Reboot Alberta

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Size Matters - But Do Pollsters Care?

Pollsters who use sample sizes of 243 in Quebec and 384 in Ontario and spin the “results” as being indicative of anything proximiting a degree of accuracy should be embarrassed. Those sample sizes are too small to make a definitive comment on voter stances in Quebec and Ontario with over 7 and 12 million people respectively.

Remember these days pollsters have to phone 15 -20 people before anyone answers their questions. So they are pretty self selecting people and not necessarily very representative. Also they don’t call cell phones so they miss the youth and young adult voter sentiments as well. Take this so called voter intention information with a grain of salt...and don't be fooled into thinking this is more fact than fancy. It is not.

The Pollsters were totally embarrassed in the 2006 election because they were mostly wrong last time, and significantly wrong - except for Nanos. He kept polling over the last weekend in 2006 and caught the shift in sentiment as Canadians got serious as they reflected on the future of the country.

Nik's three day running polls are showing very little variation in voter preferences from the 2006 election results...and it has been that way all through this election so far. In 2006 the Cons had 36.3%, Libs 30.2 and NDP 17.5. Not much has changed but MSM reports breathlessly as if something was actually happening that is different. It isn't!

This election will be decided on the long weekend of Oct 11-13 as Canadians reflect during Thanksgiving in the same way and about the future of the country as well as their own futures in uncertain times and who they dare trust. Many will not make a final decision until they pick up a pencil.

Harper is not a leader. He is a Misleader.
I am for anyone but Harper BUT I know he has a very efficient and concentrated rural vote. So he has a real shot at a majority. Unless the rest of us show up to send him a message. We have to vote strategically to be sure to not split the vote either.

Partisanship has to conceded to pragmatism as conscientious Canadians who care for the country and the future for their kids cast a vote. Be sure to show up and vote. And be sure to vote Anybody But Harper.

Harper's Speech Writer Gone. Guilty of Plagiarism. More Questions About the Conservative's Values.

More situational ethics are coming from the Conservative Party campaign operatives. Yet another one has to resign in disgrace and further humiliate Harper and bring his personal judgment and trustworthiness into question.

An admission of plagiarism by an experienced speech writer working directly for a political leader like Mr. Harper is serious stuff. This speech writer clearly knows better but did it anyway, presuming he would not get caught? This is not an example of the over-exuberance of some amateur blogger getting out of line. This is deliberate deception. It begs the question of if it was collusion with John Howard, the defeated Australian PM who gave the peech first.

This smacks so much of Harper’s hardball bullying political style of doing whatever it takes to get power. This does not look good on Mr. Harper’s judgment and qualities to govern. It shows the deceit and conniving we have seen from the Harper government and political culture goes a long way back - a long way back!

Canadians have not warmed to Mr. Harper since they gave him a minority government in January 2006. His bullying and opportunistic approach to politics has firmed up his base voter support but it has not given him any traction or momentum to break through for the majority government he covets in this election.

Harper’s approach is obviously to get personal political power at all costs and then bankrupt the Liberals in the process. He wants a one-party state, the Harper party. Is this the kind of person you think represent the foundational Canadian values? Is this the kind of person you want speaking for you as Prime Minister? Is this the kind of person you feel comfortable enough with to give the power to make the serious decisions public policy decisions that will impact your life directly?

It’s about character, competence and caring. We need both in our political leadership. We need servant leaders, not power hungry politicians. Harper is continuing to prove has not enough of these qualities of effective leadership. Be careful who you elect Canada. And be very afraid of giving Stephen Harper the absolute power of a majority government.

JIm Ford is Still the One for Edmonton Sherwood Park

The “TrueBlueReformer” has a blog under He can’t understand why sending an Independent Conservative to Ottawa instead of the “official” Conservative candidate would send Harper a message. I recommended in an earlier post that Edmonton Sherwood Park elect Jim Ford, as an Independent Conservative for those very reasons.

Here is a link to that earlier post with my endorsement.

I have to wonder about these cloak-and-dagger Conservatives and their supporters. Why do they always hide behind anonymity in the blogosphere? Who are these people? Why should we believe anything they say? Why do they have to hide their identities? What are they afraid of – the truth? Who are they afraid of – the public?

I think these true believers of the Harper hypocrisy are guys who are set up to spout off but who are really afraid in their heart of hearts. They fear the political process in a free and open democracy. They fear their party henchmen and they fear their leader.

Hidden identities from party operatives trolling the Blogs means there is also a hidden agenda! Harper does not want power – he wants absolute power. We all know the truth that power corrupts. That is why the Liberals lost the last election and Canadians decided to give Harper a controlled and limited chance to govern by electing a Conservative minority.

That political experiment with Harper is our Prime Minister has proven to be a failure. The power has already corrupted Harper and the Conservative Party in just over 2 years. His record, his manipulation of the facts, the abuse and bullying, the command and control top-down centralization of political power exclusively in the PMO is proof he is not the right stuff to govern.

If he gets absolute power through a majority government one can expect it will corrupt him absolutely in less than 2 years. Harper is not worth this risk! He has shown that he is a risk to our freedoms as citizens by the way he uses power for personal political purposes, and not the greater good of the country.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Polls Show 51% Oppose a Harper Majority - Let the Strategic Voting Begin

The vibrations about strategic voting are starting to pick up resonance in the land. Harper is “achingly close” to a majority with some poll and seat projector results last week. Harper’s new musing about wanting a majority was to be expected. Why is it reasonable to expect this?

Because at the beginning of the election Harper said just the opposite! He said when he called the election, breaking his own fixed date election law to do it, he said expected and would be “satisfied” with another minority government. We know from past experience that when Harper says one thing he means another…like not wanting a majority. Of course he wants a majority, and it looks like he will be getting it if current trends continue.

Get used to being afraid of your government’s power over you if Harper gets a majority. It could happen. Unless, of course Canadians wake up to that fact and realize what a mistake they would be. Harper is a one-man-band control freak and a misleading master manipulator. Canadians will have to stop him and that will take some strategic voting given the split in the Lib/NDP/Green voters.

The “appetite” for a Conservative majority is also at 40% and 51% would not be happy with a Harper majority and only 11% are not sure. This is according to a new Ipsos Reid poll released Sunday September 28. Harper is obviously a love him or hate him kind of guy. Those who love him are older and middle aged men and those who have him are younger Canadians.

This is a recipe for strategic voting, which will start in earnest after the debates this week. That same poll was showing 39% of us are in favour of strategic voting to stop Harper and 45% are against it. Some 16% are not sure what they think about strategic voting.

The strategic voters will tend to vote Liberal (44%) followed by NDP (26%) with Greens getting strategic voter support from 14%. Only 3% of strategic voters have not yet made up their minds. I expect the Green strategic voters in Ontario and Atlantic Canada will shift Liberal and the NDP vote in Quebec will shift to the Bloc.

The vote swapping websites and the anti-Harper websites and Facebook pages and anti-Harper Premier Danny Williams will all start to turn up the heat, volume and activity for strategic voting. More on how to do this will be in future posts.

$700B Bailout! Is It A Deal or No Deal?

The bubble has burst on the "brain trust" that was the American financial sector. This is the biggest government bailout in history. Deal or No Deal is the question and this bailout is not a slam dunk yet. Where is Howie Mandel when you need him? The package is still in some serious trouble with opposition from a significant segment of the Washington political class – House Republicans.

The very same Bush-league laissez-faire Republicans who our own Harper Conservatives see themselves as Bush-Republican clones. These guys have systematically reduce the responsible role of government to protect citizens from excess and abuses of greed and graft.

As the Congress and White House look at passing a law on how to nationalize the American financial sector they are putting the taxpayer on the hook of $700B of more borrowed money. No doubt that money will be from more borrowing that will undoubtedly come from China one again. This will serve to make the Americans even more vulnerable and subject to the whim of the Chinese.

The chance for a world-wide recession is still very real and confidence in the marketplace is going to erode significantly, including Canada. The expectations are for a steep economic decline as credit tightens up. The TSX is down over 535 points as the time of writing and crude oil is down $6 a barrel.

The Report On Business front page story today shows that Canadian CEOs are the most pessimistic they have been in years. The Harper claims that Canada is on track for a surplus this fiscal year because just one month has shown as surplus so far does not add up. Confidence has shifted under Harper’s watch. In June 2008 58% of CEOs were looking for moderate to strong growth in the Canadian economy. One quarter later, the September 2008 confidence shows 60% of CEOs now believe the economy will go into strong or moderate decline. This is more volatility that we have seen in the election polls this time around.

It is time to look seriously at Harper’s approach to crisis. Can a one-man-band who thinks he is the only smart person in any room he visits be worth the risk? The Conservative bench strength has Harper and Prentice as the talent – now that Emerson is gone. Skills and competence of the Harper cabinet drops off dramatically after those two men. There is no “I” in team and there is no Harper team either. Do we dare put our entire future into the hands of one man – namely Mr. Harper? All of us are smarter than one of us Mr. Harper.

