Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Belated random thoughts on political happenings

I've found myself too busy with work and what not lately to be blogging as much as I should be, so here's some short random thoughts on recent events until I can write something longer. Which I promise to do soon. Ish.

* Montreal's crumbling Champlain Bridge was in the news today; it was a topic in question period and apparently Conservative transport minister Denis Lebel is about to visit the city to announce another study on its replacement. This tweaked my memory, as I recall the Conservatives, during the 2008 by-election in St. Lambert (cancelled by the 2008 general election) were doling out pork and promised to replace the bridge. Three years and two election after Lawrence Cannon said "We are starting to plan for the construction of a new bridge" they're going to launch another study?

* Peter Julian won't be running for the NDP leadership. As much as I would have enjoyed a battle of the roomates (he shares an Ottawa apartment with fellow BC MP Nathan Cullen) and the fun that could have ensued (Peter doesn't wash the dishes! Nathan drinks the last of my fair trade coffee!) it's probably for the best. I spent some of the 2008 election in the Burnaby area (Peter represents a Burnaby-area riding) and he struck me as a rather abrasive fellow. Maybe it was just seeing him in contrast to fellow Burnaby NDPer Bill Siksay, a very warm and personable guy. Anyway, when his name was floated I just couldn't picture Julian as a unifying bridge-builder.

* On the other hand, I'm really happy to see Nathan Cullen running for the NDP leadership. I spent the 2004 federal election in Prince Rupert working on the Liberal campaign of Miles Richardson, who, along with Nathan, was seeking to unseat Conservative incumbent Andy Burton in Skeena-Bulkley Valley. I got to see a fair bit of Nathan on the campaign trail and he's a great guy, very friendly, kind and in touch with the communities of the riding. I disagree with him on a few issues (his support of the gun registry, for example, although that is definitely reflective of his riding) but he has proven himself a very hard-working MP. He'll make this a better race, for sure.

* Speaking of the NDP leadership race (which also includes party insider Brian Topp, another great guy in Paul Dewar, the unknown but possibly impressive Romeo Saganash and the just plain unknown Martin Singh ... Tom Mulcair may deign to run at some point) it occurs to me I'm having a hard time picturing one of this group as a Prime Minister. Because, for the first time in their history, the NDP aren't just choosing a leader. They're choosing the next Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, and a leader who, in three years, will go to the polls and ask for the trust of Canadians to be their Prime Minister. They've asked for that before but this time, people won't be snickering. It's a whole new field they're playing on, and the rules of the game have changed. It will be interesting to see how, and if, they can adjust.

* Of course, things haven't changed too much yet. Love may be better but politics is politics, and rival leadership camps are already sparing. But you know it's an NDP leadership race when you get smears of opponents like this one:
Mr. Brahmi added that Mr. Topp, who has the endorsement of former NDP leader Ed Broadbent and former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, “is the candidate of the apparatchik.”

* Meanwhile, there's a provincial election going on in Ontario. I confess, I've been unable to muster-up too much enthusiasm and interest. But I do know it's getting nasty, and I'm pretty sure it's not going too well for Tim Hudak's (not overly) Progressive (but very) Conservative Party. The polls are all over the map, from a strong Liberal lead to too close to call. We'll see who gets their vote out Thursday. What all of them show though is an undeniable trend over the past year of Conservative decline and Liberal rise. And it's clear who is panicking. Watching TV the last few nights, I've seen a steady diet of harshly negative Conservative ads and extremely positive Liberal ads. That's telling as we go down to the wire. But hey, Tim can still draw a crowd.

* Speaking of panic, this homophobic flyer from the Ontario Cs (I've revoked their P) is disgusting. When I first saw it on Twitter this weekend I thought it had to be a plant, a sick joke. But then Hudak embraced it on Monday, and it was more saddening than upsetting. First, much of the brochure is misleading, if not outright lies. And much of the material in question was developed under the last C government, in which Hudak was a minister. They're so panicked that Hudak goons are elbowing reporters in the gut to keep them away from one Brampton-area candidate that was distributing the fliers.

* But as mentioned, I haven't been following the race that closely. I observed early on though that McGuinty's Liberals are, quite wisely, running the same campaign Stephen Harper's federal Cs (they redacted their own P) ran this spring. No extravagant promises, the steady hand on the tiller with the experience to make the tough decisions, it's no time for rookies and risky schemes. McGuinty ('s comms staff) has even been tweeting "Only a strong, stable #olp government will create jobs in tough economic times." Harper's line repeated Ad nauseam was "strong, stable, Coservative majority government."

* John Baird drew some attention with his gold-embossed business cards. We're all attracted to shiny things so this drew much mockery, though not enough Austin Powers references. Baird was able to laugh it off though because the criticisms ignored the real story: he also redacted Canada from his business cards. Yes, he ordered the Canada wordmark, including the Canadian flag, removed from his cards. And it's not like he's the minister responsible for FedNor, he's the frickin' Foreign Affairs Minister! Of Canada! Yes, on the one hand they want to protect the flag, and on the other they want it off their business cards. And you're focusing on the extra couple hundred dollars it cost to emboss the coat of arms? Forest for the trees; it's the flag, stupid!

* To end on a positive note, I was pleased to see the Liberals focus on a substantive and important policy issue today with a call for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy that was embraced in the House of Commons by the Conservatives and the NDP. It's an important and overlooked issue, and hopefully this leads to more action. You can still sign the petition here.

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1 comment:

Mike-rra said...

"I've found myself too busy with work and what not lately to be blogging as much as I should be"

Freudian slip, Jeff? Blogging should be a joy, not a chore. You should have said you haven't been blogging as much as you wished, or wanted in the past few days. I hope you don't lose your passion and get discouraged by your party's walloping in the last federal election, because your blog is one of the few Liberal blogs that I admire.

On the subject of Bob Rae's speech: Suicide is obviously a tragedy and a very serious subject, but I don't think Rae is doing the discussion a favour with his radically exaggerated statistics. "In the industrial world, we have a relatively high suicide rate." Actually, while I don't mean to trivialize or diminish the severity of the subject, our suicide rate is comparable to other developed nations. In his Globe article, Rae mistakenly states that we have "a suicide per capita rate three times that of the United States." I would think both Rae and the Globe have access to fact-checkers (or a computer capable of accessing Google) to prevent broadcasting faulty stats. Other than his mistaken facts, good for him for bringing up the subject and doing something about it.

As for the bridge, the 2008 promise notwithstanding, it doesn't smell like opportunism when the Tories don't promise a new bridge during the 2011 election campaign, and then announce a new one only after the election. I certainly prefer that a political party choose this route, rather than rashly announce a new bridge during the 2011 election campaign (as the Liberals and NDP did. That smells like pure pork to me).