Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Spring Session in Photos

The session began with the shut-down of Parliament, prompting the same Canadians who complain that nothing ever gets done in Ottawa to take to the streets and demand...that MPs get back to work doing nothing in Ottawa.

So how did Harper spend his prorogation vacation? With a trip to the Olympics! Sure, he never got that much speculated about "Olympic boost", but at least he had better seats for the gold medal game than poor Jack Layton who had to push old ladies out of the way to be seen by the TV cameras:

With parliament back in March, Jim Flaherty presented yet another deficit budget. Showing his appreciation for Flaherty's fine work, he was banished to the north to visit Canada's national igloo. ("What's that Lassie? I've gotten Canada's economy stuck in a well?"

Before long, Harper's ambitious agenda of blaming Liberal Senators for stalling his crime bills was sidetracked by the Helena Guergis and Rahim Jaffer show. And while this story had many thinking that Rahim Jaffer was the biggest asshole in Canada, the Toronto Sun headline writer quickly showed that he too wanted that title.

And yes, guns would be in the news again, thanks to a CPC motion to scrap the gun registry disguised as a private members bill. The motion has left Jack Layton holding the fate of the gun registry in his hands.

For Michael Ignatieff, he decided to break free from his reputation as an academic by...going on a cross-country University tour a policy conference.

He did, however, get a chance to kick back, have a glass of wine, and watch the Habs pull off the upset over Pittsburgh on his 63rd birthday.

As is always the case in Canada, the NHL playoffs gave birth to a mini-scandal, when James Moore proclaimed the Canucks were "Canada's Team". One week later, the Canucks were out and Moore donned a Habs jersey. One week later, the Habs were done. I can only assume James was cheering for France at the World Cup...

Although the PM is a hockey fan, he hasn't had much time this session to work on his book. No, he's been too busy running the country.

Ha, ha. Just kidding of course.

No, the man who criticized Paul Martin for his friendship with Bono, has quietly gone about putting his own garage band together. There was his duet with Yo Yo Ma last fall. And jam sessions with Bryan Adams, Nickelback, and Taylor Swift this spring.

Maybe Harper can have the band up to his lake sometime this summer.

And, to help you remember the least productive session in parliamentary history, a few other memorable moments:

The Life and Times of the HST

A fascinating behind the scenes look at the HST negotiations in today's Toronto Star.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Profiling Ontario Tourism to the World

“This is a classic attempt for us to be able to market the country. We have quotes from all kinds of people in the Ontario tourism industry including the president of that industry saying, ‘This is our chance to profile Ontario tourism to the world, we must not miss this opportunity’,” Harper told MPs

Obviously the hooliganism we saw this weekend wasn't Harper's fault. And, to a certain extent, it shows why the security costs were so high.

But there's no way this summit should have been held in Toronto. Clearly, these sort of events are better suited for isolated locations - that gameplan worked well in 2002 (Kananaskis) and it has when other countries hosted.

I'm sure other world leaders won't make this same mistake for future G8 summits.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Speaker Steps Aside

Commons Speaker Milliken won't run again

Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House of Commons longer than anyone else in parliamentary history, won't run for re-election, CBC News has learned.

Milliken was first elected in 1988 as a Liberal and has been the Commons Speaker since 2001.Peter Milliken has been Speaker of the House of Commons since 2001. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

"He's made the decision that he's not going to run again in the next election, which could foreseeably be as far off as 2012," the CBC's Rosemary Barton reported.

Barton said the 63-year-old Milliken is expected to announce his decision in his riding Saturday. He represents Kingston and the Islands.

Peter Miliken will certainly go down as one of the most prolific speakers in parliamentary history. He has held the position for nearly a decade and has held it during very interesting times - three successive minority governments.

Because of the nature of minority governments, Miliken has been put to the test on many occasions - 6 tie votes (including the infamous 2005 confidence motion), precedence setting decisions, and MPs whose behaviour has ranged from "unparliamentary" to downright "buffoonish".

No doubt, many words of praise will be written about Miliken's tenure as speaker, most of them deserved.

Equally interesting will be what happens in his riding of Kingston and the Islands:

2008 Election Results
Peter Milliken (Liberal): 22,734 (39.2%)
Brian Abrams (Conservative): 18,895 (32.5%)
Rick Downes (NDP): 10,158 (17.5%)
Eric Walton (Green): 6,282 (10.8%)

Miliken has held the riding since 1988 - before that, it was Flora MacDonald's for 16 years (I should mention the Liberals did hold the seat in the summer of '69).

