Archive for the 'Harper' Category

Quebec voters decimate only provincial party that supported Harper

dum_ar_081207-harper-dumontTonight, Quebeckers utterly destroyed Harper’s closest Québec ally in what is undoubtedly the first referendum on the future of Harper’s government in light of the potential for a federal coalition.

Tonight, the far-right wing provincial party, the ADQ, was reduced from official opposition status with the 41 seats it won in the last provincial election, to third party status with just 7 seats projected by CBC as of 11:03 EST.  Due in no small part to Mario Dumont’s support of Harper, his party went from official opposition status to losing its official party status in the Quebec National Assembly.

If there is anything the prime minister should glean from tonights stunning repudiation, it’s that his recent bump in the polls nationally may well prove a Pyrrhic victory for his Conservative party.  The Tories may be up in the polls in the more reactionary, Anglophone parts of the country, but tonight shows that he purchased that lead by selling out his party’s chances in the province of Québec.

3 statistics about the 2008 election you’ll never see in the media

With the 2008 federal election behind us, many pundits (myself included) are being faced with reality that the election did not turn out as we projected.  Having under-estimated the projected level of support for the Conservatives and over-estimated the projected level of support for the NDP and Greens; and with the NDP only gaining about 1% in the popular vote and the Green vote utterly collapsing by more than 1/3 between the last polls and election day, it seems that many progressives have been made to feel sorry for themselves.

As such, the triumph of the Harper Conservatives over the ‘progressive’ forces in this country has been a common theme  explored ad nausium by the mainstream media.

This notion is both interesting and straightforward.  Indeed the only problem with this post-election theme is that it’s completely unsupported by the facts.

If anything, this election should be noted as being exemplary of exactly the opposite.

This election, if nothing else, was a stentorian vindication of the long-term trend witnessed in Canada since the 1974 general election AWAY from liberalism and conservatism and toward progressivism.

A while back, I pointed out the long-term trend in Canadian popular support away from the neo-liberal/neo-conservative, ultra-capitalist parties (of which, I took to include Liberals, the Conservatives, PCs, Alliance, Reform Party, Social Credit, Ralliement créditiste, Confederation of Regions, and other small third parties) and toward the more moderate and/or progressive capitalist parties (which I took to include the NDP, Bloc, Greens, Communist Party, CAP, CPC-ML and other small third parties).  I am pleased to say that not only has this trend continued, but that it has also continued in every region of the country without exception.

In 2008, in every region of Canada without exception — West, Ontario, Québec, Atlantic & North — the combined ultra-capitalist parties (Liberal and Conservative) decreased in popular support.  Meanwhile, in every region of Canada, the combined more moderate or progressive parties increased their popular level of support.

The public’s appetite for laissez faire capitalism and vicious cuts to social spending as instituted by the Conservatives of today and the Liberals of yesteryear is clearly declining.  The only question is, how much longer can these two warring factions of the capitalist class continue to operate as separate parties before they are forced to ‘unite the right’ once again amidst the rising tide of public opinion against their policies.

And that is something that the mainstream capitalist media or their conservative apologists just won’t let you contemplate.

If the Tories don’t get a majority, thank the Bloc not the Grits, Greens or NDP

Having just finished a massive update to the Paulitics National Polling Resource, the Provincial/Regional Polling Resource, and the Seat Projection Meta-Analysis, there is one fact that has become abundantly clear:

If the Conservatives don’t get a majority, we should thank Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Québecois, not the Dion Liberals, the May Greens, or Layton’s NDP.  Of all of the data uploaded this evening, the astonishing rise of the Bloc in Quebec (pictured below) is perhaps the most impressive.

Because of the Bloc’s rise, the Conservatives have dropped 10% in Quebec since September 13th.  In other words, 1 in 3 Tory supporters in Québec have abandoned that party since September 13th.

Moderator Steve Paikin held Layton down and let Harper take another shot

The English debates on Thursday night turned out to be much more exciting due to the inclusion of an additional debater in the televised debates.

No, no, I’m not referring to Elizabeth May, (although I thought her performance was both intelligent and effective).

No, I’m referring to Steve Paikin, the supposed ‘moderator’ of the debate.

Much to my disbelief, Paikin actually entered the debate himself after Stephen Harper reacted to Layton’s factually correct statement that Harper had been the head of an organization whose stated goal was (and still is) the destruction of Canada’s healthcare system.

