Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What Is Up With These Tories?

Has it been so long since the Conservatives been in power that they forgot to keep top secret information, top secret? I mean, it's one leak after another and now with this whole Sheila Fraser fiasco? My gawd!

The National Post reported this week on leaked details of Fraser's report that will be tabled in the House of Commons on today. Needless to say, Fraser is pissed. In the meantime, Conservative MP, Jason Kenney informed the House of Commons on Friday that the government is launching an investigation to determine who leaked details to the media.

Let's not forget that this isn't the first time the Tories leak information. On day 40 - March 17, the Globe and Mail reports on a leaked e-mail confirming the PMO's tightly controlled media strategy. Again, on day 80 - April 25: rumours spread around Ottawa as leaked information indicates a possible breakthrough in softwood lumber talks.

Perhaps this is a way for Conservative MPs and Tory staffers to rebel against their uber controlling Prime Minister. Yet, with so many crazies on board, who can blame him?

Take these guys and gal for example:

Maurice Vellacott: "[Chief Justice] Beverley McLachlin herself actually said that when they step into [a judicial activist] role, all of a sudden there's some mystical kind of power that comes over them by which everything they ever decreed is not to be questioned and they actually have these discerning and almost prophetic abilities to be able to come and know the mind of the public and they take on almost these godlike powers". He later noted, "she said that herself. I didn't say that."

Colin Mayes: "Boy, would the public get accurate and true information if a few reporters were hauled away to jail!" He also commented that, "maybe it is time that we hauled off in handcuffs reporters that fabricate stories or twist information and even falsely accuse citizens."

Rob Anders: “Nelson Mandela is a terrorist.”

Art Hanger: “Immigrants are choking welfare systems, contributing to high unemployment, and many cannot read.”

Myron Thompson: “Let's lower the age to ten”, commenting on the age at which he believes one should be tried as an adult.

David Sweet: “There's a particular reason why Jesus called men only. It's not that women aren't co-participators. It's because Jesus knew women would naturally follow. Men, on the other hand, had to be called.”

Cheryl Gallant: “We saw that young American having his head cut off. What's happening, what is happening down there no different”, comparing abortion to the beheading of American Nicolas Berg by insurgents in Iraq

June 4 Forum: A Dialogue On Women's Representation

Hi everyone,

The Ontario government has established a Citizens' Assembly to reviewand make recommendations for altering Ontario's voting system. On June 4, there will be a half-day forum which will feature experts on women's representation and electoral systems who will highlight the key issues that need to be addressed on this complex topic.

If any of you are interested in this seminar, here are the details:

Equal Voice and Women for Fair Voting present A DIALOGUE ON WOMEN'S REPRESENTATION

Sunday, June 4, 11-3pm
University of Toronto (specific room location TBA depending on registration)

Those in attendance will also be encouraged to bring their knowledge and concerns on the issue into the discussion.

Themes to be addressed include the interaction of social factors and electoral system design on women's representation, the role of parties, questions of 'demographic' representation and 'critical mass', and evidence about women's representation from around the world.

Please register as soon as possible. See below for program details and registration details.

10:30-11:00 Registration
11:00-11:15 Introduction Diane Williamson, Equal Voice; June Macdonald, Women for Fair Voting
11:15-12:45 The voting system and barriers to the representation ofwomen Jill Vickers, Carleton; Barry Kay, Wilfrid Laurier; Brenda O'Neill, Calgary; Amanda Bittner, UBC
12:45-1:15 Snack Break
1:15-2:45 Demographic representation, critical mass and parties Melissa Haussman, Carleton; Sheilagh Knight, Research consultant; Kiloran German, Equal Voice; Judith Mackenzie, Guelph; Michelle Dagnino, Osgoode Law School, student-at-law
2:45-3:00 Closing comments

Use this form, or register by calling 416-410-4034.
Registration fee covers materials and snacks/coffee/tea.

