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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…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Consider a kinder Canada.

Canada Day this year marks the start of the serious political barbecue season leading up to the October federal election. There are promises to be made, hopes to be raised and disillusionments to come. It is so easy to promise nirvana and so damn hard to deliver. Bitter reality could set in with the first bleak snows of winter.

But consider this: what if the promise was just for a kinder Canada? Where would we start? Would we look after the very young and very old in our country first? Would we do something about the way we so cruelly (Read more…)

reeves report: Can Elizabeth May Unmuzzle Canada’s Scientists?

Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May.

The success rate of private member’s bills in the federal parliament is abysmal. In the 100-plus years since 1910, Ottawa has passed just 271 of them. For comparison, more than 1,600 PMB’s were tabled between 1997 and 2015, and the rate at which they’re being drawn up is on the rise.

It’s not unusual for entire sessions of parliament to hum along without the passage of a single PMB. And when an errant private member’s bill does become law, more often than not the content of the bill is symbolic, proclaiming National Philanthropy Day (November (Read more…)

Calgary Grit: Almost Blue

These days, it must feel good to be Thomas Mulcair. The polls show he has a chance to become Canada’s first NDP Prime Minister, and the entire country has been engulfed in an orange afterglow since the Alberta election. But as Uncle Ben once said, with great polling comes great scrutiny.

Indeed, one of the downsides of surging four months before election day is that leaves a lot of time for journalists and voters to put everything you’ve ever said or done under the microscope, and study it at the atomic level.

So when you make the type of verbal (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Is Mulcair peaking too soon?

Gosh, reading and listening to some political pundits, you would think that the coming federal election is already decided. It is all over but the shouting. It is one of those times when you wish you could take all those bets from the suckers. Frankly, this political apparatchik would not bet on New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair for prime minister.

It is certainly interesting to try to imagine Thomas Mulcair as prime minister but reality keeps getting in the way. Recently we wrote about the New Democrat leader that Canada needs a prime minister, not a prosecutor. And it is (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: They also vote who don’t.

Reading another editorial the other day by a writer who did not understand the subject tends to lower one’s opinion of editorial writers. We might be better off if we just stop reading those fillers. Imagine if you will an editor shouting out to a writer who he thinks has nothing to do: “Harry, give me 800 words on why the numbers of people voting in elections is falling off.”

Harry, who normally writes obituaries, is challenged. He can look up the subject on the Internet and Google will turn up 500,000 citations in a couple seconds. He is (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The media feel the excitement.

Just about four months to the federal election and the news media can barely contain their excitement. Not since John Diefenbaker came out of the West like an avenging angel has an election been so fraught with possibilities. They have so many scenarios to write about. Change is in the air. Change is in all the Liberal and New Democrat speaking notes. The Conservatives just look worried.

And well they should. With two serious and challenging opposition parties poised to unseat them, the Conservatives should be questioning their strategy. They know that if the balance is maintained between the opposition (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: One of Justin Trudeau’s better moves.

It makes sense to make nice with the United States. It is surprising for many Canadians when that becomes necessary. Not since Prime Minister John Diefenbaker pissed off President John Kennedy have relations with the Americans been more in the dumpster. Not only has Prime Minister Stephen Harper been a nag about the Keystone XL pipeline but his open admiration for President Obama’s Republican opponents in Congress has hardly gone unnoticed.

The phony bonhomie played out between Harper and Obama at G-8/G-7 meetings has been shallow and forced for some time. Sure there have been other tiffs between the two (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: NDP changing times, changing directions.

The CCF—the party of Tommy Douglas—represented the working man, the farmer and the socially conscious in an era of rapid growth and acquisition after the Second World War. We had little time for CCF concerns or socialism in those exciting years but the party was respected as a political conscience. It was only when the Canadian Labour Congress was formed that the combination of the CCF and labour became a reality.

