Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Monday, July 31, 2006

Policy Depth Chart 1: Carbon Tax

I'm going to try over the next little while to break down the positions of leadership candidates on a few important issues. These will be the issues upon which a number of clear positions have been stated, some in opposition to others. I will divy the candidates into their respective camps and link to relevant policy statements, as I am able. I will include in those camps the positions of others outside of the race, in an effort to provide some extra-partisan context. Feel free to comment if you feel your candidate is misrepresented - I'm happy to update and revise.

Today is the issue of whether a Carbon Tax should be imposed. At the outset, it is necessary to recognize the ambiguity of the term and the nuance which I will clearly be ignoring.

If I were a wise cultivator of readership I would've picked something more popular (like the great raging debate that currently seeks to answer that age-old question of "If a family member is dying or sick, how closely related must one be to legitimate missing a radio talk-show appearance). Nevertheless...


Hard Pro Candidates -
Michael Ignatieff

Soft Pro Candidates -
Ken Dryden (if all other efforts to achieve Kyoto standards fall short)
Caroline Bennet (the Carbon Tax approach can be investigated)

Other Proponents -
Jeffrey Sachs
David Suzuki (by proxy)


Soft Con Candidates -
Stephane Dion (Has "always opposed" an out-and-out Carbon Tax, but flirts with other "polluters pay" iniatives)
Bob Rae (It's "sensible" to tax polluters, but a single region can't bare unequal pain)

Hard Con Candidates -
Gerard Kennedy ("A carbon tax would only serve to divide Canada along regional lines")
Scott Brison
Hedy Fry ("Carrots work better than sticks")
Joe Volpe
Maurizio Bevilacqua ("It is certainly not an option for me")
Martha Hall Findlay

Other Opponents -
Ezra Levant ("class warfare, jealousy, anti-capitalism" - he doesn't disapoint)
Stephen Harper

Friday, July 28, 2006

Agnes McPhail, Ken Dryden, and debts unpaid

- All more-women-in-politics reform isn't necessarily good more-women-in-politics reform. Let's consider this beauty offered up by Ken Dryden, which I expect Sheila to pick up on at some point. It is not just absurd but more than a little offensive to suggest that women are kept out of politics because they can't cope with foul language in the House of Commons. I'm reminded of Agnes Mcphail. When a male colleague suggested she had no place discussing penal reform, she famously responded:

"I'm gonna slap that f***ing smile off your fat face, you big-headed motherf***ker."

*(Agnes's words, not mine - I love Ken Dryden's face... and most of his platform actually. Damn good candidate but he's got this wrong)

- I received a noteworthy email recently. Someone had visited my Canadians For Kelowna website. On the site I include a quote from Michael Ignatieff:

"[Kelowna was] serious commitment, a matter of honour, a matter of justice. I'm sure we all agree to stand absolutely solid to convince Canadians that this is a debt of honour, this is a debt of justice and it's an investment in our future.”

Not bad, eh? The email tipster agreed that this was indeed sparkling oration. However, he wished me to note that when the House faced an opposition motion in late June to ratify Kelowna, Ignatieff was elsewhere. Couldn't make it to Ottawa on the day of the vote. His website suggests he was in New Brunswick. The good news is he managed to lasso a "stellar list" of New Brunswick MLAs, etc. C'mon.

Free advice for Ignatieff (which I seem to produce a lot of): In the run-up to Decemeber, your inexperience is going to be questioned. The only way to counter is to demonstrate how active you've been in Ottawa since your election. That means you don't miss a vote on a "debt of honour". It's also hard to "convince Canadians" that this is as important as it is, if bbqing in Quispamsis takes precedence.

- Encouraging signs of life from the Gerry K crew

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"...His imagination for his facts"

This is pretty funny stuff. I don't know why it hasn't been news yet:

...Canadian teachers developing internet resource materials about climate change have been left in limbo since the Harper government quietly shut down the main government website on global warming, on June 30. The government had provided tools for teachers to help them teach Canadian students about climate change, but all of that information has now been removed.

Mr. Holland said the government has abruptly shut down the site. Previous government news releases about climate change and other information about the issue have also been expunged from government websites.

A shocking control-of-information ploy? Perhaps, but one must have some sympathy. If you were an economist that wanted to argue in the face of such overwhelming scientific consensus, you have to level the playing field somehow. In this case, it is by eliminating fact.

I've really been sweating about this thing lately. So c'mon conservative commenters - make me forget about 1000 scientists. Tell me how a hot day in Saskatchewan 75 years ago disproves the climate change hypothesis.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Questions: Kennedy and Quebec

In order to augment the efforts of my Steel City compatriot, I sent this email to the Kennedy camp today:

I administer a liberal blog - I and others have been attempting to bring federalism into the leadership race discourse. Most of the other purported front runners seem to be advancing an approach to federalism - and Quebec particularly - that departs from the Liberal approach of Trudeau, Chretien et al. I believe this should and will become a point of focus in the race.

As far as I am aware, Mr. Kennedy has reserved extensive comment on this issue thus far. Many would love to know his position with regards to the Meech Lake/Charlottetown experiments, the notion of Distinct Society, and the "Quebec as a nation" question. If you could forward me relevant Kennedy comments, or refer me to where I might find them I would be very greatful. I will publish his comments on my blog.

