Wednesday, October 15, 2008 letter to Governor General

Here is a letter to the Governor General from Stuart Hertzog of, calling for the Governor General to wait before asking Harper to form a government, and wait for the possibility that the opposition might form a coalition. Please feel free to write your own letter, or or use this one.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean

Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1

Telephone: (613) 993-8200
Toll-free: 1 (800) 465-6890
Fax: (613) 998-8760

A Coalition Government for Canada

Canadians have voted not to give the Conservative Party an overall majority in this election. The result clearly shows that an overwhelming majority of the voting public do not support the Conservative Party, and therefore do not wish to see Stephen Harper continue as prime minister of Canada.

Mr. Harper may petition you to be allowed to continue as prime minister with a parliamentary minority. I beg you not to grant his request immediately. Instead, I respectfully request that you stay your official permission until the four opposition parties, or at least those whose candidates have been elected to sit as members of the 40th parliament of Canada, are given time to try to form a coalition government.

I believe that a coalition government holding a majority in parliament would be in the best interests of Canada at this time. To allow Mr. Harper to continue as prime minister would have many damaging consequences that could undermine the peaceful order and good government of this country.

Canadian sovereignty

A minority Conservative government would expose Canada to policies that the majority of Canadians clearly do not want. They could diminish Canadian sovereignity by integration into a continental union with the United States, and further undermine the supportive social programs and civil liberties that Canadians citizens have come to enjoy.

Another minority government would frustrate those Canadians who have rejected Mr. Harper’s platform and past policies, possibly leading to civil unrest.

The functioning of parliament would be undermined by a continued minority government. Without a majority, the government would not be able to pass contentious legislation, rendering any debate leading up to these failures a waste of time. Loss of a confidence motion would lead to another costly election soon after this one, which would exasperate and even anger many Canadians.

Same parliamentary situation

Mr. Harper has not been able to use this election to capture a majority of seats in parliament, and a third attempt is likely to produce the same situation. A coalition government would open up the possibility of negotiated agreement between the parties as to which legislation would be introduced and passed in parliament, making for efficient use of members’ parliamentary time. The resulting legislation likely would be acceptable to a wide range of Canadians.

Clearly, a coalition government is in the best interests of Canada at this time. I therefore humbly beg and beseech you to consider my request, and using your reserve powers, not agree to Mr. Harper’s request to continue at least until the other parliamentary parties have had time to negotiate a coalition.

Yours for a free and democratic Canada,

Stuart Hertzog
Victoria, BC

Brief post-election thoughts

Obviously, I'm extremely disappointed with the results from last night, and with those Canadians, obviously a lot of them, who are not neoconservatives, yet voted to re-elect a neoconservative government. That said, I have a few thoughts as to where we go from here:

1) The opposition parties must put aside partisan differences and agree to form a coalition, then approach the Governor General with this willingness to govern in the best interests of the country. is all over this.

2) We need proportional representation, and we need it bad. I'm going to join Fair Vote Canada.

3) Last night's election had the lowest voter turnout, 61%, in Canadian history. In future elections, progressives need to get the vote out, especially the youth vote. I firmly believe that they higher the voter turnout, the more progressive our government will be.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, that's it from me for a few days. I'm spending Thanksgiving weekend with family. Posts from me, if any, will be highly infrequent.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Two more Tory no-shows

I went to two candidates forum in Greater Vancouver. The first one, open to the first candidate from each party in the Vancouver area who signed up, was about global poverty, and was sponsored by Engineers Without Borders and Make Poverty History. None of the Vancouver-area candidates wanted to sign up for this.

Yesterday, I went to an all-candidates forum focussing on mental health issues. The Vancouver-Centre candidates were there. Well, all except Con candidate Lorne Mayencourt.

Interesting how the Tories don't seem to want to show up anywhere where poverty might be mentioned. I dread the prospect of this government being re-elected.

