Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The Liberals offer Canadians no vision. They are the party of the status quo. This crop of Liberals seems utterly disinclined to challenge societal “taboos” the way Trudeau did with his Omnibus Bill in 1968. It is the party of bourgeoisie respectability. There is a hodge-podge of technocratic solutions aimed at tweaking things a bit. Many are well thought out and well intentioned, but none inspire. There is not a single Liberal policy that Canadians would trade even up for shaving another point off the GST. This crop of Liberals is decidedly not “cool”. They are painfully nice, in Canadian sort of way, but they are as dull as dishwater and hopelessly temperamentally conservative. They lack any kind of sex appeal. It as if the Liberals decided that Stanfield and Clark are better role models than Pierre Trudeau.
It gets worse. The Liberals claim to be the party of a united Canada, but not one of their policies is aimed at all Canadians. The Liberals talk about university students, Maritime Canadians, Native Canadians and the poor, but offer Canadians no policy that will have a tangible benefit to all Canadians. They have abandoned universality altogether. Moreover, Dion hints at wanting to carry on the proud Liberal tradition of standing up for a strong Federal government, well all the while announcing that he was solidly behind the rightly loathed Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords and otherwise sounding like the loathsome Jean Lapierre in a mellow mood. In both senses, not only has the party failed to capture the imagination of Canadians, they have also betrayed the legacy of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau.
If the two parties continue as is, the Liberals will loose the next election and loose badly.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Their crime bill is ridiculed by criminologists.
Their environment plan is dismissed by environmentalists as nothing more than window dressing.
Their plan to cut the GST is ridiculed by economists
For the entity formerly known as the “New government of Canada”, sound policy is not a distant second to politics; it is altogether irrelevant. In this respect, the entity formerly known as the “New government of Canada” resembles the Bush administration more than perhaps any other government around.
Still, that begs the question: would Canada be better off with two “effective” houses? The answer is of course not. As Benjamin Franklin put it, having two equally matched houses makes as much sense as tying two equally matched horses to either end of a buggy and having them both pull. This should be obvious. It certainly was obvious to the original supporters of the senate. The name of Britain’s two houses, the House of Lords and the House of Commons, is very telling in that regard. The purpose of having a House of Lords was to check the will of common people. One of the main purposes of the Canadian senate, which was modeled after the British system, was to do the same.
The class based nature of the senate has long since been forgotten though and we are left with a corpse destined to provide regional representation. Some believe that the regions need more say and an “effective” and “elected” senate is the best way of achieving such a balance between population centers in Eastern Canada and the rest of us. The problem is two fold. First such an argument rests on a false contrast; seats in the House of Commons are supposed to be assigned on a rep by pop basis, but in actuality that is not the case. For example, PEI has a population of 135,851 and has 4 MPs and people in the riding of Oak Ridges Markham has a population of 169, 642 obviously ony has 1 MP. The second reason is that comparing province to province is a perverse misnomer. It is comparing apples to oranges. What one should be comparing is the political resources of people in any two ridings. When one does this it is abundantly clear that people in Canada’s urban centers in particular are getting the short end of the stick and that people living in the less populous regions of the country already have far more clout on a per person basis by virtue of the fact that the provincial and territorial jurisdictions in which they are a member or far less populous. Indeed, PEI and its population of 135,851 and 4 MPs, as a province, has revenue streams available to it that are simply not available to Oak Ridges Markham and its population of 169, 642 and 1 MP. Oak Ridges Markham does not get Federal transfer payments for one. Empowering 4 PEI senators to represent the interests of 135,851 people while only empowering 24 Ontario Senators to represent the interests of 12.1 million Ontarians simply adds insult to injury. It is also grossly undemocratic.
I should have mentioned that even the means by which Harper hopes to “Reform” the senate is perverse. Being unable to “reform” the Senate in one fell swoop, Harper has proposed electing Senators piece meal. It is hard to image a dumber idea. Under the Conservative plan, new senators would elected and would be limited to serving out a 8 year term. The problem is that people already in the senate would be free to serve until the age of 75. As a result the effect of such nonsense could be either to transform an unelected political body with no power into a largely unelected political body with real political power or commit Canadians to the farcical and expensive act of electing people to office who hold no real power.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
So why is Harper doing this? He is would like nothing better for the Liberal senate to touch his bill. Can he regard a senate vote as a matter of confidence? Make no mistake the Conservatives are tactically smart.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
This is on the Conservative website
May I sugggest the following caption: "Why not?"
About the polls 4 things should be noted. One, the Conservative Party has more potential for growth than the Liberals. While the Liberals have remained stuck at around 30 for almost 2 years, the Conservatives numbers are up and down, Two, the Bloc vote looks like it is soft and while there are signs the Conservatives are positioned to pick up a Bloc voters outside of urban Montreal, there is no signs that the Liberals stand to pick up any of the Bloc vote, inside urban Montreal or outside, if it indeed collapses. Three, the Conservatives have more money and better ground presence than the Liberals. Four, Conservative vote is more efficient than the Liberal vote. Now, granted if you take away Alberta most polls would show the Liberals leading in the rest of the country. However, what Liberal supporters forget if you take away Toronto, Conservatives are ahead in the rest of the country. Moreover the Conservatives are competitive in virtually every province now. Last election they were above 30% in every province except two. In Quebec they were at 24.6% and in Nova Scotia they were at 29.69%. By comparison, the Liberals were at 27.6% in BC, 15.3% in Alberta, 22.4% in Sask. 26% in Manitoba and 20.7% in Quebec. In other words, in terms of population and in terms of the Provinces, in half the country the Liberals are well under 30%.
