Monday, November 29, 2004

The Greatest Canadian?

CBC viewers have chosen Tommy Douglas as The Greatest Canadian. Terry Fox finished second and Pierre Trudeau rounded out the top three. Seen as the father of health care, Douglas was, none the less, a surprise victor. Undoubtably helped by the Health Care Summit and the endorsement of Much Music's George Stroumboulopoulos, Douglas apparently won a sizeable victory of Fox.

While Douglas's contribution to Canadian society cannot possibly be ignored, his vicotry raises the question of what we, as Canadians, value in our 'heroes'. Terry Fox was an incredible man both in terms of community involvement and human spirit, but he was overlooked for a moderately successful politician. When compared to the 'greatest' citizens from other countries, does Douglas not pale in comaprison?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

American Trade Disaster

This is cross posted over at Kos, although it's not getting a lot of attention given the holiday.

While it's not exactly getting major press attention, today marked the passing of the final hurdle preventing dozens of countries from starting a trade war with the United States. Canada's Trade Minister announced today that his nation was ready to start a trade war if the US does not repeal an illegal law. Canada has threatened to play counter tariffs on many American goods, including paper products, at 72% of the total tariffs imposed by the US. Canada is not alone in being given permission to retaliate. The European Union, Japan, India, Chile, Brazil and South Korea are all able to join Canada in placing tariffs on American goods at the same level. The implication for the American economy could be disastrous.

The American law in question is the Byrd Amendment, ruled illegal by the WTO, places tariffs on foreign goods and pays them to American firms. Essentially, it punishes foreign companies and gives that money to American companies. At the core of the dispute with Canada are illegal tariffs placed on Canadian lumber, clearly in violation of NAFTA. The Bush administration argued that low stumpage fees charged by the Canadian government to cut wood on crown land amount to a subsidy. Every trade organization in the world has disagreed with the US, but the tariff still remains in place and in the last two years Canadian lumber producers have been charged $3 billion. The US government intends to give that money to American lumber companies.

The US government is in an incredibly dangerous situation here. The trade deficit is already ballooning out of control and the Byrd Amendment has helped to keep it under control. If the government does not repeal the Byrd Amendment then dozens of countries around the world are going to put tariffs on American goods (indications are that the Canadian government, at least, is serious about tariffs – not so sure about other countries). That will cut down on American exports, on the other hand if they eliminate the Byrd Amendment then imports are likely to go up. Either way, it looks as though this will be another factor continuing the downward pressure on the greenback which will force interests rate up and inflation up. Essentially, a repeat of stagflation and certainty of economic collapse – as predicted by Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley.

Links to Canadian stories on the issue (the American media seems to be ignoring it):
Canadian Press
Government Site looking for Citizen Input

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Crack in the Conservatives' Armor

Despite winning 61 of the Province's 84 seats, Alberta Conservatives are reeling this morning. Ralph Klein's government easily coasted to another majority, but the coronation did not go exactly as planned. For the first time in the Klein era the Conservatives have lost seats, dropping from seventy-four to sixty-one.

The Liberals made huge gains, jumping from seven seats to seventeen and even getting a foothold in Calgary. Klein's Conservatives formerly held a stranglehold over the province's biggest city, but the Liberals picked up three seats after being shut out in 2001.

"David Swann, a former medical officer of health who was fired for his pro-Kyoto stance, defeated Mark Hlady in Calgary-Mountain View; radio talk show host Dave Taylor beat Jon Lord in Calgary-Currie; and Harry Chase won in Calgary-Varsity, the seat held by retiring Energy Minister Murray Smith."
The Conservatives also dropped eight seats in tightly contested Edmonton. The opposition parties had focused their attention on the capital where Conservative support is weak. The NDP picked up four seats in the city, doubling their representatives in the legislature, while the Liberals won 40% of the vote in the city. Interestingly, the Alberta Alliance won only 5% of Edmonton' vote despite making huge in roads in the rural regions of the province.

The Alliance had been the great unknown of the election. Their only MLA was a convert from the Conservatives but they ran an aggressive campaign and many predicted they would do well. Leader Randy Thorsteinsen was soundly defeated, but the party won 9% of the popular vote -- nearly equaling the NDP. Thorsteinsen and the party are trying to build on their successes and move forward:

"We see where we're strong, see where we're weak, and we build a four-year plan."
In the end, the Kleinfeld campaign certainly hurt the Conservatives as they dropped thirteen seats and 15% in the popular vote. Kevin Taft's Liberals have emerged as a viable opposition and the Alberta Alliance has emerged as a viable party. Ralph Klein's final campaign was a boring one, but the stage is set for an exciting future in Alberta politics.

Blogosphere Election Roundup

CalgaryGrit has a fantastic analysis of last night's election. As a resident of Cowtown he had a front row seat for the election and has constantly provided thoughtful analysis.

My Blahg has a hilarious take on Alberta's decision. Worth a quick read.

Sadly, Warren is in New York and only linked the CBC article on the results. Hopefully he'll post something more when he gets back.

Those seem to be the only two notable entries about the election. Even E-Group hasn't published anything. Looks like the Kleinfeld camapaign has bored Canada into silence.

Ralph is Crowned Again

The Conservative Party has won their tenth consecutive election in Alberta. Ralph Klein cruised to victory with 47% of the vote as CBC predicted a Conservative majority only thirty-five minutes after the polls closed. However, for the first time in the Klein era, it appears as though the Tories will lose seats. As of 11:30 PM mst the Conservatives lead in only 60 ridings, down fourteen from before the election. The Liberals lead in eighteen seats while the NDP is poised to claim three seats and the Alberta Alliance one.

