|We've brought together five politically diverse bloggers to tell us what they think of the issues, the campaigns and the candidates in this election. Here is their frank overview of what the January vote means to them. |
While I was out watching the election returns come in (and calming my jittery friends who thought all was lost when the Conservatives came out of Atlantic Canada trailing), the comments section at my blog was filling up with returns, results and reaction. To say feelings are mixed at the outcome is an understatement.
What short memories we have, due, in no small part to the amnesiac nature of the Canadian media. Only 8 weeks ago, the notion of a Conservative minority seemed unlikely, with many predicting that an outraged electorate would punish them for forcing a Christmas election that "Canadians" didn't want.
By the time the broadcast wrapped up (we were watching on Global), there were already efforts afoot in the punditry to turn the once unanticipated victory into a failure.
Some things never change.
When Ronald Reagan passed away in 2004, the outpouring of emotion belied the fact that in his own day, he was as reviled and ridiculed by both the media and the left as George W. Bush is today.
Of his many and longlasting achievements, one in particular is largely overlooked - the profound effect he had on liberating the American democratic debate and opening the door to conservative thought and opinion in media. The explosion of talk radio led by Rush Limbaugh and the growing influence of the unapologetically pro-American Fox News were made possible by Reagan's determination to eliminate the FCC "fairness doctrine."
The fairness doctrine ran parallel to Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1937 which required stations to offer "equal opportunity" to all legally qualified political candidates for any office if they had allowed any person running in that office to use the station. The attempt was to balance--to force an even handedness. [...] The doctrine, nevertheless, disturbed many journalists, who considered it a violation of First Amendment rights of free speech/free press which should allow reporters to make their own decisions about balancing stories. Fairness, in this view, should not be forced by the FCC. In order to avoid the requirement to go out and find contrasting viewpoints on every issue raised in a story, some journalists simply avoided any coverage of some controversial issues. This "chilling effect" was just the opposite of what the FCC intended.
After the courts transformed the policy into law, Reagan-appointed FCC chairman Mark Fowler publicly vowed to kill it. When both houses voted to reinstate it, Reagan vetoed and the political debate in America was transformed.
Which takes me to my own suggestion for the Harper government.
As a conservative on the libertarian side of the ledger, the degree to which speech in Canada has been corralled and controlled by the courts, ever-invasive government institutions and unaccountable "human rights" tribunals is deeply disturbing. The trend has been reinforced for decades by a Liberal party reward system for pro-Liberal journalism, overtly (through diplomatic postings and Senate seat appointments) and financially. In America, the largest advertiser is Procter & Gamble. In Canada, it is the federal government.
As the most recent example of the pervasive liberal-left world view of the mainstream Canadian media, I need only point to the tenor of the final week of the campaign, in which abortion was raised as an issue by the Martin campaign.
Despite the fact that this most contentious of public policy issues offers legitimate arguments both for and against, with huge advocacy constituencies on both sides - no reporter, no pundit, no network head, thought it appropriate to make Mr. Martin defend the Liberal party position of preserving the status quo. That Canada has no abortion law at all, that for-profit clinics operate in many provinces, the costs to the Canada health system - none of these points were considered worthy of debate. No one asked Paul Martin if he thought there was a legitimate case to be made for a more balanced, centrist public policy on abortion.
Instead, the media took the Liberal postiion as the desired default, and demanded Harper explain himself. That's illuminating - for it allows only two possibile explanations: the first, that no one thought to do so. The second - the recognition of a potential - and "undesirable" - Conservative majority. Would that have happened if there were a true Canadian equivalent to Fox News? I suspect not - the questions about abortion might have gone both ways, with the public engaged in a legitimate public policy debate.
So in addition to the list of priorities that Harper will be taking on - the accountability act, opening the books to forensic audits, enacting planned tax cuts - the single most important change he can make to restore balance to Canadian democracy is to begin breaking down the stranglehold of government and the Liberal apparatchik on the communications industry by eliminating or radically restricting the authority of the CRTC, restoring political balance on the board of the CBC and moving the network to a model of market self-sufficiency, and closing the generous pasture land of government funded "think tanks" where deposed and unemployed Liberals retire to lobby the government at government expense - and inform Canadians of our "Canadian values."
For until and unless conservatives can look forward to hearing their voice, their issues, their world view expressed as part of - as opposed to subject matter for - mainstream Canadian media, the prospects for the election of Stephen Harper to bring "Morning to Canada" will be remembered only as a brief time out for Canada's unnaturally governing party.
I had hopes for a last minute turnaround at the polls, but that didn't happen. In the end, it turned out pretty well, however. The NDP getting more say can only be a good thing, considering how well Jack and his boys did mediating the last minority government. At least we can be relieved in the fact that 63.75% of Canadian voters did not want a Tory government! That says something, and perhaps dampens the spirits of the Harper camp somewhat.
I was very happy that the number of Canadians voting is up. This is something that people are starting to take more seriously, and I am proud to see the numbers rise by 5% or so.
In Alberta and the Prairies, the votes went as almost everyone would expect. The Tories swept Alberta yet again, leaving nothing but hay bales and mad cows behind :) I was actually surprised at the increase in Tory popularity in Quebec, but then the way the campaigns went, it's no wonder. Something seriously needs to be done about the representation in Parliament. When I see the BQ with 10.5% of the votes and 51 seats, and others (Greens) with 5% and no seats, something needs to be changed. However, I am neither a politician nor a lawmaker, so that shall be left up to others.
I will touch on Paul Martin's resignation as party leader. I honestly felt that Martin was handed a giant, steaming bucket of bilge water when he took the reins of leadership, and now he has paid the ultimate price for it. It's a shame because I still think he would be the best prime minister out of the group we all just voted for. However, perhaps a change at the helm will help move the Liberals back to the forefront, and inject some new enthusiasm into the party that seemed to dwindle at many times during this campaign.
The campaigns themselves were very interesting yet frustrating to watch. The Tories ran a very smooth campaign, though I suspect the muzzling of many candidates with more right-wing views likely was a super strategy for Harper to use. They seemed to win, however, not based on their platform but rather on the fact the some voters simply wanted the Liberals out.
The Liberals literally bungled their campaign and I would hope that their campaign manager is axed. Every day that the Liberals made a choice in which direction to go with their announcements, ads or almost anything, they seemed to pick the wrong way. Or perhaps there was a damaging remark made by someone. The Quebec MP who was telling folks to vote Conservative deserved to lose, and sadly, stunts like that will have slight ripples throughout other ridings as well, as we can see by the Tory gains in Quebec.
I see this government being more balanced, but lasting less than two years. Sadly, when all is said and done, Harper will use the smaller number of seats as an excuse after not fulfilling many of his campaign promises, which may be partly true, but he has already shown us that he thinks you need a majority to get things done in Parliament... at least, that was his implication in the last debate.
The only thing I will be dubious of is how the U.S. reacts. Already we see news headlines along the lines of "Canada moves closer to the right" and talk of tighter bonds with the U.S....
Relations with the Bush administration could improve under a Harper government, as his ideology runs along the same lines of many U.S. Republicans.
However, that is a story for another time... At this time, I want to thank CBC and all of my fellow panellists. This has been a fantastic experience, and one I will always remember. We have had some great discussion and some not so great disagreements, but then, as they say, we are all of different political and social perspectives and that is what makes a panel like this so diverse and interesting. I may not hold degrees in politics, law or journalism, but I sure enjoyed covering this election, and learning a lot about our great country!
I am happy with the election results. At the beginning of the campaign I hoped the NDP would increase its seats (it did) and that there would be another minority government. I didn't care which party won the minority, so a Conservative minority doesn't bother me.
I did want the NDP to hold the balance of power, which it currently doesn't. However, it didn't hold the balance of power in the last House and still managed to get progressive laws passed, and the number by which they are short of the balance of power is close to what it was then. I'm very happy to see that the New Democrats increased their seats to 29. The last time the NDP held more seats was when it won 43 seats in the 1988 election. I think this is a very good result and overall I'm very happy with it.
The Liberals managed to keep more seats than I (and many other people) thought they would. With Liberals holding 103 seats and Conservatives holding 124, it's going to be an interesting Parliament. I think Paul Martin's decision not to stay on as leader is a good one, however it was far from automatic given the Liberal seat results. I was quite surprised to see him announce yesterday that he would be stepping down, however.
Given the results, I'm not sure how stable this government will be. I would think it would last a year, maybe 18 months, but that's a pure guess. I've felt for many years that minority governments were more democratic, and in countries where minorities are frequently the result, there is often more stability than in Canada, because the parties know that if they hold a new election, there will still be a minority government.
It seems to me that a party being given 4 years after getting less than 50% of the vote isn't a very democratic result. I was worried about a Conservative majority government even if I didn't think it all that likely. I'm very happy we aren't in that situation.
The seat counts at the moment are not final and we will likely need to wait some time for final numbers. This is because there are always some seats in which judicial recounts occur. From watching the news yesterday I know there is at least one judicial recount that is going to occur automatically because of how close the results were.
In 2004, if a candidate won by a margin of less than 0.1% there was an automatic recount, and there were 4 of them, since candidates can ask for a recount, and if the vote is sufficiently close will often have it granted. In 1972, a recount resulted in the NDP holding the balance of power. I don't think that is likely in this case but I do think it is interesting. And the overall results and the recounts really highlight how every vote counts.
