Wishing everyone the best of the holiday season and all the best for 2009.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Here's my letter to the Vancouver papers, the Sun and the Province:
Stephen Harper has brought the current parliamentary conundrum on himself. He was given a mandate to try to make a minority parliament work. Instead, he chose to govern as though he has a majority.
Last week’s horrendous economic statement included an attempt to cripple the opposition parties by removing their public financing, as well as a number of other far-right wing measures that showed no sign of conciliation at all with the opposition.
With this, Harper’s continual baiting of the opposition with confidence votes finally went too far, and like the small kids in the schoolyard standing up to the bully, the opposition decided to fight back. Harper no longer has the confidence of the house, and has no right to govern.
If he really cared about anything more than power, instead of proroguing parliament thus leaving it inactive during a time of economic crisis, he would have accepted his fate, and offered to cooperate with the coalition. He must go, and if I were a Tory, I’d want him gone as party leader as well.
Posted by Stephen K at 8:09 p.m.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
As I said after the election, I am extremely upset at the unjust nature of our electoral system. It is a system where Harper almost received a majority with the support of 22% of registered voters. I believe that we urgently need reform of our electoral system. I want to do something about it, I have joined Fair Vote Canada, and urge other progressives of all stripes to do so as well.
Here is an outstanding op ed piece on the urgent need for electoral reform by Ed Broadbent in the Globe and Mail.
It was a bad day for Canadian democracy – more unstable, unrepresentative government.Read the entire article here.
If Tuesday's vote had taken place with an electoral system such as those in the vast majority of democracies, Canadians would now have the prospect of a stable centre-left coalition government, with a majority of seats in Parliament representing a majority of the popular votes. Instead, we will continue with a right-of-centre government rejected by a substantial majority of Canadians, elected by a mere 38 per cent of the people, with not a single MP from Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. Federalist parties got more than 50 per cent of the votes in Quebec, but the Bloc Québécois received two-thirds of the seats.
When, oh Lord, will we wake up? Why do we persist with a 19th-century electoral system designed for two parties long since rejected by more than 40 multiparty democracies throughout the world? When a party with just over a third of the vote gets to govern, and one party, the Greens, doesn't get a single MP although nearly a million people voted for it, is it any wonder that only 59 per cent of Canadians bothered to vote on Tuesday, the lowest turnout in our history?
We need change, and we need it soon. Most European democracies have successful systems of proportional representation. And a system such as those in Germany, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales would work well in Canada, combining proportionality with an individual MP for each district. Our Parliaments would be both more representative and more stable.
Posted by Stephen K at 5:10 p.m.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
Here is a letter to the Governor General from Stuart Hertzog of greenpolitics.ca, calling for the Governor General to wait before asking Harper to form a government, and wait for the possibility that the opposition might form a coalition. Please feel free to write your own letter, or or use this one.
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1
Telephone: (613) 993-8200
Toll-free: 1 (800) 465-6890
Fax: (613) 998-8760
A Coalition Government for Canada
Canadians have voted not to give the Conservative Party an overall majority in this election. The result clearly shows that an overwhelming majority of the voting public do not support the Conservative Party, and therefore do not wish to see Stephen Harper continue as prime minister of Canada.
Mr. Harper may petition you to be allowed to continue as prime minister with a parliamentary minority. I beg you not to grant his request immediately. Instead, I respectfully request that you stay your official permission until the four opposition parties, or at least those whose candidates have been elected to sit as members of the 40th parliament of Canada, are given time to try to form a coalition government.
I believe that a coalition government holding a majority in parliament would be in the best interests of Canada at this time. To allow Mr. Harper to continue as prime minister would have many damaging consequences that could undermine the peaceful order and good government of this country.
A minority Conservative government would expose Canada to policies that the majority of Canadians clearly do not want. They could diminish Canadian sovereignity by integration into a continental union with the United States, and further undermine the supportive social programs and civil liberties that Canadians citizens have come to enjoy.
Another minority government would frustrate those Canadians who have rejected Mr. Harper’s platform and past policies, possibly leading to civil unrest.
The functioning of parliament would be undermined by a continued minority government. Without a majority, the government would not be able to pass contentious legislation, rendering any debate leading up to these failures a waste of time. Loss of a confidence motion would lead to another costly election soon after this one, which would exasperate and even anger many Canadians.
Same parliamentary situation
Mr. Harper has not been able to use this election to capture a majority of seats in parliament, and a third attempt is likely to produce the same situation. A coalition government would open up the possibility of negotiated agreement between the parties as to which legislation would be introduced and passed in parliament, making for efficient use of members’ parliamentary time. The resulting legislation likely would be acceptable to a wide range of Canadians.
Clearly, a coalition government is in the best interests of Canada at this time. I therefore humbly beg and beseech you to consider my request, and using your reserve powers, not agree to Mr. Harper’s request to continue at least until the other parliamentary parties have had time to negotiate a coalition.
Yours for a free and democratic Canada,
Posted by Stephen K at 9:48 a.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
Obviously, I'm extremely disappointed with the results from last night, and with those Canadians, obviously a lot of them, who are not neoconservatives, yet voted to re-elect a neoconservative government. That said, I have a few thoughts as to where we go from here:
1) The opposition parties must put aside partisan differences and agree to form a coalition, then approach the Governor General with this willingness to govern in the best interests of the country. greenpolitics.ca is all over this.
2) We need proportional representation, and we need it bad. I'm going to join Fair Vote Canada.
3) Last night's election had the lowest voter turnout, 61%, in Canadian history. In future elections, progressives need to get the vote out, especially the youth vote. I firmly believe that they higher the voter turnout, the more progressive our government will be.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:37 a.m.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
I went to two candidates forum in Greater Vancouver. The first one, open to the first candidate from each party in the Vancouver area who signed up, was about global poverty, and was sponsored by Engineers Without Borders and Make Poverty History. None of the Vancouver-area candidates wanted to sign up for this.
Yesterday, I went to an all-candidates forum focussing on mental health issues. The Vancouver-Centre candidates were there. Well, all except Con candidate Lorne Mayencourt.
Interesting how the Tories don't seem to want to show up anywhere where poverty might be mentioned. I dread the prospect of this government being re-elected.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:22 p.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
According to the CBC, 85 scientists from various fields have protested what they refer to as the politicization of science. Examples include climate change denial, opposition to Insite, and the firing of the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. This, to me, is one of the greatest sins of the Harper regime, along with bringing shame to our international reputation:
A group of Canadian scientists signed another open letter on Thursday, calling on political parties to end to what they see as the "politicization" and "mistreatment" of science.Read the entire article here.
The letter, signed by 85 scientists in the health, environment and technology fields, focuses particularly on a number of incidents involving the federal Conservative party, including the closure of the office of the National Science Adviser, the firing of the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and what it calls "political appointments" to the board of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada.
"While science is not the only factor to be considered in political decision-making, ignoring and subverting science and scientific processes is unacceptable," the scientists write.
"In light of these concerns, we are calling on all political leaders to articulate how they will work to improve Canada's track record with respect to the treatment of science and related due processes."
It's the second open letter from scientists published in the last week that has been critical of the actions of the federal Conservative party.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:08 p.m.
I want the Governor General not to
ask Stephen Harper to form the next government of Canada. Instead, I want her to
respect the wishes of the two-third majority of voting Canadians and ask your
four parties to try to form a coalition government.
Formal letter a necessity
I believe that the Governor General has the
power to do this, and that there may be historical precedent to
enable her to take this course of action. However, I understand that former
Governor General Ed Schreyer
believes that to do so she must have a formal letter signed by you, stating your
intentions. Please ask him about this.
