrid forward Diego Forlan and are certainly not anybody's first choice of opponents. However, the Uruguayans struggled to even make the playoff with Costa Rica and managed only a 2-1 win over Costa Rica in spite being heavy favourites in the match. Like Mexico, Uruguay struggled away from home in the difficult South American qualifying tournament posting just two wins in 9 matches outside of Montevideo. A weak group will help Uruguay, but after that they're toast.

Player to Watch: Diego Forlan (ST)

Prediction: Second in Group A, Out in round of 16.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Japan has lost yet another Prime Minister. Junichiro Koizumi's 5 and a half year tenure as Prime Minister is looking more and more like a miracle. Koiziumi quit in September of 2006. Since then, Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fakuda, Taro Aso and now Yukio Hatoyama have failed to hold on to the reins of power for more than 365 days. Notably, Hatoyama is of course from the Democratic Party who replaced the long serving LDP in last year's elections. With elections for the Japanese upper house this summer threatening the Democratic Party's bicameral majority, Hatoyama has stepped aside over the Okinawa base issue. I guess the Americans aren't interested in doing any favours for Japanese politicians while Kim Jong Il is sinking South Korean naval vessels.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tories Squeeze Private Political Loans

Okay, so this isn't really news but it hasn't received a ton of coverage so I'm going to talk about it. On April 28th the Tories introduced bill C-19 which would, if passed, tighten the grip on one of the few easy ways left to finance a political campaign: private loans. The bill permits candidates to get any loan they want from a bank but makes the rule a lot tougher if they want to get the money privately. Loans would be limited to the annual donation restrictions and the lenders information would be made public. The bill also mandates that all loans be paid back within 3 years (this applies to leadership races, Liberal Leadership '06 candidates). After that the loans are counted as donations. The bill would essentially just extend current rules to apply to loans. The only strange part of the bill is continuing to allow bank loans. If loans are donations, aren't bank loans corporate donations? I suppose the logic is that a lot of the private loans are done at virtually no interest by family, friends and supporters.

This bill, like the earlier attempt to kill public political financing, is political through and through. The Tories fundraise far more effectively than their opponents and therefore rely less heavily on loans. Debt has become a fairly standard operating procedure for modern political candidates, this bill could change that. It's a bill that may be more important than it appears. Of course, it may never be passed. I for one will keep an eye on it.

Harper Turns Off Hose, Turns on Sprinkler

Sometimes reality has a nasty habit of getting in the way of a good idea. Stephen Harper has a good idea: stop the stimulus spending and get started on tackling the deficit he created (remember we were in deficit BEFORE the recession). Reality is though that it's going to cost a ridiculous amount of money, $1 billion dollars, to provide security for the G8 and G20 meeting in Ontario this month. The good news for Canadians is that the money should be spent mostly in Canada employing police officers, soldiers and security specialists. Many of these fine people will be traveling to Toronto and Huntsville and will have to find accommodation in the local area. They may also decide to spend a little of their hard earned cash where they earn it. The $1 billion security budget is not technically stimulus spending but it should provide some stimulus to Southern Ontario nonetheless.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bleed Red, Not Orange

There's a lot of talk these days about a possible Liberal-NDP coalition. Mr. Rae has given new life to the talk by waxing poetic about his days propping up David Peterson in the 80's. I remain staunchly opposed to any sort of coalition deal with the NDP. It isn't treason as some Tories would have you believe, but it would be a grave error in judgment. 1985 provides few instructive lessons for us. The Tory dynasty in Ontario was coming to an end in 85 and Rae's decision to back Peterson only expedited that process. One could argue that they were merely making up for the inertia which had allowed Frank Miller to retain power in that election. Mr. Rae as future events indicate was always a bit of right wing NDPer to begin with. The current federal scene has none of these characteristics.