What a morning after! Paul Martin has already left the arena and the new game really hasn't begun.
This is pretty much my dream result, so I am quite happy. A well-locked House of Commons that will have to co-operate and get along, with lots of reasons for that not to happen. After years of shouting and finger-pointing about the ills of all others, the Tories have a lot of bridge building - inside the party and out. Liberal factionalism, too, might arise or perhaps a potential strong leader - either way, they may not be as willing as possible to help out Harper.
The NDP missed holding the balance of power by a few votes, so even though they made good gains in seats it is something of a moral victory...again. But that moral victory may taste a bit sweeter than the taste in the mouth of Gilles Duceppe, who has pretty much maintained his seats but with ony 42% of the Quebec vote. What incentive does he have to help the new rural Tory overlords who took his support and may well do so more next time. And then there is the shock jock of Quebec City. What will he add? Sober reflection? A helping hand in a tight spot for the new PM? Not likely.
So the jump to 64.9 per cent of eligible voters means Canada likely got what it wanted. I know I did. Should be a fun ride. See you again in 19 months.
I had predicted a CPC majority. I was wrong.
10 random thoughts:
1. One in every four Quebecers voted Conservative. The Conservatives will have 10 seats in Quebec -- Stephen Harper has succeeded where Joe Clark and Robert Stanfield struggled and failed. They are now the stronger alternative to the BQ, who set themselves up for a loss and got just that by falling well short of their target 50%.
2. There will be a change of government, though not one that will satisfy most Canadian voters who wanted to set up a stable situation.
3. I really don't understand Ontario. Perhaps I never will. It will be interesting to see how the Liberal party adjusts to truly being the Ontario rump party. Paul Martin should send Ontarians a big kiss. They saved his hide from a real humbling, including some of his most decadent cabinet ministers. Maybe theft is cool for Ontarians, I dunno . . .
4. In my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Conservatives gained one more of the seven seats (Maverick Fabian Manning won a majority - turning around John Efford's old seat) and won their highest vote totals since the 1984 federal election, tying the Liberals at 42%.
5. "Landslide Annie" McClellan is no more. Almost too bad. If I had to pick a federal Liberal that started out with some credibility, it would have been Annie. Sadly, she became another poster child for the boondoggles. Even Redmonton has its limits in rewarding yes-men or yes-women . . .
6. I am reminded of the 1989 N.L. provincial election where more Newfoundlanders and Labradorians voted Tory and wanted Tom Rideout as their premier, but Liberal Clyde Wells won it because his votes were neatly concentrated in a seat-friendly way. The Conservatives have made impressive gains in places like British Columbia, yet they've lost seats to the NDP!
7. The NDP number was the only part of my prediction that was even close to being right. Layton should be pleased, even if guys like Ed Schreyer didn't get elected.
8. I pity those poor souls in some of the many ridings that will likely be subject to recounts.
9. The Conservatives will have some great talent for their cabinet (hopefully a smaller one), coast to coast. Those ministers will need to meet and work out an issue-by-issue legislative agenda that will rely on support from the NDP and/or BQ and/or maybe our new radio host MP from Portneuf.
10. See you all again in less than 2 years. I hope I'm wrong about that. I hope there's enough juice there to pass tough accountability laws, get tough on crime in some matters, and also do a thorough audit to see what other messes exist that the Liberals were hiding. But there's a limit to what the MPs opposite can or will support. They'll try to angle for things that don't match up with Conservative priorities.
The Conservatives have to be very careful not to compromise on key conservative issues -- I don't mean the non-issues raised by Liberal smear campaigns (which will now be exposed as non-issues and lies) -- I mean fiscal responsibility. I have no use for a non-conservative Conservative -- neither will most other Canadians. Whatever their qualms, I think Canadians want sensible government.
Next federal election, whether it's after a record-breaking long minority term or just in a few months, will be very different. Canadians will see a Conservative government in action, the fear campaign will have expired permanently, the party will have a solid base in every province with room for growth.
If history repeats itself, this might be a 21st-century repeat of 1957. I think we're looking at Canada warming up to Conservatives again. It took Dief the Chief two tries to get a stable majority. Unlike Martin or Chretien, Steve the chief - as always - will have to earn support the hard way.
Congratulations to Prime Minister Stephen Harper! Now the real policy work begins.
The good news is that a lot of people were out to vote. In fact, I am happy that my wife voted for her first time. The numbers are pretty much what can be expected for Alberta. The last update I saw, saw the CPC candidate well in the lead with 80% of the vote, the NDP at 8% and the Greens and Liberals both at 6%. I expect these numbers to carry on until the count is done and, in a way, I expected this, but I am sad that the CPC candidate who will win my riding never bothered to respond to my e-mails.
At least the Liberal fellow took the time to answer my questions and allow me to print them... though he knew, as well, that the battle would lead to a Tory win.
So far, the biggest news seems to be the almost inevitable collapse of Liberal support in Quebec.
Apparently, the polling booth costs $1.65 or so. A little cardboard blinder behind which you make your "X." I checked and the pencil did not say "Election 2006 and/or Gord's Mini Putt" but it was that sort of pencil.
After a day of nerves, I am now watching someone's apparent feed of eastern voting through a U.K. blog. I started doing that right after another station welled up over 1070 AM in Moncton which had been booming in. It is not bad to read or listen to these sources - just bad to write about them. I think I have that right. It is bad being an election nerd.
It was good to vote. There were four polling booths in our building and they were busy all day. Could be a big turnout. It should be. This is a big election. If the Tories get that majority and the turnout is up, well, good for them. Really. But if there is a minority and a big turnout, good for us all. No frying pan to fire scenario.
Just a couple of minutes to the TV shows and their first hour with nothing to say.
This is what he said:
If "progressive voters" choose NDP, they could give Harper a victory..."Voting for Jack Layton might make a point, but it won't make a difference," he said.
Sending a few more NDP members to Parliament will be "small comfort," he said, for Canadians who will be affected by Conservative policies.
But why could he not just say he knows that the Liberals have lost the nation's confidence, that the vote for the Grits will be the lowest ever and every seat for the NDP is a bulwark against unfettered conservativism. If he was concerned about the "progressive" vote he might do it... but I don't expect it. In fact, I think I'm with Ed:
"These are not progressive people," Broadbent told a news conference in Ottawa Friday. "The only time they talked about being progressive is in the dying days of the campaign. It's the only time they use the word -- when they try to go after the votes of ordinary people who are indicating they're going to vote for the NDP. Well I can tell you that this time it's not going to happen."
It would be great if there were three parties with a good level of popular vote and significant standing in the house to keep the Tories honest, if that is the way it goes. That could be a good robust minority House of Commons, and I think no one now sees any other outcome. In fact, taking a vote from the NDP in some B.C. ridings and giving it to the Liberals now might actually be enough to push the Tories into majority. And really, who wants that?
Like Glyn, I�d like to encourage everyone to vote. Every vote counts. During the last election I was left off the voters list, which is more common than it used to be because of recent changes in how they put the list together. Even if you aren�t on the list it isn�t hard to get added on election day as long as you can prove who you are and where you live, and that you are qualified to vote.
Across the country there is one number that can give you the information you need on this, as well as any other information about the election that you may need. If they can�t help you, they can tell you who to call in your area.
Elections Canada can be reached at 1-800-463-6868. If you are going to call I would suggest the earlier the better. The later you wait the longer the possible wait on the phone (there was no wait this morning). Alternatively, the blue pages in your phone book may have your local Elections Canada number.
In recent years the election turnout has been low. This isn�t good for democracy, or for the country. When only about 60% of the population votes, the government is formed by only 60% of the voters. We already have enough distortions in how the government is formed because we use a first past the post system to elect our government. We need to make sure it isn�t made worse by a low voter turnout.
With only one sleep to go, we sit poised on the brink of a major change for this country's future. I would like to keep my hopes up that last-minute decisions will lead to a Liberal minority, keeping the Tories out, but even the slim glimmer of hope I have has dwindled away to nearly a smouldering cinder. It would seem that a Tory minority will be the most likely outcome, and after all is said and done, this is probably a great thing for the Liberal party.
Maybe you could think of it as the general manager firing a coach and trading a star goalie that just isn't cutting it any more. They may not make the playoffs this year, but perhaps it is the shakeup they need to perform in a year, two years, or five.
Tomorrow will be a very important day. No matter who you vote for, be sure to vote. I convinced a long-time friend of mine to watch the debates and to take part... for years, he didn't care. Figured they were all crooks running, and would easily pick a "none of the above" option on the ballot. After some lengthy chatting, I helped convince him that there is no point in complaining if you don't make your voice heard.
In fact, if you do not vote, then you don't have the right to complain! You do have the right to vote, however. And who you choose is your choice and nobody else's.
Tomorrow, many Canadians will be watching the updates and news broadcasts, eyes glued to the incoming results, as if by concentrating hard enough they could change the outcome as desired... But in the end, there will be millions of other voices helping to shape the final outcome. Folks from the West Coast, the Prairies, Quebec, the Maritimes, and as far north as only Saint Nick knows. We range in race, religion, colour and heritage like no other country, and tomorrow we will all have a voice.
An equal voice.
"Unless you have, as a Canadian leader, a knowledge of how the world works, then you're not going to be able to have a foreign policy that is going to be independent."
