Friday, September 21, 2012

Ottawa Is A Disgrace

The current carbon tax "debate" in Parliament is absolutely pathetic, an embarrassing display, which serves to highlight why Canadians have tuned out to the utterly useless machinations of Ottawa.  Excellent Simpson column which details the Conservative hypocrisy, but alas just another call to accountability that will be completely ignored.  Truth be told, unless media puts front page banners that read "CONSERVATIVES LYING TO CANADIANS" in obscene font, nothing will change, even then I wonder.  The Conservatives have cracked the code, successfully imputed voter disinterest and realized you can say anything, with little consequence.  Worse still, downright lying has political upside, it works to advantage.

Currently we have certain rules that govern Parliamentary "conduct", but we lack a full on Code of Ethics.  It is becoming increasingly clear that we need some measure of accountability that sanctions claims that have no basis in truth.  There should be some provision that demands,at the very least, any argument put forth have a factual basis.   Beyond points of view, differing interpretations of statistics, certain beliefs, something that address downright FABRICATIONS that mislead Canadians.  We have laws regarding all kinds of disinformation, whether it be advertising claims or personal liability, boldly lying and making outlandish baseless allegations aren't sanctioned by society.  Why then is our Parliamentary system below this standard, why is a body that is supposedly a place of such high standards a laggard in terms of certain accountability?

I can barely stomach following Ottawa anymore- and I'm a politically junkie- so turned off by the back and forth bullshit, it's maddening, exhausting and frankly not worth the time.  It hasn't "always been this way" in Ottawa, unless one lacks any capacity for notions of degree, emphasis, frequency, the shrug of the shoulders mentality part of the problem.  We need real accountability measures that ELEVATE this cesspool, regain some confidence with Canadians, a regime that forces logical debates, rather than one that actually rewards dishonesty.

Everyone agrees, this "carbon tax" debate is an utter farce.  Rather than fall back on simplistic notions that voters must hold to account, we have our say, some recognition that politicians have GAMED a busy electorate, who simply doesn't have the time to babysit, nor inclined to care, given the absurdities on display daily.  No, we need a strict Code of Ethics that comes with real consequences, we deserve something better than current reality.  People of all political stripes should want higher standards, let us debate on merit, rather than a conversation none of us would tolerate in our own homes, workplace, circle of friends.  The reality right now is simply intolerable, more correctly disturbing.


Must be disgusted DAY


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Liberals Should Revisit Carbon Tax

Almost absurd to even suggest, given the Conservatives are currently accusing the NDP of advocating, even though the party doesn't support a carbon tax, a testament to how some see the mere mention as politically advantageous.  However, if one delves deep into the problems that have plagued the Liberal Party of Canada, a "rethink" on abandoning the carbon tax idea is warranted.

In an effort to be all things to everyone, the Liberals have ended up being no things to nobody.  Other parties take strong stances, and while they alienate, they also build up a core, devoted base.  In addition, there is a certain authenticity in the idea of standing behind a principle.   For instance, the NDP and Conservatives both hold certain ideals that don't necessarily translate to majority support, and yet they have cobbled together formidable coalitions.   What is the Liberal constituent?  More and more, a wishy washy "middle" ground, which is entirely practical but hardly conveys any moxy or distinguishing quality.

The carbon tax is sound economic and environmental policy. The carbon tax has already been implemented successfully in Canada.  The carbon tax has the support of the very people that will be most affected, the oil and gas industry.   Most of all, support of a carbon tax is a philosophical commitment that speaks to a core commitment, across a host of files.  

As well, a carbon tax is considered politically toxic given what happened to the Liberals in 2008, and for that reason complete taboo.   The mere mention of the word within Liberal circles sends us scrambling for the exits, we can't distance ourselves fast enough.   That said, the party is still associated with the Liberals, mention carbon tax and you immediately make the connection.  With this reality in mind, when Liberals pledge they no longer support what they previously did- with passion I might add- it rings hollow, people assume we are still "closet" carbon tax proponents.   So, we have a double negative, the spectre of underlying support, as well as the perception that we don't stand for anything, afraid to stick our necks out, cowering in the face of controversy.  Herein lies the entire problem with the good ship Liberal.