What is required is a formal
submission, in writing, by the parties who have agreed to form a coalition
requesting that the Governor General recognize you collectively as the
government. If the Governor General feels that you could indeed function as a
coalition and that this would be preferable to any other alternative, such a
request could be granted.
This means that you must be ready to form a coalition by October 14th,
Will you each put aside your antipathies towards each other and work to
find your common principles and policies? Will you do this for the poor and
needy; for the workers; for business people; for the environment and other
species; and for the kind of Canada that the majority of Canadians clearly want?
Will you begin to explore this possibility, NOW?
Posted by Stephen K at 4:12 p.m.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
This is from Alice Klein in NOW Magazine. She points out that fortunately strategic voting isn't an issue in Toronto, but she does say that though she is an NDPer, there is much to choose among the opposition parties:
I live in Toronto-Danforth and proudly sport a Layton sign on my front lawn. I will be heartsick if his wonderful Toronto team doesn’t include my favourite women in politics, Olivia Chow, Peggy Nash and my own former MPP, Marilyn Churley. I urge you to please vote for these incredible contributors to our federal dialogue, who have earned our support with their talent, energy, commitment and integrity.Read the whole article here.
But that doesn’t mean the NDP is the best and only hope we have on all and everything. Dion has definitely outdone Layton on climate change.
Layton claims cap and trade is about making the polluters pay. But every credible expert agrees that any price on carbon will ultimately be paid for mostly by consumers. Cap and trade would be just like a tax, but, like the gas price surges we have all been experiencing, imposed in fits and starts, without warning. The two policies are actually complementary and should never have been counterposed. One is immediate and the other long-term.
Dion’s carbon tax plan starts out with a relatively small added cost that increases over time. The tax increase on energy use will be steady and foreseeable, allowing for innovation, planning and incremental investment over time. This is the new foundation for a sustainable economy that we need.
Cap and trade, on the other hand, involves the creation of a complex new regulatory and market system that targets the country’s largest emitters only. It takes a long time to get going (five to 10 years), its effectiveness depends on very technical aspects of implementation, and it’s highly subject to manipulation. While the cost is initially incurred by large emitters, most if not all of these costs are passed on to consumers.
“The argument that a policy capable of reducing carbon emissions will only affect producers is without economic merit,” reads an open letter released Tuesday to Canada’s federal leaders, signed by 200 economists teaching in Canadian colleges and universities
At the same time, although I think Dion’s carbon tax initiative is the best environmental policy ever put forward by a major party, that doesn’t mean I think everyone should vote Liberal.
Posted by Stephen K at 5:40 p.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
Also in the Straight, Stephen Harper refuses to answer questions about Insite. Shame!
Posted by Stephen K at 5:10 p.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
In a step away from tradition, Vancouver's alternative newsweekly the Georgia Straight has opted to express support for the candidates most likely to defeat a Conservative candidate. Then they follow with a list of candidates to support in each riding in Greater Vancouver.
In previous elections, the Georgia Straight has recommended the best candidates in each riding. Because the stakes are so high this year, we’re joining the cross-country grassroots movement to promote strategic voting and deny Harper a majority. We have examined the polls, looked at previous voting patterns, and assessed the impact of each party’s campaign in B.C. in 2008. After doing this, we’ve recommended the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Conservative.
In some instances—such as in South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale and Vancouver Centre—we’ve overlooked outstanding candidates because we don’t think they have the best chance of winning. With crucial international climate negotiations scheduled to begin next year in Copenhagen, this is no time for vote-splitting. Harper already has the support of some of Canada’s largest media corporations. The only way he’ll be stopped is if enough responsible citizens vote strategically on Tuesday (October 14). Here are Straight recommendations for 19 Lower Mainland ridings.
Read the whole article here.
Posted by Stephen K at 4:58 p.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
From Queer Thoughts, advocacy for strategic voting in BC from the creator of the Green Party climate platform, Guy Dauncey:
Here is Guy's letter that was posted:
Dear Friends,Voting on Vancouver IslandI know it hurts to vote against your instinct, to make that all-important democratic tick for a party other than the one you believe in.Under our antiquated, colonial, discriminatory, stupid, undemocratic, first-past-the-post voting system, however, when we split the progressive vote not two but three ways, every vote for a candidate who has little chance of winning makes Conservatives cheer.They are laughing all the way to a possible majority government, packed with Conservative MPs many of whom, If the disgraced MP Maxime Bernier is anything to go by, think climate change is a joke, a Rocky Horror Show of doom and gloom dreamed up by us eco-freaks.I have been a member of the Green Party in Britain and Canada, on and off, for 35 years. I wrote our Canadian Green Party's climate platform, that was awarded the highest rating by the Pembina Institute. And I am urging all people of a progressive hue not to vote Green, but to vote strategically, to put aside party loyalty for greater loyalty to our Planet Earth.We absolutely must stop the Conservatives from getting back into power. A Liberal/NDP/Green coalition government (hoping Elizabeth May gets elected) would get Canada back on track with committed action on climate change.In Vancouver Island North, this clearly means voting for Catherine Bell, NDP -In Nanaimo-Alberni, this clearly means voting for Zeni Maartman, NDP -In Nanaimo-Cowichan, this clearly means voting for Jean Crowder, NDP -In Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, it's a close race between Keith Martin (Liberal) and Jennifer Burgis (NDP)In Saanich-Gulf Islands, this clearly means voting for Briony Penn, LiberalIn Victoria, it clearly means voting for Denise Savoie, NDPThis is also what 120 of Canada's top climate scientists are urging us to do - vote strategically - see http://www.cbc.ca/news/
canadavotes/story/2008/10/07/ scientists-environment.htmlJust as a comment - if all these candidates won, with Jennifer Burgis in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, 100% of Vancouver Island's MPs in Ottawa would be women - which would be amazing.To all those committed Greens who think this means I am betraying my deepest principles - I apologize. Our undemocratic voting system turns good friends into bickering enemies, which is a drag. I have good green friends who are running for the Green Party, and I'd love to support them - but it just does not make sense.And yes, we all want to see Proportional Voting in Canada.We will NEVER get this with a returned Conservative government. But we MAY have a slim to good chance with a new progressive coalition government.with best wishes,Guy DaunceyVictoriawww.earthfuture.com
Posted by Stephen K at 10:00 a.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
From Canadian Cynic, we learn of a suspiciously timed endorsement of the Canadian economy from that bastion of market fundamentalism and austerity programs, the International Monetary Fund. I could go on but you can take my word for this -- the IMF are as evil a group of parasitic, opportunistic, right-wing cocksuckers as you're likely to find anywhere. And why do I suddenly care about the IMF? Because of this:
IMF sees Canada leading developed worldWow, is that timely or what? Here we are, only days from an ugly, hard-fought federal election, and the hard-right conservative IMF just happens to come out with a relatively upbeat report on Canada's financial state. Boy, I'll bet there are some folks who just can't wait to start touting that little gift for all it's worth.
Canada will outperform other well-off countries but can't escape a global slowdown as the world works through "the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s," the International Monetary Fund says.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:48 a.m.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
VANCOUVER–More than 120 of Canada's top climate scientists have signed an open letter criticizing Conservative government policy and urging Canadians to vote "strategically" for the environment in next week's federal election.
"Global warming is the defining issue of our time," said Andrew Weaver, a lead author with last year's Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
But Weaver said Tuesday that Stephen Harper's government "has yet to get engaged in the innovative and urgent policies that we need to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada."
This is shaping up to be "the rare election in which the environment is the issue," said the group's John Stone.
Read the entire article here.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:58 a.m.
Monday, October 06, 2008
The derogatory descriptions of Stéphane Dion are telling. He is "a geek." He is "professorial." He needs new glasses – better still, contact lenses.
