Thursday, May 5, 2011

Has the entire NDP caucus decamped to Vegas?

PM Harper may call Parliament back 'mid-May,' but NDP MPs say it's too early

With 68 new MPs to swear in, the NDP needs time for training, establishing new offices, constituency offices, hiring and swearing in, among other issues.
Published May 4, 2011 5:49 PM
The Hill Times

[Back to work: NDP leader Jack Layton, pictured in the House in March. The government has not said when Parliament will return this spring.]
The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
Back to work: NDP leader Jack Layton, pictured in the House in March. The government has not said when Parliament will return this spring.

PARLIAMENT HILL—The first tussle between the new official opposition NDP and the majority Conservative government may be on the close horizon—not over legislation but timing of the new Parliamentary session.

NDP whip Yvon Godin (Acadie-Bathurst, N.B.) told The Hill Times on Wednesday he understood—apparently from something Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) said—that the government may intend to call the 41st Parliament to begin sometime in mid-May.

With 68 new MPs to swear in, all but two of them newcomers to Parliament and some not even familiar with politics, let alone federal politics, the NDP needs time for training, establishing new offices, constituency offices, hiring and swearing in, among other issues.

“I think it’s too early,” said Mr. Godin. “The House is not on fire there. To be fair to the democracy, to be fair with the process, leave people to take breathe a little bit. I know what it is, when I got elected in 1997, you want to be fair to your constituents, you want to open an office, people are looking for you.”

But, though the official proclamation from Governor General David Johnston dissolving the last Parliament set May 30 as the date to “summon and call together” the new one, it can be changed at Mr. Harper’s direction. House Speaker Peter Milliken’s office said the pro forma date always set at the dissolution of a Parliament is usually changed by the prime minister following an election, and it can be pushed either back or ahead.

But, other than Mr. Harper’s statement that it will be “soon,” the Prime Minister’s office as of Wednesday said no decision had yet been made.

Andrew MacDougall, Mr. Harper’s press secretary, told The Hill Times in an email, “We will have a spring session. The budget will be front and centre in that session.”

The proclamation dissolving the last Parliament set May 23 as the final date for the return of all 308 election writs from ridings across Canada, but that was only the final deadline.

NDP MP Joe Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh, Ont.) also acknowledged the New Democrats, with 56 of their rookie MPs from Quebec, have a formidable training period ahead of them, as the new caucus band engages Parliament Hill. Mr. Comartin said the party’s normal trainee programs are being expanded.

The first step, Mr. Godin told The Hill Times, is a caucus meeting by telephone on Thursday with the entire caucus, and a full caucus meeting likely sometime shortly before the new Parliament begins. The Liberals hold their first caucus meeting next week.

As Mr. Godin and other veteran MPs fended off criticism Wednesday about the inexperience of many of their new Quebec MPs, some of whom lived in Ottawa and were just names on ballots as far as their new constituents were concerned, the party also absorbed its first round of sniping from the Liberals, now occupying the third party range at the far end of the Commons where the NDP sat until now, for five decades.

Wayne Easter, the feisty Liberal MP from Prince Edward Island, told The Hill Times NDP Leader Jack Layton (Toronto Danforth, Ont.) might regret giving up his influential spot as leader of the third party in a minority Parliament—where he often wrested legislation or other measures from Liberal and Conservative governments—in exchange for opposition leader status where a majority government needs no support, in raw balance of power terms, to pass bills.

Mr. Easter said Mr. Layton is going to learn “you had a hell of a lot more power before this election as a third party than you do as the official opposition. All Stephen Harper needs to say to him is ‘Jack, what are you talking about man, I have 167 seats, I don’t need to talk to you.’”

Mr. Godin, NDP MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, Man.), and House Leader Libby Davies (Vancouver East, B.C.) brushed the Liberal poke off as “sour grapes.”

“The facts speak for themselves. The Conservatives have a majority so it’s obvious that if they want to jam something through, they’ve got the votes to do that,” said Ms. Davies. “What it does mean though is we will have to be creative, we will have to be tough in being the official opposition, and think of what we do in a variety of ways to keep accountability and transparency and keep pressure on the government.”

