Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lorrie Goldstein And The Way Ahead

Greg Staples points to an article by the Sun's Lorrie Goldstein, giving vent to the frustration building within the ranks of small "c" conservatives at a looming Liberal "majority" on October 10. Mr. Goldstein points out the central truth of the upcoming "victory" for the Liberals:
If the last 10 days of the Ontario election campaign go the same as the first three weeks, two groups of people are going to wake up the morning of Oct. 11 with an awful hangover.

The first will be the majority of voters, especially Conservatives, who, not having voted for the party that won -- the Liberals -- will be wondering how a minor promise by Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory to publicly fund a few more faith-based schools, became the elephant in the room that obliterated everything else. (emphasis mine)

The second will be Liberals, who will be wondering how, in victory, they became the party of religious bigotry and ethnic bashing.

What is coming is another false majority, created by a minority of voters, swayed by the fear campaign of the Liberal Party. The real majority of voters will be left scratching their heads, wondering how a party that has broken so many promises could win a majority of seats by using fear of Muslims as its main weapon. But if they take a moment to think about it, the answer to their confusion is right in front of them. It is our broken electoral system.

The upcoming election, like all of our elections using FPTP, will create a legislature based on a lie. That lie is the presumption that somehow the results are based on the will of the majority of voters in this province. As Goldstein points out, this is just not so. The majority of the voters will cast their ballots against the winning party in this election just as they usually do. Will this reality stop the Liberals from behaving like they have a true majority mandate, when in fact they do not? Our history show us that it will not. The Liberals will trumpet their "majority" as a sign that they have the absolute right to move this province in any way they see fit and the majority will just have to live with it.

This outcome seems to be inevitable. But even if it isn't -- even if John Tory were to make an amazing comeback and swing seven or eight percent of the voters his way, the outcome would still be based on the lie of FPTP. The lie would benefit a different winner, and that's all.

However, though the outcome of this election is going to result in a sham majority, we needn't bang our heads against a wall. Sure, the majority of voters will get the shaft once again. Nothing new there. It will sting like hell. But, we can ensure that this is the last election we ever have to suffer the realization that the majority of voters have been trumped by the minority. We have it in our hands to pass MMP and make sure that in all subsequent elections, the will of the majority will be reflected in the creation of the Legislature. It will be the end of false majority rule in Ontario. The real majority may "lose" this election, but passing MMP will ease our pain. Vote MMP.
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Futurama Understands McGuintoryism

I tried to find this on Youtube, but the video has been taken down (thanks Twentieth Century Fox!). I did however, find this transcript from the episode "A Head in the Polls". It illustrates beautifully politics under McGuintoryism:
Johnson: [on TV] It's time someone had the courage to stand up and say: "I'm against those things that everybody hates".

[The other candidate is John Jackson.]

Jackson: [on TV] Now I respect my opponent. I think he's a good man but, quite frankly, I agree with everything he just said!

Fry: These are the candidates? They sound like clones. [He looks a little harder.] Wait a minute. They are clones!

Leela: Don't let their identical DNA fool you. They differ on some key issues.

Johnson: [on TV] I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far.

Jackson: [on TV] And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!
Two clone parties fighting for power, agreeing on virtually all issues except who should be in control. Is this the best we can do in Ontario? Shake up this clonefest. Vote MMP.
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Friday, September 28, 2007

Kitchener Waterloo All Candidates Meeting

So, I went to the all candidates meeting last night. The room was packed, with people of all ages (but let's face it mostly middle aged and up). It was a pretty tame affair overall, in a question and answer format. There was no debate as such. I will give you my impressions as dispassionately as I am able.

Liz Witmer (PC), the incumbent, is an old pro at these things. She is the most polished performer and most accomplished at sounding positive, but saying little. She had little trouble with the format and she had a good rapport with the audience. It is easy to see why she is successful. She is a good retail politician. Ms. Witmer, also did not have to defend government policy (although she did have to defend funding religious schools), which was the Liberal candidate's problem.

Judy Greenwood-Spears (Green), is a character. She is tough as nails and would be a formidable MMP. She made a bit of a connection with the crowd as the in-your-face, straight-talking, anti-politician. She had a little trouble keeping her answers to the time alloted.

Catherine Fife (NDP) is young, articulate and knows the issues. She presented herself as the "change" candidate. She is very, very charismatic in a situation like the one last night and I would say the audience liked her the best (whether they would vote for her is another question) at a gut level.

Louise Ervin (Liberal) is another old political pro. She, like Liz Witmer, has spent years in local school board politics. Unlike Witmer, she seemed ill at ease with the format. I suspect it was partly because she had to defend Dalton McGuinty most of the evening (an unenviable task). I would say, of the four, Ervin made the least connection with the room.

I won't go into too much detail about the questions, as they were your standard audience questions about the coal-fired electrical plant closure, taxes, abortion, and deadbeat parents. I do want to talk about how the candidates dealt with electoral reform and the election itself.

The question of the referendum came up a couple of times. One of the media representatives (who were there during the first hour), ask how each candidate was going to vote. Not surprisingly, Catherine Fife and Judy Greenwood-Spears were the most supportive of the MMP side.

Louise Ervin gave what could only be described as a train wreck of an answer. She started by saying she had educated herself on the issue and then proceeded to tell the audience that MMP would reduce the number of MPP's who are responsible to the people and increase the number of MPP's "appointed" by parties. She also claimed that MMP would hurt rural areas and the North. In other words, it looks to me like her "education" was limited to visiting the NOMMP website. Sadly, with this format, she went unchallenged, as there was no way to rebut her nonsense. This answer would however come back to haunt her later in the evening.

