Sunday, October 31, 2004

Martin Refuses to Get Involved In US Election

Claiming that his government has a good relationship with the Bush administration, Prime Minister Martin has refused to say whom he would prefer to see elected in Tuesday's election.

Despite the fact that the Bush regime has pushed Canada on to the back burner in terms of alliances, has placed an illegal tariff on Canadian lumber, actively sought to harm Canadian beef and punished our nation for refusing to partake in the Iraq War Mr. Martin claims he has a good relationship with the US.

Where is he getting his information from? Members of his own party think the President is a fool and have said so publicly. The US is trying to force Canada to participate in a missile defense plan that does not work and is opposed by the vast majority of Canada.

Has the Prime Minister lost contact with reality or is he simply trying to hard to be diplomatic?

King Ralph

With just more than three weeks remaining before Alberta's election the time has come to review the incredibly successful career of Ralph Klein.

For two and a half decades, Ralph Klein has been unbeatable in Alberta. He won a huge upset to become Mayor of Calgary in 1980 and has won seven consecutive elections since then. A new Ipsos-Reid poll suggests that Klein has the support of 63% of Albertans, a figure that would win his Conservatives another massive majority.

A native of Calgary, Klein is most famous for his 'everyman' personality -- an ability to connect with the common man. It is this ability which has led to the citizens of Alberta overlooking the ills of his leadership -- both personal and policy wise -- and embrace a politician whom they 'like'. Klein has embraced this ability and actively attempted to capitalize on it. His slogan when first running for Premier in 1993 was "He listens, he cares" and it 1997 he continued the theme with "Promises made, promises kept". In 2001, his confidence was on full display during his acceptance speech when he proclaimed "Welcome to Ralph's world".

However, the fact remains that 63% of Albertans will soon elect a leader with no viable opposition. A leader who is growing increasingly anti-federalist and moves ever tantalizingly closer to two tiered health care. While the citizens of Alberta may love King Ralph, the rest of Canada ought to be scared of him.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Gagliano Defends Sponsorship Program

Former Federal Minster Alfonso Gagliano defended the embattled sponsorship program, claiming that without it national unity may have been compromised. Gagliano was Minister of Public Works when the Liberal Government awarded millions of dollars to Liberal friendly Quebec media corporations.

Gagliano openly admitted to playing a role in the program. He further expressed shock and anger that Prime Minister Martin had cancelled the program. Gagliano claimed it played a great role in fighting the Quebe sovereignty movement.

More explosive, however, was Gagliano's implication that Mr. Martin was waist deep in the scandal.

"He was there. He participated and he agreed – all the ministers agreed with that strategy," said Gagliano. "It's nice and dandy now to say, oh, I didn't know anything."

The Conservatives have renewed their assault on the Prime Minister and his possible role in the sponsorship scandal which has tainted the Liberal Party for nearly a year.

Further damage could be done in a few months when Mr. Gagliano testifies before the Gomer commission.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Bin Laden Speaks

After almost three years, another video message from Osame bin Laden has emerged. The new OBL tape (text), promises a renewed jyhad against America. Both Kerry and Bush very quickly came out against the tape and professed their intention to eliminate terrorism.

The tape was aired by Al-Jazeera despite significant pressure from the American and Qatari governments. It is unclear how Al-Jazeera got the tape.

The video runs eighteen minutes in length, with bin Laden speaking for slightly under fifteen minutes. He appears to be in good health, which would indicate he is under medical care given that he has a variety of health problems. Perhaps more importantly, bin Laden speaks of the American election, claiming that neither Bush nor Kerry control the safety of the American people but rather individual citizens. OBL continues to state that they will not attack American if America does not attack them. He condemns the role of the US in the Middle East, citing the invasion of Lebanon as the formative point in his life which created his ideology. In light of recent information that as many as 100,000 Iraqi civilians died during the war it is easy to see why Muslims may be extremely angry with the Western World.

Perhaps the most powerful part of the tape is bin Laden's response to Bush's claim that Al Qaeda attacked America because they hate freedom. His answer was simple and to the point. Why then, did we not attack Sweden?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Martin Linked to Adscam?