This is teen talk. Shallow.
When the media chatter on Dion does occasionally move up a notch, it is said that he must improve his English, communicate better in both languages, with shorter sentences, and learn a gimmick or two to sell his convoluted carbon tax.
These are the obsessions of the age of slick marketing and the TV clip. Shouldn't we rather be asking if the leader of the Liberal party has integrity? Intelligence? Knowledge? Experience? Judgment? Courage? Vision?
Does he have anything useful to say about the economy? The environment? Medicare? Child care? Poverty? National unity? Urban Canada? Relations with the United States? Our Afghan quagmire?
Media distractions notwithstanding, Canadians would assess his personal qualities and platform positions.
They would do so, ideally, independent of the Republican-style Tory attack ads about his ostensibly weak and vacillating persona.
They would do so, ideally, untainted by what unnamed Liberals have been telling journalists (their numbers a mystery – half a dozen? a dozen? – and their possible links with the defeated leadership camps of Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff shielded from public scrutiny).
Dion has many shortcomings.
He is no orator. But nor is Stephen Harper, though the Prime Minister does read his speeches more authoritatively than he used to.
Dion's English is heavily accented. So is the French of many English Canadian politicians.
He lacks charisma. So does Harper. Sarah Palin has lots of charisma.
Dion is stubborn. So are many political leaders.
He is not good at delegating. Nor is Harper. Depending on one's point of view, the latter is either "a control freak" or "a strong leader."
Dion writes his own speeches. So did Bill Clinton.
The real rap against Dion is that he does not inspire people. Harper inspires fear. Take your pick.
Dion is disliked in Quebec. So were Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, for about the same reason: taking on the separatists.
Trudeau routinely won a majority of seats in Quebec but did so when there was no Bloc Québécois. Chrétien didn't, with the separatists fielding their own federal party.
Dion was widely derided in Quebec for writing and piloting the Clarity Act through Parliament in 2000. But he stood his ground, with dignity and an unshakable commitment to Canadian unity. He tethered the separatists to the rule of law, Canadian law. That was nothing short of a miracle.
Unlike Harper or Brian Mulroney, Dion never blurred the line between Quebec separatists and nationalists. He made that clear again on Day 1 of this campaign.
"I love Canada and I entered politics to keep Canada united," he began, before addressing fellow Quebecers: "My friends, I am as proud a Quebecer as Gilles Duceppe. That is not the subject of our disagreement. The subject of our disagreement is Canadian unity.
"I believe that in accepting help from other Canadians and offering our help to them, we are no less Quebecers. We are even more so.
"If we take Canada out of our hearts, we lose a part of ourselves.
"The role that we can play, that we should play in this Canada that we have built is more important than ever before, now that environment has become a global issue."
On climate change, Dion's leadership has been described as courageous or politically suicidal. But there's no denying the urgency of his mission, especially after Harper derailed Kyoto, a policy that was a carbon copy of George W. Bush's.
Harper's warnings that a carbon tax would be "insane" and "crazy," and would "screw Canadians," and "destroy" and "wreck" the economy constitutes fear-mongering. A similar tax has not ruined the Scandinavian economies.
Dion's commitment dates back to his days as environment minister. Chairing the 2005 UN climate-change conference in Montreal, he was "nothing short of magnificent," says Elizabeth May, who was there.
"The fact that we emerged with the very-best-case results after 36 hours of non-stop negotiation, at 6:30 a.m. the day after the conference was supposed to have ended, was 90 per cent due to the fact that Stéphane Dion did a really good job.
"He didn't buckle to the Bush administration walking out of negotiations in the middle of the night. He managed to hold things together. ...
"I would not hesitate to put him in charge of anything difficult and I wouldn't worry that he would cave," May told the Star's editorial board recently.
On the economy, Dion's 30-day plan of action may not be adequate. But there are no easy fixes and Ottawa's options are limited, given that Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have squandered the budget surplus.
But Dion's plan is more than what Harper is offering: himself as the Great Helmsman.
The Canadian economy is indeed better than America's, as Harper says, but it's not America-proof.
Dion is a sincere and honest politician, untainted by scandal. He is a polite and decent man. He is not mean or vindictive. He does not treat his political opponents as enemies. He does not question the patriotism of the critics of his Afghan policy, let alone call them agents of the Taliban. He is not proposing to send 14-year-olds to jail for life.
Vote against him because you do not like his policies, not because he is socially awkward or that he reads books.
Vote for Harper because you like his policies, not because he got himself photographed in a sweater in front of a fireplace.|
Posted by Stephen K at 10:02 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Siddiqui, for being the only mainstream columnist to voice the opinions of most of the people in my community who are outraged by the media's blatant bias against Stephane Dion. No matter what Mr. Dion does, says, or wears, it is derided, ridiculed and considered wrong by pundits, TV/radio hosts, newspaper commentators. These actions are beyond nauseating and assume Canadians are so shallow and ignorant that we cannot see beyond Harper's gimmics, the out-of-context sound bites in his party's attack ads, and the media's complicity in this campaign.I am a member of a party other than the Liberals. But bias is bias regardless of where one stands on the political spectrum. And I would safely bet that the majority of Canadian voters agree.This is another reason why Canadians should seriously consider switching to a new, proportionately representative electoral system. Our present first-past-the-post encourages hostility among party rivals instead of encouraging them to work together for the common good. In the crucial times ahead, we need more co-operation and less viciousness. This is what the media should be focusing upon instead of propagating the destruction of Stephane Dion, who is a good, honourable man genuinely wanting what is best for his country. That he is not a member of the corrupt, scandalous Old Boys' Club shows the obvious strength of his character; it is the reason why his party elected him their leader.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:52 a.m.
If the Conservatives do not get a majority in this election, Canada could still get a majority government. This could happen if the Liberals, NDP and the Greens (if they elect any members) formed a coalition. Such a coalition government would reflect the majority of Canadians who do not support the Conservatives. The Conservatives received only 36 per cent of the vote in the last election and, with a slight shift of fortunes, they may get less in the coming election. However, when the substantial majority of over 60 per cent gets split among four other competing parties, the Conservatives -- with a minority of the vote -- could wind up forming the government. This need not happen.
If for once the Liberals and the NDP set aside partisan politics and acted in the interests of Canada, it would be the beginning of a new era for us. In making this proposal, I am not suggesting a merger of these parties. The parties would remain as they are. They would only have to agree on a certain number of objectives and policies. On this basis they could form a majority government, or even a minority government with more seats than the Conservatives.
Cabinet seats could reflect the proportionate share of MPs from both parties. If the Liberals had 115 MPs and the NDP had 40, the Liberals would compose 75 per cent of the cabinet and the NDP 25 per cent. In such an arrangement, it would seem reasonable if Jack Layton became deputy prime minister.
At this stage, both of these parties need one another if they are to have a role in forming a government. Coalitions occur on a regular basis in Europe and in other parts of the world -- but so far, never in Canada, although the NDP and the Liberals did cooperate in the past. And it was at those times that some progressive legislation was passed. It is high time for this to occur again.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:38 a.m.
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Posted by Stephen K at 9:36 a.m.
Victoria, BC — Enough is enough! It’s time for the four Canadian opposition parties to come together in a coalition to stop the awful prospect of yet another mandate for what could soon prove to be the meanest, most secretive, most militaristic, and most ultra-right government in Canadian history.
This means that Jack Layton and Stephan Dion, the two major opposition party leaders, must immediately drop their egotistical pretence that they are competing equally with Stephen Harper to be Canada’s next prime minister.
Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe at least had the guts to point out during the second televised leaders’ debate that he isn’t in the running for that title.