Liz Witmer gave a most interesting answer to the question. She said that the question of the referendum was coming up all over the riding as she knocked on doors. She then sidestepped how she was going to vote on the question herself. Her tone suggested to me however, that she had the feeling that MMP was popular and she did not want to alienate voters by condemning it. Her non-answer gave me some hope.

The issue of voting came up a couple of more times. Once, Louise Ervin flat out said that a vote for the NDP was a vote for "funding religious schools", i.e. a vote for Liz Witmer. Then, a Liberal plant got up and again, quite brazenly, asked the Green and NDP candidates why anyone would vote for them as they would be "wasting their vote" if they wanted to get rid of Liz Witmer. He then went on to describe the glories of strategic voting (the life's blood of the Liberal Party). Judy Greenwood-Spears gave him a poisonous look and said something to the effect that her goal was to get every vote in the riding and win. In other words, she was no protest candidate. Louise Ervin, to her credit, did not take the bait and advocate strategic voting. Even she could see that that message wasn't going to fly in this room.

Finally, a gentleman from Fair Vote Ontario made an opening remark about how we had three candidates who think the referendum is a good thing and one (Ervin) who didn't know anything about how list candidates were elected. That got a laugh from the audience (you had to be there, this guy was good). He then asked the candidates why the education campaign around the referendum has been so terrible. The opposition candidates agreed it was awful (and it is) and Louise Ervin gave a rambling answer about personal responsibility when it comes to referendum education.

That's it really. It was an interesting evening and from a partisan point of view (since I intend to vote NDP in this election), I would say that Catherine Fife did very, very well. Does she have a chance against Liz Witmer? Wow, that is going to be a pretty tall order. Witmer is an institution in this riding. However, the religious schools question, mixed with a desire for change, could give Fife an opportunity (since Ervin is most definitely not a "change" candidate). It is a long shot, but I wouldn't say it is impossible.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

MMP And The Philospher King Right

MMP has the authoritarians in Ontario worried. I am seeing, as we get closer to referendum day, things like the following showing up in comments and on other blogs.

lrc, a regular contributer to comments over at Political Staples, wrote this in response to Greg's support for MMP:
Majorities have no inherent moral virtue. Bad legislation passed by members representing 50% or more of the party preference of the general population will be no better than if it is passed by a legislative majority of individually-elected representatives whose broad party vote is some lesser number.
This is quite a revealing statement and I think it shares a similar origin to this one on Fuschi's Canadian Forum:
But, although democracy is far better than any of the alternatives, its intrinsic flaw is that it is subject to the skewing effects of lemming-like activity. As one of the Greek sages put it; ten fools can hold sway over nine wisemen. One dimensional thinkers can cause consequences to all, well beyond their scope of vision. Those whose attention span is torn between the future of our democratic progress, and the next episode of “American Idol”, can easily outnumber our wisemen.
Both writers harken back to Plato, who distrusted democracy and instead recommended strong rule by philosopher kings. Both lrc and Fuschi would rather have a strong ruler or a miniority group of "politically correct" rulers, than to trust the wisdom of the people as a whole. That may have been fine for 4th century BC Greece, but I trust the people of 21st century Ontario to make wise choices when they create a legislature. Trying to game the system to thwart the will of the people, as our current system does, just won't cut it.
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Mr. Coyne Speaks

I was in Toronto yesterday, visiting a distinguished professor from the University of Alberta. It was a great time Ace and thanks for saying I look the same as I did 23 years ago.

Anyway, I missed Andrew Coyne's latest on the stupidity of FPTP. This should be required reading by every voter in Ontario. H/T to Greg Staples.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Harper And Climate Change

I can't be bothered to get too excited by anything Harper does on climate change. I get it already. He really doesn't think it is a big deal. Meanwhile in Ontario, it is September 25 and it is going to be over 30 degrees today. In other news, the drought continues, the Great Lakes are shrinking, the Arctic is melting and the voters are getting worried. Harper is as useless as a Liberal on this file. If people want a change in direction in this area, they are going to have to vote for parties other than the Conservatives and Liberals in the upcoming election.

Update: Again, no big surprise. Harper's main goal is to sell intensity targets as a way out, for governments that want to look like they are combating global warming, while not doing anything at all. We should all be very proud, as a nation, to have produced such a leader at this time of global crisis.
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Congratulations Greg Staples. Attention Kady O'Malley

For being mentioned by Kady O'Malley on Don Newman's Show. Kady, if you are reading this, please be advised that there are blogs out here not affiliated with either the Liberals or Conservatives (you only mentioned what Liberal and Conservative blogs wrote about). Thank you.
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Ontario Can Lead The Way With MMP

So we can end stuff like this from showing up in the Globe's political coverage:
While the Conservatives and Liberals appear nearly tied for support, according to a Strategic Counsel survey in August, the same research found Mr. Harper has built up political capital with Canadians, strengthened his position in Quebec and gained support in the 905 area code around Toronto and in Southwestern Ontario.

