Sunday, August 29, 2004

Loose Lips

I really don’t understand why the Martin machine got behind Carolyn Parrish in her nomination battle against Pat Mahoney. Didn’t they know she was a loose cannon? She’s sort of our version of Cheryl Gallant…or Ted White…or Rob Merrifield …or, well, you get the picture.

First of all, to use one of Paul’s favourite lines – let me be perfectly clear: Carolyn Parrish is right. Getting involved in Missile Defense is idiotic. Anyone who believes it will work is an idiot. I mean, the system is as unproven as it is idiotic and I have not seen one article anywhere which even hints that anyone out there, be they idiot or not, has even kind sorta implied it might work. Never mind that it won’t stop idiots from hijacking airlines or sailing ships into ports. And the amount of money it will cost is idiotically high.

But, why or why, did she have to come out and say it? Because now she is the voice of the Liberal caucus speaking out against star wars. And she is the last person who should be speaking on behalf of the many in this country who realize it’s a deeply flawed plan. There are so many arguments that make sense she could use against missile defense and instead we get name-calling. It cheapens the whole argument to have someone like her as the lead spokesperson for it.

I'm a little slow on this one but it turns out our Prime Minister won't be "fixing health care for a generation" this summer. Too bad.

Paul Wells, as usual, says it best.

Thursday, August 19, 2004


What do Serbia-Montenegro, the United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe and Azerbaijan have in common?

They're all ahead of Canada in the Athens medal standings. We're currently in a tie with such powerhouses as Columbia, Mongolia, Slovenia, and Trinidad & Tobego. I know Trinidad & Tobego has the benefit of drawing athletes from both Trinidad and from Tobego but still... If we can't beat Mongolia, something is seriously wrong.

As it sits, the federal government pumps 90 million a year into Amateur Sport. Can you imagine what doubling this amount would do? Our atheletes would get the support they need to excel. With the Vancouver games fast approaching, now is the time to invest. How many billions will be spent on the 2010 Olympics? Surely, a 90 million dollar bump to the funding of amateur atheletes is feasible. So much money is spent on protecting Canadian culture yet isn't sport a part of Canadian culture? Donovan Bailey, Nancy Greene, Simon Whitfield...these are Canadian icons because of the Olympics. It's ridiculous that the government doesn't do more to ensure more icons are created in the future. Especially when you consider how small 50 or 100 million dollars is for a federal budget and how much of a difference it would make.

Or we can keep losing to Zimbabwe. The choice is ours.

Abundantly Obvious

I was going to write either a commentary on Paul Martin's PMO shake-up or Jacques Parizeau's latest plan to foil the ethnic voters of Quebec. Martin, as you likely know, has brought in more Martinites to run the PMO despite complaints from everyone about that same inner circle. He also has a unilingual communications director, a fact Warren was quick to pick up on. Parizeau meanwhile, feels it would be a lot gosh darn easier to skip the referendum thing next time since his side keeps losing them.

So, like I said, I was going to write on these two topics. But, let's be honest: Both are so incredibly stupid that there's no real insight I could possibly offer. However, if anyone comes across a blog out there defending either of these plans, let me know, because I'd be very curious to read it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Paul Martin for President

I remember seeing an article in the Globe & Mail a few weeks ago about some of the similarities between John Kerry and Paul Martin. I'd already mused about this a few times before and as time goes on, the similarities become more and more apparent. And due to this, I'm really starting to dislike John Kerry. Unlike up here, there's no real option since, let's be frank, George Bush is probably the worst President of the last 100 years whereas Stephen Harper wasn't really the demon he was painted to be. As a result, all Democrats need to get behind the guy but many of his "Martinish" (not to be confused with "Martini") tendencies should have them very worried.

1) How we got here: Like Martin, John Kerry has spent his entire life craving for the power that comes with the top job. And like Martin, he rode a huge wave of momentum during the leadership process since he was viewed as the most "electable" candidate. This, on the strength of a few polls showing him at 47% while Dean was at 45%. Wo-hoo. Neither the Liberal Party nor the Democrats really took a strong look at the candidates and preferred to go on the abstract "electibility" adjective or the X factor. For Martin, it was his father being a star cabinet minister and three-time loser for leadership. This made it "Paul's turn". I remember many Liberals saying they preferred John Manley or Brian Tobin but, hey, it's "Paul's turn". Kerry's X factor was his military record. Never mind that the most successful Democrat of the last 50 years was a draft dodger...for some reason, that Kerry fought in a senseless war 30 years ago, he's better suited to bring in health care reform.

2) Richie Rich: Paul ran a shipping company. Kerry married a Ketchup heiress. Both are filthy rich. Jean Chretien and Bill Clinton had humble roots. I won't add any comments but you can see where I'm going with this.

3) Enemy of the State: If Kerry wins, it will be because people hate George Bush. This is the same strategy Martin used and it got him a minority. Of course, Kerry's got a bit more ammunition to work it so it's likely not a bad idea for him. So long as he stays away from eating puppies on stage, he should be OK.