This is a prime minister who twice referred to a Canadian D-Day landing on the beaches of Norway, who has defended Syrian "peacekeepers" in Lebanon, claimed to have met an "opposition member" at an official dinner in China, refuses to recognize the Tamil Tigers (who invented the suicide bomb) as a terrorist group, and recently referred to Canada as a "major Asian country," declaring that Stephen Harper is unfit for office because "he's never left North American soil."
The same Stephen Harper who has shared a plane with him to overseas events.
(And to think - there are those who actually ridicule the notion of Stockwell Day as foreign minister. So much for the journalistic initiative and intellectual integrity of our chattering classes.)
It's been quite a week.
In Anne McLellan's Edmonton Centre riding we learned that social housing problems are so severe that there are hundreds of registered voters living in truck stops, mailbox stores and self-storage bays, as well as in non-existent buildings at non-existent addresses.
This week inmates began receiving federal government heating rebates, while seniors report being surprised by "Guaranteed Income Supplement" payments they don't qualify for.
With Paul "fighting separatists is in my DNA" Martin looking on, we witnessed Buzz Hargrove urge an audience to vote for the Bloc, to prevent Albertans from gaining control of government and imposing their unCanadian values. Echoing this, Paul Martin told an Atlantic newspaper that Peter MacKay would be shut out of any Conservative government because Stephen Harper's advisors are from Calgary.
We learned that Stephen Harper's mention of adding property rights to the Constitution was a ploy to reinstitute child labour.
In fact, so fixated is he on attacking the Conservative leader, one has to remind oneself at times that the anti-Harper is running for anything at all, including the office of prime minister. This morning the Liberal.ca website is wall-to-wall photos of and references to Stephen Harper. (Though arguably, it's more upbeat than it was a few days ago.)
His party candidates seem to have noticed, too: across the country, they've been quietly removing references to both their leader and their party from campaign signs and literature, one going so far as to quote Conservatives as endorsing him, on a pamphlet printed in blue ink.
Then, as if in answer to questions about his mental stability, Paul Martin jumped onstage to play air guitar in followup to a "Howard Dean" moment in Brantford last evening, as Belinda Stronach stood alongside staring stoicly into the oncoming headlights.
It's bad enough when political leaders lose their sense of dignity and maturity. Now, in the waning hours, we must suffer one final intelligence-insulting spectacle courtesy of a Canadian press gallery suddenly caught up in a frenzy over... wait for it ... Stephen Harper's secret agenda on abortion and his sinister association with pro-life, pro-traditional marriage "western social conservatives."
We learned, once again, that holding the majority position on same-sex marriage and wondering why Canada remains the only nation on the planet where it is legal to abort a child in its last week of gestation makes people "scary extremists." Never mind that many happen to be duly elected Liberal MPs holding seats in Ontario ridings.
After the re-election of George W. Bush last year, a map circulated that generated a good deal of mirth.
The funniest part was that a good number of Canadians took it as a compliment.
So, who better to round out a post on the silly season than America's favourite "fat socialist weasel," Michael Moore.
Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C'mon, where's your Canadian pride? I mean, if you're going to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least don't surrender so easily. Can't you wait until he threatens to bomb Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete's sake.
With a day to go, his record of backing the loser seems safe.
On Monday, Canadians have an opprtunity to set up a new political dynamic in the House of Commons-- one that comes a little closer to representing ideas and visions as opposed to crass one-upmanship. One possible model for this new dynamic exists within Canada's borders.
Look at the centre of the country. No Torontonians, I didn't say the self-proclaimed centre of the universe, I mean the real geographic centre of Canada. It's in Manitoba.
I'll admit it's been a while since I've been there. I visited Manitoba in 1993 during a junior high school exchange. During that exchange, our class met Gary Filmon, then premier of the province. While Filmon spoke for a while to the group, one of my classmates leaned over and asked me what was Filmon's political stripe:
"Is he a Liberal?"
"No, Liberals usually come in 3rd place out here."
Now a fairly centrist NDP is in power in Manitoba. Unlike some provinces with more fiery or lopsided politics, Manitoba seems to be about achieving some sort of appearance of balance. Most Canadians seem to like words like "balance." Polite politics that see-saws between a classical liberal yet modern Conservative party and a third-way-style NDP. Don't get me wrong. As an economic conservative, I have major problems with the policies of even the third-way-type NDP, but I also recognize that their views resonate with many Canadians.
On a federal level, the Conservative party is certainly a big-tent brokerage party, but it's also a party that still has real live debates about real policies. Their policy conventions tackle the tough issues. It's a party with a political soul -- created by blue Tories and "tempered" by the now dominant red Tories.
The only other ideas-focused political party you'll see in the commons is the NDP. It, too, has a political soul -- a distinct one that is once again tempered (though not as much) by third-way left-wingers of the British Labour type and the more seasoned NDPers.
If the Liberals ever had that political soul, they have lost it. The last time there was some consistency on any matters, it was under the leadership of a guy named Trudeau. I don't care for Trudeau, in fact I think he was the most damaging prime minister in Canada's history. But I do recognize the fact that Trudeau represented a certain consistent vision of Liberalism. He was a left-liberal's Liberal. The leaders who followed were mostly poor partial copies.
The Liberals need a 21st century "l"iberal political soul. They need to hammer our what they stand for. One thing's for sure, it's not Trudeau's liberalism anymore. Maybe Michael Ignatieff, (if his campaign staff stop resigning), or Frank McKenna (if Paul Martin stops embarassing him) can bring the next Trudeau-type focus. Until they regain that soul, the Liberals don't even deserve to be the official Opposition. They need a humbling and a period of rebuilding.
Paul Martin has outlined more "priorities" than Don Cherry has ties. He's changed his position on those issues more often than Belinda Stronach changes political stripe. There's no political soul there. There's just government by polls. And for the last week, there's just bitter, desperate and backfired attacks.
Liberals who miss Trudeau would likely be more comfortable with the more consistent Jack Layton. Liberals who miss the old Paul Martin who claimed to believe in fiscal responsibility and open federalism would be more comfortable with Stephen Harper.
Make the House of Commons interesting. Consider setting up our two main parties as the Conservatives and the NDP. The Liberals had about 70 of the last 100 years to offer vision; with a few exceptions, they've blown it. Give them a time out.
It has been an interesting last weekend. PMPM has made noises that he expects a last minute reprieve, that somehow the Liberal 26% will become 36% as it did for the Tories over the Christmas break. No such luck. Despite earlier head-scratchery about the polling by the Globe and Mail, we likely can rely on its confidence in a the Tory lead at 36.5% to 38%, not to mention the direction in which they and their pollsters see the last minute support moving:
Mr. Gregg said the NDP has grown in support among women voters over the last week. The party of Jack Layton is now supported by 23-per cent of female respondents, up from 16-per cent a week ago. Mr. Gregg said the NDP is growing at the expense of the Conservative Party in British Columbia. In the Greater Toronto Area, he said, the NDP is stealing some support from the Liberals as progressive voters are trying to find the best way to prevent the formation of a Harper government. Mr. Gregg said the movement is going in a different direction than in 2004, when NDP voters switched to the Liberals in the last days of the campaign.
For a long-suffering NDP voter like me, this is great news, but I don't see it as an attempt to prevent the formation of a CPC government so much as an attempt to prevent a majority. If we have learned anything from the last year-and-a-half or more, it is that we like a minority. We liked gathering around the TV to watch if Chuck Cadman would really vote to keep Parliament working. We like the idea of someone else getting in charge but not too much in charge. If there was a place to mark "minority" on the ballot it would likely be the only spot to get a 50%-plus-one vote.
We could have a shock. We may vote in a majority with the lowest popular vote in history, but that is unlikely with the CPC's ineffective base of over-support in Alberta, as well as its grasp of another 15% of the vote in Quebec taking them to the heady heights of the low- to middle-20% range. Frankly, it will do them good. A working minority led by the CPC can be seen as both a training ground and a testing ground - making their own way and working with the 30% or more of Canadians who are going to vote for the not-so-soft-socialist NDP and Bloc.
While I will not welcome our new rural-based overloards with open arms, I have some faith that it will not be a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Every election has its own talk about strategic voting. I�m aware that strategic voting is very common and that some people prefer it that way. I know this because most of the time my parents voted strategically.
If you usually vote strategically I would suggest you not do so in this election. Why? The Liberals are in very bad shape. When there is a large change in how parties are viewed, strategic voting doesn�t work all that well.
Two recent elections with large amounts of change come to mind (aside from the last one): 1984 and 1993. Both involved sweeps. I don�t think this election will be as decisive about party as those ones were, but some of the patterns do apply. When major changes in the alignments of parties occur, strategic voting won�t work, or won�t work nearly as well.
If you are still making up your mind I suggest you particularly look at the Conservative and NDP platforms. Both parties have run on cleaning up government but they have fundamentally different ways of looking at Canada and what they think Canada should look like. The Liberals, outside of Quebec, will lose seats to one party or the other.
I hope the choice is for the NDP in as many ridings as possible. Even without the balance of power in the last minority government, the NDP was able to bring forth meaningful change. With the balance of power (if there is a minority government) they could do a lot more.
Other than the fact that both parties will bring in programs to end the corruption in Parliament, they don�t have much in common. I think on that issue they could work together. However, it's probably through the choice between the two that you will choose your next government. The NDP is not going to be forming a government, but how many seats they have will affect what the other party can do, especially if it�s in minority.
