Monday, May 30, 2011

Sarah Palin: John McCain's "No Guarantees" Candidate

McCain: Palin could beat Obama. Maybe.

Looking back on the 2008 Presidential election, a lingering question remains:

Did Sarah Palin cost John McCain the Presidency, or did John McCain cost Sarah Palin the Vice Presidency?

The argument is largely the same each way: to those who favour Palin, John McCain wasn't strong enough on conservative issues, and drove conservative voters to stay home. For those who favour McCain, Palin's views are too extreme, and drove moderate voters into the waiting arms of the Democrats.

But in a recent appearance on FOX News, McCain seemed more interested in looking forward to the 2012 Presidential election. When asked if Palin could beat Obama in 2012, he answered to the decidedly affirmative -- but with no guarantees.

“Of course, she can,” McCain said. “She can. Now, whether she will or not, whether she'll even run or not, I don't know.”

“A lot of things happen in campaigns,” McCain continued. “You remember, I was written off a couple of times and was able to come back. So, there's going to be a roller coaster ride for all of them before we finally arrive at our nominee.”

But just as in 2008, Palin's greatest strength could also be her greatest weakness.

“She also inspires great passion, particularly among Republican faithful,” McCain noted.

Of course, he's right. But she also inspires passionate hatred -- that is really the only way to describe it -- from the left.

Often, it works out to the benefits of conservatives, as many of these people simply reveal themselves for the defective human beings they are, sending reasonable and intelligent voters to look at the alternatives.

Even so, this really does not make for good politics. Palin has been masterful at forcing the chronically-unstable among the left (even some of those who otherwise can be intelligent and insightful, such as Andrew Sullivan) to reveal their mania. This is not an acceptable alternative to having ideas of her own.

Declared candidates such as Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have ideas of their own. Palin does not. Her purported "common sense conservatism" is not an acceptable alternative to having some ideas.

Perhaps Sarah Palin could beat President Barack Obama in 2012. But "perhaps" isn't a good enough reason to forsake candidates with real ideas in favour of Palin.

The Transformation is Nearly Complete

NDP nearly completed transition into Jacques' Bloc

Federalist NDP supporters across Canada -- especially in the rest of Canada -- should be getting nervous.

Very nervous.

Since arriving as the official opposition on the crest of the infamous orange wave sweeping through Quebec, the NDP is appearing less and less like its former self every day; and more and more like the Bloc Quebecois.

As NDP leader Jack Layton and Quebec lieutenant Thomas Mulcair addressed the Quebec wing of the party, Mulcair adopted the traditional language policy of the Bloc Quebecois: one of lingual supremacy.

This has seeped into the NDP's positions almost to the extent of the traditional BQ hostility to immigrants.

“People who choose Quebec, because an immigrant is not forced to come to Quebec, must understand that they will learn and their children will learn French over and above all,” Mulcair declared.

Mulcair justified this hostility as a means of securing federalism in Quebec.

“As federalists, we have always understood that the best way to preserve Quebec’s place in Canada is to ensure that Quebecers feel secure with their language and culture,” he added.

But securing the French language and culture in Quebec cannot realistically be accomplished by isolating it and promoting it above all others. Nor can Mulcair expect to mandate that every word an immigrant family speaks, or their children learns, be French.

It isn't in this new hostility to immigrant communities that the NDP's transformation lies. The Sherbrooke Declaration also holds that a 50% +1 vote is sufficient to secure sovereignty, and that the clarity act -- ensuring that separatists cannot attempt to win sovereignty on the back of an ambiguous or deceptive qeustion -- should be abolished.

Jack Layton calls it "treating Quebec with respect". The rest of Canada should recognize taht there is a difference between treating Quebec with respect and openly pandering to separatists.

The transformation of the NDP from a federalist party into the Bloc du jours should concern a great many Canadians.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Time to End the Political Levy in Canada

In a recent episode of The Michael Coren Show, the issue of a donation by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to support a Canadian contribution to a flotilla to break the Gaza blockade became an issue of feirce contention.

Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan was asked if the donation represents tax dollars supporting Alternatives International -- a Montreal-based radical organization -- in international grandstanding against Israel.

Ryan insisted that this was basically the use of private money to support this cause by the workers' choice, not public money. And he's right. And also he's wrong.

He's right that while Canadian postal workers are paid with public funds, that money is no longer public funds once paid out to workers. It becomes theirs to do with as they choose.

But Ryan is wrong in insisting that this represents workers doing as they please with their money. That simply is not the case. This is a case of funds collected through union dues being used for political purposes, regardless of the view of individual workers.

The individual worker has limited opportunity to have a voice in whether or not the dues they pay will be used for these kinds of activities. That's decided by a relatively-small number of delegates at union conventions.

The worker doesn't have the opportunity to leave the union or withhold their dues if they object to these decisions -- the Supreme Court has allowed unions to force workers to pay dues in closed-shop environments, regardless of whether or not they're actually extended membership by the union.

This kind of story gives Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- governing with a majority -- the opportunity to do something that would aatisfy two ends: take a stand for thousands of disaffected union workers across Canada, and make the far-left really wail.

Harper's government should follow the British example of Margaret Thatcher and end the political levy in labour unions.

In Britain, the political levy was the use of mandatory funds collected from union members to fund the Labour party. As per the law, labour unions are not funding political parties in Canada. What they are doing is funding non-party political organizations.

The Harper government should pass a law that would ban unions using funds collected through mandatory union dues to fund political activities of any kind -- this includes third party campaigns at election time. If unions want to collect voluntary fees from members to fund those activities, that should still be permitted.

The far-left, quite naturally, will wail about losing their ability to force unionized workers to fund their activities regardless of their own will. Harper should simply let them wail. No one will care.

The thousands of workers in Canada, particularly those practically conscripted into union-coerced political bondage, will appreciate finally having the opportunity to decide if their money will fund far-left radical political projects or not. Perhaps union executive committees will even become a less-appealing job for demagogic leftists.

It's time to end the political levy in Canada. End it now.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Good Luck With That, Stephane

Stephane Dion wants his legacy back

Like Chevy Chase in Memoirs of an Invisible Man declaring "I want my molecules back!", Stephane Dion is making demands of the Canadian political class.

He wants his legacy back. His separatist-fighting legacy.

In an op-ed appearing in the Ottawa Citizen, Dion is offering a lecture to NDP leader Jack Layton about why 50% +1 is an unacceptable threshold for a separatist mandate in a sovereignty referendum.

In a nutshell, Dion's argument is that the oui majority in a seccession vote must be large enough to allow the negotiation process to move forward with certainty, and must be able to withstand periodic shifts in public opinion:
"There are two fundamental reasons why negotiations for secession should be contingent on a clear majority. The first is that serious and irreversible decisions that affect future generations should be made by consensus, not on the basis of a weak and uncertain majority, not on the basis of a result which might have been different if the vote had been held the day before or the day after. There is no doubt that secession is something serious and probably irreversible since it is nearly impossible to rebuild a country after it has been broken. Such an action affects future generations and has serious consequences for all of the citizens of the country being broken up.

The second reason is that, even with all the goodwill in the world, negotiating the separation of a modern state would inevitably be difficult and fraught with pitfalls. What must not happen is that, while negotiators are working on a separation agreement, the majority should change its mind and decide to oppose secession. That would be an untenable situation. That is why the process should only be undertaken if there is a sufficiently large majority that will last through the inevitable difficulties of negotiation.
Dion makes a very strong argument. Unfortunately, Dion still has to own up to his role in attempting to form a coalition government with the NDP that would have mortgaged the Canadian government to the Bloc Quebecois.