But as you can see above, the Liberal margin of victory has been cut like a knife - from 29% in 2004 to 20% in 2006 to 7% in 2008. Given this, the Tories will certainly be eyeing this riding next election.

And for good reason. My demographic regression model projects the seat over the past three elections as a toss-up between the Liberals and the Tories (Lib 36.0%, CPC 35.3%, NDP 22.3%, Green 6.4%). And that's assuming a 4% Liberal lead in Ontario - the Conservatives took the province by 5.4% last election.

So demographically, the Conservatives would have to be considered slight favourites to win back the riding. Still, Miliken's coat tails are worth something, and all those winning campaigns should have left the Liberal team with lots of ID'd voters and sign locations.

So, let's call it a toss-up.

Maybe, just maybe, the fates will conspire and let Miliken cast the tie breaking vote.


This Week in Alberta - Eddiemandering the Map!

The Electoral Boundaries Commission has issued its final report and, predictably enough, accusations of Gerrymandering have flown wildly.

Given the wild unpredictability of Alberta politics right now, I have a hard time believing that we're seeing riding boundaries drawn to help the PCs. Rather, the problem with the new map is the same as it has always been - Calgary and Edmonton get only half the seats, despite having two-thirds of the population (a ratio which will grow over the next decade).

Daveberta offers commentary on the new boundaries, and provides the 2008 election results transposed on the new maps.

Also in Alberta...

-Guy Boutilier becomes the fourth Wildrose MLA. Which is great, but someone might want to ask Danielle Smith at some point how a party made up of disgruntled PCs is going to be any different from the PCs. Just saying.

A new poll by Spotlight strategies shows Albertans are mostly happy and it gives vote numbers the PCs should be mostly happy about. Enlightened Savage provides some analysis here.

-More good news for the PCs: Alberta's deficit is down to a billion bucks.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It Tastes Awful. And it Works.

Ontario was hit with an earthquake today, but the real question people are asking is whether or not the earth will move on July 1st. That's when the HST will be implemented - how Ontarians react may very well decide who wins next year's election.

Tim Hudak, who used to think the HST was a nifty idea and probably still does deep down inside, has spent the last year crusading against it. Twelve of the twenty press releases he's put out in June have specifically mentioned the HST. It's abundantly obvious Hudak wants to make the next election all about the HST, as he tries to become Ontario's version of Bill Vander Zalm.

McGuinty, meanwhile, has fought back with a TV ad:

In it, Dalton sits in the backyard and talks about the HST, calling it "strong medicine". I guess they've gone the Buckley's route on this one - "It tastes awful. And it works".

So it's cough medicine up against cotton candy. While voters generally prefer cotton candy, the Ontario Grits appear to be gambling that voters will trust the guy telling them the cough medicine will make their cough go away more than the guy telling them cotton candy will work just as well. That's why McGuinty is being featured prominently in the ads. Make him look like a strong leader who makes tough choices. He's the decider.

Personally, I don't doubt for a second the HST is good policy. Every expert says it is. Hell, Jim Flaherty says it is and he won an award for being the greatest Finance Minister ever or something like that.

Moving beyond all the rhetoric, I think it's clear some people will come out ahead and some will wind up behind. Some things will cost more and more will cost less. Why I think the province as a whole will come out ahead is that it will eliminate a lot of inefficiencies.

Revenue Minister John Wilkinson, who has the unenviable job of selling the HST, has a great anecdote about this. Currently, hospitals pay PST on bathroom supplies for visitor bathrooms...but not for patient bathrooms. So the Ontario government is literally paying people to inspect how toilet paper is used. He jokes about money being flushed down the drain, but I can think of more colourful metaphors to use.

It's for reasons like that I feel this will be a good move for Ontario on the whole. Politically, it all depends on whether Ontarians are willing to hold their noses and swallow the Buckley's.

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The Manchurian Candidate

This is...odd. I'm not a security expert, but I don't think this is necessarily the thing the CSIS director should be talking about with journalists:

Canada's spy agency suspects that cabinet ministers in two provinces are under the control of foreign governments, CBC News has learned.

Several members of B.C. municipal governments are also under suspicion, Richard Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told CBC News in an exclusive interview.


"There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia and in at least two provinces there are ministers of the Crown who we think are under at least the general influence of a foreign government."

In other news, Michael Ignatieff will make a 5-day trip to China, beginning July 5th.


