Posts tagged ‘stephen harper’

April 25, 2011

Canada Election 2011: Layton upstages Ignatieff at Khalsa Day in Queen’s Park

Jack Layton at Khalsa Day 2011

Orange suits you, Jack. Nice grip too.

It seemed fitting that Michael Ignatieff spoke before Jack Layton on Sunday. Both national leaders attended Khalsa Day celebrations in Queen’s Park for Toronto’s Sikh community and it was clear from the ovations who was the star and who was the opening act.

The applause for Ignatieff was congenial. For Layton, the cheering was loud and, midway through his speech, chants of “NDP! NDP!” rose from the front of the crowd. The scene was a microcosm of what’s happening in the national polls, where Layton’s party is surging hard and running almost neck and neck with Ignatieff’s Liberals, who are collapsing this April like the Vancouver Canucks.

Layton seemed ever-confident and fed off the energy of a crowd familiar with him and his hits: social spending, family-first initiatives, focus on healthcare. “I see a lot of orange here,” he said, noting his party’s colours matched the headwear of many of the 50,000 who came to the park in what’s become the third-largest annual parade in Toronto.

Layton was in his element; Ignatieff came across as well meaning and gracious but appeared more like a guest than a friend. If his campaign does indeed fail, its downfall will be that: He just hasn’t been involved in the community for as long or viscerally as Layton and other politicians.

April 15, 2011

Canada Election 2011: 5 ways to get us to vote

Since writing that I won’t vote on May 2, I’ve received responses — online and off — from conscientious people encouraging me to change my mind. Some, though, agree and also vow to remain on the sidelines. For all of those candidates, reporters, Elections Canada officials and dutybound citizens desperately searching for ways to get us interested in this election, here are five things that might shift our position and lead us to the polls.

How many people will not fill a ballot box? That's the question.

1. Guarantee my Groupon. You can keep the half off the bowling in north Oshawa, but I’ve had it with missing out on two-for-one dinners at Loire and Pearl. Have those deals ready for me at the polling station, and I’m there. Might even vote twice if you did that.

2. Dunk tank. Cast a ballot, get the chance to dunk Justin Bieber. You want to get the youth vote out? There’s your answer.

3. Give Winnipeg an NHL team already. For the love of Hawerchuk would somebody give these people their Jets back! The pleading and agony is too much. All they want is the chance to lose to Edmonton or Calgary every Saturday night in perpetuity. If we all vote can someone make sure Gary Bettman eases their pain? (One condition: The Weakerthans’ “One Great City!” has to be played along with the national anthems before games at the MTS Centre.)

4. Promise to lay off the guilt. Yeah, people in Tahrir Square died for democracy. Yeah, kids in other parts of Africa would die (and have died) for rights we take for granted. But let’s talk about our reality, which is our national parties that don’t inspire us and our leaders who want our vote simply to stick it to their opponent. Oh, and by the way, when we did turn out in decent numbers in the ’80s and ’90s, we ended up with two of the most corrupt Canadian governments in history (Mulroney’s Conservatives and Chretiens’ Liberals). So voting may not be the answer to our political troubles. Not voting? En masse? Wonder what kind of wake-up call that might send.

5. Pay me. In Australia, voting is compulsory and you’re fined $85 if you don’t show up to the polls. I advocate for a similar approach, but rather than a fine, why not cut the salaries of Members of Parliament by 10 percent each time there’s an election and dole that money out to people who vote? That would drop each MP’s salary from $157,738 (yeah, if you didn’t know, that’s how much they make and they get $25,500 in annual expenses on top of that and not one of them is bringing it up during the campaign, but we’re supposed to rush to the polls for these people?) down to $141,964.10. Take the $15,773.80 you cut, multiple it by 308 (number of seats in Parliament) and you have $4,858,330.40 to dole out.

