Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Babel-on-the-Bay: Will we let Mulcair destroy Canada?

It has been assumed for the last while that there are voters parking their votes with the New Democratic Party. That just means if anyone asks, they say they will vote for the NDP. And if they actually did that, this country would never be the same again.

Sure, most of us want to get rid of Prime Minister Stephen Harper but do we also want to say au revoir to Quebec at the same time? New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair has been playing footsie with the separatists and promising them an easy separation from the rest of Canada. As (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: How long should an election be?

On a long weekend in the middle of summer, you should not have to deal with tough questions. You should be lazing by the lake with a suitable cold libation. You should be enjoying the laughter of children, the quiet tones of good conversation and the whisper of a cooling breeze through the trees. Politics can be an intrusion.

But you hardly expected Stephen Harper to give a damn about you, did you? In the words of the television advertising that has now been stopped: “You cannot expect him to be there for you.” He is too self-centred and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Sideshow versus reality in Toronto.

Toronto always has some carefully watched ridings in every federal election. It comes from being a major centre of liberal thinking in Canada and the ongoing schism of the city with its suburbs. There is always a good fight going on somewhere. In the current campaign, people seem to have selected Eglinton-Lawrence and Spadina-Fort York. What happens in those riding will be followed across the country.

Eglinton-Lawrence might have been a black eye for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau but he can handle it. When Liberal Marco Mendicino defeated former Conservative MP Eve Adams for the Liberal Party nomination it said (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Tommy trudges to the wrong tune.

It is very funny reading the apologists for New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair. They claim he has Quebec in hand and now needs to win the rest of the country. That could be helpful if he could really rely on holding on to the Quebec seats won in Jack Layton’s Orange Wave. Tommy Mulcair is not Jack Layton.

Yet the New Democrat brain-trust tells Tom to paste a smile on his mug and go wow Ontario voters. It does not work that way. They forget that Mulcair is a born-again Quebec Liberal. That means he is much farther to the (Read more…) Harper is not serious about senate reform

Stephen Harper is not serious about senate reform.

Despite his announcement last week that he plans to stop filling vacancies in the upper chamber until the senate is reformed, his track record on the issue is very poor.

Stephen Harper, cc: pmwebphotos (

Harper was first elected to parliament in 1993 as the Calgary West MP for the Reform Party, which was well known for its stance favouring a Triple-E (equal, elected, effective) senate. Since becoming Prime-Minister nearly 10 years ago, his only substantive action on senate reform has amounted to just two things: appointing senators elected in ad (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Vacuous Tory attack ads turn vicious.

Until recently the Conservative attack ads on television have been simply silly as they posed the suggestion that despite his nice hair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau might not be ready for the job of prime minister. Oddly enough that might have been true of his father in 1968. After less than half the experience Justin Trudeau has in parliament, Pierre Trudeau handily won election as Prime Minister. Nobody said he was not ready.

But the Harper attack ads on the son swung from silly to surly the other day. It was almost as if the timing was to catch Trudeau’s (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Eglinton-Lawrence is the place to be today.

It all comes down to the wire today in what will be one of the most hotly contested Toronto ridings in the October federal election. It is widely assumed by politicos that whoever the riding Liberals pick as their candidate will become the next Member of Parliament. The dour Conservative incumbent Joe Oliver has failed as Finance Minister and has little excuse for his poor performance.

What is very important to remember today is that Eve Adams, who was the Conservative MP from Mississauga jumped from the Harper Conservatives to the Trudeau Liberals in February 2015. The move was more (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Tommy tours Ontario.

Whoever convinced New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair to paste that smug smile on his face should be cashiered out of the NDP. The poor guy looks more constipated than happy. Now that Mulcair is being exposed to more Ontario voters in this pre-election run up, we are starting to understand the man’s problems in the coming campaign.

Seeing clips of Mulcair on an Ontario farm with a heifer, we could not help thinking of those famous pics of Opposition Leader Robert Stanfield trying to field a football in the 1968 campaign. The one thing we always advise candidates is to (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Olivia Chow’s train has left the station.