If Dion and company think they can win the next election without a major policy overhaul, they are delusional. The Liberals can start by going back to the modern roots of the Liberal party, i.e., social democracy and social liberalism. The last time the Liberals captured the imagination of British Columbians, for example, was when Person and later Trudeau were pushing ahead with Medicare, CPP and liberalizing divorce and abortion laws, and kicking the police out of the country’s bedrooms. The Liberals have made a fuss about the Conservatives taking steps to confine Federal government spending to, really, funding the military. However, they have not proposed the very kind of policies that Harper seeks to outlaw. Propose a universal dental Care. Propose a national pharmacare program the way the NDP are. By the way, if the Liberals think the can win over the hearts and minds of Canadians by reintroducing a child care plan that does not even come close to addressing the problem of a lack of affordable child care in this country, they deserve to loose. Go universal, or do not bother. It is time to bring the era of conservative Liberalism to an end.
The Liberals are in better shape when compared to the NDP. The NDP are within striking distance of Sukh Dhaliwal, and Keith Martin and they finished within 5,000 of David Emerson. However the Liberals are within striking distance of Bill Siksay in Burnaby Douglas and Peter Julian in Burnaby-New Westminster
Realistically, the high water mark the Liberals would be 11 seats in BC or 2 more than the won in 2006 and three more than they have now. On the flip side of things, the Liberals could be reduced to 3 seats in BC.
I should have mentioned this right off the top.
1993 28.1 6 seats of 32 seats
1997 28.8 6 seats of 34 seats
2000 27.7 5 seats of 34 seats
2004 28.6 8 seats of 36 seats
2006 27.6 9 seats of 36 seats
The Liberal numbers in terms of the popular vote have been remarkably consistent for the province as a whole, but have gone up in places in the lower mainland at the expense of some of other parts of the province making the Liberal vote more efficient. I do not see any prospect for any kind of Liberal surge.
One has to go back all the way back to 1974 to see the Liberals above 30% in BC and the Liberals last won BC in 1968. That year they took 16 of 25 seats and took the popular vote with 41.6% of the vote. It should be noted that PCs were shut out that year and won a mere 18.9% of the vote the worst total in any province of Territory. By contrast the PCs won Alberta that year with 51% of the popular vote and 15 of 19 seats. The NDP had won BC in 1962, 63, 65 and 72. Outside of 1988, when the NDP took the province, since then, BC has been PC, Reform and Conservative.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
There is hardly any proposal worth supporting. The Crime package: The mandatory minimums, for example, might appeal to Joe and Jane law and order and might be good politics, but they are disastrous stupid policy. The same can be said about the Conservatives environmental policies. The Conservatives intensity emissions based plan is a joke and the fact that the Conservatives are right to point out that Canada has no hope of meeting its Kyoto targets should not warrent the free pass the media is giving them on the subject. I can not think of single columnist or reporter that pointed out the obvious flaws of such an policy. That is not the only the thing media has given the Stephen Harper a pass on. Indeed, is the media so mesmerized by Stephen Harper’s tactical acumen that they let the Conservatives get repeatedly get away with ridiculous stupid talking points? For instance:
“Families now have real choice in child care through the Universal Child Care Benefit.”
Repeat after me; $100 a month is not a childcare plan. It is a redo of the family allowance, that Brain Mulroney, much to Stephen Harper’s delight, scrapped in the 1993. Harper, it should be noted, was against his “childcare” plan before he was for it. Stephen Harper: “Universality has been severely reduced: It is virtually dead as a concept in most areas of public policy. The family allowance program has been eliminated and unemployment insurance has been seriously cut back." http://www.canadians.org/wordwarriors/2006/jan-10.html He “flipped flopped”.
Germany, Mexico and Austria were world's top three searchers of the word "Hitler" while "Nazi" scored the most hits in Chile, Australia and the United Kingdom, data from 2004 to the present retrievable on the "Google Trends" Web site showed.
Chile also came in first place searching for the word "gay", followed by Mexico and Colombia.
The top searchers for other keywords were as follows (in order from first to third place):"
He leveled the same tired and worn out criticisms and promised more of the same tepid policies. To date the only thing the Liberals have offered the faithful is the promise of “deep” corporate tax cuts. Harper mocked the political optics of such a move and so shall I. The Liberals are not going to out tax cut the Conservatives. If this the best the party can offer, they are doomed to loose the next election and doomed to loose badly.
It is hard to believe this hopelessly temperamentally conservative party was once lead by Trudeau. I have no trouble, however, believing that it was once lead by Paul Martin and John Turner and neither do other Canadians.
It would be a fine national debate. On one side would stand the Conservatives opposing pharmacare as (a) an expensive, unnecessary program, (b) an intrusion into the sacred provincial jurisdiction over health, (c) a further expansion of government into the lives of Canadians, and (d) an insult to Quebec.