Harper reacted by saying, “Let me just be very quick on this. I use the public health care system. My family uses the public health care system. In fact, in the last federal election campaign at one point it turned out I was the only national leader actually who had used exclusively the public health care system.” (source)

Harper was perfectly within his rights to make that point — in fact, in my opinion, it would have still been perfectly within his rights to even elaborate on the point and try to stick the knife into Layton further if he thought it would advance his case.  That’s debating.  That’s the whole point.  At the same time though, Layton should have been perfectly within his right to retort that he didn’t pay for his hernia operation, it was covered through his OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card and thus he never cue-jumped and never went outside the public health care system.

But what came next was completely unexpected.  ‘Moderator’ Steve Paikin actually stopped the debate there and entered the debate himself.  Just to make sure that the public understood precisely the reference that Stephen Harper was making, Steve Paikin not only repeated the claim himself, but further elaborated on it by giving the name of the clinic and so forth.  Paikin thus saved Harper from having to get himself bloody, by personally ensuring that the knife was into Layton deep enough.

Layton, obviously flummoxed by being attacked on both sides by the moderator and the Conservative leader, only retorted that the grand daughter of Tommy Douglas (an NDP supporter) thinks that that qualifies as public health care.

In my opinion, Layton collapsed like a house of cards for about the next 20 minutes of the debate, clearly having lost the vigour, energy and confidence that had characterized his performance prior to the Paikin incident.

Because of this incident, I was shocked to learn that Layton had placed second (behind Harper) in the English language debate according to the polling firm Ipsos-Reid.  I was certain that he would have fared much worse.

But then again, I thought that Gilles Duceppe slaughtered everyone else at the French Language debate, but Ipsos-Reid gave the debate to Dion (who I thought at best tied Harper for third behind Layton and Duceppe).  I also thought that the English debate would have been called for Elizabeth May who, in my opinion, was the winner, but Ipsos had her in third.

I guess I should get out of the debate predicting business and stick to the polling and seat projection business.

If this is the Tories’ idea of protecting children, I’d hate to see their idea of not protecting them

It’s funny how the Tories will talk the good talk of defending children when it suits their ideologically narrow world view only to turn around and actively exploit even more vulnerable children by having them guard our military assets and killing machines.  It’s of course, not ‘ha ha’ funny, but rather more on the sardonic side.  If this is what protecting children means to the Conservatives, I’d hate to see their definition of not protecting the children.

An excerpt from an article by Thomas Walkom in today’s Toronto Star:

“Back in 2002, Canada signed on to an international treaty aimed at rehabilitating child soldiers.

In fact, Canada was the first to ratify the so-called Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that requires signatories to give special consideration to captured enemy fighters under the age of 18.

The treaty says they are to be segregated from adult combatants. As well, those who capture children must make every effort to reintegrate them into society.

[…]

Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, and Andy Knight, a University of Alberta political scientist, make the case that, in Afghanistan, Canada is running afoul of the very treaty it once championed.

I first heard the pair on CBC Radio’s The Current. Yesterday, I phoned them up. Attaran, who has been a vocal critic of Canada’s detention policy in Afghanistan, points out that government documents released in a court case last fall show that Canadian troops in Kandahar indeed capture child fighters, only to turn them over to Afghan security forces for what is usually a brutal interrogation.

That, he says, is a clear violation of Canada’s international obligations and – depending on how the children are treated by the Afghans – almost certainly a crime under Canadian law.

Citing press reports, Knight told me that there is also some suggestion of Afghan teenagers being used, with NATO co-operation, to guard military facilities.

A national defence spokesman told me yesterday that the Canadian Forces hand over suspected child insurgents to the Afghan authorities who incarcerate them in a juvenile wing at Kandahar’s main prison.

But the two human rights experts say this isn’t sufficient. They say that when Canadian troops capture children, they should hand them over to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. It operates a rehabilitation centre in the country for former child soldiers and so far has successfully demobilized 7,400.

Confidential documents released as part of a court case brought against the government by Amnesty International point out that Ottawa is well aware of the UNICEF project. Yet none of the minors captured (and thanks to the ongoing federal court case, we know there have been at least three) has ended up there.

[…]

“Canada was once at the top of the heap in this regard,” says Attaran. “Now we’re keeping company with those at the bottom.”

As a Marxist, I’m obviously not prone to quoting from the Bible, however one quote does spring to mind:  It’s the Biblical definition of the hypocrite outlined in Matthew 7:4:

“cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then
thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Just how big is Quebec’s shift away from the right wing? Pretty big

Given the recent provincial by-election results in the province of Quebec, bloggers and politicians everywhere have been talking about the results and their implications.

As with any event, it helps to actually review what happened and then, based on this, generate an analysis.  If we do it the other way around, we risk being like a Conservative cabinet minister who, during a Question Period session shortly after the by-elections, tried to ridicule Gilles Duccepe by saying that the by-elections were a huge victory federalists and a huge defeat for the PQ.  (I don’t remember which Tory cabinet minister it was who said it, but I remember being shocked when I heard it).

