Gov. Sarah Palin brings along John McCain this time for her interview.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The new Do Not Call List Web site has been overwhelmed by those registering to block annoying telephone calls from telemarketers.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which operates the list, says the system is working fine, but that by 11 a.m. EDT it couldn't handle the volume.
Register online at www.LNNTE-DNCL.gc.ca or by phone at 1-866-580-3625.
Senior Liberal Bob Rae alleges a Stephen Harper speech to parliament in 2003 was copied almost verbatim from parts of a speech in support of the Iraq war that Prime Minister John Howard of Australian had delivered earlier.
Liberal leader Stéphane Dion has since chimed in to support Rae's criticisms and saying Harper should be "expelled"—whatever that means.
"We have a prime minister who commits plagiarism," Dion is reported to have said.
A typical Liberal ploy: charge impropriety and hope like hell that the charge will stick. There is no apparent evidence of plagiarism here. According to Dictionary.com, plagiarism is
"the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work."
I challenge Stéphane Dion to prove his charge that the prime minister has plagiarized the speech. If he can’t he should recant his slander.
I do not know whether the charge has any substance, but I sure would like to see some evidence before I decide. The mere similarities between the speeches—regardless of how similar they are—is not persuasive. At this point, we don't know who really wrote the speech or if the prime minister knew of the similarities. Or even if the use of the words was authorized.
It is fair game to point out the similarities and follow up with an investigation to get the details—that's good politics. To immediately launch a smear campaign without those defining details, however, is gutter politics, something at which the Liberals are past masters.
The Liberals see their chances at power slipping away; desperation is setting in.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is the wildcard in the upcoming leaders’ debate.
May is in the best position to go for broke. What does she really have to lose? As things stand now, she won’t win her own seat and her party will be very lucky indeed to win even one seat on October 14.
With little or nothing to lose and an enormous amount to gain, May must be salivating at the chance to use the debate as a forum to attack Stephen Harper, a man she apparently despises. She is free to concentrate all her efforts to damage the prime minister.
May’s political mentor, Stéphane Dion, has a lot to lose and much to gain, and his plight is complicated because he has incumbent MPs to protect. Dion also must defend and attack on two fronts: Jack Layton and Stephen Harper.
Both May and Dion have shown a penchant for damaging themselves while attacking others—we’ll watch for this. My guess is that May will go overboard and Dion will get no better than a tie.
May going overboard will solidify her base—they like that sort of stuff, but won’t sway too many others. If Dion can only tie, Stephen Harper wins.
This is a great showcase for Jack Layton. A really good showing by him will be at the expense of Dion, assuming the prime minister holds his own.
A really great performance by Layton will just about guarantee a majority for the Conservatives and “official opposition party” status for the NDP. Imagine: Jack and Olivia ensconced at Stornoway [shudder].
I can hardly wait.
Stephen Harper is quoted by the Globe and Mail as saying that a Conservative government would not reopen the abortion debate because there are too many other important issues to deal with.
"We have a lot of challenges in front of the country," Mr. Harper said during an announcement about arts and fitness funding for children. "We have a difficult world economy, as we all know. That has to be the focus of the government and I simply have no intention of ever making the abortion question a focus of my political career."
The sad fact of the matter is that to engage in a debate over abortion in Canada is the political equivalent to suicide.
At present, as far as I can tell—and I have searched high and low—there is no law at all covering abortion in Canada . All other western democracies seem to have some form of law covering abortion—are all these countries against the rights of women? Hardly.
In Canada, it is a black and white issue: an unborn child, from conception to just before the moment of birth, can be aborted without breaking the law. That's a sorry fact and I think it is wrong on every level.
The prospect that a six to nine month old fetus can be aborted on anyone's whim is abhorrent to me. Such a prospect should be totally outside the bounds of any civilized society. And, because there is no law covering such a thing, there does not seem to be reliable statistics showing the number of late-term abortions in this country.
Unregulated abortion on demand and government funded/sanctioned is just plain wrong—it is inhuman. Surely, once the fetus has reached the point it could survive outside the womb, we should extend the protection of the law to that child.
It won't happen though. The mere mention that some measure of protection should be extended brings shouts of derision, name-calling and outrage.
Ironic how even a hint that a serial killer or child murderer should be executed by the state is met by the same level of outrage from much the same quarter. The message seems to be that we must keep the scum of our world alive at any cost, but we can destroy an unborn child on the whim of its mother. Mother knows best.
Funny old world that.
[Source: Globe and Mail]
Ontario’s Liberal finance minister, Dwight Duncan, said a carbon tax would be “a mistake” in uncertain times.
“One of the things that I think would be a mistake right now is massive shifts in tax burden at a time when there’s uncertainty,” said Duncan.
Mr. Duncan fumbled and bumbled in his usual way when it was pointed out that Stéphane Dion was preaching the implementation of just such a tax.
“The federal circumstances are, are, uhh, you know ... I mean listen, all the parties are now advocating fairly dramatic shifts,” he said.
Really? I had not heard the Stephen Harper was “advocating fairly dramatic shifts [in tax]”. Oh, Dwight, you master of the overstatement you.
I hope that during the debates, someone reminds Stéphane Dion that the minister of finance of our largest province thinks a carbon tax would be a mistake.
[Source: Ottawa Citizen]
Monday, September 29, 2008
Folks, not that we needed one, but we just got one more example of how and why the USA has lost it's role as leader of the free world.
As the world looked on, America's legislators huffed and puffed but could not put their petty party rivalries aside to resolve the world-wide crisis which is entirely of their own making.
Never again should any nation put its trust in that spent force of a nation. Alarmingly, however, those people have the power to wipe out life on earth with their weapons of mass destruction, so reluctantly we must avert our eyes and offer lip service in a show of undeserved respect to them.
America cannot any longer win wars—even ones they start against a nation a fraction of its size and wealth; America cannot care for their own citizens in times of natural disasters—Hurricane Katrina; America can no longer claim the moral high ground—Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq war in general. Now they have placed the worlds financial security in peril.
When it came right down to it, the McCain Republicans voted against the bill, they say, because their feelings had been hurt by Nancy Polusi. Pathetic. And shame on you!
And what was war hero McCain's first reaction? Word of the lost vote was hardly out when that pompous, blowhard, pretender and political opportunist John McCain was blaming his political opponent Barack Obama even though clearly McCain has much of the blame to shoulder—if only he were man enough to do so.
Republican Party hopeful, Senator John McCain, has failed miserably to deliver enough support from his own party to pass the rescue bill that he has endorsed, putting the world's financial markets in great peril.
Apparently, in a fit of pique, his party's members voted in significant numbers against the White House-sponsored bill because they wanted to punish the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi for her introduction to the bill.
How can Senator McCain ever expect to get anything done as president? God, I hope the American people will forget about Barack Obama's skin colour long enough to put a stop to McCain’s bid for four more years of a Bush/McCain administration.
“I need to be ready because Canadians want to know me,” Stéphane Dion said when referring recently to the upcoming leaders’ debate.
I’d have thought Stéphane Dion’s problem stems from the fact that Canadians have got to know him.
How many parliamentary Question Periods, news conferences, radio and television interviews, campaign appearances, interviews with the editorial boards of major newspapers, etc., does it take for Canadians to get to know the leader of the Liberal Party? Much less than have already occurred, I would think.
The debate that Mr. Dion is so looking forward to for his last-minute miracle will—in a just world—confirm in voters minds that this man is just not prime minister material.
Many Liberal Party insiders seem to have already reached that conclusion. On October 14, the rest of get our chance to do the same.
Jack Cafferty on CNN, September 26, 2008:
The New York Times, in an article on February 12, 2005, wrote that Carly Fiorina "will receive a severance package worth about $21.4 million, and stands to gain at least $21.1 million more. The additional amount reflects the estimated value of her pension, stock options and Hewlett Packard stock holdings, which the company did not include in her severance package."
