Tuesday, January 31, 2006

They're dropping like flies!

Brian Tobin won't be running for leadership of the Liberal Party. It seems that all of the big names are disappearing. Personally, I think this is a good thing - the old guard is stepping out of the way and allowing new blood to take over. Maybe the people who were around during the sponsorship scandal realize that it's best for the party that they don't lead it? Or maybe they just don't want to become prime minister, which every Liberal leader since Laurier has?

Ah well, with two of the three Atlantic contenders out of the running, that leaves only one more - I do hope Brison runs, because I would very much like to see him as leader. I know a lot of people are skeptical about him because he's young and crossed the floor, but I supported him for Tory leadership, and he was an electrifying candidate then. His speech at the convention was far and away the best of the bunch, and many observers agreed with me. So skeptics, just give him a chance, I'm sure he'll impress you.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Don't you just love it when even the poli-junkies are dead wrong?

I'm all of a sudden much more excited about this leadership race now. With McKenna gone, the race is literally wide open - there is no longer a clear front-runner. I don't think this was predicted by anybody. But I say, what is it with popular premiers from New Brunswick turning down a near-sure-to-win bid to lead a federal party, eh Bernie?

So how does this look for the other players?

Well, it creates space on the "right" of the playing field (though I think it's generally unhelpful to use terms like that). Also, it means that there's more room for another Atlantic candidate to run, so it definitely works in Brison's favour in that regard.

It also means that both the Martin and Chretien people have lost their main contenders - perhaps Manley and McKenna did this deliberately in order to help the party unify instead of continuing the old leadership wars? Who knows.

Either way, it means that any serious candidate who declares that they are running from this point on will have pretty much an equal chance of winning, and that makes for a much more interesting race.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The race begins to take shape

I am loathe to repeat what is being said in many other places, but here's what we know so far, according to various sources:

John Manley, Gerard Kennedy and George Smitherman are definitely not running.

Brian Tobin probably isn't running.

Frank McKenna, Belinda Stronach, Anne McLellan and Ken Dryden are either certainly running, or will likely run. Michael Ignatieff will probably go for it too - that's why he ran in the first place, isn't it? Martin Cauchon seems a likely contender as well. Scott Brison is one of the more likely ones, as well.

Glen Murray, Bob Rae, Maurizio Bevilacqua and Joe Volpe are probably seriously considering a run.

To be honest, I'm most surprised about the Belinda rumours - I didn't figure she would run for the leadership of one party so soon after losing the leadership of another. But she's certainly got the money to do it.

I, for one, am excited to see the field as it starts to take shape. I already know who I would hypothetically support if he ran, but I can't make any real decisions until I know who's running and who's not.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Frank, you might wanna get on this...

Now, to say that Frank McKenna is pro-life (that is, anti-choice) would be pre-mature. There could be another level to his opposition to Henry Morgentaler's New Brunswick abortion clinic that we're not seeing here. However, I'm going to recommend to Frank, if by some miracle he or any of his confidantes sees this, that he get on it before it hits the major news outlets, lest we get "LIBERAL FRONT-RUNNER IS ANTI-ABORTION CRUSADER" plastered across the front page of some newspaper. That's really the last thing we need right now.

All I can say is this - McKenna's got the benefit of the doubt for now and assume that he's on board with the values of forward-thinking people, but if he is indeed aligned with the fundies on this one, he may as well not even bother throwing his hat into the ring.

Says it all, I think

The Canadian Politics reality TV show...

I don't know what to think, other than it'll be interesting to see Mulroney, Campbell, Clark and Turner all on the same panel.

But what does it all mean?

John Manley passing up the Liberal crown has probably shocked a lot of people - about as many as would be shocked if Frank McKenna decided not to run.

This radically changes the dynamic of the race. Is there any candidate comparable in strength to McKenna now? Where will Manley's supporters go - no doubt, Manley would have won a significant number of delegates, so with him not there, a vacuum is created which will have to be filled by other candidates. Will they support Brian Tobin, the other Captain Canada? Or will they jump on the McKenna bandwagon like so many people seem to be? (Me, I'm suspicious of bandwagons, personally - remember John Turner and Paul Martin's?)

While Manley was not my first choice (in fact, he wasn't even my fifth), I will miss what he could have brought to both the race and the party. This is indeed puzzling - for ages Manley seemed like such an obvious contender, but with him gone, the race for funds and delegates in at least one wing of the party is open again. Should be quite interesting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Eat it, Pat!

Well, I do hate to gloat, but I have to. To Pat O'Brien, Grant Hill and Elsie Wayne:

You lost! Take your hate-mongering, homophobic, anti-family, neurotic crusade and stick it somewhere imaginative.

Bouquets of Gray has expanded previous analysis of the new parliament's position on same-sex marriage. From what can be discerned, it would appear that, at most, the anti-gay forces might be able to muster 140 votes. The only way they could get the 155 they'd need to guarantee the reversal of SSM would be if:

123 out of 124 Conservative MPs plus the end up voting against it;
The 3 anti-SSM BQ MPs vote against it;
All 29 anti-SSM Liberals vote against it.

Now, this is clearly impossible, for several reasons.

First of all, of those 29 Liberals, a number of them do not want to revisit the issue. They would likely vote down any attempt to re-open the debate. But let's assume for argument's sake that they all vote against SSM.

Second, we already know that seven Tory MPs (Jim Prentice, Gerald Keddy, James Moore, Josee Verner, Lawrence Cannon, Garth Turner and John Baird) support same-sex marriage. That means, at most, the Tories will have 117 votes against SSM.

Third, Pat O'Brien's suspiciously absent hate-group Vote Marriage Canada endorsed only 101 of the 124 current Tory MPs. Minus the seven mentioned above, that means that there are still 16 Tory MPs (7 of them from pro-SSM Quebec) whose voting intentions are unclear. Odds are, about half of that 16 would swing in favour of SSM, but again for the sake of argument, let's just pretend that they all vote against SSM.

