Thursday, September 30, 2010

Charest vs Macleans

Just when Jean Charest was drowning in legal proceedings and ongoing investigations about his own government's extensive corruption and patronage, Macleans magazine calls them out and suddenly Jean is spinning this into his favour? Macleans did not say that Quebecers in general were corrupt, but rather the political class and that they were being governed by a Premier defending allegations of corruption in court. I'm not sure why Quebec should be upset. I live in BC and I think Gordon Campbell is a douche whom I would like to see replaced, if Macleans slams Gordo, I am not going to be offended. Charest's approval was already in the ditch over the very issues that were discussed.

This is not a culture war; it is a fact based analysis of a corrupt Liberal government. Charest wants to turn it into a culture war because he has been under fire for many months and has one of the lowest approval ratings in the country. I understand why Charest is saying what he’s saying, but I don’t understand why Quebec would be angry at Macleans.  Perhaps they should have put a picture of Charest on the cover instead of the beloved Bonhomme Carnaval.  It is fair to attack a Premier under investigation for corruption, but for Christ's sake, leave the Bonhomme out of this!

Harperland

Is it just me, or does the CBC get just a little too giddy when somebody writes a book critical of Stephen Harper? CBC Newsworld has been running this "infomercial" for Harperland all day, treating it as a news story and giving the author a whole lot of free advertising. One of the few certainties in life; write a book that's negative about Prime Minister Harper and you will get plenty of face-time on the CBC to help you market and sell the product. Kady and Rosie can laugh and make jokes about the accusations and Evan Soloman can do an exclusive interview. I think Lawrence Martin has spent the whole day at the CBC building. I wonder if this book will sell more copies than the NDP dude who wrote the book about the failed coup of 2008?

War Deserters Not Welcome

Gerard Kennedy's dream of making Canada a sanctuary for international war deserters died yesterday in the House of Commons. Too many of his colleagues skipped out of work early that his bill died on the floor. It would appear that Gerry doesn't have much influence over the Liberal caucus. Gerard had previously said "I am honoured to speak to a bill that requires the Conservative government to take into account the opinion of Canadians regarding the war in Iraq". Maybe Gerard didn't hear, but Obama has declared the war in Iraq over.

Jason Kenney tweeted after the vote "why do Liberal MPs believe that President Barack Obama persecutes deserters? That's the implication of their support for Bill C-440."

Should Prostitution Be Legal?

Today's poll question; do you think that prostitution should be legal? An Ontario Judge has decided that the current laws endanger the lives women and is not constitutional. The governing Conservatives have decided to appeal the ruling, and I am assuming that this will be placed into their election platform. I understand the need to discourage young women from entering this profession, and yet if they do there is a high risk of serious harm. Demand creates supply and so long as the demand exists, there will always be supply. Prostitutes are the number one victim of serial killers, something that I might tell my niece to discourage her from ever taking up that career, but still not a fate that I want to see other girls exposed to. I am conflicted on this issue. I generally favour the decriminalization of prostitution, but would not support any of the women in my family entering the profession.

I suppose that makes me a hypocrite. Where do you stand?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Iggy Skipping Votes, Strong Leadership In Action

After coming out this morning saying the Bloc's EI 360 bill was "fiscally irresponsible", Ignatieff skipped out of the House when it was voted on today and 80% of his caucus voted in favour of the fiscally irresponsible legislation. If the economy and the deficit are such critically important issues, how do you abstain on a vote that would cost billions of dollars that you deem to be irresponsible? Is this what you call strong leadership? Flip flopping then sneaking out the back door when it is time to vote does not sound like the kind of person I want running the government in challenging economic times. Is Iggy saying that 80% of his caucus is fiscally irresponsible?

Ignatieff has been one of the most absent MPs on votes in the legislature since becoming Liberal leader. Canadians elect members of parliament to VOTE on their behalf in parliament. That is the social contract between citizens and their elected politicians. Do the people of Etobicoke Lakeshore not have an opinion on employment insurance eligibility?

Iggy Withdraws Support For EI 360

When the Bloc Quebecois originally introduced a bill to reduce employment insurance eligibility to 360 hours, the Ignatieff led Liberals supported it along with the NDP. Today the Liberals announced that they have changed their minds. Iggy supported it last year because "there was an economic crisis. We were in the middle of full crisis with a much higher unemployment rate. The situation has changed". Last year the unemployment rate was 8.3% and now it is 8.1%. I am pleased to hear the Liberal leader admit that the crisis has dissipated and the economy is improving, especially after Iggy spent the summer trying to convince us that Canadians are in worse shape than people think.

Of course his song and dance that a 0.2% drop in the unemployment rate convinced him to change his mind on EI is bullshit. Iggy's handlers fully understand the negative optics of teaming up with the Bloc and they want to put some distance between themselves and their coalition partners. Had they helped pass EI 360 into law, they would have been hammered for the coalition legalizing the 45 day work year. They are likely also trying to brand themselves as fiscally responsible. You can't on one hand complain about the deficit and then continuously support more spending initiatives, it is hypocritical. I think that the Liberals intend to make the deficit the top election issue, and to do so requires withdrawing support for multiple incarnations of government spending. In the unlikely event that the Liberals form government, they can tax and spend to their heart's content just by taking a page from the Dalton McGuinty playbook; "our evil predecessor hid the awful truth from us, now we have no choice but to break our promises".

UPDATE:  They actually voted on the legislation today, and Iggy skipped out of the House for the vote!  Ha! Then 80% of his caucus voted with the coalition.  Jason Kenney tweeted "last yr Mr. Ignatieff supported a huge expansion of EI benefits. This morning he said he opposed it. But just now he skipped out of the vote." What a leader! I wonder if Kady O'Malley will take a shot at him for this joke? James Moore tweeted "Lib Leadership: M.Ignatieff says he opposes Bloc EI Bill C-308, leaves the House & doesn't vote against it, then 80% of Lib MPs vote for it "

Fight Over Fighter Jets

With the long gun registry vote behind them, one of the next big battles for the Liberal Party will be the $9 billion dollar purchase of 65 fighter jets. Ignatieff acknowledges that our current fleet needs to be replaced, he just doesn't know if he will accept the current proposal. While we are only buying 65, thousands of these jets will be sold worldwide and for our participation in the research, development, and production of these aircraft; the Canadian aerospace industry stands poised to gain $12 billion dollars in parts contracts. Yesterday the leaders of the Canadian aerospace industry gathered in Ottawa to plead with the Liberals to allow the contract to stand. Failure to do so would cost our country many high value jobs and block billions in foreign dollars from entering Canada.

And to those people who want to add the maintenance cost of planes we haven't purchased yet to the initial price tag, I ask how much do we spend annually to maintain our current outdated fleet? Ironically none of pundits who get sanctimonious about the maintenance cost of new planes never talk about our current planes that crash at air shows.

I understand the Liberals have fallen in love with their latest position because of the romanticism over Chretien's defeat of Mulroney due in part to the promise to cancel the contract for helicopters that it turned out we really needed. It was a mistake the first time they took such a position, and just because you won an election with that as a promise does not mean that it is the right thing to do. We should have bought the damned helicopters! We would later see sea kings crashing into the ocean on rescue missions, and we would need to call the Americans to rescue our rescue crews.

Aurevoir Michaelle Jean

Today's poll question; how would you rate Michaelle Jean's term as Governor General? I confess that I strongly disapproved of another CBC journalist being appointed to the post, but I strongly approved of her job performance. While I would still vote in favour of the dissolution of the office of the Governor General, MJ did remind us all of the important role the position can play in our parliamentary democracy.

Ironically on her way at the door, the CBC chose to pay specific attention to the fact that it took her two hours to decide whether or not to prorogue when the coalition threatened to topple the government in December 2008. She really needed time to think about it. Far be it from me to speculate what was going through her mind in those fateful two hours, all I know is that she had the legal power to make Stephane Dion Prime Minister and did not. Michaelle, for that I will be forever grateful.



Thank you Michaelle, for stopping this dead in its tracks. You did our country a great service.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Danny Williams Speaks Nice About Stephen Harper

In the 2008 federal election campaign Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams ran a campaign of "Anybody But Conservatives", but today on Power Play he spoke quite nicely about the Prime Minister and said that relations between Newfoundland and Ottawa have improved significantly since "the dark times". If the wounds have healed and Tories start voting Conservative again on the rock, that could pose big problems for a few Liberals. Shiboom Coady is only a member of parliament because of Danny's little ABC stunt, as the Tories fell from 16,644 votes in 2006 to 4,324 in her riding in 2008 when she won her first election. What is interesting is that while the Tory vote went down by over 12,000 votes, Shiboom only experienced an increase of 2,625 votes over her 2006 mark. People were not leaving the blue tent for the red tent.

With the sea change in New Brunswick and Danny Williams playing nice with Stephen Harper, the Liberal's Atlantic caucus should be concerned. The end result of Danny's little tantrum back in 2008 was that many voters simply stayed home and didn't vote. People said to themselves "I can vote for Shiboom or not vote at all", and they chose not to participate in democracy. I also expect that the Newfoundland Liberals may experience some backlash from the gun registry survival, given their proud tradition of hunting and fishing.