Still, analysts warn that an election would be risky for Mr. Harper, especially if Liberals could steal back votes from the New Democrats using the threat of a Conservative majority. (emphasis mine)
We have to get this mentality out of our politics. It leads to bitter partisanship, with parties raiding each other for votes, using fear as their main weapon. Fear is the toxin that has sickened the body politic for years. Luckily there is a cure. It is called MMP, where every vote counts and fear of dictatorial false majorities is virtually eliminated. In Ontario, we can lead the way by giving the rest of the country a good example of how to move away from fear and smear politics. Vote MMP.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Norman Wiseman's Fun With Statisitics

I see Norman Wiseman is shilling for the no mmp forces, as usual. He wants to tell the population that people in countries with PR are clamoring to join us in the FPTP universe, so he writes the following:
As groups and parties like Fair Vote Canada, Equal Voice, the NDP and the Greens in Ontario agitate for PR, groups in some countries with PR rally against it. Recently, 800,000 Italians signed a petition demanding a referendum to move Italy away from PR and toward first-past-the-post. Italians voted in favour of such a change in a 1991 referendum, but that effort was finessed.
800,000, eh? That sure sounds like a big number, until you look up Italy's population, which is 58 million. So, about 1.3% of the population wants to get rid of PR. Numbers like that wouldn't even meet the threshold for gaining seats in the Ontario legislature, under the proposed system. It's nice though that cranks and loners have a friend in Norman Wiseman. I just wish he wouldn't pretend that these fine folks represent a mass movement, in order to mislead the voters of Ontario.

Update: A brief word about Prof. Wiseman's last paragraph:
Ontarians, in contrast, cannot complain that the Liberals "stole" their 2003 election victory. Their 46 per cent of the vote represented an undisputed mandate for governmental change. That is why the Ontario referendum is likely to fail.
1) No one is saying the Liberals "stole" the election in 2003. 2)46% of the vote is not a majority and so on its own cannot alone be seen as a mandate for anything. Also, should we interpret 46Z of the vote to be a mandate for 70% of the seats and 100% of the power in Ontario? Mr. Wiseman doesn't answer this because he knows the answer wouldn't pass the laugh test. 3)As for the referendum failing, we shall see.
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Coyne Writes More About MMP...

And conservatives should give his words due consideration. His argument mirrors my own discussions with Greg Staples and reading Coyne could go a long way to explain why a rock-ribbed conservative like Greg is supporting MMP. Here is a taste:
Living on a knife-edge does strange things to people. On the one hand, it leaves the parties in a perpetual fever of anticipation, convinced they have only to gain a few points in the polls to destroy their opponents. That is one reason the two federal conservative parties, Progressive Conservative and Reform, were so reluctant to merge. It is also the reason why minority governments tend, under our system, to be so unstable.

On the other hand, the consequences of losing a few points makes them excessively, almost neurotically cautious, unwilling to take the slightest risk or advocate the mildest change, but each hugging as close as it can to the median voter, the status quo and each other. Hence the dominance of the two brokerage parties, indistinguishable in philosophy -- alike, that is, in the lack of it.

Put the two together, and you have much of Canadian politics -- viciously partisan, yet unspeakably trivial; much ado about nothing much. McGuintoryism, in short.
So the case for electoral reform, it seems to me, is one that conservatives, if not Conservatives, should find appealing. It is a cause that has tended, historically, to be identified with the left, not least in the current referendum debate; many conservatives have accordingly rejected it. Yet it is not the left that has suffered most under the current system. It’s the right.

By whatever combination of historical circumstances, the left has a party that will advance its ideas, free of the brokerage parties’ grip: the NDP. Though not often in government, outside of the West, it has succeeded in dragging the entire political spectrum to the left, its policies adopted by Liberal and Conservative governments alikes. Nothing like it exists on the right, federally or provincially, nor has since Reform’s demise. Nor is one likely to emerge, so long as “first past the post” remains the rule.

The same is true of parties less easily categorized, like the Green party. Though it is the party of choice for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, it has yet to win a seat, unable to concentrate its support geographically in the way that FPTP requires. How many more votes might it win if potential supporters were not disheartened at the prospect of “wasting” their votes, or worse, “splitting” the vote, as they are forever warned against doing?

But what if there were a system in which no votes were wasted, where vote-splitting ceased to be an issue? There is such a system, and it’s called proportional representation, of which the proposal before Ontarians is a variant. Not only the Greens, but other parties -- libertarian, social-conservative, or other -- might then have a fighting chance. The spectrum of acceptable ideas for debate would noticeably broaden.
Exactly. Conservatives should not look at the short term benefits of MMP for the left, but the longer term potential for them. If we get MMP, then elections will be true battles of ideas. The legislature will become a marketplace of political thought. Coyne and Greg Staples see this potential. I think they are right to do so.

Update: Read Greg Staples' own take on Coyne's column.
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Where Is The Headsman When You Need Him?

So, the government is not quite telling the truth when it comes to their "Green Plan"? There is a big surprise. These folks are just lucky they are in a politically sensitive portfolio, otherwise the would be gone. Just ask the good people at NAWL how this government treats groups that deliver unwanted messages.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Krugman on Health Care (Or Is It MMP?)

Paul Krugman writes this in the context of the health debate in the U.S:
But the G.O.P. nominee, whoever he is, won’t be trying to persuade the public of the merits of his own plan. Instead, he’ll try to scare the dwindling fraction of Americans who still have good health insurance by claiming that the Democrats will take it away.