This leaves us with an absolute (and very improbable) maximum of 149 votes against same-sex marriage.

I wonder if they'll finally give up once they lose again?

The first leadership contender

Well, Frank McKenna is running for the leadership of the Liberal Party. He didn't say that, of course, but he has resigned as ambassador to the United States. This puts the unofficial race to succeed Martin into full swing, and gives us a sense of what the playing field will look like - no doubt other potential candidates are taking note. McKenna is considered a front-runner - though as I said earlier, that could change once he starts getting scrutinized - so that will definitely have an impact.

Homophobes just haven't come out yet

Given how many homophobes later come out as gay, I saw this in a book I'm reading ("Medieval Latin Poems of Male Love and Friendship", transl. Thomas Stehling) and chuckled:

"Multos invenies quibus exsecrabile verbis
est puerile nephas, set non a rebus abhorrent.

Plures, un celent quod amant faciuntque libenter,
id detestantur verbis, quo rebus habundant."

Or, in a non-dead language:

"You will find many who say that wickedness with boys
Should be cursed, but they do not shrink from the deeds.

Many, to hide what they love and freely do,
Curse with their words what they wallow in with their deeds."

Today is the most depressing day of the year

Scientifically proven! I guess the Tory victory was already predicted.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Liberal Leadership (Unofficially) Underway

Liberal Vijay Sappani has some great info about potential leadership hopefuls. He seems to brush off Manley, which I personally wouldn't - he already implied on CBC's election night coverage last night that he'd be interested in a bid, and I think he'd be a strong candidate. However, if people want to move past the Chretien-Martin/Trudeau-Turner feuds that have been dividing the party since the 1980's and earlier, it may be best to pick someone who is obviously not associated with either camp, and Manley is clearly in the Chretien wing.

McKenna is obviously a strong candidate - personally, though, I think he's benefited from a lot of media hype and an entire lack of any public scrutiny. As ambassador, it is impossible to scrutinize him too harshly because he's "our man" in Washington, but if he runs for leader, he'll have to resign that post, and subject him to the critical eye of pundits and bloggers - then we'll see if he really has the mettle of a prime minister. Just don't put all your money on him yet.

Optimistic About Same-Sex Marriage

Judging from this election result, I think we of the non-hetero persuasion and our progressive allies are gonna be okay. Bouquets of Gray has a good analysis of the implications of the election, to which I will add that Judy Longfield was defeated in Whitby-Ajax by Jim Flaherty, both of whom are anti-gay rights.

Judging by the picture painted by that preliminary analysis, it looks like the net effect, at worst, could be that a few more anti-SSM MPs were elected. But the margin of the pro-gay victory last time around was sufficiently large that I'm not worried. And I'm gay, so if anyone would be worried, it'd be me.

Paul Steps Down

"I will not lead our party into another election."

Paul Martin does the classy, graceful and honourable thing and steps down as leader of the Liberal Party. As he said in his speech, we can just call him Paul now. Personally, I'll continue to call him one of the best prime ministers that could have been, along with Joe Clark and Kim Campbell.

Have a happy retirement from politics, Paul; you deserve better for what you did for this country. From getting us out of deficit to extending equal rights to your fellow citizens, I truly hope that history remembers you kindly.


Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that, if the current numbers hold, the House of Commons will once again be a stalemate.

Last time, Liberal + NDP = 154, 1 short of a majority.

This time, Conservative + NDP + Independent = 154, 1 short of a majority.

The Conservatives are going to have to work with the Liberals in order to get things passed, including a throne speech. This is probably most frustrating for Jack Layton who, despite increasing his seat total by 10, is once again one seat short of holding the balance of power.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Quebec results are a good thing

As of right now, the Bloc is at 50 seats, down from before.

This is good. It doesn't matter who wins those seats from them, Liberal, Conservative, it doesn't matter. As long as the separatists are defeated, Canada is the better for it.

Congratulations to all 25 federalist MPs from Quebec, from both parties.

The Bloc's extremely low showing in the popular vote is probably the best thing to come out of this election. The separatists are now down at 1980 levels, and that's good for all federalists, Liberal, Conservative, NDP or anyone else.

It's over

Well, CBC's official projection is a Conservative minority government.

Tories, go ahead and cheer, you deserve it.

But we'll be back.

Though did they really have to interview Jason Kenney? There are far less repulsive Conservatives out there...

Election Blogging

The Liberal strategist alongside Tim Powers on CTV Newsnet (she's got an odd yet pretty name I don't remember... Thorena something I think...) just said that the blogs this time around are a great democratic tool, and it's not just the "Dungeons and Dragons players in their basements' blogging. Hey... I do hope that wasn't a shot at D&Ders... :(

Election Blogging

Is it just me, or does John Manley on CBC Newsworld look old!? It's incredible what a couple of years can do, he just looks like he's aged so much. Actually, I think it makes him look like an elder statesman... not that I'm endorsing him for leadership or anything...

Just a Couple of Random Thoughts

Elections Canada, ever the enforcer of stupid and pointless election laws (read: the blackout that forces me to close my comments tonight) would also like to remind you that spoiling your ballot could land you jail time (as if they'd know it was you), and that it's also illegal to eat your ballot. 'Cause, you know, that's the first thing that comes to mind when I see a ballot.

Also, apparently it's possible register to vote using nothing more than your Health Card. Yet the same card is not considered a valid piece of I.D. when buying a drink or smokes. Does anyone else think that's a bit... weird? Talk about mixed priorities. I suppose alcohol and tobacco are more dire than fairness in the democratic process.

And in the interests of full disclosure, I voted for Diane Lloyd, of the


Just thought you might want to know.

Final Predictions

All the cool kids are doing it.

Newfoundland and Labrador:
Liberals - 5
Conservatives - 2

I'm going to call this one as sticking with the status quo. I don't see any huge shift happening in Newfoundland. Bonavista--Grand Falls--Gander may shift hands, but I'll say it won't. That's definitely one to watch, though. The other is Avalon, but again, I call it as staying Liberal. Hearn and Doyle will stay elected in St. John's.

