01.10.2011 09:44 AM

Cold January morning bits and pieces

  • Go Right, young man? Young Grit John seems to suggest Liberals should make a sharp right turn if they ever want to return to power.  Forgive me for being so disagreeable at my advanced age, John, but I cling to the old adage that, if people have to choose between a Real Conservative and a Faux Conservative, they’ll always choose the Real one, ten times out of ten.  Go Left!
  • Vote subsidies: The Citizen has a highly cautious editorial about whether they should be eliminated.  The Reformatories favour doing so, primarily because it would handicap their main rival, the Liberals.  Grits argue, rightly, that eliminating big corporate and big union donations has made our politics a lot cleaner.  Personally, I anticipate Harper will make ditching subsidies part of his election platform – that way, even if he gets back in with a minority, he can deliver a sanctioned death blow to his hated rivals.  Just watch.  It’s coming.
  • Palin has blood on her hands? She bears some responsibility for debasing U.S. politics, of course: Congresswoman Giffords said as much to MSNBC, just a few months ago.  But I very much hope that Palin’s name is on the G.O.P. ticket in 2012: there is no better way to reassure an Obama victory.  She is the best thing that has happened to the Democratic Party since Richard Nixon.
  • Team Grit Campaign Team: Jeff Kehoe is one of the most honest, principled and decent Liberals left in Ottawa.  If he says that the Libs are ready for an election, you can take it to the bank.  Reading what he says in the linked Hill Times Naumetz yarn, I believe it.
  • The Divided Right: Being old, as noted, this all reminds me of the good old days of 1990-2003, when the Reform Party and the federal Conservative Party were scrapping, openly, about who was the real Conservative choice.  Unless Randy Hillier or Tim Hudak is ready to run up the white flag anytime soon (an unlikely prospect), this nasty little family feud is going to continue for many, many months.  How very sad.
  • Retail politics win: Meanwhile, Ontario Libs (full disclosure: I do work for their caucus) continue to focus on improving people’s lives – in this case, the thousands of Ontario families living in apartment buildings.  The LOC (Land Owner Conservatives), led by Timmy Hudak, will snicker about measures like this.  Good.
  • Rob Ford, “Tax Fighter”: He lied. What do we see in the gravy-train-stopper’s first budget?  Elimination of TTC routes, and a big hike in fares: Torontonians will now pay more for less.  This guy is a one-termer.

29 Comments

  1. Lance says:

    “……..but I cling to the old adage that, if people have to choose between a Real Conservative and a Faux Conservative, they’ll always choose the Real one, ten times out of ten. Go Left!”
    ======================
    Of course, if they go left, people will have to choose between the Real NDP and the Faux NDP; they’ll start choosing the Real one, perhaps not 10/10, but enough to hurt them and help give the Tories their majority.

    So what will it take? You already know; you’ve already said as much. And if it does, Harper will say, rightly or wrongly, that he has been right all along. Voters will nod their heads and say “yep”.

  2. Mike says:

    Lennard was a strong advocate of merging with the NDP so it’s weird to see him urging a right-ward turn.

    It’s also strange to see him say to get him rid of the $2 per vote subsidy (that is at least ensures parties earn their money through an election instead of through mostly well-heeled donors donating $1000 a year) and make ZERO mention of the fact that the tax credits for political donations are probably costing the taxpayer MORE.

    Does he really think it makes MORE sense to have taxpayers pay $550 for someone’s $1000 donation than to have parties get a measly $2 for each vote they earn? (while charitable donations get a piddly amount by comparison)

    That the donations of under 100,000 Canadians should solely decide the warchests of parties as opposed to the votes of millions?

    Strange logic and hardly democratic, I thought votes were more important than money and I thought John would agree (based on his past musings).

    Not to mention that the annual cost of the $2 per vote subsidy actually costs taxpayers less than the price tag for the Conservatives stupid changes to the census. It would make zero dent in the deficit to remove it and with the Conservatives STILL fundraising almost 4x more than any other party it would ensure their financial dominance for years to come.

    • John Lennard says:

      I don’t think it’s at all inconsistent to advocate a
      merger, while at the same time calling on progressives to have a
      serious discussion on how we can reduce the deficit. Sooner or
      later, our elected officials will have to grapple with the looming
      crisis and reduce spending. I’d rather have a progressive
      government deal with the matter now, than have the Tories ignore
      the problem and pave the way for deeper and more painful cuts down
      the road. I also don’t accept the premise that progressives aren’t
      able to engage in effective grassroots fundraising. Mr. Dean, Mr.
      Obama and Ms. Clinton proved it can be done in the U.S. What are we
      waiting for?

