Thursday, March 31, 2011

Michael Ignatieff continues his assault on private enterprise

The Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff continues his assault on private enterprise. Not only does he plan to hike the corporate tax rate to 18 per cent from the Canadian Opposition Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff current 16.5, scooping $5- to $6-billion out of the economy to pay for new social programs, he is now attacking mutual funds and investment advisors by proposing a government administrated “Secure Retirement Option,” which is virtually identical to the currently available Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP).

Other than replacing private enterprise, I cannot see a benefit of this measure. It provides no more tax-free saving room, i.e., tax-deductible contributions would have to the same limit allowed with RRSPs, and employers will have the option of matching employee contributions as they can now do with RRSPs. So what’s different? Where’s the meat?

As far as I can tell, the only real difference is that funds accumulated under the Ignatieff plan would be managed by the government’s CPP Investment Board rather than by the contributor under a self-directed RRSP or by a financial adviser from the private sector.

Apparently, Mr. Ignatieff believes private sector financial advisers can be risky,  expensive and complex, so he’s proposes having a crown corporation handle your money for you.

I do wish someone would tell Mr. Ignatieff that, while he was living abroad all those decades, Canada turned away from most of it socialist policies, stopped talking about nationalizing banks, sold Air Canada and all that. We now tend to look to private enterprise for solutions. Maybe the ex-Dippers Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh have got him confused.

Can’t Liberal MP for Markham-Unionville the former economist, John McCallum, help educate his leader on the basics? McCallum, at least, knows that Ignatieff’s plan to raise corporate taxes would cost the Canadian economy jobs. (Link to clip here.) And McCallum was the Royal Bank of Canada’s chief economist for six years, surely he knows banks like his former employer and thousands of independent advisors are quite capable and qualified to manage Canadians’ investments.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

PM Harper tells Canadians they’ll get the tax goodie when we can afford it

The opposition leaders and their media cheering sections are having fun with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign announcement regarding partial income splitting for families with children under 18. The biggest complaint seems to be that this $2.5-billion tax break wouldn’t take effect until the deficit is eliminated—up to four, maybe more, years away.

“We understand that family budgets are stretched and by making the tax system fairer for families, we will make it easier for parents to cover the day-to-day cost of raising their kids.”

– Stephen Harper

The PM’s proposal would allow parents to share up to $50,000 of their personal incomes for tax purposes. The idea is to treat eligible taxpayers as family units for tax purposes.

The Conservatives’ proposal has received a lukewarm reception in the media, at least, for the most part. But is that fair?

It seems to me that eligibility for many of the tax benefits Canadians receive are based on some form of household income. When I do my tax return each year, I do it jointly with my wife’s return because of this. And, of course, income splitting was recently allowed for some portion of seniors’ incomes. So the concept seems sound, at least, in the sense it’s already at play in our overly complicated tax system—we use family/household income to calculate tax credits so why not use it to calculate taxable income? It is also consistent with my sense of fairness—our current system penalizes couples where one spouse works and the other stays home to care for the children.

Most Canadians, I believe, would accept income splitting. The sticking point seems to be the timing. As a nation, we’re so conditioned to being bribed with our own money every time politicians ask for our votes, it comes as an unwelcome shock when a politician tells us the cookie jar is empty and we have to wait for our next hand-out.

This has presented a real dilemma for the Tories, who are basing their campaign on a strategy of being prudent fiscal managers. Slaying the deficit is job one, apparently, and so it should be. It should also be noted, however, that once we slay the deficit, there is still that enormous national debt to contend with, and one might think it would the next priority for prudent fiscal managers. But I digress.

I suppose we must face the reality that elections are all about who can give away the most taxpayer money the fastest. Giveaway promises are like honey to media types and make immediate headlines—only scandals get more attention. The next best thing to keeping up with the Ignatieffs and the Laytons is for the PM to push his promises off to a more affordable time.

Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton are riding an anti-corporation gravy train, and seem to be hoping Canadians will accept their job- and investment-killing strategy to pick up their share of the election goodies.

