By Colby Cosh - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
The provincial election in British Columbia, with its surprise outcome and its cornucopia of subplots, was a pundit’s delight. There was an explosive failure of public pre-election polling, complete with “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN”-level humiliations for local newspapers. (This was bad for pundits, you say? Like hell: Look how much material it gave them.) There was an awkward defeat of a standing premier in her own riding at a moment in which she bestrode the province like Lady Colossus. And there were the complex effects of smaller parties on what was otherwise a two-horse race. Specifically, there was what the B.C. Green party did to the New Democrats. Whatever that was, exactly.
By The Canadian Press - Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 6:16 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada says it will not run a candidate…
OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada says it will not run a candidate in the Labrador riding vacated by former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue and is urging the NDP to follow suit.
In a statement released on Saturday, Green leader Elizabeth May says such co-operation would rally the progressive vote behind the Liberals and encourage proportional representation.
In a news release, Liberal leadership candidate Joyce Murray claims she orchestrated the bid to elect a Grit, saying she called May and asked her not to run a candidate in the Labrador byelection.
In 2011, Liberal Todd Russell lost to Penashue by 79 votes.
Penashue quit his post earlier this month after Elections Canada found his election campaign had accepted 28 different ineligible donations.
He has since pledged to run in a byelection, and is being supported by the prime minister, even though Elections Canada is continuing to investigate.
Elections Canada documents show that almost $48,000 in improper donations have been repaid to the federal Receiver General.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper led a spirited defence of the ex-intergovernmental affairs minister in the House of Commons.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM - 0 Comments
The aftereffects in Alberta of the Nov. 26 Calgary-Centre federal byelection, carried off by Conservative Joan Crockatt with just 37 per cent of the vote, have officially become super hilarious. The reader will recall that the two main challengers for a Conservative seat in a relatively liberal-friendly part of Calgary were the capital-L Liberal Harvey Locke, who has spent decades as a top wilderness preservation advocate and all-around Nature Boy, and the Green Party’s Chris Turner, an urbanist author and magazine writer who uses the word “sustainable” with a frequency best characterized as “intolerable”. In short, the two parties both nominated professional environmentalists, neither of whom have done a whole lot else with their lives. We could all probably have anticipated a problem here.
How does a Green candidate run against a Harvey Locke? Turner was shrewd and cynical enough to find an answer: berate the older guy as an out-of-touch Seventies green who, as Locke had admitted in an interview, didn’t even move to Calgary from Banff until it looked like there might be a Commons seat available amid Cowtown’s dark Sanatic mills. (Asked by your correspondent if she approved of this campaigning style, Elizabeth May observed that the GPC is not one of those old-fashioned “top-down parties” in which the leader orders candidates about.) Locke, for his part, spluttered that his young rival was a “twerp”. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
The Green candidate in the Calgary Centre byelection finds lessons in the result.
Once party nominations have occurred and staff has been assigned, strategies and platforms established, signs and literature produced, it’s not just logistically difficult but fundamentally undemocratic to insist on co-operation. This is for the simple reason that every vote counts and every voter remains entitled to a free choice on the ballot. Once the race is on, there’s no putting the horses back into the barn.
What’s more, the presumption that a strong third horse in the race splits the vote is often ignorant of the facts at street level on the campaign trail. This was certainly the case in Calgary Centre, where my campaign saw a huge gain in momentum throughout the latter half of the campaign – not by eroding Liberal backing (which remained steady at around 30 per cent throughout the campaign), but by capturing substantial wedges of support from disaffected Conservatives, NDP voters looking for a better chance at backing a winner, and unaligned voters. My campaign did not split the vote in Calgary; we built our own coalition on the Green Party’s broad, moderate platform.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
Some of the Green party leader’s comments to reporters after QP yesterday.