On the other would stand the Liberals proposing pharmacare as (a) a necessary extension of medicare, (b) a program once supported by at least five premiers during Mr. Martin's time as prime minister, (c) an affirmation of the federal government's relevance to citizens, and (d) the best way to restrain soaring drug costs.”
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Kyoto Accord: The Conservatives announced that the targets set under the Kyoto protocol are unattainable. The opposition parties disagree and there will be a lot of righteous indignation heard from them over this. The thing is, though, the targets are unattainable. Canada is not going to meet the 2012 Kyoto targets without buying emission credits and this just will not sell domestically. That is just the half off it. So long as Kyoto is the focus, the question will arise as to why Canada is not going to meet its targets and this will allow the Conservatives to offer up Liberal inaction as the reason why. There is no use going to war over something that is glaring false and the Liberals would do well to move on. Indeed, what the Liberals need to do is to focus the debate on how the various parties plan to reduce carbon emissions going forward. The Liberals have a plan, the semblance of a plan anyway, and the Conservatives have potential political piñata known as intensity based emissions. Call into question the effectiveness of the Conservative plan and then sit back and watch as environmentalists, academics, pundits and yes bloggers break it into a million pieces. Under intense scrutiny, I give such a plan no more than month and half, maybe two. As for the other parties, the Bloc’s reason for being means it is no position to offer up a plan and the NDP poise no realistic challenge to the Conservatives. Whether they have a good plan or not is moot. The NDP will not win the next election. The underlying message is thus this. Only the Liberals are both able and willing to tackle global warming and the Liberals will be in a position to commit Canada to the second round of Kyoto talks.
Early childhood education: The problem with the Liberals early childhood education was that it was not universal. As a result, the more the Liberals talked up the need for such a program the more inadequate and lackluster their proposal appeared and the attractive the Conservatives universal baby bonus became. Indeed many voters hedged their bets. They figured that a $1200 bird in their hand was better than 15% chance of nailing two in the bush. If the Liberals want to capture the imagination of Canadians by again promising an national early childhood education program they better make sure that they are able to deliver universal program and that they are able to deliver and all at once.
Afghanistan: Until recently the Liberals did not even have any decent Afghan talking points. The childish and silly “its their turn” has at long last morphed into something much more weighty. It has become the following: If other NATO countries are unwilling to share the economic, political, and military costs of deploying in the South, the mission is doomed. Either way, Canada will abandon its military mission in the South under a Liberal government in 2009. Either because someone else has assumed the burden or no one has and the mission is doomed to fail. However the policy is yet to catch up to their talking points. Liberals are still hedging their bets and have yet to commit to pulling Canadian troops out of Kandahar province by 2009. The party is playing semantics and seems willing to sanction a deal with the Conservatives that would see Canadian troops stay in Kandahar, but not in a non combat role, as if this is distinction with difference. Such a policy might not have immediate short term implications, but the party should note that should it sanction a longer stay in Kandahar, no matter what role, the party base, especially what is left of it in Quebec, will never forgive them.
Kelowna Accord: I do not have anything positive to say about the Kelowna Accord. It is just more money thrown after bad. The root cause of native poverty is not a lack of government money, but can rather be sourced back to the emphasis placed on communal property to exclusion of private property and manner by which government monies are distributed by the bands. That said, the fact that Kelowna Accord does nothing to address the underlying causes of Native poverty does not mean that Native poverty is any the less real and any effort to fight poverty, however superficially, is usually welcomed by the public. Furthermore, there is political payoff to pursuing a policy that has been agreed upon by all the principle players.
“Deep” Corporate Tax Cuts: A small reduction, such as the one the Conservatives are suggesting, will do just fine thank you very much. The Canadian corporate earnings are higher than anywhere else in the industrialized world and cost of doing business in Canada is cheaper than in Britain, the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, France. The promise of corporate tax cuts is nothing new for the Liberals. Beginning in 2000 the Liberals cut the corporate tax rate by 8%. That said, the optics of such a cut look better in 2007 than they did in 2005 for two reasons. One, the dollar is real concern and two the Liberals have rolled out much more effective talking points this time around. Indeed, Dion all but short circuited Layton's most likely line of attack.
"Some will say that a cut in corporate taxes is a right wing policy. I’m sure my friend Jack Layton will say this. But to believe this is to believe that Sweden, with its low corporate tax rate, is the hot bed of neo-conservatism while the United States, with its very high corporate tax rate, is a socialist paradise – or to quote Stephen Harper when he described Canada – “a second tier socialistic country”. A low corporate tax rate is not a right wing policy or a left wing policy. It is a sound policy."
All and all, should the Liberals force an election anytime they would not exactly be playing with the strongest hand, both from a policy perspective and from political perspective.
Whereas the NDP is still committed merely decriminalizing Marijuana, the Green party will legalize it.
Whereas the NDP remains silent on the "vacation gap” between Canada and Europe, the Green party will address the "vacation deficit" by giving Canadians an extra week of vacation a year.
The Green Party will match the NDP on several other issues.
Both the NDP and Green party support ban on all hand guns, semi automatic and fully automatic guns.
Both the NDP and Green party support a National pharmacare plan.
