Wednesday, September 30, 2009

HST For He, But Not For Thee

Dalton McGuinty to Bay Street: "I love you so much! Yes I do! You don't need to pay the nasty HST. No you don't" Dalton McGuinty to the rest of us: "What are you looking at, peasants?" Just to be clear. I am not against taxation. Far from it, but if you are going to expand a regressive tax, the least you can do is to make those who will benefit the most from it, to pay the damn thing.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jim Travers' Dualistic Zero Sum Universe

Shorter Robopundit: The Conservatives are crooks and the Liberals are too, plus inept. Woe to Canada that these are the voters only choices.
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Question Of The Day

If 90% of the stimulus money is already committed to projects, then how much harm to the economy can be caused by holding an election?
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Belated Praise For The NDP

From the MSM. This is a long time in coming, but it is nice to be proved wrong. H/t to the Jurist.

Sunday Morning Update: One wonders how much of this new found love for the NDP, by the MSM, is connected to NDP's support of the Conservative government? We will see when the day comes when the NDP withdraws that support.
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You Want To Know What's Wrong WIth Our Political System?

Read the following paragraphs:
When the NDP is too low in the opinion polls in Ontario – below 12 or 10 per cent – the Tories fret.

It means that some Ontario ridings, such as Peterborough or Kitchener, that the Conservatives won comfortably in 2008 turn “into swing ridings that we could actually lose, even if our national numbers are strong,” a Tory strategist said.

This is why the Conservatives breathed a sigh of relief last week when the NDP – its polling numbers were hovering in the low teens – announced it would support the Tories in a confidence vote, ensuring there would be no election.

“It helps us in Ontario to have the NDP closer to 20 per cent than 10 per cent in popular support,” the strategist said, explaining that when the centre-left vote is split between the Liberals and the NDP, the Tories can win.

“That said, when NDP support exceeds 20 per cent, we run into trouble in British Columbia and other areas where our main competitors are the NDP. An NDP in the high teens is strong enough to eat into Liberal support in Ontario, but not so strong as to actually start winning seats from us in B.C.,” the strategist said.

“So it's kind of a delicate balance.”
Our political system is based on vote splitting. So, rather than dealing with our real problems, our politicians are consumed with the propping up and slapping down of the NDP. I can't imagine why proponents of our first past the post electoral system aren't touting this central reality as the chief feature of their preferred voting regime.
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You Want Me To Vote For Them?

What Mercer said.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Miller Resigns

And Liberals rejoice. One is so delirious he endorses a Conservative. I really have not much to say about this, as I don't live in Toronto. But as an outside observer, I leave you with two thoughts. First, any "progressive" who wants to know who is really running your party, look no further than the Toronto mayor's race. Second, you have to feel for Miller. For all of this faults his biggest, in my opinion, was his lack of a Liberal or Conservative Party membership.
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Speaking Of Things The NDP Should Support

If, and I say if, the numbers for all of the under-represented provinces equal what they should be, under representation by population, the NDP should support the government's redistribution bill. It will be a good beginning to restoring our government to some semblance of democracy. I remain doubtful the Conservatives are serious about the reform however. If they were truly serious, then their rural base would lose influence. However, perhaps the latest polls are encouraging the Conservatives to rethink their electoral strategy. I live in hope.
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Thoughts On Harper's Trip To Tim's

Everybody else seems to be chiming in about this, so why not me? I think the move by Harper to snub the U.N. in favor of Tim's was a stroke of genius. First of all, Conservatives hate the U.N. As far as they are concerned, the U.N. used to be run by the Communists and is now run by the Islamofascists. Second, as odd as it may seem to anyone outside of the cult, Tim Horton's has become a fetish to the Conservative faithful. Tim Horton's, in the eyes of Conservatives, has transformed from a coffee shop, to a symbol of all the cardinal virtues of conservatism. It is mom and apple pie and small town values. It is a place where old people can gather and where teenagers either serve coffee or are told to leave if they make too much noise. In short, it is the 1950's with better coffee. So, by snubbing the U.N. in favor of Tim's, Harper is sending a signal to his flock. He is saying. "Ya, the eggheads will hate us, but so what? We are the true Canadians." This isn't a dogwhistle, it is a frickin' brass band. Harper's base will love it, and no matter what the implications are for Canada as a result of Harper's snub of the U.N., nothing and no one is important to this PM as his base. So, scream away eggheads. You will never wipe the smile off of Harper's face.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Today's Must Read

