November 28, 2008
Don't forget why they REALLY wanted their coalition...
OTTAWA - The Harper government is proposing to end a $27-million subsidy for political parties in today's fiscal and economic update - a measure taken in the name of federal belt-tightening that also threatens to hit opposition parties especially hard in the wallet.
The Conservatives have traditionally fared the best at grassroots political fundraising and depended less on a per-vote subsidy, introduced by former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien when he passed legislation in 2003 ending corporate and union donations to federal parties.
The controversial measure is likely to distract attention today from looming fiscal problems facing the Tories.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to announce in the update that the federal government could run its first budget deficit in half a generation next year - a historic slide back into the red that could deepen when the Tories introduce a planned economic stimulus budget early next year.
The Tories are expected to publish a range of forecasts today including projections showing a deficit in the 2009-2010 fiscal year - which would be the first shortfall in 13 years.
Opposition parties denounced the proposal to end per-vote subsidies in the name of economic restraint as a partisan power play.
"They're using the update to hurt their rivals... it's playing Karl Rove politics - getting people upset against the political class generally," said NDP finance critic Thomas Mulcair, referring to a former adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush.
The Tories are expected to make it costly for rival parties to fight their proposal by introducing legislation to eliminate the subsidy, worth $1.95 per vote annually. The legislation is expected to be a money bill and therefore a confidence vote, which means defeating it could trigger another election. If this happened, the Tories could blame rival parties for refusing to make sacrifices.
"We will see who wants to lead by example," Conservative government House Leader Jay Hill told MPs in the House of Commons yesterday.
The Tories would lose the most money in absolute terms - because the subsidy is distributed according to the number of votes received in the last election - but the proposal would hit other parties such as the Liberals and Bloc Québécois more because these organizations are less successful at fundraising and more reliant on the per-vote subsidy.
Liberal finance critic Scott Brison said his party was still deliberating on whether to oppose the proposal, but said it marks an early return to political gamesmanship by the Tories after the election.
"Stephen Harper is trying to change the channel," he said, accusing the Tories of trying to redirect attention from Ottawa's weakened financial state.
The Tories, however, will defend their proposal, saying parties would still benefit from generous tax credits for individual political contributions and taxpayer reimbursement of candidates' expenses.
Today's fiscal snapshot is not going to put a price tag on the sort of "unprecedented" fiscal stimulus that Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned may be necessary after a global economic summit last week. And it will not contain major measures to jump-start the economy. The Tories say they're postponing these until the 2009 budget, a document often released in late February.
Still, under pressure to act as other countries divulge their stimulus plans, the Tories announced yesterday they're moving up the budget date.
The Tories are wrestling with exactly how to stimulate Canadian economic growth given that foreign demand - not domestic demand - is the biggest problem on the horizon.
They would first like to have a better sense of what president-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration plans to revive U.S. growth, given the United States is Canada's largest trading partner. And they're puzzling over which policy tools would have the best impact in Canada.
New infrastructure spending could take up to 18 months to flow and make an impact while consumers might just bank rather than spend any government cheques sent their way, they say. Temporary tax cuts could work, but incur a political penalty when rates rise again after the stimulus period ends.
Ottawa is expected to run a surplus for the current fiscal year. But a deficit is all but certain for the next fiscal year. Private-sector economists and a parliamentary budget watchdog have already forecast deficits ranging from $3.9-billion to $10-billion.
When Mr. Flaherty predicted a $1.3-billion surplus for 2009-2010 in last year's budget, he was counting on economic growth of 2.4 per cent. But Canada's economy will now do well to grow at all next year - according to the private economists he consults in formulating his outlook - and may even contract, according New York-based Merrill Lynch's Canadian analysts.
The Finance Department's own calculations suggest Ottawa loses $3-billion in revenue for every one percentage decline in economic output, or more precisely, in inflation-adjusted gross domestic product.
Stéfane Marion, assistant chief economist at National Bank Financial and a former Finance official, defended Mr. Flaherty's decision to wait to unveil a set of policies aimed at boosting economic growth.
Since the decline of U.S. consumer demand is the biggest blow to Canada's export-driven economy, Mr. Flaherty should wait to get a better idea of what Mr. Obama's administration will do to spur spending south of the border, Mr. Marion said.