Still, I can�t say which way to vote strategically to those who like strategic voting. But I think the accuracy that is often behind strategic voting may well be different during this election. I think during this election, the best vote would be a personal vote, not a strategic vote.
As I lay around on this last Saturday of the campaign, I got to wondering, after looking at the latest set of polls, about who was the most unpopular prime minister and what it would take for Paul Martin or Stephen Harper to break the record. Last time we were close as Paul Martin gained the trust of only 36.7% of voters.
But this is in no way the record. In 1979, Joe Clark gained the keys to 24 Sussex Drive with only 35.89% of the national vote. The Liberals actually got 40.11% but only got 114 seats compared to 136 for the Tories due to an unbalancing 61.7% vote in Quebec for Trudeau, sort of a larger version of the Alberta effect on the Tories today. But those two masters of electioneering, Martin and Clark, are not the winners of the title.
As far as I can tell from Wikipedia's pages on Canadian federal election results through history, the three-way working coalition brought together by John A. Macdonald in 1867 won only 35.78% of the vote. Hardly a resounding victory for the father of the nation but, if we are honest, it can be beaten. Another sub-36% victory by the Conservatives is achieveable in 2006. Though The SES poll of Thursday, Jan. 19, placed the Conservatives at 35.5% and EKOS had them at 35.1% the day before, other polls are placing them at 1.5% to 2.5% higher than that.
Still, seeing as we are on the dark side of the moon now, it is not beyond imagination that the Tories will lose some soft support in these last few days as they have before, giving Stephen Harper the official - or perhaps just statistical - title of most unloved prime minister in Canadian history.
When I was a kid, elementary school classes were halted to watch Apollo moon launches. We were fascinated, and no part of the days and days of nail bitery was as nerve-racking as when the little craft slipped behind the moon and out of radio contact.
At the end of each election there is a point like that. A point after which polls cannot help and speeches may be of no use. It is the point when most people are asking themselves what they are going to do in the little cardboard booth when faced with ballot and pencil. I think we hit that point Thursday. On the blogs people started writing about how to properly declare your intention to vote for none of the above, people started setting out their personal best guess as to the number of seats each party will win.
This is the best bit of the election, when you can go to a grocery store on a Saturday afternoon, look at the other shoppers, the guy stocking shelves and the lady packing your bag, and find yourself thinking - "we get to decide what happens."
One unlikely development of the current Canadian election campaign is the growing interest shown by international audiences - comedy audiences. The Liberal ad parodies were just the first wave - a variety of commentators have been drawn by the sheer entertainment value of the Liberal party campaign, including Jon Stewart's popular Daily Show and the spin-off Colbert Report.
One group blog with writers in New Zealand, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K., Silent Running, has joined in the Canadian conservative blog pastime of mocking Paul Martin for an international audience on their podcast, Shire Network News.
The podcast can be downloaded here.
Remember! "Vote Liberal - resistance isn't just futile - it's un-Canadian!"
As the move toward computers continues, party platforms are increasingly available on the internet. That's not a problem; the problem is that people read in different ways, and for some people, reading a large document off the internet doesn't work, or takes a lot longer. If you have found you read party platforms in the past but are having difficulty now, you may be running into that type of problem. I find I can skim the computer versions and look at particular details, but to understand them fully I need a paper copy.
For those without printers there are still options.
Often the easiest option is to call the candidates in your area. As the platforms get fancier and fancier they are more expensive to produce. If you just want to read the platform, tell the candidate's office that all you would like is a plain black-and-white printout or a photocopy. Printouts aren't generally that expensive, fancy coloured booklets are. And because people read more off the internet now, it's quite possible that a candidate may have only one or two of the slick versions.
When I called around to find paper-based versions, one candidate's office (which was far from mine) offered to have it delivered to my door by a volunteer (with no indication of whether I would support them or not). In the end, living in Ottawa not so far from downtown, I called all three parties ahead of time, went downtown where their main offices were and picked up printed or photocopied versions.
Sometimes there will not be a way to get a printout or photocopy in a simple way. In that case, each candidate's office usually has at least one copy of the platform, and if you live within a reasonable distance, you can usually sit and read the platform in the candidate's office.
Another way to get a paper copy of the platforms is in internet caf�'s. To do this will cost you some money, but if you make sure you're getting black-and-white printing and find where the documents are on the internet before you leave home, then you can just print them out and it will reduce the cost. I would still suggest keeping an eye on the expense. Make sure you know how the internet caf� you're in works. And make sure you set up (or have help in setting up) the system for black-and-white pages if you're not familiar with doing this. Costs can vary, and sometimes coming in at a certain point during the day will lower costs.
I would just like to encourage people to read the platforms. They have a lot more information in them than the sound spots you hear, and can give you a much better idea of which party suits you. While the immediate assumption today seems to be that people will read them on their computers, in my experience candidates are not at all bothered by people wanting them in paper form. It shows interest and candidates like that.
"I know Martin said that about property rights. I have never denied it. I oppose your continual association with South Africa, not that you say Martin said that. YOU made that association, as I made the association with Iraq."
Glyn, it means less than nothing to "oppose" an association without stating any substantive reason for it. Paul Martin didn't specify which property rights or which countries should or shouldn't have them. He criticized and smeared all property rights with the same brush. In doing so, he insulted South Africans who thought property rights were worthy of being entrenched.
You're free to draw your own distinctions all you want on your own time. It doesn't change the fact that Martin didn't draw such distinctions. As usual, he just smeared and generalized as much as possible. As a result he deserves every bit of criticism he gets and he should rightfully apologize to South Africans for smearing them in the process.
The paranoia expressed in Liberal press releases to which you linked gets tough to follow with any consistency when one considers that many Liberal candidates have chosen to cut down their time at forums also. There is absolutely no difference between how Paul Martin doesn't generally discuss socially conservative candidates in the Liberal party and what happens in the Conservative party. The primary difference is that Paul Martin doesn't smear his own candidates when they say things he claims to dislike.
Also, even after one Liberal nomination hopeful in N.L. was found to have told a woman legislator to "go back to the kitchen where she came from," Martin said he'd still sign on to his nomination papers. Only one leader has refused nominations because of offensive comments. Stephen Harper did it with Larry Spencer in 2003-2004.
It is completely unfair to suggest that Martin has done any less sweeping under the rug . . . indeed he has refused to take action to deal with candidates that deserved it. It's strange that Stephen Harper would be criticized for laying down the law on what is and isn't acceptable for a Conservative candidate to say or do. If he didn't do that, Liberals would have news releases about that, too. . .
With only the weekend left to seriously consider the implications of what we are all about to do come Monday, we have to take many things into account. The past, the present, and what I believe to be the most important, the future.
During this campaign we have seen a lot of emphasis on the past. We have seen bungles by all of the parties, most noticeably by the Liberals. We have seen attacks and counter-attacks.
Now we have to look at the CPC carefully. They do indeed seem to have a very moderate voice this campaign. Couple this approach with the fact that many Canadians believe Gomery didn't "get them all," and it looks pretty good for the Tories.
So why are so many of their candidates being rushed out of the spotlight? I just wrote about Harold Albrecht and some of his pretty intense views, but there are others. Cheryl Gallant, Rob Anders, Darrel Reid, Rob Merrifield and others, who may be viewed as a little extreme for the average Canadian voter have all, at one point or another, been gagged by the party.
"They have to talk this way to get elected," said Link Byfield, chairman of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy.
Do you want to vote for a candidate who is not allowed to speak their mind, and if they do it could damage their party's chance of winning a riding? Just take this into account when mulling over things on the weekend. Even the Liberals pulled one stunt like this, when their candidate Gilles Savard in a Quebec riding admitted defeat and told supporters to vote Conservative to avoid the Bloc winning. He was likely rebuked by the party and now has renewed his campaign with vigour.
As a side note...
Of late, our posts have tried -- and will continue to try -- to help convince some people who to vote for, or what to consider when they're walking up to that ballot box, pencil and paper in hand. It is obvious already, and one thing to keep in mind, that I view all of my fellow Roundtablers' beliefs with the highest respect, but rarely will we agree on things, especially as the big day approaches!
Liam - I know Martin said that about property rights. I have never denied it. I oppose your continual association with South Africa, not that you say Martin said that. YOU made that association, as I made the association with Iraq. So get the facts straight about what I said, please.
Glyn described my request for Paul Martin to apologize to the people of South Africa as an apology for something that I concluded. Just to keep Glyn straight, I'll give him the specific hard facts on this matter:
"Liberal Leader Paul Martin said property rights is the "shrine at which the U.S. conservative movement bows." (CBC
Paul Martin slighted all entrenchment of property rights with that statement. He wasn't selective. He used a broad brush to do his smearing. It was dirty and uncalled for and it's a slight against the people of South Africa, who in their new constitution, entrenched property rights. Glyn can pretend that wasn't said. He can even lie and say it wasn't said. But it was said. Paul Martin said it, and Paul Martin should apologize.
I brought this up after the comment was made. I only stayed at it a few days. Glyn continues to try to spin the matter of marriage definition more than an month in - even after everyone, even CBC Reality Check says it's done and that even Harper, in his own way, is moving on!
