Category Archives: Conservative Party of Canada

Conservatives call Justin Trudeau to testify at the House Un-Canadian Activities Committee

Blaine Calkins (CPC – Wetaskiwin) and the 5 other government MPs have called for David McGuinty and Justin Trudeau to answer questions at the the House Natural Resources Committee. They want David McGuinty to speak because of a poorly phrased statement he made about politicians prioritizing the national interest about all else. The Conservatives want Trudeau to answer questions on a statement he made during an interview 2 years ago.

Part of me wants Trudeau to go to the committee. Yes, the Conservatives are wasting the Committee’s time and taxpayers’ dollars. Yes, they are doing so for crass political reasons. However, if he did show up and answer their questions with knowledge and resolve it would give him an opportunity to expose the Conservatives for their hyper-partisan nonsense. If he doesn’t go, that is also fair. The CPC’s shenanigans don’t deserve encouragement.

In the meantime, I have some questions for Blaine Calkins and his fellow caucus members: Justin Trudeau made his statement 2 years ago and has since apologized. Is this really worth wasting your time, Mr. Trudeau’s time and the time of your committee? You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

Canadian Values in 2012

From the Globe and Mail:

Image

I find it interesting that the Charter is so high but at the same time the Patriation of the Constitution is so low.

Vote Harvey Locke: The Progressive Choice for Calgary-Centre

Today (November 26th) is by-election day in the great riding of Calgary-Centre!

The Liberal campaign has been as exciting as it has been improbable and for the first time since 1968, Calgary-Centre might such send a Liberal to Ottawa. Though the moment began shifting from the CPC to the Liberals started in mid-November, the race first came to national attention when a Forum poll (November 20th)  had the CPC candidate Joan Crockatt at 35%, the Liberal candidate Harvey Locke at 30% and the Green Party at 25%. Many called that poll a fluke and noted that Forum had called the Alberta Provincial election for the Wild Rose (it should be noted that Forum was one of the only polling firms to correctly call the recent Kitchener-Waterloo provincial by-election.) The last poll of the campaign has Crockatt at 37%, Locke at 32% and the Greens at 17% (This poll shows the Liberals surging and was done by the firm that predicted Mayor Nenshi’s win.)

There are 3 keys factors that have led to a possible Liberal victory in the riding:

  • Harvey Locke is a great candidate: All of the Liberal candidates in 3 by-elections today (Victoria, Durham and Calgary-Centre) are strong candidates. Harvey Locke is a superb candidate and will do an excellent job representing Calgary-Centre in Ottawa. He has a long history with the riding and an impressive resume working as a photographer and conservationist . He was President of the Alberta Liberal Party, speaks English, French and Spanish. Harvey Locke is my kind of centrist Liberal and he is the only candidate transpartisan enough to effectively represent the people of Calgary-Centre.
  • Infighting between the Alberta PCs and Wild Rose: The Alberta provincial election earlier this year was divisive and hard fought by all sides. Calgary-Centre is where Premier Alison Redford lives, however Joan Crockatt endorsed the Wild Rose during the provincial election. The media was quick to focus on this by-election as a civil war on the right in Calgary-Centre.
    Harvey Locke received a warm welcome at the PC AGM, which just happened to be in Calgary Centre.  Crockatt didn’t dare make an appearance.  A photo of Harvey posing with Alison Redford at the event, with nary an inch of space between them, quickly spread throughout the Twittersphere, dispelling any misconception of a “united right” in the province.
  • Joan Crockatt is a divisive candidate who has performed poorly: Ms. Crockatt was editor of the Calgary HeraldShe presided over a prolonged and bitter strike at the Calgary Herald when she was editor there.  She avoided the first 3 debates and embarrassed herself at the 4th debate when she attacked the U.S. economy and accused the CBC (where she has appeared numerous times as a panalist) of showing pornography. Her Tea Party attitude towards the Obama administration is not reflected by the Canadian poulation (it seems like the only Canadians who wanted Romney to win are in Prime Minister Harper’s cabinet.) One of Joan Crockatt’s biggest slip-ups was skipping Mayor Nenshi forum’s forum on cities. Nenshi criticized the decision in the press and even tweeted a few of Locke’s criticisms of Crockatt during the forum. With Rob Anders next door, the people of Calgary-Centre have seen what happens when they rubber stamp a regressive conservative candidate who brings the wrong kind of attention to their city.

