Sunday, September 21, 2008

A boy named Sioux: Election rant week two

Yesterday, my father and I went to the returning office and voted by "special ballot" to get our civic duty out of the way. You simply don't know what could happen between now and October 14th ... and we felt it important that our voices were heard. I think you all know who I voted for; as for my father -- I didn't ask, it is after all a secret ballot.

Now to my thoughts about this past week.

Conservatives: Gerry Ritz. Doesn't he know that even in the secret society that Stephen Harper created, everything is recorded? This isn't about Wayne Easter, as repulsive as that death wish was. It's about the now 18 people who have died from listeriosis and the dozens more that could die in the coming weeks -- as one who commented in this blog earlier in the week pointed out, listeria can stay in a person's system for up to seventy days. While those who have weaker immune systems are at greatest risk, even people in their prime (20-50) who are relatively healthy could wind up dead.

It is true that some of the moves towards self-regulation began under the Liberals, not the Conservatives. It is also true, however, that the Cons want to go all the way with absolutely no oversight and no way to review results. No standards, either. Furthermore, the public health officer the Liberals set up as an independent agent who gives impartial advice was under the Conservatives made an employee of the Minister of Health serving at pleasure and dismissible without cause. (This is a similar situation in the States where the once independent Surgeon General's office -- who made waves in the 1960s when talking about the dangers of tobacco and in the 1980s by promoting condoms to reduce HIV infection rates -- has become a pawn of the Executive under the Bush Administration.)

Too, when Harper went to Welland earlier in the week, just as the city is reeling from the closure of the John Deere plant, he set up a photo op to talk about -- flavoured cigarettes. Is there some kind of disconnect here, or what?

Finally, about the tax credit for first time home buyers' closing costs: $5000 is actually $750. It would be useful if the actual tax cut was announced, not the unrealized amount.

Liberals: Stéphane Dion appeared to back away somewhat from the Green Shift, although he insists that it's still very much part of his platform, to be released as early as tomorrow. He also announced more money for infrastructure, farm subsidies and the performing arts -- the last one is very important in Québec, particularly Montréal and area where he absolutely does need to hang on to what he has and pick up a few more districts.

My concern is why he hasn't put out his team earlier to spread the word? Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff are outstanding voices, as is Ralph Goodale. My question is, where is Gerard Kennedy? Carolyn Bennett was nowhere to be seen until this morning on CBC-TV. Elections aren't stretched out as in the States, they're only five weeks here. Dion is going to need more than more verbal gaffes and leaks if he wants to go over the top.

The commercial about listeria that was released on Friday is a good start ... but they have to keep hitting it hard and often. Just stick to the basics. KISS -- keep it short and simple -- and ask Canadians to think what it would be like if the Cons had a second chance, majority or minority.

NDP: Layton stayed on message and continues to make his focus Harper, not Dion. But here's the thing: Last time out, he was literally begging people to vote for his party so he could act as a counterweight to the Conservatives. He was just a couple seats short of what he needed to get the balance of power. Now, he's not just fighting both the Liberals and the Greens but also the Bloc in Québec who have become the social democratic voice in that province, however increasingly irrelevant. Jack comes off as a really nice guy, but if we had proportional representation or a single transferable vote (i.e. a preferential ballot) his party would no longer be my second choice -- it would be the Green Party.

And another thing -- Layton may be truthful when he says there was no deal with the Marijuana Party, but a lot of Canadians won't believe it no matter how many times he says it. Losing two members from your ticket just before the nomination deadline isn't exactly an indication of a strong campaign.

As for the polls saying the NDP is gaining ground against the Liberals -- well, keep in mind it's a rolling poll. 300 people is hardly a reliable sample size.

Bloc: Hasn't the joke gone on long enough? Seriously, when the Bloc ran the first time, didn't Lucien Bouchard run under the slogan, "Let's give ourselves real power?" I have to admit, I remember their free time ads in English back in 1993, which was just white text on a black background scrolling upwards, but Bouchard was asking the questions the other leaders weren't -- about the deficit, the moribund economy, high unemployment. For the next five elections including this one, their leader has been Gilles Duceppe. Has Québec gotten any closer to independence? No. Have the provinces gained more powers? Well, on immigration perhaps, but immigration has always been a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments and the updated agreements deal more with provinces' role in immigrant selection and settlement money. There's also more money for shared cost programs, but there haven't been any special deals for Québec I can see other than the province setting up its own blood bank agency.

Duceppe is now fighting a battle for relevance. The Cons are picking up a lot of votes in rural Québec, once the bastion of the Union Nationale. The NDP has broken through in Montréal and I think could peel some seats from both the Bloc and Liberals. For him, anything less than 40 districts and he's toast.

Green Party: Elizabeth May apologized this week for not smoking pot, as she revealed her platform which calls for its decriminalization among other things. I don't know why she apologized, there was no need to.

On a more serious note, May does continue to get my respect. I think a lot depends on how well she does in the debates; but she's very feisty. And let's face it, about the THC thing -- if weed was taxed the same as tobacco, it could generate about a billion per year in revenue just for Ottawa. Now why hasn't anyone else thought about that? (Well, actually it has been said, but no one has taken it seriously until now.)

And one last thing, about all parties: Nothing about Aboriginals. Nothing. Aren't our native population Canadians too?

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1 comment:

kitt said...

There should be an announcement in the Liberal platform that will be released tomorrow. See Dion in Calgary, Alberta at the Greenwood Inn on 26 street and 32 avenue, north east. Time 7:15 pm. Come early.