The reports today on the SES poll indicate that Martin's approval rating dropped 18 points in 24 hours. This means he's in serious trouble in terms of turning the campaign around. Now all the corrurption baggage is going to come back to haunt him. The bottom line is that the Liberals have not yet been punished by the voters for their earlier misdeeds. That reckoning will probably occur on January 23.
The Liberal decision not to have Goodale step aside, coupled with the announcement of the RCMP criminal investigation, has had immediate dramatic negative effects for the Liberals. The SES poll indicated a statistical tie between the Liberals and the Conservatives and a precipitous drop in Martin's personal approval rating of 18 points in 24 hours.
A new Decima poll released today confirms that the Liberals and Conservatives are tied as they enter the last phase of the campaign.
The survey by Decima Research pegs Liberal support at 32 per cent of those who are likely to vote, compared to 30 per cent who say they intend to back the Conservatives. Given the poll's margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, the two parties are in a statistical dead heat.
New Democrats are backed by 18 per cent of the 1,020 respondents to a telephone survey between Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, while 14 per cent say they will vote for the Bloc Quebecois.
The biggest regional shift is being felt in Ontario, where the Liberals' once-commanding lead has shrunk to just four percentage points over the Conservatives at 40-36.
A Conservative minority will put pressure on Martin to leave. His departure is necessary in order for the Liberal party to heal and rebuild itself. Meanwhile the minority status will prevent the Conservatives from implementing radical changes to social programs. This should be the preferred outcome of all who are Liberal at heart but fed up with the shenanigans of the current regime.
The reports today on the SES poll indicate that Martin's approval rating dropped 18 points in 24 hours. This means he's in serious trouble in terms of turning the campaign around. Now all the corrurption baggage is going to come back to haunt him. The bottom line is that the Liberals have not yet been punished by the voters for their earlier misdeeds. That reckoning will probably occur on January 23.
Posted by cardinal47 at Saturday, December 31, 2005
Martin is getting dodgy on the issue as he tends to do when the pressure builds. See
"Martin said he and some other people in the Prime Minister's Office had advance knowledge of a government decision on income trusts before it was made public, something he says isn't out of the ordinary.
"I knew and I'm one of them. The fact is, that the people who would be on a need-to-know basis would have that information," said Martin.
"When asked if the alleged leak could have come from the PMO, the prime minister didn't give a direct answer.
"The fact is we are dealing with opposition allegations. And that's all we are dealing with. Opposition allegations during an election campaign," said Martin. "The RCMP obviously have a responsibility to follow up on matters such as this. That's their job."
"Martin said he believes the spike in trading is simply a reflection of how markets operate.
"There are a lot of people who are essentially ... saying out there that what you're dealing with is ... simply the way that ... markets function," said the prime minister.
Does Martin really expect us to believe that "the spike in trading is simply a reflection of how markets operate"??? Have you looked at the charts of trading that afternoon? "simply the way that ... markets function" Who comes up with these pathetic lines for him???
For those who are still unclear on what appears to have happened, the CBC has a little primer on Income Trusts on its website .
Here's an extract:
"What suggests that an advance leak of Goodale's announcement may have taken place?
Goodale did not make his announcement public until after 5 p.m. on Nov. 23, well after the stock markets had closed. But earlier in the day, especially during the last two hours of the trading day, there were noticeable spikes in the trading volumes and share prices of many income trusts and dividend-paying stocks – sometimes triple their normal volumes. These would be the kind of securities that would be expected to benefit from the type of announcement Goodale made later that day. Of the 10 most actively traded stocks on Nov. 23, eight were income trusts, trust candidates, or dividend-paying stocks. All eight went up between 5 and 7 per cent that day.
Is there general agreement that a leak did, in fact, take place?
The opposition parties and some market watchers looked at the trading patterns and saw something that suggested that some people knew something in advance. Forensic accountant Al Rosen, for instance, said ,"The volumes and prices are just screaming at you to say just a minute, someone knew more than the ordinary little bit of stuff." How big was the scream? One example: shares of BCE, which pays a rich dividend, had their biggest advance in four years on Nov. 23.
Christopher Thomas, whose company Measured Markets provides early warnings of unusual stock movements, agreed that the signals were flashing that day. "Statistically, these stocks were behaving as though something unusual was going on which the world at large was probably not aware of." "
Why should Goodale resign? Because as Minister he was responsible for ensuring the security of tax sensitive policy/program changes until they were made public so that no one benefitted unfairly through advance (insider) knowledge. Some time between when the policy was scrambled together on the evening of November 22 and the time of the Minister's announcement it appears that someone leaked details of the Minister's pending announcement. The RCMP does not launch a criminal investigation unless it has reason to believe something illegal occurred. Does that mean Goodale himself personally did anything wrong? No. Does it mean he should resign? Yes, under the doctrine of Ministerial responsiblity.
Posted by cardinal47 at Friday, December 30, 2005
Yesterday I posted the following question on nodice.ca
Should Ralph Goodale resign pending the results of the criminal investigation? Some precedents for Ministerial resignations can be found at http://david-akin.electionblog.ctv.ca/default.asp?item=123896
There have been numerous responses with insults traded back and forth betwenn Liberal and Conservative loyalists. It is interesting to compare these posts with the positions taken by the party leaders.
Yesterday Martin said Goodale will not step down.
Jack Layton said that Goodale's decision not to step aside speaks to his judgment:
"It is blindingly obvious, based on ample precedent, that when a minister's department is under criminal investigation ... the minister should step aside," said Layton.
In an interesting twist, Stephen Harper said that it doesn't matter whether the finance minister steps down during the probe, because the issue goes beyond whether Goodale was involved.
The latest incident follows the pattern of Liberal corruption and entitlement, he said.
"It's the final nail," Harper said. "Ralph Goodale can stay on and run around in his limousine until Jan. 23. What's important is that he and his government are run out of office. This government has not earned the benefit of the doubt."
Interesting, eh? Last night I posed the question: Is this a tempest in a teapot, or could it be the "tipping point" of the campaign?
With all the insults back and forth many bloggers were missing the big picture. The Liberal campaign is collapsing.
Bourque reports this morning on the latest CPAC/SES tracking. As you know until now the CPAC/SES tracking has shown a significant lead for the Liberals. Well,look at these results:
"CPAC-SES Dec 23-28-29: Lib 35% CP 34% NDP 14% BQ 13% GP 5%
CPAC-SES: LIB 35 % CON 34 %
Call it Paul Martin's "Unlucky 13". Bourque has learned that the consistent bombshell reports about negative Liberal Party doings (the dog doo-doo's, the popcorn, the RCMP criminal investigations, etc), most of which are consistenly first reported to the nation on this website, is having a devastating impact on the Liberal Party, both in terms of insider morale and in current polling standings. Senior Paul Martin Liberals, the usual suspects, are now second-guessing their overall election campaign tactics and are also second-guessing each other, a tragic and stunning turn of events for a majestic party that has held government for most of the past 13 years. According to insiders well-placed to understand the nuances within Martin's braintrust, Bourque has also learned that key campaign personnel are at risk of being replaced in an increasingly desperate attempt to maintain control of the public agenda, and more importantly, the key messaging that is driving this election, something that has eluded Team Martin since Day One of this election. Now, according to SES, "The announcement of a RCMP criminal investigation of a possible tax leak from Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office has initially had an impact on the political environment. CPAC-SES tracking has the Liberals and the Conservatives statistically tied for the first time in the campaign. Nationally, the Liberals have 35%, the Conservatives 34%, the NDP 14%, the BQ 13% and the Green Party 5%. Overnight, the CPAC-SES one day measure on trust and vision for Canada has realised a noticeable drop for Paul Martin."
I asked last night whether this incident would be a "tempest in a teapot, or could it be the tipping point of the campaign?" These results certainly suggest that it may well be the tilting point that sees Martin go down to defeat on January 23.
Posted by cardinal47 at Friday, December 30, 2005
As Stephen Harper resumed campaigning over the past two days in British Columbia with major announcements pertaining to his defence platform and promises to increase the military presence in B.C., a couple of events occurred elsewhere which, if they snowball, could begin the unravelling of the Liberal campaign.