Brian Topp in the Globe. The best section is Topp's analysis of Iggy's current policy positions:
We are hearing a Laytonesque pitch for "green jobs" as the centerpiece of an economic development strategy. From a Liberal Leader who travelled to Calgary as quickly as he could to report that he favours Stephen Harper's policy of uncontrolled, limitless development of Canada's tar sands, whatever the environmental consequences.

We are hearing about human rights and a return to Canada's traditional role in the world. From a tactically repentant apologist for George Bush's use of torture, and a tactically repentant cheerleader for George Bush's Iraq war.

We are hearing a commitment to fiscal responsibility and to the value of citizens contributing taxes in return for the civilization we wish for ourselves and for all. From a Liberal Leader who simultaneously commits to maintain Stephen Harper's corporate and other tax cuts — which have embedded a permanent structural deficit into the nation's finances (temporarily masked, at the time, by resource revenues). Which means no funds for whatever programs the Liberals choose to re-promise, once again, in Red Book Version 7.

Many of these incongruities and contradictions represent an attempt by Mr. Ignatieff to compete with Mr. Harper for moderate conservative voters — people like Mr. Ignatieff himself. While hoping that more progressive Canadians can be blackmailed into voting Liberal on the argument that only Mr. Ignatieff can replace Mr. Harper.

That is an approach that may fail at both ends. Progressive voters may well remain clear in their minds that they do not want to vote for a conservative, whatever the party colour. Conservative voters may well decide to continue to vote for the real thing.
To my mind, this is exactly correct. Conservatives will continue to vote Conservative and lefty's aren't as easily blackmailed by false progressives, as they used to be.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quote Of The Yesterday

Somehow I missed this quote from Paul Wells. It is so good and so true, that it must be widely shared. In reporting the contretempts between Liberals in Outremont, Mr. Wells writes:
But wait, you’re saying. This story can’t be over yet, because you haven’t gotten to the part where Ignatieff says something disingenuous and contradictory. And right you are.
Iggy is getting a reputation for being that special brand of genius, who on any topic, from taxes to torture, can hold completely contradictory thoughts in his head at the same time.
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The Great Progressive Fake Out Continues

This time on taxes. The Star, normally the Liberals biggest cheerleader, actually points out Iggy's mental gymnastics.
Noting that Harper said last summer that no taxes are good taxes, Ignatieff retorted: "We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, so that premature infants get nursing care when they're born; so that policemen will be there to keep our streets safe; so that we have teachers to give our kids a good education."

That is a strong defence of taxation, and it differentiates Ignatieff and the Liberals from Harper and the anti-tax neo-conservatives now in charge in Ottawa.

Unfortunately, however, Ignatieff ducked on the question of whether he would consider raising or restoring taxes to allow the budget to be balanced without cutting social programs. In his speech, he said only that taxes would have to be kept "competitive." Later, in response to direct questions from reporters, Ignatieff said a tax increase would not be part of the Liberal platform.
That, in a nutshell, is why I don't vote Liberal. They always know the right answer. They even promote the right answer to sway the gullible to their side. They just won't implement what they know is right. Why would anyone vote for more of the same, wrapped in nice sounding words?
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Liberal Caucus Split?

