Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Harper Conservatives say they are good economic managers. The test will be as the unannounced recession we are in deepens during the election campaign.

The Harper Conservatives have not balanced a budget until the 2015 
election was called and then only because the election was called. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Is it possible for the New Democrats, Liberals and Greens to take back Canada? Stephen Harper's Conservatives can be beaten by forming a National Coalition Government backed by 60 percent of the electorate.

It can be done with a National Coalition Government.

Forming the National Coalition Government of NDP, Liberals and Greens. This election is shaping up as a major opportunity to stop Harper.

Harperland is a term I coined to examine Canadian politics from a right wing perspective.  In 2011 it attracted 39.7 percent of the electorate kicking out Liberals and New Democrats in many ridings by first by the post vote splitting.  Harper’s policies are opposed by 60 percent of voting Canadians who vote Liberal, New Democrat or Green. 

It is always the politics of first past the post division where progressive politics and policies are placed on the political back burner every five years by the Harperland right wing agenda. 

I keep thumping away at Harper because I find where he is taking my country is to a bad place. It is a place where as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his right wing ideology is always right. He believes the right wing mantra that less government and less taxation is always a good thing. As a result he has run up $150 billion more debt during his decade in office for Canadians to pay back in the future long after he is gone.
Harper ignores the Liberal balanced budgets are good fiscal management that was the hallmark of the Chretien and Martin governments before him.

Harper believes that Liberals are soft and wet and the New Democrats and their ideas are pie in the sky pure orange mushiness. He runs attack ads about Justin Trudeau that assert that he isn’t ready to be Prime Minister.  He attacks the Wynne Liberal government in Ontario with contempt never recognizing that Ontarians gave Kathleen Wynne a majority. 

The new Notley NDP government in his home province Alberta gets no slack as they take power they are already making mistakes and descending into socialist mushiness in Harper’s view. Harper believes that ideas other than his own, die in some kind of political natural selection that only lets the strong survive. In his mind Harper’s views are always correct. He doesn’t learn from other experiences that are different from his own.

These attacks are not based on facts they are ideological propaganda without foundation and designed to build a right wing Canada operated by fundamentalist ideologues like himself such as Paul Calandra, Pierre Poilievre and Jason Kenny. They are propaganda to reinforce the 40 percent who vote for Harper’s Conservative agenda. A good proportion of these 40 percent would elect a post if it was painted blue. His weakness may be the more centre oriented Conservatives who will eventually balk at Harper’s view of Canada.

And in the recent budget he “balanced” the books of the country mostly for optical election reasons and while a recession is brewing and very likely here. Stephen Harper is convinced himself that he is a good fiscal manager. The truth is Canada is slipping into more national debt amplified by low oil other commodity prices worldwide. A recession is probably started.

His notions of security basically restrict people’s rights and freedoms with the likes of Bill C 51. This pernicious legislation expands surveillance while it erodes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with new powers for judges to break the law for national security reasons. He has also created crowded prisons, longer sentences and less ability to rehabilitate those who run afoul of the law. 

People with security certificates are left to rot even when there is no evidence or terrorism. Conservatives of a Harper bent want to be perceived as a hard lot tough on anyone who disagrees with them. That of course includes those who support the Liberals and NDP.

In addition during the election campaign Stephen Harper announced vague travel restrictions to places where terror organizations are or may be operating. This idea is to stem Canadians going abroad and serving with ISIS and their ilk. Will a commonwealth country like Pakistan be on the no-travel list if it is known that they tolerate the Taliban? How will these restrictions work with business arrangements? No one knows how these new restrictions on travel will be implemented by the next parliament.

In all his security legislation there is nothing that builds positive relationships with immigrant groups at home. There is nothing to educate youth in these communities who might be or have been radicalized towards jihadist ideas. There is nothing for those who went abroad and then decided that they would not finally join the jihadists. Their anti-terror ideas are all punitive and never rehabilitate. That would be a wet Liberal idea that could not be fathomed by the right wing Conservatives base.

The good news of course is the polls show the election is currently in a dead heat. Support for the Conservatives has dropped to about 31 percent at the moment from the 39.6 that elected their majority in 2011. When polls are analyzed it is clear that the country is split three ways at the moment. The NDP and Liberals both say at the moment that they will not work together or create a coalition. That could ensure a Conservative minority government.

My modest proposal to the NDP, Liberals and the Greens is to work together in parliament for a national coalition to undo the decade of right wing Harper ideological view of Canada. If the numbers hold that would make Tom Mulcair, Prime Minister and Justin Trudeau deputy prime minister. Mulcair and Trudeau should also ask Elizabeth May of the Greens to take on the Ministry of the Environment. There is enough talent on the Liberal and NDP benches to build a cabinet of national coalition. After all that what 60 percent of Canadians wanted in 2011 and seem to want this time by the parties they support.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Nigel Wright's squeaky clean image tarnished by Duffy trial testimony. Why didn't Stephen Harper know about the $90,000 cheque? He knows about everything else the PMO does.

