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Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Trans Pacific Partnership? Game on!

With the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) about to be signed, Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper is in a solid position to use it as a wedge issue between the Liberals and the NDP. Depending on how this is played, it will be critical for all three parties.
It's a big deal

The TPP is a massive trade agreement – the largest in world history – that began back in 2006 with Brunei, Chile, Singapore, and New Zealand. It is now being negotiated with the addition of United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Mexico, Japan and, yes, Canada. It is part of a strategic plan on the part of the United States and its larger corporations to isolate China in the Pacific. To sign on, Canada will have to give up supply management for its dairy industry, and it may take a hit in the automotive sector. The Canadian banks will love it, because it gives them access to more and bigger deals.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Why strategic voting is no strategy at all

For the majority of Canadians hoping to unseat Stephen Harper, there is a temptation to vote ‘strategically’ – which is to say, to pick the riding candidate with the best chance of defeating the Conservative nominee.
Some people never learn

Bad idea.

Strategic voting is often presented as a pragmatic approach, but it makes a few false assumptions.
First, it assumes that Harper represents such a scourge that an Anyone But Harper (ABH) vote will result in a preferred outcome. Outside of Quebec, this would mean that the Liberal, NDP, or even Green vote represent a kind of non-Harper equivalency. But that isn’t the case. Your ABH candidate will be going to Parliament supporting a leader and a specific platform, and if you don’t support the person or the platform, you’re screwed.  

Monday, 21 September 2015

Ben Mulroney, anyone? The problem with dynastic politics

The presence of Justin Trudeau represents a disturbing new trend in Canadian politics that risks damaging the long-term viability of our democratic system.
The media makes the man

Whoa! What an overstatement! Isn’t it Stephen Harper, after all, who muzzles scientists, suppresses votes, prorogues Parliament, and passes grotesque omnibus bills? Indeed, Harper is an aggressive politician who, it often seems, would rather run the country like a dictator.

But the dismay and disappointment is in Harper the person. If he is kicked out of office (as he can be), that’s the end of him. He has done lasting damage, but as a person he does not represent a larger cultural transformation in the political landscape.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

In Peterborough-Kawartha, you’re voting for the Prime Minister

Canada is following a familiar pattern. Weary of the ruling party, voters are getting behind an “anyone but Harper” movement that has them thinking of voting strategically for either the NDP or Liberal candidate that has the best chance of winning.
Not the next MP for Peterborough-Kawartha

The result is a lot of second-guessing. In vote-rich Ontario, it has brought a recent bump for the Liberals, Canada’s erstwhile "natural governing party”. Historically, the Liberals have been favoured as the party to which otherwise Conservative and NDP voters might bail.

But this time it’s different. There are three parties, not two. The Liberals are campaigning on deficits, and the NDP has rushed to the middle-ground, promising balanced budgets. Suddenly, voters can’t flick the switch so easily.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Tom Mulcair: “We love our chances here in Peterborough”

Thomas Mulcair and Peterborough-Kawartha candidate Dave Nickle
Thomas Mulcair came to Peterborough, Ontario, on August 7th, the day after the first debates.

He advised his assembled supporters to talk up the NDP’s $15 a day childcare plan, and to remind “friends and neighbours” that “quality, affordable childcare is just one election away.”

Here is a video of his brief comments - audible despite people initially yelling that his microphone was off.

Mulcair fielded questions on the debates, essentially saying that he will participate in further debates, with the condition that the Prime Minister attend.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

“The victim here is Canadian society”: Justice Cameron’s withering assessment of Dean Del Mastro’s crimes

Justice Lisa Cameron has sentenced Dean Del Mastro, the former Conservative MP for Peterborough, to thirty days in jail for overspending about $20,000 on his 2008 election campaign.

(Scroll down for video footage by Pamela VanMeer).
Del Mastro was optimistic at first

Del Mastro, 44, had already been found guilty on three counts of election fraud related to overspending, both on his personal and his campaign limit. The jail sentence is for the first two counts – each of 30 days, to be served concurrently, (i.e. both at the same time, as opposed to consecutively, which would have been 60 days).

After Del Mastro is released, he is to serve four months of house arrest, and will be on probation for an additional 18 months. He also has to pay back $10,000 that Cameron has determined he owed to his riding association.

Cameron delivered an even-handed yet withering assessment of Del Mastro’s crimes.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Trudeau and asylum for Mexican torture victims

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has promised to lift the Mexican visa requirement should his party form the next government. The requirement was put in place in 2009 to stem a flood in asylum claims.

The olive branch is a good idea. The visa, as presently structured, is punitive in the extreme, with many Mexicans unable to fulfil the onerous bureaucratic requirements.  This would go a long way toward improving strained relations between the two countries. A complete cancellation, however, would likely result in a flood of asylum claimants – something Trudeau did not address in his speech.