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Babel-on-the-Bay: With Patrick Brown you get bupkis.

It seems we are supposed to do some sort of mea culpa in regards to Barrie’s MP Patrick Brown. Yes Babel-on-the-Bay originates in Barrie but we thought we had that covered by calling the place Babel. It just would not remain hidden.

In writing the other day about the relative voting strength of the two remaining Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership candidates, we used only the raw figures. How those votes are going to be counted by the provincial Tories is the only reason Christine Elliott MPP for Oshawa is still in the race. Barrie’s Brown might be ahead by more (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Two Tory budgets for the price of one.

It was Ontario’s turn this past week. How often do we get two Tory budgets at a time? On Tuesday, we had a laugh at federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s expense. And then, right on the heels, Thursday we had a budget redux from Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa. There was a new beer tax in Charles’ budget so he must be one of those tax-and-spend Liberals we hear about. Frankly, this liberal would not give you two cents for either budget.

Sousa betrayed Ontario Liberals when he agreed with Ed Clark of TD Bank to raise money on Hydro (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Back to the Future with Joe Oliver

Finance Minister Joe Oliver brought Canadians his first budget yesterday. Instead of it being a budget for the coming fiscal year of our government, he tried to line things up for the next ten years. It was a very Conservative view of our future. And we can only hope that it is Joe Oliver’s final budget and the final Conservative budget.

It was more of a manifesto than a budget. Yet, it lacked a clear direction. It lacked compassion. It was in many cases blatant bribery. The continuing reductions in business taxes makes you wonder when it will cost more (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Hair’s ‘Politics of Division’

Asking a voter why s/he is going to vote for the Conservatives this fall can cause a rising anger. The anger is hardly directed at the voter. This person has been had. They have been duped. The anger can only be directed at the Prime Minister—he of the Hair!

And we watch in this land of inclusion, tolerance, sharing and openness, as the Hair spreads his politics of division.

It was just last week when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Toronto, we saw how easily the Hair moved into the mode of pandering to the Indo-Canadian vote. It (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Candidate: Pre-writ canvassing.

Part 3 of our series for Canada’s federal candidates.

These spring days are golden times for canvassing. No political candidate worth the name can ever waste a single day without seeking out the opportunity to knock on doors. You can be relaxed, chatty and, above all, listening. This is when you learn what people are thinking, what is going to influence their vote when the election is held and what they think their neighbours will do. They might be reluctant to tell you their thoughts but you will often find what they attribute to neighbours are their own thoughts.

What (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: ‘Diplomat’ Brown and his friend Narendra Modi.

What is wrong with Canada’s foreign relations is more than explained by the friendship of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Patrick Brown MP. Yes, that is Patrick Brown, the most useless member of the Conservative back bench and the candidate for the leadership of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party. With probably less than 50 people in his electoral district from India, Patrick Brown must have been left among the final MP draftees for a country on the friendship committee.

Brown got India. The air flights there are gruelling. The food there is, well, foreign. You can imagine that India was (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Legislating Ideology.

It is when you listen to the federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver that you realize what a breath of fresh air the late Finance Minister Jim Flaherty must have been in Mr. Harper’s Cabinet of Inadequate Ideologues. You can also imagine how he would have laughed at Joe Oliver’s suggestion that there be a law passed against deficit budgets. That would be like passing a law that says Canadians cannot have a mortgage or an auto loan.

The ability for a country to borrow is just one of the many strategies available to a finance minister to level out the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Candidate: That pre-writ lit.

Part 2 of our series for Canada’s federal candidates.

There are many arguments about the literature required by candidates in the pre-writ period (the time between being chosen as the candidate and the election call being official). If the Prime Minister decides to wait for the chosen date of October 19, you can expect the writ to be issued, at the latest, shortly after Labour Day, allowing at least 36 days for the election period. There will be new rules in play for this writ period.

Since the rules are lax in the pre-writ period, some people spend a lot (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: What’s the Senate all about Hair?

There is something of a contest going on. The Hair might draw the line at taking off his stuffed shirt and streaking the tourists gaping at Ottawa’s Confusion Square but no holds are barred in distracting Canadians from the Duffy Trial.