Jack Layton’s claim throughout the campaign that he’s running to be Prime Minister is simply bravado. The NDP hit its ceiling of support a while ago and doesn’t have a hope of forming government at this time. The best Layton can hope for is to become leader of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition.
Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee?
By keeping up the pretence of being able to depose the Conservatives outright, these two party leaders are only allowing Harper to triumph over a divided opposition. They are placing their individual political ambitions before even the urgent historical imperative of tackling imminent global warming.
Instead of strutting around foolishly attacking each other like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee for the title of Leader of the Opposition, they should admit that the only way to prevent Harper from destroying the social fabric of Canada is to immediately form a Coalition of the Opposition with the Bloc and the Greens.
One Coalition candidate instead of four competitors in each of Canada’s 308 federal ridings would stop a Conservative victory. If only politics was that easy…
Already too late?
It may already be too late for such an idealistic and draconian tactic. But only a Coalition of the Opposition can prevent Canada from turning into a refuge for the (hopefully) soon-to-be-humilliated American ultra-right political ideology.
Last week’s leaders’ debate illuminated Canada’s political quandary in stark detail. Three million viewers watched as the four opposition parties — Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green — hammered away against a smug Stephen Harper, who only had to sit and bend his lips in the rictus of an artificial smile as the four opposition parties flailed away ineffectually against him.
Harper and his strategists know that they only need to “hold steady” and make no upsetting policy announcements to enable their 35% base of support of complacent, conservative, and sometimes bigoted Canadians carry them back to government against a divided opposition.
It’s an old tactic, and it’s working well for Harper as the incumbent government.
Currently, opinion polls are showing that the Conservatives are headed for at least another minority. Whether the election gives Steve Harper overall numerical superiority in Canada’s parliament remains to be seen. But no pollster is predicting anything less than a minority Conservative outcome.
Stephen Harper has already demonstrated that he can run the country as he wishes even without a parliamentary majority. The threat of sending Canadians back to the polls kept Liberal leader Stephan Dion supporting him, as Jack Layton pointed out in the debate, 43 times during his term as prime minister.
With the threat of another election once again removed, Stephen Harper can proceed with his ultra-right agenda of tax breaks for polluting corporations and the already affluent, with arts, environment, and social program cutbacks paying for vastly increased spending on police, prisons, and the military.
That might be a neoconservative’s dream of a ‘free’ society intent on ‘defending democracy,’ but to me it sounds like a vision of hell. It’s not the Canada I want.
Do it now, or do it later
After this election, the same situation will prevail. Which opposition party is going to bring down a minority government so soon after a gruelling and costly election? Unless the opposition parties form some form of working pariamentary coalition, they’re going to be back in the same frustrating situation.
Yes, I know it’s a stretch, but the bottom line is that Canada’s political parties cannot carry on with the charade that today’s competitive, first-past-the-post electoral system can accommodate more than two major political parties, at a time when four-and-a-half distinct national parties are vying for voter support.
The solution is to move to a proportional voting system, but that’s going to take some time to achive at the federal level. When it does come — and its arrival appears to be inevitable — coalition politics will be the order of the day.
Stand on guard… for us
So the opposition parties might as well get used to the new order of Canadian coalition politics, and use the opportunity presented by today’s stark electoral choice to pre-empt the apparently inevitable continuation of Stephen Harper’s American-inspired, ultra-right brand of mealy-minded conservatism.
Layton and Dion must put aside their antipathy and form a Coalition of the Opposition. Only this will secure the kind of Canada that most Canadians want. Serial democratic dictatorship, even dictatorship by minority rule, is no longer satisfactory. It is time to stand on guard for Canada — and for the Earth.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:21 a.m.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Cross-posted at the Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
This is long time NDP stalwart Gerald Caplan, in Ŧhe Globe and Mail, on the fate we will have in store for us, unless progressive forces unite. The important part is at the end in bold:
On the other hand, the night did not change the key dynamic of this election - that Mr. Harper will win handily, and whether he sneaks his elusive majority or not, he will govern for the next several years as if he has a majority. He will do whatever he wants in his lifelong quest for a smaller social state and larger security state.
Why? Because Mr. Dion will certainly be forced to step down, if he hasn't the wit to do so on his own. Mr. Duceppe may well join him, knowing that Mr. Harper helped him pull off his great political comeback, allowing him to leave on a high note. The NDP will be deeply in debt, having gambled a fortune in this campaign, and will be incapable of even muttering the word "campaign" for a long time to come. And Ms. May might have as many as one MP in the next House prepared to vote against the government.
Even though it is clearly a violation of parliamentary conventions, if it's a minority Mr. Harper can stoop once again to labeling every vote a non-confidence vote, since in our system there's no one to slap him down. But really, he'll hardly need to do so. No one will be looking for another fight for the foreseeable future. The Liberals, already a shell of their former selves, are likely to tear themselves apart as Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae go after whatever carrion is left on the dying bones.
I have no idea how it can ever happen, but unless the more-or-less progressive anti-Harper forces can come together in some form, conservatives who accumulate anywhere between 36-40% of the popular vote will continue to rule this country. Ask Jean Chretien. He won his three majorities exactly this way. Ask Stephen Harper. He recognized the secret of Mr. Chretien's success and is now busily exploiting it.
Posted by Stephen K at 4:04 p.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
With rare exception, I wonder where the media is on this. I also wonder if there are any numbers on this, in terms of how many Tory no shows there have been at all-candidates debates across Canada. Nevertheless, I did come across a couple of articles, one in the Toronto Star, and one in The Georgia Straight, Vancouver's alternative newsweekly.
From the Toronto Star:
While Prime Minister Stephen Harper was readying to take on opposition leaders in last night's nationally televised debate, several of his Conservative candidates were making themselves scarce at local debates.And according to The Georgia Straight, it's not only debates they are skipping, it's media interviews as well:
From the North to the Atlantic provinces and the Prairies, Tory candidates have been missing at a number of encounters.
The latest Conservative no-shows covered four Ottawa-area debates, sponsored by Canada's largest public service union and a weekly newspaper, at least one debate in Saskatchewan and two others in Winnipeg and the Northwest Territories.
The scarcity of one Conservative at a riding debate prompted a Calgary CBC radio station to launch a contest to locate Rob Anders, the Conservative incumbent in Calgary West, to prove he was still alive.
A Liberal party list of Tory candidates who have refused to participate in debates had grown to 17 across Canada by yesterday, before the no-shows registered this week.
So far, there’s been an epidemic of missing-in-action Conservative candidates. Last week, the Straight contacted every female Conservative candidate from the Lower Mainland, and none replied by deadline.
This week, Vancouver South candidate Wai Young didn’t return a call to discuss more than $500,000 in federal contracts that she received from the Conservative government. The CBC reported that Surrey North candidate Dona Cadman used RCMP to block reporters. On September 25, neither of the Richmond Conservative hopefuls showed up for an all-candidates meeting hosted by the Canada Asia Pacific Business Association.
Canadians need to hear and know about this. Why are Con candidates being so evasive? What do they have to hide? What might they accidentally blurt out that they are not supposed to? What are they afraid of being asked? What policies are they afraid of having to try to explain? The Cons are running for re-election as a sitting government, and we damn well have a right to hold them to account.
Posted by Stephen K at 10:57 a.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog:
Through, Avaaz, Canadian Musicians have put together a record called "You Have a Choice," to inspire Canadians to vote strategically in on October 14.
"These bright lights of the Canadian music scene are sending a message to voters: you can make a difference, and we need to come together and strategically support candidates who will defeat Stephen Harper and fight climate change," said Patel.
