Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Prime Minister Harper will announce the next Quarterly Economic Report Card from New Brunswick on Wednesday, September, 30. He will announce it not from the House of Commons in Ottawa, but far away from the media pundits most likely to ask the toughest questions. By announcing the Report Card from an out-of-the-spotlight location Mr. Harper gets to swoop in below the radar and hide the statistics that show his much vaunted stimulus programme is not working.

Recently, Prime Minister Harper has become quite adept at avoiding the tough issues facing Canada and the world. He is playing to his base of supporters while ignoring the most pressing issues on the planet. The economy of the country is in crisis but our prime minister is nowhere to be found. The leaders of the world showed up last week at the General Assembly of the United Nations but Mr. Harper chose instead to cut the ribbon at Tim Horton's opening in Ontario, where he talked of the importance of a Double-Double on cold mornings at the rink.

Iran is hiding nuclear processing plants and test-firing missiles... the world is facing perhaps its greatest climate threat ever... the world economy is still in tatters... Afghanistan is withering... and our prime minister is avoiding the issues in a practiced way. What happened to the Stephen Harper who used to tell it like it is... I mean was?

The fact of the matter is things are not going that well for Canada, and Mr. Harper knows it. What he is patently trying to do his best to stay out of the line of fire while "playing the heart-strings" of his party base. He doesn't want us to start noticing things are not better than they were four years ago when he took the reins of power. His goal is to lull us into a sense that... "sure, things may not be perfect, but we are still pretty well off." He is doing this because he plans on having an election... and soon. He might not get one before the Vancouver Olympics in February, 2010 but it won't be much longer than that. Those pesky socialists and separatists keep supporting his government, even though he really wants to run against the Liberals right now... when they are still weak and disorganised.

Mr. Harper has been consistently vague and misleading about telling Canadians what the Federal deficit really is and why. He has played his hand politically and at the detriment of Canada and Canadians. This is a very serious time for this country... for our own affairs and to secure our place at the global table. Yet Mr. Harper recently faded into the shadows; he stays in the in the dark because he knows if Canadians hear the truth about our economic situation and our deteriorating place in various world rankings, we might start to question why. The answers to those questions will not cast Mr. Harper and his party in a very positive light. It's true that there are no obvious leaders ready to take Canada into a non-partisan political future... not from within the Liberal Party of the NDP, but Mr. Harper knows full well that his government's performance will not stand up to hard scrutiny. That's why he is laying low... waiting for the next election... trying to lull us into a state of well-being that simply is not reality.

If we escape an election call this week (and that seems increasingly likely), look for Mr. Harper to keep avoiding the limelight and staying off centre-stage. And isn't that odd for a man who until now has stood at the center of every single policy his party has ever announced.

Yoo-hoo, Stevie... come out, come out, wherever you are.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dodged a Bullet

Canadians were lucky to escape a summer election. We may yet be lucky enough to escape one this autumn. But make no mistake, even if we dodge a fall bullet, there’s a federal election coming to a polling station near you within the year. Canadians who follow the political scene may understand why the possibility of another election so soon after the October, 2009 exists, but for most people, it really doesn’t make sense to be having elections every year, especially when they cost more than $300 million a shot.

The latest threat of election is coming from the Liberal Party, which senses it has better chance to form a government if there is an election soon rather than waiting. The Conservatives argue there is no need for an election and that the opposition parties need to work with the government to make this session of parliament work.


Wasn’t it just eleven months ago that Prime Minister Harper called an election three years early because he sensed he might be able to win a majority government? In most parliamentary democracies (like Canada’s) elections are held every four or five years. Even with minority governments, other countries can make things work because parties cooperate with one another. Here in Canada we are controlled by a tyranny of two parties that cannot bring themselves from playing political power games with Canadians rather than to put the good of the country first.

