12/08/2008

The Prime Minister As First Servant

Like most Canadians, this weekend I spent a great deal of time reflecting on what happened in Ottawa last week. Pick any poll you like. The result of the coalition has been nothing short of a disaster for the Liberals. The most forgiving poll I saw pegged them at 22% popularity, a 2% drop from election day. Others put them at only 20%. The NDP suffered even worse, showing between a 4-8% drop in support. The Conservatives are largely up, showing anywhere between 44% to a staggering 51% of the population supporting them.
But, truth be told, I have spent less time thinking about polls and more time reflecting on a comment my mom made. The Prime Minister of Canada is literally the "First Servant." He is a servant first to God, then to Queen, then to country, that is we the people.
How much of what has happened this past week really makes one think of servanthood?
Now, let me be clear. I do actually think Harper had the right idea when he proposed to cut the $1.95 per vote tax subsidy. But, in terms of the entire situation, is one really able to look at Parliament and say "Yes, these people serve us?"
I suspect most people would say no.
There are, of course, individual MP's who work very hard for their constituents. They are people of good, upstanding moral character who want to do what is right. But let's be honest, these people are few and far between. Certainly, as a whole, there is no party which truly puts the concept of servanthood into practice. There is no one who esteems all others better than themselves. There is no one who will give way, for the good of the whole.
Certainly, the concept of servanthood was nowhere to be found in Dion's disgraceful address to the nation, which was late, of poor quality and quite literally featured "Hot Air."
This week past, not one person offered a soft answer to turn away anger. (Proverbs 15:1) Instead, everyone preferred to quarrel, showing their love for sin (Proverbs 17:19). Not one person had the wits, or rather the Spirit, to recognize that it is a man's honour to avoid arguments and only fools stir up dissent. (Proverbs 20:3)
After his meeting with the Governor General, Harper invited the Opposition parties to meet with him and submit their suggestions for the upcoming budget. My hope is that this offer is sincere, and that the leaders of the Opposition Parties will take it as such. My hope is that they will drop their argument and get back to work for the good of those they govern.
There is no authority except that which God establishes (Romans 13:1). Those in authority must remember, however, that they are also under authority. Not only that, but they will one day be called to account for what they have done with what God has given them. Of anyone who has ever lived, Christ undoubtedly had the most authority of all.
And yet, look at how different His behaviour was.

12/04/2008

Parliament Prorogued

The Governor General has agreed to prorogue Parliament until January.
Let's see if the coalition can hold it together until then.
I have my doubts.

12/02/2008

An Open Letter to Her Excellency, the Right Hon. Michaëlle Jean

December 2, 2008

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General of Canada

Your Excellency:

I am writing to you today to express my concerns regarding the impending attempt by the Opposition parties to override the results of the 40th General Election, which occurred on October 14th.

In that election, I exercised my democratic right and elected a Conservative Member of Parliament, and in so doing, expressed my opinion that The Right Honourable Stephen Harper was the best person to lead this country. Over 5,000,000 of my fellow countrymen agreed, and on election day we said that Mr. Harper deserved a stronger mandate to govern. Granted, he was only given a minority, but it was a stronger minority nonetheless.

Since that election however, it has become clear that the Opposition Parties never had any intention of co-operating with the government, neither did they have any intention of respecting the will of the Canadian people. Despite the assertions of Mr. Layton today in Question Period, the Canadian people did not give the Opposition Parties a mandate to govern as a combined force. Indeed, the Canadian people gave the Opposition parties no mandate whatsoever. That is why they make up the Opposition.

If the Liberals and NDP combined had more seats then the Conservatives, then perhaps we could make an argument in favour of their coalition. As it stands, there is simply no historical precedent for any Commonwealth government to form a coalition with less seats than the standing government. Their coalition can only survive with the support of the Bloc on all confidence matters. While it is true that the Bloc have agreed to give them this support for the period of 18 months, it must be noted that the Bloc exists to facilitate the sovereigntist movement in Quebec. When making decisions, their sole consideration is what will benefit Quebec. Therefore they cannot be expected to make decisions that will benefit the entire country.

I respectfully ask you either to prorogue this session of Parliament or call an immediate election. It is not up to elected and non-elected individuals to make backroom deals. While the accord may be legal and constitutional, it is also completely anti-democractic. On a matter of this importance, the voice of the Canadian people must be heard.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Ruth vanHooydonk

(h/t to Sandy for giving me the idea. The only email addresses I have are info@gg.ca and smcook@gg.ca (the Governor General's assistant). If anyone is interested, there is also the option to call the Secretary to the Governor General (Shelia-Marie Cook): 613-993-0259, although I am sure their phones have been ringing off the hook.)

Canadians Against a Liberal/NDP Coalition Gov't

There is a new group on Facebook dedicated to fighting the coalition: Canadians Against a Liberal/NDP Coalition Gov't. At the time of this post, there were about 16,000 members.
If you are a Canadian with strong feelings against this coalition, I invite you to join.

What Others are Saying

Darryl Wolk has this excellent summary of the media reaction to the coalition. There are a lot of links here to a variety of articles, so I recommend checking it out.

12/01/2008

Letter to Coalition Leaders from a Canadian

My House

Monday, December 1, 2008

To those presuming to be my fellows, although admittedly you are citizens of my country,

Canada is doing very well in the midst of a global economic crisis. Since the recent federal election, it has become clear that the Opposition Parties never had any intention of co-operating with the government that was legally elected by the Canadian people. Therefore, a select few erroneously believe they have the right to seize power, form a new Government and implement a plan that the majority of Canadians did not vote for.

The contrast between the behaviour of the Opposition party leaders and the common action practices of all other Western democracies is striking. I will not accept this.

A majority of Canadians did not vote for the Liberals. Neither did they vote for the NDP or the Bloc. Indeed, not a single Canadian voted for a coalition on October 14, 2008.

In light of the critical situation facing our citizens, and the Oppositions unwillingness to get back to work, and work towards the true interests of Canadians, I am resolved to protest this new coalition.

Today I respectfully request that the Governor General, as soon as the appropriate opportunity arises, should force the Opposition to get back to work and stop playing games.

Respectfully,

Mrs. R. vanHooydonk

Voter

Letter to Canadians from coalition leaders


Liberal Party Press Office

New Democratic Party Press Office

Bloc Québécois Press Office

Monday, December 1, 2008

To our fellow citizens,

Canada is facing a global economic crisis. Since the recent federal election, it has become clear that the government headed by Stephen Harper has no plan, no competence and, no will to effectively address this crisis. Therefore, the majority of Parliament has lost confidence in Mr. Harper's government, and believes that the formation of a new Government that will effectively, prudently, promptly and competently address these critical economic times is necessary.

The contrast between the inaction of Mr. Harper's government and the common action taken by all other Western democracies is striking. We cannot accept this.

A majority of Canadians and Quebecers voted for our parties on October 14, 2008. Our Members of Parliament make up 55 per cent of the House of Commons.

In light of the critical situation facing our citizens, and the Harper government's unwillingness and inability to address the crisis, we are resolved to support a new government that will address the interests of the people.

Today we respectfully inform the Governor General that, as soon as the appropriate opportunity arises, she should call on the Leader of the Official Opposition to form a new government, supported as set out in the accompanying accords by all three of our parties.

Respectfully,

Hon. Stéphane Dion Leader,

the Liberal Party of Canada

Hon. Jack Layton Leader,

the New Democratic Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe Leader,

the Bloc Québécois

Coalition of the Willing... to Take Power, that is...

Some time ago, there was talk of a coalition government, should the Conservatives fail. I didn't really take those stories seriously. After all, the Canadian people returned the Conservatives to power with a strengthened mandate. It was still a minority, but it was a strengthened minority nonetheless. The Conservatives had successfully governed the smallest minority in history for the longest period of time, and since the Liberals will be electing a new leader in May, threats of a coalition didn't seem plausible.
At least not until last night.
A recently recorded conference call clearly shows the NDP never had any intention of respecting the will of the Canadian people. They never had any intention of working with the government to achieve what is best for the Canadian people. Everything Layton has ever said about the importance of "getting back to work" and working hard for the Canadian people is a lie. They have only ever been concerned with achieving power, even if it takes the separatist Bloc to do it.
No doubt Duceppe is laughing all the way to the bank.
Now it seems the Liberals are in bed with this sordid plan, though admittedly not everyone is comfortable with the idea of the separatists being the ones to sustain their bid for power. Let's face it; any Liberal-NDP coalition will be smaller than the current Conservative government which consists of 143 seats. Together, the Liberals and NDP will only have 114 seats. And yet, in their arrogance, they think they represent more of the Canadian people than the government we actually elected!
Any member of the Liberal or NDP parties ought to be ashamed of this latest development. As this article rightly points out, if this matter is so urgent, then call another election and let the voters decide. To simply seize power when you were not elected and can't even form a government larger than the current one is unacceptable.
If you are a Liberal or NDP MP and you do not approve of this plan, then may I suggest that now is the time for action. Cross the floor. Refuse to sit with these people who warp the meaning of democracy. Don't show up for the confidence vote on December 8th. Do whatever it takes to get the point across. Respect the wishes of Canadians. Do not participate in this plot.
If you are a part of this plan, shame on you! Govern by the mandate the people gave you... which is none... or get out! This is a democracy, and you are to respect the people who pay your salaries!

