If Not Harper, Then Who?

“I’ve seen issues come up before that get a lot of press attention, and sometimes a photograph or sometimes a side issue can move votes, but I always believe that the big votes are moved on the big issues. I don’t believe that most people are attracted by the rabbit tracks of day-to-day media coverage.”—Stephen Harper

Hell will freeze over before anyone in the Soapbox family votes for Stephen Harper’s Conservative party; our big question is how do we decide between the Liberal candidate, Kent Hehr and the NDP candidate, Jillian Ratti?

Here’s a thought.

Let’s compare their party’s platforms on what Harper calls the “big issues”—the economy and national security. (Presumably Harper would dismiss the discord he’s created with the niqab issue, the “barbaric cultural practices” tip line, revoking citizenship and prioritizing refugee claimants as “rabbit tracks.”)

The Economy

Both Trudeau and Mulcair say they’ll fix the economy with a grab bag of government spending coupled with tax cuts and hikes aimed at improving the lives of the middle class. Rather than getting lost in the minutiae let’s focus on the basics.

The centre piece of Trudeau’s plan is a massive investment in a 10 year infrastructure plan that includes “social” infrastructure as well as bricks and mortar. The plan will require deficit budgets for three straight years followed by a $1 billion surplus in year four.

Mulcair on the other hand promises balanced budgets from the get-go.  But here’s the rub. Mulcair’s budget is based on Harper’s budget assumption of $300 billion in revenues, which assumes oil at $67 in 2016. The EIA estimate is closer to $59.

No one can crystal ball the economy four years out; however former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page calls Trudeau’s plan “realistic” because it updated the numbers from Harper’s 2015 budget to account for weaker oil prices.

Trudeau’s budget is more credible than Mulcair’s budget which will fail for the same reason Harper’s budget will fail—$67 oil is a pipe dream.

National Security

Trudeau supported Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism bill, while promising amendments to enhance oversight and accountability if the Liberals formed government. Mulcair opposed Bill C-51 from the start and with good reason, Bill C-51 sacrificed basic rights and freedoms on the altar of national security.

The Liberals said their conditional support was an effort to preserve the provisions that required Canada’s intelligence services to work more closely with the police. (Apparently CSIS knew the police were tracking the wrong guys in the case of the Toronto 18 but didn’t tell them.)

Be that as it may, Trudeau’s support of the Bill looked like political posturing intended to show the Liberals were not weak on security. It drove Liberal supporters mad and inspired many, including Ms Soapbox, to look at Mulcair’s NDP with renewed interest.

Trudeau’s explanation still doesn’t sit well, but it received backhanded support from terrorism expert and law prof Craig Forcese (who doesn’t endorse any party’s stance on national security). Forcese says Bill C-51 needs “serious renovation”, but he’s not advocating it be scrapped altogether. Forcese also supports the Liberals’ effort to open a consultation process to address the gaps in national security.

So while Trudeau’s position on Bill C-51 leaves a lot to be desired, it’s not enough (in our opinion) to throw the Liberals out of game.

“Rabbit tracks”

Trudeau and Mulcair rightly condemn Harper’s handling of the refugee crisis, the niqab, Bill C-24 (stripping citizenship) and the “barbaric cultural practices” tip line, so there’s nothing to be gained in seeking differences there; however the two leaders are starkly different when it comes to transparency and accessibility.

Consider how the two leaders responded to the Globe and Mail’s request for a personal interview.

Trudeau granted journalist Ian Brown unfettered access to his associates, his wife Sophie and himself.  Brown discovered that Trudeau is intelligent, articulate, compassionate and principled, not the flibbertigibbet some people expect. Sophie disclosed that she’d suffered from bulimia in the past and that the couple had seen a marriage counsellor about “boring relationship stuff”.

Mulcair on the other hand refused all interview requests for more than two months, finally offering to do a phone interview and when that was rejected a personal interview.  The Globe refused both offers due to an “imminent publication date”.

Perhaps the Globe was indulging in a fit of pique, but Mulcair’s decision to be unavailable allowed the Globe to write an article based on the observations of others who painted a picture of an intelligent ambitious politician who could be both charming and alienating, conciliatory and cagey, a man who ran roughshod over his colleagues and left the Quebec Liberals under a cloud.

This coupled with Mulcair’s refusal to participate in the consortium debates after he’d agreed to do so and his lack of clarity on issues that impact Quebec (the Energy East pipeline and what qualifies as a “yes” vote for Quebec sovereignty) suggest that cautious political strategy trumps authenticity.

In the end Trudeau appears authentic, Mulcair less so.

Sometimes it’s not the big issues that attract the big votes. The “rabbit tracks” made by someone else’s rabbit can tip the balance for a voter trying to decide between two attractive progressive parties, their leaders and their candidates.

Ms Soapbox has come full circle. She is voting for Kent Hehr, the Liberal candidate in Calgary Centre.

Mr Hehr is a seasoned provincial politician with an excellent track record in the Alberta Legislature. His values and those of his leader, Justin Trudeau, reflect my values. And here’s the icing on the cake, Mr Hehr has the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate.

That’ll teach Mr Harper to ignore “rabbit tracks”.

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70 Responses to If Not Harper, Then Who?