While the Liberals publicly boasted that the Bloc had voluntarily taken separatism off the table for 18 months, and that they had refused to give in to Bloc demands on language law.

However, the NDP had been walking the BQ line on Bill 101 all along, and are walking it still.

In 2008, the coalition's right hand ignored what the left hand had been doing. Now that the left hand no longer needs the right hand at all, it seems that all bets are off.

It's admirable that Stephane Dion is standing up to Jack Layton on his soft-on-separatism positions now. But Dion knew full well that Layton was soft on separatism before he tried to bring the NDP and Bloc together in a vain attempt (vain in every sense of the word) to snatch power away from the Tories.

That's why Dion will likely never recapture his tainted legacy as a separatist fighter. When all the political chips were on the table, he revealled to Canadians that he can be every bit as soft on separatism as Jack Layton clearly is.

In 2008, and as it pertains to the fight against separatism, Stephane Dion has made himself Canada's invisible man.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Memo to Jim Parrot: the Vancouver Canucks Are Not Your Tools

Considering the nature of drivel that regularly passes for commentary on Let Freedom Rain, that particular corner of hate-based gibberish is ordinarily best left (largely) ignored.

Unfortunately, this isn't one of those times.

Rarely has a blogger ever offered as disturbing a look into the workings of their mind as Jim Parrot until a recent bizarre screed on that particular cesspool.

In short, the blogpost seems to suggest that Albertans -- particularly Calgarians -- are unpatriotic if they don't support the Vancouver Canucks in their playoff run. More bizarrely, Jim Parrot seems to have unilaterally annointed the Canucks as the team of the left. (One can rest assured he never bothered to actually ask Canucks fans, management, or players -- especially the players, as will be shown shortly -- what they think of this.)

Then there's the colossally stupid. Cornette face stupid. stupid.

Jim Parrot even links to a story suggesting that Stephen Harper has invoked some kind of Prime Ministerial power to automatically present the Stanley Cup to the Calgary Flames.

The clear problem for Jim Parrot is that the website carrying the tale, Canada Second, is very clearly a parody website (although the site's operator very cleverly declines to actually say so).

There's no indication from Parret that he understands that the story is satire. Considering some of the bizarre comments made on his website about Harper, it becomes very easy to suspect he believes it.

It wouldn't be the first ridiculously stupid thing he's ever said.

But as one gets into the discussion stemming from the post -- in which Parret again provides little sign he understands the story is satire -- he provides a very disturbing look into the inner workings of his political mind, and of the precise role he seems to think people are to play within collectivist machinations.

Hockey players, he seems to think, are mere tools:
"I don't understand how the number of Canadians on a team matters. They are merely foot soldiers on a team representing a city, a province and in this year's Stanley Cup finals, a country (should the Canucks prevail over the Sharks). I find it kind of amusing that Vancouver has Swedes and Americans fighting for it. If Vancouver wins it all, the players are only the tools to victory, the victory itself belongs to Vancouver, BC and Canada. "
The players actually out working their asses to the bone to win the Stanley Cup -- and this is very much precisely what it takes -- are, to Jim Parrot, mere tools to someone else's ends. The victories they win -- the fruits of their labour -- are not their own.

It would likely shock Parret to learn that the Stanley Cup cannot be won by cities. It cannot be won by provinces. It cannot even be won by countries. If it could, Canada would have had one of its teams win the Cup at some point between today and 1993. The country has certainly wanted it badly enough.

The Stanley Cup is won by a team -- a team made up of individuals working together toward a shared and mutually-adopted purpose.

People are not tools. They are not chattel. They either work together out of choice, or they do not. Anyone who has ever watched hockey -- as opposed to subverting it for the purpose of wedge politics -- understands that it's the individual efforts of hockey players, focused into working as a team, that wins a championship. That goes for any other team sport.

Ultimately, in every way that really matters, the victories belong to the players who win them.

Jim Parrot's concept of hockey players as only tools is a frightening look into the worldview of far-left collectivism. But that only comes after one gets past the mind-numbing stupidity.

What Does the New Voice of Quebec Want to Tell Us?

NDP's soft on separatism take sends a bad message

The NDP's long-awaited Quebec breakthrough in the 2011 federal election could be said to be the fruits of Rebecca Blaikie's labour. Though she still has not captured electoral success, it was Blaikie's hard work, in large part, that led to the 2011 triumph.

But there are shadows of peril surrounding the NDP's emergence in Quebec. With one MP already openly expressing separatist views, and two others suggesting they're unsure how they'd vote in a sovereignty referendum, Canadians are being faced to wake up to the reality that the NDP may simply be supplanting the Bloc Quebecois as Quebec's federal separatist party.

Blaikie stresses the importance of the NDP adopting assymetrical federalism and a position that a 50% plus one vote in a sovereignty refrendum is good enough to allow Quebec to separate.

“As New Democrats, just as we respect the rights of First Nations, we respect the rights of Quebecers. But what we're ultimately trying to do is create a situation in which we never need to exercise those rights, because they feel like they're a part of something worth belonging to,” she said.

This way lies madness.

First, assymetrical federalism is not an acceptable proposal for Canada. Simply put, assymetrical federalism is simply not sustainable. If the NDP would be willing to grant powers such as opt out-with compensation privileges to Quebec, they owe it to the other nine provinces as well.

Secondly, Blaikie is simply incorrect that 50% plus one is sufficient for Quebec to separate from Canada. 50% plus one is sufficient to secure a mandate to negotiate seccession with Canada's nine other provinces, but on its own it's not enough to separate Quebec.

Other problems abound for the NDP -- such as Jack Layton's open opposition to the clarity act -- that lead to serious questions about the NDP's credibility as a federalist party.

So Canadians have a very simple question for the NDP, the alleged new voice of Quebec: what does the new voice of Quebec want to tell us? About federalism? About sovereignty?

The answers it's offered to the former question are exceedingly poor. The answers offered to the latter are unclear, and carry the vague prospects of a province-wide political bait-and-switch.

Monday, May 23, 2011

T-Paw Running For President

Tim Pawlenty announces candidacy for President

With Herman Cain joining the ranks of official Republican Presidential candidates yesterday, it should be considered unsurprising former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty followed suit today.

Pawlenty has adopted for himself the role of the "truth" candidate; the kind of straight-talking candidate previously seen in John McCain.

To date, howwever, Pawlenty has offered the same platitudes voters around the world have already gotten used to.

"In my campaign, I'm going to take a different approach. I am going to tell you the truth. The truth is Washington DC's broken," Pawlenty said. "It's time for new leadership. It's time for a new approach. And, it's time for America's president - and anyone who wants to be president - to look you in the eye and tell you the truth."

Americans have heard this before.

"No president deserves to win an election by dividing the American people - picking winners and losers, protecting his own party's spending and cutting only the other guys'; pitting classes, and ethnicities, and generations against each other," Pawlenty continued. "The truth is, we're all in this together. So we need to work to get out of this mess together."

Americans have heard this, too.

But if Pawlenty can deliver the kind of campaign he's promising, he will benefit from it, for an important reason: everyone knows these things are true.

Pawlenty has promised a campaign that will leave no sacred cow unassailed.

"The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it," Pawlenty explained. "Conventional wisdom says you can't talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street. But someone has to say it."

Pawlenty has made himself out to be that someone. If he delivers in the midst of a primary election, with all the pressures to please the electorate and not offend any of America's various constituencies will need to be seen.