11/17/2008

Conservative Policy Convention

I haven't seen a copy of the new Conservative Party Policy. I suspect it will be a few days before it is released on their website.
Just a few notes on important policies that were passed:
Policy P-119, the resolution on Human Trafficking unanimously passed. It is now official Conservative Party policy to support legislation that would work to combat human trafficking. The proposal is worded as follows: The Conservative Party believes the government should take strong action to combat human trafficking and should take a lead in developing international agreements and protocols against human trafficking.
Policy P-203, on the Human Rights Commission passed. It is now official Conservative Party policy to support legislation that would remove authority from Human Rights Commissions to use Section 13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Act to persecute free speech. This is an excellent resolution. The HRC's have long over-stepped their bounds. We already have laws governing hate speech and the HRC's have a record of punishing individuals for expressing legitimate, albeit controversial and sometimes unpleasant, views. The proposal is worded as follows: The Conservative Party supports legislation to remove authority from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal to regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints related to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Policy P-207 the resolution on protecting pregnant women and their unborn children, passed. This resolution was hotly debated, as some wrongly feel it could open a debate on abortion. Nevertheless, it is now official Conservative Party policy to support legislation that would increase penalties against those that harm an unborn child while attacking its mother. The resolution is worded as: The Conservative Party supports legislation to ensure that individuals who commit violence against a pregnant woman would face additional charges if her unborn child was killed or injured during the commission of a crime against the mother.
Policy P-211, a policy regarding the rights of religious institutions with respect to marriage, passed. The policy is worded as follows: The Conservative Party believes that Parliament, through a free vote, and not the courts should determine the definition of marriage. The Conservative Party believes that religious organizations should not be forced to perform marriages which are against their beliefs. The Conservative Party opposes polygamy.
Policy P-305, a resolution promoting income splitting for families of children under seven, passed. This is an important step forward for single income families, where one parent chooses to stay at home. The proposal is worded as follows: The Conservative Party believes the government should amend the Income Tax Act to eliminate all tax disadvantages to families including those who care for children at home and to recognize the economic value of stay at home parents by introducing tax fairness measures such as income splitting for couples with children.
A number of policies on crime were also passed.

List of votes on policy resolutions (ht: Stephen Taylor)
Dr. Roy's thoughts on the Convention
View from the Right
The Trusty Tory
Canadian Press
CTV
Macleans
National Newswatch

10/15/2008

Final Seat Count and Early Morning Thoughts

Conservatives: 143
Liberals: 76
Bloc: 50
NDP: 37
Independent: 2

- Dion is finished as leader of the Liberals. The next leadership race will be interesting.
- May should be finished as leader of the Greens, but only time will tell.
- Harper will have a default majority for at least the next 18 months, if not two years. No party will want to drag voters back to the polls too quickly.
- I am disgusted that Justin Trudeau won his seat in Quebec. He essentially did so on the power of his name, and not on the basis of any personal qualifications.
- Our system needs fixing. It is appalling that the Bloc have more seats than the NDP, when the NDP have more of the popular vote. It is a shame that the Greens have no seats when their popular vote is only a few percentage points behind the Bloc.

10/09/2008

The Globe & Mail grudgingly endorses Harper

How to cheer for someone you hate.
Two anxieties, neither wholly irrational, have attached themselves to Stephen Harper in his years as a contender for and holder of the top political office in the land. The first is that he is a right-wing ideologue, badly out of sync with mainstream Canadian values and sentiments. The second is that he is possessed by a mean-spirited and controlling nature; that his emotional intelligence isn't up to his mental level.

No, you're not irrational, oh leftist Globe & Mail. You just don't want to get caught cheering for a team you know is going to lose.
This insult-ridden endorsement is hilarious to read. Although a moderate, competent governor, Harper is "savage," responsible for a dysfunctional Parliament, not trusting and therefore not trusted, tends toward pettiness and hyper-partisanship, and has a "firewall temperament." Still, the Globe manages to concede that he is smart, adaptable, both shrewd and deft with respect to Quebec, calm, decisive and has an ability to play a bad hand well... something the Globe notes is worth remembering in the face of the current economic crisis.
Dion's carbon tax is justly raked over the coals. Poor Layton is cast aside with barely a thought.
Mr. Harper and his Conservative party are only seriously challenged for government by Stéphane Dion's Liberals. (For all the flourish of his introductory line — "I'm Jack Layton and I'm running for Prime Minister" — history and political culture suggest otherwise.)

So sorry about that Mr. Layton.
The article is worth reading if only for a bit of a laugh. I really do think this has been written because the Liberals have no chance at power now, not with Dion's latest catastrophe and not because they actually support Harper or are happy about his potential win.

Dion on CTV


Watch Dion crash and burn during an interview.
Dion was asked "If you were Prime Minister now, what would you have done that Mr. Harper has not done?"
(h/t Stephen Taylor)
CTV's website has more on the story.

Canadian Banks: We're #1

This just in:
Canada has the world's soundest banking system, closely followed by Sweden, Luxembourg and Australia, a survey by the World Economic Forum has found as financial crisis and bank failures shake world markets...
The United States, where some of Wall Street's biggest financial names have collapsed in recent weeks, rated only 40...

In case anyone needs the implications of this spelled out for them, allow me to quote myself:
As Harper rightly pointed out, Canada is not in the same situation as the States and there are many reasons for this.

In other news, polls are stabilizing.

10/08/2008

Statement by Jim Flaherty, and More on the Economy

From the Conservative website:
"Last night, Mr. Dion was asked why his so-called 30-day plan – the plan he sprung during the French debate – was not in his platform, a document that was released just days earlier. Mr. Dion said: ‘It was difficult for us to write a chapter on a U.S. economic crisis when we were preparing our platform’ (Stéphane Dion, Le téléjournal, October 6, 2008).
This is an extraordinary admission.

No kidding.
Think of it. The issue of the election is the economy. The Liberals have spent the last few days claiming the Harper government is doing nothing, waving their arms about, claiming the economic sky is falling. Meanwhile, they actually have the unmitigated gall to ask the Canadian public to give them thirty days after the election is over to come up with a plan. He wants to get together with a bunch of economists so they can tell him what to do.
Is he serious?
Moreover, how can anyone take this seriously?? Harper has a Masters in economics, and has Jim Flaherty by his side. I understand that many on the left don't like him, but it's impossible to deny that, from a financial perspective, he is a highly competent man.
Quite frankly, the media ought to be all over this, exposing the hypocrisy of the Liberals. So far, I have only seen the National Post throw its support behind the Conservatives, specifically citing Dion's lack of plan and general attitude as their reason.
Continuing on...
The American credit crunch did not start two weeks ago. It started over a year ago and it has been issue number one for every person with any understanding of economics.
Yet, for the past year, Mr. Dion has been totally oblivious to what has been going on. And his carbon tax proves it. At a time of global economic uncertainty, no responsible economic manager would suggest experimenting with risky new tax schemes or massive increases in government spending.
Unlike Mr. Dion, the Harper Government got it. We took action.
We recognized the credit crunch for what it is: a threat to the global economy. In response, the Harper Government implemented a real plan, including keeping the budget balanced, lowering taxes, investing in Canadian jobs and keeping inflation low. We also tightened rules on mortgage lending, and strengthened the Bank of Canada’s powers to deal with a crisis.
We’re not asking Canadians for a mandate to spend 30 days figuring out what to do. We are asking for a mandate to continue with our real plan to protect the Canadian economy and the standard of living for workers and their families."

As I previously mentioned, banks are agreeing with Mr. Harper. We are not in the same economic crisis as the US. Furthermore, as reported at The Star, the Government has already taken action with respect to banking institutions to ensure that the crisis in the US does not greatly impact us. As reported at the Globe, banking institutions are also taking actions of their own.