I don't know if Don Martin is now the permanent host of Power Play, but he is so bad at hosting that it is comical. There is some entertainment value like how some people only watch American Idol during the tryout session to see the train wrecks. When I say Don Martin is bad, I am not talking about ideology. I strongly disagree with some of his opinions, but I agree with him a lot more than I do Taber or Soloman. Don Martin is just terrible at hosting. It pains me to say it, but I'd rather watch Soloman than Martin.  In a perfect world there would be a host on television that I actually enjoy watching, but sadly we do not live in a perfect world...


First Past The Post

Yesterday's Conservative trouncing of the Liberal Party in New Brunswick has some people complaining that the Tories have more seats than they deserve. They collected nearly half of all votes cast and won 75% of the seats in the legislature. This is being decried as a "schmoozle", and as an example of why we supposedly need proportional representation. What the article at the Globe and Mail does not mention is that proportional representation significantly reduces the probability that any party wins a majority government. Under the British parliamentary system, minority governments are generally dysfunctional, as we know all too well here in Canada. The Brits and the Aussies call it "hung parliament".  The constant threat of an election undermines our entire political system.

This Fair Vote Canada group can't understand why Canadians aren't mad as hell and marching in the streets to right this perceived wrong. Why aren't more Canadians demanding proportional representation? Because we are sick and tired of hung parliament. The machinations of our legislative branch operate more effectively in majority governments.

Should Stimulus Spending Continue?

Today's poll question; should stimulus spending be extended beyond the spring of 2011? The concern is that there are several thousand jobs dependent on stimulus money that will disappear when it is shut down. The Finance Minister's position is that funding will be examined on a case by case basis, where the Liberals contended that all monies should be paid out. The Liberals also contend that our deficit is a crisis, just so you know. But the catch is that no party expected the stimulus dependent jobs to be permanently funded by the government. These were always intended to be short term employment positions for one time infrastructure projects.

The Liberals are taking both sides of this issue; that we are in crisis yet might possibly maybe need to continue funding initiatives that they initially demanded. Should stimulus funding continue beyond the deadline? March might be a bad deadline because many Canadian provinces can't work on infrastructure projects from November to March. Bump the deadline back from March to maybe June or July, but this is not a long-term solution.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Is What's Good For Ford Good For Harper?

When Conservative Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford first took the lead in the polls, many pundits on the left began to scramble over a possible right shift in the heart of the Liberal Party. Some even tried to suggest that the right shift was actually bad for the federal party, because they call it an "anti-establishment" protest as opposed to a sea change in Toronto politics. I'm curious, if Rob Ford loses, then is that good for Stephen Harper? If you claim Ford's victory would be bad news for Harper, then shouldn't his loss then be considered good news, or do you get to have it both ways? A new poll suggests that the race for mayor is much closer than originally anticipated, and I'm wondering if Smitherman wins, will the voices on the left start ringing Hell's Bells about terrible news for Liberals?

Do you think that if Shawn Graham has won tonight that Liberals would be claiming a victory nationally? Absolutely they would, instead they are crediting the loss to a single issue and saying that it in no way tarnishes the federal Liberal brand. Liberals have a terrible showing on Election Day, and somehow this is good news for Liberals? They call it a vote against "big government", as though voting Tory provincially is bad news for Tories federally. They want it both ways.

Tories Crush Liberals In New Brunswick

With the votes now being counted in New Brunswick's provincial election, early results indicate that Conservative David Alward is the new Premier in a crushing defeat of Liberal incumbent Shawn Graham. As of 8pm eastern time, the Tories have pulled 50% of the popular vote, up from the 47% collected in 2006 by Bernard Lord. The federal Tories scored 39% of the popular vote in NB during the 2008 federal election. Does this victory signal part of a greater surge in Conservative support throughout the Atlantic provinces? The Tories already hold a majority of the NB seats in Ottawa, and only have 1-3 additional seats to possibly gain if only New Brunswick is shifting to the right.

The Tories are weaker in Newfoundland (17% in 2008) and Nova Scotia (26% in 2008), and those will have to be where the gains are made if the party would like to add a significant number of Atlantic seats.

Martin-Taber Election Speculation

Last week Jim Flaherty gave a speech in which he warned of the fiscal dangers of a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition, which Don Martin interpreted to mean that the Tories want to force a fall election. The Conservatives responded by saying that they will not force a fall election, which is a prudent move given the trends in the polls. Well now Jane Taber wants to weigh in by saying "Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are trying to quash rumours that they’re gunning for a fall election despite the fact some of their own are fuelling them". Really? I'm sure that all the Tory strategists are telling the Prime Minister "we have been stagnating in the low 30s in the polls, what we need is an election that nobody other than allegedly Guy Giorno wants."

Don Martin, Jane Taber, and friends are trying to create the narrative that the Conservative government wants to engineer their own defeat this fall despite a prolonged trend of weak polling numbers. Even Liberal pollster, donor, and culture warrior Frank Graves injected his voice into the debate, prognosticating that the gun registry vote "shifts the prospects of either Liberals or Conservatives achieving majority mandate from implausible to unimaginable." While I disagree with a number of his partisan talking points; he does make one good point that while there may be 14 opposition members who flipped their votes on the registry, there are 22 Conservative MPs in Quebec and the greater Toronto area where it is popular.

I don't know if the Tories will lose votes in pro-registry ridings for sticking with the same policy position that they have had all along. All those people who voted Tory in Quebec and Toronto, did they not know that the party campaigned on scrapping the gun registry? Where opposition MPs flip flopped from their previously stated positions, the Conservatives have at least stayed true to their word on this issue. I don't think that the saving of the gun registry is going to vault the Conservatives into a majority government, but I disagree with Graves’s partisan opinion that it is "unimaginable". The Liberals have not fought an election since the following picture was taken, and it is really easy to imagine the outcome if the ballot box question is Tory majority or Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition.

New Brunswick Votes

On Monday the province of New Brunswick will go to the polls to elect a new government. The Liberal Party under Shawn Graham has crashed the proud province into fiscal disarray after replacing two term Tory incumbent Bernard Lord. This election may provide a bellweather indicator for general voter sentiment in the Atlantic provinces, where the Conservatives have been polling very strong in the past year. Bernard Lord has kept a low profile since his defeat in the last election, a man who had been considered a rising star in the Conservative Party.

In the 2008 federal election, the Tories carried NB with 39% of the popular vote to the Liberals 32% and the NDP 22%.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hockey Is Coming

The pre-season is underway and hockey rinks are filling up again. A new hockey season is fast approaching and I'd like to set up a Fantasy Hockey League for "right wingers". It is similar to a tradition hockey pool, except that there are additional stat categories and you manage a team over the course of a season. It is free to play and first prize is the satisfaction of a job well done. It is one of the most entertaining ways to be a sports fan; and if this is something you might be interested in, send me an e-mail at icemanthe96@yahoo.com for information on how to sign up.

Jack Layton, You Have A Problem...

According to the latest Harris-Decima poll, the NDP has fallen to 14% nationally. This is a big deal for the NDP, because at 14% they stand to lose nearly half of their entire caucus. All the gains the Dippers have made in seat count in recent elections can evaporate with a drop of just a couple of points nationally. The Liberals would stand to add roughly 18 seats, but that still leaves the Lib-Dipper combo well short of a majority of seats in the House of Commons. They would still require the blessing of Gilles Duceppe to form government.

The big question is if the NDP is bleeding support, where are those votes going? Allan Greg seems to think some of them are perhaps shifting to the Tories; "It is also interesting to note that this decline is not benefiting the Liberals exclusively. In fact, with the NDP under 15% of the popular vote, it is perhaps telling that the Liberals cannot crack 30%". This poll was conducted between September 9th and 19th, which is before the final vote on the gun registry, but that issue easily dominated the national news during that window. The NDP relies on rural ridings for a large proportion of their caucus, and if their numbers hold at these lows it may be difficult for Iggy to convince Jack to vote no confidence anytime soon.

Jack Layton may have just shot himself in the foot, pun intended...

EI 360

Today's poll question, how many hours do you think someone should work in order to qualify for Employment Insurance? There is a battle brewing in Ottawa over EI, and it could very well contribute to the fall of the government and the triggering of the next election. Should the hours needed to quality for benefits be lowered to 360, and should benefits of the long time unemployed be extended?

We know that the Liberals can't take the moral high ground on money going in or out of the EI fund with the skeletons in their closet, this is however a major issue for their coalition partner, the NDP. Have you noticed over the past year how Liberal and NDP policies have drifted closer together? I'm sure Jack Layton didn't sacrifice his rural caucus to save the Liberal gun registry without expecting a little quid pro quo in return.

There are also people who have been on EI for a very long time and their benefits are set to expire and if the government does not extend them that could trigger a vote of no confidence by the opposition. While I have sympathy for the unemployed, there are a lot of jobs available right now. You may not find your dream job in your field of choice, but if you are flexible and willing to work in other industries, there are plenty of choices available to you.

