Friday, March 30, 2007

New Brunswick gets down to bidness, and starts romancing Alberta

In January, New Brunswick premier Shawn Graham paid a long overdue visit to the economic heartland of the maritimes, Alberta. Well I've heard that since that visit, the NB government has been very persistent in pushing Alberta firms to create positions for NBers.

What? Alberta?, you say. Well, if you did not know, there are already a large number of Nova Scotian and NFLD expats working in Alberta, but they do not live there. Sure they pay to share an apartment, but the bulk of the money they make gets sent back to their loved ones at home, and is spent in the local economy.

This speaks to the passion and commitment Atlantic Canadians have to their home provinces.

There is also a tertiary benefit to the east coast from having so many of their citizens working in Alberta. With so many people working in Alberta, inevitably a large number will move into management roles.

Now who do you think these managers are going to want to do business with? Well, they tend to deal with firms from back home.

So the other Atlantic provinces DO have pre-existing business with Alberta, and to their benefit. And until recently, it appeared that NB had no interest at all in the vibrant Alberta economy.

For some reason Bernard Lord did not latch onto the send-home revenue, or the possibility of future business. So Lord never encouraged long distance commuting, or even any business development with Alberta.

As a result, New Brunswick is way behind NS and NFLD in these revenue producing areas.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and New Brunswick can't be expected to eclipse NS and NFLD in the near future. But the steps Shawn Graham is taking are the necessary first steps in building a productive and prosperous relationship with Alberta.

Good on him.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Protest vote my ass. That's a revolution.

With an Action Democratique win, Premier Dumont will lead anything but a silent revolution in Quebec.

Even if he ends up a close second, Dumont will control the rudder of Quebec politics.
What a night!

Premier Dumont?


Friday, March 23, 2007

The Birth of the Community Surgery Centre©

CP - John Tory said he's sticking to his guns but welcomed the opposing viewpoint – and the interest his position has generated. ``I think people recognize I'm prepared to take a stand on an issue,'' Tory said. ``I don't apologize for the fact I say I would explore and embrace (private knee surgeries) because I think we have to think outside the box.''

What Tory said here takes real cahones.

I'm not that interested in Ontario provincial politics, but I believe there is an entire segment of Ontario's middle class that wouldn't mind spending a little extra money to have a procedure done more quickly at a Community Surgery Centre© (aka a pay-for-care hospital).

What if Tory start talking about how the entrance of private facilities would free up public hospital space so they could focus on more of the vital surgeries? Or what if he pointed out that Community Surgery Centres© would create more spaces for doctors? Our schools would be able to train and graduate more surgeons, and we'd be able to accept more foreign physicians. There really do seem to be some advantages in pairing Community Surgery Centres© with the public health care system.

And what would happen if Tory's Tory party suggested this surgery alternative possibility as part of his platform? I think a number of middle class Liberal voters might actually go for it, and vote Blue. And the left end of Liberal support would cry out in horror, and run to vote for the one-public-health-care-system-come-hell-or-high water NDP, thereby splitting Liberal support.

Would some Tory support move left to the Liberals, definitely, but enough to turn the tables? I don't know. But it might be worth the gamble.

At the very least, if he proffered a limited form of what might, in some circles, be known as two-tier health care, you know everyone in the province would be talking about it during an election campaign. And if they are talking about you, they are more likely to vote for you.

(the author of this post is in no way a supporter of any facility that would operate in contravention of the Canada Health Act©)


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Election signs or electoral gold mines?

I'm not planning on being a political candidate for any national party. Not yet anyway. But if I do run (or you want to) here's a great way to gain attention and votes.

In any federal election, when you drive through a business district, you inevitably see signs for: this, that, or the other candidate. In some shops you'll see signs for three or more local candidates.

A store that will put your sign in the window is a valuable asset. But they also hold a hidden treasure you can use to your benefit...their inventory or services.