With respect to Tuesday's vote, people need to stop panicking.
People need to get informed, read up on each party's policies, filter through the media bias and figure it out for themselves. I actually read a poll today that suggested a Liberal minority win was possible.
I can't stress enough how absurd such a win would be.
Imagine for a moment if the Liberals did win. We'd be back to the polls inside of a year!
The truth is that every poll is different, and pollsters report based on their own biases. As mentioned by Reuters:
An Ekos automated telephone poll released on Tuesday night, however, had the Conservative lead growing again to 9 percentage points from the 7 that Ekos had reported a day earlier.
Ekos showed the Conservatives at 34 percent, the Liberals at 25 percent and the NDP at 20 percent, and said voters seemed neither to want to give Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper a majority in Parliament nor to elect Liberal leader Stephane Dion...
"There is limited enthusiasm for a Tory majority, or even a Tory government. But the obvious alternative -- a Dion government -- hardly seems appetizing either for most Canadians."
A Nanos Research poll had the gap up slightly to 4 points from what had been the campaign's smallest margin of 3 points the day before. It had the Conservatives at 33 percent, the Liberals at 29 percent and the NDP at 20.

At the Ottawa Sun, Greg Weston makes a few interesting points on the effects of polls. He comments that:
Overnight polling by Nanos Research reported yesterday that the Conservatives dropped to just three points ahead of the Liberals.
Nanos also tracks how Canadians feel about the four federal leaders, and Harper's score on that front has been sinking like the stock markets in recent days.
All of which must have tempted the Conservatives to roll out the gravy train and buy their way into voters' hearts.
Thankfully, the emotionally challenged PM did not succumb.

I have to agree with Weston.
The easiest thing in the world would be to succumb to opinion polls and try to buy votes with expensive promises that are not intended to be kept. People complain all the time that politicians make promises they don't keep. Now, the Conservatives are actually not making promises, they are releasing a "stingy" platform, making minimal promises. The average voter ought to take this as a good sign. They ought to recognize Harper's honesty in the face of what can best be described as a difficult situation.
I still expect a Conservative minority, although I do agree with the National Post: a majority would offer the country more stability.

Conservative Ad



This ad articulates my feelings on Dion perfectly. I definitely can't afford more taxes!

The Economic Reality

In the face of all the Liberal "chicken-littling," I'd like to direct your attention to what the Royal Bank of Canada has to say.
As reported by the Star:
...the domestic economy "remains firm..."
For 2009, the report released Wednesday sees a modest revival in gross domestic product with a growth rate of 1.5 per cent...
"The continued weakness in the U.S. economy is expected to dampen growth in Canada," said Craig Wright, RBC's chief economist.
"However, this pressure on our growth will be tempered by strong commodity prices which are contributing to robust export revenues and providing support to Canadian domestic spending via a boost to incomes..."

But, their most notable comment of all?
"...any weakening is expected to be more moderate compared to the U.S. experience as Canadian mortgage markets did not see the excesses that afflicted the U.S. housing sector..."

I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that this is exactly what the PM said during the debates last week. The opposition leaders flogged him for it, and are continuing to do so, claiming that he "doesn't care."
Maybe he just has a firmer grasp on reality, and is actually paying close attention the the economic situation. It's a much smarter thing to do than running around, making massive tax-and-spend promises the country can't afford.

10/07/2008

Platform Costs

Conservative Platform. The costs are listed at the end.
Liberal Platform. Costs are listed here.
NDP Platform. Unless I missed it, they don't really have a costing section. They have a set of Explanatory tables instead.
Canada.com and Yahoo! News have similar lists of campaign spending promises.
Kitchener Conservative offers some costing numbers here and here.
By far, the Liberals are promising to spend the most. I actually expected the NDP to do that, but apparently not. The Conservatives are spending the least, but then, that's why we call them Conservatives.

The Conservative Party Platform (cont'd)

The platform can be found here.
There were a few elements of the platform that were not mentioned in most of the news reports, but are interesting nonetheless.
Restricting Unfair Text Messaging Charges
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will prevent telecommunications companies from charging fees to customers for receiving unsolicited commercial text messages. We will amend the Telecommunications Act to strengthen the power of the Commissioner of Complaints for Telecommunications Services, including the creation of a code of conduct for wireless services. We will also create a compliance and deterrent power that allows the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to block these and similar unfair charges in the future.

Admittedly, I don't have a cell phone. However, most of the people I know do. Nothing is more annoying than companies who send you text messages and then charge you for them, without your permission. As far as I am concerned, it is a type of theft. I will be interested to see what proposed legislation will look like.
Protecting Against Internet Spam
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will introduce legislation to prohibit the use of spam (unsolicited commercial email) to collect personal information under false pretences and to engage in criminal conduct. The new law will reduce dangerous, destructive and deceptive email and web site practices, and will establish new fines for those who break the law.

I support this initiative. However, in my opinion, governments generally have to be careful when crafting laws with respect to technology. I will have to withhold any further judgment until I actually see their proposed law.
Protecting Creators and Consumers of New Ideas and Products
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will reintroduce federal copyright legislation that strikes the appropriate balance among the rights of musicians, artists, programmers and other creators and brings Canada's intellectual property protection in line with that of other industrialized countries, but also protects consumers who want to access copyright works for their personal use.
We will also introduce tougher laws on counterfeiting and piracy and give our customs and law enforcement services the resources to enforce them. This will protect consumers from phoney and sometimes dangerous products that are passed off as reliable brand-name goods.

As I said above, governments have to be careful when crafting laws with respect to technology. In my opinion, the Canadian version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act did not strike the appropriate balance between consumer protection, artist's right and corporate rights. Wiki has a brief description of some of the issues with the bill. This bill could have a potentially negative impact on open source software developers. but, this post is intended to deal with the Conservative Party platform and not the DMCA, so I will leave this thought for now.
Protecting Consumers with Stronger Competition Laws
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will implement a strong consumer protection plan by modernizing Canada's outdated competition laws. New competition laws will:
- Make it easier to investigate and prosecute bid-rigging and hard-core cartel behaviour such as price fixing.
- Raise maximum penalties for bid-rigging and cartels to a $25-million fine and 14 years in prison.
- Introduce fines of up to $10 million – $15 million for repeat offenders – for companies that abuse their dominant market position.
- Provide for restitution for consumers who fall victim to deceptive marketing practices.

In light of the behaviour of gas and oil companies, such legislation can only be a good thing.
Reforming or Abolishing the Senate
The Conservatives and Stephen Harper believe that the current Senate must be either reformed or abolished. An unelected Senate should not be able to block the will of the elected House in the 21st century.
As a minimum, a re-elected Conservative Government will reintroduce legislation to allow for nominees to the Senate to be selected by voters, to provide for Senators to serve fixed terms of not longer than eight years, and for the Senate to be covered by the same ethics rules as the House of Commons.

This measure was briefly mentioned at the Globe & Mail, but I haven't seen it anywhere else. As I mentioned in a previous post, this issue more than any other, ought to secure the Conservatives a majority. Unfortunately, everyone is panicking about the economy, so it probably won't receive much attention. Still, Senate reform is a major step towards improving democracy in Canada. We simply have too many senators who don't take their jobs seriously enough.
Offering Fair Representation in the House of Commons
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will introduce legislation to move closer towards representation by population in the House of Commons for Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, while protecting the seat counts of other provinces.

I am curious to see what this sort of legislation would look like.
Reforming Public Appointments
We will establish a task force to report within one year on unnecessary federally appointed positions that can be eliminated, with a target of reducing federal appointments by 10 per cent overall.

Reducing the number of government appoints is also another important step towards improving democracy in Canada.
Making Government More Accountable for Taxpayers' Money
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will require all federal departments and agencies to produce detailed quarterly financial statements.

Good. They should be doing this already.
Respecting the Provinces and Territories, Establishing a Charter of Open Federalism
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will respect the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories in the Constitution Act, 1867, and will enshrine our principles of federalism in a new Charter of Open Federalism.

I am also interested to see what such a Charter would look like. Certainly, a measure like this is intended to woo Quebec, but there would be benefits for the other provinces too. There is a lot to be said for being able to manage your own affairs without the interference of the Federal government. In a similar vein, the Conservatives are also offering:
Limiting the Federal Spending Power
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will ensure that any new shared-cost program in an area of provincial or territorial responsibility has the consent of the majority of provinces to proceed, and that provinces should be given the right to opt out of the federal program with compensation, so long as the province offers a similar program with similar accountability structures.

By far, the most significant difference between the Conservatives and the other parties is the way crime is dealt with. Unless I missed it, there isn't anything in the Liberal platform about crime and I simply don't think the NDP approach is specific enough, nor do I think it would be effective. The Conservatives offer tougher sentences and protect victims first.
The cost of the Conservative plan is relatively modest and can be found at the end of the platform. Their total plan cost is about $8.6 billion. Their current projected budgetary balance is about $16.7 billion. This leaves them nearly half left over. This ought to be more than a sufficient buffer.

