October 20, 2015 19:07 +0100  |  Canada Conservatives Democracy Liberals NDP Stephen Harper 0

I'm both thrilled and disappointed with the outcome of this election. On the one hand, the Cancer that was Stephen Harper was finally cut out of the country like the rotten tumour he is, but on the other, we managed to do so only by putting all of our faith in yet another autocratic situation. We've elected another majority, doing away with all accountability in the House. Given where this election started, this is a gross disappointment.

I suppose that it's a question of faith really. Do I have faith that Trudeau, with all the power of the PMO (that his father pioneered) and a majority government elected through first past the post, will actually introduce proportional representation? Are these Liberals really all that different from the corrupt, entitled, double-speaking Liberals that came before them? Indeed, many of the candidates elected today are the very same people who held the same positions under Chrétien and Martin.

It kills me that to remove Harper, we had to stick a knife in the NDP, a party that, no matter how much I criticise them, represents a much closer vision of my Canada than the Liberals ever will. It's also deeply frustrating to see how very poorly the NDP managed this campaign.

From their gloating, passive, condescending demeanour in the early days of the campaign, to their weak-kneed, dispassionate stance on Harper's divisive Islamophobic platform, the NDP left the country desperate for leadership, vision, and passion for what we value as a nation. Trudeau was clumsy, but he shared a vision for Canada that resonated with people. His passion was infectious and painted a picture of the Canada that should be, in stark contrast to what Harper would have us become.

This could have gone another way. We could have had an NDP-lead minority or even a majority, but they screwed up, and now we have to hope that Trudeau really meant everything he said -- because no one will be able to hold him to it if he changes his mind.

October 06, 2015 18:02 +0100  |  Canada Democracy Environment Green Party NDP Politics 0

A dear friend asked me over Twitter today why I think she should vote Green and not NDP. I started with 140 characters, then switched to a direct message, and then I wanted formatting... So I wrote a blog post.

So Theresa, this is a short, but reasonably complete list of the reasons I couldn't bring myself to vote NDP this election. Which is a pity really. I'd like to live in a world where a party like the Greens didn't need to exist because the mainstream parties actually did the Right Thing.

...but they don't do the right thing, and they shouldn't be rewarded for that.


The Tar Sands

If there is one fact that should be obvious to anyone who claims to know anything about climate change, it's that the carbon reserves that we have in Northern Alberta need to stay in the ground. The NDP are against Keystone XL and Northern Gateway, but they do support Energy East. So, either the NDP don't believe the millions of scientists who have stated that this stuff has to stay in the ground, or they're pretending to support the oil sector in an effort to get votes.

Either way, the NDP position is suspect and speaks to either their scientific literacy or their authenticity. I'll let you decide which is more egregious.

Carbon Tax vs. Cap and Trade

The NDP has taken a cap/trade position (to the exclusion of a carbon tax) against the advice of every prominent environmentalist and economist. This is quite clearly done for political reasons, to separate themselves from the Liberals and Greens who favour a carbon tax.

This wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't for the fact that every reputable environmentalist group will tell you that a carbon tax is the best way to affect the change needed, and that cap/trade is a market non-solution. In other words, the NDP is choosing its platform based on what it thinks will win them power over what is right for the country. You may sense a theme developing.

The Senate

Their position on the senate is untenable, impractical, and dishonest. Ignoring for the moment that almost all of the countries on the planet with a single governing house are what you and I might refer to as banana republics, an upper house is a crucial check on the power of the lower house, and in a parliamentary system like ours that vests so much power in the hands of a single person, the prime minister, this is a Very Bad Idea.

On top of that, abolition is quite impossible as it would require support for all of the provinces and every constitutional lawyer in the country will tell you that there's no way you'll ever get everyone on board with abolition.

No one is saying that the Senate shouldn't be reformed, but the NDP position of abolition is not good policy. Once again, they're writing policy based on what they think will play better with the public (abolition is much easier to grasp than reform), as opposed to what would be good for the country.