Well, let's see, we have an "anonymous Liberal" claiming that Iggy is going to lead the Liberals off a cliff and then we have Warren Kinsella threatening the anonymous Liberal with political capital punishment. Aside from that, they are one big happy family.
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Signs The Liberals Hope For A Fall Election

They have let Gerrard Kennedy out the closet, where he has been held incommunicado, for the last eight months or so. Let the great "progressive" fake out begin!
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Where The MSM Goes Off The Rails

From a CP story about the NDP change in direction:
The decision puts the NDP in a position similar to one the Liberals were in for months: supporting a government it despises in the hope of extracting benefit for its causes.
Where to begin. The Liberals were not in the same position as the NDP. It voted with government on issues on which it agreed with the government (like Afghanistan), or because it wanted to forestall an election while the internal civil war over Dion played out. If I look back over the last three years, "extracting benefit for its causes" is not a phrase I would associate with the Liberals -- patrons yes, causes no. Aside from this misstatement, the article is well worth a look.

Update: Robert has more examples of Liberal/Conservative co-religionism, over the years.
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Friday, September 18, 2009

If Allan Gregg and Rex Murphy Agree...

Then I would buy shares in the other parties.
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No Fast Tracking

Given that this government (and really all the parties) have a terrible track record at knowing what the Hell is in the legislation they pass, it behooves them to slow down and look before they pass the EI legislation. So, for what it is worth, I agree with the BQ and the NDP.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Even More Hmm Moments

From the Globe:
The NDP fears that the Conservative government might now try to force confidence votes on measures that would run squarely against the New Democrats' core positions.
Ya think?

New Democrats cautioned they will still judge such issues on a case-by-case basis.
I will be watching like a hawk. The NDP is on probation (excuse the phrase). I will wait to see what the EI bill says before making any judgements.

Update: After reading pogge's take, I agree. Amateur hour. Note to Liberals. This does not, in any way, make me want to vote for the diseased carcass known as the Liberal Party of Canada.
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More Hmm Moments

Take a look at this article. After a straightforward reporting of the Bloc's move to vote with the government and of the polls, the next half of the article is spent savaging the NDP and reprinting Liberal attack lines without comment. So, the Bloc votes with the government and yawn. The NDP considers voting with the government and the Liberals and their corporate press buddies are out, knives drawn. Does anyone else smell a coordinated effort here? It appears the Liberals (and the corporate press) have a softly, softly strategy with the Bloc (don't want to upset Quebecers don't ya know), but the gloves are off in English Canada. Our betters want a Liberal majority and the socialists are in their way.
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A Way Out For Layton

From the Globe today, comes these tidbits about labor reaction to the EI proposals:
The Conservatives' EI proposal would help only “long-tenured workers,” those who have contributed to the EI program for at least seven out of 10 calendar years and who have received regular EI benefits for no more than 35 weeks in the past five years. It would extend their benefits by between five and 20 weeks.

But as Toronto labour economist Armine Yalnizyan points out, the program's restrictions act against the nature of much of Canada's industry – manufacturing, the oil patch, forestry and, increasingly, the service sector – that is subject to periodic layoffs.

Plus, she said, the government is not addressing what the program was designed to be: an economic stabilizer that would prop up consumer spending during an economic downtown and a cushion to prevent middle class unemployed workers from slipping into destitution if they were suddenly hit by major expenditures.Laurel Ritchie, national representative of the Canadian Auto Workers, said few laid-off members of her union – “only handfuls” – have been able to meet the long-tenure definition.

Canadian Labour Congress economist Andrew Jackson said his understanding of the new proposal is that it would fully apply only to unemployed workers who have initiated a claim to EI benefits since the beginning of the year.
If this is what the bill truly says (since we are all living in the land of speculation at the moment), then Layton can call a news conference, have the presidents of the big unions and the CLC standing with him and reject the bill. He can have the union leaders give his decision context. In my opinion, if that is the thrust of the bill, Layton not only can do this, he should.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Things That Make You Say Hmmm

The NDP doesn't prop up the Tories and gets roasted by the Liblosphere. The Bloc does prop them up and crickets.