Barack Obama's campaign is using this fact in a new ad, as follows:
Popular broadcaster Michael Coren has a pithy opinion piece at the Toronto Sun's Web site today.
As reported elsewhere, CBC Web site journalist Heather Mallick has been castigated by that network's ombudsman for a nasty bit of yellow journalism she hacked out in early September. (See earlier blog post commenting on Mallick's column here.)
Coren adds a couple of anecdotes to the already unsettling level of evidence that the CBC has long ago crossed the line in offering balanced commentary.
I agree with Coren when he writes:
“There is something exciting and vibrant about the meaty exchange of ideas and ideals, and from such a clash of ideologies Canada becomes a more interesting place. Instead we have dreary and predictable abuse from Enright, Mallick and their dowdy friends.”
Apparently the CBC ombudsman also agrees with this sentiment—hopefully the CBC management will do some housecleaning.
[Coren's article here]
"Canadians have a very clear choice here," NDP leader Jack Layton told reporters. "They can go down the path that has been set by Mr. Harper, which is $50 billion of corporate tax cuts. If they want to support that, fine. We think it's wrong."
Never mind that the NDP's proposal to cancel $50 billion in corporate tax cuts would cripple the economy. Even Stéphane Dion agrees with that.
Mr. Layton defended his controversial plan to cancel the cuts, saying that putting money into health care, infrastructure and targeted help for certain sectors is key to boosting productivity and enticing companies to keep jobs in Canada.
Is this man for real? According to his logic (if it can be called that), increasing tax on corporations can somehow boost productivity.
I'll go down the path with Stephen Harper, thank you.
The world stands at the edge of economic disaster, major banks around the world are failing or being nationalized daily, stock markets are showing increasing signs of a meltdown, and what is the Jack Layton NDP Party's reaction?
Well, actually, other than blaming Stephen Harper for everything they can think of, not much really.
In Jack Layton's Pollyanna world, Canada is ripe for socialism and one of the wildest tax and spend sprees in our history. But do not worry, we are assured, the tax will come from businesses. And we all know that businesses have an unlimited supply of money, don't we?
But aren't businesses taxed on profits? And aren't profits likely to go down or be entirely eliminated if we have a world wide economic slowdown? Hmm…
Well, no matter, make the spending promises anyway, it'll help the objective of pushing the Stéphane Dion-led Liberals aside and gaining official opposition party status.
Sad really, but the ploy seems to be working. Could Elizabeth May have been right…
Stéphane Dion’s party platform is a house of cards that will never survive the stiff wind of reality.
Dion’s platform offers an accumulated four-year projection of $1.07 trillion in taxes and $1.05 trillion in spending, leaving a surplus of about $20 billion.
But the platform is like a house of cards, for it’s foundation is based on the rather shaky assumption that annual revenues will grow by an unlikely 4.5 per cent for each of the next four years.
That’s a higher rate than the department of finance projects, and, taking into account the US financial crisis, is almost certainly not to be realized.
Surprised? I’m not. The Liberals are quick to point out that they will pare back their plan to match the reality of the economy as time passes. That’s their way out. They get credit for their promises during the campaign knowing full well they will never have to live up to them—like so many other Liberal campaign promises.
If their projected growth rates are off by even one percentage point, there would be a shortfall of $60 billion, blowing away their platform’s surplus of a $20-billion and leaving a $40-billion deficit.
Would a Stéphane Dion government post $10-billion annual deficits to finance their platform under this scenario? Dion says no. He has committed repeatedly during the campaign to run balanced budgets.
Would a Stéphane Dion government then raise taxes to the tune of $10 billion per year? Again, Dion says no.
There is, of course, one final option for Dion should his plan meet a shortfall: cut spending.
In the late nineties when the Jean Chretien liberals balanced the federal budget after a generation of deficits, they did it by cutting program spending by about 10 per cent starting in 1993. Those cuts were made across the board and included healthcare transfer payments.
This sort of spending reduction program could not be sustained politically. Look at the public reaction to the recent one per cent reallocation in arts and culture. Can you imagine the reaction there would be to a five to ten per cent reduction? And as to health care and education cuts: political suicide.
With none of the above options open to the Liberals, their platform becomes a ridiculous pipe dream, unless, of course, Canada's economy grows by 4.5 per cent or more. And just how likely is that?
At the end of August 2008, Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian economy increased by an annualized 0.3 per cent in the second quarter, but a revision of the first quarter contraction to 0.8 per cent confirmed the economy had just squeaked past recession. Oops… Add this to a world wide financial crisis and a crippling new carbon tax on our energy sector, and a growth rate of 4.5 per cent for 2009 through 2012 becomes highly unlikely.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
A well written piece by Angelo Persichilli appears on the Toronto Star Web site today. I gather Persichilli is not a Conservative, so her balanced defense of the prime minister is especially worth reading.
The political left, of course, despises Stephan Harper and wont be swayed by Persichilli's words, but those independent thinkers out there deserve to hear the truth behind some of the politically inspired smears directed at the man.
I have never understood how anyone can hate somebody they have never even met. I guess feelings of hatred come easier to some people.
You can read Persichilli's article here.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Your campaign prospects have got to be in dire straights if you’re calling for strategic voting. For goodness sake, how do you cast a vote for a person who is not your choice just so that another party does not win? That just makes a mockery of the system.
If you have something worthwhile to say, something that justifies having a political party, then put it forth and let Canadians decide if they buy it. If not, fold your tents and go home. In the next election, you can join some other party.
It is this sort of nonsense that made a farce of the last session of parliament, with Stéphane Dion railing against virtually every initiative the Stephen Harper Conservatives put forth, then either voting for it in the end or absenting the house to avoid voting at all.
As for Elizabeth May, she sounds like she's prepared to dump her party in favour of a Stéphane Dion’s—she sure was singing his praises.
A Tory win will be good for our country. It will also provide the opportunity for the 80 plus per cent of Liberal leadership convention delegates to replace the leader they didn't want in the first place. Liberals spent months telling each other that Stéphane Dion was not the right man for the job then 55 per cent of them elects the man as their leader. Go figure.
Last night, Senator John McCain tried to lecture Barack Obama about Obama not knowing the difference between a tactic and a strategy.
Of course, McCain was wrong. The counterinsurgency methods introduced by general David Petraeus in Iraq were a tactical change, because they were a new means to achieve President Bush’s strategic end of a stable, unified Iraq.
A change in strategy might have been withdrawal or splitting the country into Kurd, Sunni and Shi'ite regions.
I hope the poor old fellow will make sure he's on more solid ground the next time he corrects a fellow senator in public.
Senator John McCain’s campaign ran a TV ad this summer making this claim: “Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan.” And McCain repeated the claim last night in the debate.
So it must be true, right? Well… here's the rest of the story.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, Senator Obama has never held a hearing on Afghanistan. And why would he?
On the other hand, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has addressed Afghanistan, at the committee as a whole level. In the past couple of years, the full committee has held three hearings on Afghanistan, and Obama has attended one of them.
Now here is what I'd call a lie of omission: the Senate Armed Services Committee—of which McCain serves as ranking member—has held at least seven hearings on Afghanistan in the last two years. And McCain did not attend a single one of them—this according to NBC News.
There are liars, damn liars and then there are politicians. Sad, isn't it?
Over at the Liberal Party web site, they have some pretty revealing comments regarding the NDP candidate for Durham, Andrew McKeever.
If the Grits have this right, then wow! McKeever sounds unbalanced in the posts he's alleged to have made on Facebook. I know it has become fashionable in some quarters to lace Internet communications with obscenities, but this is really over the top.
Where does Jack Layton draw the line, I wander?
You can see the full story here.
Actor Paul Newman has died of lung cancer at 83.
Newman, whose career spanned five decades, was also a prominent social activist, a major proponent of actors’ creative rights, a motor racing enthusiast and team owner and a noted philanthropist.