The Canadian artists who rallied together for this effort include: K-OS, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, Ben Kowalewicz of Billy Talent, Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace, Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, Jason Collett of Broken Social Scene, Darren Dumas of The Salads and the Arts Offstage Choir under the direction of David Reed. The song was written and produced by The Hundreds and Thousands' Ian Lefeuvre and K-OS. Lyrics all contributed by the artists. Additional keyboards are performed by Todor Kobakov from Major Maker. The track was mastered by Joao Carvalho.
Posted by Stephen K at 10:33 a.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog;
This is a couple of weeks old, but I want to make sure this is posted. Andrew Weaver, world-renowned climatologist at the University of Victoria, comes out in favour of strategic voting. From The Vancouver Sun:
Stepping into the political fray is almost unheard of for a scientist, especially one of Weaver's stature. As one of the world's pre-eminent climate scientists, he was part of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that collates and interprets climate change data for the world's governments and a lead author of its seminal assessment reports.Read the entire article here.
But so "incensed" is he by what he calls Prime Minister Stephen Harper's war on science and scientists, by the government's questioning of climate change and by the obstructionist positions the Tories have taken on the issue internationally, he felt he had no choice.
"I have historically refused to actually say anything like I've said to you," he continued. "But I recognize that [climate change] is the defining problem for humanity, and I recognize there's only one leader in Canada who's actually dealing with it."
Posted by Stephen K at 10:24 a.m.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
The speech that Mr. Harper gave in 2003 was one in which he urged this country to join the ‘coalition of the willing’, and thus involve us in the US led invasion of Iraq. One therefore has to ask several fundamental questions.
1) Were the Prime Minister to gain a majority, would there be a reversal of policy regarding Iraq, even if such an alteration did not promise the inclusion of Canadian combat assistance?
2) Does the Prime Minister still hold to the belief that Canada should have supported the invasion of Iraq?
3) Given what has occurred since, would he have supported Canadian involvement in the occupation of that country?
These are fundamental questions that I feel are highly relevant.
Posted by Stephen K at 9:39 a.m.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
Turns out Dr. David Suzuki is blogging it this election. Cool. And while he doesn't mention Harper by name in this piece, I think it's pretty clear from this he ain't voting for the Cons.
Leaders of nations worldwide know we are near more than one environmental tipping point. So they've met to hammer out agreements in crucial areas such as biodiversity loss and global warming. Canada itself has acknowledged, through national planning and legislation, the importance of issues such as species conservation and sustainable development. Many of these agreements and strategies must be addressed during the mandate of the government we elect on October 14.
In December 2009, Canada will meet with other nations in Copenhagen to adopt an international treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. In 2010, the country will also have to report on the progress it has made regarding the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's targets for reducing biodiversity loss. Over the next few years, Canada's government must also formally review its Species at Risk Act, implement a Sustainable Development Act, and tackle a number of other crucial environmental issues.
We need a government that will lead when it comes to caring for the finite world that gives us life and sustains us. We've already squandered 20 years since global warming was first recognized as an issue requiring immediate attention. We signed the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago, in 1998, and ratified it in 2002, but have done little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since then. On top of that, our oceans have more plastics and pollution but fewer fish, plant and animal species are disappearing at an accelerating rate, and we have failed to take advantage of the many opportunities sustainable development offers.
Even though the environment has at least been on the agenda during this election, pollsters tell us Canadians see the economy and health care as more important. But it's not a matter of one or the other. The health of Canadians depends on a healthy environment, as does a healthy economy. Everything is connected!
The economy is a huge issue, as we can see from the current meltdown in the U.S., which will surely have an enormous impact on our economy. But some politicians are exploiting our fears to imply that environmental protection and action on global warming are not compatible with a strong economy. What planet are these people living on?
That way of thinking is wrong on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin. A strong, sustainable economy is not possible without a healthy environment. Global warming, pollution, diminishing resources, and loss of species and habitat will cost us increasingly more as our already burdened health-care systems are stretched to the limit, as we run short of fossil fuels and land to grow food, and as ecosystems collapse, threatening the availability of clean water, air, and soil.
Those who argue that protecting the environment will hurt the economy may want to take note that none of the current economic problems in the U.S., here, or around the world has been caused by environmental-protection measures! On the contrary, countries such as Germany and Denmark that took measures early on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch to more renewable energy sources have seen substantial economic benefits and have been less vulnerable to the impacts of volatile fossil-fuel markets. We don't decry $90 a tonne tipping fees for landfills but we scream bloody murder at a suggested $10 a tonne to pollute the atmosphere with carbon. Sweden has a flourishing economy with a carbon tax at $150 a tonne!
We're a bit behind, but we can start to catch up by recognizing that environmental initiatives can give the economy a huge boost. We can keep sucking every last bit of coal and oil out of the ground until it's all gone, until it's all been burned and its carbon released into the air, or we can create jobs and economic opportunities by developing renewable sources of energy.
Yes, we can all make a difference through our own individual actions, by changing some of our habits, but we also have an opportunity to elect a government that will contribute to the kinds of large-scale changes needed for a sustainable world. As Canadians, we must hold the politicians to account and ensure that, no matter which party wins the election, we will have a government that shows foresight and leadership at home and abroad. That way we'll have a country that is thriving on opportunity rather than drowning in crisis. If we keep stalling, we won't have to worry about the economy, or health care, or anything else.
Posted by Stephen K at 6:20 p.m.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Cross-posted at the Stop Stephen Harper Blog:
Thoughts on Climate Change has nicely summarized an evaluation of the five major political parties platforms on climate change by the Sierra Club. As expected, the Cons fail:
Conservatives: F+View of the full report here."Comments: Needs to acknowledge the climate crisis, and stop obstructing progress at international meetings. It is essential for Canada to commit to an absolute reduction target with a 1990 baseline. Should abandon the misleading approach of intensity targets."
Bloc Quebecois: B"Comments: Develop a more detailed plan, and specify a price for carbon emissions."
Green Party: A-"Comments: A significant part of the revenue raised should be directed to achieve further greenhouse gas reductions."
Liberals: B+"Comments: Outline how the price on carbon will increase to a level to achieve a minimum 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Make a firm commitment to a target of a minimum 25% reduction in emissions by 2020."
NDP: B"Comments: Either include a carbon tax to put a price on carbon sooner, or provide details for how the plan will reach its target."
Posted by Stephen K at 10:26 a.m.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
The prestigious international anti-poverty organization Avaaz has called Canada one of the three worst offenders in the global fight against poverty.
"World leaders gather this Thursday at the United Nations to renew the fight against extreme poverty," reported an appeal from the organization. "But three countries -- France, Canada, and Italy -- are threatening to undermine the world's anti poverty efforts, by slashing their development aid budgets and breaking their international promises.
Avaaz accuses Canada of reneging on development funding. "In Canada, which kept 99.7% of its income last year, Stephen Harper seems more interested in winning his election than in upholding Canada's tradition of moral leadership," the organization charges.
It is urging its members and citizens around the world to flood the Canadian government with emails as part of "sending Harper, Sarkozy, and Berlusconi a clear signal that we expect them to keep to their word."
Posted by Stephen K at 6:29 p.m.
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
Stephen Harper is often accused of having a "hidden agenda" and yearning to form a majority government so he can implement it.
In fact, though, there is nothing "hidden" about what Harper wants, which is to change Canada fundamentally from a centre-left country into a small-c conservative, right-wing nation.
The only question is how fast he will be able to do.
If he wins a majority in the Oct. 14 election, the transformation may happen very quickly.
Indeed, Harper leaves no doubt what he wants to do.
