Monday, November 28, 2005
This is the end, my friends...
Finally, the NDP have worked up the courage to support the rest of the opposition in this country in ditching the scandal-laden Liberals.
Let's hope voters are willing to take a chance on change...
Thursday, November 24, 2005
And then there was none...
Open the cash register and bribe the voters with their own money – it must be election time in Ottawa.
In a wave of spending shocking in its depth and breadth, the Federal Liberal government in Ottawa has blown through over $20 billion in a couple of days on issues as diverse as native residential school compensation, new planes for the military, loan guarantees for softwood lumber producers, and labour training for the provinces, starting with vote-rich Ontario.
This comes on top of paltry personal tax cuts announced last week in an attempt to duck criticism that they had lost whatever aura of fiscal responsibility they had gained during the Chretien years.
Not that I’m one to quote Jack Layton, but he actually had it right this time when he commented yesterday that the Federal Liberals had hoped to stretch these announcements out until they dropped the writ in February, but were now having to cram three or four of them into each day as the opposition maneuvers to bring down the government.
It’s bad enough that the Liberal Party stole tax dollars to finance their political operations, but this flood of cynical, win at any cost, spending only hurts the political process in Canada.
Now, your Liberal friends and neighbours will tell you that all of this spending is important, and deals with issues of critical importance to our nation.
If that’s the case, why are the Liberals jamming it into a one week period right before their government collapses under its own corrupt weight?
Surely issues of this magnitude should have been dealt with sometime in the last, say, 12 years of majority Liberal government. To leave it to the dying days of this minority regime only serves to insult those Canadians who actually care about the military, the condition of Canadian First Nations and those who owe their livelihoods to the softwood industry.
Let’s not forget the Liberals have been in government since 1993. Come Election Day they will have held Parliament for almost thirteen years. Funny how none of these warranted so much a head nod from the Liberals in all that time – they were much too busy buying off Quebec federalists with our cash, But now, in the dying days of their government, we get to witness Paul Martin, Ujjal Dosanjh, Belinda Stronach and Ralph Goodale throwing money around like it grows on maple trees.
The worst of all of this is that it reduces the value of these issues in voter’s minds. Instead of having a legitimate discussion about residential school victims and how best to compensate them for the horrors they endured, their pain becomes a political tool wielded by the Liberals in a disingenuous attempt to hold onto their core voters in urban Canada.
Fortunately, Canadians are growing very weary of a directionless government in which every decision is plotted based on the number of votes it can garner. Paul Martin’s Liberals are facing a day of reckoning – and Canadians will march through the snow, hail, fog and sleet to deliver it.
(As seen today in 24 Hours)
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Desperate Times for Vision Vancouver
There is an air of desperation around the tactics unleashed by Jim Green and Vision Vancouver this week. At least, I think that stink is desperation, because I’d hate to think these guys actually believe what they are saying.
It is an old maxim in politics that dirty campaigns start when one side begins the often unstoppable slide beneath their opponents in the internal voter tracking. It is the party on the downward trajectory that drags out the nasty photo, the stupid quote, the past drug use.
Or sometimes, as in the case of a glossy mail piece dropped in Vancouver mail boxes this week, the losing team resorts to outright falsehoods.
Sam Sullivan is a lot of things. He’s a tireless advocate for disabled and underprivileged. He’s is thinker – he doesn’t just blindly react to public opinion for the sake of opportunistic gain. He strives for balance. He builds relationships across the political spectrum, from all neighbourhoods, and among all walks of life in our city.
To insinuate, as Jim Green and his merry Vision band have done in this mailer, that he is anti-gay and anti-choice is like suggesting Santa Claus is a pimp.
That kind of campaigning may be ok in Alabama, but it is unacceptable in Vancouver. Full stop. If we condone this ugly business, we strip away our ability to build coalitions and work together. We will become polarized and divided. How can we build a city when we’re pitting people against each other?
Has Sam Sullivan made mistakes? Absolutely. Who among us hasn’t? Has he apologized? Yes. He has learned from them? Yes. I don’t see COPE or Vision apologizing publicly for their mistakes, because that takes real courage. It is far easier to conduct a drive-by smearing than look deeply in the mirror at one’s own errors.
Sam Sullivan’s campaign team includes Paul Martin Liberals, Jean Chretien Liberals, Joe Clarke Tories, Stephen Harper Tories, Mike Harcourt NDPers and many more – even those who aren’t involved federally or provincially, but who just care deeply about our great city.
To suggest for a moment that Sam Sullivan is part of some far-right nut-bar conspiracy is the height of lunacy – and anyone who has worked with, met, or talked to Sam Sullivan knows how far his opponents are reaching on this one.