Ms. Davies said she feels “tremendous” about the new caucus, especially the young MPs who she said will “learn the ropes” quickly. “New Democrats, we’re political animals, we get into this fast. This is going to change so many things,” she said. “I think it’s a whole new ball game. It’s going to be a whole new kind of politics.”

The Hill Times

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mulcair: The Doubting Thomas

Here we have Thomas Mulciar, Deputy Leader of the NDP, doubting the existence of photos taken of the death of Osama bin Laden. This doubting attitude doesn't surprise me at all. The last time I spoke with Thomas Muclair back in 2010, we were discussing the income trust issue and I expressed an opinion derived from my 20 years working as an investment banker on Bay Street, to which Mulcair responded: "You were never an investment banker".

What? How do you respond to that? No Thomas, I am actually lying to you about my profession and impersonating an investment banker, just like Obama is hiding something about the Osama bin Laden event and lying about the existence of photos.

This Mulcair is nuts!

NDP MP Thomas Mulcair questions Bin Laden pictures

Daniel Kaszor May 4, 2011
By Sarah Boesveld and Sarah-Taissir Bencharif

The NDP got its first taste of the perils of prominence Wednesday after being forced to handle two public relations disasters as the newly elected Official Opposition.

While MP-elect Ruth Ellen Brosseau was scrutinized for allegedly filing falsified nomination papers in Quebec, deputy leader of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair, drew gasps when he said he does not believe the United States government has photographs of terrorist Osama bin Laden. He also hinted there may be “more going on,” behind the scenes of his assassination than the U.S. is making known.

“I don’t think, from what I’ve heard, that those pictures exist. And if they do, I’ll leave that up to the American military,” Mr. Mulcair said during an appearance on the CBC TV’s Power and Politics Wednesday.

Asked again whether he thinks the photos exist, Mr. Mulcair said: “No, I don’t think they do. If they’ve got pictures of a cadaver, there’s probably more going on than we suspect in what happened there.”

Twitter immediately flooded with comments about the statement, making the Outremont MP a trending topic on the micro-blogging website. “I almost fell out of my chair when Mulcair said he doubted the existence of Osama bin Laden photos,” tweeted Marc Garneau, the astronaut and Liberal MP for Westmount-Ville-Marie.

In a subsequent tweet, he admonished the deputy NDP leader’s comments. “Sanity check please: Osama bin Laden is dead and photos were taken. To suggest otherwise is a serious lack of judgment.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said that the incoming Conservative government doesn’t share Mr. Mulcair’s skepticism. “The White House made it clear that pictures exist,” he wrote on Twitter. “Absolutely no reason to doubt that.”

The party scrambled to mount a response to questions over Mr. Mulcair’s statement. In a statement, Paul Dewar, the NDP foreign affairs critics, said the incoming opposition party didn’t question the existence of the photos.

“We have no reason to doubt the veracity of President Obama’s statement,” he said. “I understand that the U.S. government has photos, but decided not to release them as they do not want them used as trophies. This is a legitimate concern. We agree these types of photos shouldn’t be used as propaganda tools.”

Mr. Mulcair’s comments were quickly picked up by dozens of U.S. media outlets.

In the same Power and Politics interview, Mr. Mulcair also came to the defence of Ms. Brosseau, the successful Quebec NDP candidate in Berthier-Maskinongé, famous for vacationing in Vegas in the middle of the election campaign and for boasting less than stellar French skills though she now represents a largely francophone riding.

Trois-Rivieres resident Rene Young said he and his wife never signed Ms. Brosseau’s candidacy papers, although their names are clearly listed on the forms submitted to Elections Canada.

“The signature that is supposedly mine is not mine, and neither is my wife’s. There are two signatures on that form that are not us. We don’t understand how they are on that document that allows her to run for MP,” Mr. Young said in French from his home.

Defeated Liberal candidate Francine Gaudet suggested the NDP did not properly represent the nomination form to residents in the riding.

“We’ve found what could be irregularities,” she said in French. “Mr. Rene Young confirms that his wife’s signature on the nomination form is grafitti. So we’re expecting justice to be served in all this.”

While Ms. Gaudet said Elections Canada should investigate the issue, local Liberal riding president Louis-Victor Sylvestre said further action is necessary. “The only thing left for Ms. Brosseau to do is to step down,” he said. “You can’t get elected based on deceit.”

