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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Layton obfuscates over bawdy house incident

How about that! Federal NDP leader, “Jack Layton was found laying naked on a bed by Toronto Police at a suspected Chinatown bawdy house in 1996, a retired Toronto police officer told the Toronto Sun.” And how does Layton FileJack Layton-cr bl respond, does he express any regret at all? No, he charges that he’s being “smeared,” the standard sort obfuscation we’ve come to expect from politicians.

According to the Sun’s story:

“The officer’s [at the scene] notebook indicates he asked the suspected john [Layton]: ‘Did you receive any sexual services?’

“He [Layton] replied: ‘No sir, I was just getting a shiatsu.’

“The cop: ‘Why did you [Layton] have all your clothes off’?”

A good question.

This incident occurred over 15 years ago, so why is the general public only now finding out about it? Where was the Toronto Star back then? Apparently, Layton was cautioned by police and released without being charged. “He came on a bicycle. I escorted him down and he went away on his bike,” a retired Toronto police officer told the Toronto Sun.

But is that reason enough not to print the story?

As a high-profile Toronto city councillor who sat on that city’s budget committee, Jack Layton had sufficient influence over the police budget, that most journalists, if they heard he was amongst “johns” found in a police raid and had been released, would certainly have covered the story. But only police and media insiders seem to know about it. Voters were left in the dark.

And does Jack Layton not feel some shame, some regret over the police finding him naked in a bawdy house? Apparently not.

I wish the first reflex of many politicians is not to deny responsibility for their questionable actions and judgment and claim they’re victims.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Despite NDP “Orange Crush,” Tories will win on Monday

The “Orange Crush” notwithstanding, I continue to believe Stephen Harper will emerge as prime minister after May 2 and will remain so for, at least, a couple of years. I’ll even go so far as to predict a slim majority for the Tories, though, I’m less confident in that happy eventuality than I was a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s how I see the race ending.

In the Atlantic provinces, Conservatives will hold their own and probably pick up a few seats. Tories are the frontrunners, and I think the NDP has peaked in that region.

Tories have not been a force in Quebec since Brian Mulroney was our leader, so an NDP resurgence has to be at the expense primarily of the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals. And, while the Bloc vote may continue to bleed away on the weekend, some of those voters will inevitably go to the Liberals and to the Conservatives, as saner heads take a more critical look at the socialists and their weak slate of candidates in Quebec.

In Ontario, memories still linger of an NDP government that was a disaster. Look for some NDP and Green support to float back to the Liberals, and for vote-splitting on the left to benefit the Conservatives.

Nanos Research has Tory support surging in the Prairies and NDP support falling—Grits are not a factor—and I believe this trend will continue through the weekend. Fortress West is rising up to show their true blue colours—they’ll have no truck or trade with the socialists.

The Conservatives are holding fast in British Columbia, frontrunners in a tight race. They stand at over 40 per cent in the Nanos poll and should also benefit from vote-splitting on the left. Liberals are bleeding to the left and right and the Orange Crush seems to have stalled.

So, on May 3, Canadians will awake to a slim Tory majority or a strong Tory minority. The surging Dippers and the crippled—probably leaderless, possibly mortally wounded—Grits will need support from the thoroughly mauled and battered Bloc Québécois to take and hold power, should “majority” elude PM Harper once more.

Will the Bloc support an NDP-led coalition of the losers, or will they hunker down with the Conservatives, the devils they know? Supporting the NDP may be bad for the Bloc’s political health as it may cause more of their base to use the orange door.

As to the Liberals, will they join the New Democrats to take power from a minority Conservative government so they can participate as the NDP’s junior partners? How would that be seen by the Liberal base, especially since that NDP-Liberal government will also need the support of the Bloc? Liberals are likely to be left with Toronto as their only stronghold, and the Toronto Liberal establishment remembers the havoc a neophyte New Democrat government can wreak. No, better to back off and try to retrench and rebuild under a new leader, than to completely destroy the Liberal brand.

The NDP could find itself without either a Bloc or a Liberal partner—or both—with which to form a governing coalition. And, assuming about 70 NDP seats, would the New Democrats have the moral authority to govern on a vote to vote basis? I’m not at all sure the governor general would turn power over to a party with less than 100 seats without that party being guaranteed a majority for, at least, 18 months.

I agree with David Frum, who today writes in the National Post, “The Liberal back bench will have to prefer a Conservative government supported by Liberal votes to a subordinated Liberal role in an NDP government.”

So here’s my prediction for seats (subject to change without notice): 150 Conservatives, 69 NDP, 62 Liberals, 25 BQ, 1 Green and 1 independent (small “c”conservative in Quebec).

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Who will champion for our right to free expression?

Now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said a re-elected Conservative government would make defending religious freedoms a “priority” for Canadian foreign policy, perhaps he can turn his attention to freedom of speech/expression here at home.

I want, in fact, all party leaders to express their views on this pillar of our democracy, and tell us where they stand vis-à-vis human rights commissions and related tribunals at both the federal and provincial levels. I especially would like to hear whether party leaders believe Section 13 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) should stand as is.

Section 13 (1) of CHRA says in part that:

It is a discriminatory practice … to communicate … any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.

I believe the original purpose of Section 13 (1) was to overcome discrimination; not to censor speech. That was then, but despite best intentions, it now seems that Section 13 (1) is being used by minority groups and human rights agencies to control the expression of opinion and emotion. Apparently, and bizarrely so, truth is not a defence to a complaint under Section 13 (1) of the CHRA, even though such defenses are available in tort actions. The rationale is that the prohibition on discrimination is concerned with adverse effects, not with intent.

Keith Martin, the retiring Liberal Party member of parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca introduced a private member’s motion, M-446, to delete Section 13 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Unfortunately, no political party took up M-446 and it languished without a vote.

The damage being done to our democracy would seem to be obvious to anyone reading our newspapers:

There was the widely publicized 2006 case of Ezra Levant publishing the infamous “Danish Cartoons” in his Western Standard magazine, over which Levant had a lengthy battle with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. Then there was the 2007 Mark Steyn/Maclean’s case involving human rights complaints from the Canadian Islamic Congress about an article written by Mark Steyn and published in Maclean's magazine.

These two cases, probably more than any other, served to alert us to the clear and present danger faced by our basic rights and freedoms.

There have been several other cases of Canadians being called to account for things they have written that did little more than insult some person or group. Most recently, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal awarded a woman more than $22,000 after she complained that she was verbally harassed at an open-mic comedy show in Vancouver.

Canadians have sought to have this issue championed in parliament. Will election 41 produce such a champion?

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How will Canada fare under an anti-corporation NDP government?

The New Democrats are anti-corporation, it’s that simple. Two of their top platform priorities support this conclusion: raising corporate taxes to 19 per  cent and doubling employers’ CPP contributions—it’d be the highest payroll tax hike FileJack Layton-cr blin Canadian history. Plus, I believe Jack Layton’s emergence as leader or deputy leader of a left-wing coalition will signal an end to our free-trade agreements with our North American partners, and to the promise of a similar agreement with the European community.

Countries world-wide are signing free-trade agreements and the like; we’d be scrapping ours—the NDP have been against them since forever.

