2011 Political Commentary

I am an avid supporter of the Green Party and congratulate Elizabeth May on her victory. For now however I must accept the current political situation and make an effort towards evaluating what the current government under Stephen Harper is doing, and not doing. I will add brief comments on a daily or almost daily basis. After each comment I will grade the issue A, B, C, D, etc. If I grade an 'N" that means it is a wait and see proposal. 

NEW: I will reserach why Tony Clement's riding received 50 million, when the victims of G20 disruption are being partially ignored.

Refugees are being hi-jacked by the Harper government, while their sponsors are free to carry on, making huge profits.

Refugees must re-apply for status to remain in Canada while court appeals are in process.

1. Harper made a good move (cough, cough) in establishing Aboriginal Affairs. Now can they follow this up with a streamlined system of establishing citizenship. B

2. I will keep an eye on whether or not they prove capable of eliminating waste on equalization payments and EI. Can they do this without hurting the vulnerable? GI Supplement increase is small but helpful for those in need. Increase in family caregiver supplement is adequate. Apparently they will increase the rebate $1,000 against EI for small business. 4,000,000 towards ecoRETROFIT home rebate programme. N

3. There is no National Energy Policy. Let's see if they can present one that shows that our reliance on fossil fuels can at least be degraduated. N

4. Flaherty has told Obama that he would like to see a budget resolution from the U.S. regarding deficit reduction. This is a good start. Now let us wait for the June 6 budget. B,N

5. Harper is supporting an elected senate. That is better than an appointed one for sure, but not as good as abolishment. Now they are proposing shorter senate terms. This dies not really impose significant change. How about proposing a system of legislative guidelines which promises diversity in the senate such as ethnicity, gender, party affiliation, cultural representation, regional representation etc. This would be the next best thing to abolishment. Better still would be abolition PLUS a reworked electoral system that is based on representation by POPULAR VOTE! D

6. Harper is supporting resolution 242 in the Middle East, but his Minister John Baird, does not know what resolution 242 is! Harper is too pro-Israel at this point. Neither side of this conflict should be sided with. Proposals should be started from the bottom up, based on some kind of historical perspective, but also awareness of economic and environmental concerns. It's like helping a married couple who are in conflict. You don not play the blame game. You set up an infrastructure that sets up a foundation of communication that solves fundamental problems. D

7. It will be interesting to see what Environment Minister Peter Kent has to say about shale gas development in Alberta. I expect the gas companies will have a free reign over the situation. Shale gas drilling is being investigated for water pollution (chemicals in explosives) and earthquake causal effects. D, N

8. The Tories are going to enact new legislation against HUMAN SMUGGLING. Let us wait and see what the details are, this is probably the most hedonistic crime in the world today, and is expanding faster than the drug trade. A,

9. I am against the government expanding involvement in Libya (NATO allegiance). D

10. The war against crime is TOTALLY misdirected. There is nothing being done about cultural assessment as a tie-in to crime, and social involvement is being avoided instead of encouraged. I am for computer surveillance under certain circumstances, but when police powers are extended, they are generally abused because of what I describe as 'police culture'. E

11. The government is lobbying for more seats due to population increase and re-settlement. This is inefficient. Representation by popular vote and a DECREASE in seats would be the way to go. The Conservatives are supposed to represent less government spending. Come on guys...wake up! D

12. Comment by Cheri Di Novo:

Mr. Harper: Where's funding for a national housing program? Daycare? Transit? This is the way to grow the economy. E

13. Federal emmissions programme has reduced emmissions by one-half of one percent. They have NO CLIMATE-CHANGE PLAN. A disgrace! E

14. The elimination of the per vote grant system for all national parties is a severe continuation of the "Conservative -or-else agenda", and a de-democratization of our national electoral system. This perpetuates the reality in our current system, that states that if your vote does not go towards the majority elected party, it stands for nothing! E

The Green Party of Canada has launched the “We’re sorry!” campaign to apologize to the rest of the world for the Harper government’s action on asbestos.  On June 24th, Canada became the only country in the world to oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Convention.


Flaherty’s reassuring “stay the course” message was widely expected in political and economic quarters.

But economists told iPolitics that Canada should be more pro-active.

Last Saturday, Flaherty told CBC the government would not rule out a fresh stimulus package if the country turned back toward a recession.

“We would need to see an economic contraction … negative growth,” he said during an interview Saturday with CBC’s The House.

He was quick to add, though, that he remains firmly committed to his deficit elimination date of 2014-15, an approach he said his European and American counterparts would do well to emulate.

“We have our house in order — and this is a fundamental need both in the United States and in certain European countries,” he said. “We need governments to demonstrate that they can get their financial issues straightened out.”


Name one thing Trudeau did to improve Canada’s economic performance. I can’t come up with one either. But he did give us the National Energy Program, the Foreign Investment Review Agency, such Crown Corporations as Petro Canada and the UIC ski team. He repeatedly insulted and infuriated our biggest customer, while making cozy with communist dictator Fidel Castro, from whom we bought cigars. It was hardly a boom to investor confidence when he appeared on national television to say the free-market system “just didn’t work.”

Mulroney undid most of Trudeau’s destructive economic policies. He scrapped the National Energy program, turned FIRA into Investment Canada, privatized Crown Corporations (Petro Canada, Canadair, De Havilland) and bolstered our trading position with the Free Trade Agreement. He had the courage to axe the job killing manufactures sales tax and replace it with the GST, something Trudeau avoided for fear of unpopularity.

