When Stephen Harper’s spinners start pontificating about his steady hand on the tiller over the past decade or so, think on this: Is Canada’s economy really that much better off under his watch? Or has he presided over a country whose financial and economic muscles had continued to waste away.
Sometimes the facts get the way of a good story, and the facts about the sinews of our country’s economy are bleak indeed. As Eric Reguly summarizesin today’s Globe & Mail: Entire Canadian industries – steel, brewing, mining, forestry – got hollowed out, leaving a few sorry subsidiaries behind. (Read more…)
Gordon Gibson: The Nailer
If you are a politician, or work with any political party –federal or provincial or municipal – you should definitely read the succinct, well-written and politically significant articleby Gordon Gibson in the Globe & Mail, entitled Enough with pipelines. Refine it. Gibson summarizes, in one short article, the crux of the national debate about our crude oil pipelines. Here’s some of the article: There is a win-win-win response to all of this, if any national political party has the savvy to step up. The public opposition is really against pipelines to export bitumen and the (Read more…)
Big Brother is watching …
There is a clear fault line between the two opposition parties, and PM Stephen Harper’s policies with regard to how to combat ISIS.
The Conservatives favour actual fighting (planes dropping bombs etc.), while the opposition parties are against this.
The NDP is further from the government’s position, while the Liberal Party would have Canadian armed forces join the anti-ISIS coalition led by the US and help its efforts (including transporting goods for the coalition), but short of Canadian planes dropping bombs on ISIS targets. Now another fault line has appeared: the Conservatives want (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Will Canada have a snap election over new anti-terrorist laws and ISIS?
Heather Malleck in the Toronto Star has a few good reasons why our next Prime Minister will be named Justin Trudeau:
But what makes some politicians attractive and others repellent?
Trudeau is intelligent, humane and self-confident, a Québécois who is devoted to Canadian unity and has the most marvellous family: a sophisticated career-minded wife, Sophie Grégoire, and three adorable young children with the interesting names that only confident parents bestow: Xavier James, Ella-Grace and Hadrien. He has an English degree from McGill, a UBC teaching degree and taught for several years. He has his father’s intellect and wit, while being (Read more…)
A key to understanding the inner workings of modern politics is to understand what role the framing of issues takes, and the key to that is to understand why Frank Luntz, the Republican advisor, ranks at the top of political framing. The news is full of interviews of Israeli and Palestinian spokespersons, with the occasional Hamas leader appearing. When you watch and listen to these people represent their sides, ask yourself which spokespersons do the better job of framing the issues. Here’s one take of what is governing the framing of issues by Israeli spokespersons, by the senior political analyst (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Israel & Framing the Issues: The Israel Project and Frank Luntz
Danielle Smith: Visionary
Canada’s wealth depends largely on our ability to export goods and services that others want to buy from us. And one of our major exports is energy – whether it be electricity or oil and gas. Our ability to export large quantities of energy is under threat from those who are targeting our oil and gas resources in order to promote their agenda of greenhouse gas reduction worldwide. There is little we can do to persuade people of that mindset to allow us to export our oil and gas. The Closing of the Windows of Opportunity: Exports (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Visionary Concept of Wildrose Party’s Danielle Smith: A National Energy Corridor
Harper Norquist: Ideological soulmates
Many feared (and fear) Stephen Harper’s hidden agenda, and for good reason. Patterned on the far right wing Republican model, Harper’s Reform Party took over the old Progressive Conservative Party in a semi-hostile merger, and has systematically set about implementing the strategy of Norquist Grover. Grover’s gift to modern politics is the single-minded drive to remove the central government from the public space in the USA. His means is simple: starve the government by cutting back its revenues, so that it becomes weak enough to drown in the bathtub. Here in Canada, Harper has worked diligently (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Harper’s new Conservatives out of step with Canadian values
Justin Trudeau: Decisive
Ever since Justin Trudeau’s team came out with the announcement that anti-abortion supporters need not bother to run as candidates for the nomination of Liberal MPs in the coming election, the right wing has had a field day trying to make hay out of this single straw. Take the absurdity that Robyn Urback wrote in the National Post, as an example:
What twaddle. The Liberal Party supports the Supreme Court decision regarding a woman’s right to choose. Fullstop. So why not expect potential candidates to do the same in order to run for nomination? The Liberal Party (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Abortion: Why Trudeau’s decision on pro-choice candidates is a good one
Andrew Coyne is yet one more person to wonder about the danger posed for Canada’s democratic institutions by the majority government of Stephen Harper: As I say, we’ve never seen anything quite like this, not even from this prime minister. Which raises the question: At what point do Conservatives of goodwill become concerned about the long-term damage being done to their party’s reputation under its present leadership? Differences over policy come and go, but this kind of behaviour, left unchallenged, will lead many people to conclude that the institutions of government cannot be safely entrusted to them. There are (Read more…)
Ukraine: Doors open for Putin
Today, much to the surprise of some, a public agreement was announced by the US, Russia, EU and current Ukraine government, dealing with concrete steps to move the matter forward. The following is the full text of that agreement, with the most important part (in my view) bolded:
Geneva Statement of April 17, 2014The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.