Remember, this was a byelection. So there was no—I think people get panicked about vote splitting. Whether it is another Conservative, whether all the three ridings had gone Conservative, it wouldn’t have changed the dynamic in the House of Commons one bit. So in a general election, you have a different set of concerns and I think the Liberals, the NDP, need to start talking to each other. I’ve said that for some time. The Green Party at our convention actually had the members pass a resolution calling for me and our federal council to seek cooperation with the other parties so that in the 2015 election, we—I don’t know what form or shape that would take, but at least have discussions with a goal of after the 2015 election, getting rid of first past the post. The only reason we have all these panics about vote splitting and strategic [voting] is because we have one of the most bizarre voting systems that remains in any modern industrialized democracy. We’ve got a situation where the minority of voters can elect the majority of seats and where people worry needlessly. In the case of Victoria, we would have won in my view if the NDP hadn’t launched a last-minute fear campaign to tell supporters that if they voted green the Conservative would come up in the middle. Well the Conservative was stuck at 12% and wasn’t going to budge and it was very clear.
So that vote spitting argument works on all sides. It can motivate people to vote, not for what they want, but against what they’re afraid of and in a set of byelections, we went into them thinking that this was an opportunity certainly to make sure that people could see the Green Party was viable in different kinds of ridings across the country and certainly you know, the fact … that parties that are larger than us, that were in what were presumed to be safe seats, when they won by over 50% just 18 months ago and I refer to both the Calgary Conservatives and the Victoria New Democratics, they eked out victories by very narrow margins and I think that’s a sign that really the politics of Canada is different. The Green Party is a force electorally across the country…
Again, I can’t stress it enough. Byelections do not put in place a government in power. So there’s much less to fear and the fact that people play on this, you know, you’ve got to vote for one party over the other because you’ve got to be afraid of a Conservative additional seat: that’s not going to change the dynamic in the House of Commons. In byelections, I felt much less pressure, but as I said, our party has a policy. Our membership has passed a resolution calling on us to seek cooperation. I did attempt to see, cooperation with one of the major parties before these byelections. I’m not going to go into details, but they weren’t interested.
So you know, we’re just in a position when in byelections, you want to do the best you can to ensure that a different voice is heard on the federal landscape and I think we did remarkably well and I’m very pleased that—you know, people wrote off Victoria as a place where, because Denise Savoie had last been elected there with over 50% of the vote, there was the assumption that it was such a safe NDP seat, that at least nationally, nobody really bothered to cover the fact that our momentum was huge. If the election campaign had been one week longer, we would have taken Victoria. In the meantime, Calgary Centre, I think that … who would have imagined before these byelections that you would even be asking me about a strong showing by the Green Party in Calgary Centre.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:36 AM - 0 Comments
Reviewing the by-elections, Alice Funke focuses on the Green vote.
But, if you look more closely at the right-hand side of the second graph above, and examine the parties’ historic vote-shares in the three by-election ridings, you are immediately struck by what became in many ways the most unexpected story of the evening. And this has big implications for all those trying to “unite the progressive vote” like LeadNow.ca, 1CalgaryCentre.com, and authors like Paul Adams of PowerTrap.ca … The Green Party cut into the Conservative vote in Western Canada. Substantially.
… What this suggests to me is that strategies aimed at causing parties to withdraw from certain ridings may have quite different outcomes than their proponents predict. And the one riding that was the most beset with endless clumsy tactical manipulation and cross-party griping about who was splitting whose vote, also wound up (perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not) being the riding with the lowest voter turnout.
