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The Writ Drops in Canada

Today starts the official first day of the election campaign, with the Prime Minister asking the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament for an election taking place on Oct 21st.

With that announcement, I may be a little more active on this blog, although as you see on my twitter feed on the right hand sidebar, I’ve still been fairly active, though not as posting here as much.

We start this campaign with opinion polls more or less showing a dead heat nationally.. although most of those same polls have also shown the Liberals have the initial advantage with good leads in Eastern Canada – specifically Ontario and Quebec.

As lots of smarter people then I have said; campaigns matter. Jagmeet Singh and Andrew Scheer are unknown quantities with regards to campaigning in a general election, and both face a lot of challenges.

Can they get SNC-Lavalin as an issue that Canadians feel angry enough to care about? Can Scheer shake off the dead-weight anchor Doug Ford has been for him in Ontario, that has dragged his poll #’s down there?

My personal observation: Recent polls have said the environment has become a top priority issue for Canadians. No doubt this is highlighted by the extreme weather events we’ve seen, plus some of the Conservative provincial government’s resistance to carbon pricing and going to the courts to try and stop it (which ironically, probably has kept the issue front and centre for Canadians)

If the environment and climate change remains a top-tier issue, the Conservatives and Scheer are in trouble.

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Still here! (Sorta)

Its been awhile since I posted something here.. so I felt the need to add a blog entry to indicate I’m still alive. (If you read my twitter account at the right sidebar, you’ll see I am indeed around still).

Lots of things have happened in a couple of months. We have Doug Ford and his government MPP’s more concerned about photo-ops in corner stores complaining they can’t buy beer there then they are about the fact they’re likely to get penalized up to 1 billion dollars for breaking the contract with the Beer Store in order to do this, rather then wait 6 years when the contract is up for renewal (in fairness, they’re likely afraid with some justification they won’t be around in government to be able to do this).

We also have Doug Ford attempting to pass legislation that prevents the Beer Store (and others) from suing the government for breaking contracts.. but I have my doubts the courts will view that attempt very kindly (and as far as I can see, he won’t be able to use the NotWithStanding Clause in the Constitution to override an unfavourable court decision). The Ford Government’s poll #’s have taken a beating over cutting Education, Autism and Healthcare funding, so this can at best be viewed as an attempted distraction, at worse an attempt to shore up his “base” (though like Donald Trump, he will not be able to win the next election with his base alone).

Federally, we have the governing Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau still grappling with their questionable decision making over the SNC Lavalin affair. If they were smart, they would let the chips fall where they may with that company, and if that company is found guilty of corruption, then they should let justice take its course and not be offering deferments to it. If SNC fails because of a conviction and/or can’t bid on government contracts for 10 years – so be it. They shouldn’t have been conducting illegal activities to begin with – and the Liberals should not be letting the job loss threats or moving threat cause them to reward illegal behaviour. They wouldn’t do it with individuals found guilty like this – just because its a massive corporation doesn’t mean it should be shielded from the law.

On the Conservative opposition side, we have Andrew Scheer claiming he’s going to be showing people the door if they’re bigots or racist, but as pointed out here, his words mean little if his actions don’t match it.

He has also still failed to put forth a climate change plan that would be a replacement to carbon pricing, and we now have signals from some in his caucus that perhaps the abortion debate should be re-opened.

Trudeau and the Liberals have certainly not been perfect, but people are going to take a long hard look at Andrew Scheer and his party before they put them in power. Doug Ford is possibly making some of those folks – particularly in Ontario – rethink choosing them. Jagmeet Singh and the NDP hasn’t resonated yet with voters, which is why the Green Party seem to be making some progress in recent polling.

It should be an interesting next few months!

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The Liberal Party has bungled SNC-Lavalin terribly.

I can’t say I agree with much of my Liberal social media/blogger colleagues who are thinking this is a great thing that former Cabinet Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott got booted over their dissent as to how SNC Lavalin was being handled and the pressure being sent JWR’s way to give the company a prosecution break.

The LPC has made martyrs out of them, & the optics of removing them and what caused them to resign in the first place doesn’t remove the SNC issue; it probably amplifies it for a while.

For the record, I am also very disappointed it came to this. I think it could have been handled a lot better before it snowballed out of control. The LPC decided to cut loose 2 important former cabinet ministers over a company with a questionable past/present/future that appears to have threatened the government with leaving Canada if it got convicted over illegal activities.

This very questionable decision to try to give a company a “break” from the law and the terrible optics of trying to pressure the leading person of the law to change a decision for political reasons is ultimately what will be what costs the LPC a shot at another majority government (or a government at all), not because JWR and Jane Philpott weren’t “team players”.

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Checking in on the US Democratic contenders for President

So it’s getting to that time where everyone is declaring they’re running for president in the US – the election of course is in November 2020… and politics always is in overdrive south of the border – but even more-so with the tumultuous election and reign of Donald Trump.  The fact there are so many Democrats declaring their intentions shows how revved up they are to defeat him and get him out of office.

I’ve only started following the contenders, but the person I’ve been very impressed with so far is the US Democratic Senator from California, Kamala Harris.  A former prosecutor, she was very thorough and professional in her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court nomination hearing.  She also did a town hall on CNN last week, and I was very impressed with her answering of the questions and her demeanour:

She has been declared a front-runner by several political commentators, and I can see why.  There is a long way to go  of course, but I will  be following Senator Harris closely.