April 15, 2011

Canada Election 2011: 5 reasons not to vote for Jack Layton and the NDP

Jack Layton NDP Leader

Jack Layton at a recent NDP rally. (Photo courtesy of jack.ndp.ca)

1. The business community wants stability. It’s a huge reason Canada’s banking system has earned high praise internationally and attracted currency buyers, sending the loonie to record levels and making all of us richer. Increasing the corporate tax rate from 15 percent (what the Conservatives have set it to fall to in 2012) to the NDP-proposed 19.5 percent would be a shock to the system. The world economy is still in precarious condition, as Portugal’s debt woes show, and no one can predict what the ramifications will be from all the other delicate situations in the world (Japan’s recovery, Arab world unrest, fluctuating oil prices). So while the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives can come out with timely reports declaring corporate tax cuts are poor for job creation and capital investment spending, it hasn’t published a paper saying the business world would take a spike in the corporate tax rate in stride. Jack Layton is taking the public for fools when he tells us he’ll keep corporate taxes here below the U.S. rate, which is 26 percent (although there are all kinds of ways around paying that much). Of course our rate is never going to increase to that level in this decade, and competing with the U.S. rate isn’t the point. Low corporate taxes, combined with a stable economy, will draw more corporations to Canada and retain those that are here. If the Conservatives or Liberals are smart (wishful thinking, I know), they’ll incrementally increase the corporate tax rate once the global economy is healthy. The goal should be to lure lots of big businesses here and then slowly turn up the heat to get as much as we can out of them before they flee to Zug, Switzerland.

2. Layton’s a great attack dog. What would happen if he actually got that bone? Truth is, there’s reason to doubt his ability to lead the nation. Think Barack Obama, without the massive groundswell of support, global goodwill, happenin’ dance moves and cute kids.

April 13, 2011

2011 Canadian Election: Debate winners and losers

Here’s a look at who won the debate in English language on Tuesday as the May 2, 2011 election nears:

MICHAEL IGNATIEFF (LIBERALS)
Best moment:
He did what he had to do: Win the one-on-one debate with Stephen Harper. Up until that point, Harper’s calm and collected demeanour made him appear in command while Ignatieff and the other leaders seemed to lack authority and the way to wear it. Ignatieff stripped him down, beginning with: “You haven’t earned a majority. Majorities are things you earn when you earn the trust of the Canadian people.” In that succinct moment, Ignatieff encapsulated Harper’s plight and, perhaps, his legacy. Minutes later, he hammered at Harper’s imperiousness when he told the Conservative leader his contention that the Canadian people were sick of Parliament’s “bickering” was dead wrong. “This isn’t bickering, Mr. Harper this is democracy,” and added that Parliament wasn’t “some pesky little interference that gets in the way of your power.” From then on, Ignatieff pulled himself level with Harper in terms of holding a commanding presence on stage.

April 5, 2011

Canada Election 2011: 5 reasons not to vote for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives

Stephen Harper stumping in Guelph on Monday as the election campaign enters its second week.

Stephen Harper stumping in Guelph on Monday as the election campaign enters its second week. (Photo from Conservative.ca)

1. He lies. He lies so often you wonder if it’s a reflex. He lies with such audacity there’s not need to cite any examples to convince you it’s a fact. You can just be directed to one of the sites that have catalogued his fibs, whoppers, exaggerations, misstatements and inventions. While all politicians are prone to lying, Stephen Harper’s serial dishonesty is the one thing that should make you wary of removing the training license that is a minority government and giving him the keys to the dominion.

2. Kudos to the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network for breaking the Bruce Carson scandal.

April 4, 2011

Canada Election 2011: 5 reasons not to vote for Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals

1. For Michael Ignatieff, the title of Prime Minister of Canada pads his curriculum vitae. He’s a brilliant man with a long list of professional and academic accomplishments. Feats of public service? Not so much. Even he agrees.

“I was teaching people from 80 countries to go into public service. The Kennedy School’s mission is to train people for public service,” he said recently, citing his tenure as a Harvard professor and his decision in 2005 to move to Toronto. “At a certain point, when somebody says to you, ‘Come back to your country and do public service,’ you think, ‘Let’s walk the walk.’ Darnit, this is my home. I can’t do public service in any other country, only Canada.”

March 27, 2011

2011 Canadian Election: Why I won’t vote on May 2

I won’t be voting on May 2. And I won’t be alone.

The 2011 Canadian federal election will likely go down as the most unpopular in history in terms of percentage of voter turnout. In fact, it’s a given that less Canadians will cast a vote for representation in Parliament than will have watched some part of the Royal Wedding three days earlier.