If Kennedy does have an inclination towards a more symmetrical federalism, as some have suggested, than this is an opportunity to really distinguish himself from the field. I look forward to a response. Not to sound like a broken record, but this is an issue we need to zero in on.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Leadership Race Wishlist

What I want to see happen some time between now and December: a compilation of hopes and wishes.

  • a candidate answers a question about federalism with something other than reavowed support "a strong federal government and strong provinces."

  • a candidate answers a question about health care with something other than reavowed support for the Canada Health Act

  • a candidate answers a question about Caledonia/Native land claims or self-government with something other than reavowed support for the Kelowna Accord (which applies to neither)

  • we realize the absurdity of positioning an issue upon which there is essentially consensus - at least in practical terms - as the defining issue of the leadership campaign (Afghanistan)

  • Bob Rae demonstrates in clear and uniequivocal terms what makes him other than a New Democrat. This can be in terms of principles, process - anything.

  • Joe Volpe withdraws from the leadership race, crosses the floor, and resumes his old role as Immigration Minister.

  • We stop patronizing Martha Hall Findlay with our surprised approval (if she had absolutely no accomplishments to her name, no ability to speak publicly, no ideas, she wouldn't have put herself in this position)

  • a candidate positions his/herself in opposition to the Meech Lake decentralization that once galvanized the Liberal faithful and is now trumpeted by so many of our would-be leaders

  • we make a decision collectively - either we agree that effective energy policy can take precedence in the short term over electability in Alberta, or we ceased to pretend that this party is poised to get serious about the environment

  • We see a more substantial debate generally (Yawn. This comment has been made by everyone and his uncle. But it is us that allow these circumstances to remain. Only when we cease to manufacture enthusiasm everytime our candidate fires off some echoing platitude will this request be taken seriously.)
  • Thursday, July 13, 2006

    renewal, not deference!

    This Stephane Dion comment, via Calagary Grit vis-a-vis Michael Ignatieff and climate change, caught my eye:

    He’s thrown out some ideas, but he didn’t even include a single word recognizing the work which myself and the Liberal government did on the climate change file or on our 2005 climate change proposal. When I travel to the Bahamas, they recognize the work Canada has done on Climate Change. I think it shows incredible disrespect for a new Liberal MP to come in here and ignore everything we’ve done.

    Regardless of who is giving and who receiving, this is a sentiment that bothers me. Renewal is not about patting ourselves on the back. Canadians at large will not receive us well if we self-censor any criticism of the government that they just relegated to opposition. This comment is particularly absurd in that it doesn't refer to criticism, but rather to a lack of gushing praise.

    Generally, Dion has shown an understanding of this. I appreciate his other instances of combativeness in the interest of finishing with a stronger party. Ignatieff, on the other hand, has been careful to preface nearly every comment with deference to a Dryden on child care, a Volpe on immigration, etc.

    This should be a no-brainer: embuing the '05 Martin government with sacred cow status is only going to hurt the leadership process and the party

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    provinces reap what they sow

    This article notes a great little report due out on the fiscal imbalance.

    It's what a lot of Liberals have been saying for a very long time (and what the Conservative government has been saying for a very short time - i.e. 6ish months).

    The best thing about it is that Jim Flaherty is still to blame - although in his previous Queen's Park incarnation, rather than his present federal one.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006 goes live

    The site is up at long last. With the relatively little time I have, this has taken longer than I hoped and required me to cease blogging for the most part. There are still a number of problems (one example: the graphical link html I give doesn't work yet but will soon). However, it is serviceable enough to announce.

    Basically, the site provides a sketch of what the Kelowna Accord is all about. It provides facts, quotes, etc. It also suggests popular involvement and advocacy, and links to an online petition.

    Please check it out and link to it (particularly after my graphical link html works). This is going to be a pivotal issue, and so far I received a tremendous amount of support from Conservatives, Liberals, Dippers, etc.

    I will be getting in touch with the leadership candidates. All have paid the Kelowna Accord much lipservice and I hope they will be willing to involve themselves in this process.

    UPDATE: The html code for that graphical link might now be working (hopefully). It works on this blog, anyways.

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Ontario "wins", Ontarians lose

    Restrained jubiliation today as the ruling is handed down. No longer will the parents of children over six years with autism piggyback off of us hardworking, honest types.

    Now, it isn't all good news. The children are still able to access the social and health services they need - after their parents surrender them to Children's Aid Societies. So to my compatriots at the National Post I say: it is a bittersweet victory. Make no mistake - we haven't yet reduced Canada to a pre-Hobbesian state of nature. Much work still lies ahead of us.

    Perhaps the Canadian Taxpayers Federation should mark this as another national holiday - "Freedom From Helping People With Serious Medical Special Needs Day." I can imagine the gradiosity of the tickertape parades now. After all - some things are worth spending money on.

    On a serious note, when I'm Prime Minister I'm going to levy a head tax on every card-carrying member of the CTF. Let some other PM apologize for me 100 years later.