Jack Layton remains a fringe voice in Canadian politics. The NDP is a party stuck in the past supporting policies that would violate Canada's commitments to the WTO (check out #5), reopen NAFTA, institute massive corporate tax hikes in the midst of a fragile recovery and put the brakes on the burgeoning oil sands. These are not modern Liberal principles. The NDP is a party of ideology completely inconsistent with a successful Liberal Party of Canada. Honestly, in an era where many of the major social fights (abortion, same-sex marriage etc.) are behind us, there is a lot more similarity between the Liberals and Tories than there is between the NDP and the Liberals. I don't really believe Michael Ignatieff would ever pursue a deal with the socialists and it is some consolation as the Grits remain trapped in the 20's in the polls.

We must remember that the UK coalition is between the Lib-Dems and the Tories not the Lib-Dems and Labour. In fact, many European countries find themselves governed by centre-right coalitions. The key difference is that in Europe, Liberal parties are weak also-rans not prime contenders for power. It is always easier for the leading party to find a deal with the third or fourth party than it is for the two largest parties to get into bed together. The reason we don't have coalition governments in Canada is because our third and fourth parties are not serious coalition partners.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Local Power Outage

Pundit's Guide has found the news hiding in plain sight (okay, slightly wonky Elections Canada tables). It seems a whole bunch of riding associations have failed to keep up with their paperwork and have been deregistered. In reality none of these riding associations were all that likely to elect anybody anyway. Only the Grits in Timmins -- James Bay could even be called competitive. Still, there's definitely some egg on some faces. Here are the guilty associations with their projected vote share as of May 13th:

Timmins -- James Bay (LIB) 25.84%
Esquimalt -- Juan de Fuca (GRN) 12.57%
Alfred Pellan (CON) 12.25%
St Catharine's (GRN) 9.9%
Don Valley East (GRN) 9.84
Chatham - Kent -- Essex (GRN) 9.68%
Windsor Tecumseh (GRN) 9.43%
Charlottetown (GRN) 8.26%
Crowfoot (LIB) 7.97%
Vegreville -- Wainwright (LIB) 7.45%

One of the reasons that we can't have local control over candidates is that local riding associations do stuff (or more accurately don't do stuff) like this. I wonder what Andrew Coyne and the protectors of the local voice would say should be done in ridings where there is no local riding association to nominate a candidate. Pundit's Guide has the overall number of registered EDA's with the NDP missing just one riding (Nunavut), the Grits short just the three above, the Tories short a shocking (for a governing party) 27, and the Greens missing 74 including all of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Projection Update: What Scandal Edition

While the Guergis melodrama captivates everyone within a 5cm radius of Parliament Hill, the rest of the country could care less. At least, that's the conclusion I have to draw from my latest seat projections. The numbers:

National Picture:

CPC 129
LPC 89
BQ 55
NDP 35


BC: CPC 19, NDP 11, LPC 6
AB: CPC 28
SK: CPC 13, LPC 1
MB: CPC 7, LPC 4, NDP 3
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
ON: CPC 55, LPC 45, NDP 16
QC: BQ 55, LPC 14, CPC 6
NB: CPC 5, LPC 4, NDP 1
NS: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
NL: LPC 5, CPC 1, NDP 1

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's Not The Economy, Stupid?

The Economist thinks were cool again. Okay, no cover story with a sunglasses-toting moose but still the Economist praises Canada for its economic resiliency. The Economist is right. The Canadian economy appears, pending more debt-crises in Europe, to be recovering well. This is unreservedly good news for our country. The recovery is not just occurring on corporate balance sheets as the economy unexpectedly added 109,000 jobs in April. While a lot of that work was part-time, it's better than a kick in the teeth. To put it in perspective, the Americans were positively giddy about adding 290,000 jobs in a country ten times our size. All this good news presents a challenge to Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party of Canada.

