Friday, April 29, 2011

More endorsements

Metroland Durham Region Media Group:

The jockeying and pure political partisanship that has been the hallmark of the last two minority governments has left Canada without traction on the economy, on new policies, on progress. The election of a majority government will also finally break the coalition culture in Ottawa that has overtaken the business of the day.

Stephen Harper has proven himself here at home and abroad as an able, knowledgeable and hard-working prime minister. He leads by example, keeps a keen focus on the Conservative agenda, and has consistently projected an assuring image as a quiet, competent prime minister even as his agenda is hobbled by his government's minority status. But, Canadians are confident that when he says his government will eliminate the deficit by 2014-2015, it will be done.

It is precisely this sort of assuredness, this clear sense of purpose and direction for the nation, that Durham residents must consider when they head to the ballot box on May 2.

Do they want another shortened term of government where politics drives the agenda, or one driven by ideas and achievement? Do they want a government limited by the ambitions of political insiders, or a government that can carry out the business of the day? Finally, do they want a government that could fall at any time -- once again -- so that they are forced to choose for the fifth time in eight years? Nine years?

It's time for majority rule in Ottawa. The party best suited with experience, a clear agenda and the ambition to see it through is the Conservatives. 

And a not unexpected one from the National Post:

Canada needs steady leadership in the years ahead — and not just because of the fragile global economy. In Quebec, the Parti Québécois has a good chance to win Quebec’s next provincial election, bringing with it the prospect of fresh separatist agitation. The last three minority governments all have shown us that a Parliament sitting at the Bloc Québécois’ pleasure is a Parliament vulnerable to regional blackmail. Canada needs a strong majority — of the sort Jean Chrétien had when he gave us the Clarity Act — to face down the stream of demands that PQ leader Pauline Marois promises will emit from Quebec City if she becomes premier. Only the Tories are in a position to achieve such a majority.

The need for stability notwithstanding, there are certain things that should change, however. Spending has ballooned under the Tories — only some of which can be blamed on the perceived need for stimulus that emerged in the wake of the 2008 U.S.-epicentred financial meltdown. The Tories have embraced protectionism on politically sensitive files (such as potash), maintained the statist status quo on health care and have injected countless populist doodads into their budgets. A re-elected Conservative government, sitting as a majority, must trim spending and move aggressively to reduce the deficit. It should also revisit its more draconian tough-on-crime initiatives — some of which, as National Post columnist Conrad Black has noted, seem more spiteful than sensible.

It is also true that the Tories have played fast and loose with Parliamentary disclosure rules. While the recent contempt of Parliament ruling was a partisan stunt, there was substance to the underlying allegation that the Tories failed to provide Parliament with full costing information on their signature programs. The Tories came to power with promises of greater accountability in Ottawa. If anything, they have given us less. That, too, must change.

If the Tories do win a majority — as we hope they do — we also hope that they push forward on projects that proved impossible in a minority government, including eliminating per-vote financial subsidies for political parties, phasing out the long-gun registry and initiating Senate reform. We also urge the next government to finally and decisively reject the strict interpretation of the Canada Health Act that, until now, has discouraged private health options in this country. Canadians are ready for a European-style mixed system of public and private health care.

These are not radical projects, but overdue changes that have been stymied by bickering parties locked in a minority Parliament. The time has come to break this logjam, which is why we urge our readers to vote Conservative on May 2.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time to hear the endorsements

The Globe & Mail:

Only Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have shown the leadership, the bullheadedness (let's call it what it is) and the discipline this country needs. He has built the Conservatives into arguably the only truly national party, and during his five years in office has demonstrated strength of character, resolve and a desire to reform. Canadians take Mr. Harper's successful stewardship of the economy for granted, which is high praise. He has not been the scary character portrayed by the opposition; with some exceptions, his government has been moderate and pragmatic. 
The Windsor Star:

Two things are critical to this region's continued success as it turns the corner on economic recovery. The first is electing a majority Tory government on May 2. The second is casting your vote to make sure that happens.

Both are newspapers one wouldn't expect to endorse the Conservatives.  More as they come...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why the Conservatives love the "Strategic Voting" Sites

If you didn't read my plea not to vote strategically in the last election, I urge you to take another look now. A vote "against" someone or something is a vote in favour of nothing. It gives no mandate to elected officials, creates all the wrong incentives for the politicians who are elected that way, and guarantees that Parliament will descend even further into the partisan barking we see there now. Indeed the perverse problems with the methodology itself have led respected website Democratic Space author Greg Morrow to stop publishing his "strategic voting guide" from previous elections.
In this election, read the platforms, watch the debates, take a measure of the leaders and the candidates, and vote your heart. If everyone did that, who knows what we might come up with together.

Read it all

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coalition comments came too late to be a mistake

From Rex Murphy:

And so the reopening of this coalition business may have been a deliberate flash of post-election strategy: a needful airing before he puts in play a gambit that some might believe he’d completely ruled out. I read his wandering into this territory as a signal that Mr. Ignatieff is casting about for some strategy that might still see him as — at a great long-shot — Prime Minister.

