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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vancouver MP Libby Davies tries to slip one past her leader

The deputy leader of the New Democrats, Vancouver MP Libby Davies has joined former Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla [shudder] in calling for the elimination or reduction of the 10-year Canadian residency requirement for newcomers to qualify for old age pension benefits. This, apparently, is among the several motions Davies tabled in the House of Commons in June.

NDP MP Libby Davies
MP Libby Davies
© House of Commons

Had a motion of this nature passed, it would require the government to pay out federal pensions to new arrivals despite them contributing little, if anything, into the Canada pension system. And, apparently, this change could potentially grant recent immigrants access to the federal guaranteed income supplement.

Even Dhalla’s Liberal colleagues left her out on a limb when seniors’ critic Judy Sgro issued a news release saying her party wouldn’t support the bill.  Dhalla’s bill was expected to have cost an estimated $300-million to $700-million annually.

Fortunately, Davies’ motion will be no more successful than was Dhalla’s effort, as it’ll never come up for a vote in the House of Commons.

This afternoon in an interview on Sun News Network, MP Wayne Marston (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek), the NDP’s critic for Seniors and Pensions, announced that Davies’s motion was submitted in error.

This is political mumbo-jumbo of the sort we’ve come to expect from NDP leaders. Of course Davies didn’t make an error. Libby Davies is a former House Leader of the New Democratic Party, a position she held for about eight years. She may not be every conservative’s ideal MP, but she would not make such a rookie mistake.

It is obvious to me that Davies knew exactly what she was about. In Nycole Turmel, her party has an ineffective rookie leader without an established base in the NDP caucus. And I believe Davies thought she could slip this one past the boss. Apparently, though, she stepped on Wayne Marston’s toes—he is, after all, the NDP’s critic for Seniors and Pensions and he’s, apparently, disavowed Davies’ latest boneheaded move. For him to characterize this as an error, though, is disingenuous.

Moves like this make Libby Davies a favourite of Conservatives. Let’s all hope she runs for leader of the NDP, and wins.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Does Jack Layton deserve conservatives’ ire?

Torontonians gave Jack Layton a fine sendoff, after a week of him being lionized in newspapers and on television screens across the country. I gather that about twenty thousand mourners visited his casket in Ottawa and Toronto. Not anywhere near the tens of thousands who paid their respects to Pierre Trudeau at his state funeral in 2000, but impressive nevertheless.

I was surprised, though, at the sheer number of negative reactions to the former NDP leader I saw on the Internet. While the mainstream media was overflowing with praise for the man, the Internet had more criticism—some very harsh—than I would have expected to see within mere hours of his death.

What I found so surprising was the number of conservatives who seem to have such a visceral dislike—some might say hated—for Jack Layton. Of course, there was his obvious socialist beliefs—anathema to conservatives. And many had been offended that he would cheat on his wife and family by patronizing a house of prostitution, which masqueraded as a massage parlor—it’s, understandably, a question of family values for many conservatives.

I’ll bet the unrelenting/unrepentant partisanship of the NDP leaders throughout Mr. Layton’s public mourning period also went against the grain for many. Even at the very end, Mr. Layton singled out the Conservative Party of Canada in his “letter to Canadians” writing:

“To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country.”

And who could miss the slap in the face of the Conservative Government when he wrote in his letter: “We can restore our [Canada’s] good name in the world.” Besides being factually wrong (Canada already has a “good name”), the comment is an insult to many of the 70 per cent of Canadians who are not followers of the NDP. So why address such a partisan comment “to all Canadians?

Moreover, the clumsy attempt to use Mr. Layton’s death to financially kick-start the New Democrats’ propaganda arm, the Broadbent Institute, was like a final straw for many. How crass was that? Or how about New Democrat MP Pat Martin comparing Mr. Layton and his death to the 1960s American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King? How dare he?

On the one hand, Martin Luther King was a great man who led a peaceful revolution against the richest most powerful nation on earth, and won. He did this at great personal risk to his life—and finally died for his beliefs, while in the prime of his life. On the other hand, Jack Layton led a rather tepid socialist movement without apparent risk to his life. Until May 2, he was mainly a marginal player in Ottawa and elsewhere in Canada, with his party seldom gaining more than 15 to 18 per cent of the vote in general elections.

Jack Layton was no Martin Luther King and Pat Martin’s ludicrous attempt to compare the two men was unseemly, inaccurate, and just plain unfair.

But can the forgoing fully account for the strong feelings conservatives have about Jack Layton? I don’t get it. Mr. Layton accomplished a lot for his party, but he never became prime minister and so really did nothing of lasting value for Canada. In fact, none of his policies were ever accepted by Canadians, so what real harm did he ever do? Sure he and the NDP took full credit for every social program we have, but that was just old-fashioned politics. It was always some other party that actually implemented our social programs.

Even in the case of publicly-funded health care. Does anyone really believe Tommy Douglas or anyone in the NDP/CCF “invented” the concept? Publicly-funded health care existed elsewhere in the British Commonwealth—poor little Caribbean islands had Publicly-funded health care years before Douglas introduced it to Saskatchewan. It was a program whose time had arrived in Ottawa and was inevitable. The NDP support of the concept was helpful, but little more than that.

The constant claiming of every good idea in Ottawa is galling to many conservatives, and liberals, for that matter.

Jack Layton may not have deserved the worst that has been said of him in the past few days, but he was far less the legendary figure he’s been painted on page and screen. That, I believe, has irritated many of his conservative detractors and raised their ire. And, I suppose, the NDP has alienated far too many conservatives over the years to expect then to join the celebration of their late NDP leader’s life.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Dippers try to sneak one by the tax man

The late Jack Layton isn’t even in his grave and the New Democratic Party has already got itself into hot water by offering political tax receipts to persons donating money to the Broadbent Institute, a left-wing think tank that Ed Broadbent, a former NDP leader, announced in June 2011.