Mike Duffy's cheque to the Government of Canada after receiving this 
amount from Nigel Wright. It all looks like Duffy paid it himself. Note the 
Prince Edward Island address on this cheque a transparent 
attempt to establish his principal residence in that province when it 
is common knowledge that Duffy lives permanently in Ottawa 
and has done so for over 30 years.

Duffy trial: Nigel Wright testimony sullies the Harper Government and calls into question Wright’s squeaky clean straight shooting reputation.

Nigel Wright is that kind of person who projects that he is above the fray and tensions of normal life. His ascetic devotion to running a half marathon each morning and his crisp persona as he enters court for the Duffy trial belies a political operative whose main operation with Duffy was to make an embarrassing problem go away.

When he quotes the New Testament that good works are to be done but not seen that hides the fact that he ponied up over $90,000 of his own funds in the service of Stephen Harper. Such loyalty is surely designed to be rewarded in heaven. Instead of being grateful, Stephen Harper hung Nigel Wright out to dry with either a resignation or a firing. We still don’t know which it was.

The Teflon around Stephen Harper is wearing off. The machinations of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to make this Duffy thing go away is over the top. Memos, back biting, control of Senators and what is worst the Prime Minister’s own lawyer Benjamin Perrin in the thick of it all, makes for a turgid lack of perspective by a lot of people operating for Stephen Harper.

If Benjamin Perrin knew about the Duffy cheque from Nigel Wright he was obligated by his professional lawyer-client relationship with Stephen Harper to tell him what was going down after Nigel Wright decided to financially buy Duffy out of his troubles. Perrin should be disciplined by the Law Society. The whole affair smells of too much power concentrated in the PMO. It is now obvious that they couldn't see the wood for the trees and in the process lost their moral compass.

The PMO is no nine to five job. People serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. They serve long hours and in a tense environment. In short they play with political power and they wield it in this case in Stephen Harper’s name. They are adjutants to the Prime Minister. Their job is to control information, put out fires, tell a consistent message and keep members of parliament in the House of Commons and the Senate on the same page as their boss.

The reputation of the PMO is that they are sharp young things who work unreasonable hours seven days a week 24 hours a day to impart the Prime Minister’s narrative to Canadians. They are politicos and in a word propagandists. One of their key jobs is to protect the Prime Minister from criticism. 

When the Senate scandal broke and Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau became a problem over their expenses the Prime Minister needed to be distanced from the fray even if he appointed these three to the Senate and had used them widely to fund raise and for the Conservatives and to spread his right wing agenda for Canada.

The way Stephen Harper works is if anyone gets off message, or creates embarrassments for him they have to fall on their swords. Nigel Wright returned to the private sector after Harper fired/accepted his resignation. Onyx sent him to mange their operations in the United Kingdom.

Mike Duffy who seems confused by what the Senate told him could be expenses and the optics of his expenses in the PMO and the potential embarrassment to Stephen Harper. Normally these expense wrangles when they happen can be ironed out by the Senate itself. However in this instance, the PMO and Nigel Wright got involved and not only for Duffy but also Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. 

The PMO influence from the beginning of this sad affair meant that the routine became a Stephen Harper priority which could only be satisfied by a very public suspension of these three Conservative notables. These operations by the PMO on Stephen Harper’s behalf were done partially to show that the Government is on top of the Senate Reform file something they promised to do over 10 years ago when they came to power.

Stephen Harper’s current stance on the Senate is not to fill over 20 vacancies. This must be his Senate reform policy for the moment since his appointees Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau have left such a bad taste in the public’s mouth that no one wants to open this can of worms further except the New Democrats who want to abolish the Senate a policy designed to create a Constitutional crisis.

One of the reasons why this kind of thing happens is the PMO has lost touch with the purpose of government which of course is to serve Canadians. They see Canadians, even members of Parliament, even Conservatives, as an enemy to be manipulated and controlled. They have a nasty message that anyone who counters their point of view is an enemy. 

The PMO is not made up of democrats. Democratic ideas for this group is now seen as weak, wet and without substance. They hold that whatever is needed to stay in power is what they do. They are pragmatic, mean and loyal to Stephen Harper’s right wing ideas for Canada. 

When Nigel Wright testifies as an alleged man of rectitude in court this week remember who he agreed to work for and who he agreed to protect from the Senate expense scandal. He thought he could buy Duffy and that didn’t work. He thought he could distance Stephen Harper from the fray and that hasn’t worked either. His testimony this week has supported the defence of Mike Duffy because under oath there is no spin on what happened. 

The bottom line: The PMO is out of control under Stephen Harper and only his defeat at the polls this fall can rectify this sad fact and his attack on Canadian democracy.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Has anyone thought about minority governments and coalitions emerging from a dead heat Canadian general election?

Without rolling up more Ontario seats, NDP leader Tom Mulcair will need 
a coalition with the Liberals to form a government. Strategic voting 
may happen after the election dust settles.

New Democrats are polling OK along with the Liberals at the expense of the Conservative core vote of 39.6 percent.  A hung parliament could be the result on election day. That would be a new phenomenon for Canada and that situation could spawn a coalition government.

