The Conservative Liberal Teeter-Totter

Conservative Liberal teeter-totter

Bluntly, it’s time for Canadians to get off of the Conservative Liberal teeter-totter. There’s a better ride.

Canada’s federal politics have always been predictable. Voters alternate between The Liberal Party of Canada and The Conservative Party of Canada. When one party is up, the other is down, thus, the teeter-totter analogy. Get tired of one, elect the other. Many would argue that this habitual behaviour has worked well for our nation. I agree, it once did. Two parties satisfied the majority of us for well over one hundred years, but there’s a snag going forward. Have you noticed that Canada is moving to the political right? Today, both the Liberals and the Conservatives lean right. The direct result is that corporations and the rich have benefited while the vast majority of Canadians are being left behind. The ‘First Law of Holes’ states, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” If there was ever a time for real change, this is it. Swapping Liberals for Conservatives won’t cut it.

Recent Canadian political leadership polls hint that Stephen Harper’s support is in decline and that Justin Trudeau’s stock is rising. I’ve written about Justin before, but this time I’m asking, “Why should we consider voting for The Liberal Party of Canada and specifically, is Justin Trudeau likely to get us out of the mess we’re in?”

Why are the Liberals currently leading in the polls? The two most obvious reasons are:

  1. Canadians are embarrassed by the Harper Government
  2. Canadian voters remember the ‘Trudeau’ name.

If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to understand our collective embarrassment, the last eight years have created a Canada I barely recognize. Regarding reason number two, I have fond memories of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, but, stating the obvious, Justin is not his father. So, what does Justin have going for him?

  • he’s a Liberal
  • the Conservatives are falling out of favour
  • the ‘Trudeau’ name
  • he’s fluently bilingual
  • he’s young and has a nice looking family
  • he has “great hair”.

What goes against him? From my vantage, Justin, a son of privilege, is unqualified, but his biggest problem is that he’s leading a political party that looks more and more like the Conservatives with every passing year. The Liberal mantra is “fiscally conservative and socially responsible”, but Trudeau’s party has become overly corporation-friendly hoping to solicit funding and the Liberals appear to have forgotten their social responsibility pledge.

If not Justin Trudeau, who? Isn’t there an even better alternative to Stephen Harper? Absolutely, yes there is. It’s the current Leader of the Opposition. Unlike Justin, Tom Mulcair, is ready to lead. With our support, the New Democratic Party of Canada can get rid of the Conservative majority and work toward:

  • making life more affordable
  • reducing household debt
  • lowering credit card interest rates
  • capping ATM fees
  • getting rid of The Senate
  • ending the muzzling of our climate scientists
  • protecting our fresh water and our coastlines
  • making Big Oil work for us
  • ending gas-price gouging
  • reducing greenhouse gases.

Canada is very fortunate to have an abundance of natural resources, but multinational corporations, including Big Oil are taking home almost all of the money. That’s not right. It’s time that someone stood up for Canadian families. Tom Mulcair and the NDP will stand up for us.

Somewhat ironically, the best way to create ‘Jobs and Prosperity’ is to get rid of the Harper Conservatives. Hopeful Canadians can make a difference in 2015.

Joe Oliver Again

Imagine that you and I are meeting face-to-face and you ask me, "Why are you laughing?" If I replied, "It's Joe Oliver again." Would you start laughing too? I'm betting you would. The Harper Government's Natural Resources Minister is undeniably entertaining, but only if you are able to completely dismiss the seriousness his portfolio actually deserves. This is, after all, Canada's Natural Resources Minister, but it's also the same guy who:

  • characterized environmental groups as having a "radical ideological agenda"
  • stated you'll be able to drink from tailings' ponds
  • recently appeared to dismiss climate science and global warming, but later allowed his office to issue a correction
  • just yesterday challenged the views of, perhaps, the world's best known climate scientist, James Hansen.

Given the preceding list, it might surprise you to learn that Joe Oliver didn't just fall off of a turnip truck. Joe:

  • is a lawyer
  • has an MBA from Harvard Business School
  • was CEO of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada
  • is an elected MP and Cabinet Minister.

It would be a huge mistake to assume that Joe Oliver's word selection and sentence construction is anything other than carefully chosen. I'm convinced this gentleman knows exactly what he's doing. Although I don't believe that he's related to Glenn Beck, he has a similar penchant for absurd, but payload-laden statements. Unsurprisingly, his hyperbole, apparently excites his Conservative friends.

We're not idiots Joe, it's obvious to almost everyone that you and your Harper Government colleagues are shills for Multinational Oil. Big Oil expects to earn trillions from Canada's tar sands. Bluntly, it's not a surprise that you're doing your level best to help them.