The Liberals have lots of bench strength economically, environmentally and socially and a proven positive record in managing the economy in tough times. It is time to bring back Paul Martin, the best Finance Minister Canada has ever had. He turned a $46B Mulroney deficit into a long time string of balanced budgets, paid down debt and ended up with a $12B surplus.

Harper squandered that $12B surplus in less than 2 years. The facts show that Harper is not the fiscal managers and stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars. He misleads in this area like he does in many other policy areas. Harper is not only not worth the risk. He is the risk.

We are all going to be in this together and for a long time. We should deal with it together...not just depend on Harper as a one-man political and policy band to deliver us from this evil. Vote for a team approach and that means you need to vote Liberal on October 14th.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Harper Keeps Media Away From Candidate Cadman...Chuck's Widow

More evidence Mr. Harper is opposed to or afraid of Free Speech. Apparently reporters were not allowed to talk to Chuck Cadman's widow and Conservative candidate at a recent Harper political rally in B.C.. This is leadership in a a free and open society that values democracy? Harper clearly does not want citizen to get informed on the issues in this campaign nor to investigate his political character in this election.

Harper fears what will happen if citizens engage, get informed and show up to vote. They may make a consider decision and not be subjected only to the mediated and manipulated by spin by the Harper War Room.

It is even more alarming to consider the point in this CTV blog post that the RCMP may be engaging in partisan politics beyond "protecting" Harper. It appears they are actively keeping reporters away from speaking to protesters and candidates. If so they are not "Serving and Protecting." They are keeping the truth from Canadians.

UPDATE: I just got Kady O'Malley's take on this RCMP shilling too. It is worth reading and reflecting on as Harper rehearses for a police state.

Harper's "Drive By Smearing" of Alberta Does Not Sit Well

Neil Waugh of the Edmonton Sun has trouble understanding that I can support the Alberta PC Party and vote Liberal federally. He once said I stood out in the Alberta PC Party “like a mustard stain on a tie.” I liked that, especially coming from Neil. I also like what Waugh has to say about Harper’s “drive by smearing” of Alberta last week.

Last week Harper, in Trudeau- like arrogance, once again decided to unilaterally imposed Ottawa into Alberta’s Constitutional rights over our natural resources. Is a new Ottawa politically inspired NEP being imposed on Alberta and this time from a Prime Minister ELECTED from Alberta? What breathtaking political overconfidence. This is just another example of how consistently Harper takes Albertans for granted.

Without any prior notice to the Alberta government, never mind some polite, if not required, intergovernmental consultation on such critical issues, Stephen Harper, the man who would be "President of Canada", waltzed into Calgary last week and kicked Alberta in the economic groin. He stood up and said he as Prime Minister would be the “Decider” about what countries would be eligible to buy our Alberta bitumen - and on what terms.

Harper has proven through his betrayal on Income Trusts that we can't trust his word. He has proven that he has no respect for the Rule of Law in how be broke even his own law on fixed elections. Now we know he has no respect for Federalism, Alberta and keeping government from interfering in the free market system. How UnConservative can you get?

Harper has been taking Alberta and Albertans for granted for over a decade. Alberta needs to send him a message on October 14 and show him we are not his lap dogs. Nor are we Albertans going to continue to act like sheep that he can depend upon to be herded into the voting booth with our ballots already mentally marked for his party and his "leadership."

Change in conservative politics in Alberta has happened before. Albertans sent the Ralph Klein leadership a strong message in the 2004 provincial election when 210,000 supporters stayed home or voted Alliance. The PC Party deposed Ralph a few months later, much to his surprise. Presumptive front runners, Dinning and Morton were found to be wanting in the last PC leadership contest and were denied power by the voters. Stelmach won! Significant political changes do happen - even in Alberta!

It is time for Alberta to send President Harper an equally strong message about change. Not showing up to vote is not the best way to send the message. Low turnout allows the politically powerful presume you are content with them and the status quo since you could not be bothered to show up at the polls. They conveniently fail to recognize the protest in low voter participation.

Showing up and voting strategically works much better. If you want to simply park your vote, vote Green. They will not elect anyone but it encourages them and they get $1.75 for each vote. That helps them get organized and get their message out for next time. Disgruntled conservatives can vote swap and support independent conservative candidates in Edmonton Sherwood Park (Jim Ford), as well as in Calgary and Medicine Hat.

If you want a wise, informed, strong contrarian ecological voice, you can arrange to help Linda Duncan, a Dipper, in Edmonton Strathcona. Imagine how the national media would react if Alberta sent a Dipper to Ottawa. The overzealous Conservative Party War Room would have to do some serious soul searching if that were to happen in Alberta.

If you want to drive Harper to distraction then help out Liberal Jim Wachowich in Edmonton Centre. Last election the Cons threw everything they had at Anne McLellan and finally beat her. Anne McLellan won this seat many times against all odds, with slight margins because of a strong campaign organization, exemplary personal qualities and by tapping into the contrarian Edmonton political spirit. Jim Wachowich has inherited that mantle from Anne is ready, willing and able to represent that contrarian Edmonton Centre spirit again.

It is your country and your province and the election results decide YOUR government. In a democracy you always get the government you deserve, whether you voted or not. Tired of Harper taking you for granted? Let him know that in no uncertain terms with a smart choice and a strategic vote on October 14.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Harper Takes on Alberta's Natural Resource Rights Over Oil Sands.

I like what the Sudbury Star has to say in its Editorial Today. Isn't this supposed to be Deep Blue Harper country? People are catching on to Harper, taking a second look and realizing he can't be trusted.

As for bring a steady hand on the economy in uncertain times, he blew that in Calgary on Friday. He created enormous uncertainty in the Alberta oilsands sector with his no bitumen export sales unless he says so. This is a direct interference in Alberta's Constitutinal right of control over natrual resources.

It is not just an Alberta issue since the oilsands are the only thing driving the Canadian economy these days. Remember 60% of all Canadian oilsands activity and money happens outside Alberta. Everyone will suffer from the inevitable economic declines adn increased political uncertainty due to Harper's interference in the marketplace. Some free trader he has turned out to be.

Harper "Achingly Close" To a Majority

The EKOS polling firm has gone deeper than most pollsters in this election. They are not stuck in the misleading national poll numbers but rather do seat projections in each province. Their results are much more interesting and nuanced than the other polls I follow.

The voter volatility in Quebec and Ontario is the key to the results in this election. EKOS says the BQ is on track to win BIG in Quebec. The slight shift of a few hundred voters will make all the difference in the outcomes in ridings in Quebec and Ontario. I expect lots of drama on election night and the issue of a Harper majority – on not. Canadians may have to wait until BC decides that issues one way or another on October 14.

The four way horse race in BC in other polling results is misleading because it ignores the efficiency of the Conservative vote in Lotusland. The Conservatives are in the driver’s seat to win big in BC. EKOS has projected them at 24 seats as of yesterday with the NDP doing rather well with 8 seats and a Liberal meltdown to 4 seats. B.C. is no long the "Left Coast."

The Cons are “achingly close” to a majority with 146 seats according to the EKOS seat projection. The Liberals are getting down to John Turner level of seats and now projected at 66 with almost 2/3 of their seat projections coming from Ontario.

EKOS shows a resurgence of the Bloc in Quebec that is apparently thwarting the Harper majority with a little help from a slight shift in Ontario to the Liberals who were closing the seat gap with the Conservatives in the past week.

The easy to overlook “sleeper” result in this weeks EKOS seat projection is the prediction of 1 LIBERAL seat in Alberta. That has to be Jim Wachowich, who is my choice in my constituency of Edmonton Centre. Harper is taking Alberta for granted and Edmonton is a contrarian place and may be sending him a message.

More Canadians Believe in Big Foot Than Politicians Will Keep Election Promises

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation always struck me as frustrated Libertarians who compromised themselves enough to support Harper’s Conservatives on fiscal issues so they did not look extreme. Ironic don’t you think.

Well they have done some good work that Progressives like me have tended to overlook. The CTF work product that recently caught my eye at first glance looked like it originated with the Rhinoceros Party. To presume that would be wrong. It is the handiwork of the CTF and it underscores the depth of cynicism in the Canadian public over confidence in our political leaders to keep election promises.

This CTF sponsored poll was done way back in January 2008, when nobody was really paying attention, post Christmas and way before an election was anticipated. The poll asked at least one fundamental question that must have been judged as top of mind for every engaged Canadian by the CTF.

Q19 - Which is more likely to happen... Politicians will keep their election promises or Scientists will prove the existence of Big Foot.

