(Hat Tip to the Zach Bell Show)
CNN's Your Money show -- once the domain of stock speculation, investment tips and the idol worship of financiers -- is devoting another episode to "Jobs of the Future" (this is the second of these I've seen). It works like this... three business pundits sit around listing jobs that need people and how much you'll earn to start. While I've been watching they've listed off teachers, guidance councillors and home care workers as three growth professions that they're boffo on.
In between these lists of occupations, they're offering advice to job seekers. Apparently now is a great time for freelancers because companies are looking for non-committal relationships with their workers (that's a new thing??).
Business journalism just isn't the glam job it used to be, eh?
Well, as hockey fans know by now, the team is safely ensconsed in that hockey hotbed known as Phoenix, Arizona. And everything is going swimmingly in the desert, right? Somehow, I don't think this was supposed to be part of Gary Bettman's plan ...
Here's the smoking gun. The ESPN article states that the Coyotes have lost $60 million in the past two seasons, and will lose another $30 million this season. Asking for an advance on its television money isn't new, and it doesn't really matter (the club's just asking for its money early) except for two things. Other clubs have a line of credit to draw on whhen cash flow becomes irregular, and what an NHL team makes from it's television contract isn't that much. So if the Coyotes are asking for that money, it must mean that their line of credit is already maxed out, and they're really, really desparate for cash.
Now, would the Winnipeg Jets have lost as much money over the years if they played in Winnipeg instead of Phoenix? And if people thought that hockey in the desert made economic sense, and hockey in a hockey market didn't make sense, what are those people thinking today?
On Sunday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff attended a menorah lighting ceremony at Toronto's Zareinu Educational Centre, but according to organizers, a Conservative aide tried to shut the event down and block Ignatieff from attending.
Georganne Burke, who works for the Minister of State Gary Goodyear within Industry Canada, also insinuated that having Ignatieff at the ceremony could pose a problem for the school, according to event organizer Gary Gladstone.
"I am advising you that Georganne Burke called me this evening at about 10:30 pm (on Sunday) enraged, advising me for the benefit of the Jewish community the menorah lighting should be cancelled," Gladstone wrote in an email obtained by CTV News.
"(Burke) further went on to say that she felt it would do serious damage to Zareinu to have the event there," he said in the email.
Heh, just kidding about the Grinch Who Stole Democracy; soulless kid from The Omen; map of Canada tattooed to your ass so that you look like a baboon; stuff Mr. Harper, Sir. At your earliest convenience I'd love to arrange a fawning interview with you for prairie dog magazine that, should you be so inclined during your next round of Senate appointments in 2009, might cause you to look favourably upon this humble scribe as a possible candidate for elevation to that exhalted chamber where, in concert with my several dozen other Conservative appointees, I will work diligently to spread your gospel. The gospel according to Stephen. Which surely has to rank, if I might be permitted a bit of pre-interview fawning on this very special day, as one of the best gospels ever. Right up there with those written by John, Mark, Matthew and Luke.
Merry Christmas, Regina!
I’m in Winnipeg.
While I've lived in Regina for a decade and consider it my home, it's an inescapable fact: I was aged to my current, tragically well-documented state of imperfection in this town once dubbed “One Great City” by its deluded and desperate boosters. And because I’m related to people who still live in this sprawled, violent and IKEA-obsessed burg, I often head back here at Christmas time.
The highlight of my semi-annual visits, besides seeing family of course, is catching up with friends. Met some pals last night at the Round Table, a south-end restaurant/pub that seems to be the official Yule gathering spot for the old “gang”.
The service was sketchy — what kind of pub lets thirsty patrons stare at empty glasses? — but the nachos and conversation were good.
One fellow conversant was Jake “nom de plume “ Fiddler, a PhD student who just moved back after a couple years at a university in the States. Jake is the still-recovering youngest son of socialist internationalists. He spent a lot of his childhood in developing countries where his do-gooder folks associated with Marxists, leftists and other hippies—the kind of people who, when they weren’t building schools, helping refugees and digging wells, were complaining about Ronald Reagan and U.S. imperialism.