Prince Edward Island:
Liberals - 4

A lot of hay has been made about a PEI seat going Tory for the first time since 1984, but I just don't see it it happening; the numbers just aren't there. This riding stays as red as its soil.

Nova Scotia:
Liberals - 5 (down 1)
Conservatives - 3
New Democrats - 3 (up 1)

I see Dartmouth--Cole Harbour switching back to the New Democrats, but we'll see... Mike Savage is a great MP and a strong candidate. I hope he keeps it, but I think the NDP has a better-than-good chance there. Kings--Hants stays Liberal, and Scott Brison is re-elected again, leaving the Tories to try (and fail) a third time to exact their revenge on him.

New Brunswick:
Liberals - 6 (down 1)
Conservatives - 3 (up 1)
New Democrats - 1

I'll say the Tories pick up a seat here, probably Saint John. The rest stays relatively static.

Bloc Quebecois - 58 (up 4)
Liberals - 12 (down 9)
Conservatives - 4 (up 4)
Independent - 1 (up 1)

I think the Conservative surge will actually do more to split the federalist vote, giving the Bloc some more seats. Pettigrew and Frulla are gone; Lapierre, regretably, stays. Independent Andre Arthur in Portneuf--Jacques-Cartier appears to be ahead in the polls, so I'll give it to him. He's a big name in Quebec. Josee Verner, Lawrence Cannon and Maxime Bernier are probably locks (and at least two of them headed for cabinet if Harper wins), and Jean-Pierre Blackburn in Jonquiere--Alma has sort of had the race conceded to him by Liberal Gilles Savard. The Liberals hold onto their safe seats, but that's about it. Martin keeps his seat - those predicting he'll lose it are out to lunch.

Conservatives - 54 (up 30)
Liberals - 40 (down 35)
New Democrats - 12 (up 5)

Ah, the home province.

I don't think Liberals are going to have much to look forward to in Ontario. The Tories are going to have a large number of pick-ups in Eastern and Southwestern Ontario, and even some in the GTA and Ottawa. Expect to see Tony Clement finally win something in Parry Sound--Muskoka, as well as future cabinet ministers Allan Cutler, John Baird and (ugh) Jim Flaherty. Toronto stays Liberal, including Etobicoke--Lakeshore (or so I hope), though Jack and Olivia win their seats, and possibly Parkdale--High Park shifts to the NDP as well. My riding of Peterborough, a microcosm of eastern Ontario and a perennial bellweather, will probably go Conservative, which is truly regretable, as the Tory here is... well... less than stellar. Newmarket--Aurora is a tough call, but I'll predict that Belinda hangs on. But there won't be much more good news than that for the Liberals here tomorrow.

There's a tonne of Liberal MPs who I would love to see go down in defeat, namely Andrew Telegdi, Tom Wappel, Dan McTeague, Paul Szabo, Walt Lastewka, Joe Comuzzi, Roy Cullen, John Cannis, Alan Tonks, Paul Steckle, and more. Unfortunately, most of the Liberal MPs I want to see defeated (pragmatically - I want to replace them in the next election with actual Liberals and not just L.I.N.O.'s who squat in safe Ontario seats; Pat O'Brien was a good start) are, as mentioned, in safe seats, so they will very unfortunately be a part of the next Liberal caucus.

Conservatives - 7
Liberals - 4
New Democrats - 3

That may look like the status quo, but that's not it. Churchill goes to Liberal Tina Keeper, but the NDP picks up Selkirk--Interlake from the Tories. Meanwhile, the Tories steal one from the Liberals.

Conservatives - 10 (down 3)
New Democrats - 3 (up 3)
Liberals - 1

That finance critic for the official opposition Ralph Goodale (oh dear, it feels weird saying that) hangs on is a given. I also think the NDP stands poised to regain some seats in 2006. Most notably, Lorne Nystrom (one of my favourite Dippers - I'm certainly rooting for him) will make a comeback in Regina--Qu'Appelle. I'll predict Palliser and Humboldt also swing to the NDP. The Tories hold the rest.

Liberals - 21 (up 19)
New Democrats - 6 (up 6)
Conservatives - 1 (down 25)

Hmm? Oh sorry, I was running a scenario in which Albertans, who love to complain that Ontario blindly votes for the same party all the time, actually took their own advice and changed their vote for once, voting for a NON-right-wing party for the first time in eighty years.

Alberta (the real one):
Conservatives - 28 (up 2)
Liberals - 0 (down 2)

Sorry guys, but Anne McLellan's toast. Maybe not, though - prove me wrong again, Annie; for the fifth time in a row prove all the predictions wrong!

British Columbia:
Conservatives - 20 (down 2)
New Democrats - 9 (up 4)
Liberals - 7 (down 1)
Independents - 0 (down 1)

I'll be honest, British Columbia is too volatile to call accurately, so I'm just making a crap-shoot here. I don't want to get into specific ridings too much, but I will say that Alex Atamanenko will take BC Southern Interior, and New Democrat Penny Priddy picks up the late Chuck Cadman's Surrey North seat. No Green breakthrough in British Columbia this time (though I would be happy to be proven wrong, and that goes for most of these predictions). I'll also give Vancouver Centre to Svend Robinson, though I don't know how accurate that will turn out to be.

The North:
Liberals - 2 (down 1)
New Democrats - 1 (up 1)

The Northwest Territories, the closest riding last time around, goes NDP, but the Yukon and Nunavut stay Liberal. Not much to say about this one.

The National Results:
Conservatives - 131 Seats (36% of the vote)
Liberals - 86 Seats (29% of the vote)
Bloc Quebecois - 58 Seats (11% of the vote)
New Democrats - 32 Seats (17% of the vote)
Independent - 1 Seat (0.x% of the vote)
Greens - 0 Seats (5% of the vote)

That's the way I'm calling it. If I were a betting man (and I am), that's what I'd bet on (which, incidentally, I actually am).