Update: Well there are some reactions to the Bloc's move on Liberal blogs now (the ones I read anyway) and they range from indifference to ennui. In many ways this is similar to the healthcare "debate" in the U.S. Reality has taken a back seat to tribal loyalty. If the group thinks the sky is pink then it is pink and woe to the person who tells them it is blue. Liberals quite frankly don't care whether the NDP votes with the Conservatives or not, in the real world. In their hearts, the NDP always votes with the Conservatives, because they, the NDP, are not Liberals. Whereas although Liberals do vote regularly with the Conservatives, that is entirely different. After all, they are Liberals. It is the difference that makes all the difference.
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Song Of The Day

Reading all of the hysteria around the "Will he, or won't he" speculation about NDP, has convinced me that our politics has been reduced to the level of a 4 minute pop song.
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If Layton votes with the government, the Liberals will condemn him for being a coward. If Layton doesn't vote with the government, the Liberals will condemn him for being a coward. My advice to Layton (for what it is worth)? Ignore the Liberals. Read the bill very carefully. If there is even a hint of a poison pill, tell the government to remove it or you will vote against them (and follow through). If there isn't one, vote with the government. Vote policy not party. Keep pushing until the Conservatives refuse to budge, then vote against them. You may anger Jeff Simpson, but I see that as a bonus.

Update: The external evidence points to a very short fall session.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Simple Answers To Simple Questions

From the Star:
However, the party was surprised late Monday to find that the motion also contains a possible poison pill: a reference to tax measures that will go into effect should Parliament approve separate legislation on a free trade agreement with Colombia.

The NDP is adamantly opposed to the trade pact due to Colombia's record of human rights abuses.

Supporting the ways and means motion would not prevent New Democrats from voting later against the trade pact. But the party must decide whether it wants to be seen to be facilitating the trade deal in any way (emphasis mine).
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Transparency Watch

The Conservatives have provided me with the laugh of the day. They are claiming that if people knew how much Afghanistan was costing taxpayers in this country, the nation's security would be put in jeopardy. More like, the Conservative Party's grip on government would be put in jeopardy. Pretty low, even by Conservative standards.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Centre Cannot Hold

I lieu of any national leadership, the country is dividing up into regional trade blocks. Who speaks for Canada? Nobody, that's who (well, nobody except maybe Andrew Coyne.)
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Back To Square One

Well, I see Iggy has fallen into Harper's trap. Having ruled out a coalition with anyone, Iggy has essentially said, "To Hell with a multi-party parliament. To Hell with parliamentary democracy. The next election will be a two party election, regardless the number of parties running." Well, fuck you Iggy. If you had said, as you should have, that while you would prefer a majority, you would accept whatever reality exists after the next election and work with the House as it is constituted", I might have voted Liberal, just to defeat my Conservative MP. Now, fuck that. I certainly won't be voting for a party lead by a wiener like you. Neither of the two big parties are lead by men who have even the slightest nodding acquaintance either with our parliamentary democracy or reality. What a choice for Canadians if Iggy's dreams come true. On the one hand we would have a Bush sympathizer, who wants to bring two party politics to Canada and on the other we have Harper. God save Canada.
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About Coalitions

Have you now or have you ever been a part of a coalition? This is getting completely ridiculous. The Conservatives are trying to turn coalitions into the new communism and Harper into the new Joe McCarthy. See Tailgunner Steve smoke out any nasty coalitionists. It is insane. Coalitions are a legitimate and necessary part of our parliamentary democracy. Just because Harper does not possess the social skill necessary to create one of his own, he is trying to make coalitions sound evil.

The sad fact is, Harper got away with this kind of nonsense last fall. He convinced our home grown "Teabaggers" that they had elected him Prime Minister through direct election and that a coup was being staged to throw him out of power. It was and is complete bullshit, but it appears to be the Conservatives only weapon to save their lousy joke of a government. We, all of us who believe in our constitution, must stand up and denounce the bald faced lies originating from our government, at every turn over the coming months. Otherwise, Harper may very well lie his way back to 24 Sussex Drive.