That may be the Liberals’ thinking. What the public may have picked up from these last few days, however, is something different. They may have sensed the weakness behind the shift, have sensed that the Liberals are beginning to look very worried. And with the NDP — the NDP! — leading even the Bloc in Quebec, where, oh where, is the silver lining for Liberals in any of this?

Hence the return to the talk of combinations and coalitions and agreements and trips to the Governor-General. These are the musings and imaginings of a man and a party looking for some path past the grim anticipation of a bad showing.

I finally figured out what doesn't sit right with me about a Coalition taking power in that way.  And make no mistake, it is TAKING power. That power is not being granted by the electorate until the question is specifically put to the electorate.

Canadians understand the difference between "legal" and "legitimate".  God knows we've heard enough pointy headed professors on the subject of the former, without necessarily commenting on the latter.  Fair comment - those professors believe that legal and legitimate are the same thing.  The unfortunate thing for the Coalition of Sore Socialist Losers is that the Canadian electorate doesn't necessarily think that way, and herein lies their problem.

While all 4 parties of that side of the spectrum have spent this election attempting to pummel Mr. Harper with his authoritarian tendencies, and again there may be some fair comment on that.  Mr. Harper DOES seem to centralize as much power as his predecessors in the Prime Minister's Office, and he does seem to rule his caucus with an iron fist.  The reason for each is evidenced by the type of government he presides over - in a minority situation, ANY slip up can be fatal.  ANY caucus member getting a swelled head or shooting their mouth off could potentially be fatal to a minority government - especially a minority Conservative one.  Mr. Harper has no doubt studied the defeats of Mssrs. Clark, Mulroney and Diefenbaker, and has forged a strategy which relies on keeping his caucus under control and relatively mistake free.

The problem with authoritarianism, is that it isn't just Mr. Harper who has exhibited those qualities.  Before I continue, it would be useful to define authoritarianism (per wikipedia):

Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is opposed to individualism and democracy. In politics, an authoritarian government is one in which political power is concentrated in a leader or leaders, typically unelected by the people, who possess exclusive, unaccountable, and arbitrary power. Authoritarianism differs from totalitarianism in that social and economic institutions exist that are not under the government's control.
Emphasis mine.  It has been no secret over the past decade or so that the Canadian people prefer open and accountable government.  They don't like backroom deals, and they want a say in what happens.  To that end, the Conservative Party took a queue from the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties in that it elects its leaders through a direct democracy.  One member, one vote.  The NDP, also to their credit, elects their leader by the same method.  The Liberal party, generally has elected its leader through backroom deals and the so-called "kingmaker" method - that is failed leadership candidates negotiate the delivery of their delegates to other candidates in order to crown an eventual successor.

By the same method, the Liberal party attempted to crown a Prime Minister, and the effects of that attempted coronation are being felt to this day.  As I said before, Canadians don't like backroom deals.  They want their say in anything that goes on.  As a result, while it is technically LEGAL that a coalition of opposition parties can band together and seize power, Canadians viewed that tactic of using a backroom deal to gain power as illegitimate.  They viewed it as authoritarian.  And even though the opposition leaders don't think that most Canadians know what that word means, they sure know it when they see it.

If the Coalition partners truly wanted to lend legitimacy to their endeavour, they would put it to a referendum question or fight an election as a single unit with a single platform.  Until they do so, they need to remember that even 1/3 of their own supporters don't explicitly support such a path to power. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Federal deficit is billions less than expected - Business - CBC News

Federal deficit is billions less than expected - Business - CBC News

With one month left in the government's fiscal year, the annual deficit is now $28.3 billion.

That puts Ottawa on a faster track to get out of the red, mainly due to strong economic growth at the end of last year and the start of this year.

Last month, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shaved the deficit projection for the 2010-11 fiscal year to $40.4 billion, about $5 billion less than what he projected in October.

But with March accounting remaining, Ottawa is $12.1 billion to the better of even that improved projection.

Economists noted that the final month, and subsequent adjustments, traditionally can result in wild swings in the fiscal position, but the current gap is unusually large this late into the fiscal year.

One unknown in this year's accounting is the final bill for the government's stimulus spending program, which has accounted for more than $14 billion of the deficit.

Two things that I'm going to point out...

First of all, the fact that the stimulus bill is 14 Billion of the deficit means that there isn't likely a large adjustment coming in March.

Secondly, I think that the fact that the economy is outperforming expectations and the deficit is a lot less than projected proves that holding the line on the budget is a good strategy.

As Mr. Harper said in Saskatoon - Balance the budget without raising taxes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Liberals won't drop anti-Harper health-care ad

Liberals won't drop anti-Harper health-care ad - Canada Votes 2011 - CBC News

So let's see if I have this right...