It isn’t part of some conspiracy that Sam has been awarded the Order of Canada (by the Liberal-appointed Adrienne Clarkson). It isn’t by accident that he is the longest serving councilor in the City. And it isn’t because of some dark cabal meeting at the Vancouver Club that he has recruited a strongest, brightest, most focused group of candidates to ever run under a revitalized NPA banner.
Saturday is voting day. After this week, nothing will make me happier to see this election come to an end.
The friendly Larry Campbell mask has been ripped off Vision Vancouver and now we can see this party for what it is – a group of politicos so desperate to hold onto power that they are willing to employ the kind of tactics that most Canadians deplore.
(As seen today in 24 Hours Daily)
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Quote of the Day - Thomas Sowell
I thought I'd reprise this one as a reminder that the responsibility rests in all of us to hold our elected officials (and the unelected ones, too) to account...
"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong". ~Thomas Sowell
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Move over, boys...
One of the greatest differences that observers have noticed about this race over that of previous elections is the abundance of strong, articulate and capable female council candidates.
All three parties, NPA, Cope and Vision, have recruited women who aren’t just place-holders or there because party quotas dictate a certain number of female candidates, but who are running because they are genuine leaders in their respective communities.
Equal Voice BC, an organization dedicated to ensuring women are elected into office, said it best on Wednesday. “There are an impressive number of women running in the upcoming Vancouver election and they are strong candidates. We’re very excited about that.”
Mayoral candidate, Sam Sullivan, told me yesterday that the NPA’s success in fielding more female than male candidates, a first for a Vancouver civic party, was in large measure due to “the party’s work over the last three years to reach out to a diverse group of people from across the city. Vancouver is a diverse city and our council should reflect that.”
NPA council candidates include Suzanne Anton, a popular Parks Board commissioner, Elizabeth Ball, a long-time leader in the Vancouver art and theatre worlds, Kim Capri, the Executive Director for the community-based BC Crime Prevention Association, Colleen Hardwick Nystedt, a 20 year veteran of the BC film industry and celebrated business leader, Valerie Jenkinson, a prominent entrepreneur and, finally, safe street advocate, Kathi Thompson. Their bios can be read at www.npavancouver.ca
COPE’s female council team has two familiar faces: anti-Walmart activist Anne Roberts and Ellen Woodsworth, a proud descendent of J.S. Woodsworth, a founder of the precursor to the NDP, the CCF. All five of Cope's candidates are incumbents, so there is no change to the three to two split, men to women. Again, further details at www.cope.bc.ca
Vision Vancouver has just two female candidates for council. Heather Deal, a Parks Board commissioner and newcomer Heather Harrison, a philosophy instructor at Kwantlen College. www.votevision.ca has bios on these two.
Female candidates are also very well represented in the School Board campaigns.
The NPA is running Rucku Bhandal, the only Indo-Canadian candidate in this race, as well as Carol Gibson, Eleanor Gregory, Michelle Mollineaux and Shirley Wong. Five of the nine NPA candidates are women – again, blowing right through historic averages.
Vision Vancouver decided against putting up slates for either Parks Board or School Board, but Cope’s team fits more with previous slates and is running just three female candidates in their eight contested positions. They include Jane Bouey, Sharon Gregson and incumbent, Angela Kenyon.
Is there anything missing from this record field of women candidates? A female mayoral candidate, of course. Of the twenty candidates for mayor, not one is a woman.
Perhaps the political and personal drubbing of the last female mayoral candidate, Jennifer Clarke in 2002, did nothing to encourage women to look past a council spot to the mayor’s chair.
Election Day is November 19th. If you can’t vote that day, access one of the advance polls. Information is on the City of Vancouver website.
As seen today in 24 Hours Daily.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Now, what would happen if they did this research on public school teachers?
In the category of "no kidding", this report was released by the CD Howe Institute today.
Highlights? Professors who work in environments that are merit based rather than seniority based perform better - AND SO DO THEIR STUDENTS!!
We all know that it is un-Canadian to think like this guys, so stop it!
Monday, November 07, 2005
In Flander's Fields...
Thursday, November 03, 2005
COPE/Vision - Balance the books and then we'll talk...
There are two major projects close to the heart of Jim Green and COPE/Vision, and both have become poster children for the fiscal incompetence of this crew.
The Southeast False Creek development is an ambitious undertaking that has morphed from a cost-effective 2010 athlete's village to an expensive eco-sustainability project. The second, of course, is the Woodward's store development, aimed at building more low-cost housing in the Downtown Eastside.