We can also expect cap and trade and similar carbon tax schemes in the neighbourhood (to start) of $22-billion to quickly emerge—they have a multi-billion dollar shortfall for their social programs and will tax everything in sight to pay for it. While we’re at it, expect the 2 per cent to be added back to GST—that’s too much money to ignore, and they’ve campaigned too hard against the Tory’s lowering of the tax to let the 2 per cent reduction stand.

As to the NDP promise to lower the small business tax rate, forget it.

Once it has been pointed out to them that tens of thousands of businessmen and professionals—some with a net worth of millions—will benefit personally from the lower rate, the party’s base will be up in arms and they’ll weasel their way out of that promise.

Ontario residents will remember the, now infamous, Bob Rae-NDP promise to introduce public auto insurance in the 1987 and 1990 campaigns. After assuming office, they realized that thousands of, mainly women, workers would lose their jobs, and Rae’s NDP government backtracked from the promise. They’ll backtrack on their small business tax reduction promise just as quickly.

As to the NDP’s proposed “job-creation tax credit” of up to $4,500 for each new employee that a business hires, forget that too. With no carbon tax/cap and trade infrastructure to generate new revenues for social initiatives, can anyone really see a labour party offering tax credits to businesses? They’ll claim they can’t afford it “at this time” (they really can’t) and delay it… indefinitely.

There’re just no silver linings in an NDP surge to power, folks.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Liberal election campaign causes Chantal Hébert’s stomach to churn

Ignatieff and Chrétien

The popular columnist, Chantal Hébert, writing for the Toronto Star says, “To follow the 2011 Liberal election campaign has been like watching a plane crash in slow motion.” She, like myself and so many others, are bewildered that Michael Ignatieff and his strategists deliberately chose the timing of the election, and brought this debacle upon themselves—clearly and un-forced error on their part.

Ms. Hébert writes, “Michael Ignatieff and his strategists chose the timing of this battle as long as six months ago.” And according to her, “Even from the sidelines, it [Liberal election campaign] has become a stomach-churning experience.”

I’ve seen classic miscalculations by politicians in the past—do you recall David Peterson’s snap election in Ontario, less than three years into his mandate—but Ignatieff forcing this election has the potential to be a Canadian political party leader’s greatest mistake.

And, apparently, Mr. Ignatieff still has not learned.

In a last-minute effort to salvage some degree of respectability for his legacy, he’s turned to former prime ministers, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. Ignatieff wasn’t in Canada during their terms in office, so perhaps he can be forgiven not knowing Chrétien and Martin were not nearly as popular with Canadian voters as he thinks.

In 1997, Chrétien barely won a majority with only 38.4 per cent of the popular vote and almost lost his own seat—and depended on the divided-right to win that and his last majority in 2000. As to Paul Martin, he did even worse in 2004 when he won just 36.7 per cent of the popular vote and lost the Liberal majority, ending up with only 135 seats.

But I suppose, to Liberals, Chrétien and Martin are heroes, notwithstanding their party’s involvement—during their term as leader and finance minister respectively—in the most egregious money scandal in Canadian political history. To most Canadians, “AdScam” remains a dirty word that defines the worst in Canadian politics.

But the Grits are forgiving souls. Remember Beryl Wajsman? He was one of 10 people “banned for life” by Paul Martin for being linked to the sponsorship scandal. By 2009, Maclean’s was reporting that Wajsman was, apparently, forgiven and was once again in the Liberal party. Wow, 2005 to 2009, must be the shortest lifetime ban in history!

Wajsman is so thoroughly forgiven, he has even consulted on policy issues and speechwriting for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. According to the Maclean’s story:

“He’s [Wajsman] an influential guy, and has been very helpful in re-cementing some of those old ties, within the Montreal Jewish community but also with labour and community leaders. He is one of many organizers and opinion influencers who Michael [Ignatieff] has successfully wooed back and is helping get it back together.”

But I digress.

Throughout this election campaign, media pundits at CBC and CTV and in Toronto newspapers have gone to great lengths to tell us how well the Liberal leader has been doing. Chantal Hébert—even as she endures her self-described “stomach-churning experience” watching the Liberal campaign—tells us:

“His [Ignatieff’s] campaign has been a model of discipline and relative grace under duress.” and that Ignatieff “has turned out to be at least twice the campaigner that his predecessor [Stéphane Dion] was.”

This is the kind of cheerleading from the mainstream media I find so offensive. You hear this sort of praise for Ignatieff’s election effort repeatedly on the news networks. But it flies in the face of the polls. How can a campaign be well run if it doesn’t resonate with voters—this has to be some sort of oxymoron. Simply put, if a campaign fails to meet its objectives, surely it cannot be termed a well run campaign.

The Liberal campaign run by Michael Ignatieff is looking more and more like an unmitigated disaster, with no highpoints at all. As Hébert aptly puts it, “They [Liberals] approached the election with the mindset of a governing party but the physique of a third party.”

To conclude, I leave you with these warm words from Chantal Hébert, “For the Liberals, things could still get worse.”

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Globe and Mail gives PM Harper hat trick endorsement

For the third federal general election in a row, the usual Liberal-leaning Globe and Mail newspaper has endorsed Stephen Harper, writing in an editorial he and the Conservatives are best positioned to guide Canada “into a fresh period of innovation, government reform and global ambition.”

Of Jack Layton, the Globe says:

“Jack Layton … has succeeded in putting a benign gloss on his party’s free-spending policies, but those policies remain unrealistic and unaffordable, at a time when the country needs to better manage public spending, not inflate it. He has shown that a federalist party can make serious inroads in Quebec, but it has come at the cost of an unwelcome promise to impose provisions of Quebec’s language law in federal workplaces.”

And they offer this reluctant admission:

“The Liberal Party’s Michael Ignatieff has been an honourable opposition leader; he has risen above the personal attacks launched by the Conservatives, he has stood up for Parliament, and he has fought hard in this election. But his campaign failed to show how the Conservative government has failed, and why he and the Liberals are a preferred alternative.”

And with that goes Michael Ignatieff’s most influential supporter among national newspapers and the national media in general.

Of the Conservatives, the Globe points out in its editorial:

“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.”

Nicely done, Mr. Harper. Finally, the Globe and Mail admits you’ve done a good job. From commentary of their columnists on television, on the Globe’s website and in the newspaper itself, one would never believe the prime minister was even human, and certainly not Canada’s best bet in this election. But the endorsement seems sincere enough, so good on the Globe for that.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Michael Ignatieff, hubris is thy name

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff (L) listens to a question while speaking to journalists with Member of Parliament Bob Rae following a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 9, 2010.       REUTERS/Chris Wattie       (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)

The Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff takes a back seat to no one when it comes to tooting his own horn. He really is quite shameless at it. Here we have the  Grits heading for a, perhaps unprecedented, shellacking on May 2—they may even emerge in third or fourth place on May 3. But Michael sees it all quite differently.

Ignatieff told reporters in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario:

“It’s very clear to me is that what is happening in the country is that two-thirds of the country wants to get rid of Stephen Harper and so we will await the result of the people.”

Say what?

Is it not much more likely that more than three quarters of the country want to get rid of Michael Ignatieff? His party is loosing in every region of the country. Only small islands of support remain. They’ll almost certainly be shut out in whole provinces, retaining substantial support in downtown Toronto and Montreal only. Can’t he see that this is a massive repudiation of what he’s offering the Canadian people?

Apparently not.