The smear-and-fear campaign has already started. The Democratic plans all bear a strong resemblance to the health care plan that Mitt Romney signed into law as governor of Massachusetts, differing mainly in offering Americans additional choices. But that didn’t stop Mr. Romney from denouncing the Clinton plan as “European-style socialized medicine.” And Fred Thompson claims that the Clinton plan denies choice — which it actually offers in abundance — and relies on “punishment” instead.
If Krugman had said NoMMP instead of Republicans and FPTP rather than health plan, I would swear he was talking about electoral reform. Funny isn't it that the same people trying to block health reform in the States are the same ones trying to block electoral reform here, and using the same talking points in both cases?
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Rick Salutin Chimes In On MMP

I would recommend everyone read Rick Salutin today. He refutes the main arguments of the no side quite well. For those of you out there who hate Rick Salutin (you know who you are), just say to yourself "Even a broken clock is right twice a day". Don't dismiss the argument because you dislike the person putting it forward.
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Layton And Quebec

Let's just say, I agree with Chantal Hebert. However, Dion still has one weapon in his arsenal that Layton can only dream about -- pundit inertia.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yet One More Reason To Vote MMP

I know I said don't expect much from me, but I couldn't let this one pass. David Herle, writing in the Globe, give us another fine example of why we need to vote for MMP on October 10:
The NDP campaign appears stalled and they lack an obvious way back into the campaign dynamic.

Nonetheless, the Liberals need to steal some NDP and Green votes to be in majority territory.

Polls indicate the NDP vote is soft and many current NDP supporters are prepared to move. The Liberals need those voters to believe that stopping a Tory victory is a more important imperative than voting for the NDP.


The Premier needs to harness the current high levels of satisfaction with his government and motivate the strategic vote by raising fears of change.
In other words, Mr. Herle is pushing the tired Liberal tactic of scaring the shit out of NDP voters so they will vote against their own party in order to "stop the evil Conservatives". Please God, let this be the last election we have hear such crap from the Liberals. If we have MMP in place for the next election, the Liberals will have to compete with the other parties on the strength of their ideas. Won't that be nice for a change?
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Why, It Would Mean The End Of Civilization!

I am busy today, so don't expect much from me. While I am otherwise occupied, please enjoy Don Ferguson's good natured ribbing of the "no" merchants.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Kiwis Are Coming!

The co-leader of the Green Party of New Zealand, Jeanette Fitzsimons, is coming to Ontario on a speaking tour about MMP. I will post more info as soon as I know something.

Update: I have one date. She will be in Ottawa on Sept. 28 at 7:00 pm. The event will be held at Rideau Park United Church, 2203 Alta Vista Drive, at the intersection with Cunningham Avenue.
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MSM Blind

I am going to use Jeffery Simpson as the symbol of the blindness of the majority of the MSM. The MSM just cannot allow itself to admit that the NDP is doing pretty well these days. This inability to admit reality requires some pretty deft mental gymnastics. For example, Simpson writes the following two paragraphs side by side:
(Hyperventilating New Democrats should calm down. The party won a nice by-election victory; it is not an NDP breakthrough in Quebec, regardless of party leader Jack Layton's "winds of change" rhetoric.)

In the other two seats, the Liberal vote was in single digits! The party ran fourth in Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, behind the NDP! It doesn't get more marginal than that.
Did you catch that? The NDP kicked the crap out of the Liberals in one riding and finished ahead of them in another and yet the NDP should not believe they have actual traction in Quebec.

There also seems to be an almost pathological need among the MSM to exaggerate the Tory brand in Quebec and minimize the NDP. Take Simpson's final paragraph:
The erosion of that bridge began before Mr. Dion's arrival. It's been going on since the end of the Trudeau era. The Chrétien years masked the Liberals' decline. Conservatives under Brian Mulroney captured the province twice. Then the Bloc Québécois became the dominant federal party, although the Chrétien Liberals won enough seats to claim credibly to be a national government. Now the fight is on between the BQ and the Conservatives, with Liberals as spectators.
Is there any evidence the Tories have traction in Montreal? None whatsoever. In fact the Tory vote fell in Outremont. Is there any evidence that the BQ is strong in Montreal? None, the BQ vote collapsed in Outremont. Is there any evidence that the Liberals are any more prepared to fight anywhere else in Montreal? From the panic in the ranks of the Liberal party, I would say no. So why is Quebec a contest between the Tories and the BQ? I submit, it is because pundits like Simpson cannot admit to themselves that the NDP is poised to become a force in urban Quebec, just as it is in the rest of urban Canada.

If you want to read someone in the MSM who does not have her head up her behind, I suggest you read Chantal Hebert, this morning. Ms. Hebert may not be the biggest fan of the NDP, but at least she can separate fantasy from reality.
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Too Urbanized?

This quote from the CBC's report on cuts to Environment Canada's wildlife programs caught my eye this morning.
Bob Bailey, a hunter and conservationist, was shocked to hear the federal government's support for Canada's 144 National Wildlife Areas has been reduced to nothing.

"I simply can't believe. Have we become this urbanized, have we become this uncaring that these places could be in jeopardy?" said Bailey, who is with the Delta Waterfowl Foundation.
All I have to say to Mr. Bailey and others concerned with the rural environment is, don't blame urban voters for your troubles. Look at the voting patterns in this country and ask yourselves who is voting for a party that would cut the Canadian Wildlife Service when they are running a $10 billion surplus?
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Does This Mean We Can Count On Your Support, Warren?

Warren Kinsella brings up another case of "vote against your party to save the children":
September 17, 2007 – Oh really? And it isn't, um, because it's becoming the ballot question, Howie, and because NDP voters are recognizing that the only party that can stop the Conservative scheme to fund private religious schools is the Ontario Liberals? It couldn't be that, could it, Howie?