Yesterday, the Conservatives tried to link Prime Minister Martin to the Sponsorship Scandal. They produced a 1994 letter which Martin had written to Claude Boulay -- president of Group Everest, the firm at the center of the adscam. The agency eventually received millions of dollars from the sponsorship program -- for seemingly no work.

The adscam almost took down the Liberal Party during this spring's election, as they went from a massive majority to a minority government. Mr. Martin has been able to distance himself from the scandal, placing the blame squarely on former PM Jean Chretien. However, should Mr. Martin be implicated the future of the party could be in danger.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Nader Knocked Off Ballot in Ohio

Third party candidate Ralph Nader lost his last hope to get on the Ohio Presidential ballot today. The state had previously removed Nader from the ballot, but last friday Nader appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court. The case was reviewed by Justice Stevens who passed the case along to the full court. Today, the court rejected Nader's appeal without comment.

The decision is a huge boost to Senator Kerry's campaign. Ohio is one of the three key swing states (along with Florida and Pennsylvania) which will likely determine the outcome of the election. Despite pathetic claims to the contrary, Mr. Nader appears to be going out of his way to ensure a Bush victory.

Four years ago, Mr. Nader insisted on campaigning continuously in swing states leading up to the election (including Florida) and he is doing the same this year. Additional, Mr. Nader's campaign has largely been funded by the Republicans -- a fact he is completely aware of. The reason for Mr. Nader's ridiculous behaviour is anyone's guess, but today's court decision will go a long way to negating his impact in this election.

Arafat on his deathbed?

Yasser Arafat's, the leader of the Palestinian cause since 1965, health has continued to deteriorate and today the entirety of the Palestinian leadership -- as well as Arafat's family -- was summoned to his bedside. Rumours are swirling that Chairman Arafat may be near death.

His wife and daughter is en route from France where they have been living. Doctor's from Egypt and Tunisia have also rushed to Ramallah along with the Chairman's personal doctor. There have been rmours over the years that Arafat has parkinson's or stomach cancer. Doctor's today said that stomach cancer has been ruled out.

Chairman Arafat has survived repeated atempts on his life over the last forty years. For the last two and a half years the Israeli army has kept him confined in his Ramallah compound. This week they announced that Arafat would be allowed to leave his compound for medical care.

Several knowledgeable sources have also suggested that a three person ruling council has been set up to replace Mr. Arafat for the duration of his illness -- or in case of his death. PLO representatives have denied this rumour, but should Chairman Arafat die without a successor a Civil War would appear likely.

Chairman Arafat is seventy-five years old. He became Chairman of the PLO in 1969 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Premier Williams has a Hissy Fit

Newfoundland Danny Williams had a hissy fit today and stormed out of the First Ministers' meeting on equalization payments. the Premiers had been discussing a new plan for transfering money for the "haves" (Alberta and Ontario) to the "have nots" (everyone else). Newfoundland has the weakest economy in Canada, largely due to the destruction of the cod stock in the 90s. Since then Newfoundland's unemployment rate has been around 20%.

The dispute appears to be over Newfoundland's oil and gas income and how much they will receive in transfer payments given that income. The Prime Minister offered a deal where Newfoundland would keep all its energy revenue but it would include a cap that would prevent Newfoundland from surpassing the per capita tax revenue of Ontario. Mr. Martin insists that the deal is better than what Premier Williams has already agreed to.

Mr. Williams countered by storming out of the conference like a small child. Perhaps one day the leader of Canada's youngest province will learn that you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. Mr. Williams is in a series of discussions that will see his povince given a fortune and he is complaining. It's time for our youngest Province to grow up.

Republican Emails

Saw something about this over at Kos today, thought I should report it here as well.

There is a mock Bush / Cheney website which claims they have been intercepting B/C campaign mail for months based on their domain name. If true, they have intercepted tons of emails the Republicans would not want available to the public -- ranging from the criminal to the lewd.

