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The Shotgun Blog

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Note to New Brunswick voter: governments don't create jobs

At least not productive jobs. Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are debating job creation in New Brunswick’s election. Neither party seems to understand that it is not the role of government to create jobs, nor is the government any good at creating real jobs.

Often a government will increase employment by creating subsidies to an industry or hiring extra staff in some crown corporation. These are not real jobs. Sure someone gets paid and that individual benefits, but the economic gain is zero. To pay for that job the government has to take money from other people to produce something that nobody wants.

Such a job does not create anything of any real worth. If it did it wouldn’t need a subsidy to begin with.

It is only the private sector that can create true wealth and it is only the private sector that can create real jobs. All that any government can do to help job creation is get out of the way.

So the New Brunswick Liberals can come up with a strategy to create 20 000 jobs by 2013, and the Progressive Conservatives can come up with their own plan with their own deadline. It doesn’t really matter. Unless they plan to reduce regulation and decrease taxation, any plan that they can come up with won’t actually help the economy.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on August 31, 2010 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Premiers reveal an ideological divide on the census

The Premiers of Canada have not agreed to stand united against the rather moderate census reform that is being brought forth by the federal government. It is interesting to look at which Premiers are on what side of the issue.

On one hand we have the Premiers who are crying out about the injustice of the reform and making worried noises about the collapse of civilization:

New Brunswick’ Shawn Graham (Liberal)

PEI’s Robert Ghiz (Liberal)

Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty (Liberal)

Quebec’s Jean Charest (Liberal)

Manitoba’s Greg Selinger (NDP)

On the face of it, this looks like a pretty partisan list. But in Canada there is little or no connection between parties on the provincial level and federal level. None of these people care what federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will think about their position. So you should ignore the partisan labels and look at what these people have in common.

They are the Premiers that put the most faith in the ability of the government to run the economy.

Now let’s look at the Premiers that say that the issue is not important:

Alberta’s Ed Stelmach (PC)

BC’s Gordon Campbell (Liberal)

Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall (Saskatchewan Party)

These are the premiers that have shown the most faith in the free market. Yes none of their track records are perfect, but compared to the last group of politicians these three are stalwarts of the free market.

The ideological division is clear. Those that believe in big government are for the census, those that believe in at least somewhat freer markets do not think that it is an important issue.

This underlines the fact that you only really care about the census if you think that government has the ability to run society. And the truth is that government can’t run society, so why should we care about the census?

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on August 7, 2010 in Canadian Provincial Politics, Census | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

In support of Representation by Population

The House of Commons in the Parliament of Canada was established on the principle of representation by population. Every citizen of Canada would have equal representation and an equal vote in the election. Right from the beginning this principle was compromised with assurances towards Quebec and a rule that there must never be fewer MPs than Senators representing a province. Still, it is the Rep by Pop principle that guides seat distribution in the House of Commons.

Despite this principle, over time, some provinces have become overrepresented and others have become underrepresented in the House of Commons. My former home riding of Trinity-Spadina had a larger population than the entire province of PEI, which has four MPs. Ontario and certain western provinces have rightly complained that the balance of power in the House of Commons does not represent the balance of population in Canada.

After decades of inaction the federal government is finally doing something about it, or at least they are once again trying to do something about it. The Conservative government is reintroducing their 2007 proposal to change the distribution formula and add more seats to the House of Commons to better reflect population. A consequence of doing this is that provinces that have not increased their population will have a smaller proportion of seats.

You can expect Quebec, or more specifically the BQ, to complain about this. They accuse the government of trying to weaken the voice of Quebec. This seems to be framed as some Lord Durham-like plot to assimilate French speakers, which is absurd.

Quebec nationalists are not the only ones complaining. Professor Donald Savoie is warning that Atlantic Canada is also going to lose out. He points out that the Maritimes has been losing representation since the time of Confederation (which makes sense considering that the population compared to the rest of the country has consistently declined). He even goes as far to say that maybe Joseph Howe was right and Confederation was a bad idea (not that Nova Scotia had much of a choice but that’s another story).

He continues by saying that Canada is a federal state and should thus have regional representation. This sort of thing is acceptable, according to Professor Savoie, in unitary states such as France but unacceptable in federal Canada. Actually the reverse is true, regional representation is not as big of a problem exactly because Canada is a federation.

In a unitary state (i.e. a state with no regional governments) there are still often regional differences. These differences have to be accommodated somehow or else there will be political discord. In the case of the United Kingdom pre-1999, Scottish distinctiveness was accommodated by over representation in the House of Commons. The idea was that if you give Scotland a strong voice they will be able to protect their interests and culture.

After the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999, the number of Scottish MPs was reduced to be more in line with the population distribution in the UK. It was universally acknowledged that with devolved government the need for an over-represented Scotland no longer existed. Scotland could now carry out its own policies in key areas.

This argument can not only be applied to Canada, but it is even more applicable. The amount of autonomy that a Canadian province enjoys is the envy of Scottish nationalists. Canadian provinces don’t need special representation in the House of Commons because they have their own government. They have their own legislatures to create policies that they want. And if there is something happening in the federal government that interferes with Nova Scotia’s interests, they have their very own Premier to take on the Prime Minister.

Would it be in a region’s interests to have more representation in Ottawa? Certainly, but that becomes less vital because we are in a federation, not more vital. It is up to Donald Savoie and the BQ to demonstrate why people East of Ontario need more representation than everyone else. They can’t argue that it is because of distinctiveness because they already have their very own governments to represent that distinctiveness.

Equal representation is an important principle in democracy, and if that principle is going to be compromised than there has to be a good reason. Appealing to the narrow regional interests of a few is not reason good enough.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on April 3, 2010 in Canadian Politics, Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Public Sector is killing the economy

On of the PC Party of Ontario's 10 proposals is to "Bring Public Sector Agreements in Line with Reality." They include the unionized workers in a commitment to cutting back to bring Ontario out of deficits. The importance of taking on the Public Sector Unions should not be understated. It is these unions that will hurt recovery, not just in Canada but in the United States as well:

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on March 31, 2010 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Alberta cabinet shuffle not good enough

The Calgary Herald is reporting that the Alberta Premier Stelmach's cabinet shuffle represents a shift towards fiscal conservatism. There may be truth to this because well known fiscal conservative Ted Morton is being placed as Finance Minister. This is being viewed as a signal that the Albertan government is serious about cutting costs.

Personally I'm not sure how much weight to give Mr. Morton's appointment. Mr. Flaherty also was once viewed as a strong fiscal conservative, but he has brought in the largest budgets in Canadian history. Truth be told, it doesn't really matter how wonderful Mr. Morton is or is not (same with Mr. Flaherty), the budget is ultimately directed by the first minister. It is the first minister not the finance minister that needs to be replaced in Alberta.

As a side note I would like to congratulate the Wildrose Alliance. They have managed to crawl out of the political wilderness to have a real impact. It is almost certain that Mr. Stelmach would not be making any move towards restraint if it wasn't for the threat of Ms. Smith.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on January 14, 2010 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Illegal Photo Radar AGAIN

Who are these knucklehead bureaucrats that run the Winnipeg City Police?

Earlier this year there was a huge blow up in Manitoba about construction zone photo radar tickets being issued when no workers were actually present in the construction zone. Manitoba Provicinal Court judge Norm Sundstrom ruled that:

Although the drivers had exceeded the 60 km/h limit, they were not going faster than the regular 80 km/h speed limit for that particular roadway. With no workers present, the regular speed limit should apply

This court ruling has not been challenged or over turned, and the crown chose not to appeal the decision. The government also decided that they would not refund anyone who paid the illegally issues tickets.

Yet last weekend, Larry Stefaniuk of Wise Up Winnipeg.com and Traffic Ticket Guru.com caught the Winnipeg Police Service breaking the law by using photo enforcement in a construction zone when there were no workers present!

More evidence that not only does the government not follow their own rules, and are looking for cash grabs, but that they can break the law and nothing at all will happen to them.

Here's an idea. How about the Winnipeg police Service spend their time dealing with the gangs and violent activity in Winnipeg where there are real victims, and leave peaceful people alone.




I welcome feedback and I ask for civility in the exchange of comments. Vulgarity is discouraged. Please express yourself creatively with other language. We discuss ideas here, attacks on a person are discouraged.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on October 15, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics, Crime | Permalink | Comments (36)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New smoking ban is absurd

It started with the ban on smoking in bars and taverns, followed by the ban on smoking within 10 meters of buildings. Now you're not even allowed to smoke in open spaces. I highlighted the important parts of this article and they really do speak for themselves - no commentary is necessary.

Halifax Regional Council voted to ban smoking in hundreds of new outdoor areas across the Halifax Regional Municipality last night.

It was done to protect children from second-hand smoke, though kids don’t need to be present at the time.

Council chose to enact the new ban through a policy rather than a bylaw. That means it is implemented immediately without public consultation.

Many councillors said they’d like to go even further, with Debbie Hum (Rockingham-Wentworth) saying she’d like to ban smoking altogether.

Staff admitted rigorous enforcement of the new policy wouldn’t be possible and it would instead depend on public education.

A TV report on the ban today showed a parent at a park with her child, saying that she doesn't like people at the park "blowing smoke in their children's face", and that before she couldn't do anything about it. She then exlaims "But now I can!". The amount of things wrong with this astounds me.

First of all, unless there is absolutely no breeze, your child is not going to be breathing in smoke. Besides the fact that smoke rises, an adult is much taller than a child. Is the smoke going to drift downward somehow?

Secondly, she's clearly depending on the government to do the parenting for her. You don't need a new policy to speak your mind to people around you: if you don't like smokers in the area so much, ask them to smoke elsewhere. In any case, if someone was purposely blowing smoke in my child's face - well, let's just say they wouldn't be smoking near children again any time soon. People need to learn some personal responsibility.

For more smoking absurdities, check out my previous posts on the subject:

September 1, 2009: Some laws just don’t make sense

September 2, 2009: Smoke up, Johnny! Signed, the government.

September 3, 2009: Maclean’s mentions the cover up

[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]

Posted by Dane Richard on October 7, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The case for Ed Stelmach to stay as leader

Premier Ed Stelmach dismissed rumours that as many as 10 MLAs are considering deserting to the Wildrose Alliance. At the same time King Klein has come out and said that Mr. Stelmach requires 70% support from the PC convention delegates, in order to retain his legitimacy as Premier and party leader. It is clear, and has been clear for a while, that a leadership crisis is brewing in Alberta.

The Wildrose Alliance
has shown surprising strength. They won a by-election recently and the Albertan and national media are taking them seriously. The Wildrose Alliance could replace the PCs as the PCs once replaced Social Credit.

That is why I hope that Mr. Stelmach gets his 70% at the convention, because his staying in power is the WA's best chance of gaining power. The WA has been getting traction by demonizing Mr. Stelmach. If Mr. Stelmach is disposed of by his own party, perhaps the appeal of the WA to long time PC party activists and voters will disappear.

I confess that what I have seen of the WA race, inclines me towards Danielle Smith. But even if Mark Dyrholm wins, I believe that Alberta would be better off with the Wildrose Alliance than with anyone that the PC party is likely to choose as leader. The PC party in Alberta has lost its claim to conservatism. I do not see how they could get it back.

So if you are a member of the PC party and you are a delegate to this convention, I implore you for the sake of conservatism, to vote for Ed Stelmach.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on September 30, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (18)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Alberta PC MLAs ready to jump ship for Smith-led Wildrose Alliance?

Apparently, that's the rumour currently circulating around the provincial capital. The Edmonton Journal's Trish Audette reports:

Paul McLoughlin, a veteran in the halls of the Alberta Legislature Press Gallery, knows what's going on.