The Conservatives would hold a free vote on the definition of marriage. It is a blatant and bold-faced lie to suggest a free vote in the Commons is the same as a "ban." By that logic, Paul Martin wanted to partially ban same-sex marriage, too. Marriage is indeed an important word. The charter doesn't protect words, it protects rights. In any case, Stephen Harper has promised that even if the charter protects words, he's never going to use the notwithstanding clause. So why are we even talking about this?
Gay and lesbian couples have been using the word marriage for years. CBC's own Barbara Frum covered a same-sex marriage on Feb. 21, 1974, in the Unitarian Church. If Glyn had his facts straight, he'd know that use of the word was not banned. Religions and faiths and cultures have religious freedom to marry gay and lesbian couples or not. In fact, Paul Martin once promised to use the notwithstanding clause to protect those freedoms, right up until the point where he decided not to do it in the 2nd TV debate -- announcing constitutional changes on the fly.
Whether or not a government definition is the same as the definition most of us have, it doesn't mean that if the definitions differ the government is banning all others. It's misleading to suggest that.
This isn't about religion. This is about the hard facts about what the Conservative party has proposed. They have proposed legislation in the past to protect all marital rights for same-sex couples. They have also proposed a free vote on the subject. It's an insult to every same-sex couple living in western Europe who enjoy full rights under the civil union system to imply that their union is somehow less simply because the government uses the words "civil union."
Glyn also needs to inform himself some more on the history of the Liberal caucus:
"Now, some Liberals voted against this, as well, but they didn't go on to suggest that society would be wiped out by allowing gay people to be married."
Glyn is trying to suggest this view is common in the Conservative party. On CBC News' The Hour last night there was a married lesbian woman who stated her strong support for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. As she said, the fight for same-sex rights is over and same sex couples won. The fight for accountable and responsible government is just starting.
Glyn should listen to the comments of some of the Liberals for whom he's willing to soft-spin the vote against redefining marriage:
"Homosexuality is statistically abnormal, it's physically abnormal and it's morally immoral."
"Religion is virtually genetic, since it is passed from generation to generation. Homosexuality is not genetic, but a choice."
- MP and 2006 federal Liberal candidate Tom Wappel.
"It's sort of corny, but a constituent phoned up and said, 'God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.� � If it's two adults, where do we stop? What about a grandma that wants to marry her grandson or an uncle that wants to marry his niece? Where do you stop?"
- MP and 2006 federal Liberal candidate Roy Cullen.
"Marriage is the union between men and women and has been that way since the beginning of time. It's meant to stay that way� anything else is not civilized. It's not acceptable."
- MP and 2006 federal Liberal candidate Janko Peric.
I could get into the words of many other friends of Paul Martin over the years, but then he knows what they've said. It's not my standard. It's his standard. If he's really talking about charter rights, as he claims he is, why is he signing Tom's and these other Liberals' nomination papers?
The Toronto Star's Chantal H�bert said it best:
�Now, in the dying days of an election campaign, [Martin] is going a step further by basically asking voters to re-elect his social conservative MPs to protect some of the very minorities whose rights they have systematically opposed for the better part of a decade.�
Toronto Star, Jan. 13, 2006
If people are that worried about specific charter rights even after the Conservatives have promised never to overturn them using the notwithstanding clause, they have only one option. It's not the Liberals. It's the NDP. For everyone else who has followed the facts here, this is not a major issue one way or another. What distinguishes Liberals and Conservatives in this matter is that Conservatives were up front and consistent about what it is they plan to do. The Liberals haven't shown the same consistency.
Liam is very eloquent at putting words in other people's mouths and drawing conclusions from it -- as shown by his beating of the "Martin apologizing to the people of South Africa for something Liam has concluded" dead horse. In fact, it has been 8 days, and I still haven't apologized to the people of Iraq for my outrageously insulting suggestion that the U.S. had any influence on their newly-drafted constitution. But that is a different story. A story I really don't care to follow anymore because when all is said and done, I told Liam that I don't disagree with putting property rights in the charter.
Indeed the Conservatives would BAN same-sex marriage. MARRIAGE. Like I have maintained all along, it is just a word, but to those people it affects, it is a very important word. The rest of the people who tout the "traditional" meaning of the word are really not affected by it at all, at least not in any immediate way. So why do they want to BAN the use of the word with regards to gay people? Are they scared that their sacred word is being misued or being slighted somehow? Maybe it's a religious issue? Kind of like the abortion debate... Something that a lot of devout religious folks tend to take very seriously.
As an example of the thinking of some CPC candidates, let's look at a letter from Harold Albrecht, the Kitchener-Conestoga candidate from the Kitchener Waterloo Record (6-17-2003) who likes to use a mix of religious belief and good old-fashioned homophobia as his excuse to persecute minorities...
According to The Record's June 11 editorial, Marriage Meets The 21st Century, the Canadian family has just gotten bigger. Maybe -- but for a very brief time.
If one is truly committed to the marriage vows of fidelity, these same-sex marriages would succeed in wiping out an entire society in just one generation. So much for a bigger family.
Nature alone points to the ridiculous "wisdom" of calling these relationships marriage. Thankfully, only a very small percentage of people will fall for this thinking -- but the ongoing damage to future generations will reveal this "wisdom" to be yet another step away from the beautiful relationship that God has created and defined so clearly. Marriage is God's idea, not man's; therefore, He alone has the authority to redefine it. Our courts and Parliament may choose to ignore God's wisdom in their voting process. Proverbs 16:33 (The Message) says, "Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say." Our opinion will not change His. Contrary to the editorial's claim that Ontario's high court made the right decision, time will reveal that it was the wrong decision. In the interest of our children and grandchildren and all future generations, it is important that we reject this attempted redefinition.
Harold Albrecht, Pastor
Pathway Community Church, Kitchener
Now, some Liberals voted against this, as well, but they didn't go on to suggest that society would be wiped out by allowing gay people to be married. Paul Martin is a devout Roman Catholic, but he voted for the legalization, despite backlash from the church.
Back to the issue of abortion, now. Apparently Jason Kenney, the Conservative revenue critic, thinks that a woman's right to choose is "undemocratic ."
�Those of us who believe in the sanctity of human life are the true champions of democracy,� Mr. Kenney told Alberta Pro-Life at its Life 2005 conference held April 29-30, 2005.
So if you want to live in a country with an intolerant and regressive government, then by all means vote for guys like this. If you want to live in a country that is setting trends and standards for other nations to see, then vote for anyone else.
And I always thought State and Religion should be separated.
God bless all of you. God bless Canada.
Kristen French, Leslie Mahaffy, Tammy Homolka. None of these girls will ever travel anywhere ever again. They're dead.
But Karla Homolka, it seems, is applying for a passport that could take her almost anywhere in the world. Just so we're clear on who Karla Homolka is: Karla Homolka helped kidnap, rape, torture and murder these girls. The evidence is clear on this. There is no doubt about her guilt. In just a few years, Karla was on the street, and thanks to a poorly-worded Sec. 810 of the Criminal Code, the few understandable restrictions the prosecutor tried to place on her were lifted.
Tim Danson, the lawyer for the victim's families, suggested the current federal election campaign is a good time to start a public debate about Sec. 810 of the Criminal Code, which grants the restrictions. I'm taking him up on his suggestion.
According to Montreal criminal lawyer Jean-Pierre Rancourt, Homolka is free to jet off and see the sights nearly anywhere in the world, despite her beastly crimes.
"In the islands, like the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic or Cuba, no one would even ask her any questions," he said. "She could probably even live in a European country without too many problems."
So far, only the Conservative party has promised to amend Sec. 810.2 of the Criminal Code to permit the participation of the prosecutors involved in the original trial, as well as the victims of the crime and their families, at the hearing. They would also allow judges to impose residency restrictions on offenders, and extend the term of the order.
This should be a motherhood issue. This should be an automatically supported measure and policy. Instead, we have the NDP offering some decent changes while the Liberals pretend everything's fine on this file. It's not right.
I only draw attention to it because I believe every federal party should have matched (or improved on) the Conservative commitment. We have to do everything we can to end the farcical coddling of disgusting murderers like Karla Homolka. So far, all parties fall short of the full range of sentencing toughenings needed, but the Liberals fall shortest of the lot -- and they offer no reasonable explanation.
A torturing murderer like Homolka should never again see the light of day, but if she does, it should be under more restrictions than the dress code for a Caribbean beach resort.
I started calling around last week. I wanted to know if the $100 a month child-care cash the Conservatives promised could be clawed back.
At my local Conservative candidate's office I was routed to the press agent. He couldn't answer questions regarding the child-care money (nor would I expect him to be able to). He gave me a number for a press office for the Conservative party, as he thought that would be more appropriate since it was a policy issue. He did give me his cell number in case I wanted to call back.
When I talked to the Conservative press office I asked if the child-care benefit could or would be clawed back by the provinces from those on social assistance. I explained that I knew that social assistance was in provincial jurisdiction, and since similar federal tax credits were clawed back, I was wondering if the Conservatives had a position on whether the benefit could be clawed back, and what they might do if it was.
He said he'd look into it and call me back. I called back later that day to make my question clearer (I wasn't sure if it was clear enough the first time). No answer ever came. I called about a week ago.
Near the end of the weekend I called the local candidate's press person and said I hadn't had any luck with the press office. He said he would get in touch with the candidate and have him call me. I haven't heard from him either.