If I was given the opportunity to offer Mr. Oliver a little advice, I would use his own words, "Quite frankly, I think that kind of exaggerated rhetoric, that kind of hyperbole, doesn’t do the cause any good at all. People are sensible. Americans and Canadians are logical people."

News flash: Mr Oliver, we really are sensible and logical. A whopping majority of Canadians have grown weary of the Harper Government's 'Jobs and Prosperity' propaganda and are increasingly concerned about Canada's:

  • environment
  • middle-class
  • reputation
  • future.

Aside: Have you ever wondered how many of the Harper Government's 'Sycophants to Big Oil' will land cushy Corporate Oil jobs when their political careers have come to an end? Just wondering…

Income Inequality in Canada

Most Canadians have a gut-feeling that something is wrong, a consciousness that we’re off course. There’s much less optimism than there was just six years ago. The Harper Government cheerleads their jobs and prosperity agenda, but we’re all aware of growing income inequality in Canada.

This Broadbent Institute video beautifully expresses, what most of us already sense:

Hopeful Canadians know that there’s something to hope for.

We’re Being Played

When I woke up today, my local TV, morning news was highlighting the National Energy Board’s investigation of Enbridge and specifically their pipeline safety record. That’s good news for those of us who oppose the Northern Gateway Pipelines, right? It should be good news, because Enbridge is now infamous for their pipeline leaks. Unfortunately, I had trouble accepting the good news.

Q: Why wasn’t I happy about the news?
A: The sequence and timing of recent pipeline news releases has my gut telling me that we’re being played by Big Oil, Enbridge, the Harper Government and possibly even the NEB.

A classic sales technique is the ‘Feel — Felt — Found’ approach. When a salesperson encounters resistance, referred to as an objection, they will often counter with, “I know how you feel, I felt the same way, until I found…”. Stephen Harper and his merry band of Big Oil sycophants are well aware that there are very significant objections to the planned Northern Gateway Pipelines. To assuage British Columbians, they’ve, for the moment, strategically chosen to appear reasonable, even conciliatory; after all, there’s still plenty of time for them to achieve their ultimate goal of selling tar sand’s bitumen (heavy crude oil) to China.

Here’s what I see as the ‘Feel’ part of the Conservative’s plan:

  • “This project will not survive public scrutiny unless Enbridge takes far more seriously their obligation to engage the public.” – James Moore, Harper Government Cabinet Minister
  • “The only way governments can handle controversial projects of this manner is to ensure that things are evaluated on an independent basis scientifically, and not simply on political criteria…” – Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

The ‘Felt’ and ‘Found’ parts of Harper’s plan will only become evident when the NEB report is released. I’d be willing to wager that the National Energy Board will report that the Northern Gateway Pipeline’s potential financial benefits to Canada far outweigh the potential, minuscule, environmental risks to British Columbia. When that happens, Stephen Harper will be able to say, “I share the environmental concerns of British Columbians, but today I’m reassured, because independent, scientific analysis has concluded that the Northern Gateway project will be safe and will deliver enormous benefits to all Canadians. It’s a great day for our jobs and prosperity initiative.”

Now, suppose I’m wrong and the NEB actually surprises me by not endorsing the Northern Gateway Pipeline. I imagine that, at that time, Stephen Harper will be forced to reveal his carefully orchestrated agenda. Recall that the Harper Government’s Bill C–38 gave the federal Cabinet the power to overrule the NEB’s recommendation. If this government gets ‘bad’ news from the NEB, I’m convinced they’ll endorse the Northern Gateway Pipelines anyway.

Don’t be misled by their recent statements, everything the Harper Government has done, so far, points toward an ultimate outcome that is favourable to Big Oil, Enbridge, Alberta and China. I don’t trust the Harper Government and neither should you.

The Enbridge Northern Pipeline

Enbridge Keystone Kops

My first post on this website was ‘Northern Gateway Pipelines’, but since then I’ve commented about the potential dangers of the Enbridge northern pipeline again and again.

Enbridge was obviously concerned that environmentalists opposed to the Northern Gateway Pipelines were gaining a little traction here in British Columbia, so the Enbridge PR team was tasked to launch a $5 million ($5,000,000) pro-pipeline ad campaign. If you’ve missed it, so far, you really must have been living under a rock, the ads were and still are pervasive.

Q: Has the Enbridge PR team managed to sway public opinion in favour of the Enbridge northern pipeline?
A: Probably not.

Q: Why has their impressive ad campaign failed?
A: Enbridge was making news.