  1. Those comments are much the same as my thoughts. The other governance factor is the NDP would be just another one-man party with a weak caucus under Mulcair. Trudeau is more team oriented and open to ideas with the most talented bench if all.
    I did some GOTV volunteering for Kent last week. Will do more in Ft Mcmurray for Kyle this week and then Randy & Karen next weekend. Liberals are the strategic choice to deal with Harper this time

    • Ken, I agree. The other thing I find puzzling is Mulcair’s campaign strategy. Mulcair does not seem to be in step with the public. Now he’s trying to regain some of lost momentum by attacking Trudeau on the TPP deal. While that may play well with the auto sector it doesn’t resonate with the rest of Canada, the west for example benefits from the terms relating to beef and canola. While I have serious concerns about the TPP’s international dispute resolution mechanism, there’s really not much more to be said about it until we see the final text (including the 15 or so side letters which change the deal for certain players).

      • I haven’t actually decided where my vote is going but this “thoughtful analysis” is more of a build on a foregone conclusion. Witness no mention of the TPP other than in a comment…. And there is plenty of information on it if you only look. (e.g. Wikileaks, EFF and elsewhere.)
        The dispute mechanism is the least of it, even given it is a direct attack on sovereignty. “doesn’t resonate with the rest of Canada”?? That is a huge assumption.

        What I see is Trudeau’s voting record (when he bothered to show up). It speaks louder than words alone.

      • Cdncurmudgeon, there are a lot of topics I could have covered but I wanted to focus the discussion on the two things Harper keeps hammering home–the economy and national security. With respect to the TPP one reason I said that it doesn’t resonate with the rest of Canada is that even Rachel Notley hasn’t said much about it, notwithstanding Mulcair’s strong opposition to it. The Alberta government’s press release was two sentences long. It said: “Alberta is a trade-focused province and we support the responsible growth of trade opportunities for our export sectors. This is a wide-ranging agreement that we need to review in detail before we know what the overall consequences are for Albertans.” The TPP helps western provinces, it hurts the auto industry, the dairy farmers have gone quiet and no one is talking about the dispute resolution mechanism which to me is the biggest issue because it allows corporations to strip governments of the ability to enforce their own laws. It needs to go before Parliament (which will be nothing like it is today), no one has seen the 15 side letters and the whole thing falls apart anyway if it’s killed by the US Congress.

      • Ken Larsen says:

        Beef and canola will benefit from the TTP? Please let this farmer disagree. First off, the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) never had any problem selling into Asian markets. Why? Simply because the CWB and the Canadian Grain Commission guaranteed a quality-assured, premium quality product delivered honestly and reliably.

        The Asian market is very concerned with quality, purity, and honesty. With canola there is not only the problem it is sold and delivered by the big four international grain companies who have blotted their copy books on those criteria over the years, but the fact our canola is genetically modified also presents a marketing problem.

        Our cattle have a reputation for being given growth hormones that most of the world does not want to eat and then there is that little problem of mad-cow disease which polite commentators over here ignore, but the higher quality markets do not.

        Setting all that aside, there are the huge distances our products have to travel just to get to deep water. Asia is considerably closer to our competitors who grow and process agricultural products and our farmer-competitors are usually only dozens of miles from deep water while we are literally hundreds of miles to port through several mountain ranges.

        By killing the CWB and privatizing the Cdn Grain Commission Harper has already bungled keeping our wheat, barley, and durum wheat selling for a premium into this market and the fact prairie farm gate prices are half of what they were just three years ago when we had a Wheat Board speaks volumes as do public complaints from both Japan and China about quality and reliability.

        You can have all the trade agreements you want but if the quality of the product or its reputation is not there it is an empty exercise. The Liberals talk a great game but what will they do to restore what Harper has destroyed? Our agricultural problems are internal and renegotiating the TTP will just not change that.

      • Ken, thank you for this. You’ve provided a clear explanation of the issues at play that the “experts” have failed to address. This lack of quality assurance a huge concern. The E coli breakout in 2012 and the tainted meat recall by XL Foods brought to light the fact that Harper’s government reduced the number of food inspectors to the point where it was hard to see how they could possibly perform their jobs properly. The impact of the tainted meat scandal impacted meat sales in Alberta, Ontario and the US. Not a good way to promote Canadian products within or outside the country.

  2. cyberclark says:

    http://albertathedetails.blogspot.ca/2015/10/our-oil-problems-american-perspective.html This is our oil problem how and why and the large position Harper didn’t play in it.

    • Cyberclark, thanks for the link. I agree with your characterization that a continuation of Harper’s rule will be a continuation of corporate welfare for Big Oil. Sadly, Harper and the mini-me PCs here in Alberta never saw the inconsistency between government underwriting the oil industry and their party’s faith in the “wisdom” of the free market.

  3. David Watson says:

    We reached the same conclusions without the clarity of analysis the you demonstrated which is not surprising. The only good thing about fixed dates is the current 4 days of advance polls. That has mercifully shortened for us this ridiculous long campaign which was only based on the monetary strength that PCs had. Lets hope the strategy backfired on them. Dw

    • Glad to hear it David. My daughter is at the advance poll at the Military Museum. There were 100 people ahead of her in the line when she got there. It would be such delicious irony if Harper who master-minded the longest election in modern history was turfed by Trudeau, the politician he hoped to trip up by engineering the longest election in modern history.

