Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

Separtism vs Unity

I was going to write a book review today but this is more important. Thanks, Stephen Harper, for raising the hoary head of separatism yet again. Wasn’t it enough that it’s almost torn the country apart twice in the past?

Stephen Harper is like Gordon Campbell. They both have this smooth plasticky look that I’ve never trusted. And Gordon Campbell’s adamant voice this last week against a coalition partially formed of his party (albeit at a federal level) really cements that he is a Conservative in Liberal clothing. BC Liberals are the same as Alberta Conservatives.

Anyway, I wouldn’t trust either as far as I could throw them. But back to Harper who in his arrogance not just poked at the sleeping lion of separatism, but prodded it with a red hot poker. He has single handedly guaranteed that the Conservatives will not win in Quebec’s provincial election that’s coming up.

Although I do not like what the Bloc stands for and there is a huge problem in having a federal party that is only concerned with one geographic area (I don’t think it should be allowed at all but how do you word something like that?), they are a valid party in the current parameters and have to be respected in that aspect.

When Harper said, “The highest principle of Canadian democracy is that if one wants to be prime minister, one gets one’s mandate from the Canadian people and not from Quebec separatists,” he pried open the lid on the issue that will not die and now has another chance to suck the lifeblood from Canada. Somehow, he neglected to understand that Quebec is part of Canada.  He pitted anglophone Canada against francophone.

But of course, he isn’t the only one who sees Quebec as separate. Jacques Parizeau, a former Quebec premier, was quoted as saying, “The fact that the Bloc got Stéphane Dion to sign a political accord in which it is explicitly written that he undertakes  ‘to act in partnership with Canadians and the Québécois should bring a smile to the face of many sovereigntists.’ ” Here again we see Québécois as separate or other from Canadians when in fact they are Canadians.

The separatist (or soverignist if you want the word that muddies the connotations) movement has surged like a tide in the past. A good French-Canadian friend has told me that the provincial government often keeps the Québécois insulated from the rest of the goings on in Canada. We’re a bilingual country but truly it’s Quebec and New Brunswicks and some of the other areas in eastern Canada that speak French and that right is protected. Western Canada predominantly speaks English. There is a law that public signage has to be in both languages, especially official and government signs, yet in Montreal when I was there, there was a lack of English

The Québécois have received many rights protecting their culture, which is absolutely fine but they don’t always realize that they sometimes have more rights than the rest of Canada. And then on top of that, there are those who foment views that they’re hard done by, they’re picked on, they’re whatever. Canada is a large country with not an overly large population when you compare it to smaller countries. But Quebec is about a third of Canada’s population. There are unique areas and cultures throughout this country.

Any split of Quebec from Canada would sever Canada as a nation. We wouldn’t survive. You can’t take a chunk out of the middle and expect it to continue. Of course the Québécois wouldn’t want to take one-third of the deficit and other costs that have been spent to maintain the provinces. And the US would be waiting like a hungry shark to get the little provinces that couldn’t survive on their own. The maritimes may be the first to go. BC and Alberta (especially) would most likely survive as their own little nations.

But more than the geo-political aspects, there are those of nationality, of identity. I very much feel that I’m Canadian, so much so that when I thought of moving to Seattle to work I just couldn’t do it. Only love could make me move. I love my country in a way that’s not stand-up-and-wave-the-flag, hand-on-my-heart patriotic. But it is a deep and visceral love of this land and way of life.

It makes me furious whenever someone stirs the pot and makes people think they’re disenfranchised. Stephen Harper gave in to base prejudices and let his arrogance get the better of him. He’s been accused of showing little respect and it is damaging the nation, just as the Bloc would if they ran this country for it wouldn’t be a country for long. But saying that a government can’t work with the Bloc is thumbing one’s nose in their faces. We have a government and it is made up of several parties, including the Bloc. The governing includes all parties coming to decisions.

Unfortunately people often vote with their hearts and not their heads. I just hope that the Quebec people realize that there are many people in Canada and that we’re not all Stephen Harper. I’ve been to Montreal and it is beautiful and intriquing and full of artistic life and unique culturer. I don’t want it to be somewhere else. I want it part of Canada. Just as I want all the idiosyncratic pieces and cultures and diversity.

And I just wish that we could see more effort in the political parties (all of them) at working together and finding solutions, rather than finding the flaws in each other and name calling. I’d rather see a party saying what they’re going to do and do it, than pointing fingers at others and saying what they’re doing. Some integrity in politics again would really be nice. So let’s stay united.

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Coalition Calamity?

Well, yes, it was inevitable that I might have an opinion on the proposed coalition of the opposition parties in an overthrow of Canada’s minority government.

Minority governments always walk a tightrope. Stephen Harper tried to set the stage for the best time to hold our election. But that’s not unusual. Politicians and all people really try to work things to their advantage. But it didn’t work quite the way the Conservatives hoped. Yet again, another minority government.

This is not a good time for anyone moving into a position of government. Obama has his work cut out for him, picking up George Bush’s mess and the plummeting economy. But it’s the same here. Economy has moved to the forefront and Harper, with a minority government has a had lot. Yet, he has come across already as totalitarian and keeping such a tight leash on his MPs that they’re often crippled in making their decisions.

Then the new budget came, the tightening of the belt and the Conservatives seem to have made a fatal mistake. Many donations by companies to political parties have been severely limited. It makes sense because these factors could unfairly influence (bribe) a party in power to consider their wishes. When the Conservatives said they would cut public funding to the parties, it seemed the last straw. Here are the pertinent bits about funding from the Elections Canada website: http://www.elections.ca/content

The legislation was rooted in the belief that the primary source for contributions to political parties and candidates should be individuals giving relatively small amounts, as opposed to larger donations. The new regulations, therefore, stipulated that each elector could contribute up to a total of $5,000 a year to the electoral district associations, nomination contestants and candidates of a registered political party, while donations to these entities from corporations and trade unions were limited to $1,000. Furthermore, while individuals could contribute directly to the registered party, corporations and unions could not. To police the new rules, the act also stipulated that candidates and parties should disclose contribution information within a set period of time after an election, and leadership contestants should do so during and after a leadership contest.

As a counterbalance to the new contribution limits, however, Bill C-24 also introduced significant ongoing public financing for political parties. These provisions entitled any party receiving a minimum percentage of the popular vote in a general election to an annual public allowance proportional to its share of votes. The concept was not new – both the Barbeau Committee in 1966 and the Lortie Commission in 1992 acknowledged that funding for political parties through direct public subsidies was a good idea. Bill C-24 introduced annual allowances, recognizing that parties should be compensated for the loss of their customary funding stream from large corporate and union donations – and that the political party is arguably the focal point of a vibrant and viable democratic system.

Oops, the parties really didn’t like that. But there was some fast backtracking by the Conservatives and they said they would not lower public funding. But since the Liberals and NDP have tossed in their lot, they’re now steaming ahead saying there wasn’t a good economic package. And we’re off to the races.

Now the Bloc has thrown in with the Liberals and NDP to form a coalition government. But compare the Bloc to Judas or any other turncoat. They’re in it for themselves, not for the good of Canada. It’s the one biggest flaw in the coalition package. I think there should be a bill against allowing a party to run that has no federal or countrywide interests because the Bloc doesn’t care about any province but Quebec and they’re happy to use everything to their own advantage. Splitting up Canada doesn’t bother them because they think it will make Quebec stronger, not seeing the big shark that waits south of the border to gobble up the pieces of a dismembered nation.

They can be trusted to support a coalition as long as it serves them. Harper and the Conservatives are now taking out ads saying the other parties are conniving, stealing the leadership of the country, undermining our democracy. Though these moves are far from common, there is room in our constitution for such a coalition. I’m willing to see what happens. After all, Italy has had to function this way quite a few times. What I’m not for is public tax dollars going to any campaign for or against the coalition. The ads coming out that I couldn’t care less about better not be using public money but then if the parties are publicly funded, I guess it is, one way or the other.

The one thing all the political parties know is that if we went to another election we would make two records, The most federal elections in the shortest number of years, and the lowest voter turnout in Canada’s history. I for one don’t want to see more campaigning. I’m sick of it and campaigning for/against the coalition is not going to endear me to any party.

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Politics: If We Don’t Laugh, We’ll Cry

I don’t know about you but with all the campaigning going on, on both sides of the border, I’m feeling a strong futility in it all. Will Obama really bring change? What if McCain gets in? He’s a maverick liberal Republican but he brought Palin in as his running mate to get the redneck conservative, uber right-wing fundamentalist, female Republican vote. Whoever gets in will have to clean up the giant mess Bush has left the country in: soaring debt, crashing wall street and mortgages, war on terror (how I hate that phrase), loss of rights and freedoms, dropped dollar, reviled throughout the world…thanks, George, you did an amazing job.

In Canada Dion is considered not strong enough, Harper close to running a regime, not a government, Layton cleaning up after his pothead candidates and May (Green Party) moving up fast even if the party is still a little green. Promises tossed out like bird seed. Harper’s Conservatives making comments about ethnic people responsible for crimes, Dion proposing more carbon tax without bringing through other environmentally viable options.

And what does it get, billions of dollars…billions spent to promote themselves? What could all that money have really done for people, the economy, the environment? Alas, we’ll never know as it went to pumping up egos. Well sure it supported some spindoctors and campaigners but someone like you or me could never consider being the head of our country unless we’re multi-millionaires. And as we’ve seen, rich does not equal wise or competent

I’m going to go beat my head against the wall. But in the meantime below is a very funny spam for money going around. Anyone who falls for it wll be particularly stupid and deserving of losing their bucks. The other is a fun little piece by JibJab on campaigning. Does it say anything that I can’t seem to find a good funny on Canadian politics?

SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
DEAR AMERICAN:
I NEED TO ASK YOU TO SUPPORT AN URGENT SECRET BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WITH A TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF GREAT MAGNITUDE. (indeed, it will have a great magnitude when you realize what an idiot you’ve been.)
I AM MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY OF THE REPUBLIC OF AMERICA. MY COUNTRY HAS HAD CRISIS THAT HAS CAUSED THE NEED FOR LARGE TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF 800 BILLION DOLLARS US. IF YOU WOULD ASSIST ME IN THIS TRANSFER, IT WOULD BE MOST PROFITABLE TO YOU. (Considering how bad Bush is with the English language I could see how someone might think the rest of the government is as equally inept. So much so, that they can’t transfer funds without the help of the average American.)
I AM WORKING WITH MR. PHIL GRAM, LOBBYIST FOR UBS, WHO WILL BE MY REPLACEMENT AS MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY IN JANUARY. (Lord help us. If he was nearly single-handedly responsible for the mortgage crisis, then putting him in charge of the treasury will be like a kid in a candy shop.) AS A SENATOR, YOU MAY KNOW HIM AS THE LEADER OF THE AMERICAN BANKING DEREGULATION MOVEMENT IN THE 1990S. THIS TRANSACTIN IS 100% SAFE. (Oh yeah, and so is that beach front property in Nevada. As safe and accurate as your spelling.)
THIS IS A MATTER OF GREAT URGENCY. WE NEED A BLANK CHECK. (Hahahaaa, oh yeah. I need a blank check too. Just fill in the amount. Perhaps Gram could send me one.) WE NEED THE FUNDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. WE CANNOT DIRECTLY TRANSFER THESE FUNDS IN THE NAMES OF OUR CLOSE FRIENDS BECAUSE WE ARE CONSTANTLY UNDER SURVEILLANCE. (Could that be because of the grand illegality of it all?) MY FAMILY LAWYER ADVISED ME THAT I SHOULD LOOK FOR A RELIABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY PERSON WHO WILL ACT AS A NEXT OF KIN SO THE FUNDS CAN BE TRANSFERRED. (What, Gram has no next of kin? Surely he could claim McCain as one.)
PLEASE REPLY WITH ALL OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, IRA AND COLLEGE FUND ACCOUNT NUMBERS AND THOSE OF YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO WALLSTREETBAILOUT@TREASURY.GOV SO THAT WE MAY TRANSFER YOUR COMMISSION FOR THIS TRANSACTION. AFTER I RECEIVE THAT INFORMATION, I WILL RESPOND WITH DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT SAFEGUARDS THAT WILL BE USED TO PROTECT THE FUNDS. (That would be the safeguards so that you’re not found after bilking people. But really anyone stupid to send all their account information deserves this. And who has account info for their kids and grandkids? My mother certainly doesn’t have mine. But if these spammers are successful perhaps they can take over the US treasury and fill it up in no time.)
YOURS FAITHFULLY MINISTER OF TREASURY PAULSON

http://www.peteyandpetunia.com/VoteHere/VoteHere.htm

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Politics: The Same Old Same Old

Well, the notice that Canada is going for its third election in four years was made just 24 hours ago or so and already it’s begun. The campaigning, of course. But worse…the name calling. Okay, it began before the official out of the gate date.

Driving to work this morning I already passed NDP folks waving placards. I’ve seen a few posters. That’s all fine, but I absolutely detest a political campaign that does nothing but poke at the other parties. A party should be campaigning on its platform, on what it hopes to accomplish. Yet time and time again we see the kids in the sandbox. There’s one shovel and one pail (are there even sandboxes anymore?) and everyone is fighting over it, throwing sand in each other’s eyes, and then getting down to hair pulling and fisticuffs.

Oh, I guess I’ll run but um…I don’t have my platform. Well, I do but it’s not very strong. And the voters aren’t going to like this aspect and I can only get through so many lies and false promises that I won’t keep once I’m in power. But in the meantime, I will use the good ole political smoke and mirrors and that is to drag my opponent down into the mud. Should he already be there, then I’ll try to look noble while doing it and stepping on his back.

Just once I’d love to see a campaign run on honor and value and what a party hopes to accomplish, not on how much mud they can sling. There have been some true lows in the past that cost parties votes. Such as making fun of Chretien’s crooked face. That went over really well, Conservatives. Probably won’t happen this time as Stephen Harper has whipped his party into shape better than a dominatrix. No loose lips until his spindoctors hand out the doctrine.

It was nice to hear that when critics in the US jumped on Senator Palin’s wayward family that Obama said, We don’t touch family. That, truly is refreshing. Talk about what you’re going to do, not what the other guy is not doing. I’d love to see courtesy and honor make its way back into politics. It’s the toughest road, but I wonder if any Canadian party leader can handle it.

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Politics: Crossing the Floor

The news reports today that David Emerson is considering whether he should run in the upcoming election. He’s stating the strain on his family life. But I can hazard a guess why he’s taking a big think over this. David Emerson ran as a Liberal in the last federal election, in a Vancouver riding.

Once he was elected, within days, he crossed the floor to become a Conservative. Not halfway through a term when he was disagreeing with his party’s practices but days after winning, before parliament had even sat. The people who elected him protested vociferously and said a by-election should have been called. Harper studiously ignored this blatant disregard of scruples and not only happily embraced Emerson into his minority government but made him a minister. You can bet the price for crossing the floor was a cushy ministerial position.

So, David Emerson, why are you really considering whether to run or not? Because the people in your riding haven’t forgotten your betrayal and you can bet your life that you won’t get any votes from them again. Sure, maybe, just maybe the Conservatives in that riding would vote for you but it was already shown that there were more Liberals than Conservatives. Let’s call a spade a spade. There’s no way in hell that you’ll win. Better to slink away now with your minister’s pension and chalk one up to being a sneaky bastard.

Sure, people have crossed the floor before in politics, but never before the sessions even began. Often those people are looked at askance by their political cronies as those you might not be able to trust. After all, once a turncoat, possibly always a turncoat. Yet, it hasn’t hurt some careers. Herb Dhaliwal and John Turner are two that come to mind.

Still, that Harper encouraged and allowed such a floor crossing brings into question the integrity of our political system. We could have an election where everyone ran in a riding for the party most likely to win there. Some ridings often vote the same way time and again. Then once the election is over, all those elected politicians could do a wholesale line dance and cross back and forth. Then after a few days everyone could re-tally and see who really won the election.

But of course, the people wouldn’t stand for that. Or would we? We’ve protested before loudly and in number. And overall our governments (the local Liberals when we protested all the cuts that Gordon Campbell made, and with Emerson) have ignored us, blatantly doing whatever they want, even though the voice of the people, those they are supposed to represent, have shown their displeasure.

And this is another reason why Canadians aren’t enthused to vote in the elections. Conservative or Liberal, there will be more sneaky business, underhanded dealings and plain disregard. It’s a good thing to remember when Stephen Harper is touting the shiny, better, more wholesome side of his government.

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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Canadian and US Politics

Well, it looks like both countries will be moving towards an election because Stephen Harper is going against his own wish of a set date for elections (as the US does) to avoid having his government raked over the coals in the next session.

People are talking about the excitement of US politicians as opposed to the same humdrum rhetoric of the Canadians. Actually, they’re most talking about the fresh new aspect of Obama than the same ole political claptrap of men in suits. Let’s face it, in most cases, it doesn’t matter if you vote Conservative or Liberal, because they’re really all going to do the same thing. That’s how Canadians see our politics and the last election had something like a 64% turnout.

Part of the difference is that we have leaders for our political parties throughout the four years from one election to the next. So we know that Stephane Dion would be the next prime minister if the Liberals win and that Stephen Harper will be if the Conservatives win and that Jack Layton will be if the NDP win. We get tired of hearing about them. There’s no mystery, (the two big parties even have a guy with the same name though one is anglo and one franco) no big rev up to who will win the race as the Republicans and Democrats do it. (It’s also a lot less expensive in the campaigning aspects).

If we look at John McCain, he’s a lot more of the same old boring with a full military background, though he’s considered a bit of a maverick. You don’t see military in politics as often in Canada. He pulled a surprise move with choosing a running mate who is a fairly inexperienced, new senator. And she’s a woman. When you look at it, he almost had to do this when the Democrats were going to make history either way, with either a woman or a African-American. McCain needs to make his campaign look fresh too and make history and the only way to do it is to have a female running mate.

Of course Canada had its first woman Prime Minister back in 1993 with Kim Campbell, who really was set up as the fall guy (or woman) for Brain Mulroney’s destruction. Mulroney, was in his own way, unknown to the Canadian public when he ran for office. He has that gift that Obama has; he’s a good orator, but then he’s a lawyer and they’re often practiced at acting. And Mulroney can definitely act. He did it recently when he was being investigated in the Carl Hans Schreiber affair. I didn’t believe a word of the theatrics though.

Obama is a great orator and Hillary Clinton is pretty damn good. Now Hillary is a lawyer too and in Canada, all the prime ministers since Lester B. Pearson (1963-68) have been lawyers except for Stephen Harper. (People always make jokes about trusting lawyers and yet we vote them in as our leaders.) He has degrees in economics, whereas Jack Layton, Stephane Dion and Barack Obama have degrees in political science. Could that be a sign of the new future; people who have actually studied how politics works?

All I can say is that like most Canadians, I’m sick and tired of the double speak, the hollow promises and lies. No wonder no one wants to vote. They think it won’t make any difference. A fresh new look would be good. Voting for the Liberals or the Conservatives is pretty much six of one, half a dozen of the other. But if Obama or Clinton were running here, I’d certainly be voting for either of them.

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