Enbridge news:

  1. The USA’s National Transportation Safety Board recently referred to Enbridge as Keystone Kops/Cops. Here’s the NTSB’s Press Release regarding the 318,000,000 litre oil spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The ‘clean’ up* took two years and cost about $800,000,000.
  2. The recent Enbridge Athabasca pipeline leak that occurred Monday, 18 June 2012.

The end result is that, right now, everyone seems to be writing off the pipeline, saying it’s dead. Whoa, stop, hold on, let’s not forget that the Harper Government devastated environmental and fisheries laws specifically to ensure approval of the Enbridge pipeline. The Cabinet can still approve this thing. Most people have a very short attention span and short memories is what Stephen Harper always relies upon. Unfortunately, we still can’t assume the Enbridge northern pipeline is dead.

Here’s the Enbridge northern pipeline parody video:

*Can diluted bitumen (heavy crude oil) be cleaned up? The following, unconfirmed, video suggests that spilled heavy crude returns to it’s original state, leaving Michigan with their own mini-version of Canada’s tar sands courtesy of Enbridge and Big Oil.

Related articles:

  1. Scathing U.S. report won’t change Ottawa’s mind on Northern Gateway
  2. It’s semi-official: The Enbridge Northern Gateway project is kaput!

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Oil Sands are for Canadians

I chose the title ‘Oils Sands are for Canadians’ because, strictly speaking, this is not just another diatribe about Canada’s oil sands, rather it outlines a very exciting paradigm shift.

My thesis is that we’ve all been viewing tar sands’ development from Big Oil’s (the Harper Government’s) perspective. Big oil:

  • doesn’t mind wasting Canada’s water and natural gas
  • has no interest in refining heavy crude oil here in Canada
  • encourages cheap foreign labour to increase their profits
  • isn’t troubled by toxic tailings ponds, CO2 emissions, pipeline leaks, oil spills and supertanker disasters.

Multinational oil and gas corporations are driven by profit and nothing more than delivering money to shareholders. They’re happy to sell Canada’s oil to the highest bidder wherever they might be. Big Oil pockets hundreds of billions of dollars from Canada’s natural resources and Canada is forced to settle for whatever is left.

Environmentalists:

  • would love to see all of our tar sands oil left in the ground

What if we decided to proceed with tar sands development in a balanced and sustainable fashion? What if we focused on the idea that our oil sands are for Canadians?

What if we decided to:

  • stop squandering our precious, raw natural resources
  • scale back bitumen production
  • treasure our fresh water because it will be the key to our future
  • make better use of our natural gas
  • refine heavy crude oil near the source, right here in Canada
  • produce just enough oil to satisfy the Canadian marketplace’s needs
  • gradually eliminate most, if not all, existing long distance pipelines
  • say no to the Northern Gateway Pipelines, Keystone XL Pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
  • invest in massive upgrades of Canada’s railways
  • develop railcars with best-in-class safety standards to transport oil
  • use rail instead of pipelines to transport our oil to all of Canada’s Provinces and Territories
  • use Canada’s oil profits to fund our transition to green technologies, to eliminate our deficits and eventually to eliminate our debt?

My suspicion is that we would:

  • create hundreds of thousands of well-paid Canadian jobs
  • vastly improve Canada’s transportation infrastructure, benefiting all Canadians
  • dramatically reduce pollution of our air, land and water
  • create a balanced Canadian economy ensuring a prosperous future for our grandchildren and future generations.

The Harper Government and their corporate backers have taken us a very long way down an exceptionally risky road in their misguided attempt to generate short term profits. Canadians need better governance. We need big ideas and those ideas rarely originate in the boardrooms of multinational oil and gas corporations.

Canada’s oil sands are for Canadians, they’re not for Big Oil’s shareholders.

The “path to our future” is not a pipeline, it’s better ideas, ideas that focus on Canadians, not corporate greed.

Related article:

  1. Senate energy committee backs sending western oil east

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Canada Under Harper

I hope my title for this post, ‘Canada Under Harper’, wasn’t as bad for you as it was for me. A psychiatrist could write a pithy journal article about the nasty movie-clip that just played in my head. 🙂

To understand where the Harper Government is planning to go, you have to know where Stephen Harper has been. About ten years before his minority government first assumed power in Canada, Stephen Harper said, “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”

“Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”
– Stephen Harper 1997

Knowing that this is one of Harper’s core beliefs, it’s not at all surprising that the Harper Government’s 2012 Budget and the now infamous Budget Implementation Bill C–38 included changes to OAS (Old Age Security), is it?