To be effective, he said, any stimulus package would have to be the equivalent of least 1 per cent of Canada's $1.6-trillion economy, or $16-billion. Derek Burleton, director of economic analysis at Toronto-Dominion Bank, said any stimulus program would have to be between $10-billion and $20-billion.
The International Monetary Fund has advised countries to deploy fiscal programs worth 2 per cent of GDP, or $32-billion, to stimulate economic growth.
Copyright 2008 - The Globe and Mail
Thank God we are taking the initiative...
Why Canada Loves Nancy Pelosi: Her protectionist stance has helped open markets - for others.
NOVEMBER 25, 2008
In a grim world economy, the news that Canada and Colombia signed a free trade agreement at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima last week is something to celebrate. Unless you are an American farmer or manufacturer.
The Canada-Colombia FTA will expand bilateral trade by lowering tariffs on a wide variety of products. Some Canadian agricultural products - including wheat, barley and lentils - and many manufactured goods will enter Colombia tariff-free immediately. Running in the reverse direction, Colombian producers will find a more open Canadian market and Canada's consumers will have more choice at better prices. The agreement will also give new legal protections to investment and improved market access in services.
It's what you call a win-win. But not for American exporters who compete with Canadians in Colombia. Because Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blocked a vote in Congress on the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, American goods will automatically be more expensive than those from Canada by the amount of the existing tariff. If the United Auto Workers thought their Caterpillar exports were losing global ground before, wait until they compete on this not-so-level playing field.
In agreeing to the deal, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also showed geopolitical leadership: "By expanding our trading relationship with Colombia, we are not only opening up new opportunities for Canadian businesses in a foreign market, we are also helping one of South America's most historic democracies improve the human rights and security situation in their country."
Mr. Harper doesn't owe his recent election to Big Labor, so he can say things like that.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
Hmm, wonder where this is heading?
Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., has hired six students whose jobs as "dialogue facilitators" will involve intervening in conversations among students in dining halls and common rooms to encourage discussion of such social justice issues as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability and social class.
"If there's a teachable moment, we'll take it," said assistant dean of student affairs Arig Girgrah, who runs the program. "A lot of community building happens around food and dining."
She gave the example of a conversation about a gay character on television as a good example of such a moment.
"It is all about creating opportunities to dialogue and reflect on issues of social identity," Ms. Girgrah said. "This is not about preaching. It's not about advice giving. It's about hearing where students are at."
Jason Laker, dean of student affairs, said their activities will also include formal discussion sessions, perhaps after controversial incidents in residence, and open discussions of topical books or movies.
"They're not disciplinarians. They're called facilitators for a reason," he said, adding that such a program is of particular value now that so much communication by young people happens over the Internet.
"It's not trying to stifle something. It's trying to foster something," he said. "We're not trying to be parental."
Like dons, who serve as student authorities in residence, the six facilitators will receive full room and board and a stipend for the full-year commitment, and will receive regular training.
Ms. Girgrah said they represent a broad spectrum of social identities and are all upper-year or graduate students who live in university residences - a small minority at a school where most students move into rental housing after their first year. Ms. Girgrah said this status will give the facilitators "a little bit of credibility and perhaps some respect."
Daniel Hayward, a 46-year-old Master's of Divinity student, applied to be a facilitator believing the role would offer him an opportunity to connect with many different students.
"It's an opportunity to interact with lots of people, hear their stories, about the experiences they've had, hear the questions they're asking," he said in an interview yesterday. "It's not like we roam around the halls looking for people having conversations. If somebody is yelling something across the dining hall that's a racial slur, yes, we will intervene in that situation."
"We are trained to interrupt behaviour in a non-blameful and non-judgmental manner, so it's not like we're pulling someone aside and reprimanding them about their behaviour. It is honestly trying to get to the root of what they're trying to say - seeing if that can be said in a different manner."
Touting the Intergroup Dialogue Program as "unique among Canadian universities," but modelled on programs in the United States, an administration newsletter says it will promote "a lasting experience of inclusive community and shared humanity."
It is just one of many recent efforts to promote diversity - such as gender-neutral washrooms, prayer space, and halal and kosher food service - at a school that is still smarting from a report on systemic racism two years ago that criticized its "culture of whiteness."