According to this report, “Michael Ignatieff insists he is still in the race and believes Canadians will elect his party to form the government on Monday. But if they don’t, he suggested Wednesday that he hasn’t shut the door on leading an effort to unite the country’s centre-left.”

Forget coalition, folks, the guy’s going for merger.

Ignatieff reportedly told reporters Wednesday that he sees common sets of values between both parties. He said:

“We have certain values that we have always shared and we’ve shared for 60 years.

“We share objectives with the NDP…”

Wow, Warren Kinsella was right after all. He said they were talking merger months ago. Senior Liberals even slagged him off for saying so.

But what in the world could Ignatieff be thinking of when he suggested he’d be leading an effort to unite the country’s centre-left. Leading? Really? No one’s going through your red door, Michael!

Jack Layton is the one who’ll be leading the left on May 2, not Ignatieff. He’ll be too busy scrambling to save his political skin and that of a few big-name Liberals in Toronto.

Ignatieff will be lucky to be Leading the Liberal Party three months from now, never mind leading an effort to unite the country’s centre-left.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Pylons in the House of Commons?

What’s next? I’ve read that there are several federal ridings that could very well be won by “pylons.” You know, the token candidates-in-name-only that political parties put into election campaigns so they can be represented in all ridings, even when they have little or no expectation of making a decent showing on election day.

Parties, except the Bloc, are understandably keen to be seen as being “national,” and to that end run “pylons” in seats for which they have no expectations. These pylons are simply placeholders who provide a name on a ballot. Sometimes they live outside—sometimes a long way from—the riding and many don’t even bother to show up at all-candidate meetings, debates or any other election-related activities. But watch out, Quebec voters, you’re likely to be sending several of these candidates-in-name-only to Ottawa to represent you after May 2.

But do the sort of Quebec voters who will choose the NDP even care? Perhaps they see representation in Ottawa as a waste of time? It seems the New Democrats are counting on this. They expect Quebec voters will vote NDP-Jack Layton candidate-sight-unseen.

In some cases, we have only the word of the NDP organizers that these people even exist. How does one account, for example, for the fact that reporters have not been able to contact directly the NDP candidates for Berthier-Maskinongé, Bas-Richelieu–Nicolet–Bécancour and St-Maurice-Champlain ridings?

Some may be real people, but are they the sort of people the average Canadian wants in their House of Commons?

Consider the Quebec federal riding of Pontiac (formerly known as Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle). Incumbent Tory MP Lawrence Cannon is running against New Democrat Mathieu Ravignat. Mr. Ravignat is only too real, having run for the Communist Party in 1997. Birds of a feather, I guess.

Alexandre Boulerice, the NDP candidate in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, is a member of the left-wing separatist party Quebec Solidaire. Curious that he chose the NDP over the Bloc.

Some, apparently, are not hard workers or committed to careers in Ottawa. For instance, the NDP’s candidate for the Quebec riding of Berthier-Maskinonge, Ruth Ellen Brosseau is vacationing in Las Vegas. Jim Koppens in Ajax-Pickering was in the Dominican Republic earlier in the campaign. See a pattern here?

I guess the NDP philosophy must be: if it’s not illegal it’s permissible, and to hell with the dignity of the House of Commons.

Now, who should be found in contempt of parliament?

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Ontario’s other general election

With the federal general election careening towards an exciting close, I sometimes loose sight of the fact we’re well into an another election year here in Ontario, with only a little more than five months to election day. For many Ontario ridings, as soon as the federal scene is settled, nomination meetings will be held and candidates will enter the pre-campaign phase of their contest for a seat at Queen’s Park. This is no less true here in Burlington, Ontario.

The Burlington provincial seat, in one form or another, has been held by the PC party since 1943, and any strong PC candidate should be the odds-on favourite to win the seat on October 6, notwithstanding the obvious changes in Burlington’s demographics.

At this point, we are waiting to see who will replace the retiring PC MPP, Joyce Savoline, and join Tim Hudak’s team. He/she will have big boots to fill for this riding has had some excellent representation, including that by Cam Jackson, who was elected in 1985 as Burlington’s PC MPP and served for six terms. Cam was well known for his hard work and for being an advocate for seniors and a champion for victim’s rights, including the protection of women and children from violence. Big boots indeed.

A potential candidate, Brad Reaume, senior adviser to Halton Progressive Conservative MPP Ted Chudleigh, has withdrawn his name from the nomination. Mr. Reaume contested Ms. Savoline’s by-election nomination in 2007. He made a well-received speech at that nomination meeting, and some Burlington PC Riding Association members are disappointed and expressed concern he may have been pressured to withdraw by those who oversee candidate selection/approval. I sent an e-mail to Mr. Reaume some time ago asking for his comments, but never received a reply.

Rene Papin
Rene Papin

That leaves only two official candidates for the PC nomination, at least, as far as I know.

René Papin, a former president of the Burlington PC Riding Association is running. A Benefit Consultant/Sale Executive at Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers Ltd, Mr. Papin’s family has lived in Burlington since the 1960s so his roots go deep in the community. I gave my positive views of Mr. Papin in and earlier article, so won’t repeat myself here.

The second, and only, known candidate is local lawyer Brian Heagle, a former Burlington citizen of the year. You can read my views of Mr. Heagle, here, so suffice it to say I was impressed with the man after meeting him over a cup of coffee and chatting for about two hours.


Brian Heagle

I’m surprised that only two candidates have emerged, I expected three or more, but as I expressed earlier, these two candidates seem very able, which augurs well for the recovery of the political health of the conservative cause in Burlington. Progressive on the social side; conservative on the fiscal side—both sound a lot like Bill Davis’s Progressive Conservatives.

I don’t usually cover gossip here, but misleading information can be quite harmful to a candidate’s cause, so I decided to write about it.

My wife reported a recent conversation attributed to a prominent Burlington PC. Bemoaning the lack of choice for the nomination, she complained there’s no one to vote for. She elaborated by saying that she would not consider Brian Heagle because he was once the president of the Liberal riding association. I knew Mr. Heagle had entertained the idea of running for the Liberals in a past election, and I assumed he had probably been a member of that party—but its president? I didn’t think so, but decided to check.

So I e-mailed Mr. Heagle and asked the following:

“There is a rumor I picked up today that you were once the president of a Liberal riding association.”

Mr. Heagle’s response was an unequivocal: “No, I have never been the President of a Liberal riding association.” Couldn’t be clearer than that.

Back in the 1960’s and very early 1970s, I myself voted Liberal a number of times and was briefly a member of the federal Liberal Party—I was even pleased to vote for Pierre Elliott Trudeau (just once, I’m not that stupid). So I understand what it’s like for a young man to explore the available political options. Such explorations, of themselves, should not disqualify anyone from representing the party of his choice and be considered a real conservative or PC. In my view Mr. Heagle is both.

Here’s how Mr. Heagle so aptly put it:

“To be clearer, I have voted for and supported conservatives and been a member of conservative parties … at both the Federal and Provincial levels for virtually my entire adult life.  A few years ago, I was approached and swayed like many others to look at the Provincial Liberals. … 

“They seemed to embrace a lot of my own principles and values.  However, the operative word is “seemed”.  I eventually realized the alignment was definitely not there.  Life is rarely about following a perfectly straight path.  It is about constant learning along the journey, especially when you take a wrong turn!  I learned a lot.  As a result, my commitment to and appreciation of the PCs has grown much, much stronger.”