In fact, contrary to the Tories’ contention, both the by-election results and the recent provincial polling results show a rather different story.

First, the by-election results.

Simply put, the Tories’ closest provincial ally, the ADQ, witnessed a staggering collapse.  This is rather significant since the far-right ADQ is lead by Mario Dumont, a man who attracted the attention of the international press in 2007 and who was (appropriately, in my opinion) called “Canada’s Le Pen” by the U.K.-based newspaper The Independent (source).

In the three by-election ridings, the ADQ’s support collapsed to just over 1/3 of their formerly mighty self.  Now, even though none of these ridings were strong ADQ ridings, nothing I think could have prepared political observers for just how spectacular of a collapse the ADQ made.  For instance, in my riding (Hull), the ADQ dropped from being the 3rd place party to being dead last among the 5 main provincial parties with both the Greens and Québec solidaire (which is an amalgamation of left-wing provincial parties including the Quebec Communist Party) finishing above them.  In fact, only the tiny Parti indépendantiste did worse then the ADQ in my riding.

Turning to the province-wide provincial polling results since the last provincial election, we see an equally bleak picture for ‘Canada’s Le Pen’ and the far-right ADQ.

Following the last provincial election, the ADQ had actually improved over their provincial results and were polling as the #1 provincial party with seemingly prohibitive odds of forming the next provincial government, either minority or majority.

As you can see, Quebec’s repudiation of far right politics since that time, clearly extends beyond merely the three ridings which had by-elections earlier this month.

Now that it seems as though the Québecois are well on their way to throwing out their version of Le Pen and become once again a beacon to progressives throughout Canada, maybe Canadians can learn from this and get to work on throwing out their version of George W. Bush.

Government to Canadians: Struggling only makes it harder for you

This past Wednesday, I was hosting my cousin who was up visiting Ottawa from Toronto.  As a part of the sites he wanted to see, I took him to Parliament to watch Question Period since he’d never been.

Usually, the press only covers the first few questions that Dion, Duceppe, Layton and also usually Ignatieff ask, and then uncerimoniously catch up on the fine art of sleeping with one’s eyes open.  Thus, had I not actually been in the gallery, I’d likely have missed this gem of a question from Conservative MP Patrick Brown (Barrie) directed to the Minister of Labour since it was the last question of the day. 

From Hansard:

Question:

Patrick Brown (Barrie, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, some members of this House may be aware that a recent study found that in 2005, Canada lost more days of work due to labour disruptions, both lockouts and strikes, than any other G-7 country. The big picture is that these numbers represent $700 million in lost annual gross domestic product.

    Could the Minister of Labour inform this House how he is addressing this very serious issue?

Answer:
Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn (Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):  

    Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about those numbers. Work stoppages hurt workers, their families and their communities and they are also bad for businesses.

    As Minister of Labour it is my responsibility to look for new ideas to keep the talk going on between unions and employers. I have launched a study on the causes and impacts of work stoppages. The study will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on ways to improve labour relations in our country.

    An expert, Mr. Peter Annis, will consult with unions and employers and will submit a report to me with recommendations.

unions.pngSo, memo to unions:  The Minister of Labour doesn’t understand what causes strikes nor does he understand the impacts of work stoppages.  I’ll give the minister a hint:  in 1905, before any massive strikes began and struggles against capitalism began, the average worker’s wage was pennies per hour and there was no minimum wage, no safety standards and no government assistance for the poor.
But, as for the other point about “struggling only makes it harder for you”, that sent a shiver down my spine.  Is this going to be the Conservatives’ new campaign slogan?
conservative-election-platform.png

Is Harper trying for a record? 3 instances of hypocrisy in 3 weeks.

For your consideration: Three items of hypocrisy from the government of Canada all occurring in the past three weeks.

Item #1:  Organ donation = good.  Gay organ donation = bad.

canadian-conservatism-homophobia.png

According to the CBC, Canada’s Conservative government changed a federal government policy in order to forbid homosexuals from donating organs.  The catch?  There’s four of them:

a) The government of Canada neglected to tell key groups and medical professionals involved in minor, unrelated fields — fields such as organ donation — that the organ donation laws had been changed.

b) The government of Canada is still willing to accept homosexual women’s healthy organs, just not homosexual men’s healthy organs.

c) The government of Canada is still willing to accept homosexual men’s healthy organs provided they abstain from homosexual activity for a period of 5 years (although our gay brothers can take solace from the fact that, presumably,  the government has no problem with them engaging in ‘relations’ with women during said five year period).

d) The government of Canada is still willing to accept without question wildly promiscuous heterosexual men and women’s organs as well as the organs of heterosexual couples who engage in anal sex.

