The two best kept secrets in Washington are the degree to which Canadians have been rooting for a post-election American economic turnaround, and the extent to which that turnaround is dependent on removing the barriers to trade with the United States largest export market, Canada. Will Obama lead America there?
Most of us are relieved the U.S. election is over -- listening to the hyperbole of the campaign for so many months has been difficult even for Canadians who don't hear the ads and don't have the same emotional reaction to the candidates. But there are some lessons to be learned for non-politicians working on their personal brands.
During those four years there had been much sadness, wailing and gnashing of teeth and beating of breasts in the land as the tribe's riches and power ebbed, and the people lost faith in their tribe. So therefore, many leaders did arise who did each say unto the people that he alone was strong and of good courage and should be their leader to lead them out of the slough of despond and into the land of milk and honey...
At the end of the day, this "close" election was not really that close. While the race was closer than 2008, Romney's routes to victory proved limited and, ultimately, impossible. The outcome of this election will likely raise serious questions about the influence of the right wing Tea Party in the Republican Party.
Imagine the following scene with me, if you will: Marine One lands amid a fury of fireworks in the middle of Grant Park in Chicago. President Obama is wearing a full flight-suit as he struts from the LZ up onto a stage already occupied by Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z. As he makes his way behind the podium, George Clooney unveils a giant "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner.
A successful Obama presidency -- one that trims the debt, shrinks the deficit, reforms entitlements, and spurs GDP growth is one dangerously likely to revive the old Canadian demons of insecurity and inferiority. Regardless of how much it may satiate our fiscal interests, an economically resurgent America almost certainly means a return to second-place status for this country.
Decisions are being made these days with few nods to actual evidence-based thinking. This should not be a surprise to those who have paid attention of course, as the government has been consistently cutting funding to scientific research and development and shifting its focus instead to "industry based," private sector research and development. Essentially, the government is investing in outcomes instead of investing in possibilities.
When Canada's annual budget deficit came in bigger than expected at $26.2 billion recently, the news didn't spark a sell-off in the markets or an emergency debate in parliament. But that doesn't mean Canadians should be complacent about balancing the budget. As taxpayers, we need to keep our politicians focused controlling costs, keeping taxes affordable, and balancing budgets -- the straight and narrow path that leads us far away from the fiscal cliff.
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.
When political parties spend time on the opposition benches they often come up with ideas that look great on paper but lose their lustre once the party moves from the opposition side of the House to the government side. Such has been the case with the Conservatives and the Parliamentary Budget Office presently run by Kevin Page. Remember the chant from the Conservative backbenches, "Promise made, promise kept"? In this case that's not quite accurate.
I have met family men and women who smoke marijuana after a hard day of work. They hang out with their kids, put them to bed, and smoke a joint. Should these men and women be put in jail for choosing to inhale a substance that is safer than alcohol? The answer is no.
In his new book Fight the Right, Warren Kinsella gets some big things correct while leaving some big things out. Yes, progressive politicians should take Kinsella's advice about authenticity, simplicity and speaking to the heart. Yes, we need a new progressive narrative as a counterweight to the one that is currently trashing our country and our planet. But, we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that we don't have a lot of hard work to do
The Harper Conservatives have turned their backs on facts-based policy -- on research, data, and reality -- in favour of ideology to a degree not seen in decades in federal Canadian policy-making. There are seemingly countless examples of policies that are unreasonable -- downright illogical -- often followed by attempts to demonize, even stifle, dissenting voices.
Proponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal seem hell-bent for leather on conducting what may be the most inept natural resource project application in B.C. history. Their place in the Canadian business school textbooks is assured, under the heading "Enbridge to Nowhere."
This week, the World Francophonie Summit was held in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bi-annual summit provides a forum for States and governments of countries who utilise the French language to engage in matters related to the linguistic ties that bind. Stephen Harper attended the conference despite his dismal record in defending the langue de Molière over his tenure Prime Minister. Harper has demonstrated neither appreciation nor respect for French-speaking Canadians, although we form almost a quarter of the Canadian population.
Canada has long been a country with a high degree of sensitively -- and astuteness -- about status in the world. The sharing of some embassy services between Canada and the U.K. has already received a lot of attention. In geo-political hierarchical terms, the main risk of Canada cutting rather than building diplomatic infrastructure is that it plays to an image of decline that is contrary to the desire of the Harper government. An agreement with the U.K. then risks displaying not strength but a double image of weakness.