As a local candidate for federal office, I would assign a member of my campaign team to enter into free advertising arrangements with local stores. And rather than hand out a boring old one page folded photographed brochure, I would spend a little bit more and develop high quality glossy handouts that included rebate and discount coupons for these local merchants.

It could include:

Factual information on yourself, your ideas, your convictions..not to mention some great pictures of you connecting with constituents.
A coupon for 2 for 1 meals a local eaterie.
Discounts for family haircuts.
1/2 off your next Oil Change.
10% off your purchase at a clothing store.
Free vacuum with any car wash.
A map indicating the establishments that have provided end of possibilities.

This way you are providing information on you, and your party's platform in a professional package, and that good aura will rub off on you. At the same time you are providing proof positive of your commitment to serve the community. You've already delivered money saving discounts constituents just by running, imagine what you could do if you were elected!

This section sponsored by: Openness and Transparency.

Here's the caveat. I'm not sure this practice would be in line with Canada's election laws. If someone is more familiar with the Election Act than I, please enlighten me.

At the same time, you are not accepting donations from these merchants. You are merely allowing them to offer great discounts to the individuals that receive your campaign literature. And recipients do not have to promise to vote for you to use the coupon, they are available for use by anyone.

If this thoughtful act reflects positively on you that is fantastic marketing, last I check fantastic marketing is not mentioned in the Elections Act.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Veteran Liberal MP enticed to cross floor

73-year-old MP and former Liberal cabinet minister Joe Comuzzi said he will vote against the Liberal Party and with the government if he determines that some of that new money ends up funding a Thunder Bay cancer institute.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion refused to entertain the possibility of a caucus member siding with the government, telling reporters "all of us will vote against this budget. We will."

Even if there wasn't already money for this Thunder Bay cancer facility before, you can bet the Conservatives will make sure there is tomorrow. Now that is how you deliver results for your community.

(Update: Joe Comuzzi has been kicked out of the Liberal caucus)



Read it? No thanks, I saw the movie.

Liberal debate strategists had better start thinking up an answer for this:

"The leader of the Opposition doesn't single out for criticism any single initiative in this budget," Stephen Harper said. "But he's going to vote against every single one of them because he already made up his mind before he read it, and that's something he'll have to explain in the next election."

I can't imagine why Liberal strategists couldn't pick even one item in the budget to focus their attacks on. Dion called the budget a shotgun budget, and he provided a shotgun critique. And in the end, no one will remember any of the reasons Dion expressed for opposing the budget.

What people will remember is:

We made a choice,” Mr. Flaherty said. “We chose to support hard-working families.”


Here come the floor crossings..

I have it on good authority that several Liberal MPs are considering crossing the floor, en masse, to the Conservatives.

Yes, it seems to be moderately based on
this sort of speculation, but it has less to do with the budget than the left wing extremist track the Liberal Party has taken of late.

My proof? I have none. Need some hints? Look at certain aspects of the budget and think, now that doesn't seem like a Conservative item...who on the other side of the floor would want that in the budget?

I'm just jotting this down so when it happens, I can say, "I told you so!"

And don't worry my friends, none of the potential floor crossers have the initials G.T.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Peter Kent on mission to win Thornhill for the Conservatives

Former TV anchor makes second bid at federal politics

Good. We need more Peter Kents.

Will there will be an election this spring..probably not

Speculation is that there will be an election this spring. I'm pretty sure it won't happen.

Sure, Dion is stumbling, the Bloc is weak, the NDP increasingly irrelevant. But ideally, what Harper wants (needs) is Canadians to get comfortable with a Conservative government. The Conservative's inability to approach the magical 40% mark in the polls, means that they are not quite there yet. Going to the polls after only a year in office does not lend credibility to the Conservative claim to be able to govern the nation.

For this reason it would behoove Harper to stay in office for another year, and if he can stay relatively scandal and gaffe free, chances are more middle of the road Canadians will gravitate towards his Conservative Party. This is especially true if Harper can herd the cats that are the opposition parties, this would build on his already growing reputation as a true leader.