Apparently, the Dippers are using Mr. Layton’s death to collect funds for their new venture. This from Kady O’Malley:

“Hours after Layton’s death was announced, the party added a page inviting visitors to contribute money to the [Broadbent] Institute—which was announced, amid much fanfare, at the party’s biennial policy convention last June. But as [Glen] McGregor pointed out on Thursday, the Institute itself has yet to be incorporated, which means that technically, no such entity exists to receive the money.”

According to McGregor, at the time the donation page was set up at the NDP web site, it showed a calculation of the effect of a tax credit on any donation made and gave an example: a $100 donation would cost only $25 after the tax credit.

McGregor also notes, “The money donated through the site goes directly to the NDP, though the party promises it will all go to the institute. Donors get tax credits because of the NDP’s status as a political party.

So, folks, this is a “political tax credit,” not something the Broadbent Institute would ever qualify for unless it was an integral part of a political party. At best, the institute might one day qualify to give “charitable donation” tax receipts. The tax credit on charitable donations is much less than those on political donations. Back in June when he announced his new think tank, Mr. Broadbent said the institute would be independent from the NDP party. Hmm, one would never know it.

This bit of chicanery is astonishing for a political party to try to sneak past tax authorities.

Brad Lavigne, former principal secretary to Jack Layton, reportedly said all the money donated will flow through to the Broadbent Institute, and that the New Democratic Party had lawyers look at the arrangement and they determined it is perfectly legal to offer tax deductions for donations to the party and then redirect them to the Broadbent Institute. Legal? Really.

Isn’t it interesting then that the NDP donation page now states: “It is a non-tax-receiptable donation to The Broadbent Institute.” So, was Mr. Lavigne deliberately trying to mislead Canadians when he told us his scheme had the “blessing” of NDP lawyers?

And anyway, what sort of people so politicize their leader’s death that they use it to collect money for a propaganda arm of their party. Have these people no shame?

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

GOP Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman says he would ask rich to sacrifice

The 2012 GOP Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. said on the PBS NewsHour that if he’s elected, he will call on all Americans to contribute to fixing the economy. “As president, I wouldn't hesitate to call on a sacrifice from all of our people, even those at the very highest end of the income spectrum,” he said. “I’m not saying higher taxes, but there are contributions they can make too.”

The interview, part of the NewsHour’s VOTE 2012 series on the GOP presidential candidates. Here’s a clip from the interview.

 

 

Except video, contents
© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Western democracy: For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee

When I saw this astonishing article by Soeren Kern, European “No-Go” Zones for Non-Muslims Proliferating, at the Hudson-New York web site, my first reaction was: Can this be true? Could this really be happening? Apparently, there is much about which to be concerned.

“Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.”

– John Donne (1572 – 1631)
Final lines of his poem,
No man is an island

According to Kern, Islamic extremists are designating parts of European cities as off-limits to non-Muslims. These zones function as microstates governed by Sharia law. Authorities, says Kern, have lost control in these “no-go” zones, with even basic public aid such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services no longer being provided by the host-countries.

Kern provides chilling examples of these phenomena occurring in several European states, including the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany. And he quotes the Malmö-based Imam Adly Abu Hajar as saying, “Sweden is the best Islamic state.” Malmö is a city in southern Sweden and is more than 25 per cent Muslim. Fire and emergency workers reportedly refuse to enter Malmö’s Rosengaard district without police escorts. Also reported: When fire fighters attempted to put out a fire at Malmö's main mosque, they were attacked by stone throwers.

After reading Kern’s article, I looked to see what other reputable sources had to say on the subject, and found this article at the U.K.’s Telegraph web site. According to author, Jonathan Wynne-Jones:

“Critics claim that the spread of Sharia law is creating a parallel legal system [in the UK] that opposes equal rights.”

Wynne-Jones estimates that there are up to 85 Sharia courts in the U.K. And he writes:

“Last month, Islamic extremists put up posters in the London [England] boroughs of Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham, warning residents that they were entering a ‘Sharia-controlled zone’ where Islamic rules were enforced and gambling, alcohol and music was banned. The posters were later removed by police.”

I have observed that trends in Briton often arrive in Canada, about a decade later. Are you ready for this one?

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More on Jane McKenna and the Burlington PC nomination process

I wrote recently of my concern that the local Burlington Progressive Conservative riding nomination process has been hijacked by PC headquarters in Toronto, which, apparently, they have a constitutional right to do. (See Tim Hudak and Jane McKenna: I’ll hang onto my money and sit this one out.) Such is the state of what passes for democracy in my riding.

Following my article, I’ve received two comments from an anonymous “PhilC” who has taken me to task over my disappointment that Jane McKenna was, apparently, the only PC candidate qualified to represent Burlington in the upcoming Oct. 6 Ontario general election. PhilC wrote:

“It is gotcha journalism like this that discourage Canadians from running for public office, which they have every right to.”

PhilC then went on at great length to tell me Ms. McKenna is “a passionate community advocate,” among other things.

In my essay, I expressed concern regarding Jane McKenna’s suitability to be a candidate. The relevant quote from my essay follows:

“As far as I could tell, McKenna had no previous political experience other than losing badly in the 2010 municipal election—she ran as a candidate for Ward 1 City Councillor against winner, Rick Craven, and placed a poor fifth out of five candidates. I was shocked for I thought that surely the we PCs could do better than a candidate that could only garner 565 votes for a fifth place finish in the Ward 1 race.”

To that, PhilC wrote, “Who cares what place you come in?”

I wrote a comment of my own to answer PhilC, but decided to share the debate with others. So, here is a more complete response to PhilC.

* * *

PhilC,

Of course we should care how McKenna placed in her only election. Did you miss the point that we PCs want to “win” the Burlington riding.

As to your comment: “That's why she won the nomination.” Nonsense. McKenna won nothing; she was acclaimed—there is a big difference.

Your words: “Heagle and Papin, on their own accord dropped out because people started to support the better candidate.” Again nonsense. I know both of those candidates, and your claim is far from the truth, but I think you know that very well. According to Mr. Papin’s—a former president of the Burlington PC Riding Association—media release at the time of his withdrawal:

“I have been advised that my candidacy, at this time, does not fit the strategic direction of the party, and that it would be in the best interests of the party if I were to withdraw.”