Every week, Capital Notebook HQ receives a copy of his newsletter, Alberta Scan, and we frankly celebrate his insight. Now, you can't find Scan online because it's subscription-only. But I can tell you you have to track down today's copy and give it a read. McLoughlin is reporting as many as 10 Tory MLAs could join the Wildrose Alliance Party if Danielle Smith takes the reins. That's a big shake-up that could place the Wildrose Alliance as the new Official Opposition. McLoughlin attributes his information to credible sources.

Mark your calendars for Oct. 17, the date of the Wildrose Alliance leadership convention, when members will select Smith or Mark Dyrholm.

This is getting awfully interesting.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on September 25, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (25)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dissention in the Alberta PC ranks? Calgary MLA Kyle Fawcett on Stelmach's leadership review

While Adam Daifallah asks whether "the country's most conservative city [is] dumping the Tories," Alberta's ruling Progressive Conservative's have taken notice of the loss of the "safe" Calgary-Glenmore riding to the upstart centre-right Wildrose Alliance Party's "Send Ed a Message" campaign. An article in the Calgary Herald does a good job of capturing some of the reactions to the loss, but most interesting are Calgary-North Hill MLA Kyle Fawcett's thoughts about his party's leader, Premier Stelmach:

"He's done very little, I believe, to instill confidence in at least people in Calgary that he has the leadership capabilities to lead this province," said Kyle Fawcett, Conservative MLA for Calgary-North Hill, on Tuesday in the wake of Monday's byelection loss to the Wildrose Alliance.

"I don't know why that is, but I do know there's some challenges there."

The loss can be attributed to several factors, suggested some prominent Progressive Conservatives, including Calgary-Edmonton "tribal wars," anger over health-care reforms, the ongoing royalty divisions and failing to communicate the government's message.

But the results also indicate many voters don't believe Stelmach is the right leader for the province, they contend, and could pose a risk to the premier as prepares for a mandatory leadership review at the party's annual convention in November. [...]

But asked about the musings of political analysts that the byelection could spur some Tories to try to push Stelmach out as leader, Fawcett said: "There's a reason why we have a semi-annual review within the party for leadership."

He added, "Of course that will be a lot of the discussions leading up until the convention in early November in Red Deer."

Read the rest.

UPDATE: Fawcett has apologized to the Premier for "being critical" in his comments to the Herald.

Calgary North Hill MLA Kyle Fawcett has apologized to Premier Ed Stelmach for being critical of his leadership abilities.

Fawcett suggested Stelmach had done little to give confidence to Calgarians that he has the ability to lead the province.

The rookie Conservative MLA made the comment after the party finished third in a byelection in Calgary on Monday.

Stelmach and Fawcett met for a conversation on Thursday and Fawcett offered an apology for his comment, the premier said.

"He was remorseful, and he said, look, you know, I just got caught in the heat of the loss and certainly dejected, and I know what it feels like," said Stelmach.

"Many times, you get caught up in making a comment and then you walk away and … maybe I should have said things differently. But that's all in the past," he said.

Fawcett will remain in the PC caucus, said Stelmach. Fawcett doesn't have any senior responsibilities in government.

Earlier this year, Stelmach ousted the MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Guy Boutilier, from the government caucus. Boutilier was also critical of the government but he refused to apologize. He's now sits as an independent member of the legislature.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on September 16, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Some laws just don't make sense

Another interesting little fact I forgot to bring up in the last post is that of the government forcing retailers to cover up their cigarettes, which has been in effect in Nova Scotia for the last couple of years. Basically, if you sell cigarettes, you have to put them away in a slide-out shelf and hope your customers know what they want already. It's not the end of the world, but it's a disadvantage for both the retailer and the customer. Do they sell cigarettes? Do they sell the brand I want? These are questions smokers never had to bother asking before, and it would be pretty ridiculous if a store did this with any other product.

The idea is to "protect" kids somehow by attempting to fool them into thinking their local convenience store or gas station only sells politically correct products. We may know more than kids, but most kids are not stupid; they know adults get cigarettes from stores, and they know what a pack looks like. What difference does it make if they come into a corner store for a chocolate bar and see cigarettes on the wall behind the cashier? It's not like the cashier will sell them to the kid (for moral and legal reasons), so who exactly is this law protecting?

Simple answer: the government. It protects their image as a progressive, politically correct administration, and this idea transcends partisan boundaries. These type of laws only still exist because it's hard to stop or hinder politically correct policies - if a politician suggests reversing these laws, they will be labeled as pro-smoking and therefore "against" the canadian people. Do the majority of Nova Scotians actually think hiding cigarettes and taxing them to death is good for well, anybody? Finally, it's funny how blunt wraps (which unfortunately Harper wishes to be illegal) are allowed to be shown in stores but cigarettes aren't. For one they are made out of tobacco just like cigarettes, and secondly let's just say they're not generally used for rolling plain old cigars.

Even as someone who often describes himself as a social conservative, I believe stores should be able to sell anything they wish providing it doesn't harm the public. Some may think showing cigarettes or blunt wraps will hurt the business, but that's their decision to make, not ours, and certainly not the government's. That being said, I really cannot think of any real threat those products pose for children in terms of being in plain sight; if anything, these silly laws make tobacco more appealing to rebellious kids, as they are becoming less and less socially acceptable. Apparently, simple logic doesn't count for much anymore.

[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]

Posted by Dane Richard on September 2, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (20)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Manitoba Premier Resigns

Gary Doer, who has been the Premier of Manitoba since 1999, has decided to resign. A new NDP leader, and therefor a new Manitoba Premier, will be selected this fall.

Jim Cotton at ManitobaPost.Com had a good summary of some of the activities under Gary Doers tenure.

And today the news has come out that Gary Doer is going to be the next Canadian ambassador to the United States.

Only in government do you get rewarded for failures.



I welcome feedback and I ask for civility in the exchange of comments. Vulgarity is discouraged. Please express yourself creatively with other language. We discuss ideas here, attacks on a person are discouraged.


Posted by Freedom Manitoba on August 28, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (21)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

MGTV - Manitoba Government TV

The Doer Government is funding a study to see whether there is place for a government run, government owned "educational" TV station.

(On Screen Manitoba executive director Tara) Walker said a provincial education public broadcaster would be a training ground for local filmmakers to tell stories, on TV and on the web, about Manitobans, for Manitobans.

It would also broadcast children's programs, assist in long-distance teaching and learning and let far-flung communities communicate through a public network across the province.

I do believe that all of these things are already available through various broadcasters in the market like, and this other thing that a lot of people use, the interwebs.

What this would do is create a government run broadcaster that would be in competition with private broadcasters that already have similar programming, such as APTN and Treehouse. I am in support of competition, but when the government gets into competition it has numerous advantages over their competitors;

If a private company wanted to do this, great, enter the market and make a run for it. When the public are forced to pay for non-essentials such as this, while there are real problems with crime and infrastructure, it is a waste.

As it's currently proposed, it's for educational programming. The government is already "educating" children in public schools, and now they want to expand that to "educating" them in your home.

Will you feel comfortable with government programmed TV influencing your kids under the guise of education?


I welcome feedback and I ask for civility in the exchange of comments. Vulgarity is discouraged. Please express yourself creatively with other language. We discuss ideas here, attacks on a person are discouraged.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on August 20, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (29)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Green Party of Alberta de-registered

The Green Party of Alberta has been de-registered as a provincial political party by Elections Alberta:

The Acting Chief Electoral Officer of Alberta has cancelled the registration of the Green Party of Alberta/Alberta Greens in accordance with Sections 10 (1) and 10 (3) of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. Although the cancellation is effective on July 16, 2009, the party has 30 days to request a review of the cancellation.

The party requested the cancellation of its registration in accordance with Section 10 (1) of the Act. Audited financial statements for the 2008 calendar year have not been filed, as prescribed by Section 42 of the Act.

The Alberta Greens have information posted on their website at http://www.albertagreens.ca/.

Elections Alberta is an independent office of the Legislative Assembly that provides non-political administration of the electoral process.

The party, however, makes it sound as though this is part of a plan to restructure itself. "De-registration of the party is an administrative opportunity to re-organize and rebuild the party into a viable political organization. The importance and mainstream acceptance of the Green Party's values and principles are on the rise, and the Green Party's many supporters can now look forward to a fresh start," reads a statement on the party's website.

While it remains to be seen if and when we will see another Green Party in Alberta, at least for the time being, we have one less communist party to worry about.

Posted by Jesse Kline on July 15, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Waiting for the Dogwood Alliance

After a promising election campaign this past spring, the ever-struggling B.C. Conservative Party has just lost its leader and many of its directors. See the press release, below.

Co-deputy leader Chris Delaney told Kari Simpson and me on Roadkill Radio last night that he believes the party can now move forward and start with a clean slate at its AGM Sept. 26 in Chilliwack. But, really, there's been so much destructive in-fighting surrounding this group over the past decade that the prospect of a revivial has to be bleak.

Anyone for a Dogwood Alliance?


June 30, 2009


CRANBROOK:  BC Conservative Party Leader Wilf Hanni and several members of the Provincial Board of Directors issued the following statement today:

“Wilf Hanni has been Party Leader since 2005 and since that time, we have fought hard to unite this Party and to build it into a force to be reckoned with in B.C. Politics. At times the fight seemed overwhelming, but we stuck with it and despite the difficulties, we were able to accomplish a lot.

We have spent much of the last four years fighting a long and protracted battle with a group of dissidents. As a result, the Party has amassed almost $30,000 in legal bills and we still have not managed to unite the members of the Board of Directors. A small band of Board Members still insists on fighting and having its own way.

Despite these difficulties, under Wilf Hanni’s leadership and with the help of our hard working and dedicated Board members, we have managed to adopt a great new set of policies and a good constitution. We have also built our Party membership several times over. In addition, we have more than tripled the number of candidates in the 2009 Election campaign, compared to the 2004 election and have also tripled our percentage of the popular vote in the ridings in which we ran candidates.

We were hoping to achieve peace in the Party so that we could work together to build on our success and turn our Party into a real force in the next election campaign, but our efforts continue to be undermined. The constant infighting is continuing and there does not appear to be any end in sight.

Accordingly the following members of the Board of Directors have decided to resign from our positions and from the BC Conservative Party, effective immediately:

Wilf Hanni, Party Leader

Bob Eedy, Vice-president

Maria Dobi, Party Secretary

Shirley Abraham, Director and Former President

David Duncan, Director

Yvonne Dunlop, Director and Recording Secretary

Liz Eedy, Director

Barb Smith, Director

Mathew Hanni, Director

In addition, the following people have resigned since the May 12th General Election because of this ongoing infighting.

Gill Picard, Party Secretary and Webmaster

Lis Quinn, Treasurer and Financial Agent

Gary Johncox, Director and Fundraising Manager.

- 30 -

Wilf Hanni, Leader, BC Conservative Party – (250) 426-9807
 www.conservativesbc.com   [email protected]

Posted by Terry O'Neill on July 1, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Ontario PC Party goes 'right' but that isn't enough

The Toronto Star and other Liberals have delighted in the last couple months in accusing the PC Ontario Party of 'moving to the right.' Perhaps this is an accurate description, though it doesn't have the negative connotation that the Star seems to think that it does. Christine Elliott was hailed as the moderate candidate and she was promoting massive tax cuts in the form of a flat tax. That is to say, the moderate candidate was 'right' of Stephen Harper.

Tim Hudak has definitely claimed the mantle of 'blue Tory.' He has invoked Mike Harris time and time again. Which is a remarkable change from the previous leader (who once introduced Bill Davis as the greatest living Premier). Indeed if the results of this election tells us anything it is that the grassroots desire a more conservative party.

