Friday, May 05, 2006

McCullum Declares Support For Iggs

Toronto-area Liberal MP John McCallum said Friday that he will not enter the federal Liberal leadership race. McCallum, who represents the Markham-Unionville riding, had said he was about 70 per cent certain he'd run but instead he has decided to back Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP Michael Ignatieff.

He praised the rookie MP saying he has the capacity and commitment to rebuild Liberal support in Quebec. "He has the best chance of leading our party to victory in the next election,'' McCallum said of the former Harvard professor. He also credited Ignatieff with the ability to "inspire all Canadians."

In a statement, Ignatieff said McCallum will serve as a senior economic policy advisor for his campaign. McCallum is "one of Canada's leading thinkers on economic and fiscal policy," Ignatieff said in the press release.

Here's A Shocker

Hedy Fry acually has some strong financial backing.

For those of you from Vancouver, you'll know exactly who these guys are:

- Don Rix, multi, multi, multi millionaire and Chairman of MDS Metro
- Joe Segal, well known retailer and philanthropist
- Milton Wong, former Dean of SFU, Chair of HSBC Asset Management Canada Ltd., Order of British Columbia, Order of Canada, etc.

Aside from these guys, though, it doesn't look like she'll be getting a lot of other support. At her official announcement, not one Liberal MP from BC was anywhere to be seen. Still, Hedy has this to say: "others have said I'm running to increase my profile. Well, I say to them all: I never undertake a challenge unless I expect to win."

Good luck on that, Hedy!

Pissed In BC

The Provincial Government isn't too pleased with Tory plans to hack apart the Kelowna Accord. Premier Gordon Campbell is upset and he's letting people know it.

The Premier was planning a statement for the Legislature regarding his deep disappointment with the new Federal Government for not keeping with signed Kelowna Accord. His comments to the Legislature were attended by First Nations leaders Ed John, Stewart Phillip, Shawn Atleo, Mike Retasket and Doug Kelly.

The Premier described the Accord as "Canada's moment of truth". He also said that "it was a chance to do something that had eluded our grasp as a nation for 138 years - to end the disparities in health, education, housing and economic opportunity". The Accord "was the product of unprecedented governtment-to-government collaboration," Campbell went on to say.

Ten provinces, three territories and the federal government embraced a 10-year, $5 billion effort to close the gap between the country's Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. Following Flaherty's budget earlier this week, it looks like the Accord will be abandonned.

More than dollars, "the honour of the Crown is at stake", Campbell declared. "The trust relationship that was at the core of the Kelowna meetings demands decisive action and unflagging affirmation... No more excuses".

He closed by invoking what might be called the spirit of Kelowna: "First ministers from all the provinces, all the territories and the federal government came together. They lit a torch, and that was a torch of hope. It was a beacon that we should hold high".

And with that, the Premier took his seat, triggering a remarkable display - standing ovation from the government and the NDP Opposition. Mike Farnworth, Opposition house leader, had this to say: "We need to speak with one voice in this province".

First Nations representatives also stood and applauded the Premier's statement, ignoring the protocol that guests on the floor of the house are seen but never heard. People in the public galleries applauded too, again defying House rules.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I Actually Believe Iggs Will Take This One

Well, that's just my personal opinion, but I'm biased. Still, I think the momentum is with Iggs.

La Presse, a couple weeks ago, published a report on the different candidates and what they saw the odds of some of the candidates:

1. Michael Ignatieff: 8/10
2. St├ęphane Dion: 6/10
3. Ken Dryeden: 5/10
4. Scott Brison: 4/10
5. Joe Volpe: 3/10

They left Bob Rae out of the analysis, despite the fact that it was published the day after Rae announced. Regardless, they detailed a two-page article on him and it seemed to articulate that Rae was head-to-head with Iggs. I think there`s an element of truth to that.

Indeed Rae has a stellar organization backing him up and his brother John, the VP of Power Corporation, is really helping him out. Still, Rae is a very divisive candidate and I think he will have a very difficult time attracting the Stronachs and the Brisons of the Party.

Iggs has a pretty good team of organizers too. It will be interesting to see who Denis Coderre decides to support, especially after yesterday`s press announcement. I think Coderre was hinting at the fact that he would be supporting Iggs. That would be a big win.