I believe we should stay the course and eliminate the deficit before we reward ourselves with more social spending.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Harper Ignatieff head on debate? Bring it on!

The National Post is reporting Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s proposal for a “televised showdown with his main political rival—Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.” Finally, some common sense coming out of this campaign. PM Harper and Mr. Ignatieff are the only two leaders with a real shot at being the prime minister when the May 2 election dust clears, so why not have a one-on-one debate without the sideshow and pretense of Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe?

I say, bring it on. Perhaps the new Sun News Network could initiate this.

Instead of the nonsensical argument over whether Green Party leader Elizabeth May should be invited to the multi-leader debate, we could cut the numbers down to the only two that really matter when deciding who we want as prime minister.

It really is too bad that in our country empty political correctness almost always trumps common sense.

Perhaps this time will be different.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Who can you trust: federal or provincial Liberals?

The Liberals are all over themselves trying to stave off a double loss in this year’s general elections. Hear in Ontario, we have Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Minister Dwight Duncan touting corporate tax cuts, implying to voters they are part of “prudent fiscal management, [which] provides a solid foundation for supporting the economic recovery and ensuring long-term prosperity for the province.”

Although there are no changes proposed in this week’s Ontario budget to any corporate tax rates, McGuinty-Duncan have chosen to stay the course regarding previously approved and scheduled reductions from Ontario’s current 12 per cent to: 11.5 % this July, 11% July 2012 and 10% July 2013. This is in sharp contrast with the federal wing of the Liberal Party, which is advocating a tax hike from the current 16.5 per cent federal level to the old 18 per cent rate.

So we have Ontario Liberals telling us that reducing the corporate tax rate will be of significant benefit to the province, increasing jobs and investment, while at the same time federal Liberals are running on a platform that calls for increasing the corporate tax rate so we can have more money to spend on social programs.

So who is being truthful here?

I’m siding with the provincial Grits on this one. Firstly, we have sound economic advice from one of our country’s leading tax and fiscal policy experts, Jack Mintz, head of the public policy school at the University of Calgary. Mr. Mintz recently co-authored a new paper on business tax reform with Duanjie Chen.

Back in January 2011, Mr. Mintz said:

“Given the relatively insignificant anticipated revenue loss from a corporate reduction, it is clear that the investment and employment benefits make a strong case in pursuing this reform.”

And furthermore, Mr. Mintz said that every additional dollar raised through business income tax hikes translates into 37 cents in extra costs for the economy.

Mintz-Chen’s study found:

“On its own, the final cut to corporate income tax rates, from 16.5 to 15 per cent, would result in $30 billion in additional business investment and 102,500 new jobs over a seven-year period.”

Does this not make a prima facie case for reducing the corporate tax rate? But why confuse Michael Ignatieff with facts, after all, he’s trying to buy himself a shot at being prime minister, isn’t he? Facts just get in his way. But what about others in Ignatieff’s caucus? Can they not see the folly of his policy? Apparently, at least one does.

March 27, on the Roy Green radio show, the Liberal MP for Markham-Unionville, John McCallum, could be heard admitting that Ignatieff’s plan to raise corporate taxes from 16.5 per cent to 18 per cent would cost the Canadian economy jobs. (Link to clip here.) And remember, readers, John McCallum is one of the senior Liberals. He is a former Liberal cabinet minister and was the Royal Bank of Canada’s chief economist for six years.

Even Jack Layton sees corporate tax reductions as a benefit to Canada’s economy, but he’s almost as confused as is Ignatieff. (The Dippers seldom have the economics right, their pro-union animosity towards large employers clouds their judgment.) Mr. Layton is promising to cut the small business (small employers) tax rate to 9 per cent from 11 per cent. But he would also boost the corporate tax rate (large employers) to the 2008 level of 19.5 per cent from its current 16.5 per cent.

Confused? Who isn’t?

Isn’t it just common sense that the tax increase to large employers will kill as many or more jobs and investment than the tax decrease to small employers will create?

As Sir Walter Scott wrote: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!”

Is there no one in the federal Liberal campaign with some basic knowledge of economics? Perhaps, shamefully, they know but don’t care. We don’t expect the NDP to understand these things, but the Liberals?