  3. Warren says:

    Gord, you’re giving advice to Liberals now? You are too kind!

    • Mike says:

      Fine Gord if that’s your only reason to oppose the subsidy, then change the legislation so that it only goes to parties that receive say 5% or even 10% of the vote in at least half the provinces. That would eliminate the Bloc and potentially the Greens from the funding as well. What would be your opposition to that? Seems a pretty democratic way to fund truly national parties to me.

      The bottom line is though that the subsidy is a far more democratic means of providing party funding than relying on the less than 100,000 people in Canada who choose to donate to parties (and then have taxpayers foot the bill for at least half the cost of their donations). I note that you didn’t say you had any problems with taxpayers paying $550 for each $1000 donation.

      Frankly if we had an honest debate, I think the average Canadian (who’s never gotten a tax rebate for making a donation because he/she has never made one) would prefer keeping the $2 per vote subsidy over the one that has them footing the bill for over half of all money that was donated by individuals. I have never heard a single Conservative official or MP though even say that they would consider getting rid of the tax credits for political donations (75% on the first $400, 50% thereafter) and yet those tax credits are probably costing us more per year than the $2 per vote subsidy. But of course Conservatives benefit the most from that subsidy so they don’t want us talking about it.

      So obviously the Conservative rhetoric on this is purely political self-interest at play and nothing more. Some Liberals may jump on board with the Conservative lines in the name of crushing parties to their left, but that would show them to be standing up more for opportunism than the democratic ideals on which Chretien’s funding formula was based.

      • The Doctor says:

        Bear in mind that one of the most frequent objections to the current formula that is raised by opponents of it has to do with the Bloc Quebecois, and the fact that it means that the BQ has to do virtually zero fund-raising at the federal level. Perhaps we just have to live with that, but it is understandable why a lot of people (especially outside of Quebec) have a problem with Canadian taxpayers footing the bill for a separatist party. Maybe that’s the price we have to pay for being a democracy and all that, but it is a pretty tough pill for a lot of us to swallow.

    • Mr. Chamberlain says:

      The country was better off with the Progressive Conservatives as a choice. We now have the spectacle of otherwise sensible people who aren’t Harperites voting for the CCRAPY CPC. I don’t think that’s healthy or honest for our system or what we get from it by way of policy. A merger between the Liberals and the NDP would in time lead to a split off small party, a new liberal party, possibly with some progressive conservatives. What is being ignored is the fact there is hard political currency behind the NDP, the Liberals and the former Progressive Conservatives. Time is on my side.

      • The Doctor says:

        While I happen to agree with you — I was a fan of the old PC Party — it nevertheless strikes me as odd, how many people express nostalgia for the old PC party, when many of these same people expressing said nostalgia never voted PC in 1993, 1997 or 2000. Perhaps if these people had actually cast votes for this party they now claim to miss so much, that party would still be around. Just sayin’.

      • Mr. Chamberlain says:

        Ah, yes… I never voted PC, but they certainly had
        (nostalgia is horrible for this) calibre and balance, and an esteem
        for the system’s institutions that is woefully lacking with the
        immoderates we now have governing the country. Maybe I would vote
        PC in the future, though, if I didn’t like what I saw with the
        Liberals. There will (almost) always be a Liberal party in Canada,
        the question is if it will be the one we have today or if the
        toilet needs to be flushed. Hopefully as well we will have a
        progressive conservative option. But right now, it’s the season for
        immoderate politics, which is to say the centre is a hard place to
        live in, even though that’s where most Canadians “live” — only,
        the majority of us are so busy living our moderate lives that it is
        taking more and more to get us to even vote. The immoderates get
        their vote out, to the last soul. Future major party mix: a
        socialist party; a reformist, right of centre party; a social
        conservative party; a liberal party (professionals, small
        buisness), a green party. Coalitions will be the order of the
        day.

  4. james curran says:

    “Maurizio never said he was leaving, he said to us at the beginning of the summer that he was committed to staying as the MP, I can tell you up front we asked him at the beginning of the summer and he said ‘I’m your MP, I’m the MP for Vaughan,'” Mr. Kehoe said.

