08/04/2011

Facebook Creepers

The number of  You Tube videos on line about this election is quite inspiring particularly when the media suggests that the younger demographic doesn't plan to vote.

I know Harper, after three days of being embarrassed in the media, did apologize for his actions, I still find this one of the funniest out there.

The tag at the end says it was made by the Liberal Party of Canada. You never know with You Tube though. That might just be someone's idea of a joke or, it might indicate that the Liberals are way ahead in the social media game.

06/04/2011

Lower Corporate Taxes not in my Economic Plan

Scrooge McDuck celebrates
Harper's corporate tax plan
I suspect that there are quite a few of us out here that have never thought, "What is good for business is good for Canadians." There are just too many examples out there that fly in the face of that axiom. The trickle down theory, just doesn't work.

The Harper Conservatives have made continuing tax cuts to big business the center-point of their campaign. They are trying to get Canadians to believe that, for example, despite obscene increases in oil company's profits, that sector needs yet again more cuts to the taxes they pay. Harper's Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty says that "...business leaders...have widely endorsed tax cuts as a job creation tool."  Come Jim, how dumb are you? What else would business say

In 2000 the corporate tax rate was 42%. Under the "Harper Government" they are down to 28% on their way to a goal of 25%. I would suspect that most Canadians are asking why, in this economic downturn more and more of the tax burden falls onto the backs of Canadian families. Harper says because his plan creates jobs.

I was happy to see that the Globe & Mail put the Harper gang's mantra, to the test.

What was revealed is that instead of investing all that new found cash into expansion and machinery which would create new jobs, business investment has decreased, in line with those cuts. Rather that acting as the custodians of  the economy, business has squirreled away billions and billions of dollars conjuring up images of business leader acting less like Daddy Warbucks, and more like Scrooge McDuck.

I am not against helping out business get ahead. There are plenty of good corporate citizens out there but, "no strings attached" tax cuts, is simply put, a dumb move.

05/04/2011

Good to Hear From Joe Schlesinger

Joe Schlesinger was one of those old style reporters who told it as he saw it, not necessarily how the politicians and diplomats he covered over many years wanted him to see it.

Joe retired and is now a CBC, Foreign correspondent emeritus, and he has some ideas about our first past the post system.

This report is from the CBC News site

I have posted it hear without permission but, I thought you should read it.

De-clogging the veins of democracy


The problem is not minorities or coalitions, it is with how we vote


Joe Schlesinger

This election campaign's tug-of-war between the devil of a future dominated by minority governments and the deep blue sea of contrived coalitions is annoying enough to make many Canadians wish we had a better voting system.

It just so happens that there is such a system and it is closer to the old ideal of "one person, one vote." It is called proportional representation, or PR. And with so many Canadians disillusioned with today's politics, this may be a good time to take a closer look at it.

Our current first-past-the-post system is far from equitable and is quickly becoming ever more so.

On average, an MP from B.C. represents more than three times the number of constituents as an MP from PEI. A similar disparity exists between many ridings within provinces.

It takes far fewer voters, for example, to elect MPs in rural ridings than it does in cities and their suburbs. Unless tackled, this inequality is bound to rise as Canada becomes more urbanized.

Among those hardest hit would be the fast-growing ethnic communities concentrated in the underrepresented ridings of our largest metropolitan areas.

The discrepancy between rural and urban representation is also aggravated by several grandfathered provisions, some entrenched in the Constitution, that guarantee certain provinces more seats than the number of their inhabitants would warrant.

The Maritimes have 11 excess seats. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have eight and Quebec seven.

This leaves the fast-growing urbanizing provinces of B.C., Alberta and Ontario shy of their fair share in the 308-seat House of Commons.

A bill to increase Ontario's number of seats by 18, Alberta's by five and B.C.'s by seven was introduced last year. Vehemently opposed by the Bloc Quebecois, it died with the outgoing Parliament.

Too fair?

The biggest fault line in our electoral system, though, is that you don't need a majority to win — a third or even less of the vote will do.

Stephane Dion and Jack Layton trying to sell the idea of coalition government at a rally in Toronto in December 2008. It didn't really work out. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

It is the kind of anomaly that has landed us in the controversy about the legitimacy of minority governments and coalition rule, and has no doubt put off voters and led to lower turnouts on election day.

Inequities such these have made PR the dominant voting choice of democracies everywhere outside of North America and Britain. It is used by more than 80 countries from the model democracies of Scandinavia in the North down to New Zealand and Australia in the South.

PR's attractions are obvious. The number of seats won accurately reflects the number of votes cast for specific parties.

There are no wasted votes. Minority parties have a better chance. So have independent candidates.

But there is such a thing as having too fair a system. For one thing, it almost always requires — oh, dreaded word — a coalition. Such coalitions can be unstable.

The instability trap

Israel is the best example. As little as two per cent of the national vote is enough to get a party seats in the Knesset. That may make for an all but perfect voting system. But not for stability.

In Israel, the need for coalitions turns tiny parties, some of them with as few as three seats, into the tail that wags the dog.

The current Israeli coalition of more than a dozen parties is totally dependent on the support of fringe groups that use their power to push through hard-line special interest policies that are not supported by the majority of voters.

