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How to potentially pick a new Liberal leader (and still keep Harper accountable in Parliament)

Since it’s rather en vogue today to talk about a new Liberal leadership race with rumours and reports that Dion might announce his resignation, I have a thought or two on how the Liberals can pick a new leader,  while at the  same time not allowing Harper and the Conservatives to run roughshod by threatening non-confidence votes on every piece of legislation they bring forward, such as what they did while Bill Graham was the interim leader between Martin’s resignation and the the Liberal leadership Convention in December 2006.

In that line of thinking,  I do agree with the suggestion from those famous “Liberal insiders” that if Dion does step down, he’ll stay on as leader until the new leader is picked. That means if something comes up in Parliament where the Conservatives are trying to forcefeed some of their odious rightwing agenda down Canadians throats by making it a motion of non confidence – particularly in the first 6 months of their new administration, in the hopes that the Liberals will fold once again at the fear of another election -  their bluff can be called (I note they’re already backing off from promises made not 24 hrs after they were re-elected, so who knows what else they’ll now claim they need to do which they didn’t mention or claimed otherwise during the past election campaign).

I do not believe the Governor-General will be so willing to send Canadians to yet another election so soon after this one, and I think there would be a strong possibility that she would ask other parties  if they can form a government and gain the confidence of the House before she sent Canadians back to the polls.  That of course could lead to the rather awkward scenario of a resigning Liberal leader suddenly becoming Prime Minister of the country, but I’m sure the Liberals could deal with that.

Now, on to my thoughts for picking a potential new Liberal leader.

I like James Bowie’s suggestion that the cut-off date for Liberal membership  should be this past election day. If you haven’t signed up as a Liberal by the time you’re supposed to vote, then you’re ineligible to pick the next Liberal leader – no more of these massive frenzied drives to sign up “instant Liberals”, or temporary ones just to get the candidate of your choice a boost.

I also will suggest  that if the Liberals want to save money – both for their leadership candidates and the Party- to do away with the Convention and delegate system, at least for this particular time.

I advocate doing what the Alberta provincial Conservatives did – which is give a vote to every Liberal member, and have them mail it in to be counted. Make the ballot a preferential ballot, so that you have 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices, and so on.  Keep the campaigning part of this much shorter as well; don’t drag it out until next May or June.  Some people might fear this, but there should be no need. The Liberals need to get more in touch with their grassroots members, and this is one way to do it. Furthermore, with the membership freeze mentioned earlier,  you will not have candidates supporters trying to skewer the vote by signing up all those instant Liberals. I realize that this last suggestion would require a change to the LPC’s Constitution, but again, that shouldn’t be a big deal, should it?

So, for what their worth, those are my suggestions. Pick a new leader in a way that doesnt impose more costly debt on the LPC or its leadership hopefuls, and do it in a way so that Harper cannot run the place like he has a majority – a la Joe Clark in 1979 after Trudeau stepped down.

Chretien still has it.

Best line of the night from the Brampton rally, where he introduced Dion:

He told Canadians in the midst of a market meltdown that it is time for Canadians to invest their remaining savings in the market…Since he said that the market has plunged another 1,000 points. That’s right. He said it was a good time to buy. On Tuesday Canadians will say ‘bye, bye Steve’.

I want audio of that 😉

Aha.. I get audio of that Chretien speech – and video too!

Parallel universes.

Another American bank fails in the US:

Washington Mutual, the giant lender that came to symbolize the excesses of the mortgage boom, was seized by federal regulators on Thursday night in the largest bank failure in American history.

So another bank fails and gets nationalized by the US government, on top of what’s gone on down there already.  Since all of these failures that have occurred, Barack Obama’s fortunes have risen and John McCain’s stock has fallen. In addition, polls have shown the American public blames the Republicans for this economic mess, and believe Obama and Democrats in general would be better at managing the economy.

Meanwhile in Canada, we have a Conservative Government that has managed to squander a 12 billion $ surplus down to almost nothing in less then 3 years, with warning signs that our own economy is going to get worse, and yet not only does Harper make the astounding claim only he and his Conservative party are the only ones that can be good economic stewards on the impending economic crisis,  the Canadian public is somehow buying that line, if you read polling on the issue.

In my opinion, the counter-message to Harper’s claims on the economy on this isn’t being sent out enough or properly. The one Liberal ad going after Harper on the economy is a good start, but in my opinion, we need a lot more of those.

Asking Harper to Be Honest

Well, a new website brought to my attention this evening – run by Toronto-area Liberal MP Dan McTeague, who you might know for seemingly having the inside scoop on when gas prices are going to rise or fall, and by how much. The site is called Behonest.ca, which appears to be a vlog. A little snippet of what you’ll find there:

Basically, a video blog that focuses on several different issues and calling the Conservatives to be honest on those issues.

Conservatives own secret study supports a carbon tax.