Meanwhile, the Greens have clearly delivered a scare to the three other political parties in english Canada in this round of by-elections, and have finally understood the importance of a beach-head versus rising tide strategy to a small party, especially during by-elections. But their continued existence is also in greater jeopardy from the cuts to the public subsidy, as they are not raising nearly enough just yet to replace it and be able to run a substantial enough national campaign to keep beach-head seats in the fold. Also, they have yet to be able to sustain an eye-popping performance from one campaign into the next, as the history of London North Centre, ON, Central Nova, NS,Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, ON, and Guelph, ON amongst others amply demonstrates.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 11:04 AM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth May’s fear factor
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May… is gearing up
Elizabeth May’s fear factor
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is gearing up for the three by-elections (yet to be called) that she hopes could double her caucus of one. She feels the Greens have a chance in Calgary Centre, the riding formerly represented by Conservative Lee Richardson, who resigned to work for Alberta Premier Alison Redford, and in Victoria, which became vacant after NDP MP and deputy Speaker Denise Savoie stepped down for health reasons. One of the advantages of the Victoria riding for May is that it borders her own riding, and she won’t have to get on a plane to help with the campaign. Flying can be a problem for May. “I’m too afraid of flying to sleep,” she says. When she takes the red-eye from B.C. to Ottawa she is pretty much up for 24 hours—a skill, she notes, that has its perks: “That’s why I’m so good at voting all night.”
Tankers not tank tops
Over the summer, NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie, the party’s environment critic, was raising awareness about environmental issues surrounding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. While in British Columbia, her fellow NDP MP Nathan Cullen introduced her to Greer Kaiser, a local activist originally from Nova Scotia, the province that Leslie represents. Leslie connected Kaiser with local Halifax environment groups (the Atlantic chapter of Sierra Club Canada, the Ecology Action Centre and the Atlantic Canada Sustainable Energy Coalition) and the duo brought their pipeline-awareness message to a barbeque called “Tankers vs. Tank Tops.” Participants were asked to wear creative tops for the cause. Leslie had a multicoloured tank top and then put on a T-shirt, given to her by the organizers, that said, “No pipeline. No tankers. No problem.” Liberal MP Geoff Regan attended the event but did not wear a tank top.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth May has compiled a breakdown of every change to environmental regulations contained in the budget bill.
“As more and more people are realizing, the Harper Conservatives have packed their so-called budget bill with lots of non-budget items in order to hide them from the public, and even confuse their elected representatives,” said May. “I decided it was time to itemize the various bills, regulations, policies, and programs that will be affected.”
The Green Party has also set up a hub for information and news about C-38.
New Democrats have called a news conference for 1pm this afternoon to “outline the next steps the NDP will take to ensure better oversight of the government’s 400+ page omnibus Budget Implementation Bill.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:51 PM - 25 Comments
Elizabeth May is joining an attempt to challenge the first-past-the-post electoral system as a violation of the Charter.
The case would argue that the Constitution protects the right of Canadians to have “effective representation,” which goes beyond having the right to cast a ballot. The two groups, the Association for the Advancement of Democratic Rights and Fair Vote Canada, have also earned an endorsement from Green Party leader Elizabeth May.
“The key issue is not that it’s unfair to the Green Party,” May said Tuesday at a news conference with representatives from the two groups. ”It’s unfair to democracy. It’s unfair to voters, and I think it’s a big reason for the decline in voter turnout.”
Ms. May argues that voter turnout is higher in countries with proportional representation. Going back to some numbers I posted last year, that’s somewhat true: all of the countries listed there, with the exception of Canada and France, use some kind of proportional representation. So while proportional representation is present in Denmark, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands (all with turnout over 80%), it is also present in Portugal (under 60%) and Switzerland (under 50%).
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 3:17 PM - 29 Comments
Elizabeth May explains, at length, her feelings about electromagnetic radiation.
When I was first attacked and lambasted for expressing concern about various forms of pollution and human health, I was young and the attackers were brutal. I was worried about things like Agent Orange. Health Canada wasn’t. I was concerned about lead in gas, but it was hard to get the government to act. I worked to get certain pesticides banned, but they were “safe” right up to the day they were banned … There is no scientific consensus on EMF and health. But, it is equally not possible to make the claims many of Twitter have made today that Wi-Fi and cell phones are all proven “safe.”
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 12:49 PM - 5 Comments
Adam Radwanski explains Elizabeth May’s first-past-the-post conundrum.