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Coalition? Never, ever well… maybe?

Now that federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff (pictured with leadership hopeful MP Bob Rae in background) has declared that his party will not form a coalition with the socialists and separatists, we can relax and get on with the campaign. Or can we? If the Liberals lose the election, most pundits seem convinced Mr. Ignatieff will resign or otherwise lose his position as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. So does his ban on coalition also bind a future Grit leader? I doubt it does.

Put Bob Rae in charge of the Liberal Party of Canada and he may go Stéphane Dion one better and, rather than a coalition, go for full merger of the federal Grits and Dippers. Just saying.

Assuming, though, that the left-wing parties do not merge, a loss in the May 2 election just may light a match that could ignite the unite-the-left embers still smoldering after Liberal and NDP insiders were reported to be in talks back in the summer of 2010. May be not merger, but how about a strategic alliance of some kind that combined with support of the Bloc Québécois could see the Grits oust the Tories from power.

Making promises during election campaigns and breaking them after Canadians have voted has many precedents, to wit:

  • In the 1974 election, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau opposed wage and price controls. Once he had been elected, however, he announced a policy of wage and price controls. Go figure.
  • During the 1993 election former prime minister Jean Chrétien promised to replace the GST and reneged on his promise after the election.
  • During the 1993 election campaign, former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps promised that she would resign if the GST was not abolished by the Liberal Party. After a poll indicated she would win her riding in a by-election, Ms. Copps resigned her Hamilton East seat and promptly ran again in the ensuing by-election. Now most of us don’t resign a position and immediately re-apply for it—that does not meet most people’s smell test—so I’ll count that as a broken promise.
  • During the 1993 election former prime minister Jean Chrétien promised to renegotiate the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and never fulfilled that promise.
  • In the run-up to the Ontario Liberals’ 2003 election victory, Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged not to raise provincial taxes, but he very famously reneged by introducing a whopping $2.6-billion health tax. I won’t bore you with the several other pre-election promises Mr. McGuinty broke, but here’s a link to a list of 50, if you want to see for yourself.

And, frankly, I don’t care how many promises other party leaders have broken. My point is that Mr. Ignatieff will say just about anything to get the coalition monkey off his back. After all, if he loses this election, his prospects for retaining his party’s leadership are pretty slim. Facing the music for broken promises will be left to his successor who’ll have the excuse: it was Ignatieff’s promise, not mine.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Elizabeth May left out of TV debates

Apparently Green Party leader Elizabeth May will not be invited by a “broadcast consortium” to participate in the televised leaders’ debates prior to the coming election. Only the leaders of the four recognized parties in the House of Commons will receive an invitation, and each of the invited parties have Green Party Leader Elizabeth May listens to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper as he speaks during the French language debate in Ottawa on Oct. 1, 2008. - Green Party Leader Elizabeth May listens to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper as he speaks during the French language debate in Ottawa on Oct. 1, 2008. | The Canadian Pressmade it clear they will not contest the broadcasters’ decision for two debates to be held before the May 2 election.

According to Ms. May, “This decision will be pilloried by Canadians from coast to coast because it offends our basic sense of decency and fair play.” While some Canadians may be upset by the decision, I doubt there’ll be much “pillorying” going on. How does one pillory a decision? Beats me.

Prior to the 2008 election, the Green Party had a turncoat Liberal MP, Blair Wilson, sitting as a representative MP, but this time around the Greens are without an MP in the House of Commons. Seems fair enough to me that a leader without a seat in the House be excluded from the leaders’ debates.

Frankly, after the broadcast consortium allowed Ms. May to participate in the 2008 debates, she said and did little that would suggest she will be missed this time around. Mostly, she sat beside Prime Minister Stephen Harper and verbally abused him throughout the broadcast, seldom saying anything that might be considered debate.

Ms. May claims, “We are the only party committed to “high road” politics, to rejecting the politics of negativity, the attack ads and the smears.” Yet, perhaps with the exception of “attack ads,” she regularly participates in all those things. And it’s obvious that—after more than a quarter of a century of futility—Canadians aren’t buying whatever it is she and her party are selling.