The results will astound you. 58% of Canadians have more faith in science proving the existence of Big Foot than they do in politicians keeping election promises. Only 27% of Canadians chose the honest politician option.

This result is funny, then sad and finally, it is depressing, as you think about it. This shows just how inadequate we have come to view our democracy and the condition of politics in Canada these days.

The political cynicism about political leadership was consistent across the board, demographically and geographically. Only my Alberta and in good old Sask/Man, both Harper Conservative strongholds, was there any sense of some variation.

In Alberta only 51.5% of us favoured Big Foot’s discovery over trusting politicians. A full 18.4% of us were “Unsure or Undecided, so I am not sure where 1 in 5 of us is leaning (sic) to being unsure about such a question.

Sask/Man folks were split equally between believing in Big Foot or in believing political promises. Not sure what that says about voters there either but I will default to being "encouraged" that they took the question seriously (sic).

We already know Harper does not keep promises like Income Trusts and he breaks his own laws like Fixed Election Dates. Just imagine what Harper would do to us with the absolute power of a majority government! It is starting to look that that Harper majority will be the unfortunate outcome to this election.

You always get the government you deserve in a democracy. Cynicism is not an option this election.

Climate Change Deliberative Democracy Event a Success!

There is a fascinating event happening this weekend at the UofA on citizen engagement. My friend, Wendy Andrews, has been attending and helping to organize the event. I don't do "guest blogs" but Wendy's offering is a worthy exception. Here is her take on what happened last night at the Deliberative Democracy event on Climate Change in Alberta:

Friday, Sept. 26, 2008
Deliberative Democracy and Climate Change

Capitalizing on Alberta’s Natural inclination to be a leader makes us step up as citizens!! Change is happening!

Friday night at the U of A Telus Centre, more than 200 people partook in a discussion about how to engage Albertans in addressing Climate change. Janette Hartz-Karp from Perth, Australia led us through a very entertaining World Café process.

High school students, Seniors, first nations, business executives, housewives and government personnel together explored what Alberta would look like in 2020 if we were successful in addressing climate change.

We had cross party representation at the event and all parties recognized the need to move forward…..but how? …….. That’s what we will deliberate tomorrow.

There is a great opportunity for Alberta to take a lead to be innovators in both Citizen Engagement processes and Climate change. People are acting now in the hope that they can best prepare for the future…..together.

I sat with several young people who were at University or just into the workforce who were totally up to challenge of making a difference in their own future. Wow! People are ready to be more involved in how they are governed…..see the results of today’s deliberations on

This is just the beginning of the discussion. You too, can be part of the excitement. Site will be updated daily and keep checking this blog as history is made.

Thx Wendy for the update. If you are interested in attending and learning more about this event on deliberative democracy HERE IS A LINK to my post last Thursday on the event:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Culture in Danger (Culture en Péril, with subtitles)

It is Friday. The last Monday of the Week. This election is about half done.

We finally have a quality bit of satire to spice it up...and from Quebec - not surprising. And it is about Harper's attitude towards arts and culture. This is an example of why we need artists in our midst. To show us ourselves and in meaningful ways...yes satire is meaningful.

This video is funny even for a unilingual Anglophone like me. If you don't know the "F-word" from a "seal" you may be offended by this video. I sugguest you return to pooping Puffins for a more pedantic bit of prankstering.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Former Fan Passes on Palin

Here is a fundamentalist Republican coming to the conclusion Palin is no fun and may be mentally incapable of being a heart attack away from having responsibility for the nuclear codes.

Is McSame playing politics with the Bush nationalizaton of the American economy? Repubicans are blocking the $700 Billion Bush-league Doctine from going forward.

Jim Ford Is The Best Choice for Edmonton Sherwood Park

I want to write a supportive Blog post in support of Independent Conservative candidate Jim Ford who is running hard in the Edmonton- Sherwood area to replace the retiring Ken Epp. I have been beaten to blog posting on Jim by my friend at FusedLogic.

The nomination shenanigans that have been going on in this constituency seem by some as interference by the national Conservative Party in the local nomination process. I have no comment on that because I have no more information than what I have read in the MSM.

I just want to give some serious support to Jim Ford who is responding to the nomination funny business by stepping up to the plate and running as an Independent candidate. I have known Jim Ford for decades and have come to value him for his goods works in the membership we share in the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party.

He is a man of enormous energy, great wisdom and ability. He has shown courage in the face of adversity and shows a passion to his principles. He has demonstrated admirable qualities of personal integrity. He is no diva. He is a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of guy. I like him because he appreciates the need for a socially progressive role of government while keeping a sharp fiscal pencil to ensure accountability and value for taxpayer dollars. I like and admire Jim Ford as a person and how he stands up for fairness and transparency in politics.

Jim and I have more often to find ourselves on different routes and journeys, but we have always intent on the same goals. We have never disagreed on the overarching need for citizen’s to engage in political participation as the best way to empower our democracy to improve our government and to help improve people’s lives.

Too Many Turfed Candidates From Too Many Political Parties

There is a rash of rash candidates from the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP who are embarrassing themselves, their parties and most or all, their leaders.

The CalgaryGrit has done a public service with a recent blog post on these “Fallen Candidates.” Check out his September 24 post "And You Thought Sara Palin's Vetting Was Shoddy."

We need to attract our best and brightest into servant leadership roles to govern us. These are some but not all the bad examples that show how far away from that goal we have strayed in our democracy these days.

Thx CalgaryGrit for the menu so far, and I presume you will keep us posted as more of these people bite the dust.

Is Harper's "Tough On Crime" Playing the Race Card?

Here is another example of Harper’s Conservatives not reflecting the values that are fundamentally Canadian. Calgary Conservative Candidate Lee Richardson is quoted in the Calgary Herald today accusing immigrants as not being law abiding and tagging them as being responsible for big city crime. In fairness there are ethnic gangs in Edmonton and Calgary but that is not an excuse to brand immigrants as the cause of crime in Calgary. It is more complicated than that simplistic and shallow perception.

Richardson is allegedly quoted in Fast Forward – the Calgary alternative newspaper - implying that many crimes are committed by people that are “…not the kid who grew up next door.” Of course Richardson regrets the comments and admits he misspoke. So what! It reflects an attitude and a value set that is destructive and dangerous.

These were not unguarded comments made in a government interdepartmental meeting as Mr. Ritz’s. These comments reflect, again, an underlying and sometimes overt attitude that is very disturbing. Citizens have seriously question and ask themselves if the Cons are fit to govern. This attitude seems to pervade some significant segments of the Uber- Conservative old time Reform/Alliance elements that still dominate Harper’s caucus.

Reader of this Blog know that I despair about the command and control culture of Harper’s leadership as it relates to media, message manipulation and limiting citizen participation and protest in this election. Harper has reverted to issuing tickets to attend his partisan political events in this election – just so he can avoid hearing “other voices.” Don't expect any hard questions from the floor on this issue in the Harper's closed election meeting in Calgary tonight.

Even with only Harper’s messages being allowed, there is an large body of evidence that has come out in this campaign so many of his caucus and cabinet and campaign workers are loose Cannons. I can come to sympathize a bit why Harper can’t let them talk about public policy issues and concerns to citizens and media. The true story of what the ConTrivers are really like starts to become clearer…and it is not pretty.

We need to sustain the Canadian values of an inclusive society. We need political leaders and representatives who are dedicated to intercultural understanding not the marginalization and discrimination of minorities.

Canadians are better than that. The Conservatives are showing that they really don’t understand Canada. Are the Conservatives up to the job of governing? I say no!

Deliberative Democracy Forum on Climate Change in Alberta

There is a very interesting event happening this weekend that feeds the need for citizen engagement. A group of active non-partisan Albertans are getting together at the U of A’s Telus Centre for a Deliberative Democracy event focused on climate change in Alberta.

Deliberative democracy is an inclusive public process that invigorates democracy, collects wisdom and focuses citizen’s energy directly on problem solving and policy making approaches towards dealing with critical issues facing society. Climate Change is surely one of those issues, especially in Alberta today.

You can learn more about the event at the Climate Conversation website: and get some background from the Briefing Document and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, who is also participating in this event.

TONIGHT: There is a Public Roundtable tonight at the U of A Law Centre Room 231/237 from 7:00-8:30 pm. The topic is “Public Deliberation on Climate Change: Getting Beyond Sound-Bite Politics and Shallow Consultations.” Serious stuff and it should be very interesting!

September 26 from 6:15-8:45 pm you can participate in a World Café process to talk about how Alberta is dealing with climate change – and how we should be dealing with it.
There are other events you can get more information from this link.

Climate change THE “hot” environment topic (sic) and one we are all involved in one way or another. This event is a chance to get really serious about what we are doing and what we should be doing about it from an Alberta perspective. Take advantage of this event to learn and share your thoughts and ideas on how to deal with climate change.