Of all the arguments to examine how we elect our representatives, the plight of the Green Party probably isn’t at the top of the list. But just as it was beside the point to complain about Ms. May’s exclusion from this year’s debates, which was really just a reflection of her relevance within the current system, it’s equally beside the point to criticize her for making the best of what that system dealt her.
By Scott Feschuk - Friday, May 6, 2011 at 7:00 AM - 57 Comments
Layton imagined Harper would be psyched to meet with him to discuss NDP priorities. It was adorable.
The most surreal moment of election night 2011 took form as it became apparent to one and all that Jack Layton, leader of the Opposition, had lost his mind.
It’s well and good to celebrate a historic surge in one’s popular support. A wide smile and a jubilant bit of cane-waving are undoubtedly in order. But a few lines into Layton’s speech, a nation gaped as it grew clear the NDP leader had mistaken his moral victory for, you know, an actual victory. He seemed to labour under the impression that he would hold sway in the next Parliament. Indeed, Layton went so far as to imagine that Stephen Harper would be psyched to meet with him to discuss NDP priorities.
It was kind of adorable, like a kitten pawing at a vacuum. One envisioned Layton’s aides whispering between themselves:
By macleans.ca - Friday, April 29, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 3 Comments
An all-party debate tackles the biggest issues of the election
Last week in Toronto, Maclean’s and CPAC hosted an all-party debate entitled, “Election 2011: What Does Canada Want Now?” The participants included Jason Kenney of the Conservatives, Liberal David McGuinty, Peggy Nash of the NDP, and the Green party’s Rebecca Harrison. The discussion, which touched on everything from spending and tax cuts to government accountability and the country’s role in the world, was moderated by CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen and featured Maclean’s Andrew Coyne. The following is an edited excerpt.
Andrew Coyne: Let me put this question to David McGuinty. The Liberal party platform contains about $5.5 billion in new spending to provide a variety of social benefits for students, families with elderly dependents, pensioners. It does not, however, spell out a comparable array of spending cuts, just $500 million in unidentified efficiencies. Federal program spending is now in the range of $250 billion. Is there nothing else that you could find to cut from current federal spending?
David McGuinty: Absolutely there is. We’re going to be examining all government spending. We’ve seen an 18 per cent increase in government spending by the Conservatives before the recession hit. It’s the biggest-borrowing, biggest-spending government ever in Canadian history. We’re not confident that the Conservatives’ numbers are adding up right now. Let’s be honest, there’s only been one Conservative government in Canadian history that’s ever taken this country from a deficit position to a surplus position, and that was in 1889. We’re going to be doing a full government review. In the last four years, I think it’s important for Canadians to know, the Conservative government spent $450 million of our tax dollars on advertising, including $27 million for the billboards that we all have the pleasure of seeing on every street corner in this country. All unnecessary spending. We saw the $50-million slush fund used for Tony Clement’s riding up north, while Mr. Kenney’s own ministry cut $53 million for integration and settlement services in Ontario. So there’s all kinds of opportunity to find efficiencies—to work with our public servants—without compromising our cherished public services.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 4:51 PM - 4 Comments
Here is the magazine piece on Michael Ignatieff’s current situation. Here is the math.
In order to do so, the Liberals first need their supporters to return. According to analysis from Alice Funke ofpunditsguide.ca, the loss of Liberal seats in 2008 had less to do with other parties than with a drop in the Liberal vote from 2006 levels. The 800,000 voters that failed to materialize in 2008 are key to Liberal hopes in 2011. In tandem, the Green vote must decline—in 29 of the 31 ridings the Liberals failed to retain in 2008, Funke finds, Green support increased.
Even then, there is the small matter of the NDP and the current reality of political fragmentation. A plurality of Canadians—according to Innovative Research Group’s Canada 20/20 online panel for Maclean’s and Rogers Media—may agree with Ignatieff on student aid and a majority may agree with him on corporate taxes and pension reform, but while Harper is alone on one side of the argument, Ignatieff is competing for such voters. (For complete poll results see macleans.ca/electionpoll.) And NDP support has proved resilient. In the wake of Jack Layton’s performance in the leaders’ debates, the New Democrats have even risen in some polls.