But one thing is fairly certain: Tim Pawlenty's flair for dramatic and inspiring campaign ads already has the Democrats terrified of him.

That alone is good reason for him to be running for President.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Herman Cain Makes It Official

Cain announces Presidential bid

In a Presidential primary campaign featuring more unofficial candidates than official candidates, that particular margin has just improved: Herman Cain has declared as a candidate for President of the United States.

He's running to win.

"In case you accidentally listen to a skeptic or doubting Thomas out there, just to be clear: I'm running for President of the United States, and I'm not running for second," Cain declared.

Some have all but annointed Cain the next Ronald Reagan. Cain himself seems to have taken this idea closely to heart. While he declares that the United States is in crisis, he also believes it can be redeemed.

In particular, Cain identifies seven crises: a moral crisis, an economic crisis, an energy crisis, an immigration crisis, an entitlement spending crisis, a national security crisis and a deficiency of leadership crisis in Washington.

“Now, we have other problems, but those are our seven crises -- and I stopped at seven because it has sort of a Biblical significance. I like Biblical significance," Cain remarked. “Those are the seven biggest crises that we face. But here’s the good news: We can face them, and they aren’t going to face themselves.”

Cain has previously announced an economic plan based on economic growth fuelled by a low-tax regime.

He's expecting a predicable response from the Democrats to that plan.

“I know that the liberals are going to say, ‘All you want to do is give tax breaks to the rich.’ That’s their usual class-warfare rhetoric,” he predicted. “But, you know, when Herman Cain becomes President, I’m going to make a breaking news announcement to all of America: It’s OK to succeed in America.”

No doubt, Cain considers America to be in a very troubled place. Reagan considered America to be troubled when he ran for President. In Cain's talk of hope and redemption one can find traces of Reagan's "morning in America".

Herman Cain has never held political office. He lost a primary election for the Senate in 2004. But even with this being the case, Cain's Republican opponents should not take him lightly. Nor should President Barack Obama, should Cain win the GOP nomination.

"The Best Person For the Job", Redux

Is Lagarde, not Brown: Cameron, Osborne

With campaigning to replace the outgoing Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund mounting, many Britons are expecting their government to back a fellow Briton to fill that job.

For now, they will be disappointed.

Speculation has held that former Prime Minister and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has been quietly campaigning for his shot at the job. Yet current Prime Minister David Cameron and current Chancellor George Osborne seem to have made themselves fairly clear: Brown is not "the best person for the job".

Apparently, according to Cameron and Osborne, the best person for the job may be French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

"I believe Christine is the outstanding candidate for the IMF – and that's why Britain will back her," Osborne declared. "I also personally think it would be a very good thing to see the first female managing director of the IMF in its 60-year history."

Lagarde's greatest strength, in Osborne's mind, is that she's in favour of developing countries bringing their budgets under control.

"She has been a strong advocate for countries tackling high budget deficits and living within their means," Osborne noted.

That applies to financial institutions just as much as it does to entire countries. While many western countries were rolling out fat bailout packages for banks, Lagarde was publicly taking them to task, particularly at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"The best way for the banking sector to say thank you would be to actually have good financing of the economy, sensible compensation systems in place and reinforcement of their capital," Lagarde told Barclay's Bank chief executive Bob Diamond.

As if to offer some substance to Osborne's remarks about a having a woman in charge of the IMF, Lagarde has suggested that the global economy could use a woman's touch, particularly in terms of stock trading.

"In gender-dominated environments, men have a tendency to show how hairy chested they are, compared with the man who's sitting next to them. I honestly think that there should never be too much testosterone in one room."

Brown himself has also taken a sticter stance toward banks. He, like Lagarde, backed an international bank tax.

Unlike Brown, however, Lagarde seems to understand that the best fix for the global economy is for sensible reform and regulation to begin within the board rooms of the institutions themselves. It's time for banks to cut back on their unsecured loans, cut back on the unjustifiably-lavish and self-serving compensation for their execs, and put sustainable profit at the forefront of their agendas.

As the mortgage crisis in the United States clearly demonstrates -- as banks took advantage of lax regulatory schemes put in place by George W Bush as a means to manage the impact of toxic loans mandated by the Bill Clinton administration -- no government can force financial institutions to regulate themselves, nor can they really do so in their place; those set on abusing the system for short-term and unsustainable profit will find a way.

It's hard to say whether David Cameron and George Osborne are correct and Christine Lagarde really is the best person for the job. But one thing remains abundantly clear: she's much better for it than Gordon Brown.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More NDP MPs Seem Unsure About This "Canada" Thing

Is the NDP a federalist party, or just Jacques' Bloc?

With two more NDP MPs declaring themselves to be "uncertain" about how they'd vote in a Quebec sovereignty referendum, NDP leader Jack Layton has some serious questions to answer about where his party stands on the issue.

Speaking recently, newly-elected Chicoutimi—Le Fjord MP Dany Morin seemed to indicate he'd need to check which way the wind is blowing before making his mind up on the issue.

“I’m not sovereigntist, but if there as a referendum, I don't know what I would vote,” Morin remarked. “Forty per cent of the population in Quebec is sovereigntist.”

Sainte-Hyacinthe-Bagot MP Marie-Claude Morin seemed to echo Dany Morin's sentiments.

“I think Quebec can flourish in Canada, but if Canada wants to work with Quebec," she declared. "We have to consider the fact we have a different culture, a different identity. If there was a referendum tomorrow morning, we will see. The future will tell us,”

This follows remarks by Sherbrooke MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault indicating that Quebec sovereignty is inevitable.

“Sovereignty will be done in Quebec,” Dusseault declared. “We will respect sovereignty in the NDP.”

Is the NDP a federalist party? Or merely a holding place for the Bloc Quebecois? Canadians have the right to know.

A spokesperson for Jack Layton insists that the NDP is a federalist party. But it's starting to look more and more as if the NDP isn't nearly as committed to federalism as they'd have Canadians believe.

Jack Layton has an obligation to set this issue straight within his caucus. Is the NDP really a federalist party, or is it merely Jacques' Bloc? Canadians need to know soon.

Friday, May 20, 2011

More Evidence No One is Illegal Couldn't Carry An Idea In a Bucket

Appearing on a recent edition of Brian Lilley's Byline program on SUN TV, No One is Illegal tried to put a good face on what is otherwise a very disturbed organization.

Appearing for NOII, Luam Kidane attempted to do everything but answer some very simple questions about what it is NOII (describing themselves as a "migrant justice" organization) stands for.

Questions about whether or not NOII advocates purely open borders was met by a barrage of "clarifying question", as Kidane attempted to reach "an understanding" on the terminology she and Lilley would use to discuss the issue.

The clear intent on Kidane's part was to attempt to portray the organization as holding a particular philosophical vigour that simply isn't there.

It's hard to get clear answers out of anyone from NOII. But one thing that comes up repeatedly are two basic ideas that are entirely at odds. One is that "people have the right to migrate". The other is that "Canada is occupied Turtle Island".

It sounds like complete gibberish, but some aboriginal groups describe all of North America as "occupied Turtle Island". But once detail is established and set aside, it becomes clear that the denziens of No One is Illegal haven't really thought out their ideas. Not a whit.

Simply put, if people have the right to migrate, than European settlers had the right to migrate to North America.

Another talking point of No One is Illegal is that no one is obligated to be a "good immigrant" by integrating into the culture and society of the land to which they migrate.