The first, reported in the previous posting on this blog, concerned the resignation of the executive vice president of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario). Mike Klander stepped aside after bloggers fanned controversy over tasteless remarks on Klander's blog about NDP candidate Olivia Chow.
Then this afternoon a letter from RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli to NDP finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis confirmed that the RCMP has launched a criminal investigation into the release of information by the Department of Finance, related to a government announcement on taxation of income trusts. Earlier information posted on various blogs and carried in the mainstream media had indicated that information about the Finance Minister's pending announcement that income trusts would not be taxed and certain dividends given favourable tax treatment had been leaked to insiders who drove up trading in these stocks earlier that day. There was every indication that some individuals had profited substantially as a result of leaks from the Minister's office or the Department of Finance.
Earlier when these allegations surfaced the government had dismissed them as baseless. Today's announcement by the RCMP Commissioner that a criminal investigation is being launched led to renewed calls for Minister Goodale to step down pending the results of the investigation. In an interview with Peter Mansbridge on the National, Ralph Goodale denied any wrongdoing and rejected calls for his resignation. Despite persistent questioning by Mansbridge on why Goodale would not follow precedent and step aside while the investigation is underway, Goodale stuck to the line that the RCMP "have said they are looking into this matter because of the seriousness of the allegation. They have, at the same time, said they have no information, no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of anyone - most particularly on my part - and quite frankly if I were to resign under those circumstances I believe I would only feed allegations that are out there in the context of a very political situation."
The NDP and Conservative Leader Harper have both called for Goodale's resignation. Already comparisons are being made to ADSCAM. The RCMP investigation could not have come at a worse time for the Liberals. These new allegations, which have warranted a criminal investigation, set the scene for a renewed focus on the Quebec advertising scandal as the campaign enters the second phase post-Xmas.
Will this derail the Liberal plans for the second phase of the campaign? Will the Opposition parties be able to build on this to seize the momentum in the days ahead? Stay tuned.
Posted by cardinal47 at Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Thanks to Pierre Bourque's website for drawing our attention to the mad musings by Mike Klander, Executive Vice President of the federal Liberals in Ontario. The details of Klander's nutty bloggings are available here on Angry in the Great White North's site. Worth a read just to confirm how extreme some of the so-called prominent liberals are.
Additional details can be found on Stephen Taylor's blog . Taylor, not given to hyperbole, headlines his story thus:
"Bigger than beer and popcorn? You bet. This should sink the Liberals"
Canoe News reports tonight that Klander has resigned from his position of Executive Vice President Of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario):
Liberal exec resigns after comparing NDP's Olivia Chow to a dog on his blog
By TARA BRAUTIGAM
TORONTO (CP) - A high-ranking official within the Liberal Party of Canada resigned Monday after he made disparaging comments on his blog about NDP Leader Jack Layton and his wife, NDP candidate Olivia Chow.
Mike Klander, executive vice-president of the federal Liberal party's Ontario wing, stepped down after photographs of Chow, NDP candidate for the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina, and a chow chow dog were posted on his blog dated Dec. 9 under the heading Separated at Birth.
The blog also contained an offensive reference to Layton.
Posted by cardinal47 at Monday, December 26, 2005
With the leaders having retired from the field of battle to buy presents and eat Xmas turkey, I had not intended to post on the election today. However, the conflicting headlines in national newpapers reporting on duelling polls prompted me to comment on these polls.
Here are the headlines:
Tories neck and neck with Liberals, poll says (Post)
Tory campaign failing to gain traction with voters, poll (Globe)
Liberals gain some ground (Globe)
Tories recover in polls; stage set for tight race (Citizen)
The National Post/Ottawa Citizen stories are reporting on a nationwide survey by Ipsos Reid conducted for CanWest newspapers and Global National this week. According to Ipsos Reid, the nearly month-old federal election campaign has tightened into a close race between the Liberals and Tories and would likely produce a minority Conservative government if the vote was held now. It shows that Stephen Harper's Tories, after dropping in public favour during the early days of the campaign, have recovered their footing and are now neck-and-neck with Paul Martin's Liberals nationally. Moreover, because the Tories have turned the vote-rich Ontario battleground into a draw with the Liberals, Ipsos Reid says a Tory victory "would be the probable outcome" if voters went to the polls today.
Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker cautioned yesterday that the electorate is very volatile and said:
"It's going to go right down to the wire, just like the last time," he said.
According to this poll, the Liberals have the support of 33 per cent of decided voters, while the Conservatives stand at 32 per cent -- a statistical tie. Among the other parties, Jack Layton's NDP is supported by 16 per cent of voters, Gilles Duceppe's Bloc Quebecois is at 13 per cent, and Jim Harris's Green party is at five per cent. Among all Canadians, 12 per cent are undecided or refused to say who they would vote for.
The rise in Tory fortunes has been most evident in Ontario, where they are supported by 38 per cent of voters (up from 28 per cent in mid-December). The Liberals have dropped from 47 per cent to 40 per cent in the province.
In B.C., however, the Liberals are gaining -- rising from 33 per cent to 40 per cent. They have won most of those intended votes from the Green party (down to five per cent from eight per cent) and from the Tories (down from 33 per cent to 30 per cent.)
Before drinking a toast to these results, however, Stephen Harper and his colleagues should take a look at the latest Strategic Counsel poll which accounts for the headline in the Globe and Mail. The survey found that 36 per cent of voters prefer the Liberals, up from 33 per cent Thursday, compared to 29 per cent for the Conservatives, who are down one point. The NDP is at 17 per cent -- down one -- while the Bloc Québécois has also dropped a point to 13 per cent. The Globe opined that Stephen Harper's policy-heavy election campaign is no better at capturing voters' imaginations than the Liberal effort.
According to The Strategic Counsel survey, 25 per cent of Canadians say the Liberals are running the best campaign, up six percentage points from Dec. 5-6. By contrast, 23 per cent think the Tories have the best campaign, down from 26 per cent, while 16 per cent of Canadians think the NDP is making the best effort, up two points.
The Ottawa Citizen story on the Ipsos Reid poll is available at the Citizen. The Globe story on the Strategic Counsel poll is available at the Globe.
Posted by cardinal47 at Saturday, December 24, 2005
It appears that the party leaders will be laying down their arms until January 2, with the exception of occasional local appearances next week. We can then expect campaigning to resume with a vengeance. Pundits speculate about the campaign moving into a negative phase after the relatively civil first phase.
Yesterday I mentioned the preview of probable Liberal attacks available at blogger Stephen Taylor's site. Today this burst over the mainstream media, with the Liberals claiming that the material was intended for "internal use" by Liberal candidates. .
One of the storyboards showed a photo of Harper whispering to Duceppe under a headline of Harper-Duceppe coalition. Apparently the photo in question was taken during the Holocaust memorial last spring on Parliament Hill. The event was also attended by Liberal Leader Paul Martin and NDP Leader Jack Layton.
Harper expressed contempt for any plan to use the photos.
"I think it's beyond tasteless. You know, all party leaders attended the Holocaust memorial," Harper said Friday. "This is a pretty solemn event with Holocaust survivors, and to use that photo to imply that Mr. Duceppe and I would share some kind of agenda other than obviously opposing the Holocaust I think is disgraceful."
Harper denied any plan to form a coalition with the Bloc in a new Parliament. He said the two parties don't share the same motives.
"We may co-operate on the odd issue, but even there we're not naive," he said. "We understand that, even when the Bloc agrees with us, their motives are very different."
Harper said forming a coalition is unrealistic, and that he would govern on an issue-by-issue basis, co-operating with "individuals or parties that are absolutely committed to the unity of the country."
Meanwhile Liberal leader Paul Martin was pledging cooperation with provinces under the banner of "robust federalism". He promised closer co-operation with the provinces in a number of areas, including post-secondary education and training and international negotiations.
He described "robust federalism''as working together. Martin was responding to a letter from Premier Ralph Klein to the three main party leaders earlier this week on behalf of his fellow premiers, asking the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP where they stand on five questions. The topics were education and training, transportation, international relations, trade relations and fiscal balance.