Anyway, for NDP folks who worried about the Tory plan, Howie has just signaled that he doesn't think it's a big deal. We're saving that quote, pal.


Focus education debate on funding formula, not faith based schools
NDP (Elxn-Ont-NDP)
Source: The Canadian Press
Sep 17, 2007 11:08

…"It may take time, but I think by the end of this campaign people will grow tired of talking about a more philosophical issue and return to what I think is the practical issue for most parents," [Hampton] said…” (emphasis mine)
Now Warren knows this is only true because we have a terrible electoral system, which forces people to vote against their own preferences in order to stop someone else. If we adopt the Citizen Assembly's new plan, such strategic voting will become unnecessary. Since he obviously recognizes that, can we now count on him to support electoral reform?
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Dear Kady O'Malley

I know all four federal parties came out against Elections Canada on the question of veiled voters - and don't get me started on that.
Please Kady, get started on that. That disgrace should not be swept under the rug.

Update: Note to Jack. The veils issue is not playing well in the Muslim community. That happens when you are stabbed in the back by political allies. You might consider saying you are sorry.
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Facing Facts

This is a point I just made at Greg Staples place. Liberal supporters are going to have to face the facts. Harper and Layton are going where the votes are in Quebec and that is where the Bloc resides. Harper is going after the right wing of the Bloc coalition and Layton the left. The Liberals are stuck in their enclaves of ever shrinking Trudeauism. It is not hard to imagine sometime soon, an electoral map where the Montreal area is orange and a little red and the countryside is blue. In other words, Quebec is becoming a lot more like the rest of Canada, but for its own unique reasons. Does that make the Liberals irrelevant? Well, the fact that the Tories and NDP are looking elsewhere for votes, should tell you something.

Update: And though Andrew Coyne is a much more subtle guy than I am, I think he agrees with me.
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Dark Victory

For the record, I am glad Mulcair won in Outremont last night. I think he is a good man and will bring energy to the House of Commons on the environment. However, as far as the NDP winning, it doesn't touch me much. If the NDP is going to be just another party, blowing with every political wind, not standing for any principle that might cost it votes, then it might as well call itself the Liberal Party. People who know me, know that is the worst insult I could possibly utter.

Update: As for the Tory victory in Roberval, well there is not much new there either. Harper is merely following the tried and true Quebec nationalist formula of winning rural seats, (paraphrasing Jacques Parizeau) using "money and the non-ethnic vote".
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MMP Quick Hits

Thanks to Antonia Zerbisias' Facebook, I found this link to Daniel Aldana Cohen's piece in Walrus. It is a very personal account of his support for MMP.

I watched Liberal Senator David Smith on Newman's show, last night. He was just another high profile Liberal attacking MMP, in all respects but one. Smith conceded he is not worried by the prospect of list MPP's and thinks the process for selecting them will be as fair as the system now in place for selecting riding candidates.

After watching Smith, I must admit I was shocked that he seemed to confuse riding support and provincial support when it came to meeting a 3% threshold for seats in the legislature. Anyone listening to him could be forgiven if they thought a party could have a seat in the legislature if they got more than 3% in a riding rather than province-wide. I am sure Mr. Smith didn't mean to mislead people, but he was quite clumsy in presenting his case.
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Monday, September 17, 2007

What There Is Too Little Of

Something special for by election day. The original and best version of a classic.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Must See TV About MMP

Rick Anderson stays true to his Reform roots by supporting MMP. He lays out the big positives of MMP, some I had considered and some, like "safe ridings" being ignored by parties under FPTP, that I hadn't. Well worth a look.

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The Last Straw

All right. That's quite enough. If you vote against MMP, you will be voting with John "Let's create a crisis" Snobelen. If a campaign is know by its friends and enemies, I would rather have Hugh Segal over John Snobelen, any day.
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How Realistic Is John Tory's Scenario?

I was thinking about John Tory's "list candidates are creatures of party bosses" scenario. To be sure, it is a scary thought and that's why he and the rest of the no forces are putting it out there. But how realistic is it? Not very as you will see.

This is a classic "prisoner's dilemma" situation. John Tory' scenario would only work in the real world if there was a collusion of all of the parties to screw with the system. That is, say you have four parties (Blue, Red, Orange and Green). They all know the voters want democratically selected lists, with representation from women, minorities and regions. They also know that the voters will reward parties that follow their wishes and punish those that defy them. The only hope is for all four to ignore the will of the voters so the voters have nowhere to turn. They all realize that the first to defect will get the greatest reward from the voters and the rest will be punished.

Orange, Green and Red take a chance and pack their lists with hacks, hoping the others will go along. Blue decides to maximize its own rewards from the voters by screwing over Orange, Green and Red (this is a competition for rewards after all) and holds democratic processes for choosing their lists. The result is Orange, Green and Red are criticized for their processes in the press and by the other parties during the election and suffer terrible losses on election night. Blue is lauded in the press and are rewarded at the ballot box.