In fact, it is the emergence of the Alberta Alliance which may have done the greatest harm to Ralph Klein. The fledgling party picked up the support of 9% of Albertans, only half a percent less than the NDP. By in large, these voters supported Klein four years ago but abandoned the Premier tonight. (Ed's note, closer analysis of the results show the Alliance probably only had a small impact because most seats changed hands in Edmonton where the Alliance had minimal support)

Ralph Klein easily cruised to victory in his Calgary riding, while NDP leader Brian Mason and Liberal leader Kevin Taft claimed victory as well. Alliance leader Randy Thorsteinson on the other hand was defeated by Conservative Luke Oullette.

Much more to come on the Alberta election tomorrow.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Liberals at 40% In New Poll

A new poll by Leger Marketing shows the federal Liberal party with the support of 40% of the population. The Conservatives stood at 25%, the NDP at 17% and the Greens at 5%. The Bloc Quebecois has 11% support nationally, although that figure is misleading and likely four times as high in Quebec. The poll was conducted November 9-14, before the Prime Minister expelled Carolyn Parrish from the Liberal caucus and the NY Post report which linked former Minister Gagliano to the Bonano crime family.

The poll actually shows an improvement in popular support for the Liberals. Five months ago, the Liberals received 36.7% of the vote as Paul Martin limped across the finish line to claim a minority government. The Conservatives won 29.6% of the popular support in June while the NDP claimed 15.7% of the vote.

Based on the results, it would appear as though the Liberals have performed well since their election while the Conservatives have faltered. However, the picture was not entirely rosy for the government. The poll found that only 45% of the population was satisfied with the performance of the government while 48% was unsatisfied. Citizens of Manitoba and Saskatchewan showed the lowest approval ratings (35%) while the Atlantic provinces had the highest (56%).

While further polls will certainly be needed to verify the results, based on this survey it appears as though the Liberals are well positioned to win a majority in a new election. While it is a hopeful sign that the public has managed to avoid being bamboozled by Stephen Harper, the success of the Paul Martin and his right wing agenda must be viewed with trepidation by Canada's real Liberals.

Coronation Day

It's election day in Alberta and while the Conservatives will undoubtably win over sixty seats it's still critical to get out and vote. CalgaryGrit has a great analysis of seats that the Liberals could actually win in Calgary, while the Carlgary Herald's election day story has some interesting tidbits.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

24 Hours Until Alberta Votes

With less than a day before the polls open, Ralph Klein's last campaign is almost finished. The 'issue-light' race has never been close, the Premier has never put forth any substantiative ideas about the future, and yet he carries a large lead as Albertans head to the polls. Here's another roundup of election news:

An Edmonton voter ate his ballot to protest a 'gap in democracy'. link

Ralph Klein sees leaving the province debt free as his legacy -- not health care. link

A former Alberta Senator has told Albertans not to bother voting for Senator because the results won't matter. link

Seniors groups are rallying against the Conservatives. link

The Liberal education plan has received broad support from university students. link

Tomorrow is coronation day, so enjoy what limited political discussion we have coming out of Alberta while you can. It's back to Ralph's World starting on Tuesday.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Gagliano Denies Mob Allegations

Former Cabinet Minister Alfonso Gagliano year continues to get worse after an FBI informant accused the Italian-Canadian of being a soldier in the infamous New York based Bonanno crime family. Gagliano has already lost nearly all credibility because of his central role in the Sponsorship scandal. Conservative leader Stephen Harper leapt at the opportunity to criticize the Liberals, pressing the Prime Minister to say whether the government knew anything about the allegations.

Gagliano has denied the allegations first published in the New York Daily News, telling the CBC that the they "are totally false" and "My reputation here is at stake"

While the Conservatives and their media allies may be ecstatic about the story, thus far there is no evidence to support it. As Warren pointed out today, Gagliano's accuser is scum, a convicted murderer and a junkie. Those who have so boldly jumped on the story, such as Harper, Peter Mackay and CanWest Global only mark themselves as blatantly partisan.

New Polls in Alberta

Two new polls have been released in Alberta. While both show the Conservatives holding a comfortable lead, there is some indication that the Liberals are gaining momentum in the final week of the campaign.

Calgary Herald:
PC 47%
Lib 21%
NDP 11%
Alliance 9%
Greens 5%

Ipsos-Reid:
PC 44%
Libs 29%
NDP 12%
Alliance 9%
Greens 4%

The Conservatives won 74 seats in the 2001 election. Should the election results mirror the Ipsos-Reid poll, the Conservatives could drop as low as 60 seats.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

CRTC Approves Fox News

The CRTC has approved a request by Fox News for a Canadian broadcasting license. The application was filed in April, after a previous request was denied last October. Canadians already have access to the 'standard' Fox Channel famed for hit shows amongst younger viewers such as The Simpsons, The OC and Malcolm in the Middle. However, Fox News is an oft critiqued channel, maligned by the liberal left as being less news than propaganda.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters opposed Fox's application on the basis that it would hinder co-operation between Canadian and international broadcasters. However, the CRTC rejected the concern and stated that Fox News is not "partially or totally competitive with any Canadian pay or specialty service." As such, Fox News will soon be available to digital cable subscribers across the country.

While conventional wisdom suggests that the public should be allowed to watch any form of news they want, the experience of viewers in the United States raises some concerns. The network was founded in 1996 by former Republican aide Roger Ailes and is a subsidiary of the News Corp. owned by the right-wing tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Fox News is the subject of countless websites and even a successful DVD criticizing the network for 'liberties' it takes with the news. In light of the incredible popularity of the network with the Bush White House, and the stunning ignorance of their supporters, one must question whether the introduction of the network is really good news for Canada.

Parrish Kicked out of the Party

Maverick Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish has been dismissed from the caucus by Prime Minister Paul Martin. Mrs Parrish has long been a problem for Mr. Martin, constantly ignoring his edicts and refusing to adhere to this requests. While some may point to her insubordination as the reason for her expulsion, a deeper examination reveals the reason for her hostility towards the party to be divergent beliefs on the role of the party -- particularily in reference to our nation's relationship with the United States.