The Duffy Trial is the big show in Ottawa now and it’s getting the news media all a twitter. It is where the chubby one-time spokesman for the Hair Senator Mike Duffy is on trial for accepting a bribe.

But just a minute: maybe the Hair can explain to us why the person accepting the bribe is charged and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A time and place for political deals

Election day in Ontario in 1985. On the way into a candidate’s campaign headquarters, Liberal Leader David Peterson’s executive assistant was leaving and we stopped to chat. There was no pussy-footing about the situation. “First thing tomorrow morning, you have to arrange a meeting with NDP Leader Bob Rae.” He was a bit taken aback by the bluntness but saw no point in sticking with any denial. We both knew that Frank Miller’s Conservatives Party would win a minority government but that the combined Liberal and New Democrat seats could take over the government.

What went without saying in (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Candidate: “What do we do now?”

That question is never answered in the movie: The Candidate. It is the final line of the film delivered by actor Robert Redford. The bad news for any serious political candidate is that winning your party’s nomination is when the hard work begins. For all of those eager candidates being chosen for the upcoming federal election, Babel-on-the-Bay is going to provide periodic candidate check lists to assist candidates to be the best candidate they can be. Other readers can also enjoy:

When you hit your stride as a candidate by admitting that you have never worked so hard in your (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: We’ve been goosed by Uncle Joe.

Once more the Canadian parliament has been downplayed by the Harper Conservatives. Even as simple an announcement as the date of bringing down the next budget is moved away from Ottawa. It was moved to a Toronto factory where people toil at sewing machines, assembling winter jackets for a garment company.

The company is known as Canada Goose—which is American owned—and has been subject to controversy for its methods of obtaining its fur trim. It provided a cynical backdrop for the announcement by Finance Minister Joe Oliver that the 2015 federal budget will be delivered to Canadians on April 21. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: “Rules, shmules, we the boss:” says Brother Brown.

Canadians are usually fairly good about not mixing religion and politics. It is one of the less endearing traits of American politicos. That was why it was most unusual the other day when a B.C. member of the Conservative backbench quit his caucus and said he would sit as an independent so that he could practice his religion. If more of his co-religionists followed his lead, Mr. Harper could lose his majority and we might have an election sooner than this Fall.

We mention this in passing as this commentary is also about religion in politics. It is about (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Don’t care about politics? You’re missing the fun.

The talking heads of the news media tell us that Canadians no longer give a damn about politics. They think it is a yawn. That may be. It might also be that the talking heads are a yawn and they are failing to understand the problem. This blog seems to have the reverse problem. We have built a strong readership of people who seem to be quite knowledgeable of politics and they only fall off when we get onto subjects that are more of personal interest and less political.

We try not to do that too often! Yes, we know (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: We’re having a ‘Be Kind to Stephen Harper Month!’

At a recent meeting of the Broadbent Institute supposed communication experts were telling the New Democrats that they should not keep up the incessant attacks on the Conservative government. It is not that they are feeling sorry for the bastards. They just feel that those who oppose the Conservatives need to be more positive about their competitive programs. And we Liberals will when we can when we get some.

We are not forgetting New Democratic Leader Thomas Mulcair’s national day care plan. This plan sounds good. It sounded even better over the years when it was promoted by Canada’s Liberals. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Who leads Canada’s progressives?

Canadian media are a lazy bunch. They follow the paths of least resistance and false assumptions. Take this past week when some supposed progressives were gathered at the Broadbent Institute in Ottawa for its Progress Summit. The one question that was never answered was ‘Who were the Liberal Progressives at the gathering?’

Ed Broadbent never invited this progressive Liberal. Nor would this Liberal attend. This is not sour grapes. We know that Ed Broadbent is not progressive nor are the sponsors of the meeting. Ed Broadbent is a staunch unionist with a closed mind. He believes in the collective (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Democracy Shrugged.

Could 20th Century writer Ayn Rand have imagined Canada’s Stephen Harper? Would she have lauded him for his Objectivism or would she have scoffed at his failures? At best guess, were she alive today, Rand would have been but another apologist for our failed prime minister.