  4. He’s a good choice amiga; I have always had a great deal of respect for his views & opinions. By the way, I just heard Ms. May on CBC As It Happens – brilliant as usual – I wish we had more MPs like her – she should be talking with all the women MP’s of the NDP/LIBERALS about the disgraceful state of our body politics and inspire them to act for the good of the country, particularly after the vote tally is in – frankly, I am getting a little tired of the infantile “macho” posturing in some quarter within the [broadly speaking] progressive family – in any case, we’re heading for a minority House of Commons, which also means, potentially exciting and hopeful times ahead, I think …

    • Communitynetworks: You’re right about Elizabeth May, she’s brilliant and the most thoughtful and articulate politician in Parliament. Your point about macho posturing is well taken, especially now that we’re heading for a minority government. Some people see this as a time of constitutional uncertainty, but if Trudeau and Mulcair are prepared to accept the help of May I think they could craft a uniquely Canadian way of moving ahead. All three parties profess to support proportional representation, surely cooperation through some for of formal or informal coalition government wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

      • Thank you. My point exactly – now is the time to rise above strict partisanship and look at the big picture – in other words, what is good for the country, not what is good for my party. As we near E-Day, and in its aftermath, that is the essential question progressives of various political affiliations should ask ourselves. The country at this particular crossroads requires our leaders to respond accordingly. –

  5. anonymous says:

    Mr. Mulcair may have ducked an interview with the right leaning Globe and Mail, but at least he had the courage to face an interview with 22 minutes.

  6. Julie Ali says:

    Mr. Mulcair is an intelligent man and I think he will make a great prime minister. He may not have the ability to win people at the first encounter and he may be impatient with others who aren’t as bright as he is, but I think he will be able to discipline himself to lead a government team.

    Mr. Trudeau is a nice man. He’s a good possible future prime minister. Whether Mr. Trudeau wins or not, Mr. Kent Hehr is an excellent choice for MP. If elected he will (in my opinion) do a fine job.

    As for Mr. Harper? He’s done whether he wins or loses this election. Jason Kenney is waiting in the wings to be Harper 2. I was expecting Mr. Prentice to be Harper 2 but after he told Albertans to look in the mirror, that was that for the prime ministerial aspirations.

    I voted NDP. I’m disappointed with the performance of the provincial NDP but I still voted for the federal NDP candidate in Riverbend.

    I am very unimpressed by the lack of transparency and no sort of performance in terms of continuing care issues in Alberta with reference to the provincial NDP but I think Mr. Mulcair is a good man and I like his family history. Family history is important. He’s got a great relationship with his wife and seems to be a family man. I like that. I think if you have a good family, everything else falls into place.

    The provincial NDP have been a disappointment. After telling us that they will work for ordinary Albertans we have yet to see this work. It is difficult to meet some MLAs who appear to be rather inaccessible in Edmonton as my sister has found out. This never happened in Edmonton Riverview before.

    As well we have had no sort of contact with the Minister of Health; apparently the minister of health can meet with journalists but not with the folks who are impacted by banning such as Shauna McHarg who has not seen her father for over 2000 days. It’s sad and it’s bewildering. But this sort of failure to act may be a harbinger of the provincial NDP restrained approach to doing government business.

    This restrained approach may be necessary as they learn the work of government but should be (in my opinion) be balanced with a sense of compassion. No human being should go through what Shauna McHarg has gone through-the years of running the bureaucratic maze at Covenant Health, the appeals to AHS and the Ombudsman, the trips to the court, the shredding of transitory documents associated with an ongoing FOIP appeal that the courts recently deemed perfectly legal for AHS to do. The entire case calls out for a full investigation by the auditor general or some other independent body. Why do public bodies have the power to ban a person without cause? Why is there (still) no appeal process at AHS? Why is there no action by Alberta Health? Why is Shauna McHarg in hell of the most curable sort? I mean a ministerial order could end all of this junk.

    These failures on the part of the provincial NDP in continuing care plus their inability to communicate with citizens are all markers of the Tory way of doing government –non-transparency and no accountability.

    I hope that I am wrong but it is not encouraging. If the NDP are only another version of the Tories in Alberta, then Susan you are right to vote for the federal Liberal candidate.

    • Thanks for this Julie. At the end of the day I hope that Mulcair and Trudeau work together to get Canada back on track (and it will be a big job given how far to the right Harper pushed us). Your comments about the provincial NDP struck a cord with me. I too voted for Rachel Notley’s team and while I’m pleased that she’s pressing ahead with the infrastructure plan, the royalty review and the climate change panel, I’m concerned that so little progress has been made in the Department of Health. Your description of Shauna McHarg’s dilemma is heartbreaking. Given the profile the McHarg case received in the press under the old PC regime one would have expected some positive developments by now. It appears that there has been little progress by AHS with front line nursing as well. Nursing grads are leaving the province to find work. Once they’re gone we’ll never get them back. Experienced nurses aren’t getting the hours they need. We have to do much better for the sick and the vulnerable in our province.

  7. Ezra says:

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    • Ezra, I went full circle on this one…starting with Trudeau, moving to Mulcair and then coming back to Trudeau. At the end of the day they will both hold the levers of power. I hope they’ll exercise it wisely.

  8. david swann says:

    The same thoughtful analysis I’ve come to expect, based on the key issues, competence and integrity (as far as this can be assessed through communications).
    As in Alberta where the PC’s over-stayed their welcome, my pitch to people who ask – vote anything but Harper but my preference is Liberal…

    • Thank you David, I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a credible alternative to the Conservatives in my riding. Kent Hehr is an excellent candidate with an extremely good chance of defeating the Conservative incumbent. Anyone wanting to get rid of Harper should give Kent serious consideration.

  9. Carlos Beca says:

    I do not totally disagree with your analysis but to me there is a deeper more important point that you failed to look into. Justin Trudeau is a nice man and in many ways a more ‘real’ politician but he is very young and so he is very much dependent on people around him. Neo-Liberalism is what he has plenty access to and that is what caused the situation we are in right now. Call it neo-liberalism or neo-con the ideology is to favour the rich and powerful because that is their base of support. Justin Trudeau will not be able to do anything but continue what is already there. I agree that Tom Mulcair would not do much different either but at least I am sure we would move back to the centrist left views that we need to become more progressive.