There has been discussion about Mrs. Parrish being kicked out of the caucus since an appearance on CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes this weekend. Parrish was shown stomping on a George Bush action figure, a continuation of her long standing dislike of our southern neighbours. Since early 2003 Parrish has often spoken out against our southern neighbours and has constantly been rebuked by her party for it. Following the incident she was interviewed by the CP and expressed her disdain for Martin's leadership saying she had "absolutely no loyalty to this team. None." Mrs. Parrish's comments to the CP were certainly the last straw but they simply provided the Prime Minister the opportunity to do something he had been wanting to do for some time.

Before the last election, Mrs. Parrish was forced to survive a nomination challenge with only minimal support from the party. Martin has already chased Sheila Copps, Brian Tobin and John Manley out of the party, securing his conservative hold over the once left wing party. In years past the entire Liberal caucus would have spoken out against the Bush government, but because of the Prime Minister's policy of appeasement, Mrs. Parrish has become a part of the fringe minority. She is a unique kind of politician - one who actually speaks her mind without fear. The fact that her opinion is shared by the majority of Canadians did not seem to phase Mr. Martin. Neither did the fact that Americans are not shy about voicing their opinion of foreign leaders, most notably in recent memory during the Spanish elections and the Venezuela recall effort. The Bush administration has often bordered on outright hostility in their relationship with Canada, placing an illegal tariff on Canadian lumber, closing the border to Alberta beef and even refusing to make an official visit during their first term. Previous Liberal governments would not have taken such abuse silently and yet our current Prime Minister gladly suffers the indignities of the Bush administration in the name of 'better relations'.

In the end, Mr. Martin was simply waiting for an excuse to expel a popular four-term member of parliament from the party to tighten his iron grip on a once proud institution. Once provided, the Prime Minister jumped at the opportunity:

Martin told reporters that while he has defended the controversial MP's right to speak in the past, he "cannot, as leader of our party and the government caucus, tolerate behaviour that demeans and disrespects others."
Mrs. Parrish represents the Mississauga-Erindale constituency in the suburbs of Toronto. She won re-election to a fourth term in June with 55% of the vote.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Martin's First Year

Paul Martin's first anniversary as Liberal leader passed earlier this week with little fanfare. In fact, almost nobody noticed except for political aficionados. Had the Prime Minister's first year been more successful the occasion certainly would have warranted pomp and ceremony. However, given the catastrophic nature of Mr. Martin's tenure, the lack of media attention is probably a good thing.

Throughout Jean Chretien's term as Prime Minister, Paul Martin ominous presence in the shadows was constant. The entire nation was keenly aware of the fact that Mr. Chretien's successor had already been chosen. In fact, during the last days of the Chretien government the population eagerly awaited Mr. Martin's rise to power. As Chretien's Liberals became mired in scandal, the nation held high hopes that Paul Martin would 'save the party'. Sadly, the first year of the Martin regime has conclusively proven that this faith was misplaced.

Mr. Martin's government has failed to live up to expectations on nearly every account. National unity has continued to suffer, as special status for Quebec has become generally accepted and a new row has developed in the maritimes. Despite promises, Health Care has not been saved for a generation, perhaps a decade at best. Our role in the world has yet to improve and our relations with our neighbours have yet to improve enough to open the border to Alberta beef. Perhaps most dramatically, the Prime Minister is now mired in the Sponsorship Scandal as former cabinet ministers have hinted that the then Finance Minister was actively involved in the Sponsorship program.

Given the massive sense of anticipation ten years waiting in the wings created, Mr. Martin's first year have been an unequivocal failure. Should he hope to match the reputation of his predecessor -- or even get re-elected -- the Prime Minister must lead a rapid turn around of the government, and the party.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

No Tax Cuts

Despite posting a massive surplus, the Liberals have decided that they will not offer the citizens who elected them a tax cut. Today, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale announced the federal surplus will exceed $8.9 Billion. Instead of tax cuts, the Liberals intend to increase social spending. The government plans to strengthen health care, protect the environment, aid Natives, shore-up child care and increase military spending. Is the opposition happy about the surplus? Of course not...

"What's wrong is giving money back to corporations when it should be given back to the worker who is paid that money," Mr. Harper said during Question Period on Tuesday.

"Will the Prime Minister give a tax cut to Canadian families, yes or no?," Mr. Harper asked.
Of course, it was the Conservative's mess that the Liberals have been cleaning up for the last decade. Prime Minister Mulroney created huge deficits and he did not chose to raise taxes in order to cover the deficit. Why then should we lower taxes after posting a surplus? Further, because of the right-wingers, the Liberals were unable to raise taxes in order to eliminate the deficit. Instead, Mr. Martin and his predecessor were forced to cut social spending.

Social spending as a percentage of GDP has gone down considerably over the last decade and rather than rectify that the Conservatives would see us ignore it focus on tax cuts. Such irresponsible fiscal policy is exactly what led the last Conservative government into debt, and what has pushed the Conservativess heroes -- the American Republican Party -- to post the biggest defecits in the history of their nation.

Two Newfoundland MPs Condemn Martin

Last night the Conservatives put forth a blatantly partisan motion which attempted to censure the Prime Minister for his handling of the offshore energy debacle. The motion was easily defeated with the help of the Bloc Quebcois. However, in a surprising turn of events two Liberal MPs from Newfoundland voted in favour of censure.

Newfoundland is represented by five Liberals, but only backbenchers Bill Matthews and Scott Simms backed the opposition motion to condemn their own government. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's motion also called for Prime Minister Martin to abide by election promises to allow Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to keep 100 per cent of their offshore oil revenues.