4) Mr. Saturday Night: Charisma? We don't need no stinking charisma! These guys are probably the dullest speakers in their respective parties. How on earth they can get anyone excited is beyond me.

5) They're both old.

6) Policy Matters: And now we get to the real area of concern. Paul Martin has been all things to all people his entire lifetime. Every issue is his number 1 concern. He's been Prime Minister 8 months now and he does not have a single accomplishment to speak of. Like Paul, Kerry describes himself as a "policy buff" but has done little during his political career to really make people take notice. The most troubling thing is that it's hard to find where Kerry stands on anything. The Republican talking points claim he's the "most liberal Senator" but I haven't heard any radically leftist policies from him during this campaign. In fact, I haven't heard any policies whatsoever. Just rhetoric. Both Paul Martin and John Kerry wake up every morning, eat a bowl of Whole Wheat cereal, go to work, and claim they're going to change the world. Do they have any ideas for changing the world? Nope. I'd put a lot more stock in Miss America than either of those two when it comes to over the top promises.

7) Hypocricy: This is likely a continuation of number 5, but it's the issue that really got me going. John Kerry supported the war in Iraq. Fine. The President lied, it's understandable that he'd vote for war. But when asked if he'd change his vote knowing everything he now knows, he's said he wouldn't. To me, this is mind-boggling. The Democrats are going to run against Iraq yet their leader would not have done a single thing differently than Bush there. Kerry's solution is basically "I would have fought the war smarter". Yet no one seems to care about this. Just like Martin could attack Harper on Health Care, Abortion and Iraq despite having very similar opinions on all of those issues.

8) They're both share a name with Beatles.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Wells on Education

Paul Wells has taken a break from Paul Martin bashing (unfortunately) and dead Jazz musician eulogies (thankfully) to focus on his latest obsession: post-secondary education.

His argument is that rising tuition is not the disaster everyone makes it out to be so long as bursaries are available to help lower income students. And I agree completely. It's in society's interest to make sure as many young adults as possible attend University. But the rich will go regardless of tuition fees because University is such a worthwhile investment for the individual. So if Vincent Lecavalier decides he wants to attend University next year during the NHL lock-out, he'll go regardless of the tuition rates the Quebec government imposes on their Universities. However, for a kid who spent his High School days working part-time at La Belle Province selling hot dogs to help his single mom pay the bills, the price for a semester at McGill will have a monumental impact on his ability to attend.

What I'd like to see would be for the federal government to get their fingers into post-secondary education. Why not put a national plan like this in place:

1) The federal government gives special "tuition loans" to every single low income Canadian (it would take some time defining this) attending University. These would cover 100% of their tuition fees.

2) These loans would need to be repaid only 10 years after graduation. At this time, any students living in Canada would see their loan absolved.

In effect, the government would be paying the tuition fees for all low income Canadians. The loan system would ensure that our brightest students stay in the country upon graduation, helping to fight the brain drain. The provincial governments would not have to pay any money into this plan but their province would lose the program if they cut back University funding bellow a certain level.

Would this plan be financially feasible? Well, I don't know the exact numbers but let's say for arguments sake that there are 1 million students enrolled in post-secondary education in Canada. There's a wide range in tuition across the country but let's say the government agrees to make the loans for 4,000$ a year. By making it a fixed amount, it encourages Universities to keep the cost of tuition down (since, if you charge four grand a year in tuition, students get in free, whereas 6 grand a year in tuition means they're on the hook for 2,000$...which is quite a bit more than zero). Therefore, the feds would be on the hook for 4 billion a year. Eek! But, remember, that's if they pay for everyone. If they only cover the poorer students, say, the bottom half, it works out to 2 billion a year. Which is still a lot of money but it's far less than the pharmacare program and considering this would be a historic legacy program, I think it would be well worth the investment. Studies have shown that every dollar invested in education pays back 7 to 10 dollars in the long run and countries who have offered free tuition have seen incredible economic results.

I know post-secondary education isn't as sexy or politically popular as health care but a program like this would be one of the best things the Canadian government could institute. It would be bold and would demonstrate vision. And that is why it isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Political Junkie Withdrawal Symptoms

Looking around at the other blogs (and this one), it's clear that we've hit the dog days of summer as far as political news goes. It's also clear people are a bit burned out after the election.

Of course, this is nice for a change. Considering, in the last year and a half, we've had:

-A federal election
-8 provincial elections
-4 leadership conventions, including one to select a new Prime Minister
-A merger of two parties

You likely need to go back to '79-'80 to find a stretch like this where it's been this interesting to be a political junkie. And now, we rest.

Well, not really. There's a provincial election here in Alberta this fall (as well as a municipal one), a health conference in September, and, of course, with a minority government, who knows what's around the corner federally.

But getting two months off in the summer is nice.