Conservative Party Platform

So, the Conservatives released their party platform at lunch time today. I am looking around the web for a copy. I expect it will be available on their website soon, but for now I will have to be satisfied with perspectives from Canada.com, CTV and the Globe & Mail.
A few points of interest.
As previously noted, the Conservative platform looks like it's a lot of more of the same. As mentioned in the Canada.com article "That is the view that unless a plan is brand new, it's not a plan," Harper said in a prepared text of his speech. "But the truth is the opposite. If you are making it up in response to the latest news, or the latest change in the stock market, then it is obvious you really don't have a plan."
It's interesting that Harper has changed his plan with respect to arts funding. Personally, I agreed more with his original stance. However, it is clear that this stance could well cost the party the majority they are seeking, so I understand why they have opted to back track. This is not to say I agree with the move; only that I am understanding.
In that same vein, I am very interested by the fact they did not back away from their plan to make pregnancy an aggravating factor when sentencing if a woman is assaulted or killed. While this position does fall far short of what is actually needed, I do think it is definitely a step in the right direction. In time I hope people will be able to crawl out of their shells and have a sensible debate on the life of the unborn. To that end though, I must say that I think the responsibility falls more on the general public than it does on the government. If we want to talk about this issue, then we actually do have to start talking, rather than letting extremists speak for us.
I am pleased to see that the Conservatives plan to continue with their tougher sentencing on crime.
I also think that, given the economic crisis, their plan to spend meagerly and cut taxes is wise. People need to be able to use their money. As mentioned at the Globe, the Tories are spending less than half of the possible cash available to them over the next four years. The platform leaves $8-billion of surplus cash on the books. Average Canadians who are preparing to tighten up their own budgets will be pleased to see the government doing the same.
The move to abolish the chamber if the government is frustrated by Senators in their bid to bring in term limits and an election process for the Upper House is fantastic! These guys have had their opportunity to play nice. Tax payers have shelled out far too much for their cushy jobs and have gotten nothing in return. Too many Senators don't show up, don't do their job and waste our money, and average Canadians are sick of it. This sort of electoral reform ought to guarantee a majority for the Conservatives.
I plan to go through the platform as soon as I have a copy.
More to come...

10/03/2008

More Thoughts on the Debates

Undoubtedly, the worst question of the evening was the last one from the frustrated "voter," who admitted she hasn't actually voted in many years. Who do I trust? How do I sift through the rhetoric? Who should I vote for? According to Paikin, the question reflected a common theme among questions sent in.
I am tired of this sort of whining. Far too many Canadians have no idea how greatly blessed we are to live in a democracy, where we can exercise our freedom and choose our government. While it is not realistic to expect perfection from any government, we can certainly hold our politicians accountable through lobbying efforts, direct communication with our MP's, and ultimately by voting at the polls. Refusing to vote, especially when one has not even begun to make an effort, is sheer laziness. Didn't get the government you wanted? Saw a bill passed in the House that you were against? The government did something they said they wouldn't do?
Did you do anything about it? Did you contact your MP to express your outrage, or did you just sit on your couch and whine about it?
Political parties act in accordance with the wishes of their loudest and most influential voters. Want to see a change? Then you really have no choice except to get involved.
In order for a democracy to be effective, effort is required.

A fair amount of time was spent discussing economics, and in particular, the situation in the US. As Harper rightly pointed out, Canada is not in the same situation as the States and there are many reasons for this. I do have to agree with his sentiment that a government cannot guarantee a job to every Canadian, Layton's arm-flailing and cries of "incompetence" notwithstanding. Such a guarantee would be foolish, not to mention vain. There will always be some unemployed people and no government in the history of the world has been able to overcome this. Don't think me cold: I have friends who are affected by the John Deere layoffs. Also, as my father was self-employed, growing up my family went through many financial difficulties. In fact, we moved provinces on account of the Rae-initiated recession (just in case you bought Layton's line that the NDP is historically good for the economy, it isn't). It's true that the manufacturing sector is suffering a severe slow down right now, but jobs are being created in other areas. What would be helpful is to train those affected by the slow down; subsidize courses to help them improve their skills to match with the changing times. The country has to be prepared to change as needed.
Layton's plan to get rid of all corporate tax cuts would profoundly hurt all areas of industry in Canada. How does he propose to keep companies here if he will not offer corporate cuts? Does he not know that John Deere laid off so many employees because they are moving production to Mexico in order to save money? If companies leave because they can make more money elsewhere, this will result in more people out of work. Now, he says that he would reward companies who choose to remain in Canada, but how would he do this without offering a tax cut? He obviously means some sort of monetary incentive, so what is the fundamental difference between the NDP plan and a corporate tax cut offered by the Conservatives?
It is also important to note that in the face of the manufacturing sector slowdown, all parties except the Conservatives are planning on raising taxes. I don't understand how the other parties can't see that if economic difficulties are coming, Canadians will need to keep their money. That brings me to the Conservative idea of a tax free savings account. I love this idea and would like to know more about it. Currently, we pay tax on any earnings we make on our high interest account. Given that the earnings aren't much, I really don't feel taxes ought to be taken out of those earnings.

The sheer number of comparisons to George Bush and the US really bothered me after a while. You could have set your watch to it. Canada is not the US. Comparisons between our two political systems are inadequate. Although we are being affected by the slowdown in the US, this is because they are our greatest trading partner. This is not because we have followed their policies.
With respect to the US, the Iraq war was also brought up. This was a non-issue as far as I am concerned. Harper admitted that to go to Iraq would have been a mistake, but really, he wasn't Prime Minister at the time. Discussing hypotheticals as to what might have happened is irrelevant.

I take back what I said about May last night. I have given it a lot of thought and she wasn't that terrible. The problem is that she lacks experience and polish. In terms of her presentation, she ought to take a page out of Duceppe's book. He knows he will never be Prime Minister, and let's face it, the Green's are a long way off from ever achieving a government. A huge point in her favor is that she does not present herself with that annoying "I am woman, hear me roar" attitude. She also did have quite a few facts that she was able to spout off the top of her head. While I disagree with much of her interpretation of those facts, she really did have her dates and policies down. What she needs to do now is work on her presence. Learn to be dignified.
Dion was not as bad as I feared he might be, but still he was not good. The man lacks presence. Although likeable, he doesn't appear "manly" or very leader-like. It's very difficult to envision him as the leader of our country.
Layton was a disaster!! My opinion of him truly plummeted. Until last night, I could say I respected him or thought he was doing a good job. As leader of the opposition, he would be nothing short of a catastrophe. Instead of appearing as a "strong leader" he came off as arrogant and extremely rude.
Harper and Duceppe were clearly the most dignified of the debaters last night. As I have said before, Duceppe is good. It's just too bad he represents the Bloc. Harper was calm and collected. He knew that he would be up on the chopping block. He just had to make sure the axe didn't fall, and it didn't. With the exception of the comments on health care and exposing Layton's hypocrisy, I wouldn't say he delivered any knock out blows. But, in all truth, I am not sure he needed too. The one upside of all the pummeling Harper took last night was the fact that the Conservative plan received a great deal of exposure and attention. I realize the other parties tried to point out flaws, but given Harper's calm, collected demeanor, they ended up highlighting Conservative strengths. Harper was able to state concisely and clearly the Conservative stance on a wide range of issues and pointed to a litany of actions taken while in Parliament. No other party presented any of their own plans, with the exception of Dion who really could not explain his own carbon tax. He could not defend his new tax well at all or what it will cost the tax payer.

I am not quite sure why people think the Conservatives have no platform. Is it because there is no explicit platform link on their party site? To me, it seems obvious that their platform is "more of the same." Their current plan is working well, there is no real need for change, and they have mentioned what new tax cuts they are offering and what new funding they will provide. I really have no idea what else people are looking for.

In the end, I don't really think the debates will have as much of an impact on the election as I thought they might. The Conservatives will still win; it's still up in the air as to whether it will be a majority or not, and it's not certain as to who the Opposition will be.

10/02/2008

Preliminary Debate Thoughts

A few initial thoughts. Hopefully I'll get time to post more tomorrow.

- I take back what I said about the NDP as the Official Opposition. I was appalled by Layton's performance tonight. Definitely not as good as the debates last election!! He just could not get past corporate tax cuts and raising the spectre of George Bush.
- Speaking of which, I must have counted at least 13 references to George Bush. Including references to US policies, there were probably a lot more, but I don't have an official number. If anyone does, please post.
- All the other parties seemed genuinely afraid of a Conservative majority. It's the only thing I can think of to account for their behaviour. A lot of time was spent firing away at Harper. Still, given that he is the incumbent and likely to win again, I didn't really expect anything else.
- Elizabeth May was terrible. She just had to get the last word in. It became so annoying after a while, and I found it very unprofessional.
- Duceppe did well. He always does. It's too bad the Bloc is irrelevant.
- Good call on health care! It was awesome to hear Harper point out the fact he was the only politician at the table who had never been to a private clinic. I heard May say something about it, but couldn't really catch her comment so if anyone caught it, please post. Calling out Layton on his hypocrisy was fabulous!! Probably the only knock out punch of the evening. I wish more time had been focused on this.
- Only Harper actually understood the question about Afghanistan. Everyone else, Layton in particular, seemed to think the guy asking wanted Canadian troops to pull out. He clearly didn't. He was very obviously afraid of the Taliban undoing all the work achieved to date.
- There was far too much emotional appeal, especially from Layton and Dion. Debates should stick to facts, not feelings. That brings me to May. Single mom and building shed comments do not help her professional image.
- I didn't like how everyone just sat around the table. It was too board-roomish. Stand at a podium. It looks more professional. I realize it is more tiring, but you are earning our votes.
- Dion has no presence. He didn't do as bad as I feared he might, but he definitely was not good.