The sad fact is that this represents yet another attempt by Mr. Harper to create a scandal in order to gain momentum for a possible election in the near future. Should Newfoundland's energy revenue be discounted in their equalization payments they would become the third most affluent province overnight. For a tiny island which has lived off the generosity of the other provinces for much of its history to expect this is incredibly selfish. For Mr. Harper to suggest they are entitled to expect it is a sign of a desperate politician with no morals.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Alberta Election Roundup

Now exactly one week away from Alberta's election, we're in the home stretch. Sadly, it's not even a race, it's more like Secretariat in the '73 Belmont. The Tories are poised to win a large majority again, but there is still lots to report.

The NDP has suggested that meat packers shouldn't own cattle and that the province should establish a minimum prize for cows until the US border re-opens. link

Premier Klein has floated the idea of a referendum on any possible health care reforms. link

The opposition parties have all but stopped fighting the Conservatives and are now fighting against eachother over which will be the official opposition. link

The Alberta Alliance has promised an energy rebate of $1,400 a year to help with high natural cas and electricity prices. link

The Greens have their panties in a knot after one Tory MPP said putting a price on water would be one way to help with conservation. link

The election has essentially turned into a race between right wing Calgary and left wing Edmonton. The opposition is barely even advertising in Calgary and has put all their effort into Edmonton. link

The result of this election may not be in doubt, but that certainly doesn't mean there aren't interesting stories coming out of Alberta right now.

State of the Liberal Left in the US

DailyKos and Democratic Underground are two of the biggest political websites in the world. Both have a liberal focus and a readership that is entirely pro-Democrat. Slightly over two days ago, an amateurish analysis of the results from North Carolina was posted with the suggestion that it proved electoral fraud in the state of North Carolina.

Soon several people, including myself, pointed out that the analysis failed to take into account critical factors in the race -- namely a massive early turnout by registered Democrats. We were met, unanimously, by flames. The posters both at Kos and DU responded with personal attacks of a vile and disgusting nature. Many of the posts at DU have since been deleted, but they did include a mocking of the Canadian spelling of certain words. Even today, a new diary about the state of the election and the possibility of a recount in Ohio has been completely hijacked by a series of personal attacks on me -- focussing on my user name.

The question at this point is how much faith can we place in these individuals? It is a sad day when we must admit that the front-line soldiers of the Democratic party appear to have gone off the deep end. Last week the New York Times ran an editorial all but mocking Democrats in blogosphere for continuing to put forth unsubstantiated and, in some cases, completely debunked theories of electoral fraud. Should this pathetic focus continue -- especially when '06 looks like a disaster waiting to happen -- the party is certain to lose a great deal of respect within the American populous. In fact, the very future of the Democratic Party might be in danger.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Return of the Social Credit Party?

It has been twenty-two years since there was a member of the Social Credit Party in the Alberta legislature. They served as the governing party from 1935 to 1971 before being defeated by the Tories -- whom have been in power ever since. The Socreds last had an MPP in 1982.

Party leader Lavern Ahlstrom, who recently concluded a tour of the Province, has said that the Party hopes to return to te legislature with at least one seat in this year's election. Ahlstrom faults the the Tories for falling short on helping the population during a time of economic boom:

"But what do we do with the benefits of our great economy? I think that's the side we must deal with."
The Social Credit Party describes themselves as neither right wing nor left wing but a government for the people. They support eliminating the health care premium, support for alternate-energy sources, fixed election dates, a triple-E senate and natural resource dividends.

This may be the one saving grace of the Alberta election. The Social Credit Party was one of the great political movements of the 20th century. 1971 was a sad day for Canada as it marked the beginning of a terrible trend towards the right in Alberta. This year, the citizens of Alberta have the opportunity to reclaim a small portion of the honour, integrity and glory which the Socreds brought to the province during the thirty-six years in power. One can only hope that Albertans are wise enough to see it.

Friday, November 12, 2004

'06 Senate Battle

In the aftermath of this election there seems to be a movement towards a grand re-examination of the party’s ideals. Individuals have claimed that looking ahead to ’06 or ’08 is meaningless unless the party manages to redefine itself. While a re-evaluation of the fundamental doctrine of the party may (or may not) be warranted, the simple fact is that we ignore ’06 at our own peril. The Republicans already lead in the Senate 55-44-1 and will be in no danger of losing that majority. There are seventeen Democratic seats, fifteen Republican and Jeffords’ up for re-election in ’06. The next Republican goal is the ‘super-majority’ of a 60-40 split. Should the GOP reach that ‘filibuster-proof’ number, the nation would be in great danger. Imagine what Bush might choose to do with such a majority and no concern about ever having to run for office again. As such, the midterm elections are paramount and we must be focused on them, even as we undertake a re-examination of the party’s ideals. Here’s a detailed look at the Senate races we’ll be paying attention to over the next two years (in order of importance / intensity / chance of ‘flip’):

1.) Florida
Incumbent: (D) Bill Nelson
Likely Opponent: Rep. Katherine Harris
2000: (D) Nelson 52%, (R) McCollum 47%
Summary: Lets get ready to ruuuuuuuuuumble, this is the main event! Republican insiders will push Jeb Bush (who faces a term limit) to run for the seat but Jeb seems intent to leave public life. Even if he doesn’t the GOP will be anxious to knock Nelson off. The Senator is ambitious and may win a position on the ticket in ’08. One other possible candidate should Bush not run is Katherine Harris. Another campaign which is likely to be extremely expensive, Nelson is in for the fight of his life and the Republicans are desperate to control the state for ‘08. Nelson has over $2 Million raised already, Harris has $800K. This race will be vital to establishing dominance in the state prior to ’08.