You can criticize me for making such a cynical statement but it is true. For the past eighteen months it has been fairly obvious what the major issue would be for the LPC should another election occur. The YouTube clips that appeared last year demonstrated the fodder the LPC would have in going after the Tories on financial and fiscal mismanagement. A picture of a government being on the one hand disconnected from economic reality and on the other hand squandering hard earned Liberal surpluses would have made for a great narrative. The question now, is what is the new narrative the LPC is going to craft between now and the time of the next election (at most 30 months away). Fiscal mismanagement is still an issue. The Tories ran a deficit prior to the economic meltdown of 2008 and their plans to get out of the whole they've dug is laughable. However, if this kind of job growth is sustained, the government coffers will have more money in them than would have been previously anticipated. More importantly, in order to criticize the Tory deficit plan, we would need our own real deficit plan. A real plan would involve either tax hikes (GST anyone?) or spending cuts neither of which the Liberals would want to run an election on.

Mr. Ignatieff faces the Afghan detainee document question this week in the House of Commons. It probably isn't the kind of thing you go to the polls on. It just isn't a coffee table issue. Going back to social issues is, as was infamously pointed out, good political ground for the LPC but it isn't without hazards. Many of the issues which break the LPC's way (abortion, gay marriage etc.) are, in the mind of most Canadians, settled questions. There's no currency to it. Harper's justice legislation is poor policy but once again mostly poor political fodder. Although I could see "Stephen Harper wants to put your child behind bars" coming out in a late campaign attack ad. None of these issues have really grabbed the Canadian public even if they have angered some people in the chattering classes. In general, the Tory government is not all that enthused about passing controversial legislation or really any legislation, which even in a majority government, presents some challenges to the opposition.

Ignatieff has piecemeal policy proposals which are supposed to be close to being a platform. That may be an even tougher road to hoe as Canadian opposition parties are rarely elected because they are merely preferable. Usually, the case has to be made that the other guys are incompetent, corrupt or both AND that the opposition is preferable. If the economic recovery continues, Michael Ignatieff is left with the unenviable task of making that case to the Canadian public without his economic trump card. Maybe that's why the Prince of Darkness decided he'd be better off helping defend Dalton McGuinty.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Clegg Looks For Coalition With Socialists and Separatists

The resignation this afternoon of Gordon Brown as Labour leader has fueled speculation that a deal may be possible which would see the Labour Party remain in government in coalition with Nick Clegg and the support of presumably one or more nationalist parties. Of course it is possible that Clegg is opening up negotiations with Labour in the hopes of winning concessions on what appear to be shockingly small stumbling blocks in a deal with the Tories. How exactly a Lib-Con coalition would vote on any sort of EU-related question is completely unimaginable.

Friday, May 07, 2010

UK Votes: The Last Shall Be First

Nick Clegg had an absolutely abysmal night last night as Lib-Dem support evaporated into thin air. The Tories of David Cameron are likely to form a government with their large plurality. However, that is dependent on Clegg agreeing to support the Tories at least in the near term. So, through the magic of minority government Mr. Clegg gets a considerable amount of power today. Unsurprisingly, the Lib-Dems want more minority governments - or as the Brits call them hung parliaments - like this one so they can continue to be the kingmaker. So, the question is what would parliament look like under PR? I decided to run a quick and dirty PR projection. Two assumptions: 1. Each nation (England, Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland) is administered separately. 2. The minimum threshold is a fairly average 5% of the vote in the given nation. Here we go:

Conservatives: 251
Labour: 203
Liberal-Democrats: 161
SNP: 12
Plaid Cymru: 5
DUP: 5
Sinn Fein: 5
UCU: 3
Alliance: 2

Interesting to note that the Green Party which won a seat in Brighton last night would be shut out of a PR based parliament for getting only 1% of the vote. Likewise, the independent winner in Northern Ireland would be out. If you lowered the threshold to 3% UKIP would have won seats in England. While this parliament would give Gordon Brown a better shot of staying on, it isn't all that much more functional than the one that was actually elected.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Helena Guergis and Canadian Nominations