He was nominated for Academy Awards 10
times, winning an Oscar in 1987 for best actor as Fast Eddie Felson in The Color of Money. He was the winner of numerous other awards, including two Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, and an Emmy award, along with many honorary awards.
Some of his best known films are: Exodus (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Hombre (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974), Slap Shot (1977) and The Verdict (1982). He teamed with fellow actor Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973).
Rest in peace, Paul Newman
Apparently, if a recent poll means anything, Jack Layton could be the next leader of the opposition.
The Toronto Star and Angus Reid Strategies survey indicates that 40 per cent of Canadians would vote for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives if an election were held tomorrow, and the Stéphane Dion Liberals and Jack Layton New Democrats are tied at 21 per cent support. The Elizabeth May Greens are at a distant 7 per cent support.
In the strategically important battle, Ontario, the Conservatives lead the Liberals, 39 per cent to 27 per cent. The NDP follow at 25 per cent, with the Greens again at a distant 7 per cent.
The Bloc has regained its strength in Quebec with 39 per cent support compared to the Conservatives’ 27 per cent. The Liberals are at 15 per cent and the NDP at 12 per cent.
The survey of 1,508 Canadians was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Last night we saw as tight and as hard-fought a presidential debate as we've seen in several years. Both candidates acquitted themselves well enough to each claim victory, which to most means a tie.
Right after the debate—and probably in the “spin” room with the media during the debate—vice-presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden and other party spokespersons from Democrat and Republican campaign teams were front and centre reinforcing the notion that their candidate and been the clear victor.
Biden seemed to be on every channel I turned to, putting a positive spin on Senator Barack Obama’s performance and downplaying Senator John McCain’s.
“I think John was on his strongest turf today and he lost,” Biden told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. “And I think it’s gonna be fatal.”
Pretty well the sort of thing you'd expect. Except for one thing: Gov. Sarah Palin was nowhere to be seen. Quite extraordinary.
I thought she was missed, not just by the media, but more importantly, by the undecided voters—the folks that both candidates need to sway.
After a couple of shaky performances earlier in the week, perhaps Palin needed a time-out. Apparently, she attended a debate party instead of showing up and being the lead member of the team supporting McCain.
Her absence could not have helped John McCain.
John McCain did well in the debate and will give his supporters enough ammunition to claim victory. Barack Obama also performed well enough to satisfy his supporters. So, a tie, right?
Well, not so quickly. The debate is not only to solidify the support you have going in, but to convince undecided and independent voters that you are the right choice. And this is where Obama won.
Undecided voters saw the younger Obama hold his own against McCain in areas that were supposed to be McCain's greatest strengths. That's a win for Obama. Not a knock-out, but a win where it counts.
Friday, September 26, 2008
How did it happen, America's grave financial crisis? President George W. Bush offered a bunch of explanations but held Washington completely blameless. (Sept. 25)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is reported by Straight.com to have described Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a “dangerous ideologue.” Apparently, in an interview with the Georgia Straight, Dion also claimed that the prime minister has been insincere during this election campaign, because to do so would reveal that he wants to turn Canada into a “right-wing Republican country.”
What prompted such over-the-top name-calling?
- “His problem, Mr. Harper, is that he cannot be sincere.…Because if he was sincere, he would show to Canadians really what he wants to do with the country.”
- Every once in a while, Harper reveals who he really is—“like today, when he insulted the artists.”
- Harper’s law-and-order policies will result in an additional 5,000 Canadians going to jail, and the Conservative government has not set aside any money to pay for this.
You get the idea. Nothing there that would make a person a “dangerous ideologue,” is there.
As to the charge that the prime minister wants to make Canada a “right-wing Republic:” nothing. Canada is a parliamentary democracy and monarchy, and I have not seen or heard anything to indicate that 10 years from now it will be otherwise.
In fact, the Conservatives are the ones that usually favour the monarchy, not the Liberals. And it is usually those from Quebec who seem most in favour of a republican-style government.
Dion is a Liberal from Quebec… Hmm … So from Mr. Dion can we expect Canada to be turned into a left-wing republican country? I hope not. Socialism, after all, has not exactly been a roaring success around the world.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government are under relentless attacks from opposition parties and various Arts communities for reallocating $44.8 million in spending on some federal arts programs. The rhetoric has reached unseemly and unnecessary levels.
Harper’s “grabbing ahold of the aorta of the creative process and putting the squeeze on it at the same time,” said NDP leader Jack Layton in Quebec City—in one of the mildest statements I've heard on the subject; some statements are quite vile.
But is Layton’s graphic metaphor at all reasonable? How does his imagery play when confronted by the facts?
Now, I don’t want to confuse anyone with facts, but just compare the $44.8 million in recent funding reallocations to the following analysis done by CanWest:
“For the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2009, Parliament has voted to spend more than $4 billion on cultural programs, including the CBC, the Canada Arts Council, the National Gallery of Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage. That amount is $660 million or 19.7 per cent more than was spent in fiscal 2006, the last year when the Liberals controlled the purse strings.
“Overall program spending during that same period is up 18.6 per cent. In other words, Conservatives have boosted spending on arts programs faster than they have boosted overall government spending”
So, apparently the Tories are spending more on the arts than the Liberals did. Go figure.
By the way, the $44.8 million in reallocations and program cut-backs represent slightly more than one per cent of the current budget for cultural programs. Hardly justification for the hyperbole we have heard from the opposition parties and the arts community.
Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain will be meeting with George W. Bush on Thursday to discuss the economic plan, the so called bailout plan.
This news follows McCain's announcement that he was suspending his campaign to return to Washington to help fix the financial crisis. If McCain were to become president, would he suspend all activity each time there is a crisis, or would he do as other presidents have done: multitask?
Economics are not one Senator McCain's strengths, so just what does he hope to accomplish by inserting himself into these complicated negotiations? I do hope this is not just another example of political opportunism on the part of McCain.
McCain would dearly like to delay the upcoming debate also, but Obama seems to be resisting this.
According to reports, Lt Col Darrel Vandeveld, a military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay has resigned over “ethical qualms.” Defence lawyer Major David Frakt said that Vandeveld quit because his office suppressed evidence.
The prosecution is alleged to have withheld evidence that others had confessed to carrying out an attack of which an Afghan detainee has been accused. While the chief prosecutor has confirmed the resignation, he denied withholding any evidence.
What a quagmire this whole Guantanamo Bay/enemy combatants has turned into. Another fiasco in a growing list by the current US administration and a major reason that the US has lost its moral authority in the western world. And, sadly, I don’t see Senator John McCain doing anything differently.
Stephen LeDrew, ex-president of the Liberal party is quoted by The Toronto Star as saying,
“Barring a miracle – that intermittent visitor to political campaigns – the Liberals are going to take a drubbing in this election – which is exactly what they need in order to survive as a viable national force.”
“The immediate causes of the Liberals’ campaign trouble are myriad: a leader who doesn’t resonate with the public; a platform that is, depending on whom you talk to, either incomprehensible, or just plain dumb; a team that seems to have all its oars pulling on the same side of the boat – the list goes on”
Stephen LeDrew served as president of the Liberal Party from 1998 to 2003.
I can’t add anything to this. LeDrew seems to sum it up pretty well.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Pastor Muthee of the Wasilla Assemblies of God church forced a witch to leave her village after Sarah Palin’s preacher accused her (the witch) of causing traffic accidents.
Senator John McCain today announced that he will suspend his presidential campaign on Thursday to return to Capitol Hill, where he plans to participate in the financial crisis bailout negotiations. The senator also asked the Presidential Debate Commission to postpone the debate scheduled for this Friday.
From Senator Obama's campaign,
“At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal.”
After being largely unsuccessful at explaining and selling his Green Shift carbon tax, Liberal Stéphane Dion is switching his election campaign emphasis to the economy.
On Tuesday night in Calgary, Dion told a crowd of about 500 people that placing their faith in the Conservatives to better manage the economy is misplaced.