"I said for a long time, and nobody listened to me for the longest time, that my goal was to make conservatism the natural governing philosophy of the country," he said in a recent interview with the National Post. "I think we're moving the country in the right direction and I also think our party is becoming, I wouldn't say centrist, maybe more pragmatic."
To drive home that theme, Harper told reporters on the campaign trail last week that he is fully convinced Canada has become more conservative over the last 20 years.
He also argued that Canadians are more accepting of his positions on crime, taxes, national unity and social policies relating to families.
Is Harper correct? Are we becoming more conservative, more right wing as a nation?
While Harper may have an argument when it comes to wanting better controls on government spending, especially after the runaway deficits under the last Conservative prime minister, Brian Mulroney, he is way off base when it comes to social issues.
For years, Harper has talked about the death of the Left.
Such talk is conventional wisdom in the conservative movement, especially in the United States, where Harper gets his political inspiration. He particularly likes the anti-government, socially conservative agenda espoused by the late U.S. president Ronald Reagan.
His dislike for Canada as a centre-left nation with strong social policies was well illustrated in a 1997 speech he gave when he was vice-president of the right-wing National Citizens Coalition to a conservative American think-tank. He told the crowd that Canada is "a northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it."
He went on to praise the U.S. right wing, saying: "Your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world."
In Harper's ideal world, he would give away most powers of the federal government, slash government funding of the arts (he claims ordinary folks don't care about the arts), get tougher on criminals and further reduce taxes.
Also, he would ease regulations on businesses, promote more free trade, allow more privatization of essential services, cozy up more to Washington and abandon Canada's traditional role as an "honest broker" on the world stage.
But as much as Harper would like to deny it, Canada has long been one of the world's most successful small-l liberal countries.
And as much as he would like to ignore it, most Canadians don't share his views. That's reflected in polls that show that, while the Tories are ahead, some 65 per cent of us support the centrist Liberals and the left-leaning NDP, Greens and Bloc Québécois.
In fact, small-l liberalism remains strong in Canada.
Polls consistently show we are a compassionate nation, strongly supporting universal medicare, tough environmental laws and significant foreign aid. We back same-sex marriage, abortion and a ban on capital punishment, issues on which conservatives find themselves opposed to the mainstream.
The left and centre-left want more money to fight poverty, to help natives, to create more daycare spaces. They back racial and gender equality, multiculturalism and don't consider the phrase "politically correct" to be a bad thing.
Not a bad list.
So, if voters in the centre and on the left fail to deliver a clear message to Harper on election day and hand him a majority government, will he really remake Canada in his own right-wing image?
For that, just listen to Harper himself, who, in the interview in which he touted a conservative governing philosophy, stated flatly: "I am not in politics to be loved, I'm in politics to get things done and make a difference."
That's not a "hidden" agenda.
Posted by Stephen K at 6:20 p.m.
Three top economists, led by Dr. Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, have released an analysis (attached) of the Conservative government's climate policy, saying that, as designed, the might make no headway whatever in reducing Canadian CO2 emissions.
Jaccard and fellow economists Nic Rivers and Jotham Peters, say the Stephen Harper plan is particularly faulty on two counts: it sets "intensity targets" that allow allow absolute emissions to continue going up, and it allows companies to purchase "offset" that completely absolve the firm of making any CO2 reductions itself. Both of these policies are proven failures in actually limiting or reducing the total emission of CO2.
The report, entitled "Assessing Canada’s 2008 Climate Policy," also calls into question the value of "emission targets" that are not linked to firm caps.
"Emission targets are meaningless by themselves and often a red herring. Some
environmentalists have applauded politicians for setting aggressive targets for GHG
reduction (called “stretch targets” or “aspirational targets”) and the media tends to focus
on these. As a consequence, many politicians select ambitious targets even while their
actual policies have negligible likelihood of achieving them."
In the current circumstances, all five Canadian political leaders have set emission targets for 2020 - calling for reduction of CO2 emissions of between 20 and 30 per cent.
But while the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party have all accepted the international benchmark date of 1990, the Conservatives have chosen a baseline of 2006. Because Canadian emissions rose between 1990 and 2006 by nearly one-third, that means that - even if successful - the Harper Conservatives would reduce emissions by only three per cent from 1990 levels.
Even that, however, is too optimistic, according to the Jaccard report's conclusioin:
"... it is highly unlikely that the policies of the government of Canada will achieve the target of reducing national emissions 20% below 2006 levels by 2020. The lack of an economy-wide emissions price and the allowance for 100% offsets for industrial emitters make it highly likely that emissions will be significantly higher than target levels in 2020 and indeed might even be close to today’s levels. Since the government claims that it is intent on achieving its 2020 emissions reduction target, it is difficult to understand why it does not immediately convert the intensity cap to an absolute cap and eliminate or severely reduce the offset provision. It also needs to extend its cap to cover all emissions in the economy."
Posted by Stephen K at 6:12 p.m.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Cross-posted on the Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
A couple of BC doctors involved with the fight against AIDS have slammed the Harper government's approach to Insite, one of them referring to the policy as genocide.
Posted by Stephen K at 10:40 a.m.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog:
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has just released The Harper Record, the most detailed and comprehensive analysis of the record of the Harper government yet released. I've just had a skim of it and I agree, it is very impressive. It contains detailed analyses of their performance in all policy areas, including the Harper government's own raison d'etre, crime policy. It also includes an overview of Harper's background. I strongly recommend checking it out.
Posted by Stephen K at 11:44 a.m.
Hello confused voter:I am so sorry that you still think it is unfair of our venerable CBC to thrash Dion and tow the Harper line. I can see you need a bit of background info on this. When Harper cheated his way into office with the collusion of the RCMP and unfortunately Jack Layton, the whole dynamics of politics changed. Harper is a US lobbyist sent to us and financed by the republicans and big business to open Canada for the US style unregulated casino like financial system. Chretien was ousted by Martin for not cozying up to big business and Bay St. enough. Martin tried to behave as if his agenda was the usual Liberal semi socialist program even though he too was in agreement with selling out Canada to corporate interests. After all, he was the one who put us in the Afghanistan combat role under US command, Enduring Freedom. We are not under the Nato umbrella, we are already embedded in the US army. That is why Dion had to agree to the mission extension; there is no way the Americans will let us go. The Americans also blackmail and unfairly interfere with other countries internal politics. Harper win was engineered by them, because Martin was not as compliant as this current puppet proved to be. Martin was the one who put us on the road with deep integration and the SPP where the goal is to merge us into the US. As it is, we have too many laws and safeguards preventing that from happening as yet. Harper for the past 2 and a half years was furiously working behind the scenes to harmonize whatever he can with US laws and regulations, at the expense of the public. Since that time when Harper sneaked his way into office, Canada the decent, tolerant, just country ceased to exist. Witness the relentless attacks and bullying that have been going on for the past two years. Is this the country you grew up in? When Dion was chosen as leader of the party, all the pro business people went ballistic. Their lovely plan of selling us to the US developed a major snag. Here was a man who is honest, principled, just and not in politics for personal gain, thus he became their chief nemesis. In other words, he is a mortal enemy to the crooks on the right, both of big oil and big business. A man you cannot bribe or intimidate is their worst enemy. We, who attended that famous convention chose him precisely for those qualities. We did not want a Martin clone in Ignatieff or a pro Israel, and by extension another American supporter to be the new leader. We wanted a man who would stand up for Canada and we knew Dion could do it. We wanted to change the party and return it to local control for the citizen's benefit. Two weeks