The Green Party started in 1983 and has never elected a single MP. Contrast that exercise in futility with the record of the Reform Party, founded four years later in 1987, which elected Deborah Grey in a by-election in 1989 and by 1993 had 52 seats in the House of Commons. As I see it, the Reform Party had a leader of substance and something of value to offer Canadians, the Green Party has neither.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Duplicity, thy name is Gilles Duceppe

The federal election campaign is well underway, just spend a minute or so on Twitter and that fact becomes unmistakable. I see Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe is up to no good in Quebec trying his best to demonize Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government, calling the Conservative government “a populist, retrograde Tea Party,” and calling the prime minister a “liar.”

Curious, is it not, that that same Gilles Duceppe (pictured circa 1997)—within hours of this election campaign getting started—tried his best to equate a 2004 letter he cosigned with Stephen Harper and Jack Layton as being equivalent to the formal coalition agreement his and the Liberal and New Democrat parties hatched up in 2008 to defeat the Tories. Apparently, in 2004 Gilles Duceppe and his party were fully willing to join the Conservatives to replace the Paul Martin Liberals. No talk of PM Harper being a “liar” back then; no talk of “a populist, retrograde Tea Party” either.

No one should be surprised, of course, since the raison d’être of the Bloc Québécois is the break up of Canada. Demonizing the Tories with whom they were previously prepared to replace a Liberal government, then two and a half years later plotting with the Liberals to replace the Tories are just the sort of cynical antics one would expect from a group that wishes to destabilize our Country.

Gilles Duceppe is an opportunist: on May 11, 2007, he confirmed that he would seek the leadership of Quebec’s Parti Québécois, but the very next day he withdrew from the race. He plots to break up Canada, but seems quite prepared to accept a Canadian taxpayer-funded pension for the time he has spent in our federal parliament. He joins with the official opposition every chance he gets to defeat the governing party, then scurries back to Quebec to campaign with a multi-million dollar Canadian taxpayer subsidy so that he can return to Ottawa to cause more mischief in our House of Commons.

Only in Canada, eh?


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Harper’s Tories to face off against Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition in early May

The federal government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper has fallen and we’ll be going to the polls in early May, likely May 2 or 9. The Conservative minority government lasted for about two and a half years, which I believe is pretty NDP Leader Jack Layton, left, shakes hands with Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, centre, and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe on Monday after signing a coalition agreement on Parliament Hill.good for a minority government in this country. That’s one real negative of minority governments: they seldom last a full term of four to five years.

There seems little doubt PM Harper will have to win a majority of seats to remain in power—a Liberal-NDP coalition with some sort of participation by the separatists Bloc Québécois will make sure of that.

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe points to a 2004 proposal in which the then opposition leaders were to write to the governor general as a group and remind her that opposition leaders were ready to try and form a government should the minority Liberal government under Paul Martin fall. Duceppe and New Democrat leader Jack Layton and, I suppose, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff would like us to see that rather simple letter as being a “coalition” agreement equivalent to the formal coalition agreement their three parties hatched up in 2008 to defeat the Tories.

The 2004 document is a far cry from the formal, official coalition proposed by Liberals-NDP and supported by written contract by the Bloc to support the Liberal-NDP coalition on confidence motions for 18 months. Cooperation between parties, as suggested in 2004, is a time honoured tradition in Canada, but is not a coalition in the formal sense as was envisioned by the opposition in 2008—far from it.

In late 2008, the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Québécois signed an agreement with the following details:

Liberal leadership candidates Dominic LeBlanc, Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae, left to right, throw their support behind current party chief Stéphane Dion for a coalition government after a caucus meeting Monday in Ottawa.
As reported by CBC News Dec. 1, 2008: Liberal leadership candidates Dominic LeBlanc, Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae throw their support behind Stéphane Dion for a coalition government. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

  • 24 members of cabinet and Stéphane Dion as prime minister
  • 18 Liberal cabinet ministers
  • 6 NDP cabinet ministers
  • 6 NDP parliamentary secretaries
  • The 2 caucuses would sit side by side in the House of Commons
  • The agreement between the NDP and Liberals would expire on June 30, 2011, unless renewed, and the Bloc committed for 18 months.