Monday, June 21, 2010

I Know What You'll Do This Summer

Last year, the spring session came to a close with a crash - parliamentary brinkmanship and an EI deal between the Liberals and Conservatives that set up a summer of heightened election preparations and speculation.

This year, we limp into the summer recess.

So what's in store for the political parties this summer after a miserably unproductive spring session of Parliament? Below is a quick look at how the party leaders will spend their summer vacations:

Stephen Harper

This week, Stephen hosts a modest garden party at the lake with 19 of his closest friends. For the taxpayers this will be a BYOB affair - bring your own billion.

The week after, he'll be showing the Queen around her colony. Presumably, after they've shared pictures and played Rock Band at 24 Sussex, the subject of her royal highnesses' representative in Canada will come up. After all, Harper will name a new Governor General this summer.

After that, it's possible the Conservatives will take a page from their 2008 playbook and prepare for a fall election. More likely, they'll stay relatively quiet, planning for the year ahead. After a meager year legislatively, they'll want to come back in the fall with some sort of agenda to implement (right?), and the summer will be a good time to map that out.

Michael Ignatieff

After being criticized as the invisible man last summer, Michael Ignatieff's summer 2010 calendar is filling up quickly, with a coast to coast bus tour and a trip to China. Presumably he'll be allowed a week off at some point, to think thoughts in Algonquin Park.

Unlike last year, I wouldn't expect any brash threats to topple the government this August. Rather, the Liberals will make sure they're ready for a campaign...just in case.

Jack Layton

I'd expect a low-key summer from the NDP - Jack will get some well deserved rest to focus on his health. The one exception will likely be Canada Day - not because of the celebrations, but because the NDP hopes to make the HST their wedge issue in BC and Ontario.

Behind the scenes, the party will need to figure out how to handle the gun registry bill when it comes up for a vote this fall - with Ignatieff whipping his MPs, the registry's future is now in Layton's hands.

Elizabeth May

If I were Elizabeth May, I'd take this opportunity to door knock as many houses as possible in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Flip every burger that needs flipping. Tricycle to every mundane community event.

Gilles Duceppe

Have a hot dog. Sunbathe on the Plains of Abraham. Those are the perks of the easiest job in politics.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Poll Soup: School's out for the Summer Edition

What has been described as "the least productive session of parliament ever" is stumbling to a close. Looking at what little has been accomplished...well, maybe they should have just stayed prorogued.

But even if there's been little legislative movement in the House, there has been movement in the polls since January. Despite abortion gaffes, a Jaffer side show, and a billion dollar boondogle, the Tories managed to regain much of what they lost from the grassroots fury over the holidays. A 1.7% lead in January has gradually widened to 6.7%.

And, you know what. That's basically the mean Canadian politics has kept regressing to over the last 4 years. Sure, sometimes the Tories inch ahead and we speculate about a majority. Sometimes the Liberals creep up and we start speculating about a Liberal win. But, without fail, two or three months later, we get back to the 6 or 7 point lead.

Ekos (June 9 - 15, n = 2,013 robo called)
CPC 30.5%
Lib 26.3%
NDP 17.4%
BQ 10.5%
Green 12.3%
Other 3.0%

Nanos (May 29 - June 3, n = 1,008 phone)
CPC 35.6%
Lib 29.2%
NDP 20.7%
BQ 9.4%
Green 5.1%

Environics (May 18 - 26, n = 2,064 phone)
CPC 36%
Lib 30%
NDP 15%
BQ 10%
Green 7%
Other 2%

Angus Reid (May 25 - 27, n = 2,022 online)
CPC 35%
Lib 27%
NDP 19%
BQ 9%
Green 8%

Decima (May 13 - 23, n = 2,010 phone)
CPC 36%
Lib 27%
NDP 16%
BQ 8%
Green 11%

AVERAGE (change since April in brackets)
CPC: 34.6% (+1.3%)
Lib: 27.9% (+0.8%)
NDP: 17.6% (-0.9%)
BQ: 9.4% (-0.5%)
Green: 8.7% (-0.9%)


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The same could be said about Ed Stelmach's cabinet

Canadian TV 'crap': Alberta culture minister

Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett was backpedalling Wednesday after his disparaging comments about the quality of Canadian television sparked an outcry.

Blackett was listening to a panel discussion at the Banff World Television Festival on Monday when he made the remarks in a question and answer session.