If you want to deal with GHG's, then a carbon tax is an effective way to curb emissions, as well as reward cleaner energy sources, it is a transformational regime.  Rather than retreat in the name of political expediency, a fighting party doubles down on an idea that speaks to conviction.  In addition, given current humble realities, the Liberals are "free" in a sense to redefine their constituency and stand firm.  I will always find it amusing that we Liberals can champion a key policy with committed zeal, then suddenly turn our backs in the name of fear and calculations.  Did we really believe in a carbon tax?  Did we knock on doors and emotionally defend the idea in the name of conviction, what we felt was right for the economy and society?  If you answered yes, then that is the bottom line and we should continue the fight, because we believe it is just and necessary.   This isn't to dismiss the very real problems with easy "TAX, TAX, TAX" soundbites, only that it comes down to a question of policy convenience or real commitment.

I'd rather go down fighting for true ideals, then devote myself to some party of appeasement, reactive rather than steadfast.  If the carbon tax is something you genuinely support, if it addresses certain core problems in the most effective way, then you don't abandon in the name of political calculation, you plant your feet and stand firm.  If that is the Liberal attitude, I assure we will be ultimately rewarded, because in the end we will be a party with a clear identity and purpose.

This is one Liberal that still PROUDLY supports a carbon tax and will welcome any leadership candidate that has the stones to push the discussion.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Desperate Romney Cements "Not Ready For Prime Time"

Below Mitt Romney waves goodbye to The White House:

There are certain moments in a campaign that speak to character, fitness and above all judgement.  The manner in which the Romney "team" has chosen to react to the events in Libya illustrate with almost perfect clarity why he will never become President.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trudeau Isn't A Lock

Will Justin be incredibly formidable and the immediate front runner? Does Trudeau have the capacity to suck up all the oxygen in the room? Will the media fixate on every machination, amplifying any support and creating a "and the rest" flavour to the leadership race?  You can answer yes to all questions and still argue that Justin Trudeau is anything but a lock to win the Liberal leadership. 

I note certain pundits who are routinely wrong (and yet still opine with unwarranted swagger)  have already declared the race over before it starts.  Given past track records, these assertions only confirm what we already know,  namely having a column and having a clue aren't necessarily one in the same.  This amusing "will they ever learn" dynamic aside, one of the cardinal rules in politics, there are no sure things, particularly when it comes to a contest of such length, with so many variables.

I believe Justin will be the front runner in the Liberal leadership, everyone can agree on this point.  However, in many respects the leadership will act as prolonged test, wherein everyone scrutinizes every development, stumbles highlighted and ABOVE all an intense desire to actually have a RACE.  What this reality means, the same people who are coronating now will TURN hard on Trudeau at first opportunity, tear down, dissect, essentially act as a well paid negative ad campaign.  It happens every time, build you up, tear you down, then perhaps a rehabilitation should a race actually emerge.  An astute observation from Rob Silver: 
 “I have a funny feeling that the two opposition parties and the media won’t allow it to be a cakewalk, regardless of who else is running,” he said.
Cakewalks are boring, we want a race dammit and should Trudeau look insurmountable, expect every effort to undo that momentum.  Factor in the reality that Justin speaks his mind, I expect plenty of fodder and exaggeration when the inevitable turn comes from the same people who have already warmed the throne.  In many ways coverage of leadership races is more a study of human nature than a debate about ideas.
If the race evolves into a test of leadership, wherein the assumptions are made with Trudeau and were merely watch, put him through his chops, ascertain if the "meddle" is apparent, then we still have a contest.  Within this angle, whomever emerges as primary challenger will be poised correctly should things snowball and Liberals, supporters have concerns about fitness and performance.  To a lesser degree, the 2006 leadership run of Michael Ignatieff serves as an example of why the RACE itself is key, early assumptions just that.
Trudeau is a force, Trudeau has the je ne sais quoi, people will fawn, his light will shine brightest, all realities moving forward.  Another reality, anybody who thinks this race is a lock, at this stage, isn't a very good student of politics or history.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Obama Receives The "Bounce"

I'm not sure what is worse news for Republicans, the fact their convention delivered ZIP in the way of bounce for Romney, or what appears to be a marked uptick for Obama after a very successful Democratic convention.  Given Romney needed to "sell" himself to Americans, "appear human", that the GOP convention failed to move numbers at all is probably the more concerning. Convention bounces are normal, and for the challenger, conventions offer one of the pivotal moments to "connect".  It would appear, as the dust settles, Obama will be the only receiving a bounce, now it's just a question of degree.