(I know this because in junior high school I often ate lunch at the Fiddler's and thus listened to their leftist propaganda, their stories about the MNR in Mozambique and death squads in El Salvador and race murders in South Africa and stuff like that. I fear I may have been corrupted. But enough about me.)
So I had to ask this friend who grew up in a household polluted by anti-American sentiment what it was like to be a guy like him in the States for two years. How is the U.S. different from Canada? What did he learn?
“You gotta fight for health care. That’s it,” he said.
Jake says that in the United States, when politicians talk about universal health care they’re talking about making it illegal not to have privately administered health insurance. And that’s the best to be hoped for. The prospects for publically-administered universal health care along the lines of what Canada (and basically THE REST OF THE DEVELOPED WORLD) has are, according to Jake, precisely squat.
There’s a lot I love about the country to the south of us but in too many important ways it’s broken beyond conceivable repair. Too much military spending. Too much corporate lobbying. Too much demagoguery around crime and taxes and patriotism and God and “family values”. Out of control racism and gun violence. The Phoenix Coyotes.
The fact that the United States can’t establish universal health care, though, is probably the best symbol for the nation’s failures.
Yet another reason I get frustrated when the majority of my adopted home province votes for the Conservatives, Canada’s most American-style political party.
So that’s what I’m thinking about while I’m up waiting for Santa at three a.m. Christmas morning.
Don’t tell me I don’t have an ass-full of holiday spirit.
I've only been here a day and a half and, boy howdy, am I soaking in it.
Have CNN anchors always mugged for the camera so much? I've seen them wink, burst into song, and do spontaneous impressions. (I'm hoping to see a spit take from Anderson Cooper before I leave.) All this in a day and a half. In between stories about child murder, natural disasters and financial collapse. Yeah, I know this isn't the age of Cronkite any more. We're not to expect dry, dispassionate news coverage that strives for impariality. Sure. I get that. But I'd expect the luminaries of the news universe to conduct themselves with a little more decorum than, say, your average prairie dog writer. I mean, if sophmoric hijinks are what reporting is all about these days, why aren't I making more money, I ask you, dear dog blog reader?
But buffoonery on CNN is mere cause for amusement. What's rankled me enough to get me blogging this xmas eve is GM's fullpage ad in Tuesday's Edmonton Journal. It's a page of text headed with the question "What does it mean to say, 'I'm for GM'?" (I'll try to edit this post later and include the text of the ad... it's worth puzzling over.)
Their message is that GM is a good company that's striving to be more efficient and environmentally responsible. It also tries to dispel some of the nasty myths about itself, arguing that it had already been working towards those goals. Why, it's been implementing a restructuring plan since 2005 and during that time has produced a great mid-size hybrid in the Malibu, won Car of the Year awards in 07 and 08 and has... wait a second??!?? 2005??!?? [spit take] They've been restructuring since 2005? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that like only three years ago? And isn't three the first number in our counting system to be classed as "a few"? If they'd started their restructuring plan any later in the game their ad would have to read "about a couple years ago, it occured to us oil might not last forever". Any later than that and they'd be writing "Environment?!? [spit take] Oh crap. We'd better get on that!"
Okay. Sorry. I'm just a schmuck from Saskatchewan not a player in the auto industry. Maybe waiting until the early part of the 21st century to start gearing up for the end of oil and runaway climate change is what counts for taking the long view in the world of big business.
But I digress. Ultimately, what GM is trying to say with this ad is thanks for your money. (Mind you, they use the code word "support" to stand in for "your tax dollars.")
They end this way: "We are asking Canadians to look differently at GM. We thank everyone who continues to stand by us. We are changing quickly to become a leaner, greener, sustainable company. So maybe, if it comes up with friends, in the lunch room or around the dinner table, you'll consider saying, 'I'm for GM.'"