Item #2:  Canada opts out of UN global anti-racism conference because… racism will be discussed.

The government of Canada just announced that it will not be attending the annual UN global anti-racism conference because one possible topic will be:  anti-Arab racism and specifically anti-Arab racism in Israel.

The catch?  Talking about the racism of our enemies towards us and our allies is fine and good and worthwhile.  Talking about the racism of our allies towards our enemies is beyond the pale, a waste of time and, to quote a government official, a “gong show”.  Incidentally, the government isn’t alone on this front.  Former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler aptly summed up the party line of both major parties in Canada when he said last year, with a straight face and unquestioned by the mainstream media that:

“the most virulent of hatreds [is] namely, anti-Semitism.” (source)

more-equal-than-others.pngThus, hatred isn’t all equal.  Hatred towards our allies is the “most virulent of hatreds” while hatred of our enemies is somehow less “virulent” or horrendous.

Or perhaps we’re just reading too much into this.  Perhaps all hatreds are equal but some are just more equal than others?

Item #3:  Canada says threatening the world with nuclear weapons is unacceptable…. except when we do it.

Last April, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated publicly and unequivocally that given  “the kind of values it [Iran] stands for…  I think our allies have a completely legitimate case in being concerned about a regime like that gaining access to nuclear weapons.” (source)

dr-strangelove.pngSeems reasonable.  The government of Canada would never support an offensive, bellicose regime having nuclear weapons.  It’s true that our allies may have nuclear weapons, but they would never be offensive or bellicose with them nor would they threaten to use them except, as has been official policy since the end of the Cold War, in retaliation against a nuclear attack.

The catch?

It turns out that an official NATO panel consisting of highest-level representatives from our nuclear-equipped allies (representatives including Britain’s former Chief of Staff Field Marshal the Lord Inge and the United States’ former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili) have just released a NATO policy document advocating a more aggressive, bellicose and offensive nuclear weapons stances for NATO.  This policy document includes reversing long-standing NATO policy and advocating in favour of first-strike, pre-emptive nuclear strategies for NATO.  The dossier also advocates “the use of force without UN security council authorisation” under some circumstances (source, source, source)dr-strangelove-2.png

Just as an aside, if a panel of Iran’s highest officials and generals just advocated Iran adopt such a position towards us, how do you suppose the North American media would react?  Do suppose maps would still bother depicting a chunk of land called “Iran” located in between Iraq and Afghanistan?

.

.

See also:

Propaganda in Action: The Iranian Hostage Crisis

Propaganda In Action: Canada as a force for peace in the world

Is socialism violent or is liberalism hypocritical?

The hypocrisy of anti-copyright campaigns

Israeli lobby group has begun to pay students to agree with Israeli policy

One of these things is not like the others…

conservative-party-support-september-to-november-2007.pngOne of these things is not like the others.
One of these things just doesn’t belong.
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

——

Ipsos-Reid just released another poll yesterday which, yet again, for the fourth time in a row, shows a dramatically divergent level of support for the Conservative Party than all of the other polls released by every other major polling firm.

Here’s the data in table form sorted by polling firm.

.

   

Cons

Lib

NDP

Bloc

Green

Ipsos-Reid

1 NOV ’07

39

28

13

12

7

Ipsos-Reid

27 OCT ’07

39

27

17

9

8

Ipsos-Reid

18 OCT ’07

40

27

14

9

8

Ipsos-Reid

13 OCT ’07

40

28

16

8

7

Decima

30 OCT ’07

33

29

17

9

10

Decima

9 OCT ’07

35

28

17

8

10

Decima

3 OCT ’07

33

31

16

7

10

Decima

17 SEP ’07

32

29

17

5

14

Angus-Reid

17 OCT ’07

34

29

17

9

9

Environics

14 OCT ’07

33

29

19

8

11

Strategic

14 OCT ’07

34

29

15

10

12

———————————–

UPDATE: Since this post, Ipsos Reid released another poll on November 8 which put the Conservatives at a whopping 42 percent while only three days later (with telephone interviews actually overlapping with the Ipsos poll) Strategic had the Conservatives at 32 percent.

Just a note for those of you who aren’t up on your statistical theory, polls with a 1000 person sample have a margin of error (MOE) of roughly +/- 3.1%. Thus, I invite my readers to critically consider for themselves whether they think it is more likely that Decima, Angus Reid, Environics and the Strategic Council all independently have developed for themselves a flawed methodology whilst Ipsos-Reid’s methodology is sound or whether the opposite is more likely. I also invite my readers to critically think about what role the scientific precept of Occam’s Razor would play in deciding which of these two possibilities is more likely.


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