Friday, April 14, 2006

Canadians Don't Want Rae

I recently posted on why I don't think Rae is a good pick for the Liberal leadership and according to a recent poll by Environics, it looks like a lot of Canadians concur.

Rae as Liberal leader would deter voters: Poll
Federal NDP commissioned surveyEx-premier not yet in leadership race

Apr. 14, 2006. 01:00 AM

OTTAWA—Bob Rae as leader of the Liberal party would turn away nearly twice as many people as he would attract, according to an Environics poll commissioned by the NDP.
The former NDP premier of Ontario recently switched affiliation to the federal Liberals and is expected next week to officially join the race to succeed Paul Martin, who stepped down after losing the Jan. 23 election.

Nationally, 22 per cent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for the Liberals if Rae became Liberal leader, compared with 12 per cent who said they would be more inclined to pick the Liberals if he was leader.

Nearly two-thirds said having Rae as leader would make no difference or had no opinion on the question.

"He's not generating a groundswell of support," observed Keith Neuman, group vice-president at Environics.

Of those surveyed in Ontario, 31 per cent said they would be less likely to vote for the Liberals under Rae, compared with 17 per cent who said they would be more likely to do so.

The result was similar in Toronto, where 31 per cent told pollsters they would be less inclined to vote Liberal if Rae was leader, while 21 per cent said they would be more inclined to favour the Liberals.

In Quebec, 15 per cent said they would be less likely to choose the Liberals under Rae, while 8 per cent said they would be more inclined to go Liberal with Rae at the helm. More than 75 per cent in Quebec said it would make no difference or gave no opinion.

Neuman pointed out that Environics surveyed all Canadians, not just Liberal party members, and that Rae has not yet officially joined the race leading up to the Dec. 2-3 Liberal leadership convention. Neuman said there is no way of knowing what impact the announcement of Rae's candidacy would have on the survey results.

The poll of 2,035 adults was conducted nationally between March 9 and March 31.
An NDP official who spoke on background said the federal party is always polling on a variety of questions.

"It helps guide some of our work; it doesn't guide all of our work," the official said. Of the survey on Rae's standing, he said the NDP's conclusion was: `All right, nothing to worry about here.'"
If he runs, Rae is likely to inherit many of the left-leaning supporters of former prime minister Jean Chrétien. But many on the right wing of the Liberal party are adamantly opposed to Rae's bid for their party's top job. Rae also will have to overcome his patchy record as Ontario premier from 1990 to 1995, particularly the memory of Rae Days, when his government sparked widespread resentment by forcing public sector employees to take unpaid leave to save the province money.

More than a dozen candidates could join the Liberal leadership contest. Among those who are seen as potential frontrunners in the early going are Rae, MP and author Michael Ignatieff, former Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy and former federal cabinet ministers Stéphane Dion, Scott Brison and Ken Dryden.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Hate Our Health Care System!

So last night I went to the hospital under the precept that I had the Avian Flu. I was a little disappointed to hear that I had just the Norwalk Flu and instead would not be making the 6 o' clock news.

I arrived at a little passed midnight in probably the worst pain I've experienced in years. I was burning up and throwing up. I was so hot, I was laying on the hospital waiting room floor. AND it STILL took me 6 1/2 hours to be treated. The part that makes me the most upset, though, is that I was the only one in the waiting room!

Apparently there was only one doctor on duty, so I can understand there is only so much that can happen, but to be in that much discomfort for 6 1/2 hours is hardly acceptable. I lasted through it because I am young and healthy, but what about seniors or children? What about the person waiting for a kidney transplant or bone surgery? I cannot even begin to imagine their frustration waiting to be treated!

Our health care needs a real makeover! I'm tired of it. We need to be looking for innovative policy solutions that is applicable to our state in time. Personally, I think the best solution is to adopt a system like the French. Another thing I was thinking about to lift some of the pressure of the Emergency Departments, is to have the government set up clinics just next to the hospitals that are open 24 hours a day. There are a lot of people who don't need to be in the Emergency Department, but just go there because it's the only thing open. If clinics where just outside the hospitals, undoubtedly they would not be as exhausted.