Simply put, people can settle down in any territory they choose to move to and then live however they choose. They have no obligation to become part of "the community" that exists there. In fact, they have no obligation to join that community at all. (Which makes it all the more comical that Kidane justifies her enjoyment of services provided by a state she doesn't recognize as legitimate because "members of the community provide the services".)

Naturally, this does not actually entail the right of a migrant group to dominate an indigenous group. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms NOII could offer about how the Canadian state has treated aboriginals in the past, even as Canadians bend over backwards to make it right today.

But to declare Canada to be an "occupied" territory suggests that non-aboriginal Canadians have no right to be here. Intriguingly, that includes Kidane herself.

Until one considers that No One is Illegal has declared that people have the right to migrate. One would assume that this applies to all people equally, unless it doesn't. Unless there really is some kind of racial bias to NOII's "right to migrate".

In all truth, however, Luam Kidane's appearance on Byline is actually entirely uncharacteristic of No One is Illegal. After all, any group that teaches children to punch Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in effigy could hardly be considered civil, even if some of their members can adopt a veneer of civility when given the opportunity to play Socrates (badly) on national TV.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What David Davis and Tommy Douglas Have in Common


On its face, a comparison between British Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis and former NDP leader (the late) Tommy Douglas would seem entirely unreasonable.

One is a Conservative Tory MP, defeated by David Cameron in his bid to be Conservative leader. The other was, as leader of the NDP, the father of Canadian healthcare.

One is a former Shadow Deputy Prime Minister. The other is an icon of the Canadian left.

But as it turns out, they each have one thing in common: they both believe in workfare. (Or rather, Davis believes in workfare, and Douglas believed in workfare.)

Recently, Davis suggested that British welfare recipients should be put to work building rural broadband networks.

"A workforce of the unemployed should build the superfast network we need so urgently," Davis remarked. "Building a superfast rural broadband network is largely low-skill – digging trenches, laying pipes, filling them in. Only a small fraction of the cost is in high-tech materials."

Naturally, advocates for welfare recipients -- in both Britain and Canada -- would accuse Davis of barbarism; they would likely compare his proposal to advocating slavery.

When Douglas was the NDP Premier of Saskatchewan, his government implemented workfare. Able-bodied men who were beneficiaries of welfare were required to provide service to the state, often remarkably similar to what Davis has suggested.

It's something that the Canadian left will likely decline to mention when the British left rushes to condemn David Davis. Which makes it all the more worth mentioning.

Don Cherry's Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Politics: It's a Beauty

"Scholars" waste time whining about Don Cherry

Frankly, Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry's fashion sense alone is worthy of an academic study.

But University of Western Ontario professors John Nader and Robert Maciel have made Cherry the subject of an academic study on a different topic: Cherry's impact on Canadia nationalism.

“For Cherry, Canadian nationalism rests on an unquestioning support for the military, support of traditional institutions and a view of hockey that highlights the physical nature of the game,” Nader and Maciel complain in their study.

“This guy has a huge viewing public and, even if it’s only a small segment of society that actually takes what he says to heart, it’s a significant audience that he reaches with this particular view of Canadian nationalism, which doesn’t take into account multicultural society or women,” they complain.

Of course, there's no credence whatsoever to these claims. Nearly any of them.

Clearly, Nader and Maciel have declined to watch Hockey Night in Canada at any point during the Winter Olympics, or the Women's World Championship of Hockey, when Canada's female hockey players take centre stage. He's clearly never heard him sing their praises.

Nor have Nader and Maciel considered the multicultural nature of Canadian hockey itself. Even considering just Canadian players, the NHL alone is comprised of the descendents of countries from around the world, and not just Europe.

Consider former member of the Team Canada Junior team Ryan O'Marra, born in Japan. Consider Nazem Kadri, bor to Lebanese parents. Consider the growing number of black players in the NHL: Jarome Iginla, Mike Grier, Joel Ward, Shawn Belle, Wayne Simmonds, and countless more.

Cherry's criticisms of French-Canadian and European players have softened over the years, particularly as they have begun to play the physical game Cherry favours with greater zest. (More importantly, Cherry promotes safe phsyical play. A salient detail the paper's authors chose to ignore.)

Nader's and Maciel's complaints take on a truly comical context when one considers the pure minutiae they're complaining about.

“Cherry uses the word ‘troops’ a total of 12 times during the season. This is in addition to his use of the word ‘soldiers’ six times and ‘battle’ four times. Cherry also mentions ‘war’ four times during this season,” they write.

That's a total of 26 mentions in a 26-week season.

In other words, Cherry uses a word that refers to soldiers, or to the war, an average of once a week. And apparently this is some kind of tragedy, outrage, or at least "cause for concern". Amazing.

This is apparently what "doctoral candidates" in Political Science have been wasting their time on, and are now planning to waste the time of a national Political Science conference.

A more appropriate study of Canadian political culture might examine how Canada's rivalry with the Soviet Union shaped Canadian nationalism. For the record, Canada won.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Internet Says: Newt vs Cain

Although social media has become more prominent than ever before in politics -- in the United States as well as in Canada (where we just had our first "social networking election").

Even so, reliable information about what these trends may mean for politics has been difficult to comeby -- at least until now.

Experian Hitwise has begun to track and analyze website hits in the Republican primary election, and has already uncovered some truly astonishing trends.

For example, Hitwise was able to determine that Donald Trump's announcement that he was dropping out of the race for the GOP nomination closely followed a 49% drop in internet traffic to his Facebook page.

Hitwise Media Director Matt Tatham has implicitly speculated that the public release of President Barack Obama's birth certificate -- the inconceivable preoccupation of Trump's Presidential aspirations -- may have helped mercifully put the final nails in his political coffin.

Other data offered by Hitwise is equally intriguing.

For example, Hitwise data currently suggests that the "Evangelical bump" former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty could have expected has yet to materialize.

If one were to measure according to website hints, it seems that former Speaker of the House and Contract With America innovator Newt Gingrich is getting the most attention. He leads the race for website hits with more than a 65% share. His closest competitor was former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who held just over 22%.

But it would be a mistake to count Cain out just yet. Hits on Cain's website grew fastest, by an astonishing 35%.

Pawlenty, meanwhile, is holding at a paltry 3%.

Then again, it's still fairly early in the Republican primary, with still more than a year to go.

Though the hour hasn't necessarily grown late, there are clear advantages that come with this early traffic, considering that website traffic helped Ron Paul raise $1 million through his political action committee in just 24 hours, it would be tough to underestimate the importance of this traffic.

If Hitwise's figures are an accurate portrayal of how internet traffic is flowing, the race right now is between Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. Although Gingrich has a comfortable lead in this regard, Cain could close the gap quickly.

"The Best Person For the Job"

Chancellor not a booster for Gordon Brown's IMF bid

With former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown seeking to assume the role of Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, there may be one key obstacle in his path:

The British government.

In April, Prime Minister David Cameron questioned Brown's suitability for the job.

“If you have someone who didn’t think we had a debt problem [running the IMF] they may not be the best person to decide whether other countries have that problem," Cameron declared.

The decision over whether or not the British government will attempt to block Brown from becoming IMF Managing Director has not been made. For his own part, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne hasn't expressed any great preference regarding Brown and the IMF.

He's calling for the "best person for the job".

"If it comes to a decision about a replacement for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, what I will be motivated by and what the British Government will be motivated by is who is the best person for the job," Osborne declared. "Instead of 'Is it Buggins's turn?' or 'Should it be someone from a particular country or not', let's focus on getting the right person for the right job."

Brown hasn't yet asked Osborne for any kind of endorsement for assuming the role.