Early in the week I called back the press office and explained I was going to be writing a story on the topic and I would appreciate if they could get back to me (I had explained I wrote opinion pieces and where...I wasn't trying to make myself look like a large reporter). They asked me who had taken the call, they identified who it was and said he would get back to me. He didn't. I don't expect at this point I'll ever get an answer back.
Now, I realize it's a difficult issue. But it seems to me that if the party was so steadfast that ALL parents would receive the benefit, then two fairly simple answers could be given:
1. We don't know how the two jurisdictions meeting would work. But we will do all we can to make sure that all parents will get the benefit.
2. We will make sure that no matter what, all parents would get the benefit.
But, finally, any type of call-back whatsoever would have been appreciated.
I could understand if everything wasn't worked out yet (although it wouldn't make me happy). But the fact that nobody returned my calls at all is strange. Do they just not care about the questions people are asking?
Yesterday I called the National Anti-Poverty Organization. I spoke with the executive director, Dennis Howlett, (who did call me back). Apparently I'm not the only one looking for an answer on this question. NAPO has been looking into this, as well, and as of yet they haven't any answers about it either.
I wonder if the Conservatives are elected when they will start to answer this question. Because it is one that is going to keep coming up.
And a party that just ignores questions doesn't seem to me to be on the way to transparent government.
I don't think if the election were the normal length I would be feeling like the whole exercise has been pointless. From an over-sensitive leader's demands that others retract off-the-cuff remarks to the general disinterest in the platforms once released, this is an odd little election.
Despite the roughly 5% retraction of the Tories from their polling heights of a week or two ago, the fact that they may break 35% is some comfort to them and their supporters, but we are still looking at another minority, just with deck chairs shuffled. It would be nice if the Bloc were humbled but that is unlikely given all the three-way races. It will be nice to see the Grits put out if that is what happens but we are still on this side of the weekend of long reflection when 10% of voters often look at the NDP and the Tories and say..."What was I thinking!"
What would be a real gain? A new and better dynamic of some sort. The opportunity being forced upon Harper and Layton to find common ground would be one thing I would like to see. Frankly, I would also like to see the Tories get into a postion where they can show they have moved on from the extremes of the old Refrom agenda and act like they can see beyond the view of a small minority. It would also be nice to find out that their great and semi-self-righteous claims to greater ethics pan out - despite much past bad behaviour by federal and provincial conservative parties.
I want to be surprised, I suppose. Pleasantly suprised. I find that naive just typing it out.
I ask because I notice that Glyn's still standing over the bloody corpse of the marriage-definition-as-election-issue horse, club in hand, still beating it.
Glyn has labelled the situation pre-C-38 a "ban" on same-sex marriage. This is incorrect. There were and are bans on polygamy and bigamy, but not same-sex marriage. It just wasn't recognized by government. If Glyn is going to smear Stephen Harper for merely stating that he'd have a free vote on same-sex marriage (even after the highest court in the land punted the matter back to Parliament to decide), he should be levelling equally heavy criticism on Paul Martin.
If Paul Martin truly viewed marriage definition as a charter issue, he never would have held his half-free vote a few months ago. If Paul Martin truly viewed marriage definition as a rights issue, he'd never have signed the nomination papers of almost half his Ontario candidates. Instead, Martin's a lukewarm half-and-half believer in his own rhetoric. In essence, he's using the charter as an election prop. This time, nobody's buying.
Where Stephen Harper has clearly stated that he would honour his party's policy commitment to hold a truly free and democratic vote on the issue, he has also offered a clear commitment not to use the notwithstanding clause on the issue of marriage definition. Irwin Cotler lied when he tried to suggest otherwise.
This issue is dead. The positions are known. The Liberals can try all they want to try to rewrite the Conservative policy into some sort of, to borrow Tim Power's line, Chicken Little "sky is falling" tale. It doesn't make it true or supported by the slightest shred of evidence.
If we want to see disrespect for rights, we need look no further than Paul Martin these past few years. He's insulted South Africans by suggesting the property rights they entrenched were only things worshipped by "American conservatives." He insulted every single Albertan who voted in hopes of electing their senators only to find an arrogant Martin wouldn't appoint their choices. He shut down opposition days back in the spring to stifle dissent and preserve his government's power.
He refused to resign his government back in the spring when the House of Commons clearly expressed its desire for the government to resign because of its deficiencies. He ignored the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Newfoundland and Labrador's place in Canada. He ignored the fair and legitimate demands of premiers of all political stripes -- from NDP Sask. Premier Lorne Calvert to N.L. Tory Premier Danny Williams to Quebec Liberal Premier Jean Charest (all of whom now support Stephen Harper's vision for Canada).
Paul Martin has shown very little respect for the most fundamental rights-related concepts in our society and in this election -- Democracy. I've never met anybody, of any background, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation who did not value their basic political rights first and foremost. In that light, I fail to see why anyone would reinforce Martin's anti-democratic agenda with a vote. If there are people who like the current definition of marriage and they want a party that whips their MPs pro-same-sex marriage, they should vote NDP or Green. The safest way to vote based on this issue is to poll your local candidates. There are pro-SSM Tories and anti-SSM Liberals and NDPers.
If Irwin Cotler wants to talk about rights, he should talk more about how much contempt he seems to have for the institution we know as Canada's Parliament -- the men and women we elect. He can also talk about how he seems to value the rights of murderers and violent criminals over those of the victims of those crimes. He can talk about how he doesn't like the idea of mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes.
Yes, on rights, Cotler is selective indeed. . . In order for us to get a justice minister that will actually protect Canadians, he has to go.
Glyn has commented on the large number of gay and lesbian weddings that are occurring right now. The rush doesn't surprise me because I remember a similar rush occurring after the Supreme Court in Ontario ruled that "marriage" had to include gays and lesbians.
Some of the people that married had already had religious services that recognized their partnerships years before. Some had personally decided to spend their lives together before the law change but without a ceremony. Others were afraid that the law would be appealed and they would lose the right to be married, and if they were with a partner they were comfortable with got married sooner than they might have because they knew they might not have been able to later.
So I wouldn't be surprised to see a somewhat higher divorce rate in the near future; it won't necessarily be because of sexual orientation but due to the implications of the timing of law changes, and should disapear over time.
In the vote on same-sex marriage in the previous Parliament, the Conservatives were free to vote as they wanted. The Liberals were able to vote freely, except those in cabinet who were to vote Yes. Several MPs stepped down from cabinet so they could vote No. I don't think there was any permanent harm to their careers in doing this nor should there be. The only repercussion may be if it affects their ability to get re-elected.
The NDP has a policy on votes concerning human rights. A simple version of it (I don't have a rule book around) is that you have two choices on this type of vote: vote Yes, or skip the vote (which can have an impact) so you don't need to vote for something you are not morally comfortable with.
So what's going to be the difference in a vote this time around? That the cabinet ministers can vote however they want? The Conservative party talks a lot about eliminating waste. Isn't repeating a process that has already been done, with the only difference being that cabinet members can vote freely, a waste of parliamentary time and money?
Meet your Green candidate. Be sure to bring your flashlight.
Janine Gibson lives in an energy-efficient home that's "off the grid," that is, powered by only solar and wind energy. However, an extended period of cloudy skies and calm winds left the Provencher candidate without electricity for a 22-day stretch in December. During the days of no sun or wind, Gibson functioned with tiny, energy-friendly LED lights, candles, and oil lamps. She says she turned off her electrical phone, didn't touch her computer, kept wood burning in the fireplace, and climbed into bed earlier than usual. "You enter a slightly more meditative place. Like all fishers and farmers and people who work close with nature know, you just sort of ride out what nature gives you," said Gibson.
Too bad she doesn't have 80 head of Holsteins to meditate. Idealism is easy when your biggest challenge is spreading compost on organic tomatoes or boiling enough water for a cup of herbal tea.
When I was much younger, I considered myself a well-informed Nature of Things environmentalist. Between nightly updates on the ozone holes, we were warned about the depletion of rain forests that were disappearing at a rate of 10,000 acres per day. (Or was it per hour?)
I recall the summer of my epiphany and the moment I backed away from the doomsday cultists.
It happened during a sermon delivered to the helpless residents of Southeast Saskatchewan on the disaster about to befall them, if someone - anyone - did not throw their bodies of legislative work before the bulldozers destroying the fragile ecosystem of the Moose Mountain waterway.
The province was national news. We were glued to our sets as the Rafferty-Alameda dam project was hotly debated by personalities and premiers, reporters and researchers, lawyers and locals - often standing with endless seas of prairie grass in the background.
What the television cameras never showed was the glorious Moose Mountain.
I grew up a mile from the river of the damned. I had splashed in it with friends, ridden the banks on horseback. Each spring the snow melt in the hills of its headwaters flooded the banks, and you could catch the brave little jackfish that raced up from the Souris. Small and not worth eating, they were still good for a bit of sport on a warm summer day. Catch and release.
Not that it mattered - the creek froze to the bottom every winter.
When his speech was over, Dr. David Suzuki drove back to the airport, climbed in a jet and flew to his next performance; the national media packed up the cameras, and the great destroyer Grant Devine just went ahead and built the thing anyway.
Left in privacy, the water behind a dam that opponents declared would never fill collected into a lake in the space of a few months.
Today, Dr. Suzuki's one-time congregation in the dry Southeast enjoys a recreation area and water reservoir, the good people of North Dakota are protected from flooding, while a new generation of "greenies" proselytize the religion of "sustainable agriculture" to farmers who have successfully cropped land for over a century.
