Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Proroguing Parliament Or Cancelling It Altogether?

I still remember the day when a few dozen people marched through the streets of downtown Vancouver to protest delaying the return of federal parliament for a few weeks until after we hosted the Winter Olympics. The allegation was that Stephen Harper was trying to subvert our democracy and silence the voices of the opposition. The whole Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (allegedly "grassroots") campaign proved to be over-estimated in their numbers and severely lacking endurance as the Tories won a comfortable majority a year later.

I'm curious, all these tens of dozens of British Columbians who were furious at Stephen Harper for delaying the legislature by a few weeks to host the Olympics, where were you today when Liberal Premier Christy Clark cancelled the entire fall session of our provincial legislature? Where is your outrage? When will we have the march through downtown? I could not even begin to imagine how much our national media would lose their shit if Harper cancelled the entire fall session. Yet Christy Clark cancels an entire session, and the backlash elicits barely a whimper.

It is a joke that our legislature in BC will only sit for 36 days this year. Come on people, stick to your principles! If proroguing Parliament for a few weeks is a vicious attack on our democracy, cancelling Parliament for the whole session has to be many times worse, right? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kady O'Malley Is Stephen Harper's New Lap Dog?

News broke today that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to once again prorogue government for a few weeks this fall and will present a new throne speech. You may recall the last time the PM prorogued government during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, opposition MPs (led by Ignatieff) went bananas and decried the move as destroying our democracy, blah, blah, blah. This in turn inspired some college kid to start a Facebook page against prorogation, which tried to organize mass protests across the country (with plenty of promotion from the CBC) where attendance fell far short of expectations. A year later we had a new election and Stephen Harper won a majority government, proving this "grassroots movement" had died off, or never really existed.

Now the PM is proroguing again in 2013, and the same day this announcement was made, CBC blogger Kady O'Malley wrote a piece titled "3 reasons not to freak out over the upcoming prorogation" where she writes in her opening paragraph "let's all take a deep breath before hauling the anti-prorogation picket signs out of storage and hitting the barricades, shall we?" She then proceeds to outline why it is perfectly reasonable for the Prime Minister to prorogue parliament, in a perfectly rational article. Kady is not well known for writing articles favourable of Prime Minister Harper, where bloggers like me have long complained about her flagrant left wing bias as a CBC employee. Ironically if you scroll down to the comment section of her latest post, it seems as though her readers have turned on her (at least for this piece), all but accusing her of being a lap dog for the PMO. Here are some of the comments:

"Posted no doubt at the request of the PMO Commissar, to try to placate the masses."

"The headline itself is meant to sway your opinion."

"This article courtesy of The Criminal Party of Canada."

"Kady O'Malley...is there a senate appointment upcoming for you that we don't know about?"
-rink rat

"Kady, when did you go on the PMO payroll? CBC isn't even under direct control yet but you sound like you're reading from a Harper script."

"Perhaps Kady has lost her spine now that the conservatives control the CBC. We don't want to speak badly about our bosses lest we find ourselves on the street"

"If you seriously believe and or support anything that Stephen Harper says, you are in need of counselling."

-Citizen Joe

Wow, these are the type of comments generally reserved for Conservative writers, and I didn't even read them all! It feels like Kady almost deserves some credit for writing this piece, judging by the animosity coming from blowhards who normally agree with her. She was among the "CBC bloggers" who went bananas in 2010 and pushed the anti-prorogation agenda as hard as anyone in the national media. Now she believes it is reasonable to prorogue parliament, or at least when the PM has a majority government.

The times sure are a changing!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Justin Trudeau "Raises The Bar Of Transparency"?

Only a Liberal could gouge charities for hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees, then get praised by his colleagues for "raising the bar of transparency" (c/o Dominic LeBlanc) when he's called out profiting so much from non-profit organizations. Since becoming a Member of Parliament, he has charged $277,000 for 17 speaking engagements (including $20K from the Canadian Mental Health Association), but being the benevolent man his is, he's offering all of them a refund. Then you read through the comment section of this story on the CBC website, where he is heaped with even more adoration while the charity that originally asked for it's money back is under attack. How dare they ask for a refund! Justin is totally worth it!