A spokesman for leader Michael Ignatieff said Monday that Conservative Leader Harper has a lifetime of comments that show his opposition to universal public health care in Canada.

"The Liberal ad is entirely consistent with Stephen Harper’s long-held negative opinion of the Canada Health Act," Marc Roy wrote in an email. "It references past statements made by Stephen Harper. These statements are on the public record and have been sourced multiple times — they are not made up."

The ad contains quotes which are KNOWN to be falsely attributed, but it's okay because all of his unquoted quotes point to what they are saying?

There's a simple solution... USE the quotes that are actually sourced to him and drop the ones that are false or misleading.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Harper bounces back in new poll, despite week of bad news

Harper bounces back in new poll, despite week of bad news

Coming out of the debate, however, that margin has grown to 7.5 percentage points. The Conservatives nudged up to 35.3 per cent while the Liberals dropped a point to 27.8 per cent.

Jack Layton's New Democrats lost a bit of support following the debates as well, dropping to 18 per cent from 19.1 per cent, as did the Bloc Quebecois, which dropped to 7.1 per cent from 7.8 per cent.

Although Green party leader Elizabeth May was excluded from the leaders debate, her party crept up in support to 9.6 per cent from 9.0 per cent on the eve of the debate.

Pollster Frank Graves said the debates do not appear to have had a clear impact on voting intentions. Moreover, the bulk of the gains for the Conservatives appear to have come from western respondents — particularly in British Columbia, where the Conservatives went from 26.4 per cent on the eve of the debates to 33.3 per cent afterwards.

In seat-rich Ontario, however, the Conservatives have a bit more breathing room than they did going into the debate, but it is still a neck-and-neck race. On the eve of the debate, the Conservatives and the Liberals were virtually tied at 38 per cent to 37.8 per cent. After the debate, the Conservatives rose a bit to 38.8 per cent while the Liberals dipped to 36.6 per cent.

So let's see if I have this right...

The Conservatives are the only party of the 4 that participated in the National debates that rose in the polls - and that pretty substantially, the rest dropped - and yet this pollster doesn't see the debates having had a clear impact on voting intentions? Isn't that what a poll is? Unless he's seeing something he's not telling - like the Conservative's numbers were going up anyways - it would appear that he's trying to downplay any increase by the Conservatives.

Then again, Mr. Graves was the one advising the Liberals to get into a "culture war". I wonder how that's working for him.

Harper Derangement Syndrome gone wild

Project Democracy is a tool to help you determine if there is a way to "amp up" your vote and stop a Harper majority. By using a riding by riding election prediction model based on the most up to date public opinion research, we can tell you which Party is best positioned to defeat the Conservative in your riding. Just enter your postal code in the box to the right.
So if I'm understanding correctly, the whole point is that NO platform matters, as long as it's not a Conservative platform.

I know in the 2008 election people were preaching strategic voting to stop Conservatives, and in the end what really happened?  The Conservatives increased their seat count by 18.  Very few Conservatives fell victim to the absurd concept that campaigns don't matter, leaders don't matter, platforms don't matter - as long as the Conservatives are unseated.

I find it absurd that these people would find this somehow democratic.

When I think of democracy, I think of a group of like-minded people getting together and voting for the candidate that best represents their views.  In a two party system, such as the United States, it is very simple - there are only 2 tents, and the extremities know that there's only 2 places to go.  In a multi-party system, there is the freedom to choose the group of people that best represents your views amongst the 5 to 19 that are out there.  It is retail politics to the extreme.  The idea, then, of strategic voting in order to ensure that one party with large appeal loses discounts ALL of the policies of the parties then victimized.  It seeks to assume that if you're not with us, you're against us, and more often than not, that's not the case.

One thing that I would note when reviewing the profile for my riding, is that the voter turnout for the opposition parties has dropped in successive elections.  The NDP candidate can count on a certain number of voters regardless of issues, however the Liberals lost half of their votes from 2006 to 2008.  While part of this might be voter fatigue, it could also be organization or a number of other things.  In my town, the sign war was overwhelmingly Conservative until this weekend, at which point some of the other signs began popping up.  I would point out that instead of working on strategic voting, if all of these people worked to actually get a candidate elected, then they would see their candidates do much better in the election.

While I'm sure that the projections offered up by project democracy are as accurate as any other, suffice to say I won't be visiting the site again.  That's my choice in a democracy as well.

Video: Harper stops in Saskatoon

Video: Harper stops in Saskatoon

"Yes... Without raising taxes"

That's all I want to hear.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

That's IT

The next time that someone mentions Stephen Harper and his "hidden agenda", here's what I want the Conservatives to do...

I want them to get a big leather bound book cover.  Black leather to be exact.  Make sure that it's leather - it'll piss off all the sustainable enviro-whacko-weenies.  I want them to have engraved or embossed on the cover in gold leaf "HIDDEN AGENDA".  I want Mr. Harper to stand in front of a gaggle of press gallery reporters, and I want him to start a speech on how he DOES in fact, have a hidden agenda.  I want him to pound on the pulpit and use that book cover to great effect as a prop.  Then after a sufficient build up, I want him to open up that book cover and reveal his hidden agenda...