Sorry, GM, I just can't say that. First of all, I expect to get paid for PR work. And second, I have deep misgivings about the bailout. It offends my sense of justice.
I thought the whole deal with the self-regulated free market thing was that it rewarded companies that produced things the public wants and those that didn't, died. Fear of corporate death is supposed to be the stick that inspires corporations to innovate, change, respond to the market and the environment, become more efficient, expand and grow. That's the logic pundits, economists and captains of industry have used to justify everything from privatizing health care, cutting off funding to the arts and culture, and just generally starving the public sector at every turn.
And yet, the second the corporate sector gets into trouble, they're knocking on the government's door, looking for a handout. The auto industry has squandered tonnes of public cash and gov't support, they ignored years of warnings about the perils their industry was going to face, and they're being rewarded for that. Way to go, capitalism!
Now, granted, when I'm not busy being Indignant Paul, I'll admit that in the long run, when you consider how many people rely on this industry for their livelihood maybe a bailout of some kind is the way to go.
But, you know, I hear tell of these car companies that aren't on the verge of bankruptcy, that're actually building small, fuel efficient vehicles. I hear they have factories here in Canada. They're companies with foreign-sounding names like "Toyota." Why aren't we giving them money?
No seriously. Educate me. Why aren't we giving money to Toyota and Volkswagon? I know next to nothing about cars. I don't own one. Not planning to. But if we're going to hand out big loans from the public purse, shouldn't we be gambling on companies that seem to have a clue?
Or how about this? We could put the money into passenger rail so we wouldn't need cars so much and wouldn't have to rely quite so heavily on the auto industry to keep our manufacturing sector healthy. I think they call that diversification.
I don't know, I'm just brainstorming here.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
You're a bad politician
With virtually no appeal.
You're a dictator, Mr. Harper.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of schemes,
You've got meglomania in your soul.
I wouldn't touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.
In honour of this most Canuck of holiday traditions, here's a little tune by the sadly defunct Molestics. It's the only song I know of to grapple with this subject.
By the way, I found that mp3 on their abandoned website and also discovered that lead singer Mike Soret has some kind of semi-functioning Molestics blog. Seems he's writing a book about his time in the band. Groovy.
But thanks to the miracle of the interweb, all that typing won't be wasted.
A note about writing this.... My conversation with Donald Gutstein ended with his comment about how the coalition has missed its moment. I liked the way he put it and thought the remark important so I opted to start writing with that. After doing so, the article naturally became an inversion of the way the interview played out. You'd think, then, it would leave us in a happier place. But it doesn't. And so it goes....
Not Busy Being Born, Coalition Now Busy Dying
A deathknell is sounding for the coalition. And there seem to be two camps ringing the bell announcing its demise: those who welcome the news and those who hear the tolling with a certain amount of sadness. Among those in the latter camp is Donald Gutstein, senior lecturer at Simon Fraser University and co-director of NewsWatch Canada.
“The moment has passed,” he says with regret. “What’s happened is the resumption of traditional politics in Canada. We have Harper on the right and Ignatieff on the centre-right and that’s going to be the range of debate. And, I think, that’s it.”
With the entry of “prorogue” into our vocabulary and Ignatieff into the Liberal command chair, the media has declared the nacent centre-left uprising done. You could almost hear a sigh of relief in the coverage. We’ve already written these stories, the media seems to be saying.
“They’re part of the corporate elite too so they’re happier with this kind of political and economic system,” says Gutstein. “What twigged it for me was the morning after Ignatieff was crowned, Margaret Wente said, ‘Yes, we can live with Ignatieff.’”
But how did it all unravel so fast?
From the moment the coalition became a possibility, the spin machine in every party’s warroom fired up. On one side, Harper was portrayed as akin to a tyrant, a petty man out to wreck petty vengence on his opponents. From the other, the coalition was depicted as a naked power grab by the Liberals inspired to action by a threat to their government welfare cheque.