9/29/2008

CBC: Sorry about Ms. Mallick

Pardon me while I laugh.
CBC apologizes for column maligning Sarah Palin
CBC News publisher: I agree with our ombudsman, we're really biased
We erred in our judgment (You think??)
What Vince Carlin, the CBC Ombudsman, said
What Ms. Mallick said (Looks like the "Mighty Wind" still blows...)
Michael Coren's commentary (Scared witless)

I read Mallick's piece when it wsa first posted on the CBC website.
It was terrible. Typical of what the CBC chooses to call "objective."
And I quote:
It's possible that Republican men, sexual inadequates that they are, really believe that women will vote for a woman just because she's a woman. They're unfamiliar with our true natures. Do they think vaginas call out to each other in the jungle night? I mean, I know men have their secret meetings at which they pledge to do manly things, like being irresponsible with their semen and postponing household repairs with glue and used matches. Guys will be guys, obviously...No, she isn't even female really. She's a type...

This sort of sexist garbage has no business being written, much less published by the CBC. Sexual inadequates? Unfamiliarity with women's "true" natures? Secret meetings? How is this rational thought?
I am out of patience for the likes of Mallick.
Finally, someone has told the CBC to get their act together. After many years of blatant Liberal (small- and big-L) bias, perhaps now we will finally see some true, objective, balanced journalism.
I agree with what the Ombudsman said.
Liberty is not the same as license.
And this is clearly a piece of truly licentious writing.

9/27/2008

Liberals "Hemorrhaging" Votes

Yes.
That was the CTV NewsNet comment on the Liberals just now.
On their right side, they are losing votes to the Conservatives. On their left, they are losing votes to the NDP. In fact, the pundits were predicting Conservative majority with an NDP opposition.
Also heard just now, the Liberals are pegging everything on the debates.
Excuse me while I laugh my head off. Yeah, right!!! I have seen Dion on TV. Slaughter is inevitable!
As much as I dislike the NDP, I actually think it would be better for the country if they formed the Official Opposition. This is not because I agree with any of their policies. In fact, I think the NDP are wrong on pretty much everything.
However, there is no question that if the Liberals were to lose even their status as the Official Opposition, they would have to completely rethink every aspect of the party. The Liberals have always been a sort of de facto government; even this past session they have viewed themselves as a sort of government-in-waiting. Despite touting themselves as the party of the little man, the Liberals have always received support from mighty corporations: that lack of support now is clearly hurting them.
The Liberal Party of Canada is out of touch with Canadians, has policies which will ruin this country both economically and morally and they need to realize this. I can think of no better wake up call than voter punishment.

9/26/2008

The Conservatives on "Art"

Today at Canada.com:
A day after Stephen Harper complained that the arts community is "a bunch of people at a rich gala..."

But is that exactly what he said?
Tuesday, also at Canada.com
Stephen Harper took a swipe... at members of the arts community...
"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see . . . a bunch of people at a rich gala . . . all subsidized by the taxpayers - claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have gone up - I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people," Harper told reporters.

There was a little more to it than just "rich people at a gala."
And by the way, Harper is right. Swanky, tax-payer funded galas do not impress the average Canadian citizen, especially when some of us have to work hard to get by. Tolerance for swanky government galas is even limited, even though most people would argue that those things are more important than arts' galas.

The arts are important. I would not suggest otherwise. There is definitely a place for sculpture, music, paintings, architecture, literature and the like. But, during economic hard times, is funding these art projects the best use of tax payer money? What about when the art is particularly controversial?
I would argue that the government's first duty is to its citizens. People need to have their basic needs taken care of first. Crime, health care, and employment ought to be priorities.

9/19/2008

The NDP on Childcare

By now, many of you will be well aware of the NDP's plan for a national daycare system. They call it an "investment."
(Before I begin, let me just say that such a view on children ought to immediately alarm every parent who can read. Our children are not commodities.)
A few notes from their site:
Healthy environments, nutrition and engagement are crucial.

True.
...learning-oriented child care is one choice that gives kids a valuable head-start.

Also true. In fact, in a child's first five years of life, it is almost impossible for them not to learn. Furthermore, roughly 50% of the information a child will need for the rest of its life is collected before age five.
With its stated goals of ending childhood poverty, providing a better world for Canadian children and helping parents, this sounds like a noble goal on the face of it.
But, closer examination reveals the following:
most families with preschoolers rely on outside child care

Really? Are you sure? And, incidentally, do the families that rely on outside child care want it to be that way? And what about those of us that don't rely on outside care?
With a shortage of 1.4-million quality spaces...

There is only one way to arrive at a number that large.
They are planning a space for every child in Canada.
Again, what about those of us who don't rely on outside care and never will? Do the NDP plan to over-tax the public to fund these daycare spaces anyway? Or do they honestly think that if daycare were available, everyone would use it?
Because, if they do think that, let me be the first to dispel that ridiculous notion and say my kids will be in daycare over my dead body.
I found the gross misrepresentation of the Conservative Childcare Benefit interesting.
[Harper's] "Universal Child Care Benefit" is a deceptive family allowance subject to unfair clawbacks — families that need childcare the most get the least, and nobody gets more than $100/month, which does little to offset the average family's child care costs.

Nobody gets more than $100 a month?
The amount is $100 per month per child under five.
So, no family in Canada has more than one child under five? Not one?
That's odd, because the last time I checked, I have two children under five. Lord willing, I could have another. I have a friend with three boys all under five. My two sister's-in-law have two kids under five (plus more over that age). There are several families in my church with two or three children under five, often plus more over that age. Funny how the NDP claim to represent the "working" family, when they cannot account for the many families who have multiple children and refuse outside care.
One wonders their true opinion of the "working" family.
Which brings me to Exhibit B.
Helen discussed in length with Ian Capstick the importance of the NDP acknowledging parental care in all of its form through childcare. At one point Helen Ward stated "every mother is a working mother." Ian Capstick, who is the press secretary to Jack Layton leader of the NDP, slammed back at Helen with a sharp tone "THAT IS POPPY COCK AND YOU KNOW IT!"

Poppycock.
In other words, not every mother is a working mother.
So, which of us don't work?
Hmm.
Bet I know.
According to the NDP site:
When Europeans countries invested to ensure child care for most of their citizens, they found that each dollar spent returned two more to the economy.

Again we see a view of the family that proceeds from the position of the dollar.
Did anyone bother to ask why two dollars are returned to the economy?
Because free day care means more people out in the workforce, working to pay their taxes, which, newsflash Mr. Layton is not why we work. But the NDP never seem to get that.
So, translated another way, stay-at-home-mom's don't work. If they did, they'd be "contributing" to the economy.
Why is the economy an acceptable prism through which to view the family?
Are people not more important than money?