Chantal Hebert in today's feature article does an excellent job of analyzing the election to date. After categorizing the current Conservative campaign as more "progressive" than "conservative", she summarizes the current state of the Liberals thus:
"It is because they have failed to keep up with the times that the federal Liberals are no longer holding their own in Quebec. In this campaign, they are fighting the last war and shooting themselves in the foot almost daily in the process.
"Two decades after patriation of the Constitution, the federal Liberal party is a spent force in Quebec. The days when it competed fiercely with the sovereignist movement for the best and brightest of Quebecers are behind it.
"And that means that, in the not-so-distant future, Canadians will have to tap other sources than the dried-out Quebec reservoir for national leadership."
Ouch! That's telling it like it is. While Jack Layton came from behind in the English debate to sharply improve his personal image with Canadian voters, Stephen Harper has accomplished his objective for the first phase of the campaign. He has advanced solid policy proposals on a wide spectrum of issues. He has waged a positive "Here's why you should vote for us" campaign and refrained from the temptation to fall into the trap of waging solely a negative campaign on the Liberal corruption issue. Meanwhile Paul Martin has been floundering. The Liberal campaign has been lacklustre. Even though the Liberals still lead slightly in the polls, the Liberals and Conservatives are tied outside Quebec and in Quebec the Liberals face the further loss of a possible ten seats or more to the Bloc.
All of this means that the Liberal campaign will likely turn increasingly dirty in January as they attempt to replay the 2004 election by demonizing Harper. But this time Harper has laid a solid policy foundation and it will not be so easy for the Liberals this time. And Harper still has the card of Gomery and Liberal corruption up his sleeve to play when the situation demands it.
If I were Paul Martin, I would be passing a restless Christmas as I pondered the probability of at best a reduced Liberal minority come January 23 and quite possibly a Conservative minority government.
Posted by cardinal47 at Friday, December 23, 2005
Stephen Harper chose to end the pre-Christmas campaign phase with a major announcement on positioning Canada to assert its sovereignty in the Arctic. The announcement was linked to recent stories that American submarines have been venturing into Canadian waters without Ottawa's permission. Harper said protecting and defending national sovereignty is Ottawa's most important duty, and his government would invest in the military to ensure that would happen.
"Paul Martin talks eloquently about defending national sovereignty, but the reality hasn't matched the rhetoric," Harper said about the Liberal leader. "When it comes to the United States, Mr. Martin says he calls them as he sees them, but when it comes to American passage through Canada, he doesn't actually see anything. You don't defend national sovereignty with flags, cheap election rhetoric and advertising campaigns. You need forces on the ground, ships in the sea and proper surveillance."
Harper said the Conservatives will build three heavy-duty, armed icebreakers as well as a new port for them near Iqualuit.
The estimated total cost of the Conservatives' Arctic commitments is about $5.3 billion over five years.
Martin attempted to dismiss Harper's platform, saying it has been government policy for a long time. But his rationale was rather weak. He claimed the plan was too expensive and questioned the need to address any threats in the North.
The Conservative plan includes the following elements:
Station three new armed naval heavy icebreakers, to be made in Canada, in the area of Iqaluit, which will include 500 regular force personnel for crews and support and will be capable of carrying troops.
Build a new military/civilian deep-water docking facility in the Iqaluit area.
Establish a new Arctic National Sensor System for northern waters, which will include underwater surveillance technologies such as listening posts to monitor foreign submarines and ships.
Build a new Arctic army training centre in the area of Cambridge Bay on the Northwest Passage, staffed by an estimated 100 regular force personnel.
Station new fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft in Yellowknife.
Provide eastern and western Arctic air surveillance by stationing new long-range uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) squadrons at CFB Goose Bay and CFB Comox to provide continuous Arctic and ocean surveillance and patrol.
Revitalize the Canadian Rangers by recruiting up to 500 additional Rangers and increasing their level of training, activity, and equipment.
Provide an army emergency response capability for the Arctic through the new airborne battalion and airlift capacity stationed at CFB Trenton.
Once again Harper demonstrated that the Conservatives have a well-thought out and comprehensive platform in this campaign. Increasingly this past week Paul Martin has been looking flustered and off-key as he responds to Harper's inceasingly assertive thrusts.
Meanwhile Jack Layton went to Edmonton to take on the perceived "enemy" of non-profit health care, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein. Back off medicare, Layton warned Klein. Layton said he won't let the federal government or the provinces bring in private health care.
Singling out Klein, Layton said, "I came here to deliver a message, one that he needs to hear. Back off! You are not going to destroy public health care. New Democrats won't let you. Make no mistake about it."
"We now have a Liberal prime minister who seems to think that Lester Pearson is just the name of an airport. Paul Martin's Liberals are so busy playing the political games, they've forgotten what they believe in. Under Paul Martin, the Liberals have lost their values and broken so many promises they don't even bother to pretend anymore," Layton said.
He then turned to the Conservatives, describing them as "today's Liberals in a hurry."
"Stephen Harper wants to privatize faster, pollute faster, integrate our economy into the United States faster," he said.
The latest Strategic Counsel poll indicates that the gap between the Bloc and the Liberals is widening in Quebec and the race nationally is tightening.
Bloc Québécois: 15%
Green Party: 6%
In Ontario, the Liberal lead over the Tories - which reached 18 percentage points just over a week ago, has narrowed to 7 points
The latest SES tracking poll also shows the national gap between the Liberals and the Conservatives is narrowing.
Rumours abound on the internet that the Liberals will mount an aggressive series of attack ads after Christmas. You can see a preview of planned ads at Stephen Taylor's blog. It's worth a view.
Today's Toronto Star carries an incisive article by James Travers showing that there is little difference between Harper (Liberal-lite) and Martin (a Conservative with a winning smile). Travers speculates:
"If the election-day consensus is that Harper is Liberal-lite and Martin just a conservative with a winning smile, the hunger for change will outweigh the risks and this prime minister will be chased from power."
Posted by cardinal47 at Thursday, December 22, 2005
The rhetoric about national unity continues to heat up. Paul Martin has decined Gilles Duceppe's challenge to debate him in Quebec. Duceppe was responding to Martin's remarks during last week's debates that he would debate Duceppe on any street corner anywhere in Quebec. His bluff called, Martin backed down. Into the breach stepped Stephen Harper who said he would debate Duceppe on behalf of the federalist cause even if Martin wouldn't. Duceppe said there was no point without Martin there.
Meanwhile, Martin claimed that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper went too far in suggesting the Liberals want a separatist government in Quebec. Martin said he's been fighting for national unity all his life.
Harper has been on the attack all week on the issue of Quebec separatism in an effort to grab the role of federalist champion from Martin and the Liberals. He suggested on Tuesday that Martin was hoping for a Parti Québécois victory in Quebec so he could play the hero defending national unity. Martin demanded an apology.
Harper laughed off Martin's demand, saying that Martin has made worse remarks about the Conservatives getting into bed with the separatists.
"This accusation I've made against Mr. Martin arises because it is Mr. Martin who's talked continually about a referendum and about having a PQ government in Quebec," said Harper.
Jack Layton accused both leaders of playing fire with national unity. Layton himself campaigned in the north seeking to sway voters in seats where the NDP had come close to winning previously. Layton said he will insist the winner of the election act on the $5.1-billion Kelowna agreements with native and Metis people.
A new poll showed the Bloc Quebecois up 5 points post-debate. The poll indicated that the Bloc had the support of 60% with the Liberals dropping further to 20%, down from 30% just before the election. It looks like Martin's attempt to polarize this election on the issue of national unity is backfiring on the Liberals.
It will be interesting to see if the Conservatives can make some headway in Ontario over the next several weeks.
Posted by cardinal47 at Wednesday, December 21, 2005
For the past week Martin has been playing the "Stand Up to Uncle Sam" card to the hilt,impugning Stephen Harper's patriotism in the process.Blogger Stephen Taylor has put together a plausible case that the the flare-up with the Americans was carefully orchestrated by the Martinites with ads filmed in advance/see Taylor
Harper is finally striking back, pointing out that it is "hypocrisy" for Martin to doubt anyone else's patriotism when he moved business holdings offshore for tax purposes.