I despise labels such as 'right' and 'left.' They are the tools of dim witted journalists and intellectually lazy academics. I try to avoid using such terms as much as I can, though I admit I am sometimes trapped into the habit and ease of simplifying political discourse into a two dimensional spectrum.

So it is not enough for me to say you are 'right wing' or to invoke Mike Harris or Ronald Reagan as your personal heroes. We don't need a 'right winger' we need someone who is dedicated to shrinking government, cutting taxes, and desisting the constant state interference in our personal choices. If you want to call that 'right wing' then so be it, but you can't just say it you have to do it.

That is my message to Tim Hudak, the new leader of PC Party of Ontario.

Anyone who has been reading my posts know that I wasn't a fan of his candidacy. I found his rhetoric to be disheartening and many of his policies were adaptations of Harperian big government ideas. But now I think that I will reserve judgement. I want to see how he acts as Leader of the Opposition and which of his policies make it pass the cutting board.

My vote has to be earned, but I do hope that Mr. Hudak earns it.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 29, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

The Best We Could Hope For.....Until Later

10%. Not an overwhelming number to be sure. Randy Hillier finished fourth, a weak fourth on the first ballot trailing behind Christine Elliot's 26%. Some moderate conservatives will interpret this as the end of the Hillier phenomenon. In some quarters of the once Big Blue Machine, Randy is not mentioned in polite conversation. His "decisive" defeat will be brought forth as prima facie evidence that the libertarian wing of the party is too small to count. A fringe element of a minority party.  Hopefully the redneck will return to he backwoods. In Toronto-centric Ontario politics you can't get much more backwoods than Lanark. Besides he never went to Queen's or U of T. He didn't even go to university. How can he be expected to understand the sophisticated world of modern politics? 

Randy didn't embarrass himself, he embarrassed the choir invisible of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. The Bill Davis-Hugh Segal faction. Some hick from nowhere isn't suppose to do a bit less than half as well as a slick lawyer from the GTA, whose husband is the Minister of the Finance. Old political hands like Elliot, Hudak and Kless should have wiped the floor with a novice like Hillier. They didn't. If the libertarian-classical liberal elements of the party are simply blue Tories on steroids, then Tim Hudak should have neatly folded this bunch into his camp. You can't get any bluer than Michael Dean Harris, and guess who the Mike was voting for?  

In a few months the Man from Lanark has demonstrated that a principled and essentially pro-freedom voice can be heard. Much of party politics, particularly for a leadership campaign, is driven by organization. Experience and connections count in leadership battles. Hillier had little support outside his regional base, less because of his radical views and more for the simple reason very few people know who he is. While his presentation skills are unpolished, though they have improved dramatically since the campaign began, his voice is remarkably soft. It will be difficult to portray him as a raving right-wing mad man on television. He sounds too reasonable and well meaning. I'd get the teeth fixed though. Mr and Mrs Average Ontario notice this stuff. Pierre Berton once observed that you could get away with saying anything in Canada - he was a socialist and atheist - as long as you wore a bow-tie. Lester Pearson, the most radical Prime Minister in Canadian history, certainly proved that in politics. Bow-ties are out. Suspenders are in. Hopefully Tim Hudak remembers that.  

Posted by Richard Anderson on June 29, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ontario PC Leadership Race: Tim Hudak wins the leadership

Here it is, the final result:

Hudak: 5606 (55%)
Klees: 4643 (45%)

Congratulations to everyone who worked on Tim Hudak's campaign. I'm going to reflect upon this for a while and come back with an analysis.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 27, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ontario PC Leadership Race: John Laforet comments on Liberal tactics at the convention

John Laforat is a Liberal Party activist that I met when I attended the University of Toronto. I found him to be a well meaning liberal without an overly partisan attitude. He demonstrates this in a video posted by United and Strong:

Here is the press release that he refers to.


I have been told that he is no longer a member of the Liberal Party, but he was active in the Liberal Party a couple of years ago when I knew him.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 27, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ontario PC Leadership Race: Randy Hillier on the first round

Stephen Taylor has posted this video of Randy Hillier:

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 27, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ontario PC leadership race: Randy Hillier endorses Tim Hudak

Stephen Taylor is reporting on the website United & Strong that Randy Hillier is endorsing Tim Hudak. I wonder if Hillier decided to do that before he saw the first round results or afterwards.

Hudak: 3511 (34%)
Klees: 3093 (30%)
Elliott: 2728 (26%)
Hillier 1013 (10%)

Here is a press release from the Ontario Liberals also reporting this endorsement.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 27, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ontario PC Leadership Race: Tim Hudak likely to win on the 3rd ballot

Tim Hudak reacting to the first round (from Stephen Taylor):

First ballot results:

Hudak: 3511 (34%)
Klees: 3093 (30%)
Elliott: 2728 (26%)
Hillier 1013 (10%)

Randy Hillier is now out of the running for leadership. He got into this race to push forward an agenda of ideas, and on that score I think he succeeded. It is unlikely that issues such as the Human Rights Tribunal would have been addressed if it wasn't for Randy Hillier.

An important thing to note about Randy Hillier supporters is that a significant portion of them voted for Randy Hillier and for no one else. Of all the candidate's supporters they are the least likely to completely fill out their preferential ballot. I predict that the second round vote total for each candidate will look very much like the first round.

This is very bad news for Christine Elliott, I do not expect her to survive the next round.

Christine Elliott voters will then most likely be split evenly between Mr. Hudak and Mr. Klees. I do not think that either remaining candidate has particularly strong support among Christine Elliott voters. As things stand now, I predict that this will be Mr. Hudak's night.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 27, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First they took our guns, then they took our cars

In yet another flagrant attack on personal liberties in the province, the Alberta government announced a series of measures to remove armoured vehicles from the roads:

As of July 1, gang members will be hit where it hurts with a new law that removes their illegally armoured vehicles from Alberta roads.

An armoured vehicle is a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to protect its occupants from weapon assault such as gunfire, explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades. After-market modifications generally add significant weight to a vehicle and if the weight is not offset by an enhanced engine, suspension, steering and brakes, the vehicle is unsafe and poses a risk to public safety.…

The amendment to the Vehicle Equipment Regulation under the Traffic Safety Act allows peace officers to require an armoured vehicle to undergo a safety inspection. If the vehicle does not pass the inspection, the vehicle can be removed from the road and the driver(s) can be charged. Charges require a mandatory court appearance and the individual could face a penalty of up to $2,000 and six months in jail.…

Legitimate uses for compliant armoured vehicles such as military, policing, and transportation of valuable goods are not impacted by this legislation.

I am against gun control on purely libertarian grounds, but I understand where the other side is coming from. It is beyond me, however, how anyone could think it's a good idea to take away our means of protecting ourselves from these weapons. This is the nanny-state at its finest, big brother is watching out for you, so there's no need to protect yourself.

The government is, apparently, taking these steps to help combat gang violence. To be sure, innocent civilians can be caught in the crossfire of the gang wars that have permeated Alberta streets. Yet, an armoured vehicle would seem like a good way to ensure that stray bullets don't end up hurting you or your family while you're on the road. Forgive me if I don't want to rely on the state to protect my right to life.

Government will always come up with reasons to outlaw things it doesn't like. I, for one, am sick of governments impeding on my liberties in the name of protecting children, or cracking down on gangs. "I'd like to protect children too, but… is everything worth sacrificing to that? I mean, drugs have done a lot of good… lot of great songs, you know?… I think Dark Side of the Moon is worth 100 dead kids," said comedian Bill Maher. Just because these regulations will piss off gang members, does not make them good.

Even if these measures help prevent armoured vehicles from falling into the hands of gangs, will it not just lead to more dead people? Shouldn't our public policy be focused on saving lives, rather than making it easier to get killed? Can anyone give me a good reason why I shouldn't be able to drive an armoured vehicle if I choose to do so?

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 24, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (19)

Monday, June 22, 2009

PC Leadership Race: Randy Hillier endorsed by Catholic Insight

According to the Free Dominion, the pro-life magazine called Catholic Insight has endorsed Randy Hillier. This is a break from other pro-life groups that have endorsed Frank Klees.

I have often thought that Randy Hillier is the rare candidate that both principled social conservatives and principled libertarians can support. He is the only candidate that is proposing policy that addresses the concerns of pro-lifers. His Freedom of Conscience Act would allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 22, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PC Leadership Race: The push poll accusation

Controversy in the PC leadership race around a mysterious push poll attacking Tim Hudak. Stephen Taylor of BloggingTories summarizes the situation here. (A push poll is when someone conducts a survey with negatively worded questions about a candidate. eg. When do think X stopped beating his wife?)

To summarize Mr. Taylor's summary; the Hudak Campaign accused the Klees Campaign of commissioning the push poll. They went to the rules committee of the PC Party and complained about this tactic, claiming that Mr. Klees violated the rules.

The PC Party responded that Mr. Hudak's claim was "without merit." It is still uncertain who it was that commissioned this attack, but it appears that Frank Klees has been cleared of any involvement.

At the end of Stephen Taylor's blog post that is linked above, you will notice a question:

Yet, if this complaint is without merit as the party stated, the Hudak campaign may have broken their own 11th commandment by unloading this scandal entirely on the Klees campaign so close to the leadership vote. Has the Hudak campaign done their homework or is the party right to dismiss their claims?

Considering the mildness of this push poll (no one accused Tim Hudak of having illegitimate children) it might have been wiser to ignore it. Especially when the Hudak Campaign has been pushing this 11th commandment idea of not attacking other PC leadership candidates. To accuse his opponent without clear evidence (there is highly suggestive but not conclusive evidence) does nothing but muddy the name of Frank Klees.

The questions (taken from Stephen Taylor's blog):

  1. What is the main issue that you will vote on in this leadership race?
  2. Who will be your first choice for party leader?
  3. Who will be your second choice?
  4. Tim Hudak said he was the frontrunner, promising an easy win in the shortest leadership race ever, but his campaign has faltered. Why do you think this happened?
  5. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign has faltered because he promised to sell the most memberships, but came in third place?
  6. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign faltered because of his adoption of a divisive policy on Human Rights Commissions?
  7. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign has faltered because it is relying on the support of Mike Harris, who may be liked by party members but who will hurt our party in the general election?
  8. Keeping in mind the Hudak campaign’s poor performance, are you now more or less likely to change your second ballot support?

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 21, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (10)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Christine Elliott and the Human Rights Commission

Yesterday Christine Elliott sent out an e-mail titled "Poll: Scrapping Human Rights Tribunal = Faith Based Funding." The suggestion was that the proposal to abolish the Human Rights Tribunal could lose the PC Party the next election. She backs up this assertion:

Asked if they'd consider the Ontario PC Party as an alternative to Dalton McGuinty's Liberals in the next election, 42.6% of respondents said yes, 38.8% no. Asked whether they'd consider voting the same way if the PC party's new leader wanted to scrap the tribunal, that support plunged to 25.2%.

I despise the kangaroo courts that lay claim to protecting 'human rights.' They do not protect rights but violate people's basic rights to due process, rights that go as far back as the Magna Carta.

The reality is, however, that most people haven't heard much about this issue. They hear the words 'human rights' then they hear the words 'abolish' and they rightly become suspicious. Most people don't know what happened to Ezra Levant or Mark Steyn; sadly most people don't pay that close attention to politics.

In a way, Ms. Elliott is right. If such a policy was proposed in the middle of the whirlwind of an election, it could easily be used to crush the PCs. The Liberals could use the people's ignorance to paint such policy as being heartless or malicious. As a not so great Prime Minister once said, "[An election] is not the time, I don't think, to get involved in very, very serious discussions."

