January 26, 2006
Now that many Canadians have recovered from the shock that on Monday, January 23rd, 36.4% of us voted to place a Conservative minority government in Ottawa, the focus has begun to shift to speculation on the legislative programme that Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper will attempt to implement in his first 100 days in office.
With congratulations from President George Bush out of the way, the Conservative party can now get down to the business of implementing key commitments made to the Canadian electorate during the course of the just ended 55-day election campaign. The five key initiatives include ...
- Introducing accountability legislation, toughening the Lobbyists Registration Act, eliminating secret donations to political candidates, establishing a Public Appointments Commission to establish merit-based requirements for appointments to government agencies, and strengthening the power of the Auditor General and the office of Ethics Commissioner.
- Tax reform, most particularly the introduction of a modest reduction in the GST, from 7% to 6%, and beyond that it’s anybody’s guess.
- Implementation of a Tory law and order agenda, including a reform of Canada’s justice system, “to make it stronger and to ensure that we turn back the growing plague of guns, gangs and drugs in our cities and communities,” thus working toward filling more than 1,000 RCMP positions across Canada, working with provinces and municipalities to hire 2,500 more police officers, cracking down on firearms smuggling, strengthen security at border crossings and, most importantly to the Tories: implementing mandatory minimum sentences for major firearms offences.
- Killing the Liberal Party child care plan, and in its place introducing a new $1,200 per year child care tax credit for children under six. The daycare initiative will be controversial — and is unlikely to receive support from the Liberals or the NDP — but pundits believe that the Bloc Québécois will rejoice at the prospect of wresting more money from the federal coffers, given that they've already got their own province-wide daycare programme (so much for parents and children in the rest of Canada).
- Introduction of a health wait-time guarantee, which inevitably will mean the privatization of health care in Canada, the thin edge of the wedge which could lead to the dismantling of Canada’s public health care system.
In addition to the five key initiatives, look for the Conservatives to kill the gun registry; implement fixed election dates and introduce legislation that will look into some form of proportional representation; rewrite Canada‘s climate change plan — although any plan to withdraw from the Kyoto Accord would likely meet with stiff opposition from the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc; pursue a vote on same sex marriage (sure to fail); and resolve the federal-provincial conflict over transfer of payment to the provinces.
Politics To Be A Fun Spectator Sport In Canada
Yes, Stephen Harper‘s weak minority was the best of all possible outcomes for those of us who are non-Tory voters. While Canadians gave the Liberals a time out, the Conservatives have been given a chance to strut their stuff. As Lynda Hurst writes in the Toronto Star ...
Somewhere in (the Conservative minority win) ... is the feeling among many that Canadian politics in the next year or so is going to be fun to watch (well, interesting at least) as the Tory party goes about striking the deals and compromises now necessary for its survival.
First order of business will be to appoint what will most assuredly be a smaller cabinet.
The next order of business will be to keep a lid on the extremist elements (read: social conservatives) within his party, who are dedicated to their goals of rescinding Canada’s long accepted legislation covering a woman’s right to choose, bringing back the death penalty, eliminating same sex marriage, making divorce more difficult, taking sexual orientation out of the Canadian Charter of Rights, opposing legislation decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, bringing prayer back into the public education system ... well, the list could go on and on.
Make no mistake. The Conservative Party in Ottawa will not have an easy time of it. The honeymoon will be over sooner than you think, and most certainly once the Liberal leadership race gets fully underway.
VanRamblings’ prediction: there’s no way that Stephen Harper’s Tories will keep it together for any prolonged period of time. The party will soon begin to tatter at the edges, the infighting will commence, and before you know it the newly elected government could come unraveled altogether.
January 22, 2006
Everyone from the gamblers at UBC’s Election Stock Market, to the team predicting the election outcome for CTV, and the generally reliable folks at SES Research are suggesting the Conservative Party of Canada will achieve minority government status in Ottawa with a win at the polls on Monday.
The time has come then, one supposes, for VanRamblings to weigh in on the current federal election, to offer our two cents worth and reflect on what a Conservative Party win will mean for most of us hapless Canadians.
Click on the picture
Much of what we wrote during the 2004 federal election still applies. Stephen Harper is just as scary as he was last time around. The issues are still the same. This time around, though, the Conservative Party has found a way to keep their social conservative contingent quiet, effectively silencing the wingnut portion (73%) of their party. All in service of gaining power.
