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Calm before the political storm

Twitter was all aflutter yesterday from some journalists saying several people had told them they had heard an election was going to be called today and the writ dropped for April.  That set everyone into panic mode or excited mode, depending on your point of view. So far as of this blogpost, it hasn’t occurred.  I’m on record and on a political bet with one of my Liberal colleagues that there won’t be a Spring Election. It may not be on October 19, but I don’t think it will be in the Spring, so we’ll see if I manage to win another political bet (and no, this time it isn’t with Jim Calder, my fellow Liberal blogger and Progressive Blogger moderator who I’ve won 3 bets and 3 free dinners from as a result – he actually agrees with me, which is slightly concerning for me).

Polls released of late show virtual ties or slight within margin of error leads for 1 party or another, which gives no incentive for Prime Minister Harper or his Conservatives to call something now… and hoping that some Canadians continue to stay scared of terror attacks (which is the main reason Harper has recovered some of his polling #’s) seems to be to be a bit of a gamble.

Related to that, I also some news reports where the Conservatives (or some Conservative strategists) are pondering proposing multiple TV debates (like several, as opposed to just the traditional 2), as they feel they’ll have a better chance of Justin Trudeau showing “inexperience” and highlighting Harper’s “strong” leadership skills (?? – what strong leadership skills, but I digress).  They obviously have a very high opinion of their guy and a very dismissive attitude of Mr. Trudeau.  I remember a boxing match  not too long ago where the same dismissive attitude was similarly held. Regardless, if they want to underestimate him, be my guest.   Quite honestly though, if you want to try to trap someone in a TV slip up, the less debates you have, the more effective strategy that would be – as there is a lot less opportunity  to recover from any slip ups on 2 debates then 5.

Personally,  I don’t mind more debates.. though I’d really like to have some different formats then just 3 leaders or more talking over each other.

 

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How 2 cold winters in Eastern North America doesn’t disprove climate change/global warming.

When it gets as cold as it has this winter (and last), you often see message boards yelling, “How about that global warming!” … as if these winters prove to those who are climate change skeptics (or climate change deniers, as I call them)  that global warming or climate change is just one big government conspiracy theory to drive everyone’s taxes up and prevent people from getting rich(er) and insert government interference into everyone’s lives.

I saw a great counterpost to that  from a poster on the popular Weather Underground weather site, explaining to a climate change denier why the current cold trend in the Eastern North America does not mean climate change/global warming isn’t happening:

“..If you are wondering how weather events fit into climate change, there’s something that can help. This is called winter, winter still happens when the world is warmer. In fact, in a warmer world the atmosphere is capable of holding more water vapor. While that warmer world may prevent some areas from experiencing snow as it instead falls as rain, areas that are still cold enough to receive snow could see greatly increased precipitation events. The recent peer reviewed science has noted the trends in increased large precipitation events.

As for the colder than normal air, the pattern has displaced colder air from it’s normal places. Per a blogger, Alaska was seeing 50 degrees (F) and rain while the East coast was getting hammered with snow and ice. Out west you are seeing the one of the lowest snow packs ever recorded. The Arctic is currently running above average temperature wise with some areas as high as 4 – 6 degrees C above normal. And the ocean of the East coast where all this snow has been happening is in some places as much as 11 degrees C warmer than average. Is this weather pattern a trend? It is too soon to tell, but yes the past 2 winters have been cold in the East and Northeast while the globe has been warmer than average, to put in into perspective, despite the bitter cold in some parts of the U.S (and Canada)., January was the second warmest on record globally.

Sometimes it’s hard to remove yourself from the local perspective …and think larger.”

To illustrate his last points.. here’s a graphic visual showing that for January, while Eastern North America may have been below normal, the rest of the world certainly wasn’t:

To quote another friend of mine, “To loosely quote Donald Trump “global warming is a hoax because I’m cold.” This is the problem with deniers: they refuse to see the forest because of the tree right in front of them”.

We have a government in power right now in Canada where that last line is very applicable.

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Nothing Personal, Eve Adams, but Marco’s my pick.