While Trudeau was alienating western Canada with the NEP, he infuriated the Quebec government by patriating the constitution in what Trudeau himself described as a “putsch, a coup de force.” Mulroney sought national reconciliation. Without Trudeau’s denouncements, Meech Lake would likely have passed, causing Gordon Robertson, former Clerk of the Privy Council, to observe, “Nothing, I think, in Canadian history rivals the irresponsibility Trudeau, a former prime minister, displayed in coming out of retirement to destroy the only prospect of an agreement that would bring Quebec into willing acceptance of the Constitution.”

Under Trudeau, the national debt increased more than ten-fold. It doubled under Mulroney, but every nickel of that increase was the accumulated interest on the Trudeau debt.

While Trudeau increased the size of government by 7.2 percentage points of GDP, Mulroney reduced it by 2 percentage points.

Under Trudeau spending increased on average 15.5 percent per year. Under Mulroney the increase was one-third that level.

The Canadian dollar depreciated by 14 per cent under Trudeau, reducing our standard of living and discounting the value of all Canadian assets. Our dollar held steady with Mulroney at the helm.

Trudeau decimated the Canadian military, decreasing its portion of federal spending by half. Mulroney stemmed the losses.

The inflation rate under Trudeau averaged 8.6 per cent in his last two full terms in office. Under Mulroney, it less than half that rate.

It’s no surprise then that a study by McGill University professors of the post-WWII records of prime ministers ranked Mulroney No. 1 in economic performance. They put Trudeau at the back of the bus.

When environmental leaders considered who was Canada’s Greenest Prime Minister of All Time, they gave the nod to Mulroney. Trudeau, it was noted, may have looked good in a canoe, but he invested in the tar sands and pipelines.

While he is scorned in parts of the country, Trudeau remains the darling of pop surveys. This is hardly surprising given the cottage industry that has formed around Trudeau that has produced a succession of hagiographies and flattering documentaries. Our publicly funded broadcaster so reveres Trudeau that they let him choose the producers for their infomercials on our Northern Magus.

Expert rankings are consistently more favourable to Mulroney than are the public opinion polls. Mulroney has been dogged by his post prime ministerial relationship with Karlheinz Schreiber; the subject of a pointless $20 million public inquiry and a vendetta costing millions by the CBC program, The Fifth Estate. Before the Schreiber mess and the CBC hatchet job, experts assembled by the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) named Mulroney our second best prime minister during the past 50 years, just behind Pearson. In time, the Schreiber fiasco may become a footnote to Mulroney’s legacy, just as the Pacific Scandal has become for Macdonald.

As I say, ranking PMs can be a messy business. But it makes for an interesting debate — one that is far from over.

© 2011 iPolitics Inc.

The New Democrats want to ban all political advertisements before elections and make leaders own up to third-party attack ads.

Having observed the Canadian Federal election of May 2, 2011, I drew certain conclusions. The debates, as the traditional "kick-off" for the campaign indicated that there was no apparent unifying vision of Canada. 

"Vision" can be defined in four parts. Firstly one must recognize the sources of potential change, or if you like, the catalysts of change. Secondly there must be a recognition of trends and what is inspiring those trends. This is followed by the ability to project change based on the trends, and lastly, to understand what policy is necessary, and where it is to be imposed. This policy of course can be deemed revolutionary, compromising, modifying or status quo. 

Regardless of party affiliation, most Canadians fit into the category between social democrat and conservative. For many years, certainly in my lifetime, the electorate has made choices between parties that are "centrist". Now, we have a bit of a widening in the spectrum, as the federal Conservatives are clearly more to the right, as ever before,. The NDP with their new preponderance of seats are in the process of defining whether or not they are proclaimed socialists. This could potentially could widen the spectrum further, as well as take advantage of their large number of seats in Quebec, which at this time is only a political opportunity, not a political victory. They could be coerced into taking a soft stance on sovereignty, taking advantage of the new movement, "The Coalition for the Future of Quebec". 

Governments regardless of their stance attempt to put into motion, policies that to some degree satisfy current trends, which are not necessarily a by-product of previous governmental policy. If the ruling party formulates policy that in turn compliments and helps drive the trends so that they match their projections, the government comes out looking competent. If the trends are truly indicative of public favour, then the party organization will likely be successful in maintaining a respectable electoral position. 

As we are now in the process of a Provincial election, we should take time to assess the vision, or lack of it, of the current contenders. It can be said that federal politics is more prone to visionary statements such as those referring to language, human rights, federalism, globalism, peace initiatives, environmental accords etc. Or has political dogmatism simply created an incremental style in provincial politics? A study of the political history of Quebec might imply that there is room for innovation and vision in Ontario. The process of relaying messages to Canadians during elections seems to be executed in a technocratic style, which is perceived as parallel to competence. 

A brief look at the political history of our nation, helps give us an idea of how provincial leaders established their reputations. Gordon Campbell, of British Columbia emphasized economic stimulus, expressed largely through natural resource management. By controlling the flow of natural resources, Campbell wanted British Columbia to be properly balanced as a somewhat autonomic province as well as being a major player in the free trade partnership. Back in the 1920's,  British Columbia's John Oliver tried to pressure the Federal Government into lowering freight rates in order to expand it's market. This is an early example of the continuing fight between the federalists and western regions. Ralph Klein tried to negotiate an energy interdependence with the United States. This was a north-south view of North American trade rather than an east-west view, which was promoted since the reign of John A. Macdonald, largely out out of a sense of patriotism and obligation, rather than business sense. Klein also planned for an aggressive system of debt repayment and opened up a so called "can of worms" by taking a stand on same-sex marriage. He wanted veto power on that issue, which appealed to the social conservative element in Alberta. 

