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Dancing Cons and Friday miscellany

We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine

HA! I love it when I’m right! Did I not just recently say that the Harperites were setting themselves up to drop the writ in late summer or early fall? Didn’t I ?

‘Shore ’nuff, one of the head CPC minions has thrown down the gauntlet over proposed amendments to C-9 – the budget enabling and kitchen sink mega-omnibus Bill that is currently in the Senate. The huffing and puffing little Doozer was positively ebullient in daring the Grits to go to the polls.

“Let’s dance,” Conservative Senator Doug Finley said Thursday after Bill C-9, a mammoth 883-page piece of legislation, was chopped down by the Liberals and one Progressive Conservative at a meeting of the Senate finance committee.

“I think there’s more than enough issues here to run an election on, and I’m ready,” Mr. Finley said. “I’ve got buses, I’ve got planes, I’ve got a war room, I’ve got advertising already in the can. We are constantly at work on our policy and platform. I’ve got a tour two-thirds planned.”

Wow! I haven’t heard a Con being that enthusiastic about something since the Blogging Tories were as jittery as schoolgirls over the “illegal” attempt at a coalition between the Dippers and the Grits.

And who can blame the guy? Even the most cursory read of the latest EKOS poll (you know, those guys who were mega-biased against the DeceptiCons a way back a coupla months ago) tells a tale of Liberal woe. It supports my contention that the worse case scenario for Stevie would be a return to another minority Parliament with his willing unofficial coalition partner safely in tow.

Yup, we here in Ontario, and other provinces as well, are going to come down with a severe case of election-sign fever this fall as we head into municipal votes in October as well as a federal vote somewhere between Turkey Day and the end of November.

Of course, for a political junkie like me, this is pure paradise.

Friday miscellany

1. It’s hot, hot, hot here in Bytown!

So hot that there seem to be furious debates about what is appropriate to wear to work. Check out XUP’s take on this…

Of course, furious debates about just about anything are everyday activities here in Ottawa. Remember the big lawn chair debacle of 2007?

Me? Meh. My rule of thumb is that if it’s over 30, I will at the very least throw away the tie unless I have meetings with folks outside of my Department. If it’s over 35, I go naked.

Now THERE is an image to haunt your weekend.

You’re welcome.

2. Lindsay Lohan to be jailed 90 days for breach of probation? ROTFL!!!!!

3. The Huffington Post had a good piece the other day on how scentisits, desperate to get accurate measurements on the extent of the big spill in the Gulf, are being kept away from the area and are encountering roadblocks wherever they turn.

A group of independent scientists, frustrated and dumbfounded by the continued lack of the most basic data about the 77-day-old BP oil disaster, has put together a crash project intended to definitively measure how much oil has spilled and where and how it is spreading throughout the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

An all-star team of top oceanographers, chemists, engineers and other scientists could be ready to head out to the well site on two fully-equipped research vessels on about a week’s notice. But they need to get the go-ahead — and about $8.4 million — from BP or the federal government or both. And that does not appear imminent.

No matter who is in control, spin is the order of the day, eh?

And I’m glad Jacques Cousteau isn’t around to see this.

4. Looks like the quake did a bit more damage to the homestead than originally thought. Our patio door – although admittedly old and in need of replacement – won’t open or close very easily since the quake… it comes right off it’s runners.

Damned quake.

5.  Finally – GO Spain!!!!!!


Summer hijinks – political and non-political

Ah, summer. Hot temps. Thunderstorms. Days at the beach. No need for coats, boots or tuques.


Summer brings with it a feeling of satisfaction with oneself, one’s community and one’s country. All’s good, man.

I love the heat.. I didn’t when I was a kid… we had a small hobby farm whose composition varied between horses, pigs, chickens, ducks and geese. I hated the geese. They used to grab my bell bottom jeans and beat me with their wings.

Evil critters, geese.

But worst of all was in the summertime and the hay and straw used for food and bedding. I am deadly allergic to pollen and animals (the allergist has told me my biggest bugaboo is the meek little rabbit). Of course, my parents didn’t believe me when I complained of being unable to breathe, stinging eyes and a constantly running nose. They thought I was trying to get outta work. And said work which often consisted of being in a hay loft full of reaction-inducing chaff and hauling bale after bale down to the equally reaction-inducing animals.