Comedian Chris Craddock Political Commercial Number 2 - The Environment

Chris Craddock strikes again. The Economy has accelerated past the Environment and is now overwhelmingly the #1 issue in the Canadian election.

Not a surprise. But the world is more complex and an election is not about a single issue. It is more about the inter-relationship of several critical issues - including the character of the various party leaders.

Harper Doesn't Get it! Think twice. Vote once. Vote Anybody But Conservative.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Does Harper Hate Ordinary Working Artists?

Stephen Harper thinks artists are not worthy of public support. Not surprising. Good to see the event in Montreal last night where a protest concert was organized by artists to send him a message. Artist need to do more of this all over Canada. And they need to show up, vote, and defeat this Harper government.

Harper frames artist as “…on the TV…(with) a bunch of people at a rich gala, all subsidized by the taxpayer.” Boy, if that is the image Harper has of the ordinary working artist in Canada he lives in a fantasy world. That is so far from the reality of the “ordinary working artist.” The ordinary working artis are the very same people Harper says is not valued by other “ordinary working people.” Spare me sir!

Go to the Fringe Festival in Edmonton Mr. Harper, if you ever visit Edmonton again after us again after tomorow. You will see the talent, determination, perspiration, boldness and unabashed creativity of hundreds of ordinary working artist. This is far from your condescending characterizations of the “rich gala on television” set. This kind of artistic event, and thousands of other like it all over the country, represents the real world work of the culturally creative people of Canada.

This Neo-Con attitude is more of the malicious message manipulation Harper has honed in his pursuit of personal political power. It is tailored to the radical Conservatives in his base audience. It is intended to convey a negative image of good folks who simply use their talent, skills and crafts in ways to add meaning, value, insight and yes, even some entertainment, to our lives.

It is not like Harper does not know exactly what he is talking about when he says to the effect that “taxpayer subsidies are not something that resonates with ordinary working people.” He is right. Consider this. What is the taxpayer resonance of the negative television election campaign ads that are at centre of the dark heart of the Conservative Party “creative competitive culture?” Each and every negative campiagn attack ad was also paid for by taxpayer subsidized dollars.

Political party contributions are amongst the most highly taxpayer subsidized donations in the country. Those subsidized dollars can be used for partisan political purposes and even apply some “artistic license.” By that I mean those partisan negative political attack ads can just lie and mislead with impunity.

I know how that resonates with ordinary working people. Harper can lie and tell half truths in election advertising and even have the gall to cheat the system by running the ads before the election campaign spending controls kick in. And he still can make the ordinary working taxpayer subsidize those ads for him and his political purposes. Because the political party donor dollars are all income tax deductible and election campaign expenses are also highly subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

Given the chance to subsidize real artists doing real culture creative work that adds to our collective well- being as a society sure resonates with me. It resonate more with me than when I have to see my tax dollars going to subsidize some bullying politician like Mr. Harper. It is especially angering when that same bullying politician wants to reduce my democracy and mislead the public for personal power purposes and is being subsidized by my taxpayer dollars to boot.

Shame on you yet again Mr. Harper! You seem intent on dividing us instead of uniting us as citizens and as a country. Worse than that, your mean-spirited bullying political ploys and tactics show that you are better at MISLEADING THAN LEADING.

Danny Williams is right. Vote Anybody But Conservative. This is especially true if you value your freedoms of speech and expression as a citizen of Canada. That is what is at stake if Mr. Harper wins this election.

Alberta Business Confidence Still Strong but Declining

The Alberta Treasury Branches Financial Sentiments Index for the last Quarter of 2008 in Alberta shows the province is still anticipating being busy and growing. But we are not as confident about the future as we used to be. Northern Alberta is significantly more confident (134.7 on the Index) than the south (122.2 on the Index) and that is an interesting shift.

Oil and Gas confidence has rebounded from their anxiety of the Royalty Review when they were below 80, meaning they were negative about the future. thay are now at 160 showing the sector's confidence has more than doubled. Construction has moved from a high of over 150 two years ago to a neutral stance of no growth now with an Index of about 100 today.

The seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index has dropped from a second Quarter high in 2006 of about 153 to 111 today. Things in Alberta are slowing down but still happening. Optimism is steadily declining from a high 2 years ago of 160 to128.5 today. Optimism is higher than actual activity of 111 these days. Optimism has also been steadily in decline but overall confidence in the Alberta economy is still vibrant.

There is about 6 months of work in the hopper for most sectors but the US and likely Canadian recession an US financial sector bailout is going to take a toll on business confidence and availability of risk capital financing. Alberta will feel the impacts less than others but we will not escape unscathed. That said, today only 6% of all Alberta business sectors anticipate a decrease in business activity next year. We shall see.

Hiring activity was at a peak of 150 at the end of 2007. It is down to 121.3 now. Alberta is still hiring but not a frenetically as before. The new hiring intentions are at 126.4 so the balance between actual hires and intentions means a more reasonable HR environment going forward.

The marketplace is doing it job and is responding to the past silliness of the unsustainable growth of the Alberta economy. The slow down is welcome. We need to catch our breath. The looming clouds on the world economy that is being caused by the American meltdown will be a factor that has not ye become part of the Alberta consciousness...but it will. I wonder what the results of the ATB survey will be next Quarter when we are starting to feel the early stages of that reality.

Harper's Youth Justice Platform is DiscriminaTORY

Don’t be duped by the fabricated softer gentler, “I want to be your Daddy so make me your Prime Minister,” Stephen Harper. Once again he shows his true colours and his dark side. His very dark side.

Harper says that putting children in jail for life will be good for them and it will teach them a lesson they will never forget. That is true – but a life sentence for a child will not teach any life lessons we would want them to learn. Nor will they learn anything in prison that will serve them, and the rest of us, well in the long run. Those lifelong prison lessons will not prepare them to come out of incarceration and be ready to be well adjusted and contributing citizens to the benefit of society.

Thinking life in prison will be just the ticket to get bad kids to pull up their socks and straighten up is insane. Harper’s abject ignorance of the consequences of his policy and his well polished penchant for willful blindness is yet another character flaw and so disappointing to discover in such a well educated man. How can he simply choose to ignore the reams of research that overwhelming concludes the contrary outcomes of such a merciless policy? Blind adherence to a faulty political ideology it the key here, don’t you think

There is an astonishing level of personal commitment that Mr. Harper continues to show towards steering Canada into a neo-Republican authoritarian Bush/Cheney model of governance. This is epitomized by his youth “justice” election platform.

Harper's youth crime policy shows us just how opportunistic and shallow he truly is. Though this policy that is framed as getting tough on crime, Harper believes that, in his world, social justice concerns should have nothing to do with dealing with root causes of crime. Concerns over poverty, family violence, developmental disabilities and mental illness don't count. Addictions and even abuse of children are not in his repertoire of responses he needs be concerned with in dealing with children who may have committed serious crimes.

Currently there is a presumption of juvenile court status fr accused youth. That presumption can be rebutted thereby putting the accused child in an adult court. This is an evidence based objective assessment process and decided at the discretion of the Courts. And it works very well. Harper’s vision of Canada would eliminate any mealy mouth concern for such soft on crime issues of equity or extenuating circumstances for children who are accused of a serious crime.

There would be no stinkin’ judge making no stinkin’ judgment call about any concern of circumstances or consequences for bad kids in a Stephen Harper vision of Canada. No context or nuance in Mr. Harper’s family man facade of how to get tough on children who are bad. A bad kid who does bad things deserves life imprisonment. Pure and simple!

This policy is unconscionable, callous and once again shows that Harper’s governing style is one of atavistic authoritarianism. Harper’s Canada sees himself as more that a mere Prime Minister. He aspires to be a demagogue and the dominant source of political and public policy power, who will be free exercise total personal command and control of Canadian society.

Harper is also quick and easy to be discriminaTORY too. His youth justice policy is based on age discrimination. He is pandering in the most puerile of political posturing that is aimed directly at an appeasement of Quebec voters. Quebec voters actually believe in rehabilitation as part of a modern criminal justice system and so there are different rules for bad Quebec kids. The rest of Canada also overwhelming believes in rehabilitation as part of any modern criminal justice system. We do leverage more votes for Mr. Harper so the concerns in the rest of Canada don't count in Mr. Harper's vision of Canada.

A bad kid in Quebec has to be 16 before he deserves to be tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison. A bad kid in the rest of Canada must turn bad earlier because he deserves life in prison at only 14 years old. This is a breach of the Charter and again shows the situational ethical standards ingrained in Mr. Harper. This is a man who sees politics trumping any other Canadian value as he pursues his personal quest to gain political power and dominion over all of Canada.

