Friday, May 29, 2015

Anti-abortion groups actually helping Trudeau

By attacking Justin Trudeau so viciously by distributing repulsive flyers in mailboxes for everyone to see, groups like the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and the Campaign Life Coalition are actually helping the Liberal leader.

Why?

Because they're reminding the public of one of Trudeau's bolder policy stands.  The Liberal Party is pro-choice and favours a woman's right to choose.   Like the NDP, the Liberals will refuse to revisit the abortion issue or let its MPs vote to do so.  That's a fair and reasonable position in 2015.  It's clear and concise.

Because the vast majority of Canadians believe this issue to be long-settled.  This campaign represents the last gasp of a movement that refuses to understand modern Canada.   Like many, I'm not fond of abortion.  But I believe it must be allowed in our society for a variety of reasons.  Like most Canadians, I have no desire to see any regression on this issue. 

Because progressive voters who favour choice and accept abortion in our society will be tempted to rally to Trudeau's side as a result of this campaign.  The anti-abortion campaign is tone deaf and is turning off the public.  Progressive voters who may not be too impressed with Trudeau on a variety of other issues at this point (such as Bill C-51 or pipelines) will no doubt sympathize with Trudeau on this one.

Because the groups are reinforcing the idea that Trudeau is the main challenger to Harper, not NDP Leader Tom Mulcair:

“Strategically, we wanted a more narrow focus so (that means) targeting a leader that had the potential to be the next prime minister during this election,” Golob says.

If they're hoping to dissuade anti-abortion voters away from the Liberals, I've got news for them: those voters are already in the Conservative camp.  Instead, these social conservative campaigns to turn back time are only scaring progressive voters and will likely rally more behind the Liberal leader.

All of this helps Trudeau's cause. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

My thoughts are with Ireland today...

The Irish are voting in a historic referendum today on marriage equality.   I'm mostly Irish by blood, although not by citizenship.   And, as you can guess, I'm hoping that it turns out well for those who favour equality.

At first, I was surprised that such a vote on minority rights would be put to popular vote.  But, as this article makes clear, legalizing equal marriage in the constitution requires a constitutional amendment voted on by the public in order to avoid future legal challenges.  

Still, one has to worry what the formerly staunch conservative voters of Ireland will do today.  The country only decriminalized homosexuality in 1993.  The country seems to have become more liberal since.  Polls showed the pro-equality side far ahead right up until today.  

In the U.S., where similar referenda have taken place in the last 15 to 20 years, the experience was mostly negative until 2012, when voters started approving equality and shutting down attempts to ban gay marriage.   The tide has turned in that country. 

In Canada, the pro-equal marriage side won out 10 years ago, with courts and legislatures voting in favour.  Polls now show 65% of Canadians support equal marriage. 

Voting in Ireland continues today until 10 pm Irish time, or 5 pm Toronto time.  (Although results won't be fully counted until Saturday, apparently.)  So hopefully we'll get good news to celebrate tomorrow. 

In the mean time, glad to share this Canadian video supporting the equal marriage cause:


Monday, May 18, 2015

Progressives look for champion to stop Harper

It's been an interesting few weeks with a perfect storm producing a surprise NDP victory in Alberta.

The Alberta NDP win does prove the NDP can win votes from Canadians in surprising places.  But we need to dissect the reality a bit further to realize that this isn't necessarily the blessing the federal NDP hopes it is.

In Alberta, Rachel Notley benefited from a perfect storm which consisted of these elements which proved essential to her victory:

1) An unpopular PC government that had long grown arrogant and complacent, so much so that many conservative voters had become desperate to vote for anybody remotely qualified to stop them.
2) The official opposition Wildrose had imploded and only just elected a new leader, a well-meaning guy named Brian Jean who clearly wasn't ready for the premier's office.
3) The provincial Liberal party had also imploded, unable to attract significant talent, and its leader, Raj Shurman, had also just stepped down.  The party didn't have enough time to even run a leadership race so former leader David Swann stepped in as interim leader.  He proved fairly ineffective as a campaigner.  In addition, the Libs fell well short of running a full slate of candidates. 
4) Rachel Notley put together a moderate plan that spoke to Albertans' pent-up desire for change, including the need to tax corporations "a bit" more and get a better oil royalties' deal for all Albertans.  Ultimately, Notley projected a style of leadership and charm similar to Peter Lougheed that won Albertans over. 