Questions For Ignatieff

Now that parliament is back to work, the leader of the Liberal Party will soon depart for another "listening tour" where he will take questions from Canadians. If I could ask Iggy one question, it would be "if the Tories win another minority in the next election, will you consider negotiating with the other parties to form government?" Somehow though, I strongly suspect that you would not get an honest answer on this matter. It is much easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, and the Liberals do not want to fight an election campaign on negotiating with the Bloc on a power grabbing deal. They have not faced the electorate since the deal negotiated by Dion, and guaranteed this issue will be a major topic of conversation during the next election campaign.

That's what I'd like to ask if I had the opportunity. What would you like ask?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

CBC Ordered To Handover Expense Reports

Are you curious to know how the CBC spends its money? Up until now they have refused to share expenditure records under Access to Information act, but now a judge has ruled that they must hand over the documents. Are you curious how much Terry Milewski spends on food and lodgings while he follows the Prime Minister around the world? Now you can ask! CBC journalists often report on information released by other government agencies through the Act, but they themselves don't think that they should be held to the same standard as a tax funded Crown corporation. Personally I would like to know how much they spent on "Prorogue Protest Day" back in January. The CBC had crews deployed in a massive blitz across the country and promoted the events days in advance.

It may take some time for them to plow through the backlog, as there have been nearly a thousand registered complaints against the CBC since they fell under the access to information act in 2007. Their argument was based on section 68.1 of the Access to Information Act which states: "This Act does not apply to any information that is under the control of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that relates to its journalistic, creative or programming activities, other than information that relates to its general administration." How much money they spend is now (and should always have been) considered part of "general administration". The CBC argued that releasing how much money Milewski spent at Red Lobster somehow compromises his "journalistic integrity" and creativity.

The Next Canadian Election

Today's poll question; when do you expect the next Canadian election? The Conservatives are not in a polling position to force a vote anytime soon, but tied in the polls might be good enough for the Liberals. They are asserting that the government is spending money recklessly, which to me suggests that they would like to vote against either the fall economic update or the budget next spring. We are nearly at the 2nd birthday of this minority parliament, which puts it past the standard life expectancy for minority parliaments.

If I had to assign probabilities to the possible outcomes: 60% chance the government falls in the spring of 2011 on the next budget, 20% chance the opposition votes against the economic update this fall, and a 20% chance that this parliament lives into next summer.

Robinhood

This evening I rented the film Robinhood with Russel Crowe, a movie that I have been eagerly anticipating since the first time I saw a preview. I think this is an absolutely fantastic movie, and I strongly recommend that people rent it. You will enjoy yourself, as I did. Given that 75% of my relatives were living on the British Isles at the time of this legend, it is a story that has long grabbed my interest. Robinhood allegedly existed within 100 years of William Wallace, albeit earlier, so one story feeds into the other. Is there any connection between the "men of the hood" and the Scottish revolution? I would like to know, and perhaps you can tell me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Prime Minister's New Chief Of Staff

The new Chief of Staff for Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a Bay Street executive named Nigel Wright. The spin according to Jane Taber, which ironically I agree with, is that the government needs to shift its focus to the economy. Canada's economic performance in this recession is the Conservative Party's greatest strength, and this is intended to shine a light on their strong point. Given that I am now predicting the government to fall on its next budget (or possibly its next economic update), the economy is going to be front and center in the next campaign. It is absolutely the smart move to appoint a Chief of Staff who has detailed knowledge of market machinations.

This is a fantastic appointment, and I applaud Mr. Harper for appointing the ideal candidate given the current political climate. Bravo!

Next Budget = Next Election

If I had to predict the timing of the next Canadian federal election, I think there is a very high probability that the opposition votes against the next budget. If government spending is currently "out of control" as the opposition alleges, then how can they in good conscious vote in favour of the Conservative's complete agenda of spending initiatives? The Tories are taking flak for spending too much money, giving the Liberals an ideal modus operandi for voting nay on the next budget. It is also safe to say that if the government falls on its budget, the contents of that budget will be a major issue in the election campaign to follow. The budget itself will likely be parlayed in the Tory election platform, so the government would be advised to write a budget over which they could fight an election. A significant reduction in the size of the deficit will be critically important.

If you would like to know the date of the next election, just find out when Jim Flaherty intends to release his next budget, and then count out 36 days from there.

The Price Is Not Right In Montreal

It is not a common occurrence for them to discuss hockey on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, but they sure talked about Montreal Canadien fans booing Carey Price in the first period of his first exhibition game. The fans evidently are not happy that management shipped off playoff hero Jaroslav Halak in the offseason and they are going to take their frustration out on the young goalie. It is not clear whether or not the move to ship Halak out of town was part of a federalist conspiracy to undermine the sovereignty movement, depending on how you look at it. Fans don't seem too excited for the Lars Eller era, the young Danish player that the Habs got back for Halak. Denmark as you all know is a hockey super power.

The good news is that hockey is back! I know that there are a number of hockey fans among us here at the Blogging Tories, so I would like to set up a fantasy hockey league for anyone interested. It is similar to a hockey pool, except that there is no money involved, zero to play, and if you win your only prize is the satisfaction of a job well done. It is a lot of fun, and if you are interested just send me an e-mail at icemanthe96@yahoo.com for more details.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Does Canada's Image Matter?

Today's poll question; does Canada's image on the world stage matter to you? Would you prefer a more isolationist approach to international politics, or do you prefer Canada to be involved in global initiatives? My own personal opinion is that Canada is one of the best countries in the world and I believe it benefits the global community for Canada to have a voice at the table. Obviously we should keep these marketing costs within reason, but we should also accept that the purpose is justified. Private business spends enormous amounts of money on promotions and brand marketing, and the reason that they do it is because it works. There will be a long term benefit to marketing Canada to the rest of the world, difficult to measure though it may be.

I know that Kevin Page already vetted the G8/G20 spending and concluded it was entirely within reason.

Ignatieff Strong Leadership

In the aftermath of the vote that saved the gun registry, I have been hearing voices from the left proclaiming this as an example of strong leadership for the Liberal leader. He was successfully able to pistol whip his caucus into voting to save a registry that the Liberals created. Had the MPs vulnerable on this issue stayed home, it would have been a catastrophic defeat after Iggy guaranteed they'd be there. Let’s not forget that he is being praised for something that political parties are supposed to be able to do each time they crack the whip. It’s funny that we have come to expect so little from him that as soon as he successfully does something the Tories are able to do 100% of the time, roll out the red carpet and start planning the parade route!

I suppose if you set the bar low enough, any rudimentary task can seem spectacular by comparison. Lowered expectations people, that's the name of the game. It was a strategic move to risk the few rural seats the Liberals had remaining in order to shore up their majority support in Toronto and Montreal. I'll admit that it would have been amusing had Liberal MPs again defied the whip, but getting them to show up for a whipped vote is not in and of itself a sign of strong leadership.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ignatieff Surrounding Himself With Chretien Staffers

Word on the street is that Iggy has hired yet another Chretien staffer to work in his office. At a time when there is a groundswell of growing opposition to "politics as usual", the Liberals are doing a retro replay. The benefits are clear, as Chretien's people would have unique experience on marketing campaigns in the province of Quebec. If Iggy is concerned about his ability to attract voters in Quebec, he will need people with experience in the provincial advertising business. Patrick Parisot served as a communications adviser to Chretien until being shipped off to be ambassador to Chile in 2001, right around the time that the Auditor General began to investigate the Sponsorship Program. Parisot will now serve as Ignatieff's "principal secretary".

Iggy's Iron Whip

Tonight Parliament will be voting on whether or not to scrap the long gun registry, and Liberal leader Mike Ignatieff has announced that he will be whipping his caucus to save the registry. The last time Iggy whipped his caucus to try and force the government to fund abortions in Africa instead of fighting disease, some of his MPs refused to show up, which killed the Liberal bill. Iggy has insisted in recent interviews that all his MPs will show up this time and vote in unison even though some of them oppose the registry. I will be very interested to see who shows up and who does not.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meeting World Leaders, Just a Photo-op?

Having listened to some of the Liberal dialogue since Parliament has resumed, I have heard repeated reference to the G8/G20 summits as nothing but an expensive photo-op. Really? Has hosting world leaders always been viewed with this much cynicism? Canada's financial sector in this last recession has been a glorious example that we should absolutely share with the world, and if introducing them to the Canadian model at a time of financial crisis is considered a waste then we need to examine this negative stereotype. If any one of the world's top 20 economies collapses, the effects will be felt in every other nation. We have a globalized economy where our fate as a nation is tied to those of other nations. Gathering these leaders together to talk provides real value beyond what Liberals want to call a photo-op. When even a tiny country like Greece boarders on collapse, it ripples throughout global markets. The answer for all our allies looking to avoid a collapse of their banking system would be advised to become more Canadian. To call it nothing more than a photo-op is an insult to world leaders.