Conservative candidate Marie-Claude Godue told local media a byelection should be called. Ms. Brosseau swept the riding by 6,000 votes Monday night.

Anyone wishing to contest Ms. Brosseau’s candidacy must bring the complaint before the courts, in this case the Quebec Superior Court, said Elections Canada spokeswoman Diane Benson. As it stands, the race was legitimate and the result stands, she said, adding that all 100 signatures required of the candidate in order to be considered part of the race were approved by the returning officer in the local riding.

The NDP also defended the legitimacy of the papers, saying voters clearly knew who Ms. Brosseau was.

“These signatures were collected on a door-to-door basis; we have some of the neighbours from before, some of the neighbours from after, there could be no question that those were the signatures obtained by those people,” Mr. Mulcair said on Power and Politics. “I will make the following commitment to the people in Berthier-Maskinongé — they will have an MP who will be able to speak to them in fluent French before the end of this two-year term to make sure everything is done to provide full service to the riding.”

Ms. Brosseau, he said, is currently taking French classes.

Another spokesperson for the NDP said that signing the nomination form does not necessarily mean you support the candidate.

“A signature is not a vote,” said Karl Belanger, press secretary to NDP leader Jack Layton.

National Post, with files from Tamsin McMahon

NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair lit up the twitterverse with his comments casting doubt on the existince of U.S. photos of Osama bin Laden’s body. He quickly began trending on the social media site, which adopted the hashtag #thingsTomMulcairbelieves to unleash its outrage and sarcasm on the party’s most senior Quebec MP. Here is an exerpt of some of the reponses:

Dimitri Soudas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman:
PMOSoudas Dimitri Soudas @CBCPolitics the White House made it clear that pictures exist. Absolutely no reason to doubt that. #cdnpoli

Liberal MP Marc Garneau:
Marc Garneau Sanity check please: Osama Bin Laden is dead and photos were taken. To suggest otherwise is a serious lack of judgement

Conservative MP and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney:
Wonder if Mr. Mulcair has discussed his OBL pic doubts w/ Richard Bergeron, the 9/11 conspiracy theorist he endorsed to be Mayor of Montreal.

Edmonton-St. Albert Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber:
Brent RathgeberThomas Mulcair on Bin Laden photos shows how the NDP in Official Opposition constitutes amateur hour!

@wxwatcher66 Darren Ibsen
And in other news Thomas Mulcair Says there is no picture of the easter bunny the tooth fairy or little green men.

cherylfougere Cheryl Fougere
RT @CdnPolitico: Elvis, Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe are alive and living in Detroit

@apaulgill Paul Gill
@@charliesheen Check out the #mulcair – this Canadian socialist is saying there was no pictures – comment on #bush not going to ground zero?!

@andrew_black Andrew Black
@maktiga Most would agree that, with so many rookies, we didn’t expect #mulcair to make the first big gaffe

Mira458 Stella Campbell
NDP Mulcair’s 1st interview. #fail

Posted in: Canada, Canadian Politics, Posted Ta

Alf Apps does a 180. Things must really be desperate!

In his letter, Mr. Apps also appealed for the party to be more inclusive through this renewal process and to “respect the honestly held viewpoints of each party member, including all in our deliberations.”

WOW, that really would be a change! Why don't I believe it?

Liberals urged to take stunning blow on the chin

OTTAWA— Globe and Mail Update
Published Wednesday, May. 04, 2011 5:51PM EDT

Calling their election defeat “a deeply personal experience,” Liberal Party president Alfred Apps is appealing to all Liberals now to put that behind them, regroup, assign no blame and begin the long process of rebuilding.

“Our future as a party will depend, more than ever, on preserving our unity, broadening our vision and keeping clear and cool heads over the coming weeks and months about what we need to do,” Mr. Apps wrote in a two-page letter to Liberals, released Wednesday.

Canada's Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff waves as he and his wife Zsuszanna Zsohar (R) leave after announcing his resignation as Liberal leader during a news conference in Toronto May 3, 2011. Ignatieff is leaving politics after losing his seat in Monday's federal election.

