Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It’s all gone quiet over here (and the last word on Canada's Liberals)

Astute observers of the internet in general, and equine-themed politics blogs in particular, will have noticed an eerie silence from this site of late.

Canadian politics has rarely been as interesting as it is now. Minority governments have treated Canadians to greater transparency of their legislative process (when the legislature is permitted to meet that is) and given more relief between the parties’ approaches to issues and impasses.

But while there is more to write about than ever, there seems to be less and less time to write – at least anything worth reading that is. And as the very first post to this site said, the problem with blogs is quality. Do your research, make tight arguments, avoid the ad hominum and with any luck, you will write the kind of blog you would want to read. But in short, if you aren’t trying, don’t try.

All to say that for the next little at least, it’s all going to get a whole lot quieter around here.

But instead of leaving it like this, let’s leave it like this …

The Liberal Party of Canada will never be an alternative to the Conservatives, precisely because so many Liberals agree with Stephen Harper.

The evidence of this is legion, but the most recent is right here.

Today the Ignatieff Liberals pushed the biggest, ugliest, loudest, hot-buttoniest political hot-button Canadian politics has to offer on the right / left divide … and members of the Liberal caucus pushed it right back.

In their attempt to entrap the Conservatives on abortion, the Liberals exposed their own two-facedness on this touchstone issue of social conservativism when John McKay, Paul Szabo, and Dan McTeague voted against their party’s motion, while other right-wing Liberals Albina Guarnieri, Gurbax Malhi and Derek Lee abstained.

This isn’t the first example of Liberals pretending to stand for something only to show they stand for the opposite; it is only the latest.

Today, if you want women to have the right to choose, there are Liberal MPs for that. But if you want abortion outlawed and returned to back alleys, there are Liberal MPs for that too.

If you are in favour of public health care, there are Liberal MPs for that. But if you want private for profit delivery, there are Liberal MPs for that too.

Does this sound like a party that is an alternative to Stephen Harper?

This Red/Blue convergence is borne from the fact that the modern federal Liberal Party, bereft of leadership, has taken the aggregation of interests to the bizarre extreme of aggregating opposite interests and calling it a party.

The sum of it is that there is no greater unity of opinion on any issue in the Liberal Party of Canada than you would expect to find on a city bus. The difference is, at least the people on the bus know where they are headed.

So, just like they have years ago in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, and most recently Nova Scotia, Canadians looking for a change from the old politics will look past the tired and confused Liberals, to Jack Layton’s New Democrats. The change will come.

"Courage, my friends; 'tis not too late to build a better world." - T.C. Douglas

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Do-nothing Tories take a bold stand in favour of doing-nothing

Aaron Wherry follows-up on the New Democrats' call for a commission to study increasing violence in sport. He notes the un-surprising Conservative un-response.

"A spokesperson for Sports Minister Gary Lunn said it is up to the various leagues to police themselves. ”We feel it’s a question best left to the leagues and the role of the federal government is to support players and athletes in their development and to support their coaches to make a good training environment for youth,” press secretary Vanessa Schneider said."

So let's break it down for hockey moms and dads: not only do the Harper's Conservatives not share your concern about Manhunt III-levels of violence on the same ice as your 7 year-old, but they also plan to make you pay more for the privilege of agonizing over it through their HST on rec hockey fees.

And this is supposed to be Harper's base?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A swing and a miss for Stephen Taylor

Once again, careless Aerosmith fans are struggling to understand the latest content emanating from Stephen Taylor’s primordial blog.

Featured is a Dion-quality video of New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen being interviewed by what appears to be a less rugged Adam West from the original Batman series.

On the basis of four and a half minutes (blessedly edited) of childish questions, Taylor has seen fit to declare Cullen politically wounded – so much so that he compares the affible MP to right-wing footnote Randy White’s unfortunate running of the mouth circa 2004.

Now let’s take a step back and evaluate shall we?

Cullen answers off-color questions from some buffoon in a plastic suit with appropriate awkwardness.

Randy White was taped as part of a documentary saying he favored governments and legislators using the notwithstanding clause to overturn court cases he disagreed with … including extending rights to gays and lesbians.