I’m not going to get irate or flabbergasted or question her motives over her crossing the floor as some Liberals have. It took some courage to do this, and I don’t doubt Dimitri Soudas would be very helpful giving out internal Conservative Party campaign strategy or dirty laundry,  and I also think this does damage Harper and the CPC to a point (combined with John Baird suddenly leaving),  but at this point, I think Ms. Adams is a lightning rod for controversy.. and motivates Conservative voters in an otherwise winnable riding to flock to Joe Oliver.. so I’m hopeful that Marco Mendicino will stay in the race.. and if the reports of local Liberals there are any indication, he’ll win quite handily.

That said, Justin Trudeau was reported as saying Eve Adams would have to prove herself and win over lots of local Liberals in Eglinton-Lawrence, so if she manages to win the Liberal nomination, more power to her – the local Liberals have spoken. I just don’t think she will, given the furore.

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Contradictory polls

So we have a couple of polls out today: Ekos (who is behind a paywall) has the CPC suddenly leading by 3% 35-32 over the LPC due to a sudden “surge” in support for them in Quebec – 26% or so. Meanwhile, Leger (who is not behind a paywall) has the exact opposite result; the LPC up by 3 nationally, and the Conservatives down in the traditional teens where they’ve been for awhile (excepting Forum and Ekos.. and I’m a tad sceptical – particularly of Forum). We’ve had other polls come out the past week from Abacus and Nanos (released by mistake) that show neck and neck or slight leads for one or the other parties.

Has the security/terrorism/ISIS scare stuck with the voting electorate and given Harper a boost? Probably, tho the extent of that remains murky from contradictory polling results. However, I don’t think this is going to maintain him (unless the RCMP are going to be arresting suspects every other week from now until the writ is dropped). The faltering economy in particular will, I think, become more prominent, with the fact the eggs in one basket approach when it comes to oil has come back to bite both the Conservative government and Canada.

I’ll maintain, by the way, there isn’t going to be a Spring Election. I’m in the Autumn camp.

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Adam Vaughan, Scott Simms visit #Brant; charity walk response

Last week, Liberal MP’s were out and about in Southern Ontario prior to the re-opening of the last session of Parliament before the next election, and in Brantford-Brant, 2 MP’s dropped by to visit with voters on issues and to support Danielle Takacs, Brantford-Brant Liberal candidate.

The first MP to visit was Adam Vaughan, MP for Trinity-Spadina, and the Liberal Urban Affairs and Housing Critic. He along with Danielle held 2 roundtables on the affordable housing issue – one with area stakeholders in Brantford-Brant, and a second one on affordable housing for students with Wilfrid Laurier Brantford campus student representatives. You can read more about that visit in the Brant News. It was a visit designed to take input from the local area onthe unique challenges facing the area for affordable housing, and to give them a general overview of what plan the Liberals will put forth to address that issue – and you should see a general policy statement on this sooner or later, judging from the meetings and what Mr. Vaughan was saying. (I had the privilege to be there to listen/livetweet for both roundtables).

The 2nd visit in the week came from Scott Simms, the Liberal Critic for Democratic Reform who came to talk about the shortcomings of the Fair Elections Act (and also to induct people as honourary Newfoundlanders). He also talked a little bit about his private members bill designed to take the GST off of funeral costs. He toured around Brant county, visiting Paris, Burford and Brantford and had his ceremony at the village of St. George. So, it was a busy and productive week for Danielle with the visiting dignitaries.

On another slightly related note to politics, you might remember my last blogpost asking people to consider donating to our little team of Liberals organized by Danielle who are participating in a charity walk (called Coldest Night Of The Year) to help raise funds for local organizations that fight homelessness and youth poverty. I am pleased to report the Team fundraising is going spectacularly well. We have raised nearly 2/3 of our team fundraising goal (we’re called “Red Warmth”) and my own personal fundraising goal has been met 350%+, so fantastic stuff, and the walk is still to be held on Feb 21, so there’s plenty of time to reach the team goal of 3000$.

I encourage you to donate to either the Team in general or to one of us individuals to help us reach that goal; because for people who are homeless/struggling with poverty – it’s cold out there

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Charity event – Coldest Night Of The Year. Please sponsor if able.