Many Liberals fear that the election result has now divided the country more sharply between left and right, leaving little room for a party of the centre.

But Mr. Apps is not giving up on Liberalism. He says it’s not “dead in Canada.”

“Far from it,” he wrote. “Our commitment as Liberals remains to a resolutely centrist political party, to a program that blends and balances fiscal responsibility with social compassion. … We must not now surrender to tired ideologies, whether of the right or left, in search of what can work in the real world to make the lives of Canadians better.”

The Toronto lawyer, who was one of the troika to travel to Cambridge, Mass., to encourage Michael Ignatieff to quit Harvard University to join the Liberal Party – with the idea of him eventually becoming leader – is now warning about falling into the trap of finding an easy fix.

“This is not the time for making rash judgments or speedy conclusions,” he said. “This is not the time for Liberals to be seduced by political expediency or parliamentary convenience.”

He said, too, it was not a time to point fingers or for hand-wringing. Rather, “we need to move forward to a reasonable period of constructive stability and collective reflection.”

Mr. Ignatieff announced his intention Tuesday to resign as Liberal leader after the disastrous outcome Monday that saw the party reduced to a mere 34 seats. Mr. Ignatieff lost his own seat in Toronto, where the once-mighty Liberal fortress there collapsed.

It was a humiliating loss.

Mr. Ignatieff’s announcement means yet another Liberal leadership convention; every election, it seems, there is a new Liberal leader. It will be the fourth since Paul Martin took over from Jean Chrétien in 2003.

Liberal caucus is to meet next week to decide on an interim leader; the national board of the party will have to decide on a date for a future convention – the earliest possible date would not be until next year.

In his letter, Mr. Apps also appealed for the party to be more inclusive through this renewal process and to “respect the honestly held viewpoints of each party member, including all in our deliberations.”

This is no time for the “faint-hearted,” he wrote, asking those who want to help to “dust” themselves off and commit to work.

Bev Oda's understudy

Rookie NDP MP-elect accused of falsifying nomination papers

by Sarah Boesveld and Sarah-Taissir Bencharif
National Post
May 4, 2011

Two days after her surprise win in the Quebec riding of Berthier-Maskinongé, NDP rookie Ruth Ellen Brosseau and her team are being accused of falsifying her nomination papers.

Liberal candidate Francine Gaudet, who came in a distant third after the Vegas-vacationing Ms. Brosseau scooped the riding by almost 6,000 votes, says two residents whose signatures appear on the nomination form deny signing anything that pledged their support for Ms. Brosseau.

Trois-Rivières resident René Young and his wife saw their names on the candidacy form but do not remember signing them, Ms. Gaudet said.

NDP party spokesperson Karl Bélanger said the allegations are “not true.”

“The signatures were collected legitimately by our campaign workers going door to door,” he said. The signatures — 100 are required for a legitimate run at office according to Elections Canada rules — were approved by the election’s returning officer, he added.

“Madame Brosseau is thankful to the people of Berthier-Maskinongé for supporting her and helping her get elected. All the signatures were collected legitimately and if some people don’t remember signing it, well, that will be for them to explain.”

Ms. Brosseau has been a controversial candidate ever since the media learned she spent part of the April’s campaign on vacation in Las Vegas. The single mother and, until recently, assistant manager of Oliver’s Pub on the Carleton University campus in Ottawa, has very poor French skills, the NDP admits. A local radio station interviewed Ms. Brosseau during the campaign (her only interview) but did not air it because she could not be understood in French.

Ms. Brosseau lives in Gatineau, Que., a long drive away from her riding. It is unclear whether she’s actually visited Berthier-Maskinongé.

Despite the NDP’s denial of any falsifications on the nomination forms, Ms. Gaudet said she will ask Elections Canada to investigate.

“We’ve informed our party’s legal advisors about this situation and we’ll see in the next hours what our next actions will be, based on Elections Canada’s response,” Ms. Gaudet said in French.

Elections Canada records show Ms. Brosseau was not originally chosen to run as the NDP candidate in the riding — Julie Demers won the nomination in Berthier-Maskinongé, but was moved to the riding of Bourassa where she ultimately lost against Liberal Denis Coderre.