By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM - 46 Comments
Pining for electoral reform—the real Green cause—as the planet burns is pure political narcissism
Getting banned from the leaders’ debates was probably the best thing that could have happened to Green party Leader Elizabeth May. It gave her serious national media attention for the first time since the writ was dropped and earned her the support and sympathy of pundits across the political spectrum. It also allowed May to strike her favourite pose as the innocent victim of our first-past-the-post electoral system—which, face it, is the issue May and her party care most about, certainly more than they care about the environment.
There are basically two ways you can influence the way policy gets made in this country. The first, and most direct, is by working within a large political party to gain political power so you can make policy yourself. The second is by lobbying politicians to implement the policies you want. Since it was formed in 1983, the Green party has been an ineffective hybrid—a single-issue lobby group that also happened to run candidates in federal elections, finding no great success by either measure.
Elizabeth May’s victory in the 2006 leadership race was supposed to change all of that. Electing the popular and charismatic May was the party’s attempt at becoming a serious political party, with the overarching goal of an environmentally sustainable economy served by a broad electoral platform promoting smart jobs, green energy and fair trade.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, April 18, 2011 at 7:46 PM - 124 Comments
Above is a summary of the latest seat projections from a variety of sources. As can be seen, the consensus has the Fascists (Conservatives) short of the 155 seats needed for a majority, with the Visitors (Liberals — the former Crooks (2004/6) and Not a Leaders (2008)) making only a slight improvement on their dismal showing last time out. The Commies (NDP) and Traitors (Bloc) are down slightly from their 2008 totals, though these projections may not reflect the rise in NDP support the polls have been picking up in recent days.
Oh, and the Ewocs (an acronym, from the immortal Tabatha Southey epithet for the Greens, “Europeans without cigarettes” — though it also has a pleasing furry-critter connotation)? Shut out again.
In sum: at this point everybody is losing.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, April 18, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 4 Comments
You have to love those seniors
Bev Oda… has three campaign offices in her
You have to love those seniors
Bev Oda has three campaign offices in her large Ontario riding of Durham. The one in Port Perry is right across from the only McDonald’s in town. As one volunteer noted, everyone in town sees it because it is right by the drive-through. It’s almost as good a location as the one Oda had during the last campaign when her office was right across from the liquor store.
Port Perry recently had a Tartan Day parade, which Oda marched in. She wore an RCMP tartan she picked up at the Wee Tartan Shop, a store in town that specializes in British goods. The owner of the shop, Stewart Bennett, is the person who organized the parade; he’s also often the person who sings the national anthem at Oda’s fundraisers. While looking around in the shop before the festivities, Oda spotted a DVD trivia game for the British TV show Coronation Street and considered picking one up for the Prime Minister because, she says, he’s a big fan of the show. The store also sells pickled garlic, which Oda buys as gifts for people, though she herself isn’t a big fan of it. She often gets Defence Minister Peter MacKay Nova Scotia scarves from the shop “because he keeps losing them.”
Like most MPs, during the election, Oda’s duties as minister of international co-operation are curtailed, with the exception of dealing with international catastrophes such as earthquakes or hurricanes. On the campaign trail, people are clearly aware of the big “not” scandal. (Says one Oda supporter: “This a seniors’ community so they have nothing to do but read.”) But no one ever says anything directly to the minister. It’s more along the lines of: “You’ve had a rough time, eh?” Maybe that’s because everyone is also well aware of all the things Oda has brought to the riding, including fixing up the waterfront in Port Perry.
While campaigning at an event put on by Durham Farm Connections, Oda spent time with the farmer working the alpaca section. When Oda inquired about the animals for her own farmland, she was told she would have to get at least two because they are herd animals. “Do they spit?” she asked. She was assured they could be trained.
