Tag Archives: canadian politics

Prorogue = Martial Law?

If Stephen Harper prorogues Parliament – a practice that is only advisable at the END of a parliamentary session – will this be the equivalent of declaring a state of parliamentary Martial Law?

We’ve elected these people to do their job and they’re playing games with our country.  Preventing them from doing so is an act of fascism and treason against the people of Canada.

The opposition – those who represent the majority of the voice of Canada – have responded to the politicking of the Harpies and have formed a coalition.

Why should they back down and why should Harper have the right to silence the voices of the majority of Canada?

This ain’t no sandbox Steve!  You can’t just grab the biggest truck and then call for teacher or mommy when other people get upset!  You have to negotiate, act in a civil manner and win the respect of Canadians.

it’s unbelievable that those who vote Conservative find this behaviour acceptable.

If you’re out there and are reading this blog, please give me some decent reasons why this stomping on democracy and the rights of Canadians is acceptable.  And don’t bring the ‘socialists’ or ‘separatists’ into it.  NDPers and Quebeckers have earned the right to be at the decision making table.

In the interim, to support a coalition government, please visit this site .

A Solution for Canadian Parliament: Acknowledge The Long Tail

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For those of you who don’t understand the Long Tail , check out what the concept’s creator, Steve Anderson, has to say about it .

Generally, the idea is this:  we live in a world of fragmentation and being ‘number one’ is no longer as important as representing all opportunities in the economic (or social or political) spectrum.

There’s really nothing new to the idea:  imagine a rainbow that’s all white.  Apply a prism and you get the full range of perspective on things.

Canadian politics have evolved to become very much like the Long Tail.  We have a ‘number one’ party (the Conservatives), although they represent just a little more than 30% of the popular vote.  3 out of every 10 Canadians that voted in the last election don’t want Harper as our leader. They think he’s just a step away from Jim Jones and he’s not the person that should be representing the voice of all Canadians, despite the fact that the Conservatives believe this is what happened October 14, 2008.

Following out last election, nearly 70% of the voices of Canadians were scattered across a disparate range of views.  You might be called a separatist, a moderate, a ‘socialist’ (although I think calling Jack Layton a socialist is as dangerous as calling Obama a socialist.  Not quite, but kind of) or you may be called a whole bunch of people that get get classified as ‘other’.  Regardless of what colour you are on the spectrum, you get white and you don’t get a voice in the House of Parliament in Canada.

This is unfortunate.  Seven out of every ten Canadians are being shut out of the decision making process and I think it’s safe to say that a coalition represents the first effort in acknowledging the future of politics in Canada.  Unfortunately, it will be lead by someone who has already quit the job.

No wonder voter turnout is reaching up to touch bottom.  It’s disgusting and it’s depressing.

A solution you ask?  I think we all already know what I’m going to offer:  Proportional Representation or PR.

By understanding the point of the Long Tail – there is much profit to made in acknowledging the opportunities of the majority of activity – we can address the future that politics in Canada MUST take.

PR represents the Long Tail of politics in its purest form.  Voices get heard, voting counts and the true diversity of Canada is reflected in our main political and legislative body.

The challenge now is finding a way to introduce PR.  The Conservatives are seen to be power-hungry and few in Canada could conceive that they should be the ones to introduce such a bill.  The Liberals plus NDP:  not enough votes.  The Bloc:  no national mandate and PR would drastically reduce their number of seats.

But again, I have the answer (thank you for asking):  the Conservatives should introduce a bill declaring that PR will be on the next election ticket , regardless of who calls for the dissolution of Parliament.  There could be other requirements, including fixed election dates (that everybody abides by) and an expanded communication effort to ensure that all Canadians understand the benefits of PR.  Another idea might be to include a separate vote for who the leader should be versus who should make up the Parliamentary mix for that person to lead.

However, do not over-complicate the core mandate, like the governments of Ontario or BC have in the past .  Make it a simple yes/no question.  Make it contigent on the majority (50%) of Canadians accepting it.  Bring it to law.  Make it law.

The evolution of Canadian parliament would be quite exciting in a post-PR world. To appreciate what PR might look like, look at your family, a corporation or Not-for-profit organization.  We surround ourselves with well-educated and well-meaning people that may disagree offline, but who agree when it counts.  They push things forward, find ways to make concessions and negotiate for the best interest of that organization among thousands of other organizations.

We make progress.

Also, the reality is that the Conservatives have little choice.  Proroguing the government is not an option.  Chaos will ensue and the people of Canada will never forgive the Conservatives for eliminating the right of Parliamentarians to rule just when we need leadership most.  Proroguing the government would spell the end of the Conservatives in Canada, as they will be seen as demagogues and polyannas wanting to maintain a grip on power – at any cost.  Reformers, Alliance members and all of the other splinter right-wing groups would fragment and disappear into oblivion because they’ll be out for blood and Steve will look like a fat zebra on a Savannah packed with lions.

So the solution must be presented by the Conservatives.

By acknowledging that the Canadian ‘first part the post’ system fails the majority of Canadians and ties the hands of Canadian politicians, the Conservatives would set an unprecedented level of expectation and distinguish themselves from the bickering that’s taking place today.