Shortly after he was anointed as the new Liberal leader, the Conservatives released a new "attack ad" that featured a Justin Trudeau "strip tease", only to look silly when it was disclosed that he did so at a charity auction. Now one has to wonder if he was charging an appearance fee at that charity auction. Now that we know that he doesn't just attend these events out of the goodness in his heart, that he needs to get paid a hefty sum of money to help raise money for charity. What a great man....

It should also be noted that he did not offer refunds to these charities after he became Liberal leader; only after he came under attack for charging so much money to charities did he become so charitable himself. Is that really "raising the bar"? When I read this story, it really feels like the bar has rather been lowered.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So What Happens If The Seatless Premier Loses Byelection(s)?

Last night the BC Liberals shocked the world and won a large majority, the only snag being that Premier Christy Clark failed to win her own seat. Now she'll have to ask one of her elected members to quit so she can run in their riding in a byelection. The big question is what happens if she loses? Will she have to ask someone else to quit, then run in another byelection? Or could she just do her entire term from outside the legislature?

This could yet get embarrassing for Christy, who is running a party with a long list of things they have done to piss people off. Being in power for that long means there will be a continuously growing mass of actions and inactions that have angered the voting public. Whoever runs against Clark in the byelection will have plenty of ammunition for reasons voters should punish the party. Voters who choose to punish the Liberals won't have to worry about electing NDP government. Voting against Christy Clark in byelections will not make "Tricky Dix" the new Premier.

Wherever Christy does decide to run, the BC Conservatives should pour everything they have into that fight. Find the highest profile person possible, preferably someone who lives in the riding. Get out all the volunteers, call all your financial contributors, even take out a bank loan if necessary. Let's put a Conservative into the BC legislature.

Liberals Win, Christy Loses

Those pundits who late Tuesday night declared Christy Clark to be a new "political giant" and "comeback kid" might have wanted to stay up a little bit longer to see if she won her own seat before declaring her to be a historic champion. Most party leaders who win a majority government also win their own seat, right? Most of the people who actually had Christy Clark on their ballot voted for someone else, even as the non-NDP party won a majority.

If this BC election result proves anything, it is that negative advertising works (most of the time). The NDP refused to run attack ads for most of the campaign, while the Liberals ran continuous attack ads since Christy came to power. I guess winning a majority gives her power even if she did not win a seat in the legislature? It seems stupid that the NDP would select a leader who was kicked out of government for forging documents. There has to be enough candidates to choose someone with a clean slate.

I won't lie, I voted NDP in this election. Not because I wanted NDP government, but because I strongly believe our ruling party needs to be replaced. The Conservatives completely choked. That was the party I wanted to vote for, but they did not earn it. It was a complete disaster. John Cummins, nice guy though he may be, is done. I voted Liberal in 2009, even after the carbon tax, and I have felt like shit about it ever since. You could write a book on how the BC Conservatives squandered this campaign from the beginning, starting with fundraising.

I can only hope Christy quits after her own loss and goes back to the radio, but I know that won't happen. When I went to bed, the NDP led Vancouver-Point Grey by 316 votes with 140 of 147 polls reporting.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Voted NDP...

I honestly never thought that I would say this, but today at the advance polls in British Columbia's provincial election, I voted NDP. This would not have happened in a perfect world, but the biggest priority for me in this election is ousting the ruling Liberal Party from power and this is the most efficient way to do so. It was more about a strategically placed protest vote than about me converting to socialism. There was always the option of spoiling my ballot like our absent-minded Premier Christy Clark did, but ultimately I preferred to vote for the party with the highest probability of kicking Christy out of office.

The BC Conservatives have no chance at all in my riding, furthermore they have but a minimal chance in any electoral district. Their attempt at fundraising was a disaster, giving them very little money to run a campaign. There were no commercials, very few campaign signs, and they received very little media coverage. In my riding, there were zero Conservative signs. There wasn't even a Conservative candidate until the 2nd week of the election (and even then his entire campaign seemed nothing more than a Twitter account). Most people in BC won't even know the name of their local Tory candidate until they see it on their ballot on election day. That's not how you win an election.