Proportional Representation

After the 2011 election, the NDP, who had been talking about electoral reform months earlier, suddenly came out in favour of first past the post. I distinctly remember listening to CBC's The House, where the NDP MP steadfastly supported FPTP with the typical platitudes of "it's worked for the country for so long" etc. etc. None of this is surprising since it was first-past-the-post that gave them that "orange wave" in Québec.

Then, just last year, they showed up late to the party on electoral reform and did a big blitz where they told everyone that if elected, they'd "make this Canada's last unfair election". Then, as they rose in the polls, all of that rhetoric evaporated, and now their issues page makes absolutely no mention of it.

The Consortium Debate

Thomas Mulcair started this campaign saying he'd gladly debate anywhere, any time, and he's finishing it having backed out of the one debate that was guaranteed to have the most viewers out of the entire Election.

You can't claim to want to lead the country if you're going to run away from debates with your opponents. It doesn't matter that Stephen Harper refused to participate. In fact, Mulcair's refusal simply puts him in bad company, with arguably Canada's worst Prime Minister in history.

The Consortium Debate could have been an opportunity to reach more than 10 million people (as opposed to the paltry 1.5 from the Maclean's Debate) and publicly shame Stephen Harper for abdicating his responsibility to the democratic process. Instead, through his actions, Mulcair legitimised Harper's position and drastically limited the level of political discourse in Canada.

This reason alone would be enough to keep me from the NDP.

Wrap Up

I want to make it clear that I still think that the NDP are better than the Liberals and Conservatives, but I also think that they've fallen far, far from their roots as the sensible socialist alternative. They've become a party of pragmatists, shifting their principles toward whatever they think will win them votes, and for me this is an unforgivable sin.

If you want to lead my country, I expect you to have ideals and principles underlying your positions, policy that's supported by those principles, and a leader that stands behind them. The CCF was that kind of party, Tommy Douglas, Elizabeth May and Jeremy Corbyn are that kind of leader, and voters can smell the stench of an impostor. They smell it on Thomas Mulcair, and they certainly smell it on Justin Trudeau.

I voted Green because they're still the party of principle out there. They take sometimes unpopular positions that are vested in principles as stated by the party members. I don't agree with all of these positions, but I can live with what I see as bad policy if it means that I can trust the party to follow through with everything they say they represent:

  • They called for a carbon tax more than a decade ago, when the science was in but the public was strongly against it. They've never wavered on this.
  • They've always opposed the tar sands because it's bad policy to support an industry that's trying to kill everyone on the planet.
  • They routinely call for order and respect in the House of Commons.
  • They support the reduction of powers of the Prime Minister, because we shouldn't be electing de-facto dictators, and for the increase in power of MPs so that they can do the work of local representation.
  • Their leader is an accomplished lawyer, parliamentarian and diplomat, dedicated to her role as MP and advocate for a safe environment.

I also think that their position on the senate is silly and impractical, and that their opposition to GMOs is anti-science and idiotic, but as it's clear that neither of these are priorities in the party, I'm unconcerned given their positions on real issues that actually matter.

When it comes time to vote in this election, who would you rather support, a party that stands by what it says, or a party that has demonstrated that their ideology and even their science will bend to pragmatism?

November 01, 2010 10:30 +0000  |  Canada Capitalism Corporations Democracy NDP Politics 0

I will post details about this year's Hallowe'en stuff soon, but I wanted to share this for now. Below is a video clip from 1978 of Tommy Douglas addressing the House of Commons. There's two things that I'd like to point out to you before you watch it:

  1. This is a man talking about energy independence in 1978.
  2. Note the remarkable lack of noise and heckling in the room. Thirty years has changed much.