William Lyon McKenzie King was concerned with the repression of the lower classes and stated that he wanted to form a "partnership of classes" seeing the potential for growth and change amid strife. I see this as a clear vision of a egalitarian nation. 

Peter Lougheed's Heritage Fund was a significant response to a provinces claim on it's autonomous economy. He was also a leader in the constitutional discussions, agreeing that provinces should have no veto, but should be able to opt out of amendments that reduced provincial powers. He wanted to avoid exploitation through strong government policy and economic diversification.  Many more examples exist of Premiers finding a method of protecting  economic resources. Danny Williams of Newfoundland adamantly opposed the federal expenditure cap on off-shore oil resources. Clyde Wells established his reputation when he spoke out during the Accord negotiations pointing out that individuals in "have-not" provinces would suffer from the Federal Governments difficulty in establishing and operating new shared-cost programmes. 

British Columbia's Richard McBride, back in 1914, opposed the federal policy stating that no province could establish it's own military. 

Our evolving relationship with the United States sheds light on one of the issues that is likely the most changed since the days of Macdonald.

For many years, the fear of invasion from the United States, dictated the direction of federal and provincial policy. Macdonald was very leery of possible invasion and felt that regionalism would weaken Canada's military security. Protectionist policy was originally based upon the fear of invasion. Later, protectionism became more of a tool for the maintenance of a balance of trade, with the emerging world markets.

As can be surmised by many of my comments, alienation is a common thread throughout the public spirit of the provinces, especially for the western provinces and Quebec. We must not forgot the issues that once faced Newfoundland, including the opportunity to join the Dominion of Canada in 1949. Joey Smallwood was the leader of the pro-Dominion group, campaigning on an assurance of prosperity. He expressed to his constituents that they had as much a right to the Dominion's resources as any of its other regions. He established the Economic development Plan of 1951, and lured foreign industrialists to Quebec because the local elite was not willing to invest in industrial development. The opposing Economic Unionists were campaigning for "responsible government" , and close ties with the United States. They warned against cheap Canadian imports and high income tax rates. 


Looking closer at Quebec, Jean LeSage, many years before the constitutional talks at Meach Lake and Charlottetown, declared that Quebeckers should be "masters of our own home". He also wanted to officially denounce the domination of Quebec's businesses by Anglophone interests, as well as the domination over the lives of Quebeckers by the Roman Catholic Church. "C'est le temps, que ca change." he spoke (It's time things changed). He also instigated the nationalism of the hydro commission and created the first Ministry of Education. This was the Quiet Revolution. 

These were the same issues that were being dealt with sixty years earlier  by the then Prime Minister, Wilfrid Laurier. 

The LeSage movement was a response to the suffocating leadership of Maurice Duplessis. Duplessis reinforced the Roman Catholic tradition in Quebec as well as ruralization and the suppression of the labour movement. 

Robert Bourassa following the tradition of Quebec "Liberal-nationalism"

was uncompromising in support of Bill 22. A "distinct society" proved to be a notion, that to some, was not succinct enough in expressing the unique qualities of Quebec, to be effective legislation. To others it was a political minefield, because of its many implications, and legal elasticity. 

Francois Legault, the leader of the previously mentioned political movement, the "Coalition for the Future of Quebec" could be leading Quebec into a new chapter, taking a strong nationalist stance without campaigning for sovereignty, at least initially. The emphasis is on health-care, education, the economy, and enforcing Quebec's Francophone culture, especially language. Autonomy over language is the destination of this new association which could be described as a PQ/Liberal coalition, getting large support from business leaders who were formerly Liberal supporters. 

The current Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest has recently said that he doesn’t plan to push to reopen constitutional talks any time soon.

He says his government will be ready when the time comes.

Charest has been reluctant to address the issue since becoming Quebec Premier, after spending years participating in fruitless constitutional talks.

He was reacting to a motion introduced by the party's youth wing. 

The motion urged the Quebec Liberals to push for the province to be recognized as a nation if constitutional talks were to arise. Charest dogmatically commented that he would be prepared for such talks. 

As a member of Brian Mulroney’s cabinet, Charest had a front-row seat in the wrenching constitutional debates of the 1980s and 1990s.

He was a key point person on the Meech Lake file and lived through the Charlottetown debacle.

“I don’t see it on the radar” as something that would be initiated any time soon, Charest reported recently at the end of the party’s weekend youth meeting.

This actually goes along with the view of Francois Legault who has just recently come out to say that the PQ leadership is not at fault for the decline in sovereignty interest, but the fact is that sovereignty has simply lost it's priority This is evidence that the concept of Quebec nationhood has not been argued convincingly enough from an economic standpoint. 


Interestingly, Premier Charest is aggressively marketing his provinces resources. He is attempting to develop new clients in New York, Asia and Europe. he envisions Northern Quebec as a major player in the energy and mining sectors. The plan is officially known as Plan Nord. His trade mission will also focus on aerospace and information technology. He hopes his plan creates an abundance of balanced public and private investments. 

In Ontario during the 1950's, while Duplessis was crippling Quebec, the Conservative Premir Leslie Frost though not progressive, was rapidly expanding the public service as well as passing legislation protecting the property rights of all races, genders and ethnic groups, as well as passing the Fair Employment Act. 

Historically, free-trade, once referred to as reciprocity has seen strange bedfellows. The Progressive Party of Canada, once a force on the Canadian federal scene, rejected the national policy of the Conservatives under Robert Borden, and supported free trade so that they could ensure  access to cheaper agricultural equipment and a better sale price for produce. The agricultural sector afforded a much higher status during this period, and was led by J. S. Woodsworth who later inaugurated the agrarian C.C.F. Party (inspired by the radical wing of the Progressives). Woodsworth was a strict pacifist and did not like the Church's support of conscription and participation in the Great War. He was one of the first notable political activists in our history to recognize the lack of human rights obedience between nations. Human rights as a campaign issue is still in it's infancy, and must be expressed holistically as a part of environmental, economic and social policy. 

