Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Policy Wonks

While I've been fairly critical of the Liberal campaign (much to the chagrin of my Liberal readers), I've been fairly critical of Conservative policy (much to the chagrin of my Tory readers).

However, the one piece of policy the Conservatives are proposing that I really like is the Federal Accountability Act. Harper elaborated on the Act today and has decided to tackle polling.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as addicted to SES as the next blogger (Tories are up 1 point today OMG OMG!!!), but government dollars being used for partisan polling is a major problem, even if no one ever really talks about it. I, in jest, asked for an inquiry into Earnscliffe back in November and now Harper has echoed that, asking for an inquiry, or review into government polling. (Although it is kind of funny for Harper to say "I'm suggesting it's always been awfully convenient for Mr. Martin to set up a commission to investigate his political opponents in the Liberal party but not necessarily his own actions, which may have been dubious" as he's suggesting an inquiry into the actions of his political enemy. But I digress.)

More importantly, Harper has promised to publish all polls conducted with government dollars within six months, presumably to embarrass any government using them for partisan purposes. He's also promising open bidding, to prevent the Earnscliffe wiring we've seen in years past. I have no problem with tax dollars being spent on government polling (if contracts are fairly tendered), but when it's done for partisan purposes, the party itself should pay.

And, I must say, I do like the rest of the Act too:
Banning corporate and union donations, while limiting personal donations to $1,000;
Overhauling lobbying laws and banning all ministers, ministerial staffers or senior public officials from lobbying
government for five years after leaving their post;
Give more power to the Lobbyists Registrar, Ethics Commissioner, Information Commissioner and the Auditor General, and;
Give the Auditor General a mandate to conduct a complete review of the more than $30 billion in annual federal grants, contributions and contracts.

Banning corporate donations and limiting individual donations to $1,000 finishes what Jean Chretien's campaign finance legislation began. Cutting down on the incestuous lobbyist/government relationship is another step in the right direction. While I'm not sure the Auditor General needs more power, giving the AG that power could actually come back to hurt Harper if he ever forms government so I'll give him marks for guts on that one.

All in all, this is smart policy and popular policy. It's also policy the NDP (and maybe the BQ and Grits) would support in the event of a Tory minority government so there's chance it will see the light of day.


  • Amen. Although I haven't thought it through, I'd really like to see lobbying banned entirely. It's much too difficult to catch lobbyist giving gifts in exchange for "X", so why not ban them altogether?

    They can always make their case to the MP of their riding. Including corporate lobbyists.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:22 p.m.  

  • Erik: Great. All lobbyist then hire 308 reps?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:38 p.m.  

  • Great piece today on Martin's Harper hates Canada speech:


    "Martin's speech unfolds as follows: Canada is great; Canada is great because of its values; the Liberals love Canada and its values; a vote for the Liberals will make Canada even more Canadian; and, a vote for the other guy is actually a vote against Canada. In effect, the message is not 'vote for the Liberals,' the message instead is 'a vote for the Liberals is a vote for Canada, and really, who would vote against Canada?' Sound familiar? Well it should, as every Liberal campaign in recent memory has employed the same association technique."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:17 a.m.  

  • It's almost like Canadians are starting to chant Paulie's name like a visiting teams goalie...MAAAAARRRTIIIIINNNN......MAAAARRRTIIIIIIINNNN......MAAAAAARRRRTIIIINNNNN....MAAAARRRTIIINNNNN....

    I love it. The sharks are circling.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:46 a.m.  

  • Grit, nice to see an open minded thinking debater who considers things as they are rather than be dogmatic.

    Yes, I agree with your views here. These measures, if legislated, will certainly help to stem the wholesale waste of public funds, no matter what political party holds sway over time.

    This will be powerfully improved when iron clad whistle blower law comes into play. The law that protects honest people who report fraud not only in Ottawa - Hull venues of public monies, but across all corporations in Canada, including Hospitals and all provincial entities as well.

    It would certainly stem this practice.....


    Moving expenses or a slush fund for more undeserved perks for *Special Liberals?*

    ==== Imagination fails- Moving??=====

    Disney World Resort, Lake Bueno Vista for $25,000 in Jan 2004

    Marriott Resort and Spa, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu for $97,410.00

    Laguna Brisas Resort and Spa, Laguna Beach California for $25,000 in Jan 2005

    Le Meridien Resort/Spa, Cancun Mexico for $25,000 in 2004 and another $25,000 in 2005

    Melia Santo Hotel and Casino, Santo Domingo for $25,000 in Jan 2005.