This is a big reason why I’m not crazy about animals to this very day. We have a cat. Clarence. But we will NEVER have a dog, rabbit, or any other beast other than some goldfish and maybe a gecko or tarantula.

As a child, winter was a welcome respite from my allergies.

But, as I said in the first paragraph, summer also brings feelings of contentment with one’s lot in life. Canadians are pretty happy at this time of the year. Fresh off Canada Day, we are starting vacations (13 more work days till mine!), BBQing, swimming in pools and at beaches, and not really paying any attention to what is going on around us politically.

Which is why I think Harpy is preparing to call an election.

Yup. Think about it. late August and early September would be ideal for him to go to the polls. The Grits are going nowhere fast with their so-called Leader languishing behind Harpo, Jacko and Groucho in the leadership polls. But the Libs are gaining some of their support back in Ontario and elsewhere, which would not bode well for a ReformCon chance at a majority.

And Ontario and BC voters are pissed off about the HST thing (though I personally think it’s a good idea) and the difference between provincial and federal political parties is not really clear to the average voter. Thus, they may take out some of their anger by voting for the ReformCons. So Stevo must be thinking that the iron is ripe for strikin’! Majority – here we come!!!!

But who needs a majority? The Cons are pretty much getting everything they want anyhow… what with their coalition partner’s support! So why not roll the dice and take a chance at the big time? The Maclean’s writer, Paul Wells (with whom I seldom agree) puts it this way:

If an election goes really well for him, he’ll be Prime Minister when it’s over. But he’s Prime Minister already. And he’s really the Prime Minister. Another evergreen Ottawa myth asserts that Harper is somehow unfulfilled without a parliamentary majority. But he has had a majority for four years, thanks to a succession of not-ready-for-prime-time Liberals. Every budget he has ever whipped up has passed with Liberal votes.

And in concert with the Liberals, Stephen Harper is changing this country. He was able to gut environmental oversight of energy projects in the middle of a historic energy-sector environmental disaster. He is stuffing the nation’s prisons like Christmas geese. He spent $1 billion turning the country’s biggest city into a demonstration of the necessity (if not, ahem, the effectiveness) of tough policing against thugs, rabble, bicyclists and other miscreants. Inside the riot zone, with the world watching, he stared down Barack Obama in a debate over continued fiscal stimulus vs. relative budgetary restraint. He gets to name Supreme Court justices. He gets to name a new governor general. He’s in charge of nominations to every board and agency.

So he gets to have his cake – and with Iggy’s cooperation – eat it too! So go for the gusto and call a fall election!  Worst case scenario is that he is back as PM and still being supported by their “unofficial” coalition partner.

What a cute couple*

Meanwhile – only 13 more work days till my vacation… ahhhh… hope the heat wave sticks around.

Just keep the critters away from me, K?

*thanks to Harper Valley for the pic.


Cooperation. Coalition. Merger. 3 different things

Warren Kinsella penned a very good note recently on all of the Grit/Dipper Mergecoalicooperation (new word!) which drew some equally insightful comments… as Kinsella’s columns often do…

James Bow correctly pointed out the following:

You need to be clear about what’s on the table, here. Electoral cooperation, coalition and merger are three very different things, each with wholly different implications for Canadian voters.

And I agree. There is some confusion over these terms that are being thrown about rather haphazardly these days.

Electoral cooperation

This is akin to voting strategically, except on the side of the parties rather than on the voters. There are certain ridings where, in the pursuit of defeating Harpy and having a House with a Progressive Agenda, there can be tacit agreements that the Grits will support the Dippers in some way, or vice versa depending on the circumstances during and election campaign.

For example, say the Cons won a seat by a small margin and one could realistically expect some voters from the 3rd place party to support the second place party if encouraged to do so by the third place party. Take Nunavut for example:

2008 General Election Results:

Candidate Party Votes %Vote
AGLUKKAQ, Leona Conservative 2,815 34.9%
EJESIAK, Kirt Eliza Kootoo Liberal 2,349 29.1%
IRNGAUT, Paul NDP 2,228 27.6%
ITTINUAR, Peter Green 669 8.3%

Even if only 25% of the NDP voters went to the Grits, that would be more than enough to unseat the Cons because it would be highly unlikely that any of the Dipper votes would vote for the Cons… most Dippers would rather burn their union cards than do THAT!