While Harper’s reputation took a bit of a hit, opinion polls showed over 60 percent support for his government -- a pretty clear indication that his message had the most traction.
A few factors contributed to this, not the least of which being many Canadian’s lack of understanding of their own political system. Coalitions are de rigeur in many parliamentary democracies, but to a populace more familiar with the idea of an American-style republic they can sound pretty threatening.
“They filled a void by creating a myth about how the Canadian political system works,” says Gutstein of the Conservatives. “Patrick Muttart, he’s the guy in their warroom who’s in charge of the master narrative, and in the 2006 election he spent time in Australia and spent time in the US. So I think the master narrative is to move Canada more in the direction of an American-type republic. Even voting for senators and everything is part of that. And the left was totally incapable of correcting that message.”
At the same time though, he notes there were many on the left who weren’t behind coalition either, and he points to the perceived weakness of its leader as the key reason for that.
“I think one of the things was the problem with Dion,” says Gutstein. “I think it was more of a tactical concern than a strategic or ideological one. You know, with Dion as the leader of the coalition, what is it really?”
Ultimately, Gutstein argues that the mainstream media itself should hold much of the blame for putting paid to the coalition message. He notes that it was the way the coverage framed the situation as a “crisis” that first set off his alarm bells.
“What’s this crisis? There really wasn’t one,” he says. “The crisis was the possibility of a centre-left government. For the corporate media and for corporate Canada that could have been a huge crisis. So, at the outset, they chastised Harper for getting into it in the first place. He shouldn’t have done what he did, so they were after him at first. But then they totally switched over to attacking the coalition.”
Is it any wonder, then, that so much of the recent coalition coverage reads like an obituary?
As the Globe notes in it's coverage of the Madoff probe, the timing on this couldn't be worse as "the Madoff scandal has further weakened already-battered investor confidence in securities markets and has raised more troubling questions about the effectiveness of the regulatory system."
Sometimes the parallels between now and events of the late 1920s are a little spooky. For instance, John Kenneth Galbraith in The Great Crash tells the tale of Clarence Hatry whose fall from grace is one of the events that, along with the collapse of the stock indexes, pricked the investment bubble:
In England on September 20, 1929, the enterprises of Clarence Hatry suddenly collapsed. Hatry was one of those curiously un-English figures with whom the English periodically find themselves unable to cope. Although his earlier financial history had been anything but reassuring, Hatry had built up an industrial and financial empire in the nineteen-twenties of truly impressive proportions. The nucleus, all the more remarkably, was a line of coin-in-the-slot vending and automatic photographic machines. From these unprepossessing enterprises he had marched on into investment trusts and high finance. His expansion owed much to the issuance of unauthorized stock, the increase of assets by the forging of stock certificates and other equally informal financing. In the lore of 1929, the unmasking of Hatry in London is supposed to have struck a sharp blow to confidence in New York.
It's funny that not only are these two frauds linked in the ill-timedness of their unmaskings, but also in the humbleness of their origins: Hatry started out in vending machines, Madoff's initial investment stake was earned working as a lifeguard and sprinkler installer.
It's also funny that while Hatry was notorious in his day, he doesn't even warrant a wikipedia entry of his own now. I wonder if we'll find a way to conveniently forget Madoff in time for the next big speculative mania?
But it's not just the disastrous state of Detroit football that's on his mind: it's also the disastrous state of the Detroit economy, thanks to the Big Three meltdown and the outgoing Congress' 'let them eat cake' attitude. And -- surprisingly for a sports blogger, he provides a glimpse into the state of mind in Detroit's coffeeshops, bars, and hangouts. (Might not be entirely safe for work).
My anger at the southern GOP, led by DICK Shelby, is palpable. TheirHe also links to a column from a Michigan newspaper. Oh boy. Jim Bunning, former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers was supposed to be at an autograph-signing thing in Michigan. Except that he's now a Tennesee GOP senator -- and voted against the federal bailout package.
grandstanding is going
to affect every single one of us who lives in the Midwest, the Rust
Belt in particular, and not in a good way. Personally, I'm scared to
death for my family and friends who work in the auto industry, and
thanks to union busting politicians, like DICK Shelby, it's going to
get ugly for them.