Andrew Coyne has weighed in on the fight brewing in Simcoe-Grey over the CPC's ousting of Helena Guergis as the nominated candidate for the next election. Mr. Coyne, as is so often the case, has decided to stand on principle in the face of reality. The principle is that local constituents should decide who is their next candidate for election. There's nothing wrong with that idea in theory. In fact, it becomes an absolute mess. Political parties are very strange entities in Canada. While heavily regulated, they remain at their core private clubs working in the public spheres. Mr. Coyne points to the requirement of candidates to receive the written endorsement of a party leader in order to stand for election as an affront to local democracy. It's not. The regulation doesn't come from any of the political parties but rather from Elections Canada. The reason is pretty simple: during a federal election, Elections Canada doesn't have the time to monitor the nomination process of the local Marijuana Party. Thus, they ask any candidate who claims to be the Marijuana Party candidate to receive the endorsement of his or her leader proving that they are the real candidate and not just trying to use the party's name to advance their cause or confuse voters. That way they know the candidate is actually nominated.

Now, this rule can be used by party leaders to veto unwanted candidates. It's not why the rule exists, but it can be used that way. While I agree that local members should have the power in nominating candidates, there has to be a limit. Political parties need to be able to remove candidates who have ceased to represent the best interest of the party. In the course of a federal election, speed is crucial. If a candidate is embarrassing the party, they need to be removed in short order. It may not be possible to schedule, announce and hold a new nomination meeting in order to get that candidate approved. When Sir John A. was the Conservative Party candidate (in numerous ridings at once), the media in Halifax wasn't reporting what his candidate in Vancouver said at a community meeting that morning. There wasn't video on the internet showing his candidate in Windsor making a fool of himself (or Sir John A. debating drunk off his rear-end). The media cannot expect perfect discipline from political parties and expect free-for-all nomination processes. They are mutually exclusive. Likewise, in a system with short election periods which may occur at any time, you cannot have an American style open nomination process.

Canadian political parties are very small clubs and they operate as such. However, our system allows for the election of independent candidates. If people in Simcoe-Grey want Helena Guergis to continue to serve as their MP after the next election, I wholeheartedly encourage them to start working on an independent campaign. Bill Casey and Chuck Cadman have both done it successfully after falling out with the Tories. Our first-past-the-post system allows independent candidates to win election and serve their constituents in the House of Commons. The party leader only controls his or her caucus members if they don't feel they can be elected without the party banner at their back.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Projection Update: May Edition

It's been a significant amount of time since I've done a projection update. They take longer when I haven't been keeping my polling aggregate up to date with the latest polls and that tends to put a bit of inertia in the works when I haven't put one out in a while. At any rate, I finally bit the bullet and got it done. This is based on 9 national polls taken in the last 30 days. Significant changes from my last update a couple months ago see the Tories re-open a wide margin with most of the gains coming in Ontario. The numbers follow:

National Picture

CPC 128
LPC 89
BQ 55
NDP 36


British Columbia: CPC 19, NDP 11, LPC 6
Alberta: CPC 28
Saskatchewan: CPC 13, LPC 1
Manitoba: CPC 7, LPC 4, NDP 3
North: CPC 1, LPC 1, NDP 1
Ontario: CPC 45, LPC 44, NDP 17
Québec: BQ 55, LPC 14, CPC 6
New Brunswick: CPC 5, LPC 4, NDP 1
Nova Scotia: LPC 5, CPC 4, NDP 2
Newfoundland and Labrador: LPC 6, NDP 1

Riding -by- Riding

Seat Projection - May 3

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Upcoming By-Election Projections

A full projection update is on its way tomorrow. I thought I'd post my projection for the newly vacated riding of Winnipeg North and the possibly soon to be vacated riding of Vaughan. First the NDP stronghold of Winnipeg North:

Winnipeg North:

NDP 57.19%
LPC 17.26%
CPC 14.44%
GPC 9.79%


LPC 51.33%
CPC 27.79%
GPC 10.74%
NDP 8.33%

Also, if the Tories are polling in embattled Helena Guergis' riding of Simcoe-Grey, here's what they should have been finding in terms of party preference if it wasn't for the scandal:

CPC 48.68%
LPC 24.18
GPC 13.04
NDP 10.21%

This might move to the near the top of my list if I were the Green Party of Canada trying to find winnable ridings. Southwestern Ontario has been fertile turf for the party and this sort of scandal is the kind of thing which drives people to the Greens.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Document Torture