Maybe THEN the people would get it... the Conservatives aren't going to push through an abortion law to make abortions illegal.  The Conservatives aren't going to make gay marriage illegal.  The Conservatives aren't going to suspend democracy or put soldiers in the streets.  The Conservatives aren't going to slash and burn the civil service (although they SHOULD).  The Conservatives won't do any of that.

Their hidden agenda is to provide good government through smaller government.  That's it.  Maybe THEN this issue would be put to rest.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Note to Mr. Layton

Mr. Layton - I have a question for you and you alone.

You keep telling me that individuals matter, that seniors matter, that families matter.  You keep telling me that all of these groups are having trouble making ends meet and that a tax cut on heating fuel would help them out a lot.

Except that you are advocating a tax hike on the very same sectors of the economy that PRODUCE that heating fuel in whatever form it's used.  Not only that, you are seeking to apply a cap and trade system that will disproportionately increase costs for businesses in that same sector.  By doing this, Mr Layton, you will structurally INCREASE costs for these companies... costs which they will then pass along to the consumer.

In essence, Mr Layton, you will increase the cost of those same fuels more than any tax cut on these fuels can decrease.

Debate night....

Listening to it on the the radio tonight...

I'm sorry to say that the debate isn't changing my mind.  By the way... everyone take a drink - I just heard "Jets, Jails & Corporate Tax Cuts" - the first

One comment though... when Jack Layton sounds like the most reasonable and statesmanlike of the Coalition Three, either the Liberals or the Bloc are in trouble.

I see there being a shift from the Bloc to the NDP in Quebec, and the Liberals to the NDP in the rest of Canada.

By the way, Mr Harper sounds calm and reasonable tonight - even more so when nobody else is allowed to speak over him and interrupt his answers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sun News Network scores deal with Shaw | Canada | News | Toronto Sun

Sun News Network scores deal with Shaw | Canada | News | Toronto Sun

The upstart TV network, set to launch next week, announced that Shaw Communications Inc. will offer the news-and-talk television channel to all of its customers in Western Canada and Ontario for free when the channel debuts on April 18.

“The sun will be shining on Shaw,” said Peter Bissonnette, president of Calgary-based Shaw.

The deal with Shaw will put Sun News in two million more homes at the network’s launch. Shaw will make it available to all of its Shaw Direct and Shaw Cable customers for a free preview period which will run for six months.

Makes me proud to be a Shaw subscriber

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff speaks to 570's Jeff Allan

In contrast, Here is Michael Ignatieff's segment with Jeff Allan

570's Jeff Allan speaks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Something every Canadian should see...

H/T SDA & Alberta Aardvark

Bloc wants French debate rescheduled because of Habs fever

Bloc wants French debate rescheduled because of Habs fever | Decision 2011 | News | Edmonton Sun

“I think it would be good for democracy if the debate was held Wednesday instead of Thursday,” he said in French on Sunday.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said the consortium has a decision to make. He said it’s important to ensure the largest audience possible.

I'd just like to point out that waaaaaay too many people are using that argument nowadays.

To be clear - Democratic rule isn't that the majority gets their way, it's that the majority gets their SAY.

Elizabeth May rejecting the small parties debate because SHE feels she should be in the National Leader's debate is undemocratic. Elizabeth May accepting offered air time on a television station IS democratic.

Scheduling the French debates on the same night as the first game of the Hab's playoff run isn't undemocratic. Expecting that all people should be given no choice but to watch the French Language debate IS undemocratic.

Similarly, First Past the Post is not undemocratic because all parties, even the ones not in power, even the ones who can never hope to gain power, are allowed their say in parliament. They are allowed to ask questions, each and every day.

I'll repeat again. Democratic rule isn't necessarily that the majority gets their way, it's that the majority gets their SAY. Have your say on May 2nd.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper hated by Press Gallery

"I'm gonna have a heart attack and die... from this... surprise"
So, if Ibbitson used the word “detestent” to describe how some of the press gallery think of Stephen Harper, it would also be safe to say he meant to use the word “detestent.” And that he no doubt “hates” Harper himself, even though it would appear he has not said as much in English, at least not in the Globe and Mail if a quick archive search is any tale of the tape.

It was Norm Spector, former chief of staff to Tory prime minister Brian Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to Israel, and currently a contributing columnist to the Globe, who first noticed Ibbitson’s use of the word “hate” in La Presse, and posted it on Twitter.

What Ibbitson did not do in his article in La Presse, however, was actually name those members of the press gallery who so obviously “hate” the Conservative leader that it has not escaped his observation since his arrival on Parliament Hill two years ago.

So that leaves them all suspect.