The cooperation could take many forms. Sharing workers, running low-keys campaigns or weak candidates, even an outright endorsement of the opponent – all are possible. But do not. I repeat, do NOT run less than a complete slate of candidates. That is a coalition – not cooperation. And the Harperites would pounce on that like a mongoose on a cobra!

I predict that this is the most likely development we will see in the next election. And it may, just may further the Progressive Agenda.


Yes, they are legal. Yes, western democracies do use coalitions as a way to bring together different parties under one banner with an agreed upon legislative agenda. Nothing wrong with it.

However, because of the way that the Cons portrayed the last unsuccessful attempt at a coalition between the Grits and Dippers (and NO, the Bloq was NOT as part of the coalition) any notion of a working coalition by the two should be stated up front in the course of the campaign. Give the voters the opportunity to vote for a Progressive vision and still allow them to keep the faith for their own respective parties.

This scenario might happen. But I’m not sure Iggy has the balls or the inclination to do so. His ego might get in the way.


Admittedly this is my preference but for a variety of reasons, I don’t think it will happen in the near future, and here is why:

  • Too easy a target for the ReformCons. Can’t you see the ads? “Michael Ignatieff and the liberal party have chosen to partner with the tax and spend, nationalizing, pro-Taliban socialists”. Yes, a pile of crap, but the Tim Horton crowd would eat it up.
  • Many Blue Grits would rather head for the DeceptiCons than merge with Jack Layton. And many Dippers would just stay home. There is a long history here and to ignore it would be perilous. The combined party – at least right now – may garner fewer votes than the two parties combined as separate entities. That being said, the two parties of the Left and centre Left MUST coalesce at some point in the future if we are to avoid years and years of right-wing bullshit.
  • Don’t forget that it took 4 or 5 years before the current Cons won as high a percentage of the vote as the PCs and the Alliance put together during the 1997 & 2000 election campaigns. The internal schism, even if it was temporary, would open the door to a Harper majority; something all Progressives in this country definitely do NOT want to see!

But, hey, for political junkies like me, these are the best of times!


More rumblings about a centre/left merger… again

There is an interesting opinion piece in the Star today penned by Glenn Wheeler on how it is up to the rank and file of the Grits and Dippers to start the coalition ball rolling.

To be clear – while I have been a member of both parties in the past, I am not so currently. But one thing I am sure of is that I am a progressive.  And I would actively support any arrangement that would move the progressive agenda forward to counter the social conservatism that has been dominant on the Hill for the past several years.

But – sigh – this has been talked about again and again and again… so I am slightly less than optimistic that an effective coalition under strong and clear leadership is waiting in the wings.

To the leaderships of both parties – put the egos aside and start working toward a partnership that would provide Canada with a clear and progressive path forward!


No big surprise

although the CBC has it wrong – the ReformCons have a slight lead because the gap is outside the margin of error.

Why no big surprise? Well, look at the calender, dummy! It’s the dead of winter! Folks down east are dealing with another dumping of the white stuff. Separatist Quebecois folks are all aghast at Lucien Bouchard’s latest remarks. Ontarians are worried that they’re going to get hit with a huge winter storm cuz it has been such a tame winter so far. And everyone to the west of Ontario is too busy skiing or watching the Olympics.

Wait till spring and then we’ll see if either party can take a step or two forward…

Remind me again why the Grits and the Dippers aren’t talking about merging???


Ross Rebagliati, M.P.

So gold medalist snowboarder, Ross Rebagliati, is going to carry the Grit banner and go up against Doris in the next election. And I say why not?

Lotsa of pundits are going to pan this saying that this guy has no experience, has a dubious past because of the whole pot thing and is a bit goofy looking.

So what?

Listen. If any party is going to go anywhere in engaging voters who are not necessarily attracted to 50+ grey haired male spin-doctors, they must recruit candidates that fit the target demographic. Not exactly rocket science, eh?

Iggy. I hope you’re paying attention.

Besides, I think Mr. Rebagliati would make a great M.P. He is an ex-Olympic athete who knows how to compete, must have had a work ethic to get to that level and likely believes that the world is more than 4,000 years old!

Hell, I might even send him out a few bucks to go toward his campaign!

Go for it Ross! Best of luck!