This isn't to say that politicians of principle should ignore the issue. Far from it, the ignorance of the public means that the politicians should tackle it with greater energy. There is time before the next election to educate the people. To tell them why the HRC needs to be disbanded.

Sometimes politicians have to bend to the aggregated will of the people. Sometimes a politician has to lead.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 17, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (23)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scrapping H-R Tribunal would hurt Ont. Tories

A clear sign that Ontarians need more education:

From today's London Free Press:

Scrapping the Ontario human rights tribunal resonates about as well with Ontario voters as did the ill-fated plan to extend public funding to faith-based schools.

An Angus Reid poll of voting intentions obtained by The Free Press comes as bad news for two candidates for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario who want to scrap the tribunal.

The online poll of 802 voters between June 9 and 11 showed the PC party would halve its popular support by scrapping the tribunal.

Asked if they'd consider the Ontario PC Party as an alternative to Dalton McGuinty's Liberals in the next election, 42.6% of respondents said yes, 38.8% no.

Asked whether they'd consider voting the same way if the PC party's new leader wanted to scrap the tribunal, that support plunged to 25.2%. In that scenario, 44.5% said they wouldn't vote for the PCs.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on June 16, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Danielle Smith speaks at Wildrose Alliance AGM

Wildrose Alliance leadership hopeful Danielle Smith has released video of her speech at the party's annual general meeting last weekend:

Part I:

Part II:

More on Ms. Smith from Grant Brown, Matthew Johnston, and Nigel Hannaford.

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 14, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wildrose Alliance sets its sights on Stelmach government

The Wildrose Alliance Party has set its sights on Alberta's Progressive Conservative government and the fiscal mismanagement that has led to a record deficit during the current economic downturn:

Please Lord, Give us 1 more chance and we promise we won’t vote Stelmach again!

This title is a variant of the famous bumper sticker of the 1980’s that asked for one more boom so we wouldn’t screw it up again. It appears that our Stelmach PC’s have. This time, Albertans do have a choice and that is the Wildrose Alliance!

A have not Province is what Alberta now is. Our Finance Minister has gone cap in hand to the Federal government begging for “$220 million more, sir”.

This is an embarrassment for a Province with the gusher of resource wealth that has been frittered away with wasteful spending on items such as new logos, studies on license plates, and secret MLA pay raises.

If spending had been kept in check at the rate of population growth and inflation the Province would have a multi-billion surplus allowing the Province to capitalize on lower costs at low points in the economic cycle rather than spending the most at high points.

Economic sensitivities for the Province are in the extreme and show the Stelmach PC’s for what they are: kids with a credit card they don’t think they ever have to pay off. Their projected deficit for the current fiscal year left them with a slight operating surplus but a significant deficit when factoring in capital projects such as roads, schools, and hospitals. With the poor economic environment, and factoring in current energy prices of $67/bbl for oil, $3.30/mcf for gas, and a $.91 C$, this works out to a budget deficit of $7.3 billion. Given that the Stelmach PC’s were figuring it would be $4.7 billion, this is cause for concern! With gas inventories expect to reach record levels in November this year, it does not appear that gas prices will come to save the day.

It is also important to note that while oil and gas prices were hitting new highs in 2008, economic growth was falling off sharply in Alberta. Thus, the global economic collapse happened after the decline was well under way and can only be attributed to government policy. This has led to the loss of 51,000 jobs since December in Alberta and the highest level of unemployment in 7 years.

Paul Hinman said, “Today we see the government admitting they bungled their budgeting and are leading us into debt. The former sustainability fund they used to crow about will be burned up in one year. If they keep this up, the Heritage Fund will be gone in the next couple years. This government needs to be sent a message that Albertas don’t want a big spending government!”

The Wildrose Alliance believes Alberta has all the resources to put Albertans to work. It simply is a matter of reinstating the Alberta Advantage of low taxes, stable contracts, innovative thinking and entrepreneurial sprit. On that note, the Wildrose Alliance would support capital cost allowances for the construction of upgraders and refineries, the matching grant to the City of Calgary for the airport tunnel, and the restoration of the former Royalty Framework and Royalty Tax Credit for small producers. These simple measures will get business investing in Alberta and Albertans working good jobs.

The party makes some good points, but it has a lot of work to do if it hopes to turn rhetoric into electoral success. The first step is to choose a new leader. The race got underway last weekend and leadership hopeful Danielle Smith has been on a whirlwind media tour this week. We'll hopefully see a vibrant leadership race that is able to capture the imagination of Albertans. The race will be crucial in determining the future direction of the party.

The second step will be to take the time before the next provincial election to connect with Albertans and build grassroots support for the party and its policies. Upstart parties have found success in Alberta in the past, but it takes a lot of hard work. William Aberhart spent a considerable amount of time touring the province and preaching on the radio before his Social Credit party took over from the United Farmers of Alberta.

Finally, the party needs to ensure it runs candidates in every riding. The only reason I voted Conservative in the last election was because there wasn't a right-wing alternative in my downtown Calgary riding. We'll have to wait and see how the leadership race shapes up, but I think the time is right for a party like this to achieve success in the province of Alberta.

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 11, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (32)

PC Leadership race: summary of the CTF's questionnaire

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation sent out a questionnaire to each of the PC leadership candidates. Below is a summary of their response.

Provincial Taxation
Municipal Taxation
Provincial Spending
Democratic Reform and Accountability
Healthcare Reform
LCBO Reform
Speech, Property, and Association Rights

(Christine Elliott declined to fill out the survey)

Provincial Taxation

Will you commit to repealing the health care premium tax?
Frank Klees: No
Tim Hudak: No direct answer; work with the grassroots to determine tax cuts for platform
Randy Hillier: No direct answer; proposes a Tax & Expenditure constitutional amendment

Will you commit to a more robust and enforceable Ontario Taxpayers Protection Act?
Frank Klees: Yes
Tim Hudak: Yes
Randy Hillier: proposes a Tax & Expenditure constitutional amendment

Will you commit to working with the federal government towards a bilateral constitutional amendment entrenching said act, therefore protecting it from repeal or undermining?
Frank Klees: Yes
Tim Hudak: No
Randy Hillier:Proposes a Tax & Expenditure constitutional amendment

Municipal Taxation

Will you commit to enact legislation implementing a municipal property tax cap to ensure municipal property taxes don't increase by more than the rate of inflation without a referendum?
Frank Klees: No
Tim Hudak: No
Randy Hillier: Will end property taxes in favour of a revenue sharing formula

Provincial Spending

Will you commit to enacting legislation capping annual provincial spending increases at a rate of the combined growth in the inflation and population rate?
Frank Klees: No direct answer; promises restraint
Tim Hudak: Proposes measures with same goal, but not legislation
Randy Hillier: Proposes a Tax & Expenditure constitutional amendment

Will you commit to enacting legislation that restricts the government from increasing spending during the fiscal year (other than declared emergencies)?
Frank Klees: No
Tim Hudak: No direct answer; will commit end of year surpluses to debt repayment
Randy Hillier: Proposes a Tax & Expenditure constitutional amendment

Will you eliminate corporate welfare - including auto bailouts - from the provincial budget?
Frank Klees: No
Tim Hudak: Yes (qualified)
Randy Hillier: Yes

Democratic Reform and Accountability

Will you commit to work with the federal government in holding senate elections?
Frank Klees: Yes
Tim Hudak: Yes
Randy Hillier: Yes

Will you commit to enact a Citizens' Initiative Act, giving Ontarians the right to initiate and vote in a binding referendum on issues of importance?
Frank Klees: No direct Answer
Tim Hudak: Supports use of referendums, but does not comment on initiative
Randy Hillier: Yes

Will you commit to enact a MPP Recall Act, giving Ontarians the right to recall their MPPs?
Frank Klees: Yes
Tim Hudak: No
Randy Hillier: No

Will you commit to disclose a complete list and dollar amount of all campaign contributions you have received during this PC leadership campaign no later than one week before voting begins?
Frank Klees: Yes
Tim Hudak: Yes
Randy Hillier: Yes

Will you commit to introduce legislation requiring pre-election campaign contribution disclosure for all future elections (general provincial, municipal and party leadership) in Ontario?
Frank Klees: No direct answer; argues for review and reform
Tim Hudak: No direct answer; will review laws if elected
Randy Hillier: No; already in place

Healthcare Reform

Will you commit to give Ontarians the right to purchase private health insurance to cover costs incurred by those who pay for timely access to medically necessary procedures?
Frank Klees: No direct answer; allows for private delivery of services
Tim Hudak: No direct answer; allows for private delivery of services
Randy Hillier: Yes

Will you commit to ending public funding of non-medically necessary procedures?
Frank Klees: No direct answer; argues for review and reassessment
Tim Hudak: Yes
Randy Hillier: Yes

LCBO Reform

Will you commit to reforming the LCBO's government monopoly? If so please explain
Frank Klees: No; proposes an efficiency review
Tim Hudak: No direct answer; will allow for wine sales outside of current regime
Randy Hillier: Yes; will allow for beer and wine sales outside of current regime

Speech, Property and Association Rights

Will you commit to working with the federal government towards a bilateral constitutional amendment entrenching property rights? If so, explain.
Frank Klees: Yes
Tim Hudak: No; will support federal initiatives and introduce a Property Owners Bill of Rights
Randy Hillier: Yes

Will you commit to enacting legislation making union membership voluntary, while supporting the right of workers to join unions as a matter of choice?
Frank Klees: No direct answer; will develop policy with party on freedom of choice for workers
Tim Hudak No direct answer; proposes to restore secret ballot to union votes and more transparency
Randy Hillier: Yes

Full responses [pdf]: Randy Hillier, Tim Hudak, Christine Elliott, Frank Klees

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 11, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

AB premier booed as Wildrose Alliance leadership race starts

Ed Stelmach

In a sign of what may be a major shift in Alberta politics, Premier Ed Stelmach was booed at an award ceremony in Calgary:

The catcalls were far from wide-spread, and others in the audience were applauding. But the incident was a watershed in a town that once would only whisper Ralph Klein's name in reverent awe.

It's a tough time to be a politician, whether Tory, Liberal, New Democrat or civic. Calgarians can be as tough on their city council as they are on the premier.

But Stelmach takes the roughest ride in the city that had a homeboy Tory premier for 28 of 35 years before he won the party leadership.

Heckling politicians is not necessarily newsworthy, but Alberta has a unique history whereby parties stay in power for a long period of time before being suddenly swept away by a small populist party. The current Progressive Conservative (PC) government has been the longest-standing of these dynasties, governing the province uninterrupted since 1971. A shift in support for the governing Tories could be a sign of Alberta's next political revolution.

The major impediment to unseating the Tories has been a distinct lack of any viable opposition parties in the province. Neither the Liberals nor NDP could organize a two car funeral, not to mention that the Tories will never be defeated by a party running on its left. Even with the many criticisms levelled against Premier Stelmach, he was still able to achieve a historic victory in the last provincial election. As far as I'm concerned, the Liberals had their turn in power between 1905 and 1921. Once a party is swept out of office in Alberta, they never regain power, so I don't see a future for them. And while the NDP has never governed, Albertans are way too smart to buy into the party's socialist propaganda. This leaves all eyes on the upstart Wildrose Alliance Party, which began its leadership race this weekend:

The Wildrose Alliance kicked off its leadership race Saturday with two candidates declaring their bids, a third expressing strong interest in running, and an acknowledgment the fledgling, MLA-less party faces tough challenges to broaden its support.