This sounds nothing like your claim he dropped out on his “own accord.” When you make such outlandish claims anonymously though they may have been made, you could at least offer a reliable source or two.

And this silliness: “Even though everyone thinks this election is about Burlington and that’s all that should be discussed, it is really about Ontario.” Nonsense! Wherever did you get the idea that “everyone thinks this,” I don’t. I would remind you, however, that to win Ontario, we Burlington voters have first to win Burlington riding. Voting for a dud does nothing for the residents of Burlington.

And finally: “Jane McKenna is by far the most qualified candidate for the job… .” Bollocks! Give a single scrap of evidence to support this outrageous claim.

The purpose of a nomination meeting is for voters in a riding to select the person they want to represent them; not to rubber stamp some candidate selected for them by PC headquarters.

Why not try the democratic way, you may like it.

By the way, do you even qualify to vote in Burlington? If so, why not give your real name instead of hiding behind anonymity. In other words, have the spunk to identify yourself and own your words.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The English disease?

english disease 4Police officers in an east London neighbourhood during a riot (Luke MacGregor | REUTERS)

The recent riots in England have prompted a search for root causes on both sides of the Atlantic. Many theories are being offered to account for the violence: budget cut-backs, lack of economic opportunity, immigration, racism, lack of respect for law and order, family breakdown, lack of education, street gangs and on the list goes and grows. All of which have undoubtedly played their part, but, listening to the rhetoric, one might believe youth violence is a recent phenomenon in the United Kingdom.

Which, of course, it isn’t, for hooliganism and brawling among youth has been a part of British culture for as long as I can remember. So whatever the root cause or causes, they’ve been with us since, at least, the 1950s and were present during economic booms and recessions alike.

Some readers may be old enough to remember the Teddy Boys of the 1950s and role they played in the 1958 Notting Hill race riots in London and other violent clashes. In the early-mid 1960s, Mods and Rockers, two conflicting youth subcultures, brawled at seaside resorts like Brighton and Bournemouth on British Bank Holidays. In the late 1960s and into the 1970s there were the Skinheads with their racially-motivated violence.

Then followed the brawls, vandalism and intimidation of English football (soccer)hooliganism—the English Disease. In May 1985 a 14-year-old boy died at St Andrews stadium following violence at a match between Birmingham City and Leeds United. Even after some 20 years of relatively good behaviour among English football fans, hooliganism seems never to be far from the surface and is on the rise—103 incidents of hooliganism occurred in the 2009-10 English football season compared to 38 the season before.

Moreover, violent street gangs in England go back to, at least, my grandmother’s time and probably a lot further back than that. Street gangs in cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool accounted for 65 per cent of firearm homicides in England and Wales.

So perhaps the definition of the term English Disease, normally associated with soccer hooliganism, should be expanded to include the much broader youth violence that seems to have plagued English society for decades—some believe centuries (the history of London gangs is well documented in Fergus Linnane’s London’s Underworld: Three centuries of vice and crime).

I wish the English well in their search for the cause of random youth violence in their society. I just wonder if the current crop of politicians is up to the task.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

The Honourable Jack Layton: may he rest in peace

I regret the passing of the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, who passed away (of cancer) at 4:45 a.m. today. Mr. Layton was 61.

I express my condolences to Ms Olivia Chow and to Mr Layton’s family, as well as to his colleagues and friends in the New Democratic Party.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When the Arab Spring turns to Arab rage, Jews die

The revolution that ended the decades-long reign of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak in February is transforming the peaceful coexistence—even if an uneasy one—between Egypt and Israel that has served those nations well for some thirty years. Mr. Mubarak may have been a dictator, but his authoritarian government, at least, made Egypt a dependable neighbour of Israel, something Israel sadly lacks elsewhere in the region.

Recent events at the Israeli-Egypt border show how quickly the worst fears of Israel’s friends are being realized: that the Arab Spring would unleash in Egypt pent-up anger fueled by deep-seated hatred of Israel—and perhaps of Jews in general—over its conflict with Palestinians.

The killing of three Egyptian security officers by an Israeli warplane following a series of attacks that killed eight Israelis on Thursday, has prompted Egypt to announce that it would recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv. Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, released a statement saying, “We regret the deaths of members of the Egyptian security forces during the terror attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border.”

The Egyptian cabinet, however, rejected the statement, saying it did not go far enough in accepting responsibility. The fact that lax Egyptian security along the border almost certainly allowed the terrorist attacks to be carried out seems to be immaterial to Egyptian authorities. They seem willfully blind to the reality that had the terrorist attacks not occurred, the three Egyptian security officers would certainly be alive today.

Egypt’s transitional government has failed to maintain security on its side of the shared border in the Sinai Peninsula. Egyptian police have all but disappeared in the Bedouin-dominated northern Sinai, allowing a series of bombings to disrupt natural gas supplies to Israel. The Egyptians have not accepted any part of the responsibility for what happened, something so typical of Arab states in their relationships with Israel.

As thousands of protesters gathered yesterday for a second night outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, demanding the expulsion of the ambassador, one can only wonder at how quickly the promise of the Arab Spring has turned into another deadly threat to the Jews of Israel.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Surprise: more bureaucratic bloat and waste found in Ottawa

The Government of Canada is showing us, once again, just how consistent it is in bloating its bureaucracy and wasting our hard-earned tax money, and how desperately it tries to keep this fact hidden from Canadians who foot the bills. It’s a disgrace, of course, but such traditions are so entrenched and pervasive, I doubt it really matters who the political masters are at any point in time.

The most recent examples of bureaucratic waste and bloating in Ottawa can be found in a highly-critical report by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie on transforming the Canadian Forces. Gen. Leslie spent the last year preparing a report on how to transition the Canadian Forces to a leaner, meaner and more cost-effective organization. His report—shocking even to this cynic—calls for deep cuts to civilian ranks at National Defence Headquarters.