National Post

Thought for the day: MPs as mere voting proxies

Image: Pierre-Luc Dusseault, a 19-year-old student of applied politics at the Universite de Sherbrooke, now becomes the youngest member of Parliament in Canadian history.

It really matters not that this newly minted NDP MP is 19 and a student enrolled at university, since our democracy has been degraded by the party system to the point where MPs aren't actually MPs in the true sense of the word. They are mere (voting) proxies that are voted in the hands of their party's leaders. In this case, any way that Jack and Mulcair want to vote this kid's proxy.

NDP's gang of rookies includes 4 McGill students, 19-year-old, Vegas visitor

By: Jonathan Montpetit and Andy Blatchford,
The Canadian Press

The new MPs, many who are political newbies, beat the odds and surprisingly won their ridings for the New Democrats in an unprecedented sweep for the party, mainly in Quebec. Top from left: Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne-Blainville) and Tyrone Benskin (Jeanne-Le Ber); bottom from left: Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier-Maskinonge) and Matthew Dube (Chambly-Borduas).

The new MPs, many who are political newbies, beat the odds and surprisingly won their ridings for the New Democrats in an unprecedented sweep for the party, mainly in Quebec. Top from left: Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne-Blainville) and Tyrone Benskin (Jeanne-Le Ber); bottom from left: Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier-Maskinonge) and Matthew Dube (Chambly-Borduas). (POSTMEDIA NEWS)

MONTREAL - The NDP caucus from Quebec is an eclectic bunch, to say the least.

It includes the youngest-ever MP, four McGill University students, an ex-Liberal MP, and a globe-trotting diplomat who unseated Gilles Duceppe in his own riding.

Oh, yeah, and the karate-instructing, federal policy researcher who chopped Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon down to size.

That doesn't even include a woman whose questionable French and campaign vacation to Las Vegas raised doubts about the worthiness of the party's Quebec team.

Thomas Mulcair, the party's Quebec lieutenant, sought to reassure Quebecers on Tuesday about the quality of the 58 NDP MPs the province elected the night before.

Mulcair was surrounded at a news conference by several of the MPs, but noticeably absent was Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the assistant manager of a bar in Ottawa who won a comfortable victory in Berthier-Maskinonge. The riding is 98 per cent francophone.

"Ms. Brosseau does not speak a French at a level we would expect for a riding like Berthier-Maskinonge," Mulcair said.

"But I am making a personal promise, we will help organize her office, we will give her all the help that's needed."

Mulcair guaranteed Brosseau's French would improve dramatically over the next four years.

"We will ensure that if ever there are things that need to be taken over by the party, or by me personally, I will be there," he added.

Brosseau has been invisible in the last few weeks as the media try to contact her to assess her French and talk to her about her trip to Sin City.

The NDP said Brosseau, who returned from Vegas last week, wasn't in the riding on election day and wouldn't immediately be available for interviews.

She won with a very healthy 6,000 majority over the riding's Bloc incumbent.

Quebecers woke up Tuesday to a radically altered political landscape, one dominated by rookie NDP MPs instead of the usual Bloc Quebecois veterans.

The NDP's startling rise was best summed up in Tuesday's headline on the website of McGill University's daily newspaper: Four McGill Students Elected to Parliament.

Another university student, a 19-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., was not only voting in his first election but also became the youngest person ever elected to Canada's House of Commons.

Pierre-Luc Dusseault is a self-described political junkie who has been to Ottawa and visited the House of Commons. He also admits to watching a lot of CPAC, the TV channel that broadcasts parliamentary proceedings.

"I know the game," said a confident-sounding Dusseault, who turns 20 on May 31.

Many of the neophytes admitted to having low expectations when the writ was dropped.

Yet they were among dozens of unlikely Quebec NDP candidates who won Monday as the party's caucus in the province skyrocketed to 58 from one. Many will bring impressive backgrounds into Parliament.

The Quebec caucus will also feature Romeo Saganash, former deputy grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees; Francoise Boivin, an ex-Liberal MP; and Helene Laverdiere, who was posted for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Washington, Senegal and Chile.

Laverdiere earned some of the loudest cheers at the NDP rally Monday night when TV screens flashed that she had knocked off Duceppe in Montreal's Laurier-Sainte-Marie.