    • Carlos you raise a very valid point. Trudeau rolled many of the old guard throughout his campaign and that is a concern (people like Paul Martin are known for their support of the One World view in favour of an integrated global economy). At this point in the election cycle it looks like there will be a minority government. Regardless of which party gets the most seats, Trudeau and Mulcair will have to work together. Luckily we have Elizabeth May to slap them on the wrist when they start to huff and puff about who’s in charge.

  10. Alberta voting Harper-Lite. Quelle surprise.

    • This Albertan voted NDP in the provincial election and likely would have voted NDP federally if Mulcair’s platform was more like Notley’s, but his promise of a balanced budget is not credible especially coming on the heels of 7 straight deficit budgets delivered to us by the king of austerity, Stephen Harper.

  11. Jim Lees says:

    What is Ms Soapbox’s read on Mr Mulcair’s reaction if oil stays well below $67 and his proposed budget is short on revenue? Would he cut back spending plans, increase taxes or incur deficits? How far is he willing to go to keep his promises? It’s easy to make campaign promises, but not so easy to keep them.

    • Jim, financial analysts are predicting an $8 billion shortfall in next years budget regardless of who’s in power. While this seems small in the context of a $300 billion budget on a $2 trillion economy it appears to be a big deal in an election campaign otherwise we wouldn’t keep hearing about it every second day. Mulcair categorically promised a balanced budget. That leaves him one of two options: cut services or raise taxes. I can’t imagine an NDP government cutting services that have already been slashed by Harper’s conservatives so I expect he’ll raise taxes. So far he’s only said he’ll tax corporations, that gives him some leeway to increase taxes on the top 1%. The Conservatives will go nuts but everyone else should be OK with it. And yes, you’re absolutely right: it’s easy to make campaign promises but not so easy to keep them.

  12. Kathleen Lowrey says:

    I am a new Canadian and an American and I feel viscerally that forgiving Trudeau on bill c-51 is a huge mistake. When people tell you who they are, you should REALLY listen. Trudeau told us who he was. Treating the defense of civil liberties as an optional matter of political convenience does not ever end well. Look across the border. I am actually shocked you’ve gone back to Trudeau. I can’t understand how he enjoys so much forgiving support on the more or less left in Canada, I really can’t.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Kathleen I agree with you. and I do not think that Trudeau is going to change much other than the excitement for another ‘Bieber’ like the one experienced in the US for Obama. The Liberal party of Pierre Elliot Trudeau no longer exists. Neo-Liberalism is what we have now and it is dangerous to think that it is the same. It was under the government of Jean Chretien that our Health Care system suffered the greatest attacks in recent times and I do not remember that the government made an effort to protect it.
      I recently approached Justin Trudeau’s constituency office to ask if they would support Proportional Representation and I got an email back saying clearly that Justin Trudeau did not believe in it because he believes that that constituency representation is very important. This email told me two things:
      1) He does not know that Proportional Representation can also be done with constituency representation (New Zealand, Germany ..) 2) That if he truly cared about it he would know this and he should also know that 99% of us do not know who our constituency representative is and that if he/she becomes a back bencher they have no influence anyway. Less than 2 weeks later he was proposing it. This very quick change of opinion was only because Elizabeth May was talking about it and was forcing the other parties not to be able to ignore democratic reforms. We had a campaign for 78 days and not once there was a serious discussion about democracy or Health Care. They are always very quick on asking why young people and not so young are not voting. Well I have an answer – IT DOES NOT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE. Yes I am shouting – not to you but to all these politicians and experts that care only about being in power, not democracy and certainly not the so called middle class that they suddenly all want to protect. It is imperative that we reform our system before it is too late. Believe it or not democracy cannot ever be taken for granted especially when people like Stephen Harper have power in a system that is very thin on oversight.

    • Kathleen, I went back and forth on this issue for a long time. In the end three things tipped the balance for me, only one of which relates to Bill C-51 (although that was the most difficult hurdle for me). Firstly, Professor Forcese and his colleague Kent Roach made numerous submissions in Committee on Bill C-51. They proposed amendments rather than scrapping the Bill altogether. So I managed to see my way past Trudeau’s support-but-amend position. Secondly, I was disappointed in Tom Mulcair’s budget and the fact that when questioned, he’s refuses to explain why he used Harper’s out of date numbers instead of updating them and when he’s asked where he’s going to get the money to deliver on all his promises he simply refers back to Tommy Douglas’s record of 17 balanced budgets in a row. I agree that Douglas had an exceptional record but that was as a provincial premier in the 1940s and 1950s; it’s not a sufficient answer for someone who wants to be PM in 2015. Lastly, I looked at the candidates running in my riding. Kent Hehr is a good man and has a very good chance of defeating the Conservative incumbent, the NDP candidate does not. If it were the other way around I’d push aside my concerns about Mulcair’s budget and vote NDP just to get Harper out but that’s not the case here so I’m voting for Kent. I wish we had some form of proportional representation so we weren’t forced to go into these machinations.

  13. I’ve been following this “race” closely, and I follow your logic. My agreement doesn’t make us right (smile). Meanwhile I remained sea-sickened riding this partisanShip. A tipping point for me is around the issue of freedom of conscience that I write about here: https://moreenigma.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/freedom-of-conscience-and-the-health-of-democracy/
    Looking forward to the inevitable change we are hoping for. R

  14. carlosbeca says:

    It would take me too long a post to make comments on your blog but I would like to remind you that saying that there is no ‘ political evidence to support a religious affiliation … ‘ with the Harper government is , in my opinion, naive. It only tells me that you are Christian enough to not notice it. I see it in many different ways. The most important one being the fundamentalist belief in the market which according to Harper is a divine gift to humans. You just have to read a bit about who Stephen Harper really is. There are many other examples including his reaction to the refugee crisis. Do you believe that if those people were for example Austrians or Germans he would have done nothing? I doubt it.

