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Friday, May 13, 2011

Thomas Walkom: But what does Layton’s NDP stand for? (in the Toronto Star)

"In the Commons, all parties are opportunistic. But the NDP under Layton has been unusually so — attacking the government at every turn without attempting to determine if its various critiques contradict one another, settling for the easiest or most popular position rather than one best aligned with its principles. ...

"If the NDP had a coherent overall game plan, none of this might matter. Democratic politics is complicated. Even Harper’s Conservatives take one step back for every two forward.

"But Harper also has something larger in mind. He wants to transform Canada into a different kind of society, where collective action through government is minimized, where markets rule and where individuals are given freer rein to accumulate as much as they can.

"Does the NDP these days have an overarching notion of where the country should go and how it can get there? If so, I don’t see it."

Full article: Walkom: But what does Layton’s NDP stand for?.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gillian Steward: Alberta gets a warning about relying on oil (in the Toronto Star)

"...a startling new report commissioned by Premier Ed Stelmach sets out a bold new course for Alberta and its energy industry that could have national consequences.

"For starters, it suggests that Alberta will lose its prosperity advantage within 30 years if it doesn’t soon realize that expensive oil from the oilsands could eventually be replaced by other fuels and energy sources that are cheaper to produce and less damaging to the environment. ...

"So far, the report has been endorsed by some economists, environmentalists and energy industry leaders but it may soon be shelved. Stelmach is set to resign by the end of the year and his successor may have no interest in pursuing any of it.

"That would be a shame. Shaping Alberta’s Future is full of bold and intelligent ideas that deserve serious consideration both inside and outside the province."

Full article: Steward: Alberta gets a warning about relying on oil.

Carol Goar: Why the poor cast votes for Conservatives (in the Toronto Star)

Full article: Goar: Why the poor cast votes for Conservatives.

Carol Goar has put her finger on why the poor keep voting for right-leaning politicians - and it's not just ignorance...

Thomas Walkom: It’s time to end the endless Afghan War (in the Toronto Star)

"The original point has been long forgotten. The latest war aims are expressed in meaningless geo-political clichés: We must demonstrate that we are serious players on the world stage; we must punch above our weight; we need to show the Americans we are credible allies.

"And so we stay on — a two-year extension here, a three-year extension there. Now Canadian soldiers have been ordered to train troops for what is sure to be a future Taliban unity government. Is that nuts or what?"

Full article: Walkom: It’s time to end the endless Afghan War.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rick Mercer on YouTube - RMR Explains Canada

Rick Mercer explains Canada.

Very funny - and perfectly accurate (remember it was recorded in late Dec. 2008 or early 2009, when Michaëlle Jean was still Governor General): YouTube - RMR Explains Canada.

Don't worry if it confuses you - we Canadians find it confusing too!

Susan Delacourt: Is the party over? (in the Toronto Star)

Susan Delacourt asks a series of good questions:
  • Can a new leader fix the Liberals?
  • Should the Liberal party merge with the NDP?
  • Does Canada need a centrist party?
  • What is a political party anyway?
She quotes from a blog by Vincent St. Pierre, a history student who writes a blog called and who had been set to do an internship in Ottawa until this week’s defeat. St. Pierre may have written one of the most intriguing posts about the Liberals’ future.

In his blog post, St. Pierre argues that centrism is an electoral strategy, not a political philosophy, and that the Liberals should now start listening more closely to the current wisdom of — yes — Preston Manning, founder of the old Reform Party.

Full article: Is the party over?.

Christopher Hume: Death and Life still lives, even in Ford Nation (in the Toronto Star)

"Even in Toronto, where Jacobs has presided as a civic deity since she and her family moved here in 1968, the principles she espoused — density and diversity — are applied when convenient, ignored when they’re not. ...

"It turns out that Toronto is a city that succeeds despite itself. Its resilience continues to amaze. As Jacobs pointed out, “…lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over the problems and needs outside themselves.”

"But as she also warned: “Dull cities contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else.”"

Full article: Death and Life still lives, even in Ford Nation.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bob Hepburn: Recovery plan for Liberals (in the Toronto Star)-

Lots of good ideas - among them:

"3. Stop the wars: For the past two decades, the Liberals have been at war with themselves: Jean Chrétien versus John Turner; Paul Martin versus Chrétien; Dion versus Ignatieff versus Bob Rae. These fights have demoralized party loyalists and eroded the party’s base of support. In contrast, the Conservatives and NDP have been at peace for almost 10 years.

"4. Go for generational change: Justin Trudeau, Dominic LeBlanc and other young Liberals — your time is now!

"7. Find a purpose for existing: Once the party of big ideas, from old age pensions to medicare and peacekeeping, the Liberals now seem to have no purpose, no new ideas to attract voters. Ignatieff’s Red Book seemed so 1990s, dealing largely with issues for over-50 voters, such as pensions, health care and home care for seniors. Instead, the Liberals should be a party for young Canadians, with ideas that are important to youth, especially those eager to engage in the world."

Full article: Hepburn: Recovery plan for Liberals.

Haroon Siddiqui: How Harper won and Ignatieff lost (in the Toronto Star)om

"The Liberals lost because Canadians did not find Ignatieff or his platform attractive, period. Those looking for a distinct alternative to Harper found it in Jack Layton and the NDP.

"I have long argued that Ignatieff could not win as Harper Lite any more than John Kerry could have in 2004 as Bush Lite. There wasn’t much difference between Ignatieff and Harper on several domestic and all key foreign policy issues. ...

"Those depressed by the poor Liberal showing of 34 seats should think back to 1993 when the Conservatives were shrunk to two seats. (That was fewer than the number of Sikh Liberals elected. Now many elected Sikhs are going to be in the Harper caucus.)

"Harper has a right to implement his platform. If he goes beyond it, the 60 per cent of Canadians who did not vote for him would let him know. They might even raise a stink about some of his more controversial legislative initiatives. Public opinion can act as a mid-election check on a government.

"Canadians have only given the prime minister a new mandate. They have not crowned him king. "

Full article: Siddiqui: How Harper won and Ignatieff lost.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Martin Reg Cohn: Don’t make me weep on voting day (in the Toronto Star)

"There is much at stake in this election. Yet the biggest decision for many eligible voters is not whom to choose, but choosing to vote at all.

"On election night, everyone focuses on the final tally. I worry not only about how the vote turns out, but the voter turnout. ...

"...tomorrow is voting day here. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t like the electoral system, dislike the candidates, or don’t think your vote will count.

"In Canada, democracy counts for everything, even if the system is imperfect and no candidate is without faults. One thing is certain: a vote is a terrible thing to waste."

Full article: Cohn: Don’t make me weep on voting day.

Haroon Siddiqui: Vote has become referendum on Harper (in the Toronto Star)

"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. ...

"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."

Full article: Siddiqui: Vote has become referendum on Harper.