    There is no end in sight for scams galore. Guess Liberals feel entitled to spend their / our surplus? TG

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 3:36 a.m.  

  • Joe,

    Is that all you can come up with. PM accusses Harper to be like Harris. I live in Ontario and the two are worlds apart. For one Harper is quite intelligent. Besides this is just another smear that won't stick.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:58 a.m.  

  • Harper's Accountability Act is securing "accountability" and trust as the big election question at the polls. It's going to work too!

    Imagine, a politician with the guts to actually put meaning to the word "accountability" and follow-up with actual do-able actions.

    Good for the Conservatives. I'm switching my vote based solely on the specifics of the Accountability Act. Liberal voter, no more.

    I'm totally willing to give Harper a shot. This time around, heck, even Layton's proving to be a better politician than Mr. Dithers. What an embarassment to anyone who ever voted Liberal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:55 a.m.  

  • It would be very wise for Harper to suggest a nonpartisan, mutually decided head of the accountability department, one that gets all-party approval, to remove any taint of partisan cowtow or revenge from the job, and also to remove the ability of the government to tailor the reforms to their own agenda.

    Perhaps this person reports to the governor-general, or the speaker, and can both sit in on and issue reports to parliament as a whole.

    Someone like Ed Broadbent, for example. A nice shot across the bow, as it reminds voters on the left that the NDP is a safe place to park an ethical vote.

    Conscience with teeth. I like it.

    By Blogger Michael, at 11:06 a.m.  

  • I like a lot of the proposals here. The ban on corporate and union donations is not only good policy, it is a kick in the nuts to the Liberals and (to a much lesser extent) NDP. The Grits are extremely dependent on big money donors, corporations especially.

    The polling rules are pretty good. Ontario has had rules to make all government polls public within a year for quite some time, and it keeps things relatively honest. Governments get around it by just asking "Is the government on the right track/wrong track" and using that for vote preference. But it does keep the questions more neutral and the companys more broadly distributed.

    The lobbying ban is incredibly naive. I'm not sure the five year ban on lobbying for Ministers, political staff and senior government officials is actually legal in fact. There is a lot of jurisprudence stemming from the Charter that people have a right to employment and that post-employment restrictions are extremely limited. It is very tough to get a judge to enforce a ban of this type. I would imagine it would face a Charter challenge from a civil servant in its early days and get struck down.

    Also, I'm not sure Harper will be able to attract top quality political staff if he does form a government with a rule like this in place. Young turks will probably be happy to put idealism first and lock themselves out of lucrative jobs for the next five years. But the smart old guys will never set foot in Harper's government and lobby from the outside. There will be a lot more David Herle-types who never work a day in government but have all the influence over Harper. And the Minister's offices will have a tough time getting experienced staff to work on the Hill. That means more mistakes and resignations in a Harper government.

    One of those books on why Liberals win all the time made an observation that comes into play here. The Liberals have a deep stock of experienced political minds who move from government to lobbying/public relations/corporate jobs and back again, providing the party with a deep pool of talent when they are in power, and more importantly, when they are out of power. This bill could prevent Harper from developing the same type of pool.

    Frankly, this is a naive rule from people who have never governed and I predict it will be among Harpers broken promises.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:11 a.m.  

  • Tony Guitar: Cute drive by. I've being seeing those numbers and places all over the net. Never any names though. Strange that. Besides making non-specific accusations do you also collect lemming droppings?

    By Blogger Don, at 11:18 a.m.  

  • Looking at the policy from a voting perspective, I think it's a pretty good proposal, although I do see logic in the Liberal position that it doesn't address 3rd party advertising... course this is coming from some who enjoy quite a bit on the lobbying side.

    I would like to see the legislation made even stronger by tying up that hole. It's the only real weakness in the PC position on this that I can see.

    Sort of a "I have money so I shall speak" trap, because you don't want to limit free speech, but you don't want Mega-Buck corps taking over the airwaves at the same time.

    I'd like to think there was some sort of balance beyond the $3500 dollar limit per riding. Unlimited spending is definately not preferred, but I think interest groups should be able to position thier opinions during a campaign.

    Were do you draw the demark line?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:40 p.m.  

