Monday, March 31, 2008

Ontario Provincial Liberals come through for Halton

Carr applauds $1-billion commitment

Province allocates dollars to municipal

By Melanie Hennessey, Special to the Post

Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr is applauding the provincial government for allocating $1 billion to municipal infrastructure needs in its 2008 budget released this week.

The head of council said the budget begins to address what the region has been calling for through its Fairness for Halton campaign -- more funding for local infrastructure to help accommodate the growth targets specified in the province's Places to Grow plan. It says Halton's population is
supposed to increase by more than 300,000 to 780,000 by 2031.

"We're pleased that the provincial government recognizes infrastructure is an important part of a healthy community," Carr said. "It's a good first step."

The $1 billion includes almost $500 million for public transit in the GTA and Hamilton, $400 million for roads and bridges in communities outside Toronto and $100 million to rehabilitate social housing units, including energy-efficient improvements.

On the public transit front, $57 million is designated for Halton to develop
a bus rapid transit line along Dundas Street.

Carr said he wasn't too surprised about this funding, since he is a member of Metrolinx -- an agency of the Ontario government that's striving to develop an integrated transportation system for the GTA and Hamilton. Metrolinx had already recommended the project be funded in the budget. But even if it wasn't news to Carr, he said he's pleased nonetheless.

"I think it will be an important component of moving people from east to west," he remarked.

The chair said he's also happy that the GO Lakeshore corridor has been identified for improvements. The budget allocates $60 million for 20 additional bi-level passenger coaches for the line.

Carr said the region has yet to receive formal notification from the province on any additional funding Halton may receive for infrastructure from the budget. He noted more should be known within the next few weeks.

The region is also waiting on the soon-to-be-released results of the Joint
Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review, which aims to determine the best way to deliver and pay for programs like social housing and welfare -- things that used to be paid for at the provincial level but were downloaded to municipalities by former premier Mike Harris.

A report on the 18-month review is expected in late spring. Through Fairness for Halton, the region has been asking the province to take back at least some of the responsibility for funding social service programs.

"I believe these services shouldn't be on the property tax base," noted Carr.

It that money was freed up, the region would put it toward needed infrastructure like road and sewers, the chair previously told the Milton Canadian Champion, the Post's sister newspaper.

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Is Conservative MP Mike Wallace breaking House of Commons rules?

Garth Turner raises this point in his blog:
By the way, my buddy at the Canada Post substation in the middle of Halton sent me an email this afternoon. “This flyer is slated to go out to 29,000 homes tomorrow,” his note said, and along with it he sent a digital picture... of the latest Conservative flyer. The interesting point is that under House of Commons rules, the sponsoring MP from next door (Conservative Mike Wallace) is allowed to send only 7,000 of these to cover 10% of my riding. Instead, he sent 29,000. So much for rules. Right, Mr. Wallace?

If so, is this allowed to happen or not? Who is paying for these flyers?

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The best advice I could offer Stephane Dion right now...

The way I see it, things really can't get too much worse, or at least I hope they don't.
Good luck.


Common Sense

My recent exchange with Jim-Bobby and Cliff leave me thinking that this is unfortunately all too true, at least amongst some of the "progressive" bloggers.

Update: Cliff does provide some analysis (someone else's that is...) in the comments of the post below that does clearly show that while the NDP were attacking the Liberals in opposition, it wasn't as much or more than their attacks on the CPC. Touche.

Doesn't change the fact that their attacks on the Liberals after the election are absurd. Kinda ranks up there with the CPC running attack ads against the oppostion.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Oh, come off it already...

...that's my response to this post at POGGE, which links to this post at The Vanity Press.

What is so difficult to understand?

Yes, to some degree it's reasonable to complain about the situation the current parliament has found itself in, at least if you are a supporter of any party but the neo-Tories.

To avoid triggering an election that, from the gauging of most polls, may not change the landscape of the government and may even result in a poorer showing for the Liberal party and perhaps all the opposition parties, the Federal Libs have found themselves in the wretched position of having to avoid toppling the minority CPC government.