The problem many of us young left wingers had against the labour involvement was that we did not see labour as having a social conscience. We saw labour involvement (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Working bigotry with Stephen Harper.

You have to wonder at what is coming out of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) these days. It might be desperation but defying the Supreme Court with the same foolishness as has already been put down is just a waste of our time and credulity. And having the Harper Cabinet’s Edmonton MP Tim Uppal, a Sikh, make the announcement was an act of bigotry in itself.

This particular foolishness has to do with the difference between a hijab and a niqab. A hijab is a head scarf and a niqab is a head covering that includes a veil covering all (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: First reform the parties, then voting.

It is great to see the Liberals and New Democrats beating the drum on a similar issue. It is because both parties have recognized that the harder they fight each other, the harder Stephen Harper laughs. As long as they go after each other, the easier it is for the Conservatives to win. And the more Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau push for electoral reform instead of party reform, the longer Harper will remain prime minister.

Party reform only requires the agreement of the political parties. Voting reform needs the agreement of voters. While both Mulcair and Trudeau have indicated (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Scrooge of Port Moody is going home.

James Moore, enfant terrible of B.C. politics has quit. He is going home to care for his family. He will be missed. Despite his serious gaff at one time of saying “Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.” he was one of the few less strident Progressive Conservatives in the Harper Cabinet. He has now left a clear path for ‘Minister of Everything Else’ Jason Kenney to assume Harper’s leadership mantle after the Tories fail to win the 2015 election.

Moore, a former radio personality, and one time Minister of Canadian Heritage, (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The crowded middle ground.

Politics is a funny game. If it was not so damn serious, Babel-on-the-Bay would just publish jokes about it. As it is, we just try to make whatever sense we can. It is like the current situation of the three leaders trying to prove to the voters how middle class they are. It is getting sillier every day.

The guy who introduced all this middle class guff is the least middle class of all. Justin Trudeau talks about the middle class as though he has made an archaeological discovery. It is obvious that he has met some middle class people (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: There’s an algorithm for that.

And you thought apps for your iPhone were big business. It seems that marketing research is the far more volatile business today. Consumer product manufacturers are constantly at their doors asking the gurus to bless or condemn their latest creations. Even established products need to be questioned as to how their products’ life cycles are ordained. Mind you, the polling sages are still hustling political polls to titillate us and promote their brands.

And it is the political polls that the consumers see. These are of course aided and abetted by the news media who find it cheap filler, enabling (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Welcome to Justin Trudeau’s meritocracy.

Thank goodness Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has solved the problems of Canada’s senate. Surely you have been waiting breathlessly for further disclosure of his plans for a non-partisan, merit-based process to choose our senators. He tells us it starts with the appointment of a non-partisan, merit-based body to advise the prime minister on who should be appointed to the Senate of Canada. Presumably this meritorious group will be appointed by the prime minister.

Since the group is appointed because they have merit themselves, it would seem that they might know other people of merit worthy of a role in ruling (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Senate solution requires an open mind.

Quebec’s intelligentsia are too often speaking out for a population that they do not seem to read well. They sell their fellow Quebecers short. Take the current media turmoil over Canada’s Senate. We have the foolish promises of New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair to abolish the Senate in defiance of our constitution. We have Quebec Premier Phillippe Couillard saying that there can be no change without a special status for Quebec. And they are both blowing smoke.

It raises the question of what might be accomplished if these so-called leaders came to the table, shut their mouths for a while (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A mistake Trudeau can ill-afford.

Okay Justin, you wanted him. You got him. Now what the hell are you going to do with him? The guy is no liberal. He is your Liberal candidate in Scarborough-Southwest. In case you have forgotten, he is former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair. He could represent all that is wrong in the Liberal Party of Canada.

Maybe Bill Blair is the perfect successor to Tom Wappel. Wappel was the Campaign Life Member of Parliament from that part of Scarborough from 1997 to 2008. He hid behind the guise of being a Liberal. He is the only educated person we (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Bloc’s Duceppe doesn’t feel the love.