"Some people think that the Conservatives will be prudent, will manage the economy and not take any risks and we are okay with them….
"Who has put out the mess that Mr. Mulroney gave the country with a $42-billion deficit, it was Chrétien and Martin."
Mr. Dion conveniently ignores the historical fact that in 1984 the Tory government themselves inherited a horrible financial situation from the Grits. Jean Chrétien once admitted this when he said, "We left the cupboard bare."
Let's review some of the 1984 data:
- The Tories inherited a deficit of $38.5 billion, which was nearly nine per cent of GDP—the largest Canadian deficit ever, in terms of percentage of GDP.
- The federal debt had increased by 1,100 per cent under the Liberals (ouch).
- Interest rates had reached double digits at 22.75 per cent, crippling the pensions of the elderly.
- The federal government was spending $1.23 for every $1.00 collected in tax, a disaster waiting to happen.
By 1993 when the Grits took office there had been a tremendous turnaround, as follows:
- The GST replaced the terrible FST—a manufacturing sales tax that for years had been condemned by economists.
- Free Trade between Canada and the US had been negotiated. The Liberals understood this to be of great benefit to Canada, and broke their own campaign promise to scrap it.
- The federal government had an operating surplus (before interest on the national debt created by the Liberals).
- The deficit as a percentage of GDP had been reduced by one-third, despite the worldwide recession of 1990-91.
- Given that we had an operating surplus, were it not for the interest payments on the debt the Liberals had created up to 1984, the Tories would have been able to leave a balanced budget.
- The Mulroney government had cut program spending so that instead of spending $1.23 for every one dollar collected in taxes, the Tories were spending 97 cents for every dollar of tax.
- Interest rates went from 22.75 per cent to six per cent, the lowest in 20 years, and the inflation rate was 1.5 per cent, the lowest in 30 years.
This is how some others viewed the Mulroney years:
- In 2000, McGill University's North American Studies Institute determined that Mulroney had the best economic record of any PM since the Second World War.
- In 2003, the Institute for Research on Public Policy ranked Mulroney the second-best PM of the previous 50 years.
- In 2006, environmental groups, led by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, selected Mulroney as the greenest prime minister in Canadian history.
The facts show that the Mulroney years of Tory government were not nearly as bad as is painted by the Grits. And the Grits inherited a much better situation than they let on.
And about that "$42-billion deficit" Mr. Dion claims Chrétien and Martin inherited from Mulroney? Take the $38.5 billion debt Mulroney inherited from the Trudeau and Chrétien Liberals, add interest for the eight years while the Liberals were out of office, and it's not so difficult to see they inherited their own deficit. Dion is so disingenuous!
With the Grits crowing about how wonderful it was that they eliminated the federal deficit (and it was), we marvel that apparently such was not their view during the campaign in which they unseated the Conservatives. During that campaign, Jean Chrétien was quoted as saying: "zero deficit equals zero hope."
Now the Johnny-come-lately Grits take credit for the groundwork that had been laid for them by the good governance of the Tories. Funny old world that.
Conservative Party of Canada leader Stephen Harper has promised that, if returned to office, his government will make changes to the laws covering youth offenders. His proposals target youth who are 14 years of age or older.
Harper proposes a new law that would impose automatic, stiffer sentences for people 14 years of age or over who are convicted of serious violent crimes, such as murder, manslaughter or aggravated sexual assault. He also proposes that judges should have the option to give a life sentence in cases of first- or second-degree murder.
Moreover, the prime minister says that a mandatory publication ban should not apply in cases of certain teenagers who are convicted of serious violent crimes, allowing their names to be made public.
Later Harper said his government would crack down on the use of house arrest, or conditional sentences, for 30 more serious crimes.
In my view, Christie Blatchford of the Globe and Mail is one of the very best newspaper columnists in North America. She has a knack of striking at the very heart of her subjects, and her writing is lucid, informative and entertaining. She's the best thing the Globe and Mail has going for it these days.
Most recently, I read her column on Stephen Harper's changes for youth offenders. Here's a quote:
“All this is in the news now with the recent Conservative campaign push for law and order, a prospect that is oddly terrifying to many of those who live (and certainly to those who write newspaper editorials) in the country's biggest cities, where there isn't always such a lot of law and order around.”
You can read Blatchford's column here.
An NDP candidate in B.C., Julian West, has dropped out of the federal election after receiving unwanted exposure over going nude in front of teenagers more than a decade ago.
"After thinking about it, I have determined that I do not want to continue as a candidate and I have informed the party of that decision," Julian West said.
Mr. West allegedly dropped his shorts while a group of teenagers were body painting and said "paint me all over." He also went skinny dipping. This is alleged to have happened in 1996 while Mr. West was attending a conference sponsored by the Duncan chapter of Leadership Initiative For the Earth.
After investigating the incident in 1996, police did not lay charges, chalking up the incident to inappropriate, not criminal, behaviour.
On Sunday night, Senator John McCain said that his campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with Freddie Mac for the last several years.
Now we find out that Freddie Mac paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by McCain’s campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.
Also, Mr. McCain has been running a television advertisement suggesting that Mr. Obama takes advice on housing issues from Franklin D. Raines, former chief executive of Fannie Mae, a contention denied by Mr. Raines and the Obama campaign.
Truth sure is taking a beating in this campaign.
Read more about it here.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Stéphane Dion has announced that he would eliminate the tax on income trusts. He would replace it with a 10 per cent levy—refundable to Canadian investors but not foreign residents. The replacement tax is estimated to generate $1 billion over four years, and is expected to restore some of value lost by the trusts when the Conservative government broke an pre-election promise and implemented the tax.
The Stephen Harper government imposed the 31.5 per cent tax—which will not take effect until 2011—because Telus, BCE and others had indicated they would convert to the income trust structure—income trusts don’t pay corporate taxes, but distribute all their taxable income to unit holders.
Income trusts appeal to investors like retirees because they are a good source of monthly income. Many of these will probably welcome the Liberal plan.
When the Conservatives announced they were going to tax the income trusts, it was a very unpopular move. But most observers believed it was necessary because the move to the income trust structure by so many large companies would have resulted in a significant loss of revenue for the Canadian government.
Chances are, the Grits will arrive at a similar conclusion once they get another chance to balance a federal budget. and so I'd not advise seniors to hold their breath waiting for the Grits to cancel the tax.
Apparently, Jack Layton, NDP leader who says he wants to be our next prime minister, is a friend of Barrie Zwicker, who it is reported believes that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an “inside job.” No, this is not a joke.
Layton says in a video that he has all the materials (Zwicker's) and seems to believe these 9/11 conspiracy theory materials have merit. Grit supporter and popular blogger, Jason Cherniak, has the video here. View the video and make up your own mind.
A carbon tax is not without some appeal: polluters pay for the damage they cause. That’s the theory.
The New York Times—not known as a bastion of conservative thought—wrote, “It’s [carbon tax] probably the most glamorous—and certainly the most unlikely—use of the tax code since Al Capone got hooked for tax evasion.”
But does it work? Has it worked anywhere else? If you listen to the Liberals, NDP and the Green Party, the answer is an unqualified “yes” on both counts. As with most things those parties tell us, however, there is more to the story than they let on.
On the question of “Does it work?” the better answer is, yes sometimes. As to the second question “Has it worked anywhere else?” the better answer is, again, a qualified one: yes, in Denmark—but it has been less than a success elsewhere.
Since about 1991, carbon tax in one form or other has been implemented in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. In the United Kingdom, for example, tax now represents two-thirds of the pump price for gasoline (ouch). However, I cannot find evidence that indicates that the tax has led to large declines in carbon dioxide emissions in most of these countries. In fact, in the case of Norway, emissions have actually increased by 43 percent per capita.
Denmark is one country in which carbon taxes have led to a large decrease in emissions—per capita carbon dioxide emissions were nearly 15 percent lower in 2005 than in 1990.