Who’s looking after the kids? Child care policy in Canada

Last night, I attended my first meeting as a Board member of the child care facility that my son attends. I have always been impressed by the level of commitment displayed by those involved in this field – either as professionals or as volunteers. It has been a long time since I sat around a table with like-minded persons to discuss specific child care related issues. When my teen was a pre-schooler, I sat on the Board of her child care Co-op in Guelph, Ontario. It was a learning experience to be sure. Difficult to access funding programs, uncertainties about the funding and always discussions about subsidized spaces were the common topics of each Board meeting.

In the intervening 13 years or so, it might be expected that the issues had changed. After all, we are purported to be a caring society. One that veers a little to the left in the sense that, in general, we believe the state has a role to play in the care of our kids.

Imagine my surprise when 75% of the conversation around the table last night was geared to accessing funding programs, uncertainties about the funding and discussions about subsidized spaces.

OK. I wasn’t really that surprised that nothing has changed – at least not for the better.

Canada’s child care system was and continues to be a patch work quilt of jurisdictions and agencies. Cities and town, provinces and territories. Not-for-profits, for-profits and Co-ops. Public agencies and private. It’s all over the map. As much as we like to brag about our system of health care, we should be equally ashamed of how we have allowed government after government to trivialize or downright ignore the need for a consistent and well-considered national child care policy and the programs to implement such a policy.

The Conservatives have seen it fit to bail out automakers but scoff at the idea of a national system.  Here’s your C-note a month, parents. Now shut up. GM? You need cash? Well c’mon into my office. Minister Flaherty will fix ya up!

The Grits and Dippers have acknowledged the need for a consistent policy in the past. They recognize the basic fact that a child care system that is comprehensive and professional benefits all. It is not only the parents who benefit – especially lower income folks who, in the absence of subsidies, would be forced to stay at home with their kids instead of working to supplement already meager incomes – but all of society does so. Whether you are a parent or not, giving kids a head start will help them become intelligent and productive contributors to society. The kids of today will be our doctors, engineers, and teachers of tomorrow. They will also be paying taxes to support the social systems (e.g., health care) THAT WE WILL ALL DRAW UPON AS WE GET OLDER.

So I don’t want to hear any crap from those who have chosen NOT to have kids about the whole inequity of it all.

Ergo, I am pleased to see that Iggy is reiterating the pledge to work toward a new way of doing things.

The Liberals were in the midst of delivering on a $5-billion national child-care program before they were thrown out of power in the 2006 election. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives came to office, that program was abandoned, in favour of the $100-a-month cheques to Canadian parents known as the Universal Child Care Benefit.

Ignatieff said that if the Liberals are returned to government, that money will keep flowing to parents, but a national child-care program will also be phased in, as soon as the budget can handle it.

“They give the money to families, fine. Anything that helps families is a good idea. But there aren’t the spaces. If you don’t create the spaces, families don’t have a choice. That’s what we’re saying.”

While I realise that the economic shitstorm and the CPC’s fiscal ineptitude has created a scenario where it will be difficult for the Grits to deliver immediately on this pledge, I do hope that they have in place a detailed plan to implement as soon as budgetary conditions permit.


Slay the lamb – dammit!

In other news…

School kids in Kent, England, voted overwhelmingly to send Marcus – a lamb raised by the classroom the time it was born as part of an agricultural awareness program or – a “this is where your meat comes from, stupid” program – to the slaughterhouse for some good chops.

Predictably sending parents, PETA, and other freaky folks into a frenzy.

Oh my f***ing gawd, say they…

“How can we expose our poor subunits to the vagaries of modern omnivorism??” ‘Tis shameful.

So who will be the lamb after the next election? Iggy? Stevo? Jackman?

Depends on who makes the wrong call… and who doesn’t win over the kids…

I don’t normally cull a whole story, but this one is worth the exception:

LONDON (Reuters) – A group of schoolchildren who reared a lamb from birth and named it Marcus has overridden objections by parents and rights activists and voted to send the animal to slaughter.

Marcus the six-month-old lamb has now been culled, the head teacher of the primary school in Kent confirmed on Monday, after the school’s council — a 14-member group of children aged 6 to 11 — voted 13-1 to have him killed.

The decision has provoked fury among animal-loving celebrities, animal and human rights campaigners and the parents of some of the children, and led to threats against Lydd primary school and its teachers, according to a member of staff.

Around 250 children at the school take part in a program designed to teach them about rearing and breeding animals.