    • carlosbeca says:

      This was supposed to be a reply to R.H. Foerger but somehow it did not display as being under his/her post.

      • Rusty, we may not be right, but at least we’re talking about how we got to our positions. I’d like to pick up on the point Carlos raised with respect to Harper’s religion by providing this link to a piece by Andrew Nikiforuk on the topic. Nikiforuk is a well respected Canadian journalist who usually writes about the oil and gas industry and how the petro-state warps governments. Here’s the link: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/03/26/Harper-Evangelical-Mission/ Interestingly, Elizabeth May says she’s seen no indication that Harper is a practicing Christian. http://www.straight.com/news/elizabeth-may-sees-no-evidence-prime-minister-stephen-harper-practising-christian At the end of the day the only thing we can judge him on is the policies and laws he’s implemented, which we can all agree are, for the most, part appalling.

      • Hi Carlos, I accept that I am naive, but not for the comment you made. That Harper’s belief in the market is “a divine gift to humans” can hardly be considered a “Christian” ideal – or in your words, even a “fundamentalist” ideal. In no way am I sticking up for Harper, but your comment in fact confirms my point. More to the point, I am concerned about any “high mindedness” that is so quick to curtail the freedom of conscience – as I suspect you would be.

      • Hi Susan, I rue to make this a “religious war” about who’s a Christian or not; this would be to miss the point of my post re: freedom of conscience. I am fascinated that no one has taken on “the left-wing Harper” in the form of Mulcair. Thanks for the link to the Nikiforuk article. I am familiar with him and this article. Yes, this government has been appalling, but as you know, I am appalled with all forms of partisan politics irrespective of what part of the political spectrum it comes. Thanks; and I remain hopeful for change.

      • Funny you should mention “the left-wing Harper”. I was talking with a friend about that very point yesterday. It didn’t come up in the context of freedom of conscience but rather with respect to what appears to be a tendency on Mulcair’s part for top down control as opposed to collaboration. Trudeau laid out a fairly detailed plan to loosen the grip of the PM and the prime minister’s office on his MPs, we haven’t seen that yet from Mulcair. Once again these are all campaign promises, the proof will be in the pudding come Oct 20. In any event, I think we three (you, me and Carlos) can agree that we’re desperate for change, and one way or another we’re going to see it on Election Day.

    • carlosbeca says:

      If you read my post I said that ‘it was naïve to believe that like you suggest ‘there is no political evidence to support a religious affiliation…’
      I do not think you understood my point. I will repeat that there are many examples where it is obvious that Stephen Harper acts based on his religious affiliation.
      Yes I absolutely agree with you but I was just commenting that you may not notice the religious overtones of his decisions but they are clearly there.

      • Thanks Carlos for trying to clarify, however the best example you used in support of “political evidence” was one that was not relevant to Harper’s alleged faith. Forgive me for following your train of thought to a dead end. To the degree that you think I am ignoring religious overtones – I might suggest you are seeing some where none exists. But again, this part of the discussion misses the point re: freedom of conscience, and irrespective of Harper’s alleged beliefs, Mulcair casts a shadow on this freedom.

      • Rusty I think I’m missing something in the discussion about freedom of conscience. Based on the Sun story at the link in your post it appears that Mulcair objected to the Conservatives funding a charitable organization in Uganda because the organization believes that homosexuality is a sin (and homosexuals are persecuted in Uganda). The Charter protects gay rights to the same degree that it protects other fundamental rights; whether some view it as a sin doesn’t enter into it. It’s not clear from the Sun article what Mulcair was basing his objection on but if his point was that the federal government should not be supporting organizations that violate the Charter, and if that charitable organization condones the persecution of homosexuals in a country where such persecution is rampant then I don’t think I could fault him.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Hi Rusty
        It is absolutely fine that you think that I am seeing religious overtones where none exist. We are having a discussion and that is what that is all about.
        I am not sure why you think that the example I used has no relevance.
        I am not sure you understood what I mentioned as an example but I will repeat it because I fail to see where it is irrelevant. Stephen Harper believes that markets and all that they involve is a revelation from God to humans. This has no relevance? The fact that he shoves his fundamentalist views on markets on all of us and believes that human decision making is secondary to markets has no relevance. The 2008 crisis was all caused by markets and banks – this is not relevant to our lives?
        I believe I understand your point about freedom of conscience but I am with Susan on the case about the Charitable Organization. I certainly would not donate money to any organization that treats homosexuals like they are evil which is what happens frequently in Africa.

  15. carlosbeca says:

    Susan I fully agree that we are all craving for change and as soon as possible – I was just discussing details that are important to me and to many other Canadians. State and Church have been separated for a long time and we do not want it back but I truly believe Harper and Cia are trying that very hard. Just like they did in the 80s and 90s convincing people that government is bad and everything government does is crap, they are now starting with the religious beliefs.