Sounds pretty convincing to me. Now, let’s go get Dalton McGuinty and his band of rascals.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is the NDP no longer a party that believes in a centralized Canada?

It seems to me that the New Democrats, and especially while under the leadership of Jack Layton, have favoured centralization of power in Ottawa. When did they change to now favour provincial rights? The NDP has always been for a strong central government with provinces expected to toe the line drawn by Ottawa.

What’s that, they haven’t changed and still believe Ottawa’s power should outweigh the power of the provinces? Then why are they are doing so well in Quebec, the most decentralized of our ten provinces?

Simply put: for the sake of political expediency, the New Democrats are pretending to believe in more autonomy for Quebec.

The thrust of social democratic thought in Canada has always been towards national programs, with all provinces expected to adhere to guidelines developed, published and enforced by Ottawa. The social program with which New Democrats most closely identify is the Canada Health Act (CHA), federal legislation in which criteria and conditions are specified that must be satisfied by the provincial and territorial health care plans in order for them to qualify for their full share of the federal cash.

Here’s a quote from the NDP platform:

“The New Democrat plan is focused on improving your health services, rewarding the job creators, strengthening your pension, and making your life a little more affordable.”

Both health services and pensions are provincial responsibilities, but these are the highest priorities of the federal New Democrats. And I’m not surprised.

Here’s what The Montreal Gazette had to say earlier this month:

“… the election platform that [NDP leader Jack] Layton, a native of the Montreal suburb of Hudson, unveiled Sunday shows that the NDP is still very much a party with an inherent instinct to centralize power and trample on provincial jurisdictions, something that could cause real conflict with Quebec if the party were to take power.”

Hmm.

The NDP shows its lack of care for provincial jurisdiction by saying it would create a federal post-secondary education act that would provide funding for post-secondary education, provided the provinces agree to a tuition freeze and in some cases a tuition rollback. There are other examples in the NDP platform of encroachment on provincial jurisdiction, such as: their promises to hire more doctors, nurses and police officers, and to create more daycare spaces.

As the NDP undergo more scrutiny in the days ahead, perhaps Quebec voters will become more leery of a political party and its leader who are not always who they say they are.

Sniff, sniff … do I smell a hidden agenda?

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Over-taxed Canadian voters rushing to vote for tax-and-spend socialists

The strangest of contradictions often occur during general elections. In this election, for example, we see already over-taxed Canadian voters rushing to vote for Jack Layton’s New Democrats, Canada’s champions the tax-and-spend principle of good government.FileJack Layton-cr bl

On the same day that I read that an EKOS poll is predicting 100 seats for the NDP on May 2, the Fraser Institute publishes a new study by senior economist Milagros Palacios and Niels Veldhuis, director of Budget and Tax Policy, which concludes, “Taxes have grown over the past 49 years to the point that government is now the largest expenditure facing a family.” And what are the NDP promising Canadians? More taxes, including a brand new carbon tax scheme that’ll add to the cost of virtually everything we buy in the country.

The Fraser Institute publishes the Canadian Consumer Tax Index, which tracks the total tax bill of the average Canadian family from 1961 to 2010, shows the “total tax bill of the average Canadian family, including all types of taxes, has increased by 1,686 per cent since 1961.” In fact, taxes “have grown much more rapidly than any other single expenditure for the average Canadian family. In contrast to the increase in taxes, expenditures on shelter increased by 1,175 percent, food by 498 percent, and clothing by 510 percent from 1961 to 2010,” according to the index.

The results of the Fraser Institute study does beg the question: why would Canadians choose to pay even more taxes?

Not even the Dippers themselves know just how much more of our taxes they’ll need to cover their billions of dollars worth of campaign promises. Jack Layton claims his platform has been “fully-costed” and signed off by an economist. Be that as it may, mere days following the release of the platform, analysts have forced the NDP to concede they might not be able to pay for $3.6 billion worth of green spending initiatives. And billions more of spending by the NDP seem not to be covered by future federal revenue unless taxes are increased even more.

I believe the New Democrats have been hoisted with their own petard. No one—least of all Layton and his team—believed the Dippers could do better than a strong third among the national parties, so they wrote their platform like a huge wish list to give themselves lots of talking points, knowing it was unlikely to attract much serious scrutiny—it never has in the past.

Suddenly, though, all eyes are on Jack Layton and his platform. Oh, oh!

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Liberal campaign: desperation ads and dirty tricks at the door

With the Conservatives at or on the edge of a majority government and the New Democrats threatening to capture official opposition status from the Liberals, Michael Ignatieff and his Liberal team are showing signs of desperation.

The Tories are at 39.2 per cent nationally in the Nanos poll and at 47.8 per cent support in Ontario. It’s worth remembering that the last time there was a majority in parliament, Jean Chrétien won it (155 seats) with a mere 38.5 per cent of the popular vote. With a favourable split in the vote on May 2, Stephen Harper could very well duplicate that feat.

In a one-minute spot, called “The Loonie,” Liberals describe Stephen Harper and Jack Layton as “career politicians” and place them on two sides of a spinning coin. The ad warns that Harper will give public dollars to banks and oil companies, and predicts Layton would “jack up” taxes to pay for $70-billion in new spending. The ad also digs deep into the past to mine criticism, but stops just short of accusing these men of beating their wives.

According to the Liberal-leaning Globe and Mail, “a Liberal Party volunteer has been dismissed after removing Green Party campaign flyers from mailboxes and replacing them with Liberal materials while door-knocking with Toronto incumbent Joe Volpe [emphasis mine].” And, apparently, Orla Hegarty, Green candidate Paul Baker’s volunteer campaign manager, took photographs of the Liberal volunteer removing Green literature, and claims that Mr. Volpe also removed Green Party pamphlets from mailboxes and replaced them with Liberal materials. Unfortunately, however, she did not manage to photograph him doing so.

Desperate times demand desperate actions, or, apparently, so the Grits believe.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Ignatieff’s Grits losing grip on second place nationally

Back on April 8, I wrote that the New Democrats’ electoral hopes were “slip, slip, sliding away.” So much for my expertise as a political forecaster. A little over two weeks later, the NDP campaign surge is all over the news. FileJack Layton-cr bl According to the Nanos Nightly Tracking poll, the socialists are in a statistical tie with the Liberals for second place nationally—the Conservatives at 39.2 per cent hold a 14 point advantage over the Grits whose support has slipped to 25.6 per cent. The NDP is at 23.6 per cent. (There is a margin of error of ±2.8 per cent.)

The specter of a government that includes Jack Layton and other Dippers at the cabinet table hovers about and portends a dark era in Canadian politics. The last time Canadians were faced with a socialist government in charge of a major economy with a large population, they witnessed an unmitigated disaster. I speak, of course, of Bob Rae’s NDP government in Ontario during those dark days of the first half of the 1990s.

Those in British Columbia will also remember the scandal-ridden NDP governments of the same era. BC’s NDP leader Michael Harcourt resigned in the mid 1990s over the “Bingogate” scandal, and his replacement, Glen Clark, resigned over the “Fast Ferry Scandal” and “Casino Scandal” at the end of the 1990s.

The Dippers usually get a free ride when it comes to scrutiny by the mainstream media: their outlandish campaign promises often go unchallenged. Now that they hold top spot in Quebec and second place nationally, however, they are already waffling under media pressure over campaign pledges, saying that they might not be able to pay for $3.6 billion worth of green spending promised in their platform for the first year of a new mandate. Oops!