All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all (Read more…)
. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Ukraine: Russia advances its creeping-federalization agenda
Charlie Smith: Thought-Provoker
We all agree with the principle that Polluters should pay for the impact of their pollution. So why not make those responsible for the inflated prices of homes in our cities pay a tax – the Inflators should pay principle? Consider this question posed by a London city council for debate by its residents: It also asks: “Do you agree with Islington Council’s intention to require owners of properties which are kept unoccupied to make a financial contribution to the council, which would be used to deliver affordable housing elsewhere in the borough?” Charlie Smith in (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Our housing problems: Should we charge an Inflation Tax on absentee home owners?
Putin’s Push: Reality versus Rhetoric
Congratulations to Thomas Graham, a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute, who was the senior director for Russia on the US National Security Council staff 2004-2007. He has shrewdly analyzed the Russian push under Putin, in its historical context, and outlined the steps that the West has to take to deal with Putin. Visa denials and economic sanctions, while nice sound bytes, are pretty meaningless. His views:
The way to stymie Russian expansion is not by denying visas and freezing assets of Russian officials and their business associates, the West’s current approach. Nor will (Read more…)
. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Ukraine: Some Commensense on Dealing with Russia
Foreign Minister Lavrov – the man with the answer
Within a week or so the outlines of a solution to the Ukraine predicament will become clear to all. As I expected (and hoped), wiser heads have come up with a workable formula. The Russians are leading the way, with Obama ready to follow. At tomorrow’s meeting between Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, the Russians will table the solution: “We are bringing our approaches closer together,” Mr. Lavrov said. “My last meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in The Hague and my (Read more…)
Premier Marois’ Lobster Strategy
What a difference a campaign can make! Just four weeks ago, it seemed the Marois-led PQ juggernaut was a shoo-in for a majority government in the province of Quebec, and now it seems the wheels have fallen off the machine, as pollster Three Hundred Eight illustrates. In less than 20 days Premier Marois has through her ill-advised lack of discipline moved the needle from a majority government to being a government clutching a pink slip in its sweaty hands, as its core Francophone constituency moves away:
Down 5% over 20 days in this core supporter (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Quebec election: 20 days and 5%
The first debate in this unexpectedly interesting provincial election has yet again proved that the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. The Premier and her advisors had carefully planned a year long campaign designed to drive a wedge between the voters in preparation for the election, by holding public meetings to discuss their Charter of Values. And it seemed to be working well, crystallizing support among Francophones and leaving opponents waffling with Me, Too faint emulations. So Marois and her Brains Trust decided that if it worked with the Charter of Values, why (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Quebec: Premier Marois’ Walk into Darkness
It is worth reading the article by Joseph Stiglitz on the problems posed by the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty. Our government is one of those negotiating in confidence a treaty that will substantially effect the livelihood of all Canadians. Stiglitz highlights the problems posed for democracies by the one-sided secrecy rules – citizens are kept in the dark while big business is invited to take a seat at the table during the negotiations: These high stakes are why it is especially risky to let trade negotiations proceed in secret. All over the world, trade ministries are captured by corporate and (Read more…)
Daron Acemoglu’s articleon the Ukraine in today’s Globe & Mail is a must read for all who are concerned about the mammoth task facing Ukraine right now. Unlike so many writers who skate across the thin ice of ignorance in their commentary on what is really happening in that blighted country, Acemoglu gets to the heart of things with a penetrating analysis of the reality facing those young men and women who took to the streets. He starts with this succinct summary:
But at the root of the situation is a legacy of political and economic institutions that have (Read more…)
Reaction to the PQ Lobster Strategy?