Prior to the start of the Dem convention, the right leaning Rasmussen had Romney with a one point edge.  Compared with other polls, you routinely see Rasmussen with a decided GOP lean, it's been that way for years.  What is instructive isn't the lean, but the comparison over time within a certain methodology.  This morning we received the first full post-convention rolling poll from Rasmussen and it shows a 4 point Obama lead, astronomical by their standards, a full 5 point change since the convention began. 

Gallup, which tends to be more in line with other polling runs a 7 day rolling poll, so we still haven't gauged the full impact of the convention.  Using yesterday's release though, we see a marked uptick for Obama, now 4 points, with still more bounce digestion to come in subsequent days.  As well- and perhaps more telling- Obama's approval ratings have now shot up to 52%, the highest level he has enjoyed since after the Bin Laden raid, a spike worthy of consideration.   The Ipsos firm also shows a favorable Obama move, it is fair to say the bounce is real and outside any margin of error.

Perhaps a good time to consider Kinsella's scathing column on the fixation of polls.  Kinsella is spot on with many of criticisms.  However there is still room to "gauge" with some sense of confidence if one confines themselves to trend moves within a certain poll, merely as validation of move, not necessarily confirmation of actual voter intent.  Within that characterization we can ascertain things such as "bounce", fairly conclude the Democratic convention went well for Obama and he is benefiting.  That doesn't mean Obama is in the clear, that most certainly doesn't address the fickleness of soft support (for my money where pollsters get burned bad), but it does give us a sense of a moment in time.

Forgetting the polls, I did predict a Obama bounce the last night of the campaign, based on my perceptions of that convention.  Night one, you had Michelle get RAVE reviews from all quarters, a terrific tone set.  The second night, Clinton delivered an incredibly effective defence of Obama, everyone agrees his speech was a rousing success.  The last night Obama once again reinforced his reputation as an amazing orator, so it is hardly surprising to assume an impact.  Factor in very good ratings relative to the GOP, and we expect some bounce.

The GOP convention didn't move numbers, any positive impact to Romney's reputations was minimal, he now looks to the debates for the next "big" opportunity.  The Dem convention delivered as intended, so the GOP failure is that much more pronounced, no counter effect present, no "saw off" when the dust settles.

Conventions over, advantage Barack.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Quebec Election: Best Case Scenario

If you accept the premise that governments have a shelf life, then last night's result in Quebec represents the best case scenario for the "rest of Canada".  Leaders rarely volunteer retirement, fact is the attachment to power means most are forced out rather than taking the graceful exit route.  With that reality in mind, the Quebec Liberals survived- they can now cleanse and retool- while the Parti Quebocois operates under a very tight leash, with an entirely underwhelming mandate.

Quebecers clearly wanted change, but it is very telling that despite this sentiment the PQ couldn't manage a third of the vote, less than 1% more than the Liberals, only 4 seats ahead.  If the Jean Charest Liberals are tired and spent, then the Parti Quebecois looks decidedly stale as a favorable option.  

Marois has no mandate to push ahead with a referendum, never mind force legislation that leads to a less inclusive Quebec.  In fact, the PQ faces a solid majority who will block any intimation, both in terms of seat count and the clear raw vote message sent by voters.  Plow ahead on sovereignty at your own peril, there is no appetite for the PQ road map. 

The Quebec Liberals were never going to reign forever, the natural flip was inevitable.  That said, this "change" is very much a paper tiger, a precarious mandate that will blunt a sizable lurch.  Charest lost his seat, further he has lost the confidence of the electorate, the Quebec Liberals need some fresh faces to appear a viable option again.  The good news, the Liberals remain a large presence, the road back less daunting that could otherwise be expected.  As well, federalist forces dwarfed the separatist options, this result is anything but a alarming result for Canadian unity.  You could well posit the PQ's unyielding commitment to a referendum nobody wants is what prevented a much larger victory, as well as more pronounced defeat for the Charest Liberals.

Obviously, any PQ government is not "good news" in the wider sense.  However, under the circumstances, with an eye to historical context, the nature of government, the ebb and flow under the guise of "change", last night represents a fairly solid result for the Canadian federation.   There will be plenty of bluster and provocation from the PQ, but little in the way of concrete erosion under this current configuration.