Confirmation of authenticity remains to be seen, but should it be confirmed there is some information in the emails which points to criminal activities amongst Republicans in Washington State.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Another Coronation in Alberta

The inevitable has come, Ralph Klein has Called an Election for November 22 in Alberta. Once again, the discussion about the fairness of the Canadian electoral system is bound to come up. Klein’s Conservatives won all but nine of the Province’s 83 seats – with only sixty percent of the vote. Less than two thirds of the electorate selected a premier with unlimited power and absolutely no checks or balances. In effect, Ralph Klein was elected dictator of Alberta in 2001.

Sure, someone has to be the governing party, and I’d make the same complaint about recent elections of the federal Liberals. It is completely inappropriate for this amount of power to be handed to a party that is supported by such a small percentage of the population. In fact, the situation federally is far worse given that the Liberals have won large majorities with around forty percent of the vote.

There are a variety of problems which make such majorities a far greater problem in Canadian politics than they are in other nations. Firstly, unlike the American system there are a number of viable parties in our nation. The NDP, Liberals and Conservatives are major powers nationally and the Green Party is of increasing import having won more than five percent support in the election this spring. Additionally, the Bloc Quebecois is a huge force in Quebec. Given our ‘first past the post’ system, seats are almost always won without a plurality. Almost every other nation in the world which is home to more than two parties uses proportional representation. Yet Canada is clinging to yet another tradition which is counter-productive in the modern world.

Today, however, the good news is mixed with the bad. While the Conservatives are expected to win a massive majority with only 50% of the vote – neither the NDP nor the Liberals currently field a full slate of candidates – the situation in BC is quite different. Today, a committee recommended a transfer to ‘single transferable voting’, a form of instant runoff voting.

So maybe today was a move in the right direction, despite another imminent victory for King Ralph.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Republicans Fighting Dirty

For months liberals have been concerned about a perceived effort by Republicans to ‘steal’ the election. From worries about paperless voting machines being built by Bush supporters to another conflict of interest in Florida, Liberals have spent months – and tens of millions of dollars – fighting to keep this election fair. Today, there is conclusive proof that those efforts have failed.

A group of private organizations with definite ties to the Republican party has been systematically disenfranchising Democratic voters throughout the country have been conducting voter registration drives. Most of the groups are linked to Nathan Sproul – the former director of the Arizona Republican Party. Sproul has also been linked to efforts in various states to get Ralph Nader on the ballot.

Sproul’s primary organization is Voter Outreach of America (VOA), an organization of questionable ethics which stands accused of destroying tens of thousands of registrations. Here’s how their scam works:

VOA volunteers canvass a neighbourhood getting eligible people to register to vote. When they do so, individuals answer a question about their political affiliation. VOA is accused of destroying any registrations by non-Republicans. These individuals would then believe they were eligible to vote and thus would not try to register in any other way. Therefore, come election day, tens of thousands of people will show up to voting booths intending to vote for Kerry and being robbed of that right.

VOA is funded by the Republican National Committee. However, America Votes is an organization supported by the DNC and rumours are swirling that VOA volunteers have been instructed to use the name America Votes. In fact, a disgruntled VOA has filed a complaint against the organization with the FBI. link

However, this one complaint is far from the only hint of Republican fraud:
Boston Globe
Pittsburg Post Gazette

As Dubya once said…”Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…well you can’t fool me twice.”

The Republicans stole the 2000 election and it appears they are trying desperately to do the same again this year. For the sake of freedom, for the sake of Democracy and for the sake of the entire world, the American people must stand up and fight for their constitutional right to vote in a fair manner.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Three Kinds of Bush Supporters

A new poll has come out from the Maryland Program of Public Policy. This one, however, is different -- it's a poll of Bush supporters. What the University of Maryland discovered in terrifying.

Even after the Duelfer Report confirmed there were no WMDs in Iraq, 72% of Bush supporters believe Iraq had WMD. Even worse, 52% believe the Duelfer Report confirmed that Iraq had WMD. Do these people pay any attention to the news?