But seriously, whatever works because right now the system bites. Nurses are underpaid, wait lists are too long, emergency rooms are backed up... Something needs to happen.

If you have an interesting idea on how to change our health care system for the better, write it down in the comments. I'm really interested to hear what the readership has in mind.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Iggs Graces Maclean's

Well I have been anything but shy in my support for Michael Ignatieff, but I would like to take the propoganda a little further - I highly recommend reading this article in Maclean's. Even TDH Strategies, who claims to have been hard on Ignatieff, thinks he did absolutely fantastic. A very good read.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I Ain't No Rae Fan!

As much as I'm sure Bob Rae will be a significant contribution to the Liberals in the renewal process, leadership contest, blah, blah, blah; I would encourage anyone who is thinking of supporting him in the leadership bid to think long and hard.

The best way to anticipate future behaviour of an individual is to look at past behaviour and seriously, how can anyone be expected to be enthusiastic to support of a potential leadership candidate who only purchased a party membership last week? I mean, the reason why most of us know Rae is because he was the NDP Premier of Ontario.

Not only is he known as an NDP Premier, but like the BC NDP Party, he managed to completely screw over his Province and there are many reasons for this:

1. The Party Rae led was inexpreinced and poorly managed Ontario's recession, turning it into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

2. Rae's Party backtracked on several campaign promises, most notably the introduction of public auto insurance.

3. A number of scandals in cabinet and caucus, and disagreements among the party and its supporters.

4. Rae's government initially underestimated the extent of the North American recession. Their first budget projected a deficit of almost ten billion dollars, and enacted a series of spending programs to mitigate the worst effects of an economic lag (Keynesian Economics - very out of date). Unfortunately, the monies provided for in the budget were insufficient against the recession, and did not create enough productivity. Thomas Walkom, from the Toronto Star, described the budget as "the worst of both worlds" - angering the business community, but not doing enough to provide for public relief. For many, the budget reinforced the popular stereotype that the NDP are irresponsible spenders.

5. The government changed its economic focus after 1991, and implemented budget cutbacks to control the province's mounting deficit. His government also brought in the Social Contract, austerity legislation which reopened collective bargaining agreements with the province's public sector unions. This legislation imposed a wage freeze and introduced what became known as "Rae Days", giving civil servants (including teachers, doctors, nurses, etc.) ten days off without pay per year.

6. These cutbacks led to a falling-out with both the public sector unions, most notably Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) along with its leader, Buzz Hargrove. Sid Ryan, Ontario President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, referred to the Social Contract as the worst labour legislation he had ever seen.

7. This breach between the NDP and organized labour struck at the party's foundations. The NDP was founded as an alliance between the old Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and the labour movement, and Rae's policy decisions alienated many traditional NDP voters. Thousands of members resigned from the party, and several unions turned against the NDP and vowed to defeat the government in the next election.

8. Rae continued to dissolve his Party when he decided to approve casino gambling for the province was also opposed by many in the party.

I hope this is sounding alarm bells to my readers. As a Liberal, I want to have a leader elected who can round up our team and lead us into victory against Harper's Conservatives in the next Federal Election. I highly doubt Rae is going to be the guy to do this. He effectively managed to screw Ontario, his Party crumbled internally under his leadership and support for the NDP fell to historic lows in Ontario during his tenure.

In the 1993 Federal Election, the NDP fell in support to 6% in Ontario. One day after the election, defeated parliamentarian Steven Langdon called on Rae to resign as Premier. Langdon had openly campaigned against the Rae government's austerity measures, and received a higher percentage of votes than any other NDP candidate in the province.

So this is why I plead with you - if you are thinking of supporting Rae, think long and hard. He'd be the easiest target for the Tories and he would be tremendously unpopular in Ontario, BC and Alberta. Canadians don't want Rae in power and neither do I.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pot Politics

One thing that Canadian pro- and anti-pot advocates should be able to agree on is that anyone, young people in particular, caught with marijuana shouldn't have to carry the stigma of a criminal record for life. For God's sake, even the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) backs that position.