From the perspective of the more election-hawkish in the Liberal ranks and CPC opponents of all stripes this has been vexing, to say the least.

I think most of us can agree we want the CPC out of power; like the possibility of a comeback by Pauly Shore or Andrew Dice Clay, we're not crazy about anything they've done so far, and we're not eager to see what they'll do next.

So, when anyone suggests that it isn't a good time to call an election, they're banded a "Nervous Nellie." The Liberals are being castigated for not pulling the trigger sooner.

Never mind the fact, as mentioned, that the polls don't seem to indicate a significant change in the popular opinion. If the polls showed that Harper and his band were dramatically falling from favour with the general public, then the choice would be more obvious.

Add to the lack of substantial shift in public opinion the newly revealed information that the Quebec Liberal party is no where near election readiness, and is also apparently ready to revolt (although not because they're itching for an election, otherwise they'd have their derrieres in gear).

But there are still some who would prefer that the Liberals "go down fighting" rather than "rearranging the deck chairs." Yes that's right, the party should commit sepuku in an effort to bring about what could potentially be a negative outcome for any progressive concerned.

To them, I might also like to explain the cost of general elections, something that seems to be forgotten in much of this debate. And that's just the book-keeping by Elections Canada. I wonder what the cost is when you factor in the time and effort that has to be donated by so many volunteers?

Hey, let me be the first to suggest though that the cost of the election has to be weighed against the cost of preventing further significant damage to the national economy by a bunch of inexperienced right wing policy wonks.

Again though, if the general public doesn't appear to be in favour of a change, then what is the point?

Now, if you want to bitch about the Federal Liberals not doing enough to change the popular opinion against the CPC government, then that's certainly fair game; but to suggest that they've totally abnegated the role of opposition is pretty rich (to put it politely) when considering that Jack Layton has spent as much time, if not more, attacking the Liberal party as he has the CPC government.

Seeing as the Liberals are being blamed for keeping this minority government on life support, just remember that when the time does come, it'll be the Liberals bringing the change.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hey Flaherty...

Take off eh?

Maybe this isn't as glowing a result as the province would want, but its interesting to note that Toronto's cost index is still better than Vancouver's, and I don't recall Flaherty's flying finger pointing at BC.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The knives are out?

Is this true? This is just nasty.

A little unreasonable considering what the party went through to select Dion, and especially so since he’s only had a little over a year in the position.

So who is behind this, and what is their justification?


Saturday, March 22, 2008

On the attack - part 2

So, why was I going on about the Liberal party needing to attack more? Aren't they already doing that?

Yes, but I just can't help but think that they're still not totally back into the role of being opposition, and being on the attack, rather than being attacked.

The attacking against the Liberals, or Stephane Dion hasn't stopped. In the last two years, the Conservatives have run attack ads on at least two separate occasions since becoming the government... I still think this is totally unprecedented. This is the table that the Liberals have got to turn around decisively.

It's great that the party is top heavy with talent, brains and experience; what they need to do though, is create another rat pack.

Next, they have to get the message out to the un-politicised public. Not the people/trolls who read blogs. Not the people who watch Mike Duffy, or Don Martin or Steve Paiken... those people are already politically engaged. This is about getting the message out to the people on the street who don't follow politics, and maybe might hear/talk about an issue if it makes the headlines.

There has to be more getting in front of the media and making more noise about the failings of this government (seriously... this week should be hammering away on these two issues)

...and once and for all explaining that the Liberal party is not going to waste taxpayer money triggering an election that isn't going to change the landscape.

I'm not exactly thrilled that the government has gotten off the hook on as many issues as they have, but until we get the message out, nothing can change.


Yow... happy Easter to you too...

Normally I avoid the BT's, but today I meander over and read how at Mesopotamia West, Frank has a new interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount... and then extends this even further:
What is His advice today? I would say it's fight Evil in every
way and at every turn. To me, that's the message that resonates.