The report goes on and on with more terrifying results.
- Even 82% of Bush supporters believe that the President insisted that Iraq had WMD.
- 75% believe Bush claimed Iraq was providing support to Al Qaeda.
- 58% believe the US should not have invaded Iraq if they didn't have WMD
- 62% believe the President would never do such a thing -- despite the fact that he admitted he would have invaded even knowing that Iraq had no WMD.
- Only 31% believe the world opposed the US invading Iraq.
- 57% believe the world wants to see Bush re-elected.

Talk about not living in reality.

That leads me to a simple conclusion: there are three kinds of Bush supporters. Religious people who believe in his "values", greedy individuals who stand to benefit from his Presidency, and stupid people who buy in to the lies the administration has told the populous for the last three years.

How else can you explain such a ridiculous poll?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Old School Politics

This is the time of year when many politicos are suffering from poll-overdose. Each day we get a new tracking poll, a new national poll, a slew of regional polls and we look for the most minute details in each. The fact of the matter, though, is that in almost every poll of import the leader is within the margin of error.

Kerry's up in two straight polls in Ohio, who cares. Bush has been up recently in Florida, who cares. Bush is up a tiny bit nationally, who cares. In every case the result is within the margin of error and thus inconclusive at best, completely meaningless at worst.

This entire election is going to come down to turnout, enthusiasm and a belief about who can win. Even the weather is going to be important. What if it rains in Miami? Or if there is snow in Denver? The most minute detail could turn this election.

What we need now, it not more slogging through of polls, but a profound effort to raise the level of enthusiasm amongst the general public. Instead of spending our days pouring through newspapers, news sites and blogs, lets get out and bring back the old spirit of campaigning. GOTV.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Different Strategies, Different Implications

It's rapidly becoming apparent that Sen. Kerry and President Bush are running very different campaigns in the month of October. Just take a look at where the candidates are campaigning and what they're saying. Pretty quickly, it becomes apparent that the two men are talking to a vastly different audience.

Both candidates went to Wisconsin. Bush visited only Oskosh, a small town almost certain to support the President by a large majority. Kerry, on the other hand, spent an entire day in Wisconsin visiting small towns and major cities alike. On October 14th, both candidates were in Vegas - Bush to speak to Republican governors, Kerry to speak to the AARP. The President is persistently speaking in areas he is certain to win. The Senator, on the other hand, appears to be trying to speak to a far broader spectrum.

In terms of what they're saying, Bush is now almost entirely negative and lauds what his administration has, supposedly, done in the past. He is barely saying anything about the next four years and he has also started moving further to the right. Take his comments about the Dred Scott case in the 2nd debate. While that seemed like nonsense to most people, far right neocons like Bush and his cronies often refer to Roe v Wade as Dred Scott II. Senator Rick Santorum (R, Pennsylvania) has even used that analogy in public. Was Bush slyly trying to tell his base that he would nominate justices who opposed abortion? Kerry, on the other hand, is playing to the middle. Some people might say that he has gone negative, but the Senator is merely attacking the record of the administration. He is not throwing around labels, he has yet to get up on a stage and refer to Bush as a "neocon". Instead he speaks of a record of losing jobs, lower income and a quagmire in Iraq.

The differences may seem like minor issues, but their underlying implications are extremely important. President Bush is appealing to his base, all but giving up hope on middle America. Kerry, on the other hand, seems content to assume the far left will support him in sufficient numbers and is appealing to the middle. Bush's political guru Karl Rove believes that 4 million evangelicals did not turn out to vote in 2000. The Bush strategy seems to be to get every single evangelical in the country to vote, and assume those increased numbers will turn the tide their way. Kerry is catering to those hit by the Bush Presidency but who feel comfortable with him as commander-in-chief. Fewer than 20% of these undecideds believe Bush deserves to be re-elected (Zogby) but still they do not trust Kerry (as seen in the NYT poll). Perhaps there is no secret plan, but merely one which has been forced upon the candidates. Is Kerry's appeal to the middle simply the result of a Nader candidacy? Is Bush's plan just because of an abysmal record on jobs? In either case, the concept of a Bush victory and the implications it carries are frightening.