In an editorial, the CMA pointed out that a criminal record effectively bars young people from getting jobs and opportunities, including getting into medical school. It also called the health effects of moderate use "minimal." As well, CACP advocates decriminalization, saying prosecuting people for small amounts ties up scarce resources.

The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois favour decriminalization in one form or another, but in a Press Conference last Monday, one thing was evident - that Prime Minister Harper would not be the champion of the cause. Harper said the new Conservative government will drop draft legislation by the Liberals to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Bill, which had alarmed law enforcement officials in Canada and the United States, died on the floor of the House of Commons after the Liberal Party lost elections in January. Under the bill, getting caught with about half an ounce or less of marijuana would have brought a citation akin to a traffic ticket, not a criminal record. While possession of marijuana would have remained illegal, the bill was intended to prevent young people from being saddled with a lifelong criminal record.

U.S. authorities worried the legislation would have weakened their efforts to curb marijuana exports from Canada, which has numerous marijuana farms, particularly in the lush Western province of British Columbia.

According to an interview with CBC, Alan Young, a law professor at York University and marijuana-legalization activist, cancelling the marijuana decriminalizing bill is an indication that Harper is trying to mend fences in the U.S, "Harper wants to mend fences with Bush," said Young, who has been involved in many of Canada's landmark marijuana cases. "I think it's a mistake for the country, and I regret that it's happening after so much work has been done."

Young also said he doesn't believe criminal laws will have any impact on consumption, "People don't really look to the criminal law to give them guidance as to what they do with their body. They look to their peers. They look to their own decisions as how they want to live their lives - the law has really had an insignificant effect on consumption patterns."

What is also interesting is that the McGill Department of Psychology received a $4-million grant last week to study the effects of cannabis on university students. Funded by the Conservative government, the grant is intended to demonstrate the negative consequences of smoking a J. What I'm thinking is that the Tories will be using this as ammunition why marijuana should not be legalized or decriminalized.


But to think we have people in jail for only possessing small amounts for personal use, or even medicinal use... Not only do I think that money could be put to more useful things, I also think it is just plain wrong.


Hey Guys and Gals,

Found this photo on Rick Mercer's Site and thought ya'll might find it funny! Enjoy.

Pedro Give Kennedy An Honourable Mention

To people who have read my site in the past, I guess it may be a little obvious that I will be supporting Michael Ignatieff (new campaign site; temporarily down). At the same time, I think Gerard Kennedy deserves an honourable mention. With some more time and experience, I hope to see this guy succeed our next Liberal Leader. Here's why:

Kennedy was raised in priviledge - he attended the private St. John's-Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg on a hockey scholarship when his Liberal businessman father was mayor of The Pas, Manitoba. But this did not stop the man from working with the grassroots regardless of who they were.

From 1986 to 1996, Kennedy was the Executive Director of Toronto's Daily Bread Food Bank. The food bank distributed $30 million worth of food each year without government funding; 150,000 people are estimated to have used its services every month.

Because of his hard-work and success with the charity, Kennedy was named in Toronto Life Magazine's list of fifty influential people in 1992, and was named newsmaker of the year by the Toronto Star in 1993. Kennedy was also given an honorable mention in the Financial Post Magazine's CEO awards in 1995.

So here we find a progressive Liberal comfortable in any milieu, who is able to express empathy for the disenfranchised without sounding condescending, disingenuous, or elitist. This probably has a lot to do with his ideals.

With his commitment to ethics, Kennedy, who has already decided to go federal, didn't just give up his great government job for an unlikely shot at an opposition one - he's also apparently giving up his Provincial seat to do so.

Leaving the Provincial Cabinet was a must, and I tip my hat to McGuinty for expediting the process to ensure Ontario has a full-time Education Minister. But there's no reason Kennedy couldn't have held onto his riding, with the understanding he'd go back into cabinet again if things didn't work out nationally. My understanding is that Kennedy genuinely believed he'd be letting down his riding if he held onto it without being able to actually spend time there.

Kudos to Kennedy and in a perfect world, I hope to see him as the runner-up to Iggs.