  • Perhaps the Federal Accountability Act would put a stop to crap like this:


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:00 p.m.  

  • Joe Vert:

    Red Star (h/t Coyne)

    "What I would just point out is that the era Mr. Martin talks about — 1995 — was the era when he was cutting employment insurance, cutting health care, cutting education, cutting all the vital social programs of Canadians"

    "So if he wants to talk about that era, that's his business. I prefer to talk about 2005. But if he wants to talk about the other era, he's got a lot of explaining to do."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:09 p.m.  

  • Joe Green I assume is on the right.

    By Blogger Michael, at 2:41 p.m.  

  • I'm wondering why so many young hardcore Martinites are nerdy goateed overweight males that can't get a date?

    Scott Reid, Mike Klander, and now Joe Green, all nerdish, all overweight and goateed and otherwise miserable unhappy beings.

    By Blogger Michael, at 2:49 p.m.  

  • You forgot to add David Herle to that list.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:06 p.m.  

  • Joe Green, Klein is retiring, and everyone know's it... but if he did run again, he'd win again. That's well known too. He's one of the most popular Premier;s ever elected in any province in the history of the country. That's not fiction Joe, that's fact.

    Anyway, I'm a rightwinger myself so I'm obviously bias, but I've got a question for liberals and tories alike...

    I was wondering if Martin lost the election to Harper, but Harper didn't win by much... say for the sake of arguement, it was Cons 121 and Libs 117, could the Libs conceivably pre-empt the house of Commons and a potential minority government under Harper, by aligning with the NDP in a formal coalition, which Mr. Martin would then trundle in front of the GG, stating "I have a stronger mandate based on my alliance with the NDP".

    Is such a manuever possible to do legally? Is it ethical under British Tort Law to do this? I'm just curious, as I can't really find a definitive answer.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:26 p.m.  

  • JoeCalgary, it is even more complicated than that. If a party with a plurality of the seats cannot show confidence, the current government, even with fewer seats, can remain in power to maintain stability.

    A LPC-NDP coalition would not have enough seats in your scenario to form a majority, by the way. The PM hat would still go to Harper first to see if he could hold it together.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:52 p.m.  

  • The sitting prime minister has the first option of forming a government, as any student of the King-Byng affair can recall.

    By Blogger Michael, at 4:56 p.m.  

  • The perogative is a royal one and m. jean can make the call.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:16 p.m.  

  • Oh... thanks for clearing that up guys... not! Three different opinions.

    If I understand what I am reading, the Liberals and NDP could form a coalition, but the GG would have to bless it.

    I did read the King affair bit, and that Government was formed as a denial to dissolution by GG to an existing Government faced with a non-confidence senario, not the result of a stronger alliance between two parties trumping another party with more seats but not enough to form a majority directly after an election.

    So I can understand that, although it begs the question of why Harper didn't just tag up with the Bloc on it... Optics aside I mean, I suppose it would depend on how much you wanted power.

    Which of course challenges the arguement that Harper is in league with Duceppe, because if he really was, he could have made the alliance and presented himself as controlling the house, but he didn't.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:54 p.m.  

  • Whattaya expect from three wonks?

    By Blogger Michael, at 6:00 p.m.  

  • "If I understand what I am reading, the Liberals and NDP could form a coalition, but the GG would have to bless it. " joecalgary

    I may be mistaken, but I believe that back in the 80' in Ontario, a coalition was formed by the Libs and NDP and combined 'with AG approval', they co-opted the election and the PC's were reduced to the opposition.. much to the detriment of Ontario prosperity for the next decade.. appreciate anyone with more data on this scenerio..

    By Blogger BC-Bear, at 6:16 p.m.  

  • Quote: Banning corporate and union donations, while limiting personal donations to $1,000;

    All the while Harper would allow US style third-party advertising. He went to the Supreme court to overturn the law limiting third-party advertising to $3000 per riding when he was president of NCC.

    But Canadians are forgetting what is behind this new image that Harper is hiding behind.

    Maybe Canadians deserve to be ripped off by Harper for a few years to make sure his kind is banished for ever.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:14 p.m.  

