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Ontario after McGuinty

Pundits and editorialists — not to mention Ontario Liberal Party apologists — have been out in force since Monday night’s surprise resignation by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to praise him and his accomplishments.Funny, tripling the public debt of Ontario, failing to uphold the law in Caledonia for three years, endless waste and mismanagement at eHealth Ontario, ORNGE and the Ministry of Energy, dithering endlessly while the Greater Toronto/Hamilton area chokes on its own traffic, and buying labour peace with bags of public money don’t seem to make the list of accolades.But they should — along with lying to Ontarians in the 2011 election about the Drummond Report (promptly ignored on arrival in early 2012, and now a new “blue ribbon” panel kicking the “fix the government” can down the road in its place).Did McGuinty’s time in office see improvements — according to standardized test measures — in Ontario’s schools? Yes. The curriculum being taught is inadequate, but by gar we can ace the results.McGuinty’s resignation — along with the proroguing of the legislature (and I note sadly that across the province’s media his cutting off debate is seen as a good thing, by the same editorialists and columnists who harped on Stephen Harper for proroguing Parliament to stop the opposition from defeating his government back in 2008) — means that the Premier will impose his 0% settlements on the public sector by Order in Council while his party finds a new leader to replace him.The Contempt of Parliament charges, the committees investigating his mismanagement, Question Period and the possibility of his minority government falling are now all dismissed. A new Premier, and a new session (in 2013), will see new committees formed, and all the hearings will have to be done over.Meanwhile, McGuinty’s finance minister (and probable leadership candidate) Dwight… Read More

Mitt Romney: tricking liberals into voting for him since 2002

During the Republican primaries, we kept hearing about how Mitt Romney was the “moderate” candidate going up against all those other radical tea partiers (with the exception of John Hunstman, whose only electable quality was that he knew Chinese).The truth is the same now as it was then, Mitt Romney is a true conservative. The only difference between Romney and the other Republican candidates is that he had entered the tent of conservatism later than others. He used to be pro-choice, now he’s pro-life. When Republicans change their mind about something, it’s labeled a flip-flop, when Obama reverses his position on gay marriage- he has “evolved” on the issue.Mitt Romney, like Ronald Reagan, has the incredible ability to trick liberals and independents into voting for him. The reason for this is because most people judge how “radical” a candidate is by their demeanor, not by their words, deeds, or policy platforms.When the general public sees Rick Perry, they see a gun-slingin, cowboy boot wearin, straight talkin’ Texan. When they see Newt Gingrich, they see an arrogant, overly confident conservative intellectual. When they see Rick Santorum, they see that wacko who keeps talking about all those outdated ideals like marriage, family, faith…who REALLY believes in those things anymore? Well, the answer is more than half the country does, but that is irrelevant in a world where the media is able to marginalize any vocal conservative.But when the general voting public sees Mitt Romney, they see a level headed, clean cut, presidential man. They see a candidate who is calm, thoughtful, and tempered. However, some of these people if not all of them are completely unaware of the fact that Romney’s policy stances are just as, if not more conservative than his Republican counterparts in the primaries last year.Romney is every bit… Read More

Tough times coming for Alberta

A one-party state can quickly deteriorate into a dictatorship governed by nothing but corruption.The latest word is that Alberta will face a $3 billion deficit, but with the situation in the oil and gas sector worsening for Alberta, that figure is probably overly optimistic. After all, the government has been dipping into the province’s savings fund, which means that the real deficit can easily amount to, or even exceed, $7 billion.For all intents and purposes, the Progressive Conservatives are a left-wing party, something even left-of-centre opposition parties like the Alberta Liberals, Alberta NDP and Alberta Party have admitted on occasion since the last provincial election, particularly when talking about the premier, Alison Redford.                    No ideology has a monopoly on using tax dollars for personal purposes, but the left is traditionally more likely to succumb to the temptations of public office. The premier, for example, has no qualms about letting hardworking Albertans foot her personal and private bills, such as her Law Society membership dues, something that is completely unrelated to her duties as premier.However, it makes very little difference whether the government is blue, red, orange or green; what matters is that taxpayers are being taken for a ride, with disastrous consequences.Alberta's problems are twofold. One is the one-party state Albertans have allowed to grow and fester. The other one is the almost exclusive reliance on oil and gas to fill the government's coffers.Democracy needs sound competition. It isn't healthy when you can decide to run for public office and, through your affiliation with the governing dynasty, know that you'll be elected no matter what - and that once you're elected, you'll be taken care of generously until the day you die.This type of thinking is why the PCs today are what they are - not accountable to anyone, and only… Read More