Both the NDP and Green party support a national $10 an hour minimum wage indexed to inflation.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
This is not all bad. Consider the so called poison pill: the Conservatives are going to announce that targets set under the Kyoto protocol are unattainable. The thing is they are unattainable. Canada is not going to meet the 2012 Kyoto targets without buying emission credits and this just will not sell domestically. That is just the half off it. So long as Kyoto is the focus, the question will arise as to why Canada is not going to meet its targets and this will allow the Conservatives to offer up Liberal inaction as the reason why. The Liberals need to focus the debate on how the various parties plan to reduce carbon emissions going forward. The Liberals have a plan, the semblance of a plan anyway, and the Conservatives have potential political piñata known as intensity based emissions. Call into question the effectiveness of the Conservative plan and then sit back and watch as environmentalists, academics, pundits and yes bloggers break it into a million pieces. Under intense scrutiny, I give such a plan no more than month and half, maybe two. As for the other parties, the Bloc’s reason for being means it is no position to offer up a plan and the NDP poise no realistic challenge to the Conservatives. Whether they have a good plan or not is moot. The NDP will not win the next election. The underlying message is thus this. Only the Liberals are both able and willing to tackle global warming.
As for what Conservatives crime agenda etc, let them spend their wad. Only make sure to make plenty of noise while they are doing so. How do you make noise? You roll out policy. You include a nice mix of policy designed to tackle the big issues and controversial policy to catch the media’s and public’s attention. Hopefully by the time the Conservatives are finished, they will have run out of things to do just as the Liberals have wetted the public’s interest for their new policies.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Dion's comback was the best line of the week.
"I hope you have had a very good Thanksgiving,” Liberal leader Stephane Dion began, his entire existence, as usual, seeming to hang in the balance. “Some of you may ask where I went. Well, I decided to follow the advice of the Prime Minister. I cut bait and went fishing.”
This is Dion at his best. A little Impish. A very nice contrast to Angry Dad Harper.
"I think the prime minister has a lot in his hands and I'm not surprised he's so willing to go into an election before Canadians know more about it," Dion said Friday.
Dion referred to an Elections Canada investigation into whether the Conservatives may have broken election financing laws during the Conservative party's 2006 election campaign, something the Tories deny and are fighting in Federal Court.
Dion said Harper must also deal with an OPP investigation into allegations that the municipal election in Ottawa was tampered with and that it involved the Conservative party's top organizer. The Conservatives have denied any involvement.
Dion also pointed to the federal privacy commissioner's launch of a preliminary inquiry following several complaints that Harper compiled a mailing list of Jewish Canadians.
The Jewish thing is a none starter and only serves to distract from the other two. It should not have been mentioned. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad though. My only complaint is why was released on a Friday afternoon and not earlier in the week? Something has happened to the Liberals late this week. Their messaging today is hundred times better than what it has been. It is clearer and more sophisticated.
While the Liberal environment policy would penalize industries that don't reduce emissions, the money would remain in the province to pay for research, he explained.
"High calibre research institutions like the University of Alberta and the Edmonton Research Park have the potential to become ground zero for a revolution in environmental innovation."
Alberta companies and universities could also make money by creating new ways to reduce emissions, he said.
"If we make Fort McMurray sustainable, we can export that know-how to the world, and by cutting megatonnes of emissions, we are going to make megatonnes of money."
I have always found the Liberals carbon fee plan politically clever. It also has the potential to be pretty good policy. I think they could do without the “megatonnes” of money line though.
Dion said that every month Canada delays is a mistake that makes it more difficult for NATO to find a replacement for the Canadian mission.
Extending the mission indefinitely also threatens the future of NATO because other members will hestitate to participate in missions if they see that a country accepts a two-year mission and ends up staying forever, he said."
Wow at long last substantive talking points. The childish and silly “its their turn” has morphed into something much more weighty. It has become the following: If other NATO countries are unwilling to share the economic, political, and military costs of deploying in the South, the mission is doomed. Either way, Canada should leave the south. Either because someone else has assumed the burden or no one has and the mission is doomed to fail.
Friday, October 12, 2007
A small reduction, such as the one the Conservatives are suggesting, will do just fine thank you very much. The Canadian corporate earnings are higher than pretty much everywhere and cost of doing business in Canada is cheaper than in Britain, the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, France.
Even the timing of the announcement sucks. The lead Story tonight is bound to be Al Gore’s sharing the Nobel Price followed by the announcement of the Afghan advisory group.
There is no time for such soul searching now though. The Liberals will hav to define themselves by the choices they make. They will have no choice but to develop bold new policy and take that existential leap by presenting it to the public.
Dion should have made the Conservatives intellectually dishonest and completely useless intensity based plan the issue, but alas. Instead he made Kyoto issue. As a result, past Liberal failings are in play and so too is the aforementioned unpalatable solution.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
"Outspoken blogger received Tory contract The Harper government gave a
contract for communications consulting on Parliament Hill, worth up to $20,000,
to an outspoken Conservative Internet blogger.
Privy Council Office records show Joan Tintor, author of a popular weblog or "blog," in June received the one-year contract for "communications professional services not elsewhere specified."
“In his new book, Harper's Team: Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power, party strategist Tom Flanagan notes the Tories' innovative use of blogs in the 2006 election campaign.
He cites in particular two members of the Blogging Tories, Steve Jank and Stephen Taylor, who write highly partisan blogs on federal politics.