The editorial board of the student newspaper, the Queen's Journal, acknowledged the good intentions of this latest effort, but was skeptical of a program that "seems to be an inadequate, lacklustre attempt to deal with social inequalities."
"It's unlikely six facilitators in a crowd of thousands will have much impact on fostering dialogue in residences," they write, adding that the facilitators could face "hostility" from students who feel they have been "cornered" or had their privacy violated.
Humour Break: Political Science for Dummies...
REPUBLICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?
SOCIALIST: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.
COMMUNIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and sour.
CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.
BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.
AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.
FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.
JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.
GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.
ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch. Life is good.
RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count them and learn you have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.
TALIBAN CORPORATION: You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two. You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts. You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.
IRAQI CORPORATION: You have two cows. They go into hiding. They send radio tapes of their mooing.
POLISH CORPORATION: You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.
BELGIAN CORPORATION: You have one cow. The cow is schizophrenic. Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish. The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow. The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk. The cow asks permission to be cut in half. The cow dies happy.
FLORIDA CORPORATION: You have a black cow and a brown cow. Everyone votes for the best looking one. Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one. Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither. Some people can't figure out how to vote at all. Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.
CALIFORNIA CORPORATION: You have millions of cows. They make real California cheese. Only five speak English. Most are illegal. Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.
Bring him back!!!
How Ontario became a have-not
By: Mike Harris
Published: Thursday, November 20, 2008
I know it is unusual for a former premier to comment on current events, but given the fiscal and economic crisis facing Ontario and Canada, and the tragic news that Ontario is now a "have-not" province, I want to add my voice to those calling for bold thinking and far-reaching new ways of looking at our economic problems.
When I left office in 2002, I left with the satisfaction that, while there was still more to do, Ontario was fundamentally back on track. Our government, first elected in 1995, brought Ontario back as the engine of the Canadian economy after 10 lost years of mismanagement and overspending by previous Liberal and NDP governments.
We cut personal, capital, corporate and other taxes almost 200 times, dramatically reduced the size of government, forced the broader public sector to become much more efficient and eliminated Ontario's massive deficit. We scrapped Bob Rae's job-killing labour law and gave people a hand-up, not a hand-out, by creating work-for-welfare. In doing so, we created an environment that led to unprecedented economic growth, the creation of almost a million new jobs and 700,000 fewer people trapped in the cycle of welfare dependency. In 2002, our economy was booming and we had a budget surplus. Ontario was the envy of the world and the foundation was in place to ensure our province's future prosperity. As I said in one of my last speeches as premier, I only regret that we didn't move faster, and push even harder, to make the changes we did.
Since then, the government of Ontario has slid back into its self-destructive old habits. Massive increases in public spending and the return of high taxes are dragging Ontario down and risking the economic future of our province. Ottawa's recent declaration of our "have-not" status is the culmination of a five-year decline. This announcement proves that Ontario isn't just on the edge of a fiscal and economic crisis - we've toppled over a cliff, and no one really knows how far down we might fall.
It is true that high energy prices and their impact on the economies of Western Canada and Newfoundland have affected the threshold used to determine "have" and "have-not" status. But this is only part of the story.
The main reason for Ontario's unprecedented "have-not" status is that economic growth in this province is weak, and is falling further and further behind the rest of the country. This decline did not have to happen. Going from first to worst in economic growth was preventable.
A major reason for our faltering economic growth is that Ontario's manufacturing sector is being hammered by high taxes. For far too long, Ontario has relied on a weak Canadian dollar to provide manufacturers with a "competitive" advantage. Now, energy and resource prices are driving up the value of our dollar and the U. S. economy is slowing. The so-called "dollar advantage" has been revealed as an illusion, and high taxes are now exposed as the millstone around the neck of our manufacturing sector.
The Ontario government's own Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress provides powerful evidence of Ontario's high taxes. Its 2007 report shows that Ontario has the highest taxation on new business investment in Canada. Even more compelling, it also reports that Ontario has the second-highest taxes on new business investment in the developed world.
To make matters worse, Ontario also has one of the highest personal income tax rates in the country, creating a major disincentive for talented people to settle, stay or remain here. This further weakens our economic and competitive position.
During a time of escalating international competition, a massive credit crunch and a probable recession, the Ontario government should be moving aggressively to reduce taxes and other barriers to growth. Failure to act will strangle the life out of Ontario's manufacturers, and drive them from this province, killing, maybe forever, the jobs they provide. The government must take action before it is too late.