The question of whether or not the Canadian military handed over prisoners to Afghan-run prisons when they had full knowledge or should have had full knowledge that those prisons engaged in torture is fundamentally not a political question. The whole thing stinks of a bureaucratic snafu not political interference. That's why, in my opinion, the issue has never moved the polls. After all, what exactly does the Harper government have to gain from torturing Afghan prisoners? This isn't the Bush justice department we're talking about. If Harper is covering something up, it is likely an unwillingness to expose the mission to criticism by talking about torture and therefore not changing the status quo. That's more politically motivated stupidity than actual malicious intent. However, for some unknown and unknowable reason Harper refuses to just let the documents be released.

That refusal has forced us to revisit via the right of parliament to sensitive information the issue of growing executive power. The privilege motion brought by Mr. Lee et al. is the sort of thing that Leader of the Opposition Stephen Harper would have championed. He'd be leading the fight on this today, if he didn't happen to be in power. Conversely, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe would likely be trying to cover their rear-ends if they were in power. Outside of the lunacy of Paul Martin's Gomery Inquiry, governments in this country have made a habit of avoiding giving parliament the information it wants. Even during Gomery, the government used the existence of the inquiry as an excuse to avoid answering tough sponsorship scandal questions. What's new here is that Harper failed to get this thing far enough away from parliament to avoid further questions. Apparently, his "prorogue and hope it disappears" strategy failed and the inquiry called as plan B wasn't broad enough in scope to deflect the questions. While it is satisfying to hear the Speaker remind us that the legislative branch of government still has some power, this may be a Pyrrhic victory for fans of parliamentary power. There's no convincing evidence that any political party is interested in unraveling the ever increasing power of the Canadian executive branch, certainly not once they gain power. Forcing the government to unredact some documents won't change the overall trend.

Nothing Like Winnipeg in the Summer

Great weather for a by-election... just ignore the mosquitoes. Yes, Judy Wasylycia-Leis is quitting as MP for Winnipeg North effective May 1st. If Harper decides not to play games with the timing, the by-election could happen as early as this summer. This should really be a walk-over for the NDP. My massively outdated latest projection (I'll get around to a new one at some point), shows the NDP winning Winnipeg North by a whopping 41.5 points. Still, if either the Grits or the Tories are going to make inroads in the riding, now is the time. Of course, I suppose this all could be rendered moot by the government falling over the whole document mess. It would be very Canadian for the government to fall on what is at root a point of procedure.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Speaker Tells Both Sides To Grow Up

Unsurprisingly, Peter Milliken has tried to avoid making a decision on the Afghan detainee document fiasco. Milliken has given the two sides two weeks to figure something that's agreeable to both sides before he rules the government in contempt of parliament. Two weeks for Harper, Ignatieff et al. to find a compromise. If they don't, Ottawa will go into overdrive. The question for Mr. Ignatieff is can a government be in contempt of parliament but still have the confidence of the house? How he answers that question will affect the negotiations in the next couple weeks and potentially the course of Canadian history if the negotiations fail.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hungary Votes 2010

There are a ton of elections going on in the EU this year. Poland, the UK, Sweden and Hungary are among the countries holding elections this year. While most of the focus has been on the UK, Hungary has just elected a new government. The last government was pretty much doomed from day 1 after the Prime Minister was caught on tape saying he lied to the public about the state of the public purse to get elected. I happened to be in Budapest during the ensuing protests in the fall of 2006 and can't say I'm surprised that the ruling socialist party was reduced to 15% of the vote. Hungary is in dire straits and has been for a while. The country was bailed out by the IMF in 2008. That loan is technically due back in the fall. Greece's problems are probably a larger concern for Europe but the EU never really dealt with the collapses in Hungary and the Baltics in 2008. The amount of help being offered Greece undoubtedly receives a poor response in the streets of Budapest and Riga.