Nothing like that was ever proposed by the Tories in 2004. Neither Jack Layton nor any of his caucus were guaranteed a seat at PM Stephen Harper’s cabinet table and the NDP caucus was not invited to sit side by side in the House of Commons.

To suggest equivalence between the two situations is misleading and mischievous and suggests a lack of integrity one finds distasteful in leaders of any stripe in Canada.

There’s nothing wrong with a formal political coalition, such arrangements are quite within the Westminster tradition. The parties involved, however, owe it to voters to inform them during the campaign of their true intentions. I believe most Canadian voters would take a dim view of having hard-core socialists holding key federal cabinet posts with a separatist party guaranteeing the arrangement with support on non-confidence votes.

If Canadians wanted socialists and separatists to control key cabinet posts and directly influence government policy, they’d vote to put them there. I believe a very large percentage of Canadians would worry enough about the quid pro quo of such a coalition that they’d vote in a way to avoid the chance of its formation.

To put it kindly, Michael Ignatieff has been circumspect regarding the likelihood of a coalition between his Liberals and the NDP or Bloc. Listening to Layton and Duceppe recently, however, there is little doubt they favour such a coalition.

I believe the ethical thing for Ignatieff to do now is to make an unambiguous statement clarifying his party’s intentions in this regard. Simply put: does he intend to lead a coalition, yes or no.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ignatieff set to pull plug on PM Harper this Friday

I get it: the federal Liberals, New Democrats and the Bloc Québécois have lost confidence in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. So what? The PM has never had the confidence of these opposition parties, so what’s the big deal? Within six weeks of the Tories winning the 2008 general election, the opposition parties formed a coalition with the intention of voting non-confidence in the government. So nothing much has changed.

I believe it is time for an election so the kids in Ottawa can blow off some steam. The political atmosphere in the capital has become so toxic, some sort of relief valve is desperately need; perhaps a general election will provide that relief. At least we ordinary Canadians will not have to watch the antics of these career pols as they act up during Question Period in a rather pathetic effort to seem relevant to their constituents. This is especially true of members of the Bloc and the NDP who have no chance whatsoever—unless through a coalition—of having a chance to actually govern the country. At least the Grits are just doing what the official opposition generally does.

There is, however, a lot at stake here. The Conservatives could, for instance, win a majority thereby ending the circus and farce the Parliamentary committees have become and allowing for meaningful long-term management of the affairs of state.

On the other hand, the Grits could form the next government, promoting the ineffective Michael Ignatieff to the job of prime minister of a country for which he really has little or no “feel.” A few years ago Ignatieff lived abroad and the only public sentiments I heard him express about Canada were rather derogatory. Canada has changed a lot in the 30-odd years of his adult life that he spent outside the country, and Ignatieff is still struggling to catch up.

Look, there is nothing wrong with any Canadian deciding his or her best interests lay in another country. What’s wrong is for that Canadian to return after spending almost all of their adult life abroad and expecting ordinary Canadians to accept them as our prime minister. Should Ignatieff lose the leadership of the Liberal party, he’ll leave Canada within three or four years—I’d bet on that, but I don’t like to bet sure things.

If the Grits win, we return to the bad old days of major political scandals (Adscam, Shawinigate, HRDC Job Training Grants Scandal, etc.), spending fiascos (cancellation of military helicopter contract, gun registry, HRDC scandal, etc.) and the sort of military cutbacks we’re still struggling to repair.

As to ridding ourselves of the federal deficit, we can forget that. These are the Grits of Bob Rae, not of Paul Martin. There is nothing left in the Liberal party that vaguely resembles the deficit-slaying team led by Paul Martin. Martin was a fiscal conservative, something of which the current Liberals are quite devoid. A Liberal win virtually ensures major social program spending and federal deficits well into the future.

If the Grits lose this election, that party loses Ignatieff as leader, another pretty safe bet. And the same fate could await the PM if his party comes up short in May.