And so they should be suspect. Very few of the PPG's members have had a good relationship with the Prime Minister over the past 5 years. From Day 1, they have objected to his methods and desired way of doing things, and very publicly feuded with him until they figured out that he wasn't going to cater to them, and indeed, he was prepared to bypass them in order to take his message directly to the people through local journalists who were more than happy to have the opportunity.

Although it is often said that politicians shouldn't fight with those who buy ink buy the barrel, I don't think that any of these journalists understand the new media as well as Mr. Harper did, even back then. There is discussion this election that the Conservatives just aren't using new media as well as the other parties, but I would submit that the Conservatives are using these new medias as well as they need to. They understand, better than most national journalists I would wager, that the internet has changed everything in political campaigns. They are keeping their message consistent across the country, unlike Mssrs Layton and Ignatieff who say one thing in Alberta and another thing in Quebec and expect the contradiction will not be reported. With few exceptions, they don't understand that once you say something on camera or on the radio, it doesn't just go into the station's archives rarely to be dredged up again, it is available to all interested persons to find, and will be in perpetuity.

The sooner they understand this reality, the easier it will be for everyone. I can't wait for SunTV News.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sugar Shack - Epic Meal Time

Tory platform 'doesn't add up': Ignatieff

Tory platform 'doesn't add up': Ignatieff | Decision 2011 | News | Edmonton Sun

"Eleven-billion dollars in cuts over three years will have a devastating effect on the capacity of the government of Canada to serve our citizens," - Michael Ignatieff

Uhhhhh Mr. Ignatieff? Perhaps that's the point, and the main selling point of the Conservative platform. Perhaps they are concentrating on reducing the size and capacity of the federal government to deliver services which they shouldn't be delivering. Perhaps their goal, as with the goal of the GST and tax cuts previously, is to reduce the ability of future governments to reach into their bank vault and use the power and resources of the federal government to create more and more spending programs without forcing that same government to go to the citizenship, cap in hand, to ask them to hand over more tax dollars to fund the new programs.

Perhaps, Mr. Ignatieff, the Conservatives are suggesting, in their own way, that the electorate be allowed to judge the merits of any new massive program of spending (like a national day care program, etc) and allow them to consent to being forced to directly fund each program through a tax increase.

Besides, Mr. Ignatieff, I would hardly consider a 1.5% decrease (worst case, 4.4% decrease) to have a devastating effect on the ability of the Federal government to deliver services. Personally, I would consider it a great start.

Give Natives Rights to Their Lands: FCPP - Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Give Natives Rights to Their Lands: FCPP - Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Aboriginal financial institutions say that they have distributed about $1.3-billion to aboriginal businesses over the years, creating many jobs in First Nation communities.

It may inject wealth into communities and create jobs, but is this sustainable?

André Le Dressay, an economist with Fiscal Realities Economists, a B.C.-based consulting firm that advises First Nation developers, argued that although Aboriginal Business Canada provides about $70-million in programs a year to help First Nations access capital, with real property rights they could be sitting on at least $6-billion in income-generating assets.

Fiscal Realities Economists studied the potential of 68 First Nations in British Columbia. What it discovered is that if only 40% of this land were converted to fee-simple ownership (land that can be transferred, sold or leased to anyone without restrictions and used as bank collateral), it would generate $3.8-billion in increased land values over 15 years.
Long story short... Aboriginals won't truly be able to deal with all of their various issues until and unless they have the same property and inheritance rights as the rest of Canadian society. No amount of money thrown at their problems can replace the positive impact of those rights. A couple of years ago, I counciled an aboriginal who wanted to create a business on reserve. The first question I asked was whether he had approached his band council about the opportunity. When he answered in the negative, I suggested that he discuss it with his leadership before he put any time or money into the venture. Unfortunately, that gives his band leadership extraordinary power over all members of the band, and as a result, aboriginal society is held back by those band councils who seek other goals than the prosperity of their band as a whole.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coalition forces quietly creeping to a deal

Coalition forces quietly creeping to a deal | Eric Duhaime | Columnists | Comment | Edmonton Sun

It's interesting to see what the take is of someone who is a little bit closer to Quebec than I am. It also interested me to see that someone is reporting how similar the Liberal and Bloc campaign messages are in the province of Quebec.

I'm going to preface any further comments here by acknowledging that yes, a coalition IS a valid option in Canadian politics if the governing party loses the confidence of the House.

But I will ask one simple question... what happens if, during the election, it's clear that the governing party won't have the consent of the House regardless of what they do? Does that not take the democratic power from the hands of the electorate and put it squarely in the hands of those who can't get enough of their candidates elected to win government as is intended?

The issue I, and I'm sure many others, have with a Coalition is not that it is illegal or illegitimate, but that it is a back door to seizing power despite electoral outcomes. Let's call it what it is. It's a coup d'estat. It's seizing power that doesn't belong to you, or wasn't rightfully won. One of the hallmarks of a democracy, is the idea that power transitions peacefully to those who have won elections.  Dictatorships seize power.  Democratic governments win power, and keep winning to maintain power.