Perhaps most concerning about this election result is the significant showing by the far-right Jobbik party which earned 12% of the vote. That's good for 47 seats and third place in Hungary's parliament. It is chilling to see a party affiliated with racist thugs with that level of support in Europe. When Jobbik received similar support during EU parliamentary elections it was dismissed by some because it was an almost irrelevant election and they would form a tiny part of the parliament. This is harder to dismiss. The spectre of the far right in Europe is real and needs to be confronted.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

UK Votes 2010: The Lib-Dems Strike Back

The United Kingdom is less than two weeks away from a national election and there are strange things afoot in the motherland. The consensus going into this election is that David Cameron and the Conservatives were going to sweep Gordon Brown out of office. Then something strange happened: the Liberal Democrats under leader Nick Clegg started to gain momentum. The momentum has picked up in the wake of Clegg being declared the winner in the first two leadership debates. Now Clegg's party is sitting second in the BBC's poll of polls.

I tend to like Liberal-Democratic parties in Europe for a whole bunch of ideological similarity reasons. I do have one major beef with the Lib-Dems and that is their strong support for the EU. In the context of the crisis in Greece, it is surprising to me that the Lib-Dems pro-EU stance isn't coming under more scrutiny. My guess is the Lib-Dem support is as much a "none of the above" thing as anything else and therefore people don't care that he'd give all their tax dollars to the delinquents in Athens.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hudak Attacks Harris Legacy

History can be really annoying in politics. Particularly, if you forget it exists. See, back when Mike Harris was the premier of Ontario, he introduced the entirely sensible idea of tying the size of the Ontario legislature to the size of Ontario's delegation in the House of Commons. Now, admittedly one of the reasons Harris did this to reduce the number of MPP's at Queen's Park. Another key reason was that it allowed Elections Ontario to avoid the time consuming and expensive work of drawing electoral boundaries that would end up being virtually identical to what Elections Canada had done. In other words, eliminate redundant government work. This was all part of the Common Sense Revolution Tim Hudak and the current crop of PC's at Queen's Park claim to love so much. Now the PC's are up in arms because McGuinty is talking about going back to the principle established by Harris and adding 18 new seats for the 2015 election to match the anticipated move in Ottawa. Damn that Mike Harris and his Liberal ways!

Side Note: The NDP probably haven't looked at population estimates lately or aren't very good at math. It is extraordinarily unlikely that any new seats would be added in Northern Ontario to "divide up some of the huge northern ridings in Ontario" as the article says.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Future Ridings by Party

As requested here is the party-by-party breakdown for the regions getting new seats under the Tory redistribution plan. What I've done is worked out what percentage of the extra voters in each region went to each party in the last election. This is different from the regional results as the smaller ridings have basically no impact. You only get credit for votes in ridings with over 108,000 residents because it is these people that will be moved into the new ridings. Elections Canada tends to prefer to keep existing ridings as is whenever possible. I will list the region following by the percentage of votes anticipated for each party in the new ridings, followed finally by my estimate of what those percentages mean in seats.


Calgary (2 seats): CPC 62.5%, LPC 15.7%, GPC 10.2%, NDP 8.3%
Edmonton (2 seats): CPC 58.9%, LPC 15.1%, NDP 15.1%, GPC 7.5%
Rural Alberta (1 seat): CPC 72.2%, NDP 12.7%, GPC 8.9%, LPC 5.1%

British Columbia:

Lower Mainland (2 seats): CPC 50.5%, NDP 22.3%, LPC 19.1%, GPC 6.9%
Vancouver (3 seats): CPC 39.5%, LPC 27.9%, NDP 21.9%, GPC 10%
Vancouver Island (2 seats): CPC 39.7%, NDP 31.8%, LPC 17.9%, GPC 9.9%


East (3 seats): CPC 49.2%, LPC 28.6,% NDP 13.1%, GPC 9.1%
905/Golden Horseshoe (10 seats): CPC 40.3%, LPC 37.6%, NDP 14.5%, GPC 6.5%
Southwest (3 seats): CPC 40%, LPC 26.1%, NDP 20.7%, GPC 9.1%
Toronto (2 seats): LPC 49.7%, CPC 29.3%, NDP 13.9, GPC 6.5