This was first brought to my attention on Friday by a Green Blogger pointing out that the Green Party had used the Access to Information Act to reveal a secret Conservative government study that shows the economic costs of a carbon tax in Canada starting at 50$/ton are not only negligible to the economy in the first few years, but show a net positive for a carbon tax in raising Canada’s gross domestic product:

The report supports a carbon tax as an effective way to make significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and concludes that a $50/tonne tax on carbon would have an insignificant impact on the Canadian economy and would open tremendous economic opportunities. The model estimates this carbon tax shift would cut emissions by about 36 megatonnes (MT) by 2010, 59 MT by 2015 and 114 MT by 2030.. The report – Cost Curves for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction in Canada: The Kyoto Period and Beyond – concludes that the GDP impact of a $50/tonne tax shift is less than 0.1% of GDP per year until 2010, is virtually zero during the next five years and is then positive after 2015. Further, the report projects net financial savings to those who take action as a result of the tax shift, after taking into account the investment in emissions reductions. At $50 per tonne, that windfall comes to $13.8 billion by 2010 and climbs from there.

You can understand why Harper and the Cons would hide this report, and why it would take a Freedom Of Information Act request to reveal it. This story has gotten many, many bloggers discussing the secret report and the Conservatives hypocrisy in not releasing it.

It has even got Senator Elaine Mccoy, the independent Progressive Conservative Senator from Alberta, writing today about the deceit of the Conservative government in hiding this report from Canadians. She also calls this government report on the carbon tax “very credible”.

If I were a media person, I might ask Harper or Environment Minister John Baird (if they can find him – he seems to have disappeared since the election call) their reaction to this report. Obviously, they didn’t like the conclusions if they decided to try and hide it. I might also remind them that Baird and Jason Kenney are on record as refusing to release the details (about the cost to consumers) of their so-called environmental plan until after the election. I might be asking if that’s really acceptable to be hiding such crucial details from the public during an election campaign. If the Conservatives are going to fear-monger over the Green Shift, when their own government report says a carbon tax higher then what the Liberals are currently proposing isn’t going to hurt the economy and indeed will eventually raise Canada’s GDP, they need to be called out on it. Furthermore, the simple questions to ask them are:

Where are your environmental plan’s details?
What are your plan’s proposed costs?
Why are you trying to hide them or not release them until after the election?

Canadians and the media at large should demand that the Conservatives put out the details of their environmental plan of what types of costs to consumers will be incurred by them under the Conservative plan to cut emissions of GHG. It is only fair, so we can compare the plans and allow Canadians to make a choice based on facts and statistics, rather then letting the Conservatives continue to fear-monger by saying stuff like Harper claiming the Green Shift will harm national unity, or even more ridiculous stuff like Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant claiming that the Liberals under the Green Shift would ban or tax firewood.

Demand the details.

Liberals promise to ban military assault weapons if elected.

I haven’t seen this yet in the media in my quick scan of headlines (though I expect it will be soon) but I saw this press release from the Liberals that should resonate in many urban centres across Canada. The Liberals will ban military assault weapons and add them to the prohibited weapons list if elected, which was very appropriately announced by Dion at Dawson College, the scene of a tragic shooting of a young girl in 2006:

Mr. Dion at an event at Dawson College (said) “Military assault weapons have no connection to hunting or sport shooting, and serve absolutely no purpose in our society. No one outside of the military needs these weapons and we would all be safer without them in Canada.” A Liberal government would ensure that the list of prohibited weapons is updated to include all military assault weapons. This approach was supported last Thursday by Coroner Jacques Ramsay in his report into the tragic shootings at Dawson College in 2006.

So, Dion is endorsing the official coroner’s report on this by promising to implement it as a policy. I’ll be very interested to see if Harper and his Public Safety Minister Stockwell Days does as well.

In addition, Dion promised that the government’s firearms advisory committee would be made to reflect broader opinions across Canada then it currently is now:

Under the Conservatives the committee had been quietly stacked with firearms enthusiasts, providing little in the way of unbiased advice. “While the voices of legitimate gun owners deserve to be heard on the committee, we will ensure that there are representatives of major police associations – like the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Police Association, health and safety experts and true advocates of gun control on the committee.

I also like Dion saying that “Stephen Harper cannot be tough on crime when he is soft on guns”. I think that is a prefect way to show Harper and the Conservatives have a double standard on this “tough on crime” spiel that this right-wing bunch tend to use to try to portray everyone else as soft. Reminding voters that Harper and the Conservatives are ideologues comparable to the National Rifle Association and their Republican allies is a good line of attack. Gun control and their visceral opposition to it is a soft spot in the Conservative armour – at least in urban Canada.

The Survivor.

Great speech by Dion to start off the election campaign:

As Dion says, he relishes being the underdog and underestimated, and I agree that in Dion’s case, that’s a good position to be in.  He has prevailed against the Quebec separatists that way, as well as in winning the Liberal leadership, when he was discounted and ignored, until it was too late. In the Conservatives case, you also see spades of  arrogance and overconfidence in them and their online supporters.