In fact, in order to call last year’s election Prime Minister Harper broke a law passed back in 2006 that required federal elections to be held on the third Monday in October, in the fourth calendar year after a previous election unless the opposition brings down the government. Last year, without the government being brought down, Mr. Harper simply dissolved parliament and went to the polls where nothing changed much anyway.

Now Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff says he won’t support the government under any circumstance and will send Canadians back to the polls as soon as he can. Unless either the NDP or the Bloc Quebec support the Conservatives over the next few months, the government will fall and we will have to go back to the voting booth very soon.

Did you get that? In order for the Conservatives to survive, they will need the help of either the “separatists” or the “socialists.” If you have been following this “Keystone Cops” political situation, you will remember that the Conservatives and their supporters went ballistic last December when the Liberals and NDP proposed a coalition that had the agreement of the Bloc Quebec not to vote against said coalition for 18 months. Back in December, the separatists and the socialists were bad. Now they are “part of the democratic” process.


Where the hell did the integrity go? How did we find ourselves with politicians that put themselves first at every opportunity? Why do so many of us blindly support one side over the other when it is apparent that neither side is out for the betterment of this country or to support everyday Canadians? If we are ever to get passed this partisanship that is destroying Canada, we “little people” have to get back involved in the process and demand that the politicians we choose to support act with more integrity than we have seen lately.

When this election comes… and come it will… the Conservatives are going to tell us that it is unnecessary and that the Liberals are selfish and uncaring power hungry rats. Take that with a large grain of salt and remember October, 2008, when Prime Minister Harper broke a law his own government enacted just so he could seek a majority parliament. This next election is our opportunity to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire and demand they act with more honor and integrity. It will also be an opportunity to listen to policy and decide on the character of candidates by the virtue of their words and their conduct rather than the party banner they run under. Next election, it’s time for all of us to perform our role in this democracy of ours.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Vote for Democracy

Now that we are all wondering about a potential federal election this fall (again), people are asking me if I will run as the Green candidate in the constituency of Vegreville-Wainwright.

The answer to that is... Yes! No one else wanted to do it.

One young man in my little hamlet (not old enough to vote last October... but who attended the candidates' forum) told me that although he feels I am/was the best candidate, he could not vote for me because he feels that a Green vote is a wasted vote.

While I empathise with this young man wanting his first vote to mean something, the logic of not voting for a candidate because the candidate doesn't appear to be the one that is going to be elected serves no purpose. In fact, it is totally in opposition to what democracy means.

As a candidate for the Green Party in the east central part of Alberta, the chance I will be elected is slim. Why do I run then? I run because democracy does not... WILL NOT... work if we do not all stand up and take part in honest, open, respectful discourse about what we want this country to be. If Canadians buy into the unhealthy idea that it is only the Liberals or the Conservatives that can govern, we are on the road to destroying the democracy we say we hold dearly.

Both the Liberals and the Conservatives hold their members in line with strict discipline. Voice any sort dissenting views in either of those parties... and out you go. It is "tow the line" or leave the party, which doesn't allow for regional perspectives in the House of Commons. We have gone from a representative democracy to an oligarchic system where the views of a few are foist upon the many under the guise of a democratic process.

Although I am a Green Party candidate, I don't agree with every Green policy. But that is the magic of this party. All candidates can differ on points of policy to some degree and this party is okay with that. The Green Party wants me to be accountable firstly to the people I will represent... to the people in my community... to the culture of my community... to the traditions of my community. The Green Party allows for the democratic process to move to a place where the will of individuals and the representatives they elect to make their honest views part of our democratic debate.

Running in a federal election costs me a great deal: time away from my family... my farm... my volunteer activities and my job (ie. my salary). It costs me in a big way, but I do it because I want the democratic process to work. I want to give people options. When I hear people (particularly young people) tell me they won't vote for me even if they think I am the best candidate simply because they perceive my electability as low... I am truly saddened. How did they come to view democracy in such a cynical way?

Democracy demands we vote for who we believe best represents the voices we want heard in Parliament. To do anything else is dishonest... to Canada... to our communities... and to ourselves.