__$10 regular or __ $5 students or unwaged

__ cheque enclosed or __ credit card

# (VISA or MC)_________________________expiry date ________________

Name ___________________________________

Email ___________________________________


Phone (day)____________________

Mail completed form to:
Fair Vote Canada, 26 Maryland Blvd.
Toronto,ON M4C 5C9

Or fax to: 416-686-4929

*** If you plan on attending, could you please do me a favour and send me an email to let me know how it went. Very interested, but live in BC.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why Did The Liberals Not Build A Coalition With The NDP In 2006?

I am a member of the Canadian Political Science Association and I received an email from Dr. David MacDonald, Senior Lecturer of Political Studies at the University of Otago where he asked, "why did the Liberals not build a coalition with the NDP in 2006?"

Please find below part of his email. I find it quite interesting and think that in the future, this is something Canada should consider doing. The idea definitely represents thinking outside the box.

Why did the Liberals not build a coalition with the NDP in 2006?

Just something that's puzzling me about the Canadian political system, perhaps POLCAN members can help. I am Canadian political scientist based at the University of Otago in New Zealand. I am puzzled by the apathy of both the Librals and NDP in the wake of the 2006 election results. What we have down here in NZ which works extremely well is the building of formal coalition governments, even if they are minority governments.

In the last Canadian election we have the following:

Conservative 124 seats 36.3%
Liberal 103 seats 30.2%
NDP 29 seats 17.5%

If the Liberals and NDP had gone into coalition as they might have done in Australia, or New Zealand, or in non-Westminster systems like Germany and France, we would have had a coalition government with 47.4% of the popular vote and 132 seats. This would represent a far more stable and democratic option than the current structure where the majority of Canadians have supported centre-left parties, only to be left out in the cold.

Why is Canada one of the few western countries to not explore the coalition government option as far as it can go? Neither the Liberals nor the NDP needed to cede power to the Conservatives. I believe Prime Minister Martin’s announcement of defeat and resignation was premature. If one takes into account that the Bloc is a centre-left party as well – the vast majority of Canadians, federalists and separatists voted centre left. It seems patently undemocratic to have a center-right party dominated by near Neo-Conservatives at the helm of our country.

In most western democracies coalitions are extremely common. Germany, France and Italy provide other examples. Natural coalitions of like-minded parties who share similar views that the mood of the electorate veers to either the center-left or center-right. We need to reappraise coalition politics in Canada and get away fromthe dominant one-party-takes-all mentality.

Canada sadly remains mired bythe traditional American and British two-party model, although Canada’s political system is far more vibrant than either of these two other systems.

Tories' 100 Days of Power Summarized

Andrew Coyne, of the National Post, reflects on Harper's last 100 days of government. It's really a bright article that highlights the many mistakes Harper has already committed. The following points are elaborated upon:

1. Appointments of Fortier and Emerson to Cabinet

2. Their budget, which was not only aimed at winning power, but at seeing the Tories safely through their first months in office

3. The celebrated "five priorities" are not merely largely irrelevant to the main challenges before the country, they aren't even priorities

4. Outside of the famous five, the government's immediate preoccupation has been not so much with charting a new course as in getting off the one the Liberals had set us on -- not rolling back the state but simply slowing its headlong expansion

5. The government's rhetoric with regard to the provincial complaint du jour, the "fiscal imbalance," is noticeably lukewarm, where once it was fervid

6. Whatever their policy merits, they are chiefly designed to create an image of a decisive, assured prime minister, firmly in control and with a clear direction in mind, but instead backfired to make him look like a prick

7. Mr. Harper's view of politics is essentially tribal, or even feral

8. Limiting the media's access

9. The Premier of Ontario, the Ethics Commissioner, the American ambassador, his own communications advisor: There doesn't seem to be anyone the Prime Minister has not been willing to antagonize

10. The one exception to #9 has been Quebec, where Mr. Harper's approach has at times borne an eery resemblance to a charm offensive

And I would like to add another one, not mentioned:

11. Said "fuck you" to Ontario