New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair must be desperate for subjects the media will cover. The other day on his ill-conceived Ontario campaign tour Mulcair was even speculating about Jack Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow, returning to politics. Mulcair is hoping she will run against Adam Vaughan in the downtown Toronto Spadina-Fort York constituency. That might be a riding area with previous New Democrat leanings but this election is about change and Olivia Chow is no change agent.

Chow’s major problem with her successor in the now redistributed Trinity-Spadina riding, Liberal Adam Vaughan, is the generation gap. At 58, she is a (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Liberals are committed to change.

There are lots of changes being bandied about in this coming election. Only the Conservatives want to stay the course but as that appears to be straight downhill, it is not too popular a route. All this talk of change has made looking for differences between the Liberals and New Democrats something of a game. That is why we were pleased to see that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are offering a national discussion process before proposing a specific change to how Canadians vote.

The NDP has already picked Mixed Member Proportional voting as their change if the party is (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Learning about “Caveman Voting.”

Babel-on-the-Bay received some interesting responses from readers to the commentary on the NDP plan to implement Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting if they win a majority in October. One reader supports proportional voting but he does not like the way the New Democrats and other proportional voting supporters want to “try to ram this voting system down the throats of Canadians.”

While that reader and this writer are actually closer to agreement than disagreement on the issue, he brings up some important points. The first point is the common misconception that in a democracy, the majority rules. Ours is (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Is Justin just keeping his powder dry?

You get the impression that the quiet of the federal Liberal campaign is just the wariness of a trap about to be sprung. Maybe the Liberals are waiting to see how parents respond to the Conservative bribe. It seems to be the only thing happening. At this time in the summer the television networks are running reruns of reruns, voters are only interested in tomorrow’s weather and political pundits are taking some time off. It is a time for leaders to be attending barbeques, debate preparation sessions and getting ready for the stretch run in September and October.

And if (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: NDP promise to change how we vote.

Ontario voters rejected a scheme for mixed member proportional voting in a 2007 referendum because the political parties wanted to appoint party faithful to the provincial parliament so that they would have representation according to the party’s popular vote. That is the scheme that New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair promises to use in future federal elections if he is elected Prime Minister. It is also the scheme that is used in countries with high rates of illiteracy.

Mr. Mulcair makes the outrageous statement in supporting this system that “The current system over represents some voices and silences others.” He (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Candidate: “Staying the course.”

Part 7 of our series for Canada’s federal candidates.

‘If you do not have a plan, you do not know where you are going.’ Every campaign manager should write that on their forehead so that they can study it every day as they shave or put on their makeup. The one thing you know for sure is that there will always be pressure to change the plan. Candidates are always concerned. Poll workers panic. Well-meaning supporters nag. And the best campaign managers have doubts.

No matter how good your plan, the pressure to change is insidious. Any real or (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Poloz does because Tories don’t.

Did nobody understand the implications of the Bank of Canada governor’s actions on Monday? Governor Stephen Poloz had no choice but to make the only move he could. He cut the prime rate again. He did no good for anybody. He just made the point.

Cutting the prime rate from 0.75 to 0.5 per cent made no difference. The chartered banks were hardly likely to pass on much of the cut. Canadians are already in enough debt thank you. Industry hardly needed lower rates. The loonie was already falling and this cut just greased the skids. And already (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Can Harper tell a trade pact from an aid package?

Did you hear that Canada and Ukraine are signing their own free trade deal? The Ukraine had another US$ 5 billion trade deficit last year and Mr. Harper wants to sign a free trade pact. With a population 11 million larger than Canada, Ukraine’s most important trading partner to-date has been Russia. And Ukraine is in the midst of a full blown war with its trading partner Russia.

Somebody must have pointed out to Mr. Harper and his Conservatives that there are more than a million descendants of the Ukraine Diaspora in Canada. And what that boils down to is (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Star candidate or sacrificial lamb?

If the son of late author Mordecai Richler had been offered his choice of electoral districts for the October election, the last choice should have been Toronto-St. Paul’s. This is not New Democratic territory. And while the voters are educated and literate they are not ones to be enthused about The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. St. Paul’s is just too far from The Main in Montreal.