Ontario seems to be the only province in which the NDP is not surging. The Tories have 47.8 per cent support in Ontario followed by the Grits at 29.3 per cent and the NDP at the more traditional level of 16.9 per cent—memories of the damage done to Ontario by Bob Rae’s NDP government are hard for Ontarians to forget or forgive.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Let’s address intolerance and racism, especially when it exists in the highest office in our land

The following is a re-print of an article by me that was published by Postmedia News on April 28, 2011 at Canada.com.




W
ith the Royal Wedding being showcased by Canadian media and the questioning abroad of the current system of male preference primogeniture as it applies to succession of the
QEIIthrone, one might expect to hear more of our leaders’ views on the monarchy.
The best defence I’ve heard for that institution are the arguments for the stability it provides by being above the political fray, and its place as a reminder of Canada’s British heritage. Fair enough, but how compelling are these arguments in 2011?
I contend that the monarchy must go because it embodies values that are anathema to Canadian ideals of gender equity, religious tolerance and racial equality.
Succession of the monarchy is governed by male-preference cognatic primogeniture, under which sons inherit before daughters. How can Canada, which has such built-in bias favouring males over females as our head of state, be taken seriously on the issue of gender equality.
This blatant discrimination—which it seems to me is contrary to the spirit, at least, of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms—probably passes un-noticed because Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for almost 60 years, a lifetime for many Canadians. But for how much longer will Canadians stand for its basic lack of fairness.
And regarding the Charter, does it not prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion? Yet our monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic. Our monarch is termed “defender of the [Protestant] faith.” She is required to be a member of the Church of England (Anglican) and cannot marry a Roman Catholic. The CIA website suggests less then seven per cent of Canadians are Anglicans, yet our head of state must be one.
Our head of state is also the titular head of the Church of England. “I accept Your Majesty as the sole source of ecclesiastical, spiritual and temporal power,” is the oath sworn by Church of England bishops. So much for Canada’s claim to be a secular state.
In conclusion, I consider our monarchy to be a racist institution—perhaps the most egregious form of discrimination. Our head of state must be a member of one particular white-English family, the only one with the right to superior status to which the rest of us must bow. Does our Charter really allow any particular ethnic group the right to claim superior rights? How does this inequality play among our racially diverse population?
I’m told that ordinary Canadians have more important things to worry about than who our head of state is. They are more concerned about the economy, health care, taxes, the environment, etc., I’m told.
But I say that Canadians should always have time to address systemic gender-inequality, religious intolerance and racism, especially when it exists in the highest office in our land.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ontario household budgets threatened by skyrocketing energy prices

In a say-it-ain’t-so moment yesterday, the Ontario Energy Board announced yet another increase that will cost Ontario families about $75 more per year for electricity. Didn’t Dalton McGuinty promise that his Green energy experiments would only raise hydro bills by 1 per cent? I’ve read that, under the McGuinty government, Ontario Hydro rates will have increased 84 per cent by May 1. What happened?

It seems that, every May 1st, Ontario households are being slammed with higher and higher Hydro costs. Apparently, the increases are a direct result of expensive energy experiments being sponsored by the provincial government. So much for McGuinty’s cozy deals with foreign owned multi-nationals at the expense of our home-grown emerging industry.

And, weren’t smart meters supposed to save us money? Not saving anything at my home. We have reduced usage and shifted usage to off-hours, but bills still keep going up and up. We’re retired seniors; we can’t keep affording this.

The premier promised us, in last year’s Fall Economic Update, that our bills are expected to go up 46 per cent by 2015—is this $75 increase included there, or is this an additional increase? Let’s hope it’s the former.

And what’s with that “Debt Retirement Charge” we keep paying on our Hydro bills? Shouldn’t that have been paid off by now? I understand PC leader Tim Hudak plans to look into this. High time someone did.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Gallup poll: majority of Canadians rate their lives as “thriving”

Despite the best efforts of the likes of Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe to denigrate our country and to tell us how poorly off we are under a Conservative government, 69 per cent of Canadians rated their lives as “thriving” in 2010, according to a new global wellbeing survey from Gallup. Only one other country, Denmark, rated higher at 72 per cent.

People are considered thriving if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher, and their lives in five years at an 8 or higher.

Canada ranked in a tie with Sweden and directly ahead of Australia (65%) and Finland (64%), and ahead of other English-speaking democracies like New Zealand (62%), United States(59%) and the United Kingdom (54%).

So what all this nonsense we hear from the political left in this country?

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Ignatieff eyes prime minister’s office

The intrepid Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff, appeared on CBC television yesterday and detailed how he would become prime minister, should PM coalition Stephen Harper gain only a minority government in the May 2 election and be defeated in the House of Commons.

Finally, some degree of frankness from the first among equals of the left-wing coalition.

The Grits, of course, have every right to form a government if they can gain the confidence of parliament. And especially now that their leader, for the first time, is telling Canadians during the election that his platform includes forming the government with New Democrat and/or Bloc Québécois support. So they are on sound constitutional ground, at least, as far as Mr. Ignatieff’s televised comments go. It should also be noted that Mr. Ignatieff continues to emphatically rule out any form of formal coalition with any other party, and said as much to CBC news anchor, Peter Mansbridge.

The big question though—the elephant in the room, so to speak—is, can voters trust what Mr. Ignatieff said?

We will accelerate and deepen the currently planned corporate tax cuts, reducing the general corporate tax rate by an additional one per cent within four years. That means the federal corporate tax rate in Canada will be only 14 per cent by the 2012.”

– Liberal press release,
June 19, 2008

In the 1974 election, for instance, former Liberal prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, opposed wage and price controls and reneged immediately after he had won the election.

During the 1993 election campaign, Jean Chrétien promised that he would “kill” and “abolish” the GST. Well we know how that turned out. In the same election, the Grits’ platform contained a plank that called for renegotiation of NAFTA. Fortunately for Canadians, the Liberals reneged on that promise also.

How about the Liberals signing Kyoto and never really implementing it? They claimed to be for health care, but slashed funding to the bone in the 1990s.

Since returning to Canada and entering federal politics, Mr. Ignatieff has repeatedly supported a low-tax regime for Canadian corporations. He’s quoted as saying, as recently as May 16, 2010, “We will cut corporate taxes again.”

In the 2008 election campaign, Ignatieff, Bob Rae, etc., claimed they saw the financial crisis and global recession coming—even warned PM Stephen Harper about the gathering storm. Still the Liberals ran with an election platform plank, saying in a June 19, 2008 Liberal press release:

“We will accelerate and deepen the currently planned corporate tax cuts, reducing the general corporate tax rate by an additional one per cent within four years. That means the federal corporate tax rate in Canada will be only 14 per cent by the 2012.”

It has been well reported that Mr. Ignatieff told The Glasgow Herald in 2004, “I am an American Democrat. I will vote for Kerry in November.” How truthful was that?

So I repeat, can voters trust what Mr. Ignatieff said on CBC about no formal coalition?

Consider the following scenario.

Conservatives win a minority of seats and form the government following the May 2 election. The Conservatives present their budget, which is voted down by the opposition—they have promised to do this. Michael Ignatieff is invited to form a government.

Now here’s the catch.