Denmark’s secret: tax the industrial emission of carbon and return the revenue to industry through subsidies for research and investment in alternative energy sources, cleaner-burning fuel, carbon-capture technologies and other environmental innovations. Does this sound even remotely like any carbon tax plan being proposed in Canada—I don’t think so.
Denmark kept true to its core philosophy: reducing emissions was the goal, therefore, you impose a carbon tax, but you never want to collect it. In other words, if you want lower emissions, the goal of a carbon tax is to prompt producers to change their behavior, not to allow them to continue polluting while handing over cash to the government.
It will not be easy for a Canadian government to do as Denmark has. How do you prevent policy makers from turning the tax into a cash cow, as seems to be the primary objective of the Liberals and the Greens?
Stéphane Dion says that he guarantees that the carbon tax will be tax neutral. But the last tax guarantee I heard was from the Ontario arm of the Liberal Party. They made a “written” guarantee during an election to not raise taxes, but once in office promptly implemented a new tax.
Regardless of their reason, and even assuming they had a good one at the time, it’s now five years later, the Ontario budget has been in surplus, yet the tax is still imposed. And do I need to mention the federal Liberals’ promise to dump the GST? Their deputy prime minister resigned her seat in parliament over that lie.
Any promise that the carbon tax will be tax neutral is a canard.
Mr. Dion promises that the average family earning $60,000 combined will receive $1,300 back in tax under the Green Shift. In my estimation, a family of two to four individuals including children will incur far more than $1,300 in costs of gasoline, home heating, cooking, and other essentials due directly to the imposition of a Liberal-style carbon tax.
Think of it, in the UK they pay two-thirds of the pump price for gasoline—this alone would amount to more than $1,300 a year for the average family.
Then, where will the reminder of the tax go? Income redistribution and more expensive social programs like universal day care, that’s where.
Let's be very clear, Green Shift is less about reducing green house gas and more about financing a socialist agenda, which includes massive income redistribution.
God help the Canadian middle class.
A fellow on Facebook posted (on Sep 22, 2008) a Facebook note that is identical to one of my posts on Sep 20, 2008—The Green Shift: don't be taken in.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this is outright dishonesty—intellectual or otherwise.
If he doesn't delete his post, I'll begin by publishing his name, employer, home address and telephone number—here is his postal code to start with: P3N 1E8.
To that Val Caron (Sudbury, Ontario) Facebook fellow: cease and desist!
I just received an apology, as follows:
"I truly apologize for reproducing your work, My intent was not to steal but to only offer one persons view on politics.
"I am aware of your legal right. I have removed your post and will not make this mistake again.
"From now on if i read something, I will direct people to your blog.
"Once again I truly am sorry for this mistake and wish you all the best."
Apology accepted—let's move on.
Nice to think we could just pass on our tax to foreigners to whom we export our products and services thereby relieving some of the tax burden on Canadians. However, is this realistic?
The way I see it, companies must price their products so that they remain competitive in global markets, and there is not so much elasticity in commodity and manufactured goods' prices to allow Canadians to arbitrarily increase their prices without suffering a corresponding decrease in their volumes. And decreasing exports are not at all good for Canada or Canadian poketbooks.
Probably the most worrying aspect of the Liberal's Carbon Tax and their related Green Shift proposal is the enormous uncertainty and inherent risk involved. Untried and untested are words that come to mind.
I'll stick with prime minister Stephen Harper's judgement on this one.
Monday, September 22, 2008
John McCain and his wife have seven homes and 13 cars. Wow.
He and his campaign folks have taken pains to paint Barack Obama as an elitist and celebrity who hobnobs with the rich and famous. But as the media delves into McCain's—the poser as candidate-of-the-people—lifestyle, we get a glimpse of the enormous privilege he enjoys, thanks to his wife's fortune.
Barack and Michelle Obama: one car.
Oops, at the end of this video Sarah Palin suggests there has been a flip between the Republican candidates, putting herself before John McCain on the ticket. Good for a laugh.
The Paulson bailout package being considered by the US Congress contains some language that lovers of democracy will find really scary. Here they are as reported by The Huffington Post today:
"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."
This sounds so un-American to me. Could it be that they will survive in the final legislation?
The National Post Editorial Board has this message to campaign leaders—"Grow up."
The Post advises:
"This election should be about substantive issues of concern to voters -- the economy, health care, the environment, Afghanistan, taxes, crime, land claims -- not pooping puffins, thoughtless wisecracks about tainted cold cuts, drinking natives, driving while stoned, "stupid" Canadians, or (most ridiculously) why Prime Minister Stephen Harper is like Hitler. Unfortunately, many politicians (with the media's encouragement, sad to say) would prefer talking about the latter than the former."
I wish I'd said that. Their article ends with this admonishment from the Post:
"It is still not too late to make this election mean something, to elevate the discourse from Keystone cops to key issues. But it is going to take a commitment by all the parties to stop dwelling on each others' slip-ups and start focusing on substance."
Couldn't have said it better myself. On the other hand, the MSM is not blameless in this regard. I see these episodes of mock outrage and mud-slinging repeated over and over throughout the news media, including the National Post. How often, for example, has CBC and CTV led off their newscasts with the latest outcry about some imagined, though obviously unintended, slight?
The MSM just can't leave these things alone, so they spread and spread until they overshadow serious debate.
Go here for the full story.
Iraq war based on the lie of weapons of mass destruction coupled with its ditching of the Geneva Convention: the US looses its world standing in moral authority. Strike one!
Hurricane Katrina recovery: the US loses its world standing as capital of "can-do" and organization—displays third-world level ineptness. Couldn't get the job done or didn't give a damn—pick one. Strike two!
Collapse of US financial infrastructure: US loses its world standing as bastion of capitalism as most of its financial infrastructure is nationalized. Strike three!
Three strikes and you're out, right? Well, apparently not in the case of the Republican Party. What other leader in the western world could survive three such massive disasters. Yet, in the US, they are seriously contemplating another Republican president. Go figure.
Think George bush has been a disaster? Wait until that old dodderer, John McCain, gets his shaky hands on the tiller of the good ship USA.
This morning (Monday, Sep 22, 2008), Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion unveiled his party’s platform.
Some highlights (Remember Dion has already—up to last Friday—announced $80 billion in spending.):
- Restore contingency fund: $12 billion over four years
- Eliminate tax on income trusts
- Carbon tax of $40 billion—off-set in lower income tax, e.g., $1,300 for families earning $60,000 a year
- Reallocation between existing programs—$12 billion cuts over four years from existing programs to fund new ones—no specifics
- Kelowna Accord $2 billion—$5 billion promised originally
Not since the days of Pierre Elliott Trudeau have we seen the tax and spend philosophy of the Grits taken to such excess. Remember those years?
- Wage and price controls (Trudeau broke an election promise to implement these controls);
- Mortgage rates of 20 per cent plus;
- Fixed-income seniors financially ruined because of runaway double-digit inflation;
- Trudeaumania: a decade that saw huge government deficits, high taxes, massive government spending, a worsening economy and burgeoning national debt.
I lived through the Trudeau era and have no wish to see its return. Socialism is a miserable failure around the world, yet Dion wants to bring it back here. No thank you.
A national poll—four-day Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll, released Sunday—suggests the Conservatives are supported by 39 per cent of voters and the Liberals by 23 per cent.
|Percentage of respondents supporting each party:|
|Party||Sept. 17-20||Sept. 10-13|
The figures were based on the question: "If a federal election were held tomorrow, who do you think you would be voting for in your area," and then lists the parties. The average sample was 1,344 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 per cent.
It's about time. This from Leader-Post at Canada.com:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper promised to scrap Canada's young offenders law and replace it with a tougher version under which youth who commit serious violent crimes will no longer be able to keep their names out of the news.
Full story here.