To compound the high tax problem, since its election in 2003, the current Liberal government has gone on a spectacular spending spree that now threatens the future financial health of this province.
Following the failed paths of the David Peterson and Bob Rae regimes, over the last five years the provincial government has increased spending by an average of 8% each year. During this same period, the Ontario economy grew in nominal terms by 4% annually. This means that the Ontario government is actually spending twice as much as it can afford. It has created a spending machine, and this machine can only be fuelled by red-hot economic times. This is simply not sustainable.
Had the government been living within its means for the past five years, Ontario would be in a much stronger position to respond to the wider global emergency than it is today. Instead, faced with a global liquidity crisis, a recession and plummeting revenues, the government is now looking at the very real prospect of returning to the massive, long-term structural deficits that we worked so hard to eliminate, and/or returning to massive cuts in government spending on public services. What a wasted opportunity.
Now more than ever before, Ontario needs strong leadership and fresh thinking to set things right. We need a major course correction and we can't afford to wait a moment longer. The elites and their status quo way of thinking are already closing ranks. Without powerful action to reverse our economic and competitive decline, we are jeopardizing not just Ontario's future but perhaps the future of the entire country.
Mike Harris was premier of Ontario from 1995-2002.
Copyright 2008 - The National Post
Perhaps a lesson for us as well...
The Polls Show That Reaganism Is Not Dead
By: SCOTT RASMUSSEN
NOVEMBER 10, 2008
Barack Obama won the White House by campaigning against an unpopular incumbent in a time of economic anxiety and lingering foreign policy concerns. He offered voters an upbeat message, praised the nation as a land of opportunity, promised tax cuts to just about everyone, and overcame doubts about his experience with a strong performance in the presidential debates.
Does this sound familiar? It should. Mr. Obama followed the approach that worked for Ronald Reagan. His victory confirmed that voters still embrace the guiding beliefs of the Reagan era.
During Reagan's campaign, the nation suffered from high unemployment and high inflation. This time around, data from the Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll showed that Mr. Obama took command of the race during the 10 days following the collapse of Lehman Brothers - when the Wall Street meltdown hit Main Street. Before that event John McCain was leading nationally by three percentage points. Ten days later Mr. Obama was up by five and never relinquished his lead.
Mr. Obama's tax-cutting message played a key role in this period of economic anxiety. Tax cuts are well-received at such times: 55% of voters believe they are good for the economy. Only 19% disagree and see them as bad policy.
Down the campaign homestretch, Mr. Obama's tax-cutting promise became his clearest policy position. Eventually he stole the tax issue from the Republicans. Heading into the election, 31% of voters thought that a President Obama would cut their taxes. Only 11% expected a tax cut from a McCain administration.
The last Democratic candidate to win the tax issue was also the last Democratic president - Bill Clinton. In fact, the candidate who most credibly promises the lowest level of taxes has won every presidential election in at least the last 40 years.
But while Mr. Obama was promising to cut taxes, the Bush administration took the lead on a $700 billion, taxpayer-backed bailout bill - with very little marketing finesse. Few Americans supported the bailout, and a majority of voters were more concerned that the government would do too much rather than too little. In terms of getting the economy going again, 58% said that more tax cuts would better stimulate the economy than new government spending.
A Rasmussen survey conducted Oct. 2 found that 59% agreed with the sentiment expressed by Reagan in his first inaugural address: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Just 28% disagreed with this sentiment. That survey also found that 44% of Obama voters agreed with Reagan's assessment (40% did not). And McCain voters overwhelmingly supported the Gipper.
The real challenge for the new president will be attempting to govern with a message that resonates with most voters but divides his own party. Consider that 43% of voters view it as a positive to describe a candidate as being like Reagan, while just 26% consider it a negative. Being compared to Reagan rates higher among voters than being called "conservative," "moderate," "liberal" or "progressive." Except among Democrats, that is. Fifty-one percent of Democrats view that Reagan comparison as a negative. There's Mr. Obama's dilemma in a nutshell.
Mr. Obama won the White House promising tax cuts, but he will be governing with a Democratic Congress bursting with desire for a more activist government. As he faces this challenge, he might remember the fate of another man who made taxes the central part of his campaign: the first President Bush, whose most memorable campaign line - "Read my lips, no new taxes" - was as central to his victory as Mr. Obama's promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. George H.W. Bush famously reneged on that promise. Voters rejected his bid for a second term.
