How to lose an election

Alberta’s election continues to be far more entertaining than the one here in the UK.

Amid his party’s plummeting polling numbers, Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice needed to re-connect with voters and rebuild trust for his party during the leaders debate last night.

Instead, he told the only woman on stage that “I know the math is difficult…” in a discussion around tax increases. Very soon after #MathIsHard started trending in the province and NDP leader Rachel Notley was able to remind viewers that this is the leader who doesn’t want Albertans to “worry their pretty little heads.”

There’s an adage that governments typically lose elections, rather than opposition parties win them. In this case, I think Prenctice just lost it and Notley has a truly unexpected chance to win it.

For more on the debate, read Don Braid’s analysis in the Calgary Herald.

Lunney unleashed

Citing media “intolerance and bigotry”, anti-science Canadian MP James Lunney has quit the government caucus to sit as an independent. Among Lunney’s claim to the crown as Canada’s least scientifically literate MP are:

  • He doesn’t believe in evolution
  • He’s a chiropractor
  • He’s claimed there’s a link between vaccines and autism
  • He doesn’t believe the climate is changing

In his surreal press release (dated March 31, not April 1), he states that he will address his religious beliefs in Parliament at his next opportunity, which sounds like it will be a hoot. Lunney claims that Christians are being persecuted in Canada, a claim that is thoroughly debunked by the excellent Ottawa Citizen editorial:

Add MP James Lunney to the list of people who somehow have come to believe they’re being persecuted — that indeed, their fundamental human rights are under threat — when people disagree with them on Twitter.

Lunney is standing down before the election in October so we’ll only have a few more of his public gems of wisdom.

Good riddance.

Seizing Canada’s Moment: The Speech from the Throne

The big news yesterday is of course that the Tea Party finally caved and allowed the United States government to reopen amidst its continued partisan deadlock (between the corporatist and the crazy corporatist right-wing). They’ve kicked the can for the next faceoff to January, when we’ll potentially get to do the whole thing over again.

In other news, my biased Canadian-politics Twitter was ablaze over the pomp and circumstance that was Stephen Harper’s (or I guess it was David Johnston’s) latest Speech from the Throne. Look, it even got it’s own domain:

That website contains the full text, which I’ll analyze below, and numerous ads dedicated to  the never-ending Canada’s Economic Action Plan and “Seizing Canada’s Moment.” As far as I can tell, a speech from the throne has never gotten it’s own marketing material (beyond a press release or early leak), let alone branding. Such is Canada’s current political climate that routine procedures are marketable moments.

Continue reading Seizing Canada’s Moment: The Speech from the Throne

Harper Conservatives continue to rewrite Canadian History

From the government that is still celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 (a war fought between Britain and America) and that refused to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the defining legal document of the country and arguably one of the most progressive constitutions in the world), comes more pro-military historical revisionism:

Canada’s official commemorative plan leading up to the country’s 150th birthday highlights an arsenal of battles and wars, a smattering of sports and a nod to the Arctic, newly obtained documents show.

University of Ottawa history professor Michael Behiels said the list represents a traditional and exceptionally narrow approach that excludes much of Canada’s social, medical and technological history.

"You have to build a broader base here … for it to be really meaningful," Behiels said.

There is no mention of settling the west, the trials and tribulations of working people or legal landmarks that transformed Canada’s social landscape, he noted.

Under budget cuts during the Chretien 1990s and a shift toward militancy, Canada has fallen to historic lows from its once noble tradition of being the world’s peacekeepers.

By Ottawa’s count, there are only 42 Canadian military personnel currently serving in seven UN peacekeeping missions. The UN says the count is even lower. Its most recent monthly report, issued at the end of the April, registered only 33 Canadian military personnel in UN missions. Another 130 Canadian police – some from the RCMP, others from provincial and municipal forces – are also serving with the UN.

The demand remains high though, as the UN now deploys more peacekeepers then ever, with rising powers like India and Bangladesh filling Canada’s role. Canadians are still strongly supportive of peacekeeping, even more so than Conservative priorities such as arctic sovereignty and counter-terrorism interventionary wars like Afghanistan.

There’s little prospect for change though. The current government is bent on continuing to transform Canada’s foreign policy and history toward militarism, while the Trudeau Liberals have no current foreign policy and were responsible for drastic cuts to peacekeeping missions during the 1990s. The NDP is a bit better with its 2013 Policy Book calling for a focus on peacekeeping, summarizing:

New Democrats believe that defense policy should focus on Canada’s rights as a sovereign and effective world citizen – including defending the Arctic and our territorial waters for the benefit of all citizens and future generations. Peace building will be the top military priority of a New Democrat government.

Successful in Ottawa, Religious Right turns to Edmonton

My shortage in blogging lately hasn’t been for lack of topics.

This past week has seen blow up and scandal plague Alberta politics, as the boobs come off the Wildrose bus. First, we have a compilation of quotes by Danielle Smith shaping her as a Christian Libertarian, then we have her denouncing established climate science, plus she has refused to chasten her candidates for slandering the Edmonton Public School Board and damning homosexuals to burn in “the lake of fire” or for saying that being white is an advantage.

It’s well established that Conservative Party of Canada insiders, like former strategist Tom Flanagan and past Edmonton-Strathcona candidate Ryan Hastman, are working closely with the Wildrose Party. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see the social conservative forces, fresh off their recent Ottawa takeover, are feeling threatened by a new Albertan premier who started to put a bit too much emphasis on the progressive in Progressive Conservative.

Continue reading Successful in Ottawa, Religious Right turns to Edmonton

Obligatory Budget Post

Today the NDP surpassed the Conservatives in the polls and the Chief Electoral Officer testified to a House of Commons committee about the potential electoral fraud in 200 ridings in the last election, but all of that was overshadowed by Stephen Harper’s first majority government budget, which includes the newsworthy* decision to kill the penny.

Here’s what a majority Harper Conservative budget looks like.

Continue reading Obligatory Budget Post

The Cons found a scapegoat

It seemed pretty obvious when Harper claimed no knowledge of the Robocon scandal that someone in the Conservative party would quickly have to take the fall.

Guelph staffer Michael Sona took that fall today, despite a lack of any “public evidence” that he was involved.

I doubt this will be enough to quiet the opposition, Elections Canada, or the RCMP. Let’s hope the pressure stays on – perhaps we can get a do-over in some of these ridings.

Finally, for all the flack thrown at Postmedia, I am quite impressed by the quality journalism done by the Ottawa Citizen here, as well as the rest of the media’s latching onto this story. A CTV piece on TV the other night even did the amazing thing of tying this scandal to the growing narrative of Conservative dirty election tricks – like the in and out scandal and the recent guilty plea.