And, not surprisingly, Ottawa bureaucrats apparently tried to stymie the report, interfering in Gen. Leslie’s efforts well before he’d finished the report.

According to the National Post:

“His [Gen. Leslie’s] report has been circulating within the military for more than a month. Despite repeated requests, bureaucrats and political staff have refused to release the report to the public.”

Sets one’s teeth to grinding, doesn’t it.

Among Gen. Leslie’s 43 recommendations on reducing “the tail of today while investing in the teeth of tomorrow,” is the need to eliminate or reassign 3,500 regular forces personnel who currently hold jobs that serve little purpose and to cut 3,500 civil servants in the defence department.

Ouch!

The general also recommends reducing by half the number of full-time reservists at headquarters—a saving of 4,500 personnel—and converting them to part-time service, while preserving and strengthening their ranks within communities.

Gen. Leslie also believes it’d be a good idea to cut 30 per cent from the $2.7-billion spent annually on contractors, consultants and services provided by the private sector.

Apparently, the practice of retiring one day and returning the next as a high-paid consultant is widespread in our federal bureaucracy. It’s a scam, of course, and we are paying plenty for it.

We hear much from our elected officials about the budget deficit, but other deficits exist in Ottawa, like spunk, transparency and accountability, not to mention the seeming lack of a sense of responsibility to taxpayers.

In the private sector, we talk about “fiduciary responsibility,” a responsibility of care for the assets or rights of another person. Your accountant, attorney and insurance agent usually has a fiduciary responsibility to you. As an accountant and former notary public, I can tell you this is serious business and carries stiff penalties for those who flaunt such responsibilities.

Does anyone in Ottawa really give a damn about caring for our tax money? Going by reports like Gen. Leslie’s, there doesn’t seem to be.

For those readers with strong stomachs, I offer my sources at the end of this essay for more detail on Gen. Leslie’s findings and recommendations.

Personally, I doubt those in charge have the political will, or backbone, to implement the more controversial of Gen. Leslie’s recommendations. They’ll probably save some money, but most of the potential savings will be lost to political expediency and just plain mismanagement.

Oh, my aching wallet.

[Sources: Globe and Mail, National Post]

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Return the term “Royal” to our fighting units

To ask someone, usually a youthful someone, to lay down his or her life for a cause, is not something to be done lightly. And, centuries ago, military organizations discovered it took a great deal more to motivate an ordinary person to do an extraordinary thing, which might include their death, than just ordering that person to do it.

Armed forces down through the ages and across the globe have believed in symbols like flags and medals, and have organized themselves in cohesive fighting units like regiments and have played up each unit’s history and traditions. All those things have given men, and an increasing number of women, something “more” to die for than an order from a superior. From time immemorial, fighting men have died for the honour and the glory of their regiments, their ships and their air squadrons. Symbols are part of what have made this so.

And because of their preparedness to die, we live free.

Why then begrudge them a simple name-change that returns the term “Royal” to their fighting units? It’s a gift even New Democrats can afford.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nycole Turmel slams Tory plans to give B.C., Alberta and Ontario fairer representation

Never ones to worry much about democratic principles, the New Democratic Party, through its Quebec separatist-sympathizer and interim leader Nycole Turmel says fairer representation for British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario in the House of Commons “is really divisive right now. It’s not constructive, it’s not nation-building.”

“The Tory government proposed legislation in 2010 that would expand the 308-seat chamber with 18 new Ontario seats after the next scheduled redistribution, which would be based on the 2011 census, giving it 124 MPs. B.C., which had 36 seats, would get seven more seats, while Alberta would go from 28 MPs to 33.”

– Canada.com

This is rich, wouldn’t you say, coming from the same Nycole Turmel whose past membership in the Bloc Québécois and a Quebec-based separatist party raised questions this summer about her commitment to a united Canada.

By some tortured logic, Turmel sees, as divisive, legislation to redistribute House of Commons seats to ensure that fast-growing provinces are adequately represented in the Commons.

Of course, one has to consider that Turmel was a labour union leader and, therefore, a stranger to democratic representation. Most of us who worry about such things as fair representation believe votes across Canada should have similar weight. The Tory legislation, which Turmel opposes, is designed to do just that.

As things stand, some seats in large urban centres in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta have three times as many voters as some rural ridings, especially in Atlantic Canada. This imbalance penalizes the faster-growing cities of Ontario and the West and discriminates against the voters who live there.

In the last Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to “rebalance” the House by expanding the number seats as follows: 18 for Ontario, seven for British Columbia and five for Alberta. Quebec and some rural MPs opposed the move because their relative influence in the House of Commons would decline.

Now that the NDP caucus has been hijacked and led by so-called soft-sovereignists (and some hard one too, I’m sure), the idea that Quebec will have roughly equal representation in the House of Commons is distasteful to them, notwithstanding the fact that the principle of representation by population is a cornerstone of Canada’s democracy and is at the root of the electoral system in Canada.

Yes, there has to be compromise, just are there is in the cases of Prince Edward Island, which receives greater representation because if its very small size, and Ontario, which is under-represented because if its large size. But there seems little justification for creating an artificial imbalance in Quebec’s favour thereby rewarding that province’s inability to attract newcomers.

Nycole Turmel and her NDP followers must decide whether they believe in a strong, democratic, united Canada and are a party capable of representing all Canadians, or whether they wish simply to be a Bloc Québécois-like regional party—or perhaps Nycole Turmel, as her rhetoric suggests, has already made the latter choice for them.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

CBC’s attempt to stab Canadians in the eye misses its mark

Earlier this week, Canada’s national public broadcaster, the CBC, seemed set to stab every Canadian in the eye—figuratively speaking, of course—by installing former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe as a commentator for Radio-Canada’s Médium Large. His remuneration would, you guessed it, be in addition to his government pension of, reportedly, $140,765 a year.

What makes Duceppe especially suited to the job as television commentator, you may ask?