There aren’t many visible minorities in the riding. Oda, who is Japanese Canadian, lives in the town of Orono where she counts “the people who run the Chinese restaurant and the guy at the convenience store” and herself as the “multicultural centre.”
‘Dirty Picture’ in Ajax
Stephen Harper has attempted to run a risk-free campaign, but his soundtrack is a little out there. First there was the photo op with 10-year-old Maria Aragon singing Lady Gaga’s gay-bi-transgendered anthem Born This Way. Then, during a rally in Ajax, Ont., one of the songs pumping up the room before Harper came in was Taio Cruz and Ke$ha’s Dirty Picture club anthem, which includes the lyrics: “So take a dirty picture for me / Take a dirty picture / Just take a dirty picture.”
When the lights went out for May
Just as Green Leader Elizabeth May was about to launch her party’s platform at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, the TV crews’ lights went out. “Thanks for observing Earth Minute,” joked May, not missing a beat as people went to check the breaker switch. She then filled time by talking about her very first press conference, when she was four and was used as a “prop” by her activist mother.
They all scream for…
It’s not often hundreds of people flock to an MP. But Toronto NDP candidate Olivia Chow recently had them eating out of her hand. She was helping give out free mini ice cream cones to promote the Big Chill, an ice cream parlour in the city’s hip Little Italy. Too bad she couldn’t have any herself. Chow happens to be lactose intolerant so settled for mango sherbet, “the colour of the NDP,” the MP astutely added.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 8:37 AM - 21 Comments
I’ve been catching up with the various party platforms, and doing my best to use one of the pet heuristics I developed in my columnist days: looking for the most positive thing I could possibly say about those whose overall philosophies I strongly oppose. In this election, that is pretty well everybody. But I started with the Greens and the New Democrats, because that is where the task of being sympathetic is hardest for a gun-crazed oil-drunk Albertan.
The contrast between the parties’ platforms is interesting: the Green ideas induce slightly more sheer nausea of the “literally everything in here is eye-slashingly horrible” kind, but at the same time there is a consoling breath of radicalism pervading Vision Green, a redeeming Small Is Beautiful spirit. At least, one feels, their nonsense is addressed to the individual. A typical laissez-faire economist would probably like the Green platform the least of the four on offer from national parties, but the Greens may be the strongest of all in advocating the core precept that prices are signals. At one point, denouncing market distortions created by corporate welfare, Vision Green approvingly quotes the maxim “Governments are not adept at picking winners, but losers are adept at picking governments.” (The saying is attributed to a 2006 book by Mark Milke of the Fraser Institute, but a gentleman named Paul Martin Jr. had uttered a version of it as early as 2000.)
The New Democratic platform is more adult and serious than the Greens’ overall, which comes as no surprise. But it occurs to me, not for the first time this year, how much some folks love “trickle-down politics” when they are not busy denouncing “trickle-down economics”. How does Jack Layton hope to remedy the plight of the Canadian Indian? By “building a new relationship” with his politicians and band chiefs. How does he propose to improve the lot of artists? By flooding movie and TV producers, and funding agencies, with money and tax credits. He’ll help parents by giving money to day care entrepreneurs; he’ll sweeten the pot for “women’s groups” and “civil society groups”. One detects, perhaps mostly from prejudice, a suffocating sense of system-building, of unskeptical passion for bureaucracy, of disrespect for the sheer power of middlemen to make value disappear.
There is one specific difference between the platforms that leaps out when they are read together: Vision Green has a section on “Ending the war on drugs.”
In 2008, according to the Treasury Board, Canada spent $61.3 million targeting illicit drugs, with a majority of that money going to law enforcement. Most of that was for the “war” against cannabis (marijuana). Marijuana prohibition is also prohibitively costly in other ways, including criminalizing youth and fostering organized crime. Cannabis prohibition, which has gone on for decades, has utterly failed and has not led to reduced drug use in Canada.