Q: What’s next for Canada under Harper?
A: Could it be the your healthcare, specifically the Canada Health Act? After all, the Harper Government has already mucked with Health Transfer Payments to the provinces and territories, so we can’t rule out even more sinister changes. Is the Harper Government already encouraging a two-tiered system, one for the rich and another for the rest of us? Will they… ?

Healthcare is very expensive, so it’s a natural target for Stephen Harper’s bean counters, but privatization and a two-tiered system is definitely NOT the answer.

Q: What is the best way to deal with rising health care costs?
A: Canadians would be best served if our government:

  1. focused on community-based, wellness promotion and prevention
  2. established multidisciplinary, diagnostic clinics, led by nurses, to offer help when prevention has failed and lastly,
  3. allowed doctors and hospitals to do what they do best, but doctors should be the last step, not the first.

We should also consider dumping fee-for-service, but more on that another time…

Related post:

  1. What’s Happened to Canada?

Senator Patrick Brazeau’s Judgement

Senator Patrick Brazeau photo

Q: Is it fair to question Senator Patrick Brazeau’s Judgement?
A: I won’t weigh in on Senator Brazeau’s Senate attendance record, but his Tweet, in response to Jennifer Ditchburn’s article, was ill-advised and definitely calls into question his maturity; so, yes, in my opinion, it is fair.

Background: Who the heck is Patrick Brazeau? Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau is just one of a total of forty-three Senate appointments made by Stephen Harper. He is an Algonquin from the Kitigan Zibi Reserve, near Maniwaki Quebec and previously served as the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. He is still in his thirties and is not due to retire from the Senate until November 11, 2049.

Recently, in response to a Canadian Press article questioning his Senate attendance record, Senator Brazeau Tweeted the CP reporter, @jenditchburn while u smile Jen, others suffer. Change the D to a B in your last name and we’re even! Don’t mean it but needs saying.”

Senator Patrick Brazeaus Tweet to Jennifer Ditchburn

Although my wife’s uncle was also a Canadian Senator, I’ve frequently questioned the value of the Senate. For whatever reason, it has proven difficult to reform the senate, I wonder if it would be easier to abolish it? Stephen Harper has set a record by appointing forty-three (43) Senators. Compare that to Pierre Trudeau’s 5, Brian Mulroney’s 14, Jean Chrétien’s 26 and Paul Martin’s 15 (one of Martin’s 15, was Conservative). I could have sworn that the Harper Government campaigned stating that it would save the taxpayers’ money and reduce Government costs. The base, annual salary of a Canadian Senator is $132,300 (2010) and the benefits package is apparently very impressive. Abolishing the Senate would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year and it would also streamline Canada’s governance.

Humorous note: Perhaps the Harper Government’s Senate appointments were part of Stephen Harper’s ‘jobs and prosperity’ initiative and not patronage. 🙂

Related articles:

  1. Senator Patrick Brazeau calls journalist a bitch after she reports his poor attendance record
  2. Truant Tory senator apologizes for sexist slur at reporter

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Mulcair’s NDP Video

Tom Mulcair photo
Photo courtesy of Reuters – Wattie

The Harper Government’s attack ad, ‘Mulcair’s NDP’ makes it glaringly obvious that Stephen Harper is, figuratively, wetting himself, again. Mr. Harper has a long history of nervous incontinence. Mulcair’s NDP video isn’t the Harper Government’s first attack ad, you’ll recall their mean-spirited ads attacking Stéphan Dion, Michael Ignatief and then, most recently, Bob Rae.

Here’s the ‘Mulcair’s NDP’ video:

Q: Ask yourself, “Why is the Harper Government so nervous?”

A: Although, it’s true that Tom Mulcair and the NDP bested the Conservatives in a recent nationwide popularity poll, that’s not the Harper Government’s biggest worry. They’re most worried about a simple but very powerful idea. Canada’s natural resources should benefit all Canadians and Canada’s environment is not for sale. The Harper Government sides with multinational, corporate greed. Tom Mulcair and the NDP side with Canadians.

The Conservatives are also well aware of a trend that poses another significant threat to their power. A growing number of people don’t like the Harper Government’s style of governance. I’ll bet you’ve heard some of the descriptive words folks are using when they mention the Harper Government. I’ve listed some of the polite words here, but I’ve also written an entire post about the Arrogant Harper Government that you might find interesting.

I won’t critique the Harper Government’s attack ad except to say:

“Risky Theories” like putting Canadians and Canada’s environment ahead of multinational oil and gas corporations, pipeline corporations, foreign workers and China is not a reason for concern. There’s certainly nothing risky there, in fact, Tom Mulcair’s ideas are a breath of Canada’s fresh air.