  • Joe Green: you've clearly demonstrated through your posts that you have no idea or conception of what a neoconservative is other than the mischaracterized labels dispatched by the Liberals' talking heads. Stephen Harper is not a neoconservative; if anything, he's a neoliberal. As someone who is a neoconservative, I find the label applied to Harper to be nothing short of laughable. If you want to see what a neoconservative believes in, take a look at the Project for a New American Century, The National Interest, or many in the coterie of advisors surrounding George W. Bush (though not Bush himself).
    This is the basic definition of a neoliberal: Neoliberalism refers to a political-economic philosophy that de-emphasizes or rejects government intervention in the domestic economy. It focuses on free-market methods, fewer restrictions on business operations, and property rights. In foreign policy, neoliberalism favors the opening of foreign markets by political means, using economic pressure, diplomacy, and/or military intervention. (thanks to Wikipedia...not exactly an academic website, but it will certainly suffice). That is Stephen Harper in a nutshell.
    You would be hard-pressed to find many neoconservatives in Canada. It has been said that if international relations in an American political science, neoconservatism is a distinctly American way of dealing with the problems in international relations after the Cold War. I don't think that Stephen Harper seeks to advance and guarantee American unipolarity (regardless of what LPCBC President Jamie Elmhirst says about Harper's "desires to play kissy-kissy" with George Bush), discard the United Nations in favour of a robust alliance of democracies that will spread freedom and democracy to the Middle East, or utilize Canada's diplomatic and military capabilities to bring about regime change in the far corners of the world. I could be wrong, but I really, truly doubt it. Thanks for coming to the party though.

    By Blogger RGM, at 7:23 p.m.  

  • Hi Joe Green,

    meet Chuckercanuck.

    The best example of a neocon for all our friends to meet and see is:

    ME. Chuckercanuck.

    I'm a neocon. I'm so much a neocon that I don't put quotation marks around it.

    my blog is at:


    you can sift through my archive to see what a neocon really is.

    Meanwhile, I think your are a morally repugnant three-eyed sloth; the resuult of a GMO experiment gone bad because of global warming.

    Otherwise, your exhausting blather is such a waste...

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 8:19 p.m.  

  • Joe Green, are you for real? Your comments make me laugh until hurts, but do you actually believe what you say?

    If so, the moonbat crown goes to you! Even noted anti-semite Robbie pales in comparison.

    I'm not a libertarian, and i'm only barely voting Tory this election, but your comments are enough for me to run screaming from the Liberals as I worry there may be many others like you within their ranks.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:59 p.m.  

  • Joe Green said: "To the rest of us, they are con artists, liars, cheats and thieves."

    Joe, Isn't that calling the kettle black? Oh yes, our artists, liars, cheats and thieves are Canadian and therefore better... nicer.. kinder... liars, cheats and thieves. Sheeeeesh.

    Perhaps we should fix our own backyards. You say:

    "For my part, I want to stop them at the border and destroy them before they do much more harm to Canada. " They're here Joe, right inside our very own borders, and they're governing us. A little more focus on our own corruption, our own country, and our own government mess may just help with our own identity.

    By Blogger Lanny, at 11:41 p.m.  

  • Joe Green, your butt feeling a little wider right now? Cause your sure taken it up there.

    Oh well, all fanatics have to blow up someday.

    CTV New's flash "Robert Fife tells us about how the Liberals have leaked the big announcement for up to $3000 for students per year towards schooling, regardless of income. Fife had much more to say about the fact that they were paying $10,000 per day to get what could have been had by sitting at home and waiting for the Liberal leaks... very pissed off reporters"

    Way to go Scott Reid, you just alienated the entire campaign press core... that'll help.

    By Blogger Joe Calgary, at 12:49 a.m.  

  • Joe Green:

    Okay, you got me. I meant, of course, your US government bashing however I definitely went off track.

    Regardless, you are still wrong and twisting my comments won't help make you right.

    By Blogger Lanny, at 10:23 a.m.  

  • I suggest to you, Joe, that the axis of evil is not the "neocons". The evil invading our land is the nanny-state attitude and "I know what's best for you, you don't" government. You can name call, label, and put Harper in the same sentence as Stalin but it won't fly. You can froth at the mouth and point to extremists on both sides but the base truth is that fanatics are evil no matter which side of the coin.

    I would state that Stephen Harper is far left from my attitude and far right from yours. Stephen Harper is the most honest and ethical politician I have seen in my lifetime.

    By Blogger Lanny, at 10:55 a.m.  