That's great Frank... I can't wait to find out your definition of evil... and please ignore my banner.

Don't you just love the way he's able to interpret what Jesus' advice for today would be? Who needs Jesus when we have Frank?

To be fair, his interpretation of the Sermon might in fact be spot on.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Suggestion for Stephane Dion and the Federal Liberals: If at first you don't succeed, then attack, attack, attack.

I had this epiphany a while ago myself, and may have even posted on it: Successful opposition parties attack well and non-stop.

This idea occurred to me again last night as I watched the "At Issue" panel on CBC unanimously declare that the winning of only 3 of 4 by-elections was a resounding failure for Stephane Dion. I don't necessarily agree, but there are some lessons to be learned.

First thing: If everyone is still talking about why the opposition isn't gaining ground, it's bad. We need everyone to be talking about why the government is failing.

It's not like they haven't given a healthy list of things to criticize either:

Cuts to immigration
Chuck Cadman scandal
Handling of Brenda Martin case
Kelowna accord
Income trusts
Cuts to Status of Women Canada
Cancelling of Court challenges program
Backdoor attempt to make abortions illegal
Anything the Conservatives do now that they criticised previously
illicit donations
Cheque swapping

Mulroney-Schreiber you say? Hey, if the albatross fits, let them wear it. Mulroney was, after all, the leader of the CPC's transition team... makes him a pretty high ranking unelected part of this government as far as I'm concerned. Reveal that to enough Canadians, and that's all that counts. The point is not to let Harper distance himself.

Seriously, being in opposition and attacking is about picking up everything, everything, EVERYTHING and flinging it at the wall, and seeing what sticks. When something sticks, pick up more and fling it it the wall. Repeat until elected.

It's time to start framing the arguments so to speak. Loudly. Everywhere.

Maybe save up for some attack ads.

Just my two cents.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Conservative Life Insurance

I'm probably not the first to post this, but in case you missed it, it's very funny:


Hmmm... I wonder which party the perpatrators of these crimes support?

This is disgusting.

This wouldn't stop me from putting up a sign.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Conservatives can't help but show their true colours on immigration

On Monday I had read this article in the Toronto METRO daily about the Tory cuts to immigration and meant to do a post about it, but I've been busy. I was given new impetus today when, by way of Pogge, I caught how underhandedly they had slipped these cuts into a budget bill on Friday.

Let's remember to bring this up when they make their next shallow attempts to court the votes of new Canadians... the bolded part below is a real neo-Tory gem:

Tories slash Immigration - by Guidy Mamann

New bill to cut humanitarian cases.

On Friday, the federal Conservatives proved that, while they can talk a big game on immigration, they are certainly no friend of it.

In 2005, the Liberals admitted over 262,000 new immigrants to Canada. When the Conservatives took over in 2006, they reduced this number to 251,649. In 2007, the Conservatives slashed another 15,000 from this total when they admitted only 236,689 new immigrants. This number fell well short of the Tories’ 240,000-265,000 target that they had promised Parliament in October, 2006. As a result, Canada has closed its doors to over 36,000 new immigrants over the past two years.

Interestingly enough, these facts did not get in the way of the Tories announcing last week that, in 2007, they admitted “the highest number of newcomers in Canada’s history”. In order to support this mind-boggling claim, the Conservatives included as “newcomers” foreigners who arrived here on work or study permits even though they are only here temporarily. (My advice to foreigners arriving in Canada seeking temporary admission: never describe yourself to a border officer as a “newcomer” to Canada as that could easily suggest a permanent, as opposed to a temporary, intent.)

On Friday, the Tories also introduced a bill to amend our immigration laws.

This bill proposes to amend the very cornerstone of our immigration egislation. Our current legislation states that a foreign national must apply for the appropriate visa or document to enter Canada. If they meet each and every requirement of the Act, the visa or document “shall” be issued to them. The Feds want to change this word to “may”. It is proposed that Parliament give the Minister the power to direct the manner in which the department disposes of its caseload. In other words, even if you have paid a fee, waited for years, and met all of our criteria, the Minister has no obligation to issue the requested visa or document. The denial would not count as a decision”. Since the denial is not a “decision”, there may be no appeal. Put differently; imagine purchasing a movie ticket and standing patiently in line only to be randomly told that you will not be admitted. No doubt, such a prospect would have quite a chilling effect on business.