January 22, 2010 08:49 +0000  |  Bloc Québécois Canada Conservatives Democracy Green Party Liberals NDP Politics 11

So that word is floating around again "Prorogue". For those of you who missed it, I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you, but we've all been without representation in the federal government now for almost a month now. Stephen Harper, our Prime Minister decided to shut down parliament back in December and won't be affording us representation until some time in March.

That's three months paid vacation for a parliament that sat for only 49days last year. Three months without the business of government being done, without your voice being heard in the House. Sure Harper still gets to be the boss and represent Canada abroad and at the Olympics, and no, our soldiers in Afghanistan don't get to take a break. Addressing our commitments on climate change won't happen by the Copenhagen deadline, and we're all still paying taxes for the privilege of living in a democracy.

People have staged (successful) revolutions for less.

In Canada though, where we once saw only apathy, there appears to be some exciting movement among the grass roots. Hundreds of thousands of people have joined a Facebook group denouncing Harper's Conservatives for this move and the numbers keep growing. Support for the Conservatives has begun to dwindle as well and now there are rallies planned around the world in condemnation of this prorogue.

Here's a list of what proroguing means to Canada:

  1. Committees investigating accusations of torture of Afghan detainees stop working.
  2. Questions about Canada's inaction at the Copenhagen climate-change summit are silenced. Opportunities to move forward with Canada’s plan for sustainable development are stalled for over a month.
  3. Discussions and decisions about the pension crisis affecting Canada’s seniors stops.
  4. All 37 bills being debated in Parliament are thrown in the trash. Discussion on bills starts from scratch in March, wasting months of hard work by all parties. These bills included new crime legislation, and limits on credit card insurance rates, etc.
  5. Your MP cannot raise your concerns in Ottawa
  6. Harper will still appoint Conservative senators, giving him control of the Senate.

Frankly, it's actions like these that make it hard for me to claim that I live in a democracy. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that we've become a cyclical banana republic. As for what the other parties are saying...

  • The Liberals have flat-out said that they're going back to work with or without the Conservatives on January 25th, the original date that Parliament would have reconvened.
  • The NDP have similarly said that they will be "on Parliament Hill" on the 25th, though I'm unsure as to what that means exactly.
  • The Bloc Québécois have condemned the prorogation but as far as I can tell, have not said anything about showing up to work.
  • The Greens, not in possession of a seat (yet) also condemned the Harper move and will be out at the rallies tomorrow across the country as well.

So what can you do? Some suggestions:

  • Tell your friends and family about this. A lot of people still don't know that they're paying taxes to a non-existent government and the Conservatives are counting on an ignorant public to keep them in power. Don't let them have it.
  • Join in on one of the rallies this Saturday, January 23rd. They're happening all over the world in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Amsterdam and even Costa Rica. Details are on Vancouver's rally starts at 1pm at the VAG, while Toronto's starts at 1pm at Dundas Square.
  • Call your MP. If (s)he's a Conservative, tell them to get back to work. If they aren't, tell them to consider all alternatives for bringing democracy back to our government. The Coalition is still an option, if only the opposition parties can learn to get along.

I'll be at the event in Vancouver, so if you care to come along, let me know and we can meet up :-)

December 06, 2008 00:55 +0000  |  Activism Bloc Québécois Canada Coalition Conservatives Liberals NDP Politics 2

It was brought to my attention today that one of the really useful things you can do to support the Coalition is to encourage those in the coalition to keep going. Every one of the MPs is taking a risk here and they need to know that they have your support in participating in this Coalition.

Below I've attached a copy of my letter to Coalition MPs which you can reuse if you like, but I encourage you to write your own. The letter is followed by two sets of email addresses, to make it easy to copy & paste into your mail client. As there are so many MPs (a House majority in fact!), the list must be broken into two parts to make sure that your message doesn't get bounced as spam. To send this, or a more personal letter on your behalf, simply open your mail client, copy & paste the a group of addresses into the To: field and hit send.