When I first read Ian Capstick's comment, I was wave-my-fists-in-the-air, smash-my-face-on-the-desk angry. It is an outrage to suggest that stay-at-home-mom's don't work. It is even more of an outrage to suggest the idea that "every mother is a working mother" is "poppycock."
And yes, that is exactly what he was suggesting. Don't even bother trying to defend him.
Poppycock.
Does this guy have any idea what is involved in raising children?
Does he care that children abandoned to daycare don't bond properly with their parents in the critical first years of their lives? As a direct result, these kids have greater emotional, social and developmental problems, are more prone to inappropriate aggression and these things do affect them later on in life.
I'd also like to know at what age this daycare is expected to start caring for our children.
Birth?
A year?
I wonder how many people reading this are aware that children are not born self-aware? Do you understand how an child's brain develops?
Quick science lesson!
The human brain has not finished developing when we are born. Neural pathways are still forming, and continue forming well into adulthood. However, the majority of brain growth and half of all information collection required for life happens before age five. There used to be a commercial "The years before five last the rest of their lives." That's actually true. Furthermore, a baby's experiences develop their brain. Sensory experience teaches the brain its job. Without enough sensory experiences, brain cells will start to die off. It's possible to increase a child's intellectual potential through the correct environment, stimulation and discipline.
Just as a positive environment can increase a child's potential, a stressful environment can have detrimental effects on infants and toddlers. Young children exposed to continual stress do not build their neural pathways correctly due to high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These abnormal pathways cause the child to learn inappropriate and often violent responses, setting their brain up for "fight or flight." In other words, if your child is continually afraid, they will learn to continually react out of that fear. It is easily shown that one of the most stressful environments a parent can place their child in is one where they feel abandoned. Abandonment leads to fear. This brings me to separation anxiety. When a child is born, it identifies itself as a part of the mother. It takes as much as a year post partum for a child to understand that they are their own person. This new understanding is the underlying reason for separation anxiety, a genuinely stressful time in your child's life. Since all children do experience this to some degree, it must be noted that the effects of separation anxiety can be mitigated through proper parental interaction and discipline. In fact, proper parental interaction can make separation anxiety appear to not exist in a particular child. This only serves to underscore the critical importance a parent plays in the life of their child in the first years of their life.
And yet, how many daycare centers have children under a year in their care?
How many have children only a few weeks old?
I know of an instance where a child was placed in daycare at a mere six weeks of age! Six weeks! That child has barely learned to smile!
And this is what the NDP wants to fund?
Why not give parents real choices?
Like, not taxing the snot out of us to fund your ill-conceived, nanny-statist plots!
Don't think for a moment that families with a stay-at-home parent will be exempt from the taxes needed to fund this national daycare system. We won't. If anything, we'll will have to struggle more to fight for the right to raise our own children. The role of mother will be all the more disparaged as the state tries to take a place within the family that it has no business taking.
Two closing notes:
Someone sent me an excellent quote on motherhood by G.K. Chesterton.
"To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it coul... Read Mored narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute."

In 1995, the Supreme Court of Canada had this to say:
"...Our society is far from having repudiated the privileged role parents exercise in the upbringing of their children. This role translates into a protected sphere of parental decision making which is coated in the presumption that parents should make important decisions affecting their children both because parents are more likely to appreciate the best interests of their children and because the state is ill equipped to make such decisions itself. Moreover, individuals have a deep personal interest as parents in fostering the growth of their children.

Ill-equipped.
The government can barely run itself. How could it ever run your home or raise your children?

9/16/2008

Conservatives on Maternity Benefits

I was pleased to see this as a part of the Conservative plan.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that a re-elected Conservative Government will give self-employed Canadians the opportunity to access maternity and parental benefits...
Currently self-employed Canadians do not pay into the Employment Insurance program and are not eligible for benefits, including maternity and parental benefits...
The system will be voluntary. Self-employed Canadians will be able to opt in to EI premiums and, in return, will be able to receive maternity and parental benefits...
Self-employed Canadians will have access to the same type of maternity and parental benefits available to regular EI participants...
Self-employed entrepreneurs will be required to opt-in to EI premiums at least six months prior to making a claim...
Exact premium amounts and required payments post-claim will be set upon implementation, following a review by the newly created Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board...

I know a number of self-employed families who will benefit from this. In particular, if you are one of the many stay-at-home mom's who sell products such as Avon, Close to My Heart or Tupperware in order to make up that little bit extra your family needs, you will have the option to pay into the system in order to receive maternity benefits later.
Should the Conservatives form the next government, and I think they will, I will be paying close attention to see when this is passed.
Now all we need is income splitting for families.

9/10/2008

Sarah Palin: Pro-Family?

When I first read of McCain's pick for vice president, I laughed. It's struck me as ironic that the Republican's would nominate a woman for vice president when the Democrats, self-proclaimed advocates for woman's rights, treated Hilary Clinton with such severity. I did some light reading on her. You would think that feminists would be thrilled at the prospect of a woman vice president. Instead, the articles I read dripped with vitriol. Apparently, her pro-life position means that she isn't truly representative of women. Aside from an obvious lack of experience on the international scene, her politics seemed to be in order. Pro-life, pro-family, an apparently average woman, just what the Republicans need to give Obama a run for his money... or at least make the American election a little more interesting.
Then I had a chat with my brother. He mentioned the fact that her teenage daughter was pregnant and she had a six-month old baby with Down's Syndrome. (She also has an older son and a 7 year old daughter.) I am loathe to say anything about the situation with her daughter, since not only do I not know the entire situation, the girl is 17 and even the best mother cannot prevent rebellion completely.
But, I did start thinking about her young baby.
He's six months.
He has Down's Syndrome.
I just have to ask: why isn't she at home? Isn't she pro-family?
More reading revealed that Palin has been a career politician since about 1992. (If Wiki is wrong, please send me the correct information.) In other words, she's never been a stay at home, at least not for any length of time. She's always had a career, mostly in politics.
How can she claim to be pro-family when she hasn't spent the proper amount of time looking after her own?
Some will ask: "Well, what is the proper amount of time and who are you to judge?" and so on.
The proper amount of time maybe debatable, but the minimum is certainly until they are in school. A career ought to come second to the needs of one's family.
About half of all the information a child will need for the rest of its life is collected before age five. This has huge implications for things like the environment we choose to place our children in and discipline. Only parents can truly parent their kids properly. Outside help and/or daycare is not a substitute for proper parenting. Nearly all early childhood research that I have looked at shows that children placed in daycare do not bond properly with their parents during the critical first five years of their life and as a direct result develop poor social skills, have disciplinary problems, are more inclined to inappropriate aggression. These things, like it or not, do affect them later on in life. In fact, I can honestly say that I haven't found a single work so far extolling the benefits of daycare for children. All are negative. (But, should anyone know of anything, by all means send it to me.)
This brings me to the fact Palin claims to be a devout Christian. Since I don't know her, I can't question the sincerity of her walk. However, I would certainly ask whether or not she has thought through some of the implications of being a Christian when it comes to raising one's family. We confess that "children are a gift of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3) If this is true, then as parents, both mothers and fathers, we ought to make our families a priority over a career. The Bible does give us certain directives on how we are to raise our children, especially as regards teaching them the things of God. (Deut.4: 9,10, Deut. 11: 19, Ps. 34:11, Pr. 1: 8, Pr 3:1) If at least one parent is not at home then someone else is teaching your children. You need a way to guarantee that the primary caregiver is teaching your kids what God would have them learn. Even if your kids are with your parents this may not be possible. Even if your parents are Christians, you may have differences in opinion over theology or more practical applications of the Christian walk. It definitely will not happen if your child is out in daycare or under the care of unbelievers.
I would also argue that if a woman cannot properly care for her family, which is relatively small, can we be assured that she will be competent in caring for the country? Scripture indicates that the ability to lead one's family well is a prerequisite for leadership in the church (see 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1). I think Christians can fairly extend this test of fitness to government as well. If you can't parent, can you properly govern? Should you govern? Perhaps your time is wiser spent dealing with your family problems first. Govern the country when your affairs are in order.
It must be noted that I do not take issue with women who must work in order to feed their families. I recognize that in a few cases, if both parents do not work, the family will not eat. However, not only are these cases relatively rare in this country (generally if both parents work, it is to sustain a lifestyle) it is definitely not the case for Sarah Palin.

It has bothered me to no end the uncritical support I see conservatives throwing Ms. Palin's way. Generally, people are over-joyed at her strong pro-life stance. Being pro-life is all well and good, but I am sorry to say it is not the only relevant issue. You cannot gloss over her many defects just because she champions a cause you feel strongly about. Yes, she is pro-life. But is she truly worthy of the title pro-family?
I would argue not.

Blogging Panel on Michael Coren

Interesting show last night.
Steve Janke aka Angry, Andrew Prescott aka Christian Conservative, Jason Cherniak and James Curran aka What Do I know Grit discussed the role of blogging in politics.
It was bizarre in the extreme for me to see Cherniak and Curran actually trying to accuse Steve Janke of getting talking points straight from the Conservatives and/or not doing his own research. Janke's blog is consistently excellent. I can't say the same of Cherniak. (C'mon, the guy predicted a Liberal minority last night. How well can such a talking head possibly write?) Admittedly, I've never read Curran's blog before, but I definitely plan to look. I just thought the comments lacked class. It's obvious that Janke does great work, and you should be able to admit this even if you don't agree with his politics.

9/08/2008

My Election Predictions

Canadians will head to the polls on October 14th of this year.
I predict more of the same, although there is a possibility of a Tory majority. Dion will make it as far as the debates; after that, he's finished.
I've seen some of the new Conservative ads with the tag-line "We're better off with Harper." Typically, elections tend to be more about the party than the leader. I do not expect this particular election to follow that pattern. This election will focus on the leaders. The Conservatives have hit the nail on the head with their new ads. Because Dion is so unelectable, they are smart to focus on Harper. This will force Canadians to look at the alternative: Dion. How does he compare?
A few notes of interest: According to Wiki, the Harper government not only managed to hold the second longest minority government in Canadian history so far, but they have done so with the smallest minority government in Canadian history, with the smallest percentage of government seats ever and the largest number of seats short of a majority. (If Wiki is wrong, please send me the correct info.) This is significant for a few reasons. While there has been a considerable amount of political play, on the whole Parliament has worked. The Conservatives managed to introduce a fair amount of anti-crime legislation, and they dealt with the accountability problems left over from the previous Liberal government. The average Canadian has more money in their pocket as a result of lower taxes and higher income tax returns.
Going into the election, I expect the key issues to be taxes and the environment. The Tories would be smart to focus on the Liberal's poor record on the environment and their proposed tax increase to fund a plan that no one really understands. If the issue of a Conservative "hidden agenda" comes up, they should not even respond to it. Canadian life has gone on as before and if anyone brings up that red herring, no one will buy it. The Conservatives ought to treat that line of thinking exactly as it is: ridiculous fear-mongering intended to quell actual political discussion.