"I sit here as a government representative for film and television in the province of Alberta and I look at what we produce, and if we're honest with ourselves … I look at it and say, 'Why do I produce so much shit? Why do I fund so much crap?'" Blackett told the panel, to ripples of laughter.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

So FOX News North and Kory Vision has a name - Sun News.

The new network is still in its infancy, so it may be premature for us to pass judgment on it. But I suspect they'll be prematurely passing judgment on a lot of individuals in the years to come, so let's jump in and judge away!

There's a lot of hysteria out there - Don Newman called it "the absolute last thing this country needs", and a lot of Liberals are sounding alarm bells. Personally, I have a hard time getting too worked up over this. This isn't some Machiavellian plan by Kory Teneycke and Stephen Harper to take control of the media. Pierre Karl Péladeau is investing 100 million in this venture - the goal is to make money, pure and simple.

And even though Sun News's format will be modelled after FOX News, I have a hard time believing the content will skew as hard right. Their first two hires - David Akin and Brian Lilly Lilley - are both respected journalists, without a hint of bias. They're rumoured to have poached Krista Erickson, one of the favourite targets of Conservatives bloggers as proof of a Liberal bias at the CBC. Hell, Teneycke made a pitch to land Rick Mercer.

I don't for a second doubt that a few loud mouth right wingers will wind up with evening talk shows, but these guys are trying to make money, and I don't think there's money to be made pandering exclusively to the conservative base.

And even if they do, where's the harm in that? Could it actually be any worse than giving Mike Duffy a nightly show? It's a free country, and it will give give me something to blog about, the same way Fox News provides The Daily Show with hours of content.

So, biases aside, what should we expect? Here's how the network describes itself:

All news specialty services play a vital role in keeping Canadians well informed on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis and ensuring that news coverage is both broad and deep. However, being well informed means more than being exposed to dry news.

Led by trusted journalists like David Akin and Brian Lilley, Sun News will offer Canadians “Hard News” by day: live reporting and real-time conversations with journalists covering breaking news. Headlines will be analysed, commented upon and discussed at length in an intelligent exchange to open further debate. Daytime news segments will cover a broad range of political, economic and lifestyle stories that matter to Canadians both rural and urban.

In the evenings, “Straight Talk” programs will feature hosts and guests that deliver strong opinions and analysis of stories that are important to Canadians that day. “Straight Talk” opinion journalism at night will be clear, intelligent and engaging – featuring a broader array of television personalities and signature hosts who will challenge viewers to think – and decide – for themselves.

Without a doubt, this is the FOX News format - give the viewers excitement!, opinions!, personality!, and entertainment! with their news. I know a lot of people expect the format to flop here, but I think it could work. FOX News has done so well for a reason, and I tend to think it's more because of format than content. If I'm flipping channels during the baseball game, I'd be more likely to flip over to an engaging political talk show (even an infuriating one) than the same news headlines I can read online.

So I guess my only wish is that they don't dumb it down too much. And that they're fair - I have no problem with a right wing perspective, but FOX News is so hypocritical that's hardly watchable. There's a way to make smart reporting and smart opinions interesting - if SunNews succeeds in doing that, then all the power to them, regardless of how far from the right they look at the news.

Only Ignatieff can go to China - Take 2

September 1st, 2009: "Stephen Harper has been prime minister for four years, and he’s never visited China. We’ll be there next week."

September 2nd, 2009: Ignatieff cancels trip to China after election threat.

June 15, 2010: Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to visit China.


Sing a Song for Jim

Jim Dinning is named U of C Chancellor

I know the vote's been held, but I'm still willing to wager money he finds a way to blow this before taking on the title on July 1st...


Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Billion Dollar Boondoggle"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Link Grab Bag

1) Hop on the big red bus - it's time for a summer road trip! Hopefully the bus rolls across the Prairies because...

2) ...the National Post also believes the Liberals should look West. I'm always worried when I agree with the Post but, then again, the paper might start looking downright socialist when compared to...

3) ...Kory Teneycke's FOX News Canada! I'm actually curious how this turns out and I'm encouraged by their first hire, David Akin. Let's put it this way, I don't think we're going to see Akin crying at the chalkboard as he re-arranges the letters in IGNATIEFF to unearth the Hitler-esque nature behind Iggy's corporate tax freeze.

Of course, the Liberals may not survive long enough for FOX Canada to destroy them, since...

4) ...La Presse talks about the Tories running on a pledge to scrap voter subsidies in the next election, which they say would kill the Liberal Party.