CBC: Cdn.scientists oppose politicization of science

According to the CBC, 85 scientists from various fields have protested what they refer to as the politicization of science. Examples include climate change denial, opposition to Insite, and the firing of the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. This, to me, is one of the greatest sins of the Harper regime, along with bringing shame to our international reputation:
A group of Canadian scientists signed another open letter on Thursday, calling on political parties to end to what they see as the "politicization" and "mistreatment" of science.

The letter, signed by 85 scientists in the health, environment and technology fields, focuses particularly on a number of incidents involving the federal Conservative party, including the closure of the office of the National Science Adviser, the firing of the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and what it calls "political appointments" to the board of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada.

"While science is not the only factor to be considered in political decision-making, ignoring and subverting science and scientific processes is unacceptable," the scientists write.

"In light of these concerns, we are calling on all political leaders to articulate how they will work to improve Canada's track record with respect to the treatment of science and related due processes."

It's the second open letter from scientists published in the last week that has been critical of the actions of the federal Conservative party.

Read the entire article here.

Muzzle count update

Over at, the muzzle count is now at 104.

Open etter to the four opposiiton leaders: coaleasce before October 14

Here is the interesting part of a letter from calling for a coalition of the four opposition leaders:
I want the Governor General not to
ask Stephen Harper to form the next government of Canada. Instead, I want her to
respect the wishes of the two-third majority of voting Canadians and ask your
four parties to try to form a coalition government.

Formal letter a necessity

I believe that the Governor General has the
to do this, and that there may be historical precedent to
enable her to take this course of action. However, I understand that former
Governor General Ed Schreyer
believes that to do so she must have a formal letter signed by you, stating your
intentions. Please ask him about this.

What is required is a formal
submission, in writing, by the parties who have agreed to form a coalition
requesting that the Governor General recognize you collectively as the
government. If the Governor General feels that you could indeed function as a
coalition and that this would be preferable to any other alternative, such a
request could be granted.

This means that you must be ready to form a coalition by October 14th,

Will you each put aside your antipathies towards each other and work to
find your common principles and policies? Will you do this for the poor and
needy; for the workers; for business people; for the environment and other
species; and for the kind of Canada that the majority of Canadians clearly want?

Will you begin to explore this possibility, NOW?

Not My Prime Minister

I have just added a new resource site to my sidebar, Not My Prime Minister. Check them out!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

NOW: Coalition government

This is from Alice Klein in NOW Magazine. She points out that fortunately strategic voting isn't an issue in Toronto, but she does say that though she is an NDPer, there is much to choose among the opposition parties:

I live in Toronto-Danforth and proudly sport a Layton sign on my front lawn. I will be heartsick if his wonderful Toronto team doesn’t include my favourite women in politics, Olivia Chow, Peggy Nash and my own former MPP, Marilyn Churley. I urge you to please vote for these incredible contributors to our federal dialogue, who have earned our support with their talent, energy, commitment and integrity.
But that doesn’t mean the NDP is the best and only hope we have on all and everything. Dion has definitely outdone Layton on climate change.
Layton claims cap and trade is about making the polluters pay. But every credible expert agrees that any price on carbon will ultimately be paid for mostly by consumers. Cap and trade would be just like a tax, but, like the gas price surges we have all been experiencing, imposed in fits and starts, without warning. The two policies are actually complementary and should never have been counterposed. One is immediate and the other long-term.
Dion’s carbon tax plan starts out with a relatively small added cost that increases over time. The tax increase on energy use will be steady and foreseeable, allowing for innovation, planning and incremental investment over time. This is the new foundation for a sustainable economy that we need.
Cap and trade, on the other hand, involves the creation of a complex new regulatory and market system that targets the country’s largest emitters only. It takes a long time to get going (five to 10 years), its effectiveness depends on very technical aspects of implementation, and it’s highly subject to manipulation. While the cost is initially incurred by large emitters, most if not all of these costs are passed on to consumers.
“The argument that a policy capable of reducing carbon emissions will only affect producers is without economic merit,” reads an open letter released Tuesday to Canada’s federal leaders, signed by 200 economists teaching in Canadian colleges and universities
At the same time, although I think Dion’s carbon tax initiative is the best environmental policy ever put forward by a major party, that doesn’t mean I think everyone should vote Liberal.
Read the whole article here.