Though the Green Party campaign has been surprisingly negative in Calgary-Centre, I believe that it time for progressives to unite behind the fiscally prudent, socially progressive and environmentally responsible candidate. If you  or anyone you know live in Calgary-Centre please vote for Harvey Locke.

Here is a poll that shows that Mr. Locke is the only candidate who can galvanize the progressive vote and send a message to Stephen Harper.

Justin Trudeau is a Serious Candidate for a Serious Party

I agree with Andrew Coyne that the Liberal Party of Canada needs to be the party of bold policy ideas and that on some issues we need to be to the left of the NDP/to the right of the Conservatives. However, I strongly disagree with Mr. Coyne’s assertion that “a party that is preparing to throw itself at Justin Trudeau is not a serious party.” The Liberal Party needs to have a competitive leadership race with many qualified candidates. Justin Trudeau would be a serious candidate and would be a solid choice for leader of the Liberal Party, if the Liberal Party wants to be patient and pursue a long-term strategy.
Justin Trudeau and the long-game:

As Premier McGuinty outlined in his speech at the 2012 Biennial Convention, the Liberal Party needs to elect a young leader and give that leader more than one election to rebuild the party. Liberals need to burn the phrase “two election strategy” into their minds. No one seriously believes that we can form the government after one election, and we need to show Canadians that we are a humble, substantive alternative to the divisive bullies Harper and Mulcair. This will take more than one election and we need a leader who can grow with the Liberal Party. Justin Trudeau is 40 years of age as I type this. In 2015, Prime Minister Harper will be 56 (with a full head of grey hair) and Thomas Mulcair will be 61. Justin Trudeau’s youth would bring a new energy to the Liberal Party. While his name evokes a nostalgic connection to the past, the fact that he was elected in 2008 would give the Liberal Party a clean break with the sponsorship scandal. Trudeau is fluently bilingual, but the fact that he grew up in politics makes him fluent in the political language of both French and English Canada.

Trudeau does have a ways to go before he is prime minister material. He is great at giving speeches (when I saw him speak in Parkdale-High Park there was a real electricity in the air) but he needs to speak with a substance and gravity that can only come with time. His name recognition is a great strength. I would also argue that the fact that a certain (small) percentage of Canadians who have a predisposition for/against Trudeau because of his name is another advantage as that good will will bring some Canadians back in to the Liberal Party and Trudeau will get to prove those who irrationally dislike him wrong when he enters the national arena. Becoming the leader the Liberal Party needs will be a lot of work. Justin has shown his strong work ethic on a number of occasions. Running and winning (twice) in Papineau was no small feat. Trudeau has also been a loyal liberal soldier traveling the country for the party. One specific example that I believe shows his commitment was his boxing match with Senator Brazeau. Trudeau saw that he was outgunned, so he spent months training and preparing himself. This is the kind of commitment the Liberal Party needs from its next leader.

The 4 pillars of a winning political campaign:

In the past, Canadian political parties have relied on a combination of three elements to win: a strong leader, strong policy,a strong political machine and disorganized opponents. Under Jean Chretien the LPC focused on having a strong leader, a strong political machine and disorganized political opponents.

In the last few elections the Conservatives have relied on their leader, their political machine and a disorganized opposition. The NDP have gone all in with their leader in 2008/2011 and are trying to play organizational catch up while keeping the Liberals weak. In 2011 the Liberal Party tried to go all in with policy with disastrous results.

In 2015 the Liberal Party needs to have a strong, charismatic leader who campaigns with a solid machine and a solid set of unique policy proposals. We have done a great job explaining why Harper is bad, we need to do the same with Mulcair while always saying what we would do if elected.

Trudeau’s magnetism is not something that a politician can necessarily learn, as is his ability to promote progressive policies in the language of the centre-right and the values of fiscal and personal responsibility in the language of the left.

Justin Trudeau doesn’t fit into the CPC or NDP paradigm:

One distinct advantage that Mr. Trudeau has is that his reality is frustratingly foreign to the Conservatives and New Democrats.