Well, he’s the son of a well-known actor. Does that count? No? Well how about the fact he used to advocate communism and held membership in the Workers’ Communist Party of Canada? Or perhaps it’s because he was a union organizer before he latched onto the federal government’s teat as a member of parliament so he’d qualify for a fat Canadian pension after only a bit more than 20 years undermining Canada’s federation?

I’m just kidding, of course. Most readers know only too well that the real reason the CBC hired Duceppe is because he’s a separatist and doesn’t believe in Canada. At Radio-Canada, that’s all the qualification one needs to have—the place is a virtual rats’ nest of separatists. Being a communist is just a sweetener.

According to reports, Radio-Canada’s code of journalism standards and practices requires a two-year “cooling off” period for ex-politicians who want to comment or report on politics, so its producers recruited Duceppe to comment on other issues, including culture, science and sports.

Please stop laughing so I can continue.

We now hear that Duceppe has resigned from his new job before ever making it to air. At least he’s consistent: in 2007, he confirmed that he would seek the leadership of Quebec’s Parti Québécois, but the very next day he withdrew from the race. Apparently, he’s backed away from the new gig “after a misunderstanding about the nature of his mandate.” At least, that’s what the CBC’s French-language service said.

I know that English-language programming at the CBC is pretty dreary, but how much worse must it’s French-language version be if it hired Gilles Duceppe, a failed career politician, to comment on culture, science and sports? And apparently they were prepared to pay him for doing so.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tim Hudak and Jane McKenna: I’ll hang onto my money and sit this one out

Today I received a letter from the president of the Burlington Progressive Conservative Riding Association asking for contributions in support of Jane McKenna and Tim Hudak’s campaign in the upcoming provincial general election. This request really annoyed me, prompting me to write this entry.

One of the benefits of a democracy is one gets to vote for one’s choice for the local provincial (and federal) member of parliament. And one of the really neat benefits of being a riding association member is one gets the opportunity to vote for a fellow member to be nominated as the candidate. That is, association members get in on the ground floor, so to speak, by selecting the candidate to represent the riding.

Well, usually they do.

Back in March, I eagerly anticipated the Oct. 6 general election. Our rather lackluster MPP had announced her retirement, and we had two credible contenders ready to run for the nomination with perhaps a third still to declare. We were set for a competitive nomination process.

This was an important choice for PC party members in Burlington, for the odds favoured our party beating the Dalton McGuinty Liberals. And it would have been nice to replace retiring incumbent MPP Joyce Savoline with another PC, continuing the riding’s 40+-year PC tradition for another four years.

Or so it seemed at the time, but that was before things began to unravel.

Brad Reaume, a (former?) senior adviser to PC MPP Ted Chudleigh, was considering the nomination. He’d contested Joyce Savoline’s by-election nomination in 2007. Reaume had obviously passed whatever scrutiny he had to from the party’s head office and made a well-received speech at that 2007 nomination meeting—probably the best of the evening. But in 2011 he, apparently, was not good enough to face the membership and didn’t receive approval to run for the nomination—so he withdrew. He was good enough in 2007, but not so in 2011.

I was disappointed that only two candidates had emerged as I’d expected three or more. But these two candidates seemed very able, which augured well for the recovery of the political health of the conservative cause in Burlington. Progressive on the social side and conservative on the fiscal side, both sounded a lot like Bill Davis’s Progressive Conservatives.

Disappointment number two. René Papin, a former president of the Burlington PC riding association had declared his intention to seek the nomination and seemed to have received the blessing of Tim Hudak and the party’s head office. But what the party’s head office giveth, the party’s head office can and does, sometimes, taketh away.

In late May Papin withdrew from the race. “I have been advised that my candidacy, at this time, does not fit the strategic direction of the party, and that it would be in the best interests of the party if I were to withdraw,” he said in a media release.

Say what? Papin once served as president of the riding association—he was the voice of the PCs here in Burlington—so how did he “not fit the strategic direction of the party” and why was it “in the best interests of the party” that he withdraw? Why not let the man run and allow the membership to decide? That would have been the democratic way.

We were then left with a single candidate for the nomination, local lawyer Brian Heagle. And so I waited for the nomination meeting. And waited, and waited.

Then Jane McKenna declared she’d be seeking the nomination. As far as I could tell, McKenna had no previous political experience other than losing badly in the 2010 municipal election—she ran as a candidate for Ward 1 City Councillor against winner, Rick Craven, and placed a poor fifth out of five candidates. I was shocked for I thought that surely the we PCs could do better than a candidate that could only garner 565 votes for a fifth place finish in the Ward 1 race.

But, at least, we still had 2009 Citizen of the Year Brian Heagle, a strong candidate. So I waited for the nomination meeting. And waited. And waited.

Disappointment number three. Brian Heagle formally withdrew from the nomination race in mid-July. Thud! Apparently, Heagle could not wait any longer for the nomination—he had already waited nine weeks and had to get on with his life.

Disappointment number four. Jane McKenna—the only candidate—was acclaimed. After several decades of trying unsuccessfully to take the riding from the Tories, this must have been great news indeed for Grits and Dippers in Burlington.

And today I’m asked to send money?

The way this past PC nomination process unfolded in Burlington is the sort of thing that sours many old-time PC supporters who have helped keep the Burlington riding Tory-blue for decades—they’ve told me so themselves. We believe, you see, that we’re reasonably smart people and resent being treated like sheep. And we believe in democratic processes. We believe we’re quite capable of choosing a candidate from a pool of more than one—we’ve been doing it for decades.

There seems to be the belief among PC strategists that dyed-in-the-wool conservatives will never vote Liberal or NDP. And this is true in my case, but I’ll repeat myself and say that—after voting in every provincial and federal election since the early sixties—this might just be enough to keep me at home on October 6. And, yes, I am bitter.

So, Mr. Hudak and Ms. McKenna, I’ll hang onto my money and sit this one out.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Sun News is taking on the TV news giants and scoring impressive wins

I understand why author Margaret Atwood, former CBC host Don Newman and many in Canada’s established news media tried so vociferously to disparage the Sun News Network last year and earlier this year in the lead up to its April 2011 launch. I am somewhat surprised at how ineffective their efforts proved to be, however.