Given that the NDP, Liberals and Bloc have already stated that they will not support a Conservative budget, they assume that the Governor General will just offer power to them in the event of a loss of confidence.  Given that they will refuse to acknowledge the confidence (however tenuous) the electorate has shown in the Conservatives, and the lack of confidence (however glaring) the electorate has shown in the other three parties, I recommend a couple simple changes to the electoral laws.  The rebate totaling 50% of eligible election expenses will not be paid to the parties should another election occur within one year of a minority government being elected (Elections Canada to withhold the money until 1 year after a minority government is elected).  A second change might be that all loans outstanding from leadership or electoral contests must be repaid before another writ is dropped.  Any loans still outstanding at the time of the dropping of a writ will be considered a donation and in violation of the Elections Canada Act should that donation exceed the legislated limits.

Might restore some stable government, wouldn't you think?

Day 12: Foreign Credentials and Seniors Care

Conservatives: Provide loans to immigrants to cover cost of foreign credential recognition
Liberals: No Policy announced
NDP:  Add Services to the Canada Health Act and double loans program

The NDP announced another basket of policies, this time in regards to Health care for seniors.  The basket included adding Home Care and Nursing Homes to the jurisdiction of the Canada Health Act, and doubling the loans program for renovations to help seniors stay in their homes longer.  The NDP also pledged to establish a long term care transfer through the next round of Canada Health Act negotiations.  On the surface, these seem to be a relatively innocuous set of policies, but the biggest thing that scares me is to add long-term care - presumably nursing homes, some of whom are private now - to the jurisdiction of the Act.  Considering that the baby boomers are now moving into the stage of life where nursing homes will become a necessity over the next 30 years, this promises to be incredibly expensive for those of us who will still be working and paying tax 30 years from now.  With their second promise - doubling the home renovation loans program to allow seniors to stay in their houses longer, it's a fairly minor policy which won't have a big effect.
Cost: Unspecified

The Liberals again spent the day without making any policy announcements.

The Conservatives announced a loan program to assist immigrants to have their foreign credentials recognized in Canada.  The loan is intended to help with the tuition, books and other associated costs related to retraining or having foreign credentials recognized.  The idea there would be to get foreign trained professionals recognized faster so that they can work in their chosen fields faster while assuring the public of their competency.  Net result, more people more productive faster.
Cost: $6 Million

What Really Threatens Our Future?

What Really Threatens Our Future?: FCPP - Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Ultimately, the climate change debate is really over just two things.
Whether we, the world’s poor, must give up our hopes and dreams. And whether we will determine our own futures – or the decisions will be made for us, by politicians who use climate change to justify restricting our access to reliable, affordable energy.
Which should we fear most? Climate change that some say might happen 50 or 100 years from now? Or an energy-deprived life of continued poverty, misery, disease, and forgotten hopes and dreams?

Definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 11: Conservatives & NDP

Conservatives:  Volunteer Firefighter's tax credit and Student Loan Forgiveness for Doctors and Nurses
Liberals: No policy announced
NDP: Forgiveable Loan program, Strengthen EI Compassionate Care, and Tax credit for caregivers

The Conservatives lead off the announcements with two more initiatives from their failed budget.  The Volunteer Firefighter's Tax Credit is a $3000 tax credit ($450 in actual dollars) for any volunteer firefighter who spends 200 hours a year in service to their community.  They also announced forgiveness of student loans for doctors and nurses.  The forgiveness is up to $8000 per year for doctors and $4000 per year for nurses for the first 5 years of qualifying service.
Cost: Unspecified

The NDP countered today by announcing a forgivable loan program to allow people to renovate their houses to prepare for aging relatives to move in.  They also announced an enhancement to the Compassionate Care EI benefit, lengthening the amount of time from 6 weeks to 6 months.  Their final announcement of the day includes a new caregiver tax credit aimed at helping low and middle income families take care of aging relatives.
Cost: Unspecified

The Liberals spent the day attacking the Conservative campaign with no policy announcement.

Things are a little bit different in Saskatchewan than anywhere else in the country, due to the Graduate Retention Rebate Program.  The Conservatives proposed that Volunteer Firefighters keep more of their own money, and I will always agree with someone keeping more of their own money.  They are also proposing to forgive student loans of up to $40,000 for doctors and $20,000 for nurses who work in a rural area for up to 5 years.  I actually agree with this last proposal - if someone is forced to live in a community for 5 years, they will likely put roots down in the community, they will likely meet people, make friends, get married, have children, buy a house - everything that makes it that much harder to leave the community.  I also agree with this last proposal because it targets education subsidies to those students who stay and work in the country they were educated in.  I have a few issues with this proposal: (1) Province is actually the one responsible for Education, and it treads on their turf, (2) Nurses will essentially get paid to go to school if they choose wisely where to settle, and (3) students will still demand tuition freezes and roll backs and bemoan the high cost of tuition.