Not only is the equivalence lost, it's afraid to ask for directions.

But keep up the … um, work, Mr Taylor.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Support growing for New Democrats' call for Senate abolition

The Toronto Star's Bob Hepburn has penned this well-argued piece today in which he aligns with Jack Layton and the New Democrats' long-standing call for the abolition of the unelected, unaccountable Senate.

In it, Hepburn points to the growing political will for this common sense reform that was first put forth by the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) back in the 1930s:

“Support for abolishing the Senate is fairly strong in Canada. Provincial governments in Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba favour killing it and it has been NDP policy for a long time. Also, an Angus Reid survey last August found 33 per cent of us back such a move.”

In 2010 should Canadians still be forced to pay $90 million a year for the privilege of mainitinaing the jet-set lifestyles of party hacks parroting the party line while masquerading as legitimate legislators?

Canada's Senate: Don't fill it, kill it! ... and it's about time we got on with it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"I’ll see your proposal, and raise you Ned Franks"

Liberals badly misjudged the public mood against push-button prorogation. Appearing every bit as wedded to the old politics as Harper, Ignatieff declared last week that there should be no limits on the Prime Minister's prerogative to shut down the House of Commons whenever the mood strikes.

New Democrats on the other hand, directly addressed the public’s desire for change with a proposal to limit the prorogation power. The absent Liberal response did not go down well.

So yesterday, Ignatieff backtracked, jumping on the NDP’s bandwagon while exposing their nagging insecurity over the whole matter by suggesting to the media that their 7-point proposal had “trumped” the New Democrats’.

Enter, Ned Franks, Canada’s leading expert on constitutional and parliamentary procedure to take the air out of Ignatieff’s “Keep it Complicated, Professor” approach …

“Franks was not keen on the Liberal proposals, which he found unnecessarily complicated. He said history has shown that there's often good reason to prorogue after only a year or for longer than a month. He preferred the NDP's more straightforward proposal.”

But for his part, Layton has kept to his high-road approach, by welcoming Ignatieff's support and pledging to work with Liberals and the Bloc to put the breaks on future prorogations.

UPDATE: And then there's Coyne ... with a 369 year old word for the cynics.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Conservatives on party allowances: full coffers and empty words

Over at National Post, is this story about Harper’s oft-unhelpful former advisor Tom Flanagan. Flanagan is suggesting that the publicly funded political party allowances that the Conservatives have pretended to hate since November 2008 are now so entrenched in the system as to make them impossible to eliminate.

To prove his point, Flanagan need only look as far as his own party to find irrefutable evidence.

So convinced are the Conservatives that the $1.95 per vote allowance is the stuff of pure evil and “a waste of taxpayer’s dollars,” that they haven’t failed to cash all $40 million worth of these subsidy cheques since they became government. Seriously, has it not occurred to anyone in Harper’s HQ that it’s more than a little absurd to argue against the subsidies while gladly pocketing $2.6 million worth of them every quarter?

It’s not unheard of for parties to willingly disadvantage themselves to in the name of principle. There is no reason why Roy Romanow, Ed Broadbent or any other of a long line of New Democrat politicians shouldn’t have been appointed to the Senate. Past prime ministers have asked them to. Indeed the advantage of having sage NDPers organizing fundraisers and recruiting candidates from their perch in the Senate would be as big an advantage for the party as it is for Liberals and Conservatives. Yet, New Democrats, long opposed to the undemocratic Senate have denied themselves this perk. Indeed Harper’s Reform Party said they were so opposed to MPs pensions that several of them opted out in the 1990s … only to opt back in later.

So, where is this kind of principled opposition when it comes to the Conservatives and the $1.95 subsidy? Seriously, if they are opposed to it, when will they stop cashing the cheques? Until they do, they have zero credibility on the matter and are just playing the same old politics as the Liberals. Until they do, they should stop complaining about something they are as much a party to as any other.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

No fair! Liberals were about to call for a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Democracy!

Paul Wells links to Liberals unhappy with their party's most recent example of being inable to stand for anything unless the New Democrats stand for it first.