Battles for votes rise or fall on framing: the ballot question, your opponent, your own side, the issues. Framing happens, with you or without you; sometimes best with you.
Ms Marois and the PQ have recoiled in horror from any discussions of the independence referendum or of an independent Quebec, because their original election plan was to talk about their Charter of Values and get their majority, then launch their ongoing PR campaign to soften up their citizens regarding a referendum, known as their White Paper process, and then – but only once they (Read more…)
PQ lobster trap for unwitting Quebecers
Try as they might, the PQ cannot direct the definition of the ballot question in the upcoming provincial election into fields of their choosing. They would rather talk about their Charter of Values, which has given them a good crack at Francophone votes to boost them into a majority government position. Or the bright prospects for a Quebec economy, with debt reduced and business booming. But every time they try, those pesky journalists keep asking about the PQ’s plans to launch a permament campaign as a majority government, disguised as a White Paper process (Read more…)
Andre Turcotte – the Curves Tracker
Sometimes a picture is really worth a thousand words, much to the consternation of the conservatives huddled in Ottawa for the annual Manning Centre rightwing navel-gazing gathering. Pollster Turcotte presented a series of graphs showing what a poll of a thousand Canadians today think about the (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Election 2015: The Crossing of the Curves
The latest Angus Reid poll highlights the Achilles heel of Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Most Canadians do not trust him to protect our elections, as Susan Delacourt points out. This is a stark finding of the Angus Reid poll: The views of an increasingly larger number of Canadians have hardened about Harper’s likeability, trustworthiness, and fitness to lead the country. And this swift, dark and deadly undercurrent is what will ensure that this is his last term as prime minister of Canada. . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Stephen Harper’s Achilles heel: Trust
At the Montreal convention, the Liberal Party overwhelmingly agreed to Priority Resolution 31, Restoring Trust in Canada’s Democracy. An important part of that resolution is this: AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, an all-Party process be instituted, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with recommendations for electoral reforms including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent Canadians more fairly and serve Canada better. Electoral reform has a bad record of success in Canada, with several referenda for modernizing our antiquated and undemocratic (Read more…)
New Principles for Energy Industry
This post touches on the duty to consult, the impact of recent court decisions on the cumulative effect of energy resource development on claims of First Nations, the linkage of First Nations claims under our Constitution to the harm that might happen to their rights under global warming, developments in the Supreme Court that hold out fresh hope for a new way of looking at the problem, and two suggested principles that could radically change the way the issues are handled: the use by the Supreme Court of the Precautionary Principle now used by the (Read more…)
Dr. Clotiere Rapaille
Within 18 months of so Canadians will elect a new prime minister and a new government. Of the three contenders for the top job – Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau – which one offers Canadians a leader best in tune with what Canadians really, really want in their leader, deep down in the innermost recesses of their hearts?
Because if you are a leader offering them something else, that does not fit that deepest desire, you will not be the next prime minister. So what do Canadians want in their prime minister? Dr Clotaire Rapaille (Read more…)
Is it time for Canada’s largest city to have its very own purple rain? The Editorial Board of the Globe & Mail seem to think so. They frame the issue this way: Toronto needs to be rethought from its suburbs inward, not from its centre outwards. And its politics have to move beyond tired, left vs. right clichés. Mayor Rob Ford has been less than successful in competently running the city, reducing its council meetings to high farce, worthy of earlier British comedy skits more than of the governing board of a major city. The G&M is scathing (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Deperately seeking Toronto’s Nenshi