Wake up Canada and be afraid of this man. He is famous for bullying political opponents inside to outside his party. His has descended to picking on children now…vulnerable children. Children who are most likely to be unable to defend themselves and who will usually lack strong advocates and any effective family support systems to help them in such devastating times. Children are amongst the most vulnerable citizens in our society. Children in serious trouble with the law are extremely vulnerable...but still innocent until proven guilty. Remembering of courae that the child soldier, Omar Khadr, is not included in that foundational principle of Canadian law in Mr. Harper's Canada.

This is more evidence that Mr. Harper does not want to become our Prime Minister just to serve our society and make it better for all of us. He wants to hold the most powerful office in the country and then use the discretionary power of that office to make laws that he is above and could well break at his discretion, yet again!

He broke is his own fixed election date law. And if he is not now breaking the electoin campaign advertising law, he is at the very least, wantonly breaking the spirit of campaign financing and advertising laws. Elections Canada thinks so and a court of law will soon determine the truth of the matter.

He has spent millions of dollars on producing a bunch of bullying attack ads all aimed at debasing Stephane Dion's leadership. All this was done and aired outside the election writ period so he did not have to account for the money spent. He still used tax deductible donated dollars and it was all designed to avoid the requirements of accountability and transparency that is required in our election laws. These are egregious character flaws are likely just the tip of the iceberg, especially if he wins this election.

Imagine what damage this man can do to the country, to you and your family if he gets his majority government. That means at least four full years of unchecked and unbridled Stephen Harper in absolute power and ostensible authority over so much of our lives. With his puppet caucus and trained seal cabinet obliging him every step of the way. I say four full years of power presuming he would actually obey his own fixed date election laws next time. One can only hope!
Be afraid of this man Canada. Danny Williams is right – vote Anybody But Conservative on October 14.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why Do Some Politicians Think We Have to Choose Between the Environment and the Economy?

This link is so well done and worth a visit. It points out stuff you likely already know but does it in a context that asks why do some politicians think we have to choose between the environment and the economy. We can have both thrive with enlightened public policy and leaders with political will to exercise wisdom and judgment.

H/T to guy Dauncey for the link.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Conservative Candidates Canned for Character Flaws.

Another Tory candidate call it quits…or gets fired.

It has happened before - over a party appointed candidate who had a criminal record. OUCH!

I am at least thankful the fundamental character flaws in some Conservative candidates are coming out before the election and not afterwards. After being elected such poor quality candidates with obvious lacking of judgment would mean they would have the power to do some serious irreparable harm to Canadians and the country.

This all adds to the ballot question that Canadians are just starting to consciously ask themselves. “Is Stephen Harper the kind of person we want to lead this country if you can’t trust and believe him?” Is his party trustworthy enough and caring enough to govern us and speak for us? Or is this election all about Stephen Harper’s personal goal of gaining political power through control freak philosophies by using bullying and belligerent campaign tactics?

You already know can’t believe their political promises…think Income Trusts. He has no respect for the Rule of Law proven by his own breach of his own fixed date election law. Last weeks triple play of gaffe apologies that Harper had to admit to now seems like the tip of the iceberg. What else this politician still trying to hide from us?

Be careful who you vote for. And as you reflect carefully on that most serious decision about the future of you and your family think about if you can trust Stephen Harper. Are you going to be better off with a guy who raised taxes for the working poor and cut them for the upper class?

Are you doing better today because of his infamous GST reduction? Did you know that he did not really mean it when he said the private sector would provide 250,000 day care spaces. Did he tell you the $100 per child he provided last election, so you would have a choice for child care, was going to be tax back? It is not as if you forget to red the fine print on that promise is it? Ask yourself, is your child care situation improved and how much more choice do you have with this Harper half truth?

The Conservative campaign slogan, “We’re Better Off With Harper.” As a compassionate progressive Canadian I have reflected on this slogan. I think it could use an editing. Here is how I feel about Canada and being Canadian.

Here is how I would change the Conservative slogan: WE’RE BETTER! OFF WITH HARPER!” Seems closer to the truth don’t you think?.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is Harper Against Free Speech and Freedom of the Press?

Harper is gagging the military and the media. Read Blast Furnace here and here for some disturbing but insightful commentary. Harper is a clear and present danger to democracy and freedom of speech.

He demands total control over the political messaging from his Cabinet and Caucus, and given the Ritz, Sparrow, Cannon worker gaffes and others, one can sympathize. But to shut up the military and the freeze out the media for pure political purposes is not leadership. That shows he is not interesting in serving the needs of a free and democratic Canada, only his own hidden agenda and a personal pursuit of power.

Be afraid of this man…be very afraid - especially if he gets absolute power from a majority government. One can only imagine what he would do to the rights and freedoms of Canadians in such an event.

Harper is about power and politics. He doesn't care about people and progress. He is not a leader. He is a MISLEADER!

Harper Hype on Green Shift Impact Exposed as MISLEADING

Steve Chase of the Globe and Mail has an excellent piece in today' paper exposing the misleading and unsubstantiated Harper rhetoric about the Dion Green Shift. It has generated a lot of interest with 145 comments already noted as I write this post.

Nice to see some serious MSM reporting on this policy with comments from experts and not just swallowing the Harper hype as if it were reliable and accurate.

This piece shows Harper is not a leader. He is a MISLEADER.

Harper can't be trusted. He is a danger to democracy.

Happy Birthday Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, child soldier, and only westerner still left in Guantanamo prison “celebrated” his 22nd birthday yesterday.

He has spent a third of his life in a foreign (meaning American) prison because our government, both Liberal and Conservative, have found the protection of his citizenship rights “inconvenient.”

Khadr has been denied the protection of the Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. He is entitled to the protection of both Conventions but he is disposable for political reasons.

Every other western country has repatriated their Gitmo prisoners and then tried them domestically – with the cooperation of the US government. Why is Canada so far out of step with the rest of the world?

This just one more example why we need to be careful who we elect so we s individual citizens do not have to fear our government.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New EKOS Poll Has Some Fascinating Results.

EKOS has a new poll out of about 4000 Canadians with some interesting numbers and some “same old” numbers too.

Hat tip to Kady O'Malley of Macleans for the EKOS link. The pollsters reporting on the Undecided voter has not been very high profile in this election. Nor has the variability of the voter intentions been studied much to date. The voter intention have been given extensive media coverage but are essentially a “no news story because nothing much has changed in this election from the results in 2006.

Some momentum seems to be building for the Greens. They are making BC a three way race for second place running equal to the Liberals and breathing down the neck of the dippers. In Tory-blue Red-neck Alberta the Greens are also competitive with the Libs and ahead of the NDP. They are all way out of contention here over all but it may mean a concentrated effort by Dipper Linda Duncan in Edmonton Strathcona and the same by Liberal Jim Wachowich in Edmonton Centre may make them contenders in the home stretch.

The core Conservative support is strong but they have no growth from any second choice preferences. So if strategic voting is going to happen, and it will, the Cons are vulnerable, especially if they seem to be heading for a majority. Most notable is the Undecided group split virtually equally between the four major parties but conventional wisdom is the Undecideds don’t show up anyway. In what many see as a boring pointless election, expect this to hold true.

In the simple ABCs of a Danny Williams world, voters who want to support “Anybody But Conservative” has some reason to be encouraged. The EKOS poll shows the Conservatives would attract only 10% of all second choice voters. That means there not much chance of Harper getting a swelling of strategic voter support to push him into a majority government.

Harper will have attract support for his coveted majority based on his new advertising persona of a metro sexual “Who’s Your Daddy” family man that has come from his in-house Image Consultant preening of his new “true self.” Harper has a core and committed voter support with consistent polling between 35-38%. But it is concentrated mostly in rural Canada. That seems an unlikely voter mix to manufacture a majority, but campaigns count and that possibility should not be counted out.

A Harper majority could happen if Quebec wants it to happen. Any whiff of that as a real possibility, then expect Ontario to see that coming. They would engage and show up to reject Harper like a cold cut on a Ritz wise-cracker, just to balance it out the Quebec influence on Harper and push him back into minority territory.

With a minority government second and third place seat results become very important. They become the holders the balance of power and hold the strings that keeps the government in office and honest. The second choice Liberal support comes mostly from the NDP. A full third of them would go Liberal if they were to switch votes. Not good news for Layton the self-delusional “I am running to be PM as the wannabe Canuck version of Obama. If it becomes strategically necessary to beat back a Harper majority or to simply humble them, Dion could pick up a quarter of the soft Green vote too. Even stranger is the possibility that 16% of the obviously disillusions old time true blue Reformers who want to send Harper and really embarrass him, could do so and turn to the Liberals to serve those ends.