She seemed stunned to have pulled off the upset, but admitted she had an inkling it could happen.

"A month ago it was a dream," she said.

"(Then), a few weeks ago seeing how people were listening to what we had to say, we started to think, 'Well, maybe the dream will come true.' "

Other new faces will include Mathieu Ravignat, a volunteer karate teacher who knocked off Cannon in Pontiac.

Tyrone Benskin, another surprise NDP winner, said he was asked all night Monday about the impact of so many fresh faces in the House of Commons.

"Yes, there are newcomers, there are always newcomers to any party," said Benskin, 52, a veteran actor, director and musician.

"All these people are very good at what they did in their private lives and they're bringing that experience."

In Toronto on Tuesday, NDP Leader Jack Layton was peppered with media questions about his inexperienced team.

"Yes, we have some young people," he replied. "But you know young people got involved in this election in an unprecedented way. I think it was very exciting.

"And the fact that some of these young people have now been chosen . . . I think we should see that as something to celebrate — not something to criticize."

Benskin himself was singled out during the campaign by Duceppe for not being at ease in French.

Other new faces, like MP Alexandre Boulerice of Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie, couldn't believe what had happened.

"Am I surprised? Of course," said the elated father of four shortly after beating Bloc incumbent Bernard Bigras.

"This is not a wave, this is a tsunami — a political earthquake."

Boulerice, a communications adviser for the Quebec division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, lost to Bigras by more than 17,000 votes in the 2008 election.

This campaign started off much the same way as 2008 for him, as people told him on the street he was a nice guy who would never win.

That was until Easter weekend, when families talked politics, he said.

In the last two weeks of the campaign, he was flooded with emails from supporters asking how they could help, where they could get a sign for their balcony and how they could get themselves an NDP button.

The buttons disappeared so fast that Boulerice didn't even have one to wear for election night.

"Because every time we had a button on, people were asking, "Can I have it?' " Boulerice said.

"So (there's) a back order on buttons."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hooray for Elizabeth May!!!!

Elizabeth May took out a Conservative Cabinet Minister. Meanwhile Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe were unable to hold their own seats and lead their parties to historic losses.

Hooray for Elizabeth May, the only honest and competent person in 41st Parliament of Canada. The only person we can be assured will speak truth to power on behalf of all Canadians.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Now it's the Liberal's turn to be held in the voters

I have never seen a person squander opportunity after opportunity after opportunity like Michael Ignatieff.

Now he has even out done himself by having triggered an election when he was some 10 points down from the ruling Conservatives, and transforming a Conservative minority government into a Conservative. To quote Barack Obama's put down of Donald Trump:

"Well done sir. Well done".

As for squandering opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party did NOTHING to expose the lies, deceit and incompetence of the Harper on the income trust tax. A tax that was predicated on the total false and fabricated argument that income trusts cause tax leakage. A tax that caused REAL tax leakage of over $1 billion a year from the foreign takeover of income trusts, where no tax leakage existed in the first place. A tax that caused Canadians to lose $35 billion of their life savings. A tax that destroyed an essential retirement income investment vehicle that is essential to the 75% of Canadians that are without employee pensions. A tax that unfairly imposed on the 75% of Canadians without pensions and not the 25% of with pensions.

What did the Liberals do for Canadians on this issue? Nothing, Is it any wonder that Cannadian voters are holding the Liberals in contempt?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Today. Jim Flaherty's cousin came a callin' for my vote

I live in the riding of St. Paul's. The Conservative candidate in that riding is Maureen Harquail. Her singular claim to fame is that she's Jim Flaherty's cousin. That didn't count for much in the 2008 election when she unsuccessfully ran in the riding of Willowdale. So I guess she thought she'd try her luck in St. Paul's?

Today she and one of her campaign workers came a callin' for my vote. I told then I would never vote for their party in my life on the strength of the lie that Stephen Harper perpetrated on Canadians during the 2006 election when he said he would never tax income trusts. The campaign worker said he had been hearing that from a lot of voters.

At this point Maureen Harquail joined her campaign worker at my door and I repeated that comment and went of to add that the worse part was that the rationale Harper and Harquail's cousin. Jim Flaherty used to justify their treachery was a lie itself....the fraudulent argument that income trusts cause tax leakage.