This is the classic "prisoner's dilemma" scenario. When the reward from being the first to defect from a conspiracy overwhelms the trust that other competing actors will stay in, people and organizations will defect. Thus, John Tory and the no side's "hacks and crooks" argument is a fantasy. Tory may pack his list with party hacks, but chances are, at least one of the other parties will not and that party will be rewarded and the Tories will be spanked by the voters.
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Saturday, September 15, 2007

John Tory Is Afraid Of John Tory

John Tory, who is "neutral" on the question of Ontario's electoral system said this yesterday to the National Post:
"I certainly haven't run into anybody who thinks it would be better to have MPPs, or any other kinds of politicians, who are appointed by party bosses and accountable to no constituents," Mr. Tory said.
Mr. Tory, is of course, the "party boss" of the Conservative Party. I guess Mr. Tory would pack the Conservative list with only those who are accountable to "party bosses who put their names on the list". I am glad we know that now, so when the Conservatives release their list in 2011, we can all vote for another party. I would never vote for someone who is so afraid of himself he needs to warn everyone of the danger.
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Friday, September 14, 2007

Big Hurt For Dion Is A Comin'

Get the violins ready, we are going to have to play Dion some sad, sad music. While, I am happy the Liberals are set to lose Outremont, I can't help feeling that the NDP, if they do win, will be a little less shiny for the effort.
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As Obvious As The Nose On My Face

The American business press has Harper's number. Bloomberg reporters wrote this today about the "Veil Controversy":
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, facing elections as early as this year, is taking a stand against veiled Muslim voters, helping him tap into a growing backlash against immigrants.

Harper criticized the nation's elections body for allowing veiled women to vote next week in by-elections to fill three vacant seats in Quebec, asserting that citizens should have to show their faces to prove their identity.

``I profoundly disagree with the decision,'' Harper told reporters in Sydney, where he was attending an Asia-Pacific summit. ``It concerns me greatly because the role of Elections Canada is not to make its own laws.''

The comments may help him build support among rural voters in Quebec. Harper needs to make gains in the French-speaking province in order to win a majority in the House of Commons. Recent polls show his ruling Conservatives tied for support with the opposition Liberal Party.

Harper is ``stoking his natural support base,'' said Pierre Martin, a political science professor at Universite de Montreal. ``It affects a very small number of people but it touches on an important symbolic issue.''
(emphasis mine)
This has been and continues to be about two things, blowing the finance scandal off of page one and pandering to the xenophobes of Mario Dumont's tribe. That we have a Prime Minister evil enough to appeal to our worst instincts is bad enough. To have an opposition so spineless and craven to let him, is even worse.

Update: I watched the pundits panel on Newman's show tonight. Greg Weston confirmed my worst fear. According to Weston, his contacts in all of the parties told him that their Quebec "workers on the ground" told them they had to "neutralize" the veil issue by, in essence, giving the Tories the green light to smear Muslims. I am just so disgusted, words escape me.
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Electoral Reform On The March

If you want to see a coherent explanation of why we should vote for MMP on October 10, read Rosemary Speirs in the Star, this morning. She lays out all of the advantages of the system and dismantles the Jason "Master of Disaster" Cherniak-like Götterdämmerung scenarios of the FPTP side. The problem with the No forces face is the saleability of their inferior product. First past the post is a tired, broken piece of crap whose only advantage is it is known. As people get to know the alternative, the obvious inferiority of the old system becomes more and more pronounced.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Still Pissed About Veils

I am still really, really angry at the gutless, vote-grubbing, reaction to the Tories veil ploy, by the opposition. All of the parties deserve scorn, though for different reasons. The Bloc's reaction is understandable. It is a nationalist and xenophobic party that is trolling in the fetid pools of ADQ voters, in hopes of reviving its flagging fortunes. As for the Liberals, they are just hopeless. They are nothing but Canada's version of the Democratic party -- so afraid to look "weak", that they yell "me too" every time the "real men" in the Tory party suggest kicking at minorities.

As for the NDP, their reaction is truly baffling to me. This is a party that championed rights for Muslims for years and was in the loop when the new voting law was passed (whether they should have supported a law designed to suppress voting is another question). Why would they roll over and let the Tories get away with something so slimy as to scapegoat Muslim women (who, let me remind you have not asked to be exempted from any law)? My fear is, the party brass is so fixated on winning Outremont that it is willing to swallow its principles in order to escape any negative headlines in the Montreal press. To me, this is an unforgivable betrayal of everything the party is supposed to stand for.

The NDP was built on the social gospel, so let me conclude by quoting some: Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Update: After following today's circus, Lord Kitchener's Own wonders after the intellectual fitness of our "betters". Who can blame him?
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A Question For Mr. Savard

The Conservative candidate for the riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, Chris Savard, said this about his opposition to MMP:
"If I'm going to make it to Queen's Park, I want to be there because the majority of people in our riding have selected me to be there, not because John Tory chose me," he said.
If Mr. Savard believes he should only go to Queens park if "the majority of people in our riding have selected me to be there", will he refuse to take the seat if he has less than 50% of the vote in the riding? I thought not.
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Reason 3857

Why I like Israeli democracy and reason 2784 why I dislike the loons running the country.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thank God For Kady O'Malley

She is making me believe in the MSM again. Now, everyone knows I think that the Conservative government is made up of thugs, liars and psychopaths. It is fair to say that I also now believe that the opposition is composed of idiots, who are so afraid of offending the lunatic fringe in Quebec, that they will follow Harper's thugs off the nearest cliff.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Get Rid Of The Damned Thing.

Aside from having the typical ill grace to propose this in another country, I actually agree with His Psychotic Majesty on this one. Abolish the Senate. Do it now.
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Subverting Democracy -- Tory Style

Step One: Pick a fight with the agency investigating your party, on the day before parliamentary hearings on the scandal, and hope the other parties are stupid enough to fall for your antics.
Step Two: Pull out your "How to Screw With Committee's Manual"
Step Three; Quickly introduce a motion connected with your ginned up "controversy".
Step Four: Talk until the clock runs out.