Conservatives purged their party of the genuine grassroots energy and principled policy positions of the old Reform Party and have become solely the party of their leader, Stephen Harper. The CPC’s divisive, slash and burn politics would see an election against Justin Trudeau as the opportunity they’ve always wanted to against Justin’s father. The NDP have a different  mindset. New Democrats do not care about getting real results for Canadians, they only care about getting more NDP seats in parliament. When Jack Layton decided to betray the progressive budget that Paul Martin had negotiated with him in 2005, he did so because the NDP only had 18 seats in parliament. In the NDP worldview Jack Layton, who has no major accomplishments at the federal level, is a hero simply because he helped elect 103 NDP MPs. The NDP and CPC both seem to believe that the Liberals would try and run Justin Trudeau on his father’s accomplishments. They would both be trying to attack the Liberal Party from a perspective that would not be accessible to the majority of Canadians who aren’t as blindly ideological as the CPC and NDP.

Conclusion:

Justin Trudeau still has to prove himself as a leader, as does any candidate running for that position. He may be the unique blend of charisma, substance and hard work that the Liberal Party needs. However, one thing he needs from Liberals is patience.

Liberals need  to stop panicking. We aren’t going to die out in one election–but we aren’t going to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, either. Every single Liberal needs to be working hard to rebuild the party. No political party can win solely on the strength of their leader.

Justin Trudeau has been thoughtful and contemplative in his approach to entering the Liberal leadership race. He is a serious candidate and should be treated as one.

“Pennies 4 Katimavik” Launches Today!

Pennies 4 Katimavik* (a campaign spearheaded by Bismah Haq) is officially launching today in Ottawa at 2:30pm (click here for the facebook event.)

When I heard about this campaign I was very excited. Axing the program was one of the Harper government’s most maliciously-arbitrary decisions in the 2012 budget. I talked to Bismah about what inspired her to start up this campaign and what she hopes to accomplish. Here is what she
told me:

“I originally came up with the idea while watching an analysis about the budget on CBC at Hedy Fry’s office (I volunteer there) the day the budget was released. I didn’t think much of it at first, but last week some friends urged me to act on the idea. So along with other members from the OYL United team who committed to launching this in their cities and towns, some Young Liberals in BC and some Katimavik alumni I know, we will be starting our penny drives and online launch this weekend.

Here is some additional information on “Pennies 4 Katimavik” that was provided to me from the campaign:

Project Idea: According to the 2012 Federal Budget, as of fall 2012, the Canadian penny will not be in circulation anymore, and the youth volunteerism program called Katimavik has lost its funding. Pennies for Katimavik, quite literally, is a penny drive/small change drive to fundraise to support Katimavik to continue to serve our nation through youth community service, as well
as to raise awareness about the positive impact Katimavik has had on our communities.

Background: The Canadian federal government has decided to phase the penny out of existence starting this fall, when the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing the one-cent coin to financial institutions. Pennies themselves will continue to hold their inherent cash value, so Canadians can always trade them in at financial institutions. Banks can then return those pennies to the mint for recycling into their base materials. Which means before too long, the penny will
be mostly removed from the Canadian economy — except for the jars i Canadians’ closets.

We will be collecting the change and money that we raise,rolling the coins and exchanging them at a bank for cash, and then sending the money to Katimavik’s National Office.

Our short term goal is $5000(500,000 pennies) but we hope to exceed that by approaching organizations, businesses and individuals( Liberal and non-Liberal) to match our fundraising or to make larger donations.

This is a Young Liberal initiative but we hope to make this as non-partisan as possible in order to engage with Katimavik alumni and the general public.

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Please “like” the “Pennies 4 Katimavik” facebook page: here. This isn’t merely a fundraising operation. They provide a backgrounder of facts on the Katimavik program (here) and they have set up an excellent Katimavik Advocacy Kit (here.) If you are in Ottawa please attend the launch party. If you cannot attend (or are living outside Ottawa, like me) then check the facebook page regularly for details on upcoming events.

*Pennies 4 Katimavik is not officially affiliated with Katimavik.

Vigilantes and Mercenaries: The Harper Government and the Abdication of Responsibility

With the revelation that Minister Peter MacKay failed to ask many of the obvious/necessary questions when working on the F-35 procurement, the subject of basic ministerial/government responsibility has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late.