Mr. Obama ran like Reagan. Will he be able to govern that way, too?
Mr. Rasmussen is president of Rasmussen Reports, an independent national polling company.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
Not everyone is euphoric...
The night we waved goodbye to America... our last best hope on Earth
By: Peter Hitchens
8th November 2008
Anyone would think we had just elected a hip, skinny and youthful replacement for God, with a plan to modernise Heaven and Hell – or that at the very least John Lennon had come back from the dead.
The swooning frenzy over the choice of Barack Obama as President of the United States must be one of the most absurd waves of self-deception and swirling fantasy ever to sweep through an advanced civilisation. At least Mandela-worship – its nearest equivalent – is focused on a man who actually did something.
I really don't see how the Obama devotees can ever in future mock the Moonies, the Scientologists or people who claim to have been abducted in flying saucers. This is a cult like the one which grew up around Princess Diana, bereft of reason and hostile to facts.
It already has all the signs of such a thing. The newspapers which recorded Obama's victory have become valuable relics. You may buy Obama picture books and Obama calendars and if there isn't yet a children's picture version of his story, there soon will be.
Proper books, recording his sordid associates, his cowardly voting record, his astonishingly militant commitment to unrestricted abortion and his blundering trip to Africa, are little-read and hard to find.
If you can believe that this undistinguished and conventionally Left-wing machine politician is a sort of secular saviour, then you can believe anything. He plainly doesn't believe it himself. His cliche-stuffed, PC clunker of an acceptance speech suffered badly from nerves. It was what you would expect from someone who knew he'd promised too much and that from now on the easy bit was over.
He needn't worry too much. From now on, the rough boys and girls of America's Democratic Party apparatus, many recycled from Bill Clinton's stained and crumpled entourage, will crowd round him, to collect the rich spoils of his victory and also tell him what to do, which is what he is used to.
Just look at his sermon by the shores of Lake Michigan. He really did talk about a "new dawn," and a "timeless creed" (which was 'yes, we can'). He proclaimed that "change has come." He revealed that, despite having edited the Harvard Law Review, he doesn't know what "enormity" means. He reached depths of oratorical drivel never even plumbed by our own Mr Blair, burbling about putting our hands on the arc of history (or was it the ark of history?) and bending it once more toward the hope of a better day (Don't try this at home).
I am not making this up. No wonder that awful old hack Jesse Jackson sobbed as he watched. How he must wish he, too, could get away with this sort of stuff.
And it was interesting how the President-elect failed to lift his admiring audience by repeated – but rather hesitant – invocations of the brainless slogan he was forced by his minders to adopt against his will – "Yes, we can." They were supposed to thunder "Yes, we can!" back at him, but they just wouldn't join in. No wonder. Yes we can what exactly? Go home and keep a close eye on the tax rate, is my advice. He'd have been better off bursting into "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony" which contains roughly the same message and might have attracted some valuable commercial sponsorship.
Perhaps, being a Chicago crowd, they knew some of the things that 52.5 per cent of America prefers not to know. They know Obama is the obedient servant of one of the most squalid and unshakeable political machines in America. They know that one of his alarmingly close associates, a state-subsidised slum landlord called Tony Rezko, has been convicted on fraud and corruption charges.
They also know the US is just as segregated as it was before Martin Luther King – in schools, streets, neighbourhoods, holidays, even in its TV-watching habits and its choice of fast-food joint. The difference is that it is now done by unspoken agreement rather than by law.
If Mr Obama's election had threatened any of that, his feel-good white supporters would have scuttled off and voted for John McCain, or practically anyone. But it doesn't. Mr Obama, thanks mainly to the now-departed grandmother he alternately praised as a saint and denounced as a racial bigot, has the huge advantages of an expensive private education. He did not have to grow up in the badlands of useless schools, shattered families and gangs which are the lot of so many young black men of his generation.
If the nonsensical claims made for this election were true, then every positive discrimination programme aimed at helping black people into jobs they otherwise wouldn't get should be abandoned forthwith. Nothing of the kind will happen. On the contrary, there will probably be more of them.