At this point Maureen realized she was wasting her time and went running away to the next house saying "That's your opinion", to which I responded "No, it's not my opinion, it's a matter of fact!" and added "How appropriate that you are running away, away from the facts. Keeping running Maureen. That's your idea of 'Here for Canada', by running from the facts."

Vote has become referendum on Harper

By Haroon Siddiqui
Toronto Star Editorial Page
Sun May 01 2011

Who says elections are a nuisance? Stephen Harper and the media. The latter also parroted his pronouncement that this campaign was “unnecessary,” being the fifth since 2000. It’s a waste of money. It’s boring, to boot.

Canadians have proven them wrong, being fully engaged from the first week to the last, turning up in record numbers to the advance polls and dragging Harper onto a knife’s edge for Monday night.

Pooh-poohing politicians used to be the staple of hotline radio. But now it’s most media’s. Stripped of the resources for in-depth coverage and analysis, they feed off the contemporary culture of trivialization and Oprah-ization of democracy.

Thus we are told that it must be Jack Layton’s moustache or his cane that brushed aside Harper’s and Michael Ignatieff’s best laid plans. Or perhaps it was Harper not deigning to look the three opposition leaders in the eye in the televised leaders’ debate.

Speaking of which, how did you feel watching it? About 1,000 Canadians told a pollster that they were irritated, annoyed. Conclusion: “Canadians find politics ‘off-putting.’” Well, we all find all sorts of things “off-putting” every day. But that doesn’t make us infantile and incapable of sober second thought, especially about elections.

Stoking cynicism was Harper’s strategy. The more disengaged the voters and the smaller the turnout, the higher the chances of his hard-core constituency catapulting him into a majority. He was going to consolidate his base and sprinkle it with sectoral politics — Jewish Canadians here, Sikhs there and some Chinese in a handful of ridings.

The tactics worked for a while. It let him separate himself from the other three “bickering politicians.” They were getting in the way of his forming a “stable” government. Democracy equalled instability. That’s what Hosni Mubarak used to say as well.

Harper also delegitimized possible post-election arrangements between political parties in case no party won a majority and the one with the most MPs failed to get the confidence of the House of Commons.

Standard parliamentary practice, that. But Harper made it sound like a coup being hatched by the opposition.

Including even the Bloc Québécois in a parliamentary partnership would not be all that scandalous, says eminent historian Desmond Morton of McGill University. “The separatists are Canadian citizens and Canadian voters. They have a right to have their voice heard in Parliament. We hear it in Quebec all the time, so it had better be heard in Ottawa and English Canada.”

But the “Harper-ization of our minds” (in the memorable phrase of John Meisel of Queen’s University) has been such that it tripped up even Ignatieff, as he tried to run as far as he could from the very notion of a coalition.

However, Canadians quickly caught on to Harper’s politics of division, his contempt of Parliament, his bully tactics (symbolized by students being thrown out of Tory rallies), abuse of power and misuse of the treasury in showering tens of millions of dollars on ridings and groups with the sole purpose of advancing the partisan Conservative cause.

Ordinary citizens have turned the election into a referendum on Harper — specifically, on a Harper majority. Their answer to his fanning the fears of “reckless coalition” post-election was to forge one at the grassroots level, now.

Thus such groups as Project Democracy and Catch 22 are advocating strategic voting for the two-thirds of voters who do not support Harper. On their websites ( and, both identify candidates in ridings most likely to beat the Conservative standard-bearer. (Catch 22 is named after the number of days lost in 2008-09 when Harper prorogued Parliament).

There have been Vote Mobs on university campuses and social media activists tweeting and making videos, such as Go Ethnics Go!?!?, on YouTube, mocking the Harper strategy of wooing “ethnic” and “very ethnic” ridings.

Also taking to YouTube is a revered senior citizen, Peter Russell, constitutional expert at the University of Toronto. In his video and in a statement to Project Democracy, he says he has “never been more worried in my lifetime” than at the “scary” prospect of a Conservative majority. “I really tremble” that if Harper were to win a majority, “it’d be an indication that parliamentary crime pays.”

Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears Thursday and Sunday.