So, without further ado, here's my...
Top 5 Podcasts I'm Following These Days
1. Skeptic's Guide to the Universe
A weekly science news show that focuses on debunking all the nonsense and pseudoscience to which we're subjected on a daily basis. Sure, call me a nerd, but I find it somehow cathartic to spend an hour each week listening to five people mock creationists and climate-change deniers.
2. Tiki Bar TV
A monthly comedy vidcast made, up until recently, in a Vancouver apartment done up to look like a tiki bar. Each episode Doctor Tiki, Lala and Johnny Johnny encounter some crisis that is eventually solved by a cocktail. What I've described here rather clinically is actually very funny and cleverly written. Yeah, I've mentioned this show in stuff I've written in the paper before but I reckon it's worth repeating here because a) it's Canadian and b) it's just that good.
Two guys sitting on a couch drinking beer talking about what people on the internet are talking about. Sounds dull but is strangely addicting. Plus, it's a great way for out-of-touch, aging hipsters to stay au courant with what's happening on the intraweb.
Bi-weekly (sometimes monthly) radio drama about an occult investigator and his adventures in the town of Wormwood. Similar in tone to Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- has that same blend of supernatural horror and comedy. Favourite moment in the series so far: reanimated decapitated heads making out on the floor of a morgue.
5. Search Engine
Probably not fair putting a show from the CBC up against all these amateur endeavours, but Search Engine has always been Mother Corp's bastard child (as evidence: it got pulled from a regular spot on Radio One and now exists only as a podcast). It's a tech and web culture show not unlike other fare on CBC. But, unlike most fare on the CBC, it's edgy and political.
I don't normally include Paul Wells, mostly because, as befitting someone who attended the University of Western Ontario, he conducts himself with the snobbishness of a English peer. Watching him on TV, I think Wells could make Michael Ignatieff look like Red Greene. So it's more of a surprise that his latest column on Stephen Harper is - gasp! - eriudite and readable.
My favourite line ...
Stephen Harper spent his whole adult life complaining that the state
was no good for anything. Now, under him, it is so. Consistency at last.
Norman Spector, in his Globe And Mail blog, says Stephen Harper is going to try to woo Quebec voters. Again.
After the events surrounding the coalition, it's impossible for anybody to read this with a straight face. Harper demonized the Bloc Quebecois and, by implication, all those who voted for them, in order to secure a majority of votes in Canada outside Quebec. Like them or loathe them -- and I'm not much of a fan of Quebec separatism -- the BQ were elected by the people of Quebec in a free and fair federal election, and have as much right to represent their constituencies as anyone else. Jerks such as Rob Anders probably contribute as much -- if not more -- to the stresses of Canadian confederation than Gilles Duceppe.
The proposed Dion/Layton coalition government was popular in Quebec, and Harper's attack on it was seen by Quebecers as an attack on that province's voters, as if to say that they had no right to express their opinion on government.
Of couse, we should note that the man Harper tagged as his Quebec "golden boy", Mario Dumont of the Action Democratique du Quebec, was gonged in the Quebec election. His socially conservative, return-to-Duplessis policies are pretty much dead. And so are Harper's shallow roots in the province.
It makes you wonder --- why do the Cons put up with Harper's two-faced bungling? For a story in an upcoming prairie dog, I interviewed U of R political studies professor emeritus Howard Leeson, who was a senior adviser to Roy Romanow during the 1981-82 constitutional talks and part of his kitchen cabinet consiglieri during Romanow's premiership.
We jawed for 20 or so minutes, and during our conversation Leeson riddled me this: what's so great about Stephen Harper? He's led the Cons in three elections. He lost one, and received two minorities in the face of the weakest, financially troubled and most incompetently led Liberal Party since Confederation. "If Joe Clark was leader, the Conservatives would have had 200 seats easily," says Leeson.