He certainly has his apologists. Nobody could have forecast the events in world oil reserves and pricing since late 2014. The oil production glut from non-OPEC sources that include fracking and tar sands has been answered by lower-cost OPEC producers driving down prices. The results have meant serious losses to both Canadian and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Are you mad? Are you going to take it any more?

Have you been following the stupidity of Bell Canada owning CTV? Is has been a steady downhill slope for CTV news under their masters at Bell Canada for the past five years. Former CTV boss Ivan Fecan really stuck it to Bell and his network when he sold CTV to the uninformed Bell management. The sale was approved despite many objections because of the political pressures of the Harper government on the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) of the time.

What the experts were talking about those days, but few understood, was the rapid convergence of digital transmission of (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: “The enemy of my enemy is …”

There is something that needs to be understood by people afraid of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL): It is neither a state nor a country. It is an Internet and public relations savvy band of brigands and thieves feasting off the current civil war in Syria and the turmoil in leaderless Iraq. They are neither disciplined troops nor well commanded. Maybe Iraq asked Canada for help against the brigands but only a fool would get involved in the fighting in Syria when you have no side to support.

It is amazing how the Middle East always (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A requiem for our Democracy?

The other day, one of the more interesting progressive bloggers was discussing what he perceived as the three eras of Canada’s democracy. To discuss the three eras that interested him, he really needed to start with Canada at the end of the First World War. The reality is that Canada left its childhood behind when dispensing with R.B. Bennett and came of age under the leadership of William Lyon Mackenzie King.

But the writer was absolutely right to key his eras of democracy to prime ministers John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. Mackenzie King only laid the groundwork. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Does the Hair want us to get a gun?

Canadians are getting mixed messages from their Prime Minister. His message last week to a gathering of rural municipal leaders in Saskatchewan was that there was a certain level of safety in having a gun in the home “when you are a ways from immediate police assistance.” Other than it sounding like a straight lift from American National Rifle Association handouts, the Hair was in conflict with Canadian law.

Canadian law requires that a gun be stored unloaded and both gun and ammunition be kept locked up in separate locations. You have no chance to put things together if (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The NDP’s Mulcair discovers Toronto.

If there had not been so much ice in the harbour last week, they could have got some great shots of the New Democrats’ Tommy Mulcair arriving in Toronto. He could have been dressed in buckskins, cradling a musket and standing in the prow of a Voyageur canoe. He could have invoked the memories of the arrival in Toronto of Samuel de Champlain. The only difference was that de Champlain brought real trade goods and Mulcair brought his typically hollow political promises.

There will be much of the same foolishness by all parties over the coming months leading up to (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Principled politics are hardly passé.

Bad legislation is bad legislation and to approve bad legislation even temporarily is a denial of principles. The Harper government’s Bill C-51 supposedly to end terrorism is bad legislation beyond any possibility of repair or amendment. It is time for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to get up and speak for principles.

No real Liberal can support legislation that denies any Canadians their rights. This bill against terrorism is also a denial of free speech. And the bill is unnecessary. No Canadian police force or organization has said that the extreme provisions of the act are needed. The extra security and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Redefining the Dauphin.

It was about time. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau prides himself on his ability as a stump speaker. With no notes and no prompts, he can keep a Liberal audience enthralled. And if all he had to talk to was Liberal Party members, no change was needed.

But with the oncoming federal election it is time for broader audiences. There can be no more off-the-cuff remarks and no more gaffs. It means Trudeau must be provided with carefully crafted scripts that he can stick to. It means he must become as one with his teleprompter. He has to join the big (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Rethinking Guaranteed Annual Income.

Maybe we all need to get involved in this exercise. In a world full of band-aids, we need to rethink our way to health. We are talking here about a guaranteed income for every man woman and child in this country. It is not an idle dream or a panacea. It is just a beginning. It is our future.

It is mainly liberal thinkers who have shaken this tree in the past but it is becoming more universal as more people see the essential fairness of the concept. It is as understandable as universal medical care. It is as complex (Read more…)