views from canada’s left coast

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does Harper know something we don’t know?

I am surprised to be reading that there is a lot of speculation that Stephen Harper may pull the plug on his government before Parliament resumes on September 15. All the polls that I have seen over the last couple of months have shown the Liberals and the Conservatives in a dead heat, both far from majority territory, and the Conservatives still failing to gain ground in Ontario and Quebec. Further, by calling an election early, Harper would be directly ignoring the fixed election date legislation that his own government implemented.

Perhaps what Harper knows, which the public does not, is that the Conservatives are set to lose, and perhaps lose badly in the upcoming by-elections in Ontario and Quebec. I would think that Harper would like to wait and see how things turn out in those elections before pulling the plug on his government, but if their internal polling data shows a bleak enough picture, or alternatively a strong enough picture, they may want to go to the polls across the country as soon as possible.

There is also speculation that the Conservatives may want to go now, rather than wait for the economy to get even worse. Flaherty has already lowered the growth forecast for the economy this year to a very sluggish 1.1%. If things are only going to get worse on the economic front the Conservatives may as well go to the polls as soon as possible.

It looks to me like the Conservatives would be very hard pressed to win the next election, and are certainly in no position to win a majority. Traditionally, the governing party goes into elections with slightly elevated support as they tend to dominate the news, and during the campaign their numbers dip slightly. If the Liberals manage to pick up a point or two from the Conservatives, and a point or two from the Greens (who seem to be riding way too high in my view) then they could put together 36-38% of the vote. That is not enough to win a majority government, but if the Liberals could pick up 130-140 seats or so then they should be able to govern comfortably with the support of the NDP. After two and a half years of the Harper Conservatives a little Liberal/NDP action would be just the right medicine for Canada.

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , | Leave a comment

A Conservative majority would gut arts funding

Some new cuts were announced for 5 federal programs funded by the government, you can read about it here. The Conservatives, in my view, cannot be trusted any longer. I was never a fan of Stephen Harper, but I felt that all the warnings of a secret Conservative agenda were hyperbole. I would prefer a Liberal government, but at first the Conservatives seemed relatively harmless given the constraints placed on them in a minority government. Now it appears that the Conservatives do harbour an agenda, though it is not so secret. These latest cuts to arts programs come after the Conservatives already attempted to allow Heritage Canada to decide what film and television productions were wholesome enough to qualify for government tax credits. Though not related to the arts, the Conservatives also rammed through important immigration changes on the back of a spending bill. Sneaking such important changes through was disingenuous and could set a dangerous precedent. To get what they want, the Conservatives seem prepared to tack controversial measures onto confidence votes, or in the case of the film and tv tax credits, to bury important issues in what are otherwise routine bills that are necessary in such vast areas like banking.

If the Conservatives are willing to make changes like those I mentioned about in a minority situation I do not want to imagine what they would do if they secured a majority government. If Canadians want to keep their country on the right path, a path that supports arts and culture, then the Conservatives are going to have to be replaced. Maybe one day a Conservative government can be trusted to protect the institutions and programs that matter to Canadians, but the Harper Conservatives appear to harbour an agenda that would mean little to no funding for the arts, abandonment of programs like Insite, law and order policies that do nothing to stop crime, and immigration policies that allow bureaucrats and politicians to discriminate at will.

August 18, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , | 1 Comment

Nice to see Dave Harper enter the fray

This week Dave Harper, a West End resident for 14 years, announced that he is running for the BC Liberal nomination in the riding of Vancouver-West End. I should make it clear that I am supporting Spencer Herbert in his run for the NDP nomination in the riding, and I intend on supporting Spencer next May, but I am happy to see that a West Ender like Dave Harper is entering the contest.

I do not know much about Arthur Griffiths other than the fact that he inherited the Vancouver Canucks from his late father. What I do know about Griffiths is that he is not a West End resident, and never would be except for the fact that it is a Vancouver riding where the incumbent Liberal MLA is not seeking re-election. Griffiths makes his home in Point Grey, one of the wealthiest areas of Vancouver, a seat which is currently held by Liberal premier Gordon Campbell. I think that Griffiths does not really have any business running in Vancouver-West End, I simply cannot see how he would be able to understand the concerns of residents and bring those concerns to Victoria.

What Griffiths has is a name to run on, and family money to back him up. Dave Harper clearly is a huge underdog, but he has a base in the community. I do not know Dave well, but all of my interactions with him have been very pleasant. He has always been very warm and approachable. So while I will definitely be supporting Spencer Herbert, I would rather see a Spencer Herbert NDP ticket versus a Dave Harper Liberal ticket than one with Arthur Griffiths. Spencer and Dave would both campaign on issues important to the community, whereas I think Griffiths is more about name recognition and spending a lot of money on his campaign.

Good luck to Dave Harper, I hope that BC Liberals in the West End realize that someone dedicated to their community is a better choice to represent their party then a wealthy big name candidate with no ties to the riding.