This election has not yet started and is far from over. The lessons learned from the Dion and Stelmach victories should not be lost on Emperor Harper. When the front runner is found wanting and the path forward is not clear in the minds of the electorate, then anything can happen. Layton is a non-starter and Harper has shown his in not to be trusted. Harper may well “win” the election but not the country. Making Layton the reason to believe in the NDP because his leadership numbers were better than Dion’s ignores the Liberal depth and bench strength compared to the narrow and shallow Dippers.

The voter has a long weekend to really decide who they choose to trust with their future. This election will be decided over the long weekend before the Tuesday vote on October 14th. My money says that the victory of a majority government will not go to Harper because he is a one-man show demagogue and therefore deemed to be dangerous.

This election will not be a blessed event for Jack Layton because he is seen as essentially superficial. It will not be the Greens because they are a parking lot for many disgruntled voters. Expect May to personally surprise us all and especially Peter MacKay, who could be dumped again. It will not be Dion but it might be the Liberal Team who could have the best overall election showing by simply exceeding expectations.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Ask Harper to Fire Ritz - Defeat Him AND Harper TOO - at the Polls!

The Liberal and NDP calls for the firing of Minister Ritz is pure histrionic politics. It is all about putting the heat on in an election and not anything about enlightened politics. It is just being pushed to keep the media focused on the character flaws of Minister Ritz. It serves to call out Mr. Harper, thereby exposing some of his character flaws too.

The MSM and the Blogs will keep the Ritz issues and events, and the other like them, alive during the campaign I am sure. Nice to see the CBC TV interviewing the families of some of the 17 deceased Canadians on the news tonight. It puts a human face and some of the context on the pain of those who families have been victimized by this food inspection deficiency and bad government policy.

Harper was out to save some money by reducing our food inspectors and turning them into paper report auditors by taking them off the plant floors where the problems occur. Harper has proven that he thinks good politics is the same as good government. That is rarely the case, as this tragedy - and failure of good government - illustrates dramatically.

Harper is not going to fire a Minister in the middle of a campaign for mere crassness, insensitivity, stupidity and boorishness. Get serious. Those are some of the qualities that many of Harper's hard line supporters and War Room types seem to admire in Conservative candidates.

I don't think the grassroots founders of the old Reform and Alliance types, who are the heart and soul of the current Conservative party are happy with this kind of politics. I think we can expect lots of those founding Tory supports to switch votes or at least stay home this election, as a result.

If the good citizens of North Battleford have had enough of being embarrassed by Mr. Ritz they will tell him so on October 14. In the meantime, as a Minister in the Harper government, his insensitive comments and plastic apology are instructive to the rest of us about the quality of mind and flaws of character we find in many, but definitely not all, of the political players Harper government.

If Ritz is typical of many of Harper's team, and why wouldn't he be, it is no surprise that Harper wanted to shut up most of his Cabinet and all of his Caucus since be became the Conservative leader. His PMO prepared and approved all official speaking notes for everyone in the Conservative cause. Those partisan speaking notes were almost always uttered by some lackluster Parliamentary Secretary or, worse yet, Peter Van LOON who was the dependable boor to be found“Harping” half truths in Question Period.

Harper's Caucus and Cabinet is chorus line of mimes and mutes. They are not obviously not ready to govern and are too dangerous to be given a majority. Harper's unbridled personal political aspirations are to be either our Emperor or our "President." His is not interested in the nobler role of our servant-leader. To me that means he too is unfit to govern.

When you elect someone to public office to represent you, you are giving them your consent to have power over you and to speak on your behalf on the many critical policy issues of the day. You also are giving them the power of discretion and decision. You empower them to make value choices and trade offs on your behalf and in your name. Those value choices are inevitably between competing interests and are never easy - but citizens expect them to be made in service of the greater good. Not in pursuit of some personal political power trip.

Harper's superficial, or sinister, sense of governance is shown in some of his campaign promises. For example he saw tinkering with two points off GST as all you needed for a winning and effective national tax policy. His chest-thumping about a minuscule and meaningless reduction of $150 per year for seniors as a substitute for sound social policy is embarrassing. Then we have the laughable tax credits of a maximum of $750 as an inducement for first time home buyers masquerading as an economic stimulus. It is shabby and sophomoric.

Under the circumstances and given the weakness of the Canadian partisan political leadership, we have few alternatives except another minority government, be it Liberal or Conservative. That means while we Canadians did not want this election in the first place, it will not settle anything of significance. But that is the price of political prudence and the best outcome for Canada - this time.

We can’t forget that we Canadians have enjoyed the pleasure of paying for the $400,000,000 price tag for this pointless unnecessary trumped-up Harper inspired election fiasco. We must remember that at the ballot box in this election. This election has been perpetrated by "Harper the Misleader" and launched solely in the service of his lust for power and the personal political hubris.

Thanks Mr. Harper. Thanks a bunch. Next time lets have an election that is about Canada and Canadians and not about him. Wouldn't that be refreshing!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Enlightened Savage Calculates the True Cost of Afghan Conflict

Harper releases a report on what he sees as the costs to Canada for the Afghanistan conflict.

The Enlightened Savage puts the true costs in context. Great post ES!

Harper is Taking Alberta Seats For Granted.

The Alberta attitude around this election from what I gather is who needs it and we don’t want it right now. We are busy out here in Alberta and are burned out politically. We have had a year-long PC leadership race, a provincial election and even a few folks are engaged in the Alberta Liberal leadership contest that is currently underway.

The Albertans I talk to, from all political stripes, don’t see the need for this election and don’t understand why Harper ignored his own law to call it early. Some of the Con support is determined to stay home to send a message. That happened to Klein in 2004 where 210,000 PC votes disappeared or went to the Alliance.

Looks like campaigns in all parties in Alberta are having trouble raising money and finding volunteers and there are hardly any campaign signs up. Proof positive we are not really into this election. Indifference in Alberta is only good for Harper. Money should be no problem for the Cons either. They have bags of it and are spending it like an old-style Liberal government…trying to buy the election with attack TV ads.

The Cons are ignoring the Alberta voters this election too. Looks like most of the Alberta candidates are taking their victory in Alberta for granted. The high profile Alberta Cons seem to be doing most of their campaigning for other Con candidates in Ontario. Not at home in their own constituencies. So much for “The West Wants In” spirit of the past founders of the Harper Conservatives!

I wonder if the Cons will pull the same advertising scam taking money from local Alberta candidate budgets and swapping it into the national campaign to advertise for other candidates in Ontario and Quebec. Elections Canada says that is an illegal scheme and the Cons have sued them saying it was a legal maneuver. If the Cons are so confident in their legal position, I see no reason for them not to try the same trickery again this election. In fact if they don’t use this scam again it may be evidence that they are not as confident in the legality of their actions after all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Progressive Conservative Senator Speaks up on Climate Change

Here is what a Progressive Conservative thinks about climate change…and is prepared to speak up on the subject. Elaine McCoy was appointed to the Senate by Paul Martin as a Progressive Conservative, an identity she upholds even today.

Too bad Peter MacKay sold out the Progressive Conservative Brand after saying he would never do it - and then putting that promise in writing. Shameful - but not for a Harper Conservative - like he is now.

Can you imagine Stephen Harper appointing a person to the Senate from another party? He won’t even let his own MPs talk in public, never mind allowoing Cabinet Ministers to have a voice or even a thought that is not absolutely controlled by the PMO.

If Harper controls his government so tightly today, imagine what he would do with an unfettered majority!

(h/t to James Curran)

Time for a Reality Check on Palin and Obama

This list of contextual information about Obama and Palin recently came from a friend. It has resonance and provides some serious perspective about the choices being offiered to the American voter.

* If you grow up in Hawaii , raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.

* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
* Name your kids Willow, Trig, and Track, you're a maverick.

* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become cairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian. (Oops! That's McCain - not Palin. My bad!)

* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

* If your wife is a Harvard graduate laywer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America 's.
* If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

Do we understand the context and comparisons of the capabilities and character between the options being offered in the U.S. Presidential elections better now?

Former Reformer Rips Harper a New One

So an old-time Reform Party member has gone public and is pointing out that Harper has betrayed the original values of the folks who “brung him to the dance.” Lee Morrison was a Saskatchewan based Reform MP from 1993 – 2000 and points out his discontent in a thoughtful and damning Op-Ed in the Calgary Herald last Sunday.

Morrison called the cynical opportunism of an early election call by Harper that contradicts the spirit and sentiment of member of his own government, this also “defies statute.” That is a polite way of saying Harper has no respect for the Rule of Law or Parliament. Not the qualities of character you want to hold the most important and powerful elected office in the land.

Morrison skewers Harper for hypocrisy on fixed election dates saying, “My favourite is from Harper himself: ‘Fixed election dates stop leaders from trying to manipulate the calendar simply for partisan advantage.’” OUCH!