Video for "You Have a Choice"

Check out this fantastic video for the song, "You Have a Choice," performed by several prominent Canadian musicians.

Georgia Straight: Harper dodges questions about Insite

Also in the Straight, Stephen Harper refuses to answer questions about Insite. Shame!

The Georgia Straight's strategic voting slate

In a step away from tradition, Vancouver's alternative newsweekly the Georgia Straight has opted to express support for the candidates most likely to defeat a Conservative candidate. Then they follow with a list of candidates to support in each riding in Greater Vancouver.

In previous elections, the Georgia Straight has recommended the best candidates in each riding. Because the stakes are so high this year, we’re joining the cross-country grassroots movement to promote strategic voting and deny Harper a majority. We have examined the polls, looked at previous voting patterns, and assessed the impact of each party’s campaign in B.C. in 2008. After doing this, we’ve recommended the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Conservative.

In some instances—such as in South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale and Vancouver Centre—we’ve overlooked outstanding candidates because we don’t think they have the best chance of winning. With crucial international climate negotiations scheduled to begin next year in Copenhagen, this is no time for vote-splitting. Harper already has the support of some of Canada’s largest media corporations. The only way he’ll be stopped is if enough responsible citizens vote strategically on Tuesday (October 14). Here are Straight recommendations for 19 Lower Mainland ridings.

Read the whole article here.

Green platform writer supports strategic voting

From Queer Thoughts, advocacy for strategic voting in BC, from the creator of the Green Party climate platform, Guy Dauncey:

Here is Guy's letter that was posted:

Dear Friends,

Voting on Vancouver Island

I know it hurts to vote against your instinct, to make that all-important democratic tick for a party other than the one you believe in.

Under our antiquated, colonial, discriminatory, stupid, undemocratic, first-past-the-post voting system, however, when we split the progressive vote not two but three ways, every vote for a candidate who has little chance of winning makes Conservatives cheer.

They are laughing all the way to a possible majority government, packed with Conservative MPs many of whom, If the disgraced MP Maxime Bernier is anything to go by, think climate change is a joke, a Rocky Horror Show of doom and gloom dreamed up by us eco-freaks.

I have been a member of the Green Party in Britain and Canada, on and off, for 35 years. I wrote our Canadian Green Party's climate platform, that was awarded the highest rating by the Pembina Institute. And I am urging all people of a progressive hue not to vote Green, but to vote strategically, to put aside party loyalty for greater loyalty to our Planet Earth.

We absolutely must stop the Conservatives from getting back into power. A Liberal/NDP/Green coalition government (hoping Elizabeth May gets elected) would get Canada back on track with committed action on climate change.

In Vancouver Island North, this clearly means voting for Catherine Bell, NDP -

In Nanaimo-Alberni, this clearly means voting for Zeni Maartman, NDP -

In Nanaimo-Cowichan, this clearly means voting for Jean Crowder, NDP -

In Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, it's a close race between Keith Martin (Liberal) and Jennifer Burgis (NDP)

In Saanich-Gulf Islands, this clearly means voting for Briony Penn, Liberal

In Victoria, it clearly means voting for Denise Savoie, NDP

This is also what 120 of Canada's top climate scientists are urging us to do - vote strategically - see

Just as a comment - if all these candidates won, with Jennifer Burgis in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, 100% of Vancouver Island's MPs in Ottawa would be women - which would be amazing.

To all those committed Greens who think this means I am betraying my deepest principles - I apologize. Our undemocratic voting system turns good friends into bickering enemies, which is a drag. I have good green friends who are running for the Green Party, and I'd love to support them - but it just does not make sense.

And yes, we all want to see Proportional Voting in Canada.

We will NEVER get this with a returned Conservative government. But we MAY have a slim to good chance with a new progressive coalition government.

with best wishes,
Guy Dauncey

IMF endorses Canadian economy

From Canadian Cynic, we learn of a suspiciously timed endorsement of the Canadian economy from that bastion of market fundamentalism and austerity programs, the International Monetary Fund.