The educational farm was started this year, with Marcus being hand-fed by the children. The children also look after ducks, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.

The intention had been to buy pigs with the money raised from slaughtering Marcus, but those plans have been put on hold following the furor created by the lamb’s culling. The school said the program may now have to be stopped.

“It’s all up in the air,” said a member of staff. “There’s been so much pressure on us as a result of all this.”

Despite that, the school said there had been overwhelming support among the children, the staff and most of the parents to have Marcus — a castrated male who could not have been used for breeding — sent to the slaughterhouse.

But opponents branded it heartless and cruel, with animal rights campaigners asking why Marcus could not have been used to teach the children about wool, and human rights campaigners worried about the emotional impact of Marcus’s death on the children.

A popular talkshow host offered to buy the lamb and give it sanctuary and Facebook groups sprung up to rally support to keep Marcus alive. But the children had the final say. The school defended the children’s decision, calling it educational.

“When we started the farm in spring 2009, the aim was to educate the children in all aspects of farming life and everything that implies,” the school said in a statement.

“The children have had a range of opportunities to discuss this issue, both in terms of the food cycle and the ethical aspect… It is important for everyone to move on from this issue, so the children can focus on their education.”

(Reporting by Luke Baker; Editing by Steve Addison)


Maybe the Dippers aren’t ready?

Interesting to see all of the bluster that, just a little while back, was being puffed out of NDP mouths everywhere has now faded to mere indifference. The rhetoric has gone from “we’re gonna drive the CPC back into the caves from which they emerged!”



Jack, a few months ago (June 22): (1)

‘Anybody who’s holding their breath and thinking that’s going to change should think twice,’ NDP Leader says

NDP Leader Jack Layton says his party will not prop up the Conservative government if the Liberals move a motion of no-confidence in the fall.

“Our party has opposed the direction of Stephen Harper 79 times in confidence motions so anybody who’s holding their breath and thinking that’s going to change should think twice,” Mr. Layton told a press conference on Monday morning.

And now (September):

“I think that everybody involved would want to see us co-operate in the House of Commons and get some results for people — especially those that are struggling right now: the unemployed and people being left behind,” Mr. Layton said as he inched away from reporters at an archway opening in Toronto.

“So that’s going to remain our preoccupation.”

Personally, I don’t mind if Jack props up Stevie for a while since I am not convinced that this is the best time to defeat the ReformCons (plus it will give many a good belly-laugh). Yes, Iggy had not choice but to throw down the proverbial gauntlet, but realistically the best the Grits can hope for, IMO, is a slim Grit minority. They still need more time to re-build the Grit brans and more specifically, the leader’s brand.

But hey, I don’t get paid for these opinions, so I can say what I like, eh?

So why has the NDP cooled their jets? Likely resources – or a lack thereof. The Dippers would dearly like a few more months to build up their war chest and get their issues into the faces of Canadians. The Grits and the Harperites have grabbed the “helping out the downtrodden and unemployed” banner in recent weeks and Layton and his team will have to work hard to get it back.

And that will take some time.

1. Original article was in the G&M but is now archived and only accessible on a fee-for-service basis.


Hitchin’ the Grit wagon to the right tractor

In today’s G&M, Lawrence Martin is exploring a topic that is along the same lines as one that I discussed in a posting a little while ago. Ignatieff and the Grits have been presented with a perfect opportunity to latch on to an issue that can define them from the ReformCons –  the American portrayal of our health care system.

It would be a natural fit for Iggy to defend Obama’s proposed program and universal health care in general. Both men are liberal,  well-spoken members of the educated class.  One would think that Obama’s team would welcome such an ally.

As Mr. Martin says:

These are rocky times on the bilateral front. Trade volumes are declining, border fences have gone up. Financial tumult has walloped America and its paramountcy is challenged, at least to some degree, by Asia’s rise. This country can’t ride its coattails as it used to.

These are big challenges for big thinkers. We expected Mr. Ignatieff to respond by unhesitatingly seeking a close alliance with a liberal President whose popularity in Canada is enormous. Mr. Obama is a busy man but surely, given his contacts, Mr. Ignatieff could have received entry to the Oval Office by now, as opposition leaders before him have done.

It is not too late to hitch his wagon to this train; but Iggy and the Libs should not wait very long into the fall sitting.