Hi folks:

I wanted to mention that one of the things my friend and candidate in Brantford-Brant Danielle Takacs believes in strongly is that Liberals should give something back to their local community, and one of the ways of doing this is by participating in charitable causes. As an example, Danielle helped organize a team of local Brantford-Brant Liberals to participate this past Dec 22 in delivering Christmas Baskets around Brantford to those less fortunate, to help them have a better Christmas.

There is another charitable event coming up in Brantford-Brant, and I was hoping you folks might help out a bit. We’re starting to form a team of local Liberals to participate in a walk to help raise money for the homeless and hungry in Brantford (part of a national campaign on Feb 21). We’re trying to “walk the walk” so to speak. (I’ll be in the 10 km walk).

If you have this event in your own community on Feb 21, I encourage you to consider forming a team of your own and participating and/or donating to them! Regardless, if you would like to help sponsor either our just started team in general (Danielle named our team “Red Warmth” – an appropriate name I think) please feel free to help us help the homeless in Brantford out by going to our team page and sponsoring either the team in general or by clicking on one of our individual members to help us reach our target goal. I’ll mention that a minimum of 20$ donation is required to be issued a receipt (and if you donate online, they will send you an e-receipt almost instantaneously).

(Note, here is the Coldest Night Of The Year’s main page if you want to read more about them and to see where they are holding the walks across Canada)

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Fundraising stuff

A story in the Globe by Adam Radwanski today is interesting for what it says about oppposition parties and their attempts to get their local riding associations up to snuff when it comes to the all important money battle:

Officials….are privately worrying that many of their riding associations will suffer a cash disadvantage both leading up to the campaign and during it. “It’s a huge issue,” a Liberal official said, speaking on a background basis. “We spent a fair amount of last year internally sounding the alarm bells on this.” …The scale of the Conservatives’ current advantage is difficult to gauge, because riding associations’ 2014 financial returns will not be available until later this year. But a Globe and Mail review of the previous year’s returns found that, as of the end of 2013, Conservative riding associations cumulatively had more than $15-million in net assets, while the Liberals had under $8-million and the NDP less than $4-million. As of the last filings, the Conservatives were continuing to widen the gap, topping the Liberals by nearly $1-million and the New Democrats by more than $2-million in local fundraising in 2013. And there appears a good chance they continued to pad their advantage in 2014

So money is both important nationally for federal parties during the election campaign, but also at the local riding level.

That in mind, I’m using that point as a segue to ask my Liberal supporters/member reading crew to consider donating to my friend Danielle Takacs campaign. It happens to be her birthday today (the 13th). If you would be interested in sending her a little birthday love and supporting her run at federal politics, you could donate a special gift of either $5 or $10 to the Brantford-Brant Federal Liberal campaign. She would appreciate it a lot. It may only cost you $1.25 after tax receipts are given. (The lager the donation, the greater the tax receipt given back, obviously).

The yearly political donation allowance is now increased to 1500$ (it was 1200$ last year) so there’s extra to give to a good candidate even if she’s not in your riding! 5 or even 10$ is such a small amount to show your support!

After you donate to her, I encourage Liberals to donate to your own local riding as well!

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Harper’s supposed “strong leadership”

The tragedies in Paris this week were horrific, and rightly condemned by all those on the political spectrum in Canada. However, an unfortunate by-product of that which I’ve noticed is a lot of known Conservative supporters going to social media (Twitter in particular) and posting videos of Prime Minister Harper expressing their gratefulness at living under a “strong leader” and Harper showing “strong leadership” with his condemnations of the Paris terrorist acts – implying that the NDP or Liberals would not be showing the same “strong leadership” in this case. (They’re all using the exact same phrases and words too – curious that..almost if they were sent a directive.. they wouldn’t be political astro-turfing, would they? Not this lot! Surely!)

Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau released equally “strong” statements on the Paris terrorism; do my Conservative colleagues feel they weren’t being sincere in their condemnations?

Harper is no stronger a leader then anyone else; he said what every other leader said on these dreadful days. Make no mistake though; there is a pattern to this from the Conservatives and their supporters. We all saw the same thing happen after 9/11 in the ’02 and ’04 elections in the US. After a period of unanimity, Republicans turned the terror acts and used it as a cudgel and weapons against Democrats – accusing them of not being “strong” or implying disloyalty if they did not approve of certain acts.. and we are seeing the same pattern here in Canada.. or an attempt to by the Conservative government, and Harper, and their supporters. It is my hope that Canadians will not bow to fear and not let themselves get sucked into believing this, and that will be the job of those who oppose Harper to articulate that.