  • If he's honest and ethical when will he release his leadership campaign donors' list, as Mr. Martin did within 30 days of every donation throughout his leadership campaign?

    When will he? We've waited several years for the first run and a couple years for the last one.

    Ethical my ass.

    By Blogger Mark, at 1:53 p.m.  

  • "I pointed out the crimes of an alcoholic Mike Harris in Walkerton where his corruption cost that community over half a dozen lives..."

    Actually Joe, no, that was the alchoholic Stan (?) Kaeble that cost over half a dozen lives. You know - that shining example of keeping public services under public ownership. The one who admitted that he had no idea how to run the equipment required to safely deliver a vital product to his community. The one who routinely falsified operating reports and test readings for years. The one who kept his job because his brother was the manager of the (publicly-owned) utility service, and was under no pressure to improve efficiency or safety. Tell me again how this is the fault of the "neocons" - oh don't bother; it will just be more of your tedious, meaningless drivel.

    By Blogger deaner, at 3:49 p.m.  

  • It is not "crooked" to not release your donors' list. In fact some people would find it an invasion of privacy. I would also worry that I would be audited or my MP would not concern him/herself with my issue if I donated to the opposition party or did not vote for the governing party. (some history there)

    Martin did not release all the liberal party donors (ie: envelopes over the table) nor who in the Liberal party benefited from these envelopes. This is crooked.

    The fair thing to avoid these kind of issues is exactly what Harper is suggesting. The policy should be changed so that large corporate donations etc cannot "buy" influence.

    By Blogger Lanny, at 3:53 p.m.  

  • I can't believe I clicked on comment here to respond to Joe Green.

    Hey Joe, how come you ignore me?

    A neocon, live in digital format.

    Let me tell you something:

    equating Grant Devine with Stalin is so frigging demented it deserves psychiatric evaluation.

    equating Mike Harris with Chairman Mao is Ernst Zundel-type talk.

    What colour green anyway, Joe? Slime green? Money Green?

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 4:13 p.m.  

  • Joe Green,

    Yes. I think you'll have a big impact in this election.

    Please continue. This is quite a window into Martinite thinking.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 12:05 p.m.  

  • Joe - I agree with Chucker; you would have a great future in politics, if only the Raving Looney Party would register in Canada.

    On Walkerton - you are correct that a greater tragedy was averted by the Medical Health Officer. Let's review the chain of events:
    > Incompetent (to the point of criminality) public sector water utility fails to observe common good operating practice. This situation continues for several years.
    > Said public sector utility covers this up by falsifying test reports and readings - again for several years. Fortunately, no one dies because there is no contemporary source of contamination.
    > Agricultural practices in combination with heavy rain introduce contaminants into Walkerton water supply. Public sector utility is unable to recognize increased threat, and due to noted incompetence normal preventive measures are not effective, nor are special measures taken.
    > Water samples are sent to private lab for testing in due course. Lab notices high e-coli contamination, and notifies public sector water utility that they had a problem. Public sector utility is unable to take appropriate remedial action. Said utility is required by law to provide copies of this notice to Public Heath Officer - they do not do so.
    > Private laboratory sends copies of their lab results to Public Health Officer out of concern for the implications of untreated contaminated water provided to Walkerton residents. This was outside the bounds of "proper procedure" - amazingly, that greedy, rapacious private operator (probably owned by a bunch of "neo-cons") acted for the public good. Note; in this, they far outdid the public sector utility.
    > Public Health Officer orders the water utility to be shut down, sparking the eventual resolution of the case, albeit too late to prevent a tragedy.
    > Various left-wing whackos attempt to use "Walkerton" as evidence of why water supplies are "too important" not to be operated by the public sector.

    There is no question, Joe, that the Public Health Officer acted well and performed a great service in keeping the death count as low as it was. Other than that, I absolutely cannot see that Walkerton gives any support to the idea that water supplies should be left in public hands, or that policy changes at the Provincial level were responsible for the tragedy. The incompetent manager of the utility had been in place since well before Mike Harris entered politics, let alone when he implemented any policy changes that affected water testing or utilty operations. The timing of the horrible events in Walkerton was simply a matter of bad luck - and the fact that it did not happen ten years earlier was equally a matter of good luck.

    By Blogger deaner, at 6:16 p.m.  

  • Here, I do not actually consider it is likely to have effect.

    By Anonymous buy sex toys, at 1:56 p.m.  

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