Green MPs, we are promised, would remove marijuana from the schedule of illegal drugs outright. It’s the “legalize and tax” approach, presented mostly without the usual cowardly conditions—though, being Greens, they can’t resist stipulating that regulations should confine production to “small, independent growers”. (There is no earthly reason giant industrial concerns shouldn’t be allowed to get in the game if they want to.)
The NDP platform is silent on the drug war and on marijuana. Jack Layton used to be the favourite son of the single-issue stoners, and decriminalization appeared in past platforms. Now we see the mustachioed one repeating “potent pot” fairy stories on the campaign trail and calling for an “adult conversation”, instead of for policies that treat adults as adults. Note that when the Star‘s reporter asked a follow-up question, Layton immediately started cracking wise; someone should explain to him that “adult conversation” about drug policy does not involve dropping smirking hints about the personal predilections of participants.
It would not be quite so extraordinary for Layton to play the smug ass, of course, were he not a cancer survivor currently reaping a hard-earned harvest of sympathy. As he knows—as some kindly professional has perhaps told him—many people in his plight find marijuana a useful part of their therapeutic regimen, particularly in overcoming the effects of chemical and radiation treatments. I don’t suppose he will have any trouble obtaining marijuana if he decides he should want it; maybe he already has. But what about the less privileged? Have they been altogether forgotten by their social-democratic tribune?
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 4:32 PM - 30 Comments
In this platform you will find a vision for a modern, smart economy that reduces the deficit, creates new jobs that won’t be gone tomorrow, and doesn’t rely on generating pollution to generate energy. We see a future Canada with vibrant, well-educated and motivated citizens, living in healthy communities, eating safe and healthy food, and enjoying a life-giving, healthy natural world.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives are set to present their platform tomorrow. The NDP will follow on Sunday.
By Andrew Coyne - Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 6:15 PM - 53 Comments
Let’s suppose Ford, GM and Chrysler sat down with all the television networks, and agreed to ban Toyota ads from the airwaves. Would anyone think this was right? To be sure, these are all private companies, who are entitled to decide for themselves with whom they will deal. But there would presumably be some anti-competition concerns raised even then.
But now suppose we are talking not about the auto industry, but an election campaign — the very essence of a public matter — the centrepiece of which is a televised election debate: the more so because there will be only one such debate, in each official language. Yet the dynamics of what has just happened are the same: the networks, in collusion with the four established political parties, have agreed to exclude another party from the debate(s) — that is, to exclude one of the established parties’ competitors, the Green Party.
Personally, I think this is outrageous. It’s obviously impossible to include every single party, no matter how marginal, in the debates, or mayhem would ensue. But the Greens are hardly a marginal party. In the last election, they pulled nearly 1-million votes, or 7 per cent of the vote: all the smaller parties combined added up to less than 1 per cent. The Greens have clearly broken from the pack. They have much more in common with the big four than the others, including running candidates in all (or nearly all) 308 ridings.
Whoops. The Bloc runs candidates in barely a quarter of the ridings, but they’re in. But — as a thousand bloggers rise to point out — the Bloc has seats in Parliament, unlike the Greens. But why should that be the decisive factor? Surely that’s a comment more on our broken electoral system than anything else. As it is, the Greens are able to attract nearly a million voters to trudge to the polls on their behalf, in the certain knowledge that they will not elect a single member. Imagine how many votes they might get if they actually had a chance of electing someone. Or if people had a chance to see their leader in the debate(s).
Anyway. I have my views on whether the Greens should be allowed in, and you have yours. But there should be some transparent, generally accepted rule that guides these decisions, rather than ad hoc negotiations behind closed doors. And surely we can agree that whatever the rule is, it should not be set by a consortium of the self-interested, but by some independent, impartial arbiter. Yet here we are, yet again, with the same rampantly conflicted crew being allowed to decide the rules of our democracy.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 7:40 PM - 78 Comments
The networks have decided not to invite Elizabeth May to the leaders’ debates.