It would be the ONE opportunity for the Conservatives to redeem themselves and could very well earn them a majority (something that’s still possible with PR), as many Canadians would see them as taking the high road through all of the nonsense that our leaders seem desparate to perpetuate.

The biggest losers would be the Bloc, but the reality is that they should be.  The people of Quebec have a right to be at the table, but no more than those of Alberta, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, PEI, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, the NWT or the Yukon.  If the people of Quebec disagree, the risk is a Constitutional Crisis, but I think we’re heading that way already.

Of course, the onus is on Stephen Harper to broker a deal that makes Quebeckers feel a part of Canada without surrendering their unique status.  As he does so, his stock will gain and he’ll make an accomplishment that he can be proud of because it will preserve This Nation.

The Long Tail of politics isn’t about winners and losers.  It’s about understanding our differences, finding peace with your neighbours and making our country a better place.

Go, Steve, go.

Uniting the Progressive Vote in Canada

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Reposted on request

Ron Love, organizer of the ‘United Alternative’, explained in this article how his efforts to unite the right paid off in 2000 and how they continue to pay off as Stephen Harper comes closer and closer to a majority government.  He shares his wisdom for the ‘left’ and demonstrates what ‘we’ need to do in order to mount a force that could oppose the ‘right’.

Read it.  Digest it.  Critique it.

And then you’ll realize that his basic premise couldn’t be more wrong .

I don’t think the ‘left’ should subject itself to the same kind of ham-fisted tyrannical forces that the right did.  What allowed the right to unite is that they had common ground that could arguably be found outside the political spectrum, such as religious dogma.  As a result, their basic political program (that which they revealed to Canadians in their public platform) was easily agreed upon by all of the founding members.  Examples:  neo-con economic policies (including disclosure of what they would do if they had a majority, like sell off public assets and allow banks to merge), tough on crime policies and money for defense.  The ‘Progressive’ part of the Conservatives disappeared.  Even Mulroney looks like a socialist compared to some of the ex-Harris brown shirts.

However, in this process of consolidating the voters of the ‘right’, the right did something that only the right seems capable of doing:  they put a lid on democratic process.  Yes, the process of choosing their leader was ‘democratic’, but it was also negotiated through a number of concessions, many of which I’m sure Peter Mackay is still stinging from.

You see, too much has to be surrendered in order to ‘unite’.  At least if you’re with the ‘right’.

On the ‘left’ – or what I prefer to call ‘progressive’ – side of the country, we have become the ‘bucket’ for everything that the Conservatives are not.  Green.  Socialist.  Marijuana Party.  Liberals.  Without speaking for anyone else, I feel that putting such a divergent range of political viewpoints into a single ‘bucket’ would destroy my sense of democracy.

Someone like Ron Love might argue that the ‘left’ would need to find a steady middle ground as we face media pressure and scrutiny, but I think that can only lead to failure because so many opinions and views would be left scattered at the perimeter.

More importantly, this viewpoint doesn’t reflect the Long Tail of politics, where everybody should be able to have an opinion and these opinions are negotiated (however long it takes) rationally in a legal setting, such as the House of Commons.

It fails to reflect the ‘socialization’ of politics, where everyone should be entitled to an opinion and a voice at the table.

At the core of my opposition to this kind of ‘ramming of the right’ comes the notion that people need to be able to express their point of view and they need to do it within a democratic framework.  The Harper campaign has and continues to focus on leadership.  A single person.  Anything else would be tantamount to anarchy.

So, Mr. Love, you’re wrong to assume that progressive voices in Canada want to be silenced or marginalized into a single voice.  We represent an orchestra.  A choir.  All singing different parts, hopefully in great harmony.

In the short-run, this would take shape as a coalition that represented a balance of progressive opinions.  It would take the form of many people making many educated and informed decisions, with a lot of discussion taking place.  In public and not behind closed doors.

The long-run it’s Proportional Representation where the single angry voice of the right is muted by the rising swell of an entire chorus.

Canadian Election: Made in US Policies are foreign to US

Stephen Harper spoke yesterday in front of a collection of new Canadians, mainly in a desparate appeal to people who may not be familiar with his legacy.

This group of Canadians have traditionally supported the Liberals and I don’t think they should forget that they wouldn’t be in Canada if Liberals weren’t leading the country and, more importantly, deciding on the fate of ALL immigrants to Canada and not just a select few.

New Canadians need to remind themselves that the Harper Administration is the first government in Canada to determine unilaterally that the decision making process related to immigrant status and screening will be left to just a small collection of people.  Only senior staff within the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, the Minister and in some cases, Stephen Harper will have the power to control who comes to Canada.

Think about it:  senior officials in the Departments of Canadian Heritage and Foreign Affairs are combing through lists of subsidies to Canadian artists that are promoting themselves outside of Canada.  Most of the cuts to these subsidies (which have amounted to the approximate cost of driving from 24 Sussex to Rideau Hall) have affected ‘anti-globalization activists’ and ‘proponents of left-wing ideology’.  Funding is no longer based on our desire to support the arts without judgement.  It’s based on ideology.