I suppose in the unlikely event that Iggy one day becomes Prime Minister, it will be fair game to call all his meetings with world leaders photo-ops, because by Liberal logic, international conferences can't accomplish anything else, right?

Is Toronto Becoming More Conservative?

In the race for the next Mayor of Toronto, right-leaning candidate Rob Ford is out to a substantial lead in the polls. This begs the question; is our nation's largest city is shifting to the right? The only mention that the CBC makes about the race are questions asking if radicals are subjugating Toronto. If I had to guess on the impetus behind this shift, I would have to point to the garbage strike last year. If public opinion sours on the public employees unions, then the left wing political parties who cater to them are going to suffer, especially in Ontario. I believe that garbage strike by overpaid CUPE trash collectors has shifted Torontonian public opinion to the right, which could create big problem for the federal Liberal Party.

If Rob Ford wins, what does that say about voter intention in the heart of the Liberal Party? You could not simply credit it to "chubby chasers", it would be a clear bellweather about voter psychology in general. I won't hold my breath, but I will be very interested to see who Toronto chooses to be the next Mayor.

Without Kory Teneycke, Sun TV Still Evil: Don Newman

Far be it from me to predict the future, but last week when Kory Teneycke announced his departure from the leadership of the Sun TV News network, I predicted "I will be interested to see who is chosen as his replacement, and I fully expect he or she to be vilified by Don Newman". Cue to the next week and who wrote a new column at the CBC scathing Kory's replacement? Yes, none other than Don Newman. Don, you have become too predictable in your declining years, as Mr. Ignatieff might say. Everyone, back up, gasp, and suspend your disbelief because the new boss of Sun TB used to work for, gasp, Brian Mulroney. Stop the presses, hold the phones! Mulroney? Did he have something to do with Karlheinze Schreiber? Gasp, maybe!

And so, Don Newman continues his crusade against a new news network in Canada where he even has the audacity to say: "Sun TV is no threat to either of the news channels operated by the CBC and CTV". Really? I would really like Don Newman to elaborate on that one. Is there no threat of competition because cable subscribers are forced to buy the "other" news channels? Will they not be competing for viewers? Or do you even need to compete for viewers when they are all forced to buy your product whether they watch you or not?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Prime Minister Increasing Funding To Fight Disease

On Tuesday Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will address the United Nations to lobby for a substantial increase in funding for the fight against AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in the developing world. These are three of the most substantial viral killers on Earth and dollar for dollar fighting those diseases can save thousands, if not millions more lives than building an abortion clinic on every street corner. I wonder if the Liberals in Question Period will decry the PM for fighting AIDS, Malaria, and TB in Africa when what those Africans really need are more abortions?  I am proud to have Stephen Harper represent my country on the world stage, and I believe that meeting with the most powerful people in the world serves a useful purpose beyond what Liberals call a shameless photo-op.

November Election

There will be an election in November, just not in Canada. Midterm elections are fast approaching south of the border, and this round will prove to be interesting. Can the Democrats hold on to control of all three executive branches? Will the Republicans be able to take back one or both of the Senate or Congress? That is today's poll question; what do you expect the outcome to be? If a Republican can win Massachusetts, then truly no Democratic seat is safe, except maybe Pelosi in San Fransisco. Can the new Republican wicca win Delaware?

I don't study American electoral math with the same detail as I do Canadian, but if I had to guess the most likely outcome is that the Republicans will take one of the Senate or Congress but not both. It is difficult to see them winning the Senate but not Congress where every seat is up for grab. If I had to assign a probability to each possible outcome, it would be as follows and bear in mind this is just an educated guess:

Republicans win only Congress 35%
Republicans win both 30%
Democrats win both 25%
Republicans win only the Senate 10%

When the power shifts too far to one side, it always swings back, it is all just a matter of when it starts.

Markets Soar As Parliament Resumes

Today as Canadian Parliament got back to business, Canadian markets were soaring. Last month Canada added more jobs than expected, and the TSX has been rallying in September, today flirting with a 2010 high. Ironically, Liberal leader Mike Ignatieff has been hitting the interview circuit trying to convince Canadians that the economy is in worse shape than it actually is. I understand why he's trying to play this tune, because a great many Canadians rank the economy, jobs, and the deficit as their highest priority. Since Canadians also substantially trust Stephen Harper economic stewardship more than Iggy Pop, it is important for the Liberals to try to convince the public that we are in worse shape than we actually are.

Fortunately, the truth shall set you free and all the economic indicators indicate that Canada has weathered this recession as well or better than any industrialized nation on Planet Earth. Thank you Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oliver Interviews Ignatieff

I took a break from Sunday football to watch Craig Oliver interview Iggy, the day before Parliament is set to resume. For the majority of his answers on matters of economics, he tried to take both sides of the issues. He complains about the deficit and often repeats that he "had nothing to do with it"; where he seems to forget that his first act as unelected Liberal leader in January of 2009 was demanding a stimulus. He says that we can't afford a second stimulus, but that we need to maintain the current stimulus spending. His answer on Arenagate was almost comical. He took every side of the debate without actually taking a policy position.

I also couldn't help but notice how often he sticks his tongue out of his mouth when he speaks. It would be amusing to assemble some freeze frame photos of Iggy in various moments of him sticking out his tongue. Oliver did ask him tougher questions than did Mansbridge. When asked to respond to criticism that he should have promoted more women in his most recent cabinet shuffle, Iggy pointed out that the deputy house leader is a very important job.

Ignatieff, From "I" To "We"

Liberal leader Mike Ignatieff has been coached in the art of speeches and interviews since his early days on the Liberal throne. Pundits used to joke about his obsessively frequent use of the word "I", but if you watched him one on one with Peter Mansbridge, you could not help but notice his generous use of the word "we". He has replaced his natural possessive word with another, and guaranteed that is coached. He is citing things that the Liberal Party did while he was living in London and Boston with the word "we" as though he was a part of it. I don't use the word "we" to describe something in which I did not participate. It is easy I suppose in that kind of interview, where Mansbridge not only tossed softballs, he was interjecting Liberal talking points into the conversation.

This is clearly part of an attempt to change the way Canadians generally feel about Iggy. Instead of being "me, me, me" substitute it with "we, we, we" and you should be more likable, in theory. The question is, in the world of politics do you really get a second chance to make a first impression? They are trying.  I will personally continue to judge Ignatieff on how he votes in the House of Commons (when he's actually present to vote), and not based on his performance with a friendly journalist.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Palin And Rove Disagree In Delaware

Anytime I hear mention of the state of Delaware I am reminded of the movie Wayne's World when Mike Myers delivered a very unenthusiastic "imagine being magically whisked away to...Delaware...Hi, I'm in Delaware". Last week however, Delaware was the source of some interesting developments in the final Republican primaries heading into the midterm elections. One candidate was endorsed by Sarah Palin, the other by Karl Rove. The Rovian endorsement of Mike Castle was based on a calculation that he was more electable and had fewer negatives. From what I could gather from Palin's speech, her endorsement was based more on momma grizzlies and "the establishment". O’Donnell won the primary thanks in part to Palin's endorsement and afterwards Rove had some harsh words for the winner, upsetting a number of Republicans.

Can she win the Senate seat? Her Democrat opponent is to the left of Obama and it is entirely possible that she could win the blue state. But here we are only days after her nomination, and we are starting to learn more of her negatives. Some social conservatives might like her past crusade against the "sin" of masturbation, but they can't like her past admission to dabbling in witchcraft. “We went to a movie and then had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar.” But who hasn't dabbled in witchcraft at some point, right? As it turns out, she has been an "activist" for some time and has an archive of television footage making potentially controversial statements, many of which have yet to be re-discovered. This could just be the beginning. Her "negatives" are going to become a lightning rod for attacks on the entire Republican Party in November.

Sarah Palin may have just come in at the last minute and flipped that Senate seat from Republican to Democrat, or so says Charles Krauthammer. Karl Rove should have been more gracious after she won the primary, but that doesn't mean that his initial opinion was wrong. Mike Castle had already been fully vetted and had won several statewide elections. Does that make him part of the "establishment"? Perhaps. How is it that we've come to a place where having no experience is an asset? It is fair have gripes with the governing class, but a replacement without adequate qualifications is not necessarily going to do a better job.


Coming Soon: Canadian Parliament

Just a few more sleeps until MPs are back in the House of Commons voting on legislation. The CBC is asking its viewers which issue is most important to them, and I am curious to know what you think; so today's poll question is a rip off of a CBC poll question "What issue is most important to you as MPs get back to work?" You are encouraged to visit the CBC website and register a vote. Evidently Afghan prisoner transfers and the purchase of F-35 jet fighters are not high on anyone's priority list (except maybe opposition members).