In his quest for power and political relevance, NDP leader Jack Layton is refusing to rule out a coalition government with Stéphane Dion's Liberal Party if it's what it takes to stop Stephen Harper's Conservatives. The Toronto Star reports on thestar.com:
Blasting Harper on everything from the environmental damage in the Alberta tar sands to the war in Afghanistan, Layton said this morning it's time to move Canada in a different direction.
Asked on CTV's Canada AM if he would "entertain even the notion of entering into a coalition with the Liberals in order to get the Conservatives out of power," the New Democrat stressed he's never allowed partisanship to trump the greater public good.
The Elizabeth May of the Greens has already indicated that she wants Stéphane Dion as prime minister, now we have Jack Layton implying that he does too.
Funny old world: two of our five parties cheering for another party to form the government. Why don't they just disband their parties and join the Grits.
Stéphane Dion will unveil his election platform this morning. Based on past announcements, the Grits will announce at least $80-billion in spending, and probably a lot more.
And, surprise, the Green Shift is expected to be front and centre.
I bet Stephen Harper can hardly wait.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
ABC panelists tear into Senator John McCain on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
After conservative columnist George Will declared that Senator McCain was decidedly un-presidential is his unexpected call for the firing of SEC Chairman Chris Cox, Sam Donaldson, the long-time ABC hand, said that McCain's erratic message on the economy again raised questions about his age.
"I suppose the McCain campaign's hope is that when there's a big crisis, people will go for age and experience," said Will. "The question is, who in this crisis looked more presidential, calm and un-flustered? It wasn't John McCain who, as usual, substituting vehemence for coherence, said 'let's fire somebody.' And picked one of the most experienced and conservative people in the administration, Chris Cox, and for no apparent reason... It was un-presidential behavior by a presidential candidate."
There's more, watch the video.
Five years ago, billionaire investor Warren Buffett called credit default swaps a “time bomb” and “financial weapons of mass destruction” and directed the insurance arm of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc to exit the business.
Credit default swaps are derivatives designed originally to protect banks from borrowers who default—a sort of insurance.
These complex financial instruments, however, are believed to have contributed to the latest turmoil in the financial markets. Those buying the “insurance” didn't factor in the risk that the sellers of the protection might not pay.
Take, for example, the collapse of Bear Stearns, the sell off of Merrill Lynch and the meltdown at American International Group (AIG): in each case, credit default swaps played a role in their collapse.
Peter Schiff, the president of Euro Pacific Capital and author of Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse, said:
“This is the derivative nightmare that everyone has been warning about.
“They booked all these derivatives assuming bad things would never happen. It was like writing fire insurance, assuming no one is ever going to have a fire, only now they're turning around and watching as the whole town burns down.”
Another well-intentioned invention of Wall Street that’s gone haywire. Just goes to show: you don’t have to be stupid to do stupid things.
A Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey published September 20, 2008 shows the Tories steady at 38 per cent and the Liberals at 23 per cent, two points down from September 19, 2008 figures. As for the other two parties in the national race: the NDP was at 17 per cent, up two and the Green party remained at 12 per cent.
Conservatives have maintained a surprising 40 per cent support in Ontario, while the Liberals dropped three points to 30 per cent. The Greens were at 14 per cent and the NDP at 13 per cent.
(The poll surveys 300 people a night in a rolling national sampling and the figures are based on interviews with at least 1,270 people Sept. 16-19, with a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points, 19 times in 20.)
[Source: Federal poll tracker]
Toronto Centre candidate Chris Reid running in downtown Toronto against Liberal Bob Rae has abruptly quit the campaign.
This news depresses me too much to write more about it. If you need details, go here.
The Winnipeg Sun has a good article about the internal problems Stéphane Dion and the Grits are having. Here's a quote to give you a sampling of the piece:
“While it takes a lot of hands to screw up a national campaign, plenty of fingers are pointing at Dion.
Ironically, for a leader widely seen as weak and indecisive, Dion's biggest mistake may have been stubbornly trying to run his own campaign, routinely ignoring the advice of seasoned pros who actually know what they're doing.
This past week, the professor at least seemed to get the lesson that trying to win over the country one incoherent speech at a time was not working.”
I read this out loud to myself, it's like music to my ears.
You can read the whole piece here.
In one of the worst terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s history, a suicide truck bomb exploded in front of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday evening, killing at least 40 people and injuring 250 more.
Pakistan is now caught firmly in the middle of the war on terror. The country is one of America's allies and, at the same time, a safe haven for America's enemies. Working out of this dilemma will take patience on the part of America and careful, astute statesmanship on the part of Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari and his new government.
It is highly unlikely that NATA/US forces can win the war in Afghanistan unless someone cleans out the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And its unlikely that Pakistan's military has the wherewithal or the inclination to do this on its own.
At the same time, America is determined to win the war they launched in Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks. The thought of losing this particularly symbolic war is unthinkable. A way must therefore be found for Pakistan to accept direct American or NATO involvement within its borders. If not, the Americans, probably without the rest of NATO, will continue incursions in force into what has become the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorist safe-zone.
And should America continue their incursions without at least Pakistan's tacit approval, the new government might fall, opening the way for a takeover of that country by Islamic extremists. And by the way, Pakistan has nuclear weapons.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Jack Layton gets tough on crime. Yes, Jack wants to crack down on crime, announcing a new multimillion-dollar plan Saturday to crack down on gangs and gun violence.
Does any Canadian take Jack seriously when he speaks about cracking down on crime? How many months in office would it take, do you think, before that promise would be ditched.
What's the point of having more police officers on the streets if we had a party in power with the NDP's past track record? And Jack's new group's no better. Read on.
The Ottawa Citizen reports that Jack's announcement:
"The announcement follows the resignation of a second NDP candidate in Vancouver over embarrassing video images of his marijuana use.
The two candidates were associated with a B.C. Marijuana party activist, Marc Emery, featured with Layton in videos posted on POT TV and youtube.com.
In a 15-minute video interview with Emery from 2003, Layton makes an appeal to POT TV viewers to "join the party" and support the NDP because he believes people should be allowed to smoke marijuana in the comfort of their own homes or in cafes without being considered criminals."
Bizarre isn't it?
A new Liberal ad is on YouTube. I cannot believe that Stéphane Dion and the Liberal Party could stoop to such distortion. I know I've seen this sort of big-lie propaganda somewhere before, wonder where that was…? What a foul gang the Grits are turning into. With lack of leadership, the Grit backroom gang has gone out of control.
What a desperate group they have become to be using the deaths of fellow Canadians to so distort an attempt at humour by a Tory cabinet minister, who has already apologized.
Black humour followed by one of the blackest moments in the history of the party of Lester Pearson. Shame on the Grits! The current gang dishonours all those who came before them.
Ms. Martha Hall Findlay, what say you now about Stéphane Dion's integrity? Mr. Bob Rae and Mr. Michael Ignatieff, you most be very proud now to see the true nature of the gang you've thrown your lot in with.
Shaft Shift, the old campaign plank of the Liberal party, is confusing me.
Here are my points of confusion:
- At the Green Shift Web site it states the “plan that will cut income taxes, put a price on pollution, fight poverty …”
Fight poverty? How? Really poor people in Canada do not pay much taxes, so how will they be helped?
- It states: “Energy costs are soaring all over the world.”
If prices are already soaring, why do we need to pile on more in tax? Soaring prices in any sane society are usually enough to discourage use. And if soaring prices don't work, why do we think extra taxes will make a difference?
- It also states: “and we commit that it will not become, a tax grab by government. This commitment will be enshrined in legislation, and we will have the Auditor General look at the numbers and confirm this each and every year to Canadians.”
Let's see: Liberals committed to Kyoto and yet did nothing to reduce green house emissions on Mr. Dion's watch;
Liberals promised to dump the GST altogether—now they scream at the mere mention of reducing it by a cent or two.
I can't even count the number of Ontario Liberal government promises that have been broken in the past few years—even written ones.
Is a Liberal guarantee really worth anything?
- It states: “a family with two children earning $60,000 will save over $1,300, as will a family earning $80,000.”
