Tag Archives: Liberal Party

Endorsement for Joyce Murray

Murray Can Lead Canada Forward | Chris Wattie, Reuters (via National Post)

For almost seven years, Stephen Harper has been the Prime Minister. Canadian progressives unite in their call that “we can do better” and yet, little is done to meet actions with words. In the New Democratic leadership race, I backed Nathan Cullen for his progressive partnership proposal. It was bold, it was controversial, but it represented real leadership. Mr. Cullen challenged New Democratic progressives, presenting them with an opportunity for real, meaningful change. Mr. Cullen inspired many people with his surprising success, but New Democrats decided to meet Einstein’s theory of insanity: doing the same thing expecting different results.

The Liberal party is now in the process of selecting a leader, and I only hope that we can learn from our history. I have spent my adult life listening to empty words, I want to fight for real initiatives. I want to be a part of a Liberal Party committed to real change. There is one candidate with such a commitment to moving the country forward: Joyce Murray.

Murray is the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra. She was the top MBA graduate in her year from Simon Frasier University. She has proven success in the economic realm. Her business, Brinkman & Associates Reforestation has over 500 employees. Murray has been in politics since 2001, representing constituents for 12 years. She drafted Bill C-437 to formalize a ban on supertanker traffic in British Columbia’s north pacific coast. She has a track record of leadership, and that is what a Murray Leadership would be expected to do: lead Canada forward.

Most importantly, she has taken up the call for cooperation across progressive parties. A local Liberal riding official would need to advocate for cooperation in their constituency in order for it to happen. She has also proposed four other policy initiatives:

  1. Gender Equity: All Government appointments retain at least 40% male and 40% female representation
  2. Carbon Pricing: A cost applied to pollution created by carbon emissions (not necessarily a tax, she is open to cap-and-trade)
  3. Democratic Reform: A royal commission on electoral reform to move away from first-past-the-post, and replace it with a more democratically accountable electoral system
  4. Cannabis Legalization: Legalize, regulate, control and tax cannabis

Progressives argue that “we can do better”, now is the time to stop our petty partisan concerns and turn to the health of our country. Meaningful change requires hard work, and a motivated base, but it is aided by inspiring leaders. Joyce Murray has the ideas and the experience. If we can do better, I believe it will be done through the Prime Minister Canada deserves. I am pleased to endorse Joyce Murray for Liberal Leadership.

Post Scriptum: One of my good friends, Joseph Uranowski has written a wonderful article on Joyce Murray I would encourage you to read.

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Idealism for Ideals

In the middle of the summer, I was asked by my friend Joseph Uranowski to write an article on whether or not Justin Trudeau should run for the Liberal leadership. In sum, I argued that he should run, contingent on whether he could manifest big ideas that would be otherwise necessary to revitalize the party.

Mr. Trudeau has decided to run, but I see little discussion of principled, progressive, innovative ideas. I see a “Justin.ca” based leadership. And that may produce strong polls, and media fascination, but no meaningful change to Canada. So, I will broaden my desire for Mr. Trudeau. I don’t want the ideas necessary to revitalize the Liberal Party, I want the ideas necessary to revitalize the country.

High on Justin | Graham Hughes, Canadian Press

Perhaps it is because I am a hopeless idealist, but strong polling numbers mean little to me if there is no substance to back it up. Justin Trudeau might be the best man to lead the Liberal Party back to power, but I don’t simply want a Liberal Government to have a Liberal Government. I want a Liberal Government so that grassroots Canadian principles and ideals are reflected by our Government. I want the Liberal Leader to lead Canada back to the soft power hegemons we once were with Jean Chretien. I want them to have the domestic nation building focus and initiative of Pierre Trudeau. Where is the vision of a better country? Where is the notion that innovation will make this country stronger? If we say Mr. Harper does not reflect Canadian values or beliefs, then the Liberal focus should be finding a leader with a strong, progressive voice who does. But what kind of values are those? What do they look like when enacted through policy? In other words, what is Canada supposed to look like and what is it supposed to be?