I added arena funding and African abortions as additional options which were not asked in the CBC poll. I am interested to see the contrast between the CBC audience and the Blogging Tory audience. Thus far the results of the CBC poll are:

Government transparency/accountability 33.5% (471 votes)
The economy/unemployment 24.32% (342 votes)
The mandatory long-form census 10.81% (152 votes)
Healthcare/pharmacare 9.89% (139 votes)
The federal long-gun registry 8.61% (121 votes)
Spending cuts/the deficit 7.47% (105 votes)
Defence/military/F-35 contract 2.84% (40 votes)
Afghan detainee transfers 2.56% (36 votes)

Total Votes: 1,406

Friday, September 17, 2010

George Soros Threatening To Sue Sun Media?

Does anyone else find it the least bit suspicious how much American billionaire George Soros seems invested in Canadian politics? Now word has it that he is threatening to sue one of Canada's media organizations, though the target of his threats should come as no surprise, the often sued Ezra Levant; who offered suggestions about how this Hungarian born Jew survived the Nazis. My own personal opinion of Ezra is that while there are times that I disagree with him, I think he's unhinged and has become a liability not only to himself, but for the Conservative movement that he claims to speak for. In this case, the article in the Globe does not state what exactly his comments were, and his original op-ed has since been pulled from Sun Media. I would be more upset about George Soros suing Sun Media if it were not Ezra Levant who wrote the words that brought the fury.

Should Question Period Be On Television?

Today's poll question, do you think Canadian Parliament's Question Period should be televised? A Conservative MP is trying to increase the decorum in this facet of our government, and one of the best suggestions that I have heard on how to tone down the partisanship is taking out the television cameras. If you believe this is a problem, is there really any other solution? This last session of Parliament saw some of the most despicable rhetoric I have ever seen, with acts like Marlene Jennings accusing Helena Guergis of being a drug dealer. Since Parliamentarians cannot be prosecuted for what they say in elected chamber, it has led to many saying outrageous things just to get them on camera.

So what do you think? Should Question Period be scrapped altogether, should they take the cameras out, or is there another solution? Your feedback as always is encouraged.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stephen Harper: General Manager Of Montreal Canadiens?

I was surprised to learn this week that the political federalists have allegedly been involved in personnel decisions for the Montreal Canadians; purposely shunning francophone players for non-francophones in a secret attempt to rob Quebec of its cultural heritage. For those who believe that Stephen Harper is a professional brain washer with a hidden agenda, it is entirely plausible that the PM has seized control of roster decisions from GM Bob Gainey (who has since been replaced by another supposedly federalist sock puppet). Although you wonder if the team's goal was to collect non-francophone players, they might have held on to playoff hero Jaroslav Halak. With a player of that caliber around, I'm sure it would only be a matter of time before young Canadien fans were speaking Slovakian on the streets of Montreal...

Tories Up Nearly 6% In Quebec In One Week

Well isn't this interesting. A new poll released today shows that the Conservative Party has made remarkable gains in the province of Quebec in just the past week. One week ago the Tories were poised to lose a significant number of their Quebec seats, and this week they are in a position to add new seats towards a possible Tory majority. What happened in between? The Prime Minister announced that the federal government would consider federal stimulus funding being invested in a new arena for Quebec City. This upset the Tory base, but ironically the Liberals have not opposed the initiative. When the federal government was sending money to Vancouver to help fund the construction of Olympic venues, I don't recall the same level of outcry. I don't recall "long time Tories" calling the Adler Show threatening to vote for the Liberals when we were building a stadium for professional curlers. Trust me, that wasn't built entirely with private investment.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Must Own News Channels?

Today's poll question; do you think that the CRTC should force Canadian cable subscribers to buy CBC and CTV 24 hour news channels? I'm not sure how many Canadian realize when they subscribe to cable services that there are certain channels that the CRTC has mandated that they must own and pay for. It is completely fair to demand consumers be allowed to select which networks they would like to subscribe to, and not be forced to pay for something they have no interest in owning. It is also fair to demand that with competing networks that none be given any competitive advantage over another, as in the case of CBC and CTV over Sun TV News. However I don't believe that Canadians should be forced to buy any of them. A negative multiplied by a negative is not always a positive...

Farewell Kory Teneycke

I was sad to see that Kory Teneycke will be stepping down from his position atop the fledgling Sun TV news network, but he has a point when he describes becoming a lightning rod for the opponents of this project. Regardless of his qualifications, the fact that he was the communications director for the Prime Minister puts a dark storm cloud over his head in the eyes of the left. Does his resignation increase the probability that the CRTC grants them CBC/CTV type status? I have absolutely no idea, but it is plausible. I will be interested to see who is chosen as his replacement, and I fully expect he or she to be vilified by Don Newman et all.

One On One With Chicken Little

Last night I watched an interview with Liberal leader Mike Ignatieff by Peter Mansbridge, and I could not help but notice Chicken Little doing his best to try to convince viewers that the current state of the Canadian economy is far worse than the experts would have us believe. His evidence is that people have been complaining to him about their credit card debt. Iggy cited credit card debt to make his point on multiple occasions. I am very curious to know how exactly Iggy intends to remedy this problem. Our employment rate has held strong relative to other industrialized nations, and our deficit is affordable so long is it is temporary. Iggy would like us to extend the stimulus, which is at least consistent with their demands for a stimulus in January 2009. Though I find it a bit rich to complain about a deficit when the stimulus package which he demanded is the main source of deficit spending.

Back to credit card debt, if Iggy is signaling this as a problem, then what is his solution? Should we make credit more prohibitive? These people showing up at Liberal BBQ's complaining about their own spending of money they did not have, they probably should not have been extended this extra credit in the first place if they could not afford it. So when these people approach Iggy, are they asking him to pay their credit card bills, or looking for him to say that they should never have been issued that much credit to begin with? I would really like to know what Iggy's plans are for this problem he is complaining about, instead of just citing it as a reason to possibly take down the government.

It is clear that Ignatieff is going to make a big issue about the purchase of fighter jets, where he admits that our current fleet needs to be replaced. Considering that this whole fighter jet contract started as a Liberal development project before the Tories were in power, I do find it ironic that they are going to fight the Tories going forward with a Liberal contract. Why aren't the Liberals taking credit for this starting under their government? Because they remember Chretien in part taking down Mulroney/Campbell over the helicopter contracts once upon a time, and they want to repeat. Meanwhile, it turned out that was a necessary purchase and the cancelling of that contract ended up being a huge mistake.

Make no mistake, this is not about right and wrong, this is about the Liberals choosing issues over which to fight an election. If they think that the purchase of military aircraft will anger Canadians, then they take the perceived populist side of the issue even if the project is necessary.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dinner With Mark And Justin

For the low low price of just $100 a plate, you too can dine with Justin Trudeau or Mark Holland this month, shockingly tickets are still available. If you are a "Victory Fund Member" you can dine with Mark Holland for just $35, but must still pay full price to dine with the dauphin.

Warning: If you are not a Victory Fund Member but try to sneak us as a Victory Fund Member for dinner with Mark just to get the discount, they will hit you up for an extra $65 at the door. I don't know if "VF fraud" is a big problem at these Liberal fundraisers, but they felt it necessary to put that disclaimer on the ticket page.

"Please note those purchasing VF tickets without being VF donors will be asked for an additional $ 65 at the door". I suppose they have a re-occurring problem with potential donors trying to get a discount at fundraising events.  They will be checking, so consider yourself warned.

Open Mike

Shortly after Parliament resumes this month, Liberal leader Mike Ignatieff will be embarking on a series of "open Mike" town hall style meetings to answer people's questions. I suppose that he couldn't have fit any of these into his summer tour, so best wait until Parliament is back in session so that Iggy doesn't have to show up for votes in the House of Commons. The man really looks for any excuse to avoid actually sitting in the seat he was elected in which to sit. Iggy was the 2nd most absent MP in the last session of Parliament, this coming after his hypocritical outcry during prorogation when he railed on how important it was to allow Parliament to do its work. Parliament must be allowed to do its work, so long as Iggy himself doesn't have to show up to work. You might recall that Iggy departed on a "Listening Tour" two weeks after the end of prorogation, when he had 2.5 months that he could have done it during prorogation, leaving his seat in the Commons empty while his comrades voted on legislation.  Even Kady O'Malley was miffed that he left so soon after Parliament resumed.

Personally I hope that the questions are spontaneous and not planted, because I find that many Liberals have a predisposition to saying either stupid or insulting things when they speak publicly off script. People will supposedly be allowed to ask questions online, so we will see if anyone asks him for his position on federal funding for an arena in Quebec. Right now he doesn't seem to want to talk about it. What programs would he cut to balance the budget? Would an Ignatieff administration extend or end stimulus spending? There are plenty of questions that the Liberals would rather not answer right now.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Do You Know How To Read?

Today's poll question; do you know how to read? After the recent comments by Iggy's former chief of staff (who recruited him away from Boston and into Canadian politics) that people who buy Sun newspapers don't know how to read; I'd like to figure out what percentage of my readers know how to read. If you are unable to read the text on the screen in front of you, hopefully you can find a Liberal somewhere close by to read it for you. I know that the Blogging Tories likely share some readers with the Sun newspapers, so if this myth is true maybe we should start recording audio versions of our blogs? How else do you tap into that audience of readers who don't know how to read?