The NDP proposals seek to cut more cheques to more people.  I rarely agree with a proposal that does this.  I don't agree with a forgivable loan - aging relatives don't need renovations unless they are disabled in some way, in which case they are eligible to claim those renovations as medical expenses.  The EI benefit increase will also serve to increase premiums, and while good on the surface, isn't the intent of the Employment Insurance system.  The Caregiver credit - although I don't know what exactly the intention is and what the rules would be - would be a winner because it leaves more money in the pockets of taxpayers.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 10: The beat rolls on

Conservatives: End the long gun registry
Liberals: No policy announced
NDP: Strengthen CPP and retirement income

If you're a fan of government run pensions and helping seniors, then the NDP announcement today is just excellent.  The announcement is the same thing they've been talking about since anyone started talking about reforming the CPP.  Now, I'm not a fan of the CPP, so you can pretty much guess where my feelings lie on forcing people to contribute to a public defined benefit pension plan that will only be 30% funded by the time I retire.  As for Guaranteed Supplement augmentation, I might be a fan, but I see too many people make poor investment decisions in the name of maxing out their GIS.  For that reason, I'm not a fan of giving more to the generation that set this stuff up in the first place.  If seniors are having trouble making ends meet, then they should have the stones to look their kids and grandkids in the eye directly and ask for money.
Cost: 700 Million

The Liberals spent the day playing defense, and will likely have few announcements until the end of the campaign.

The Conservatives dipped into their long time playbook to promise the scrapping of the Long Gun Registry, contingent on a majority government.  To be quite frank, they seem to be running a different campaign this time out - eliminating the "hidden agenda" argument by putting their cards on the table.  I wonder if it's going to work.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 9: First full platform comes out

Conservatives: Adult Fitness Tax Credit and double Child Fitness credit
Liberals: Full Platform released
NDP: No new announcements

Today, the Liberals released their full platform.  Among other things, the biggest impressions are that it's set to raise taxes on corporations, cap stock option benefits to $50,000, and oh yeah, institute a carbon tax/cap and trade hybrid that is set to raise $30 Billion per year from large emitters in order to punish them for their wicked ways and force them to become more environmentally efficient.  No specific plans are outlined as to what they are going to do with the money.
Cost: They say $8.2 Billion paid for by corporations.  They didn't account for job or investment losses.

The Conservatives began their second week by announcing more tax credits.  This time, it's an adult fitness tax credit modeled after the children's credit.  They also announced the doubling of the children's fitness credit.
Cost: Unspecified

The NDP took the day off from policy announcements.

From Day 1, there has been a distinct difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives - Liberals favouring more spending, Conservatives favouring tax credits and allowing taxpayers to keep more of their own money.  The Liberals may have played their hand too soon in releasing their full platform this early - all they have left to do is criticize the others and play defense now.  I guess we'll see how the other campaigns play out.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

If Harper aims for majority, promising tax credits on tax hikes ain’t gonna do it

If Harper aims for majority, promising tax credits on tax hikes ain’t gonna do it

One of the budget highlights Harper singled out last week called attention to a tax credit to businesses to cover the extra costs of his own employment insurance premium hike. A tax credit for his tax hike. Thanks. That ought to go down in history.
So.... one would have to assume that Mr. Akin was AGAINST any changes to Employment Insurance which were implemented last spring. Of course, a search of his blog comes up with crickets. It's a reality that the more people that get benefits from a group insurance plan, such as EI is set up to be, the higher the premiums for everyone are. It costs extra money for people to sit on Pogey an extra year without contributing anything extra. It costs extra money for people to be eligible for full EI after 450 working hours. The money had to come from somewhere.

But here's the math - 1 new hire cancels out the EI increase on employers for 20 employees. For large companies, all they have to do is rehire the people they were going to rehire anyways this year, and not only do they get a credit on their EI premiums, but it also serves to encourage employers to hire more people. Some might call that encouragement stimulus.

Day 8: Voter Subsidy and Veterans Affairs

Conservatives: Campaign Finance Reform
Liberals: Day off for Ignatieff
NDP: Help for Veterans

Again, we'll start the day by analyzing the NDP proposal, if for no other reason than they had the most substantive announcement of the day.  The largest (read: costliest) part of the NDP plan is to rollback cuts to retired and disabled pensions for Canadian Forces and RCMP officers.  They are also promising to restore the Service Income Security Insurance Plan which is a term-life and disability insurance plan for Veterans and their families.  No further details were released.
Cost: Unspecified

The Prime Minister spent the day in Ottawa, presumably doing the Prime Ministerial work that he's been neglecting for the last 8 days on the road.  The announcement of cutting the per-vote subsidy to the political parties is almost identical to the one that forced the Coalition Crisis in December of 2008.  This time he is promising to phase out the subsidy over 3 years.
Cost: $-27.2 Million

The Liberal party had no announcements today in preparation of the release of their full platform on Sunday.