The point is that I will not vote for the Liberal that will simply get the party back to high office. I am looking for a true leader. I want someone who will combat poverty in our country. Someone who will fight addiction and mental health issues. Someone who wants to fix the enormous gap in the quality of education between the suburbs and the inner-city. Someone who can stabilize the economy and lower the unemployment rate. Someone that can keep our country together, and restore our standing in the international community. Someone who will not cower from cooperation, tolerance and understanding even if it means working with other parties.

Is there a Liberal candidate out there that can make me believe in what Canada once stood for?

So far there is one candidate with the organization and publicity necessary to win a general election. While I remain unconvinced that Mr. Trudeau has the ideas necessary to win an election, he is the only candidate who can win, and I am not blinded by my idealism. Canadians, like myself will wait for ideas; but they will not wait long. If Justin Trudeau is going to convince us that he has what it takes to lead more than just the Liberal Party to the mountaintop, he shouldn’t wait until the Spring to do it.


A Defence of Regularized Public Policy Referendum

I think Governments should consult with the people. The amount of public involvement with our federal democracy is essentially voting in a general election once every four years. We call our political system “free and democratic”, a rule by and for the people. For me, electing over three hundred people who are being sent to Ottawa to agree with one of three policy sets is not nearly enough consultation. If we are sincerely interested in a democratic government, then we must believe on some level, that as a whole Canadians can adequately govern themselves. I believe that rather than simply voting for a representative who will be our proxy in policy votes (but will amount to little more than a face in a caucus) Canadians ought to take a more active role in major policy decisions our Government intends to pass. In short, I believe in comparatively frequent (perhaps yearly) referendum, lending increased accuracy (and therefore legitimacy) to our national system of Government.

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We only have referendum when Canada enters crisis mode. Why? | Stolen from the CBC

There are valid objections standing in the way of such an ambitious plan. Fiscal concerns, “how much would this cost the tax payers” are perhaps the weakest. We ought to have the best representation possible, if our government is to be an adequate democracy. With every Member of Parliament comes costs in the form of their salaries, pensions, expenses, their staffs and offices (both in Ottawa and in their own constituencies). I will take freedom and liberty over increased costs if the choice needs to be made.

A stronger argument is one that calls the majority unfit to claim more power over itself.  An objector can claim that masses get carried away with popular passions, disposing of prudence and sober reason due to demagoguery or  the influence of money in politics or some other reason. I do not find such an argument convincing. To such objectors, I argue that If as Canadians we trust ourselves enough to give up natural rights and select our government while still believing in the legitimacy of our government, why not trust ourselves to go one step further and decide the fate of our own major policies?

A third argument I can see raised against increased referendum is that rather than believing the public can adequately rule over itself without “enlightened” representatives,  Canadians would not care enough to actually vote in such resolutions—referendum results would be wildly unrepresentative. First, even if this is true, then the same arguments van apply to our elected governing bodies. Why even hold general elections? Second, most Canadians simply believe our political system is unrepresentative, and could be spurred to democratic action if they felt voting could amount to something substantial. Rather than shouting at the apathetic that every election is important and every vote counts (which are tired lines at this point and do little to help the problem) we can get them directly involved with our nation’s policy making and major decision-making.

Aside from the obvious benefit of making our policies more representative, there are spinoff benefits. MPs might be more inclined to advocate policies on conscience rather than with party if their vote will be in the general election with thirty million others rather than in a body of three hundred. Important policy will be highlighted in the media as voters prepare to decide whether or not to kill the legislation. Citizens will become better informed of the happenings of their government. Citizens will start scrutinizing, deliberating, philosophizing, talking and debating amongst each other. The country will become more democratic which is always a step in the right direction.

I believe in the wisdom of the people. Call me a hopeless optimist, but more often than not, the inherent goodness of people outweighs utilitarian or greedy potential gains. The will of the people is not perfect and can be confused; however, more often than not, the public demonstrates its good judgement. We can and should trust ourselves. It is our Government after all, we ought to start acting like it.


Conservative Transparancy Now Scientifically Proven to be a Joke

51st place isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. The 51st wealthiest person in the world, or the 51st smartest are blessed to be so lucky. It’s a placement they can be proud of.