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Victory Logos

I guess I'll use my 100th post for something silly and uninformative.

In anticipation of the election of one of the major parties, I have created some election avatars. For a period of time after the election, I'll be using one of these logos as my avatar (replacing the mug of yours truly.) In the case of a Liberal victory, this will simply be gloating, plain and simple. In the case of a Conservative victory, however, I'll definitely want to extend an olive branch to my new overlords... as for NDP or Green... well... ask Bob Rae.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

It seems that Ontario the Sane could save us from a Conservative sweep. At L-39, C-36, N-18, we can likely expect the Tories to take some seats in Ontario, but not nearly as many as was expected. It doesn't particularly matter how well the Tories do in the rest of the country, because unless they can storm the Liberal fortresses of Ontario and the Atlantic, their gains will be limited. Here's hoping that Ontario delivers us at least enough seats to hold the Tories to a minority, or at best, form a minority ourselves.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yeah, about that...

Politics Watch has got their 2006 quiz out, and it's I have to say just as inaccurate as their 2004 quiz. In 2004, I was given a 100% compatability score with Stephen Harper. This year, my results are as follows:

Jack Layton (100%)
Paul Martin (88%)
Gilles Duceppe (70%)
Stephen Harper (35%)

I think this quiz is broken... I strongly support removing the notwithstanding clause, and strongly oppose a ban on private healthcare, and I still get 100% Jack.


Maybe I spoke too soon. (It's cool, right? *nervous laughter*)

Conservatives - 35.8%
Liberals - 29.6%
NDP - 19.4%
Bloc - 11.6%
Greens - 3.4%

That's quite the reversal of the established trends. It's not a Liberal victory, but it allows room for recovery, and maybe a bare win if the trend keeps up.

Time to get ahead of myself

Well, the writing may not be on the wall, but God has got his Xtra large red pen out. Much as I maintain some sliver of hope that the Liberals will eke through with a bare minority on election night, I have already accepted the seemingly-inevitable election of Harper and his cabal of right-wing maniacs. At this point, the best I am seriously hoping for is that a few candidates that I like (Scott Brison, Michael Ignatieff, Belinda Stronach, Mark Holland, and I dare say Svend Robinson, Olivia Chow, Lorne Nystrom and James Moore) win and keep their seats, and a few candidates I loathe (Jim Flaherty and several assorted members of the religious right like Rondo Thomas, Lois Brown and Rob freaking Anders) lose theirs.

Conventional wisdom has it that Paul Martin will step down if he loses. Some are saying, however, that he won't. "Some" includes veteral political strategist and Chretien war-roomer Warren Kinsella. We'll see if Warren is right again, but I certainly hope he's not, because what he's saying is very worrisome. I'll simply hope that his vehement dislike of Paul Martin is clouding his judgment on this one, because if Paul loses, I don't know how else to say that he's just gotta go. He's already damaged goods at this point, and the odds of him actually leading the Liberal Party to recovery are slim. It would require a political comeback worthy of Mackenzie King, who had already served as prime minister for a decade when he returned from the opposition benches. Simply put, it isn't going to happen.

A lot of the problem is the people around Martin. Maybe I'm misreading him, but I do think he's smart enough to know when he can't win, and he's a loyal enough party man not to drag the party down with him in his personal quest to fulfil his father's dream. His inner circle, however, will not want to see him go unless they've got a replacement locked up. They worked for ten years to take over the party from the bottom up, and made a lot of enemies along the way. (The above-cited Mr. Kinsella, a pit bull you would much rather have on your side than working against you among them.) If another leader takes over, and he (or she) is not one of their creatures, and especially if it's someone from the wing of the party they've been alienating, say, a Chretien loyalist like Martin Cauchon or John Manley, not only can they kiss their jobs goodbye, but they can say goodbye to any real degree of influence within the party. They have struggled for too long to get to where they are today, and the only way they can be sure to hold onto their positions is to keep their guy in power for as long as possible.

There are of course the rumours that senior Martinites (names like Scott Reid and David Herle have been floated around) are already approaching Frank McKenna, currently the Ambassador to Washington and long seen as a potential front-runner, with offers to support his leadership aspirations. McKenna, however, is probably smart enough to avoid the people who blew election #1 and lost election #2. In fact, any leadership candidate who hopes to win not only the leadership but the next election would hopefully be smart enough to avoid giving these guys too much influence, as they are clearly incompetent. So we're back to sticking with Martin, really their only realistic shot at maintaining power.

(Incidentally, I can count on one hand the number of former premiers who have successfully become prime minister - actually, I can count it on two fingers - Thompson and Tupper. Remember them? Not so much? Yeah... former premiers who failed to become prime minister, on the other hand, include such names as Robert Stanfield, Tommy Douglas, George Drew and John Bracken. That that this precludes any premiers from becoming prime minister, I'm just saying.)

It would, of course, be bad for the Liberal Party for Paul Martin to stick around if he loses. Not only would he and his team go on to lose another election, but the division in the party would be, to use a fun phrase I learned during Hurricane Katrina, "past critical". As I mentioned, the conventional wisdom is that Martin will step down if he loses, so if he doesn't, expect some cries for blood. Hopefully, if he's not motivated to step down by what's best for the party, he will be motivated by wanting to avoid the same fate that he inflicted upon his predecesor, and step aside gracefully, notwithstanding the pleas of his inner circle to stay on.

Because love him or hate him, he's just not a winner, and this is almost undoubtable at this point; it will be undoubtable if he loses this one. Stephen Harper will be hoping Paul Martin stays on as leader, and that should tell you something. The Tories will want that just like Mulroney wanted Turner to stay on after 1984, and just like the Republicans are hoping for Hilary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee in 2008.