So what's next? Andrew Steele of the Globe & Mail has a few thoughts on his blog.
In the Queen City, the citywide vacancy rate is presently 0.5%, which is a 10-year low. (Down from last year's already very tight 1.7%.) Zones of note include the central zone which sits at 0.5% and the university area which is a grim 0.1%.
Rental rates have increased on average by $87 a month.
Up until now, city hall has been basing its decision making on the old figures, so it'll be interesting to see how this survey changes things in the days to come. A major shift in housing strategy maybe?
On the up side, the CMHC is predicting the citywide rate to go up next year as in-migration slows, but only to 1.2%.
In Saskatoon, meanwhile, things look a tiny bit better on the vacancy front. The citywide vacancy rate increased to 1.9% this year up from 0.6% last. This was achieved, however, while rental rates shot up by $129 monthly.
Apparently, the missive was written by Doug Finlay, the Conservative's National Campaign Chair. He writes:
"In yet another stunning and unprecedented demonstration of Liberal contempt for our democratic rights, they've decided to appoint a new leader in his place.
"Not only was the Liberal/NDP/Bloc Coalition not elected to govern this country , but the person who would become Canada's Prime Minister wasn't even the leader of a federal party during the last election and may not even be elected by the Liberal (or any) party's membership .
"The Liberals have decided to parachute Michael Ignatieff into the position of Prime Minister, and one thing is clear: Canadians didn't elect this coalition to form a government , and they most certainly didn't elect Michael Ignatieff as Prime Minister.
The column's called "Our Robert Mugabe Moment, And Other Unpleasant Memories" and it appeared in Monday's Globe And Mail.
Here's a taste:
"...read the headlines in The New York Times, on CNN, in papers across the globe: "Canadian leader suspends Parliament to stay in power." Would Robert M. approve? A prime minister promises the Opposition a confidence vote. A prime minister sees he will lose that vote. A prime minister moves to shut down the House of Commons, lock the doors of Parliament."
"Canadians democratically elect MPs to their federal Parliament. Whether they be separatists, botanists, or snow boarders, they have a perfect right and responsibility to partake in our governing process."
"But so what if the bullshine meter goes off the charts? We're so used to politicians putting the truth to death that it doesn't matter any more."
Read the whole marvellous piece here.
Would an internet poll of party membership really have been that difficult? Here we are living in the 21st century ----- it's the freaking future already! ----- and the Liberal brass reckon if they can't get everyone together in a room for a show of hands it's just not on? I suppose technically this process was just to pick their interim leader but wouldn't the smart move after being charged with acting undemocratically be to move forward super-democratically by encouraging Rae to stay in the race then letting every Liberal and their Liberal dog vote for leader? Odds were pretty good Iggy still would've had it in the bag. But no, let's cling to all our antique customs because clearly the canadian public is so well informed about the way the parliamentary system works.
I wonder if Paul Martin is starting to regret all that provincial transfer money he cut that would've gone into social studies education.
(photo by liberal.ca. Colour balance, cropping by prairie dog.)
Well, the sad fact is that we aren't losing the war in Afghanistan: we've already lost.
Read it and weep.
Another blog, Rolling Back the Tide of Extremism, One Post At A Time, tells the same story. It's not a nice story.
All the boosterism, wearing red on Fridays, and yellow ribbons isn't going to change a thing militarily: Afghanistan is where empires go to die. It happened to Alexander the Great, it happened to Genghis Khan, it happened to the British Army twice, and it happened to the former Soviet Union. And it will happen to NATO. In fact, it's already happened.
Like what’s happening with the Chicago Tribune, Canwest is financially screwed. Newspapers -- the ones run by smart people, anyway -- can and will survive the internet, just as they survived television and radio. But they won’t survive their own business stupidity. When you leverage the hell out of your assets, lay off staff, cut yourself off from the community and then wonder why you’re losing readers, subscribers and market share, well, then you may be too stupid to live.