When your country is ranked 51st on any list, it is unlikely to be a source of such national pride, especially when the ranking deals with freedom of information. Yet, that is where Canada stands, behind traditional openness powerhouses like Colombia and Niger.

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Bev Oda Waves to Responsible Government | iPOLITICS/Kyle Hamilton

 

The Canadian government, its departments and agencies are given requests for information, which cost $5, and are supposed to respond within 30 days. Unfortunately if the information is ever released by said departments, it is typically done after several months.

While other countries have updated their access to information procedures, Canadian Government acts, predictably, in a shroud of opaqueness. Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have made no effort to adopt transparency in their Government. From countless muzzled scientists and environmentalists, the stifled debate in the House of Commons, the secrecy behind the F-35 transfers, the 400-page omnibus bills, cutting Elections Canada’s budget during the robocall scandal, there is a litany of abuses to Canadian trust by the current Government.

Canadians not simply in virtue of the fact that they pay high salaries and expenses to their elected officials, but intrinsically because they are citizens of the best country in the world ought to expect, and receive, better from their Government then $16 glasses of orange juice and helicopter rides. For every one policy the Conservatives have put out that I found myself in agreement with (Employment Insurance Reform, elimination of “Second Chance” Deportation for convicted criminals) there are endless abuses on the trust of the country that turn any commendation I was willing to heap on our Prime Minister into condemnation.

I am proud to be a Canadian, but this ranking fills my being with shame. Mostly it is shame for the apathetic Canadians that couldn’t be bothered to care about such a monstrous atrocity in our politics. These are the Canadians we are friends with, the ones we work with, study with and perhaps even live with.

Michael Ignatieff (quoting Bruce Springsteen) told Canadians that after suffering through Mr. Harper’s constant attacks on democracy, and his brutal insincere brand of politics it was high time for the country to “Rise up”. I care exactly enough to do so.

I desire transparency in government, and 51st is not good enough for me. I think Canadians deserve more out of our government, one that is accountable and open at the very least. If we ask for change then we ought to put forward new ideas, rather than simple condemnation of the other side. For starters, a much needed update to the access-to-information process currently in place would be a welcome start to an era of Canadian Governmental transparency. Letting your citizens know where their tax dollars seems like a good place to start.

So, as it turns out placing in 51st  for national transparency isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s a call to action.


Free Riders and Dire Needers

Breaking news: bad jobs exist.

In a classic case of Conservatives boiling down an issue to a wide-sweeping preposterous claim, Jim Flaherty claimed that “there is no bad job”. Yikes

Flaherty is proposing reforms to the Employment Insurance program, making it harder for Canadians to remain on the program for long periods. The Canadian Government has committed to redefining what should be considered “appropriate work” when unemployed citizens claiming EI are mulling a new career, which, in all likelihood, means finding skilled workers lower paying work.

I believe the reform motivation stems from an attempt to curb the amount of Canadians who would rather collect government payouts than work an honest forty hour work week. The NDP finance critic Peggy Nash, has countered that workers will be squandering their skills in entry-level work, envisioning journalists and teachers working at Tim Hortons if they found themselves in need of employment insurance.

As sympathetic as Nash’s arguments make me feel, Michael Den Tandt does a great job of dispelling them and as a bonus, explains why EI reform is so direly needed, specifically for seasonal workers who make a tidy salary for half the year, then collect employment insurance when such jobs reach their annual conclusion, providing a supplementary income for effectively waiting for their work to begin again. I feel that this is taking advantage of a well-meaning system. It is, I argue, an abuse of the system

I believe that employment insurance ought to be treated like healthcare: there for Canadians, but only when they actually need it. It is unfair to ask hardworking honest Canadians to pay into a system that is being abused by those who could be working, but would rather wait for their seasonal work to return, or for a job they consider to be “suitable”.