2.) Virginia
Incumbent: (R) George Allen Jr
Likely Opponent: Governor Mark Warner
2000: (R) Allen 52%, (D, Incumbent) Robb 48%
Summary: Yet another Senator with Presidential ambitions, Allen was the Chairman of the NRSC. However, it would appear quite possible that he will face a contest from another top-tier candidate – Governor Mark Warner. The Governor has Presidential ambitions himself but faces a term limit and cannot run again. If he is to run for President in ’08 he will need some sort of elected post and rumours are swirling that he will run for Allen’s seat. In fact, these same rumours suggest that hypothetical polls have already been commissioned and show Warner with a narrow lead. However, Senator Allen is a big fundraiser and may be able to raise as much as $25 Million (he has $1.2 Million right now). A major test for both candidates, the winner is likely to get massive national exposure and prove himself to the party – possibly becoming the front-runner for ’08. Even if Warner does not run the DNC has pledged to go after Allen, so no matter what we will have a vicious fight in Virginia.

3.) Tennessee
Incumbent: (R) Bill Frist – not seeking re-election
Likely Candidates: (R) Bob Corker vs (D) Harold Ford Jr.
2000: (R) Frist 66%, (D) Clark 33%
Summary: The Senate Majority Leader has pledged to retire, in which case this would be an open seat in a red state. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D) desperately wants a Senate seat and if he runs the race could be very competitive (he has $1.2 Million on hand). The Republican candidate will likely be Bob Corker, the popular Mayor of Chattanooga who appears to have beaten out other Republicans even before the primary. Should Ford run, the race will be very high profile, very expensive and very competitive.

4.) Minnesota
Incumbent: (D) Mark Dayton
Likely Opponent: Rep. Mark Kennedy
2000: (D) Dayton 49%, (R) Grams 44%, (I) Gibson 6%
Summary: Perhaps the most vulnerable Democrat, Dayton is an anemic fundraiser ($200K on hand). He was forced to personally finance his bid in 2000 and although he did unseat the incumbent his fundraising has not improved. He has been unable to raise funds, thus far, for his re-election and appears to be in the fight of his life. Representative Mark Kennedy has been prepping for this race for years and will be very well funded ($500K on hand). 2006 being a non-Presidential year will harm the Democrats. This race is a toss-up, we’re in a lot of trouble here.

5.) Nebraska
Incumbent: (D) Ben Nelson
Likely Opponent: Governor Mike Johanns
2000: (D) Nelson 51%, (R) Stenberg 49%
Summary: Nelson managed to retain an open Democratic seat in 2000, but Nebraska is a solidly red state and Nelson is likely to face a stiff test in Governor Mike Johanns. There has already been a poll commissioned in this race, showing Nelson with 41% and Johanns at 38%. 21% were undecided. Obviously this is going to be a tight race and a difficult one for us to hold on to. Two experienced politicians will raise a lot of money for small state like Nebraska – Nelson has almost $2.5 Million already.

6.) Washington
Incumbent: (D) Maria Cantwell
Likely Opponent: Unknown, Nethercutt might run again.
2000: (D) Cantwell 49%, (R) Gorton 49% (Cantwell won by 2,229 votes)
Summary: Despite voting Democrat for President, Washington is incredibly divided when it comes to the Senate. The 2000 vote was ridiculously close and the 2004 race was mired in a recount. Opponent is unknown, but this is going to be a tight race down to the end. Cantwell’s campaign is currently in debt over $2 Million, she needs money worse than Dayton. Leans Democrat because Cantwell has the advantage of being an incumbent, but who knows with this wacky Northwest state.

7.) Missouri
Incumbent: (R) Jim Talent
Likely Opponent: Unknown
2002 Special Election: (R) Jim Talent 50%, (D) Jean Carnahan 49%
2000: (D) Mel Carnahan 51%, (R) John Ashcroft 49%
Summary: This will be one of the biggest targets on the board. There is a great deal of lingering from 2000 when a dead man beat incumbent John Ashcroft. Jim Talent defeated Mel Carnahan’s wife in a special election in 2002. The Senator is not popular with blacks at all. There is no obvious choice for the Democrats, although retiring Lt. Governor Joe Maxwell is a possibility. Mel Carnahan’s kid was just elected to the House and might be a long shot candidate. Likely to be a very competitive race, but not nearly as expensive (Talent only has $300K on hand) or visible as others.

8.) Montana
Incumbent: (R) Conrad Burns
Likely Opponent: Unknown
2000: (R) Burns 51%, (D) Schweitzer 48%
Summary: Burns got a scare from well funded rancher Brian Schweitzer in 2000, he has taken steps to protect himself this year ($650K already) but this could still be a tight race. The Democrats don’t have anyone lined up for the race just yet, but Montana has a history of supporting conservative Democrats so this state could be in play. Precisely who the Democrat might run is a mystery, but one of the state’s Representatives would be a likely bet. 2000 opponent Schweitzer was recently elected Governor.

9.) Nevada
Incumbent: (R) John Ensign
Likely Opponent: Unknown
2000: (R) Ensign 56%, (D) Bernstein 40%
Summary: Ensign won a vacant seat quite handily in 2000, but he appears destined for a much tougher contest this time around. The Democrats have ear-marked this race as one they believe they can win (Ensign has only $450K on hand) and thus will be willing to throw a lot of money at the race. Ensign is a reasonable Republican, and thus far there are no indications of who might run against him. Likely a Republican hold.

10.) Michigan
Incumbent: (D) Debbie Stabenow
Likely Opponent: Reps. Mike Rogers and Candice Miller
2000: (D) Stabenow 50%, (R) Abraham 49%
Summary: Michigan is a critical swing state and Stabenow will face a tough race with growing clusters of Republicans in the North and in the West of the state. Voter turnout in Detroit will be critical. Stabenow recently served as the vice-Chair of the DSCC and is a growing power within the party. The Republicans seem intent to take her out before she becomes a real power, but Stabenow has almost $2 Million on hand. Likely hold, unless things go really bad.