And if those who voted for Obama were all proving their anti-racist nobility, that presumably means that those many millions who didn't vote for him were proving themselves to be hopeless bigots. This is obviously untrue.
I was in Washington DC the night of the election. America's beautiful capital has a sad secret. It is perhaps the most racially divided city in the world, with 15th Street – which runs due north from the White House – the unofficial frontier between black and white. But, like so much of America, it also now has a new division, and one which is in many ways much more important. I had attended an election-night party in a smart and liberal white area, but was staying the night less than a mile away on the edge of a suburb where Spanish is spoken as much as English, plus a smattering of tongues from such places as Ethiopia, Somalia, and Afghanistan.
As I walked, I crossed another of Washington's secret frontiers. There had been a few white people blowing car horns and shouting, as the result became clear. But among the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and the other Third World nationalities, there was something like ecstasy.
They grasped the real significance of this moment. They knew it meant that America had finally switched sides in a global cultural war. Forget the Cold War, or even the Iraq War. The United States, having for the most part a deeply conservative people, had until now just about stood out against many of the mistakes which have ruined so much of the rest of the world.
Suspicious of welfare addiction, feeble justice, and high taxes, totally committed to preserving its own national sovereignty, unabashedly Christian in a world part secular and part Muslim, suspicious of the Great Global Warming panic, it was unique.
These strengths had been fading for some time, mainly due to poorly controlled mass immigration and to the march of political correctness. They had also been weakened by the failure of America's conservative party – the Republicans – to fight on the cultural and moral fronts.
They preferred to posture on the world stage. Scared of confronting Left-wing teachers and sexual revolutionaries at home, they could order soldiers to be brave on their behalf in far-off deserts. And now the US, like Britain before it, has begun the long slow descent into the Third World. How sad. Where now is our last best hope on Earth?
Copyright 2008 - The Daily Mail
Conservative Party Convention Policy Ideas...
Protecting Canada's Health and Safety: http://www.nationalnewswatchplus.com/pdf/safety.pdf
Canada's Economy: http://www.nationalnewswatchplus.com/pdf/economy.pdf
Canada's Social and Democratic Framework: http://www.nationalnewswatchplus.com/pdf/framework.pdf
There will be a silver-lining...
Conservatism Isn't Finished: Liberals shouldn't be overconfident.
By: THOMAS FRANK
NOVEMBER 5, 2008
I was never a fan of Barack Obama's bipartisanship routine. His famous plea at the 2004 Democratic convention for an end to the red state/blue state divide, I thought, sounded noble but overlooked the obvious: that a unilateral display of brotherly love from the Democratic Party had no chance of actually ending the culture wars. The reason those wars have raged ever since 1968 was because they help Republicans win elections. For Democrats to wish that they would please stop was about as useful as asking Genghis Khan to a tea party.
What would beat the culture wars was always clear from the pseudo-populist language in which they were framed. In place of a showdown between a folksy "middle America" and a snobbish "liberal elite," Democrats needed to offer the real deal - the conflict between a public that craves fairness and an economic system that enables the predatory.
Acknowledging class was always difficult for "New Democrats" - it was second-wave, it was divisive - but 2008 made retro politics cool again. Watching the Dow get hacked down, seeing the investment banking industry collapse, hearing about the lavish rewards won by the corporate officers who brought this ruin down on us - all these things combined to make a certain Depressionesque fury the unavoidable flavor of the year. When your mortgage is under water and your neighbors are being laid off, the need to take up the sword against arrogant stem-cell scientists becomes considerably less urgent.
The Republican response, of course, was to double down on the righteous rhetoric of red-state grievance and spin the wheel one more time.
John McCain's campaign was not just another culture-war offensive; it was a flamboyant pantomime, grotesquely exaggerated in each of its parts, and, ultimately, separated from the life of the everyday Americans it claimed so extravagantly to revere. It was "overripe," to borrow the term Johan Huizinga used to describe late Medieval culture. The campaign's vision of America was like a Norman Rockwell painting in which all the figures wear flag pins and weep swollen, steaming tears for their betrayed homeland.
What previous Republican campaigns had whispered, this one screamed. What had been contained to the movement's feverish fringes moved to center stage.