Mr. Flanagan writes that campaign manager Doug Finley "appointed people to monitor the blogosphere and to get out stories that were not quite ready for the mainstream media."
These bloggers "amplify and diversify our message," he wrote.”
The ad reads in full “Dion of the Dead Conservative majority? A New and improved Canada ”
I do not know where the title comes from but this seems to be candidate
“Dion of the Living Dead
The Liberal leader is fighting against new worries that he's not up to the job
JOHN GEDDES October 1, 2007
By the way, are they charged by the hit.
Update: The "Dion of the dead" ad is still there. For example: http://www.electionprediction.org/2007_on/r_sw.html However, I now find a second ad linking to the Blogging Tories. This one is one is upfront though. The ad reads in full "The Blogging Tories proudly Canadian proudly conservative bloggingtories.ca." For example: http://www.electionprediction.org/2007_on/riding/024.php Finally, ads are found on other websites such as Calgary Grit http://www.calgarygrit.blogspot.com/ When you are over at Grit's site be sure to hit on the link.
You sir are no JFK.
Upbeat Bernier contradicts UN reports
Foreign Affairs Minister declares Kandahar more secure despite statistics that say situation is worsening
October 8, 2007
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier contradicted all publicly available assessments of security in southern Afghanistan yesterday with a bold claim that insurgent attacks have decreased in Kandahar, leaving the province more secure for humanitarian work.
"The territory is more secure now today, here in Kandahar than it was a year ago," Mr. Bernier said. "Look just a year ago what happened, there were many attacks, and the attacks have diminished."
Canadian officials have often pointed to hopeful developments in southern Afghanistan, but they rarely challenge the statistics cited by the United Nations and private security analysts that suggest an overall worsening trend.
"The security situation in Afghanistan is assessed by most analysts as having deteriorated at a constant rate through 2007," said a paper by the UN Department of Safety and Security in August. That report showed violent incidents increased almost 25 per cent this year, although the authors noted that the figure may be conservative.
Kandahar was among only three provinces listed in the United Nations report as places where the security situation has fallen into its worst category - "Extreme Risk/Hostile Environment" - across most of the province. This rating causes less accessibility to UN programs, the report notes.
These statistics fit with those collected by other analysts. The respected security firm Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan found that Kandahar suffered more anti-government attacks than any other province, in a tally of incidents from the beginning of the year to Sept. 30.
He also claimed that it's getting easier for aid workers to travel the province.
"We have improvement because our civilians, our humanitarian workers are able to go out there and do their work," Mr. Bernier said.
In fact, the growing risk of kidnapping among aid workers has prompted the UN to develop a new map assessing the likelihood of capture by insurgents in districts across the country. Almost the entire province of Kandahar is shown as "high abduction risk."
In a survey this year, Afghan government employees said they have limited ability to visit the majority of Kandahar's districts without armed escort; across the south, local officials said their access was decreasing because of the rising insecurity.
Another measure of aid workers' ability to work is the UN's internal security map.
This summer the map showed about one-third Afghanistan in the highest-risk category for travel, representing a deterioration from the summer of 2006, when only 15 per cent of the country earned the same rating.
The Canadian Press also makes note of this.
"The territory is more secure today here in Kandahar than it was a year ago," he said.
Last year there were many attacks, he added.
"Those attacks have diminished," Bernier said. "It's still difficult. I saw that it's still difficult. But the situation has greatly improved."
A recent review by the UN Department of Safety and Security described the situation in Kandahar as "volatile."
Across the country, 2007 has been the bloodiest year since the Taliban was ousted from power in a U.S. invasion six years ago.
So far this year, there have been an average of 525 violent incidents a month, compared with 425 last year.
The fact this is the most violent year since Afghanistan was invaded is evidence according to Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier of “real positive momentum”
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Now to be sure, Dion is no Trudeau. However, the Liberals badly need to reestablish their bona fides as champions of generational change. They need to propose something akin to Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill.
Indeed, the Liberals are not going to build any kind of grass roots movement unless they are willing to step on some toes the way Trudeau did in 1968. They are not going to attract anyone by trying to be all things to all people. Canadians feel no loyalty to the party anymore and quite frankly the Liberals bore most of them silly. The Liberals must seek out controversy rather than run from it. They must propose readily understandable policies that cut to heart of various hot button issues and they can not wait for an election to do so. They must trot out these policies as soon as possible. They can not afford to slave away in obscurity while the Conservatives dominant the headlines. They can not afford to be merely reactive. They must seize the initiative. They must adopt the motto Trudeau adopted in 1968. “If you are on the Liberal side, you should take risks on the side of progress. If you are going to be beaten, you should be beaten because you have been too progressive. Rather then take risks on not moving and be beaten because you have not moved fast enough.”