The bill also proposes to cut into the immigration departments’ ability to admit foreigners to Canada on humanitarian grounds. The proposal would limit such consideration only to those who are physically here. This may close the only avenue available to children and spouses abroad of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are not sponsorable because they were undeclared and/or not examined when their sponsor was landed in Canada.

Any such encroachment on our collective ability to be compassionate in any circumstance should only be approached with great care.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wow, is this ever getting ugly...

I'd like to say that the reports of the demise of the Liberal party of Canada are greatly exaggerated, but come on already!

Yes, everyone knows the value of holding the moral high ground, but it doesn't take a brilliant political strategist to know that this wasn't the way to do it.

Just in case you aren't clear as to why this isn't a sound move: Every other member of Parliament will no longer take you seriously... a sentiment that could soon start spreading to Canadians in general.

So I can understand when other progressives who aren't Liberals themselves are pretty disappointed, because I am too.

We all know that the NDP and Bloc were being shameless opportunists when they brought down the last Liberal government, but hey... that's what opposition parties do. If there hadn't been a scandal that had driven many soft-liberals into the woodwork or to another party, then the government would have bounced back.

Just don't expect that the average Canadian is still seething over that last election... they aren't. They've moved on. So should we.

I had been in favor of holding off on an election because most polls made it pretty apparent that the general populace isn't swaying one way or another; the overall mood of the nation is that an election isn't called for. Waiting until after the by-elections was the way to go. Letting the Cadman affair simmer would have been an easy course. Defeating the back door anti-abortion bill should have been a no brainer... come on, you're supposed to be the professionals at this.

Now the party has to hold off and clean up this hairball (except that cleaning up an actual hairball would be preferable, more pleasant and less embarrassing).

For crying out loud would you just do whatever it takes to get Kinsella back on side and working for you? That's the best advice I can offer.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

From the Globe

I have to say I like this line of reasoning by Duceppe:

“That they could have told that candidate, ‘Hello, you are no longer our candidate and, by the way, we are replacing you with someone who has cancer and is in terminal phase,' it doesn't sound very credible,” Mr. Duceppe said.

It really does underline the fact that the Conservatives broke the law in spirit, if not the letter.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Lawsuit eh? That sounds familiar...

Maybe Harper thinks this will work out for him like it did for his crony Brian Mulroney, eh?

I don't think this lawsuit nonsense should be allowed; isn't it reasonable to suspect that the leader of a political party would have knowledge about any offers being made to "bring someone back into the party?"

I think the RCMP has to investigate this one and get to the bottom of it; hopefully they'll really investigate this one though, unlike the Mulroney-Airbus investigation.
Or, maybe instead we should hand this over to CBC's "The Fifth Estate" to look into? They at least seem to have the dogged determination to get to the facts.
So how does this work? If I'm of the opinion that Harper may be full of shit (that's a legal term, right?) when he says he knew nothing about a $1 million life insurance policy being offered to Chuck Cadman, can I be sued for making public my suspicions?
I'm Just asking...

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Flaherty should mind where he points his finger.

Everyone in Ontario at least will remember that when the Harris-Eaves PC's were finally sent packing, it was discovered that they left Ontario with a deficit that they had otherwise claimed was all but eliminated.

Fast forward to today, and it seems that a certain ex-provincial finance minister still bears a bit of a grudge.
I think we all understand that having a lower corporate tax rate encourages businesses to invest and set up in a jurisdiction, but Flaherty should maybe remember that a certain ex-Provincial Finance minister didn't make it any easier to balance the books in Ontario.

Do the neo-Tories still wonder why they poll so lousy in Ontario? They shouldn't.