All joking aside, I think this illustrates how Liberal elites generally look down upon the common folk. I would imagine that this tone of dialogue is quite common at Liberal cocktail parties.

Cuban Communist Utopia: Up In Smoke

Today the government of Cuba announced that they will be cutting 10% of their government work force because "our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities, services and budgeted sectors with bloated payroll losses that hurt the economy". This cannot be a good day for Michael Moore or Hugo Chavez, who have long praised Cuba as a socialist utopia that should be a shinning example of heaven on earth for the rest of the world. Well guess what, communism doesn't work. I wonder how Fidel Castro feels about his brother's move towards free market capitalism? Raul took over from his brother in 2008, so it is unclear if Fidel approves of any of these reforms; which includes issuing more private business licenses, transfering more workers from the public sector to private sector, diminishing the state's roll in the Cuban economy.

“We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world in which people can live without working” - Raul Castro

Meanwhile you have Hugo Chavez trying to turn Venezuela into Cuba, so this new Cuban revolution can only hurt his mojo. Will these reforms ripple throughout the socialists movements across Latin America, or will Raul Castro be vilified? Regardless, these have to be very somber revelations for communists and socialists everywhere. Michael Moore has to be crying in his Coco Puffs.


If you want to watch an interesting movie on the Cuban revolution, I recommend Lost City with Andy Garcia.

Question About The Gun Registry

I have a question about gun crimes in Canada that should be available if anyone can tell me the answer. What percentage of gun crimes in Canada were carried out with a weapon registered in the long gun registry? I would assume that the majority were committed by criminals who did not register their weapons and that the registry itself does nothing to prevent these criminal acts. However if any significant proportion of gun crimes came from registered guns, then the registry can serve a useful purpose in law enforcement investigations. It may not prevent the crime from taking place, but if it can help catch and prosecute criminals, then the registry would have some value to our society.

I have never been a gun registry advocate, on either side of the debate, but given that Parliament will soon be voting on whether or not to scrap it; I would be curious to know what percentage of gun crimes happened with a registered gun? And what percentage of crimes solved were solved with information from the gun registry? If the answer to either or both of those questions is an insignificant number, then clearly the long gun registry is a waste of money and should be scrapped.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

I wonder if opposition MPs will credit the Conservative government for Canada adding nearly 36,000 jobs in August, considering how eager they were to blame the Tories for the loss of jobs in July. Our country has added jobs in almost every month of this year, but as soon as job numbers dip once, suddenly the opposition is outraged. To all the fiscal conservatives who are angry that the Prime Minister authorized a stimulus package, who think he is spending money like a drunken sailor, how do you explain Canada's economic performance in this global economic collapse being better than virtually every other G20 country? Sure, he is completely irresponsible and his judgment is flawed; and yet, Canada has been the shinning light to the rest of the world for how to deal with this disaster.

Maybe you should calm down, take your valium, and maybe trust our leader? I am going to trust Stephen Harper on matters of economic stimulus. He has a Masters degree in Economics. I only have an undergraduate honours degree in Mathematical Economics. If Stephen Harper wants to build an arena in Quebec City, I will support him.

Jesse Ventura's Mental Disorder

Yesterday on the anniversary of 9/11, I watched a documentary by Jesse "the body" Ventura on OLN trying to make the case that the terrorist attack was actually carried out by the Bush administration. I am curious if there are any mental health professionals out there who can diagnose his specific mental disorder, because after watching his doc, I can come to no other conclusion than the man suffers from some form of mental defect. He is completely consumed by this conspiracy theory. At one point he suggests that there is a type of paint that burns at over a thousand degrees which was applied by the government inside the buildings to melt the steel and collapse the buildings. If this was not enough, he goes on to suggest that the government has painted this explosive paint inside buildings all over the country. He looked into the camera with a frightening glance and said "it could be everywhere".

I'd like to know his official psychiatric diagnosis, because this man is not grounded in reality. Is he schizophrenic? Bipolar? Or just plain stupid?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Revive Reform?

Last night I was listening to the Charles Adler Show where there was a discussion on the prospect of the federal government partially funding the construction of a hockey arena in Quebec. While Chuck was taking phone calls on the issue there were several comparisons to the Western anger at Mulroney that led to the creation of the Reform party, splitting the right in two. There were even suggestions, if not threats, at a Reform type party splitting away again if this goes forward. Seriously??? The west was angry at Mulroney, they split the Tories in two, and the end result was a decade of Jean Chretien. The Reform party accomplished nothing. It in fact damaged Canada by handing the Liberals 3 easy majority governments. Do you really want a decade of Prime Minister Ignatieff? Will that fix anything?

I listen to callers say that they have been a Conservative for 30 years, but will vote for Ignatieff if this goes forward. That doesn't make any pragmatic sense, considering that the Liberals are not opposing the initiative. Even if you are fiscally conservative and don't want the government funding this economic development, this is like fighting fire with gasoline. Saying you are against spending by supporting a party that will spend more is a scorched earth strategy that will not benefit the country. Canadians love hockey. Last season 100% of Canadian NHL tickets were bought by hockey fans. Each franchise provides the government with millions of dollars in tax revenue each year. It is not a sunk cost, it is an investment.

I understand the argument that if private investment can't cover 100% of the cost then it shouldn't be done, I just don't agree with it in the case of an NHL franchise. There is a 0% chance that the NHL will return to Quebec City without a new arena, and there is a 75% chance that it will with a new barn. In this economic climate private investors do not have significant disposable income and are risk averse. You may not support the government injecting stimulus money into the economy, but the Prime Minister did not advocate a stimulus until it was demanded by the opposition in our minority Parliament. Now the money has to be spent, so let’s at least spend it on something that will provide a return on the investment.

If you build it, they will come...

Canadian NHL Tax Revenue

Would investing in a 7th Canadian NHL franchise be a waste of government money? I hear a lot of people saying that, so let's take a look at the revenue that the Canadian NHL franchises generate. In 2008, the Toronto Maple Leafs sold an average of $1.9 million dollars in tickets to each home game, which works out to roughly $78 million dollars per season. The other Canadian franchises were not far behind, with Montreal at 1.7, Vancouver at 1.4, Calgary at 1.3, with Montreal and Ottawa rounding out the list at 1.2 per game. The federal government earns $4 million dollars per year in GST revenue just off ticket sales at the Air Canada Center. The financially weakest NHL franchise, Ottawa, generates $2.5 million annually in tax dollars. That does not count concession sales, merchandizing, or advertising revenue.

And how about employment income? Between office staff, concessions, janitors, hosts, conversions, security, et all, an NHL arena would employ between 300-500 people. These people collectively would earn several thousand dollars in income each game, which over a 41 game home schedule would translate to millions of dollars in employment income annually which produces even more tax revenue for the government. I would estimate that each franchise generates 10-20 million dollars in tax revenue for the Canadian government each year. They employ hundreds of people, and provide a product that Canadians want to pay to see, from which they derive pleasure.

And how about those rich millionaire athletes that everybody loves complaining about? They buy expensive houses, expensive cars, and other luxury items that are...you guessed it...taxed by the government. They pay income tax, a lot more than the janitor mopping the floors after the game. Franchises generate revenue and jobs, certainly a lot more than an art gallery, bike path, bridge to nowhere, or dog park. Helping bring the NHL back to Quebec City is not a waste of government money, it is an investment in future earnings.

Liberal Party Neglecting Women

When Liberal leader Mike Ignatieff announced his new shadow cabinet shuffle last week, noticeably absent from the list of high profile promotions were women. I suppose it is simply a foregone conclusion in the land of Liberals that they will get the majority of female votes, and it is not necessary to promote them to their prominent front bench positions. Though I can't say that I disagree with Carolyn Bennett's demotion from the Health portfolio, even if she is more qualified for that position than her replacement, disgraced former NDP Premier Ujjal Dosangh.

Their moral compass on women's health is certainly skewed, promoting the idea that the best way to save lives of mothers and babies in Africa is to build more abortion clinics. Who cares that the primary causes of death in the 3rd world are starvation, contaminated drinking water, and disease; the maternal health debate was a great opportunity for the Liberals to re-open the abortion debate in Canada. If their motive was truly to save the lives of women, they should be focused on the factors that kill them. You could save tens of thousands more lives by building safe diarrhea clinics as opposed to safe abortion clinics.

Friday, September 10, 2010

9/11 Conspiracies

I just finished watching an excellent documentary on the History channel debunking the 9/11 conspiracy theories, and I have to tip my hat to the good people at Popular Mechanics for their fantastic technical analysis, especially Davin Coburn. It is one thing to believe that George Bush received information that there was a possible terrorist attack about to occur in the United States and failed to take necessary precautions; but to believe that W. and his people actually carried out the attack takes a special kind of mental disorder. Was 9/11 preventable? Absolutely. Did George Bush order the planes to be hijacked and flown into the World Trade Centers? Are you f#@king crazy???

Here is a part of the documentary. The rest of it is available on Youtube.