Oh yeah, when Izzy was alive, Canwest traded at over $12 a share. It’s now down to about 55 cents (as of Dec. 5), removing the Asper children from the list of the richest 100 Canadians. If I’m David Asper, worrying about how crummy CanadaInns (nee Winnipeg) Stadium is should be the least of my concerns… then again, it’s that attention to detail that explains why Canwest got into their financial pickle.
And paying the guy who presided over the stock decline more than $900K a year doesn't seem like a smart move, or understandable, outside Canwest's mindset.
(hat tip to Ottawa Watch)
Which got me thinking... is that Stephen Harper's strategy in all this? Drive Quebec to separate, after which he'll get his much-coveted majority government and the Conservatives will become the natural ruling party in what remains of the country?
I'm being facetious, of course. Or... on second thought... am I?
Yessir, I've had enough with crises, thank you very much, so I was thinking instead of using "Constitutional Constitutional" where the second "constitutional" is used in its comic euphemistic sense -- ie., that first flushing of the day -- but realized the joke was too belaboured and will only inflict it on you, dear dog blog reader.
Anyway... seems we've moved from endless hours of commentary and analysis to a full blown propaganda war. Today was all each side dropping trow to show off the size of its protest.
Hate to say but I fear the coalition side is going to lose this big time.
And I'm not saying this because of Dion's video address screw up. Nor because of the general hippie-eat-hippie state of the left these days.
No, I'm saying this because nobody has called me up to tell me what's going on. Were it not for a mention from editor stephen and a couple missives from Larry Hubich's email list -- both sources I've access to because I'm by some accounts "press" -- I would've known nothing about the pro-coalition meeting at the UofR on thursday. Nobody from either the NDP nor the Liberals thought to call me.
Why should they have, you ask?
Well, see, back during the election I got pretty pissed about the state of communications from the progressive parties here in Palliser so I got up the gumption to phone both the liberal and ndp campaign offices and say "What's up? Nobody's come a-knockin' at my door... The mailers you've sent out are kind of crummy... Nobody's updating your Facebook sites... You throwing this election or what?"
If either of those parties were running something approximating an Obama-esque campaign, my phone number, email address and name would've been captured and put straight into a database. I'd have been filed under "C" for "Crank", sure, but the second they needed warm bodies to show up at an event like thursday's, I'd have gotten a call, an email, a knock at the door and a free ride to the auditorium. Instead, neither Mitchell nor Johnston's organizations bothered with anything like that and just kept clunking along with their pre-Web-2.0-style campaigns. (True, if either of them had been running a modern campaign i wouldn't have felt the need to phone them up in the first place. No, they'd have had canvassers at my door at some point during the campaign to ask who i was voting for and would i like to be on their email list.)
Point being, the Conservatives seem to have a much stronger organization as far as communications goes. Plus they have every talk-radio station and a few other media outlets to boot loudly promoting their anti-coalition line without even being asked. Is it any wonder polls seem to be showing the pro-coalition forces are losing this thing by a 2 to 1 margin?
The grassroots media free-for-all of the internet seems a perfect fit for progressives, but all the spiff websites and downloadable posters in the world aren't going to amount to much. A propaganda battle like this is going to be won by people skilled with Excel not Dreamweaver.
Some have even referred to the program as "political welfare".
The payments were instituted under the Federal Accountability Act that received Royal Assent in December 2006. They were part of a finance reform package that excluded unions, corporations and other groups from making contributions to political parties and candidates, and placed a cap of $1100 on the amount individual Canadians could contribute. The Act was designed to curb the type of influence peddling that is so prevalent in the U.S., where wealthy individuals, corporations and other third-party interests, through hefty contributions, reduce politicians, the supposed representatives of the people, to the status of puppets.