Conscription was an issue that created conflict within the Church during the period of the first World War, and split the ruling Liberal party. Wilfred Laurier was pro-conscription, seeing it as a policy partner to the issue of reciprocity. This also led to a temporary alienation between Quebec and the Liberal party. This contrasts the anti-free-trade stance taken by the Turner Liberals in the 1980's. This split in the Liberal Party led to the rise of Robert Borden's Conservatives. Quebec, even in those early years of the century, had a nationalist perspective and Laurier suffered some of the same pitfalls as Pierre Trudeau did seventy years later. 

In the 1930's William Lyon Mackenzie King began his elongated reign as Prime Minister. To his credit he was well aware of regional disparities as well as their unique loyalties. he saw deeply into the political mosaic by being fearful of division along class lines. He was pragmatic in addressing the social balance, and the financial freedom of the individual. This is a key element of true Liberalism. He had a working hypothesis that was adequate in preserving stability, but also accepting instability and inconsistencies as catalysts for compromise, consensus and adjustment. 

Looking at the current Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, it has been pointed out by a political observer that he does indeed have a vision for Canada, but chooses to be cautious in the message. He sees Canada as a nation of conservative values, as he expressed during the recent visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Religious fundamentalism flavours his outlook, which gives his ruling party features resembling the "tea party" which is creating a conservative revival in the United States. Tight national security, and an extension of the "melting pot society" philosophy as opposed to the cultural mosaic, is creating a more emotional opposition to the Conservatives that is yet to be enunciated effectively by the opposition. 

If I were so inclined I might hope that this series of essays enlightens you politically, but to be more humble, I do propose that they will encourage you to ask the pertinent questions related to your voting experiences, and the perspective you have a part of the political pie that makes up our democracy. The Canadian political scheme, a Parliamentary democracy and federation of provinces, might be simplistically described as that of a teenager negotiating with his parents for an increase in his/her allowance. The dependent can look for legal ways to earn extra money, and within his jurisdiction, look for ways to alter the guidelines that dictate his/her accessibility to funds. He/she can express his position in a way that inflates his value in the eyes of the parents. This can be in the form of creative accounting, or in the form of promises, that of course may, or may not be kept. Threats of complete or partial separation may motivate or de-motivate the parents, who may have a modus operandi that is not clearly understood by the dependent. 


Politically, the provinces are the main component of the federation. This is parallel, but not precisely to the phenomenon of regionalism. In other words, an effective Prime Minister must be aware of the different regions in his nation, which have differing needs, and how those interests can be satisfied within the federation. The provinces are not perfect representations of the regions, but for political purposes are forced to represent the causes that are of most interest. The regions of Canada could be described as the Atlantic region, (Newfoundland is an interesting sub-region that includes the northern features of Labrador), Quebec (very much a cultural region), Ontario, northern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan), Alberta, British Columbia and the North. The North is going through varying stages of development, with Nunavut being a formal federal territory which increases the regions political viability. 

In what is described as a global economy, world commodity prices have a huge effect on the economics outside of the central manufacturing  corridors of Canada. In the north, the absence of industry leaves no potential for labour absorption. Schemes to manage fluctuating world prices invite conflict with Washington, over their alleged market-distorting affects. The National Policy under Macdonald, back in the 1880's, in order to pay the bills for rail construction established high-tariff import substitution, and preferential rail fees that encouraged the funnelling of natural resources to eastern industrial centres rather than south or south-east to American markets. Economic nationalism, which was a policy of significant popularity in the early 1970's  is a logical response to the side-effects of globalization. Economic nationalism was a course recommended by members of the NDP's defunct Waffle group, but is now seen as a dated perspective. It is seen as dated because of what is perceived as the inevitability of the evolving global economy. It is interesting at this point to ask the question, "Is the fundamental basis of economic nationalism practical in today's economy?" This discussion would demand a whole new essay, but it is suffice to say that if one of the political entities in Canada decides to encourage this approach, it might find surprising appeal. More regulation and control over imported commodities. Less reliance on world fossil fuel prices. Protective tariffs on our own resources. More investment on industrial development. Higher profits for Canadian manufactures. This of course creates inflation, but wages would also increase.

Let's now look at the current election campaign in Ontario.The NDP and the Conservatives are enunciating policy that is not always in stark contrast. If they continue to campaign policy by policy, this pattern may continue, As the election gets closer to voting day, the parties may feel more inclined to differentiate one selves, thus encouraging more visionary declarations. Both want more long-term care beds, the numbers vary slightly, but not significantly. Both want to scrap the local health integration networks, as their accountability is under question. They both propose small business tax cuts, and more transparency regarding infrastructure projects, and are encouraging the gas tax revenues to be allocated fairly to the respective communities. Both parties are practising deductive micro-politics, which is seeing the political process as starting from the communities and growing outward, rather than the government imposing policy upon the community. The Tories have generally been the precursor of the concept of a streamlined government, but it has become a necessity for all parties to practise financial restraint. Environmental policy is in an evolutionary stage, the Conservatives being the most cautious, making at this point a supportive position for nuclear power, and fighting the deal that the Liberals made with Samsung to manufacture and install 2,500 megawatts of clean wind and solar energy. This project is targeted to create 16,000 jobs. Opposition parties claim the the operation could have been handled by Ontario Power Generation. The Green party is also looking at localization, focussing on community based energy sources and an interconnection in establishing energy contracts, and they are opposed to any new nuclear plant development. The Green Party extends environmental policy in their desire to establish the Ontario Food and Farmers Policy Council, the encouragement of illness prevention measures instead of spending money on the end of the treatment cycle, and specific plans to harness wasted energy. The NDP has not shown the environment as a high priority, but have referred to the merging of Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, the Ontario Power Authority, and independent system electricity operators. All the parties are looking for creative ways to cut energy costs for consumers, the NDP suggesting taking the HST off utilities. The do express a somewhat protectionist outlook with a recommendation, thought not specific, to reducing the export of raw materials. Our process of "greening" the economy is certainly made more complex because we have a developed economy, and a multi-faceted infrastructure. Third world countries, such as Algeria, who have simplified infrastructures, have the potential to build a sustainable economy from the ground up. It should be up to our governments, who sponsor projects in these countries, to ensure funds are going to such activities. Algeria is planning to tap it's solar power reserves for export. 