    He may be the most decent (in fact he is) guy on the Hill but…surely Jeff jests. Everyone in the planet assumed Maurizio was leaving. http://whatdoiknowgrit.blogspot.com/2010/05/maurizio-bevilacqua-would-make-great.html
    http://whatdoiknowgrit.blogspot.com/2010/06/liberals-lose-another-star-candidate.html

    “Brenda Kurczak, a former president of the Ontario provincial wing of the party and party organizer in Sault. Ste. Marie, Ont., is another co-chair, and Ms. Caplan joined the group late last year, following the Conservative byelection victory in the longtime Liberal bastion of Vaughan, Ont., Mr. Kehoe confirmed. ”

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    ~Albert Einstein

  5. james curran says:

    John Lennard.

    Imagine this brilliant minded individual lost the YLC Presidency by coin toss!?! What a shame. We need a lot more John and his youth and vigour and a lot less of the same old same old.

    • Warren says:

      Yes, but he’s been working at Davies. It shows.

      • Mike says:

        Who is Davies? Surely not Libby Davies. Unfortunately, that’s a little inside baseball for proably most of the readers here.

        Lennard’s written and stood for some good stuff in the past, but it seems he’s gone from wanting a merger with the NDP and preaching for more democratic accountability in politics to wanting the Liberals to go hard right and ditch a very democartic political subsidy while holding onto an undemocratic tax rebates system (that only benefits the 3% or so of Canadians who actually donate to parties and benefits the richest among them most). So I’m left wondering what happened to the guy.

        • The Doctor says:

          I was assuming that WK was referring to the law firm. WK being a lawyer & all . . .

        • John Lennard says:

          I don’t think there’s anything inconsistent at all. As I see it, progressives have two choices. We can deal with the looming debt and deficit crisis by making modest cuts now, or we can make far more drastic and difficult cuts down the road when we’re less able to adjust.

          Re: political subsidies, I’m not wedded to my particular proposal, and I’d love to hear what others have to suggest. As Warren mentioned, the Conservatives are likely to run on the issue in the next election, and we’ll need to be prepared with something. Personally, I happen to think that parties work and fundraise best when they’re in touch with their respective membership bases. Far from being a “hard right” proposal, creating a system that fosters active party membership and involvement is a valuable progressive goal in my view. If liberals like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton can raise hundreds of millions of dollars in small donations, why are we having such a hard time?

          • Dan says:

            The Liberals should come to an agreement with the Conservatives in phasing out most or all of the voter subsidy say over a five-year period in exchange for an increase in campaign contribution (say a maximum of $5000 with less tax incentives after the initial XX amount).
            Now that said, the Liberals would somehow have to get their fundraising act together which an ordeal all on its own.

          • James Curran says:

            In order to fundraise, you need membership. In order to
            have membership, you have to have a democratic, open party. The
            Liberal Party has neither and, here in Ontario, it’s a closed shop.
            Anyone organizing groups of people anywhere in Ontario is deemed to
            be “a threat”. Imagine. “A THREAT!”

          • Mr. Chamberlain says:

            I think this is a temptest in a teapot of an issue. It’s
            all to distract Canadians from much bigger issues. You want a
            response to it? Then call them on it. Call them on their record.
            Stick to your game. Don’t get sucked into playing theirs. This
            issue of party funding is a fart in a mitt of an issue, and I agree
            with the Doctor above who suggests it is mostly driven by a
            response to the Bloc. Sure, make it hard for the separatists to
            fundraise — that won’t fan the separatist flames in Quebec,
            right?! The bottom line is there is a cost to having a democracy
            (yes, a multi-party system takes money), and the question that
            Canadians need to be asked is: do you like being able to vote for a
            party other than the governing party? Because fundraising is a lot
            harder to do when you aren’t in power. The Bloc is irrelevant to
            me. Look, don’t get too philosophical about it, take it from a
            dollars and cents perspective. Compare the money spent on parties
            to the overall budget, etc. Then tell them you want to talk about
            the big ticket stuff, the stuff that Canadians actually rely on in
            an immediate way in their lives that cost a lot of money as well,
            like healthcare. The problem I am seeing is the government is
            playing games with issues like the long form census — pulling a
            non-issue off the shelf, something that worked well, and was worth
            maintaining for good reasons, and tinker with it. This party
            funding issue is in the same league. Will the Harperites try
            something? Sure. We have seen the trend on opening up other
            non-issues and they have revealed their hand on this one. Just deal
            with it with wisdom. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel everytime
            a Harperite thinks it needs to happen to satisfy some ideological
            bent that is not advisable for a modern democracy. All in all, we
            need a few less nervous nellies willing to challenge Mr.
            Harper.