"The problem with Mr. Martin's passion is it's all phoney," Harper said. "It's great to wrap yourself in the flag but when your own business interests are at stake you fly the flag of another country."
That's a reference to Canada Steamship Lines, the firm Martin transferred to his sons after becoming Prime Minister in 2003. The company has long had vessels registered in places like the Bahamas and Vanuatu to avoid paying higher Canadian taxes. According to CSL's website, the line — which employs 700 people, 500 of whom work in Canada — has 15 Canadian-flagged vessels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
It also manages an international pool of 18 ships, eight of which are wholly owned by European companies.
"Another five are indirectly owned by companies in which CSL Group holds a non-controlling 50 per cent stake. CSL Group and its subsidiaries wholly own just eight international ships, five of which are in the pool," the website says. "In addition, the Group participates in joint ventures which include four ships which are owned between 25 and 50 per cent — none of these joint ventures are controlled by CSL Group."
At least two bulk cargo vessels in the fleetwere built in 1996 at a Shanghai shipyard with lower-paid Chinese workers. Harper said voters appreciate the irony of a Canadian leader exploiting loopholes such as flying flags of convenience on ships registered to tax havens.
"We all know Mr. Martin's game. I don't think ... he's had a free ride in the sense that it hasn't been noticed. I'm not sure Canadians are fooled," he said, after a breakfast rally to 250 people in Victoria.
"When he gets up and waves (his arms) and does the windmill things and `I love Canada and this is my flag and you'll never take it away from me,' ... I think people know there's a fair degree of hypocrisy there."
Today Harper claimed that the federal Liberals in Quebec would like nothing more than a separatist government. Harper said that the Liberals are fighting a phoney war against separatists in Quebec hoping to distract voters from their own record of corruption. The Liberals would like to see the Parti Québécois form a government in Quebec so the Liberals could assume the mantle of heroes of national unity.
Campaigning in Toronto,Jack Layton wants an immediate boost in the gas-tax transfer to municipalities. He wants to immediately boost the transfer to five cents a litre.
The Liberal government currently gives 1.5 cents a litre. Mr. Layton says the hike would give towns and cities $1.4-billion extra each year for transit.
Meanwhile Paul Martin today released a plan to support the agriculture sector by handing millions of dollars to farmers. Many of the details included in the announcement are not new, but were introduced by the Liberal government before it fell on Nov. 28.
Included among the planks of the Liberal agriculture policy are:
a review of the Agriculture Policy Framework, guided by the so-called "Easter Report" written earlier this year by Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development Wayne Easter, beginning in 2006;
amendments to the Agriculture Marketing Programs Act (AMPA) in order to provide a previously announced $104 million in advances to the livestock sector;
a legislative amendment to the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act that would provide $104 million for the livestock sector;
$5 million per year, previously announced, for the promotion of Canadian agri-foods products overseas;
the creation of "offset credits" for farmers who adopt low-till or zero-till practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
In addition, Martin said the extended lifetime capital gains exemption he offered small business owners earlier this week -- to $750,000 from the current $500,000 -- would benefit all Canadian fishers and farmers.
Martin's announcement also promised continued support and possible expansion for the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), which promotes sustainable rural economy, starting with a pilot project in B.C.
Martin also announced continued funding for conservation and green-cover incentives of $30 million per year after the current program expires in 2008, and $100 million over five years to improve broadband access to rural and remote communities.
Posted by cardinal47 at Tuesday, December 20, 2005
More hypocrisy from Paul Martin! Martin said yesterday that Liberal candidates are entitled to run in this election even if they want to deny Charter rights to gays and lesbians seeking same-sex marriage.
This appears to contradict a controversial declaration made a day earlier by Mr. Martin, when he said Conservative leader Stephen Harper shouldn't even be running for the highest political office in the land because of his refusal to protect same-sex marriages as a Charter right.
But when pressed by journalists to explain why this double standard is acceptable, given that he says protection of the Charter is a fundamental "principle," Mr. Martin said his higher standard only applies to those leaders who want to run the government, not to regular MPs.
BTW Martin billed his party as an "agent for change" despite 12 years in power.
I wonder what weed he's smoking these days?
Meanwhile both Layton and Harper took aim at the Liberals re their impact on widening the rift with Quebec. Voters wary of widening Canada's rift with Quebec should think long and hard before voting Liberal, Layton warned Sunday.
Layton accused Martin of damaging the process of reconciliation with Quebec by trying to make a ballot-box question out of the separatist threat. Returning the Liberals to power would suggest to Quebec that the rest of Canada doesn't much care about the sponsorship scandal, he said.
"It would send a very strong message to Quebecers that Canadians frankly aren't very concerned about the Liberals' attempt to buy the support of Quebecers in a corrupt fashion."
Stephen Harper pledged that a Conservative government would recognize Quebec's provincial autonomy and give it a more prominent voice on the world stage.
Harper said he would allow Quebec to play a role in international bodies such as UNESCO. Harper accused the Liberals of damaging the federalist cause with the sponsorship scandal, and added the Conservative Party can make repairs.
Harper said a Conservative government would put an end to the scandals that have damaged the image of federalism in Quebec and have allowed profiteers to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers.
His proposals include:
Revising and tightening all procedures related to issuing contracts and using public funds.
Giving greater independence to the ethics commissioner and increased powers to the auditor general.
Creating an independent and objective parliamentary budget authority.
Ensuring that all governmental institutions – including foundations – are subject to full audits by the auditor general.
Reforming federal political party financing along the lines of the model established in Quebec by René Lévesque.
Martin's big announcement of the day was a promise to increase the lifetime capital gains tax exemption by 50 per cent to help small business owners and farmers. The exemption would be raised to $750,000 from $500,000.
Posted by cardinal47 at Monday, December 19, 2005
Many bloggers and commentators are speculating that Stephen Harper would invoke the Notwithstanding clause re SSM despite his public commitment not to do so.
Harper has:(1) committed to have a free vote on SSM and (2) to not use the Notwithstanding clause. If he has a free vote with a minority government it will not pass. Game over. If he had a majority(highly unlikely) and the vote passed then he would have to find a way to do it without using the Notwithstanding clause, or let it go. I don't believe that he would invoke the Notwithstanding clause, having said publicly that he wouldn't. While I strongly disagree with his position on SSM (and other social issues for that matter), I believe that, unlike Martin and McGuinty, he is trustworthy. Ironic, isn't it, given the Liberal scare-mongering on this issue? It will be a pity if the Liberals slip through to another minority in spite of their scandalous record because they can successfully exploit this one issue to their advantage.
Posted by cardinal47 at Sunday, December 18, 2005
Post-debate the campaign has heated up with Martin, Harper and Layton slugging it out for votes in the close three-way race in B.C.
Layton's stock rose as a result of the English debate. Most polls and commentators were impressed with Layton's performance. He was the real winner in terms of improving voters' perceptions of him.
Campaigning hard in B.C. to recapture some seats lost previously to the Reform(Conservatives), Layton shifted gears somewhat to take on the Conservatives as well as the Liberals. If the NDP is to gain seats in B.C., it will have to take them from the Conservatives. Layton lashed out at "ineffective, out-of-touch" Conservatives," saying his five NDP MPs delivered more to B.C. than the 22 Tory MPs. However, he also opened the door to working with a Conservative minority should that be the election result. Layton said: "We will work with the House of Commons that's composed by Canadians. I think every political leader has that obligation."
Meanwhile Martin was slamming Stephen Harper as "unfit to govern". In response Harper accused Martin of intolerance. Harper reached out for votes in B.C. with a package of election goodies for British Columbia. He promised Canadian Forces ground troops would be stationed again on the West Coast, more MPs for B.C., money for Victoria sewage treatment and continued staffing of coastal lighthouses.
Harper also promised support for B.C.'s forest industry by fighting U.S. lumber tariffs "until this battle is won."