In the coming months, will soon-to-be-deposed Prime Minister Martin be proven correct when he states that a Conservative government would imperil a woman’s right to choose, or stack the Supreme Court with right-wingers?
Election Prediction Project
Should Canadians, in fact, beware a far-right Tory government that would, as Mr. Martin states, “roll back the Liberals’ proposed national day-care plan, Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto protocol as well as a recent federal-provincial aboriginal deal?” Yes, VanRamblings believes Canadians should be damned scared of losing the Canada we — and our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers — have built over the course of the past 139 years.
Oh sure, it all sounds like so much rhetoric now, to target the Tories as right-wing ideologues. But aren’t they? Isn’t the Conservative Party of Canada just like the Lie-berals in B.C. (hardly a Liberal party), or the Republican Party under George Bush, or England under Maggie Thatcher?
You’re damn right they are.
Even small-c conservative commentators like the Vancouver Sun’s Barbara Yaffe warns Canadians about what a Stephen Harper-led Tory government would mean for Canadians ...
Harper is an adherent of a set of beliefs that even has a name associated with it — the Calgary School. His advisers, nearly all white and male, adhere to the brand of hard-line, U.S.-style conservatism associated with this school.
And, let’s not forget, as recently as 2002 Harper was leading the National Citizens’ Coalition, a right-leaning, libertarian-inclined group.
He still accommodates within his caucus old-style Reformers, like Myron Thompson, Cheryl Gallant (RealPlayer required) and Stockwell Day. (To be fair, Liberals have their own eccentrics.)
In this election, Conservatives have run the lowest percentage of female candidates of any mainstream party.
It would also be hard to believe that Harper’s own personality — a reserved loner, reluctant to take counsel from others — has suddenly morphed. Indeed, his own dominant personality has stripped the party entirely of the populism that characterized its precursors, Reform and the Alliance.
Voters should not fool themselves into imagining that Conservatives, once in power, would ... downsize government, stubbornly persist in trying to limit the definition of marriage to the cookie-cutter man/woman model ... (not) be bound by the Kyoto protocol ... (and) appoint judges with ‘a judicial temperament’ ...
After a relatively brief fling with one of Canada’s least ideological prime ministers, voters are about to embrace an ideologue.
The Conservative Party slogan in this election campaign calls on Canadians to ‘Stand Up for Canada’. VanRamblings would ask that you do exactly that.
Stand up for a Canada where a woman’s right to choose is enshrined in law. Stand up for a Canada where tolerance, cultural and ethnic diversity, our role as a peacekeeper on the world scene, and protection of the interests of our most vulnerable citizens define who we are as a people.
You know what the issues are. You know what’s on the line. And you know that you do not, we do not want Stephen Harper’s Canada.
August 8, 2004
You’ve heard of the bourgeoisie? Now there’s the “Turquoisie” — the Jim Harris blue-greens.
Or did the Blues get the Greens?
Flushed with electoral success, Canada’s Green Party would seem to be on a roll. But leader Jim Harris’ right-wing, market-based election platform and his ruthless internal manoeuvring have raised the hackles of the party’s “deep” Greens.
Are the Greens headed for a major split at their annual party convention, to be held in Calgary at the end of August? We’ll know the answer to that question later this month.
According to Charles Campbell, a long-time Green party member, Thunder Bay resident, and former chair of the federal Green party’s policy committee, in an e-mail he sent recently to dissident greens on their active, anti-Harris New Green e-mail list, Jim Harris has moved the federal Green party so far to the right that it’s barely a ‘green’ party any more ...
“Jim Harris’ vision is centralized control of the party administration with the participation of two or three of the thirteen provincial and territorial fiefdoms. It is driven by borrowing against future funding and has as its goal the creation of a personality cult around the Leader. Its approach to policy is to hide our history and create a neo-con vision of green economics driven by how profitable ecological business can be.”
In his thoughtful and provocative article for rabble.ca, former B.C. Green party activist Stuart Hertzog suggests that the Green party’s new-found leniency towards corporations may stem from Harris’ corporate consulting activities, including Harris’ work for Agilent Technologies, Barclays Bank, Centra (now Terasen) Gas, Deloitte & Touche, Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard, Munich Re, NEC, and Worldwide Express, to name just a few.