The Bloc and the NDP, quite rightly, don’t trust the Liberals any more than they do the Tories. Also, Jack Layton thirsts for a taste of some participation in government. He desperately wishes to wet his beak. So, since they have advocated a coalition all along, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe both balk at giving Michael Ignatieff a free ride and insist on a written agreement, and—at least for the NDP—seats at the cabinet table.

Mr. Ignatieff, solemnly looking into the television camera, claims his hand was forced and not wanting another $300-million election, yada yada yada, weasel words, weasel words, weasel words, [you all have heard them before] tells us he has been forced to accede to the NDP-Bloc demands.

Voilà! Liberal-NDP coalition with guaranteed—and paid for—support from the Bloc for two to four years. The full Monty, folks, complete with Bob Rae, Jack Layton, Thomas Mulcair, Pat Martin, et al, in Michael Ignatieff’s cabinet and Elizabeth May in the Senate.

Oh my God!

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sun News Network, the rest of the story

So now I’ve watched a full daily cycle of programming on the new Sun News Network and can give my, more informed, first impressions. I don’t have to tell regular readers that I tend to be biased to the conservative side of things, though not necessarily on the side of the Conservative Party of Canada, which I have criticized from time to time.

My overall impression is a tepid, “Well done!” No first-day gaffes that I noticed, and production values seem first rate. Generally speaking, the programs are hosted by intelligent, attractive professionals who really seem enthusiastic about their jobs. 

I have been most impressed with the night-time Byline, which is hosted by Brian Lilley. Next favourite is the Charles Adler show. The other night-time shows are fair to good. But all need to up their game if they are to compete successfully with regular network entertainment shows.

I saw Michael Coren as a guest talking about his new book Why Catholics Are Right (McClelland & Stewart)—a strong performance, by the way. I gather Coren will be on multiple nights a week. Haven’t seen Warren Kinsella or heard which program he’ll be on.

The daytime line up is very different from the CTV News channel with its boring, repetitive news cycle whereby the same news is repeated every 20 minutes with only ads to break the tedium. CBC—biases aside—does a decent job in the daytime and will be Sun News’ main Canadian competitor, I’d think. Theo Caldwell did a pretty decent job with his The Caldwell Account, though he can be a bit preachy at times.

So far, no Sun News personality seems to be proving she/he has the “it factor” or star quality I’ve seen at, say, Fox News or MSNBC. Hopefully, some will emerge in the near future as they warm up to their jobs. I’d say dropping Mercedes Stephenson was a major mistake—assuming the network had a choice in that decision. I’ve seen her elsewhere on television and she’s excellent—as good as anyone currently on Sun News, and better than some.

I also hoped for a nightly current affairs discussion show à la “The Michael Coren Show” on CTS or CBC’s “At Issue” with Andrew Coyne, Allan Gregg and Chantal Hébert. I like the idea of three or four intelligent people discussing the important issues of the day. I’d also like a better alternative to the 5:00 p.m. politics-shows offered by CBC and CTV. But, please, not just political party hacks spinning the party line like we see on those two networks.

The Sun News is worth watching, but will not be my first choice for prime-time entertainment—I’m more likely to tune in during the day.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

First impressions of Sun News Network

I watched the first two-plus hours of the new Sun News Network last afternoon and early evening, and taped the prime-time shows for viewing later today. I’d like to keep an open mind regarding this network, because I believe it has a useful role to play in Canadian news media. However, I was underwhelmed by the bit I saw.

The kick-off was fine, self-serving, of course, but well done. The next segment featured Ezra Levant on The Source. This program shows promise and I enjoyed the first half. In the second half, though, the interview with veteran Sun newspaper columnist, Peter Worthington, was like watching an infomercial with Levant tossing Worthington softball, self-serving, self-promoting questions. All a bit too stagey and contrived for me. I read Worthington’s stuff every chance I get, but this was too much of a set-up even for me.

David Akin’s Daily Brief was okay. And I mean that literally. Nothing to rave about, but no real complaints either. Could be a bit punchier, but so could most of what we see generally on network news. Question: we were promised Mercedes Stephenson as Akin’s co-host, where was she? She was missed, sorely missed. In it’s present format, this segment is a better fit for Sun’s “hard news” daytime schedule than for evening watching. Bring back Mercedes!

So it’s a cup’s half-full versus cup half-empty sort of thing.

After I’ve had the chance to view the remainder of the schedule, I’ll have more to say about our bright, shiny new network.

And did I say I missed Mercedes Stephenson?

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New poll see Tories with 12 point lead over Grits

New Democrats are soaring, but, overall, the Conservatives are the choice of 38 per cent of decided voters, according to Leger Marketing’s poll over the weekend. Tories are up one point from Leger’s last poll on April 4.

The Liberals are holding steady with 26 per cent support, unchanged from two weeks ago, but also unchanged from their level of popular support on election day in 2008. The NDP is at 22 per cent, a jump of four percentage points in the last two weeks. The Green Party has lost three percentage points and has the support of 5 per cent of voters.

Hard news straight up: Sun News Network launches today at 4:30 p.m.

I know what I’ll be doing this afternoon: watching the long-awaited Sun News Network, which hits the television airways today at 4:30 p.m. We’ll see, but I’m expecting balanced hard news and a conservative voice in editorial content—i.e., a counterbalance to the oh-so-liberal CBC News and CTV News cable networks.

Today on CBC, they reported on the lie contained in an oft-run Liberal ad. Throughout the report, the CBC commentator referred to Conservatives said this and Conservatives claimed that. The true story, of course, is the fact that the Liberals told a lie publicly, and apparently did so knowingly. It’s irrelevant that its the Conservatives who are complaining about it. All Canadians and media should be outraged and saying so.

Let’s hope the folks at Sun News understand there’s a difference and give us our hard news straight up, not biased against one side or the other. Then a conservative voice in editorial content will do just fine.

 

 

Content except video © 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Upholding Liberal ideals and glad-handing dictators

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin (L) shakes hands with Libyan Leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi (R) in his tent in a military compound in Tripoli, Libya.
Dec. 19, 2004
Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

Liberals like to criticize our Conservative government’s foreign policy and claim Prime Minister Stephen Harper is destroying democracy.

They’ve now trotted out China-booster Jean Chrétien and Muammar Gaddafi fan Paul Martin to remind Canadians of the good old days.

You remember those days, don’t you?

Chrétien and Martin slashing federal health care funding and only partially restoring it before being voted out of office. Martin praising dictator and anti-Semite Muammar Gaddafi, calling him a ‘‘philosophical man with a sense of history.’’ And, apparently, a friendship formed between the two men, as evidenced by this quote from Gaddafi, the Jew-hater and defender-protector-instigator of international terrorism:

‘‘On a personal level, we [Martin and Gaddafi] have gained a quite personal friendship. We are friends not just because he is the Prime Minister of Canada but we shall always be friends, even if he is not the Prime Minister.’’

Martin never publicly disclaimed that such friendship existed, at least, not that I can find. And how about this quote from Gaddafi in reference to his own socialist revolutionary state?

‘‘Pretty soon I expect Canada to be a jamahiriya [socialist revolutionary state].”