You have to hand it to the Tories. They may not know how to run a country, but they sure know how to manipulate one.

Update: Bravo to the Globe editorial writers for pointing out the obvious. Our Prime Minister is a thug. And while I am at it, shame on Jack Layton for going along with this. There was a time when the NDP was willing to stand against things like the War Measures Act. I guess those days are over.

Update 2: This is what Harper is trying to foster and encourage. This is what the NDP needs to say no to and damn the electoral consequences.

Update 3: Kady O'Malley rightly heaps scorn on all the parties for this fiasco.
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Don't Get Mad, Get Orange

Probably the best tag line, ever.

Update: Apparently, the ad struck a nerve. The party has sent its house organ after those rude NDP types. The gall of those lefties, questioning this "progressive" government.
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Monday, September 10, 2007

McGuinty, Tory Both Argue In Favor of Electoral Reform

I have to hand it to Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Tory, both coming out in favor of MMP on the same day -- not that they did it openly mind you, but by subliminally pointing out the flaws in the current system. On the one hand, we had Mr. McGuinty trying to scare the shit out potential NDP voters, by arguing that vote splitting under FPTP may bring back Mike Harris' band of psychotic thugs to power. On the other hand, John Tory argued that vote splitting was a wonderful feature of FPTP and McGuinty should be more respectful of the voters' right to split the vote in his favor. I just want to thank both leaders of the two big parties for pointing out, in neon letters why we must vote yes on October 10.
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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Dear Mr. Harper

Talk all you want about the environment. Go ahead, knock yourself out. Everyone knows you are lying anyway, so no one is listening.

Update: Robopundit nails it:
But what Harper and Dion share is a vested interest in an electorate too distracted, disengaged or disheartened to follow the bouncing ball from promise to policy, image to outcomes. Neither can withstand the scrutiny that was once a routine part of measuring government effectiveness.

Any meaningful difference in Canada's environmental performance under Liberals or Conservatives is in the eye of the partisan observer. Nineteen months into its mandate, this "new" government has yet to prove its any more committed than the old.

Never mind that the evidence of human irresponsibility is painfully evident in the melting ice cap and in the number of summer smog alerts. Limp Liberal programs and lip service have survived the government transition with just a Conservative twist.

That twist is all about definition. No one is likely to mistake Conservatives for Liberals except when they furrow brows over the planet and go slow on its protection.
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We're One Bomb Away

Dick Cheney's assistant, David Addington is reported to have said, in a conversation over the government's oversight by a special court concerned with wiretapping and other covert intelligence gathering: "Were one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious (FISA) court." Obviously, Mr. Addington believed in the value of using shocks as means to achieve political ends. John Snobelen was a big believer too. Naomi Klein isn't saying anything new (although she has the guts to speak the truth out loud). Conservatives have been open about what they were about, for years.

Update: In case folks have forgotten, here is what John Snobelen said in 1995 about the utility of crisis in governing.
Question: Do we bankrupt the ministry (force it to run out of gas) before positive change can occur? (Laughter.) I'm waiting.

Mr. Snobelen: So am I. (Laughter.) In my opinion, yes . . . That is to get bankrupt (it must be taking) those actions and activities that aren't consistent with the future that we're committed to.

There are a couple of things that we need to get done along the way. One of those . . . is declaring the future.

One of the problems is there's a tendency to wait for others to declare it for you. And it's not a very collaborative process. So that needs to be done before (deciding) what needs bankrupting and how to bankrupt it occurs.

I think of it as creating a useful crisis. So the word "bankrupt" might conjure up other images. Creating a useful crisis is what part of this is about. Unfortunately, in my term - and if you know how long my term is, I'd appreciate you dropping me a note (laughter) -in my term we need to move quickly in that area.

So the first bunch of communications that the public might hear might be more negative than I would be inclined to talk about - more emphasizing the need for change than talking about what those changes might be.

(He then cites the federal Conservative government's lack of success in selling the goods and services tax.) . . . If we really want to fundamentally change the issue in training and . . . education we'll have to first make sure we've communicated brilliantly the breakdown in the process we currently experience. That's not easy. We need to invent a crisis. That's not just an act of courage. There's some skill involved.
"How to invent a crisis in education.(Features)." Globe & Mail (Toronto, Canada) (Sept 15, 1995): A15.
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Friday, September 07, 2007

Chretienism Goes Global

And lo, did the Harper travel to the farthest reaches of the earth, and urge the unbelievers to lay down their Kyotos and follow him. The prophet, Susan Riley did predict this in her writings:
Today the prime minister is attending the APEC meeting in Australia, where he is expected to chart a middle course on climate change between doing little (Australia, United States) and doing something (Europe, the United Nations and China -- which is, inconveniently for Harper, voicing support for the Kyoto accord.) This third way involves pretending to do something, thereby satisfying mounting domestic concern without troubling our oil sector with hard targets, strict deadlines or adequate financial penalties.
Yay verily, the Harper is pointing the world toward a better future. He has seen the truth in Canada at work for 13 years and the Harper said, "It is good (sotto voce: for the oil sector)".
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

When They Start Laughing At You, You Are Done

John Tory, I am looking at you. Courtesy of Warren Kinsella.