I'm sure that you're receiving a great many of these so I'll try to keep mine brief. As a member of the 62% who elected a progressive majority in this country, I'm writing you to let you know that I support you, and that we need you to keep going.

You're probably getting all kinds of letters talking about how terribly important this young coalition is and how dangerous and autocratic Harper will be if permitted to continue his government. Some of these letters are undoubtedly exaggerated. Many however, are not.

Harper has gone out of his way to prove that he is not worthy of the Prime Minister's office. He's lied to the House, he's lied to the people and now he's decided to subvert our Democracy and shut everything down. If you let this go, he will only continue his actions and in the end he will bury the opposition in a mountain of propaganda and fear-mongering.

I know it's tough. The Liberal party has been decimated by a constant erosion of its base support on the Left, while the NDP is struggling with its own losses to the Liberals and the Greens. You're tired, you're broke, and Harper is holding all the money and power he needs to win. But you have my support, and that of millions upon millions of others in this country -- a majority, in fact, that wants this man gone and a progressive agenda in the House. We are willing to fight with you, but you must be willing to win.

Do what you can to hold it together for the next six weeks. Know that you have the support of the majority and use that when you put Harper's Conservatives back where they belong: in the Opposition.

Thank you for representing us.

Daniel Quinn
Vancouver Centre

And here's the list of email addresses. Just copy & paste each set into a separate email:

Group 1

<>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>

Group 2

<>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>

If you're really feeling daring, you might even want to send a letter to the Conservatives, encouraging them to cross the floor and join the coalition. Here's my letter, followed by another list of emails:

I'm sure that you're likely getting a barrage of emails lately, what with your party closing up Parliament, so I'll try to keep this short.

I'm writing you to ask you to do something crazy; something daring: I'm asking you to reconsider your seat in the House.

I know, it's crazy, you're probably a big fan of free markets and tax cuts and I can't blame you. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and you, an elected representative, won your seat based on those opinions. I would never attempt to prevent you from fulfilling your duty as a representative of the people.

But your boss would.

Stephen Harper has continually gone out of his way to muzzle your fellow party members. He's redirected blame and fired ministers for his own incompetence and he's made a mockery of our political process by continually bullying the opposition rather than trying to work with them in a minority government. He's fired people for doing their job, lied to the House of Commons, and now he's committed the greatest of sins: he's closed down Parliament in a time when we clearly need leadership.

I know that you're a loyal party member. I know that it may be political suicide for you to not support Stephen Harper at a time like this, but I ask you to take a moment to think about the country. How might Canada be better served? By a coalition, or by an autocrat?

You don't have to like the Bloc, or the NDP, or the Liberals. I don't like them much either. But I see in them something I've never seen in Harper: a willingness to make the country work. For that alone, I would submit that as a loyal Canadian citizen, your own political position requires reflection.

Thanks for your time.

Daniel Quinn
Vancouver Centre

Conservative Party Emails (Group 1)

<>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>

Conservative Party Emails (Group 2)

<>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <o'>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>

December 04, 2008 19:36 +0000  |  Bloc Québécois Canada Conservatives Democracy Liberals NDP 5

So for those of you who weren't waiting with baited breath for the news from the Govenor General this morning, I'll break down what happened:

Basically, Stephen Harper went to the Govenor General and "advised" her to suspend Parliament for six weeks. This advisory meeting took something like two and a half hours.

For the rest of us, this means that in the midst of serious economic and environmental need, the Conservatives have decided that their holding onto power is more important than running the country. I think that Liberal leadership candidate Bob Rae said it best when he equated it to a kid pulling the fire alarm to skip out on an exam he knew he'd fail.

For my part, frankly I'm really disappointed in Harper, though not at all surprised. This is a man who goes on live television and outright lies to the people, fabricates stories in the House and even disavows any knowlege of his own disreputable past when confronted with the facts. Far from being Prime Minister material, Stephen Harper is both an autocrat and a coward.

