Friday, April 29, 2011

Left shift spawns Henny Pennys

The rise in the polls of Jack Layton and the NDP in the run up to Canada's 2011 federal election has made Henny Pennys of those whose world order is threatened. Witness 'Layton as PM a frightening scenario,' an editorial in the Calgary Herald, reprinted in the Edmonton Journal.

However, contrary to the editorial's headline, the sky does not fall in when the NDP forms governments. Unfortunately, facts do not stop Tory spin doctors and their surrogates from using the politics of fear.

When Gary Doer, Canada's ambassador in Washington, was premier of Manitoba (1999-2009), he won two successive re-elections, each time with increased majorities, and consistently introduced balanced budgets. Saskatchewan's NDP government (1991-2007) also showed fiscal responsibility with 11 consecutive balanced budgets. In 2005 the federal Dept. of Finance released a report on federal and provincial budgets over the past 22 years that showed that NDP governments had the best fiscal track-record among all parties.

Older readers may recall that in 1962 Saskatchewan's doctors screamed like 'chicken little' and went on strike claiming that 'socialized medicine' would be so intolerable as to leave the province without doctors. By 1965 most doctors supported medicare and the model was implemented across Canada within 10 years.

Stephen Harper's Conservatives are expert practitioners of the politics of fear and practice a "course, vicious brand of politics" (to quote Maclean's editor Andrew Coyne). Indeed it's their stock and trade. Witness their focus on crime and building more prisons, despite the fact that crime, including serious crime, is declining in Canada.
On May 2 Canadians should not reward those who twist facts and try to scare us into voting for them. The sky is not falling in. Have courage. We should not believe everything we are told by the Henny-Pennys of this world. Otherwise the fox will have us all for lunch.

Harper on Gretzky: He didn't come back for you...

Stephen Harper's Tories create nasty attack ads that hurl personal insults at Michael Ignatieff and distort reality for their partisan goals. One ad implies that spending time living and working outside Canada is unpatriotic ("He didn't come back for you." - Robert Fulford's take). Nothing about Liberal policies, just a personal slur. That's our PM, folks.

I wonder if hockey fan Harper would toss that accusation at Wayne Gretzky (aka 'The Great One'), who has lived in the USA since 1988? Gretzky, the great traitor, he didn't come back for you.

People's Republic of Albertastan

Updated: 6 May 2015 (Fixed broken links)
Albertans tend to vote overwhelmingly Conservative to the point where the province is sometimes derisively called Albertastan. The name is a take-off on the many one-party "stan" states in central Asia, mostly former Soviet republics.

Sadly, many Albertans take the view that people who do not vote Conservative are not only misguided but also dangerous and unpatriotic. Such intolerant views would be at home in the former USSR where 'dissidents' were treated as pariahs. Such citizens think that it's intolerable that Alberta has one non-Tory seat, Edmonton-Strathcona, ably represented by Linda Duncan. They don't comprehend that democracy means respecting the views of all and that diversity of opinion is a strength.

Intolerance and related 'group think' can bully people into voting Conservative. Others may vote Conservative because they want to vote for the winning side or to vote as they perceive their bosses vote. Some Albertans may vote on a single issue such as the economy, believing that only a Tory government can keep it strong. Such voters conveniently forget that the Liberals left Harper with a solid economy and surplus and that our sound banking system, not Stephen Harper, protected us from the worst of the recent recession. I've heard many Albertans say they would like to support another party, but it seems hopeless given that one vote cannot change anything here.

In the 2008 election 58.8% of Canadians voted (province by province results). Conservatives won 37.6% of the votes, with 62.4% voting for other parties. In our 'first past the post' system, Conservatives "won" and formed a minority government with the support of only 22% of voters.

So, if you are an Albertan thinking of voting Green or Liberal or NDP, you are not alone. Indeed you are in the majority nationally. Your vote matters as much as those who vote Conservative.
To paraphrase Rick Mercer's recent 'vote rant' that spawned the vote mobs on university campuses:
  • If you're 18 or older and breathing, and you want to scare the hell out of those who run this country, do the unexpected and what people around the world are dying to do: Vote. Especially vote for the party of your choice, the one that best represents your views on a range of issues.

Canada's PM pushes asbestos for votes

On 26 April 2011 articles in many Canadian and foreign papers reported that Canadian PM Stephen Harper had a campaign stop in Asbestos, Quebec in which he supported allowing Quebec's asbestos industry to export its product abroad:
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 107,000 people die of exposure to asbestos annually. Quebec's asbestos industry employs 500-800 people. And we wonder why Canada's reputation around the globe is in shreds. Harper supports Canada as an immoral exporter of death to poor countries.

Is there anything our PM won't do for a vote? Do Canadian jobs trump killing others? Anyone who votes Conservative needs to know what Harper stands for. And why was there no mention of Harper's Quebec campaign stop to support asbestos exports in the Edmonton Journal? Aren't newspapers supposed to keep citizens informed about the activities of the government?