After condemning the PM and his government non-stop since the last election and, at the same time, making sure that Conservative government stayed in office, Ignatieff seems ready finally to pull the plug on the Tories this Friday. Should Ignatieff do as expected, we’re in for the nastiest election Canadians have seen in a long time.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

High crimes and misdemeanors Bev Oda’s actions were not

The rancour among opposition MPs in Ottawa towards the government and Conservatives in general is palpable. Nowhere is this malicious resentfulness more noticeable than in New Democrat member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, Pat Martin. Martin has held his Manitoba seat since 1997 and has accomplished little in Ottawa other than becoming somewhat of a media darling who can be counted on for a sound bite now and then.

Martin is a sanctimonious blowhard and bully who uses his membership on Parliamentary committees to browbeat government representatives in a rude and disparaging manner. His shameful sham of a performance during his questioning of International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda on Friday is the latest example of his contemptible behaviour.

During his overly aggressive verbal assault, Martin suggested Bev Oda is a “lousy minister,” the “minister of weasel words” and suggested she was either a “very poor minister or equally poor liar.” And all this from an MP who is not even a voting member of the committee that is considering whether Ms. Oda should be found in contempt of Parliament—he was brought in by the NDP to be their non-voting “hit man” to entertain the media and to humiliate the beleaguered minister to the full extent of his rather limited vocabulary.

The man’s an odious fellow and a bit of a clown who, like most New Democrat MPs, need to find ways to seem relevant to their constituents and Canadians at large. He’s one of those career politicians who’s in the House of Commons because it is the best paying form of employment he’s ever likely to get—that is, for personal gain. It rankles political hacks like Martin that they will never achieve real power and influence in Ottawa and sometimes their envy and personal animosity towards those who hold power gets the best of them.

Now I read the hypocrite is waffling over whether Minister Oda should be found in contempt of parliament, musing to The Globe on Monday, “I think [her alleged transgressions] are sins of omission more than commission and I’m not sure being less than truthful is as serious as offence as an out-and-out lie.”

So why humiliate Minister Oda so? Because Martin’s privileged position lets him, that’s a good enough reason for any bully.

Contempt of Parliament apparently has only been found in two previous cases: Louis Riel and Fred Rose. Louis Riel, a former Manitoba MP, was expelled from the House of Commons in 1874 for leading the Red River Rebellion. Rose was a communist who had been elected to the House in the mid-1940s then expelled and imprisoned.

Can anyone—even mean-spirited opposition MPs capable of virtually anything—find equivalence between these gravely egregious acts and the actions of Minister Oda? High crimes and misdemeanors her actions were not.

Frankly, I doubt the committee will find the minister in contempt. And the opposition really doesn’t have to as they already have what they want now that three opposition members on the committee have agreed the government is in contempt for its failure to release documents on the cost of its law-and-order agenda. But it’s fun to roast a minister now and then. It’s all part of the political game played by these overpaid political hacks putting in time before they retire on taxpayer funded top-hat pensions that very few of the rest of the population will ever receive.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Tim Hudak’s 200-Day Countdown and Burlington’s nomination race

I see that Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak has opened his campaign headquarters and begun his party’s “200-Day Countdown” to the October 6 general election, so I guess it’s time to pay closer attention to provincial and local politics. With luck, we can put the PCs back in charge at Queen’s Park so they can begin to clean-up the hash Dalton McGuinty and his sloppy team have made of our province’s economy and finances.

Closer to home is the campaign that will see a new MPP represent the Burlington, Ontario riding now that PC incumbent, Joyce Savoline, has made official her intention to retire from provincial politics. Ms. Savoline has held the Burlington seat for the PCs since early 2007. As hinted at in this space back in March 2009, I suspected Ms. Savoline would not contest this upcoming election. My suspicion was aroused by her inactivity at the riding level and seeming unconcern regarding development of a strong, active riding association so critical to success in any general election.

At this point, who will replace Ms. Savoline is an open question. With the PCs generally ahead in the polls, a solid Tory candidate stands more than a fighting chance to keep the seat for the PCs for another four years—the Burlington seat, in one form or another, has been held by the PC party since 1943.