Notley's NDP managed to win virtually all progressive votes in the province, as well as many centrists long tired of the PCs.  Had the provincial Liberals been better organized, it would've undermined the NDP's ability to win.  Furthermore, the conservative majority in the province literally divided itself in half between the PCs and Wildrose. 

To assume Notley's success will automatically translate into Tom Mulcair's success federally this year is foolhardy.  None of the essential conditions above exist for Mulcair.  In truth, Mulcair has shown little ability to connect emotionally with voters the way that Notley did.   When you look at his record in by-elections, Mulcair's a vote loser. 

Furthermore, while Notley benefited from being the only credible progressive party running against two strong conservative parties, we are seeing the exact opposite reality federally where two strong progressive/centrist parties are facing a united conservative option.  

Mulcair has been an effective opposition leader in the House of Commons, but that is irrelevant when it comes to his ability to connect emotionally with voters on the hustings.

I've never liked Mulcair much.  Before he became leader, I found him to be insufferably arrogant, frequently talking down to viewers when he appeared for on-air interviews.  That arrogance has been toned down a bit since he became leader.   But I still have my doubts about his abilities.  

I've been wrong before, so I don't rule out the possibility that Mulcair's team figures out a way to win this year, or at least become the main challenger to the Harper Conservatives.  But I'd argue that's only possible if Justin Trudeau's Liberals fall flat on their faces, which I'm not betting will happen.

Trudeau has shown a great ability to connect emotionally with voters, and his by-election results prove it.  But he has yet to clearly flesh out an inspiring vision for the country as well as a detailed policy platform to back it up.   Although that is starting to change with promises to cut middle class income taxes, raise income taxes on the richest Canadians and match the government's family child care promises with more generous promises.

It's not a complete policy vision yet, but once the entire platform's out there,  I predict Trudeau will be effective at communicating it on the hustings.   That may go a long way to countering the impression that he's too green and immature for the prime minister's office.   But we shall see.  Things could go very wrong if Trudeau gets shaky off-script.   The debates will be key and could prove his downfall or his great success. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Alberta election, we've seen polls that claim the NDP is surging federally, perhaps even outpacing the Liberals for second place.   

But this poll by Nanos Research out today is much more credible due to that pollster's great record and methodology.  Despite the Alberta NDP win, Nanos still shows the Conservatives and Liberals battling closely for number one in Ottawa, with the NDP still playing spoilers.

We'll see if this holds.  I'm expecting it might for a while until either Trudeau or Mulcair make some kind of gaffe.  It might be more likely that Trudeau makes a slip of the tongue which gets his campaign in a bit of trouble.  But Trudeau has also shown an ability to bounce back quickly from such things.  It would take a series of Trudeau errors to provide the opening Mulcair needs to supplant the Liberals as the main alternative to stop Harper. 

In the end, if both Trudeau and Mulcair perform well enough in this race, they may end up cancelling each other out.   Progressive voters will divide between the two parties, allowing Harper's Cons to slip up the middle and likely form a minority government.

What happens after that depends on the actual voting results and seat count.

All of this is prelude, of course.  Some say the Liberals' slow descent in the polls in the last year means they're in trouble.  In reality, these polls might bring out the fighter in Trudeau and make him the campaigner he needs to be.  Had he continued to coast along out front, he might've become complacent and more prone to sloppy errors.

Now it's clear Trudeau will have to fight hard for every vote.  They won't be able to arrogantly argue only the Liberals can beat the Cons.  The Alberta election proves that is false.   The federal Liberals are underdogs again with most commentators greatly underestimating Trudeau's abilities.  These are the same folks who underestimated Trudeau when he stepped into the 2012 boxing ring against Patrick Brazeau.  And we all know how that turned out. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Wow! How stupid can Ontario PCs be?

As I listened to the Ontario PC official read out the individual riding results minutes ago, with Patrick Brown winning most ridings (and eventually winning the leadership), I was struck by how out of touch Ontario Tories are with their local communities. 

Or perhaps it proves just how much of a shell this party has become that it could be taken over by a well-organized pretender like Brown.  

In the Toronto auditorium where the event was happening, I heard one woman cry out, "Thank you, Jesus!"

Toronto Star reporter Robert Benzie quoted Mary Ellen Douglas, Ontario President for Campaign Life Coalition as saying, "We are happy with Patrick Brown's election."

This is not the face of modern Ontario. 