Winners of the day?  Tough to call - The Liberals didn't make any promises to spend more, the NDP released a policy that few could argue against, and so did the Conservatives.  A good day for taxpayers all around.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 7: Week 1 in the books

Conservatives: Here For Workers Plan
Liberals: Family Care EI Benefit, Family Care Tax Benefit
NDP: Hire 1,200 doctors and 6,000 nurses

Fairness would dictate that I start with the NDP today.  Their proposal put forth today is to provide "investments" to hire 1,200 more doctors and 6,000 more nurses.  What more needs to be said, other than health care is a provincial responsibility, and that "investment" means throwing money at it.  No other details were released.
Cost: Unspecified

The Liberals added another plank to their platform by announcing 2 programs - the Family Care EI Benefit and the Family Care Tax Benefit.  The EI benefit promises 6 months of EI in the case of a worker who must take time off to care for a gravely ill family member.  The FCTB is, like the Child Tax Benefit, a program to cut a cheque of up to $1,350 to low and middle income families who are caring for a family member at home.  Together, these mark the third and fourth policies from the Liberals to promise to cut a cheque to someone to help them out in some way.  On the surface, the EI benefit might be a winner, except that we don't know what is considered a gravely ill family member, nor can this benefit be added to the existing EI system without an increase in the general EI contribution rate.  The FCTB is another program which is unspecific as to how one qualifies, and realistically helps a family no more than the existing programs.
Cost: $1 Billion

The Conservative's policy announcement is a hodgepodge of extensions of existing programs and two new initiatives - all of which were in the March 22nd budget.  The biggest part of the announcement was to propose the elimination of the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated workers, and enhancements to the part time Student Loans program to make it easier for a person to study while they work.  The enhancements also reduces the interest rate on the student loans to nil while the person is studying.  The other announcements were extensions of currently operating EI programs.
Cost: Unspecified

Who wins the day?  The NDP, depending on how you feel about the federal government intruding into Provincial jurisdiction.  The NDP also wins, depending on how many of their "new hires" happens to actually make it to the prairies and not settle in the large cities. The Conservatives are leaning on the "steady hand" approach and not really attempting to buy off the voters this time around.  I wonder how it's actually going to work out for them.  The Liberals have $2.5 Billion left to announce in their platform as they make promises based on the assumption that raising corporate tax rates by 1.5 points will net them $6 Billion.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Epic Indian Experience - Epic Meal Time

Libertarian Election Video

H/T Sk Liberty Train

Day 6: Of Mice and Men

Conservatives: Complete Trade Negotiations with EU and India, Endorses Lower Churchill project
Liberals: Early Childhood Learning and Care Fund
NDP: Cancel "subsidies" to the Oil Patch and invest it in clean energy

Let's start with the Liberals today, because, well, quite frankly, they are the easiest to flesh out and analyze.  Long story short, they will transfer $500 million to the provinces, increasing to $1 billion per year by year 4.  The additional money is supposed to go towards new child care spaces with "qualified professional staff" (read: unionized bureaucrats).  This marks the second major spending initiative in the Liberals platform, and the third policy which is designed to cut a cheque to some supposedly needy party out of general revenues.
Cost: $1 Billion per year when fully implemented

The Conservatives essentially announced something today that all good governments would work on - expanding our trade and considering financial support for a hydro-electric project in Newfoundland.  The completion of trade negotiations doesn't cost us anything, in fact it expands our GDP and grows our economy.  The Lower Churchill project provides cheap energy to Newfoundland and Labrador and subverts Quebec dominance in the area.
Cost: Nothing

The NDP got their policy book back from the Liberals today and promptly announced that they will cancel all the "subsidies" and "tax breaks" from the dirty dirty oil patch.  I'm actually rather confused, however.  After all, it is the "tar" sands that are currently generating billions of dollars of economic activity in Alberta directly, not to mention the billions more in economic activity in the rest of Canada as oil men purchase trucks (Oshawa?) parts, manufactured goods and other services, not to mention all the people who reside in every other province in the country and fly into Alberta to work on those same "dirty" projects.  I'm also having trouble reconciling this announcement with yesterday's announcement whereby the NDP promise to grant $4500 per new hire along with accelerated depreciation rates.  Is Mr. Layton now saying that there is a sector of the economy which will NOT be allowed to benefit from those cuts?
Cost: Unspecified

Who wins the day depends on your point of view.  If you live in a major city and feel that the government should create child care spaces for you, then the Liberals win the day, although I can't imagine $1 billion going very far considering the last time they promised a National Child Care strategy it was costed at $5 billion.  If you believe in responsible government, then the Conservatives will win the day, because that's essentially what the Conservatives promised today.  The only way that the NDP wins today is if "clean energy" is somehow code for "Nuclear power plants", but even then they are kneecapping the economic engine of the country to get there.