To this point there seems to be three credible contenders and perhaps a fourth still to declare one way or the other. Back in February, The Hamilton Spectator ran an article about a possible comeback by former MPP and mayor, Cam Jackson, who held the seat from 1985 to 2006. I doubt that’ll happen, though one can never tell.

Lawyer Brian Heagle, a former Burlington citizen of the year and unsuccessful candidate for Burlington’s city council, is apparently considering a run at the PC nomination. It seems well known that Heagle considered running for the provincial Liberals in 2007, and although he’s apparently said he has always voted Conservative and is more comfortable with the Tory brand and values, I doubt he’d win the nomination unless he signed up a large enough number of new party members to completely change the character of the riding association. I don’t believe the current PC membership is very impressed with Heagle’s flirting with the Liberals.

Brad Reaume, senior adviser to Halton Progressive Conservative MPP Ted Chudleigh, is also said to be considering the nomination. Mr. Reaume contested Ms. Savoline’s by-election nomination in 2007. He made a well-received speech at that nomination meeting—probably the best of the evening—but he’s a former journalist and that was expected. I can’t see that he’s done anything much in the riding before or since. Burlington riding association members seem to prefer candidates who’ve been active in riding politics or association affairs and who have made an effort to get to know riding association members on a personal basis. Mr. Reaume seems to fail this test.

René Papin, a former president of the Burlington PC riding association, has declared his intention to seek the nomination regardless of who else decides to run. 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 had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Papin recently over a cup of coffee. He’s a family man, with several years of business experience since graduating from University of Toronto in 1983. He’s run his own business and describes himself as a Bill Davis-conservative—not a bad thing to be, by the way. He told me he’s a fiscal conservative, but sees himself as a progressive on many social issues. My guess is Mr. Papin’s more to the centre than I am, but seems to fit the traditional Progressive Conservative mold pretty well.

At this stage, I’d give the nomination to René Papin—I’d even vote for him myself.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Interesting times for political pundits

For those of us who follow Ontario and federal politics closely, the times they are getting interesting. With a date certain for the Ontario general election this fall and a strong possibility that we’ll have a spring federal election, my level of excitement is on the increase. Today I heard some “educated” speculation of Ottawa origin regarding a May 9th vote—makes sense to me.

I notice that the federal Liberals are themselves quite capable of self-inflicted foot wounds: Justin Trudeau takes careful aim at Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, but, instead, shoots himself in the foot. When will the Grits learn not to send a boy to duel with grown men?

Mr. Trudeau needs to learn that one actually should consider one’s words carefully before uttering them. He should be ashamed of himself. Perhaps worse than his silly, misguided remarks about being “uncomfortable” with the Conservative description of so-called honour killings as “barbaric,” Mr. Trudeau has given comfort to that small minority of Canadians who believe killing their daughters can actually have something to do with honour. As is being asked by Tory party officials, how indeed would this neophyte of a politician describe honour killings? Well he never really said at the time, did he?

Now he’s apologized, managing to assign blame to the Tories as he did so:

“Perhaps I got tangled in semantic weeds in my comments, particularly in view of the Conservatives’ cynicism on these issues. I want to make clear that I think the acts described are heinous, barbaric acts that are totally unacceptable in our society.”

“Tangled in semantic weeds” indeed—more like, it seems to me, a serious case of hoof firmly planted in mouth. So now he says such acts are barbaric. This silly boy isn’t really ready for primetime.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

We’re becoming a nation of crybabies and whiners

The times they are interesting…very interesting. Natural disasters, economic woes, wars, famines and food cost rising, to name only a few of the world’s challenges. Yet there are those among us who can take the time to be outraged by a few simple, more or less innocently delivered words. Context is everything in human discourse. If no harm is intended, none should be assumed, especially by those for whom the words were not directly intended.

If someone finds Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s use of the words “cotton pickin’” offensive, that’s their problem and not the problem of the speaker. Whites, Blacks and everything in between have worked in the mean fields of the South. No one race or colour has the exclusive moral right to claim offence. Is “ditch digger” now to be struck from polite conversation?