Public and private partnerships can mobilize investors. The European Union and the United Nations Procurement Division are doing innovative work. The World Bank is offering 250 million Africans energy-free light. 

What relationship is there between federal, provincial and municipal governments? There is no question that the federalists are in a position to speak with vision. Mr. Ford, Toronto's recently elected mayor, campaigned as a cost-cutter. This is evidence of a right swing in Ontario, that was clearly demonstrated in May. The "small c" conservative movement is a phenomenon. The unclear positions of the Liberals and NDP are an indication that they are pausing, partly because of the fact that they are hesitant in isolating the middle-of-the-road voter who has traditionally voted for different parties at different times. In other words, the electorate is volatile. The Green Party are expanding it's policy structure and still have some work to do in being recognized as more than a single issue party. Their platform does encompass all sectors of the issue spectrum, as building a sustainable economy involves integrating policy from health-care, human rights, structuring import/export tariffs, re-prioritizing education objectives, and redefining the role of the public and private sectors. Despite the evidence of conservatism the majority of Ontarians still support public financing of rapid transit, libraries, utilities and health care. So all parties have to be able to operate a balanced system, with a limited cost escalation in public services. 

The late Eric Kierans a former member of Trudeau's cabinet did not see eye to eye with Trudeau's centrist approach. He was more comfortable with the approach that Lester Pearson took in the 1960's.

He recognized the concept of the "nation-state" and saw it as a tool to protect Canada from it's unwieldy economic system. It implies a politics first, economics second approach, which is based on the belief that a strong infrastructure sets the foundation for a solid economy. 

As we begin to listen to the candidates to decide who will take on the job as our next Premier, it occurs to me that a lot of issues are totally overlooked. If they are being overlooked, it is not necessarily a reflection of priorities. It could be based upon the fact that many problems are seen as a result of previous or ongoing policy. The policies are likely under current jurisdictions such as health, environment, infrastructure, industry, trade, commerce etc. How many times have you heard a candidate talk about today`s youth. In England progress is being made by putting young people into mental health organizations and treatment centres rather than into jails. As young people are acquiring mental health issues at a larger rate we must look at the fact that they are dealing with a much more aggressive society, which is also being influenced by the electronic social media, which is also alarmingly intrusive. 

The G20 meeting was arranged for the sole purpose of allowing the members to create empathy for each others causes. Because of the large number of participants at the table much else was unattainable. Free trade negotiations with the European Economic Union is progressing but it brings into question the provinces desire for a certain level of autonomy, such as Ontario`s buy local green plan. Canada``s current high economic standing has elevated their status in negotiations and propelled the provinces into a co-operative stance with little chance of opting out of certain economic plans. The federal government is certain expressing a stand pat position, because of our economic standing, but our commendation of China must be challenged by opposition parties because of human rights violations. 

The Green Party campaign must accomplish one thing. There is a perception that they are a one issue party. To change this perception, they must explain that environmental policy and the development of sustainable industry with alter the infrastructure of our economy, lower the demand for certain health care services, create employment , lower government spending due to the decrease in waste, and lower energy costs. If this can be illustrate effectively, it is hard to argue that there political base would grow, They are promoting a tuition freeze, electric vehicle incentives, improved school food programmes, better rewards for food stewardship, green building programmes, a reduction traffic gridlock, training programmes for sustainable economics, revenue neutral taxes on waste and emissions, innovation in capturing waste heat, community gardens,  more community based energy sources, the localization of food systems, more recreation friendly communities, electronic health records, more case managers at health clinics,  strengthen the Environmental Bill of Rights and lastly, eliminate corporate and union donations to political parties. 

The federal Green Party has launched the "We're sorry" campaign to apologize to the rest of the world for the Harper governments action on asbestos. On June 24th, Canada became the only country in the world

to oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam convention. 

The Conservatives are looking at a buy Ontario food policy and agree on the fair sharing of gas taxes. They do support the closing of all coal plants by 2014. In education they are looking for more teacher autonomy, which should get major support from the teachers union. Like all parties, they are looking at wait time guarantees in hospitals. The Aboriginals are being considered as the mining tax is being looked at as a better source of community funding for the Aboriginals.in the north. 

On speaking about socialism, Horvath replied, I don`t think it is an insult at all. I think it speaks to a value system that says that wealth that`s created  in a society should be shared, and people shouldn`t be  living in dire or desperate poverty.society. She promotes tax reform that is in keeping with the priorities of a democratic and socialist Canada. She proposes to introduce initiatives requiring the public sector unions to compete for government contracts, where appropriate, in order to cut costs.