"As it happens, Gordon Brown has not asked me directly or indirectly to be considered for the job," Osborne said. "I'm at the moment focused on making sure we get the best person for the job."

So is Gordon Brown the best person for the job?

The Brown government's use of Private Finance Initiatives to conceal billions of Pounds Sterling in public debt has previously been explored here.

What has not been is Brown's "tripartite" system of Financial regulation.

When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown split regulatory powers between the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority, and the Treasury. This led to a breakdown of surveillance powers, leading to a state of affairs where two-thirds of bank lending in Britain was to other financial institutions.

In the opinion of Dr Sushil Wadhwani, a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, this led to a situation in which interest rates lagged far behind the rate required to return credit markets to equilibrium.

This led to British credit markets in which the incentives to borrow were overloaded. Eventually, Britain fell into the same credit collapse as the rest of the world.

Given the kind of havoc Gordon Brown wrought with Britain's finances and Britain's economy, the idea of giving him a surplus of power over the global economy should be a sobering thought indeed.

David Cameron is right. Gordon Brown is not the right person for the job.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This is What Libby Davies Does Not Take Seriously

African woman subjected to "slave-like" conditions

What a difference a little distance can make.

On one side of Vancouver, Mumtaz Ladha is wanted for human trafficking.

According to Vancouver police, she subjected a young African woman to "slave-like" conditions in her home. She promised the woman a work visa and a job in a hair salon. Instead, she delivered slavery.

“This was work well beyond what you would expect reasonable working conditions to be in Canada,” explained Constable Michael McLaughlin, RCMP E division spokesperson. “Things like hand-washing underwear of all the people in the house, hand-washing cars, hand-washing the cars of guests who came over."

“She wasn’t given enough food," McLaughlin continued. "In some cases, she was forced to eat whatever was left over from a meal — table scraps, in other words. She had no money, her identity documents weren’t with her, and it’s our information that she was often only allowed to sleep when the other people in the home were all sleeping.”

It took a year for the victim to seek help. She was brought to Canada in 2008, and sought refuge in a Vancouver women's shelter in 2009.

“I can’t talk about the exact circumstances, but ultimately, she finally understood through having a conversation with somebody that the conditions she was living under were not acceptable,” McLaughlin continued. “She had so little idea, you would be shocked. She was very depressed, she was very upset, she thought she was stuck, she thought there would be no way out of this situation.”

According to McLaughlin, part of the problem that helps facilitate human trafficking lies in the lack of information available to the victims.

“Part of the reason why human trafficking can exist, even in a country like this, is when people are brought over here, they don’t realize that the standards in Canada are so much different from the area of the world where they’re from,” McLaughlin explained. “They don’t realize it’s not okay to be living in a place without your identity papers, without pay, working these kinds of hours. They don’t understand the social mores of what goes on here.”

Of course, there's one other problem: that police don't yet have all the necessary tools to combat human trafficking. And there are some MPs in Parliament who simply aren't happening.

Taking centre stage in this regard is an MP from the East side of Vancouver: Vancouver-East MP Libby Davies. In 2009, she voted against anti-human trafficking legislation.

Davies did this not only out of ideological opposition to mandatory minimum sentences -- the bill mandated a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for the trafficking of children -- but, according to UBC Professor Benjamin Perrin, out of an equally-ideological pro-prostitution agenda.

When one considers the treatment inflicted on Mumtaz Ladha's victim, it's astonishing to think that enslaving someone -- in a country where slavery is not only illegal, but antithetical to Canadian values -- would not warrant a sentence of at least five years. (In fact, the mandatory minimum sentence should be life in prison without parole.)

Canadians who take the issue of human trafficking seriously understand one central fact: that people who traffick in human beings simply belong in prison. End of conversation.

That Libby Davies can sit on her blatantly-ideological positions in East Vancouver while individuals living in multi-million dollar homes in West Vancouver enslave people is an utter outrage.

No, Pat, There Hasn't Been Enough Scrutiny of Ruth-Ellen Brosseau

Unanswered questions loom over Vegas MP

Speaking of the attention that has been directed toward the NDP's MP for Las Vegas, Ruth-Ellen Brosseau, Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin has just one thing to say:


“A single working mom, she’d probably have some interesting views, whether it’s national child care programs, all kinds of things that she could legitimately comment on that deserve to be heard,” Martin declared.

Of course, there's one other thing that deserves to be heard: an explanation of why Brosseau is going to be seated in Parliament at all.

It has little to do with Brosseau never so much as appearing in her riding during the election. (When it comes to making uninformed decisions, it seems very few have it over Quebeckers.) It has little to do with the falsification of credentials Brosseau does not have.

What it does have to do with is the fabrication of signatures on Brosseau's nomination papers.

It's difficult to believe that many Canadians could still be uninitiated regarding this issue. Mere days after the 2011 election, it was revealed that Brosseau's nomination papers featured signatures that had been gathered under the pretences of "a petition", and others that had been forged.

The NDP has yet to offer a proper response to this. In fact, an NDP spokesperson insisted that all the signatures were gathered properly, even after it had been shown they were not.

Brosseau did not forge any of these signatures herself. She herself never lied to anyone about what the signatures being gathered were for. Nor did she herself ever lie about her education.

It was someone within the NDP campaign who did all of this dirty work. Concerned Canadians still wait for the NDP to flush that individual -- or individuals -- out.

But the bigger question is what's going on at Elections Canada, where they seem to have not taken any action on this matter at all.

Explained most simply, if the Brosseau campaign didn't gather the 100 signatures necessary to certify her candidacy, she was inelligible to appear on the ballot. If any of the signatures are false, that's flat-out electoral fraud.

Elections Canada hasn't stepped in to de-certify the election result based on an inelligible candidate winning and call a by-election. Apparently, they're going to let this matter slide, and carry Brosseau into Parliament with it.

That's unacceptable, and just more evidecne that some bureaucrats at Elections Canada are elligible to find themselves new employment very soon.

One would expect the NDP, who produced an ad talking about Conservative Senators charged with electoral fraud would take an actual case of electoral fraud seriously. Once again, that's actual election fraud, not Elections Canada and the Conservative Party having a disagreement over whether or not specific campaign expenditures were permissable.

Apparently, the NDP has very little interest in these matters when the fraud is within their own ranks.

It's not surprising. What is surprising to see an MP such as Pat Martin, an individual who has shown himself to be of great integrity, declare scrutiny of Brosseau to be "over-blown".

There hasn't been enough scrutiny of Ruth-Ellen Brosseau. Not nearly enough.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2006: The Beginning of the End of the Liberal Party?

Liberal Party still paying for its mistakes

In 2006, something happened to the Liberal Party that they had considered unthinkable:

They were defeated in an election.

That year, Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party to form a minority government. He has resided at 24 Sussex Drive ever since, much to the consternation of the Canaidan left.

The Liberals spent the time since blaming everyone but themselves. They blamed the NDP -- who have since supplanted them as the official opposition -- for competing against them. They blamed the RCMP for choosing to investigate the income trust leak, after Finance Minister Ralph Goodale flat-out refused to investigate on his own.

They never came to grips with what led them to that defeat in the first place, and they're still paying.

Looking back on 2006, it was hard to know precisely how bad it would be for the Liberals moving forward. But looking back -- and hindisght is always 50/50 -- there were some signs. The best sign was actually the individuals who offered themselves as candidates to replace Paul Martin.

The frontrunner candidates in 2006 were Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff. Stephane Dion eventually managed to emerge as the Liberal leader. Then there were the less-competitive also-rans.