So, if Paul Martin wins this election, then he has earned another term as prime minister, and possibly the right to lead the party into another election. However, if he loses again, for the good of the party, the country and his own personal reputation, it would be best if he simply, gracefully, stepped aside.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Talk about the wrong message

What do Allan Cutler, Conservative candidate in Ottawa South and the sponsorship whistleblower, and Prime Minister Paul Martin have in common?

Both of them were honest enough to put their jobs on the line to expose government corruption. Cutler was fired - Martin may well be.

The sponsorship scandal is often touted as the "biggest scandal in Canadian history." The validity of this statement is suspect, as some would point out the legendary corruption of Sir John A. Macdonald's government. However, the point is taken. Perhaps the biggest scandal of all is the effect that the sponsorship scandal could have on Canadian politics. The Gomery Inquiry could indeed serve as a warning to future governments, but not in the way it ought to.

Let's trace the events, as we know them:
- Auditor General Sheila Fraser exposes the sponsorship program and the unaccounted money.
- Paul Martin cancels the sponsorship program.
- Paul Martin calls the Gomery Inquiry.
- Judge Gomery releases his fact-finding report.
- Despite being exonnerated by Judge Gomery, Paul Martin still takes the blame from the public.

This is very troubling. Essentially, the message is this: If you are honest, you will pay for it; if you tell the truth, you will be punished.

Scandals happen. This is the reality of government. Any time people are put in charge of hundreds of billions of dollars, some of it is going to go missing. Stephen Harper was quoted as saying, "When there is a scandal," which is telling. Of course there would be scandal under a Harper government - the question is, would it be covered up?

I am not optimistic. The Gomery Inquiry is not without precedent in Canadian history. It is comparable in many ways to the inquiry into the CPR Scandal, both of which saw sitting prime ministers testify, and both of which (it seems now) toppled said prime minister. But the unprecedented thing is that Paul Martin so willingly and so readily established the public inqury. He put his career on the line to get to the bottom of the scandal, and he is paying the price for being honest - that price could be his job.

So let's ask the question - when scandal next happens, as it will, will the sitting prime minister be stupid enough to be as honest about it as Martin has been? After all the message we're sending is that if you call a public inquiry and expose the scandal for all to see, even if you are personally exonnerated you will still pay an electoral price. On the other hand, if you do what Jean Chretien surely would have done, and did through his tenure as prime minister, and sweep it under the rug, denying everything and covering it all up, then nothing bad will happen to you.

This has happened before. Jean Chretien took the lesson of Brian Mulroney seriously. Mulroney was a more or less honest prime minister, and his government faced scandal, as most do. But Mulroney did not tolerate scandal, and he fired ministers over it. And he paid the price, and is remembered as corrupt. Chretien would not let the same thing happen to him, and he was almost completely unaccountable, since no one knew what was happening in his government. Martin, like Mulroney, would not stand for the scandal, and he now ends up with the same reputation as Mulroney.

If the message that Canadians send is that honesty is punishable by termination, how can we realistically expect our politicians to be honest?


For all you Liberals out there who want a place to discuss things with other Liberals in a friendly environment, there is now a place where you can be unabashedly Liberal without being called corrupt. It's a place for Liberals and Liberal supporters to gather and converse without having to worry about conservative trolls. There are placed on the net for conservatives to meet and talk, so why not, eh?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Is it illegal to sell your vote for sexual favours?

That got your attention didn't it? It's relevant I swear, just bear with me.

I went to an all-candidates meeting last night, and came to a conclusion: I dearly wish that my retiring Liberal MP, the Honourable Peter Adams, was running again. Adams was one of my favourite MPs, and frankly, I don't know how a town like Peterborough got so lucky. He was as honourable as the title suggests; everybody, even his opponents, liked him. I've lived here since 1995 - he's been the MP since 1993, and was an MPP from 1987-1990 - and I don't think I've ever heard a single bad thing said about him. While it's unfortunate that he was swept away in the NDP tide of 1990, it facilitated his jump to federal politics, and Peterborough was all the better for it, because we had one of the best MPs in the Commons. He was respectful of everyone he met, and won four federal elections very comfortably, even against a united Conservative party in a swing riding. They couldn't even touch him last time he was so far out in front. He was one of the most socially progressive MPs in the Liberal caucus, an active supporter of gay marriage, a woman's right to choose, and the legalization of marijuana. And not to mention, he was principled enough to support John Manley's abortive leadership bid, even though it was painfully obvious that Manley couldn't win. That support probably cost him a cabinet spot, and he remained a backbencher his entire career - except for recently, where he got to serve as Belinda's parliamentary secretary. It's a shame that John Manley may soon become Liberal leader, and one of his ardent caucus supporters won't be there to take a (well-deserved) cabinet spot. I'm glad that I was old enough to vote for him at least once before he retired, though regretably I didn't actually campaign for him last time around, because I was still having my "I used to be a PC, who do I support?" crisis. In the end, though, I voted for Adams, and was proud to do it.

My tribute being said, however...

In all there are six people running for election in my riding of Peterborough, ON - the usual suspects, an Independent, and a Marijuana Party joker. They decided to invite the Pot Party guy, Aiden Wiechula, even though his contribution to the discussions basically consisted of, "Uhh... I don't know enough about this issue to say anything but *proceeds to waste everyone's time*." I don't know, but for some reason, at this age, I just can't bring myself to vote for a candidate who's younger than me. He's sort of cute though - not that I'd ever outright say that I'm willing to sell my vote for sexual favours. Actually, now I'm curious as to whether or not that would be illegal. It's really a shame, though, because I absolutely support the legalization of marijuana. It's depressing to me to see candidates who seem to be going out of their way to prove the negative stereotypes about pot-smokers.

As for the Independent, Bob Bowers, well, he's a perrenial candidate who never wins, and he's sort of... cooky. It's hard to be annoyed at a guy with no teeth and Parkinson's disease - all I could really do was feel sorry for the poor guy last night, I didn't know what else to think - but he also sort of dragged the level of discussion down, saying the same thing over and over again (he's a far-left populist, and referendums are the solution to everything, apparently) as well, and to top it all off he had to leave at 9:15, and even though everyone in attendence wanted to continue the discussion until 10:00, he insisted on leaving, and so the rules demanded that the debate end. So a lot of really good questions (including mine - I'll get to that) didn't get to be asked.