Is it not awful when you come out of retirement to help the old gang and nobody cares? Former and future Bloc Quèbècois Leader Gilles Duceppe’s second coming is falling a little flat. He is particularly concerned that the national (read ‘English’) media are ignoring him. The problem is that you have to have some understanding of Quebec politics to really appreciate the pratfall that Gilles is heading for in the fall election.

The normally savvy Bloc leader must be getting old. He should realize that he can do little to save the Bloc. Its day is done. The younger (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: M’sieur Mulcair’s mistake.

There is a television commercial running at this time that is starting to grate. It begins with a totally unconnected part that has something to do with a dry cleaning shop. It abruptly cuts to a shot of New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair in what appears to be a coffee shop. Not a Tim’s! It could be anywhere.

And then this stuffy little man tells us that he was brought up with middle class values. What exactly he means by middle class is not clear.

But if that is the run-up to the fall election by the New Democrats, that (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Hair’s Farewell Tour?

You can hardly blame the Hair for not wanting to hurry home. He and his hairdresser are touring Europe in style—and Bavaria is so beautiful this time of year. There is nothing good waiting for him in Ottawa. With the daily bombardment from the Senate, poison pen memos from the Supreme Court, the tanking of the economy and the bad-news polls, he should stay in Europe.

Not that his G7 meetings were all that much fun either. He might be one of the senior citizens of that little club but they were not all that nice to him. President Obama (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: “The good is oft’ interred with their bones.”

There is no brief held here for the Canadian Senate. It is an anachronism. It serves Canada’s past and has nothing new to offer for its future. It has not grown with the needs of the country. The Senate is but one of the many outdated and unneeded vestiges of Canada’s colonial past. It is long past its ‘best before’ date.

But do not in damning the Senate damn those who have served us well as senators. Yes, many senators have been political hacks, bagmen, organizers, retired MPs and used-up party officials. When searching for talent, you search among those (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Canadians are owed answers on the Senate.

Do you have a mental image of the three major party leaders cowering in their campaign bunkers this year afraid of questions on the Senate? They will all tell you that they are in favour of Senate reform and just what that reform might entail and how they will accomplish the task are the questions they are afraid to answer.

Stephen Harper had been stiff arming questions about the Senate since his record of 27 appointments to the chamber in 2009. Yet the other day in Kiev, he said that the Senate was an independent body. And if you believe (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Justin Trudeau brought his perfect game.

When somebody bowls a perfect game, you have to admire it. In politics a perfect game is a rare event. You have to remember that in politics there are people out there who are lurking to ridicule, there are professional scoffers and there are the people paid to deride any and all suggestions from the opposition parties. And then you are treated worse by our news media.

All these people will attempt to ridicule, scoff, and laugh off Liberal suggestions but this time they will fail. They will have to fall back on commenting that the Liberal leader’s hair was (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: How history harries the Hair.

The Hair seems to be trying so hard to remake Canada into an image only understood by the Prime Minister and a few of his friends in Calgary. It seems to be an image something like that of 19th Century Dodge City, Kansas without the dust. It is a vision of a country of rugged men, petticoated ladies and indolent Indians. It is a country where every man is a king on his own land and he does with it as he wishes.

The Hair might have had to at one time make an apology over the treatment of (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Mulcair spends a penny on wrong audience.

The New Democrats expect their leader Tom Mulcair to propose spending another cent of gas taxes on municipalities. This will be proposed to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) at its meeting in Edmonton tomorrow. Despite the New Democrats suggesting that it is a dramatic offer and it will certainly garner some polite applause but it is the wrong message to the wrong audience.

You can hardly expect good pass-along of the news to municipal voters when better than 80 per cent of Mulcair’s Edmonton audience are Conservative or Liberal supporters. Municipalities are the minor league training grounds for the (Read more…)