Category Archives: News and politics

BTW

I’m just going to ignore these things until January. I don’t need to be disappointed with Canadians’ shaky grasp of their own government over Christmas.

Un bombe nucleaire

Andrew Potter, in the Blackberry Roundtable:

So where does this leave Quebec? Harper has dropped a bombe nucleaire on his party’s hopes of ever winning more than a dozen seats there. He’s supposed to be a master strategist — what’s the strategy for a majority now?

My impression of Stephen Harper today is about the same as I felt about Bush and Company after 2004. I was certain they were going to “catch” bin Laden just before the election. Turns out they weren’t political geniuses after all – they were just faking it.

Crisis postponed

Rick Mercer has summarized this past week’s political excitement (and he did a good job too). He concludes:

Meanwhile, this great democracy of ours has ceased to function. We have no government because they just can’t get along. It is a mess that defies comprehension but has one simple solution.

We need one more strange-bedfellows event: a historic press conference at which Stephen Harper and Stéphane Dion apologize to their country and then to their parties. And then they resign — no questions please.

Because, quite frankly, they deserve one another — and Canada deserves better.

Even I, who mistakenly thought Dion was the best of a dozen leadership choices (who better to win back the trust of Quebeckers than one of their own?), would be happy to expedite his departure if he took Harper with him.

I am pretending to study

But mostly watching the television.

CBC says Parliament will be suspended, but the PM hasn’t spoken yet.

Politically, this is has to be the dullest possible outcome. I was hoping for something interesting to happen.

UPDATE moments later:

Straight from the PM’s mouth, confirmation. Ironically, this suspension is partly motivated by the perception that we need a better budget and fast, but that budget is now put off until January 26 or so.

More numbers (no math)

There may be more insanity than substance in this poll, but it’s good to see what Canadians are thinking nonetheless.

  • 35% – The Tories should remain the government.
  • 40% – Want change. Any change.
  • 37% – If the government falls, the opposition coalition should take over.
  • 32% – If the government falls, we should hold a federal election.
  • 25% – Huh?

(This is an online poll, which immediately marks it as dubious in my books, but Angus Reid says the margin of error is only +/- 3.1%.)

It’s pretty obvious that the country is not outraged by the socialists and separatists’ attempt to subvert democracy and overthrow Our Directly Elected Leader. The change and no-change people are statistically tied, and the people who couldn’t care less aren’t far behind.

There is some irony that not enough Canadians want a different government to make an impressive statistic, but they are numerous enough to elect themselves a majority government if they were more coordinated.

A fortuitous decision

It just occurred to me that Stephane Dion must be pretty pleased with himself for not resigning immediately after the election.

Semantics and Mathematics

It bothers me too that the Tories keep describing this kerfuffle as a coup.

Let’s pretend he’s vaguely serious. If this was indeed a “coup,” would the Prime Minister not be obliged to declare martial law, call in the military and round up the leaders of this insurrection? Forget proroguing Parliament or rescheduling opposition days in the House, if the Prime Minister and his government are serious about the threat to our nation, let’s see tanks on the Hill. Anything less would be irresponsible, no?

And the media is playing along; I heard someone call it a “putsch” a few days ago. Points for creativity, but honestly, a putsch?

Coup is one of those serious words that has serious consequences and shouldn’t be used for theatrical effect. You wouldn’t call something a genocide unless it was actually a genocide.

MPs belong to a small group in society who are allowed, by law and by custom, to seize the levers of power. It’s like how your doctor gets to cut you but your neighbour does not. Now if someone came along and replaced the MPs, that would be a coup…

Finally, fulfilling the titular requirements of this post, some math:

Conservative popular vote               5,208,796
Liberal + NDP popular votes             6,148,746
Coalition + implicit support from Bloc  7,528,737
+ Green Party for good measure          8,466,350

You’re outnumbered, boys. Things which are constitutional are not necessarily democratic, but in this case the “coup” is both.

Ottawa is Crazytown today

This bored blogger is delighted with the insanity which has consumed Parliament. It’s the most exciting thing to happen in Canadian politics in six weeks. To re-cap:

1) The Prime Minister, extraordinary political strategist and middling leader that he is, decides the fiscal crisis would be a good time to end public financing for political parties. Completely coincidentally, this will hurt all the other parties more than his own. The cuts will be a part of the Fall Fiscal Update, a sort of mini budget and thus a matter of confidence; if it fails the government falls.

2) The Liberals and NDP, cornered and desperate animals that they are, begin talking about forming a coalition government when this one falls. This is ostensibly because the Fiscal Update doesn’t contain stimulus measures like every other respectable country is implementing, but it is more likely that the political pain of triggering a second election in as many months is not as bad as the fiscal pain of losing public financing.

3) The Prime Minister, who probably didn’t think the Liberals and NDP would even consider a coalition, backs down. The death of public financing will not be a part of today’s vote on the Fiscal Update.

4) But wait, this solves nothing! The other parties are still talking about replacing the government because there is no economic stimulus package in the Fiscal Update.

And this is where we stand at the moment.

Globalization

Today Stephen Harper promised to implement a number of recommendations (on the condition that you vote for him) from a report released back in June on the state of Canada’s economy in the world. The measures can generally be characterized as opening the door to foreign investment in Canada.

My opinion of globalization as a trend is that participation is more or less compulsory if we want to keep up with our neighbours and not find ourselves in a situation like Japan in 1854. It might not be pleasant right now, but like our experience during industrialization, after enduring the economic and social upheavals we will enjoy a higher standard of living.

So I agree it is a good idea to invite more foreign investment in Canada. Having said that, I do have some reservations.

  1. Sovereign wealth funds can be dangerous. If they aren’t operated at an acceptable distance from their governments, we risk having huge chunks of our country directly in the hands of foreign politicians or ruling elites.
  2. Labour mobility needs to catch up with capital mobility. People should be able to pass through provincial borders – short or long term – without any trouble at all, and the government should work with the US to allow citizens of both countries to work on either side of the border.
  3. You can never spend enough money on skills retraining and upgrading. This is like labour mobility except people are moving across industries instead of geography.
  4. We need to take steps (what they are is beyond me) to make sure we use our resource wealth wisely. We don’t want an economy that uses foreign money for the sole purpose of exporting minerals and oil to other foreign countries. There are plenty of jobs to be had besides primary resource extraction (mining, fishing, farming, and so on) and auto manufacturing. This is where Canada should aim to be a world leader. Norway seems to be getting by, despite it’s oil wealth.

Is this how campaigns are won (or lost)?

The latest blunder in the gaffe-prone Harper campaign […]

That’s how the CP begins its reportage of a clash between some Harper minion and the father of a dead soldier. It’s been five days and despite their Sisyphean efforts the election narrative is being set for the Tories, not by the Tories.

The irony that the Tories intended (and I think, were expected) to win the election by setting the message more skillfully than the other parties is not lost on me.

The liberal in me is pleased, but the democrat in me feels like this unexpected turn is undeserved and not how the left should hope to diminish the Tories.

(via Andrew Coyne)

PLAGIARISM ALERT: Andrew Coyne pretty much said the same thing in an earlier post. One of the perils of RSS is that I only see one article at a time. (Uncompensated intellectual theft is probably the second-largest industry on the Internet.)