I have been wondering when the original Reform Party members who have integrity and are principled partisans who led the charge to Ottawa with the slogan “The West Wants In” would start telling the truth about the deceit and deception of their current “Misleader.”

Morrison is the first. Not likely to be the last.

If Anyone is Too Risky to Rule Over Canada It's Stephen Harper

The American election is so much more interesting but not nearly as important to Canadians as our own election. The link between the Harper Con-Trolls and the Neo-Republicans in the States is becoming more and more direct.

Harper’s Americanization of political campaigning in Canada is hardly a subtle shift but one that will have profound impact on our democracy if citizens don’t show up and stop it at the ballot box this election. Harper is a clear and present danger to our Canadian democracy.

Just look at how he ignored and ran roughshod over any semblance of independence in his Supreme Court appointment just before calling the election. He made a big deal about vetting nominees before a Parliamentary Committee last time a Supreme was appointed. This time he stacked and disbanded the independent review process. Next he abandoned his own manipulated politically motivated judicial review process - and made the Court appointment all by his lonesome. Scary, unless you like a dictatorship!

If you want to know what Harper is likely to do next and how he will conduct himself, just look at the tactics and trickery of the McCain – Palin ticket for some clues. This article entitled “McCain and Palin are Trying to Take Political Lying to the Next Level” could be a sign of the Harper times to come.

As the American economy goes into meltdown, Harper will try a position himself as the master economic manager. He will continue to mislead Canadians about Dion’s Green Shift by ignoring the tax reductions that reach most of us and the shift of tax burden on those who behaved badly towards the environment.

The truth is obviously going to be the first victim in a Harper government. We need leadership we can trust and believe…that is not Harper.

Harper is a one trick phony and insists that he alone commands his universe and that he alone controls everything. Harper is the only economist of note who is out of step with the best economic minds in the country. His ideological folly like a minimal GST cut instead of income tax cuts is one example. The heavy handed ideologically driven wipe out of billions of savings for Canadians with his sneaky and stealth of Income Trust lying is another. His denial of climate change and anemic policy of deferral of any serious action until 2050 shows he is out of touch – and dangerous -he is - yet again.

Harper is not decisive he is dangerous. He is not a leader. He is a misleader. In times where trustworthiness is necessary, Harper prefers political trickery and tactics instead governance. As we move into increasing economic uncertainty we have a man who wants a Conservative dynasty and to destroy the opposition. His personal values in this campaign are based on political nastiness and mudslinging and gamesmanship instead of the truer Canadian values like peace, order and good government?

The purpose of an election is for citizens to make informed choices about who is worthy of trust and respect to lead our country and to speak for us as an entire nation, not just the Quebec nation. Harper is not that man. His record shows his penchant for bullying and bluster. He is an old-school command and control imperialist strong-man leader like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. He campaigns like a Neo-Republican that uses Bush-Rove machinations stressing emotion over information, half truths and outright misleading manipulation of facts to gain power.

If you are looking at where the real risk lies for Canadians as we decide who should govern us you need look no further than the Bush Mini-Me – Mr. Stephen Harper and vote anybody but him and his party.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cherniak on Politics - Is There Layton/Harper Collusion?

Cherniak on Politics

Here is an interesting set of clips that makes one think. Layton wants a Harper minority with him in the balance of power. Hence his vehemence about siding with Harper to exclude May from the debates.

Canadians were enraged by both of them and they folded like old lawn chairs...but the mutual benefit of feigning a fight is still being played out on the political stage.

Layton is betraying NDP principles and is after personal political power just as much and aggressively as Harper is.

So much for Mr. Social Justice. This strategy by Jack Layton is going to erode his personal credibility and tie his trustworthiness to the same level as Harper...virtually Zero.

The Canadian Voter is "Up for Grabs" - Nik Nanos

I am encouraged by Nik Nanos’ survey showing that 60% of Canadian voters are “up for grabs.” This means that most of us could change our votes if there is a reason to do so.

This will auger well for end of campaign strategic voting. We saw this in 2004 and the shift away from scary Harper’s control-freak version of Canada with him in control of everything. It could happen again. It must happen again.

The citizens of Canada need to ensure the Harper Conservatives do not get a majority government. If they do, Harper will make into Canada into a one-party NEO-REPUBLICAN STATE. That is ENOUGH REASON enough to vote ABC – Anything But Conservative.

The Cons have the most hard-core group of voters…ignoring the Bloc which don’t count for the rest of Canada who are outside Quebec. Half of Harper’s partisans are true-believers and “Very Firm” in their voting intentions…and they will show up at the polls for sure. If the rest of us stay home, that is enough to give Harper a majority government

The Greens are the next most solid group of party supporters at 43% Very Firm, but there are not a lot of them. The Greens are ironically the most fluid group too with 18% saying they are “Not At All Sure” if they will vote for their party.

The NDP support for Layton is about 50/50 overall with 44% saying they are “Somewhat Firm” compared to 39% in the “Very Firm” category and 7% who are really unsure of voting along party lines.

The Liberals are even softer than the NDP. The only have 36% of true believers and the largest group of Somewhat Firm (47%) and Not At All Firm at 9%. This is an obvious reflection of ambiguousness over Dion’s leadership and the lack-lustre campaign so far.

My guess is the election is all about Harper and if he can be trusted as a person, not just as a manager. Readers of this Blog know I think the answer is unequivocally NO! I think his is also a danger to democracy.

If others agree then strategic voting will become the norm to stop Harper in the last week of the campaign. For many reasons Layton will not be the beneficiary of this strategic voting, not the least of which was his agreeing with Harper to keep May out of the debates.

Here is how I see it happening. The Liberals will hold their noses and rally behind Dion. Greens will stay with May in her own riding and where they are competitive like Linda Duncan in Edmonton Strathcona but most of them will shift to Liberals. The NDP will split evenly between staying with Layton and shifting to Liberals to void vote splitting and giving a majority to Harper.

The cynical and disengaged may get scared by Harper’s sly, negative an conniving campaign style and show up to stop him. This will be because they begin to see the disaster that will befall them if they do show up and vote against Harper’s lust for personal political power. Anyone who thinks this election is inconsequential because it is essentially unnecessary and stay away from the polls is sleep walking to a disaster. That disaster is a Conservative majority government led by a power hungry control freak by the name of Stephen Harper.

Time to show up and vote Canada and make sure that does not happen!

Lies Our Father Figure - Stephen Harper - is Telling Us.

In wandering around the various comments and posts in the election I ran across the posting today of Dr. Dawgs Blawg on the lies that Stephen Harper has used to hide his true intentions.

Harper is trying to show he has a softer, gentle, metro sexual side in some sinister misleading media manipulation of political packaging. He is trying to be our father, here to protect us and comfort us and lull us into a false sense of security under his paternal power. In reality he is no protector. He is just a mean-spirited power monger with a personal agenda to control us like he controls his caucus.

This election is not because Canadians want it nor need it. Only Harper’s hidden agenda of taking advantage of a disengaged electorate who he is betting will not show up to vote. To be lulled into complacency or fooled again by Rovarian cancerous political lies will only lead to giving Harper his domination over us. We centralize too much power in the PMO and Harper is out to take advantage of that.

Just look at his recent Supreme Court appointment. He made that personal appointment just before the election call. He cancelled the normal independent judicial review process and replaced it with a pure political process of MPs and then he disbanded that process and made the decision all by himself. that is just the start of how this man will abuse power if he get it...especially the majority government he is after.

He down plays his hidden desire for a majority but gives no reason why it is sound fiscal management for him to cost taxpayers $400,000,000.00 to run his election only to return another minority government. Don’t be fooled by this charlatan again. He is after a majority despite his talk to the contrary.

He is also out to break and bankrupt the Liberal Party of Canada and hopes it will disappear. He is after this goal just like he got rid of his other partisan hated political party, the former and now defunct Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Peter McKay, as mistrusted Harper loyalist, was the deceitful sock puppet of Harper who engineered that disaster.

Harper wants the Liberal Party of Canada to disappear next. That is another Harper hidden agenda behind his breaking of his own fixed election dates law and this waste of taxpayer money for his own personal political power purposes.

I don’t think Canadians are impressed with him – or any of the leaders. The polls show that. Harper is a special case…because he is not only unimpressive he is monumentally untrustworthy. Harper is actually dangerous to democracy given his real purposes in this election.

If you value your freedoms and love Canada, you will follow Danny Williams’ advice and vote ABC – Anything But Conservative.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chris Craddock On Stephane Dion

There is a new way to see the Canadian elections - through the eyes of creative citizens who are engaged. You should be too. I love this reality take on Dion. He is the best choice. Harper is a clear and present threat to democracy in Canada

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Harper's Policy on Afghanistan - Nothing New! How Come?