A lot of things were said, but the serious candidates can basically be summed up thusly:

Brent Wood (Green Party, and no, you're not the only one to notice how fitting the name is): He was definitely the most well-informed of the group, and probably the best speaker, too. His solutions to problems were typical Green fare - completely rethink the problem, rejecting the previously-accepted premises, and come up with a new, more efficient and effective solution. All in all, I enjoyed listening to him speak. He's a professor at my University. I'm currently leaning towards voting for him, actually. He impressed me last night, and I think candidates like him deserve votes.

Linda Slavin (NDP): I have it on good authority from a friend who knows her that she's a flake. But she seemed alright to me, at least when discussing policy. Her answers to questions usually consisted of what you'd expect from the NDP - someone would ask a question demanding more money for this or that, and she'd either say "Yes", or say "I haven't read the platform yet, since it was just released today, but I'm sure there's some money for you in there somewhere."

Dean Del Mastro (Conservative): The apparent front-runner, and that's very unfortunate. This guy is a piece of work. I mean, I'm used to candidates spouting absolute BS promises that they never intend to keep. But this guy just takes the cake. There were a lot of questions asked last night, each asking for more money than the last - and he said yes to them all. He was just as bad as Slavin in the doling out of un-keepable promises - actually, he was worse, since Slavin wasn't promising to cut taxes on top of all her spending promises - and a few times, he actually promised more, sometimes twice, what the NDP candidate promised. It was crazy, I literally could not believe what I was hearing. Oh yes, the Tories have struck gold with this one - as a used car salesman, (turned off yet?) he has been trained by his profession to make as many false promises as possible. And he's good at it. Without missing a beat, he was promising a billion dollars, two billion, five billion dollars for this, that, and the other, the whole time attacking the Liberals for cutting it in the first place - even if it was, say, Mike Harris' Conservatives who cut that particular service, not the Liberals. Oh, the gall of this guy, you just wouldn't believe him. While admittedly he's no Rondo Thomas (direct quote: "The facts don't matter"), he's quite the liar. He just does it so well - heck, he'd have me convinced if I hadn't been sitting there the whole time tallying up what his promises were going to cost (trust me - it put the NDP's hyperbolic promises to shame), and to top it all off, he stole another NDP campaign slogan when he accused the Liberals of being "the most far-right government" ever in Canada (to much derision and, "Oh come on!"s). Oh and incidentally he opposes gay rights - who's far right, Dean? Unfortunately, due to the meeting being cut short, I was not able to ask my question: "Mr. Del Mastro, I've been sitting here tallying up your promises, and from what you've said here tonight, you plan to spend more than the NDP, and on top of that, you plan on cutting taxes across the board, including a GST cut. How, exactly, are you planning on paying for all this?" It was a good question, too bad I didn't get to ask it.

Diane Lloyd (Liberal): To counter Dean's out of control spending promises was the fiscally prudent Diane Lloyd. Lloyd was the head of the local school board during the Harris-Eves years, so she knows full well what it's like to operate on a tight budget. While all the other candidates (except the Green) were just promising to throw money every which way, she was the one saying, "No". She was the one who said, "I know it's not what you want to hear, but unlike Dean, I'm not going to make a bunch of promises I know I can't keep. The fact is while I would love to allocate money in that way, I can't promise you something that we probably can't afford. Well, I could promise it to you, but then I'd be lying." Unfortunately, while fiscal frugality is necessary, it's certainly not popular with the locals, who didn't take kindly to being told that government can't do everything for them. Normally I'd vote for her - she even passes my same-sex marriage litmus - but I don't think she's going to win, and even if she does, I'll be less than thrilled. She's one of those "marijuana is a gateway drug" types, and for some reason, I just can't bring myself to mark an "X" for a person who considers me a criminal for smoking a joint. Maybe I'm taking that too personally, but moral issues are personal things, and I don't take kindly to being told by the government that my moral choices are wrong. Lloyd, while she's not a bad candidate, and she was the president of the Peterborough Liberal Association, is not Peter Adams. And that's a shame, because he'd have my vote, and my campaigning time in a heartbeat.

All in all, what I took away from the debate is this, as I said, I wish Peter Adams was running, because out of all the candidates, the one who impressed me the most was the Green Party candidate - and unlike 90% of Canadians, I vote based on my local candidate. I'm not a partisan, and while I don't want the Liberals to lose, to be perfectly honest, at this point, I think they deserve to. I look forward to being a part of rebuilding the party if it collapses, but for the moment, with this current leader, this current candidate, and these current policies, I just can't bring myself to vote Liberal for the third time in a row (2003 Ontario, 2004 Canada).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Maybe Jack Layton should say Stephen Harper offered him a bribe?

I mean, apparently all it takes to force someone to drop out of an electoral race is to make an unfounded and baseless allegation that someone tried to bribe you.

Two words: Fucking Ridiculous.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ralph Klein Hates Stephen Harper

I've come to two conclusions.

The first is that the new CBC design and colour scheme is pretty sharp.

The second is that Ralph Klein must hate Stephen Harper. That is honestly the only explanation I can possibly think of as to why Ralph seems to be constantly trying to sink the Conservative campaign. I mean, is there a better explanation that I'm missing?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Let's All Do the Charter

In tonight's debate, Paul Martin came out with a plan to make Canada's beloved and brilliant Charter of Rights even more worthy of celebration - the Liberal government will introduce a constitutional amendment and start the process for the removal of the authority of the federal government to override constitutional rights.

Stephen Harper shot back that a Conservative government would amend the Charter to include property rights.

Jack Layton looked bewildered and, unable to ante up, delivered one of the many painfully dry advertisements (completely with slogan) that he delivered throughout the night, this one about healthcare. (Bravo, Jack, bravo.)