Tactics like misnaming the new network as “Fox News North” and signing and publicizing a much trumped-up petition against the network’s CRTC application were designed to protect their beloved CBC news channel and secondarily Bell Media’s news channel at CTV. Apparently, though, their tactics haven’t worked. To the contrary, Sun News seems to be flourishing.

Nor has their attempt to paint the new channel as a arm of the Conservative Party worked very well.

Back in 2010, Don Newman predicted that:

“… the Sun Network is designed to enlarge and energize the Conservative voting base, and make money while doing it, just like Fox News in the United States.

“… no doubt when it is on the air, one of the first Sun TV headline events will be an ‘exclusive’ interview with the prime minister [Stephen Harper]. I’d expect the interview will seem more like a back rub for Harper than an inquiry.”

Did I miss the prime minister’s “exclusive” interview?

But Newman isn’t a particularly astute predictor of anything, as far as I can tell. He wrote in the same piece that:

“[Pierre Karl] Lavoie knows that as a news gathering organization, Sun TV is no threat to either of the news channels operated by the CBC and CTV.”

He’s dead wrong there too—unless, of course, Newman thinks beating the established, wider distributed news networks in viewer ratings doesn’t count as a threat. Surely a news gathering organization needs viewers to consume the news it gathers, otherwise, why bother.

All this is by way of a (long) introduction to inform readers that Sun News Network is scoring early ratings wins despite Sun News not being as widely available as either CBC or CTV. While Sun News is in about 5.5 million households, the government-subsidized CBC News Network is in 10.6 million homes and Bell Media’s CTV news channel is in 8.5 million.

Even with this handicap, Sun News is doing very well. Canoe.ca reports:

“During the afternoon and in prime time, Sun News programming bested the state broadcaster’s News Network by more than 30,000 viewers. CTV News Channel was a distant third.”

According to BBM ratings data, Charles Adler’s show reached 82,300 viewers at 8 p.m. ET, while the CBC reached an audience of 58,200 and CTV was third with 39,600 viewers. And, to prove that was no fluke, Sun News had other wins and impressive ratings, as can be seen by this quote from QMI Agency:

Later Friday, Byline with Brian Lilley tied the network record with an audience of 89,000. Sun News’ 9 p.m. ET show throttled the meager 18,000-viewer audience for CTV, and nearly knocking the decades-old CBC newscast hosted by Peter Mansbridge off its taxpayer-funded pedestal. Joining the ratings successes, Ezra Levant’s show The Source registered 57,000 viewers at 5 p.m. ET. That crushed CTV’s audience of 28,000 viewers and was within striking distance of CBC’s audience of 59,200 over the same period.

I love when the underdog wins, don’t you? It’s especially sweet after that underdog has been so unfairly treated by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Don Newman.

I am excited to learn how much stronger the prime time ratings will be at Sun News after veteran TV host Michael Coren is slotted in at 7:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 30.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Does the Ames straw poll even matter?

Rep. Michelle Bachmann won the Ames straw poll (aka, Iowa straw poll), a presidential mock election open to residents of Iowa. The poll is held in a county-fair-like atmosphere at Ames, Iowa in August prior to presidential election years when there isn’t an incumbent Republican President running for re-election. There have been six polls, including last Saturday’s.

But does this non-binding poll of Republican voter-preference, held in a Midwestern state with an overwhelmingly white population of about 3-million, have any real significance? I believe it does.

It certainly has not done well predicting the winner of the Republican primaries, though it’s done better as a predictor of success in the Iowa caucuses. In fact, Iowa voters have been completely right just once since the first poll in 1979, when George W. Bush took the 1999 straw vote, the caucuses, the nomination and the presidency.

Furthermore, not all declared candidates choose to participate, though their names may be on the ballot. This year, the national front-runner Mitt Romney chose to sit out the poll—as did John McCain in 2007. Gov. Rick Perry didn’t even declare himself a candidate until the event was fully underway and much too late to even get his name on the ballot.

But the event does have significance. There is, of course, the obvious: it gives a major boost to the local economy as thousands of journalists, campaign staffers and voters descend on the town, and it is one of the Iowa Republican Party’s most lucrative fundraisers.

Ames, however, also acts as a showcase for declared candidates and their campaign teams. Candidates debate each other on national television and demonstrate their organizational and fundraising skills, all with the benefit of rapt attention from the national media, and millions of voters. Ames was the political news story of this past weekend—though Gov. Perry did spoil the party somewhat. That must be worth millions of dollars in national advertising to the Republican candidates.

Moreover, Ames is an important hurdle, thinning out the weakest candidates at an early stage, and giving the stronger ones more “elbow room” as they move on to the caucuses and primaries. Ames also seems to act as sort of an acid test of each candidates degree of conservatism. Only those who appeal to the right of the Republican Party seem to do well there. Clear distinctions can be seem between the candidates and their rivals in the Democratic Party. This is useful, because later, when the candidates have to campaign much closer to the political center in the presidential election, conservative voters will already know just how valid each candidate’s conservative bona fides are.

Rep. Michelle Bachmann has used Ames to demonstrate how effectively she has tapped into the anti-government, anti-tax, more jobs sentiment across middle America. She adroitly spreads the core messages of 2012: smaller government, balanced budgets and jobs, jobs, jobs—she virtually owns the ground on the hard-right, though not so securely now that Gov. Perry has entered the race.

And Ames helped get her there.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bachmann edges Paul and trounces Pawlenty in Iowa straw poll

Candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Michele Bachmann, won Iowa’s Ames straw poll on Saturday, the first of the big tests of the 2012 Republican presidential campaign. Rep. Bachmann (29%) edged out Ron Paul (28%) in the nonbinding mock election and virtually crushed her Minnesota rival Tim Pawlenty (14%), who finished a distant third. Other candidates were left far behind.