Even when I lived in the U.S. for 10 years, I never missed a vote. I made sure to send in an absentee ballot for the elections in 1997, 2000 and 2004, voting each time for Liberal Karen Redman of Kitchener Centre. This time, my riding is in downtown Toronto and I’m not coming out.

According to a study from Simon Fraser University, the country witnessed a drop in voter turnout for four consecutive elections from 1988 until 2006, when there was a 3.8-percent uptick to 64.7 percent as Stephen Harper managed to rally the Conservative Party and win a minority government. The trend reverted in 2008, which marked the first federal election when fewer than 60 percent (58.8, or 13.9 million) of registered voters cast a ballot. Should the initial polling results play out on Election Day 2011, it’s conceivable Harper could win his long-sought majority government with a minority turnout of registered voters. (Since not all adult Canadians are registered voters, we’ve already had federal elections where more adults eligible to vote have opted not to do so than those who did.)

READ ‘5 WAYS TO GET ME TO VOTE’

If you’ve decided to stay away from the polls on Election Day, get ready for the name-calling. We’re going to be labeled apathetic by media and chastised by political wonks for not performing our civic duty. Few people who are into politics in this country will admit that the topic of their keen interest is, these days, banal, monotone, more dull than a senate committee hearing on the benefits of beaver crossing signs (bilingual, of course) in national parks and, most damning of all, spectacularly inconsequential.

Canada is orderly; it’s principled, it’s a good and decent country with enough checks and balances in place to keep it so. Canadians are, if not content, generally okay with how things are working, partly because we’re doing better than many in the States.

Harper will take credit, some of it deserved, for steering us clear of the worst of the Great Recession and winning our banking industry applause from around the world. He’ll run on the economy and Michael Ignatieff will run on being a Liberal, because he’s got nothing of substance on which to base a campaign. To win, he must convince us his red is warm and fuzzy and Harper’s blue colours are evil. And, thanks to such rhetoric, many of us will just run to something more interesting than the bickering of this pair. No, Jack Layton, that doesn’t mean you.

READ ‘5 REASONS NOT TO VOTE FOR STEPHEN HARPER’

Our nation’s politics are boring. Our two leading politicians, and the parties they lead, are so similar they would each slap you for suggesting they’re alike. Even worse, our politics have become clannish to the point where many of us don’t recognize ourselves in our Members of Parliament or our interests in their debates in Ottawa. Were many constituents in Northumberland-Quinte West really clamouring to see the detailed outline of the Conservatives’ federal crime bill? No, but the failure to disclose costs related to that bill is part of the reason the Harper government was declared in contempt of Parliament, sending millions to the polls for the third time in five years.

READ ‘5 REASONS NOT TO VOTE FOR MICHAEL IGNATIEFF’

This election isn’t about that bill, of course, or a budget (which was immanently passable). It’s about gang warfare, the Parliament Hill way. That means lots of subterfuge and self-serving banter that does nothing to further the policy debate in our country or improve the well being of the poorest of us or the ability of the richest of us to expand upon success.

Not only is this about Liberal vs. Conservative, it’s Liberal vs. Liberal: Those who want Ignatieff out even if it means sticking taxpayers with a bill of $300 million (what the 2008 election cost) pitted against those Ignatieff supporters, a dwindling number who stand by him for who-knows-what reason. It’s also about Harper sensing opportunity, both for a political kill and to exercise the most contemptible aspect of his personality: a vindictiveness that alone scares me away from siding with him. But about 5 million of the 13 million or so who will vote will put a check beside a Conservative Party candidate.

So, two days after he celebrates his 52nd birthday, Harper could be prime minister with a majority mandate and potentially five more years in office. I won’t vote for that election result, but I would bet on it and, if that becomes the case, Canada won’t be significantly different on May 3 than it is today, and that’s neither good nor bad. It’s okay.

READ ‘5 REASONS NOT TO VOTE FOR JACK LAYTON’

Harper’s right, we don’t need an election. What we need is a politician to energize us, to motivate us to secure the health of the environment and help us capitalize on our abundance of resources to realize fantastic economic prosperity in this century. Sadly, he’s not such a force, and neither are the alternatives.