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Look To The Kiwis

I haven't posted much lately about the referendum. I think I will wait until the last week to really push. I just can't take the no side's "argument's" seriously. I realize this may be a mistake, but I just can't say "You are just lying and fear mongering" over and over. It is just too boring. I can, however point to a very positive article about MMP in New Zealand from this week's MacLean's. It lays out how MMP works in the real world rather than in the fevered imaginations of the no side.
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No, It's New And Improved Corruption, John

Shorter John Ivision: "Sure the Tories broke the law, but the Liberals are crooks. See the difference?"
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Ciao, Ciao, Luciano

I know this piece became cliched, but man this guy could sing. Thanks for some great memories Mr. Pavarotti.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

We Have Always Been At War With East Asia Watch

In which Tory-friendly columnists now say that dictatorial rule by the Prime Minister is okie dokie (as long as the "quality" of government doesn't suffer), even though that contradicts what the Tories (in their various iterations) themselves were saying for the past 13 years.

Here is one small example of past Tory complaints, from Mr. Jay Hill, who is now I believe, a minor player in the court of His Psychotic Majesty (from just a couple of years ago):
I would argue that the concentration of power in the Office of the Prime Minister, which is at the root of much of our democratic deficit, has grown not lessened under this Prime Minister's watch.

The multitudes of government powers that ultimately rest with the Prime Minister are staggering. The exclusive monopoly over the central powers of government have even led the current Prime Minister himself, in his address to law students at Osgoode Hall in the fall of 2002, to state that the essence of power in Ottawa was “who you know in the PMO”.

This leads me to the recent appointment of the Prime Minister's friend Glen Murray to chair the round table on the environment and economy. Despite a rejection from the environment committee and the House, Glen Murray continues in office. The opinion of the House is of no consequence. It is “who you know in the PMO”.

His recent choices to fill the vacancies in the Senate were a slap in the face to the people of Alberta who elected their senators. The opinion of the people of Alberta is obviously not important to the Liberal Party. Again, it was “who you know in the PMO”.

“Who you know in the PMO” has to go.
I guess that last sentence is no longer operative in this newish government.

And here is one from Mr. Stockwell Day warning of the toxic nature of too much power concentrated in the hands of one man:
Mr. Speaker, the power consolidated in the Prime Minister's Office would be a dream for anyone who wants total power. The Prime Minister can and does appoint the Governor General who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces, all lieutenant governors, senators, Supreme Court judges, Federal Court judges, the cabinet, key positions on regulatory agencies and the heads of major boards and commissions. That is a dream for anyone who is seeking power.

Lord Acton said that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Therefore, it is no surprise that judgment is corrupted when one has that much power. I am not even putting a moral tinge to it, just judgment itself.

To put my question in context, I attended the Summit of the Americas with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. There were emerging democracies throughout Central and South America and there are those who have been dictators who would like to cling to power. They see Canada as having a system where one person has a huge amount of power and also does not put out information on billions of dollars being spent. It is a deterrent to emerging democracies. It is an incentive for those who want to consolidate power all in one office. Here is the clincher. One person raised the issue at the Summit of the Americas of the corruption in Canada. That was a very embarrassing moment for me.

Has the member considered or has he heard at committee if the Liberals have considered the effect of maintaining this air of secrecy, maintaining this level of power? Have the Liberals considered the effect not just on Canada's reputation, but on emerging democracies and those who would try to consolidate power? Have they thought about that?
I'll bet Mr. Day doesn't ask these questions out loud, anymore.
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

It's Over

Summer 2007 is history. Listen to Roy Orbison and console yourselves in his haunting music.

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Now I Understand

Why everyone calls John Howard, Steve's mentor. Give a listen to this propaganda piece on Youtube. Around the 5 minute mark (or 3:08 if the video counts down), Howard and the fembot presenter start in on security. It sent a chill up my spine. If you ever want an example of friendly fascism, this is it. Howard and the fembot are all smiles but the message is clear -- We know this is a pain and an intrusion, but shut up and keep your heads down. Don't embarrass us or there will be consequences. Blame any disruptions on protesters and remember, we know what's best for you. It is the kind of message that always makes me wonder why libertarians flock to conservative parties.

Finally, a note to Australian protesters. If there are incidents at the summit, check the violent offender's boots. The chances will be good that they will be police issued.

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Janice Kennedy Is Brave

To question wearing red on Fridays. I admire her courage very much. Expect the Blogging Tories to denounce her as a traitor.
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Saturday, September 01, 2007

More BC Reaction To Dirty Dick's Power Play

From today's Victoria Times Colonist, in an editorial about the appointment of Sharon Smith as the "go to person" in Nathan Cullen's riding:
This (the appointment of Sharon Smith -- ed) is wrong on a number of levels, but most offensive because it suggests that the Conservatives have decided to punish or ignore Canadians who chose to elect a member of Parliament from another party, and have succeeded in politicizing the public service to ensure that happens.

The people of Skeena should not have to go to anyone other than their elected MP with their concerns. And Harris, as B.C. caucus chair, should not be suggesting public concerns will be ignored unless they are raised by a Conservative.

Even the suggestion that a riding has to be represented by someone from the ruling party to have any hope of getting access to government is a dismal political stunt.

The unilateral appointment of an unelected representative is something that happens in North Korea, not northern B.C.

The Conservatives should recognize the folly of their actions, cancel the appointment immediately and apologize to the voters of Skeena.
The editorial gets the tone just right. His psychotic majesty would be right at home in the North Korean Communist Party.
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