I could go on but you can take my word for this -- the IMF are as evil a group of parasitic, opportunistic, right-wing cocksuckers as you're likely to find anywhere. And why do I suddenly care about the IMF? Because of this:
IMF sees Canada leading developed world

Canada will outperform other well-off countries but can't escape a global slowdown as the world works through "the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s," the International Monetary Fund says.
Wow, is that timely or what? Here we are, only days from an ugly, hard-fought federal election, and the hard-right conservative IMF just happens to come out with a relatively upbeat report on Canada's financial state. Boy, I'll bet there are some folks who just can't wait to start touting that little gift for all it's worth.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Star: Top climate scientists urge Canadian to vote strategically

From the Toronto Star, with a hat tip to Thoughts on Climate Change:

VANCOUVER–More than 120 of Canada's top climate scientists have signed an open letter criticizing Conservative government policy and urging Canadians to vote "strategically" for the environment in next week's federal election.

"Global warming is the defining issue of our time," said Andrew Weaver, a lead author with last year's Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But Weaver said Tuesday that Stephen Harper's government "has yet to get engaged in the innovative and urgent policies that we need to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada."

This is shaping up to be "the rare election in which the environment is the issue," said the group's John Stone.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

New website: tracking muzzled Con candidates

Following up on a previous post of mine, it looks like there is now a site called devoted to the tracking of the muzzling of Con candidates.

H/t to Saskboy.

The Star: Dion, no orator, but a man of substance

Here's the full Star article referred to in my previous post:

The derogatory descriptions of Stéphane Dion are telling. He is "a geek." He is "professorial." He needs new glasses – better still, contact lenses.

This is teen talk. Shallow.

When the media chatter on Dion does occasionally move up a notch, it is said that he must improve his English, communicate better in both languages, with shorter sentences, and learn a gimmick or two to sell his convoluted carbon tax.

These are the obsessions of the age of slick marketing and the TV clip. Shouldn't we rather be asking if the leader of the Liberal party has integrity? Intelligence? Knowledge? Experience? Judgment? Courage? Vision?

Does he have anything useful to say about the economy? The environment? Medicare? Child care? Poverty? National unity? Urban Canada? Relations with the United States? Our Afghan quagmire?

Media distractions notwithstanding, Canadians would assess his personal qualities and platform positions.

They would do so, ideally, independent of the Republican-style Tory attack ads about his ostensibly weak and vacillating persona.

They would do so, ideally, untainted by what unnamed Liberals have been telling journalists (their numbers a mystery – half a dozen? a dozen? – and their possible links with the defeated leadership camps of Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff shielded from public scrutiny).

Dion has many shortcomings.

He is no orator. But nor is Stephen Harper, though the Prime Minister does read his speeches more authoritatively than he used to.

Dion's English is heavily accented. So is the French of many English Canadian politicians.

He lacks charisma. So does Harper. Sarah Palin has lots of charisma.

Dion is stubborn. So are many political leaders.

He is not good at delegating. Nor is Harper. Depending on one's point of view, the latter is either "a control freak" or "a strong leader."

Dion writes his own speeches. So did Bill Clinton.

The real rap against Dion is that he does not inspire people. Harper inspires fear. Take your pick.

Dion is disliked in Quebec. So were Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, for about the same reason: taking on the separatists.

Trudeau routinely won a majority of seats in Quebec but did so when there was no Bloc Québécois. Chrétien didn't, with the separatists fielding their own federal party.

Dion was widely derided in Quebec for writing and piloting the Clarity Act through Parliament in 2000. But he stood his ground, with dignity and an unshakable commitment to Canadian unity. He tethered the separatists to the rule of law, Canadian law. That was nothing short of a miracle.

Unlike Harper or Brian Mulroney, Dion never blurred the line between Quebec separatists and nationalists. He made that clear again on Day 1 of this campaign.

"I love Canada and I entered politics to keep Canada united," he began, before addressing fellow Quebecers: "My friends, I am as proud a Quebecer as Gilles Duceppe. That is not the subject of our disagreement. The subject of our disagreement is Canadian unity.