And upstream from the Rafferty-Alameda dam, "Moose Creek" still floods its banks in the spring and goes stale by late summer, as it has for thousands of years.
With what could logically be predicted as a Conservative win in the upcoming election (I wouldn't say it is a done deal by any means), many gay people across the country are rushing to the altar to get married. Something that Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have vowed to ban by holding a free vote once they become the ruling party of the land.
"You can't put the genie back in the bottle, and for us to have no equality with a similar same-sex couple that lives next door to us, I just can't see it."
Indeed this is a very good point. More to the point, if it is so easy for someone elected to want to remove these rights, what could happen in the future?
"We're concerned that the rights we currently have that are constitutionally guaranteed are put at risk by Mr. Harper," another person said.
What seems to be really important here isn't necessarily the fact that the definition of marriage will be altered again, but the fact that this is a regressive idea in the eyes of many Canadians and, in fact, peoples around the world, and in light of the CPC's currently moderate platform, it represents a hint of what may lie deeper in the party's ideology.
Justice Minister Irwin Cotler sums it up quite eloquently.
"What's troubling people isn't the immediate effect of what Mr. Harper intends, but the cast of mind that is so quick to override the Constitution and Charter of Rights," he said on Countdown with Mike Duffy.
We cannot forget Martin's proposal to remove the notwithstanding clause, to be fair, but taking the right granted to gay people to be equals with the rest of us on the grounds of marriage could be the beginning of other changes yet to come...
But that, too, is up in the air... and I may touch on that later today.
Frustrated at the seeming indifference of a prime minister who has campaigned as much against George Bush as he has Stephen Harper, a blogger in Alberta dropped by a top U.S. military blogsite to privately thank our American friends who medivaced and are now caring for our wounded at the U.S. military hospital at Landstuhl, Germany.
She was contacted by a representative of Soldiers' Angels Germany, who has offered to pass along well wishes from Canadians to Pte. William Edward Salikin, Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey and Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, and their families.
"Just spoke with the hospital. All 3 are in ICU. Since ICU patients are typically not conscious, as you mentioned, the nurses are often kind enough to put a note with them passing on thoughts and prayers that can been read later.
I will see what I can do in the morning when more of my contacts are working. If the families are coming they will probably stay at Fisher House, where I can also leave a message. At the very least we can make sure that they and their families know how much we all care for them."
You can leave your own message in the comments at Waking Up On Planet X, and it will be passed along. As Candace asks - "I think it would be very cool for these guys to wake up to a bunch of messages from Canadians, don't you?"
Stephen Harper seems to be doing something right in Quebec. We'll put aside the leaps and bounds the Conservatives have made in support since the beginning of this campaign. On a policy level, Harper is uniting a growing number of Quebecers who have spent the last 15 years polarized by Chretien-type federalists and Parizeau-type sovereigntists.
Harper's offering a new federalism. He's giving Jean Charest at least some of the tools and flexible federalism he needs in order to offer a workable and responsive option besides the vision of the PQ. Earlier, Charest came out in support of Harper's approach. Now today we see that PQ leader Boisclair is worried about who's getting tapped away from the PQ/BQ axis:
"I fear that all we're hearing now is a siren song,'' he [Boisclair] said. "I'm asking Quebecers to pay attention because behind the spoken words there are hard facts.''
-From the CTV story Boisclair: Don't listen to Harper's 'siren song'
And all this time we thought only Paul Martin could engage in fear and smear. . . .maybe the two polar ends of this federal Liberal-BQ/PQ polarization are not all that different. They both dislike the provincial Liberal attempts to offer a better vision of Canada. They both dislike and are now targeting the federal Tories with baseless fear campaigns. They both seem interested in preserving the polarized status quo. . .
I think I am less scared of the Tories than of more Liberal years. I say "less scared" because that is the emotion I am told I must be operating under now that the end of the election campaign is so close. But I, as the representative Ontario centre-left swing-ish voter, do want that minority and am doing everything (including maintaining an approporiate level of fear) to ensure it takes place. I think my real fear is that anything else will occur.
So if Atlantic Canada and Quebec swing a little too blue, we have to do our part and swing a bit back to the red. It is pretty clear that the Tory lead is not 10 or more and is more like seven or less. That scares me less, so I am comforted. Because, of course, we are told my Ontario is a fearful, gutless and soft-headed place, devoid as it is of two-dimensional ideologies to keep us in line. But Stephen Harper has noticed that and knows he must pander to us central sheep - so Bill Davis is trotted out as a friendly face. Bill, I think...how friendly. Again, my fear lessens, yet I have to think of that big national picture.
I find I fear Jack less, too, as he is actually making sense, mentioning things I like and speaking in plain words. Martin does not do that and he does not really like it. It looks like he expected loyalty among the progressives. Maybe Paul is governed by fear, too. Maybe that means he needs a bit of a break. Maybe even from leader of the Opposition. That would be OK. It scares me less.
How seriously can we take polls at election time? The current polls are so far apart that I think none of them can even be trusted. Do people actually take them for face value and if so, which face?
Currently, the Strategic Council poll suggests that the Tories have jumped ahead with an amazing 42 to 24 point lead (18-point spread)... I find this very hard to believe myself.
The SES poll shows the Tories at 37, the Grits at 30, which is only a 7-point spread! As an example of this, here is the CTV poll tracker compared to the CBC poll tracker ...
So what do these numbers mean to people reading them? Perhaps the larger gap is reassuring to some voters... perhaps it scares some. The closer race may ease the fears some voters like myself have of a Conservative majority and the large gap may turn voters away. Hard to say, especially considering how different the numbers are ...
Frankly, I won't believe any numbers until after the voting is over!
I first heard about Brad at an event where someone mentioned reading my blog - and that it had been recommended by a friend in, of all places - Tajikistan! It turns out that friend was Brad Farquhar. He spent four months in the former Soviet republic to teach basic campaigning techniques to the six registered political parties.
Today, he's back in Saskatchewan and running for the Conservatives in the only riding the party doesn't hold - and he's taking on a Saskatchewan political fixture in Finance Minister Ralph Goodale. I asked if he'd be willing to answer a few questions:
Q: You came into this campaign as an underdog, facing a high-profile cabinet minister with a long, successful history. Now, I think it's fair to say that, with the possibility that the Liberals may find themselves out of government, combined with the growing income trust scandal, Ralph Goodale may be vulnerable. Have you seen this reflected when you talk to Wascana residents at the door lately, especially compared to the first stage of the campaign?
A: I truly believe Ralph Goodale is vulnerable. I have been talking to hundreds of people in Wascana during this campaign, and they are looking for a reason, any reason, to vote for someone other than Ralph Goodale. That's why it's so important for me to talk to as many of them as possible. As soon as they realize they have an alternative, and that I am a thoughful and reasonable guy, I'm finding that a vast majority of undecided voters are willing to commit to supporting me.
Q: Your riding includes both urban and rural areas - both face challenges in funding infrastructure and core services. One of the frequent complaints of municipal governments in Saskatchewan concerns expensive, needless and conflicting bureaucracy and regulation. Would a Conservative government look at "root cause solutions" - namely, pulling in federal departments (Fisheries and Oceans comes to mind) that currently interfere in regions and industries that they really have no business in?
A: This is definitely an area to take a look at. People in Saskatchewan are pragmatic, let's-get-things-done people who expect their government to at least work that way a bit, too. They particularly scoff at the idea of Fisheries and Oceans having jurisdiction over some drainage ditch just because a canoe could navigate it for two days each spring.
Q: The Conservatives are the "youngest," in terms of average age of candidates, of the federal parties. A lot of you have young families - yourself included. How do you balance the demands of a campaign with the demands of being a Dad to three youngsters?
A: You're right - I'm 36, with three kids ages 8, 6 and 4. It is a challenge. But in many ways, we've been training for this for a long time. This is something like my 29th election campaign, and I've spent a good portion of the last 8 years living on the road. It's all the kids know. My children are used to hitting speed-dial on the home phone to find me on my cellphone and ask me where I am. Last winter, I was away for 3� months straight in Tajikistan, during which time my father-in-law passed away. We communicated only via MSN Messenger. In many ways, those events make hopping on a plane to Ottawa look pretty simple. I'm also fortunate to have an understanding wife who supports me completely.
Q: You're one of the growing number of Conservative candidates who run campaign blogs - before becoming a candidate, you blogged from Tajikistan, and ran the Saskatchewan news aggregator "SaskDesk," so I suspect you understand the blogosphere better than most. There are rumblings that government may try to place restrictions on the internet, or subject the political blogs of private citizens to campaign legislation. Would a Conservative government take steps to ensure that the rights of private citizens to free speech on the internet are protected from the ever-expanding arms of regulation?
A: We've got to find ways to protect the right to free speech. The internet is the combination of the printing press and a conversation. We have some rules around publishing and few around conversations. We need to find the balance between the two. I think the internet has the potential to provide a voice to millions who have felt no voice before. Just because we might not like what is said does not mean we should try to stiffle it. There's always the power switch if you don't like what you find. Now if we could just find a solution to spam!