Harper’s first substantial policy announcement this election is a pullout of Afghanistan in 2011. More muddle from a man who would be king. Makes you wonder if this is not just more Harper pandering to Quebec voters, given the timing and the lack of substance to the “policy” position.

Dear readers, this Troop announcement is not news and it is not new…in fact it is not even original to Harper. This is one of the major facts that run contrary to his allegations of a dysfunctional Parliament. The commitment for a 2011 troop return was a decision supported by every party in the last Parliament.

I would have thought Harper would have come up with something original or at least more meat and meaning for such an important policy position. If he wants to be open, accountable and transparent one would hope for something of substance in such an announcement that he could personally take some credit for instead of this rehash of old ideas.

My take is he is not serious about this announcement. It is pure political messaging to Quebec and he has no more intention of keeping to this promise than he did for Income Trusts. If I am right then this is just another bur more shameful exercise of Harper’s style of pandering politics.

So much for a dysfunctional Parliament! So much for Harper trying to make this all-party political on the Afghan troop timing look like it is his alone. More proof Mr. Harper is not a leader. He is a misleader.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Greens Get to Debate. Harper and Layton Fold. Canadians Win!

Green lights for Elizabeth May! She is the election debates. YES!!!!

The forces of evil (Harper and Layton) have been vanquished…or at least they are humbled and brought to the power of engaged and enraged citizenship. Good start Canada. Now keep it up for the rest of this unnecessary and expensive election.

This is what can happen when citizens take back the power from the politicians and the patricians. This election is not the private property of the politicians and the political parties. Elections are about citizens deciding what is important going forward and who they dare trust to move us forward in the best way possible.

Good start Canada. Now keep up the good work and let Harper know we don’t buy his phony excuses about why we are paying $400,000,000 for an unnecessary election. It is not appropriate for him to screw us around just because he wants majority and has his heart set on breaking and bankrupting the Liberals...just for his personal political and power hungry purposes...and the hell with democracy.

Tell Duceppe he was right to move off the national stage as he thought to do earlier this term. The option open to him now is not the leadership of the Quebec PQ but to get off the national political stage entirely - and preferably PDQ!

Tell Layton to quit worrying if May is eating his political lunch – she is! Deal with it like a statesman not an henchman. If Layton is so delusional that he thinks we will buy his pretense that he is the Canadian Obama, he doesn’t know Jack…but we Canadians do! Give him a reality check.

Stephane – you need to start getting busier and bolder about explaining what will be the dire consequences to Canada if Harper get to have his way with us...not just a majority government...if any kind of Harper government.

Thoughtful progressive Canadians can't afford to abdicate our responsibility for active political engagement. It is our duty and our obligations to define OUR sense of democracy and not delegate it to Harper.

Cynicism is not an option – unless you want Harper to take over everything and control all of us like he does his caucus. Harper will end up ruling over us like a mini-me combination of George Bush and the Dick known as Cheney.

Observation on the stupidest media question the campaign so far…to Steve Harper about what kind of vegetable he would be…if he were one! Most telling political answer given in the campaign so far! Harper’s reply to the stupidest question! He would rather be a fruit…! He is right. He would not be sweet and colourful as he aspires and alleges. He is a fruit, a prickly pear…pure and simple...but without appeal. (sic).

The Internet is a Political Game Changer.

The Harper recent apology for the continuation of pooping puffin bullying of Dion on another campaign website is merely an attempt to cut the story short in the MSM. And it will likely do the trick.

The problem is in the Internet age is the story never dies. It may go dormant but it lives on through the search engines – for-friggin’-ever. It will resurrect in the strangest places and times and can get a new life in a different context and hound Dion and hopefully Harper too.

Political campaigns are very different these days. More people than ever are getting their political news from the Internet. A June Pew Institute Report on the 2008 American election shows 46% of Americans use the Internet to get political news AND share their thoughts. “Online video and social networking sites have taken off, according to the study done by Princeton Survey research Associates for Pew.

The ancient ploy of politicians refusing to talk to reporters to take the oxygen out of a story is not as effective as it once was. YouTube has become a preeminent source of video on candidate’s comments and carryings-on. The study found that 39% of internet users go online to read and watch “unfiltered” campaign material. In case you think it is just kids and propeller heads that are doing this online, 29% of all adults are accessing campaign information that is “unfiltered.”

The Internet is not a panacea for participatory democracy but it is a game changing campaign tool. There is no doubt that the Internet is notorious for being replete with misinformation. Just like the Harper election campaign. When it is good, it is very good…and when it is bad it can be devastating and dangerous. Just like the mainstream media.

So who can we trust to tell the truth? How do we get authoritative and authentic information about who we can trust to run our country and speak in our name? The traditional news media has started to catch on and realize that they are being played by political campaigns. The games get played out in ways that serves the symbiotic needs of the politicians and the media…but not necessarily the public interest. The photo-ops, staged and symbolically visual events with pithy and timely sound-bite policy announcements are all designed. The political purpose is to prepackage and frame the message, get the exposure and trigger an emotional response to garner support for a candidate or a policy position.

Sophisticated political advisors know the MSM attention span and the behaviorally modified public consciousness means the key red-meat stuff of political messaging must primarily be emotional, tied to personal experiences and can even be factual, but that is not a requirement. If there is time to be accurate and contextual then facts may make it into the story too. But who really cares about context and factual accuracy when the next political adrenaline jolt is about to be injected into the reporter pool and the pack moves on.

As an example, yesterday’s Edmonton Journal front page headline blasted out “Libs, NDP anti-family: Harper.” This is a perfect example of what I am talking about. Allegations of Dion’s “hidden agenda to carbon tax, raise GST and cancel child-care benefits” in the subhead add to the emotion and tie into the experience aspect. The reader is invited to jump immediately to the obvious conclusion, as framed by Harper, even though it is factually inaccurate and devoid of context.

Each of these emotional laden headline issue frames of Harper’s henchmen is factually incorrect and contextually misleading. Dealing with just one example, there is a carbon charge on polluters in Dion’s ecological policy – but it is not just a “tax.” But there are also income tax cuts and rebates for low income citizens to compensate for the additional costs. The concept of making polluters pay and reducing tax burdens on good things like worker’s income and savings and investors who improve productivity are also part of the context of this story.

The hidden agenda angle gets the headlines because it feeds the competitive gamesmanship of politics and the facts get buried. The balance is lacking. The questioning is lacking and one suspect the reporter failed to read the Dion policy document so as to put context on the Harper hype.

What is the solution for citizens in such situations? Same as is has always been. First is the hard part. Become an actively and aggressively engaged citizen on the issues that are of interest to you. Come to the election campaign with a healthy sense of skepticism about the motives and manufactured messaging of political operatives. Then let your family and friends know what you think. This second part has never been easier, thanks to the Internet.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Stelmach to Harper - Stop the Attack Ads! They are Offensive.

Good for Albert a Premier Ed Stelmach for coming out against personal attack ads in this federal election. The Harper Conservatives have been bending the election advertising rules by spending millions of unaccountable dollars on television attach ads designed to mislead Canadians about Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

Harper is always looking for some tactic, angle or scam for personal political advantage. He would be better advised to concentrate on looking for better ways to do the right thing FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. Harper sees politics as all about personal political power and gamesmanship…never it seems is he focused on providing good old-fashioned honest, open, accountable and transparent government.

Ed Stelmach faced the same kind of misleading propaganda attach ads about his character and capabilities in the recent Alberta election. The anti-Stelmach ads were sponsored by some labour unions but the Alberta Liberals got blamed for them…and punished in the polls. They did not work. They backfired as Stelmach got a huge majority that rivaled anything Lougheed or Klein ever received...and Stelmach did it the first time out.

These attack ads don’t work unless they are truthful. Harper’s attack ads are not true and he doesn’t care about that. Dion is now calling Harper a liar for the propaganda ads - and other reasons of misrepresentation of the facts.

Albertans don’t like these sleazy and sneaky campaign tactics. Canadians don’t either. Only Stephen Harper’s party seems to be using this American style Karl Rove dishonest campaign tactics. Not surprising given his proclivity to follow the George Bush neo-Republican political playbook since he became the Conservative leader.

At election time citizens what to know if they can trust Stephen Harper’s character and integrity! They gave him a minority government as a chance for him to prove his worthiness to govern.

Harper has failed the test. He has only shown us his sly, conniving and disingenuous side. He has shown that he has no understanding or capacity to serve in the best interest of the country…only his own. He is out of step with the fundamental values of Canadians around fairness, justice and inclusion.

There are viable alternatives to vote for this time and Harper knows that. We are about to decide the nature and future of our country this election. I think Canadians want a new majority government and are tired of the status quo.

Harper is showing us that he is out of touch and out of ideas. He has displayed time and time again that he is deficient as a leader and a danger to democracy. That is why he is so focused on belittling his opponents instead of showing us HIS own better angels…if they exist.