At an annual general meeting in a northwest Calgary community centre, leadership contenders Mark Dyrholm and Danielle Smith--once longtime provincial Tory supporters--each told the crowd they've jumped to the year-old Wildrose Alliance because they don't believe the governing Progressive Conservative party can be changed from within.…

"Don't let anyone tell you that your values don't represent mainstream Alberta because in this province, we have the history of seeing that our values are mainstream in Alberta. They've been voted in time and time again," said Dyrholm, who received strong support from the crowd, but no standing ovation.

The Wildrose Alliance leadership became at play when Paul Hinman announced in April his plans to step aside at the two-day annual general meeting.

The party, a January 2008 merger of the right-wing Wildrose and Alliance parties, suffered a setback in last year's provincial election when it lost its only seat in the legislature.…

Hinman, who is vying for the party's nomination in the Calgary-Glenmore byelection, dismissed characterization of the Wildrose Alliance as simply a rural, right-wing movement.…

On the fundraising side, the party has enjoyed great success, raising nearly as much money as the Tories during the 2008 election campaign.

The deadline for leadership applications is Sept. 1, and a new leader will be named on Oct. 17.

Is this a sign of a shift in Alberta politics? Will the Wildrose Alliance by able to gain enough momentum to put a dent in Tory support in the next election? At the very least, a strengthened Wildrose Alliance will make Alberta politics a little more interesting.

Timeline of Alberta Premiers

Premier Party Year
Frederick Haultain (NWT)
Federal: MacDonald, Mackenzie, Abbott, Thompson, Bowell
Liberal 1897-1905
Alexander Rutherford
Federal: Laurier
Liberal 1905-1910
A.L. Sifton
Federal: Laurier, Borden
Liberal 1910-1917
Charles Stewart
Federal: Borden, Meighen
Liberal 1917-1921
Herbert Greenfield
Federal: King
UFA 1921-1925
John E. Brownlee
Federal: Meighen, King, Bennett
UFA 1925-1934
Richard Gavin Reid
Federal: Bennett
UFA 1934-1935
William Aberhart
Federal: King
Social Credit 1935-1943
Ernest C. Manning
Federal: King, Laurent Diefenbaker, Pearson
Social Credit 1943-1968
Harry Strom
Federal: Trudeau
Social Credit 1968-1971
Peter Lougheed
Federal: Trudeau ,Clark, Mulroney
PC 1971-1985
Don Getty
Federal: Mulroney
PC 1985-1992
Ralph Klein
Federal: Mulroney, Campbell, Chretien, Martin, Harper
PC 1992-2006
Ed Stelmach
Federal: Harper
PC 2006-Present

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 7, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (23)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Misconceptions of new NSPC law

The hysteria coming from the centre-left bubbled over noise of the never ending promises by the NDP for a moment this past month after the curfew legislation was brought into the public eye.

At first glance I can see why this law could seem extreme for a Western region to propose, but the point of this law is not to discriminate against youth or to state that all youth are criminals, as the left screams. Like a repeat forest fire, the left’s love affair with victimization spread across the pages of Halifax’s newspapers with abandon. The chance to label the Tories as liberty-hating fascists was swept up as usual, drowning out the simple, pragmatic words of Premier Rodney MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald explained that the point of this law is to hold parents accountable for their children, should they be 16 years of age or younger. In non-spun words, it doesn’t seem so scary – in fact, it amazes me that this is considered a foreign notion to many people in Nova Scotia.

It’s as simple as this: currently, if a person 16 years or younger commits a crime, and there are damages, the damages are paid for by taxpayers who have absolutely nothing to do with the situation. It’s apparently not enough that none of these hypothetical crimes will be on a permanent record, no matter how bad they are. The PC government wants not the taxpayers to pay for such damages, but the parents – legally, as the curfew age is quite a bit below age 18 – and most of all morally.

Now, it’s true that in this day and age it’s hard to keep an eye on one’s children 24/7. However, is it too hard to ask to, you know, be a parent? By this I don’t just mean housing, clothing, and feeding one’s child. I’m talking about putting an effort into raising a kid who won’t commit crimes in the first place. If that doesn’t work, parents can *gasp* punish their child non-violently, or simply be extremely disappointed, which worked enough for me.

Imagine you’re a 16 year old boy (or girl) again, and despite your good character, you’re feeling rebellious. As a child, unless raised correctly, you would have no idea who has to pay for, let’s say, a broken window that you smashed with a rock. Nor would you care at such a young age. Even if you did know, the thought that it’s not going to be you or your family paying for it doesn’t exactly help the situation. Now imagine that your parents have to pay for it – think you would still do it? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that parents would take the activities of their child more seriously with this law in place. Whether the parents pro-actively teach their child to respect property like they’re supposed to, or if punishments worsen, it’s a strong deterrent. It not only deters parents from letting their kids run around at 2:00 am, but it deters kids from committing petty crimes.

“Deterrent laws” as I call them are less about grabbing up money from offenders, and more about scaring those that would otherwise commit the supposed crime had the law not been in place. For the most part they do their job. A recent law that comes to mind that prohibits using a hand-held cell phone while driving. Until I realized the police rarely pull people over for this (shh, it’s our little secret!). I never used my cell phone while driving when the law was in place simply because I didn’t want a ticket. In turn, my risk of being in an accident arguably decreased, making me safer. The best part of deterrent laws is that they don’t require much cash from taxpayers, and yet they still do their job better than direct enforcement. I know plenty of people that only use a seat-belt because it’s the law, and the seat-belt law has been around a long time. Of course there are those that will do things whether it’s legal or not; it’s impossible to prevent all crime all the time. But when there are cheap, effective ways to lower crime, why not?

It’s sad that this needs to be emphasized by a law, but in a region where the majority of young city dwellers, many of which are students, cannot get enough of government hand-outs and freebies. Although this doesn’t surprise me, it’s bothering how selfish my own generation is when it comes to politics. Many only consider what they as individuals receive from the government for free (after all, full-time students don’t work a whole lot) before consideration for what’s best for the province. When there’s a lot of students in one relatively small area such as greater Halifax, it does make a difference in “public” opinion. You won’t find a NDP majority like in HRM in rural Nova Scotia, that’s for sure.

[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]

Posted by Dane Richard on June 4, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (8)

Question Period: Hudak vs Elliott

Ability to navigate the sparring of question period is considered an important talent for a Leader of the Opposition by many of the PC Party members voting in the leadership race. The candidates Christine Elliott and Tim Hudak have both made videos that showcase their abilities. I reproduce them for you here so that, those of you who will vote, may have another way to judge the two main contenders.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on June 4, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ontario PC leadership poll analysis

Ipsos Reid has come out with a poll for the Ontario PC leadership race. The numbers they give are: Elliott (35%), Hudak (24%), Hillier (22%) and Klees (20%). Perez Hudak has a further breakdown of these numbers. Assuming Perez Hudak is correct, here are my calculation of the how the leadership balloting will look.

1st Ballot: The 1st place votes are as follows - Elliott (19%), Hudak (13%), Hillier (14%) and Klees (11%). Since people that don't vote will not be counted, I adjust these numbers out of 57% to get the first ballot results - Elliott (33%), Hudak (23%), Hillier (25%) and Klees (19%). Klees has the lowest total and would be out after the 1st ballot.

2nd Ballot: The 2nd choice vote totals for the remaining three are - Elliott (28%), Hudak (18%) and Hillier (14%). Since we are not given transition matrices of the preferences (ie. we don't know who people that picked Klees first support 2nd), I assume that all the candidates have the Klees votes distributed based on their 2nd choice totals. The 19% from Klees would be broken up as follows - Elliott (9.0%), Hudak (5.8%) and Hillier (4.5%). The second ballot results would be - Elliott (42.3%), Hudak (28.6%) and Hillier (29.1%). Hudak would be out after the 2nd ballot.

3rd Ballot: Assuming the the Hudak votes split at the 2-1 ratio for Elliott (since her 2nd choice was twice as much as Hillier's), she would win easily with 61% of the final ballot.

There are some obvious criticisms of this poll. The most common one that I'm seeing is that they didn't have access to party lists, so they were just using people that self identify as PC supporters, whether or not they are party members. While this is completely true, it is partially mitigated by the 43% of respondents that did not answer. I'm sure some of the 43% could be party members that have yet to make up their minds, it seems more likely that these would not be members. Of the remaining 57% that did answer, there probably is a higher proportion of party members. While using PC supporters instead of exclusively using members is a problem, I don't think it is the biggest problem with the poll. If we break up the PC supporters into two categories: non-members and members. Do we have any evidence that the subset of members is different than the subset of non-members? If Ipsos Reid did ask if the respondent was a member, even with the smaller sample size, I would be curious to see if this subset was much different from the non-members.

I think the biggest issue with the poll is that the Ontario PC Party does not vote by a pure one-member one-vote system. Each riding is given 100 Electoral Votes (unless there are less than 100 votes cast in a riding, in which case the EV's would equal the votes cast). They way to combat this would be to weight the results by ridings and I don't see it indicated that this was done.

Even with the above criticisms, I don't see an obviously better (and cost effective) polling strategy. The only people with the membership lists are the campaigns, and I wouldn't trust a poll out of any of their camps. Ipsos Reid presumably has no motive to sway the results of the race and actually has incentives to be correct.

I am not confident that Christine Elliott really has this big of a lead, but it certainly should raise some questions about the conventional wisdom that Hudak is in the lead. I think it will come down to whichever candidate actually did sell the most memberships to their suppporters.

Posted by William Joseph on June 3, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (14)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

49 to 35 to 1

The B.C. Legislature welcomes the election of its first independent MLA in 60 years.

This is a good thing, right?

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 26, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, May 25, 2009

No need to prove citizenship

The Tyee.ca reports how implementation of rules designed to avoid creating an "elitist" voter-registration system led to illegal voting in the B.C. provincial election earlier this month.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 25, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bait and switch

A recent profile of newly re-elected B.C. premier Gordon Campbell in the Vancouver Sun is quite revealing.

If nothing else, it reveals that Mr. Campbell, who Sun reporter Miro Cernetig suspects might prove to be one of the most influential B.C. politicians ever, might have had a great career selling used cars.

The article tries to nail down what Mr. Campbell believes and discovers that the answer is quite "complex".  Mr. Cernetig himself notes that he has "struggled to pin down his guiding political philosophy" in the years that he has covered the premier.

The profile begins promisingly, noting that Mr. Campbell says that he is a believer in "classical liberalism". There proved to be a slip between the cup and the lip, though, when he became premier.

Mr. Cernetig writes:

Critics could look at all three of those statements and find immediate contradictions. Hasn't this economic conservative already broken his promise to balance the budget? How is it that a "subsidiarian" runs such a centralized premier's office, one in which he takes the role of hands-on CEO? How could this classic liberal, who favours the power of the individual citizen, be so inclined to push through special recognition for first nations, in essence an attempt to empower a fourth level of government that is ultimately defined by race?

Despite the philosophical architecture he has created for himself, the reality is Campbell is not nearly as rigid as he is often described. In fact, he is far more strategic and flexible from a public policy perspective than he is given credit for. And there is an overall coherence, though it is not always well-articulated.

The answer that seems best to me is that Mr. Campbell likes to govern as a small-l liberal, based on his record in office.

Mr. Cernetig explains it well. I've added emphasis:

....Flashback to 1996, when Campbell was on a campaign swing down the east coast of Vancouver Island, building up the B.C. Liberal party he had recently joined as leader. Here's what I wrote after interviews back then:

"Campbell promises legislation to ban future deficits on taking office. ... He would cut MLAs' pensions. Slice the number of MLAs from 75 to about 60. Cut the number of ministries from 15 to 12. Slice a cabinet minister's salary when he blows his budget. Sell off BC Rail and any other Crown corporation where it 'makes sense.' And cut through red tape by ceding more power to municipalities ...."