"I believe that in accepting help from other Canadians and offering our help to them, we are no less Quebecers. We are even more so.

"If we take Canada out of our hearts, we lose a part of ourselves.

"The role that we can play, that we should play in this Canada that we have built is more important than ever before, now that environment has become a global issue."

On climate change, Dion's leadership has been described as courageous or politically suicidal. But there's no denying the urgency of his mission, especially after Harper derailed Kyoto, a policy that was a carbon copy of George W. Bush's.

Harper's warnings that a carbon tax would be "insane" and "crazy," and would "screw Canadians," and "destroy" and "wreck" the economy constitutes fear-mongering. A similar tax has not ruined the Scandinavian economies.

Dion's commitment dates back to his days as environment minister. Chairing the 2005 UN climate-change conference in Montreal, he was "nothing short of magnificent," says Elizabeth May, who was there.

"The fact that we emerged with the very-best-case results after 36 hours of non-stop negotiation, at 6:30 a.m. the day after the conference was supposed to have ended, was 90 per cent due to the fact that Stéphane Dion did a really good job.

"He didn't buckle to the Bush administration walking out of negotiations in the middle of the night. He managed to hold things together. ...

"I would not hesitate to put him in charge of anything difficult and I wouldn't worry that he would cave," May told the Star's editorial board recently.

On the economy, Dion's 30-day plan of action may not be adequate. But there are no easy fixes and Ottawa's options are limited, given that Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have squandered the budget surplus.

But Dion's plan is more than what Harper is offering: himself as the Great Helmsman.

The Canadian economy is indeed better than America's, as Harper says, but it's not America-proof.

Dion is a sincere and honest politician, untainted by scandal. He is a polite and decent man. He is not mean or vindictive. He does not treat his political opponents as enemies. He does not question the patriotism of the critics of his Afghan policy, let alone call them agents of the Taliban. He is not proposing to send 14-year-olds to jail for life.

Vote against him because you do not like his policies, not because he is socially awkward or that he reads books.

Vote for Harper because you like his policies, not because he got himself photographed in a sweater in front of a fireplace.


Media chastised for "shallow and ignorant" attacks on Dion

This is a letter by my friend Annamarie to the Toronto Star in response to an excellent article written by Haroon Siddiqui.

Thank you, Mr. Siddiqui, for being the only mainstream columnist to voice the opinions of most of the people in my community who are outraged by the media's blatant bias against Stephane Dion. No matter what Mr. Dion does, says, or wears, it is derided, ridiculed and considered wrong by pundits, TV/radio hosts, newspaper commentators. These actions are beyond nauseating and assume Canadians are so shallow and ignorant that we cannot see beyond Harper's gimmics, the out-of-context sound bites in his party's attack ads, and the media's complicity in this campaign.

I am a member of a party other than the Liberals. But bias is bias regardless of where one stands on the political spectrum. And I would safely bet that the majority of Canadian voters agree.

This is another reason why Canadians should seriously consider switching to a new, proportionately representative electoral system. Our present first-past-the-post encourages hostility among party rivals instead of encouraging them to work together for the common good. In the crucial times ahead, we need more co-operation and less viciousness. This is what the media should be focusing upon instead of propagating the destruction of Stephane Dion, who is a good, honourable man genuinely wanting what is best for his country. That he is not a member of the corrupt, scandalous Old Boys' Club shows the obvious strength of his character; it is the reason why his party elected him their leader.

The Tyee: Time has come to craft a coalition

From the alternative Vancouver-based online news source The Tyee. As they say, it's done in Europe all the time:

If the Conservatives do not get a majority in this election, Canada could still get a majority government. This could happen if the Liberals, NDP and the Greens (if they elect any members) formed a coalition. Such a coalition government would reflect the majority of Canadians who do not support the Conservatives. The Conservatives received only 36 per cent of the vote in the last election and, with a slight shift of fortunes, they may get less in the coming election. However, when the substantial majority of over 60 per cent gets split among four other competing parties, the Conservatives -- with a minority of the vote -- could wind up forming the government. This need not happen.