Arena-gate Compromise

According to Chantal Hebert, the Tories risk losing all their Quebec seats if they renege on this proposal to assist in the construction of a new arena in Quebec City; and according to Jane Taber, they risk a caucus revolt if they proceed with the initiative. Even though nothing has officially been done on this matter, the Conservatives are now allegedly damned if they do, damned if they don't. I think the best way to resolve this dispute is to put it to a free vote in Parliament whether or not stimulus money should go to the construction of new arenas, be it in Quebec or Saskatchewan. Make sure to word it so that it is not a confidence motion, and allow all MPs to vote their conscious on the issue. If it is defeated by a free vote by all parties, then you can't blame the Prime Minister for reneging support. If Maxime Bernier wants to vote against it, he can vote against it. I know that Denis Coderre supports it, and he's probably not the only Liberal who does. Make the Liberals say yes or no, don't just let them sit back and watch Conservatives argue amongst themselves.

It should be noted that Chantal Hebert is not always right about the pulse of the Quebecois. You might recall prior to the last election she predicted that the Tories would lose all their Quebec seats over arts funding-gate. Last time I checked, the Tories still have Quebec MPs. I for one would like to see the Quebec caucus expand, not retract.

Bell Buys CTV

Here is some good news; the Toronto Star is selling its ownership stake in CTV which is being bought by Bell Canada. The Financial post is reporting that the Globe and Mail newspaper is also being sold off to the holding company of the Thomson family. The Toronto Star has divested itself of its stake in both CTV and the Globe and Mail, which are not being split into two separate entities from CTV Globemedia. Will Jane Taber still be able to set the agenda at the Globe and CTV News channel? I don't know, but I hope that her television tenure will soon be at an end. She is always laughing even when discussing serious subjects. This week she had a guest who was alleging that NATO troops were hunting innocent civilians for sport, and she really seemed to be enjoying herself.

The Toronto Star owns fewer media outlets today than they did yesterday (though the deal must first be approved by the CRTC), and that makes today a good day. What's interesting is that CTV is worth roughly $1.5 billion dollars in equity with $1.7 billion dollars in debt. So if the number one television network in the country with 30 specialty channels and the CHUM radio network is worth $1.5 billion dollars, then how much could we get if we put the CBC up for auction? Guaranteed it would be less than the worth of CTV, where the CBC receives a billion dollars annually from parliamentary appropriations and CTV does not. The CBC does not generate enough revenue to cover its expenses, not by a long shot.

Arenas Generate Revenue And Jobs

I understand that Chantal Hebert, Andrew Coyne, Allan Gregg, and Don Martin among others are united in their opposition to funding the construction of arenas as a means of stimulating economic activity and that there is populist opposition to this proposition. The theory goes that we should not subsidize infrastructure for millionaire athletes or invest money in public buildings. As it so happens, I spent two years working in the catacombs of General Motors Place in Vancouver, and I can say with absolute certainty that the building generated millions of dollars in economic activity separate even from the NHL franchise. If a building cost 500 million dollars to build, at least half of that is going to the wages of the workers who are doing the building. That money gets filtered into numerous sectors of the economy. Local contractors and blue collar workers get paid to build it, and those people spend the money that they earn in local businesses.

Concerts, hockey games, and special events generate millions of dollars for a product that people want to pay to see. Hundreds of people are employed to work these events, and the money those people earn is spent in the local economy. A local arena may employ a dozen people. A pro sports caliber arena employs at least 500 people, if not more. If you oppose this project because you don't like hockey, fine. It is the most popular recreational sport in our culture, so should we completely dismiss how many people in our country love it? I can't say with certainty that such a project will generate a long term profit, but I can assure you that thousands of people will derive happiness from their experiences at the facility. What kind of price tag do you put on pleasure?

If you build it, they will come...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Does The NHL Belong In Quebec City?

Do you think that there should be an NHL franchise in Quebec City? Regardless of whether or not you think the government should make an investment in the building of a new arena, do you support the return of the Nordiques? I was sad when both the Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques move to the United States, and I would very much like to see them return. I strongly support the government offering financial assistance to build a new barn in QC, but I understand that this is not exactly a populist position. I love hockey and derive personal satisfaction from the success of the game in Canada, with the exception of Montreal and Toronto, two cities I enjoy watching fail.

I support any Canadian city's bid for a future Olympic Games. I support the building of as many sports venues as can be managed, and I support the federal government investing in our athletic infrastructure. I know that Don Martin (in big bold letters at the Post's website) thinks that the Prime Minister is just doing this to buy votes, and that he is probably not alone in this belief. Frankly I don't care if the Prime Minister is just doing this to buy votes in Quebec because I support the initiative regardless of motive. Vote Conservative in the next election and increase the likelihood that hockey grows in Canada...I like the sound of that.

I would even support putting a franchise in Whitehorse...hypothetically...

Ujjal Dosanjh New Liberal Health Critic

“Assigning Ujjal Dosanjh, a former health minister and former provincial premier, I think demonstrates our determination to have a very real focus on health issues,” Mr. Goodale said. Here we go again! Every so often the Liberal Party likes to boast about Ujjal Dosanjh's 15 month tenure as Premier of British Columbia, before leading the BC NDP from majority government to a disastrous 2 seats. I would insert a joke about a socialist version of Kim Campbell, but I feel conflicted. I think that Kim was a far more competent politician than Ujjal, but like Ujjal I don't hold her tenure in any high esteem (it should be noted that the same voters who sent Kim Campbell to Ottawa have elected Hedy Fry 6 times in almost 20 years).

Lest we forget, in the last federal election Ujjy barely won his own seat by 22 votes after a recount. For a former health minister and provincial premier, you would think that he would perform better in local elections, where the people know him the best. This man is not held in very high esteem by the people he represents or by the general population of the Province he once led for 15 months. He was never elected Premier. He worked with the RCMP to overthrow his boss and was brutally punished by voters when he ran in an election for a mandate as Premier. His greatest accomplishment as a politician is that he managed to be Premier longer than Kim Campbell or Joe Clark lasted as Prime Minister. 

Ralph, I'm not sure you want to be crossing the country bragging about this guy.  Maybe he sells east of the rockies, where the voting public did not experience life under Ujjal's rule.

"I think you will be happier very soon ... this week probably" - Scott Brison

The Liberal Party has a new Finance critic, as John McCallum (who can't remember what kind of car he drives) has been reassigned to Transport critic. If the irony of McCallum in Transport wasn't too much already, Ignatieff replaced him with former Public Works Minister Scott Brison; who famously e-mailed a contact at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce the day before newly appointed deputy leader (then Finance Minister) Ralph Goodale was set to announce new income trust/dividend policy "I think you will be happier very soon ... this week probably". The day after the e-mail was sent, the CBC reports "there are big jumps in trading activity in a number of income trusts and dividend-paying stocks, and prices move higher."

Scotty insists that he was commenting on the state of the market in general, not tipping his friends in the banking sector about an upcoming policy announcement by a fellow cabinet member.  The resulting flurry in stock market activity prior to the announcement prompted an investigation by the RCMP.

As the CBC reported:


Mar. 7, 2006:


Former public works minister Scott Brison responds to an article published in the Globe and Mail about the RCMP investigation. The article reveals that on Nov. 22, 2005, one day before Ralph Goodale revealed the new policy on income trust and dividends, Brison sent an e-mail to an acquaintance at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. In that e-mail Brison wrote, "I think you will be happier very soon ... this week probably." Brison said the e-mail contained no specifics about what Goodale would announce because Brison didn't know the details. He said the e-mail was a general response to the bank employee's complaints about the state of the stock market.


Brison says he discussed the e-mail with the RCMP on Jan. 18, 2006. He denies that he leaked anything.


Nov. 22, 2005:


Goodale tells reporters he may provide some direction on the income trust issue before the review period ends.


Nov. 23, 2005:


There are big jumps in trading activity in a number of income trusts and dividend-paying stocks, and prices move higher. By the close of trading at 4 p.m., rumours are widely circulating that some kind of trust announcement is imminent. Shortly after 5 p.m., the government releases the details: no new taxes on income trusts and more favourable tax treatment for stock dividends. Goodale tells a subsequent news conference the income trust review has ended.


Nov. 24, 2005:


With the new policy officially out, investors jump into trusts and dividend-paying blue chip stocks. The TSX gains 162 points and closes at a five-year high. The income trust sector gains 4.3 per cent that day; BCE climbs 6.5 per cent.


Nov. 25, 2005:


Some market watchers, citing the trading patterns on Nov. 23, publicly wonder if the details of the income trust announcement leaked out. Goodale denies any information slipped out early. "There was no leak," he says.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Was Iggy's Dumbest Shadow Cabinet Appointment?