Revenue neutral? This is not revenue neutral. Look, to significantly impact consumption, the price per litre would have to increase something like $0.50.
This sort of family will drive no less than a combined 20,000 miles a year in cars averaging about 25 miles to a gallon for an added cost of ($0.50 x 4.5litres to a gallon x 20000 miles / 25 miles per gallon) $1,800 a year. We are already $500 in the hole before we pay for extra heating for our homes and covering the passed-on costs on virtually every product or service we will consume, and that includes essentials like food. Come to think of it, heating our homes in winter is essential to life in Canada, but the Liberals want to tax the hell out of it.
Dion's Green Shift promises: “Higher energy costs will be off-set by tax cuts. We will dramatically reduce other taxes, for individuals and for businesses. We will make sure that this dramatic tax shift is revenue neutral.”
Revenue neutral? I don't believe him! Perhaps Stéphane Dion agrees with his good buddy, Elizabeth May, that we Canadians are stupid.
During one of the leaders’ debates back in 2006, Michael Ignatieff claimed that the Liberals with Stéphane Dion as Minister of the Environment (July 2004–February 2006) “…didn’t get it done.” I believe he was referring to the Environment file.
In signing Kyoto on April 29, 1998, the Liberal government of the day pledged that Canada would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels by the five-year commitment period of 2008 to 2012.
It never got done. To the contrary, by 2006 Canada's greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 24 per cent. Stéphane Dion, who was a senior member of the Liberal government from 1996 to 2006, couldn't convince his own colleagues in cabinet to live up to their international commitments.
Not surprisingly, therefore, Stéphane Dion was the first choice of less than 18 percent at the 2006 Liberal leadership convention, and the second and third choices of the remainder of the 54.7 percent of the delegates who voted for him on the fourth and final ballot. And now they want to make Dion the first choice of all Canadians in the 2008 election. Get real.
Certainly those in his own party must know Dion best and 82 percent of them rejected him as leader of their party. Even Bob Rae, who in 1995 was rejected overwhelmingly by the Ontario electorate, garnered 20.3 percent!
Yet Liberals have the cheek to ask Canadians to make Dion our prime minister.
Nope, I agree with Mr. Ignatieff, Dion did not get it done when he had the chance. Just as 82 percent of Liberal party delegates did at their last leadership convention, I'll make Stéphane Dion my second choice on October 14.
The adage, all politics are local, has proven itself over the years, so today I took a closer look at my local riding, Burlington, Ontario.
I searched the Burlington Post and Hamilton Spectator newspapers' Web sites and the World Wide Web at large looking for Burlington riding references. This is what I found along with my reaction.
In this election, the main rivals for the seat are the Stephen Harper Conservatives, represented by Mike Wallace, MP and the Stéphane Dion Liberals, represented by former MP Paddy Torsney.
David Laird will again contest on behalf of the Jack Layton NDP and Marnie Mellish is representing the Elizabeth May Green Party; however, these two are highly unlikely to win this riding—if past elections are anything to go by.
Combined, the Greens and the NDP could play an important role in the distribution of votes in the riding, however. About 65,000 votes were cast in 2006. Of these, the Greens and the NDP accounted for approximately 11,600, a not insignificant 18 percent.
I have looked at the Green and NDP Web sites and searched the World Wide Web looking for any reference to specific local issues that either Laird or Mellish plan to address. I couldn't find any. Both of them seem to be depending on their parties' national campaign to tell their stories. Others may want to look further at either of these two candidates, but I have seen enough.
Getting back to the main event.
Liberal, Paddy Torsney, was the riding's MP for about 12 years before losing in the 2006. Ms. Torsney's focus seems to be anything but local. I know personally of her having helped a constituent in a personal matter, but all MPs regardless of party affiliation do that. On her Web site she claims:
"She helped thousands of constituents solve problems and change policies. She successfully brought Burlington's issues to Ottawa. She worked to bring jobs, promote opportunities for youth, honour Canada's War Veterans, and championed the National Do Not Call Registry and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Since 2006, Paddy worked with the Leader of the Official Opposition and consulted on provincial issues."
What I'm looking for, however, is something tangible that she has done specifically for Burlington that we would not have gotten in those 12 years had we voted Conservative or NDP? Amazingly, I could not find even a single example.
Well, what about the future? Her party is making loads of promises, what are her's?
Here's what I found on her campaign Web site:
"A strong voice for a Richer, Cleaner, Fairer country"
This is all about the national Green Shift program that Dion has now seemed to be backing away from, at least, during this campaign. Apparently, Paddy is still pushing it.
"An experienced voice for the Economy"
This again is just a link to the national campaign. Tells us what a mess they inherited in 1993. You must remember the 1993 campaign, that was the one in which the Liberals promised to dump the GST and renegotiate the Free Trade agreement with the U.S.
The dump the GST promise was an outright lie! Ask former Hamilton MP and deputy prime minister under the Liberal government, Shella Copps, about this: she resigned from parliament because of this lie.
"A leading voice to Fight Poverty"
Again, just another link to the Liberal Party Web site that announces a national plan. Nothing specific about Burlington, nothing local.
"A trusted voice that delivers for Burlington"
Really? What has she delivered for Burlington? What does she plan to deliver for Burlington?
The Conservative incumbent, Mike Wallace, has been the Burlington riding MP since 2006. Mr. Wallace seems to be the only one of the candidates with a Burlington-specific focus. Apparently, for him politics really are local.
Wallace has the usual national campaign stuff, but he also lists Burlington-specific, tangible accomplishments on his campaign Web site. Here's the sort of thing I've been looking for. Straight talk, not just pie-in-the-sky generalities.
"Strong Leadership: for Burlington
- $30 million for the clean up of Burlington Bay
- $7 million for the expansion of Aldershot Go train facilities
- $4 million for a Performing Arts Centre
- $9 million for Burlington from federal gas tax
- More communication with constituents through extended office hours, Upfront newsletter, Cogeco television show and four public meetings annually"
Just since 2006, Wallace seems to have delivered more to Burlington than Ms. Torsney did in 12 years. And has Wallace done as good a job on helping local constituents as Torsney? I can find no evidence that he has not.
With the Green Shift becoming naught but a painful memory, Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion struggles to explain how little a part it was intended to play in his campaign platform.
Most of us thought that, since he opened with it and emphasized it so much in the early days and even before the campaign started, the Green shift was a major plank in his platform. Not so, apparently.
"You have said it was, never me," Dion is reported to have told reporters.
"…there has been a real frustration on our part with the misleading messaging of the Conservatives and our recognition that the significant income tax cuts that formed part of the Green Shift are simply not being recognized enough."
Could it be that the Canadian public aren't buying the nonsense about tax cuts offsetting the carbon tax because they are pretty certain tax cuts will not? And here's why.
Most, I believe, would want more assurance that those average Canadians who will pay for the carbon tax through dramatically higher prices for a broad range of products and services, will receive a direct offset through reduced personal income tax. In other words, they want tax neutrality, not new spending programs that may or may not benefit them.
Also, Canadians see the enormous spending initiatives being announced by the Liberals in this campaign and strongly suspect that a big chunk of the proposed carbon tax is earmarked to help pay for them. Where else will the money come from—deficit budgeting?
Martha Hall Findlay seems to have become one of Stéphane Dion's chief spin doctors. Interesting that, because she ran against him for leader of their party. And she only supported Dion after being eliminated on the first ballot at the 2006 Liberal Party leadership convention. Recently, I saw Hall Findlay on the Michael Coren Show stalwartly defending Dion. So effusive was her praise for the man, one would have thought he was the second coming.
Shame to see her used thus for she is an accomplished woman in her own right, with a bright future in the Liberal Party. Party loyalty, I guess, but one senses a bit of phoniness about her when she starts "spinning" for the party.
Friday, September 19, 2008
TSX closed up 848 points and it look's like short selling is going to be severely regulated and perhaps banned in some circumstances.