On review 13 years later, it's clear Campbell kept most of those promises in his first term, from 2001 to 2005. In his second, about half of them have been watered down or broken entirely. There are more MLAs, their paycheques and pensions are again gold-plated and he's rescinded his balanced-budget legislation -- temporarily, because of the global recession, he promises. Does this swing from right to the centre display a lack of ideological coherence? Campbell argues not. He prefers to see it as a sort of pragmatic, evolving path to governing.

In his first term, he saw himself as having one paramount goal that he found no joy attending to: taking out the knife to slash services. "We had to have a sound financial footing. You don't value balancing the budget. You value the opportunities that are created when you balance the budget."

There's also, of course, something he doesn't say -- there was a short-term tactical benefit in moving his politics to the right. In 2001, to win his first term, he had to recapture former Reform party supporters, disgruntled Socreds and stay-away Conservatives. That tactic worked. He won in a landslide.

But in the 2005 election, Campbell came close to losing power on that red-meat agenda. He entered his second term with a dramatically reduced majority -- but still workable. Consequently, he moved closer to the political centre.

One might call that political opportunism. But there's more to it. Campbell is now governing from what he himself agrees is his "political sweet spot," where he is most comfortable and would have preferred to be all along.

Too bad that my old magazine, B.C. Report, isn't publishing any more. We would have been able to point out that only a liberal B.C. Liberal would feel comfortable with governing this way. Conservative policies are only useful to enable the liberal ones that Mr. Campbell really wanted to do. Conservative policies are then forgotten. Liberal policies become legislation.

Historically, Mr. Campbell has proved adept at the "bait and switch" beloved by bad used car salemen. Promise something, do something else.  

I wonder if there are any small-c conservatives in the B.C. Liberal caucus? What do they think of this? Have any of them talked to people about their concerns? Or is Mr. Campbell's iron-clad control of his government strong enough to crush dissent?

If Mr. Cambell is going to run again, as seems likely, conservative politicians should start reminding voters of his record, and urge them to ignore what he says at election time. Start now. Harp on it, if necessary. And it may be. 

Posted by Rick Hiebert on May 22, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

One concerned taxpayer's message to the Ontario PC Party

Derek Fildbrandt, the National Research Director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation shares some good policy advice in this open letter to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario:

I am glad that I am not able to vote in your contest, as I would be torn between competing ideas that you deserve to see melded together.  Try tying a bit from each candidate together, to build something larger, stronger and more able to win.  A kind of, err, good-looking Frankenstein.

1-Health Care Reform: Frank Klees was a champion of much needed health care reform in the 2004 leadership race.  We need to hear more of this now.

2-Tax Reform: Christine Elliott has bravely put forward a flat tax proposal that would be a major step forward for Ontario’s economy.  This is a common-sense measure that will win votes if property articulated, but it will also put real tax reform back on the agenda federally and in other provinces.

3-Freedom of Speech: Randy Hillier has put the oppressive Ontario Human Rights Commissars in his cross-hairs and has vowed to abolish this star chamber if elected premier.  Tim Hudak has commendably joined him in this call, and the other candidates should as well.  On an issue as fundamental as free speech, there can be not an inch of compromise.

4-Union Freedom and Freedom of Association:  Tim Hudak and Randy Hillier have put forward common sense proposals for allowing workers the right to decide if they wish to belong to unions or not. Freedom of association extends beyond our right to form and join organizations, they extend to our right to not be apart of organizations.

5-Adult Laws for Adult Drinkers: Both Tim Hudak and Randy Hillier have respectively put forward no-brainer policies on the LCBO and Beer Store that are long overdue.  If adults can buy alcohol, let them do it like adults.

Regardless of who you choose, there are ideas floating around that should not be limited to merely the victorious candidate.  For the last 6 years, you’ve squeezed as much daylight as possible out from between yourselves and the Liberals.  You’ve borrowed ideas from those outside of the tent and to what avail?  Stop reaching to your left and start reaching for the sky.


Posted by Kalim Kassam on May 22, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Elliott attacks Hudak & Hillier's calls to dismantle OHRC

Christine Elliott has come out against Tim Hudak and Randy Hillier's proposals to scrap the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Elliott says that the move is too controversial to be platform material.

Progressive Conservative leadership contender Christine Elliott is on the attack over a proposal to scrap Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal, a policy she says will poison the party's chances of forming the next government.

She singled out her rival Tim Hudak twice in an all-candidates lunch, saying the proposal would be a "gift" to the ruling Liberals who will use it to their advantage in the next election.

Elliott is warning that the Liberals will exploit the issue just like they did with the Tories' ill-fated campaign promise to extend public funding to faith-based schools.

It's unfortunate that Elliott (and apparently Klees) would take this position. Not only have the actions of human rights commissions across the country become indefensible, but it's not as politically explosive a position to take as Elliott makes it out to be.

Scrapping or severely reforming the OHRC has growing support among most people to whom the issue has been explained. Like faith-based funding, scrapping the OHRC would require careful messaging (FBF lacked it) but would be doable, especially if PCs had a substantial platform with other planks to talk about next time around.

h/t: Ker

Posted by Janet Neilson on May 20, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (10)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Seinfeld election hands threepeat to Campbell

It was in the end a Seinfeld election, an election about nothing. The campaign started off with some high profile environmentalists slagging the NDP for its promise to end the carbon tax and ended with a plea from Campbell to re-elect his government to help see BC through the worst global economic calamity since the Great Depression.

Along the way we had Ray Lam resigning as an NDP candidate because of a few inappropriate pictures on Facebook and John van Dongen resigning as Solicitor General because of too many speeding tickets.  But in the end less than half of British Columbians could be bothered to vote in an election where they felt the choice was between cream of wheat and porridge.

The fact is that democracy is slowly dying in BC - from terminal boredom. Thanks to the internet and various social media any politician who has ever said or done anything inappropriate or perhaps even interesting is finding themselves weeded out of the political process either before or during a provincial election campaign.

Well known 24 Hours columnist and blogger Bill Tieleman has suggested that voting be made mandatory in BC. As someone who has voted in every election I strongly object to that idea. If you give people bland campaigns and politicians that aren’t allowed to say or do anything interesting then why should we be surprised when more than half the electorate doesn’t bother to vote?

The people who aren’t voting are sending a very strong message to the politicians; the problem is they aren’t listening. The public want MLAs who are actually allowed to do the job of representing their constituents

In Delta South Attorney General Wally Oppal is only at present two votes ahead of Independent candidate Vicki Huntington. In that riding both the NDP and Green vote collapsed, not because Huntington is left wing but because the people that generally vote for these left wing protest parties saw a chance to send someone to Victoria who would actually represent their interests rather than the interests of the Premier or the leader of the Official Opposition.

We need to revitalize parliamentary democracy in Canada and get more power back to the hands of voters and MLAs. First of all every party leader should have to face a recorded vote of confidence once a year from their caucus. That would make the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition far more mindful of the concerns of their fellow MLAs.

Secondly all cabinet appointments should be approved by caucus.  Thus if a cabinet minister runs roughshod over backbench MLAs they may find themselves vetoed out of cabinet the next time a cabinet shuffle goes up for approval.

Independent votes should be made the norm not the exception. Imagine a Premier and cabinet that actually had to make sure the legislation they were proposing had the support of a majority of MLAs in the legislature rather than it just being a foregone conclusion. Also the parliamentary rules need to be changed so that unless it is the final vote on the provincial budget or a specific non confidence motion a defeat would not result in the government having to call an election.

Private members bills which are at present token statements of intent should be referred to legislative council that can rework them into proper legislation and time set aside for votes on these bills when they are brought back to the legislature. This might in turn lead to more bi-partisan support of legislation.

All of the aforementioned would greatly increase the functionality of the legislature and once again enable MLAs to do a much better job of representing their constituents and the collective interests of our province.

One thing the Premier could also do is pass legislating stating that whenever a vacancy occurs in the Federal Senate that a province wide election will be held to fill that position.  I am sure that is a move that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would support and once firmly established as a precedent would eventually result in other provinces following suit and us actually having a democratically elected Senate in Canada.

Finally we need to make it much easier for referenda to happen here in BC.  According to a recent Vancouver Sun poll 65% of British Columbians support the decriminalization of marijuana. So let’s have a vote on it. I am sure there are many other issues people might also want to see put forward in a province wide referendum.

The fact is that unless or until we flow some democratic power out of the Premier’s Office and back into cabinet, our MLAs and ultimately ourselves as citizens, voter turnout will continue to decline and deservedly so.

[Cross-posted at The Insider – BC Lobbyist]

Posted by Mike Geoghegan on May 16, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BC Liberals, others, Twitter their way onto the wrong side of election gag laws

Yesterday, I wrote about the threat to free speech posed by US campaign finance laws which regulate press freedom and political speech.

During the British Columbia legislative elections which are happening today, the incumbent governing Liberal Party (whose own new election gag law was found unconstitutional by the province's Supreme Court in March) ran afoul of portions of the law which similarly restrict political speech by posting messages to the social networking site Twitter.

Vancouver's Georgia Straight reports:

Elections B.C. has said that the B.C. Liberal Party has violated section 233 of the province’s Election Act by posting campaign messages on Twitter on election day. A look at the microblogging Web site suggests that other organizations have done the same.

Section 233 of the Act states: “On General Voting Day, election advertising must not be published, transmitted or broadcast in an electoral district until the close of all voting stations in the electoral district.”

On May 12, the B.C. Liberal Party’s Twitter account, @bcliberalparty, posted messages on Twitter promoting the party and broadcasting negative messages related to the NDP...

Under the Election Act, individuals or parties found to have violated section 233 of the Act are liable for a fine of up to $10,000 or up to one year in prison, according to [Elections B.C. spokesman Kenn] Faris. A penalty for violating section 233 is issued at the discretion of B.C.’s chief electoral officer.

Because the Liberals responded to Elections B.C.’s request in a timely manner, Faris said, the matter would not be pursued and the Liberal Party will not be punished.

Two other groups participating in the election, the provincial Green Party and British Columbians for BC-STV also appear to have acted violated the Election Act through their use of Twitter.

In the 2008 Federal election, blackout laws were violated by communicating election results to individuals in areas where the polls were still open by blogs, social media sites and satellite television stations.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on May 12, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

BC Election and Referendum: How are you voting?

Today is the day.  We're voting on a new government and possibly a new electoral system.

Our choices on the first ticket are the BC Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens. 

The BC Liberals are the closest thing British Columbia has to a mainstream, right-wing party. [Their platform can be found here]. They're selling themselves as the party of stability. Maybe it will work better for them than it did for the federal Conservatives in the last election--but as Terry O'Neil wrote on the Standard the other day, the Liberals have effectively alienated much of their base - so you do have to wonder who's still around to think that Liberal 'stability' is a good thing.

The NDP are the Liberals' only real threat, they're running on raising the minimum wage and repealing the BC Liberal's carbon tax among many many other things. [Their platform can be found here] David Suzuki has condemned them, which is endorsement enough for a lot of the BC right. But get past that one issue, and you see the same old NDP.

Besides the mainstream parties we have three smaller alternatives:

The BC Conservatives: like the BC Liberals, they are completely separate from their federal equivalents.  There's talk that the BC Conservatives could be a spoiler for the BC Liberals in some ridings in the interior. That could be a good thing. 

I interviewed their leader a few weeks back--he made all the right noises about free speech. If you're a one-issue voter, there's your party. But if you are leaning that way, try and spare a minute to dig through the platform on their poorly plagiarized site. It's underwhelming.

Next up are the Libertarians, they're the first choice for a lot of us--but with only 6 candidates (out of a potential 85), most of us don't have the option of voting for them. If you are in one of the few ridings they're running in, please take a look at this interview we posted with their President, Paul Geddes, before you vote. 