Gilles Duceppe... ah, no one cares about Gilles Duceppe or the Bloc. I'll be pretending they don't exist for the remainder of this.

And so in an odd twist, there is one federal party leader who currently supports the constitutional status quo, and it's... NDP leader Jack Layton. Quite the strategy to marginalize the smiling socialist, and I while I can't speak for other Canadians, it worked on me. (And might I just say, for shame Jack - for someone who supports same-sex marriage rights so vehemently, you should be on board for removing the power of the feds to take them away.) I was leaning towards the NDP going into that debate - mostly due to my support for proportional representation, and because I feel I owed Jack Layton a vote due to his campaigning for gay rights before it was cool, way back in the 70's - but the moment Paul Martin said the words I'd been waiting to hear ever since I first heard about that infernal clause, "[T]he first act of a new Liberal government is going to be to strengthen the Charter, and we're going to do that by removing by Constitutional means the possibility for the federal government to use the notwithstanding clause," I was floored. And the moment Jack Layton refused to endorse Paul Martin's plan, I was up again and sold. It's the Liberals for me in two thousand and... okay six. (For some reason, every rhyming slogan I come up with that includes the number "six" is just dirty.)

But I'm not without respect for the position of Stephen Harper on this one. His support for the notwithstanding clause is shameful and proof to me that he doesn't deserve to be prime minister, but he did say something I agree with. "We feel that the population must have the right to own property, to have a legal process in cases of expropriation, and we feel it's necessary to compensate people in such cases, and I feel those priorities should be protected by the constitution." Stephen Harper wants to amend the Charter to include property rights.

Now I must say, I am a fan of both of those proposals, though I obviously lean towards Martin's more. Just about the only thing Jack Layton could propose that would swing me back his way would be including "sexual orientation" in the list of protected categories. (It's already been read into the Charter by the courts, I know, but it would be symbolic. South Africa has it in their constitution - and I'd rather be more progressive than them. It's a pride thing.) Or possibly eliminating that obnoxious reference to "God" in a document that obviously has nothing to do with him, being that I'm a firm believer that mixing government with religion is bad for both. But even then, removing the notwithstanding clause still might resonate more with me.

Of course, the Liberals may well lose and not get to implement it. But now, at least, they'll go down fighting for something more than just power. Now, if they lose, they'll go down fighting for individual rights and freedoms, just like Trudeau did in what everybody thought was his last hurragh in 1979. (Need I remind you what happened next? Trudeau reclaimed power in 1980 and gave us the Charter of Rights itself in 1982.)

Unfortunately, there is an ugly side to this (besides just the possibility of a Liberal loss.) The ugly side is, of course, politics. Stephen Harper has refused to endorse removing the notwithstanding clause; the reasons for this should be copiously obvious. The notwithstanding clause is the only way for the social conservative wing of his party to legally implement their radical agenda, including stamping out abortion rights for women and scribbling "NO FAGS" in red ink across the pages of the Civil Marriage Act.

But I'm not letting the Liberals off easy. Within minutes of the debate, the Liberal Party called Harper's plan to entrench property rights - another fundamental value in liberal society which is conspicuously absent in our Charter - a "radical right-wing plan". I was actually surprised by that, because the Liberals don't usually venture into the blatant socialist territory of condemning private property. Even the NDP doesn't do that. It's a misstep in my opinion - one of many by Martin's less-than-stellar braintrust - but I can chalk it up to politics, because I know at the end of the day that a millionaire like Paul Martin really has no choice but to support private property, and with people like Scott Brison and Belinda Stronach in his cabinet, I'm not too worried about a socialist takeover of the Liberal Party happening any time soon. Still, it's disappointing rhetoric all the same.

It's disappointing because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a wonderful document, but it is not a perfect document. Some would argue that it could never be perfect, and they may be right. But there are some changes that could be made to it in order to push it in that direction. Those changes include removing the notwithstanding clause, or at least making it almost as difficult to use as implementing a constitutional amendment. Also included is recognizing what the majority of people already recognize as the right to property property. Adding the right to privacy in general would, as well, be a boon. Removing the psuedo-theocratic reference to God would also be welcome for the constitution of a modern, secular society - God is best kept in the hearts and minds of his followers, not on a government document. And adding sexual orientation to the list of protected categories, along with gender, race and ethnicity, in recognition of the fact that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are just as much citizens of Canada as straight people. If that were done, the Charter would still not be perfect, but it would be damn close.

(cross-posted at Centrerion)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Breaking: Paul Martin promises to eliminate the notwithstanding clause

During tonight's debate, Paul Martin unveiled his intention to introduce a constitutional amendment to eliminate the constitutional override clause.

To me, this is the best promise unveiled in the entire campaign. The first time I heard about the clause in Law class several years ago, I was outraged. I'm very excited at the opportunity to get rid of it. I now have a real reason to mark my ballot "Liberal". I was leaning NDP to be honest, but this just seals the deal.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Fake Outrage Alert

A Tory is just ever-so upset that a Liberal has made "homophobic" comments about Pierre Pettigrew. This is a perfect example of the fake outrage I've talked about before.

Now, I'm no expert on the issue of homophobic slurs (after all, being gay myself, I can't even count the number I've had directed at me, meaning I'm pretty much completely ignorant about them), but that was not a homophobic comment. If it's homophobic to merely point out that someone is (or in this case, may be) gay, lesbian or bisexual, then I'm about to unleash a litany of hateful, anti-gay bigotry; Mario Silva = homo. Libby Davies? She's a big lesbo. And don't even get me started on that Svend Robinson. Also, Real Menard? Gay. And I've heard rumours about Scott Brison. And incidentally, Enza Supermodel? Drag queen. I'm fairly certain George Smitherman is gay, as well.