Columnist Sheila Copps had some telling comments about Martin's shift in positions on major issues:
"Two and a half years ago, the same prime minister stood on another stage in Vancouver and took the exact opposite position! In fact, so critical was he of the era of Chretien-Bush relations that he endorsed the "perimeter North America" concept proposed by the Business Council on National Issues, which would essentially keep a common fence around, not between, Canada and the U.S. I also recall him working behind the scenes to undermine then-PM Jean Chretien's decision not to send troops to Iraq."
"During that same Liberal debate, he also refused to support gay marriage and remained ambiguous about whether he would even sign the Kyoto accord."
Which confirms what we know, that Martin is a hypocrite!
Posted by cardinal47 at Sunday, December 18, 2005
Murray Dobbin writes in the The Tyee that the Green party is anything but Green.
In fact, all these categories make the assumption that the Green Party is at least, well, Green. They should take the time to be sure. In the last election I wrote, based on the policy platform on its web site, the party was right wing on social and fiscal policy and also pointed out that both the Sierra Club and Green Peace rated them below the NDP (and in most categories, below the Bloc) on environmental policies. Unfortunately, little has changed. Some things are actually worse.
Green Party leader Jim Harris, a former Tory and a motivational speaker for large corporations, is again preoccupied with running as many candidates as possible (he ran candidates in all 308 ridings in 2004). This is to ensure that there is a Green Party franchise in every riding in the country so the party's government funding remains intact. He knows that a certain percentage of voters will vote Green no matter what - and each vote brings the party $1.75. The party received over a million dollars under election financing rules implemented for the first time in 2004. Yet, Harris has been almost invisible since the last election, has done little organizing, no membership drive, has managed to raise just over $200,000 and has paid virtually no attention to policy development.
Obey your leader
But most disturbing to many inside the party, is Harris's authoritarian style. Many people vote Green because they assume it is more grass roots, more democratic, than the others. They would be shocked to know that the party is the most top down of any of the federal parties - and that Harris simply ignores decisions that he doesn't agree with. The situation is so bad that half of the party's governing council have resigned in protest or been forced out in the past eight months. Harris has not moved to replace them because, argue the dissidents, he is happy with the remaining council members who tend to support him and he does not want to risk having more people turn into troublesome dissidents.
For more details go to:
Posted by cardinal47 at Saturday, December 17, 2005
Global National poll indicates that Martin "won" (32%) followed by Harper(30%), then Layton (24%) with Duceppe well behind at 7%.
My personal impression is that Layton had the best overall consistent performance and kept getting his message across again and again. Harper had the misfortune of being hit with the SSM question right up front but he kept his cool and acquitted himself well. Martin didn't make any major gaffes but Layton and Duceppe kept hammering him. The saving grace for Martin was his stirring attack on Duceppe near the end re keeping Canada united. Undoubtedly it was well rehearsed but it came across as heart-felt emotion. Probably the best clip of the evening. If you look at the Global poll numbers, in reality the three English leaders were given roughly equal ratings and Duceppe was rated poorly. I thought Duceppe performed much more poorly tonight than in the English debate of 2004 but since he was rated the winner last night it may not do him any damage in Quebec.
Layton acquitted himself well tonight. If he can do the same in the January debate the NDP may pick up strength.
Harper held his own overall. I would have put him ahead of Martin based on the debate. His Achilles' heel in Ontario and BC is the SSM issue.
Posted by cardinal47 at Friday, December 16, 2005
Tonight the first of the debates, in French. It didn't offer much to help an undecided voter decide where to put their X. Duceppe was restrained by the format from getting at Martin in a sustained manner. Harper and Layton were just along for the ride. My overall assessment would be:nothing gained, nothing lost. The sponsorship scandal came up early on and Martin took some heat on that but no major blow struck. Duceppe coasted through the debate not really challenged.I found the format was not really helpful.
Let's hope the debate tomorrow night is a little more stimulating.
The Quebec wing of the Liberal Party accidentally released a list of ridings yesterday that shows it has written off a majority of seats in the province and conceded almost all of the francophone areas to the Bloc Québécois.A mistakenly sent e-mail suggests they've already conceded 45 seats to the Bloc and can only count on winning ten seats. The rest are up for grabs.
The gaffe left the Liberals red-faced, given that they have characterized the election as a referendum on Canadian unity. The election results could prove to be an embarrassment if, as the list suggests, the Liberals have little hope of winning 45 of the 75 seats in Quebec and can only count on winning 10 of the 75 seats.
For more details go to:
Globe and Mail
One noteworthy event today was the announcement that Ed Schreyer, former NDP Premier of Manitoba and former Governor General, will be representing the NDP in a Winnipeg riding currently held by the Conservatives. This has generated some controversy over whether it is appropriate for a former Governor General to re-enter the political arena. Personally, given his former political background, I don't see any problem with him offering himself as a candidate again. The GG is only a ceremonial position anyway.
Posted by cardinal47 at Thursday, December 15, 2005
Today the debate over the "intervention" by the U.S. Ambassador in the campaign intensified. Martin cranked up the rhetoric."I am not going to be dictated to as to the subjects I should raise," Martin said at a lumber mill in B.C.
"When it comes to defending Canadian values, when it comes to standing up for Canadian interests, I'm going to call it as I see it," Martin said. Trumpeting the "modest" progress that has been made recently in the softwood lumber dispute, Martin said those results came from insisting that the United States live up to the North American Free Trade Agreement. "The progress we have made has been made because we have, in fact, stood up for Canadian rights," he said.
Also in B.C. getting ready for the debates,NDP Leader Jack Layton said that Canada's reputation on the world stage has been damaged by Prime Minister Paul Martin's "shameless posturing.''Martin has nothing to show for all his bluster about softwood duties, said Layton, who favours recovering the money by slapping an export tax on Canadian gas and oil shipped to the United States.
Layton also accused Martin of electioneering by calling on the U.S. to join the Kyoto accord on climate change when the Americans have actually done a better job of reducing greenhouse gases than Canada.
"He thinks he can stand up and wag his finger at George Bush and somehow impress somebody,'' Layton said. "It's time he started delivering results. That would allow Canadians to be able to speak to the world.''
Meanwhile Stephen Harper today announced the CPC's democratic reform package.Harper laid out his electoral reform platform plank, the main component of which is reforming the Senate. "We need a ballot with senators' names and seats with senators that have been elected." The appointed Senate, he said, is a "relic of the 19th century."
Another key element of the CPC electoral reform package is setting fixed election dates four years apart.
Posted by cardinal47 at Thursday, December 15, 2005
Why are Americans intervening to help Martin get re-elected? Liberal strategists must be rubbing their hands in glee tonight after U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins told Paul Martin to shut up and stop using the U.S. as a campaign target to further his efforts to get re-elected. Wilkins said Martin risks damaging relations between the countries by dragging the United States into the election campaign. In response Martin thumped his chest and proclaimed he would defend Canadian interests always. If the Americans are truly annoyed at Martin's pious platitudes at the Climate Change Conference last week, why would they foster his chances for re-election by publicly chastising him? Are they just plain dumb? A scolding from George Bush might be the one thing that would unite the majority of Canadians behind the Liberal Party.
Harper made major announcement on defence today, promising more spending than the Liberals.He will buy transport planes so our troops won't have to hitch hike anymore. He will double the DART complement and he will restore the Air Borne Regiment. All the kind of defence policy statements you would expect from a Conservative leader.
Jack Layton finally took off his gloves and came out swinging on medicare.He promised to save a 'sabotaged' medicare. Layton proposed tough new rules to stop what he calls an agenda by his political rivals that have put medicare on a precarious path towards privatization.
"Make no mistake about it, medicare is being sabotaged by people who claim to be protecting it: Paul Martin, Ralph Klein, Stephen Harper, Jean Charest and Gordon Campbell are all on the same wavelength," Layton said.
"They want to open Canada's health system to the profiteers. They know that's the last thing Canadians want."
Layton expressed alarm over a recent Supreme Court decision in Quebec that ruled that a man could seek private health insurance if care was not provided quickly enough. Layton described the ruling as one that "may have opened the door to private providers to break our single-pay system."
He went on to accuse Alberta premier Ralph Klein and Quebec Premier Jean Charest of harbouring "wrong-headed plans" to take advantage of that ruling.
"And Canadians need to know that Paul Martin and Stephen Harper would both let them do it."