  16. carlosbeca says:

    Andrew Nikiforuk’s comments are absolutely right and that is basically what I was trying to explain on my post. He does it much better 🙂
    The total disconnect with science is to me the most amazing one. Interestingly enough Joe Oliver seems to be way worse than Stephen Harper – he does not even believe in math.
    As far as Elizabeth May, I confess that I am intrigued with such a statement but again like I said in my previous post, if a person is a practicing Christian, they will not notice what it is their day to day exposure to religious thought. I personally do not understand how a person like Elizabeth May believes in creation and evolution at the same time as well as the earth being 10 thousand years old versus 4.5 billion years, but I guess I have to get a bit smarter to reach that level of comprehension 🙂

    • Carlos, I’m not sure Elizabeth May believes all those seemingly contradictory things. I took her to say that she doesn’t think Harper is a practicing Christian because she doesn’t see Christian values reflected in his actions. The lies he’s been spouting throughout this campaign would be just one example of May being correct on that score. I was at the eye doctor today. They had Rosie Barton’s show on the TV in the waiting room. The political panel was talking about when does a politician’s comment cross the line and move from being electioneering to lies. Everyone thought the Conservatives statement that Trudeau wants to see brothels everywhere and marijuana shops will be more common than Starbucks had crossed the line. No kidding!

      • carlosbeca says:

        Well Susan she may not believe in those contradictory things but the fact is that if you join a church then you in part represent the beliefs of that the Church. I do not think that it is any different than joining the Conservative party and believing in socialism. A person can believe in God without having to join a denomination. When you do, in my opinion you accept what that church teaches and believes in.
        You maybe right on what she meant but I am not sure that is so unusual. I cannot say that practicing Christians do any better than other non practicing or even non religious citizens. In fact I believe they do worse and Harper is a good example.

  17. carlosbeca says:

    Just to finalize my rant I think that if we are not extra vigilant the current Conservatives (to me fascists) will create the perfect Corporate Evangelical state with lots of guns and no social programs. They cannot wait to be just like the US or even worse. One more majority and we can kiss our Canada good bye forever. Exaggeration? Maybe but I would not take the chance.

    • Carlos, one more Conservative majority would be frightening because (1) it gives Harper four more years to wreck havoc and (2) it says something about the 30% of the population who put him back in office, namely that they support his free market/small government at all costs philosophy and they truly believe that his social policy reflects the Canadian “norm” and it should be imposed on all Canadians. We would have to work very hard every day to stop the Canada we know and love from slipping away.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I am not sure that working hard is enough. I just heard Stephen Harper talking about minority governments and he believes that if he wins it, the other two parties do not have the right to form a coalition despite the fact that together they represent double the percentage the Conservatives have. This is dangerous thinking and he is not willing at all to follow the law if he can get away with it. He did it many times already and he is the only prime minister that has challenged the power of the Supreme Court. It is a very unstable time in Canadian politics and Harper is a sore loser. I do not trust this man with the magpies I have in my backyard. I am done with this strange combination of Conservative Fundamentalism with evangelical overtones. This is probably acceptable in the US but not here. The other two leaders are in part responsible for this outcome because they cannot even talk to each other. It is fundamentally politics at its worse. Canada is in serious need of a wake up. We are slowly drifting into third world politics.
        Responding to your comment on the ad against Trudeau, I heard Harper justifying the ad by saying that it was based on facts. This man is a psycopath and cannot be prime minister. Canadians supporting this kind of behaviour is to me outrageous.

      • Carlos, I share your unease at what Harper will do in the event he comes in with a minority. Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson wrote a good piece on this in today’s Globe and Mail. She says “When no single party commands an absolute majority, the governor-general must try to appoint a person who can form a minority government or a coalition that can secure the confidence of the House.”. Given that Mulcair and Trudeau say they’ll never support Harper in anything he proposes, Harper will never “secure the confidence of the House” which means the baton (or mace or whatever it is) will be passed on to someone else. Harper is going to have to accept this one way or another or hw’ll trigger a constitutional crisis and lord only knows where that would lead. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/minority-governments-time-for-the-g-g-to-come-out-from-behind-the-scenes/article26807855/

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Very good article Susan – Thank you
        I fully agree that discussions between the Governor General and the prime minister should be made public. This is one more democratic change to the already long list that need to be implemented. I do not see great interest other than from Elizabeth May. I have a feeling we are going to see some interesting displays of pettiness come monday. 🙂

  18. Carlos Beca says:

    While we are busy discussing the niqab this is what the Conservatives bring to Canada through the back door. This is what the international companies want.


  19. GoinFawr says:

    Nothing says leadership like a conservative rally with the T’ron’na Bob ‘N’ Doug Fords front and center:
    So while dangerously illegal for the poor, I guess illicit drugs are OK for the wealthy, just so long as they are not wearing a niqab?

    RE :TPP
    Want to be privy to a secret deal?

    Well then you’ll have to sign a nondisclosure agreement first. So this is agreement must be doubleplus good if we can’t be told anything about it 4 days before a federal election; despite the Con’s Ed Fast promising full text availability in advance of the polls. It’s sort of like the GMO debate: if the product is so whizz-bang golly-gee great why aren’t they fighting to get it ON the label?


    FWIW, and contrary to the article linked, to my knowledge the NDP don’t want to “scrap” the whole deal (I can find LOTS of articles that use that word, but have yet to see a TM quote with it in it) until they know what it actually is, IE have had time to examine the full text; as opposed to attending secret briefings that outline things they can’t discuss with the public moments before an election.

    I conjecture that the reason for this last minute text-less briefing is that the international banquing interests’ economic hitmen who have devised the deal want to deliver their (secret) ultimatums to the candidates before the election in case they, and the voting public, get any funny ideas about maintaining our sovereignty.

    If you’re interested here is the little we do know about what the TPP actually contains, and where all the resistance is stemming from:


    “And we cannot be effective at major economic matters any longer unless we work with our economic partners around the world and work with them closely and intimately. That is essential. I know some people don’t like it. It is a loss of National Sovereignty but it is a simple reality. It is a simple reality.”
    – PM Stephen Harper

    “We’re gonna have to give up a little bit of our sovereignty to make the world work”
    – Former Liberal PM Paul Martin

    Here is the only reason Canada’s loss of sovereignty is a “simple reality” as Mr. Harper has said: because the Federal Liberal and Conservative governments of Canada, both, have realized that loss through the expansion of the national debt owed to foreign entities

    On the other hand maybe it is super fantastic, but I don’t get to know for sure until after the election because Ed Fast is Welshing on his promise.