Update: Chantal Hebert thinks Harper is putting the country at risk. I agree. All you need to do is watch what is going on in the States right now. Once the loons of war are released, whipped up by the lies of demagogues, they are almost impossible to control and re-leash.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Whoop, There It Is

It is good to see the prime minister speak freely about what his priorities are. These priorities appear to be, in order: teaching the opposition a lesson, scrapping gun control and appointing right wing judges -- a winning combination of issues, if I ever heard it. So, do you think this tape will be played over and over, during the next several weeks? Ya, so do I. Hat tip to BCer In T.O.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ya Mule!

I see the Conservatives are once again decrying the possible demise of their "tough on crime" bills, due to the election. Tough on crime is the Canadian equivalent to abortion, for conservatives. It is a useful enough issue to stoke the base, but somehow it is never important enough to put it high on the legislative agenda so it will actually pass. Funny that.
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday Night Ravel Blogging

Here is the antidote to election fever. The sublime Daphnis et Chloe, begun 100 years ago this year, by Maurice Ravel. Listen to these three fragments and you will totally forget the stupidity that is Canadian politics. It is proof, that humans are capable of more than our leaders allow us to dream.

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When your own newspaper starts to compare you to Bob Stanfield (and not favorably), you are in trouble as a politician.
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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Funny Looking Rainbow

Looks like Mayor Miller is going to be challenged by our betters:
Deputy premier George Smitherman is all but ready to announce he will run for mayor of Toronto, sources close to the politician say.

"It's a lock, he's running," one source confirmed this week.

Another Smitherman operative, ready to build a campaign team, says "a rainbow of political stripes" is urging Smitherman to take on the flagging Mayor David Miller in next year's elections. (emphasis mine)
I have never seen a red and blue rainbow before.
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Deep Cynicism Watch

Greenhouse gas edition. The Tories are going to introduce a reverse NEP (NEP II: Alberta's Revenge). My prediction is they will do so, knowing there will be howls of protest from Ontario and Quebec. They then will throw up their hands and say there is nothing that can be done about climate change. Hat tip to Big City Liberal.
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Note To Jeff Simpson III

Jeff, may I call you Jeff? I have written you so much, I feel I know you. Jeff, you kinda flew off the rails, in this morning's offering.
Set the following criteria. Leaders whose parties get at least 15 per cent of the popular vote and/or whose parties have 50 seats (roughly 15 per cent) in the House of Commons can participate in the nationally televised debate in English in the main network.

Then, let there be one-hour interviews, or something of this sort, with the leaders of the other parties on prime-time programs on the specialty channels.

The same criteria could be used in French. Leaders whose parties commanded 15 per cent of the vote (in Quebec) can participate in debates on the main channels; interviews would be reserved for the others.

Of course, some people who support marginal parties will scream, claiming equality, equality, equality. But what's fair about allowing a party with no seats, or 10 per cent of the popular vote, to receive the same exposure to viewers/voters as parties with more than 100 seats, or 150 seats, and almost 40 per cent of the vote?
What you wrote seems reasonable, until someone reads it. What you are proposing to do is give a leader of a party with 33-37% support, 100% access to the media while giving a leader of a party with 10 to 14%, 0% access. What you are proposing is essentially overlaying the crazy distortions of our electoral system to the debates. Such a distortion is extremely undemocratic, because it presents the views of the party with 37% of the vote as the view of the majority. Whereas, the actual vote count shows this is simply not true. At the same time, your formula pretends that the views of 10 to 14% of the population do not exist at all. It is bad enough that our electoral system distorts the reality of the country. To overlay that distortion on the debates is unthinkable. Go back to the drawing board, Jeff. This proposal is a non-starter.
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Friday, September 04, 2009