I tend to disagree. Here's what I wrote in March on this:
But, just to toss a nutty idea out there - what if the Liberals agreed to a 5 year phase-out of the public vote subsidy? They're closing the fundraising gap on the Tories, and losing the subsidy would hurt the NDP, Bloc, and Greens more than the Liberals. Here's the percentage of revenue each party generates from the subsidy:

CPC 37%
Lib 43%
NDP 55%
Green 62%
Bloc 82%

The, Bloc, Greens, and NDP would be hurt far worse by this move than the Liberals. Moreover, if the Liberals and Tories agreed to Jeff Jedras' suggestion of raising the limit back to $5,000, the Grits, who rely more on big donations than the Tories, could close the fundraising gap between them even further.

Sounds like a great platform idea for...

5) ...the new Liberal-Conservatives! I'm pleased to see Tom Walkom has joined in on my crusade to merge the two parties together. Well, maybe not a merge, but at the very least they could be...

6) partners!

Sensible Solutions

I get the concerns about vote splitting on the left. Given the differences between the people who vote NDP and the people who vote Liberal, I don't think those concerns are founded but, yeah, I get them.

So rather than lunge into a merger, why not just switch to a preferential ballot? The Liberals and NDP could still run as two separate parties. Voters could rank them 1-2 on their ballot, ending the vote split. And if they get enough seats to justify it, they could sign a working agreement, or enter into a coalition government.

I don't see any drawbacks. If the concern is that Liberals wouldn't rank the NDP second and New Democrats wouldn't rank the Liberal Party second (a valid concern)...well then...I tend to think that's an even stronger argument against a merger.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Your Mark...

So I was asked to pen a short piece for The Mark a few weeks ago on how to fix the Liberal Party. I foolishly overlooked the idea of blowing up the party as a solution, suggesting instead that the Liberals need to expand their support base outside of the GTA.

The full article can be read here.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

In other news, my friend and I negotiated a Middle East peace accord over beers last night

Liberal, NDP insiders talk merger

Senior insiders with the federal Liberals and New Democrats have been holding secret talks about the possibility of merging their parties to form a new entity to take on the Conservatives, CBC News has learned.

Many Liberal insiders confirmed that discussions between the two parties are not just focused on forming a coalition after an election or co-operation before one, but the creation of a new party.

The new party would possibly be named the Liberal Democrats and there has been tentative talk about what a shared platform would look like and an understanding that a race would be required to choose a new leader.

They have a name. They've agreed the new party will need a leader and a platform. Not a bad day's work by these mysterious Liberal and NDP insiders who have taken it upon themselves to negotiate a merger.

The only stumbling block left to a deal is the overwhelming opposition to the idea by the Liberal Party and the NDP.

UPDATE: This silly story gets sillier...


Monday, June 07, 2010

Coalition if Necessary...

This seems perfectly reasonable to me:

Ignatieff willing to lead coalition, but talk of merger with NDP is ‘absurd’

Michael Ignatieff says coalition governments are “perfectly legitimate” and he'd be prepared to lead one if that's the hand Canadian voters deal him in the next election.

But the Liberal Leader says it would be disrespectful to voters and damaging to his party to try to strike any deals with the NDP before voters have spoken.

In an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, Mr. Ignatieff dismissed talk of a merger or any sort of election non-compete agreement with the NDP as “absurd.”

As I've said before, there's nothing inherently wrong about coalitions. Say the Bloc collapsed and we get a parliament that looks like this:

CPC 123
Lib 120
NDP 35
BQ 30

Now say the Liberals won the popular vote. Surely then, a Liberal-NDP coalition would make a lot of sense. There's no point in ruling it out categorically beforehand because, by ruling it out, you'd be robing it its legitimacy.

Hopefully this will end all the coalition and merger talk for a while. Because I'm sure Liberals would rather be talking about the billion dollar G20 price tag than about this.

Friday, June 04, 2010

In Favour of a Merger

Last week, I posted about why a Liberal-NDP merger is unlikely to work.

However, after listening to the arguments of many Liberals over the past week, I have come a new conclusion. I now support a merger.

A merger between the Liberal and the Conservative parties.

I know many of you will laugh, but let's look at this analytically. The main argument being advanced in favour of a Liberal-NDP merger or coalition is that we need to get back into power. Well, a Liberal-Conservative merger is the quickest road back to power. While the math isn't there for a "Liberal-Democrat" win, even if half of all Liberal voters jumped to the NDP, the Liberal-Conservatives would still win 207 seats.