If for once the Liberals and the NDP set aside partisan politics and acted in the interests of Canada, it would be the beginning of a new era for us. In making this proposal, I am not suggesting a merger of these parties. The parties would remain as they are. They would only have to agree on a certain number of objectives and policies. On this basis they could form a majority government, or even a minority government with more seats than the Conservatives.

Cabinet seats could reflect the proportionate share of MPs from both parties. If the Liberals had 115 MPs and the NDP had 40, the Liberals would compose 75 per cent of the cabinet and the NDP 25 per cent. In such an arrangement, it would seem reasonable if Jack Layton became deputy prime minister.

At this stage, both of these parties need one another if they are to have a role in forming a government. Coalitions occur on a regular basis in Europe and in other parts of the world -- but so far, never in Canada, although the NDP and the Liberals did cooperate in the past. And it was at those times that some progressive legislation was passed. It is high time for this to occur again.

Concert: This is not a Conservative Party

From the Department of Culture:



The Department of Culture presents
Rocking the Vote Right Across Canada

Featuring special musical guests, videos and the results of the National Video Contest Gone in 30 Seconds
Thursday October 9, 2008
Lineup party at 7:30 pm / Doors & DJs at 8 / Show at 9

The Phoenix Concert Theatre
410 Sherbourne Street, Toronto

Dave Bidini • Jason Collett • Jim Creeggan • Friendlyness • Manitou Kwe Singers •
Nadjiwan • Parachute Club • Porkbelly Futures • The Skydiggers • Ian Tamblyn and more…
Videos By Alex Cuba • Ron Sexsmith • Stars and more…
And The Final Results Of The Gone In 30 Seconds National Video Contest

Tickets $20 in advance and at the door


Brought to you by the Department of Culture

Download the ad as a PDF Time for a coalition of the opposition

This is from, and it is an original article written by the blog author. With permission, here's the entire piece:

Victoria, BC — Enough is enough! It’s time for the four Canadian opposition parties to come together in a coalition to stop the awful prospect of yet another mandate for what could soon prove to be the meanest, most secretive, most militaristic, and most ultra-right government in Canadian history.

This means that Jack Layton and Stephan Dion, the two major opposition party leaders, must immediately drop their egotistical pretence that they are competing equally with Stephen Harper to be Canada’s next prime minister.

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe at least had the guts to point out during the second televised leaders’ debate that he isn’t in the running for that title.

Jack Layton’s claim throughout the campaign that he’s running to be Prime Minister is simply bravado. The NDP hit its ceiling of support a while ago and doesn’t have a hope of forming government at this time. The best Layton can hope for is to become leader of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition.

Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee?

By keeping up the pretence of being able to depose the Conservatives outright, these two party leaders are only allowing Harper to triumph over a divided opposition. They are placing their individual political ambitions before even the urgent historical imperative of tackling imminent global warming.

Instead of strutting around foolishly attacking each other like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee for the title of Leader of the Opposition, they should admit that the only way to prevent Harper from destroying the social fabric of Canada is to immediately form a Coalition of the Opposition with the Bloc and the Greens.

One Coalition candidate instead of four competitors in each of Canada’s 308 federal ridings would stop a Conservative victory. If only politics was that easy…

Already too late?

It may already be too late for such an idealistic and draconian tactic. But only a Coalition of the Opposition can prevent Canada from turning into a refuge for the (hopefully) soon-to-be-humilliated American ultra-right political ideology.

Last week’s leaders’ debate illuminated Canada’s political quandary in stark detail. Three million viewers watched as the four opposition parties — Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green — hammered away against a smug Stephen Harper, who only had to sit and bend his lips in the rictus of an artificial smile as the four opposition parties flailed away ineffectually against him.

Harper and his strategists know that they only need to “hold steady” and make no upsetting policy announcements to enable their 35% base of support of complacent, conservative, and sometimes bigoted Canadians carry them back to government against a divided opposition.

It’s an old tactic, and it’s working well for Harper as the incumbent government.

