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Stan Fedun

Operation Quebec: The Rookies Will be Fine

Amongst the other unusual turns of events that the past election has brought us, the extreme coverage and criticism of the newly elected NDP MPs is something I don’t understand. Only through the media can a MP have a bad image before his or her first day of work. Case in point: Ruth Ellen Brosseau.I’m here to say worry not, the rookies will be fine.Why wouldn’t they be? For the first time in Canadian political history the NDP have won enough seats to become the official opposition party, and I can say with assurance that they will do whatever they can to show Canadians they are worthy of forming a government. Of course this won’t be an easy task with a Conservative majority looming over their heads, but this election has taught us not to overlook any possibilities.This election has also proven that there is truth to the good ol’ election strategy that 90% of the campaign is national and 10% is local. Layton did a great job with both the English and French debates and offered Canadians (especially Quebecers) an alternative to their previous incumbents. To say that he did not deserve the number of seats he won would be a misjudgment.On the other hand, Canadians aren’t the only ones who benefited from Jack’s good performance; the Conservatives got a hardy advantage in a number of ridings due to vote splitting (the phenomena where voters divide their votes between a number of parties on one side of the spectrum, in this case the left, allowing a united opposition on the right to win the riding, albeit with less than 50% of the vote). This vote split, in my opinion, is what caused the Liberals to lose a number of seats to the Conservatives that they have traditionally held.Returning to… Read More

Senate Reform: Has The Time Come

Last week, along with a cabinet shuffle, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed three new Senators (one new, two not-so-new) – Fabian Manning, Larry Smith, and Josée Verner. He received criticism for the appointments because all three of the appointed were losing Conservative candidates in the May 2nd elections. Manning and Smith were Senators that resigned their seat to run for Parliament and Verner, a former Minister and Member of Parliament, lost in her riding of Quebec City.Harper responded to the criticisms by stating that all three of the newly appointed Senators support Senate Reform which is a “pet project’” for Harper who has previously tried to pass legislation four times , but to no avail. The only problem with this reasoning? Nowhere in his agenda (for the next four years) does Harper prioritize Senate Reform and instead puts the economy and crime legislation in the top spots (as he rightfully should). So why emphasize Senate Reform when in a minority government and only mention it in a majority government? I’ve asked myself the same question.Normally against Senate Reform (I have written in the past defending the current system), I have become neutral towards the proposition of it – a result which leaves me sitting on the fence. Is the Senate necessary for the betterment of Canada, or an unnecessary hassle used to spruce up the resume of a politician? To defend our current system I would normally point to the importance of a “house of sober second thought” and the unnecessary use of taxpayer dollars for “procedures” that could have been better used for programs. My reasoning is simple; elections cost money – taxpayers pay for them. Taxpayers are currently paying for three scheduled elections (municipal, provincial. and federal), how much more would a fourth election (Senate) cost us out of… Read More

Postage Not Included

I always find it difficult to understand why Canadians should have to suffer when unions decide that it is time to strike, as the Canada Post union has done recently. While originally founded to protect labourers from the poor working conditions of the Industrial Revolution, today’s unions have become synonymous with bloated bureaucracy, hiked salaries, extravagant benefits, and retirement packages that make you wish you were 65 (or in the case of Canada Post, 55).But then again, if the means helped achieve the end of an efficient postal system, one could argue that the means are justified. But, what if they don’t? What if all of these benefits are being received, but the work is still not being done well? What happens then? Don’t think that Canada Post earned its moniker ‘snail mail’ without merit. In fact, Canada Post is plagued with the problem of low productivity. The absentee rate at Canada Post, for example, is 60% higher than for other Canadian manufacturing companies. Moreover, low productivity cannot be blamed on an unexpected spike in demand, in fact, over the past 15 years, Canada Post has handled 20% less mail than it did previously. So, how does that make sense? It doesn’t. Yet, Canada Post employees still feel entitled to go on strike for better benefits. If anything, the taxpayers should be ‘striking’ against Canada Post – which, if you didn’t know, is funded by our tax dollars. Feels good to know that your money is going to fund a blundering company that is facing productivity problems and increasing absentee rates, doesn’t it?The sticking points for the strike are workplace safety, wages for new employees and sick leave. In all fairness, workplace safety is not something that can be overlooked. The only problem? There is nothing being overlooked. The “workplace… Read More

McGuinty’s dilemma

Last Wednesday, the 500+ page Drummond report was published, outlining over 300 areas the province can scale back to bring the budget closer to balance. The problem is that nobody likes cutbacks, particularly those employed by the Ontario Public Service. To add to the trouble of a province sinking in debt, and with a stagnating provincial economy, the Ontario Public Service is also the single largest group of ‘core’ voters for the Ontario Liberal party. McGuinty has an age-old dilemma on his hands; does he do what is best for the province, or do what is best for his party and core supporters? Considering McGuinty’s track record, I would put my money on the latter. Essentially McGuinty has three options: implement the majority of suggestions offered in the Drummond report, implement a few of the suggestions offered in the Drummond report, or ignore the report and maintain current levels of spending.McGuinty could do what is best for the province, and implement the majority of the suggestions offered in the Drummond report. This will bring down the debt, get Ontario’s economy running again, and raise Ontario’s credit rating. While this is ideal for the province, it is far from ideal for McGuinty. By cutting programs and spending McGuinty would have to cut the Ontario Public Service, essentially cutting his core-voting base.Bob Rae performed a similar feat in 1993 with his Social Contract. Unfortunately for him, not only did he not get re-elected (thankfully), but his core-voting base (the Ontario Public Service) shifted from voting for the Ontario NDP to voting for the Ontario Liberals; they have yet to shift back.Option number two is ignoring the Drummond report. This would leave the Ontario Public Service with gleaming smiles, but the province on the brink of financial disaster. With a projected deficit of $30 billion… Read More

Manning Centre Barometer and its read on Canada’s political climate

How long can this government maintain power? Will the Liberals be able to recover from their loss? What role will the NDP play in the future? These are all questions that arose after the election and most definitely will be talking points when Parliament resumes this fall.The closest thing  we have to a political fortune teller, the Manning Centre (a Calgary-based think tank), published its annual Manning Centre Barometer during the Conservative National Convention this spring. The results? The future of the Conservative Party is abounding. While it included a number of fascinating statistics, a few in particular stood out to me. According to the report:“Citizens are moving more into a world of self, family and friends and have little expectation or desire that governments will have an increasingly meaningful impact on their lives. The one exception to this tendency is defensive: Canadians expect governments to keep them safe.”Compare this to the basic tenets of the Conservative Party: less intervention, smaller government, and greater investment in security. Something sounds familiar. The report continues by explaining that:“Governments are expected to respond—cautiously and with the benefit of past learning—to problems as they arise, not to pursue ‘grand visions’ or force ‘grand designs’on the population.”This again mimics the Conservative doctrine but should raise a red flag: what about the NDP in Quebec? According to a tracking of party identification (also included in the report) from 1965 to 2010, 33 percent of Quebecers identified with the Bloc Quebecois, 25 percent with the NDP, 20 percent with the Liberals and a mere 17 percent with the Conservatives.These statistics should come as no surprise because Quebec has traditionally been left-leaning and nationalistic—the only difference in this election is the overconfident and negligent approach Gilles Duceppe took when it came to addressing the people of Quebec and their concerns. As… Read More
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