11.) Pennsylvania
Incumbent: (R) Rick Santorum
Likely Opponent: Unknown, see below.
2000: (R) Santorum 53%, (D) Klink 46%
Summary: Pennsylvania went Democrat Presidentially in 2000 and ’04 but has two Republican Senators. Santorum is incredibly right wing and notorious for his anti-gay actions. He is one of the most conservative members of the Senate and he has his eyes set on the White House. The Democrats will be desperate to take him out before the election. Prominent Democratic candidate would be a requirement to winning this seat. Nobody obvious, although Rendell might be convinced to leave the Governor’s mansion, Chris Heinz might want to run for his father’s seat or Hoeffel might want to give it on more shot. Santorum does not appear to be one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election ($1.5 Million on hand) but this is one that the Democrats will really ‘want’ to win.

12.) New York
Incumbent: (D) Hilary Clinton
Likely Opponent: Giuliani or Pataki
2000: (D) Clinton 55%, (R) Lazio 44%
Summary: This race could move way up on the list if a top tier candidate runs against her. There were rumours that Giuliani or Pataki might consider a run, but those seem to have died down since Bush’s election. Pataki is better positioned to run for President from the Governor’s mansion and Giuliani is more likely to take a cabinet post and try to make a run for President from there. Should either run in a tough campaign against Hilary and lose, all Presidential aspirations would be done. Thus, discretion is the better part of valour for them here. This seat is only competitive if a big name runs, Clinton has almost $5 Million in cash on hand, so she will have a big head start in fundraising. Still, Republicans hate Hilary and are likely to throw money at the race in a desperate effort to “get her”.

Seats Where Incumbent May Resign:
New Jersey – (D) Corzine – likely to run for Governor, if he does then this race would move up into the list above.
Wisconsin – (D) Kohl might retire, we should be able to hold this seat either way, but if he retires and Thompson runs it will be tough to hold.
Indiana – (R) Richard Lugar – really old (74 in 2006), seat would lean Republican.
West Virginia – (D) Robert Byrd – even older (he’ll be 88 in 2006), would lean Dem.
Texas – (R) Kay Bailey Hutchinson – may run for Governor, would lean Republican.
Hawaii – (D) Akaka – Really old, but just means that some young Democrat wins.
Utah – (R) Orin Hatch – Old, but the state is very very very Red.
Note: Dianne Feinstein, Trent Lott and Teddy Kennedy have confirmed they are running again. There had been some speculation that those three might retire.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Yasser Arafat Dies

PLO leader Yasser Arafat has died after spending a week in a coma in a Paris hospital. Arafat had been the leader of the Palestinian cause for almost forty years. Arafat passed away at 9:30 PM EST Wednesday. This morning tens thousands of Palestinians poured onto the streets of the Gaza Strip for an adhoc memorial for their fallen leader. He was the only leader most Palestinians had ever known and there are great concerns about the future in the territories.

The rest of the world has been deeply impacted by the death of Arafat, as state leaders from across the globe expressed their condolences and hopes for the future. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin offered his sympathy to Mr. Arafat's family and urged calm in the coming weeks. Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew will attend the services in Cairo this Friday.

The location of the funeral and burial has been an issue of contention over the last few days. Israel has been adamant that Arafat will not be allowed to be buried in Jerusalem, the tradition site of burial for Palestinian Kings. Instead, Arafat will be buried in the Gaza strip. However, complicating matters is the fact that many guests at the funeral would be anxious entering an area controlled by Israel. As such, Egypt has volunteered to host services for Arafat on Friday in Cairo. There do remain concerns, however, that there may be attempts to 'force' the funeral procession into Jerusalem. One Palestinian official was recently quoted as saying that as long as the body got near Jerusalem "the youth will do the rest". The Israeli military is mobilizing for a 'dignified funeral', but the potential for conflict is still high.

In fact, the potential for conflict in the region has increased dramatically in the wake of Arafat's death. The Palestinian refused to groom a successor and only named a Prime Minister when forced to by the United States in 2003. Even so, his relationships with the two PMs who have served since then have been strained. Arafat's first PM, Abu Abbas, has been named the new leader of the PLO until new elections sixty days from now. There is great potential for violence between now and then. Arafat's force of personality kept the various Palestinian groups unified, but in his absence there is great concern that the territories may fall in to civil war.

Despite all the concerns that Chairman Arafat's death presents, the simple fact is that it is also a beacon of hope. Since the renewed intifada, Yasser Arafat has been isolated and the Middle East Peace movement has been stalled. Whether you believe Arafat was a patsy for the Bush administration to avoid dealing with the issue or a terrorist mastermind is moot. The fact of the matter is that Arafat has been an obstacle to peace. Now, without Arafat's presence, Israel and the United States will be forced to return to the bargaining table. After 37 years of constant struggle perhaps now, finally, we can see peace in the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Harper Pledges to Support Atlantic Provinces

In yet another preamble to a new federal election, Conservative leader Stephen Harper today pledged to support the Atlantic Provinces against Ottawa. Prime Minister Paul Martin has recently been embroiled in conflict with the Atlantic Premiers over offshore energy royalties and softwood lumber. Earlier this month Newfoundland's Premier Danny Williams left a First Ministers meeting because of a disagreement with Martin. He and Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm are set to meet with the Prime Minister this week in an effort to resolve the conflict.

During this spring's election, the Prime Minister won 22 of the region's 32 seats while the Conservatives won 7. Mr. Harper claims that if the Liberals do not honour their election promises with regards to Atlantic resources they will suffer in the next election. Mr. Harper met with Mr. Hamm yesterday and encouraged the Premier to continue to fight and refuse to back down.

The sad fact of the matter is that this is a horrible example of elections interfering in the governance of the nation. Mr. Harper is desperate for any advantage in an upcoming election and is willing to severely damage Provincial-Federal relations to do so. However, the Prime Minister is not free of guilt. Mr. Martin is on tape promising the Atlantic provinces 100% of their energy royalties. If he no longer feels that the government can honour that promise he must explain why.