Iowa Straw Poll
Top-tier Republican candidates going into the Iowa straw poll. Top row from left: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich; middle row from left: Jon Huntsman, Thaddeus McCotter and Ron Paul; bottom row from left: Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. (credit: Associated Press)

A day following his disappointing showing, former governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty withdrew from the race, marking the first departure from a field of top-tier Republican candidates, including three declared candidates who had decided not to compete in the poll: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.

In a bit of one-upmanship earlier in the day, Texas Governor Rick Perry had horned in on the Iowa party by launching his White House bid in South Carolina.

Opinion polls indicate Gov. Perry already is close on the heels of Mr. Romney, the early Republican national front-runner.

Rep. Bachmann is a good candidate. She’s got spunk. She campaigns well with a focused message, and her connection with her audience seems genuine. Her organization is well-managed and effective, as her win in Iowa will attest. And, apparently, she’s an equally effective fund-raiser.

She did an excellent job in Friday’s debate, more than holding her own in sharp exchanges with Pawlenty, for instance. For me, Rep. Bachmann is a Sarah Palin with more political finish and depth. I worry though about her lack of executive experience and that she lacks tangible legislative success. Her record seems to be that she’s been the sharp end of the stick on a number of losing causes.

I like Bachmann’s message, though, and hope she stays in the race to the end.

Ron Paul’s near-victory (he lost by only 152 votes) showed his supporters are passionate, but he’s probably too controversial to win the nomination. And I do not believe Paul helped his cause—outside his core group of supporters—with his comments in the Friday night debate regarding not trying to stop Iran from having a nuclear bomb.

While Mitt Romney continues to lead the national race to run against President Barack Obama in 2012, Michelle Bachmann has proven her candidacy must be taken seriously. Both, though will probably have to yield to Gov. Rick Perry, who seems to have the right stuff—the “he’s-got-it-all” factor. He appeals to both fiscal and social conservatives, he’s anti-big-government and he has proven executive skills and experience.

This from the New York Times:

“Mr. Perry is the longest-serving governor of Texas, having been elected to three terms and having held the position for more than 10 years. He is known as a fierce and skilled campaigner, as well as a prodigious fund-raiser. In past campaigns, he has eked out victories and also come from behind to win by large margins. ‘He becomes immediately one of the top three candidates, and he fills a vacuum—of someone who is a conservative, who has credibility and can speak to the fiscal conservative, anti-big-government and anti-Washington crowd, but he’s also a social conservative,’ said Matthew Dowd, a former strategist for President George W. Bush.”

Right now, I see Gov. Perry as the one to beat, with Rep. Bachmann as the sentimental favourite.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Minister Kenney sets record straight


Photo © House of Commons

Thanks to fellow Blogging Tory, BC Blue, I read Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s Response to Open Letter from Amnesty International, in which he takes Amnesty International to task (link here).

Surely Amnesty International is an organization that has lost its way. To begin with, it has its facts wrong and, based on that, apparently, seeks to defend those about whom Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board has found there are reasonable grounds to believe committed an offence under our Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

Of course, being an open and transparent democracy—among the most free of societies on earth—Canada is an easy target. It’s a whole lot easier to slander Canada and its excellent human rights record than to huff and puff over North Korea, Iran, Syria, et al.

I’m re-printing a portion of one paragraph of Minister Kenney’s letter below:

“These men are not merely “accused” or “alleged” human rights violators; the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) does not make allegations or accusations – it makes formal findings of fact and its decisions may be appealed to the federal courts.  Every one of these men was found to be inadmissible to Canada under section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.  This means that the IRB found that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that each of these men committed “an offence referred to in sections 4 to 7 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act,” i.e., they were complicit in genocide, crimes against humanity or a war crime.  These findings were based on evidence – including, in many cases, voluntary admissions – after formal proceedings during which these men had the right to be represented by counsel.”

It behoves those at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to read this excerpt. Perhaps after doing so they will re-think their decision to withhold their co-operation with ministers Toews and Kenney’s program to seek out and deport those who our Immigration and Refugee Board found were “complicit in genocide, crimes against humanity or a war crime.” Findings, Minister Kenney assures us, “were based on evidence—including, in many cases, voluntary admissions—after formal proceedings during which these men had the right to be represented by counsel.

Both the CBC and Amnesty International need be less concerned with their own sense of self-importance and place a greater emphasis on getting their facts straight.

Bravo, Minister Kenney.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

London rioters: disaffected youth or hoodlums?

londonriotPicture credit: National Post Newspaper

For too many young Brits, “fun” includes a rampage through public streets, burning and looting stores at random. One young woman in Croydon, South London described her evening of fun to a BBC Radio reporter as “…chucking things, chucking bottles, breaking into stuff,” and concluded with, “It was good, though; it was madness.”

Why are so many young Britons, seemingly, not able to tell right from wrong?

“The UK has more young people without work or education than even Romania and Bulgaria.

“Only four of the 27 European Union nations have more poorly educated and unskilled young people.”

Daily Mail
May 26, 2011

Some call the rioters Britain’s “lost generation:” the increasing number of children from broken homes coupled with high rates of school dropouts, which culminate, inevitably, in a high level of youth unemployment—there are 1.5million people in Britain who have never done a day’s work in their lives. Of these, 600,000 are under the age of 25.

For this, some blame absentee fathers, the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and a lack of decent role models. Others say it’s cause is rooted in the pervasive belief in self-entitlement among that island’s youth.

My belief is that the United Kingdom is plagued with political correctness—which is stifling that society—and an anything-goes, civility-is-for-toffs attitude. And not to be ignored as a contributing factor is plain old racism, which is never far from the surface in many circles. Permissiveness and a belief in actions without consequences are far too prevalent in today’s Britain.

These are impressions I have gained from afar, which were reinforced by visits I made to the United Kingdom in the past 20 years.

It’s time for parents to step up and be accountable for the attitudes and actions of their children—according to police reports, eleven-year-olds were involved in the riots. Discipline, respect for authority and self-reliance needs to be instilled at an early age and then reinforced throughout the education system. Rights need to be balanced with duties and obligations.