If the NDP are able to win next week, that will be better for the long term future of the BC Conservative Party. They need to shake loose some donors from the Liberals, a task far easier to do when the Libs don't control the levers of power. I'm not normally the type to demand a change in leadership after a single election, but John Cummins will need to be replaced. They need someone with enough personality to raise money, which is sorely needed to run a campaign. I live in a riding that is held by the Tories federally, and yet we didn't even have a Tory candidate until day 10 of the campaign? This election date was set 4 years ago. I didn't hear or see a single advertisement. That's an F. You can't just open a Twitter account and call that a campaign. I'm sorry.

We will see if the NDP pulls out a win here. When the NDP is running government, opposition campaign platforms write themselves, and the federal NDP tends to struggle in BC when their provincial counterparts are in power. The Liberals deserve a few years in the penalty box. If you live in a riding where the Conservatives actually ran a respectable campaign, then by all means give them your vote. But if you're in a situation like mine and you are deeply disappointed in an absentee campaign, I strongly recommend voting for the party most likely to remove the Liberals from power.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Justin Trudeau Walks On Water; New Poll Shows

**Newsflash** The Federal Liberals have a new leader, and their polling numbers have improved. This happens every single time they pick a new leader, they get a poll bounce. It even happened for Stephane Dion! Shortly after Ignatieff's coronation, new polls had the Liberals in majority territory. Two years later, Iggy didn't even win his own seat. We have seen this scenario play out time and time again, and now we are seeing it again.

It is important for national political pundits not to read too much into this completely expected polling trend. The longer Trudeau runs the party, the more mistakes he's going to make. One of the advantages to having no leadership experience is never made a mistake leading the entire political machine (leadership mistakes tend to have more severe consequences). Trudeau has however, spent enough time in the public eye to have made a number of ridiculous statements on video, any of which should be fair game in political advertising (charity auctions notwithstanding).

Ignatieff had the same problem. He could not undo all the things he had written in books or said in the media, which provided most of the material for the so-called "attack ads", that were allegedly responsible for his spectacular downfall. If you want to call a 30 second clip of dumb things someone has said or written publicly "attack adds", then so be it. Pointing out that an opponent is inexperienced is not bullying, nor is repeating his statements attacking. That's just my opinion.

So why aren't we currently living under an Ignatieff majority? Once upon a time, that's what the polls said would happen.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bracing For NDP Government

British Columbians will soon be heading to the polls to elect a provincial government, and it is looking increasingly likely that the NDP will not only win, but win big. The Christy Clark experiment has been a disaster, paving the way for Dippers to form government. There is an opportunity for the BC Conservatives to make significant gains and put elected members in the legislature, but their chances of actually winning the election are slim.

We have seen a number of high profile federal Tories like Preston Manning and Stockwell Day foolishly endorse Christy, which has not helped the provincial Tories gain the support of the many people who vote Conservative federally in BC. Now we are about to pay the price. They did not recognize that the BC Liberal brand is mortally wounded, and that a new alternative is needed.

It has been a long time since I lived under NDP government, not since Bob Rae's Ontario when I was still in elementary school. Does anyone out there have any advice or words of wisdom that could help nervous British Columbians prepare themselves for NDP rule? Should I be stocking up on bottled water and non-perishable food items? Perhaps it would be useful to watch a few episodes of that show Doomsday Preppers for ideas. Should I be building an arc in my backyard? I would consider moving to Alberta, but it looks like Allison Redford is well on her way to driving that car off a fiscal cliff. That would be a fun poll question "what is the best way to prepare yourself for NDP government?"

I voted for the BC Liberals in the last election because the Conservatives did not a run a candidate in my riding. I did not feel good doing so (having strong opposition to the carbon tax), but it was either that or vote Green or NDP. When Christy Clark ran for Premier, I wrote several blog posts opposing her candidacy (having always disliked her on the radio). I promoted the ABC campaign (anybody but Christy), but alas my warnings went unnoticed, and she was elected Liberal leader with help from fans of her radio show who suddenly signed up for Lib membership.