The Conservative’s biggest pitch is always, “We can’t afford… (insert opponents name here)”, they want you to be nervous when you walk into the polling station. Have you noticed the Conservatives are always fear mongering? It fits their agenda, that’s why they’re always yammering on and on about guns, jails and fighter jets.

When you walk into a polling station in 2015, or sooner, you won’t need to be worried about things like the Harper Government’s scary, petro-state, guns, jails and greed-focused agenda, instead, you can smile a big smile and think about Stephen Harper wetting himself. 🙂 Then you’ll be able to vote for a positive vision of Canada and hope.

Canada is blessed with an amazing abundance of natural resources, most, if not all, of the rest of our world would love to be in our position. It’s time for Canadians to benefit by electing leadership that has a hopeful, altruistic vision and a solid plan. In the next election, vote NDP.

Update 20120710: Here’s the NDP’s initial response to the Harper Government’s Mulcair’s NDP video attack ad.

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Arrogant Harper Government

Arrogant Harper Government, confused Liberals and the NDP preparing for 2015

Have you played a team sport? Did you ever lose to an inferior team, a team that had no class? Can you imagine how frustrating it must be to sit as an altruistic, progressive, NDP, Liberal or Green MP facing the arrogant Harper Government majority?

Two phrases spring to my mind,

  1. “Bullshit baffles brains” and
  2. ‘Never Fight with a Pig’.

Every time the Liberals point out a problem with Conservative governance and their stewardship of Canada, the Harper Government responds with a childish taunt, “Neener, neener, neener, when you were in power you did that too”. Clearly, Stephen Harper ignored his mother when she taught him that, “two wrongs don’t make a right”. That would be number one, “Bullshit baffles brains”.

When Tom Mulcair uses his analytical mind to ask Stephen Harper a serious, foundational question, Stephen Harper’s sycophants arrogantly demean the Official Opposition by:

  • consistently failing to answer the question and then
  • muttering something about unions, communism or even Nazism.

The Harper Government obviously isn’t classy or intelligent, but they’re clearly very skilled at fighting dirty; I suspect many of the Conservative MPs have been fighting dirty from childhood right on through until the fuddy duddy, angry-old-uncle, stage of life, they’re at now. By now, it’s evident, to almost everyone, that meaningful democratic debate has gone missing under the Harper Government and it’s been replaced with condescension and disrespectful nastiness. That would be number two ‘Never Fight with a Pig’.

Stephen Harper is a relatively clever fellow, but he is a long, long way from being the smartest guy in the room. My suspicion is that China very quickly got the best of him, but they’re still letting Mr. Harper believe that he has the upper hand.

Background: First, China purchased a major stake in the tar sands and then they demanded a Pacific pipeline. The Harper Government’s 2012 Budget and Bill C–38, devastated Canadian environmental laws and granted the Conservative Cabinet dictatorial powers to ensure the Northern Gateway Pipelines’ approval. Unfortunately, China will benefit and Canada will lose.

Canada:

  • loses a chunk of our boreal forest
  • wastes our natural gas
  • wastes our fresh water
  • sells another raw natural resource (heavy crude oil)
  • pollutes our air, land and water
  • risks a pipeline and/or supertanker related environmental disaster.

China:

  • fuels their thriving economy
  • refines our heavy crude oil
  • transitions to a greener economy
  • snickers at us.

Canadians generally prefer viewing the world through rose-tinted glasses. Perpetual optimism led some people to ignore warnings, about Stephen Harper, from Michael Ignatief, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May. Their warnings were dismissed as “politics as usual”. The end result was that in Canada’s last federal election, a minority of voters took a chance and offered Stephen Harper an opportunity to govern. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister and Conservative MPs have arrogantly wielded Canada’s authority in unanticipated ways. Embarrassed Canadians will soon remind the Harper Government that it doesn’t have the power, the people of Canada do. Less than a year into his mandate, support for Stephen Harper and his Harper Government has already declined significantly.

It’s likely that we’re going to have to put up with inadequate, dictatorial governance for another three years. Opposition MPs won’t be able to do much within Parliament, but they will have time to educate the Canadian public about the Harper Government’s scary, Big Oil, China-focused agenda. Canadians care about our environment and our international reputation. The Harper Government isn’t just disgracing Canadian democracy, they’re degrading Canada’s reputation around the world.

Q: What’s the first step, what can we hope to accomplish with the arrogant Harper Government in power?
A: Step one: Let’s stop spending billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the richest corporations on earth. The profiteering multinational oil and gas corporations will do just fine without even more of Canada’s money.

Next step: A comprehensive, sustainable Canadian energy strategy that benefits Canada first.

>> Hopeful Canadians

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