If we’re not careful our society will implode under the pressure of political correctness. It’s like a virus growing out of control, fed by hyper-sensitive citizens with far too much time on their hands.

Recently a CBC television personality was coerced into apologizing because he used the term “Indian giver.” Yet universities across our land are holding Israeli Apartheid Week. No apologies, though, for the real and intended offence given to the millions of Israeli citizens hurt by this egregious, untrue slur. Hmm.

Strange, is it not, that we’re super-sensitive about giving offence to Native peoples and those of Black-African descent, but celebrate slurs against the nation of the Jews, one of the freest, most democratic nations on earth?

We’re becoming a nation of crybabies and whiners, or simply political opportunists who’ll try to score sophomoric got-ya points at any cost. This sort of nonsense does nothing to enhance debate, it stifles it.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I’ll stick with the devils we know

Stormy weather for the Conservatives in Ottawa these days, with much huffing and puffing and righteous indignation on display, and most of it could have been avoided. In tennis they call this sort of thing “unforced errors.” I think of them as some sort of sick political death wish.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Photo Credit: CBC

Yes, the opposition blows every Conservative slip out of all proportion, but it’s the Conservatives who hand them the ammunition with one mini-scandal after another. And this silly cycle repeats itself every time the Conservatives get near to majority territory in the polls.

My wife believes there’s a Liberal mole in the prime minister’s office, some Warren Kinsella sort of an agent provocateur who whispers dumb ideas into the ears of our political masters. Would be nice, wouldn’t it, if we Conservatives had someone other than ourselves to blame for what’s being allowed to go on in the capital? But the sad fact is we find ourselves with a smoking gun in our collective hands and a hole in our collective foot, and no one else in the room.

Got to really love those Grits though—well, maybe not love exactly—they call the Tories and Prime Minister Stephen Harper everything nasty they can think of, but refuse to come right out and say they’ll move no confidence in the House at their earliest opportunity. Earlier today, CBC News Network’s Suhana Meharchand tried her best to tie down Liberal House Leader David McGuinty, but couldn’t. All she really got was more political mumbo-jumbo and hyperbole—nothing definitive like, we’ll bring them down.

The fact is, under Michael Ignatieff’s leadership the Grits have become more talk than action, and I suppose we Conservatives should be grateful for that.

There are times when I’m completely fed up with the antics of our Ottawa caucus, but then I remember back to the days of the Liberals when political scandals were writ large, nothing like these Tory mini-gaffs. Not that contempt of parliament is not a big deal, it’s just that I have come to the conclusion it’s better to stick with the devils you know.

Perhaps, though, it is time to go to the polls and have Canadians decide: another four years of the Harper government or a switch back to those rascals under the ineffective leadership of Michael Ignatieff.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Elizabeth May should practice what she speaks

Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, went on national television to lecture us on political “attack ads,” which her party is “attacking” in a new TV ad campaign. What a joke! “Tired of the name-calling? Smear campaigns? Mudslinging?” asks the ad’s narrator. I say “yes” to all those questions, and look to Ms. May to clean up her own act by the next federal election.

May, who apparently plans to run in the British Columbia riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, has engaged in several nasty personal attacks directed at Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Remember the 2008 leaders’ debate during the last federal election? May sat next to the PM and spat one personal slur after another at the man—the better man, I might add.

Then there was her infamous slur in 2007 when she claimed that PM Harper’s climate change position was “a grievance worse than Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of the Nazis.” A quick Google search will, I’m sure, toss up several other occasions when the Green leader has attacked the man rather than his ideas—it’s her style.

Ms. May, who has lost several elections in a row, is the irrelevant leader of an entirely irrelevant, single-issue political party. She is desperate to be noticed—by anyone. For more than a quarter of a century, her party has been running candidates in federal and provincial general elections and must be close to holding the Canadian record for futility as they have yet to elect a single candidate. The one sitting MP—elected under another party’s banner—who joined her party was defeated at the first opportunity the voters had to consider him as a Green candidate.

And yet she still gets herself on national TV—go figure.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.