Individuals like Joe Volpe, Ken Dryden, Martha-Hall Findlay, and Gerard Kennedy. What do these four have in common? They, along with Michael Ignatieff, lost their Parliamentary seats in the 2011 election. They also have in common outstanding debts -- nearly five years after the 2006 Liberal leadership convention -- from that campaign.

But the real story is the rout. Considering the position the Liberals were in circa 2006, each one of the leadership candidates who ran should have done so because they believed they could lead the Liberal Party back to power.

Five years later, five of these would-be Prime Ministers are out of Parliament, against their own wishes.

Was 2006 the beginning of the end of the Liberal Party? That chapter hasn't been written yet. Despite what the triumphalist cheerleaders of the NDP have declared, Canada is far better off with the Liberal Party than without it.

But in order for the Liberal Party to emerge intact, they must first learn from the mistakes that led to their 2006 defeat, and all the mistakes made since.

The best time -- perhaps the only time -- for them to do that is right now. If they don't 2006, really will have been the beginning of the end.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Found Him

In 2008, Supersize Me creator Morgan Spurlock -- significantly lighter than when he completed the aforementioned work -- produced a documentary entitled Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?

A deeply intertextual work, WITWIOSL references Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego, MC Hammer, and Predator, the film essentially poked fun at the US' inability to find Osama Bin Laden.

Well, it's been two weeks since the world got the news. They found him.

They caught, and compromised to a permanent end, Osama Bin Laden.

It's interesting to watch Spurlock stumble through his facetious documentary. Many of the things that seemed acceptable in 2008 would be considered taboo today. For example, Spurlock notes that Bin Laden mentor Ayman Zawahiri was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood sicne he was 14 years old.

If he made the film today, Spurlock would likely be sworn by his far-left brethren to insist that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate Muslim organization, despite the fact that they seem to have produced lunatics like Zawahiri on an ongoing basis.

Spurlock isn't wrong about everything in the film. He's certainly right to draw attention to the US' support of dictators such as Hosni Mubarek, noting that the United States has spent billions propping up such oppressive governments decades after teh Soviet Union ceased to exist. Interestingly enough, one would expect that Spurlock and Ron Paul would find a few things in common, if the very thought of it wouldn't likely disgust Spurlock.

The relationship of the United States with the Middle East will always be a complex one. The "blame America" ethos adopted by Morgan Spurlock and his contemporaries doesn't make it any easier to understand.

Just as Spurlock insists the War on Terror hasn't made anyone safer from terrorism, there's little reason to think the death of Bin Laden will make the US any safer from terrorism, particularly with the Taliban claiming responsibility for a "revenge" attack.

Even so, the killing of Osama Bin Laden seems like justice. Others may disagree, but they are wrong.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Amnesty Still Playing Partisan Politics

Amnesty International continues to hector Candian government

Full disclosure: I write this post as a member of the University of Alberta chapter of Amnesty International, of which I have been a member since 2008.

Having failed to influence the outcome of the 2011 federal election, it seems that Amnesty International is settling for trying to invoke a feeling of buyer's remorse in the Canadian electorate.

Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, has accused Canada of not being a strong enough guiding force in terms of human rights advocacy.

Oddly enough, Shetty's complaints largely seem to deal with things that have little, if anything, to do with Canada.

"The human rights revolution now stands on the threshold of historic change," Shetty announced. "But there is a serious fight-back from the forces of repression. The international community must seize the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights."

"A critical battle is underway for control of access to information, means of communication and networking technology as social media networks fuel a new activism that governments are struggling to control," he continued. "As seen in Tunisia and Egypt, government attempts to block Internet access or cut mobile phone networks can backfire — but governments are scrambling to regain the initiative or to use this technology against activists."

"In 2010 progress (in Canada) on key concerns was disappointing," Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve said. "The year was marked by failing leadership by Canada on human rights issues."

Salil goes on to note Wikileaks revelations -- if one could call them that -- that the regimes of countries such as Tunisia tortured political detainees.

"Some of the documents made clear that countries around the world were aware of both the political repression and the lack of economic opportunity, but for the most part were not taking action to urge change," Shetty declared. "One leaked cable showed that the then-Canadian envoy, the US ambassador and the UK ambassador all acknowledged that the Tunisian security forces torture detainees; that diplomatic assurances that the government will not torture detainees sent back to Tunisia are 'of value' but unreliable; and that the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] does not have access to detention facilities run by the Ministry of Interior."

Of course, this seems to beg an important question: what does this have to do with Canada? The answer seems to be "not very much".

Canada has not been deeply involved with Tunisia. It has not transferred detainees to Tunisian prisons, nor to Libyan prisons.

In fact, when Libyan President Muammar al-Ghadafi resorted to strafing peaceful protesters with fighter jets, Canada rushed to respond by helping implement a no-fly zone with its fellow NATO partners. Nor has Canada acted blindly within this mission, aborting CF-18 airstrikes that posed unacceptable risks to civilians.

Frankly, Amnesty has too big a plank in its own eye to be complaining about the speck in Canada's. Their relationship with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners -- who recently mocked up assassination photos of US President Barack Obama.

To be fair, Salil Shetty has likley considered very little of his comments very deeply. More likely, it's the work of Neve, who was a guest of then-Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff at his Canada 150 conference.

Neve also committed Amnesty Canada as a signatory to the Voices/Voix petition, which complains about the government's cuts to various activist groups.

Apparently, Amnesty Canada has adopted the position that funding advocacy groups on an ideologically-preferential basis is some sort of human right. Which is, of course, complete and utter rubbish.

Perhaps Shetty and Neve are just confused about what their role should be in an increasingly complex, increasingly polarized political environment. Fortunately, your not-so-humble scribe can explain to them how Amnesty International should be budgeting their time:

Time spent promoting human rights -- actual human rights: 100%. Time spent engaging in partisan politics: 0%. Simple. Salil Shetty and Alex Neve had better figure this out for themselves very quickly, or they had better do something else altogether:


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Liberal Party Needs to Go Back to the Drawing Board on Israel

Irwin Cotler lost the Jewish vote

In the 2011 electon, the Conservatives achieved one of their key goals: they breached "fortress Toronto".

They didn't accompish at least one other: making inroads into Montreal.

Arguably they may have had the best opportunity to do this in Mount Royal, where they matched Saulie Zajdel up against longtime Jewish MP Irwin Cotler.

Leading up to the election, they worked very hard to lure the Jewish and ethnic votes away from Cotler. In the end, it turns out they were successful in luring the Jewish vote, but failed to win the ethnic vote.

“Clearly, there was an erosion,” Cotler admitted. “I think it’s correct that I lost the majority of the Jewish vote. But I won, importantly, in the cultural communities.”

The Conservatives won good portions of the Jewish vote by taking a strong foreign policy stand on Israel, something the Liberals had declined to do. They had deluded themselves into thinking being an "honest broker" means being a weak ally.

“People said to me directly, ‘Irwin, you’re a great guy, but we have to vote for Harper," Cotler recounted. "He’s there for us. We have to be there for him.’”

But the shift in the Jewish vote was not merely due to the Conservatives earning it with sound policy on Israel. The shift also occurred because of a distrubing and disappointing flier distributed in Mount Royal inferring that Cotler was soft on anti-Semitism.

To at least a small degree, those fliers accoumplished their goal.