With the Federal election two and a half months away on 19 October averaging many recent polls shows that the New Democratic Party and their leader Tom Mulcair are polling not great but better. And so are the Liberals. In the new Parliament there will be 338 seats which means to get a majority government a party must get 170 seats. At this point no one party seems completely capable of a majority.

It looks like a three way split and the stuff of a minority government will be the result. In the 2011 election Stephen Harper’s Conservatives formed a majority government with 39.6 percent of the popular vote. The Liberals got 18.9 percent and the NDP formed the official opposition with 30.6 percent. The Greens took 3.9 percent. The Block Quebecois got 6.0 percent and about 1 percent went to other candidates.

This summer comparing the 2011 election popular vote the Conservatives have dropped to 31 percent for a loss of about seven percent. The Liberals have increased to 26.1 percent or gone up from 2011 by 7.2 percent. The NDP is steady from 2011 election results. The Greens show an increase of 3.7 percent from 2011.  Bloc Quebecois appear to be dropping from 6 percent in 2011 to 5.4 percent.

The potential is for a dead heat election where no party can get the majority number of 170 seems likely. Seeing this trend the voters may simply shift their vote to one party as they recently did in Alberta. The question is which party will be the recipient of the people’s favour? 

The recent Alberta provincial election of a New Democrat government was unexpected. The mood of the Canadian electorate is very intangible at the moment. It may herald change at the federal level similar to Alberta. The NDP sweep of Quebec in the 2011 Federal Election demonstrates that the electorate is volatile. However the NDP numbers in Ontario at the moment preclude them forming a government.

They may be tired of the Harper Government, wary of giving the Liberals a mandate and will want to try the New Democrats. If the people give the New Democrats a shot at government they may do so with a minority to see how it all can work. That means that the Liberals would support the NDP.

Crudely because it can only be crude since each riding is very complex about who gets first past the post but if the current percentages hold in this basic model then the Conservatives might get 95 seats. The NDP could get 100 seats and the Liberals 88 seats. That’s a total of 283 seats held by NDP. Liberals and Conservatives. That leaves 55 seats up for grabs. Several will go to the Bloc Quebecois and several more maybe to the Green Party. 

So let’s say that we spread the remaining 45 seats according to the projected  percentages of the polls. That means the Conservatives would get 13 more seats for a total of 108.  The NDP would get 14 more seats for a total of 114 and the Liberals would pick up 12 giving a total of 100.

Obviously a Parliament split this fine could only form a government with a coalition. Of course Canadians have no traditions for coalition governments. However this situation as expressed here has never happened in Canada because of first past the post wins as result of the splits seen here and in the polling numbers for 2015 and the actual results for the 2011 federal election when a Conservative majority was achieved with 39.6 percent.

And that could happen again unless the NDP and Liberals begin to eclipse the Harper Government by wider margins in more and more ridings. Can that happen? We’ll know in about 68 days.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Duffy trial on again next week. Nigel Wright, former head of the Prime Minister's Office to testify. What did Stephen Harper really know?

Stephen Harper touts himself as an excellent manager. However his Senate appointments demonstrate poor personnel management when his key appointments blow up and become political messes like Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy. He also lost PMO chief Nigel Wright into the bargain who by his resignation took the hit for the scandal. 

Of course with the election call all three of these suspended senators are back on the Senate of Canada payroll since they were only suspended without pay for this Parliament which has just ended with the election call.

What did Stephen Harper really know about the $90,000 Nigel Wright gave Mike Duffy to settle his expense claims scandal? Perhaps this week in the midst of an election we will find out if the Prime Minister lied, fibbed or simply gave a series of obscure answers to Parliament about the Duffy Scandal.

Whatever the outcome Stephen Harper looks bad.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Harper Government can only be defeated by strategic voting for the Liberals or New Democrats in many ridings. Harperland can continue with only 39 percent of the popular vote.

The Canadian 2015 Election 

In 11 weeks Canadians go to the polls. This election is seminal for Canada. Voters will decide if the stolid right wing reworking of Canada continues under Stephen Harper or whether a more compassionate Canada can be reestablished by either the Liberal Party or The New Democrats (NDP). 

Polls at this time show a tight race can be expected. The current Conservative government was elected by 39 percent of the voters in 2011. That means that 60 percent of Canadians who vote did not vote Conservative. In many ridings the only way to stop Harperland from continuing is to vote strategically for either a Liberal or NDP candidate who looks like they can take a riding. 

Splitting the Liberal and NDP vote ensures that a Conservative goes up the middle to win. Support for the Green Party siphons off another six percent of the vote in many ridings so if voters want to unload Harperland they must give their Green votes to Liberals or the NDP.

Both the Liberals and NDP have sworn that they will not form a coalition government. That may be needed if Harperland is to be defeated. Canadians in social media I am monitoring and in letters to the editors seem ready to take back Canada from Harper. Strategic voting is the only way to really make that happen. 

© 2015 Harperland Cartoon, Tom Thorne, All rights waived for the election.