This election is not just a choice between left and right, it presents a grand question on the state of our democracy. Have we, almost two-hundred and fifty years after the birth of our nation, reached a point where winning an election no longer requires compromise but merely fanaticism?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Greatest Canadian

In the absence of hockey, CBC is desperately looking for some new shows to prop up the faltering network. While "Movie Night in Canada" looks like a great blunder, The Greatest Canadian looks like a stunning success.

CBC has produced a top ten list of the greatest Canadians of all time. In the mix are scientists, philanthropists, inventors, athletes, media personalities and politicians. On Mondays and Wednesdays the candidates will be profiled with in-depth documentaries.

The list is:
Wayne Gretzkey
Don Cherry
David Suzuki
Pierre Trudeau
John A. Macdonald
Terry Fox
Tommy Douglas (left wing politician, father of health care)
Frederick Banting (discovered insulin)
Lester B. Pearson
Alexander Graham Bell

So who is the greatest Canadian? My top three is Trudeau, Banting and Gretzky. The nation's? We'll have to wait and see...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Sub Tragedy

Canada's moronic decision to increase the size of our military by purchasing submarines of zero use. The simply fact is that it would take an investment of hundreds of billions of dollars to create a viable navy. If we are unwilling to spend the amount needed to create a viable navy, what is the point in spending a single extra penny to create a useless -- and now dangerous -- one?

Paul Martin has been forced to cancel a foreign trip. Far more importantly, Lieutenant Chris Saunders, father of two, lost his life because of a misguided attempt to create a stronger military.

Canada does need a better military, but we need a practical one. Our nation is in no position to fight an all out war and god willing we will never have to. Our military needs to be a specialized force to function in the kind of operations in which our nation participates. When was the last time Canada needed a submarine?

Mr. Martin's idea of strengthening our military and increasing our presence in the world is a valiant one. However, we must do so in an intelligent and effective manner. In an era of every tightening budgets why must we waste billions of dollars of submarines we don't need and aren't operational

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

We're Rich!

The federal government reported today a surplus of $9.1 Billion, well above the $1.9 Billion predicted by Finance Minister Ralph Goodale. Sadly, instead of our politicians ceasing on this moment to congratulate each other, the opposition has chosen to criticize the government's ability to forecast the surplus.

When our neighbours to the south are running deficits in the range of half a trillion dollars, should we not be happy about a surplus and be discussing how to spend it rather than quibbling about whether or not the government accurately predicted its size?

This is yet another example of the desperation of the opposition to point blame at the government at any possible opportunity. The fact is that the Conservatives are desperate to cast doubt on the Liberals in a vain attempt to gain credence for an election they see as imminent.

Perhaps the Conservatives should stop trying to gain political points by tearing their opponents down and instead do something productive themselves.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Saved by the Bell

Our minority government was saved yesterday by a last second revision of the Bloc Amendment to the Throne Speach. The revised version simply asks that the federal government "respect the provinces areas of jurisdiction" and also suggest "imbalances may be alleviated". The new wording was found acceptable by the Conservatives and the Liberals -- both of whom opposed the previous wording.

Prime Minister Martin has navigated his way around his first potential disaster. However, rumours are already swirling of another amendment -- this time put forth by the Conservatives -- which could once again threaten to derail this government.

We Canadians must prepare ourselves for such situation to become politics as usual over the coming months. Had the Liberals or NDPs managed to win one more seat a viable coalition might have formed. However, the current situation actually forces governing by consensus -- something our MPs are not used to doing.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Government to Fall Tonight?

Paul Martin's minority goverment is approaching it's first bump in what will doubtless become an ever more difficult road to navigate. The Bloc Quebecois has put forth an Amendment to the Liberal throne speach, one which is increasingly looking like it could provide a vote of no confidence in the government.

The amendment calls for Ottawa to acknowledge that federal taxes weaken the provinces ability to raise revenue. The amendment is strikingly pro-province, and pro-Quebec in particular, and once again shows that the Bloc has no business in the federal legislature. Once again, they are derailing the actions of the government with their seperatist agenda.

Given that everyone is aware of the fact that federal taxes limit the ability of the provinces to raise their own money, one must wonder if the Bloc is explicitly attempting to make the governement fall.