    As far as the federal Liberals go Susan, you and I shall disagree: (other than you yourself standing as an outstanding exception) in policy and action I see only more of the same cronyism they and the Cons have always practiced, with merely a fresh mask floating their version of ‘hocus pocus’.
    Eg. Think:”Yes We Can”.

    As far as oil prices go: who knows? I bet in 2004 everyone would have though $67/barrel (Western Texas Intermediate, not Brent, not Western Canadian Select) oil was a pipe dream too.

    Have a great weekend!

    • Carlos Beca says:

      GoinFawr you got the emmys for the funniest sentence with this one

      ‘So while dangerously illegal for the poor, I guess illicit drugs are OK for the wealthy, just so long as they are not wearing a niqab?’

      This is priceless – I am still laughing

      I have never heard in my life so much garbage then the one coming from the conservative campaign. It is mind twisting. So Doug Ford says that Justin Trudeau cannot be a leader because he previously smoke marijuana ! !!! ???? !!!

      Thank you

      • GoinFawr says:

        You’re very welcome; sometimes humour can be more potent than pure rage, or even calm reasoning.
        Eg. When the press interviewed Mrs.Ishaq after her citizenship ceremony I was struck by one question they asked her,
        “What do you have to say to people who find the niqab offensive?”

        to which she replied a thoughtful, rational response. I couldn’t help but think how, if I was a devout follower of a religion as Mrs.Ishaq apparently is, I would probably have responded with something like,

        “That’s fine,they are entitled to their opinion; personally, I find tube-tops offensive, but then I am not lobbying the gov’t to make a law against wearing them in public. ”

        Keep giving no quarter.

      • GoinFawr, I like your response re: tube tops…of course you know that you’d be drawn and quartered by the very same men who are working so hard to save niqab-wearers from themselves. I was surprised by the number of men who took the position that they had the right to see a woman’s face, not just at a citizenship ceremony but on the street. They seemed to miss the point that the niqab issue was about infringing Mrs Ishaq’s Charter rights, not about “infringing” men’s rights to stare at women they’ve never met and don’t know.

        The Led Zeppelin was nice.

    • GoinFawr and Carlos, I’m with you on the TPP for all the reasons you’ve given. And I agree that the Liberals may be just as wedded to the ratifying the TPP as the Conservatives are, which may be why Mulcair is taking more of a hard line position on it. (GoinFawr you indicated that contrary to what’s been in the press, Mulcair never said he wants to scrap the entire deal, wouldn’t that put him in the same position as Trudeau who wouldn’t make a definitive statement about the deal until he’s seen the fine print and had a chance to debate it in the House?)

      The reference to Liberal cronyism is well taken given the news about Mr Gagnier. Ironically, after Trudeau became Liberal leader many of the old guard were offended by his refusal to include the grey haired old guard in his inner circle. It looks to me like this was one grey hair he should have excluded from the getgo.

      This is going to be one heck of a LONG weekend as I wait for the polls to close on Monday!

      • GoinFawr says:

        Susan, I see the NDPs’ and Liberals’ response to the as-of-yet undisclosed full text of the agreement basically equivalent (and reasonable); but for whatever reason the media seems to be falling over themselves in order to paint the NDP as opposed to all trade, all the time, everywhere, eternally, regardless of who it hurts or helps…which I find frankly disingenuous when all they have said is that they will oppose any deal that doesn’t actually benefit Canadians.

        “It was almost impossible to get an objective statement of our policy… printed in the daily press. We would hand the press a statement and either it would not be printed at all or it would be run in such a distorted form that it looks almost meaningless” -T Douglas

        Where the distinction lies, in my opinion, is which party actually means what they’re saying, and which one is just playing the same old game of paying lip service to their constituents’ concerns, while simultaneously conducting business as usual in actual policy and practice (ahem-Dan Gagnier indeud).

        roll on Monday!

      • carlosbeca says:

        I agree with GoinFawr on the fact that the media always attacks the NDP as opposing trade eternally. This is not an accident though. These are prepared attacks of a right wing media that cannot understand anything other than their position and favouring their corporate bosses.
        This is a process that started right after the Second World War and accelerated by Margaret Thatcher and allies and that is reaching the peak moment of implementation. I am sure the consequences will be felt for a long time.

  20. carlosbeca says:

    This one is the one that for some reason journalists just do not seem to be able to NOTICE. I wonder if it is the faulty corporate filters they use all the time. They are also called ’embedded lenses’.

    “And we cannot be effective at major economic matters any longer unless we work with our economic partners around the world and work with them closely and intimately. That is essential. I know some people don’t like it. It is a loss of National Sovereignty but it is a simple reality. It is a simple reality.”
    – PM Stephen Harper

    I totally agree with you GoinFawr that this is also a Liberal problem and I for one, as I have said in a previous post, bet with anyone that Justin Trudeau, who as been very quiet on the TPP, will not – I repeat – WILL NOT – cancel the TPP deal, because, just like you have on your post, Paul Martin is also fairly cuddly with this idea because elites and corporations no longer have to be concerned with countries. They now move their money around at their pleasure, evade taxes with government knowledge, get the workers from wherever they want, basically run the show.
    In the end these politicians that are allowing these ideas to proliferate, helping them along in secrecy and sentence the 99% to basically the survival of the fittest economics, will have their bank accounts in the so called tax heavens. This is called neo-conservatism or neo-liberalism. This is what Europeans are now fighting and so far have lost in Greece.
    It is with some sadness that I see Justin Trudeau advancing in the last few days of the election campaign. he is another Obama and I would never vote for the Liberal party.
    I personally am not sure the NDP will do anything either but at least we will have a break to breath in and prepare for the next step. We are in serious trouble I think. The extreme right wing penetration is already almost irreversible within peaceful means to resolve it.