August 9, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 4 Comments

NDP deliberately confusing the carbon tax debate

Just read this article on at thetyee.ca by Tom Barrett. Was nice to read something on The Tyee that does not simply buy the entire NDP line without any critical analysis. While Barrett does not get into why the NDP would use confusing math and confusing statements to confuse voters about the carbon tax, I would say that they are doing it because if they were straightforward and honest about the carbon tax it would not make sense to oppose it. It is difficult to really understand what the carbon tax will do, and how much it will cost people, Barrett highlights how difficult it is to understand the carbon tax, but difficulty aside, conceptually a carbon tax makes sense for the environment. I would have no problem with the NDP standing up and pointing out that the carbon tax that has been implemented leaves much to be desired, and perhaps suggesting their own carbon tax proposal, but simply opposing the carbon tax and saying that cap and trade is the answer is bad environmental, and political policy, in my view.

You would think that the NDP would want to position itself as the greenest party for the upcoming provincial election. By opposing the carbon tax, even if they propose other green initiatives, the BC Liberals will be able to paint the NDP as opposing effective green policies. The Axe the Tax campaign might play well with rural and northern voters, but I think that in the cities it will not appeal to Liberal voters, and some NDP voters may drift to the Green Party if the environment is their number one issue. There is still time for the NDP to propose an alternative carbon tax, one that could be fairer to the poor and the elderly, and one that could potentially catch more large final emitters who do not pay the tax under the Liberal plan. As it stands however, I think that the NDP just looks like they are opposing a decent, if flawed, environmental policy.

August 8, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Scott Richmond should be happy to be a Jay and we should be happy for him

There has been a lot made of J.P. Ricciardi’s decision to bring up 28-year old Canadian rookie pitcher Scott Richmond and take away his chance to pitch for Canada at the 2008 Olympic games. Most of what I have read is people complaining about the Jays decision. I think that it is a great opportunity for Richmond, one that he certainly could never pass up. While it would be great to play for your country at the Olympics, I would imagine that for a pro baseball player there is nothing greater than playing in the big league.

Some people think that Richmond should have either been called up earlier, given a few starts and then allowed to go to Beijing, or he should have gone to Beijing and been a September call-up. Ricciardi decided to bring up Richmond because he wanted John Parrish to move to the bullpen to cover for lefty Brian Tallet, who is on the 15-day disabled list. Clearly Ricciardi did not have to call up Richmond. Brian Wolfe could have taken Tallet’s spot in the bullpen. The reasoning that the Jays needed another lefty in the pen is pretty weak, as they already have Scott Downs and Scott Carlson, and Tallet is not very good against lefties anyway. Regardless, Richmond now gets an extended period of time to prove that he has major league type talent. His first two starts have been solid efforts, even though he is 0-1, he gave his team a chance to win in both outings, and the Jays did pick up the victory in Richmond’s second start.

So while Richmond misses out on the Summer Olympics he could be cashing in big time. If he continues to pitch well he may pitch his way onto the Jays roster for 2009, or he may catch on some place else. Earning major league minimum pay cheques is also a nice perk for anyone.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , | Leave a comment

The Politics of Pride

Yesterday was the Vancouver Pride Parade, I went down to Denman at about 10am to get a good spot and sat there for five hours until the Parade was over. Sitting for five hours on the curb is not a lot of fun, but it was worth it, the Parade was great if you ask me. One thing that always surprises and somewhat disappoints me is the lack of Liberal politicians in the Parade, both federal and provincial. Hedy Fry is of course always in the parade, and she usually has a costume on and looks great. Lorne Mayencourt was nowhere to be seen, I guess if you are not seeking re-election there is no reason to support the community. The only BC Liberal to be seen was Arthur Griffiths, who is seeking the Liberal nomination in Vancouver-West End. There were no other Liberals either BC or federal. It would be nice to see someone like Stephane Dion, Bob Rae, or Michael Ignatieff come to Vancouver to show Liberal support for the LGBT community. Gordon Campbell never shows his face at the Pride Parade, I do not imagine he would get a very good reception if he was there, but I would rather see him get a few boos than not see him at all.

What Pride really does illustrate is that among Canada’s political parties the one that has supported the LGBT community the longest, and the most vociferously is the NDP. Jack Layton rode in the parade again this year. Michael Byers, soon to be NDP candidate for the federal riding of Vancouver Centre, and Spencer Herbert who is seeking the NDP’s nomination for the provincial riding of Vancouver-West End, were both in attendance. Libby Davies always shows her support and was there once again. I am not inclined to vote for the NDP in the next federal election, but I always have to remind myself that the NDP is the only party that shows 100% support for the LGBT community. Hedy Fry has always been supportive, but her party is still full of MPs and members that do not believe in LGBT rights at all. It is always important to remember who loves you best.

August 4, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment