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Babel-on-the-Bay: Electoral reform appeals to losers.

It is hardly a surprise that no Canadian government with a majority supports electoral reform. Why would they? It could make them losers. That is why losers such as the New Democratic Party are such enthusiastic supporters. It is why a Liberal Party that ended up in third place in the last federal election is willing to consider electoral reform. And it is why the Green Party and other fringe parties always favour electoral reform.

But if either of the main opposition parties gets a majority on October 19, electoral reform will drop to a very low priority on its (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: In a country run by a failed economist.

What is a political party to do when they find their leader has feet of clay? The mantra of the party was that having an economist running the party, it could survive economic turmoil. What they never considered was that their dear leader could be the cause.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper defends himself by claiming other sectors are doing well, the fact is that the energy sector is significant but only one of the failing sectors of the Canadian economy. During his time at the helm, Canada has lost a huge swath of manufacturing from ketchup and corn flakes (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The silence of the pipelines.

There is not too much confrontation across Canada these days about pipelines to the sea. With real crude oil prices bouncing around $40 to $50 a barrel, there is not much interest in synthetics from the tar sands. We miss the railings of people such as our favourite closet environmentalist Finance Minister Joe Oliver. He was natural resources minister when Canadians were wondering about the excessive pollution caused by converting tar sands to synthetic oil. Joe Oliver kept any concern for the environment in the closet then and he has never let it out.

Instead the Finance Minister was giving (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Go home Paul Martin.

Nothing grates a left-leaning liberal more than Paul Martin that skinflint former finance minister and briefly prime minister. Once a friend, Paul became a non-person when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien gave him the finance portfolio. He built his reputation for balanced budgets on the backs of the poor, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly across Canada. He proved to one and all that he was no liberal.

It was an understandable situation. Growing up in the very political environment of his family’s home in Windsor and in Ottawa, Paul got away from left of centre politics and tried his (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Hair: Canada’s boy in the bubble.

In the Imperial Prime Minister’s Office of today, Canada’s Prime Minister is isolated and alone. Protected and guarded by the sycophants of privilege, his minions mind the doors. In this cloistered sanctuary, the Hair rules. There are neither naysayers nor critics allowed where the Hair travels. Audiences are vetted for their loyalty. The people walls behind the microphone are carefully selected for a nice blend of colour. It is a false scene.

And you wonder what will happen when the Hair’s bubble bursts. Can any emperor return to being an ordinary man? Can Calgary serve as a suitable Elba? Could (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: As the media Silly Season draws to a close.

Labour Day is now in sight and the real election campaign can begin. Not that we have been bored with August or eager for the clamour of the combatants but it does spell the end of the foolishness of the news media and their tame pollsters. Editors have not been calling August the Silly Season for no reason over the past 100 years.

August has always been the time for “Man bites dog” stories. It has been a time for tall tales and frying eggs on sidewalks. You could blame it all on the heat here in the northern part (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: More with a whimper than a roar.

As the Ottawa trial recesses until after the election, the description of Senator Mike Duffy as a busker is more apt than we thought. A street entertainer such as a busker can hardly save his or her best stunts for the finale. You have to use those better stunts early to capture your audience. And, thinking back over the trial, so far, that connection is clear.

The only thing we are not clear on was the real entertainer Duffy or was it his lawyer Donald Bayne? While Duffy did his thing, Bayne was unrelenting and driven. He earned his fee. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: It is really about leadership Justin.

Being more of a contemporary of his father than of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, maybe we can be excused for offering him some advice. Yes Justin, you have answered those stupid attack ads on your youth from the Conservatives. You have launched an aggressive campaign against the failing regime of Stephen Harper. Your stand on ‘real change’ is to be applauded. You have addressed the core concerns of Canadian voters with your stand on behalf of the middle class.

But the key ingredient for winning is leadership. It is something that Mr. Mulcair of the New Democrats does not offer.

(Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Magdalen Islands do not an election make.

While always having great respect for reporter Chantal Hébert of CBC and Toronto Star fame, she cannot forecast an election based on visiting Iles-de-la-Madeline. And it is also far too early. Much has yet to happen before the votes are counted. Mind you, we can both agree that the Bloc Québécois and Conservative parties are both whistling past the graveyard in Quebec this October. It is which party will benefit most from their demise that is very much open to question.

Ms. Hébert agrees that the Harper Conservatives have only a few seats left to lose in Quebec and will (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Mulcair moves on law and order.

Canadian voters are still trying to get used to a New Democrat leader campaigning to the political right of the Liberals. And they hardly expected Thomas Mulcair to play the law and order card. In a direct steal of a Conservative campaign promise in 2008, Mulcair has promised to renew a Conservative program. He is offering $250 million over the next four years to train up to 2500 front-line police officers across Canada.

It should be noted that Mr. Mulcair made the promise in Surrey, B.C. where there has been increased gun violence over the past four years. The (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Justin Trudeau: Meet the GOYA Group.

During his years as Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau would often remind your writer that we were both members of an exclusive club. Its full name was the Get-Off-Your-Ass Group. It had one meeting in Peterborough, Ontario in 1967. It was a group of left-wing Liberal MPs and party people who were trying to get a more progressive agenda moving in Ottawa. While the writer’s role in the party at that time was head of Liberal Party communications for Ontario, we saw no reason to tell the news media about our meeting.

But we had not counted on the craving for (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The last angry Conservative.

The news media recently recorded a very angry Conservative supporter at a Stephen Harper campaign event. Since the Prime Minister was stonewalling the media anyway, they were looking for something to bring back to their news editors. The vulgar language the guy used might have indicated that he is no gentleman but he needed to vent his feelings.

That person represented many thousands of Conservative supporters across Canada. And these people are angry. They are having their core beliefs challenged. Their parents might have been Conservative supporters before them. They have a tradition of conservatism to maintain. They feel betrayed (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Aesop’s Fables and the Toronto Star.

On balance, the Toronto Star is a reasonably responsible newspaper. Its editors do go a little overboard though when attempting to make a point. Take the current election campaign. The Star’s editors expect that a campaign almost three times the length of normal will be dull as dishwater unless a little spice can be thrown in. To this end they are promoting the election as a three-way race.

Canadians are not used to a three way contest in a federal election. They are confused by what it might mean. And that is the opportunity the Toronto Star editors are looking (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Candidate: “Do you have anything to say?”

Part 9 of our series for Canada’s federal candidates.

The sad demise of small town and neighbourhood journalism in Canada has led to a dearth of opportunity for local candidates to be heard during election campaigns. The corollary of that is: do any of the candidates have anything to say? The truth is that the entire sales message for most political candidates is contained in their election signs.

But there are still candidates who need to be heard. To suggest that they will get that opportunity at the voters’ doors, in all-candidate meetings in local church basements, in social media (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Another NDP with inflated hopes in Toronto.

There is a probably apocryphal story doing the rounds about the newly appointed New Democrat candidate in Toronto’s Eglinton-Lawrence constituency. This guy is a former member of the legislature and cabinet minister from Saskatchewan.

It seems in this story the chap once visited Scotland and came back with a bolt of cloth of exceptional weave with which he intended to make a suit. There was only one problem. He took the bolt of cloth to various tailors in Regina and all said they could make him a fine jacket but there was simply not enough material for a suit.

When (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: In the heat of the news media.

If you have seen carrion birds gather around road kill, you might have a small taste of how people feel in a media scrum. The media in full flight can be frightening, overwhelming and demonize you with their rudeness, intrusiveness, and unreasonable demands. That is how Nigel Wright, former chief of staff for the prime minister must have felt the last few days. Yet, Mr. Wright had his plan, his objective, his strategy and his tactics and that armed him.

And in the heat of the Ottawa summer, the carrion media were fed pap. They were part of the scene, (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Trudeau’s stop-gap Senate solution.

Babel-on-the-Bay is only giving Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau a conditional pass on his proposed Senate solution. The truth is that Trudeau just does not want the constitutional problems that the Stephen Harper or Thomas Mulcair solutions will cause. He is not his father’s son in that regard. Pierre Trudeau was always ready to fight for Canada.

But Justin does not believe that the Senate is worth fighting over. His is an elitist solution but he feels it can solve the problem on a short-term basis. What he wants to do is create a bi-partisan committee to recommend appointments and that (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Welcome to an urban Canada.

In 1851 when they first set out to count people in Canada, they concluded that 86 per cent lived in rural areas and 14 per cent lived in urban villages, towns and cities. It then took 160 years for that to reverse. In the 2011 Census, it was determined that 86 per cent lived in urban Canada and the remaining 14 per cent were rural. What it means is that pandering to the farm vote might get us fed better but it is hardly the key to winning a majority government.

But what the recent redistribution of federal ridings in (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: What do Trump, Ford, Harper have in common?

If you think the front runner for the Republican Party nomination for American President is a joke, you did not understand Toronto’s former Mayor Rob Ford either. And Stephen Harper has his own place in Hell next to both of them. All three show signs of being misanthropes—which means they really do not like people. These guys are not there for the people they say they care for. They are users, not caregivers.

These are people care so little for others that it is only their ego that feeds them. Trump and Harper appear to share a hair fetish. Trump’s (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: What news from social media?

When giving candidates advice to use social media, it has never been the intent to use this as the primary campaign media. Social media is like a vacuum. It can suck up a lot of detritus but if you do not empty it occasionally, you really do not know what you are getting. You have to be aware of the average age of the participants, just maybe, their level of interest and their serious need to get a life.

While there is a growing cohort of grannies sharing pictures of grandkids in the Facebook universe, it is still a youth (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Tar Sands: Yours to Exploit.

It must be that on the eighth day that God created tar sands. They seem to be an afterthought. Tar sands are also causing a great deal of hypocrisy in this federal election. Just the other day one of our favourite authors and a New Democratic Party candidate stuck her foot in it by suggesting that some tar sands may have to be left in the ground. And that would be as mild a comment as any concerned environmentalist could make.

But Prime Minister Harper jumped on it. “You see,” he said. “The NDP is consistently against the development of (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Discovering Ontario.

When Babel-on-the-Bay publishes its Morning Line on the federal election in early September, much will hinge on Ontario. With more than a third of the seats in parliament at play in this one province, national parties worry most about their position here. And watching from Barrie, Ontario, we have the catbird seat.

And what we really love about the current feud between Prime Minister Harper and Premier Kathleen Wynne is we can let them go at it. We do not like either one. One of the reasons for their feud is that they are too much alike. He is a (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Duffy is bound to be but a busker.

Justice grinds along as the federal election wanders to its ten-week conclusion. Nothing but a busker, Senator Duffy serves as a minor entertainment as we wait to record the verdict of a nation. Mr. Harper no longer cares about the future of the Senate of Canada. And if he could get away with dispensing with the House of Commons as well, he would be much happier running the country.

Poor Mike Duffy, as a political pundit for CTV, his bias was brazen. As an entertainer, he was at the top of his game. When Prime Minister Harper called, he jumped (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Bearding a bully.

Canadians watched a bully get his comeuppance last night. There were no knock-out blows or deathbed repentances but some solid points were made. In balance, the Greens’ Elizabeth May looked good, the New Democrat’s Thomas Mulcair was stuffy, the Liberal’s Justin Trudeau showed strength and the Prime Minister kept saying “Let’s be clear,” when he really was not.

But why did it all look like an attempt at stand-up comedy at a funeral directors’ convention? Why were the men all in black suits with ties out of the Salvation Army bag? At least Elizabeth May could stand out in her (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The election: A metaphor for manipulative media.

It is not a conspiracy. It is merely a collision of interests. It is a fight for survival, not by the politicians but by the news media. The politicians are but actors manipulated on the stage of a largely ungovernable country. And outmoded ideologies are the cliques that identify the losers.

Do you want it spelled out? It is simple. This is not a fight between politicians but between the news media. Print is dying and the broadcasters are fighting over the corpses—all the while losing advertisers and audiences. The politicians are betting on the Internet’s social media. Print and (Read more…)