First, Coderre acknowledged the fact that he would like to eventually become the leader of the Party. If he wants to so this, I don`t think he would support someone young and who has a lot of time ahead of them. Second, he took a shot at Dion, which is intriguing given the fact that Dion and Iggs are similar candidates and vying for the same demographic for support. Third, he has stated in the past that the Party should alternate between leaders from Quebec and from the rest of Canada. Fourth, he believes it is imperative to have a fluently bilingual leader. And fifth, he bluntly denied supporting Rae.

So this is all to say that even though Iggs and Rae might be head-to-head as front-runners in the race, I think Iggs might have the upper hand. It looks like the momentum is with him.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We've all heard the rude remarks and/or seen the bigotry in action: the Chinese are taking over Vancouver, Muslims are violent people, or Hindus are untrustworthy (this is usually a remark regarding "brown" people, but frequently bigots will use "Hindu" instead, not realizing that Hinduism is actually a religion and not a race).

As White folk, I'm really insulated from this kind of prejudice, unless, of course, you want to attack me for being French and/or Italian, but really, I can honestly say that I do not experience discrimination when it comes to my background. A colleague of mine is an immigrant and a visible minority. I am always eager to hear what she has to say about her experience immigrating to Canada, learning English and just trying to get a job. It's hard and I don't think non-visible minorities in Canada have any idea what it's like.

"Sue", my colleague, is a very, very strong person. She has always looked after herself, went to university and took care of her ailing parents. She speaks more eloquently than I do and with only the slightest detection of an accent. Yet, she says that without a doubt, moving to Canada was the single most difficult thing she has ever endured.

I am critical of the Conservative 2006 Budget on many fronts, but I must say that I applaud the Conservatives for realizing the need to recognize foreign credentials. In his budget, Flaherty promised to set aside funds to help immigrants get their foreign professional credentials recognized in Canada, a major obstacle for many forced into low paying jobs here.

"Sue" is also happy and I'm sure the surgeon-turned-cab driver who took me to Kits on Monday is also appreciative of this.

Recognizing foreign credentials is not just good for immigrants, but for all of us. We would all benefit from having more qualified doctors and nurses in Canada. But still, this is just the beginning and it can't just stop there.

Legal discrimination is much different from systemic discrimination. The Government can always open up the way for immigrants and visible minorities, but unless we change our views and stop seeing these people as the "others", they will continue be regarded as second-class citizens.

I would encourage everyone to check out this site. It is created by a team of former Canadian citizens who detail the experiences of immigrants in Canada. Very humbling.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Does A Fiscal Imbalance Exist?

In the Federal Budget Speech there was some talk about the fiscal imbalance and really, this is a topic I know very little about but will still be blogging on anyways. And really, my question "does a fiscal imbalance exist?" is a legitimate question of mine and depeding on who you speak to, you will get a different answer.

Many Provinces, notably Ontario and Quebec, have taken up the issue. Having personally worked as a political staffer for the BC Provincial Government, I know how difficult paying for education and health care is and it's only going to get worse. I think that our ability to address the problem (or lack thereof) will affect our ratings in the polls especially in these vote-rich provinces.

From what I know off the top of my head, Dion doesn't think an imbalance exists. Neither did Martin. Iggs has committed to fighting it. That's pretty much all I know so far.

The term "fiscal imbalance" is one that describes the situation that exists when teh distribution of revenue resources between the federal and provincial/territorial orders of government is inconsistent with the cost of meeting their respective constitutional spending responsibilities. To be more blunt - the feds are winning big surpluses by cost-cutting the Provinces, leaving Provinces with the difficulty of financing their constitutional responsiblities.

Frustrated and fed-up, the provincial and territorial Ministers of Finance commissioned the Conference Board of Canada to produce 20-year fiscal projections for the federal government and the aggregate of the provinces and territories. The resulting report shows large and growing federal surpluses over the next two decades while the provincial-territorial sector records small deficits. The report asks itself this: "is there an imbalance between the budgetary leeway of the federal government and that of the provincial and territorial governments in Canada?", to which it answers, "Based on a projection of the fiscal and budgetary status quo, the answer is definitely yes."

So I guess this is where I would open it up to the floor. I'm inclined to believe that there is an imbalance, but I'm not quite sold yet. If you have a comment or opinion on the matter, please list your comments, I would love to hear them as I make up my own mind on the issue.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Oh Gawd!

Well, it looks like Thursday Hedy Fry will be announcing her intention to run for Party leader.