So be it. Let us all brace for NDP government. It is virtually guaranteed at this point. I wrote a preview of the 2013 BC General Election nearly one year ago. Christy's Liberals have gone from bad to worse over that time.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Marc Garneau Quits Liberal Leadership Race

The final obstacle for Justin Trudeau to become the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada has dropped out of the race, less than a month before ballots are to be cast. Marc Garneau was the only candidate with even a slim chance of upsetting JT, and the only one to really call him out for soft policy positions during the leadership debates. Today's withdrawal paves the way for Justin to win in a landslide, or as Garneau said; "Let’s give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar". I'm not sure if comparing Trudeau to a Roman despot is a genuine compliment, or a thinly veiled departing punch.

It probably would have been better for the party had Garneau stayed in the race until the new leader was announced, to at least give the appearance of a real competition. Without the astronaut, the "race" is essentially just another coronation. Yes, Martha Hall Findlay is still slugging away, but that hardly counts for anything. The only one who could have presented JT with a real challenge is Bob Rae, but Party brass made sure that wasn't going to happen. It would have been interesting (if not entertaining) to see Bobby debate Justin with both fighting to become Prime Minister, but that's not going to happen.

Trudeau's victory was all but certain even before today's news, with polling continuing to show that if he were the leader, the Liberals would be in a position to win a majority government. Many of those new votes would be coming at the expense of the NDP. Granted, this is polling done before Trudeau has sat even a day as party leader. His fortunes might not be so bright when he's finally put under a microscope. We're talking about somebody with a temper who has had some entertaining outbursts on Parliament Hill, which you can bet we'll be watching over and over again on television commercials over the next 2 years.

It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. The interesting part will be what strategy Tom Mulcair adopts to keep all those old Bloc seats in Quebec. If they are not careful, the NDP is at risk of getting decimated in the next general election, which would be embarrassing for Mulcair. Good luck Tom, you're going to need it!

Friday, March 1, 2013

NDP MP Defects To The Bloc Quebecois

A Member of Parliament for the federal NDP defected Thursday to the Bloc Quebecois because he disagrees with new language regarding sovereignty in a recently tabled NDP bill, "the Unity Bill". This defection should not come as a surprise to anyone. The biggest surprise is that there have not been more of these, given that the Dippers ostensibly absorbed a big chunk of the Bloc's voters in the last election, propelling them into official Opposition status. How were they able to attract so many Bloc voters? Part of it had to do with how much people liked Jack Layton, and some of it had to do with the NDP selecting a number of candidates who had previously held membership in the sovereignty movement.

Appeasing the new separatist wing of the NDP was always going to be a delicate balancing act for leader Tomas Mulcair, as he tries to sell his party as a federalist option, both inside and outside Quebec. There would inevitably be people upset if he tilted too far in either direction. Theoretically, this was a no win position from the very beginning. The best idea would have been to postpone making any firm commitment to either side of the debate, instead of going forward with a "Unity Bill". The concern is not only will he lose more MPs, but that wave of new voters they received in the last election may swing back towards the Bloc.

More than anything else, this brewing controversy will give Trudeau a nice big target to attack Mulcair when Justin becomes Liberal leader. We are two years away from the next federal election, leaving plenty of time for this fight to play out. Mulcair kind of finds himself running in quicksand right now. The harder he tries to get out, the deeper he's gonna sink. Has the damage already been done, or can he just go mute on this issue and hope people forget? He has to be careful, since he does not have the "lovable" personality of Jack Layton; who could just praise the so-called "Sherbrooke Declaration" without stepping in the quicksand.

Mulcair risks losing both the nationalists and the separatists. I'll admit, this whole fiasco is probably better news for the Liberals than the Conservatives. Justin Trudeau will soon be the leader of the Liberal Party. Guaranteed he's going to attack this "Unity bill", at least within Quebec. At this point, it is difficult to predict exactly how much this will affect the next election, but right now, the outlook is not good.