I can only hope that the millions of dollars his party will likely spend on propaganda over the Christmas holiday will have little or no effect on the Will of the people and that the Liberal/NDP coalition will walk back into parliament in late January to finish what they started so we can be rid of this man for good. Until then however, barring revolution, Canada will have to live without Democracy through the Christmas season.

December 02, 2008 16:19 +0000  |  Canada Conservatives Liberals NDP 7

With all the spin around what's going on in the House of Commons regarding this new Coalition, I'd like to make one thing quite clear: Canadians did not elect a Conservative governemnt in 2008.

It's true, The Conservative Party took more seats than anyone else, but for them to claim that they have the support of the country is really quite disingenuous. With a popular support of only 37%, and most of that resting in 3 provinces, claiming that "Canada elected Stephen Harper" is preposterous. In reality, 63% of the country voted for left-leaning ideals and did so by showing our support for a variety of parties.

Canadians have got to lose this wrong-headed thinking that Canada is a two-party system as this hasn't been true for decades. There are five parties garnering a significant share of the votes in each election and as a whole, they represent the Will of the Canadian people. Instead, we need to start acknowledging the fact that coalitions are the nature of parliamentary democracies so that we might always be governed by a majority in the form of a united set of diverse voices.

This coalition, as convoluted as it may be, should not be a one-time experiment but rather a first step. The next one is proportional representation so that the interests and diversity of the entire country might finally be represented in our governing House. Both Dion and Layton know this, but whether they choose to act on it as the new governement will be an interesting chapter in their new partnership.

November 30, 2008 22:44 +0000  |  Canada Conservatives Green Party Liberals NDP 2

In case you haven't been paying attention to Canadian politics lately, here's a quick easy-to-understand recap for you:

Roughly six weeks ago we had an election with the lowest turnout ever which resulted in yet another minority government. Canadians didn't want another election, and Harper himself said that he wouldn't call another election, but he changed his mind because he thought that he could win a majority. He was wrong and Canadians delivered roughly the same verdict we had for the last three elections: a minority.

True to form, Harper has continued to run his minority as if it were a majority, repeatedly holding the "do what I want or I'll send us into another election" threat over the heads of the Commons. In his latest move however, Harper appears to have crossed the line. Here we are in the midst of an economic crisis and he's still focused on destroying the opposition when he should be trying to fix the country.

On Friday the Conservatives attempted to pass a bill that would kill public funding for political parties ($1.95 is given to each party for every vote they receive in each election). This funding is important for the Greens, NDP, Bloc and Liberals, but since the Conservatives receive the most private funding, they're happy to see it go.

The other part of the bill was an announcement that Canada was doing just fine, and would actually scrape by next year with a surplus. This was accomplished by way of some creative accounting and the selling off of Canadian assets. There would also be no investment in infrastructure or any stimulus package (money given in the form of tax breaks and grants to individuals and corporations to reduce the need for job cuts etc). Oh, and they also want to ban strikes for public unions until 2011, cancelling all collective agreements.

These together were enough to piss off the opposition for the last time. Tired of being dictated to by the minority of the House, the Liberals and NDP are talking coalition which would mean that Harper would lose his job as Prime Minister and a Dion would take his place, the leader of a mix of representatives from the Liberals and NDP. The Bloc, a predominantly left-leaning and progressive party would support them, but would not be part of the coalition.

Harper's response to this has been to tell the Opposition that they can't speak in the house until next week.

For my part, I find myself somewhat torn. For the most part I agree with the Conservative assessment of the economy. Writing up a stimulus package while we don't know what Obama has planned for his country is pretty pointless. On the other hand, Harper has consistently shown his disdain for democracy and the Will of the People and for that I want him gone. If this is the only way to do it, then I'm on board.

There's already a growing body of support around this NDP/Liberal alliance. Canadians for a Progressive Coalition have published the video seen here. I encourage you to watch it as it explains the numbers better than I ever could.

Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

These are exciting times for Canada and its method of governance. I encourage you to keep tabs on your favourite news source to see history unfold. And for those of you hopeful for a Conservative demise, there's already a Facebook group for Stephen Harper's last day in office.

October 08, 2008 21:15 +0100  |  Canada Conservatives Green Party Liberals NDP Politics 0

The CBC hosted a televised debate for Vancouver-Centre candidates not too long ago and they'll be running the show tonight at 4:30pm, 7:00pm and 11pm PST on CBC Newsworld. While the "victor" has not been released, the following claims that the Greens did very well. If you're currently living in Vancouver-Centre or are just interested in how some of the lesser candidates are doing, it might be worth checking out:

The X Challenge with Mark Kelly / 4:30 pm, 7:00 pm and 11 pm PST

Tune in today (Wednesday, October 08) to CBC Newsworld and watch Green Party deputy leader and Vancouver Centre candidate Adriane Carr triumph in debate and studio audience polling on The X Challenge with Mark Kelley. The program airs at 4:30 pm, 7:00 pm, and 11 pm PST.

Adriane appeared with two other Vancouver Centre candidates, the NDP's Michael Byers and Conservative's Lorne Mayencourt, as well as Liberal Ujjhal Dosanjh, in a debate format that enabled voters to put their questions directly to the candidates, and to vote on the results.

After 90 minutes of debate, questions and answers, and voter polling, a final poll asked the audience to indicate if any minds had been changed.

We promised not to reveal the results of this pre-taped program, but let's just say that Green Party supporters will be delighted by Adriane's performance in the debates, and thrilled by her final placement in the polls.

It would be hard to imagine a better outcome!

The audience of about 100 was selected to represent political leanings as indicated by CBC's latest rolling poll and the idea was to gauge how many voters were influenced, and in which direction, by candidate's participation in the debate and answers to audience questions.

The X Challenge will air today, Wednesday, October 08, at 4:30 pm, 7:00 pm and 11 pm Pacific Time on CBC Newsworld. Don't miss it!

Strange that Hedy Fry, the Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Centre didn't show up and sent Dosanjh instead. I'm interested to hear their reasoning on that one.

I have no idea if it'll be available online, but if I find it, I'll post the link here.

Update: 2008-10-09 00:04:14 -08:00

True to form, the CBC has posted the entire debate online. Enjoy!

October 03, 2008 00:38 +0100  |  Canada Conservatives Green Party Liberals NDP Politics 1

I just got an email from someone promoting and I really wanted to rant here.

I really, really hate that site. Aside from the fact that it flat-out tells you not to vote for a party that wants to make the environment better, it openly advocates for a party with a long record for doing the opposite. Has everyone forgotten that the Liberals are the ones who actively gutted health care and the environment for twelve years before they were finally kicked out of office? How can anyone claim that they're better than the Conservatives on either of these issues when they've done everything they could to support big business over clean air and fresh water in the last two decades?

Sure Stefan Dion might be different from his predecessors, but you can be sure that the people under him like Hedy Fry (my current MP) haven't changed. Innaction and fear-mongering are the tennets of the Liberal party and claiming to support them in the name of the environment is either naive or misleading. Take your pick.

It's sites like this that foster fear and promote a complete lack of action on issues that they claim to support. If they just wanted to advocate that Harper's Conservatives are bad for Canada, I'd be right behind them, but claiming that a Liberal government would be better for the environment is like claiming that white cats don't eat mice. It's laughable.

Elections are at the core of democracy. We take what the people want, tally up the votes and move our government in that direction as a result. It's not a betting pool, it isn't a chess game. To use a phrase I read earlier today: "Don't vote for the lesser of two evils, vote for the one that isn't evil". It's not like you don't have a choice ladies and gentlemen, there are at least 4 candidates in every riding in this country and if you're interested in the health of the environment, I can promise you that the Liberals and Conservatives aren't the least bit interested in doing anything about it.