“I had some painful encounters," Cotler said. "I would go into seniors’ residences, and they would ask me, ‘Why is Ignatieff an antisemite?’ ...Negative attack ads do work,”

Unfortunately, it seems like those fliers did do their dirty work. However, they were able to do it because the Liberals left themselves vulnerable. While Irwin Cotler was denouncing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmaedinejad for incitement to genocide, Michael Ignatieff was suggesting Israel is a war criminal.

It doesn't excuse dirty campaign tactics, and in the leadup to the 2011 election, all of Canada's political parties have been guilty of it; the Tories are no different.

But the best way to appeal to the Jewish vote is to be solid on their values. When one of the key valeus is supporting the Middle Eastern state with the best human rights record of any of them, this shouldn't be difficult.

It wasn't the voters of Mount Royal who failed Irwin Cotler. The Liberal Party leadership failed Irwin Cotler. It's time for them to go back to the drawing board and get those policies right.

Ed Miliband & the Wilting Rose of Labour

Labour leader warned of Liberal-esque collapse

After the 2011 federal election, Canadians should be aware of two central facts about the Liberal Party.

The first is that they'll be back. The second is that it will take them some time to get there.

In the wake of local council elections that yielded disappointing returns for Labour -- and surprising wins for the Conservative Party -- the Grits' British counterpart, the Labour Party, are being warned that they may face a similar collapse.

The warnings to Labour leader Ed Miliband come from Ian Lewis, the party's shadow Secretary of Culture, and Labour manifesto co-author Patrick Diamond.

Lewis has warned of regional splits that may deeply damage Labour's prospects of governing again in the future. The party has lost ground in Scotland, and is suffering badly in southern regions of the United Kingdom.

"Today, they see Labour as the party of the North, standing up for the poor, benefit claimants, immigrants and minority groups," Lewis declared. "A party which overspent without delivering sufficient value for money. A party which talks a lot about rights but not enough about responsibility."

Labour won 800 new local council seats on May 5. But the Tories emerged on May 6 with a net gain of council seats, despite having expected to lose at least 1,000 seats.

"On the whole, despite the Government’s too-fast, too-deep cuts, tax increases and trebling of tuition fees, they stuck with the Tories," Lewis said. "A situation which if sustained would mean we will not win the next general election."

Diamond considers Labour's council elections letdowns to be a mere microcosm of a trend that is sweeping not just Britain, but all of Europe.

"Labour's ejection from office mirrors an even starker European trend, as the pendulum has swung aggressively against the left. Local council victories last Thursday cannot disguise the governing crisis which threatens Labour's very survival as a party of power," Diamond wrote in The Guardian.

"There remains little sense of what would be the ideological programme through which the left can govern in a world transformed irrevocably by the global financial crisis," Diamond continued. "The recurring question has been why, in the midst of a crisis whose origins clearly implicate the neoliberal right, it is social democrats who remain battle weary and defensive. The crisis that began with a wave of sub-prime lending in the United States has been hastily redefined as a crisis of public debt and government deficits. It is the state – its size, role, and efficiency – that is now at the centre of political debate, not the inherent instability of markets and free-market ideology."

Yet if Diamond feels that British voters are making their political decisions hinging on public debt and deficits, he must know they need only took to the Labour Party that managed Britain's finances so disastrously.

In fact, the "too-deep, too-fast" cuts and "trebling of tuition" that Lewis complains about can be attributed directly to the Labour Party and its spend thrift nature. Even as the Blair/Brown government emptied public coffers and drove up debt, they evaded accountability by offsettting heaps of debt against future budgets.

Diamond seems to despair at what he considers the looming destruction of the Labour Party. (There is little reason to despair just yet, this page of history is not yet written.)

Lewis, on the other hand, offers some semblence of a solution to Labour's looming troubles, even it seems like mere platitudes.

"It is important we understand the depth of people’s feelings and frustrations if we are to have any chance of reconnecting so they start listening to us again," Lewis concluded. "We have to face up to the fact that there was little sign of those squeezed middle voters in the south east, south west and east of England returning to Labour."

In other words, Ed Miliband and Labour have some deep soul-searching to do if they want to get the party back on course to govern Britain. Prime Minister David Cameron and the Tories have been making the hard decisions Labour couldn't, and the British public's appreciation seems to be showing in their election returns.

They're not sharing the predicament of the Liberal Party just yet. But if Labour isn't careful, they soon could be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Liberals Taking the Long Road Back

Liberals to postpone leadership vote for two years

The 2011 federal election was nothing if not a humbling experience for the Liberal party. Reduced to a rump of a mere 34 seats, the Liberal Party lost key strongholds in Toronto and Quebec, lost ground in BC, and found narrow salvation in the Maritimes.

It represents the kind of deep-rooted rebuilding a lot of Liberals called for after the 2008 campaign -- they dubbed it Liberal 308, but it was sadly abandoned quickly in the face of what many expected to be a quickly-looming election.

Instead, the 40th Parliament of Canada lasted for nearly three years. Now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is settling into 24 Sussex Drive with a majority government, the Liberals will finally have the opportunity to make their leadership campaign part of a comprehensive rebuilding process.

For the Liberals, the first step seems to be picking an interim leader. The party has declared there will be two conditions for seeking the interim leadership: first off, that individual must be bilingual. Secondly, they must promise not to run for the full-time leadership.

At this point, that would exclude Bob Rae, Justin Trudeau, Dominic LeBlanc, and Ralph Goodale from contention. As Denis Coderre and Marc Garneau could also throw their hat in the leadership ring, one could consider them out, too.

The most interesting element of the Liberal plan is that it will actually turn out to be Liberal senators who will decide the interim leader. The interim leader must have the support of the majority of the Liberal caucus as a whole -- House of Commons and Senate combined -- although the Commons caucus will essentially have a "double vote" on the matter. (The interim leader must also have majority support from the House of Commons caucus.)

There do seem to be two essential snags in the issue: first, the Liberal leadership must agree to amend the party constitution via a June 18 "virtual convention".

Second, the plan has nothing to say about the future of Liberal Party President Alfred Apps, who many Liberals think should resign after the historic 2011 defeat.

If the Liberal Party is serious about making a two-year commitment to party renewal it would be unfortunate if Apps were to become a roadblock to the needed changes. If the party's national board won't ask Apps to resign, he should do so on his own.

Now Canada will wait with far-from-baited breath to learn who will be the Liberal Party's next interim leader. Will it be Scott Brison? John McCallum? Geoff Regan? Joyce Murray? Mauril Belanger?

Perhaps the better question is: Will it even actually matter?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Herman Cain: the Man With the (5 Point) Plan

Cain would create jobs with low-tax planning

As the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, few are pegging Herman Cain as a blue-chip contenter for President based on his past experience.

Based on his ideas? That might be a different story altogether.

Recently, Cain revealed s five-point plan to create more jobs in the United States. At the heart of the plan is a low-tax, small-state approach to economics.

As President, Cain would attempt to do the following: First, he would slash the US corporate tax rate by 29%, from the current rate of 35% to 25% (still nine points higher than the Canadian corporate inciome tax rate). Secondly, he would reduce the US capital gains tax rate to zero. He would also (thirdly) reduce the tax on the repatration of profits earned in foreign countries (something really not currently done at all) to zero.

Fourth, he would eliminate the 6.2% payroll tax for a period of one year. Fifth, he would attempt to render these tax rates permanent -- or at least indefinite.

Cain's goal is very simple: get US-based corporations investing their profits in the United States again. He would implement specific low-tax policy points in order to use a low-tax fiscal regime as a fiscal multiplier,

In order to accomplish all of this while keeping the US within its budget, he would target exogenous government spending (the spending not incurred through the operation of basic government), then reduce the level of autonomous spending by eliminating superfluous government departments.