The New Democrat Leader said his party will defend public health care in the next parliament by:
-refusing to permit the dismantling of Canada's single-payer medicare system;
-prohibiting the use of federal transfers, directly or indirectly, to subsidize a new, profit-making private insurance system covering medically-necessary services;
-ensuring that no federal money be used to cover the salaries or costs of doctors and any other medical personnel involved in a new, separate, profit-making private insurance system; and
-tough monitoring and enforcement of these rules.
Finally, Layton has staked out a position in keeping with the NDP's core values and differentiated himself from the Liberals on the issue of key concern to Canadians. This should set the scene for an interesting debate later this week.
Posted by cardinal47 at Wednesday, December 14, 2005
The Liberals were still wiping egg off their faces today after Scott Reid's "beer and popcorn" remarks yesterday. All three opposition parties described the comments as characteristic Liberal arrogance and contempt for voters.
Caught in a bad spot Martin tried to deflect attention by bringing up Harper's position on same sex marriage and asking if he would invoke the Notwithstanding clause to override gay rights. He was not successful in diverting attention from Scott Reid's gaffe.
Meanwhile the NDP joined the child care debate.The NDP would create 275,000 child-care spaces across the country over the next four years, Jack Layton said.
Layton suggested that a national system based on the Quebec model be created. The party would spend $1.8 billion in the first year of the system and increase that amount by $250 million a year over the next three years. The NDP calculates that would be enough money to create 200,000 child-care spaces in the first year, and 25,000 more each year following.
Layton said he would introduce a child-care act that would spell out that federal funding would be spent only on "licensed, high-quality, non-profit child care."
The polls continue to bemuse me. I don't understand why the polls don't seem to reflect what is happening in the campaign.
Also this election was triggered because the Liberal government had lost "the moral authority to govern" as a result of Adcam etc. Apart from the Bloc's pursuit of this in Quebec, when are the Conservatives and the NDP going to remind voters of the Liberal track record of scandal? Someone should be playing Brault's testimony at the Gomery Commission, for example.
Posted by cardinal47 at Monday, December 12, 2005
Scott Reid, Martin's director of communications, stepped in dogshit today when, during a panel discussion on CBC News: Sunday, he criticized the Conservative daycare proposal saying:
"Don't give people 25 bucks a week to blow on beer and popcorn."
Reid was attacking a Conservative plan to give families of young children $1,200 a year for child care. The Conservative on the Panel reacted angrily describing the remark as an insult to families, showing that the Liberals don't trust families to make their own choices about what's best for their children
After Liberal spokespersons first defended the remark, they calculated the potential damage and both Reid and Martin apologized.
Martin tried to repair the damage:
"There's no doubt in my mind that parents are going to use (the money) for the benefit of their families. They're going to use that money in a way that I'm sure is responsible. Let there be no doubt about that."
Posted by cardinal47 at Sunday, December 11, 2005
This was a relatively quiet campaign day.
The most significant event was an announcement by Stephen Harper that a Conservative government would adopt a national strategy to control cancer.The Conservatives would spend $50 million a year in new money to fund an existing plan developed by more than 700 experts and cancer survivors.
In Quebec Gilles Duceppe demanded more money for forest jobs. He said the government should be providing more loan guarantees to help the forest industry.
The Liberals and NDP had no campaign events scheduled for Saturday.
After viewing the Conservative English ads numerous times I would have to say they do not do justice to Harper and the Conservative platform in this campaign. It's time for the CPC to dump these ads and replace them with something more creative.
Posted by cardinal47 at Saturday, December 10, 2005
The major issue today was not the proposed handgun ban by the Liberals but rather blowback from remarks Martin made in Montreal at the UN Climate Change Conference on Wednesday.Washington is supposedly furious over Martin's climate change comments. Apparently the White House officially complained about Martin's comments this week.
Jim Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality,told Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna that Martin's comments are the worst slight against President George W. Bush since Germany's Gerhard Schroeder suggested Bush's stance against the Kyoto Protocol was responsible for hurricane Katrina.
The focus of the indignation was Martin's statement that:
"To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say there is there is such a thing as a global conscience. Now is the time to listen to it. Now's the time to join with others in our global community. Now is the time for resolve, for commitment and leadership and, above all, now is the time for action. Because only by coming together can we make real and lasting progress."
In fact Martin's speech was the hypocritical peak of the campaign so far, given Canada's track record with greenhouse gas emissions increasing 24% since 1990.
Today Martin capitalized on an appearance at the Conference by former US President Bill Clinton to show up again and hold a joint press conference with Clinton. Questioned about the US reaction, Martin stated the obvious- that Canadian foreign policy is set by the Canadian PM, not the White House.
Is it possible that the Liberals are stoking the fires of anti-Americanism to isolate Harper as an American "lackey"? While Harper is laying a policy foundation in the first part of the campaign, the time will come for Harper to start reminding voters of the Liberals' scandalous track record in Quebec.
After a couple of polls (SES and Leger) which showed the Liberals gaining nationally, the Conservatives could take some solace from the latest Strategic Counsel results. This suggests that the Liberal Party's steady lead in the national election polls is masking a series of regional swings that would significantly reduce Paul Martin's minority and leave Canadians with an even more deadlocked Parliament than the last one.
The poll indicates that the Liberals have lost a substantial amount of support in Montreal, where the Bloc Québécois is poised to pick up more seats, while the Conservatives are doing better in Southwestern Ontario than they did in the 2004 election.
By the same token, regional changes in British Columbia suggest the Tories could see their Ontario gains offset by losses to both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party in British Columbia.
Overall this suggests a significantly reduced minority government for the Liberals. The Strategic Counsel points out that a shift of a couple of percentage points could see the Tories under Stephen Harper form a minority government, even without taking as many overall votes as the Liberals.
One final note: the NDP has come out with the best English campaign ad so far. See GiftAD. Basically it suggests the Liberals should be "given the boot".
Posted by cardinal47 at Friday, December 09, 2005
Paul Martin grabbed the headlines today with his announcement in Toronto that handguns would be banned.This was done in the context of escalating homicides in Toronto where firearms were used. People have been calling for tough action to deal with the senseless killings.
Martin said that his government would immediately introduce a ban on handguns, with narrowly defined exemptions for target shooters and allowing collectors time to sell or dispose of their weapons. Collectors would have to sell or surrender their weapons over five years or become target shooters.
Handguns are already prohibited but people are allowed to possess a restricted firearm for target practice, target shooting competitions, to form part of a collection or, in rare cases, for employment purposes or to protect your life.
Currently Canadians legally own 520,000 handguns.
Although Martin portrayed it as a ban, in fact provinces could opt out of the program. It is widely anticipated that Westerners, who own 40 per cent of Canada's handguns, will not sign on.
Meanwhile Stephen Harper, campaigning in northern Ontario, was addressing postsecondary education. Harper announced that a Conservative government would offer grants and tax cuts to tradespeople, apprentices and post-secondary students.
The plan includes giving workers a tax deduction of up to $500 for tools. As well, there would be a $1,000 grant for apprentices in their first two years, and a tax credit of 10 per cent of an apprentice's wages for two years, to a maximum of $2,000. Post-secondary students would get a tax credit of up to $500 to help cover the cost of textbooks. Harper also said the first $10,000 of a student scholarship or bursary income would be exempt from taxation.
Campaigning in Nova Scotia, Jack Layton announced a plan to raise the level of care available to seniors across the country. The NDP's plan involves spending $1.5 billion a year on long-term care and home care. The NDP plan would include an annual transfer to the provinces of $1 billion for home care, and another $500 million a year for long-term care. Layton estimated that the money would provide home care for about 100,000 people.
Unlike last week, Martin was in command of the headlines today. But critics quickly emerged to say that the proposal would have little impact since essentially handguns are already banned and the Liberal proposal would do little to deal with the traffic in illegal handguns smuggled across the border from our gun-loving neighbours to the south. By nightfall it appeared that by promising a ban on handguns Martin had in fact offered the proverbial "sleeves off his vest". Issues were also being raised about Liberal credibility on this matter given the gun registry fiasco of recent years.