When I listen to/discuss politics with my friends who are more libertarian-leaning conservatives, they argue that the government should only really be performing two functions: national defense and policing. Recently, the Government of Canada, with Stephen Harper as PM, has abdicated its responsibility on both of these functions.

National Defense:

You probably expect me to go on at length about the F-35 boondoggle or the fact that in the 2012 budget Harper/Flaherty includes cuts to defense and the Royal Military College (which has “Royal” in its name yet still got the axe, which shocked everyone.) Though, I am equally incensed over each of these, the real abdication of responsibility comes from the government’s decision to hire the mercenary group XE (formerly Blackwater) to train Canadian troops. When asked by Liberal MPs and NDP critic Christine Moore in the HOC about the $2.4 million contract with XE/Blackwater, the minister of defense accused the opposition of (you don’t really need to finish reading this sentence because you know what is coming) not supporting our troops. However, instead of investing in military training infrastructure here in Canada, the Harper government is paying a group of thugs controversial organization who have been accused of killing civilians and many more terrible things. If one of the basic functions of government is national defense, what message is the government sending when they outsource that function to a group with suspect morals?

Policing and Vigilantism:

Back in February Justice Minister Rob Nicholson actually told Canadians to “fire warning shots” during a HOC committee hearing. This was denounced by members of the press but was not surprising considering the Conservative Party’s “gut feeling” based approach to crime policy. However, more recently the Conservatives (with a somewhat willing accomplice in the NDP) have been encouraging vigilante activist through legislate means. The citizen’s arrest legislation put forward by the Conservatives/NDP is allegedly meant to “clarify” what is currently on the books. However, this kind of legislation sets a dangerous precedent as it seems to condone violence by the person doing the citizen’s arresting. Recently, Stephen Harper actually called Naveen Polapady, a Toronto restaurateur who allegedly assaulted a man who he believed was robbing him. It is tempting to immediately side with Mr. Polapady but we have to think about the larger implications of the use of disproportionate force in performing a citizen’s arrest. The PM and his cabinet should not be encouraging behaviour that blurs the line of legitimate citizen’s arrest and vigilantism. In the context of the Trayvon Martin case in the United States, we should all be wary of laws that encourage citizens to use excessive force without thinking and without consequence.

Conclusion:

Members of the Conservative government (including the PM) have been promoting policies that erode the legitimacy of the institutions that are vital to Canada’s peace, order and good government. Governing isn’t about doing what “feels right.” It is about doing what is right.

Micah Goldberg: Pennywise Mr. Harper

The end of the penny has caused many important cuts in Steven Harper’s first majority budget to have been buried. CBC funding was cut to the amount of $115 million dollars, $56 million was cut from the Canadian Food Inspections Agency, the Katimavik program was scrapped altogether, the list goes on. In the midst of the Robocall scandal however, no cut strikes a more political cord than the $7.5 million being cut from Elections Canada.

Cutting millions while the electoral fraud investigation searches through thousands of complaints spanning 200 ridings in all ten provinces and one territory is absurd, apprehensible, and so very cute. Pierre Poutine’s actions seem to be the only thing that stands in the Conservative’s way of another majority. As I have been predicting since Mulcair’s victory in the NDP leadership contest last week, Steven Harper has essentially been gifted another Conservative majority in 2015; however, despite the stars aligning, the one thing standing in his way of another strong mandate is an electoral scandal that turns a “strong, stable” government into a crooked one in the eyes of centrist Canadians.

If I know this, you can be sure Prime Minister Harper knows this. Pierre Poutine and his calls trouble Mr. Harper, as they are the only issue your non-political Canadian cares about. By cutting funding to the only objective investigators in an ongoing electoral fraud case is the easiest way to prolong the process of finding the true source of the calls, and that is the key, to make Canadians forget about a serious issue or court them back into apathy and indifference. If the Robocall story does not surface before the next election, people will lose interest in an old story. Harper’s agenda is to retard the process, to bury the story underneath pennies and duties.