Our government is acting in a deplorable manner. Not only the Liberals, but the Conservatives and most certainly the Bloc Quebecois as well. Their behaviour is something which Canadian voters will have to keep in mind when they next go to the polls.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Not So Clean Energy?

A new academic study indicates that wind energy may not be the holy grail it was made out to be. The study by a group of Canadian and American scientists has shown that large scale wind power would result in changes in global temperature.

While the precise tradeoff between the climate changes from wind farms versus that from carbon-based power systems is still a matter of contention, the fact that wind power isn't climate neutral leaps out of the simulations.
The fact that wind energy may cause problems of its own should not end the move towards greener sources of energy. The paper shows that if wind energy were to account for 1/10th the world's energy, the temperature altering effects would be only 1/5th those of the carbon dioxide it would replace. Perhaps even more interesting, the report appears (to a layman) to indicate the climate alteration might help in the fight against global warming. Since the wind turbines would alter the global wind patterns, temperature forecasts for the 10% threshold indicate that the temperature would rise in temperate zones and decrease in the Arctic. Estimates indicate the temperature change could be anywhere from 1/3 to 2 degrees Celsius depending on the amount of wind energy produced.

While such an effect might make life less pleasant in Mexico and Texas, it would prevent the melting of the polar ice caps. In that regard, this result must be taken not as a negative, but as the strongest endorsement to date of wind power.

Ralph Stumbles in Debate

Premier Ralph Klein went in to the debate with an insurmountable lead but last night we saw the first cracks in his armor. Mr. Klein's opponents hammered him for the duration of the 90 minute debate on the Premier's secret health-care plan.

Mr. Klein's secret health-care plan has drawn extreme criticism over the last year. The plan even drew fire during the federal election when then Liberal-Leader Paul Martin suggested Klein's plan (rumoured to include privitization) would mirror the federal Conservative plan. In fact, some individuals blame Ralph Klein for costing Stephen Harper the election. Mr. Klein also walked away from the table during the Health Care Summit in September. He stated the province would take whatever was offered but was not interested in the conference.

NDP leader Brian Mason, largely viewed to have won the 90 minute debate, repeatedly hammered Premier Klein, suggesting that the Conservatives secret health plan was to privatize the system. Mr. Mason constantly had the Premier on the defensive:

"I've heard this accusation so many times. I can tell you we do not - do not - have a secret privatization plan," he said.
Liberal leader Kevin Taft took a different approach, criticizing the Conservatives for refusing to divulge their health plan until after the election.

"That's a betrayal of democracy. That's really unfortunate. He is asking voters to vote with blinders on and it's not fair and it's not good for democracy."
Even with the fireworks about health care, it was far from the only contentious issue. Ralph Klein came out swinging, promoting his gay-hating agenda as well. The Premier repeated his assertation that gays and lesbians are an anathema and pledged to use every resource available to the government in order to prevent homosexuals from receiving the same rights available to all other citizens of Alberta.

Premier klein has refused to put forth any plans for the future, instead running on his record and the historical dominance of the Conservative Party. Taft and Mason pressured him throughout the debate to put forth a plan of any sort. They criticized Mr. Klein for his failure to put forth a plan for education spending, high auto insurance and municipal funding.

This election has turned into an American style election. The right wing religious incumbents refuse to put forth any concrete plans, instead relying on historical precedent and charisma to carry the day. Their opponents, on the other hand, put forth solid plans put are ignored because they don't share the "values" of the voters. Ralph Klein is rapidly becoming the shame of our nation, betraying the core values of our society with his hate-filled agenda.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Duceppe traveling Canada to Promote Sovereingty

Apparently Quebec sovereignty is picking up steam again. During the last referendum, the movement was defeated largely thanks to the efforts of the rest of the country. Individuals from all over Canada poured into Quebec in a desperate effort to keep our nation unified. Today, the Bloc Quebecois appears determined to prevent something similar from happening again. Gilles Duceppe has begun a cross country journey to promote Quebecois independence. He began today on Bay St. and claims he has received invitations to speak from all across the country.

Canada's policy of official bilingualism has long made national affairs more complicated. For more than a century the citizens of Quebec have been actively antagonistic towards their neighbours. The sad fact is that the citizens of Quebec are good hard working individuals. They share similar values to us and live similar lives to us. But the two hundred and fifty years of history after the defeat of the French in the New World have been littered with actions that have angered our Quebecois neighbours. We now once again are facing the increasing likelihood of a vote on separation and all the negatives that would entail for our nation.

Given that possibility, how long could Canada last? We would be a nation divided, with the maritimes cut off from the rest of the country. Obviously Alberta would soon want to follow Quebec's lead which would cut off BC. Inevitably, Quebec sovereignty would spell the end of Canada as we know it. Given that Mr. Duceppe's speaking tour is an effort to drum up support for the movement, proud Canadian must mobilize to actively oppose his appearance in their cities.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Renewed Health Care Flap

Debate has once again flared up over our nation's Health Care system following comments by Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh. Mr. Dosanjh spoke today at a convention of federal Liberals from across Manitoba. In a series of questionable comments, the Health Minister indicated his belief that if there are any problems with health care the responsibility would fall on the provinces.

"I can tell you with $41-billion dollars additional, there is now no excuse on the part of the provinces to continue to have shortages of nurses and doctors," Dosanjh said.

Needless to say, the provinces are far from impressed. Manitoba Health Minister Tim Sale has been amongst the most vocal.

"The notion that somehow now the provinces are going to be set up to be blamed for any shortages of doctors or nurses . . is at very best unhelpful," Mr. Sale said in an interview Saturday.

The Provinces and Feds only recently agreed to a new ten year deal which will see the Provinces get an additional $41 Billion in funding. Prime Minister Martin claims the deal will protect our health system for a generation, but doctors all across the country are skeptical.

