Despite the bad press that continues to dog the oil sands, it's not a potential foreign boycott of "dirty" Canadian oil that's the biggest problem for the domestic energy industry. No, the larger challenge is simple economics.
Now that Gilles Duceppe is back and has declared his willingness to support a coalition that would offer an alternative to the Conservatives and which is in Quebec's interest, the dilemma for voters in the province changes dramatically.
In the absence of a clear-cut vision from the Liberals, the NDP has become the reasonable alternative. The party is now on record voting against Bill C-51 and voicing a strong opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Mulcair has advocated for a national child care policy worth $8 billion and proposed targeted tax cuts for families.
Despite repeated requests from the NDP and Canadian civil society, the Conservatives refused to increase the Official Development Assistance budget. Canada now ranks among the worst OECD countries for ODA spending. Not only does this directly limit our ability to fulfill our mandate of poverty eradication, it hurts our credibility as a reliable partner for international development.
In anticipation of the next federal election, the Conservatives launched an ad campaign last September with the less-than-inspiring slogan, "We're better off with Harper." No expression of grand ideas for Canada. No glorious visions for our national future.
We still have a foreign person, a queen living in a castle on another continent -- Victoria's great, great, granddaughter, in fact -- as Canada's head of state. And it's a pretty safe bet that Canada isn't on her mind a whole lot either, if at all. So why do we put up with it? Without question, Canada deserves to have its own head of state, chosen by us and from among our citizens. How have we made it this far without taking the final step to full nationhood? The reason lies with misinformation.
If Alberta premier-designate Rachel Notley is looking to wean her province's economy from its oil addiction, she may find that climate change, ironically enough, turns into an unexpected ally.
Canadians throughout the years have been convinced that they have only one choice to choose between either of the Liberals or Conservatives. This particular "doctrine" has ruled out any opportunity for other political parties to rule the nation in any way.
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Despite the growing dissatisfaction Albertans felt with the ruling party, the election remained Jim Prentice's to lose. Though odds were stacked against him, there were too many missteps, and at the root of each was a failure to respect the intelligence of the Alberta voter.
In case you are wondering, I did not vote for the NDP this election. But what I saw on social media afterwards scared me and I wanted to address the arguments and tell you why we should remain optimistic about the future of our province.
The big surprise with the NDP's breakthrough is Alberta is seen as the country's most conservative province. Home of the oil sands, Stephen Harper, and the Wildrose party, there's plenty of evidence to back this up. But, Calgary and Edmonton both have progressive mayors, Alberta is the youngest province demographically, and Albertans are feeling the economic (not to mention environmental) downside to an oil dependent economy. Rachel Notley reminded everyone that Alberta is defined by... Alberta.
What is happening in Alberta? Conservatives, after all, are a constant in the prairie province. As certain as the Bow River swells every spring, Albertans habitually re-elect Progressive Conservatives.
We must reclaim our position as a strong advocate for human rights and peace. In order to do this, we must do more than increase our financial support to the Central African Republic. We must condemn the abhorrent acts of violence against women and children. We must advocate for religious tolerance and reconciliation. And we must denounce the international apathy that has allowed this crisis to drag on for so long.
The Syrian conflict has passed two sobering milestones. The civil war -- now entering its fourth year -- has now claimed more than 200,000 lives and forced more than three million people to flee the country. The Canadian government can and should be playing a more direct role in addressing the refugee crisis in Lebanon by immediately increasing our humanitarian assistance.
The reason Canadians do not look at the NDP as government material is obvious. Its public role has been to shout, scream and protest from the sidelines and that reality has and should not change. I would never question nor discount their public contributions -- Medicare and minimum wage -- however these admirable ideals were achieved with the adult supervision of the traditional governing parties.