Sunday, March 27, 2011

DAY TWO: Things That Should Be On Iggy's `To Do` List

Michael Ignatieff deserves credit for political bravery this week for forcing an election while trailing in the polls. In fact they have trailed in most every snapshot poll since the last election, their best numbers only getting them to within the margin of error a handful of times. By any measure in politics that takes courage but especially in an era of 10-15 second sound bites. It`s short-attention-span theatre out there in voterland. A factor that makes it far more difficult to talk about policy differences and their impacts on everyday life in a meaningful way.

 Now it turns out that even the right leaning Globe and Mail agrees with me that the Tories should not be using the adjective "unnecessary" and the noun "coalition" when discussing the election. I risk repetition here but today on day two of the campaign Harper gave a speech in Brampton Ontario and according to the Calgary Herald, The word coalition was used more than 20 times during the 10-minute talk, even though Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on Saturday ruled out forming such a government.

It's all he's got!

And that's a criticism Mr. Ignatieff should level at his opponent. The hypocrisy of Harper having maneuvered towards something  quite like a coalition back in 2004 when he was leader of the opposition has been properly picked up and noted by Canada's media because Mr. Duceppe waved it in their faces in a way they could not ignore -- and let me add a hearty thanks for that! That's a direct blow on Harper's integrity in the campaign's opening salvo. That's the kind of thing that could leave a mark or start a trend.

The very fact that Harper wants to start this election season with nothing but personal attacks and attack ads is very like the Republicans and tea party types to the south and the parallels should be drawn. Tory policy and Tory campaigning look and sound more American than they do Canadian. That applies to the tenor of the attacks as well. Do we want our national discourse to descend to those depths? Not likely that the answer to that is yes for most Canadians.

There was clearly some strategy in voting non-confidence over the issue of contempt of Parliament as opposed to the recent Conservative budget bill. It's an effective way to call into question the integrity of the Conservative government but that shouldn't stop the Liberal from campaigning against the Conservative budget. It's just that they should let Canadians know what Harper stuffed into that omnibus budget bill C-9. It that was chock full egregious overreaches like for example allowing the Environment Minister now has the right to unilaterally sign off on drilling, mining and logging projects without study or consultation.

And that would be my final suggestion to Mr. Ignatieff. When asked about why another election now, tell them you wanted to do it last year when the Conservatives, even though they were in the minority, were shoving their very right-wing agenda down the throats of Canadians. There was however appreciation for the  idea that Canadians were tired of heading back to the polls but another full year passes and still the same contempt for how the majority of Canadians feel about issues and outright contempt Harper's crew has shown for Parliament and valued institutions like Statistics Canada it was high time to bring all these issues to Canadians.

DAY ONE: Duceppe Calls Harper Out For Lying

The 2011 Canadian election campaign is off to a predictable start with Harper calling the election "unnecessary" and trying to raise the spectre of governance by a coalition that includes "socialists" and "separatists," as something Canadians have to keep in mind when voting.

 So let's do that. Let's face the supposedly frightening prospect of a coalition. Why is it such a terrible idea for these three parties to form a coalition and what evil might befall the Canadian people? Mr. Harper's criticism is that the Liberals and Bloc would be at loggerheads and nothing would get done other than raising your taxes and spending your money. That's as deep as it's going to get for this Prime Minister this campaign. There will be invective, insults, smearing and demagoguing, if the first campaign day is any indicator. All this from a man who is spending $30 billion of Canadian taxpayer money on a sole-sourced contract for stealth jet-fighters that don't fit Canada's current military needs.

As for the dreaded coalition, the three parties who would form this coalition as being either center or left of center on the political spectrum so they're natural allies and altogether including the Green Party they just happen to represent (at least by the last election's overall vote percentages) sixty-seven percent of the voters. Fully two-thirds of the Canadian electorate are voting for centrist or left of center policies. Are their voting rights being trampled?

Do two-thirds of the Canadian public not have the right to see policies that they advocate and vote for come to pass? Are they supposed to abandon the multi-party system that is far more expressive and reflective of the differing political views held by Canadians so that they can defeat one autocratic, fear-mongering man? That would be terribly short-sighted and ultimately a loser for those of us who cheer on and advocate for progress and progressive policy.

The issue is absurd on its' face in that having been in the minority these past five years, Harper could not have governed without the assistance of socialists and separatists and liberals. It's how Parliament functions in a minority government. What makes this doubly absurd is that Harper actually tried to form a coalition with the NDP and the Bloc back in 2004 and while he says only the party that gets the most votes has the right to govern he was clearly thinking something else back in 2004. Today, Mr. Duceppe presented the evidence and proof positive that PM Harper is being two-faced about coalitions.

His duplicitous actions here in what is his campaign's first thrust should be important to voters. It speaks to how he governs and it is illustrative of what kind of man he really is under the veneer of quiet calm. In his very next move he launches more attack ad fantasies about coalitions and impugns Mr. Ignatieff in carefully orchestrated attack ads. This along with his arrogant assertions that he deems this election unnecessary all the while a compliant media pretends that these are real issues but the PM's blatant double-standard and fear-mongering as he launches his campaign are unimportant.