Social workers and those administering Britain’s many assistance programs must stop coddling their clients and provide their services with a greater degree of tough love. Healthy adults should not be on government support beyond a reasonable timeframe without having to contribute in a tangible way to society through work/volunteer programs, or some such pay-back device.

Authority figures at every level in Britain—in the home, at school and in Parliament—must teach and reinforce decent values, and lead by example.

I say all this as a former British citizen who has retained a great fondness for that nation and who is saddened by what I read and hear.

I fear that Britain’s institutions and culture, its society at large—traditionally among the most admired in the world—is on a downward trajectory with a dismal future.

And I’m even more fearful that Canada is but a decade or two behind.

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is former sovereignist Denis Lebel fit to serve in cabinet?

 LebelDenis_CPC
Denis Lebel,
Minister of Transport
(© House of Commons)

Transport Minister Denis Lebel, MP for Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean confirmed he was a member of the Bloc Québécois for eight years, leaving that party on April 28, 2001. This begs the question as to whether Mr. Lebel should remain in the Conservative Cabinet.

I voted Liberal in federal elections in the 1960s, and I do not believe that disqualified me, morally, from joining the Conservative party and running for office, had I chose to do so. Both the Liberal and the Conservative parties are committed federalists and believe in a strong, united Canada.

I do, however, believe that any act of treason or similar act should bar me from holding high office. Such acts include taking up arms against Canada or joining a political party that has as it’s raison d'être the break up of our country.

To me, this is not a matter of what’s legal, but what’s right—what’s morally acceptable.

Acknowledging his membership, Mr. Lebel denies being “active” in the Bloc Québécois, although, according to mainstream media reports, he admits he participated in partisan activities and donated a few hundred dollars to the party.

One’s actions have consequences, and some actions are so egregious their consequences need be severe and sometimes will include sanctions, legal or otherwise, regardless of how much one may regret those actions later.

Mr. Lebel’s protestations, in a statement to Radio-Canada, regarding his involvement with the BQ, “I’ve never done activism. Never, never, never,” is a bit like a woman claiming she is half-pregnant.

Since the Conservatives have so few MPs from Quebec, the firing of Mr. Lebel will cause Prime Minister Stephen Harper some problems with Quebec representation in his Cabinet. And I can sympathize with that. But Quebec voters made a conscious choice by continuing to send so many sovereignists to represent them in Ottawa—and that also has consequences. So let them be under-represented.

Maintaining an eight-year membership in a separatist party and donating hundreds of dollars to a separatist cause is tantamount to treason. And I for one believe it is unacceptable for Mr. Lebel to remain a minister of the Crown.

 

 

Except photograph, contents
© Russell G. Campbell, 2011. All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don’t shoot the messenger

This weekend I heard a lot of criticism leveled at Standard & Poor’s—undeserved, in my view—because they lowered the U.S. sovereign credit rating to AA+ from AAA over debt and budget concerns. Readers may remember that, back in April, S&P lowered its outlook on U.S. sovereign credit from “stable” to “negative”—the agency’s latest action was the much-anticipated sound of the other shoe dropping.

"The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default."

Alan Greenspan
Former Federal Reserve Chairman
on NBC’s Meet the Press

Other rating agencies notably decided to leave the U.S. rating at “AAA.”

There seems little doubt that the United States will, any time soon, be unable to meet their financial obligations, unless, of course, it chooses not to do so. By that I mean Congress could for whatever reason refuse to higher the U.S. debt ceiling and make it illegal for the  U.S. government to borrow enough to pay some of its bills. Willful default, so to speak.

Sen. John McCain appearing on Meet the Press yesterday said people should not “shoot the messenger,” referring to Standard & Poor’s. And I agree with the senator, though, I cannot agree with his conclusion that the downgrade is a result of President Barack Obama’s failed leadership—Republicans are not blameless in this fiasco.

Nor do I take comfort or reassurance from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s comment on NBC’s Meet the Press that the United States can pay any debt it has because “we can always print money to do that.”

Mr. Greenspan’s comment is almost as scary as speculation by some members of Congress that a default on the part of the U.S. wouldn’t be that big of a deal. One argument goes like this: it wasn’t that big of a deal in Argentina, so it wouldn’t be that big of a deal in the U.S.

As to Mr. Greenspan’s comment: after Zimbabwe-like inflation—when the U.S. prints money to pay its sovereign debt—devastates the U.S. dollar, bond-holders won’t be able to buy anything with their bonds when they come due. So just who does he think will be lined up to buy new ones? As to speculation from the pro-default group: are they crazy, or just stupid?

American politicians spent months bickering over the debt ceiling and scaring the international investment community half to death. Then, because they come to some tepid, minimal eleventh-hour agreement, everyone is, apparently, supposed to go about their business as though nothing has happened. That’ll happen.

The U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama, in effect, threatened their bondholders with default. How irresponsible was that? So, who of them can reasonably complain when one credit agency suggests caution to those who are contemplating future purchases of U.S. Treasury Bills?

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

New national poll: Liberals and NDP in a second-place tie

The Liberals and the NDP are in a second-place tie in popular support nationally (27.0% and 26.8% respectively), according to a new national survey, the CTV/Globe/Nanos Poll. The Conservatives continue to lead with 36.2 per cent, a drop of 5.6 per cent since Nano’s last poll.

The Tories may have seen their lead reduced in the past month, but they can take heart for the regional results show them in first place in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia. In Quebec, the Tories trail only the New Democrats (34.2% to 24.2%) with the gap narrowing noticeably from last month when the NDP were at 40.0 per cent and the Conservatives were at 24.3 per cent.

The drop off in support for the NDP in Quebec seems to have benefited the Bloc Québécois and Liberals, not at all surprising since that’s where it probably came from in the first place—sovereignists giveth and sovereignists taketh away.

On the national scene—with the exception of a shift of votes from the Bloc to the Dippers, tying them with the Grits—the picture has changed little from the pre-election months of earlier this year. A sign, to me, that Tory base support is about as solid as can be expected for a ruling party.

[The poll of 1,203 Canadians, conducted between July 25 and August 2, is accurate to within 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.]

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

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