One thing for certain - I'm afraid PCs have voted in someone who will be even worse at connecting with Ontarians than Tim Hudak.   Brown is arrogant and inexperienced with a penchant for flirting with social conservative causes most Ontarians want nothing to do with like revisiting abortion rights. 

He's got nothing to offer.  This emperor has no clothes.

Of course, facing such a lousy opponent, I hope the Kathleen Wynne Liberals won't get complacent.  It's true that Brown will spend most of his time trying to recruit ethnic voters out in certain ridings now held by the Liberals.  The Grits will have to work hard to maintain their strength there. 

Perhaps this opens the door to Andrea Horwath's NDP who might now find it much easier to win the votes of Ontarians hungry for change next time (who will no doubt find Brown a horrible option.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Historic NDP victory in Alberta gets tonnes of reaction!

Last night's historic NDP majority in Alberta was something to behold.   Goodbye, Alberta PCs and Jim Prentice!  The NDP took 53 seats, the Wildrose 21, the PCs just 11, the Liberals one, and the Alberta Party took one.

Calling the election when he did will go down as one of the biggest political blunders in recent Canadian history.

Reactions are pouring in.  I have to eat my words about the NDP never being able to win in Alberta.  Clearly, in the right circumstances (including immense public anger at the conservative incumbents, lack of confidence in the Wildrose opposition and a collapsed Liberal Party), the NDP can unite the progressive vote behind it and beat Conservatives.

There are more serious implications for last night's vote, but I'll save those for another post very soon.

In the mean time, please enjoy this parody video, 'Hitler reacts to Alberta NDP majority election,' I created late last night to have a little fun:


Monday, May 4, 2015

Canada now has two elected, openly LGBT premiers

PEI Premier Wade MacLauchlan
With tonight's majority Liberal win in Prince Edward Island, Wade MacLauchlan becomes the second openly gay premier elected in Canada (after Kathleen Wynne in Ontario.)

Most celebratory of all is how his sexual orientation seemed to be a non-issue in the race.  How far we have come, indeed!

MacLauchlan's Liberals won 18 seats out of 27 in the province.  The PCs took 8 seats, but their leader Rob Lantz narrowly failed to win his own Charlottetown seat.   

Of note, the provincial NDP and the Greens won big gains in the popular vote, with the Green Party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker, handily winning his party's first seat in the island legislature.   (Unfortunately for the NDP, their increase in the vote was less concentrated and failed to elect anyone under Canada's first-past-the-post voting system. But with tomorrow's election in Alberta, the NDP may soon be smiling.)

For full results,  click here to go to the CBC's election website.

Monte McNaughton shows his true colours on eve of Ont PC vote

Failed Tory leadership candidate/Lambton-area PC MPP Monte McNaughton hit new lows over the weekend with emailed attacks on his colleague Christine Elliott, who might end up being his political boss after May 9th. 

McNaughton again flirted with sexism and/or homophobia when he criticized Elliott in the email for allegedly not doing enough to fight the province's new curriculum, which includes sensible and age-appropriate sex ed material, like letting kids know that gay people exist in the world and some kids may even live with same-sex parents.   That's too much for certain homophobes out there. 

As this Sun article makes clear, McNaughton's showing a great deal of immaturity and stupidity:  

"The former leadership candidate accused the long-time MPP, whom he refers to as “Christine Elliott Trudeau,” of having “waffled” on the curriculum issue.  He then urged party members to support the only other candidate in the race — federal Conservative MP Patrick Brown.

McNaughton also accused Elliott of saying people who don’t support the curriculum won’t be welcome in her “Big Blue Tent” if she wins the leadership.   

“Ms. Elliott should rename her tent to the ‘Little Red Tent’ or ‘Little Pink Tent,” McNaughton wrote. “There is nothing ‘Big’ or ‘Blue’ about it.”

Really?  A 'little pink tent?'

Most opposition to the new curriculum is based on lies being promoted by anti-gay bigots like Charles McVety, attacking things that aren't actually in it.   They're whipping up opposition in ethnic minority communities, taking advantage of the fact that few if any of them will actually ever read the proposed curriculum to confirm the hysterical attacks.

We are seeing the ugly side of conservatism and bigotry in this debate.

Glad to see some Ontario PCs fighting back against McNaughton's stupidity, including MPP Todd Smith who slammed McNaughton on Twitter this weekend:  "It's amazing to me just how low has fallen in the last two months but tonight was the lowest!!"