If our Prime Minister had any guts, however, he would not cut the powers of the chief electoral officer, but compliment them. It is time to find out who was behind the misleading robocalls, and while I believe the Conservatives are playing politics with the budget in order to delay the truth, it is imperative that the story remain fresh in our hearts and minds. This is assuming we want change of course, and with the penny being eliminated, we’ve been forced to look extra hard for some.

Banning floor-crossing is silly.

Last November, Mathieu Ravignat (NDP-Pontiac) and Peter Stoffer (NDP-Sackville-Eastern Shore) introduced a Private Member’s Bill that would prevent MPs from switching parties (crossing the floor as it is called in our parliamentary tradition.) Some had speculated that since the NDP share many of their policy positions with the Bloc Québécois that they want to ban floor crossing to prevent a stampede of newly elected Quebec NDP MPs to the Bloc if the NDP’s fortunes change before the next election. However, this was actually the 5th time Peter Stoffer has introduced a bill to ban floor-crossings so, like pandering to Quebec on the issue of federalism, prohibiting floor-crossings is a long-held NDP policy position.

At the time this bill was introduced the NDP had an interim leader who was a member of the Bloc Québécois & Québec Solidaire before joining the NDP (the NDP then chose a leader who was a member of the Liberal Party of Quebec) and Mathieu Ravignat himself used to belong to the Communist Party before giving Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon the boot/the karate kick. The fact that the author of the bill, and the NDP’s two most recent leaders had switched parties, seems to contradict the external antipathy the New Democratic Party displays towards party switchers.

Although I am ambivalent to floor-crossing in the House of Commons, NDP efforts to ban this Parliamentary process – and their assumption that this process could be banned at all – can be considered misguided for several reasons:

  • Floor-crossing is part of our parliamentary tradition.
  • The more Members of Parliament can exercise their conscience the better INHO.* Unless the NDP wants to make every vote a whipped vote, they can’t really justify taking away MPs’ autonomy this way.
  • There isn’t really an epidemic of floor-crossings going on.

I asked Liberal MP Marc Garneau (Westmount—Ville-Marie) what his thoughts were on banning floor-crossing and his answer was quite reasonable:

When an MP is elected, he/she has a duty to party, to constituents, to the leader and if I may say, to himself or herself.

Having said that, if an MP, over time, becomes less and less comfortable with the positions of his/her party, he/she must be given the option of joining another party and, of course, paying the price (if his/her constituents choose not to re-elect him/her).

If an MP moves from being in government to being in opposition or from one opposition party to another opposition party, then I believe that they should be allowed to do so without having to resign and run in a by-election. In this case, they are moving either downwards or laterally and I believe such a move is probably principled.

If on the other hand, an opposition MP crosses the floor to join government, i.e. an upward move, then they should resign and run in a by-election because their motives are suspect, i.e. they may have accepted an inducement rather than because they no longer feel comfortable in their party.

Not being able to cross the floor gives too much power to the leader of a party and diminishes even further the status of an MP. This is not acceptable in my opinion.

Yes, I agree that an MP crossing the floor will result in an injustice to the constituents of that MP but you also can’t have an MP who is forced to stay in a party with which he/she no longer agrees.

My solution: A more productive Private Member’s bill for Mathieu Ravignat:

The NDP are always saying that they want to make parliament work. If Mr. Ravignat and the NDP actually did want to fix parliament they would start with question period. Ravignat could/should have worked with Conservative MP Michael Chong (Wellington—Halton Hills) and introduced his Motion 517 (which would fundamental change/improve QP) in the form of a private member’s bill. Motion 517 was killed when the last election was called. Mr. Chong’s motion would have:

  • Elevated decorum and fortify the use of discipline by the Speaker.
  • Lengthened the amount of time given for each question and answer;
  • Required that ministers respond to questions directed at them;
  • Allocated half the questions each day for backbench members;
  • Dedicated Wednesday exclusively for questions to the Prime Minister (Like in the U.K. If you haven’t watched David Cameron answer questions for an hour, without notes, you aren’t a true parliamentary geek.)
  • And dedicate the rest of the week for questions to ministers other than the Prime Minister.

The private member’s bill lottery gives MPs a rare opportunity to raise an issue or affect real change. The NDP had the chance to bring about real democratic reform but they chose to squander that opportunity with a useless process issue that is nothing compared to the cynical spectacle that Question Period has become.

