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September, 2008:

The Politics of Fear – both Harper AND Dion are to blame

From Fair Vote Canada:

The Politics of Fear is Misleading and Polarizing.

Which of You Will Change the Sad Face of Canadian Politics?

Dear Mr. Harper and Mr. Dion:

On behalf of all Canadians who want to believe in democracy,
allow me to express my enormous frustration with this election

The leaders of our two largest political parties are acting more
like fear mongers than true leaders.

Stephane Dion, you say Canadians must vote for the Liberal Party,
or Stephen Harper, with a phony majority government, will ruin
Canada as we know it.

Stephen Harper, you say Canadians must vote for the Conservative
Party, or Stephane Dion as head of a phony majority Liberal
government will ruin Canada as we know it.

Is Canada truly in such terrible danger, or are both of you
simply avoiding the core question that any Canadian would ask:

'Why should a leader and party without true majority voter
support be allowed to seize command of Parliament and
impose law and policy on all Canadians?'

Why is it that you defend and perpetuate a system of
election and government which lacks the legitimacy conferred
by majority voter support?

What do you say to the nearly eight million orphan voters
in this country - more than half the active electorate,
many of whom support your own parties - who on October
14 will again cast votes which elect nobody to the House of
Commons? To Conservative voters who will elect hardly any
representatives in urban centres and to Liberal voters who
will elect no one in the prairie provinces?

Which of you on October 1 and 2 will say to the cameras
that before the next election you will bring in proportional
representation, making all Canadian voters equal citizens
with equal votes and equal representation in the House of
Commons, thus ending the need for fear and hate campaigns
designed to gain that slight advantage in the popular vote
that will result in a phony, underserved majority of seats
in Parliament?

Canadians would be delighted to hear you pledge that your
government will make this the last unfair and undemocratic
federal election. Any leader who makes that pledge would be
deserving of the votes from millions of currently orphaned
voters on October 14.

Yours for a democratic Canada,

Barbara Odenwald, President
Fair Vote Canada and

Fair Vote Canada (FVC) is a national multi-partisan citizens'
campaignto promote voting system reform. FVC was founded
in 2001 and has a National Advisory Board of distinguished
Canadians from all points on the political spectrum.


Harper and the Politics of Fear

One thing about being stuck at an airport is that there is lots of time for blogging!

Here’s a link to a piece that notes Harper’s tendency to play on the Politics of Fear.


Why to NOT vote for Harper Part 6 – LIVE! From the Regina airport.

Well. I’m stuck in Regina for a few hours and won’t get back into Ottawa till the wee hours tomorrow morning. The plane hit a bird and has to be repaired. I hate birds. The good news is that a colleague gave me an extra Air Canada lounge pass so I can pass the time away in relative comfort….

Now I have to figure out a way to blame Harper for the bird. Was it a BLUEbird?


But t’was a good trip. Nice countryside and mostly flat but really unique in some places where the glaciers retreated and huge spillways created valleys. Fort Qu’Appelle is a spot like this.

The dramatic changes in the countryside in this part of the country reminds me of a couple of things relating to the nation as a whole.

Canadians, like the Prairie geography, are not homogenous. And we never have been. Immigration since the 19th century pretty much guaranteed this but even with that put aside, our geographies have dictated that the folks sitting on these landx have to change to adapt to the local conditions. Those in the Prairies have adapted to a necessity of long distances, weather travesties and the other vagaries of an agricultural existence.

This can be said for many spots in this land. We and our ancestors had to adapt to the geograhies of the land – and the seas – and the hardships or bounties provided. This has made us a hardy folk.

And this is a good thing. The heterogeneous nature of our country – even in the Prairies where much of Canada envisions nothing but field and farm  – lends to a more balanced and fair view of the world. The extremes cancel out one another, so to speak. Put into the geographic context that I just experienced, you come over a rise after miles and miles of flatness and straight-on highway and almost drop into the Qu’Appelle Valley. Quite amazing… just when you think you have the pattern figured out, everything changes.

The neo-cons don’t see this. They see the diversity and heterogeneous nature of the Canadian fabric as an obstacle to be overcome or a challenge that they must “contextualize” and “strategize” in order to get a focused message in place to maximize their electoral brand. Think about it. The Conservatives are basically running against the Canadian tide and trying to build dams and breakwaters along the way. Sadly, they may just be able to do this just enough to gain a majority and entrench this way of thinking into legislation.

I actualy feel a bit sorry for them. By cynically framing our country within a strict electoral victory framework instead of enjoying and embracing our differences, they miss the beauty of places like the Qu’Appelle Valley. And the beauty of the people who live in places like this and elsewhere in my country. 

I cannot vote for a party that simply doesn’t “get” this. And I hope you agree.


ABC – anything but Conservative!

Good site – pass it along.


