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Jeffrey Yang

Nycole Turmel’s rose-coloured glasses

As the House reconvenes for the fall session, everyone is watching the NDP. With a leadership race brewing and a relatively inexperienced leader at the helm, this is a crucial moment for Nycole Turmel to show the Canadian people that her party is the party to replace the Conservative government.On Monday, the House sat for the first time since rising for the summer recess. A lot has happened since then. A seat sits conspicuously empty, and a new Opposition Leader now sits across from the Government. The tone of the house was noticeably more sombre as the sitting of the House began with a tribute to Jack Layton and statements from the Prime Minister, Bob Rae and Olivia Chow. There was a sense of profound respect from both sides of the Floor.In hindsight it was fairly naïve of me to believe that this newfound decorum would last. As Nycole Turmel rose during Question Period, for the first time as the Leader of the Official Opposition, she personally accused Prime Minister Harper of wearing “rose-coloured glasses.” Her question was on the economy.Canadian eyes are on the NDP as it struggles with the difficulties of a leadership race and a dozen MPs clamouring to grab the top spot. Nycole Turmel has a difficult job of balancing her party’s duties as the Official Opposition in light of this ongoing leadership race, while trying to validate her party as a legitimate government-in-waiting in the eyes of Canadians.It came as no surprise then that during Monday’s Question Period the NDP focused its messaging on job creation and the economy, topics on which the Conservative Party is usually strong. Faced with a grim economy and an underperforming market, the NDP has started sounding alarm bells and invoking the name of the recession boogeyman in an apparent… Read More

Reflections on the Iron Lady

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, originally dubbed “The Iron Lady” by a Soviet newspaper, celebrates her 86th birthday today, 13 October. While over 20 years have passed since her premiership, her tenure fondly remembered and defended by many conservatives for her ruthlessly effective crusade against Communism and British trade unionism.British governments of the 1970s were held hostage by union politics. It was common practice during this period for trade unions to cut off power and essential services in order to back up their demands in wage negotiations – this practice eventually leading to the Three-Day Week measure, an effort by the government to conserve the nation’s waning electrical supply. Britain’s economy was underperforming and nearing bankruptcy; in 1977 Britain was forced to request a loan from the IMF. The stage was set for a leader with an iron resolve to meet certain vested interests head-on.Born to a grocer, Margaret Thatcher – née Margaret Hilda Roberts – was impressed upon at an early age the benefits and virtues of hard work and defending ones beliefs. She graduated from Oxford with a degree in chemistry and entered politics in her 30s.In 1975 she challenged Edward Heath for the Conservative party’s leadership, following his inability to reconcile competing factions within his former government. At the time, Heath dismissed Thatcher as a flash-in-the-pan contender; however, he was ultimately unable to garner support from Conservative party subfactions upon which he had come to depend. Thatcher won the leadership, and would eventually win the 1979 general election.Cleaning up the mess of the previous Labour government was Thatcher’s first task. The Winter of Discontent, a time when striking trade unions had once again crippled services and economic activity within the country, had just passed. Attempts to trim jobs and wages would result in kneejerk strikes until… Read More

McGuinty narrowly misses majority

As Thursday night’s provincial election results rolled in, Dalton McGuinty had every right to be smiling. Despite his track record and lacklustre campaign, McGuinty achieved a third consecutive victory and held on to the premiership. Talk of a PC government all but evaporated.It is quite spectacular how a premier who has broken so many promises and invoked so much ire among Ontarians during his eight-year tenure has won yet another provincial election. Ontarians’ dissatisfaction with McGuinty was manifest from the moment the writ dropped – with strong polling numbers for the PCs as a changing of the guard seemed imminent.As the campaign dragged on, however, and as the Liberal behemoth started clawing its way back, voters grew disenchanted with their alternatives.To his credit, Tim Hudak ran a disciplined campaign. He stayed on message and delivered talking points pointedly as he pitched his party’s platform, his “Changebook,” promising to help working families and to undo some of McGuinty’s less-popular policies. Unfortunately, Hudak’s message lost traction with the media, while voters felt little personal connection with the PC leader.As the low voter turnout (40.2%) indicates, Ontarians were uninspired by the campaign. While the PCs picked up 11 more seats, and are thus in a stronger position than after the last election, it simply was not enough to topple the Liberals and deliver the break that was promised in the early days of the campaign.Andrea Horwath gave a commendable performance and strengthened her party’s standing, winning 7 more seats. Her performance at the provincial leaders’ debate helped her as she seemed to break out of her shell for the first time and finally got Ontarians talking about her. But she was no Bob Rae, and her party again recorded a distant third-place finish.Dalton McGuinty spent much of the campaign on the defensive, defending… Read More

“Not all sunshine and apple pie”: McGuinty on the defensive

The three Ontario provincial party leaders met on Tuesday evening to debate for the first and last time in the election campaign before voting day. While there was no clear winner, visible cracks were seen in McGuinty’s defences.There were points during Tuesday’s debate when McGuinty looked visibly flustered as he was getting attacked on two fronts by Andrea Horwath and Tim Hudak. Both the PC leader and the NDP leader were pounding away at McGuinty’s track record on taxes and job creation, leading him to acknowledge that it “wasn’t all sunshine and apple pie” in Ontario.The debate started off with a question on the topic of jobs.  McGuinty stuck with talking points and painted an optimistic picture of Ontario’s economic recovery. Hudak wasted no time jumping on that point, accusing McGuinty’s job plan of failing and calling his green energy plan “a shell game.” Horwath then opened another front with an accusation that McGuinty had cost the forestry industry jobs. This set the tone for the rest of the night; throughout the debate McGuinty was defending himself against the two other leaders with accusations and attacks flying in every direction.McGuinty’s composure was noticeably faltering into the night, and especially so when the spectre of the eHealth controversy reared its ugly head. The first time it was raised the Liberal leader deftly sidestepped the issue, only to then vigorously defend it when Hudak brought it up again. Rationalizing that the investment in electronic health records was necessary despite the findings of the Auditor General that it wasted $1 billion of taxpayer money, McGuinty defended the agency in a heated exchange with the PC leader. Horwath noted that the cost of living for Ontario families has skyrocketed under McGuinty’s term due to his smart meter implementation, but McGuinty just repeated his stubborn… Read More