9/05/2008

A Test Post

I could write about McCain's VP pick, Sarah Palin.
Or, I could write about the impending Canadian election.
Instead, all I really want to do is test how imported blog feeds look on the redesigned Facebook Wall.
To be frank, I am not a huge fan of Facebook's new look. So far, it is more of a hassle than anything. I get what they are trying to do with moving apps into their own "box" section. However, what about those apps that I, the humble user, want displayed on my profile and now can't?
Hopefully, improvements will be made.

8/28/2008

On Bill C-484

Earlier in the week I called my MP's office (Dean Allison) for clarification regarding the apparent Conservative abandonment of Bill C-484.
This morning, someone called me back.
It was an interesting conversation, to say the least. Suffice it to say, the media has played this story into something it's not.
The Conservatives are not abandoning or distancing themselves from Bill C-484 or abortion. In fact, it is a mistake to view Nicholson's recently proposed alternative as such. The guy I spoke to over the phone suggested that the Conservatives do not think that Epp's bill will pass in the house, given the fact they only have a minority and the recent inappropriate focus on abortion by a small group of extremists who have totally misrepresented the bill. He said that both the Bloc and the NDP will be voting against the bill and most Liberals are likely to either do the same or simply not show up to vote. If that is the case, then it's hard to see how Epp's bill could pass.
Nicholson's bill is intended to provide the same protection to pregnant women, should Epp's bill not pass.
If Epp's bill does pass, and both I and the guy on the phone hope it does, then great.
My MP will be voting in support of Epp's bill.

As an aside, until I have seen Nicholson's bill I am not going to comment on what protection it does or does not provide to pregnant women and their unborn children. It's probably better for me to withhold judgment for now until I have more information.

8/26/2008

The Conservatives and the Unborn

I received an email this morning that suggested Bill C-484 could be on its deathbed. Stories in the news this morning also suggest this could be the case. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has announced that the Conservative Government will introduce legislation to bolster penalties for those who assault pregnant women effectively killing Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act. Nicholson's bill would make pregnancy an aggravating factor for judges to take into account when sentencing those who assault pregnant women.
The suggested reason for this shift is a potential election this fall. Some fear that reopening the abortion debate could alienate voters, cost the Conservatives seats and perhaps even result in a Liberal government.
This is ridiculous.
The Liberals simply cannot win an election right now. Dion is not leadership material. The party is in debt and cannot afford to run a campaign.
The idea that protecting a pregnant woman and her unborn child might somehow alienate voters considering the Conservative party is even more ridiculous!! Despite our lack of law, many polls have already shown that most Canadians do favour some protection for the unborn. The type of people who are against any and all forms of protection for the unborn would not consider voting for the Conservatives under any circumstances because they are extremists in their view. There is simply no reason to play to them!
The Conservatives would be much, much wiser to stress yet again that the bill does not impact current abortion laws. The party ought to hold a free vote. If it passes, then that is the will of the people. Extremist groups are going to have to live with it. That is democracy! The government shouldn't play to the will of special interest groups who care more about themselves rather than the will of the masses.

Stephane Dion on the Michael Coren Show

When my husband and I watched the show last Thursday, my husband was certain Coren would write an article about Dion's references to God.
Sure enough, he was right.
What can I say? Dion referring to God was nearly blasphemous, as he is hardly what one would call a believer. It is no surprise to me that he did this based on advice he was given. He and others in his party figured to buy the religious vote with a few well-placed Christianese comments.
Unfortunately for Dion, it doesn't work that way for most of us.

My overall impression of Dion was that he gives the appearance of being a likeable fellow. He also seems to genuinely believe in the Liberal cause. He honestly thinks that the Liberal party is the best political solution for Canada. For him, it probably isn't all about power. This cannot be said of all Liberal politicians.
The problem is the Liberal plan, especially as it pertains to the carbon tax, simply isn't the best plan for Canada. As evidenced by his answers regarding childcare, he simply does not respect or understand the role of parents over their children. He would over-tax us into economic ruin all the while genuinely believing he was doing the best thing for the country.
And then there is his presence... or rather, lack thereof. I just don't see this guy sitting in a room full of international leaders, protecting our national interests. I simply don't see him with spine enough to do what is best for our country.
Whenever the next election is, the Conservatives ought to be a shoo in.
Which brings me to my next post...

7/11/2008

A Good Day for Free Speech

This is now old news, but I thought I should highlight it anyway.
It appears that the human rights complaint against Fr. de Valk has been dismissed.

7/01/2008

Canada Day: A Day for Human Rights Complaints

Amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code come into effect today.
This can't be good.
As this article from the Globe & Mail points out:
The [Ontario Human Rights Commission] only dismissed about 7 per cent of complaints, referring 93 per cent on for a hearing. That was a rather low bar to jump, but somehow this arrangement caused delays. With the processing of cases through the commission bureaucracy and a shortage of adjudicators, a large backlog accumulated. A typical case took about five years to be heard and decided.

So, rather than improve the system, Ontario residents may now bring their complaints directly to the Tribunal itself. There will be no review of the case to see if it is even legitimate. If you file a complaint, you are guaranteed to get a hearing.
It gets better.
The legislation also removes a $10,000 cap on awards for "mental anguish" caused by discrimination...
"In Canada, we protect a lot of things, but traditionally we have given out small awards."
The law also outlines that individuals can now be compensated for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.

Emphasis mine.
But please read that again.
It is now a hate crime to injure someone's feelings.
Fabulous.
Other changes to the law include an extension of the window to file a complaint to one year from six months.

So, someone can take an entire year to file a complaint on account of their poor, hurt little feelings.
"There was an almost universal call for change," Bentley said.

Yes.
There was.
But, Mr. Bentley, this is not the sort of change people were hoping for. In fact, these recent amendments are now guaranteed to make the situation worse.
Here are a few more pertinent facts, and the Star also has a story.
O, Canada.
Is anyone really standing on guard for thee? Or are we all just sitting around, watching our free speech go swirling down the toilet?

6/27/2008

Gomery "Biased"

I first heard this on the radio yesterday. Apparently, Judge Max Teitelbaum has ruled that Judge Gomery was "seduced by the media" and showed an apparent bias before the proceedings had even begun.
[Gomery] became preoccupied with ensuring that the spotlight remained on the commission's inquiry and he went to great lengths to ensure the public's interest in the commission did not wane,"

As though public interest in where their tax dollars went was a bad thing.
What can I say? I think Teitelbaum is wrong and I am very disappointed with this ruling. It exonerates Chretian and the Liberals, as though they never did anything wrong.
What happened to all our tax money then?
Did it just grow legs and walk away?

6/19/2008

The United Church: In Trouble

When I woke up this morning to the radio, I thought I heard the broadcaster talking about the United Church of Canada.
Sure enough, I did.
Reverend Connie denBok says to sum up what is wrong with the United Church of Canada, one need look no further than the name of the panel discussion being held tonight in Toronto.
"Shouldn't the United Church Just Throw in the Towel?" is the opening event of a four-day Church-sponsored conference that will look at the future of the country's largest Protestant denomination.

I don't agree with women minister's generally speaking. However, denBok is right on the money.
[denBok] points to Gretta Vosper, a fellow minister who recently wrote a book called With Or Without God, as a prime example of what is wrong. Ms. Vosper, who disdains the title Reverend, said she does not believe in anything remotely Christian, let alone anything religious: not God, not the divinity of Jesus, nor the sacraments or the centrality of the Bible in Church life.
"I cannot really fathom with integrity why she works within the broad spectrum of United Church theology and practice," Rev. denBok said. "But I think Gretta is simply the visible symptom of much deeper malaise."
Rev. denBok said the leadership sets the tone for the kind of theological training that is taught in seminaries, and the result has been a disaster.