You See A Trap -- Layton Sees An Opportunity

From Leslie Campell in the Globe:
While the Liberals may think they have trapped the NDP, they haven't. The lifeblood, the raison d'ĂȘtre, of the federal NDP is holding the balance of power in Parliament. The truth, and mythology, of the NDP is that great leaders – Tommy Douglas, Stanley Knowles, David Lewis, Ed Broadbent – have patiently clung to principle, willing to suffer setback for the opportunity to leverage their parliamentary position into progress for ordinary Canadians ignored by the traditional power brokers.
Team My Dink Is Bigger Than Yours, will never understand this reasoning. Their thing is power and the perks that come with power.
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Shorter Bruce Kirkland

Even though they are not Nazis, and some are Jewish, I will compare them to Nazis anyway.
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Note To Jeff Simpson II

It is nice to see Mr. Simpson doing some thinking. It's funny though, that his own habits of mind prevent him from seeing the solution to his problem, that is right before his eyes.

Mr. Simpson, our political culture, consisting of the big parties always jockeying for the kill, is based on our retarded electoral system. The big parties know they can get "majority" governments even though they command only a minority of the vote in the country. There is no reason to cooperate if they think they can win a "majority", even if they can't command majority support in the population. Instead, they look for "vote splits" and "strategic voting" and any number of other stupid strategies to get them to the promised land of absolute power without having to cooperate with anyone. If you really want to change the political culture in this country, then back electoral reform (I see you making a nod in its direction, keep it up). If you make it impossible for one party to rule with a majority without either commanding a majority of the vote, or by building coalitions with other parties, then the parties will learn to cooperate. Unless you remove the possibility of majority control with minority support, you will never change our political culture. Glad to be of help.
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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Poor Kelly McParland

Despite following politics in Canada for quite a number of years, Mr. McParland is confused about the way parliament works. Mr. McParland seems to believe that a government should be able to pass any legislation it wants, even if it does not command a majority of the seats in the House of Commons. He also seems to believe that the party that wins a plurality of seats in the House (as opposed to a majority of the seats, or God forbid, a majority of the vote), should be invested with absolute power. This seems to be a common misconception among supporters of the Conservative Party of Canada, so Mr. McParland should not feel himself singled out.
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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Guns Of September

The trains have left the station.

Update: Unless, of course, they haven't.

Update 2:The only voice in the government that matters, is talking in a much more nuanced fashion than his flying monkey.
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Why Is An Election Inevitable

The press is a bit "skeptical" about the Tory view that an election is inevitable. They ask a very, very good question. The Tories have a minority government and need the support of only one other party. Whether we have an election or not is up to the government's willingness to negotiate with other parties, not the Liberals. The Liberals alone have no ability to bring down the government. Why won't they work with the other parties in parliament to avoid an election? John Baird ran away from the press to avoid answering that question.
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Note To Jeff Simpson

All of our governments are minority governments, even the "majorities". I realize our pundits like the trains to run on time and a "majority" makes it easier for governments to ram through spending and tax cuts (or maybe the privatization of health care, eh Mr. Simpson?), but please, spare me the "no more minority governments" crap. What you are asking for is a minority government with enough seats to ignore the opposition. What you are asking for is four years of minority rule with majority power. Why should we be thrilled by that prospect?
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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

To All Parties

What Pogge said.

Instant Update: This will be the hardest election in years, for me. To vote or not that is the question? Am I just encouraging them by doing so? That is what I am going to have to ponder.
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I Will Believe It When The Writ Is Dropped

We have been here many, many times before. Color me doubtful. We have two months for the Tories to bombard the airwaves with anti-election (dare I say Coup II: Dion's Revenge) ads. More than enough time for the nervous nellies to put the brakes on Iggy. The greater the lead time the Liberals give the Tories, the less likely they are to pull the trigger. I am willing to be pleasantly surprised, but until they actually show up to vote against the government (yes, I wouldn't put it past them to pull a "We voted against the government with the 20 Liberals who bothered to show up"), I remain unimpressed.
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Who Is Engaged In Class Warfare?

Leftists are accused of "class warfare" for opposing tunnels to airports, while shutting people out of mass transit so visiting Pan Am Games poobahs can have a train to themselves is treated as normal.
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