Why to NOT vote for Harper: Part 5 – Live. From Yorkton!

I’m here in this very Canadian type of place cuz I was asked to give a little yak-yak to a group of like-minded folks. And this has given me a different geographic perspective from which to write.

I like the Prairies. The drives can be pretty boring – with cruise control a must on these long and flat highways. Simple curves in the road extend on an arc of 20 km or more. But man, IS THAT SKY EVER BIG!

But I love it and these spots remind my a lot of Parry Sound – without the bitterness toward city-folks and how they’re killing the countryside.

One thing that I noticed during the 2 hour drive between Regina and Yorkton was the near complete absence of election signs. Aside from the odd Green Party sign in a field or two, I didn’t see much more than a blue and white sheet of cardboard spaced several kms apart.

What gives? Are the fine denizens of this fine province simply not “in” to this election? That would be intriguing since pundits predict that the ReformCons could sweep the province – and taking good ol’ Ralph Goodale with the tide.

So, just in case a few westerners read these scribblings, I’d like to point out a number of other reasons to vote for anyone but Harper; this time focusing on the management of information and the Politics of Cynicism.

Thanks to Myriam who posted some of these on the Facebook site dedicated to spreading the word about the Lies That Harper Has Told Us.

  • Media relations: There are strict controls over who can attend news conferences and what topics they can breach. The Prime Minister’s Office registers the reporters and then approve which ones ask which questions. There was an incident where the reporters all stood up and walked out. This is not transparent! This is a Soviet style control over the press.
  • Gagging his MPs: Everyone knows that Stevo keeps his MPs on a tight leash. This is so that they don’t say anything that would be controversial or embarrassing to him. Unfortunately for SH, elections are a time where the candidates are not within leash length and say and do things that may not be Steve-approved. Witness the tasteless remarks made by the Agriculture Minister! Stevo gags them when has can because he knows that the bulk of his caucus consists of folks with the IQs of a carrot!
  • Secret media centre: This Conservative operated media centre was meant to be used to film and cover events and then ship that information to the media as pre-packaged items. It didn’t happen because the media found out about it beforehand and made a big stink. Can you imagine what this would mean if it had came to fruition? The message would have been even more micro-managed than it already is!
  • Lies about the income trust: During the last election campaign, the RefromCons promised that they will NOT touch the laws regarding the income trust funds. This was part of their election campaign, and many people who had money in income trust fund investments were pleased by this and wanted to stick with it. Seniors were especially keen on have his source of income untouched. Then, a flip-flop most cynical occurs and these trusts are, you guessed it, taxed at a high rate. I hope seniors are remembering this and voice their displeasure at the ballot box.

  • Finally, I want to once again talk about the turnaround on fixed election dates. This is the ultimate demonstration of the Politics of Cynicism. Steve thinks that he can pass laws and then break them at will. Don’t let the talk about the HoC being dysfunctional fool you. It WAS a productive session… maybe a bit more uncivilized and vitriolic than usual, but a great many items of policy were passed. My fellow Albertan anti-Harperite said the following: 
    • I have noticed that the Blue signs were out the next day after the announcement of the election and it took a while for the other parties to catch up. Let’s be frank. He doesn’t leave much time before the election and leaves all the unsuspecting suckers to finish off their party platforms while he’s already up and running. UNETHICAL!!!

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Get the word out – it is not too late to turn this election around and avoid a Harper majority!


    I found a new place to roam

    Neat site for we Orphan voters… I like the phrase – has an “Oliver-esque” appeal.


    Why not to vote for Harper… Part 4

    Now that I’m back in the country, I thought it time to continue the “Don’t Vote For Harper” series…

    Here is an exchange I had on the Facebook site entitled Anyone But Harper:

    After a series of valid postings about the dangers that another Harperite government would pose, a Mr. Stephen Green writes –

    Please please please…anyone but Harper. He’s got a hidden agenda…I know it, I heard it from Jack Layton! He’s going to gave us more tax dollars back and not hammer us with a carbon tax – how un-Canadian! And he has integrity, following through on his promises to lower the Small business tax rate AND cut the GST! How “un-prime ministerial” ; at least in comparison to what the Liberals have shown us. Come on folks, give our PM a little respect. Let’s not be uninformed on the issues and bow to fear mongering!

    To which I responded:

    Stephen: You either have not done your research or you are a ReformCon Party member.
    Integrity does not mean breaking your own fixed election law.
    Integrity does not mean running a government like a flavour of the month club.
    Integrity does not mean appointing a non-elected Cabinet Member after railing for years about democratic reform.
    Integrity does not mean launching a slew of demeaning attack ads in place of constructive policy proposals.
    Integrity does not mean demeaning the same province that you represent (Jim F. has done this a few times.
    Integrity does not mean telling members of a First Nation band to stay sober if they want to meet the Minister.
    I could go on but my fingers are getting tired.
    Stevo does NOT deserve my respect and neither does the bulk of his party (though I do have a great deal of respect for Jim Prentice and Peter McCay).
    So, Mr. Green, you should really think about what you’re posting if you want to make a sensible contribution to a constructive debate.