Life, as it happens, is not perfect. People get laid off, recessions occur, debt can force someone who cannot find work to ask Canadians for temporary help.. Not everyone has been gifted with parental or personal connections, or happenstance that gets them a good job. This is where EI comes in. I have met hard workers, and even they acknowledge that everyone needs a hand when unavoidable realities of life occur. The difference, is when you get knocked down, will you ask someone to help pick you up, or will you stay down and demand a piggy back ride for the next few months. It’s the difference between the unfortunate and the free riders, and while they are not mutually exclusive, at some point, after riding EI coattails for months or years, an unfortunate person is simply abusing a system created for those that need it.

I also think its important to note that one will ever be forced to work. The idea that engineers will somehow be forced to work at a fast-food drive-thru is an exaggeration. Legally, no one can be forced to work anywhere. The idea is that if someone is going to claim employment insurance, they ought to be actively trying to contribute to society. Those that feel as though they are “above” a certain job, perhaps should think about being “above” a government stipend as well.

There is a deeper philosophical question underlying EI reform that ought to be considered: what do we as a collective body politic owe members of our society who have not had the personal connections or luck to find work that meets their specifications? Some kind of help, certainly, it helps the economy to have skilled workers work in skilled occupations,so long as their absence from work is not prolonged; however governments should not baby their citizens, providing an allowance for an indefinite period until they find a job they like. It is a difficult question to give a succinct answer to, but it is a question well worth pondering as the debates over employment insurance begin to pick up steam.


Bob Rae’s Steep Climb

A Leger Marketing poll was conducted between April 2nd and 4th,  and showed the NDP on top of the pack, with 33%, leading the Conservatives by 1%. The Liberals were far behind at 19%, the same level of support given in May 2011. Leger’s information confirms another poll done earlier in the week by Harris-Decema with nearly identical numbers.

Polling Info Puts Conservatives and NDP in Statistical Tie | This Graph Copied From http://www.harrisdecima.com

With the next general election coming three years away, these results certainly should not fill Conservatives or Liberals with immanent fear. That said I think this poll provides two implicit pieces of information:

  1. Ordinary Canadians can see the NDP as a possible Federal Government option for the first time, well, ever
  2. Bob Rae is running out of time to instill confidence in Liberal members and supporters that he is capable of transcending these poor poll numbers

I believe Mr. Rae has the Liberal leadership locked up. Even though Dominic Leblanc is assumed by many to be the strongest (not to mention the most likely) challenger to a Bob Rae acclimation, the decision to move to a one-member-one-vote, has crowned the lone gentleman with an overwhelming amount of daily media attention (and thus unparalleled name recognition) the inevitable winner.

Only two people could pose a reasonable threat to Mr. Rae’s permanent leadership aspirations. First, Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty, who would risk Ontario’s provincial political stability if he were to run, and second, MP Justin Trudeau who has not only publicly rejected notions of running for leadership, but is likely going to wait to run for leadership until his chances of becoming Prime Minister are assured.

If the odds play out and Bob Rae becomes the next Liberal Leader he will be competing against two men void of charisma and character in Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair. Bob Rae a personality in his own right is not from Quebec, like the NDP leader, nor is he Prime Minister, like the Liberal Leader: two distinct disadvantages. Additionally, I’m not sure he shares the political shrewdness the other leaders share, nor the willingness to push the envelope when it comes to campaigning.

He faces a steep uphill climb from the 19% he currently stands at, and fights on both flanks. The Liberal Party cannot afford to wait until the “honeymoon period” for Mr. Mulcair is over, since some leaders – Justin Trudeau’s father for example – never see their honeymoon period expire. In my opinion, if you will not cooperate with progressive forces, you must force the NDP to the left, by outflanking them on progressive issues like recreational drugs, while forcing the Conservatives right by appealing to Canadians’ anger on the mismanagement of taxpayer funds.

Bob Rae needs to be more fiscally responsible than the Conservatives, while demonstrating that the Liberals have better progressive policies than the New Democrats. With both parties sprinting to the center, Bob Rae must stretch around them, making Canadians consider embracing a government that includes the best parts of both the political left and right. It will take smart policies and strong leadership, but Mr. Rae, might just be able to pull it off.

Rae and Mulcair Won't Work Together, So They'll Eat Eachother | Image Stolen From news.nationalpost.com