Everyone is agog over the supposedly big dust up in the House of Commons yesterday, where MP Peter Van Loan marched across the Commons floor to wag his finger at NDP leaders. There was no need to cross over to the NDP side as nothing would be accomplished by doing so. The Official Opposition thought they had caught the government on a technicality and wanted to force another vote which would have further delayed passage of Bill C-45. What is so exciting about that? Why was it necessary for the Conservative House Leader to cross the floor? It is perfectly legitimate for any opposition party to use the full arsenal of tactics available to them to delay or defeat government legislation.
Sometimes when you want to know how prudent a political party will be with the taxpayer's dime, it doesn't hurt to consider how prudent they are when it comes to spending their own dime at party headquarters. Compared to their counterparts in other provinces, the B.C. Liberal party spends like there's no tomorrow. And it's spending that increasingly points to something ominous: election campaigns that never end.
It is hard to believe, but back on this day in 2005, we were all involved in an election that was forced on November 28th when the Martin government lost a confidence vote. Part of what made that election possible was the success the then opposition Conservatives had in Question Period. Today, the best you can say about Question Period is that it is pathetic and a great opportunity to take a nap.
With the by-elections over, everyone will be reading the tea leaves to see what it means for the next federal election. At this point probably not all that much as we don't know who will be leading the Liberals in 2015 or for that matter if Harper will even be around to lead the Conservatives. Just the same, the parties should see some red flags from yesterday's results. For the two main parties, i.e. the Liberals and the Conservatives, it does offer a glimpse into some potential shifts down the road depending on who wins the Liberal leadership race. The good news for the Liberals is that even in Tory Alberta they can be a contender; their brand is still pretty resilient.
The most exciting by-election on Thursday is in Calgary Centre, where polls indicate a three-way race between the Conservatives, the Liberals and (deep breath) the Green Party. So if you live in Calgary Centre and are an NDP voter, a Green voter, a Liberal voter, then I suggest you consider yourself, first and foremost, a progressive voter.
From a progressive's point-of-view 1 Calgary Centre is ambitious, commendable, daring, timely and incredibly brilliant. From a conservative perspective, it is a nightmare. But will it work?
The Conservative government recently introduced C-45, an omnibus bill containing provisions to create a two-tier public sector workforce in this country. Buried in the bill is a provision to raise the age of retirement for all public employees hired after January 1, 2013
Question Period tends to highlight exactly what is wrong with much that takes place in the House of Commons. Daily insults, putdowns, and factual misrepresentation are quite common. When you combine an inept opposition with a government side that shows little respect for the intelligence of Canadians, you end up with something that is so bad that you can't even call it a gong show.
What comes to mind when people think of Saskatchewan? Socialism, of course. Other things too, but certainly socialism. But since Tommy Douglas left provincial politics, Saskatchewanians have wandered back and forth on the political spectrum. Saskatchewan has 14 seats in the House of Commons. There's not a single socialist bum in those 14 seats.
B.C. Liberal party director Mike McDonald made an interesting point on Sunday. Not one to miss an opportunity for a partisan shot given the nature of his political post, McDonald tweeted: "Shocked at low NDP turnout in Fairview. Huge media, high profile candidates, less than 400 voted. NDP support not deep." Despite the dig, McDonald is on to something. But what he's on to isn't pretty and regrettably it ails all political parties in B.C.
Anyone watching Question Period the last few days would be excused if they simply turned it off and walked away in disgust. Basically the kids in the chamber are back to their old games -- insults, evasive answers and slap downs. True it can get partisan blood going, but partisans are already committed to their own side's position. I doubt too many in the public are getting much out of the daily slug-fest. What ever happened to Michael Chong's attempt to reform Question Period? If this past week is an example, those reforms are needed more than ever.
What Justin Trudeau brings to politics is a charismatic, genuine, energetic and trustworthy face. He can work a crowd like no other MP. Since announcing his candidacy, he has had no problems drawing full crowds at appearances ranging from rallies to talks on the role of social media in politics. Don't underestimate these traits. What the Liberal party of Canada needs is a young energetic leader who can reclaim the centre and encourage people who don't usually vote to do so.
Liberals made a pledge to focus on rebuilding the party from the ground up. It is essential, now that the Grit leadership race is getting underway, that Liberals honour this promise. Liberals should select their next leader keeping in mind the following difficult but unavoidable truth: The Liberal Party of Canada will not win the 2015 federal election. The worst thing the Grits could do right now is to rally en masse around any one candidate for leader early in the race and not give this candidate a chance to prove his or her worth. Better to have Grits unite around a common vision as a result of debate than to unite around a personality hoping for a Hail Mary.
I gather from all the media hype that Canadians are supposed to be waiting with bated breath and pounding heart for the "Second Coming" i.e. Justin Trudeau's non-announcement this week that he will enter the Liberal Party's leadership race. I say non-announcement as I don't know anyone who pays attention to politics who actually thought Trudeau would sit this one out.
Can the Liberals survive as a third party? Liberals can no longer claim to be the natural governing party, nor to have the same ability to garner wealthy donors or those seeking connections. Liberals cannot coast by on "we win elections," "we're not Harper," or be the "everything to everyone" party. The Liberals face a tough political environment, with the NDP trying to crowd them out, and with their own return to power far from certain. A compelling message and clear ideals to attract support is key. Liberals cannot pine for a messiah.
If Pauline Marois' government decides it wants to lead Quebec out of Canada, to my mind she's simply following the logical path that has been laid down (intentionally or not) by our Federal leaders over the past 145 years. If it turns out Quebec wants a divorce we should grant it and move on. It seems evident there wasn't much of a family to begin with, and we don't seem to want to start building one now.