Let them keep that up. As the old saying goes, pride always goeth before a fall.

Update @ 6:02 pm: Part 2 of the Press Conference below:

Pointing out Conservative failures in Liberal speeches and ads is not going “negative”

I know there’s been some debate going on as to whether the Liberals should be going negative and if so, what type of “negative” we should be doing. I for one, think that the Liberals are doing the right campaign tactics when they are very tough on the Conservatives on such issues as the listeriosis outbreak:

The Liberals launched their first attack of the onrushing election campaign by accusing the Harper government of undermining food safety in the same way the Mike Harris Tories weakened water safety in Walkerton, Ont., a decade ago…Those of us from Ontario – and those across the country – remember Walkerton,” said Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett, who accompanied Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion at a news conference wrapping up a party caucus meeting here…”We remember when there was an active decision to reduce inspections and what happened to the health of those people in Walkerton,” said Bennett, MP for the riding of St. Paul’s, and the Liberal health critic. Cuts in regulatory spending by the Harris government in the mid-1990s contributed to the E. coli water tragedy that cost seven lives in Walkerton in 2000, according to the report of a public inquiry.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion on the same issue at the same press conference, calling for Agriculture Minister Ritz’s firing:

“Starting March 1, a change has been made that put our inspection situation where inspectors are more inspecting paper than meat,” Dion said. “And under the circumstances, because this change has been covered up, the minister cannot stay the minister.” Dion said that, like the Harris Tories, the Harper Conservatives “don’t believe in the role of the government” in regulating business. Dion noted that three key members of the Harper government – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Environment Minister John Baird and Health Minister Tony Clement – were in Harris’s cabinet

There is nothing “negative” about pointing out how the Conservatives ideology and averseness to government regulation may have contributed to this health crisis, as the provincial Conservatives in Ontario under Mike Harris did in connection to Walkerton. That goes for going at them over such things as their own refusal to publish details about their own environmental plan to combat Greenhouse gases. Pointing out that this isn’t showing “strong leadership”, but hiding facts from the Canadian public again is not negative, but fair ball.

Personally, not only do I want to see more press conferences or campaign rallies doing similar themes to what Bennett and Dion did, but I want to see the same thing running in the Liberals campaign advertisement ads on radio and tv when the election campaign officially get started, (presuming Michaelle Jean doesn’t throw a curveball at Harper when he visits her).

UPDATE: Want to counter those pre-election election ads on Harper’s “strong leadership”? Liberal strategists and our party would be well advised to use some of the points that Carol Goar makes to shred that claim to pieces, and all done with facts, not personal attacks. Put those facts in the LPC ads, and have Dion and other Liberals pepper your speeches with these facts.

UPDATE 2 @ 2:14pm: I agree with Jennifer Smith’s approach, which I believe is the same thing that I’m advocating.

Dion listened to farmers concerns about Green Shift; snags big endorsement/candidate as a result.

I’ve been seeing where some of the Conservatives and others have been attacking Dion for – get this – actually listening to some of the concerns being listed to him by certain economic sectors (farmers, fishermen, the trucking and forestry industry) and announcing a modification to The Green Shift plan to help alleviate those concerns that their industries would suffer as a result.

That ability to listen and to be flexible to those concerns has yielded positive results today in Winnipeg where the Liberal caucus has gathered. Bob Friesen, who is the President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture -apparently likes the new plans to help the farming sector out enough that he has decided he will be running as a candidate for the Liberal Party in this election as a result.

This is big news and a coup for Dion and the Liberals. As Kady says at Macleans:

I have to think that convincing the up-until-yesterday president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture – who was publicly critical of the Green Shift just a few days ago – to run for the Liberals is going to make it a teensy bit trickier for Jason Kenney – who will apparently be acting as the human incarnation of Oily the Splot during the upcoming campaign – to stick to his original script, at least as far as Stephane Dion’s sinister anti-farmer agenda.

Guess who Friesen is running against? Stephen Fletcher in one of the Winnipeg ridings. That should be an interesting match up. The bottom line is that unlike Harper, who believes it’s his way or the highway, and that any idea other then his own isn’t worthy, Dion listened to farmers concerns and others and took their concerns into account. He also did this without adding any extra costs to the plan as the extra money was already provided for in the Green Shift, as Danielle pointed out this morning).

UPDATE @ 5:31 pm: The Liberals officially announce the candidacy of Mr. Friesen, which includes this statement from Bob:

“Like many people in Canada’s farming community, I’ve been very disappointed by the Conservative government’s agricultural policies,” said Mr. Friesen. “I’m convinced that the Liberal Party is the best choice for farmers and that is why I am proud to carry the Liberal banner in Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia in the next election.”

Go Green, Vote Red

A new button added to the button sidebar panel, and a new website for you to peruse. Hat tip to some of the Young Liberals of Canada for guest-starring in the introductory video, as well as creating the website and the button logo.

unique visitors since the change to this site domain on Nov 12, 2008.