iamom: (flying)
The Rick Mercer Report website has lots of other great satire from this election, but when they played this ad on the election results show last night, I totally cracked up laughing. One of the Liberals' major blunders in this campaign had to do with their strategy of fighting Harper on exactly the same terms as they did in the last election: namely, by trying to scare voters wanting a change against voting for Harper because of his "scary right-wing ideologies." Unfortunately for the Liberals, Harper's campaign was run so much better than theirs and focused so strongly on issues and policy that these ads, which ran on a heavy rotation throughout the whole campaign, probably went a fair ways to alienate prospective Liberal voters. The ads also made Paul Martin look desperate, which is not a good image for a Prime Minister to have.

Anyway, those ads were quite ridiculous for the most part, and this satirical sketch by Rick Mercer poked fun in all the right places.

Rick Mercer's Liberal Attack Ad
(1.3 MB Windows Media File)
iamom: (coltrane)
           

Canada Federal Election Results 2006
   
Well, I couldn't be happier with the result. I was sick to death of the 13-year Liberal reign, and I was completely fed up with Paul Martin. I, apparently like many other Canadians, was ready for a change. I was also very glad to hear that Martin will step down after this campaign. He's good and ready to go, and many will be glad to see him leave.

Granted, I'm not an ardent supporter of Harper and the 'new' Conservatives, but they're the only other party that could have realistically formed an alternative government to the Liberals. I'm also not as scared of their apparent values as a lot of people seem to be. (Now that same-sex couples have the same civil rights as opposite-sex couples (as they have for a few years now), I think that the same-sex marriage issue is a non-issue.) Plus, having the Conservatives form a minority government should also effectively hold them in check, as it were, and give the country a chance to see just how skillful Harper will be at governing. Even if they'll be a bit hamstrung by virtue of their not holding a majority in the House of Commons, the fact remains that if their policies and governing style are good enough, then they'll win enough support in the House to achieve their objectives.
   
As could be expected, the Bloc Québecois holds the balance of power. I would have rather seen the NDP in that position, and with an extra couple seats for either the Conservatives or the NDP, this would have been possible. But my impression is that the Bloc has some key strategies in alignment with the Conservatives, especially pertaining to the fiscal imbalance between the federal and provincial governments; decreasing the size and power of the federal government (i.e. decentralizing power and funding to the provinces); and electoral and democratic reform. If some or all of these issues are addressed in a Harper government, I'll be extremely pleased. I won't even care how many right-wing freaks out West call for a free vote on abortion. (Such a vote wouldn't even make it second reading in the House anyway, so who cares?)

I hope that electoral reform makes some real headway. The split between seats won and popular vote is too wide, especially in the regions. At the national level, the NDP won 17% of the popular vote but only 9% of the seats. The voting results for Nova Scotia are even more telling of the imbalance: the vote split between Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats is 37%, 30%, and 30%. Yet the seat split between those three parties is 55%, 27%, and 18%. It's obvious that there's something wrong with a system that so heavily distorts the popular will of the electorate.

(On a personal note, I voted for Alexa McDonough, former head of the NDP, since she's in my riding of Halifax and I wanted her to be back in Parliament. Another fairly close race in my area was in [livejournal.com profile] grammardog's riding of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, which re-elected Mike Savage, the Liberal incumbent and son of former Liberal Nova Scotia Premier John Savage. Lawyer Peter Mancini was the NDP candidate in that riding, and I believe that it was previously held (i.e. before 2003) by New Democrat playwright Wendy Lill.)

One thing's for sure -- last night's results were a cliffhanger, and I think that they engaged more people than usual in a political campaign. I mean hell, [livejournal.com profile] grammardog actually went to an all-candidates meeting in her riding and even asked questions! That's saying a lot right there. :)
iamom: (portrait)
Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority federal government elected in 2004 has just been toppled by a vote of non-confidence in the House of Commons at Ottawa. Minority parliamentary governments are always at some risk of dissolution, but for whatever reason, yesterday was the day the three federal opposition parties banded together to vote Martin's government out of existence. (On minority parliamentary governments.These are created when the party with the most seats elected wins the election, but does not have the numerical majority of seats in the House of Commons; therefore, if the opposition parties vote together on a motion of non-confidence against the sitting federal government, they will constitute the numerical majority in the House of Commons and effectively shut down Parliament, thereby triggering a federal election.)

The CBC has devoted a lot of its coverage so far to determining whether or not Canadians want to have an election campaign over the Christmas holidays. Like we'd all be broken up inside by not having an election while the tulips are blooming. (That was Martin's original suggestion, by the way: to call an election after Gomery Part 2 is released in February.) I don't think it matters when the election will be, though. Nor do I think people care about when the next one falls (although I haven't heard anyone state a compelling reason why the election should be called right now as opposed to six months from now, or longer). Frankly, nothing about this election really matters to me at all. Nothing the federal government does has any real impact on my day to day life. Does it?

One thing that is clear to me is that politics have no substance. The verbal buffoonery that passes for debate in our House of Commons does not fulfill even the most basic definition of that term. The questions posed by MPs seldom (if ever) pertain to specific policy issues so much as they contain clumsily-designed bits of provocative verbiage whose objective is to make it into that night's 15-second audio clip on the news.

And so on.

Politics is a game played by gangs of inarticulate thugs who rake off half of our own incomes each year to provide us with essential social and government services, but for whom there is no means to evaluate their actual performance. We can't check on their progress from day to day, nor can we tell if they're effective at their jobs. If the federal government were a non-profit organization, their administration costs would probably not fall within acceptable ranges. But since they have no oversight on their own activities other than themselves (and a Senate which can only be populated with patronage appointments), the only occasion that ordinary Canadians have to hold their elected officials to account is if they visit their federal election voting booth.

In my particular riding of Halifax, my MP is (former national NDP leader) Alexa McDonough, and irrespective of which party I would like to support in this election, she'll have my vote for strategic reasons. My strategic reasons arise from my newfound appreciation for a minority federal government. I genuinely like the collaborative style of governing that's forced to evolve with this structure. Parties on seemingly different sides of a debate are forced to adopt the common aspects of their platforms in order to make any progress in the House. This isn't a bad thing; it allows each participant to put forward their best ideas and if those ideas are good enough, then they'll be supported by the majority. In theory, anyway.

The next obvious question for me is whether or not we have the right political leaders in place to synthesize those ideas and to create an appropriate culture for effective collaboration in the House. Ironically, I suspect that Paul Martin might have those qualities, but he sure hasn't been able to demonstrate them in the 18 months he's held office. (Not that Harper's helped him there, either. Hello, Stephen? Can you talk about anything other than how corrupt the Liberal government is? Haven't heard an idea out of you yet there, little buddy!) Poor guy, that Paul Martin. I bet he curses Jean Chrétien in five languages before going to bed each night!

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Dustin LindenSmith

January 2013

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