Finally we have the BC Refed Party. Kind of like Quebec's ADQ--they're calling for a new federal arrangement between BC and Canada. On that they have my total support. But then you look at how they go about trying to recruit new candidates and you can see that none of them are worth a damn.

That's it for the main parties. But besides the main vote, there's the referendum.  We will be voting on the Single Transferable Vote. I've posted interviews from the leaders of the 'Yes' side, the 'No' side, and from a foreign academic on STV. I wish I could have posted more, but I couldn't find enough balance. 

BC-STV was proposed to give some form of representation for the 50% or 60% of voters who find themselves on the losing side in our existing first-past-the-post system. 

Under STV, your riding will be sending up to 7 people to parliament. Instead of an 'X' you number the candidates on your ballot in order of preference. Once a candidate has enough votes to get elected, their remaining votes are distributed to the other candidates.

It may sound simple, but the most frequent criticism you hear of STV is that it's confusing. And honestly, they're right - It is. Try it and you'll see what I mean. 

So two ballots, one of which could change everything about our politics--if you're in BC, how will you be voting, and why?  And any predictions?

For me, I'll be refusing a ballot for the main vote. If there isn't someone I like, I don't vote. But when it comes to the referendum, I'll be voting 'yes'. It's not close to being a perfect system, but I think on the whole, it's more democratic and more respectful of the rights of ideological minorities than the existing system. My hope is that STV will help make our party system more divided and polarized and get us away from this mediocrity that's overwhelming our country.

As for predictions, I expect the government to win and STV to lose.

Two other Shotgun contributers have sounded off on the vote already--Terry O'Neil posted on here the other day, saying that he would be voting Libertarian. He didn't mention STV, but Rick Hiebert did--I gather he'll be voting 'No' on that.

Posted by Robert Jago on May 12, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (14)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Should a conservative vote for the Nova Scotia PC Party?

I wrote a blog post proclaiming that the Nova Scotia PC Party do not deserve to win this election. On the Western Standard, Dane Richard responded to my post with his own post on why the PC Party should win.

I think I can fairly summarize our positions like this:

Hugh: They shouldn't win because they haven't acted like conservatives in government.

Dane: They should win because they are acting like conservatives in the election and the opposition is worse.

Not living in Nova Scotia I haven't heard much about the NDP opposition. Looking a little into it I find out that they are pretty much what I expected them to be. They seem pretty typical of the NDP across the country: government as the solution to all problems.

The issue though is not really the NDP, it is the PC Party. Politicians like everyone else react to incentives. If a nominal conservative can get elected by not acting like a conservative, then they have no incentive to act like a conservative. Basically if we ever want a party that behaves like we want, then we have to stop voting for parties that behave differently. It thus makes long term sense to not vote PC and hope that they get the point and elect a new, more conservative leader.

The flip side to that is if they are acting conservative in an election you should vote for them to encourage them to act more conservative. This creates a dilemma for what a conservative should do with the PC Party of Nova Scotia.

Should they be punished for the way they governed or rewarded for the things that they are promising?

I don't know yet, but I'll be watching to see.


A blog Wolfville Watch has commented on this debate.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on May 11, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Nova Scotia premier’s tax cuts vs. Darrel Dexter's NDP

In response to Hugh MacIntyre's earlier Shotgun post on why "Rodney MacDonald deserves to lose this election":

I have never been a huge fan of Nova Scotian politics, and I live here. That changed with this article by the Chronicle Herald that explains Premier Rodney MacDonald’s promise to cut taxes. Now, while I’m sure this is common in the West, it’s not every day I hear of Maritime politicians taking traditional conservative stances and publicly declaring them. MacDonald said the personal tax exemption would increase by another $1,000 by 2014. In 2006, MacDonald committed to adding $250 to the exception limit every year for four years. Over the four years, on average about $200 will be added to the pockets of Nova Scotians.

“I’m a believer that people should have the opportunity to decide where they want to spend their money.”

Mr. MacDonald is a true conservative and it appears it’s not only the PCPO candidates that are staying true to their roots but the NSPC candidate as well.

I also applaud MacDonald’s ability to keep the exemptions like he promised even in tough economic times: “This speaks to what we stand for--we make a commitment, we stand by it, and we live within our means to pay for it,”.

On the other hand, there’s Darrel Dexter. Dexter is the leader of the Nova Scotia NDP and of course holds a seat in Cole Harbour where he, and I, live. Common to socialists, he insists on throwing taxpayer money at something that has failed time and time again: our socialized system of healthcare. Beating a dead horse comes to mind, but for the NDP, campaigning means making people unable to refute the things he wishes to pour money into. What common person, especially in the left-wing world of the Maritimes, is going to refute keeping ERs open? After all, if you don’t support his proposals, you appear to be a heartless individual or a “right wing extremist” according to the Left. For Dexter, it’s a win-win situation.

Perhaps it’s just my perception, but to me the NDP is continuing their tradition of emotion baiting and failed logic. In contrast, the Progressive Conservatives have been campaigning on solid, sound ideas that are simple: tax cuts are good for businesses, good for the working class, and good for the economy. With the current state of the economy, the choice seems clear.

Posted by Dane Richard on May 11, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The very liberal BC Liberals

So, what’s going to happen in the B.C. election on Tuesday?

The pollsters have consistently put the BC Liberals ahead among decided voters. But their margin over the NDP has generally decreased over the weeks. And my gut has long told me that the BC Liberals are in trouble, not just because of scandals, the gas tax, and Olympic over-spending, but also because they seem to have gone out of their way to alienate bedrock right-wingers. They’ve done a 180-degree turn on aboriginal affairs. They’ve defended the censorious BC Human Rights Act. And they’ve pushed ahead with the radicalization of the BC school curriculum.

The B.C Conservative party is running a few dozen candidates, mainly in Interior. Its leader, Wilf Hanni, is a lightweight. But its deputy leader, Chris Delaney (former leader of BC Reform and then the Unity Party) was a big-enough hitter a few elections ago to take part in a leaders' debate. Delaney is running in Penticton this time and says he is getting tremendous, positive response on one big issue: the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act, through which the Libs plan to give de facto control of the province’s resources to B.C.’s aboriginals. Vancouver-area media are oblivious to this issue, but Delaney says it's a huge one up country and is proving to be a real winner.

The B.C. Conservatives are also the only ones talking about reforming the BC Human Rights Commission, including getting rid of the Doug Collins provision. Good on 'em. I'm not sure they'll win any seats, but they'll take significant votes from Libs in several ridings and could, thereby, help clear the way for an NDP victory. Remember: four years ago, there were several very close seats. Just a few thousand votes going the other way, divided among these ridings, would have given the NDP the election.


Also of interest is the fact I talked to a fundraiser for the Liberals about a month ago and he said the downtown business community was (because of the recession and for ideological reasons) not donating nearly as much money as in past campaigns. They feel let down by the BC Liberals over its green agenda and the aforementioned Recognition Act. This fundraiser does a lot of lawyerly business with the mining industry and he noted that, despite all the pro-business talk from Campbell, new mine openings are stalled.

Personally, I am so upset with the left-wing Liberals that I will not be voting for them this election. There's no B.C. Conservative in my riding so, instead, I will likely vote for an old acquaintance, long-time Libertarian, Paul Geddes. Let the chips fall where they may.

My prediction: a result like that of 1996, when the BC Libs won the popular vote but lost the election.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 10, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Why Canada needs a recession

A professor at the University of B.C. thinks that what would be best for Canada's environment is a "planned recession".

And he's quite serious.

Bill Rees, currently on sabbatical from UBC's School of Regional and Community Planning, was featured on the cover of a recent issue of the Vancouver Courier newspaper. The accompanying story  shares his views at some length that the Canadian urban economy as it is presently set up cannot save the environment, no matter what new technologies are introduced or how many boxes of materials are recycled.

Courier reporter Mark Hasiuk writes:

"Society hasn't faced the fact that the economy has to shrink," says Rees, in the rehearsed manner of a veteran lecturer. "We should be in a planned recession, not the full blown uncontrolled collapse as it is right now."

....We need a planned recession, he says. A cap on growth, fewer construction projects--not "greener" ones.

...He recommends immigration reduction to combat homegrown production and consumption, and warns of pending "societal collapse."

"Imagine a society with greater equity--at least sufficiency for all," he says. "Thirty-hour work weeks spreading the available work around. No forced unemployment, more leisure time, less pollution, greater regional independence from trade."

This is radical stuff, Rees admits. The concept of a planned recession contradicts the basic tenets of western capitalism, which values hard work, ambition and progress. Yet Rees's ideas are rooted in the conventional wisdom of environmentalism.

"We're consuming too much, consuming more renewable resources than natural systems are producing," he says, "and we're dumping more waste than natural systems can assimilate."

My more scientifically inclined readers can probably refute much of what Prof. Rees has to say. But I wonder why such "radical stuff" doesn't get the attention of politicans.

The Courier reporter notes that the professor's opinions "are rooted in the conventional wisdom of environmentalism." But when a professor advocates banning all privately owned cars from Canadian cities as a goal, libertarians and conservatives might want to take notice that our future politicians and city planners are being taught this in university.

As has been mentioned, in B.C., we are having a provincial election on Tuesday. Depending on the poll, B.C.'s Greens are hovering around 10 per cent of the vote.

I wonder how well the Greens would be doing if the parties of the right in B.C. did a better job of telling the electorate that the green mindset, if put into policy, would often be a heavy burden weighing down  B.C.'s voters. It would be more onerous than needing to take your mandatory "blue box" out to be collected with the garbage.

Hopefully the right will have good critiques of how "green" policies will affect the economy in time for other provincial and federal elections. While Prof. Rees has a right to his opinions, there is no need to let politicians, who might share his ideas, push on an open door.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on May 9, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (12)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Alberta increases beer taxes, BC may follow suit

Governments across the country are struggling with the effects of the global economic recession. The federal government expects to post a deficit of $85 billion over the next five years and even Alberta, the country's former economic powerhouse, expects to run a $10.3 billion deficit over the next four years. Deficits need to be financed and debts need to be paid back, meaning higher taxes now, or in the future. The big questions are: how will governments manage their finances and who will shoulder the burden of these deficits?

Unfortunately, politicians seem more than happy to place a good chunk of this burden on lower to middle income people. Last month's budget in Alberta increased "sin taxes," raising the price of a case of beer by $1.50 and a carton of cigarettes by $3.00. The worst part is that this was entirely preventable. Former premier Ralph Klein was able to get the province's finances in order, but once the debt was paid off, spending ballooned. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), Alberta has the second-highest per capita spending in the country. In fact, the government spends $1,300 more per person than does the government of BC, which Albertans often make fun of for being too left-wing. The CTF estimates that if the government had only increased spending relative to the rate of inflation and population growth since 2005, Alberta would still be seeing a $2.9 billion surplus, instead of a $4.7 billion deficit. Way to go Stelmach, you've successfully placed the burden of years of socialist spending practices on the backs of the little guys.

Alberta is not alone in this. The BC NDP platform proposes reducing the wholesale discount to private liquor stores by six per cent, which is widely expected to increase the cost of a six-pack of beer by about $3. Such a policy shift would add approximately $155 million to the provincial government's coffers, but who's going to be hit hardest by such a policy? It's not the professional who will hardly notice that the cost of a $100 bottle of wine has gone up by a dollar. It's students, like myself, who may be addicted to cigarettes, who may want to have a few beers with friends after a hard day's work. It's Jack Layton's "working families" who will be paying for this, but don't expect the BC NDP to care about them.