This pathetic attempt to place the blame on the Provinces instead of considering the possibility that more funding will be needed is a dangerous political move. At his point, it appears that every move made by the Liberals is calculated and measured in regards to its impact on any upcoming election. Mr. Martin's party is certain to become deeply embroiled in the Sponsorship Scandal when former Minister Gagliano testifies before the Gomer Commission. Hopefully, the Liberals will realize that the only way to save their political skin is to govern according to the best interests of the nation and not according to the polls.

Alberta Alliance Party Making Trouble

The Alberta Alliance Party has found a way into the news the weekend after being quiet during the first two weeks of the campaign. Party leader Randy Thorsteinson claims to have a $1 Million war chest and seems intent to create a foothold for his organization in the Conservative dominated province.

Amongst the party's more outlandish ideas has been to recruit help from south of the border. Thorsteinson has hired well known Republicans Mark Montini and former National Republican Committee deputy press secretary Genevieve Wood.

Thankfully, Global TV -- in one of the few decisions they have ever made to benefit the left -- has banned the party from the upcoming debates. The network has decided that only parties which won a seat in the 2001 election are entitled to participate in the debate. Although the AAP does have one MPP, he is a defector from the Conservatives and was not elected while a member of the party.

The Alberta Alliance Party holds close ties with the Repubican Party, appears to be to the right of the Conservatives (!) and may be gaining rapidly in popularity. Running on their "Blame Ralph" campaign, some individuals believe they may win as much as 5% of the Provincial vote. Considering the NDP won only 8% of the vote in 2001, that prospect is terrifying. Already the 'Texas of Canada', Alberta appears to be moving even further to the right and even closer to our Southern neighbours.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Potential '08 Candidates?

As we are forced to acknowledge that we have lost this election, the time has come to look forward. The question now arises as to who are the potential candidates. Everyone is aware of the standard candidates, but there are other excellent fringe candidates as well:
1.) John Edwards - Former Senator from North Carolina, Former VP Candidate - A lot of people here seem to really like him. I think he's a terrible candidate and given that he'll be out of the spotlight for the next four years I don't think he has a chance. He's not even the best choice from North Carolina.

2.) Mike Easley - Governor of North Carolina - I'm not a big fan of running Senators for Presient as there are just too many votes for them to attack. Easley won in 2000 with the state in the midst of a financial disaster. He has largely fixed that and become a solid governor. He has created bipartisan appeal and won re-election by a large margin in a Republican state. A big favorite of mine.

3.) Al Gore - Former VP, Former Senator - This name keeps getting floated but I just don't like it. It would turn any election in '08 into a contest between the Clinton White House and the Bush regime. Just don't think that's an intelligent choice.

4.) Hilary Clinton - Former First Lady, Senator from NY - She would be the front-runner right now. In for a tough fight in '06 as the Republicans will undoubtably take a heavy run at her. She would invoke great rage amongst the far right that hated her husband. Would be a similar race to a Gore cadidacy in that it would be Bill Clinton vs George W. Bush through surrogates. As of yet she has not made an impression in the Senate, she must do so over the next four years if she is going to win. With Pataki interested in running for the Republicans there is the possiblity of an all New York race.

5.) Howard Dean - Former Governor of Vermont - Dean has a lot of support amongst young Democrats. Dean got people interested in the process like no other candidate during the primaries. He also has the advantage of being a Governor and not a Senator. Question is how he will stay in the public eye over the next four years. One Vermont Senate seat is up for election in '06 and it's currently held by (I) Jim Jeffords so Dean could conceivably run for it. Question at this point is how much does Dean want to be President at this point?

6.) Kathleen Sebeilius - Governor of Kansas - First elected in 2002, Sebeilius has the advantage of being a woman, being from he South and being a Governor. However, she doesn't have much sway in the party right now. Given that the feminist vote is likely to go for Hilary, Seilius is a long shot. However, she has the opportunity to make a name for herself in '06. Should she do significantly better than Hilary in their re-election bids then she could eclipse her more famous northern competitor.

7.) Janet Napolitano - Governor of Arizona - Essentially the same situation as Kathleen Sebeilius. She has the advantage of coming from a slightly more Democratic leaning state and she is extremely popular in the state.

8.) Tom Vilsack - Governor of Iowa - A major player in '08, Vilsack is the popular governor and a swing state. He campaigned heavily for Kerry in '04 but was unable to deliver Iowa for the Democrats. Chair of the Democratic Governors Association. First elected in 1998, up for re-election in 2006. If Iowa is at the front of the primary schedule again it will play into his hands.

9.) Mark Warner - Governor of Virginia - While he would initially appear to be a major player in '08, Warner is subject to a term limit and cannot run again. He will cease to be governor of Virginia in '05. He could, conceivably, run for Senate in '06 against Republican George Allen. A victory in that race might make him a front-runner in the '08 nomination battle.

Those 9 would appear to be the most likely individuals to consider at run in '08. Of course, there will almost certainly be others coming out of the woodwork. From that list I really like Easley and Warner. If Warner were to run for Senate in '06 he would be in a strong position to run for President. Easley is not, technically, bound by North Carolina's term limit for governors but he is likely to pay heed to it. A southern candidate would also be huge as no candidate from the North has won since the dawn of time.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post Mortum

I don't really want to write about his much right now. I watched the returns come in from a hotel in Youngstown Ohio. This is a sad day, not only in the history of the United States, but in the history of our civilization.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Early Exit Polls

The early exit polls from NEP are very good for Kerry, showing him up in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Monday, November 01, 2004

We Have Spirit

I'm in Youngstown Ohio, in the midst of the great outpouring of emotion I have ever seen. There are 200 volunteers at my hotel and they come from all over the world. We have almost a dozen people from California, people from everywhere else in the country, me from Canada, several other foreigners and more. The youth of the world is very involved in this election. All we need to do is turn out the vote tomorrow and we will win. Keep your fingers crossed. We're going to do this.