Some time ago I sent an email to the local radio station about this very thing. The discussion was on religion and the fact that three United Church congregations in my area have shrunk to such a degree that they are now being amalgamated into one. Here is the letter I wrote at the time:
I am an ardent church-goer and have been my entire life. Both my family and my husband's family are regular attenders. My parents attend a Pentecostal church, his parents attend a Free Reformed church and we attend a United Reformed church (similar to the Free Reform). However, your question regarding the role of church in one's life misses the point. It's not about church attendance but about God and our obedience to Him. We don't just "do church." Our walk encompasses our entire life. We desire to do His will... no easy thing in an age where religion (especially Christianity) is scorned. We aren't just Christians on Sundays, Easter and Christmas. We are to live our lives in a godly way throughout the week. Church attendance provides no benefit whatsoever if one's religion is not put into practice throughout the week. It doesn't make you a better person or less of a sinner. It just becomes something to fill a Sunday.
It's not a social group for peer support.
We attend out of obedience and love for God. We desire to hear His Word (which comes through preaching). We desire to meet and fellowship with our fellow Christians and we are spiritually fed so that we are strong (again, spiritually) for the coming week.
It is no surprise to me that membership of the United Church is in decline. The United Church abandoned preaching the truth a long time ago. As such, God does not bless their efforts. Only churches that preach the truth and are faithful to the Bible experience growth.

(You should have heard the guy read it. I nearly died! He had "that tone." You know, the one that says "I can't believe you said that." He prefaced my comment with "And listen to what she says at the end..." followed by a few seconds of silence after he finished.)
Anyway...
Note what denBok says:
Rev. denBok... said the United Church has moved from being a Christ-centred body to become a "government-sponsored social club" in which all classic Christian doctrines are open to question...
"If we had a medical school that kept turning out graduates who consistently killed their patients, would we not ask some questions about the education?"...
[She] is not expecting a warm reception tonight but feels it is important that someone raise the question on which she believes the entire future of the Church turns.
"We have a huge number of deeply demoralized clergy, congregations dwindling and dying, and either we say, 'Gosh, we've hit a dead end and should consider changing direction,' or we say, 'Our direction has been a good and righteous one and we're not getting anywhere with it and we should shut the whole organization down."

I almost wish I was attending.
It ought to be a fiery night.

Parenting Outlawed! Also coming to a Country near You!

It's not law yet, but what a disaster for the parents in this country if it ever becomes law.

A bill that would expose parents to criminal prosecution for spanking their children has cleared the Senate, bound to reopen wounds still sore from a Supreme Court ruling four years ago.
Sponsored by Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette, the bill passed final reading in the Senate on Tuesday night.
Approval in the upper house followed debate and three days' of committee hearings at which criminal defence lawyers and the Canadian Bar Association argued against the criminalizing impact it could have on parents, as well as teachers and caregivers.
Hervieux-Payette, however, was backed by the children's-rights group that lost the Supreme Court challenge against a provision allowing parents and teachers to strike children for "corrective discipline.'' She said that if the Commons does not pass the bill she will continue to reintroduce it until it becomes law.

In other words, Hervieux-Payette has no regard for democratic process. She doesn't care what parents in this country feel is best for their families. She believes she knows best, and we should all abide by her judgement.
How very Liberal.
And, by the way, Senators are not elected. This woman was appointed at some point. She doesn't speak for anyone but herself, yet she feels she can impose her views of family and parenting onto the entire country.
Again, how very Liberal.
If there was ever an argument for electing Senator's, this is it.
"What I'm saying is every citizen in this country will have their physical integrity preserved," she said in an interview Wednesday, adding she believes she will get the support of party Leader Stephane Dion to pass the bill if the Liberals form a majority government after the next federal election.

Which they won't.
Don't even bother hoping. Dion will never win, especially not a majority.
But even Hervieux-Payette's own caucus is divided over the legislation, which the Liberal Senate majority passed over Conservative objections with no recorded vote.

Read that again.
No
recorded
vote.

How does a bill "pass" when there is no vote, but some people still have objections? Pardon my thinking this was a democracy.
The bill proposes to eliminate Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which says any parent, schoolteacher or a person standing in the place of a parent "is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child'' over age two and under age 13 "if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances."
In a split decision, the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the provision "adversely affects" security of the person for children who would be protected by the Charter of Rights, but only to a limited extent that does not offend fundamental principles of justice.
The majority judgment also rejected arguments that spanking and striking children was "cruel and unusual punishment" and cited safeguards in other Criminal Code sections against abusive or harmful conduct against children.
In response to concerns from the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, Hervieux-Payette modified the bill before final reading to allow "reasonable force other than corporal punishment" to prevent children from harming themselves or other children and from engaging in conduct that would be criminal or "excessively" offensive or disruptive.
That would allow parents and caregivers "to interfere, but they cannot hit them or spank them," Hervieux-Payette said.

So that allows a parent what?
"No, Johnny. We don't do that."
Even before the bill reached the Commons, set to adjourn for the summer, MPs were split.
"I'm a traditionalist," said Conservative MP Daryl Kramp, once an Ontario Provincial Police officer. "I believe that parents should be able to make the decision best for their own family."

And Kramp is right.
The government can barely run itself. It has no business whatsoever dictating how a parent may or may not run their home, how a parent may or may not discipline their child.
Calgary Conservative MP Art Hanger, another former police officer agreed, saying "I believe the status quo is very acceptable."
Liberal whip Karen Redman was conflicted, saying she understood the need to protect children from physical abuse, but also that she believes physical force is sometimes necessary.

And she is totally right.
There is a huge difference between spanking and abuse.
"When I think back, when my children were little, there were times when you smacked them on the bum, but it was a diapered bum and it was as much to get their attention," she said.
Both Kramp and Hervieux-Payette recalled being spanked when they were children, each now staking out a different position on the value of the experience.
"I think it was only once, but I remember it very well,'' said Kramp, who added he could not recall why his father disciplined him but "I learned that when my father said no, he meant no."
Hervieux-Payette, who acknowledged having struck her own daughter once on the arm...

So, in other words, thsi woman is a total hypocrite!
Don't miss that folks! What's good for us was not good for her. She feels the need to impose a mode of behaviour that she did not even adhere to herself.
...said her father spanked her when she was just over the age of two for following a church band for two kilometres in the family's small Quebec village.
"You build a certain fear, in that case it was my father, and certainly it's breaking something between you, even if they tell you that they love you.

Grow up!
You are obviously doing very well in life, Senator. Your father kept you in line and out of trouble. You were well-educated, cared for and taught how to be a relatively upstanding citizen. Maybe you ought to be grateful that your parents did discipline you. Maybe the reason you are doing so well is, dare I say it, because you were disciplined.
The head of the Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law, which mounted the Supreme Court challenge against Section 43, argued children should have the same right to protection from physical violence as parents.
"There is a simple, fundamental dignity issue that would say children should be treated as people who are entitled to be free from assault, the same as anyone else,'' said Martha Mackinnon, the foundation's executive director.

Children are already protected from physical violence under the law.
Child abuse is, already, a crime under the law.
Spanking is not violence, neither is it a criminal act (nor should it become one) and it is not child abuse. It is also not assault.
Beating your kid? Now that's a crime! Breaking bones, leaving bruises, neglecting them, starving them, those are all crimes. They are not disciplinary or punitive in nature. Parents who do genuinely beat their kids have something wrong with them. They are not concerned about their kids well-being, and they don't do it as a method of behaviour modification. They do it because they can.
Parents who spank their children have an entirely different motivation, however. Parents who spank their kids are concerned about teaching their kids right from wrong. They are concerned about protecting them from either immediate or future harm. Small children simply do not have the capability to rationalize or think about the potential impact of their actions. As such, logical arguments and repetitive "no's" don't work. A parent must be able to take immediate action. Furthermore, children who are not given proper boundaries simply do not develop properly, be it socially or mentally. Children have to be taught, at a very young age when their brains can absorb the most, how they must behave.
But let's give a practical example, just to highlight what this law means for the common person.
If your child is about to touch the hot stove, such a law would make it illegal to smack their hand.
If your child is about to grab a glass jam jar off the shelf in the grocery store, sending it shattering into a thousand sticky pieces, such a law would make it illegal to smack their hand.
If your child is about to run across the road into oncoming traffic, such a law would make it illegal to smack their bum. But hey, death is ok, right?
If your small child is about to put a stone in their mouth, run off a dock into the lake, grab a nail (rusty or otherwise), walk on a balcony rail, eat a fish hook, climb a tractor, shove a pencil up their nose, hurl a teacup, pick up dog poop or a dead animal, stick their finger in a socket, attempt to drink bleach, grab a set mousetrap, bite their sibling, steal someone's toys, toboggan down flight of stairs holding their baby brother on their lap, you, their parent, will not be allowed to smack either their hand or their bum under this law, which was proposed by one Liberal Senator and not voted on.
And if you are reading that list thinking "But kids don't do those things," it's because you aren't a parent.
Those of you who are parents, are probably laughing, thinking "So it's not just mine!"
If this law is introduce to Parliament, and I will be watching for it, I would strongly urge all parents to immediately contact their MP.
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