This reminds me of an episode of one of my favourite TV shows: Married... with Children. The show starts off with Al Bundy walking down the street. He's approached by a number of people peddling their liberal causes, but he doesn't care, because he knows that those issues don't effect him. When he hears the government is proposing a beer tax, however, he becomes politically motivated:

Despite being a satirical look at a down and out American who doesn't care about politics, I believe we can gain a valuable lesson from this. Al Bundy is the kind of working man that Jack Layton's always talking about. However, Bundy doesn't buy into the fallacy of the left: that somehow if everyone puts their money in a giant pot, everyone else will be better off. Bundy understands that his money will go further if it is left in his own pocket and that the government policies that truly affect him are the ones that take his hard earned money away from him.

Unfortunately, conservative parties are all too often seen as the parties of big business, while the left has gained a foothold with lower to middle income people. This has largely been caused by the Republican Party in the US, whose members act like fiscal conservatives until they find a bill that either brings some pork-barrel spending into their district or helps line the pockets of their buddies on wall street. This has manifested itself in a shift at the ballot box. According to David Frum:

A generation ago, the great majority of the most educated Americans voted Republican. The elder George Bush, for instance, defeated Michael Dukakis among college graduates by 25 points. But that advantage has been eroding, and last year Barack Obama became the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to win a majority of American voters with four years of higher education.

This is too bad because the truth is that fiscally conservative governments have a lot to offer working-class people. Yet, in Canada, our conservative governments have adopted the policies of the left. Instead of reducing spending so we don't increase our debt load, we are just throwing money at our economic problems. As can be seen in Alberta, the effects of this reckless spending can already be felt.

Getting back to Al Bundy, after he realizes that his vote doesn't count, he mobilizes a mob of working-class people to protest the beer tax:

Now I am not advocating any sort of violent insurrection. What I am suggesting is that fiscal conservatives stop only looking out for themselves and start showing people that free markets and small government can benefit all of society. For too long the left has been able to persuade people with the noble lie of socialism. With the Liberals gaining in the polls, it has never been more important to build a broad base of support for conservative parties across the country. As for Bundy, he doesn't care who won the election, but he has a message for whomever the president may be. A message that Ed Stelmach and Carole James should take to heart:

Posted by Jesse Kline on May 7, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Interview with the BC Libertarians: 'goo goo', civil forfeiture and all that stuff

The BC Election is now a week away. Just before we go in to cast our ballots, a few words with ‘the home team’ - the Libertarians. The Western Standard is a libertarian and conservative site -- it’s in the mission statement -- and while obviously I’m not speaking for everyone on the site, the Libertarians are the closest thing to my standard bearer in the upcoming election (though I think I’m going to follow the voting advice of this shouting pothead I found outside of the federal Liberal convention last weekend).

The BC Libertarians have six candidates running this time around, including two here in Vancouver. Their party president, Paul Geddes, answered a few questions for me on libertarian issues. First off, I began by asking him if he supported the BC Government’s restrictions on third party advertising:

Paul Geddes, President of the BC Libertarian Party (PG): No, of course not. We believe in free speech and free speech during elections should be especially important. Restrictions of this type are exactly what you would expect when insiders try to block the emergence of new ideas and new groups.

This is just another example of the government using its might to restrict competition.

The Western Standard (WS): Are you aware of the Steyn/Maclean's ‘free-speech’ case which was brought before the BC Human Rights Tribunal last year? If so, would you support a reform of the BC Human Rights Code to eliminate sections which criminalize many forms of (non-violent) political speech?

PG: We see little need for government organizations such as the “BC Human Rights Commission” . The use of force in society should be used only to prevent others from using force (assault, robbery etc.,) or to gain compensation for a previous unjustified use of force.

Although we appreciate the benefits of good manners, we don’t understand why a coercive government entity feels justified in delineating and enforcing their subjective concept of good manners. We much prefer having competing voluntary organizations (religious and social groups) issuing their condemnations of perceived injustices and trusting Canadians with the good sense to judge when an action truly merits voluntarily ostracisizing an offender.

WS: The Civil Forfeiture Act puts a reverse onus on property owners to show that they did not acquire their property with proceeds from crime. Do you support a reform of this act to put the onus back on the crown, and to put a cap on the amount of property that can be seized by the government?

PG: Government should not be entitled to seize property, except to return it as compensation to a previous victim of an unjustified use of force or fraud. This law is designed with only one purpose: to reward police forces with the funds seized for wrongfully interfering in the voluntary drug market.

Not only is this policy wrong, but it will increase the harm that prohibition is already doing to us. This law will only encourage more violence in drug dealing if it drives out all dealers who want to keep their earnings and assets safe from arbitrary expropriation.

WS: Will your party support more experimentation in private health care delivery?

PG: Of course. People are different. We don’t all fit into the “one-size-fits-all” lowest common denominator government monopoly health plan. Some want more service. Some want less. Some want completely different services.

The government should not prevent BC citizens from making private agreements with the health providers of their choice. We should be allowed to buy extra service, extra insurance, different service. Health providers and private insurance companies should be allowed to deliver such services to citizens who are willing to pay for such services.

WS: What has your party done to advance the cause of liberty in British Columbia during the last term?

PG: We have continued to make noise about the problem of depending on coercion for funding government services with our annual tax protest (see www.wclf.org) as well as suggested private voluntary alternatives for many government programs.

WS: When will BC recover from what the IMF is now calling, ‘the Great Recession’? And what measures would you introduce in the next session to assist in the recovery?

PG: Our lives are improved thanks to the continual innovations and breakthroughs made by productive peoples all over the world. Despite confiscatory taxes and interfering regulations, human ingenuity usually finds a way to deliver mutually advantageous trades. The best thing that the BC government can do to get us out of our current economic troubles is to first promise “to do no more harm”. Quit taking the money we earn to spend on their dreams.

BC needs drastically reduced taxation and less interference in our everyday lives, so that those with productive, innovative ideas know that they will not be interfered with and their earnings won’t be confiscated.

WS: Besides those questions, I’d be interested in learning your views on the state of your party, and of the Libertarian movement in BC. Who do you see as your party’s natural constituency and how do you intend to reach them over the course of the election?

PG: Currently, the world is experiencing a bubble of goo-goo (good government) feelings no doubt due to the personality and warm feeling of hope brought by the election of Barack Obama south of the border. Unfortunately, no man can deliver what the crowds think they have been promised. Government can not be a force for good. As reality bites, disillusionment will set in. We must be ready with our alternative message of true hope and trust in human ingenuity freed from government constraints.

Already there are growing doubts about government. More and more people around the world call themselves libertarians as they realize that government coercion holds us back from achieving our full potential. We are happy to hold up the flag for these ideas in BC.

Posted by Robert Jago on May 7, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tim Hudak would focus on asset seizure as part of "tough on crime" policy

Back off Tim Moin Yahya posted an article that he wrote yesterday on the Supreme Court's horrendous decision in Chatterjee v. Ontario to allow asset seizure from those who are suspected of (not "charged with" or "convicted of") criminal activity.

Tim Hudak, who briefly redeemed himself to me last week with some good economic policy, has come out, guns blazing, in favour of this policy.

In fact, as part of his "tough on crime" policy package (which is otherwise fairly status-quo for a Conservative politician), he pledges to focus on asset seizure when dealing with grow-ops. From his website, Hudak says he would focus on:

  • Toughening laws and sentencing for violent crimes
  • Taking aggressive steps to stamp out grow ops in Ontario including a focus on asset seizure
  • Toughening prosecutorial and sentencing standards for organized crime
  • Increasing penalties for offenders caught in the act of defacing property

(emphasis mine.)

This is not some innocuous policy that only property rights "nuts" ought to be concerned with, nor is it something that can go wrong only in hypothetical cases. The fallout of allowing such property seizures in the United States has resulted in complete disregard for the law by some police officers - mostly warrants without probable cause - and extremely tragic cases such as the death of an innocent man in a raid that was motivated by a desire to seize his (impressive) assets and suicide by a woman who saw it as the only way to prevent asset seizure leading to homelessness and impoverishment.

Even if you are in favour of continuing the war on drugs, this complete disregard for property rights and the rule of law in Ontario should be wholeheartedly condemned by anyone who cares about either. It is extremely disappointing to see any serious Conservative politician (or anyone at all) endorsing this nonsense.

Posted by Janet Neilson on May 7, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (16)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sit! Roll Over! Good MLA!

I read in the current issue of the B.C. Christian News that a minister is running for the B.C. Liberals in the Port Coquitlam riding, hoping to be elected next week.

Before so-cons in the riding smile, however, I have to warn you. Bernie Hiller might have already been housebroken for life in the B.C. Liberal caucus.  

The 29 year old, who resigned as missions and youth pastor at Coquitlam Alliance Church to run, was the only person wanting to run as a B.C. Liberal against veteran NDP MLA Mike Farnworth. Mr. Hiller, the newspaper profile notes, is known to people in the Coquitlam area because in addition to his church work, he has been "one of the leading advocates for the Cold Weather Mat Program, under which five churches offer shelter to the homeless in the Tri-Cities area."

The multi-church shelter-the-poor program, the article adds,  "raised some controversy, and involved numerous appearances before Coquitlam Council."

If you continue to read on, however, Mr. Hiller turns to the importance of ensuring that the B.C. Liberals are re-elected to protect the economy.

You would think that someone who until recently has been a minister might have some ideas on how he can live his faith out as an MLA. But, alas, his minders have already got to him.

"Hiller admitted he may face some challenging issues;" the story paraphrases him as thinking, "but the main controversial and moral political issues are federal, not provincial, responsibilities."

Oh? I'll cite some examples where an MLA might be able to do some good.

Pro-lifers in his riding might want him to pursue the idea, floated in the days of Bill Vander Zalm, that abortion be removed from B.C.'s provincial health care plan. Let those who have no objections to the procedure pay for it through a privatized health care option.

Another example is central to the mind of nearby B.C. Liberal candidate Marc Dalton these days. Mr. Dalton, a local teacher, was recently browbeaten into recanting some opinions that he expressed in an e-mail 12 years ago. At the time, he was worried that gay-positive initiatives in B.C. schools might not respect the beliefs of conservative parents. Perhaps parents in Mr. Hiller's riding are concerned about similar efforts in B.C schools, and as an MLA (and not a MP)  he would be well placed to help set policies for the B.C. Education ministry.

Mr. Hiller the voter and pastor might have been very interested in another idea for provincial legislation. Recall that he was one of the organizers of efforts by local churches to shelter the poor, which raised the ire of Coquitlam's city council. Two years ago, I related to Shotgun readers efforts by Vancouver's city council to regulate what Vancouver's churches wanted to do to help the poor in the city. Since then, a compromise has been reached.

Mr. Hiller, with his pastor hat on, might think it would be a good idea for his local MLA to suggest an amendment to B.C.'s legislation regulating local governments to the effect that churches, temples and synagogues may engage in social work without being regulated by cities and towns, on Charter of Rights grounds. (What a government regulates, it may also stop, or define out of existence.)

However, Mr. Hiller, about to perhaps put on his MLA hat, is already looking for reasons to not look at ideas like these, even before he is elected. He hasn't been elected yet and he is already making excuses that he won't, as an MLA, pursue certain issues.

Back when the Vancouver city government's Planning Department was trying to regulate church charity efforts, a friend of mine assailed their stance in a sermon, "So, all that we can do is sit in our churches and pray and sing and listen  to somebody preach?"

Perhaps I can be forgiven for thinking "So, all that a conservative-thinking MLA can do is sit in the legislature and vote and applaud and listen to Gordon Campbell preach?"

If Mr. Hiller is elected, does he care to prove me wrong? I hope so.   

Posted by Rick Hiebert on May 6, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)