Other coalitions, like the current British one involving Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron (L) and deputy PM Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, are more stable. Though not always popular. (Leon Neal/Reuters)

It is no wonder then that the average lifespan of Israeli governments has been just 25 months.

The instability trap can be avoided by raising the threshold for winning seats.

Germany and New Zealand, for instance, have a five per cent threshold and consequently, for all the vagaries of coalitions, stable governments.

More importantly, perhaps, both have a modified PR system called mixed-member proportional representation or MMR.

In MMR, voting is held under the traditional first-past-the-post method. If a party wins more ridings than it is entitled to by its national PR share, it gets to keep these excess seats.

But additional seats are then allocated to the other parties to bring everyone up to the percentage of the overall national vote they received.

In Canada, the MMR system has been studied over and over again by several provinces. A form of MMR was even used in Alberta and Manitoba between the 1920s and1950s.

More recently, however, the system was rejected by PEI voters in a plebiscite in 2005, and a similar vote in Quebec has been shelved.

The veins of democracy

Changing over from the system Canadians have used throughout their history to the more complicated MMR method would certainly take some getting used to. But it could solve some of our current problems.

Take this election. Whatever comes out of it, the result will not be representative of Canada as a whole. Never mind minority governments, even most majority governments fall far short of being elected by an actual majority of Canadians.

In 1993, when Jean Chretien's Liberals reduced Kim Campbell's Tories to two seats, the Grits took only 41 per cent of the vote but ended up with 60 per cent of the seats.

It can also happen the other way around with the party that gets the most votes losing because, thanks to the unfairness of vote distribution, it has won fewer seats.

As for coalitions, the Liberal-NDP regime that has been bruited about would be just be another minority. The support of the Bloc would help keep it afloat, but it would also make it highly vulnerable to the Bloc's narrow interests and demands.

The plan now in the hopper, to add 30 MPs to the 308-seat House, can only go so far. Even if passed, it would only help correct the imbalance for a decade or so.

No one is likely to favour a bloated Parliament in which the only thing that changed was the ever-growing size of the chorus of backbenchers cheering and jeering on command.

Somehow, while we safeguard the splendid traditions of our parliamentary system, we must modernize it to make it more equitable and effective. If we don't, we could end up clogging the veins of democracy.

A hard look at our current system and replacing or combining it with a form of PR might be just the ticket for Canada in the 21st century.

We could always retain the Speaker's mace and 18th-century tricorne hat as a reminder of where we came from.


Why Would Anyone Vote For Tom?

My MP's campaign people called me up a couple of nights ago asking if they could depend on my vote. They obviously don't read their mail.

Tom  Lukiwski thinks the only reason we are in an election "...is because of the united coalition opposition..." He must not of been listening to what the Speaker had to saw about the "Harper Government's" conduct and I guess he slept through the vote which ultimately found that gang had acted in Contempt of Parliament. In one sense I guess you are right Tom. If you guys had a majority you wouldn't have to worry about democracy getting in the way at all.

This stuff might sell in Findlater, Grand Coulee, Regina Beach, Chamberlain, Eyebrow or Holdfast but it doesn't have legs here in the city.

Tom, according to Wikipedia, has built somewhat of a reputation on Parliament Hill for his ability to stall Parliamentary Committee business by filibustering. As an example he spoke for almost 120 minutes to prevent the Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development from studying a bill to implement the Kyoto Accord on October 26, 2006. Wait, if you are not proud enough yet hold on to your hat.

In Opposition MP, Lukiwski argued that non-renewable natural resource revenues, such as revenues from oil and gas, should be excluded from the calculations of the equalization formula. Lukiwski estimated that Saskatchewan would be between $800 million to $1.5 billion wealthier each year if non-renewable resources were removed from the equalization formula.

When the Harper Government reneged on their equalization election promise, Tom flip-flopped.

We can't forget Tom's homophobic remarks found on an old video tape in a vacated Saskatchewan Party office.

Tom hurried to apologize but never acted to make amends with the gay and lesbian community he had so insulted. I was never sure if Tom seemed contrite as a result of the fact that he had acted like a redneck or, that he was caught acting like a redneck. It is good to remember too, that Tom replaced another Conservative/Reform/Alliance MP who was drummed out as a result of his own homophobic remarks.


More recently Tom laid pretty low during all the debate about BHP Billiton refusing to comment until Harper said it was OK to do so.

He kept his head down over the stadium bid too.

A strong voice in Ottawa. I think not. Tom, along with the other 13 Conservative MPs are little more that mouthpieces for Stephen Harper. Tom won't speak until Stephen gives him the nod.

They will be happy to see the gun registry back on the table. That plays well with the rural voters that keep these guys in power.

Can you trust him? I think not. This bunch have done very little for Saskatchewan and should be thrown out on their ear.

04/04/2011

The Best Election Poster So Far



Much has been said about the struggle to convince young voters to cast their ballots. This poster turned up in several places on the Internet today. I am not sure where it comes from but...I think it is the best so far.

Nanos sees Harper up Again

The   Nanos Nightly Tracking is a bit depressing. I saw it moving in the other direction. I guess this just reinforces the view that I am not the average Canadian.  I continue to despair about the future of the country.

Oh what the hell, It is still early in the campaign.

03/04/2011