This gives us national increasese as follows based on the 2008 election:

CPC 17, LPC 10, NDP 3

Friday, April 09, 2010

Future Riding Breakdown

In order to understand what impact the proposed new ridings would have on the parliament of Canada, we need to know where the seats are going to be. A regional breakdown of where the seats are going helps. Thus, I've calculated out which regions (these are the electionprediction.org regions that I've lifted for my projections) have earned new seats. First in Alberta which is expected to jump from 28 to 33:

Current: 8
Proposed: 10

Current: 8
Proposed: 10

Current: 12
Proposed: 13

British Columbia which is proposed to go from 36 to 43 seats breaks down as follows:

Current: 10
Proposed: 10

Lower Mainland:
Current: 7
Proposed: 9

Current: 13
Proposed: 16

Vancouver Island:
Current: 6
Proposed: 8

Ontario is much more complicated because of Northern Ontario. On a pure rep by pop basis Northern Ontario should lose about 3.5 of its current 11 seats (I include Parry Sound-Muskoka in the 11). Obviously, that's unlikely to happen as Northern Ontario has been consistently over represented for years. So if we take Northern Ontario at 11 seats we get the following breakdown for the new 124 seats:

Current: 15
Proposed: 18

Golden Horseshoe/905
Current: 34
Proposed: 44

Current: 11
Proposed: 11

Current: 24
Proposed: 27

Current: 22
Proposed: 24

If Northern Ontario were to lose 3 seats, the gainers would be the Golden Horseshoe/905 (2) and Southwestern (1).

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Role of Dr. House Will Be Played by Andrew Coyne

Andrew Coyne has a fascinating piece up at macleans.ca about the future of the Liberal Party. Coyne's diagnosis of the problems facing the LPC is pretty close to spot on, his prescription may kill the patient. Coyne makes a long list of suggestions about policy issues for the party to champion. As a member in good standing of the Liberal Party of Canada, I can't say I agree with most of Coyne's list. In fact, I'd be severely tempted to leave the party if it adopted this kind of agenda. Let's go down the list.
  • Democratic Reform: The biggest question on this one is of course, why? While there are certainly Liberal proponents of reform, the issue is not a vote-getter. Electoral reform is a terrible issue to try to run on if you are, as Mr. Coyne accurately points out, trying to differentiate yourself from the NDP and the Greens on the left. Senate reform is a bit of a political white whale in my mind. Finally, while leadership and nomination rules are important I don't believe in dictating to political parties how they run what are fundamentally internal matters.
  • Human Rights Commission and Hate Speech: This looks like it's straight out of the Tory playbook. To me the whole human rights commission controversy is all not-so-vaguely anti-Muslim. That's not a direction for any political party, particularly a party as committed to multiculturalism as the LPC. What's the tagline: If you like hate speech, Vote for Ezra Levant and the Liberal Party of Canada?
  • Agricultural Import Tariff Reduction: I'm actually all for this one philosophically. Tariffs on agriculture make food more expensive for Canadians and directly contribute to the starvation of the third world. Having said all that, a party without a whole bunch of rural seats outside of Atlantic Canada would be raked over the coals if it went after farmers. A Tory majority government is probably the only way this could even theoretically happen.
  • Flat Tax and Guaranteed Income: While this would be consistent with the LPC's history of being simultaneously right wing and left wing, I can't bring these two ideas together philosophically. More importantly, they're both bad ideas. In order to avoid bankrupting the government any flat tax would have to be imposed at a higher level than that of the lowest tax bracket. That means higher taxes for Canada's poor. Guaranteed income would help the poor but it is fundamentally inflationary and doesn't really encourage people to get a job.
  • CPP Privatization: Wait, so the LPC is supposed to take policy advice from George W. Bush? CPP is by all accounts in decent shape, especially relative to similar programs in other countries. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  • Carbon Tax: Um. NO! You can go through my archives and find my arguments about why I don't think it's great environmental policy. More importantly, if the point of all this is political revival, we know it's a dud politically.
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