As far as answers that the McGuinty government is required to come up with , the chair of the Commission on Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, Don Drummond, is setting the table. He is stressing that health and education aren’t on the chopping block, but points out that health takes up nearly half of all program spending in Ontario. He feels about 25 percent of it is wasteful, so that is what should be targeted. "...that would be the least painful stuff", he said. 



  The Ontario government is facing deferring investments that can't be put off forever. Past Tory governments have slashed spending in the past, so McGuinty will have to do it without a public outcry forcing him to rebound with new expenditures. The balanced budget that will be forced upon the McGuinty government, or it's replacement, will have to enlightened and more sustainable than past budgets. There will have to be political consensus regardles of the majority or minority position of the government. 

“Whoever forms the government on Oct. 7 is going to find themselves in a deep fiscal hole — there are going to be no surprises,” says Drummond. “The public, certainly, doesn’t completely understand it, and I don’t know whether the political parties completely understand it.”

Drummond counters that it’s possible to do things differently than in the past, to at least slow the rate of growth. However, PC Leader Tim Hudak is promising to go even further with 2 per cent cuts (apart from health and education) while still cutting taxes. Whoever wins on Oct. 6 will want to have a chat with Drummond soon after.

“Somebody is going to have to do something, and it’s going to have to be fairly forceful. Hopefully, it will be strategic and intelligent, and it will minimize any kind of pain — and there likely will be some (pain) involved with it,” he says.



The letter written by Jack Layton, shortly before his tragic passing, will be seen as a sort of ode to the NDP. The words will be important in there passion and will be a guiding light for the party. In one paragraph he uses the keyword of "solidarity". this may be overkill from my own viewpoint, but cannot be ignored as a powerful and resilient term reminiscent of the days of Tommy Douglas.

 "Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election."  He also refers to collectivism in another paragraph. "There are great challenges before you from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada.
He also referred specifically to the federal government when he stated that we could restore our good name in the world. The final most significant point was his reference to the fact that we now have a party system that provides us with a vehicle for real change. What he is really saying is that the NDP now have enough seats to influence policy. However, they are still in a minority position, and as I have previously referred to regionalism, it is their large number of sitting members in Quebec that creates their unique position. If their seats were scattered evenly throughout the country i actually feel they would be in a less influential position. With their current status in Quebec they will influence Liberal policy, PQ policy and also influence the "Coalition for the Future of Quebec".

In 2014 the Health Accord Expires. But the CMA (Canadian Medical Association) says that it is too long to wait for reform. They claim the problem lies in the failure of leadership at the federal and provincial levels. The are trying to manage the system instead of governing it. It is a top-down, command-and-control system that does not work. 

What’s more, they say, short-term fiscal fixes “buy only time, not change,” and jeopardize fundamental reform.

They also imply that money is not the problem. “Yes, Canada faces the pressure of rising demand and limited resources — but so do other developed countries, many of whom are navigating the challenge more successfully while spending less than Canada.”


The private sector is playing a growing role in health care. Canadians are paying more and more into private care each year. That should be an accepted reality. The CMA says there should be competition, between the public, private and non-profit sectors.

 NDP leader Andrea Horvath has hit the campaign trail by making an issue of pre-campaign political advertising. A total ban would greatly improve the process according to Horvath. It would apply to political parties and interest groups. 

In addition, Horwath said, each party leader should be required to announce, somewhere in each political ad, that they approve the ad. These announcements should be in the leader’s voice.

After her speech, Horwath told reporters that she didn’t know whether a blackout on political advertising would violate the Charter’s protection of free speech. But, she said, eliminating attack ads during a certain time period would improve democratic process and reduce cynicism among voters.

“What ends up happening, I think, is that the people’s voice gets lost and the people’s ability to engage in politics becomes eroded, because there is all of this other noise and all of this other influence, but it’s rarely about the real issues,” Horwath told reporters.

She also recommended three leadership debates, to better inform the public. Also they should all be topical, to allow more depth of discussion. 

The Green party leader of Ontario, Mike Schreiner states that active transportation policies have been shown to help the local economy create more jobs. Increased foot traffic brings new customers to local businesses. Walking and cycling trails attract visitors and increases tourism.

In London, Ontario where Schreiner made his comments, at the Annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference, the jobless rate for July was an astonishing 9.1%, the highest of any large urban centre in Canada.

“Investing in community infrastructure is one of the best ways to increase local job growth,” added Schreiner. “For too long the province has downloaded responsibilities to municipalities without increasing investments. It’s time to stop the downloading and start investing in active communities.”


More than ever before communities are asking for a more equitable piece of the pie. Taxation will be expected to be better aimed at helping communities. Energy may become a more localized industry. Medium sized towns may have independent sources of energy and in time will have a balance of nuclear, solar, wind and hydro-electric. Small corporations will start to operate in multi locations. When these business begin to expand  takeovers might become viable for larger corporations. It will be interesting to see the evolution of this probability, and what kind of energy infrastructure is formed. There will be a significant time when we see fossil fuels aiding in the production of renewable energy. Also having a likely effect on this development is the growing acceptance of nuclear energy based on recent reports. Hopefully proper leadership will lead to an environmental phasing-in plan as we transfer gradually from one energy source to another. 

The New Democrat Leader is promising to work with municipal leaders on a positive plan to make life affordable and to make municipalities work including. She is offering dedicated funds for road and bridge maintenance, to split costs costs on transit systems, continue to upload costs for social assistance, and not to up-load eco-fees. 

Horvath says,

“It makes no sense that municipalities should be on the hook financially for programs they don’t control. An NDP government will continue uploading court and social services costs. We’ll split transit operating costs 50/50 with you. We’ll hold producers responsible for hazardous household waste not dump the cost on municipalities.”