after the convention the attacks started from the Cons. Have you ever wondered why they spent millions in the past years to assassinate Dion's character? Isn't it strange that they did not succeed in destroying him and like an energizing bunny he keeps on going because he knows HE IS RIGHT? He has a fully developed plan for the well-being of Canada and the other side is furious that nothing seems to faze him, not his own party's lack of faith or the whole negative press he gets, he just pushes on because HE IS RIGHT! You must learn that two-thirds of our media are in conservative hands and they do not want him to win. Harper offered them unregulated markets where they can fleece the public with impunity. You think they will be fair and just? All the polls paid by them is fabricated to sound that way, to discourage the voters and have them stay home. If the Liberals lose heart as a lot of them are, the feeling forced on them already is: "what is the use, Harper will win anyway." But why should they? The cons have no platform, no plan for Canada except to let the market destroy its safety net. The CBC is a government funded organization that is gutted from the inside, and the long time anchors like Peter Mansbridge and Don Newman gave up their objectivity long ago against being fired. Don't think Harper would not do it, he has a string of wrongful dismissals under his belt.What I am trying to say is use your head and use the internet wisely. You can find the truth easily, it is out there. The site to watch daily is The Turner Report, there you will get daily updates about the lies and shenanigans the conservatives are engaged in. Liblogs is another one, where you will read about all the outrages and happenings immediately as they occur. By the way, the only honest polling company belongs to Nick Nanos and he polls for CPAC. He was bang on with the last election results and he is the only one who does not manipulate the undecided numbers. Currently, the cons among decided voters lead at 36 per cent, the same as when they were elected in 2006, the Liberals are at 31 per cent despite the constant media barrage against Dion. Do you think there is not a concentrated effort to defeat Dion by the media? The NDP are at 22 per cent. Do you know what is the most important part of this poll? There are 20 per cent undecided voters!! Those people are waiting for the debates, they are waiting to see if anything happens like a major financial meltdown in the US or a new scandal, or Julie Couillard's book on Bernier released before the election date. There are too many unknown factors still to call this election won by the cons. Harper as a dictator may sound good to his blind followers, but this is a huge country with regional interests that cannot be run by one rigid ideology. So I will ask you to accept the fact that big business, big oil, the media and Harper are conspiring against the Canadian people. Knowing this, your duty for your and your children's sake is to go and help out with your local campaign and help however you are able. We need money and volunteers. This is the last chance for Canada to remain free; if we blow it this time will be an exploited poor region of a failing fascist empire. The slogan is WE WANT OUR CANADA BACK!! If you know any young people convert them to the cause, it is their future that is being given away. Allow Dion to return the country to its guiding principles: Peace, Order and Good Government. Let him fulfill his vision, Canada will be the richer for it.Klara Palotay
Posted by Stephen K at 11:17 a.m.
Cross-posted from The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.
I'm not going to post a speech from just any politician, regardless of affiliation, but I've always got time for Ken Dryden. (Yes, he's a hockey hero, but he's also a very smart man who in my humble opinion, who would probably make a better PM than any of the folks running for the position right now.)
H/t to Saskboy and others.
We’re now about a third of the way through this election campaign. What’s been happening up until now? Where does it all seem to be going?
Stephane Dion has been talking about our economy - our economy now and in a very changing world; about the environment; about poverty, what it does to people, to kids, and the need to engage that fight now.
But really, up to this point, Mr. Harper has controlled the message of this election. Yet, this message has often been odd and surprising.
Like their slogan: “We’re better off with Harper.” This is their slogan; their ad - “We’re better off - with Harper” - like saying “taking everything into consideration, despite all this or that, on the whole, really, probably we’d have to say, (“we’re better off with Harper”). Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Nothing energizing about it, nothing exciting. Nothing that makes you want to wake up in the morning and race into the possibilities of your day. Yet this is their message. Even in their dreams they can’t quite express anything stirring, anything big. Is this what being a Prime Minister is about? What Canada is about?
Then there’s the blue vest, the “Mr. Nice Guy” ads. Ad firms are paid millions to tell the story their client wants told. It’s much easier for them when it’s a new “product” or a new “person” launch. When the information they provide is the only information - when the public knows nothing else. The problem for Mr. Harper is that the public does know something else. They’ve been watching him for 2 ½ years and Stephen Harper, they know, may be lots of things, but he’s not a “nice guy.” He’s not.
Nice guys don’t cut literacy programs. Nice guys don’t cut funding to women’s groups, aboriginal groups, health and childcare and poverty and disability groups. Toying with them month after month, teasing them with silence and desperate hope. If, they say to themselves, if I don’t say anything, if I just go quiet, maybe I might get something. Please. Then crumbs, or nothing.
Nice guys don’t decide there’s only one voice in this country that matters. Not these voices of our communities. Not those of his own Cabinet or Caucus. Not voices in the arts who get their programs cut because they say things that might make us squirm. Not any voice competent and professional who disagrees - Linda Keen, Adrian Measner, Jean-Guy Fleury - who then feel the pulverizing weight of a Government machine come down on them just so they know: you don’t mess with “the vest”.
Arts groups, literacy and poverty and childcare groups - it’s the same story. Nice guys don’t make the weak weaker and the vulnerable more vulnerable.
Nice guys don’t act like there are Canadians and not-quite Canadians. Those who fit Mr. Harper’s understanding of how life is supposed to be lived, and those, Canadians too - single mothers, addicts, gays and lesbians - who don’t.
And nice guys don’t take someone else’s person, as he did Monsieur Dion, they don’t take their personality, their character, their life, what they’ve worked hard to build, what is decent and substantial and good. What they’ve earned. They don’t take that, twist it, stretch it, caricature and distort it. They don’t buy air time and in front of millions of people, assassinate it. And pretend, ahh, that’s just politics.
Oh, and the puffin and the poop - oops, sorry. Didn’t mean it. Just like I don’t mean all the other just-as-new ads on the Conservatives’ website, that reach tens of thousands just like the Mr. Nice Guy ads on TV, that are just as abusive as the others in the pre-Mr. Nice Guy time.
If it quacks like a duck, put a blue vest on it, it’s still a duck.
But who says you need a “nice guy” to be a Prime Minister? It’s a tough, often disagreeable job. As they say about war - with the enemy all around, who do you want in that foxhole next to you. In politics, in sports and business, some not-so-nice guys are good leaders and win, and some nice guys are good leaders and win too. And some nice guys and not-so-nice guys fail. Being a good leader isn’t about that. It’s something more.
From these first 13 days, it is clear that Mr. Harper has decided this election is about him. He’s saying to Canadians: I’m a leader. I know what I want - I’m decisive - I deliver. And that, he says, is leadership. And in uncertain economic and global times, he says, Canadians need that and want that. But what Mr. Harper confuses is the posture of leadership, and the substance of leadership. Leadership is . . . leading - getting others to follow. But critically, fundamentally, leadership is direction. It is going . . . somewhere. The question is “where”? Leadership matters because the “where” matters, and it’s the job of a Prime Minister to know better than anyone else what the best “where” is. For the country. For your life and my life. That’s real leadership.
As a golfer, I can hit the ball a long way. The problem is I can’t hit it in the right direction. And a ball hit - decisively, competently - in the wrong direction is a ball that goes further and further and further into the woods. History is filled with leaders who have competently, decisively gone in the wrong direction with disastrous results.
Where is Mr. Harper’s “where”?
He doesn’t seem to want to talk about that. In making this election all about him, he is doing his best to make this election about nothing. It’s his “Seinfeld campaign.” But in 2008, how can that be? This is a time when the cost of carbon economically and environmentally is forcing the world’s countries to re-imagine the future. To reward the constructive and punish the destructive. To act. To change. To create the hard-won possibilities to compete in the economy ahead.
It’s a time when the gap between rich and poor is growing. When too many Canadians live the way no Canadians should have to live. When too many don’t have a real chance at a real future.