Friday, October 05, 2007
The Liberals Should Use The Perception of a Divided Caucus and Party to Unleash Policy Trail Balloons
Vancouver police member Gil Puder
HT: Un femme verte http://femmeverte.blogspot.com/2007/10/phishing-expedition.html
The problem is this. The Liberals have long maintained that Canadians should not be saddled with a criminal record for consuming something that is, after all, less harmful than alcohol. It is this light that Chrétien famously joked about having a joint in one hand and the money to pay for the fine of having it in the other. “I will have my money for my fine and a joint in my other hand.” At the same time as they have downplayed the affects of smoking marijuana they have stressed the importance of stiff penalties for trafficking. Taken in isolation such bipolar position has a certain superficial appeal. However, the Liberal policy of decriminalization is inherently incoherent; it is political position; it is an attempt to appeal to both sides of the political divide at the same time and it will not take too much time and effort to show how conflicted the Liberal position is. Indeed, image how ridiculous it would have sounded if this is what Chrétien said? “I will have my money for my fine and a joint in my other hand. Having paid my fine I would hope the cops find the person who sold it to me and put him in jail for a very long time.” This is essentially the Liberal’s current position. The problem is if it not already obvious by now that if the act of consumption is not deemed overly ruinous then the whole punitive rationale for trafficking comes crashing down. Add to the mix an acknowledgment that marijuana can serve a medical purpose and you have a conceptual train wreck as a policy.
All of this plays right into the Conservatives hands. The public is concerned about the growing number of grow ups and wants something down about it. The Conservatives not only promise action, but are going to blame the Liberals for the increase in grow ups. They are going to say that the Liberals have long sent out mixed messages about marijuana. This has led to increased demand for the product and as a consequence an increased number of grow ups to meet the demand. In order to boaster their case the Conservatives are going to force feed the Liberals their own words. One can count on them repeatedly bringing up the Chrétien quote and probably the 2002 senate report will be referred to but not quoted. Incidentally, I do not know if it matters to Harper and crew that such go hard approach will prove disastrous for the country. The Conservative position is first and foremost about politics.
Now, back in July Ontario’s marijuana possession laws were struck down by Judge Borenstein. Should the Ontario government loose its appeal and or the other similar discussions follow, the Conservatives will also launch new campaign a new campaign against “activist judges”. Such a campaign will not be aimed so much at suburbanites as the Conservatives social conservative base. Where he can, Harper will get his digs in about the Liberal senate and the 2002 report that recommened legalization.
The Liberals have only one effective counter. They can propose to legalize marijuana. They would then be in a position to actually use the senate report rather than having to look downward at the floor whenever the Conservatives mention it. I consider it very unlikely that the Liberals would be so bold though. I hope they prove me wrong.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Meanwhile, The Conservatives are claiming, based on the Liberals' choice of songs, that the Liberals will propose that marijuana be legalized. http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hUvLbSdjOyIsYKd90lMb5EPMonrQ According the Conservatives, “their motto for the upcoming campaign is ‘a friend with weed is a friend indeed.’”
"Marijuana won't kill you and we love marijuana. The five million Canadians who use marijuana cherish it like Christians cherish their religion, or a gourmand cherishes good food.”
The advocates of legalization have made great strides over the years and according to an Angus Reid poll released in June 55% of Canadians favor legalization. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/16300 The next step for such advocates is to convince one or more of Canada's major political parties that it is in their political interest to pursue legalization.
The only good thing to be said about Liberal’s decriminalization policy politically or otherwise is that it could serve as a Trojan horse. Robbed of the ability to charge traffickers with the lesser charge of possession, police may not be able to keep up with the huge number of growers coming onto the market and the whole rotten prohibition edifice may come crashing down. Marc Emery may get his wish. The producers might over grow the system.
Needless to day, the Liberal approach plays right into the Conservatives hands. The Conservatives will argue, checked that they already have argued, that Liberal mixed messaging has real consequences and will repeatedly reference the recent UN report on marijuana use.
I responded to Copps thus;
“So what happened? Contrary to the usual post-modern, leader-driven campaign, an idea took centre stage.
An idea that could cost Tory his own seat.
In an ironic twist, he is facing down the education minister in a quasi-referendum on public education versus faith-based funding.
Was Tory on the wrong side of this one!
The last thing the public wants is a fragmentation of a functioning education system into multiple religious schools.
Tory's own base is eroding so fast that he was forced into a Hail Mary pass this week to save a campaign run aground.
What does all this have to do with Dion?
Well, when superficialities are scraped away, it proves the public can be engaged in more than the colour of the candidate's eyes.
When a powerful idea dominates the debate, Canadians demand more than simple leadership politics.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper thinks he can win a majority government because Dion is dead man walking.”
I agree with you and I think if the Liberals would promise to legalize marijuana, they would have their issue. Harper has been trying to create distance between himself and his social conservative base and the Bush administration ever since he become Prime Minster. If the Liberals promised to legalize marijuana, not only would Harper find himself in lock step with Campaign for Life and Real Women, but Dick Cheney, George Bush, John Walters, Fox news, the Washington Times, James Dobson, Pat Robinson and the faculty at Bob Jones University will line up behind him. The Liberals could play the nationalist card and social conservative card all at once. The thought of being able to strike a fatal blow the US ’s war on drugs will make Canadians giddy with excitement. If that was not enough, on the flip side of things, a legion of rock stars, intellectuals, movie stars, and high brow magazines, such as the New Yorker and Harper’s will line up behind the Liberals. Imagine a hundred and fifty thousand people or more at a pro legalization concert in Vancouver in the midst of an election campaign. Seattle ’s Hempfest regularly draws over a 100,000 and in terms of significance such a concert would, how should I put this, smokes it. It would not be possible to organize anything now, but should the Liberals announce such a policy now and stave off an election for say another 6 months it is possible. Dion would certainly not lack for name recognition anymore. Overnight he would become a household name, not just in Canada but abroad as well. Continuing on, such a promise would tear the Right apart. Libertarians and social conservatives would be at each other’s throats and the National, Post and great swaths of the Sun Media chain will side with the Liberals on this one! Last but not least the Conservatives would left defending a bunch of talking points that are so discredited they are considered a form of “madness”, “reefer madness”.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
And he had to consider that a mass of studies, albeit chiefly authored by those with vested interests, has claimed a great success for Insite, where addicts shoot up illegal drugs under supervision, using clean needles.