Horwath refers to sustainability when she enunciates the importance of a sustainable infrastructure.

There is growing opposition to Tim Hudak's scrapping wind and solar initiatives, not just for environmental reasons, but for the it's effect on potential job growth and it's negative effect on the growth of the community infrastructure. David Suzuki has spoken out adamantly against Hudak's plan. Richard Monk, production manager of Siliken's claims that this impression left by Hudak's policy, scares away business. The implementation of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act gives institutions the opportunity to profit from there own energy sources. This is one of the essences of the "new" economy. The Green Party Plan for a 2-hundred million dollar investment into an active transportation infrastructure perfectly coincides with  the Green economy Plan, and extends it significantly further.

The municipalities under the Green Plan will have a much more autonomous role in making transportation decisions for their constituents, some being more oriented towards manual transportation such as bicycling, others emphasizing networks more adaptable to the growing aged population. 

While the McGuinty government faces criticism as a government which has not attended to it's job to reduce the deficit, McGuinty is trying to impress upon the voters that a Conservative government will be a return to the Harris years. He warns that cuts to schools, hospitals and municipalities would be extreme.

We are hearing a discussion of the budget deficit, that we have heard before. The Liberals are admitting that the deficit is significant but that they are turning the corner.  The NDP are saying that there information is bias and they are awaiting for an official report on it's status. The Conservatives are saying the economy is mismanaged, and that they will prioritize major cuts in specified sectors. It seems to an issue of timing. The next government, whichever it is, will be a debt reducing government. 


The funeral of former Opposition leader Jack Layton should be regarded as a significant political event. The wave of emotion and expression of a collective desire to carry on the politics of the disadvantaged, working classes and the victimized, was very strong. I sense that the impact of this national event will have an impact on the Ontario election. There will be some nominal gain in support for the NDP, but more significant, I predict will be the impact on the media and voters evaluation of what they are hearing from the candidates. With the help of the speech by Stephen Lewis at the state funeral,  there may very well be the final result of putting more impetuous on the candidates to speak with more empathy, fairness, and community. If there is not spoken, especially by the leaders, some sort of intention to change the style of government in this direction, there will be negative political repercussions. 
In the August 31 edition of the Toronto Star Margaret Wente expressed a similar view, but made the point that it could very well be a simple learning experience for Prime Minister Harper. She pointed out that Harper could operate with less rancour, and that the NDP are still in serious trouble without Jack Layton at the helm. 

It is interesting to observe how progressive politics translates from municipal politics to federal politics. Jack Layton and David Crombie were both progressives as municipal politicians, and could arguably be described as Red Tories. But Layton paralleled his vision into a social democratic one, and Crombie, a progressive conservative one. Apart of Layton's movement was that his environmentally based planning concepts clashed with urban developers. Crombie was more compromising on those matters. 

We are now getting reports on the possibility of an NDP-Liberal federal coalition. Interestingly, this possibility looks from the outside as one that is a desperation move on the part of the Liberals who are in complete disarray.  Many NDPers are asking, "Why do we need the Liberals... we're the official opposition?" A coalition, as well, still represents a minority in parliament. The decision will likely be made based on how the power brokers of the involved parties, are associated with the prospected leaders. The Liberals, who are struggling with disunity may be inclined to refer to a coalition, especially if they have a lack of confidence in their chosen leader, which could be argued was the case with Ignatieff and Dion. Brian Topp on the other hand, might create a strong confidence in the NDP to carry the torch alone. Many argue that the coalition is virtually a political impossibility. Have we forgotten recent history. The  federal PC`s and Reform Party  joined to form a stronger force from the right. The unified right now has a political and strategic advantage over the splintered left. Are we approaching an American system of Republican, Democrat polarization. Ironically, as that development potentially exists, the Republicans in the U.S. are now divided because of the Tea Party phenomenon. 


The Ontario government will need to learn from the nuclear crisis in Japan when building new power plants east of Toronto or deal with increased costs, a federal government-appointed review panel report released Thursday said.

The province is planning to build two new nuclear reactors at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington site. It hopes the new plants will eventually produce about one-twelfth of the province’s energy supply.

The panel said concerns stemming from the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, which began leaking radiation following a tsunami in March, is likely to result in stiffer regulatory requirements.

Complying with any new requirements brought about by the crisis in Japan will lead to increased costs in building the plants, representatives from the province’s crown corporation responsible for energy in the province, Ontario Power Generation, said during the hearings.

The province will have to foot the bill for the higher costs that would result if they have already signed a contract with someone to build the plants when those new regulations are introduced, the report said.

“The panel believes that it would be prudent for the government to ensure that lessons learned from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident and any resulting increased regulatory requirements are incorporated into the project as early as possible,” the report reads.

Phone calls to the provincial government were not immediately returned.

Ontario Power Generation is keeping the possibility that new regulatory requirements will be coming in mind as they proceed with the project, a spokesman said.

“A lot of lessons from Fukushima are not completely understood yet,” said Ted Gruetzner, manager of media relations at OPG.

“You would take what we have learned on our operating basis right now … and then whatever lessons that you learn as you go forward you would incorporate those as you build the plant.”

The panel’s report concluded the project contained no major environmental risk and recommended the project be approved.

The move follows ongoing protests from environmentalists about the safety of the project.

Greenpeace protesters interrupted part of the panel’s 17-day public hearing in March and April.

The hearings went ahead despite the environmentalists’ concerns that the panel was ignoring safety questions raised by leaks at the Fukushima plant following the tsunami.

The federal Minister of the Environment and the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission appointed the independent panel to look at the potential environmental affects of the proposed project.