Thomas Mulcair, you’re no Jack Layton and that’s good for Canada

Look, I have nothing against the late leader of the New Democratic Party. Like his father, Bob, who was first a Liberal and then a Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, Jack Layton naturally gravitated toward the middle ground; that included the popular view that French Quebec voters are nationalist and will support parties that stand for Quebec first.Until last Spring, I didn’t think much of Tom Mulcair. He was long a member of the all-party Quebec political class and followed its Quebec-first line, even going out of his way to oppose Quebec municipalities passing resolutions affirming their right to remain in Canada should the province vote to secede.Nevertheless, events have combined to turn a major national party away from the accommodating consensus on Quebec that has ruled the public roost since the 1960s.In May 2011 the New Democrats won 58 new seats in Quebec, becoming the Official Opposition. That in itself did not make history, because the media read the result through their own prism. We were told that the NDP had won over Bloc Québécois voters by promoting "nationalism lite" and that francophones were beguiled by Jack Layton's televised charms.The media refused to face the fact that the huge increase for the NDP came from federalist parties and new voters as much as from the Bloc. It was not just "separatism" that the voters rejected but the whole political class with its separatist-vs-federalist wrestling show staged for English Canadian ticket holders. As Jean Charest said when asked about a Quebec politician: "Mario Dumont wants to get close to the anglophone community. If that's the case, he has to answer one very simple question: is he a federalist or a separatist?"The temporary leader of the NDP, Nycole Turmel, appointed by Jack Layton when he fell ill was a recent convert from… Read More

A conversation with Luc Harvey, leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec

The Conservative Party of Quebec has more campaign posters in some parts of Montreal and the South Shore than both Option Nationale and Québec Solidaire, but receives hardly any media attention. The PCQ was formed in 2009 and boasts over 700 members. They have 27 candidates running in the September 4th election under the leadership of Luc Harvey, a former Member of Parliament for the federal Conservatives. I interviewed Mr. Harvey to get a better idea of where the party stands.Why resurrect the Conservative Party in Quebec?I was in France when the financial problems began in Greece. Here in Canada, the media didn’t show how big the problem was in Greece and now you see this type of problem in Spain and in France. When the debt is out of control, we lose our ability to make our own decisions; bankers will make our decisions for us if we don’t move. It is the reason why Daniel Petit and I took the decision to go ahead with the Conservative Party of Quebec. That’s the base of the story.What is the main difference between your party and the CAQ?The CAQ was on the right at the beginning, now they’re on the left. They are proposing extra spending close to four billion dollars when we know the debt is completely out of control. They know they are making this promise and they know they will not be able to support it and deliver it because it’s impossible. They take the voter to be stupid enough to believe in this kind of promise. They have no right wing positions anymore. You don’t know if they’re federalists and you don’t know if they sovereignists. Mr. Legault was a hard line PQ supporter for 40 years and now he’s ready to vote No in a… Read More

Has Harper lost control of his backbench?

Last week, the National Post’s John Ivison wrote an interesting column arguing that the Conservative backbench has lost its fear of Stephen Harper. He argues that “the trained seals on the backbench are biting back and we are likely to see more unsanctioned behaviour in future, as MPs relish their new-found freedom.”Is the Prime Minister, who for years has kept an extremely tight leash on his caucus, losing control? The answer may be more subtle than Ivison suggests. The Conservative Party of Canada is a broad coalition of interests: social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, economic libertarians, red Tories, and the like. Due to its very nature, this coalition will occasionally pit interests against interests. A successful leader will be able to reconcile differences and hold the alliance together.The Prime Minister can enforce discipline in a variety of ways. He can promote or demote MPs based on their performance. Harper can kick an MP out of the Conservative caucus at any time. Postmedia’s Stephen Maher argues that it was easier to impose discipline prior to the 2011 election. Some MPs want to get their name in the headlines, while others will speak out when the government does something they dislike.The Globe and Mail’s Bill Curry similarly argues that the Conservative backbench is becoming more vocal and willing to cause a stir in office. The fact that backbenchers are playing a more prominent role in Ottawa may actually play a positive role for Stephen Harper’s image. While certainly still micromanaging the minutiae of what he considers important, giving backbenchers some leeway in parliamentary affairs will moderate Harper’s image as a tyrannical leader. The National Post’s Kelly McParland highlights this argument by showcasing the opposition’s criticism of Jason Kenney’s support for Motion 312, which would have looked at re-defining the legal status of a… Read More
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