You might also note that New Democratic candidate Noah Richler is a long way from his roots in Montreal and his career in England with the BBC. He might fit in with the polyglot (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Do Conservatives consider Justin Trudeau dangerous?

While most Canadians simply laugh off the silly “Trudeau’s not ready” commercials playing with increasing intensity on English-language television, there is another more layered campaign underlying it. This more insidious campaign is spreading through social media and says that Trudeau is ‘dangerous.’ If you have not received the core threats of this campaign, it is probably because you do not fit the demographics.

If you are not a rabid right-to-life supporter, you would not be included in the outrageous campaign against Trudeau for his stance on women’s rights. Not content to pillory the Liberal leader for his condoning abortion, (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Hair makes his first mistake.

In front of a bored group of children in gym clothes the other day, the Hair announced the obvious: Canada is in an economic ‘downturn.’ Neither he nor Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver has used the ‘Recession’ word. Even with our economy so obviously in the crapper, the Conservatives will stay the course, the Hair informs us. It could be the beginning of a crumbling Conservative campaign for re-election.

Whether Canada’s current economic doldrums are a full-blown recession or not is still to be resolved. Economists with the major banks and investment houses are arguing but if we have (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Is the bell tolling for the Hair?

When 17th Century English churchman and poet John Donne wrote ‘No man is an island’ he had obviously never met Stephen Harper. For the Prime Minister is the Hair and he defies the tolling of the bell. Does it not toll for him?

Yeh, though he walks through the barnyards of government in Ottawa, the Hair is convinced that no manure sticks to his boots.

If you are old enough to remember his promises to reform the Senate, you will also remember when he reneged. And he does nothing by halves. The Hair swamped the Senate with Conservative (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Do we really want all the latest election toys?

Targeted marketing is not just for your drug store. It is also in play for the upcoming federal election. Not that it is going to be as open and simple as sending you to the wrong place to vote. Canada’s political parties have massive databases of information about you. They know if you voted in the last election and can easily guess how you voted. In fact, they know far more about you than you realize.

We might find it annoying that Amazon, Kobo and Chapters know what types of books interest us but at least they are helpful. Having (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Candidate: To communicate and motivate.

Part 6 of our series for Canada’s federal candidates.

Do you want a guarantee of how to lose an election? It is so terribly easy. It is to fail to communicate frequently and enthusiastically with supporters. We are talking here about your party members in your riding, the people you already know are going to vote for you and those all-important financial supporters. Luckily, most of these people can give you an e-mail address and only a small number will require the use of postage stamps. And in this pre-writ period, your team should be adding names to the e-mail (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Knowing how Ches Crosby feels.

The one thing people in Newfoundland can count on is politicians who rattle the cage. From the late Premier Joey Smallwood and others since, we have always expected controversy and salty comments from Island politicians. Ches Crosbie, a St. John’s lawyer, has been in the news lately for being refused the Conservative nomination in Avalon riding by Prime Minister Harper. What makes matters worse was that Ches was the only volunteer who wanted the nomination there.

But you have to remember that Ches is the son of John Crosbie, the irascible former Finance Minister in the short-lived Joe Clark cabinet (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: First lessons in the environment.

It hardly matters at what age young men have their first camping experience. The most common first lesson is to never pee into the campfire. Not only is that a part of your body that should never get singed but urine on an open fire smells terrible. This lesson occurred to us when reading the Toronto Star’s Thomas Walkom’s take on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s announcement on a Liberal environmental policy. He should not have panned young Trudeau’s first steps in such uncharted waters.

In fact, that speech by the Liberal leader was pretty damn good for baby steps! Give (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A final act of vengeance by Conservatives.

The last bill of the Conservative government passed the Senate and received Royal Assent last week. It was Bill C-377, MP Russ Hiebert’s controversial private member’s Union Transparency bill that will now become law in 2016.

This is without question the most vindictive bill passed by the Harper government. It was ridiculed and blocked from Senate passage two years ago in an effort led by by former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal. It is nothing but a blatant attack on unions to hopefully cause disquiet among their membership. Mind you if Hiebert had just been smart enough to include business in (Read more…)