          • Mike says:

            Fair points John, but the sad reality is that with health
            care costs about to sore with the baby boomers becoming senior
            citizens, the real solution is to raise taxes, but since we know
            that no political party has the courage to do that, we’d have to at
            least except that cuts would be poorer health care service. And if
            you favour more private health care as a solution one need only
            look at Australia where a move in the past decade towards more
            private health care saw wait lists greatly increase in the public
            system (as doctors bolted on mass to the private system). Wait
            lists only declined in the private system that the only the rich
            can afford. It’s unfortunate that Keith Martin points to the
            European examples because those countires have always had official
            two-tiered systems, they are single-payer systems like ours. When
            you move from single-tier to two-tier officially then there will
            surely be a massive shortage of doctors in the public system as so
            many move on masse to the private system where they’d make more
            money. Something I would like to think Liberals would not be in
            favour of. A two-tier system only works if you have a surplus of
            doctors in the public system which we surely do not. There’s a lot
            of work to be done to improve our health care system but I don’t
            think cuts at the time of greatest need or a move to two-tier is
            the answer. If McGuinty could have the courage to make people pay a
            health tax, why can’t one be imposed federally? Oh well, I can
            dream. As for financing, I think we’d all agree that parties should
            do more to engage their membership and donor bases. But I think it
            would be incredibly unfortunate to dispost of a system that
            literally rewards parties for earning votes in an election. I think
            the main argument the Conservatives have against the $2 per vote
            subsidy is that it aids the Bloc. But that’s so easily fixed, just
            set a threshold of support that has to be achieved across the
            entire country (making the Bloc ineligible) in order to receive the
            per vote subsidy. At the same time, I find the Conservatives
            silence on the massive tax credits for individual political
            donations completely hypocritical. I honestly think if you like a
            party so much, you will be donating the same amount even without
            the tax credit so it seems to be a poor use of taxpayer’s money for
            us to be footing more than half the bill of all donations. But no
            party has criticized these tax credits for political donations
            depite them being subsantially larger than those for charitable
            donations (and rightly or wrongly the average Canadian holds
            charities in much regard than political parties). If the only
            debate on financing centers around eliminating the $2 per vote
            subsidy then clearly it’s not motivated by a desire to save
            taxpayer’s money but only about perceived political
            self-interest.

          • Mike says:

            I meant to say that European countries do NOT have
            single-payer health care systems like ours. From the very beginning
            of their public health care systems, it was always fully
            two-tier.

    • Lipman says:

      And just about everything he said in that article is hogwash. Maybe social programs can wait for him on his privileged perch, but what most Canadians need is a government that can deliver real change in their daily lives.

  6. Jim says:

    What do you think about Bob Rae traveling to the UAE and dissing the Harper government? I think the NDP supports Harper on the UAE-Emirate rejection. Are Liberals united behind Rae or are they split?

    • The Doctor says:

      BTW, probably the one place in Canada where there are more people pissed off about that UAE thing than any other is . . . Calgary. Lots of people in the Calgary oil patch travel to the Emirates and the Middle East, and having direct Emirates flights out of Calgary would have suited these people nicely. Instead, as I understand it, under the Air Canada dictatorship they are now forced to fly through Toronto (of course) and it’s a considerably longer and more inconvenient flight. All thanks to the PM from Calgary. Ironic, no?

    • Namesake says:

      Ya think (the NDP supports Harper on the UAE-Emirate rejection)?

      Why / how? cuz there’s nothing about it on their site, and all I’ve seen on this suggests the contrary, since the foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar has been on Power & Politics a couple of times laying the whole SNAFU on Cannon’s doorstep for being such a lousy Foreign Affairs Minister that he wouldn’t even take a call from the UAE Ambassador to sort things out before they came to a head, complaining about the cost & international embarassment of losing Camp Mirage, and challenging Baird to back up his BS figure of there being thousands of Canadian jobs at stake.

  7. In terms of taxpayer subsidies, the Conservatives get the most money through donations. Up to $400 in an individual donation, 75% is funded by the taxpayers.

  8. Mike says:

    I meant to say that European countries do NOT have
    single-payer health care systems like ours.

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