The panel has submitted the report to the federal Minister of the Environment. He will discuss the matter with the federal cabinet and it will be responsible for deciding whether or not government departments can start issuing licences for the proj

TToday, Tim Hudak addressed the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) at their annual conference in London and announced that an Ontario PC government will treat municipalities as partners to be trusted, and give them the power to make more decisions locally. He outlined his commitment to build stronger Ontario communities through greater transparency, consistency and stopping the constant provincial interference in local decision making.

Here are Tim’s plans in his own words:

“Sadly, for the past eight years, time and time again, we’ve seen backtracks, flip flops and U-turns from the McGuinty Liberals.

Infrastructure projects that get announced, re-announced and re-re-announced but never built.

This kind of uncertainty will come to an end under an Ontario PC government. We will be a partner you can trust. Unlike Dalton McGuinty, we will not try to be all things to all people or make promises we know we won’t keep.

When we make a commitment to you, you can count on a Tim Hudak government to follow through to the letter.”

Tim is the kind of leader that will stand up and support our municipalities. He will keep decision-making powers in the hands of those who know best – local government. He’ll fix the arbitration system to ensure public sector wage agreements reflect municipalities’ and families’ ability to pay and he’ll give every municipality a share of provincial gas tax revenue and expand the program to include roads and bridges as well as subways and buses.

Help spread the message of change by sharing this blog post on Facebook and Twitter, or by getting involved with your local campaign: http://www.ontariopc.com/volunteer/


Michelle Obama's speech was a resounding success. But the reason for this is important to be aware of. In 2004, I feel that Heinz-Kerry hurt John Kerry's campaign. She was virtually unknown as most potential First Ladies are. She came across during her speech as independent, outspoken and a feminist. The general public felt more comfortable with the more traditional image of Laura Bush. How important this is in deciding the final result is hard to gauge, but it might be under-estimated. Michelle came across as being devoted to her two daughters and dedicated to social work. She seems very comfortable in her role and will be confident but dignified and humble as First Lady. After her speech she appeared on stage with her two daughters, speaking to Barack via video transmission. It was pure Hollywood!



Sarah Palin has bee chosen as the Republican representative as John McCain's "sidekick". This was an interesting decision. It appears that McCain felt that the Obama campaign was too "media friendly" and his ticket needed something to shake-up the Republican campaign. 
Palin is currently the Governor of Alaska. Her record is generally perceived as reputable. She has a dynamic career resume, as science teacher, track coach and reporter. She is a journalist by trade and was a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She certainly can claim herself as a "poster girl" as she placed second in the Miss Alaska pageant, and was also Miss Congeniality. 
Politically speaking she is known as a traditional fiscal conservative. The grasp on Alaska politics by the old-boys club, essentially oil and gas executives and NRA members was weakened by her aggressive leadership. She is a tax-cutter, as well as raising taxes on profitable oil and gas companies. As head of the Ethics Committee for Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation, she forced the retirement of former Attorney=General and a fellow commissioner for conflict of interest. Thirty-five appointments to the former Governor's staff were rescinded  because of her whistleblowing. Palin gave the consumers of Alaska a one-hundred dollar energy cost debit card credit. 
On social policy she has a proven conservative track record. She is pro-life but appeared to compromise on gay rights. She is against gay marriage but did veto a bill which disallowed benefits to gay partners in the state public service.
Palin has recognized the necessity of energy conservation but also expresses that global warming is generally not a made-made phenomenon.
Palin has an impressive political record in terms of effect and impact but is only appealing to those who fear the onslaught of progressivism, and look at image only, which by the way, is a tool she uses to disguise who she really is...an ultra-conservative in a new package.

Hilary Speaks!

Hilary Clinton spoke to the Democrat delegation and came through with the necessary words to heal the party...at least to the extent possible. She spoke of the continuing importance of women in the decision-making process (a hint that maybe she should have been nominated?). She stayed away from controversy by making the vital claim that to ensure the process of progressive politics, and to establish respect for America abroad, Obama must be supported and elected. She was not passive in attacking the Bush regime (how could you not!!) and urged that the delegates who supported her be aware that the campaign is not about her, but the cause of change. It is still my observation that Hilary is perceived by many as a "missed opportunity". McCain is obviously trying to rub that in with with his choice of Palin as running mate.
It is beyond my imagination how any Hilary supporters could consider jumping camp and voting Republican. But it is America we're talking about!


Biden their time?

Joe Biden made middle visible last night at the democratic National Convention. According to a CNN reporter, it was "ham and cheese" night. Biden did did target the party's grass roots, which theoretically is what they intended. Biden attacked the Bush administration directly, and gave the ticket a balanced look, with Biden appealing to the military, elderly and working class. His position as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committe legitimizes the ticket. He also has taken a strong stand on violence against women issues, which is refreshing, and a sign that he recognizes the importance of human rights which is fatally lacking in the political environment (in Canada too!). Obama came out at the closing to give  the convention "a face for the nation". It is my observation that maybe the Democrats (Obama) played it a bit safe. It is a tendency for political parties to appease party insiders, but sometimes they overlook the voters as a whole. Note: It doesn't appear that McCain did this!


Are we tired of Bill?

Bill Clinton might be suffering a bit from over-exposure, but he still has it. He delivers a speech with intelligence and explains complex issues with a perspective of clarity. He is a political "gentleman" as he knocks the competition with dignity and almost reverence. His explanations always convey the message that the political-economic infrastructure has to create a bubble which within has the flexibility and element of human compassion to guarantee some level of credibility to government. As we live in time-bits, it is ironic that within the day, his speech will be history, and the Obama-Biden speeches will be news. 


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