Cato Institute Economist Daniel Mitchell has greeted Cain's proposals quite enthusiastically.

"The US has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, which is a very self-destructive policy in a globally competitive environment," Mitchell declared. "I think it should be lowered to 15 percent, but 25 percent is a good start."

But, according to Mitchell, the truly indispensible element of Cain's plan is the reduction in taxes on capital gains.

"The capital gains tax is a form of double taxation (businesses already get taxed on profits, so taxing the gains of investors would be doing it twice)," Mitchell explained. "Many of America’s trade partners have no capital gains tax, so it would be beneficial for the US to join them in that policy."

In fact, if Mitchell would counsel against any portion of Cain's plan, it's against the payroll tax holiday.

"Generally speaking, people only respond to permanent change in incentives," Mitchell explained. "If you permanently eliminate taxes on workers, you’ll increase their incentive to work and be more productive. A 1-year holiday doesn’t help that much, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, either."

Then again, the payroll tax holiday is the element that best applies to small business. There's no real reason why major corporations should reap all the benefits of Cain's plan. Small businesses create jobs and add economic value too.

Herman Cain's proposal likely won't go over well with the Krugman crowd, or with any of the other Keynsean disciples out there. But they've already had their chance, and they've already failed.

It's time for US economic policy to be led by someone with a real vision. Herman Cain may have just that vision.

The NDP in Quebec: Jacques' Bloc

NDP revisiting their Bill 101 backstabbing bill

Even a week after an election that delivered a Conservative majority government -- as opposed to a Liberal/NDP/Bloc Quebecois coalition -- the NDP is continuing to send Canadians further signs that the country very narrowly averted a catastrophe in 2008.

Canadians remember it well: Liberal leader Stephane Dion, having been firmly rebuked by the Canadian electorate, teamed up with Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe in a desperate bid to save their per-vote subsidy.

They've still never told Canadians precisely what were the terms of their deal with the Bloc Quebecois -- who was not to be formally a part of the coalition, but still signed onto the formal agreement that would have birthed it.

But there is one thing we do know, courtesy of Liberal Party lead negotiator Marlene Jennings. It's been mentioned on this blog many times before, but in light of recent news, warrants being mentioned again.

The Bloc Quebecois had demanded that Bill 101 -- the infamous French-only sign law -- be applied to federally-regulated industries. The Liberal Party said no.

What Jennings seemingly never accounted for was that the NDP had already said yes. She already knew as much. She knew it before the Liberals and NDP ever came together to form that coalition.

Now, through the promised reintroduction of a private member's bill that would apply "elements of Bill 101" to federally-regulated industries in Quebec. The bill was up prior to the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of the 2011 election. Jack Layton promises it will be back.

“It’s a very, very important law,” Layton declared.

The Bill, which originated with Thomas Mulcair, is allegedly meant to protect the right of workers in federally-regulated industries to communicate in French, without denying Anglophone employees the right to communicate in English.

The problem with all of this is that such a bill hasn't been necessary since the 1970s.

In reality, the bill is about something different: about the NDP supplanting the routed Bloc Quebecois as the voice of Quebecois nationalism.

“It’s obviously a political play to appeal to nationalists,” said associate director of the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs Robert Asselin. “But in terms of feasibility, it’s a very irresponsible promise.”

“The country has moved forward on linguistic issues,” Asselin said. “It is not as confrontational as it used to be.”

But to Jack Layton, this detail may come second to the reality that, for the NDP, defeating the Bloc Quebecois may not be enough. Now that the NDP has seized control of the electoral coaliton that had previously sustained the Bloc Quebecois, it seems the NDP wants to render it permanent.

It isn't enough that the NDP defeated the Bloc Quebecois. It seemingly wants to become the Bloc Quebecois. With one seeming separatist MP (Pierre-Luc Dusseault) in the mix, this may be more than idle speculation: it may be only a matter of time.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Leona Aglukkaq Gets Her Audition for Foreign Affairs

Aglukkaq dispatched to important arctic conference

With the government in need of a new Minister of Foreign Affairs since Lawrence Cannon suffered a defeat in the 2011 election.

No decision seems to have been made as to who will adopt that particular role. Former Afghan ambassador Chris Alexander is downplaying speculation that has him bound for the job.

Considering the government's assignment of Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to attend the upcoming Arctic Council summit in Greenland. The summit will make some important decisions for the future of the Arctic Council, inlcuding the role of non-Arctic countries within that council.

Aglukkaq will presumably be working closely with bureaucrats from the Department of Foreign Affairs in order to guide her at the summit. But some so-called "foreign affairs experts" -- namely UBC professor Michael Byers -- are already counting her down.

"It is a big time," Byers declared, but has seemingly jumped to conclusions about Alukkaq's ability to represent Canada at the conference. "She will be out of her depth."

"It's not perfect," Byers admitted. "But in the circumstances, it's not the worst choice."

He noted that, as Inuit, Aglukkaq is at least a sound "symbolic" representative at the conference.

But counting Aglukkaq down is entirely premature. She's proven to be an excellent Minister of Health, and an excellent advocate for Inuit in Ottawa. Given the right advice, and provided the proper guidance, there's no reason whatsoever to believe that Aglukkaq will represent Canada any less than admirably at the Arctic Council Summit.

Byers -- who is a former NDP candidate, and is now watching his party flirt with contention for government -- would likely imagine himself as Canada's representative at the Arctic Council Summit, as Foreign Affairs Minister of an NDP government.

Which tempts one to chalk Michael Byers' attitude up to professional jealousy.

After all, if Leona Aglukkaq does her job at the Summit as splendidly as those familiar with her performance to date expect, she just may end up with the Minister of Foreign Affairs job Michael Byers so clearly and deeply covets.


Labour leader preemptively dancing on Margaret Thatcher's grave

Some Nexus readers may recall the days after Ted Kennedy's death, when certain left-wing bloggers declared that right-wing bloggers were "dancing on Kennedy's grave".

The best available evidence was gathered and examined. With the exception of a handful of individuals, it turns out this allegation was untrue. Although the individuals in question refused to accept the evidence regardless of how overwhelming it was, there was no realistic basis for that politicizing Kennedy's passing.

On the left side of the aisle, however, it seems to be a very different story.

With concerns over Margaret Thatcher's health mounting, it seems that some left-wingers -- such as Keir Morrison -- aren't waiting for Thatcher to actually die before the dancing begins.

Morrison, who won election to Nottinghamshire Council last week, was recently spotted wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words "a generation of trade unionists will dance on Thatcher's grave."

If it were merely Morrison, a youthful member of a Morrison family dynasty on Nottinghamshire Council, caught up in this it would be one thing.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband still has yet to offer a reasonable explanation as to why he would willingly be photographed with Morrison; both of them all smiles.

A spokesperson for Miliband's office has claimed that Miliband didn't know the slogan was on Morrison's T-shirt. If anyone, anywhere in the world, believes that, that spokesperson likely also has a slightly-used clocktower to sell them.

Nor this is the first time that someone high up in Labour has embarrassed their party like this. Last year leadership hopeful John McDonnell declared he would have liked to to travel back in time and kill Thatcher while she was still Prime Minister.

He was applauded for the "joke".

It seems that so blatantly wishing ill on Lady Thatcher has become a quite ordinary practice among the British left. Nor does the Canadian left by any means seem immune.

Be aware. It's just how these people operate.