Brad's campaign site is www.bradfarquhar.com
Let's play a little game. You win when you find reference to the Liberal party on the front pages of Belinda Stronach's MP website. Back in spring, Stronach crossed the floor to join the Liberals and help keep them in power. At the time, I'm sure she thought it was a cute way to get more microphone time. She viewed politics as the same thing as croquet -- no real principles involved in your team affiliation, just hit the ball.
In May 2005, when the Conservative House leader introduced a motion in the Commons that called on the public accounts committee "to recommend that the government resign because of its failure to address the deficiencies in governance of the public service," Belinda Stronach stood in agreement with it. Then, just days later, she joined that deficient government and acted as its resident apologist. There are ice augers in Nunavut that are less twisted. Safer money is on musician and community activist Lois Brown winning the grassroots election in Stronach's riding of Newmarket-Aurora.
After years of support for the very economic policies (greater economic linkages with the U.S., pro bank mergers, etc.) that Paul Martin opposed, Scott Brison showed that he could be bought for an even cheaper price -- a cabinet post and a driver. There's something pitiful in watching Brison tell people in Nova Scotia to kiss his a**-um-cabinet seat . . . A guy who could have been in a leadership role in the moderate Conservative party sold out a series of great policies and ideas just to get on the porkier end of the trough.
Now SES shows the Conservatives lead the Liberals in Atlantic Canada. Scott's set to go down to defeat against the very smart and able Dr. Bob Mullan, past president of the medical society of Nova Scotia. Smart country doctors tend to do well in Nova Scotia. Ask John Hamm.
I have to ask Scott and Belinda: was it worth selling out what little principles you had? If you have an answer, tell it to Anne McLellan. Yesterday McLellan said Paul Martin and the national Liberal campaign hurt her chances in her riding race in Edmonton. Fair weather friends all finding the weather not so fair. Hmmm. Well, it is January! What did you expect!?!?
OK, I'm not talking about the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, but in fact I'm talking about politicians essentially "converting" voters... Is this not the essence of what they do?
Recently, there have been more and more headlines regarding this. Maybe there's nothing else happening in the campaign to report on, but I think it's funny how the media jumps all over the politicians for doing what they are, in fact, supposed to do. Here are some of the recent headlines:
Bloc has no power in Ottawa, Harper says
Layton courts Liberal supporters to vote NDP 'just this once'
Busy day as Martin fights for NDP, Tory votes
Harper makes direct appeal for Quebec votes
How many times in this campaign have we heard Jack say, "There is a better, third choice"? Every time he says that, he isn't saying it to NDP supporters. He's saying it to everyone who is not an NDP supporter...
So I'm sensing a trend here. We have a group of party leaders campaigning to take votes away from the other campaign leaders, and not only do these events make the headlines, but many people think it's funny that it's even being done. It is getting to the time in the campaign where the policies are old news. The same old rhetoric being spouted at the start of the election is old news now. All that's left is to campaign and convert.
All of the parties have been asking for support, not just Martin's Liberals. The NDP today asked people, who might not have voted for them in the past, to take a serious look at the party and to consider voting for them. The appeal isn't specifically toward those who have previously supported one particular party in the past.
Jack Layton is urging unhappy Liberals to take the New Democrats for a test drive and try the party "just this once."
"Lend us your vote while the party you've supported in the past cleans itself up," he said in a speech yesterday at Centennial College in Toronto.
"Vote for us just this once," Layton said, to ensure that "progressive" people upset by Prime Minister Paul Martin's "incoherence, drift and dithering" have a voice in Parliament...
"Our call is for those millions of Canadians out there who are disaffected, they want change," Layton said...
...he also reached out to "progressive" Conservatives who might be worried about the direction of the party.
"If you voted in the past for the prudent, step-by-step progress, there is nothing of that in Stephen Harper's party today," he said.
Both this and Martin's call (mentioned in the previous article) are for people to vote for their party. I prefer the NDP call, though, and not just because it is from the NDP (although I suppose that helps). It isn't looking to talk to just one type of voter, it is talking to voters who might have voted in several ways in the past. And I think the NDP has a much more "progressive" history than the Liberals do, even though Martin is calling for votes from progressives.
However, I realize everyone will make their own choice. Please do at least check out the NDP platform, as well as the platforms of the other parties, especially if you are still not sure how you will vote, so that you can compare and contrast where the parties stand when making your decision.
If you like what you have seen about the NDP consider voting for them. The platform will give you a better idea of what policy the NDP is putting forward.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine claims his main concern with the Conservative aboriginal policy is a perceived possibility of a change in two First Nations agreements (even if that change appears to be positive). It's funny timing though.
Most of the Conservative policy on First Nations has been around a long time -- going back at least to the policy convention they held in March 2005. Chief Phil sounds a little bit like somebody who is out to help the defenders of the status quo. The status quo, which incidentally doesn't match up with any native tradition I know about, is that there is great focus and fanfare on Phil's position of "National Chief." There's a lot of centralization of power, not just in that organization but also in the archaic Indian Act.
Chief Phil picked a funny target. If self-government, respect and empowerment of aboriginals is his primary concern, why would he ignore some of these Tory promises for aboriginals:
- Support of the development of individual property ownership on reserves to encourage lending for private housing and businesses.
- Recognize the contributions of Aboriginal veterans, and redress 60 years of inequity by implementing the resolution of the House of Commons to acknowledge the historic inequality of treatment and compensation for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit War Veterans, and take action immediately to give real compensation to these veterans in a way that respects their service and sacrifice.
- Replace the Indian Act with a modern Legislative framework which provides for full devolution of full legal and democratic responsibility to Aboriginal Canadians for their own affairs within the Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. [emphasis mine]
There are many more. It's empowerment. It's the sort of respectful policy that, if it had come from a Liberal (and it hasn't), Phil Fontaine would be gushing over it. Why is Phil turning a cold shoulder on full legal and democratic responsibility as well as better policy and new and stronger rights for First Nations people? You'll have to ask him.
Sask Party Leader Brad Wall demanded earlier today that Premier Lorne Calvert clarify Saskatchewan's position on Jack Layton's promise before a northern Ontario audience to slap a federal export tax on oil and gas in "retaliation" for the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S.
Resources Minister Eric Cline responded on behalf of Saskatchewan's NDP government and the NDP federal candidates trying to gain back seats in the province after being shut out in 2004:
I think all of us expected it would come down to this. Paul Martin is telling New Democratic Party supporters they should vote for the Liberals. Now, everyone will see fit to vote as they want, but I get very tired of Martin trying to tell people they need to vote for the Liberals.
Prime Minister Paul Martin is asking New Democrat voters to form a "coalition" at the ballot box next week to avert a Conservative government and save Canada's social programs.
"There's got to be a coalition of progressive voters," Martin said in an interview with CBC TV yesterday.
"I think that that is the position that an awful lot of people who support the NDP are going to find themselves in. If they vote NDP, then obviously that's not a progressive vote that's going to win out, and the option to that is Stephen Harper, and I think a lot of people are going to take that into account."
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Seems I heard it during the last election. Well, I hope people vote for the parties they support, not for who Paul Martin thinks they should vote for. Martin is only interested in the NDP when it looks like the Liberals might lose or when he needs to pass legislation. Who does he think he's kidding? If you want NDP values (which are always more progressive than Liberal ones) represented in Parliament, then vote for the NDP, not the Liberals. And since when is Martin a progressive, anyway?
Some progressive legislation was passed in the last Parliament. That was because there were NDP MPs, not because NDP voters voted for the Liberals. I think the NDP got a lot done seeing as it didn't hold the balance of power, but with the balance of power we might well have got more done. And that is a large part of why Jack Layton has spent a lot of time telling people they have a third option. The NDP is not a party that is going to form an automatic coalition. We'll take the election as it comes and then decide who to work with (if it is one party) afterward.
If Martin was really concerned about issues such as representation based on proportion of the vote (as he seems to be insinuating here) he could have had his government take a good look at proportional representation. That way parties get a number of seats close to the percentage of the vote they got...and then people can form alliances after the election.
I'm sorry Mr. Martin, but you won't be seeing my vote!
Marcie Abramovitch grew up in Ottawa where she now blogs as Politicagrll
Marcie is 32 years old. She has volunteered within social movements and in elections for almost 15 years and barely remembers a time when she wasn't interested in politics. She is a member of the NDP and has an honours BA in political science.
Glyn Evans has lived in central Alberta most of his life, except for a four-year stint when he was younger in Swaziland and about five years in British Columbia.
He works in the engineering field and enjoys writing in his spare time. His blog is called Zaphod's Heads
Alan McLeod is a 42 year old lawyer in eastern Ontario who operates two blogs, Gen X at 40
and A Good Beer Blog
He enters this
election as a non-committed left-centrist whose vote could go anywhere from red Tory to Green. He has worked in all levels of the public sector and also in the private world over the first half of his career.
Kate McMillan is a freelance commercial artist living in rural
Saskatchewan. Ideologically right of centre, she has no formal political connections (including membership) with any of the current federal parties.
She runs the popular blog smalldeadanimals.com
and is a group member of the well-known U.S. politics/news blog Outsidethebeltway.com
as well as the Shotgun blog
of Western Standard magazine.
Twenty-six-year-old Liam O�Brien is from Buchans, N.L. Holding a combined honours degree in journalism and history, and a law degree, Liam is currently articling in St. John�s.
When not working, hunting, fishing or writing, Liam focuses on graduate research in Newfoundland history and his blog, Responsible Government League
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