Ultra-right agenda

Currently, opinion polls are showing that the Conservatives are headed for at least another minority. Whether the election gives Steve Harper overall numerical superiority in Canada’s parliament remains to be seen. But no pollster is predicting anything less than a minority Conservative outcome.

Stephen Harper has already demonstrated that he can run the country as he wishes even without a parliamentary majority. The threat of sending Canadians back to the polls kept Liberal leader Stephan Dion supporting him, as Jack Layton pointed out in the debate, 43 times during his term as prime minister.

With the threat of another election once again removed, Stephen Harper can proceed with his ultra-right agenda of tax breaks for polluting corporations and the already affluent, with arts, environment, and social program cutbacks paying for vastly increased spending on police, prisons, and the military.

That might be a neoconservative’s dream of a ‘free’ society intent on ‘defending democracy,’ but to me it sounds like a vision of hell. It’s not the Canada I want.

Do it now, or do it later

After this election, the same situation will prevail. Which opposition party is going to bring down a minority government so soon after a gruelling and costly election? Unless the opposition parties form some form of working pariamentary coalition, they’re going to be back in the same frustrating situation.

Yes, I know it’s a stretch, but the bottom line is that Canada’s political parties cannot carry on with the charade that today’s competitive, first-past-the-post electoral system can accommodate more than two major political parties, at a time when four-and-a-half distinct national parties are vying for voter support.

The solution is to move to a proportional voting system, but that’s going to take some time to achive at the federal level. When it does come — and its arrival appears to be inevitable — coalition politics will be the order of the day.

Stand on guard… for us

So the opposition parties might as well get used to the new order of Canadian coalition politics, and use the opportunity presented by today’s stark electoral choice to pre-empt the apparently inevitable continuation of Stephen Harper’s American-inspired, ultra-right brand of mealy-minded conservatism.

Layton and Dion must put aside their antipathy and form a Coalition of the Opposition. Only this will secure the kind of Canada that most Canadians want. Serial democratic dictatorship, even dictatorship by minority rule, is no longer satisfactory. It is time to stand on guard for Canada — and for the Earth.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gerald Caplan: unless progressive forces unite, Cons will rule

This is long time NDP stalwart Gerald Caplan, in Ŧhe Globe and Mail, on the fate we will have in store for us, unless progressive forces unite. The important part is at the end in bold:

On the other hand, the night did not change the key dynamic of this election - that Mr. Harper will win handily, and whether he sneaks his elusive majority or not, he will govern for the next several years as if he has a majority. He will do whatever he wants in his lifelong quest for a smaller social state and larger security state.

Why? Because Mr. Dion will certainly be forced to step down, if he hasn't the wit to do so on his own. Mr. Duceppe may well join him, knowing that Mr. Harper helped him pull off his great political comeback, allowing him to leave on a high note. The NDP will be deeply in debt, having gambled a fortune in this campaign, and will be incapable of even muttering the word "campaign" for a long time to come. And Ms. May might have as many as one MP in the next House prepared to vote against the government.

Even though it is clearly a violation of parliamentary conventions, if it's a minority Mr. Harper can stoop once again to labeling every vote a non-confidence vote, since in our system there's no one to slap him down. But really, he'll hardly need to do so. No one will be looking for another fight for the foreseeable future. The Liberals, already a shell of their former selves, are likely to tear themselves apart as Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae go after whatever carrion is left on the dying bones.

I have no idea how it can ever happen, but unless the more-or-less progressive anti-Harper forces can come together in some form, conservatives who accumulate anywhere between 36-40% of the popular vote will continue to rule this country. Ask Jean Chretien. He won his three majorities exactly this way. Ask Stephen Harper. He recognized the secret of Mr. Chretien's success and is now busily exploiting it.

Tory candidates avoid debates

With rare exception, I wonder where the media is on this. I also wonder if there are any numbers on this, in terms of how many Tory no shows there have been at all-candidates debates across Canada. Nevertheless, I did come across a couple of articles, one in the Toronto Star, and one in The Georgia Straight, Vancouver's alternative newsweekly.