Posted by cardinal47 at Thursday, December 08, 2005
While campaigning on his economic record elsewhere in the country, in Quebec Paul Martin is attempting to make the election about national unity instead of Liberal corruption. Bernard Lord, Premier of New Brunswick has decribed Martin as a "pyromaniac" who was setting the unity fire and then asking to be the one to put it out. Others have expressed similar concerns.
It is known that Martin was not a big supporter of the Clarity Act when Chretien introduced it. Now he's wrapped himself in the national unity flag in an effort to hang on to seats in Quebec. Will this pay off for him?
How much more hypocrisy will Canadian voters tolerate? Martin has already delivered the most hypocritical speech of the campaign on global warming , worthy of the campaign's first Hypocrisy Award (see previous post).
Posted by cardinal47 at Thursday, December 08, 2005
The New York Times had an excellent article today on the current state of New Orleans 100 days after Katrina struck. The conclusion:
In effect, New Orleans remains in a state of emergency more than three months after it was officially declared. While some people - particularly those with their own transportation and children in private schools - have been able to start remaking their homes and lives, most everyone else remains in a holding pattern.
For details on what has happened post-Katrina go to the NYT
Posted by cardinal47 at Wednesday, December 07, 2005
The second week ofthe campaign got into full gear today with all three major party leaders staking out new positions (or trotting out old ones wrapped in Xmas paper).
Steven Harper's new proposal today was relatively modest compared to his earlier pronouncements. Campaigning in Saint John, Harper offered a package of tax relief to small businesses.The Conservative proposal would raise the threshold for the small business tax rate to $400,000. Currently it's $300,000. Businesses with an income above the threshold pay 21 per cent tax. Below it, they pay 12 per cent.
Harper claimed that tens of thousands of businesses would benefit from raising the threshold. He also promised to reduce the small business tax rate by a percentage point, to 11 per cent, within five years.
Campaigning in Montreal, Jack Layton announced the electoral reform part of the NDP accountability package. In particular, members of Parliament who switch parties should have to face their constituents in a byelection, Layton said. Following hard on the heels of a speech a couple of days ago where Belinda Stronach defended her
switch of parties by comparing herself to Churchill, Layton used the Stronach example:
"The next time Belinda Stronach decides to change leaders, she'll have to go back to a byelection to see if her voters agree."
The NDP proposals also include electoral reform that would see proportional representation added to the current system of constituency-based representation.
The NDP accountability proposals also include:
Reducing the influence of lobbyists.
Ensuring key appointments are based on merit, not on connections.
Improving the access to information legislation.
Better protection for whistleblowers.
Accountability on leadership contests.
Layton also took the occasion of his appeal to Quebec voters to clarify that
he had reversed his opposition to the Clarity Act and no longer wants to repeal it.
Also in Montreal, Paul Martin used the occasion of the UN Climate Change Conference
to urge nations to get tough on energy consumption.Long again on rhetoric, Martin said there is no way societies around the world can sustain their current level of energy consumption and called for a change in human behaviour to fight global warming. He called on world leaders at the conference to reach a consensus on global warming:
"If we fail to meet the challenge of climate change, it will be not be a failure of nations. It will be a failure of people, of me, of you, a failure of character for all who today are confronted with the clear cost of our indulgence and who refuse to submit to sacrifice and new ways."
Apparently he conceded that Canada's record on fighting climate change needs to be improved. The Opposition leaders were quick to pounce.They slammed the prime minister, saying the environmental record of Paul Martin's own party is dismal.
Harper said: "It's kind of strange to go around preaching that you believe greenhouse gases should be reduced as a number 1 priority and then you preside over a 25 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions."
He was referring to the fact that while the Kyoto Protocol calls for a six per cent cut in Canadian emissions from 1990 levels by 2012, Canada's have so far risen 24 per cent.
NDP Leader Jack Layton also attacked the Liberals' record on the environment stating that "We have one of the worst environmental records in the world."
Green party Leader Jim Harris also joined the attack on Liberal hypocrisy.
The score today:
Harper: 3 stars for the proposed small business tax changes which will appeal to his Conservative base.
Layton: 4 stars for announcing a solid proposal for electoral reform.
Martin: -5 stars for the most hypocritical speech of the campaign so far. In fact I would give him the first Hypocrisy Award of the campaign. How he can stand up before such an audience and call for international action to combat global warming in the face of Canada's track record is mind-boggling.
Posted by cardinal47 at Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Finally, as we enter week two, some sparks in a campaign which so far has been dominated by daily CPC policy announcements as we enter week two.
Paul Martin today upped the amount of the Liberal commitment to their previously announced national day care program. He did that by extending the commitment from the original five years to ten years (2015). In effect, he committed no new money for the period up to 2010. But the battle has been joined on the different nature of the proposals. The Liberals will work through the provinces to create new daycare spaces and provide some subsidies. The Conservatives have proposed a day care allowance per child for children under six, with parents to choose how that money is spent. He's also promising $250 million a year to create new day care spaces.
While the financial commitment is high in both cases, there is a fundamental difference. Haper's proposal has been described by some bloggers as a "baby bonus" while some parents interviewed on TV and radio have been praising it as the way to go. Most organized child care advocates appear to be opting for the big government Liberal approach.They are afraid parents, if left to choose, will "waste" the money on other things rather than spend it on day care. They are probably individuals who would argue for the "right to choose" in a different context. But at last we have a genuine difference of approach on an issue for voters to ponder.
Meanwhile Stephen Harper, campaigning in Newfoundland and New Brunswick, pledged to take tough action on foreign overfishing by taking unilateral action to extend Canada's fisheries jurisdiction beyond 200 miles. He indicated this would be implemented over the first term of a Conservative government. The Liberals had already promised "custodial management" in the previous election but have failed to deliver.They appointed an Advisory Panel on Straddling Stocks last winter but deep-sixed the Panel's report this summer. The Panel recommended the replacement of the exising Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) with a new organization with new powers and eliminating the major defects of the exising institution. The Liberal government chose not to accept the Panel's recommendation but to attempt instead to muddle through and try to improve the existing organization. NAFO at its Annual Meeting in September established a Working Group co-chaired by Canada and the EU to look at reform. Early indications are that this is a "talk-fest" dominated by the EU.
Harper also promised an independent judicial inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River salmon, an issue dear to the heart of B.C. Conservative MP John Cummins and Conservative candidate Phil Eidsvik.
Jack Layton also staked out new ground today announcing NDP environmental proposals.He promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by one-quarter over the next 15 years as part of the NDP's plan for the environment. Layton slammed the Liberals' environmental record while speaking to reporters outside an international climate change conference in Montreal. The NDP plan includes the creation of a new clean water act that would set national standards for drinking water; an act to force polluters to clean up, and a new clean air act. He also proposed a $10-billion plan to retro-fit hundreds of thousands of homes with more energy-efficient technology.
Given that the Liberals and Conservatives have said little or nothing about the environment during this campaign, Layton has finally staked out a position on an important issue that would otherwise not have received attention during this campaign. Whether it will attract any more voters to the NDP banner remains to be seen.
Posted by cardinal47 at Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Harper struck again today announcing a CPC day care allowance plan. The plan consists of a $1,200 annual child care allowance per pre-schooler. A family can spend this day care allowance as it sees fit.Harper also promised an additional $250-million in federal grants to help build new childcare facilities.
Paul Martin attacked the Conservative child care allowance as being nothing more than small change, about $25 a week, although the totals are equal too or greater than the $5 billion the Liberals previously announced for day care over five years.
Campaigning in Newfoundland, Martin talked about a possible center for studying global warming and its impact on oceans and fisheries. He mused about how suitable the soon-to-be-deserted CFB base in Goose Bay would be for such a center. He neglected to mention that weather forecasts on the east coast of Newfoundland have become much more unreliable since the Liberal government closed down the weather forecasting facility in Gander last year and moved the capability to Halifax, Nova scotia. Apart from that, he trotted out announcements which had been previously made over the past year. On the side Liberal aides were promising a big day care announcement tomorrow to knock Harper's announcement out of the park.