Today's poll question, what was Ignatieff's dumbest shadow cabinet appointment this week? While John McCallum will be sorely missed by Conservatives in the finance portfolio, you must appreciate the irony of an MP with a history of public intoxication who can't remember what kind of car he drives being assigned Transport critic. I'm not sure it is a smart move putting this guy in charge of planes, trains, and automobiles. Blowhard Gerard Kennedy seems well suited to the Environment, where blowhardiness is a common trait among environmental activists. Ralph Goodale becomes Iggy's first deputy leader, which feels like a shot across Bob Rae's bow. Was Tie Domi not available? Bobby is the next in line to the throne, but I don't know if Liberal rules allow deputies to supplant the leader before a leadership convention. God help us all if we ever put Justin Trudeau in charge of the real office of Citizenship and Immigration.

So what would you say was the worst pick?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tom Clark's Power Play Replacement?

Can anyone confirm if CTV has chosen a replacement for Tom Clark, who is stepping aside of host of their daily politics information program? Jane Taber was hosting today, and I am curious to know if she is just standing in, or if she is the lead candidate to replace Clark. Neither Clark nor Taber (who does the Sunday show) were nominated in Evan Soloman's Gemini "Best Host of a News Information Program", which nominated entirely CBC hosts. Jane Taber is among the most biased editorialists in the Canadian media, and I have trouble believing that programming executives at CTV would see her as a viable long term option.

Is Jane Taber just a temporary host? Do we have any idea who is being considered for the job, or has it already been decided?

"Liberals Unleash David McGuinty"

I'm sure every Tory MP lies in bed every night wide awake, afraid that one day they might have to face David McGuinty in the House of Commons. By appointing him House Leader, Mike Ignatieff is sending the message "they want to play tough they should watch who they wrangle with" or so a Liberal official told Jane Taber. He replaces Ralph Goodale, one of the most aggressive and vocal partisans in Parliament. From what I have seen in the legislature David McGuinty is a laid back nice guy compared to Ralph. If I were a House Leader, I would much rather negotiate with the hapless McGuinty than the vitriolic Goodale. I'm not exactly sure what John Baird is supposed to be afraid about.

Also, I am mourning the loss of John McCallum as Finance critic. I thought it was really awesome to have the speech slurring drunk in one of the opposition’s most important roles. Whatever requires Johnny to speak in public the most often, the better for the Tories. I also wonder what took Iggy so long to replace Ujjal as Defense critic. Do you think Bob Rae is disappointed that he wasn't named deputy?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Which Coalition Partner Has The Advantage?

Today's poll question is which coalition partner has the greatest advantage heading into the fall session of Canadian Parliament? The Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc stand plausibly poised to form government if the Conservatives win a 3rd minority term after the next election, or the less likely event that the Liberals manage to pull out a slim minority. Terms of agreement have already been negotiated by party elders, but it is unlikely that all three agree on the timing of the next election. The question is which has the most to gain if there is an election in the near future? If Jack thinks he can hold his existing seats or add new seats, he would be likely to risk an election in a confidence vote. I am uncertain what the polling numbers would have to be or how long the Liberals would have to sustain them before Ignatieff begins actively trying to collapse the government. I think the Liberals would need to be leading, and sustain it over a few weeks of polling by more firms than just Liberal donor Frank Graves.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Environmental Equilibrium

Have you noticed lately that every time there is any variance from expectation in the natural world, suddenly the voices on television are attributing it to climate change? Dolphins spotted off Vancouver Island, climate change. Bad sockeye run last year, great sockeye run this year, climate change. I'm wondering if these people appreciate that nature rarely exists in steady state equilibrium? Virtually all ecosystems cycle through good times and bad, good weather and bad, and just because something happens that you did not expect does not mean that the world is coming to an end. Dynamic mathematics shows that most natural data oscillates around equilibrium, it rarely stays locked in steady state. It warms, it cools, it warms, it cools, and so on and so forth. Seeing dolphins in Nanaimo doesn’t mean that New York will be 30 feet under water in 50 years.

The Green Party will not win a seat in the next election whenever it is. I would bet money on that.

Layton And Ignatieff

I will be most curious to see how NDP polling numbers evolve now that a number of pundits have been proclaiming Iggy's summer tour as a success that will have a lasting impact. Will the Liberals eat away at NDP support, or does Lucky Jack remain a bigger threat to Iggy than visa versa? If you see a poll with the Greens over 12%, I would not take it seriously. They have been losing membership amid internal turmoil, and Liberal donor Frank Graves remains the only pollster who seriously believes the Greens could win a seat right now.

But if Iggy is indeed going to see a Summer Tour bump in his polling numbers, how steady will Jack's numbers hold? He has a really good excuse for not doing a summer tour, as he has been fighting prostate cancer. One has to wonder if Jack's feel good story will eat away at the Liberal's compassionate left flank?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How Much Did The Liberal Summer Tour Cost?

One question that I don't hear many pundits asking as the Liberal bus tour draws to an end; is how much did this little adventure cost? Many are agreeing that the Liberal leader is better off having done the tour than had he vacationed in France. Shaking hands with thousands of Canadians should lead to a bump in the polls, but whether that's temporary or permanent remains to be seen. Iggy pop has a terrible polling record when Parliament is in session as Liberal leader, so his ability to sustain any momentum into day to day politics is rightly questionable. It is easier to show up at a BBQ than it is to whip your caucus into voting for your party's bill to fund foreign abortions.

Does anyone know how much was spent this summer by the Liberal Party? Were elected members able to expense any part of the Liberal tour to taxpayers? How much did they pay for that small bump in the polls? Can the Liberals hold at or near the 30% level into November and December? That will be the best indicator of whether or not we will face a spring showdown on the budget. I maintain my position that there will not be an election in 2010.

Trouble At The NHLPA?

If anyone else was paying attention yesterday when the National Hockey League Player's Association bowed to NHL demands to close the front-weighted salary loophole; you may be convinced as I am that there are big problems with the hockey player's union. They should have been fighting to allow these contracts to continue and could have fought a class action lawsuit on behalf of its members had the NHL voided previously approved contracts. The advantage to the players for allowing these contracts is very clear; it maximizes the amount of actual cash they can extract from a contract by front loading the payments. Their members would leave less money on the table when they retire before the expiration of the long-term deal should the loophole have been allowed to continue.

Some sportstalk radio conspiracy theorists are even suggesting that the NHL timed this to take advantage of the union's weakness, which may not be as crazy as it sounds. Something is wrong with the NHLPA that they did not fight a battle to continue this practice. I don't believe that the NHL ever intended to void Luongo's contract or Hossa's contract a year after they were approved. They threatened to void Marc Savard's contract, which was signed before he sustained a serious concussion and now his long term value has changed; and Savard's agent threatened to sue. I think that the NHL threatened to void those contracts to scare the union into accepting the terms of an amendment to the salary cap rules.

It is the only thing that makes any sense.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Atwood Hypocrisy

Let me get this straight, Margret Atwood told the Globe and Mail that she supports censorship of a potentially right leaning Canadian news organization because of "what she sees as Mr. Harper’s pattern of silencing the voices of his critics". She wants to silence voices that have a different opinion than she does about politics because of what she perceives as our Prime Minister silencing the voices of those who do not agree with him. If that is not a steaming heap of hypocrisy, I don't know what is. The creation of a news network that favours one party over another is not silencing any voices, it is creating more voices. There will be more opinion in the public sphere, and artists should be encouraging free speech instead of demanding censorship just because they disagree with an opinion. There are plenty of voices favourable to the Liberal Party in the national media. I don't hear Margie demanding that their voices be silenced.

This network would create more jobs for media members and more competition in the media market. When the establishment blowhards like Don Newman come out attacking more voices in the national conversation, it isn't about principles it is about ratings and competing for audience share. Isn't it bad enough that the CRTC mandates that people must get the CBC? Subscribers have to have the CBC in their cable packages. That's the law. They make you buy it. But giving people the option to purchase a product that they want watch because it is more likely to be consistent with their opinion; suddenly the sky is falling?

Why are "artists" supporting censorship?

Gemini Award Nominated Evan Soloman

Congratulations to the CBC's Evan Soloman for being nominated for Best Host or Interviewer in a News Information Program at the 2010 Gemini awards. If you are anything like me, your first reaction to this news might be "if E-Solo was nominated, I wonder who his competition is?" The answer is all fellow CBC employees. Other Canadian networks do the news, but the CBC is the only one that matters to the Gemini awards. If you read through all 28 pages of nominations, you will see many categories dominated by the CBC, which ironically is one of the worst rated Canadian networks (certainly when weighted against the number of Canadian televisions that have access to it). Needless to say there are many frivolous awards available, with a whole lot of nominees that I had never heard of before.

If this is seriously the list of our best hosts of news information programs in Canada, then what does that say about the quality of news information in Canada? With a list of nominees this weak, it does say something that Jane Taber couldn't even get nominated for Question Period. I do like Amanda Lang, though I confess that it is not because of her excellence in journalism...

Best Host or Interviewer in a News Information Program

Heather Hiscox - CBC News Now
Erica Johnson - CBC News: Marketplace
Amanda Lang - The Lang & O'Leary Exchange
Bob McKeown - CBC News: The Fifth Estate
Evan Solomon - Power and Politics