"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Sunday, April 03, 2011

election notebook

Some random thoughts on the election:

  • Stephen Harper, who not so long ago touted himself as the champion of "open and accountable" government, will only answer five questions a day on the campaign trail, and two of them have to be in French and one from "local" media. So the people from the Globe, the Star, CBC, NatPost, Sun, CTV, Global, CP, Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald, Vancouver Province et al have paid $10,000 to sit through spin session and Potempkin rallies and ask one or two questions for the whole campaign?  I have a question: Are you fucking kidding me? Dammit Janet has a great post on just how bad things have gotten and Dr. Dawg hands out the white feathers
  • The great debate debate rolls on over who gets to be included in the big blather off and whether it is fair to leave the Green Party or NDP or Bloc Quebecois or Liberals out. Harper has no interest in a debate, there is no advantage to had for him in taking part unless Ignatieff suddenly snaps and starts gibbering in Russian at the podium. Strategically, I can understand him not wanting to risk the exposure to a zinger or risk the cameras catching him with a bit of baby meat stuck in his fangs. I do think he has a moral responsibility to publicly debate the other leaders since that is how democracy is supposed to work re: free marketplace of ideas and all that, but then this is guy whose government fell over his unwillingness to reveal basic information about government policy that he is required by law to share with Parliament, so living up to his moral responsibilities isn't exactly his strong suit.
  • Further to the debate debate, the Liberals are really passing up a golden opportunity at the moment. Harper has dithered over whether he will debate Ignatieff one on one, or whether he will take part in a full leaders' with or without Liz May and was actually asked whether he was "chicken" in a press conference Sunday (kudos to CBC's Terry Milewski for using up one of the two or three questions he will get to ask, though after the "chicken" question, I suspect it will be a hot day in Iqaluit before he gets called on again. The Liberals should have someone in a chicken costume at every single public appearance Harper makes from now until a debate is held.
  • In a bit of pure pandering to the Rob Ford suburban voters, Harper has promised to increase the government subsidy for kids to play minor hockey and little league aka the child fitness tax credit from $500 to $1000 and to add a further $500 tax credit for adult fitness, just as soon as the budget is balanced (in other words, never). I'm sure all those urban poor who can't afford to feed their families will be delighted to know that they can get money back on their taxes if they join the gym.
  • As happy as I am to see Jack Layton do the right thing and finally bring down the government instead of   making a deal with the Conservatives to let them stay in power if they promise not to kick the poor, elderly and constitution too hard, I fear this may mean the NDP takes a shellacking as people vote strategically to dump Harper by backing the Liberals. Though, having said that, the NDP does stand to make some gains in Saskatchewan and in Edmonton where they ran second to the Conservatives due to strategic voting. 
  • Does anyone outside of the hard-core Conserva-borg base really think coalition governments are a terrible thing? Let's face it, any minority government is a de facto coalition between the government and the opposition parties for as long as the government is willing to court the oppostion or as long as the opposition is willing to go along with the government. The only difference being that in an official coalition, the minority partner usually gets a place at the cabinet table. No one, except Harper, has ever proposed forming a coalition with the Bloc Quebecois.
  • The latest Conservative canard about ending per-vote subsidies deserves to be broadly, publically debunked on the front page of every newspaper and on every radio and television show. It ought to be shouted from the rooftops that having the taxpayers foot the bill for election campaigns means that taxpayers call the shots, not the fatcats. Doing away with the subsidies and allowing bigger individual, corporate and union donations means that politicians will be for sale to the highest bidder, and the highest bidder is not going to be ordinary Canadians.
  • For all those who have been paying attention to the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan, keep in mind that Stephen Harper fired Linda Keene as the head of the Canadian nuclear regulatory agency because she was concerned that an emergency system to provide power to the reactor cooling system at the aging Chalk River reactor was not connected and was not operational. The problems in Japan all stem from the fact that the cooling systems did not have power after the earthquake because the emergency generators could not be used.
  • I think I am becoming even more addicted to the razor-sharp Kady O'Malley than I was before the election, if that is possible. 


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