The Budget

All right, I have to weigh in. I have not heard much content yet but I have this to say. When it comes to economics I am firmly in the Keynesian school. Basically, when times are good governments should spend less and when we are in recession governments should spend more. Some of our first social programs, like the Family Bonus, were Keynesian measures. The idea being that you transfer wealth to individuals who will then spend it and then stimulate the economy.

I fail to see how bailing out various sectors of our economy is going to help. How much money are we willing to spend on corporate welfare for companies that did not have sustainable business plans? If the NDP had delivered a budget like the Cons are proposing they would all be up in arms.

What we need are real transfers to people who will then spend money. Giving billions upon billions to corporations who have proven they can’t manage their companies will only make the corporations and the shareholders richer. But then again this is a Conservative government.

This just in: They are extending EI Benefits by a whole 5 weeks. Wow, very generous. I am jaded. Bring on the Coalition.

Don’t blink…

Well it seems that blinking or turning your eye from the news for a few hours means that you will be woefully behind with regard to the latest shenanigans in Ottawa. I was fairly sure the Coalition would not last with Dion at the helm but I certainly did not predict the speed with which he has been dispatched to the political wilderness. Stephen Harper succeeded in making sure that Dion will go down as one of the worst leaders of the Liberal Party of Canada, ever. I think he deserved more. Yes, Dion had many faults. Mostly though his problem was that he was too smart for those around him and he chose not to conduct himself accordingly. When your entire party does not understand one of the main planks of your election platform you have a problem.  The fact that kept on pushing through, with the same strategy, shows his hubris. This should not have come as a big surprise to Liberals – after all who could say that they *understood* the Clarity Act.

Now, that brings us to Michael Ignatieff. I am not sure he is the best choice as leader of the Liberal Party of the Canada. Like Dion, he is an academic which could pose the same kind of problems. My sense of Ignatieff is that he knows he is right and he is going to make damn sure that everyone else knows it too. I have not seen any leadership coming from him at all since he first burst on to the federal political scene. He does not inspire confidence for me. He is the slightly better choice but only marginally.

On to Bob Rae. I have always liked Bob Rae. I lived in Ontario when he was premier and he was hammered from all sides. It is really hard to be an NDP premier during a recession when you need unions to give you some concessions. Unfortunately for Bob, ‘Rae’ days will haunt him forever. He would never be able to win enough seats in Ontario to form a government. The Liberals would be foolish to elect him as their leader.

So, who would be good? Well, the Liberal Party of Canada is at a crossroads. They need to morph into a party that speaks to people. To do this they need a charismatic leader. Hell, even a leader would do. The reason they have been so unsuccessful since Chretien left is because they have not yet had a true leader.

Brian Tobin is a leader – I am not sure why he has not run. He would be great. The man made fish exciting during the Turbot wars with Spain. I am positive he could turn around the Liberal’s fortunes. He must have a really good gig going on in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Deb is convinced that Frank McKenna could do something but he has also not put his hat into the ring. Again, not really clear why.

Clearly, what the Liberals need is the next generation. The current generation is old and tired and ready to retire. Pierre Trudeau burst on to the national scene and snatched the Leadership away from Paul Martin Sr. (which is why Junior needed to be PM so bad). I think what we need is Justin. Yes, he is young and has just been elected. Nothing was handed to him in the last election. He electrified Canadians with his eulogy for his father and he showed that he has every bit as much charisma as Pierre. Justin may be inexperienced in Parliament but he grew up in a political household. He has received a political education unlike any other. Perhaps he will be our Barack Obama.

WTF is happening with the Federal Government?

I have been fielding a lot of questions about what is happening with federal politics right now given the threat of the opposition bringing down the government. So here is Canadian politics 101:

– The Canadian parliamentary system operates usually with majorities. That is one party takes a majority of seats (155) in the House of Commons. Convention dictates that the Governor General (GG) would then ask the leader of that party to form a government.
– In situations where one party does not win a majority then convention dictates that the GG would ask the leader of the party with the most seats to form a government. Now there have been situations where this has not happened. Notably the King-Byng affair. King did not win the largest number of seats but he was a sitting prime minister and he was able to put together a coalition with the Progressive party to govern. The government did not last long due to a scandal. King asked GG Byng to dissolve parliament and call an election and he refused. Instead he opted to ask Arthur Meighen to form a government as there had been an election recently. This is what the coalition of Liberals and NDP are counting on.
– Here is how things stand right now the Liberals are going to introduce a motion of non-confidence. Basically if it passes, it means that the members of the House of Commons have lost confidence in the government. If this motion passes then the government falls. The GG can then call an election or ask the new coalition to form a government.

Here is a press release from the Canadians for a Progressive Coalition:
Hello everyone,

What a weekend! The Liberals and NDP have agreed to form a coalition government with support from the Bloc Quebecois. With our help, they will bring down the Conservative minority government on December 8 with a vote of no-confidence, and form a coalition government with mixed cabinet.

This week, we can expect a massive campaign trying to discredit the validity of a coalition government. There will be millions of dollars put towards this. It is absolutely critical that we respond strongly. We may lack the money, but we, the 60% of Canadians who voted for progressive platforms, certainly have the numbers. We will need to push with everything we have this week to show the country and our MPs that Canadians support a progressive coalition.

Canadians for a Progressive Coalition is a non-partisn grass-roots movement that was formed shortly after the election to organize Canadians to show their support for a progressive coalition. As of Sunday at 9PM PST well over 4,000 people have signed the petition, over 2,500 have joined the Facebook group, and over 4,000 have watched our YouTube video.

That’s a good start. There are two goals that we need to accomplish this week: First, to show the media convincingly that Canadians support a progressive coalition. Second, to show our MPs that Canadians want a progressive coalition.

What can you do?

1. If you have not done so already, please sign the petition. We will submit the petition to Parliament on Thursday December 4, which is shaping up to include events across the country. We will submit the updated petition again on Monday December 8, the day of the confidence vote.

2. Forward this message to people who use email, and speak with people who don’t. Speak with your friends and family and show them the YouTube video.

3. Phone either your MP, or the President of the local Riding Association of the party you voted for, to tell them you support their party forming a coalition government.

4. Write letters to the editor, call in to radio shows, and post comments on news stories and blogs. We have included a guide with some key messages and facts to help you.

People are preparing events for this Thursday. We are planning a series of “Candles for a Coalition” gatherings and rallies accross the country. We are meeting with other organizations that are driving action on this issue Monday morning to coordinate our efforts and will report back to you shortly.

Finally, email us at campaign@progressivecoalition.ca if you would like to become an organizer in your region.

Cheers,
Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

PS – Check out another group rowing in the same direction: http://www.smartvote2008.ca/