Current poll results put the Liberals with anywhere from 28-34% support. This represents the inherent value in the Liberal brand, not support for Dion.

If an election were called, the contest suddenly becomes Harper vs. Dion. When that direct comparison is made, support for Harper jumps to over 50%. This does seem like a great reason to have an election.

Is there a danger that Dion might suddenly become a competant leader in the course of a year? Maybe. But the likelihood is that he will continue to falter, and the longer he is out there, the louder the whispers from the back of the room will get. How long before Ignatieff's and Rae's people openly brandish their knives, rather than quietly plotting in Ottawa steakhouses as they do now? Best to leave the lid on that stew, and let the pressure build.

So while there are some advantages in going to the polls now, patience is a virtue, and could lead to a majority.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oh, me so corny - or - Ethanol and free speech

I can see how the Television Bureau of Canada might have had a problem with this ad from the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association.

I don't think they should have prevented its airing, but I could see why they would have some concerns.

It DOES seem more than a little friendly to the Conservatives.

However, free speech is free speech. You can and should use a politicians words to frame your argument.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stephane Dion takes high road, sends Garth Turner to do dirty work

Liberal leader Stephane Dion:

"I will keep the high road, and I'm very convinced it's the best way to have majority support at the next election."

Liberal hatchetman Garth Turner:

"Harper is a political whore."

Well. How rude, but not entirely unexpected.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

I'm on to you, Harper...

I noticed recently that the funding for Status of Women, previously cut by the Tories, has been re-pledged.

It was one of a large number of cuts to federal programs, ones the Conservatives thought provided minimal value, which took place immediately after they took power. And it was one of the few cuts that persisted in coming up during interviews, media stories, and Question Period.

This episode might provide an interesting window into how Stephen Harper operates:

  1. Cut the funding for dozens of "questionable" federal programs.

  2. Wait for voter reaction.

  3. Re-fund only those few programs that actually garner public outcry.

  4. Net result: Less program spending, more room in the budget, minimal political impact.

The Tories did the same thing with the environment, and now are seen as being as environmentally friendly as Stephane Dion.
Nice technique.


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Stephane Dion promises to raise taxes

Now if you were the leader of a major political party in Canada, and you had already been branded weak on leadership, soft on terror, and had the one issue you "owned" (the environment) stolen from you...what would you say in a major Ottawa speech? A major speech that the Press Gallery was calling your one chance to recapture the agenda from Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

Do or die time, what would you say?

Would you tell Canadians that you plan to raise their taxes?

Well that is what Stephane Dion has done. No, I'm not making this up. I am allowed to make stuff up, but here I am not. Who brought up this gem at the strategy table, Denis Coderre? Yikes.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Jean Charest is in trouble!?

Why? Because he uttered the impossible. That if a majority of Quebecers voted to seperate from Canada, the entire province may not be allowed to leave Canada as a whole. There may in fact be regions of Quebec where the majority do not want to seperate. And those sections may be carved off of a greater Quebec.

Of course this created a furor and the Charest camp was forced to issue a retraction. Of course Jean didn't mean that Quebec could be seperated after seperation. What he meant is that Quebec is indivisible.


It would seem to me that one of the strongest arguments against Quebec seperation, would be that if Quebec was allowed to vote for its seperation from greater Canada, then regions within Quebec would also have the right to seperate from greater Quebec.

Now I don't have an opinion here, or a declaration to make, but out of curiosity - this partition would seem to be a very strong argument against seperation, why is mentioning it forbidden?


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Look out! It's the attack of the Liberal Mole!

Your favourite Liberal booster and mine, Jason Cherniak, is calling for the head of the Liberal Mole.

Sorry, but there is no one person "leaking" info out of the Liberal Party in Ottawa. To believe in that conspiracy theory is just silly.

If information leaks out, it is due to the inherent nature of Liberal staffers in Ottawa. If someone in a Liberal MPs office knows something, especially something secret, they can't wait to tell or show someone else.