Yes, following the results of the last election, it would have been the Conservatives who took the biggest hit. Having garnered 5.2 million votes, they would have lost $10 million in payments. With 3.6 million votes, the Liberals would have lost $7.7 million. The NDP, with 2.5 million votes, $4.9 million. Bloq Quebecois--1.4 million votes, $2.6 million. Green Party--937,613 votes, $1.8 million.
But they're better at attracting donations from upper-income Canadians, the Conservatives would have been hit much less severely. At present, the federal funds represent only 37 per cent of Conservative revenues.
For the other parties the figures are Liberals--63 per cent; NDP-- 57 per cent; Bloc-- 86 per cent; and Greens-- 65 per cent.
Do you think Harper and Flaherty were unaware of this when they included the cut in the fiscal update? And for those who worship at the altar of the free market, keep in mind that the private contributions that the parties, particularly the Conservatives, receive, are also heavily subsidized by the public purse through the income tax credits that contributors get-- 75 per cent on the first $400, 50 per cent on the next $350 and 33.3 on the amount over $750. That translates into a subsidy of $590 on a $1100 contribution.
If we lived in a dictatorship, we wouldn't have to worry about political parties, and where they get their funds from. Judging from the events of the past two weeks, that might well appeal to some people.
Me? I'll take democracy.
Here's the Candian Oxford Dictionary's definition:
Hipster /h1pst3r / n. 1. Hip-hugger underpants 2. slang A person who is hip, a hepcat. 3. fabricated Over 40, surly and out of touch.
Huh, we are hipsters. And now here's a real Canadian hepcat.
In a fit of patriotic fervour arising out of the recent constitutional crisis, unnamed sources are saying, Stephen Harper has had a map of Canada tattooed on his derriere. Unfortunately, the tattoo is apparently configured in such a way that every time he bends over Quebec separates.
"Chastened" is not the way I'd describe the man I listened to on the radio a couple hours ago. More like: "somewhat contrite for the time being." What was all that stuff about there being four parties in the House but only the three national parties have to work together through this time of economic instability? Way to distance yourself from all the "deal with the devil" rhetoric there, Stevie. Way to cool the fires of separatism in Quebec and quench the flames of franco-hating in the West.
That he said it the same in French and English will, I suppose, be read as "honourable" in Alberta (though I think they spell it "honorable" there). But in Quebec it'll sound like a big ol' eff you. Duceppe has a right to be pissed.
I expect to see more of the smug Harper in the months to come. He's just pulled off the biggest coup of his career -- figuratively and, one could argue, literally.
After reading this post courtesy Macleans’ blog, I really have to wonder. And I also sincerely wonder about the ability -- or the effort -- of the RCMP to protect people who aren't Harper supporters in the event cretins like these turn it up a notch.
Stephen Harper ran away,
bravely ran away, away,
When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled,
Stephen Harper turned about
And gallantly he chickened out ...
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prairie dog magazine
Regina's Independent Voice
I've asked this question before in the pages of prairie dog, and I'm pretty sure by now that I know the answer, but I'll ask it again: am I the only person who gets a "that kid from The Omen" vibe when I look at Stephen Harper? Same obsessively neat hairstyle, same vacant stare, same lack of empathy for his fellow human beings, same ruthless lust for power. Stephen Harper is a man so devoid of warmth and character that his handlers resorted to dressing him in a sweater vest during the last election in a desperate effort to humanize him. Not only does he have zero charm, he's also spectacularly inept as a politician. That shouldn't come as a surprise, I suppose, given his dictatorial bent. Parliamentary politics, especially in a minority context, requires consultation and collaboration. Harper, conversely, oozes contempt and arrogance. Even during his address to the nation Dec. 3 he couldn't bring himself even once to admit that he had precipitated the crisis that his government currently faces through reckless political gamesmanship that, regardless of how this affair plays out, will leave Canada in a seriously weakened state at a very dire moment in history when a whole pile of neo-con pigeons that have been flying around unfettered for the last 30 years are coming home to roost.