Who has vested interests and what are these vested interests? Spit it out.
These studies claim to show that Insite has directed addicts to treatment, and prevented overdose deaths, without jeopardizing public safety and while halting the spread of HIV/AIDS.If you have any methodological criticisms to make, I would love to read them. A good laugh is good for the soul.
A handful of doubters who dared to question these claims has drawn muchOh yes, the myth of the loan brave conservative wolf fighting against the scientific establishment with a little help from big oil and big tobacco in the case of Dr Singer or the RCMP in the case of Colin Mangham. http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/columnists/story.html?id=fad6bd9a-7c00-47aa-a549-e4e0376603c7&p=1 In reality they are, of course, the apologists of ignorance in the service of the forces of reaction. History will piss on their corpse.
scorn from the advocates of "harm reduction" -- around whom a small industry has
Many people apparently believe marijuana has already been decriminalized, although this imminent folly was mercifully abandoned when the Conservatives took power from the Liberals.By golly I think you have plagiarized Tony Clement or perhaps you just taking diction and forget to mention him by name. Anyway, did you ever think to ask Clement what evidence he has for this belief? I will let you in on a little secret. Should the Liberal bill have passed and been enforced, it would have represented a crack down as far as Vancouver is concerned. As then Vancouver police spokesperson, Anne Drennan noted back in 2003 "in Vancouver, we very rarely arrest for simple possession of marijuana. There would have to be exigent circumstances."
You: “that no drugs are safe, no matter what we've been lulled into believing over the years.”
Tony Clement: Clement has said the new strategy would include an education program that warns young Canadians and their parents that "there are no 'safe' amounts," and no "safe drugs."
Can you see difference? I can not see the difference. What kind of Columnist parrots government talking points and treats them as if they were holy scripture? The Province does not have the best reputation as it is. What do you want to do? Do you want to see it fully morph into the second coming of Pravda? If so, keep going as you are.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
“Three-in-four Canadians want a longer minimum vacation time”
“Four-in-five Quebeckers (83%) say they want labour laws to be changed to provide more minimum vacation time to Canadians,”
2) Dion needs to introduce some new policy. Dion’s unwillingness to introduce new policy has meant the media have focused on the negatives when they have focused on the Liberals at all. Furthermore, Harper and crew have painted Mr. Dion as weak, indecisive and as “not a leader”. The Liberals lack of policy focus has played right into their hands.
3) The Liberals need to explore various hot button issues. Dion has chosen to focus on the big issues, global warming, the loss of the manufacturing jobs and poverty. However, there are no easy solutions to any of these problems and the public simply lacks the ability and more importantly time to tackle or understand the complexities involved. As the SSM debate and the debate over funding for faith based schools demonstrate, what galvanizes the public and the media alike are hot button issues. If the Liberals are to succeed they are going to have to tackle the big issues, but they are also going to have to push the envelope on various hot button issues. With regard to both they are going to have develop clear well thought out policy that is not watered down by political calculation. Good policy is good politics.
4) Dion has to break with the past both rhetorically and policy wise; this is vitally important when it comes to Quebec. Under his direction the party has too many of the hall marks of the Martin/Chrétien government. The Liberal government’s environmental record is bound the hurt his credibility during the next election. Dion is going to have to acknowledge the failures of some predecessors and promise to do better. In any such mea Culpa will have to attack Liberal’s previous reliance on an intensity based emission plan. This will then free the Liberals up to attack the Conservatives intensity based plan. Such admissions will help him put his stamp on the party.
5) Dion should under no circumstances try to appeal to soft separatists, or try to immolate Martin’s asymmetrical federalism. Rightly or wrongly Dion is viewed as a strong Federalist and the party lacks the resources, time and people to chance that perception. Besides, such a campaign would be dismissed as desperate pandering at this point. It would also undermine what his appeal in English Canada. The Liberals only hope of breathing life into their flagging Quebec fortunes is to appeal to socially democratic and socially liberal strains in Quebec society.
6) The Liberals need to rediscover universality. Until they do, major policy initiatives, such as Liberals early childhood education plan, are bound to fall flat on their face. Indeed, as with early childhood education, the more the Liberals talk up the need for such a program the more inadequate and lackluster their proposal will appear and the more attractive the Conservatives thousand and one ways to dress up tax cut or rebate, a la the universal baby bonus, will seem. Access to affordable child care was certainly a more attractive option than anything the Conservatives were offering. However, many voters hedged their bets. They figured that a $1200 bird in their hand was better than 15% chance of nailing two in the bush.