It’s a time when our children need more and better opportunities to learn - when they’re young and need a good start; later in college and university. A time when aboriginal peoples finally and forever need the chance of a full Canadian life.
It’s a time when, as Canadians, we need to think about ourselves differently. We are 33 million people - one of the world’s largest economies; one of the world’s richest nations; with a land mass so big and abundant amidst a world of countries that have neither. We are safe, secure and stable; we can count on tomorrow, plan for tomorrow, imagine and build tomorrow, when just about everyone else cannot. With our French and English past, with our present where people from almost everywhere live within our borders - we are a country which has learned to live with difference, accept difference, learn from difference; live the global world of the future, when to much of the rest of the world difference still means guns and blood.
Countries come and go, prominent at one time, pushed to the sidelines in another. History is a long time. And undeniably, whatever Canada has been in the past we will be far more in the future. The world knows that. We need to know that too. And our leaders need to know that, and embody it and act that way in everything they do.
There is more to us, more to Canada, than tax breaks as the answer for everything. More to Canada than life as pieces and parts - East; West. Quebec; the Rest of Canada - firewalls everywhere. More to us than Mr. Harper’s small, pinched vision of ourselves and our future.
“Better off with Harper”?
We are more than this.
This election is about something.
Stephane Dion may get a lot of criticism, but he is trying to make this campaign about something. Mr. Harper is not.
Leadership, real leadership, is first of all, most of all, knowing what’s important - then focusing on it, sharing it with others, then determinedly, relentlessly, together, getting there.
I don’t believe in “hidden agendas.” I find arguments like that just too easy. I just want to know where Mr. Harper’s going. Tell me. Tell us. What is your vision of this country? How should it work? What should it be? What is the best “US” now and for the future? How does Canada become what Canada can be? Tell us. We need to know. Tell us how, person to person, we, as Canadians, should relate to each other? What we can expect of others, and what others can expect of us? Tell us what role government should play, and shouldn’t? Tell us about families, in busy, complicated real, not fanciful lives, how as parents we give ourselves and our kids a real chance at all that’s in us to be. Families are not just card games with kids - tell us. We need to know.
And once you’ve told us that, tell us why you’re not saying to Canadians that to realize this vision, one you believe so important to our present and future, so unbelievably exciting to you and to all of us, that you need us, all of us, that you need a majority to do it? Say it, say it, why wouldn’t you? Shout it from the rooftops - - after you’ve told us your vision of the country, and for the country. After you’ve decided this campaign is not about nothing.
Mr. Harper wants this campaign to be about nothing because on all those things the campaign needs to be about, he has nothing to offer.
This campaign is NOT about Mr. Harper. It is NOT about him. It is about our present and future economy, about climate change, poverty and learning. It is about all Canadians having a real chance. It’s about encouraging, allowing, seeking out voices different from our own, that make us smarter; that bring us to our best and keep us from our worst. It’s about our understanding of ourselves as a country, about the importance of Canada in the world of our future. This is a campaign about BIG, IMPORTANT things.
In an election about nothing, Mr. Harper will win. In an election about something, we will win. We have 23 days.
THIS IS NOT ABOUT HIM. THIS IS NOT ABOUT NOTHING.
Posted by Stephen K at 10:29 a.m.
Monday, September 22, 2008
You have to hand it to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and their chutzpa at portraying themselves as pro-family. Virtually all their policies work to undermine the security of families and their quality of life. Unless, of course, you are talking about the families of the wealthy and privileged who have received about 70 per cent of federal personal tax cuts over the past 10 years.Read the entire article here.
In fact, middle class families have been stripped of social program benefits during that time and almost all of that money "saved" has found its way into the pockets of people who don't need it.
Along the way, Canada has witnessed the biggest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in its history.
Of course Stephen Harper is counting on all those facts being swept away with cozy, sweater-clad visuals of him sitting down with a family in Burnaby. Neo-cons also get a huge amount of traction from their so-called pro-life stand. But while they are keen to protect the fetus, as soon as it is born the kid and its parents are on their own.
Posted by Stephen K at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
“The Harper government has a very strong economic ideology,” Alexander told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “That’s a perfectly legitimate idea, but in their hands it’s a dogma. And if you take it as a dogma, then you simply can’t recognize that a problem as terrifying as addiction has its roots in the kind of fragmentation that is inevitably produced by free-market economics.
"So they have to go back to the old idea that the reason we have people who aren’t behaving properly is drugs—that drugs have a magical quality of taking over human beings who would otherwise be normal guys shopping at Wal-Mart.”
Read the entire article here.
Posted by Stephen K at 6:35 p.m.
Posted by Stephen K at 10:31 a.m.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I wasn't going to, but I have decided to bring back my Stop Stephen Harper blog, for the duration of the federal election campaign anyway. I still have a disdain for partisan politics, and I want to make it clear that this is a non-partisan blog devoted, at the very least, preventing Stephen Harper from getting a majority on October 14. I never thought the Cons would actually threaten to get a majority of seats, but to my disdain some polls point in that direction.
This blog will pay attention to any developments during the campaign that shed light on the threat that Stephen Harper poses to the fabric of Canadian society, in addition to reminders of exactly what Stephen Harper has stood for in the past.
Because the Stop Stephen Harper blog is no longer on the Prog Blog blogroll, posts will be cross-posted on this blog.
Fellow progressive Canadians, at this point in time, I feel a little uneasy about our future. Oh, I know no matter what happens, we will somehow endure. However, even if the Harpercons only win a minority government, the conventional wisdom seems to be that they will be able to govern as if they have a majority, because they CPC will be well funded, and the other parties will be broke. I cannot bear the thought of this. I don't know what the future will hold, but I do know that I will know that I and many others will not be willing sacrifice the fabric of Canadian society without a fight. Even if opposition parties are disabled, grassroots opposition to the ideological agenda of the Harpercons will and must be massive.
First things first, though. There is an election to fight.
Posted by Stephen K at 10:11 p.m.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
From the Guardian:
Nelson Mandela last night broke his silence on the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, saying the country was suffering due to "a tragic failure of leadership".
The former South African president and political icon made the remarks at a dinner in London last night attended by Gordon Brown and Bill Clinton. Mandela is reported to be deeply troubled by events in Zimbabwe which have sent thousands of refugees into South Africa, but he has been careful not to create a rift with his successor as president, Thabo Mbeki, who has emerged as Robert Mugabe's most important protector on the African continent.
"We watch with sadness the continuing tragedy in Darfur. Nearer to home we had seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe," Mandela said.
And from Africasia.com on Archbishop Tutu:
Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu called on South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to "turn the screws" on Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe if he does not step down following Friday's polls.Great. Now we just need Mbeki to say something worthwhile.
Tutu, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, said Mbeki's "softly-softly" approach to handling the crisis "has not delivered the goods" and urged the veteran Zimbabwean leader to step aside.
"One is saying 'oh for goodness sake Mr Mugabe, you can end this tragedy, step down,'" he told Channel Four television, describing Zimbabwe as "a dream that has turned into a nightmare".
He also called on African leaders, who meet next week in Egypt for an African Union summit, to declare that Mugabe is an illegitimate leader.
"Our president should have admitted that this softly-softly approach, quiet diplomacy has not delivered the goods and everyone would support him if he now turned the screws on his colleague Mr Mugabe," Tutu said.
Asked how the pressure on Mugabe should be intensified, he added: "First thing would be for Mr Mbeki and all the other leaders to say, 'you're not the legitimate president of Zimbabwe and we will not recognise you'".
Later steps could include imposing a blockade and banning national carrier Air Zimbabwe from flying over neighbouring countries, Tutu suggested.
Posted by Stephen K at 7:08 p.m.