Jack Layton recruited a star candidate in Toronto, an economist with the TD Bank. Layton criticized the Liberal and Conservative tax cut proposals but promised that an NDP government would not increase taxes. And Gilles Duceppe "apologized" to the Liberals for excessive rhetoric when he said they would disappear.
So what to make of the first week? Harper clearly commanded the agenda for most of the week, showing that the CPC does have a policy platform for this election that is more than just the "throw the corrupt bastards out" that the media widely heralded. But this is only the first week. Where from here? The polls do not show much change. Nationally there's a four or five point lead for the Liberals. Conservatives are up in the west some but down in Ontario. Duceppe has a comfortable 30 point lead over the Liberals in Quebec.
Perhaps the first real sparks of the campaign will occur during the mid-December debates. If things remain static until Xmas I expect the last three weeks of the campaign to get real nasty.
Posted by cardinal47 at Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Paul Martin continued to hide in the weeds today. Jack Layton stumbled on healthcare and Gilles Duceppe talked of the BQ taking all 75 seats in Quebec.
After struggling valiantly all week to attract some attention to the NDP, Layton muddied the waters of the NDP position re healthcare today. Layton says his party will focus on stopping the flow of public money into private health care, not on shutting down private clinics.
Campaigning in Vancouver's Chinatown Sunday, Layton said private clinics are a "fundamental aspect" of the health-care system founded by former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas and not much can be done about them. Layton says he wants to stop tax dollars from boosting the bottom lines of big health-care corporations.
"Our focus is to keep public health-care dollars going to public and non-profit facilities. What happens with people in the privacy of their own relationship financially, that's up to them."
Layton said private clinics have been around from the beginning. He said the NDP focus is on what happens to the public tax dollars.Layton said: "We want them going to non-profit and public facilities and services."
Layton's statement seems to contradict what the NDP has been saying about stopping the privatization of health care. If he doesn't clarify his position quickly, he's going to lose one of the few clear issues on which the NDP had been able to differentiate itself from the Liberals.
Meanwhile Duceppe boasted of a possible Bloc sweep in Quebec. Bolstered by a 30-point lead in opinion polls over the Liberals,Duceppe said the sovereigntist Bloc will win all of Quebec's 75 ridings, effectively making the Liberals disappear from the political landscape. Does Duceppe know something we don't or has he fallen prey to a flight of rhetoric?
Posted by cardinal47 at Sunday, December 04, 2005
Martin took the day off. Harper and Layton campaigned in B.C. Duceppe marched in the Montreal parade against global warming.
Harper struck again to seize the headlines by announcing tough Conservative policy on drug crimes. A Conservative government would legislate mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least two years for people convicted of serious drug offences.
The terms would apply to people convicted of trafficking, manufacturing or importing hard drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and crystal methamphetamine.The CPC would also introduce mandatory prison time for anyone convicted of running marijuana grow operations. As well the party would ban conditional sentences and house arrest for serious and repeat drug offenders.
Jack Layton seized some media attention by denouncing the current government's inaction on the softwood lumber issue.He announced that the NDP would pursue export levies on energy going to the U.S.
Some columnists described the Liberal strategy in the first week as "lying low" waiting for Harper to shoot himself in the foot. So far that hasn't happened except for a couple of miscues earlier in the week which were buried with the GST reduction promise. The proposed GST cut has secured lots of media coverage. Numerous economists have been trotted out to condemn it as poor public policy. But even those criticizing the proposal describe it as good politics likely to attract votes. It's been funny watching the Liberals trying to denounce it but doing so cautiously, not wanting to remind voters of the Liberal flip flop following the 1993 election. Sheila Copps who was a key player during that period and who resigned her seat and won it back because of the broken promise has an interesting piece on how the caucus forced the inclusion of the promise in the Red Book and how Martin worked afterward to undercut it.
I think Tom Kent, old war horse of the Liberal party, was very insightful when he described Martin thus:
He wishes he could be more optimistic about Mr. Martin, but says it’s not possible because the prime minister — despite his “floating interest” in a range of public policy issues — has not shown any disciplined central purpose or sense of priority.
“The essential problem is that Martin desperately wanted to be prime minister, as did his father before him. But the junior Martin has come to it without any firm ideas about what he wants to do as prime minister. I think that becomes clearer, unfortunately, all the time.
“He has vague good intentions and great ideas — transformative change and all these things drip from him — but there has been no substance at all. He’s been dominated by the desire to be, instead of the desire to do.”
Posted by cardinal47 at Sunday, December 04, 2005
Healthcare was the main issue at the forefront of today's campaign. Stephen Harper again seized the iniative by promising that a Conservative government would ensure shorter, guaranteed waits for health care.Harper also committed that a Conservative government would ensure that reduced waiting times for health-care services are enforced. Harper also moved to outflank his critics by addressing the issue of two-tier healthcare. "There will be no private, parallel system," Harper promised. Harper gave tangible examples of acceptable wait times.
The leaders of the other parties were again caught reacted to Harper's initiative with Martin and Layton stating they didn't believe the Conservatives would protect healthcare. Duceppe intervened to stress provincial autonomy.
The other major development of the day was the qualified endorsement of the Liberals by Buzz Hargrove, President of the Canadian Automotive Workers Union, which has traditionally supported the NDP. Hargrove encouraged his members to vote Liberal in ridings where it appeared the NDP didmn't have a chance. He also had words of praise for Martin's Liberal minority government. This came a day after Jack Layton campaigned in auto industry country in southern Ontario. Layton had promised help to strengthen the Canadian auto industry in the face of closures by GM. Hargrove swung his 2 by 4 after Layton was on the Prairies campaigning to win seats in ridings where the Conservatives and the NDP are running neck and neck. With friends like Hargrove, Layton doesn't need any enemies. Both in southern Ontario and in Saskatchewan, Layton stressed that in close seats a vote for the Liberals is in effect a vote for the Conservatives.
A new Strategic Counsel poll shows the Liberals leading the Conservatives 35% to 30%, unchanged from their poll earlier in the week. More interesting, however, was that part of the poll which showed that, in the early days of the campaign, voters found Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's messages more credible than those of Prime Minister Paul Martin.
66 per cent of respondents said they found Harper's message that the election is about the need for change "very" or "somewhat" believable.That contrasted with 44 per cent who found Martin's message about the strength of the Canadian economy "very" or "somewhat" believable.
Overall the Consrvatives have had a good first week, with Harper setting the agenda. Martin, on the other hand,seems to have blown his hand by announcing all the pre-election goodies which were widely perceived as an attempt to buy voters.For the most part he was caught reacting to Harper's daily announcements while praising the Liberal economic record.
Layton has yet to find his footing and seize the intiative. The Hargrove announcement today is more of a symbolic blow than one with real impact.
Posted by cardinal47 at Saturday, December 03, 2005
The big story today was Harper's announcement that the Conservatives would reduce the GST by from 7% to 5% over the next five years, with an immediate drop to 6%. While economists have always argued that a personal income tax cut is better policy, Harper's GST announcement is the first major policy initiative of any party in the campaign so far.Whatever the economic arguments about the pros and cons of various tax alternatives, Harper has seized the initiative. All day the other party leaders were reacting to Harper. And the average voter can only see it as positive.
It was a bad day for Martin. His previously arranged schedule took him to Cornwall the day after Domtar announced the closure of its 100+ year old plant, eliminating a thousand direct jobs plus the indirect impact. Martin's response was smoke and mirrors, words which promised nothing. This plus his feeble response to Harper's GST announcement left him looking less than Prime Ministerial.
Jack Layton has made little impact so far in terms of capturing the attention of the national media. I hope he has some solid policy pronouncements up his sleeve. One positive note is that healthcare continues to rank as the number one issue on the minds of Canadians. Layton has to put his case as defender of Tommy Douglas'legacy.
As for the Bloc Quebecois, Gilles Duceppe put forward an idiotic-sounding idea about hockey and Team Quebec. But he continues his march too victory in Quebec. Barring a major blunder, the polls indicate that the BQ could end up with as many as 65 seats. That's 10-15 seats the Liberals can't afford to lose given their minority status going into the election.
Posted by cardinal47 at Thursday, December 01, 2005