From the Toronto Star:

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper was readying to take on opposition leaders in last night's nationally televised debate, several of his Conservative candidates were making themselves scarce at local debates.

From the North to the Atlantic provinces and the Prairies, Tory candidates have been missing at a number of encounters.

The latest Conservative no-shows covered four Ottawa-area debates, sponsored by Canada's largest public service union and a weekly newspaper, at least one debate in Saskatchewan and two others in Winnipeg and the Northwest Territories.

The scarcity of one Conservative at a riding debate prompted a Calgary CBC radio station to launch a contest to locate Rob Anders, the Conservative incumbent in Calgary West, to prove he was still alive.

A Liberal party list of Tory candidates who have refused to participate in debates had grown to 17 across Canada by yesterday, before the no-shows registered this week.

And according to The Georgia Straight, it's not only debates they are skipping, it's media interviews as well:
So far, there’s been an epidemic of missing-in-action Conservative candidates. Last week, the Straight contacted every female Conservative candidate from the Lower Mainland, and none replied by deadline.

This week, Vancouver South candidate Wai Young didn’t return a call to discuss more than $500,000 in federal contracts that she received from the Conservative government. The CBC reported that Surrey North candidate Dona Cadman used RCMP to block reporters. On September 25, neither of the Richmond Conservative hopefuls showed up for an all-candidates meeting hosted by the Canada Asia Pacific Business Association.

Canadians need to hear and know about this. Why are Con candidates being so evasive? What do they have to hide? What might they accidentally blurt out that they are not supposed to? What are they afraid of being asked? What policies are they afraid of having to try to explain? The Cons are running for re-election as a sitting government, and we damn well have a right to hold them to account.

Canadian musicians release song for strategic voting

Through, Avaaz, Canadian Musicians have put together a record called "You Have a Choice," to inspire Canadians to vote strategically in on October 14.


"These bright lights of the Canadian music scene are sending a message to voters: you can make a difference, and we need to come together and strategically support candidates who will defeat Stephen Harper and fight climate change," said Patel.

The Canadian artists who rallied together for this effort include: K-OS, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, Ben Kowalewicz of Billy Talent, Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace, Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, Jason Collett of Broken Social Scene, Darren Dumas of The Salads and the Arts Offstage Choir under the direction of David Reed. The song was written and produced by The Hundreds and Thousands' Ian Lefeuvre and K-OS. Lyrics all contributed by the artists. Additional keyboards are performed by Todor Kobakov from Major Maker. The track was mastered by Joao Carvalho.

Top climate scientist supports strategic voting

This is a couple of weeks old, but I want to make sure this is posted. Andrew Weaver, world-renowned climatologist at the University of Victoria, comes out in favour of strategic voting. From The Vancouver Sun:

Stepping into the political fray is almost unheard of for a scientist, especially one of Weaver's stature. As one of the world's pre-eminent climate scientists, he was part of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that collates and interprets climate change data for the world's governments and a lead author of its seminal assessment reports.

But so "incensed" is he by what he calls Prime Minister Stephen Harper's war on science and scientists, by the government's questioning of climate change and by the obstructionist positions the Tories have taken on the issue internationally, he felt he had no choice.

"I have historically refused to actually say anything like I've said to you," he continued. "But I recognize that [climate change] is the defining problem for humanity, and I recognize there's only one leader in Canada who's actually dealing with it."

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Harper, plagiarism, and Iraq

Matthew Good astutely observes that the Howard-Harper plagiarism affair is about much more than just plagiarism:

The speech that Mr. Harper gave in 2003 was one in which he urged this country to join the ‘coalition of the willing’, and thus involve us in the US led invasion of Iraq. One therefore has to ask several fundamental questions.

1) Were the Prime Minister to gain a majority, would there be a reversal of policy regarding Iraq, even if such an alteration did not promise the inclusion of Canadian combat assistance?

2) Does the Prime Minister still hold to the belief that Canada should have supported the invasion of Iraq?

3) Given what has occurred since, would he have supported Canadian involvement in the occupation of that country?

These are fundamental questions that I feel are highly relevant.