For conservatives to get self-righteous about homophobia from liberals is, to be frank, laughable if not downright offensive. You cannot at the same time be a member of a party which actively seeks to deny gays their civil rights, and level accusations of anti-gay bigotry at people who support those civil rights. It's just like when they got up in arms about the apparent "homophobic" comments by Mike Klander (which weren't homophobic at all); while it's great to see Conservatives defending gays, it all seems a bit opportunistic and absurd when you remember that their official party policy is that gays are second-class citizens, to be segregated, in the tried, tested and true style of "separate but equal."

By the way, did you notice something about that list of gay politicians (sans Enza) I spouted off in that hate-filled diatribe of mine? You've got two New Democrats, three Liberals and a Bloc-head. You getting the picture? That I know of, there are no openly gay Conservative legislators in Canada. Doesn't that say something?

UPDATE: I have to say, though, I've been charged with hypocrisy on the grounds that, if a Conservative had said the exact same thing, I would be up in arms. But the fact of the matter is, it would depend entirely on the Conservative. A Conservative who does not support gay civil rights making a quip about Pierre Pettigrew's so-called boyfriend is different from a Conservative who does support gay rights doing the same, and the same applies to Liberals, too. It's the difference between Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh making a gay joke; it's the difference between Chris Rock and Strom Thurmond saying "nigger". What people do and what they believe is far more important than what they say; what they say must always be read as a reflection of what they believe. So when talking about gay issues, you have to take into account the actual beliefs of the person making the comment.

Many in the Conservative party are outright homophobes who only support the second-class citizen option ("civil-unions") because they can't constitutionally or politically relegate them to third-class citizen status (no recognition at all), or even lower (pass more discriminatory laws). Some in the Liberal party have feelings like this too, and frankly, I wish they were not Liberals, but the number is far lower. Having had many a conversation with Conservatives, it is apparent to me that while some support gay rights, and others support the civil union option because they honestly believe that "separate but equal" is just, and that gays would still be just as welcome in their homes and families as anyone, a very, disturbingly large number of them are merely putting on a "game face" when they support civil unions; the language they use says it all. Civil unions are "good enough", gays should be "happy they're getting that", and should "shut up about it". Some will come right out and say that it's a mental disorder, and it's stupid for society to give any legal recognition to the marriages of mental patients. In short, what you actually believe is what makes you a homophobe, not simply what you say.

So when you're in a party that believes the things that many Conservatives seem to, then yes, you are subject to more scrutiny then others. Is that fair; am I being fair? Well, what is fair? Is it fair that the only realistic options gay people have in this election are Liberals or New Democrats? Is it fair that if the Conservatives won they would do everything in their new-found power to strip gays of the rights they currently enjoy? Is anything involving the treatment of gays in Canada up until 1968 even remotely fair? How about the homophobic security vetting during the 1950's? Let's stop pretending that fairness is something that is valued in this situation, because it's clearly not. Nothing about the treatment of gays in the western world since the fall of the Roman Empire has been fair, and it's absolutely absurd to expect, after millenia of unfairness, fairness to be a given.

So, this may seem unfair to you, but that's the name of the game: If someone who supports gay rights makes a remark about Pierre Pettigrew's alleged boyfriend, that is not offensive; if someone who opposes gay rights makes the same remark, it is. Both are merely words on their own, but when spoken by individuals and thus put into context, become a reflection of what that person truly believes. The former is a reflection of the belief that homosexuality is so normal that one can use the words "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" interchangably when referring to trysts between ministers and their drivers; the latter is a reflection of a backwards and bigotted worldview that uses implied homosexuality to take cheap shots. Same words, but when put into different contexts, mean very different things.

I'll close by saying that if those Conservatives who support gay rights truly want to be "fair", they'll attack the hate-mongering that happens in their own party, instead of latching onto comments made by people who already support gay rights and trying to make them out to be homophobic, to draw attention away from the troglydites in their own party.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tories to Raise Taxes

(Cross-posted at Centrerion)

You read that right.

If the Tories form government, they plan to raise taxes. Harper won't talk about it on camera, for obvious reasons, but nevertheless part of the Tory election platform is to raise personal income taxes.

The worst part? They're going to raise them on the poor. That's right, the poor. So in one broad swoop, the Conservatives buck their strength as tax-cutters, and re-inforce the common attack levelled against neo-liberal types that they want to screw the poor. Brilliant move, guys!

The plan is simple: an increase for the lowest tax bracket from 15% to 16%. The Liberals just recently cut that from 16% to 15%. In addition, they plan to lower the basic exemption by $400, which the Liberals just raised by $500. These are moves that directly affect the lowest income earners, increasing the tax burden on the poor to subsidize their GST cut, which let's remember, you won't notice unless you're someone who buys luxury cars and computers regularly.

You can't get much more "rob the poor to feed the rich" than this. Quite frankly, it's sickening. One of the reasons I was a Progressive Conservative, and still describe myself as a blue Liberal, is because I believe in tax cuts, especially tax cuts for lower income earners, and I am bitterly opposed to raising taxes. For the part of me that still harbours conservative sympathies, this is a huge betrayal. I left the Conservative Party because they no longer shared my views on social issues - now it appears they are aligned against me on economic issues as well.

Whatever happened to Stephen "I think all taxes are bad" Harper? I can't even call him a socialist, because socialists call for tax increases for the rich, not for the poor. No, this is plain, old fashioned, 18-19th century conservatism, and everything wretched that it embodies, including an emphasis on "moral order" (no fags), cracking down hard on crime instead of trying to eliminate its causes (cutting youth programs, and then wondering why youth violence goes up, apparently necessitating putting 14 year olds in prison for ten years for having guns), and increasing the burden on the poor so that the rich can live in more luxury than ever before.

For all the clamouring for tax cuts from right-wingers, this is what I've been able to discern from this policy proposal: Tory tax cuts are good, but Liberal tax cuts are bad. Conversely, Tory tax increases are good, but Liberal taxes increases are... well, non-existant, but hypothetically bad. Say it with me now: p-a-r-t-i-s-a-n-s-h-i-p.