And that number is likely a conservative estimate (so to speak). After all, the Liberal Party has voted with the Conservatives more often than with the NDP in recent years. Their MPs have been largely interchangeable: Belinda Stronach, Scott Brison and Keith Martin left the Tories for the Liberals; David Emerson, Joe Comuzzi, and Wajid Khan walked the other way. When was the last time a Liberal MP joined the NDP caucus?

And, while there is no history to justify a Liberal-NDP merger, there was once upon a time a Liberal-Conservative Party in Canada, led by John A. MacDonald.

Believe me, I too see how bleak the future looks for the Liberals. After all, we have been out of power for four years, while Harper sits with a towering 34% in the polls. I cannot imagine a more hopeless situation.

A merger is the only way out. And since the only way to power is by merging with the Conservatives, I urge my fellow Liberals to look there, rather than to the NDP. This would not be a coalition of the losers! We would not need Bloc Quebecois support!

We would no longer have to worry about the Tories running negative ads against our leader - as he would be their leader! We would become competitive in Western Canada! We would govern for a century!

My fellow Liberals, I urge you to join me in supporting this exciting proposal.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Fun With Numbers: NDP, Bloc, and Green vote

I won't spend as much time going through the NDP or Bloc vote as I did for the Liberals and Conservatives. Unlike for the other two parties, the NDP vote isn't quite as predictable - the best model I can come up with only accounts for a little over half of the variation. Personally, I tend to think this is proof that voting NDP defies any sort of rational explanation, but there may be another explanation.

However, if we do look at the model, it does suggest the following ridings as possible long-term gains for the NDP, based on the types of people living there: Nunavut, Edmonton East, Edmonton Centre, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Winnipeg South Centre, Sydney-Victoria, Yukon, Desnethé--Missinippi--ChurchillRiver, Regina-Qu'Appelle, and Palliser.

And it suggests their seats in Outremont, Western Arctic, Nickel Belt, Sackville-Eastern Shore, and Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing are being won for reasons other than the demographic composition of the riding. That doesn't mean the NDP can't keep taking them, but it certainly means that, long term, it will take some work to hold them.

The model works well for the Bloc, with french as mother tongue being the strongest predictor. What it shows are that the 48 "best" Bloc ridings are all held by either the Bloc or the Conservatives. In short, Conservative wins in Quebec have come mainly in ridings we'd expect to go Bloc. This is hardly earth shattering news, which is why I'm not going to talk about it for more than a paragraph.

As for the Greens, well, once again, their vote is difficult to predict, so there's not a lot to say about it. I will say that Elizabeth May appears to have made a wiser choice when it comes to picking a riding this time than last - Saanich-Gulf Islands is the 8th best Green riding in the country based on demos, whereas Central Nova is the 245th best.

Fairness and Frugality

Landing in my inbox is the following seat redistribution proposal from MP Derek Lee:

Ontario 113 (up from 106 currently and down from 124 in the gov bill)
Québec 75
B.C. 39 (up from 36 currently, but down from the proposed 43)
Manitoba 11 (down from 14)
Newfoundland 6 (down from 7)
Saskatchewan 10 (down from 14)
Alberta 31 (up from 28, but down from the proposed 33)
New Brunswick 7 (down from 10)
Nova Scotia 9 (down from 11)
P.E.I. 4
N.W. Terr. 1
Yukon 1
Nunavut 1

I actually like this scheme but given the political challenges in removing seats in certain provinces, it will obviously never fly - with either the Liberals or the House of Commons.

Still, the reasoning is sound:

This proposal offers a much more cost-effective alternative to Government Bill C-12, An Act to Amend the Constitution Act, introduced by the Hon. Steven Fletcher, a bill that plans to increase and redistribute the number of ridings per province. The Fairness and Frugality Proposal will provide for improved representation for Canadians while not incurring the over $40 million per year cost associated with the Government’s plan. The proposal recognizes Québec’s standing in our federation and does not diminish its presence in the House of Commons, in that Québec will continue to have the same number and percentage of seats. Finally and most importantly, the proposal provides a system of representation that adheres more closely to the principal of “representation by population” than both the current system and the plan proposed by the Harper Government in Bill C-12.

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30 Shopping Days Left to Beat the HST...

I don't know about you, but I plan on getting, like, 10 or 20 haircuts this month to beat the HST.