Traditional Republican talk about the heartland became Sarah Palin's "real America," with other campaign officials speculating about precisely where the realness started and stopped. Conventional appeals to the working class became "Joe the Plumber" and a cast of supporting hardhat caricatures. An unremarkable Obama reference to progressive taxation became "socialism," there was conjecture by Rep. Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, about his "anti-American views," and one almost longed for the naïve stages of the campaign, when the Democrat's elitism would be established by sly references to arugula.
Media bias has been a favorite theme of the right for decades, of course. But apart from Spiro Agnew, this aspect of conservatism was mainly the province of the movement, not the leadership. The McCain campaign, which owed more to the media than any Republican effort in years, brought it back into the mainstream with relish. The amazing Mrs. Palin even persuaded herself that the press was violating her First Amendment rights when it criticized her, and Republican audiences rediscovered the joy of booing the media.
The mode of the music changed, too. Where campaign songs are usually anodyne ditties, Mrs. Palin was accompanied on the campaign trail by Hank Williams Jr., who would bellow out a media-baiting anthem, "McCain-Palin Tradition," that makes Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee" sound like a lyric of delicate symbolism. The song may be the first to explicitly discuss the financial crisis, and it is surely the only one to use a syrupy slide guitar to sweeten a call to let "bankers" off the hook for making "bad loans." That Mr. Williams is billed on his Web site as "the voice of the common man" only heightens the gothic weirdness of the achievement.
Turning our eyes from the presidential campaign to conservative Washington generally, we can see the same overripeness, the same flamboyant contradictions that have long since become too great to paper over.
The conservative movement, after all, came to Washington under a banner of "reform" but promptly turned Congress over to lobbyists and opened countless regulatory agencies to the industries they regulated. The movement clamored for fiscal responsibility and proceeded to outsource, at vast expense, every government operation it could. It boasted of its business savvy but just couldn't see the housing bubble bursting. It looked to the Northern Mariana Islands as a beacon of human freedom. It insisted that Tom DeLay was a man of integrity.
This is a story of decline but not necessarily of fall. Conservatives may believe that impoverished borrowers destroyed Wall Street. But we liberals will not fool ourselves that stupid bankers sank conservatism for good. This movement will be back, and the biggest fights are yet to come.
Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal
Quebec better be next, no excuses!
Move off equalization comes a year earlier than expected
Monday, November 3, 2008
Newfoundland and Labrador reached a milestone Monday by becoming a have province for the first time in its history as a Canadian province.
Premier Danny Williams released the news during a media conference, saying that figures released Monday by the federal finance department showed for the first time ever the province would not be receiving equalization payments from Ottawa.
"This is a very proud day for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I can tell you. We received information today from the federal government at the finance ministers' meeting that as a result of changes in the figures that as of today - which is a notification - but effectively this year Newfoundland and Labrador is now a have province. That's a momentous day for the people of this province."
In its April budget, the Newfoundland and Labrador projected that it would come off equalization, a federal program that ensures comparable levels of public service are provided across the country, at some point in 2009. Williams said government learned the move happened a year earlier than expected.
In April, Tom Marshall, then the minister of finance, said Newfoundland and Labrador residents should prepare for a "revolution between the years" because of the shift that should come with being a have province.
Williams said Newfoundland and Labrador is operating on its own resources and its own monies because of oil revenues, corporate income taxes, commodity prices and retail sales.
"Today is a significant day. It's a huge event," Williams said.
"For 60 years we've been part of the great Canadian federation and we have been recipients of equalization payments from the Canadian government. Over the years we have been ridiculed for that. At times times we've been presented as the poor cousins in Canada. Now we can hold our heads high and feel very good about it... I consider it to be a very significant day for all the people of the province and I want to share this moment with them."
Monday's news finally fulfilled former premier Brian Peckford's prophecy made during his victory speech in 1982.
"I am more convinced than I have any time in the past that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians speak [with] one voice when we all say one day the sun will shine and have-not will be no more," Peckford said on April 6, 1982.
Ontario will qualify for $347 million in equalization payments next year.
Copyright 2008 - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Well, he'd have my vote...
What We're Fighting For: Protectionism and tax hikes are wrong for the economy.
By: JOHN MCCAIN
NOVEMBER 3, 2008
The presidential election occurs at a pivotal moment. Our nation is fighting two wars abroad, suffers from the greatest global financial crisis since the Great Depression, and is facing a painful recession. I believe in the greatness of America. I believe in our capacity to prosper, and to be safer and remain a beacon of light on the global stage. But we cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight: waiting for our luck to change. We have to act immediately. We have to fight for it.