Hypocrisy would seem to be the order of the day for Jim Harris, the leader of a Canadian Green party whose corporate ties are in conflict with a global Green movement whose roots extend deep into the global anti-corporate movement. A right-wing agenda which mixes corporate business with green politics — is this what Canadians, and most members of Green Party Canada, are looking for in a leader of an alternative national political party?
July 23, 2004
What images spring to mind when you imagine a northern cruise vacation? Crystal clear water, teaming with sea life; humpback whales frolicking for your viewing pleasure; or perhaps just the vastness of British Columbia’s pristine coast, and a wild azure blue ocean untouched by human pollution.
These images contradict the current reality of the cruise industry.
A single cruise ship discharges approximately 1.3 million litres of waste water per day, more than the port city of Haines, Alaska.
In an article published in The Dominion, writers Yuill Herbert and Karen Gorecki report that:
- The American environmental group, the Blue Water Network, estimates that 77% of all ship waste comes from cruise ships
- Two billion pounds of trash is dumped into the world’s oceans each year and 24% of that waste comes from cruise ships
- 14 million kilograms of waste was produced in 2000 on the Alaska-Canada route alone
- Cruise ships have accrued over $60 million in environmental fines over the last five years in the U.S. Yet, in Canada, due to a lack of monitoring and enforcement there have been no fines, despite the fact that these same ships visit our waters
- Greenhouse gas emissions of international ships are excluded from the national emissions inventories, a loophole in the Kyoto Accord which benefits cruise ship lines
The Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group’s report, Ripple Effects: The Need to Assess the Impacts of Cruise Ships in Victoria B.C. not only serves to reinforce the points made by Herbert and Gorecki, among other findings the report’s authors learned that cruise “ships burn fuel that has sulphur content 90% higher than that used by cars.”
July 4, 2004
Canada’s first minority government in 25 years will have to ensure it acts on environmental and sustainable development issues if it is to maintain support from the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois.
According to International Institute for Sustainable Development Board Member Mary Simon — also a former Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs — climate change should be at the top of the Liberal government’s environmental priority list. As someone with close connections to Canada’s north she is well aware of climate change’s “profound implications for the social, cultural and economic well-being of the 50,000 aboriginal people who live in the Canadian Arctic.”
Ms. Simon’s compellingly readable two-page report (Adobe Acrobat required) is available here.
July 1, 2004
Across this great land of ours, Canadians from coast to coast to coast celebrate a remarkable country on its 137th birthday.
As the election dust settles, this is a day to put aside our political differences, to come together in commemoration of a vibrant nation of almost 32 million people, a Canada that is held up around the world as a model of tolerance, civility and social-mindedness.
As the world becomes a smaller place, as globalization and the communications revolution sometimes blur the distinctions between countries and cultures, today is a day to acknowledge Canada’s ‘differentness’ — from our social safety net and welcoming immigration policies, to our cherished Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our acknowledged politeness — these are just a few of the traits that define us as Canadians.
In these troubled times, who we are as Canadians is cause for celebration.
Happy Canada Day !!!
April 28, 2004
Former Prime Minister (and, most recently, the Progressive Conservative Party Opposition leader), The Honourable Joe Clark, came out this week and endorsed sitting Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, saying he was “less dangerous to the country” than current Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper. Mr. Martin is expected to call a federal election in the near future.
March 29, 2004
The first act of the newly-elected Ontario Tory government of Mike Harris in 1995 was to withdraw funding from, and set for sale, 45,000 units of social housing that had been commissioned by the New Democratic Party government of Bob Rae. This Co-operative and social housing was all but ready to receive families (that means, children) in dire need of adequate housing. Instead, Harris sold off this much-needed housing to the private sector.
Thus political precedent was set for what became one of the most mean-spirited, reactionary provincial governments in Canadian history, by extension setting the stage for the equally mean-spirited likes of rabid right-wing provincial premiers like Gordon Campbell in British Columbia, John Hamm in Nova Scotia, and lest we forget, Ralph Klein in Alberta, and their devastating set of social policies.
From the failed workfare programme for mothers of infant children who — many of them escaping abusive marriages — found themselves in receipt of income assistance (a programme which also required demeaning drug and literacy testing), to the devastating reductions in funding for the province's Environment Ministry which resulted in the tainted-water disaster in Walkerton, when it came to attacking the poor, and the interests of Ontarians, Harris' government knew no equal in Ontario history.