Ms. May was similarly not invited in 2008. At the time it was explained that three parties were prepared to boycott the debates if she was included, but Stephane Dion subsequently advocated on her behalf and the Bloc Quebecois said Gilles Duceppe would not avoid the debates if May was present. Jack Layton folded in short order and the Conservatives followed Mr. Layton. With none of the participants threatening to boycott proceedings, Ms. May was thus allowed to participate.
In this case, the broadcasters are said to have ”unanimously decided they wanted to invite the four parties that have representation in the House.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 10:06 AM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth May calls for civility in Ottawa, while Barack Obama backs away from a pledge to close Gitmo
Fixing the House
Fed up with Ottawa’s increasingly partisan tone, Green Leader Elizabeth May has launched an attack ad attacking attack ads. More civility in, and out of, the House is a good idea, and we urge all parties to take heed. For example, Tory Michael Chong’s motion to bring back decorum to question period is stuck in committee limbo, and risks dying if an election is called. Perhaps a pledge from MPs to show up in the chamber more often might get things moving in the right direction.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
While Steve Jobs has been forced to hand over the reins at Apple due to illness, it was reassuring to see him appear on a stage last week in San Francisco to reveal the company’s latest tablet, the sleek iPad 2. Jobs looked frail, but his participation was nevertheless a welcome reminder that he still has a hand in the game. We shudder to imagine what technology and design would look like without him.
The age of Discovery
The shuttle Discovery returned to Earth this week completing its 39th, and final, trip into space. In service for 30 years, the oldest remaining shuttle had many important missions, including the deployment, and later repair, of the Hubble telescope and construction of the International Space Station. Among the special tributes was a morning wake-up call for the astronauts from Star Trek’s William Shatner. Only two more shuttle missions remain before all the craft are retired. Time for the next generation.
Fashion and passion
The International Football Association has banned the wearing of “snoods”—combo neck-warmers and hoods—during matches. Critics, particularly in the English Premier League, groused that they were unmanly, but FIFA president Sepp Blatter says it’s a matter of safety. “It can also be dangerous. It can be like to hang somebody.” Given the amount of diving and fakery in the men’s game, it might be too late to preserve its dignity. Thankfully, there’s always the example of Canada’s women, who beat Scotland, Italy and England en route to a berth in the final of the Cyprus Cup. With our country set to host the 2015 Women’s World Cup, all the more reason to cheer.
President Barack Obama came to power vowing to shut down the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and bring its detainees—many held without charge for a decade—to justice. But in the face of strong opposition to warehousing and trying accused terrorists on U.S. soil, he reversed the first part of that plan. This week, he took another huge step backwards, reinstating George W. Bush’s system of military tribunals. Surely the world’s leading democracy shouldn’t fear free and open trails. Justice must be seen to be done.
While the international community dithers about imposing a no-fly zone over Libyan skies, Col. Moammar Gadhafi continues to use his air force to bomb and strafe both rebels and civilians. Removing this madman from power would clearly benefit not only the country, but the whole world. So far, the only thing anti-Gadhafi forces have been getting are snooping visitors, like the eight British spies and commandos captured and sent packing last week. Too bad the West seems to favour intrigue over real action.
Spring is creeping closer, but winter remains Canada’s season of danger. In Chambly, Que., a man died when the snow fort he was making for his stepson collapsed on top of him. In southwestern Ontario, an eight-year-girl is missing and presumed drowned after falling through the ice of a creek behind her home. In Moncton, N.B., the city’s salt storage dome roof caved in after yet another heavy snowfall. Never underestimate nature.
Age and awareness
Elderly drivers are half as likely as younger ones to see pedestrians on the curb or sidewalk, according to a new study by Israeli researchers. Not only do they have a narrower field of vision, they take longer to respond to hazards once they finally notice them. And it seems that age-inspired ignorance isn’t limited to the road. Alan Simpson, the 79-year-old co-chairman of Obama’s deficit commission, went on TV this week to talk about social security and ended up chiding kids for their baggy pants and the crazy music of “Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg” and “Enema Man.” Learn to Google, Grandpa.