It’s this same ideology that will determine if you get to enter (or possibly even stay in) Canada.  Stay away from the Republicans Conservatives.  Odds are, they will take your vote and then continue to judge you by your skin colour or name.

Canadian Election: A Call for Solidarity on ‘The Left’

A few years ago, the folks on ‘the right’ were represented bya mis-aligned, rag-tag group that now forms our minority government and constantly bullies the opposition into their bidding.  They threaten election, they will likely call one within the next couple of days and they will likely continue … with another minority leadership.

Historically, there were at least three major, nationally recognized ‘right wing’ parties vying for leadership of Canada (or at least the West), including:

  • The Reform Party
  • The Alliance Party
  • The Progressive Conservatives

Add to that the volume of even smaller more radical groups and the right-wing vote looked like it would be permanently fractured beyond any ability to win a few seats, let alone run the country.

They knew this.  The Liberals knew this.  Even the NDP knew this.  We (‘the left’) all gloated in the knowledge that we’d never have to worry about sending our kids abroad in US battles or risk privatizing health care.  No missile defense system here.  We’re all small-l liberals.

And then the Right surprised us all.  They did what the left should have done long ago (and still can).  Ironically, they showed a sign of solidarity and ‘unionized’.

They got together.  ‘Collective Power’ could have been their mantra.  They realized that there was strength in numbers, not power in fragmentation and small voices being silenced by the wave of Liberalism that ran Canada for decades.

They all banded together to create ‘The Conservatives’.  No more ‘Progressives’ here.

They all got behind an intentional strategy to put their squabbling aside and steal the government from the progressives and left.

And their plan is still moving forward today.

I’ll wager that the election that will be called was part of Harper’s plans two, maybe even four, years ago.

Il’l wager that most of the bullying and taunting of the opposition labelling them as ‘kind’ and ‘soft’ have been in the works for half a decade.  Prime Minister Martin was depicted as ‘constantly dithering’ in order to add a level of uncertainty and unkind apathy to a man who was caught up in the wasp’s nest set up by his previous boss.

Stephane Dion is depicted as a whiner.  The kid who would tell his mom that the school yard bully is stealing his lunch money.

The Green Party is gaining momentum and the face of Elizabeth May will become better recognized than out other leaders.  Jack Layton of the NDP risks losing many seats to a sense of ‘green guilt’ that is washing over the populace.

What to do?  What to do?

Punch the bully in the nose.  Surprise him.  When he gets mad and throws a trantrum, his credibility goes down the toilet.

We all know the answer:  we must engage in our show of solidarity.

Maybe Buzz Hargrove was on to something a few years ago when he asked locals to support Liberals in weak NDP ridings.

What I do know is that if we don’t consolidate the left-wing vote and then settle things after we’re in power, we’ll never be in power.  This election will drain the coffers of all of the opposition parties.  It’ll kill them if there’s another election in October 2009.

What was once killing the Conservatives is now killing the Progressive Left.  Fragmentation is not our friend.

A majority government for the (now obviously Radical Right) Conservatives is just an election away and we’re ‘dithering’ and ‘whining’.  The Liberals have voted for the Conservatives more times than I can imagine, but apparently, ‘our government doesn’t work’ (straight from Harper’s mouth).

We’ve lost funding for the arts, women’s causes, legal rights for less-privileged citizens, the right to abort (it’s there, it just hasn’t been tested yet), our communication infrastructure, our lives as we eat because of industry self-regulation, our right to peace (‘support our troops’ is now more ubiquitous than ‘just do it’) and the Conservatives will keep chipping away at everything else that we hold dear until we’re just another state.

Let’s put an end to this nonsense.  LET’S GET TOGETHER.  NOW.

I suggest the following:

  1. The Liberals, the Greens and the NDP represent the majority will and vote of Canadians.
  2. We will not be able to consolidate under one banner before the election.
  3. These three parties must agree to disagree on issues before the election.
  4. During the election, these three parties must show solidarity.
  5. Our only competition is the Conservative Party of Canada.
  6. The leaders of Canada’s Progressive Parties (the Greens, NDP and Liberals) should meet before the election to create a strategy of ‘inclusion’ (a government run by the will of the majority of Canadians) by means of ‘exclusion’ (reducing or eliminating candidates in key ridings in order to guarantee seats won for the Progressive Left).
  7. This means we will have to choose the ridings that each party will be closest to winning (including the Green Party) and take them from the Conservatives, without fragmenting out own vote.
  8. The result:  we spend the same amount of campaign funds on fewer ridings.  This means we will increase the odds of winning more ridings collectively.
  9. The leaders of Canada’s Progressive Parties will have to get together after the election to form a Canadian Caucus, one that truly reflects the majority of Canadians (not this one-third nonsense that rules us now).
  10. After the election, we will lay out a specific strategy that will marginalize the Right.

Some of the points sound awful.  They sound defeatist and undemocratic.  But if we don’t do it, we’ll hand over the will of the majority of Canadians to a small group of people that are determined to alter the future of this country to their benefit and the detriment of the majority.

Please, people.  Answer my call.

To paraphrase John Lennon:  A great future starts today.  If we want it.