With this bill the NDP proved that making Ottawa work isn’t one of their goals. They want parliament to be a dysfunctional mess so they can run against that mess in 2015 (just as Stephen Harper and the Conservatives did in the last two elections after making a point of contributing to that dysfunction.)

There is no urgent need to ban floor-crossing. I hope Michael Chong’s motion is passed the next  time he puts it forward in the House of Commons.

* In my handsome opinion.

Rob Anders should resign from the Veterans Affairs Committee

Who is Rob Anders?

A few weeks ago Jim Lowther and David MacLeod of VETS (Veterans Emergency Transition Services) Canada gave a presentation to the Veterans Affairs Committee. According to the two men, Mr. Anders arrived to the meeting late and then feel asleep during the briefing. When Lowther and MacLeod mention this to the press Anders lashed out at them saying they were “NDP hacks” and also calling them “Pro-Vladimir Putin.” When he did apologize, he did it on a Friday evening and his apology was rejected by the two veterans. He then apologized in the House of Commons but only for the words he called them (it’s not very relevant, but I believe both men are members of the Conservative Party) and not for falling asleep.

On CBC’s “Power and Politics” on March 5th, Liberal MP Sean Casey, who sits on Veterans Affairs with Mr. Anders, said that Rob Anders falls asleep at almost 1/3 of Veteran Affairs committee meetings. Mr. Casey went on to say that when Mr. Anders does contribute he is quite substantive. Conservative MP Eva Adams said that this was a “smear” and that she only hears accusations against Rob Anders from “partisans.”

It is entirely possibly that Rob Anders suffers from sleep apnea, which causes him to fall asleep out of exhaustion. However, if this is the case, Mr. Anders should seek treatment and explain himself to the Canadian people and the veterans whom he insulted by sleeping during their presentation (which he has yet to admit doing.)

Rob Anders’ first reaction to two veterans taking offensive from his rude behaviour was for him to smear them in the press. This is unacceptable. Mr. Anders should resign or be forced to resign from the Veterans Affairs committee as soon as possible.

One again, here is the VETS Canada website: http://vetscanada.org/ Please visit, find out more about them and donate if possible.

Why Nobody Believes the Conservative Talking Points on the RoboCon Scandal.

Mere days ago the Conservative Party finally admitted their guilt in the “In & Out” election fraud scandal (remember that the Conservative Party headquarters was raided by the RCMP.) Months ago, the Conservative Party admitted that they paid to make phone calls in Mount Royal (saying Irwin Cotler was going to resign, which is a lie).

The Conservatives voted against giving Elections Canada expanded power to investigate the election fraud that they are being accused of today. Stephen Harper and Dean Del Mastro said repeatedly in the House of Commons that the Conservative Party didn’t use American call firms. It was later revealed that they did.

So, only the Conservative Party of Canada has been convicted of electoral fraud. Only the Conservative Party has been caught paying to make misleading calls. Only the Conservative Party has opposed an independent investigation of possibly electoral fraud in the 2011 election.

On a number of occasions the Conservatives admitted that they called Conservatives to inform them of changes of polling locations. Now, Elections Canada specifically told all of the political parties not to do this. The riding that was mentioned, a number of times, by the Conservatives was Edmonton-East. There were no polling location changes in Edmonton-East.

Stephen Harper prorogued parliament, twice, to avoid democratic accountability. The Conservative Party of Canada then proceeded (in 2009, then throughout the 2011 election) to lie to the Canadian people on the subject of coalition governments. Conservative Members of Parliament, the Senate, the Conservative campaign team and the Prime Minister told Canadians over, and over and over again that coalition governments were “anti-democratic.” The Prime Minister said that he prorogued parliament because the opposition wanted to “overturn” the election results, which is exactly what he did by proroguing parliament.

Stephen Harper’s animus toward Elections Canada is well know. He has had the opportunity to call an independent investigation but he has refused to do so.

The RoboCon situation will unfold over the next few months and years. The allegations are quite serious but the Conservative Party, the only Federal party that has been convicted of electoral fraud, the only party that has paid to call Canadians with false information, the only party that is being investigated for election fraud and the only Prime Minister in Canada’s history to be found in contempt of parliament, refuses to take it seriously.