7) If they Liberals are going to continue to paint Harper as the second coming of Bush, they better inact some polices that are going to leave Harper and Bush on the same side. Stephen Harper has long since become wise to such talking points and has gone out of his way to distance himself from Bush and the Americans have been helpful in this regard. Moreover, Harper has all but put a stop to nut bars, such as, Gallant waxing poetic on issues near and dear to social conservatives and he has not openly courted the social conservatives in the way that he did before becoming PM.
Speaking of correlation that is precisely what epidemiological studies have consisted failed to show and there is no causation without correlation. Specifically, should there be a causal link between marijuana and schizophrenia, there should be a positive correlation between marijuana consumption and schizophrenia, but such a correlation is conspicuous by its absence. Despite a massive increase in the number of Australians consuming the drug since the 1960s, Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland found no increase in the number of cases of schizophrenia in Australia. http://www.november.org/stayinfo/breaking3/MJScience.html Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California similarly found the same with regard to the US population http://www.november.org/stayinfo/breaking3/MJScience.html and Oxford’s Leslie Iversen found the same regard to the population in the UK. http://www.stats.org/stories/2007/will_one_joint_schizoid_july30_07.htm According to Dr. Alan Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University,
“A 40% increase in risk sounds scary, and this was the risk linked to trying marijuana once, not to heavy use. To epidemiologists a 40% increase is not especially noteworthy-- they usually don’t find risk factors worth worrying about until the number hits at least 200% and some major journals won’t publish studies unless the risk is 300 or even 400%. The marijuana paper did find that heavy use increased risk by 200-300%, but that’s hardly as sexy as try marijuana once, increase your risk of schizophrenia by nearly half!
By contrast, one study found that alcohol has been found to increase the risk of psychosis by 800% for men and 300% for women.
"If anything, the studies seem to show a possible decline in schizophrenia from the '40s and the '50s,"http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2005/09/19/reefer_madness/index.html
As Szalavitz notes, this is marked contrast to what happened with cigarette consumption and lung cancer. “
When cigarette smoking barreled through the population, lung cancer rose in parallel; when smoking rates fell, lung cancer rates fell.”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maia-szalavitz/reefer-inanity-never-tru_b_58353.html
Much of the evidence linking marijuana to schizophrenia suggests not that it causes schizophrenia per say but rather that it causes the earlier onset of symptoms in people who would sooner or later develop schizophrenia. Much to Gordan Brown’s dismay, this is opinion of Dr Iddon.
Dr Iddon, the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on drugs misuse [Britain], said the study did not convince him it was time to return cannabis to class B. "I don't think the causal link has been proved. I think cannabis might - possibly for genetic reasons - trigger psychosis at an earlier age." The MP, who is also a member of the science and technology select committee, said there was a danger of criminalising "hundreds of thousands of young people" if the status of the drug was changed. "If Gordon Brown changes the class of the drug, it won't be evidence-based but for political reasons," he said.
"Under the terms of the Canadian Constitution, Queen Elizabeth II holds the position of Canada’s head of state. Would you support or oppose Canada ending its formal ties to the British monarchy?
Monday, October 01, 2007
The party has long understand the importance of having ideological enemies, whether that the Bush administration or Canadian social conservatives. However, the party has always thought it could wage such ideological wars on the cheap. It could talk a good game, but it thought need not follow through with policy. It was never an entirely successful approach and since Stephen Harper took over the party the law of diminishing returns as set in. Indeed, Harper has all but put a stop to nut bars, such as, Gallant waxing poetic on issues near and dear to social conservatives and he has not openly courted the social conservatives in the way that he did before becoming PM.
I find the Liberal’s half ass approach baffling. SSM and the Liberal decision to stay out of Iraq were major Liberal victories and perhaps the only two of the last 4 years. If the Liberals are to avoid being defined by their own bickering, they have no choice but to goad social conservatives and or the Bush administration into open warfare and the only way of doing that is propose policies that neither likes. If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.
As I have said repeatedly, if the Liberals promise to legalize marijuana, the social conservatives and the Bush administration will bite and Harper will be at the mercy of these two groups. The added bonus is if Dion promises to legalize marijuana, thereby imperiling the US War on Drugs, he will not lack for name recognition. Not only will Canadians know who he is, so too will Americans, and good number of Europeans and Australians.
Canadians who want their federal government to support early childhood education, decent housing, cities that work, a healthy environment, new initiatives in health care, more mobility for students, better research and stronger universities should be appalled at this emasculation.
The Liberal’s early childhood education program is never going to be the vote getter they hope it be so long as it remains something far less than a universal program. After all, the more the Liberals talked up the desperate need for more child care the more inadequate and lackluster their proposal appeared and the more attractive the Conservatives universal baby bonus appeared. Many voters figured that a $1200 bird in your hand is better than 15% chance of nailing two in the bush.
I also think Rae and other Liberals are going about this backwards. The Liberals should first propose what is bound to be a popular universal program (e.g., public dental care) that would be administered by the provinces and note how Harper’s proposal to emasculate the Federal government would prevent such a program and others like it from being implemented. In politics it always best to go from the specific to general than from general to specific. That is why it is nearly impossible to talk about violent crime with any intelligence. The starting point is always going to be some violent crime. Lastly, some Canadians, particularly in Quebec, are not likely to favor everything on the list and may be willing to sacrifice a particular federal program if it means that Federal government will stay out of others.