Both are very admirable. However, are they priorities for Vancouver taxpayers? None of the polling I've seen says: "OK, go ahead, gut the capital in the Property Endowment Fund and eat into the interest that our children can count on for important future infrastructure in order to pay for a couple of very expensive vanity projects."
Last spring, for example, Vancouver's Director of Financial Services, Ken Bayne, warned that Southeast False Creek development needed, because of over-loading social requirements by Council onto the project, "considerable funding requirements for which funding sources have not been identified."
This is city-speak for "There isn't enough money. Let's ask the taxpayers for more."
This project, which had the potential for a $50 million profit for Vancouver, has turned into a subsidized development for the granola set because council couldn't say no. Costs are up $85 million. That's a lot of our cash that could be used treating addicts and putting cops on the street.
Is this project, for which Jim Green is dying to cut the ribbon, your priority?
Next? Woodwards. Books will be written on the Woodward's project. We all know the background - boarded-up landmark department store in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods. Perfect for low-cost housing. And don't forget Jim Green's assertion that the private sector will do this at no cost to Vancouver taxpayers.
In fact, here is the quote from Jim Green just recently, "If you look at the Woodward's project, for example, the city commitment is close to zero."
If only that were true.
I guess he's forgetting the $5 million we paid to buy the Woodward's site and the $1.2 million in holding costs. Then council agreed to pay an additional $13.5 million to cover budget overruns, with warnings that we may still have to pay more. So, including some staff time, we're looking at $20 million.
Only in the COPE/ Vision math world would that equal a "close to zero commitment". City staff are again on the record calling it "an expensive and risky undertaking."
So, to recap, city staffers are negative on both projects because of huge risks and costs. The COPE/ Vision councillors are blowing our cash instead of investing in safer streets and better roads. And, adding insult to injury, they are raiding the Property Endowment Fund established 20 years ago to ensure that all residents benefited from Vancouver's real estate market, and losing our precious AAA credit rating.
If we give them three more years, will they have to sell pot at City Hall to finance their administration?
Setting the record straight: Bill Tieleman referred to me as one of Sam Sullivan's campaign team. While I admire those who are committing to get him elected, I am not active on his campaign.
(As seen today in 24 Hours Daily)
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Liberal v. Liberal
I personally think that Warren Kinsella says it best:
November 1, 2005 - I am watching CTV's coverage of the Gomery report on a WestJet plane heading to Winnipeg. It's as good a place to watch a circus as any, I suppose.
Some quick reactions:
Gomery utterly destroys his credibility - and exposes his flagrant bias - when he actually states that the evidence "exonerates" Paul Martin. Gomery and Martin certainly want Canadians to believe that, but they won't. The guy who wrote the "Cher Claude" letter about sponsorship dollars knew nothing? The guy who was forced to admit he wrote the cheques? The guy who attended Quebec caucus and Quebec minister meetings, where sponsorship was regularly discussed, knew nothing? Bullshit. It's a bald-faced lie, and Canadians know it.
Try as he might, Gomery's $80 million inquisition could not find any evidence, whatsoever, of Jean Chrétien and Jean Pelletier having any personal involvement or culpability in wrongdoing. That's what he and the Martinites wanted most of all, so great is their well-documented hatred for Jean Chrétien. But they didn't get it.
Gomery disregarded evidence. He quoted evidence wrongly. He spun evidence, he even seemed to make evidence up. His objective - as Ipsos public opinion polls bear out - was to smear a man he had called "small town cheap" and assorted other insults. Canadians know that, too. That's why Canadians loved Chrétien's golf ball jest - because they loved seeing the Shawinigan streetfighter make short work of the imperious, loose-lipped Westmount judge.
Chrétien called in the AG. Chrétien called in the Mounties. Chrétien was the guy who moved on this mess first, not Paul Martin. That's the facts.
In his self-aggrandizing press statement, done shortly after the report was tabled in the House of Commons, Gomery slipped - and, in so doing, revealed a truth. He insisted, defensively, that he was "the sole author." Why would he do that? Judges always author their own decisions, don't they? Yes, mainly. But in this case, those of us who closely followed this circus saw who John Gomery chose to surround himself with, and rely upon, time and time again: Brian Mulroney's best friend. Brian Mulroney's law firm. Brian Mulroney's Chief of Staff (two of them, in fact). A goodly portion of Brian Mulroney's cabinet. Brian Mulroney's cronies. Gomery may be "the sole author" - but he was aided and abetted, throughout, by Brian Mulroney's team. And the team was paid for by Gomery and Mulroney's Westmount neighbour: Paul Martin.