    I think that this is the biggest tell-tale feature of the Harper government. They have preached integrity and transparency but have practiced just the opposite.

    ‘Nuff said for the moment.


    The second full week of the campaign!

    This week is always critical in a short campaing. Theoretically, all of th ekinks should have been worked out and the parties can get into the meat of their platforms.

    Here’s what I think we’ll see this week:

    • More ads and messages about Stevie’s leadership abilities – especially with regards to managing an uncertain economy. The U.S. banking system is going down the tubes and this will have repercussions north of the 49th.
    • The Grits will continue with attach ads on SH. But this is the week that they MUST put their leadership TEAM up front and take some of the attention away from Dion.
    • Look for Layton to continue to sound and act silly.
    • Some of the initial sheen granted to the Greens will wear off by the end of the week
    • Some of the Bloquiste support that has leaked to the ReformCons will ebb back to the Bloq as Duceppe gets his footing and has a good week.

    I’ll be way for much of the week but will post another instalment of “What NOT to vote for Harper” by Friday night.


    A departure from the norm…

    Here is a HNIC theme entry that caught my attention… only in Canada would you have bloggers pushin’ theme songs for Saturday night hockey!

    I LOVE this country!


    Why you should NOT vote for Harper – Part 3

    This post is especially for those of us who live in Ontari-ari-o!

    The Politics of Cynicism has been strongly spread around the hiways and biways of our fair Province. Billions of dollars have been promised to a broad range of interests in the hopes that pork barreling will buy a few precious votes – especially in battleground ridings around the 905 and 519 area codes.

    But do these promised handouts make up for how the Harper government has treated Canad’s most populous province over the past couple of years? Without getting into Harper’s approach to Eastern Canada before he became the Grand Poobah of the ReformCons (build any firewalls lately Stevie?), here are a few examples of how the Harperites have dissed my fair province.

    Jim Flaherty – Finance Minister:

    …However, he had some tough words for his home province of Ontario, where a Harris-Decima poll released Friday suggested the public supports McGuinty’s view that Ottawa is giving short shrift to troubled manufacturers.

    The poll found that 56 per cent of those surveyed supported the premier’s view that Flaherty is too focused on the oil-and-gas industry.

    Asked about the poll, Flaherty responded that the Liberal premier “doesn’t get … that you must reduce your business taxes over time.”

    “Their business taxes are the highest in Canada. If Mr. McGuinty thinks that’s good for the manufacturing sector in Ontario, he’s wrong.”

    Flaherty said the policies are doing “long-term” damage to the province’s economy.

    “It discourages investment in the province of Ontario,” he said. “If you’re going to make a new business investment in Canada, and you’re concerned about taxes, the last place you will go is the province of Ontario.”

    More Flaherty:

    A political gravy train or a shrewd plan for better passenger rail? Based on an internal report by the Ontario government, it would seem that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s pitch in last week’s federal budget for a passenger rail service between Toronto and Peterborough is a bad idea.

    Mr. Flaherty’s supporters – notably Peterborough Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro – point to Trent University, Quaker Oats and General Electric as some of the major employers in Peterborough that would benefit from the scheme. But Mr. Flaherty’s fans are careful to avoid dwelling on the fact that the train service would run through his Tory riding – and also that of his wife, Christine Elliott, who is a Tory member of the Ontario legislature.

    I blogged about this a while back.

    So what about Harper himself? The Premier of Ontario and Harper aren’t exactly fishing buddies and every time Mr. McGuinty announces any sort of initiative (e.g., the agreement between Ontario and Quebec on greenhouse gas emissions), Harper and his posse are right there – tearing it apart… partisanship to the max!

    John “pitbull” Baird on this progressive agreement:

    Federal Environment Minister John Baird said the talks between Charest and McGuinty are more about “political posturing” than cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

    “I saw a great press conference,” Baird told the CBC’s Don Newman on Monday in Ottawa. “What the premiers are talking about is much in the line of what we’re doing, but it’s just talk.”

    Take for another example the legitimate complaint by the Premier that Ontario continues to be a contributing province to our equalization system despite the fact that we are now – by definition- a “have-not” province.

    Harper et al say “suck it up!” “Create a better business climate like we did!”

    And now the ReformCons come hat in hand, asking for a majority. And I’m worried that, due to strong support in rural areas of the province (like my old stompin’ ground, sniff, sniff) combined with a Grit/Dipper/Green split of the left vote in swing ridings will indeed deliver Ontario.

    And with Ontario coloured blue, so goes the nation.