The "Liberal Mole" in the last election, the one that told the Tories in advance what policy planks the Liberals would be announcing? Well, invariably in Ottawa, the loudest talkers in the room are Liberal staffers. All the Tories had to do was go into a Starbucks or a bar during the last election and listen.

I don't know why they are so boistrous, but my guess is that as many Liberal staffers come from privileged backgrounds, they want to prove how important they are by (loudly) disclosing what they know, regardess of their surroundings.

I'd like to say the same about the Tories, and I'm sure some of them come from well-to-do families as well, but Tory strategy doesn't seem to leak out in Ottawa like Liberal info does. And I never see Tory staffers belly up to the bar and go on and on about working on this or that file, policy, or strategy. Not loudly anyway, so it can only be a culture thing.

So there is no mole. All someone needs to do is tell Liberal staffers to drink less, keep their voices down, and don't forget their blackberries on the bar.

(Let me add that I know quite a few Liberal staffers personally, and they do not match the description above. But the staffers for Toronto and Montreal Liberal MPs...)


Monday, March 5, 2007

No place for hate (or anything even remotely resembling it) in political discourse

Regulars readers of the Canadian political blogosphere may already be familiar with the name Robert McClelland. He is the defacto NDP blogging head, and is responsible for facilitating the Blogging Dippers blogroll (please let me know if you know otherwise).

He is also famous (infamous?) for some close to the edge of respectability comments on those of the Jewish persuasion. I won't sully this blog by linking to his past posts on the subject. Suffice it to say that Robert is not known as a friend of the Jewish religion in the blogosphere.

After the last "incident", involving a scenario of spray-painting something nasty on a wall, Robert seemed to take heed of the outrage, and had not gone off-colour for some time...until last weekend, when this happened:

(update: I didn't like seeing Roberts commentary here, so I removed it. If you want to see it, visit Jason Cherniak's site)

Already woeful, the NDP's online blogging presence is certainly not enhanced by having Robert linked to their party. Even if the NDP does not actively support Robert, their silence on these issues, well, that is their comment on the issue.

Sure, sure, you can say this is a snapshot, it is taken out of context, blah, blah, etc...

If it was the first and only time, ok, but it is not. I'm all for free speech, and I'm certainly not calling for Robert's site to be shut down...but the NDP brain trust knows about this and other incidents, or at least one would hope they do. And if they are aware that their name is being sullied by association, then why does a national political party allow themselves to be linked with such an individual?

(2nd update: See comments)

Friday, March 2, 2007

Sorry, Stephane, but you are the scary one now

Liberal leader Stephane Dion is taking another step towards the cliff of irrelevancy today, with a new attack on the Harper government.

Now that Dion has lost the environment as his go-to issue, been labelled soft on terror, and declared devoid of leadership, what issue is he going to try to beat the Conservative's over the head with?

He is going to tell Canadians that Stephen Harper is scary.


Last I checked it was the Stephane Dion Liberals that declared their intention to cut the oil sands off at the knees, silencing Canada's economic engine. It is the Liberals who declare they want to meet Kyoto by any means possible, even if that costs thousand and thousands of Canadians their jobs, at a cost to the economy of $100+ Billion dollars. It is the Liberals that did away with preventative arrests, leaving a situation where terrorists may only be apprehended AFTER they launch a terrorist attack. And it is the Liberals who want to cut and run from a vulnerable Afghanistan, embarrassing Canada, and leaving an important part of the world at the mercy of the Taliban extremists.

Further research leads me to the Conservative’s tax credit for children's sports. The cutting of immigrant landing fees. $100/month in the pockets of every Canadian parent. A renewed sense of pride in Canada's armed forces. More weight and respect behind Canada's name in the international community. An apology for the Chinese head tax after years of Liberal excuses. Compensation for Hepatitis C sufferers after years of Liberal excuses. Finally signing a residential schools agreement after years of Liberal excuses.

So who should Canadians fear?

I'm far more afraid of Stephane than I am of Stephen.