    • Carlos, you mentioned the faulty corporate filters journalists are saddled with. Have you seen the Edmonton Journal’s endorsement of Harper. I’m waiting for Paula Simons to tell us that Post Media forced the Edmonton Journal to take that position. It’s awful. Here’s the link: http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/editorials/1016-oped-editorial

      • GoinFawr says:

        I can imagine the front page of Sun Media’s Nationwide Monday Special Free Election Issue already:

        “Tom Mulcair’s Comrade Questioned by Police about Dodgy Massage Parlour!”

        with the actual story buried amongst the classifieds, outlining how Tom Mulcair had a relationship with Jack Layton, who once received a massage at a parlour someone complained about.

        The old tricks are the best ones, hey?

        ps .
        50 plus comments! That’s a whole lot of responding you’ve been doing, and doing well; earning it. Many thanks.

      • Old tricks indeed! Thanks for the feedback, I really like hearing from you, Carlos and others who follow the issues and provide thoughtful commentary.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Yes I did see it. I also recommend the one in the Edmonton sun which is just precious.


        Well Paula Simmons said the same last year. Actually it was quite a ride last year because she tweeted that the Edmonton Journal would not be endorsing any party as per their tradition and good journalism to just be tweeted out with dozens of tweets because they had already done so and she was not aware.
        Newspapers are on the ropes but with these endorsements they will go faster and I will not miss them. This is pretty bad and they should change their name to Conservative Think Tank Newsletter.
        The Edmonton Journal is in pretty bad shape financially and I doubt they will survive now that they took the same side as the Edmonton Sun and there are not enough readers for two right wing papers.

        Paula Simmons will not say anything anymore. I think that she is a defeated soul and is hanging on to a journalistic job which is better than the oil patch. Lorne Gunter is now the extreme right wing voice in Edmonton and he just cannot say anything positive about nothing. It seems his vision is one of no government , no regulations, free weapons and the belief that this will be the solution. I am sure he will not mind free health care for himself and his family as well as a good pension. That seems to be the case for most these people that think that government is like the ebola virus.

      • Harper, “a beacon of moral clarity”? What???

        OK if you want to read a really silly endorsement try this from the Globe and Mail. They endorse the Conservatives but not Harper. What would they have us do, vote the Conservatives back into power and then pray Harper resigns? Are you kidding me. Here’s the link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/the-tories-deserve-another-mandate-stephen-harper-doesnt/article26842506/

  21. carlosbeca says:

    This one is the best one, it reads like – We like everything he did but we do not like him !!!!
    WOW that is quite something
    I guess it would go like this as far as Harper muzzling the scientists – We like the fact that he shut them up but we do not like the way he did it.


    • Carlos, David Walmsley outdid himself with this editorial. It left me speechless. I can’t say the same for the readers who responded to his invitation to discuss his endorsement in an one hour Q and A on Facebook–they really took him to task! I’ll be posting a blog on this topic later today.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I thought this editorial to be quite strange.
        I apologize that I posted the link and you had already done so. I did not see it.
        Looking forward to your post today.

      • No problem Carlos. Strange doesn’t begin to describe the Globe and Mail’s editorial…the poor dears had an intellectual flame out trying to endorse the Conservatives while distancing themselves from Harper. Very Bizarre.

  22. jerrymacgp says:

    The issue of minority parliament and who gets called upon to try and form a government has been muddled since the 1920s and the King-Byng affair cast doubt on the authority of a Governor-General to exercise his or her reserve powers in the face of contrary advice from a sitting PM. That said, there have been a number of evolutions in our constitutional structure and the mechanics of government since that era that, IMHO, make that affair less instructive than many would claim.

    Firstly, we no longer require MPs named to Cabinet to then resign their seats and seek re-election in By-Elections, as was the case in the mid-1920s. This odd requirement was one of the triggers of the King-Byng crisis, as it meant that Meighen risked losing much of his caucus and the slim confidence level he commanded as a result.

    Secondly, the GG is no longer a British peer and the representative of the U.K. Government in Ottawa (there was no British High Commission at the time; the GG represented the Imperial Government as well as the Sovereign). That fact allowed King to campaign against “the Brits dictating who would govern Canada”. Today, the Governor-General is a Canadian, and represents only the Sovereign, who is formally styled Queen of Canada, not of England or Britain as the media so often write.

    Finally, the prorogation crisis of 2008 was caused by two fatal tactical blunders by the Liberals and the NDP: first, they did not wait until the Government had actually been defeated in the House to announce their partnership; and they demonstrated a willingness to have “truck or trade” with the Bloc, which was distasteful in large swaths of TROC. Had the coalition announcement been made after a vote of non-confidence in the House, thus demonstrating to Her Excellency that there was a government in waiting, and had the Bloc been excluded, we might have seen a different outcome.

    • Jerry, thanks for this. I’m not at all familiar with the King-Byng affair, however everything I’ve read about the 2008 prorogation crisis supports your conclusion in the last paragraph. One would hope that the Liberals, NDP and Greens have learned from that experience and will be much better prepared in the event Harper manages to squeak in with a minority government this time around. We’ll know pretty soon. I CAN’T WAIT!!!!

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