It will be our job as folks opposed to Harper and the parties we support, to point out that Harper has been a “failed leader” on other issues. For example (and I can give several, but I’ll give a couple only, to save this from being a thesis, rather then a simple blogpost) he has failed to take leadership on climate change badly; both in how he has refused to set hard climate change targets and withdrawing from international agreements… and this has affected other aspects of his foreign policy. Whatever you think of Keystone (and I know the official Liberal Party policy is to support it, though a great deal of us have reservations on that), he has managed to bungle that so badly in how he dealt with President Obama, both in no effective climate change policy, and his attempts of selling Keystone (“a no-brainer”! remember that quote to a US audience?), that it will be in large measure his own fault if President Obama decided not to let it proceed.

He has certainly failed our Veterans, for which all of his stomping on his chest how he supports the troops, he has certainly failed to show that when they come home wounded, either physically or emotionally, that he supports them. Belatedly firing an inept Minister like Joe Fantino and replacing him with another parrot does nothing if the official government attitude and policy stays the same.

When Harper and his Conservatives try to wrap themselves in patriotism and the Canadian flag on “strong leadership” on terrorism, it will be our job to point these other failings out.. and there is nothing “unpatriotic” about that.

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Ontario Politics Chatter: The Beer Store Monopoly, eyes on Sudbury.

I haven’t talked a lot about Ontario Politics much of late, but for my first post of the New Year, a few things have caught my eye I wished to comment on.

First, the Beer Store and its attempt to bring local craft beer dealers onboard is being viewed by some as a too-little too-late gamble in a desperate attempt to hold off competition to its monopoly. This series of paragraphs in a Toronto Star op-ed from Martin Regg Cohn is significant for me:

As more Ontarians realize that The Beer Store isn’t what they thought it was — not a creaky government-owned monopoly, but a globalized cartel — the big brewers are increasingly desperate to salvage their sweetheart deal in a captive market unlike any other. The sudden damage control is motivated by fears of consumer rebellion and a looming government clampdown… Historically, private competition has been restricted and even the LCBO constrained (under a secret 2000 deal revealed by the Star last month, the LCBO cannot sell discounted beer in higher volumes such as 12-packs or two-fours)…The Beer Store is controlled by Labatt Brewing Company Ltd., a subsidiary of AB InBev of Belgium; Molson Coors Canada, controlled by Molson Coors Brewing Co. (incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Colorado, with corporate offices in Montreal); and Japanese-owned Sleeman.

To be clear, I don’t support abolishing the LCBO; I believe there is still a value for it and being in public hands, but I don’t like foreign multinational beer companies with billions of dollars using a monopoly to quash choice and not promote other beer makers besides their own, so I’ve come around to thinking the Ontario Liberals under Kathleen Wynne should at minimum impose a “franchise fee” as they’re poised to do, but she should consider further more radical reforms as well.

Secondly, the Sudbury by-election is poised to take place Feb 5, where ex-federal NDP’er now Provincial Liberal candidate Glenn Thibeault is running for the OLP, in a highly controversial move where Premier Wynne pushed aside “Andrew Olivier, a quadriplegic who came within 1,000 votes of winning the riding for the Liberals in the provincial election last June”, and who wished to run again for the OLP. He now has decided to run as an independent, and he may have a fair bit of potential Liberal voter support. I dont like agreeing with a righty op-ed like Kelly Mcparland too often, but in their eagerness to get a high profile candidate in Thibeault, the OLP and Wynne may indeed end up being too clever by half.

Will Olivier win? Maybe not.. but enough anger may exist that regardless who the NDP candidate is, the election may go to them via vote split. Time will tell.

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Need some New Year Resolutions?

This might apply more to Christmas, but I think if you want a New Year’s Resolution, this would work too:

Why not give some of yourself away?

– Give an hour of time to someone who needs you
– Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down
– Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family
– Give some time to someone who is lonely
– Give a meal to someone who is sick
– Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss
– Give a second chance to the fallen
– Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is often overlooked
– Give a gentle response to the frustrated

A Happy 2015 to you from me.

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