Perhaps that’s what current Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has in mind when he calls for Grits to “rise up!”.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Lies, damn lies and Liberal ads

Does my headline exaggerate? Decide for yourselves. A Liberal party television ad now saturating the airwaves tries to scare voters by claiming Prime Minister Stephen Harper once argued that the federal government should scrap the Canada Health Act. But hold on a moment: the claim is a lie.Ignatieff

PM Harper never spoke the words cited in the ad. And, apparently, the Liberal Party knows this since it cannot provide a source for this quote. Nor, for that matter, can the New Democrats. CBC News reports that:

“CBC had tried last week to track down the quote but wasn’t able to confirm it. The Conservatives contacted the media on Monday to announce their demand the Liberals remove the ad.”

According to the CBC, the Liberal Party attributes the quote to an August 26, 2010 Globe and Mail article with the headline: “It’s Past Time the Feds Scrapped the Canada Health Act.” And, although that line did so appear, its author, André Picard, was citing PM Harper from a 1997 statement he supposedly made while serving as vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC).

However, that the quotation belongs to NCC president David Somerville, not PM Harper. The line appeared in the June 1997 issue of Bulldog, the NCC newsletter, Conservative spokesman Mike White wrote in an email. And the Liberal Party knows it, because, as Mr. White wrote, the Liberal Party correctly attributed the comment to Mr. Somerville in the Liberals’ own 2004 essay, “Stephen Harper and the National Citizens’ Coalition,” at page 5, footnote 20.

Had Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff lived in Canada back then, he’d probably have know this. Perhaps he’ll now call on Grits to “rise up!” and condemn misleading Liberal advertising.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Layton making stunning comeback

Just a couple of week ago, I was about to write off the New Democrats as I assumed progressive voters would flock to the Liberal party to try to prevent a majority government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But the Liberal campaign has been so lame, and Michael Ignatieff’s leadership so ineffectual that Jack Layton and his party have been handed a reprieve.

Now many progressive voters are thinking “Tory majority” and they want an effective opposition—something they are unlikely to get from Michael Ignatieff. Then Jack Layton out-performs Ignatieff by a country mile in both leaders’ debates and the floodgates opened for the NDP.

And things are only likely to get worse for Ignatieff. The Nanos Research nightly tracking poll’s leadership index has the professor at 13.4 points on “Trust”, 17 points on “Competence”, 19.1 points on “Vision for Canada” and 49.5 points overall, for a poor third place behind trend-leading Stephen Harper at 105.4 points and the surging Jack Layton at 67.6 points.

Now the Liberal leader is sounding shrill and the smell of fear hangs like a pall over Liberal Party headquarters. As happy as I am over this turn of events, I can’t help feeling sorry for this poor man who has been a fish-out-of-water since he joined the rough and tumble of Canadian politics.

Ignatieff hit a real low-point the other night repeatedly screaming “rise up!” at his audience in a Howard Dean–like rant and comparing our government to a Middle East dictatorship. Didn’t work for Dean’s 2004 Democratic presidential nomination; won’t work for Ignatieff’s bid to be prime minister. If memory serves, that was the US presidential campaign in which Ignatieff told a reporter he planned to vote for Democratic hopeful, Senator John Kerry.

Ignatieff’s rant and his cheesy attack ads show the Grits are in a downward spiral. They even have the two men, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, who cut the heart out of healthcare funding back in the 1990s trying to save their bacon on the campaign trail. Of course, Ignatieff wasn’t in Canada so may not know of the anti-healthcare policy of his party back then.

Seems Canadians are rising up alright, but for Layton, not Ignatieff.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Can Grits count on Justin Trudeau to rescue them?

There are signs everywhere that the Liberal campaign is in freefall. Their attack ads have a faint odour of desperation about them, their leader Michael Ignatieff is sinking out of sight in the polls with popularity stats about on par Justin-Trudeau with his predecessor, Stéphane Dion, and he’s facing “a walloping” in Quebec, according to Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert.

So, if the Liberals should fall to defeat on May 2, what can we expect?

Well, Ignatieff will withdraw from politics. Then I believe Justin Trudeau will become the next Liberal leader—Bob Rae may contest the post, but it’s Quebec’s turn to provide the leader. NDP candidate Thomas Mulcair seems likely to defeat ex-justice minister Martin Cauchon in the riding of Outremont, putting paid to that Grit’s chances of leading the party.

With the prospect of another four years in opposition—and knowing the Liberal tradition of alternating between francophone and anglophone leaders—many of the high-profile Grits will forsake federal politics in favour of cushy jobs in the private sector and elsewhere. And, at this point in time, Trudeau seems likely to win Papineau riding. He’s, apparently, one of the few Liberals who seem assured of a seat in Quebec and, therefore, one of the few francophones with full bona fides to contest the Liberal leadership.

Son of PET, to the rescue.

Liberals concede election to Tory majority?

Have Michael Ignatieff and his campaign team conceded the election to a Tory majority? What else could account for their new attack ad accusing Prime IgnatieffMinister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives of a secret agenda to cut healthcare? The Liberal ad claims, “Harper has a risky plan to cut $11-billion from  government spending,” and implies all of these cuts will come from healthcare. “Where would Harper’s cuts leave your family’s health?” the narrator asks.

Clever, right? Remember the “big lie” favoured by dictatorship propaganda. Always include a grain of truth to make your outlandish claim seem plausible. Remember the old Liberal ad that claimed Harper would put troops on the street? Now they’re claiming Harper will ban abortions and demolish healthcare. Pathetic!

Notwithstanding the gross distortions these attacks represent, I see this trend as good news for the Tories. Good news for it—as Liberal-friendly John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail puts it—“implicitly assumes that a Conservative majority government might be in reach, a remarkable concession from the Liberals.”

The Grits have, apparently, decided to adopt a strategy of distorting, exaggerating and generally misrepresenting their opponents’ policies through attack ads, and this “Health Risk” ad kicks off that strategy. Of course, this ad and the strategy it implies make a mockery of Michael Ignatieff’s pledge to take the high road during the campaign. But is anyone surprised? Has Michael Ignatieff stuck to a single notable position since he was handed the reins of the Liberal Party? I cannot think of one.

The Liberal Party of Canada is the only federal party that I can think of that has actually cut healthcare spending: the Jean Chrétien-Paul Martin government slashed funding for healthcare in the 1990s. Later, Martin began a program to restore some of his cuts and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have honoured that commitment, and have pledged to continue the arrangement once the current accord expires.

So who should Canadians fear most when it comes to healthcare funding cuts: the Liberal party that cut healthcare in the past or the Conservative party that has never cut it?

And remember, readers, only a few short years ago, Ignatieff self-described himself as an American—even told a newspaper he planned to vote in the American presidential election—and Americans love privately funded healthcare, so perhaps he plans to scrap our publicly funded system in its entirety.

Never can tell with this rascal.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Desperate Liberals raise the abortion boogieman

The Liberals are desperate and trying to shore up support by frightening voters and implying that Conservatives will bring in anti-abortion laws—this along with a ban on gay marriage are the two scariest election outcomes, apparently, that any Canadian voter could imagine.

The Grits have dug up a decade-old student column on abortion by Heritage Minister James Moore. Apparently, he is expected to answer for his anti-abortion views expressed in that column.

According to the Globe and Mail, Mr. Moore’s student paper was:

“Dated Nov. 1, 1999 and titled ‘The flip side of abortion extremism,’ the op-ed discussed legislation in the United States that proposed to ban certain types of late-term abortions.”

It occurs to me that a majority of Canadians would agree that there be some legal restrictions on late-term abortions. However, neither Prime Minister Stephen Harper nor Mr. Moore have given any indication they intend to ban or even restrict the practice.