Great news all around. Short selling should have been banned long ago. And there are other financial instruments that could do with closer scrutiny.
For the English debate, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be on the end and Green Party leader Elizabeth May will be next to him. With Liberal leader Stéphane Dion in the centre, this means May will be between the leader of the opposition and the prime minister, getting in the way of the only debaters that matter.
What a travesty! The least significant leader in Canadian politics by a wide margin and she's placed between the only two leaders with a genuine shot at governing the country after October 14.
This is great for Elizabeth May and her supporters—but bad news for about 95 percent of Canadians. But May wont care: she's having her 15 minutes of fame and to hell with the rest of us.
Jack Layton wants meat inspectors on the floor of every meat processing plant in Canada. He says it's the only way to prevent another disaster like the listeriosis outbreak that's been blamed for 17 deaths?
What Layton has not explained is how this will prevent listeriosis from infecting the meat.
And why stop at meat? In the U.S. recently, contaminated vegetables cased serious illness. So should we now place food inspectors on every farm, every canning plant, every food terminal? And why stop there? Restaurants, fast food outlets and grocery stores are a potential sources of contamination since their employees handle the food we eat. So let's stick an inspector in every store in the country.
And let's not forget to arm them all with flyswatters—an inexpensive way of enhancing their effectiveness.
Jack Layton will shamelessly exploit every tragedy he can to try and gain a few votes.
What irony. Wall Street, the once great bastion of unfettered capitalism is now owned to a significant extent by the U.S. government—with China and Arab national funds waiting in the wings to gobble up more stragglers. That’s socialism, folks.
Drips with irony.
Can’t wait for four more years of the Republican/Bush/McCain brand of capitalism—McCain will be master of a foreign-owned country.
This is a follow-up to my post yesterday—Paddy Torsney claims feds are running a deficit. According to my local riding candidate, Mike Wallace:
“During the first two months of the 2008-09 fiscal year, there was a minor budgetary deficit of $500 million. This was based on the release of program spending monies and revenue. The results for just two months of a fiscal year are not representative of the year as a whole.
Monthly deficits are not irregular and have happened many times in the past (ex. March 2005- $9.5 billion; March 2004- $1.2 billion; July 2003- $1.1 billion).
Since then, there has been revenue growth and spending has moderated. We expect to run a modest surplus in 2008-09.”
So, apparently, the residents of Burlington have been victimized by the sort of half-truths we have come to expect from the Stéphane Dion-led Liberal campaign. Ms. Torsney did not in any way qualify her statement, but said flatly, “…the fact he's [Stephen Harper] starting to run deficits.”
I prefer Mike Wallace’s straight-talk response.
Getting caught up in the financial meltdown, the unprecedented bidding war for our votes and in the mock outrage being expressed by the mass media and opposition politicians and supporters over the Ritz “affair”, I didn’t blog on this story yesterday.
Apparently, there is a draft for a new “deep economic integration” trade deal between Canada and the European Union. For many of us, this is the sort of counter-balance to our over-dependence on the US economy and the resulting threat to Canadian sovereignty that we have long hoped our government would pursue. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
The draft text has not been made public, but we can speculate that any agreement we negotiate with the EU will be not quite as broad-based as that between the current EU members. Presumably, we would have some sort of “associate” status whereby we would be joining the EU as a North American moon to their European sun. Canada as a conduit between the world’s two greatest free trade unions provides a seductive image. There will no doubt be some sacrifices to make, but they should be worth it.
“Free trade has lifted the fortunes of nations around the world — including Canada, which has benefitted greatly under NAFTA and the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement before it. There is no reason that a free trade agreement with Europe would not also be beneficial. We urge our government to do everything in its power to make it reality.” — National Post
I second the encouragement expressed by the National Post.
This provides another good reason to return Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to Ottawa to manage this life-changing opportunity through to a final agreement. The Liberals do not have the heart for bold actions (remember how they railed against the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement), they never have and never will. These really tough decisions must be left to the Tories.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
CBCNEWS.ca on September 18, 2008 reported that a new poll:
“…puts the Tories at 34 per cent support among decided voters. The Bloc is next at 32 per cent and the Liberals at 20 per cent. The NDP is pegged at nine per cent with the Green Party trailing the pack at four per cent. There is still a strong undecided factor at 14 per cent.”
Even if you don't agree/believe in polls, these positive results do act as a pick-me-up for us Stephen Harper Tories.
The Globe and Mail today reported that Ontario MPP, Bill Murdoch was expelled from the Queen’s Park Progressive Conservative caucus.
“Mr. Murdoch had said it was time for [PC party leader] Tory to consider taking another job, and refused to back down after being suspended from the caucus last week,” according to the Globe and Mail.
Can't have members of caucus openly criticizing the leader, I suppose.
By the way, is John Tory ever going to seek re-election to the House? Hasn’t it been nearly a full year since the last election. I know Mr. Tory has a hard time making up his mind, but, gee wiz, when is enough enough?
Is the Stephen Harper government running a deficit? Liberal Party candidate, Paddy Torsney, claims it is. I don’t believe her, do you?
The Burlington Post (Sep 17, 2008) quotes Torsney in this report:
“People really don't like Harper,” she said, adding people are looking less at strategic voting to keep a certain party out of office. “They're concerned about the fact he's starting to run deficits.” [Emphasis mine]
I hope someone with access to official statistics will read this and challenge the statement.
Jack Layton has bid $1 billion for seniors’ vote…do I hear $2 billion from Stéphane Dion?
Today, according to Canadian Press:
Layton says a NDP government would provide funding to allow 100,000 more seniors to be cared for in their homes instead of institutions. The program would cost $250 million in the first year and grow to $1 billion by Year 4.
Wow, their proposed carbon tax windfall will be used up in no time. Can you afford all this—I know I can’t.
The Globe and Mail reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is standing by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
Good for Mr. Harper!
Liberals and their supporters are still stirring the pot, desperate to swing election momentum their way, and the MSM is doing everything it can to help. Controversy sells, even trumped up ones.
Here we go again: the opposition throws chum in the water, and the media go into a feeding frenzy.
This time the “chum” is an abortive attempt at humour by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
“This is like a death by a thousand cuts—or should I say cold cuts,” Ritz said.
And when told about a new death in Prince Edward Island: “Please tell me it's (Liberal agriculture critic) Wayne Easter.”
Ritz was attempting to joke about the recent listeriosis outbreak linked to processed meats that has killed 17 people. Were his remarks silly and tasteless? Sure they were, and Ritz has said as much. And he has apologized.
So enough already. Let's move on.
By the way, folks, he made his remarks during an August 30 conference. Where have the political correctness police been for the past couple of weeks? Dereliction of duty, no doubt about it. Billions of dollars of investments are being lost, the world’s strongest economies are reeling in shock and the US financial infrastructure is in peril, and Canadian Press wastes it's time on a manufactured controversy they claim is “…swirling around his [Harper’s] agriculture minister.”Read all about it… Bah, humbug.
A couple of days ago, we heard from the opposition parties, and especially Stéphane Dion, that the surplus is gone and the budget is perilously close to slipping into deficit. They also complained that the Tories have been too generous by handing money back to Canadians, and accused Stephen Harper of irresponsibility in failing to adequately prepare for an economic downturn.
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, the same opposition leaders were on the campaign trail making multibillion dollar announcements.
The prime minister called their bidding war “mind boggling.”
“If you look at the tens of billions of dollars of announcements they are making, the only way these can be financed are not simply through big increases in taxes that they are already promising, but it would mean deficits—and large deficits,” Mr. Harper said. “We will not go into deficit. That’s the underpinning, the central plank of our policy of fiscal responsibility.”
Mind boggling in deed. If it wasn't a fact that Liberals are known for not keeping campaign promises and that it’s a several million to one bet that Jack Layton will ever get the chance to keep his, I’d be scared to death for the future of our Canada.