The institutions that we counted on - Wall Street banks, our elected leaders in Washington - failed us. We must reverse the corruption and arrogance that have overtaken these institutions, and we must place our trust in the hands of those who have never let us down, especially the American family and small businesses.
We need to grow our small businesses, not tax them. I will fight the Democrats' plans to redistribute the fruit of America's labor and turn our economy into a full-fledged disaster. I will cut taxes on families, seniors, savers and businesses. We need to double the child deduction, cut the capital gains tax, and keep jobs in America with a lower business tax.
I will make government finally live on a budget and enforce that discipline by the power of veto. I won't spend nearly a trillion dollars more of your money. I will impose a short-term spending freeze and rid the government of waste, duplication and fraud. And I will chart a different course than the administration and Barack Obama and not spend your money just to bail out Wall Street bankers and brokers. I have a plan to protect the value of homes and get them rising again by refinancing mortgages so your neighbor won't default and further drag down the value of your house.
I will end three decades of failed energy policies; stop sending $700 billion to countries that oppose American values and finance our enemies; and drill for oil and natural gas. We must strengthen incentives for all energy alternatives - nuclear, clean coal, wind, solar and tide. We will encourage the manufacture of hybrid, flex fuel and electric automobiles. We will lower the cost of energy, and create millions of new jobs.
I will not impose "one size fits all" health care on families and small businesses through expensive mandates and fines. I will bring down the skyrocketing cost of health care with competition and choice, reform the insurance market to be fair, and allow you to keep the same health plan if you change jobs or choose to stay home.
One in five jobs in the U.S. depends on trade and I will fight the threat to those jobs from Democrat plans for isolationism. I won't make it harder to sell our goods overseas and kill more jobs. I will open new markets to goods made in America and make sure our trade is free and fair. And I'll make sure we help workers who've lost a job that won't come back find a new one that won't go away.
Senator Obama wants to raise taxes and restrict trade. The last time America did that in a bad economy it led to the Great Depression.
While most Americans are rightly concerned with the economic crisis, a world of pressing national security challenges also awaits the next president.
The gains our troops have made in the past 18 months in Iraq could be lost if we pull our troops out prematurely and regardless of the conditions on the ground. We have also dealt devastating blows to al Qaeda, especially in Iraq, but terrorists have found sanctuary on the Pakistan frontier among those trying to topple governments in both Kabul and Islamabad.
Afghanistan is reaching a crisis point, just as Iraq did in 2006. As an early supporter of the surge strategy in Iraq, I know that turning around this situation will require more than just increased troop levels. We also need a new, comprehensive strategy, one that integrates civil and military efforts and engages with various Afghan tribes.
Other major threats loom on the horizon: the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs; aggressive Russian behavior toward its neighbors; Venezuelan adventurism; genocide in Darfur; and global warming. And those are only the dangers that we know of. Just as few expected the Russians to invade Georgia, we remain unaware of precisely where our next crisis will erupt, or when. The only certainty is that, as Joe Biden guaranteed, the tests facing the next president will be more severe if he is seen as weak in national security leadership.
I have devoted my life to safeguarding America. Former Secretary of State George Shultz compares diplomacy to tending a garden - if you want to see relationships flourish, you have to tend them. I have done that, by traveling the world and establishing ties with everyone from dissidents to heads of state. There is great need for American leadership in the world, and I understand that only by exercising that leadership with grace and wisdom can we be successful in safeguarding our interests.
When I am president, I will not offer up unconditional summit meetings with dangerous dictators, nor will I foreclose diplomatic tools that serve our interests. I will respect our trade agreements with our allies, not unilaterally renounce them. I will close the Guantanamo Bay prison and ban torture. I will expand our armed forces and transform our civil and military agencies to win the struggle against violent Islamic extremism.
I believe that America is an exceptional country, one that demands exceptional leadership. After the difficulties of the last eight years, Americans are hungry for change and they deserve it. My career has been dedicated to the security and prosperity of America and that of every nation that seeks to live in freedom. It's time to get our country, and our world, back on track.
Mr. McCain is the Republican nominee for president.
Copyright 2008 - The Wall Street Journal