“Anecdotally, as an ethicist, I have been consulted in a professional capacity on two late-term abortions, both of which were carried out. One involved a 34-week gestation pregnancy, where the mother was an unmarried graduate student from a foreign country; the other a 32-week gestation pregnancy, where the married parents did not want to have a ‘defective child’—the baby had a cleft palate (a relatively minor physical deformity that can be largely corrected with surgery).”

– Margaret Somerville,
Director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law,
McGill University

As many as 80 per cent of Canadians (See Jan. 15, 2010 Angus Reid Poll) believe there already exists legal restrictions on late-term abortions and insist that such operations are banned in Canada except under extreme circumstances. Would that they were correct.

Actually, few late-term abortions are performed in Canada, but that is because most patients are sent to clinics in the United States that specialize in the procedure, and our Canadian healthcare systems foot the bill. To me, this is the moral equivalent to in-country late-term abortions, a very distressing practice.

Complicating this issue is the fact that when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s abortion law in 1988, it also removed reporting requirements making statistics hard to come by. As a result, detailed information is not available for more than half of the abortions performed.

The fact is—so far as I can tell—we have no laws whatsoever governing or limiting abortions in any way, and I’ve done research on this. Abortion is permitted at any stage of pregnancy in Canada. Whatever limitation exists is left to the conscience of medical practitioners and their codes of ethics. And, of course, there are no unethical doctors practicing in Canada. Or are there?

And what about the Liberal Party’s current caucus members who are practicing Roman Catholics. Should Canadians be afraid they’ll ban abortions because of their personal beliefs? Come to think of it, Roman Catholics aren’t too keen on the life-style of gays, so is gay marriage also in peril from a Liberal government?

As much as I personally believe our laws should address late-term abortions, I realize, as so many progressives and conservatives do, that Canadians, in general, are satisfied with the status quo on abortion and don’t want the to reopen debate on the issue. Most Canadian politicians accept this, regardless of their political stripe. If only Mr. Ignatieff had lived in Canada long enough to understand this.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Election Canada breaks their own rules

Elections Canada has rejected a Conservative Party complaint that sought to nullify student votes at the University of Guelph on the basis their event was not pre-authorized. In a statement issued Friday, Elections Canada agreed the special balloting at the university was not properly authorized, but, curiously, allowed the votes to count nevertheless.

This agency has been at war with the Conservative Party of Canada for some time now, so I’m not surprised it would break its own rules in this matter. I wonder if Election Canada would have played so fast and loose with their own regulations if such a voting scheme had been tried by, say, a fundamentalist Christian church group. I doubt it.

Typical!

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Guergis regurgitates year-old news

The latest flare-up of the dated Helena Guergis story making the rounds today tells us a lot about this election. Here we have a year-old story dominating this CBC News has obtained a letter written by a top Stephen Harper aide outlining the 'serious allegations' against Helena Guergis.  Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Pressmornings news instead of us hearing about the party platforms outlining what we should expect to happen to our country in the next few years.

I read the coverage from a number of media sites and have learned nothing new—all this stuff has been revealed previously and covered by the media. Today a CBC.ca headline reads: “‘Serious allegations’ against Guergis revealed.” And the “story” starts:

“CBC News has learned that the ‘serious allegations’ Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to last year in connection with former Conservative MP Helena Guergis included unsubstantiated claims of fraud, extortion and involvement with prostitutes.”

Big deal! Does anyone who cares about such things not already know this? The story goes on to tell us:

“[Prime Minister] Harper has never explained what the allegations were against Guergis, who was later cleared by the RCMP of any wrongdoing. The Ontario MP, who was ousted from cabinet, caucus and the party in April 2010, also has claimed she was never personally told what the allegations were, something the Tories deny.”

Do the folks at CBC News not know that the prime minister can fire cabinet ministers whenever he wishes and does not owe anyone an explanation for doing so? As to the opposition parties, they’re just hypocrites. A year ago, the opposition was calling on the prime minister to can Ms. Guergis over an incident at the Charlottetown airport, and now they are defending her? Really.

Most journalists, including those at the CBC, are well aware that Ms. Guergis has had staff problems and has not been well liked in the Tory caucus for some time. Add her hissy fit at the Charlottetown Airport last year and the scandal caused by her husband, former MP Rahim Jaffer, and one can quite understand why Ms. Guergis has become persona non grata.

Ms. Guergis is fighting for her seat in Simcoe-Grey against a popular Tory opponent and desperately needs to get her name in the news. And since this has the potential to harm the Tory campaign, media outlets like the CBC are only too happy to oblige.

That’s what this story all about.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Nanos shows Harper at record high on competence and vision

The Nanos Research group’s day 19 of its nightly tracking poll reports Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a highest-ever 122.8 on the Leadership Index that measures each leader’s trustworthiness, competence and vision. What a contrast: PM Harper’s at 122.8 whilst Jack Layton is a very poor second at 57.3 and the hapless leader of the Grits, Michael Ignatieff, is at 52.7—all this after the leaders’ debates in both languages.

PM Harper’s index score on “trust” is up a bit more than 5 points, on “competence” he’s up just under 13 points and on “vision for Canada” he’s up almost 10 points.

Based on these numbers, the Conservatives seem the clear choice for most Canadians who live outside Quebec. In Quebec, Jack Layton seems to be the strongest of federalist leaders, but in the rest of Canada he’s a distant also-ran. Why Quebec chooses to give the separatist party and the least-likely-to-win federalist party the majority of their votes is a mystery to me.

I’d have thought Quebecers would want strong representation in a Tory and/or Liberal cabinet, but they choose to be on the outside looking in. Pity.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ignatieff reinforces he’s not a Canada-first kind of guy

In typical Michael Ignatieff fashion, the chief Grit tells voters in Quebec that he really doesn’t care if they do not owe their loyalties first to Canada. He told a largely-Quebec audience in last night’s French-language debate [here I’m quoting Ignatieff from a piece in the National Post by Graeme Hamilton], “you can be a Quebecer or a Canadian in the order you prefer.”

Many like the National Post’s Kelly McParland finds fault with this sort of sentiment, and so do I. But Ignatieff wouldn’t understand that: he’s an international-man who has voted in a British election and once claimed (however falsely) that he planned to vote in an American election. Ignatieff’s probably voted more times in a foreign country than he has in Canada.

A person, who’s spent as much of his adult life abroad as Ignatieff has, cannot be expected to have the same gut feeling for Canada as we do. For most of us, it’s Canada first, last and always; it’s Canada right or wrong.

Yes, there are those Canadians who find patriotism old fashioned and there are Canadians whose first loyalty lies elsewhere, but, for the most part, Canadians put their country before their region or non-Canadian/international affiliations, and strongly believe their leaders should also feel the same way. Many Canadians were not at all happy that the previous Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion, held French citizenship while running to be our prime minister.

Canadians may not show their patriotism quite so openly as, say, Americans, but nevertheless they feel every bit as deeply about Canada. Look around during the playing of the national anthem at a hockey game against another country and you’ll see what I mean. Or sit in a bar and watch a Canada-against-any-other-country game of any kind and you’ll see what I mean. Ask one of our many soldiers from Quebec who they fight for, and they’ll tell you what I mean.

Had Ignatieff been around all those years, he’d know this.

 

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

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