 

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Doug Ford backs down on attacking Greenbelt protections.

It appears that there was a lot of blowback to this plan over the Christmas holidays to Conservative MPP’s. Good – it was a terrible idea:

The Ford government is scrapping a controversial plan that would have allowed municipalities to opt out of some provincial planning rules to attract new commercial development, bypassing environmental laws in the process. Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark announced Wednesday on Twitter that the Progressive Conservatives would not proceed with a schedule in its omnibus legislation, Bill 66, after “concerns were raised by MPPs, municipalities and stakeholders.” Schedule 10 would have amended the province’s Planning Act to allow municipalities to create “open for business” zoning bylaws allowing them to circumvent existing provincial legislation, including the Greenbelt Act, Clean Water Act and Great Lakes Protection Act, in order to entice major employers.

However, as stated later in this article by environmental advocates,, Ford and his PC government appear to be eager to do anything to weaken environmental laws to make Ontario “open for business” (read – help their developer friends get rich), so constant vigilance and pressure must be kept on this government. This is the 2nd time Ford has been caught trying to do things to weaken the GreenBelt (recall he was caught musing during the election campaign about easing laws and was forced to backtrack).  I will not be surprised if there are future attempts.

 

 

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Merry Christmas 2018!

Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope you have a great holiday!

 

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Doug Ford for the People? More Like For Big Business (Bill 66 discussion)

So, the Ontario government released or introduced Bill 66 today in the Legislature. It does many appalling things under the guise of “opening Ontario for business”.  It may open Ontario for business but it strips the public of protections for clean water, health and safety regulations for wastewater and food inspection can be bypassed, and many other things.

Check out this Twitter feed here for more details, but here’s an example of some of the overzealousness the Ford government is displaying in getting rid of “regulations”:

I would like to know what the rationale is behind this dumb move. Does Ford and the PC Government actually think this is justified because less red tape for the cellphone providers and will provide jobs because they dont have to worry about consumer protections anymore?

Ford and the Conservative government are not “for the people” with these bypassing or elimination of health and consumer protections. These moves are designed for big businesses.. and these moves aren’t going to hire more people. It might make them more sick or taken advantage of by big business companies however.

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Hamilton’s Power Couple

I’m being slightly facetious.. but a big congrats to my cousin and cousin-in-law JP Danko and Dawn Danko for being elected to Hamilton City Council and School Trustee respectively. Dawn was just named vice chair of the Hamilton District School board as well. Everyone in the family is very proud of them.

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Ontario Conservatives present a “climate change plan” that has been shown to fail.

A follow-up to my last post: The Ontario Conservative government has finally presented its plan for mitigating climate change. No carbon tax! No cap and trade!

Sounds great.. until you see the details:

“Rather than imposing a price on carbon pollution as a cost of doing business, the Tories are shifting the burden to taxpayers by making them subsidize big business. Instead of polluters paying up, polluters are being paid off with $400 million in corporate carbon welfare…”

Basically. .they’re modelling this plan on a similar plan from Australia, where another conservative government also balked at carbon pricing. The result there? Emissions have climbed at the fastest rate since 2004.

This is an attempt by the COnservatives to show they’re doing something about climate change. The attempt is a poor one. It is another reason I refuse to call this bunch in Ontario “Progressive COnservatives” There is nothing progressive about this lot.

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Election 1 yr away; Battle on Carbon Pricing Favors Liberals

We have seen Conservative Governments in Ontario and Saskatchewan balk at carbon pricing and the Federal Conservatives basically trying to use the old “tax on everything line” they used with success against Stephane Dion’s Green Shift a decade ago, cancelling climate change fighting programs and/or failing to offer (viable) alternatives.

At the moment, the governing Federal Liberal Party’s climate change plan appears to give them both the moral high ground on fighting climate change, as well as a factor in popular support.

Two polls to point to to show this: Innovative Research published this poll on the Federal Liberal Carbon Tax (views in Ontario specifically) and highlighted it on Twitter. This poll shows that while the “populist base” of the Ontario Conservatives remains adamantly opposed to carbon pricing, the class of Conservatives that Innovative calls “Deferential” is more split on the topic.

Also today, perhaps not so coincidentally, a new poll from Nanos Research shows the Liberals enjoying a double digit lead on the Conservative Party.

If the Federal Conservatives under Andrew Scheer are so eager to make the federal carbon tax/ carbon pricing scheme an election issue, they need to do more then bash it; they need to show Canadians an alternative plan to fighting GHG emissions, something they so far have failed to do, though Scheer keeps promising one “soon” (TM). (Ford’s government hasn’t published their proposals to fight GHG emissions either, by the way)

It must be a pretty complex “plan” if they can’t release it yet; or maybe they don’t have one yet… or they’re waiting for an election campaign so there will be less time to scrutinize it. Alternatively, they could just tell us what they probably believe: there’s no such thing as man-made climate change or if there is, we can’t or don’t want to do anything about it. If we can’t do it for free.. its not worth doing!

That might not go over well with the electorate.

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