Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Belinda was wrong about Quebec

It seems Belinda had it all wrong. Instead of being a threat to Canadian unity, support for Quebec independence has actually declined following the election of a Conservative government. Not that she would have listened to me anyway.

People in French-speaking Quebec are rapidly losing interest in the idea of independence, according to a new poll released on Tuesday.

The CROP poll for the La Presse newspaper showed only 34 percent of Quebecers would vote "yes" in a referendum on whether to split from the rest of Canada, down steeply from 43 percent before last week's federal election. The number who would vote "no" rose to 58 percent from 49 percent.

The newspaper linked the drop in support for separatism to the election result. The Conservatives beat the Liberals, who had been badly hurt by a corruption scandal in Quebec which damaged the image of federalism in the province.

From the original article in La Presse:
Pour Claude Gauthier, vice-président de CROP, les Québécois croient, avec le départ des libéraux fédéraux, que les changements souhaités au fédéralisme sont possibles, qu'il pourra y avoir un dialogue fructueux entre le gouvernement Charest et celui de Harper.

" Les gens ne croyaient plus que le changement était possible, les Québécois sont clairement favorables à la main tendue par M. Harper ", résume le sondeur, qui voit même dans ce message un écho de l'arrivée d'un Brian Mulroney, porté au pouvoir en septembre 1984 avec la promesse de faire adhérer " dans l'honneur et l'enthousiasme " le Québec à la Constitution répudiée en 1982.

This is great news for Canada and Quebec. Let’s just make sure we follow through.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Admitting you're a Conservative

Here in Toronto it is not easy being a Conservative, or at least admitting it.

Yesterday while out canvassing for Jurij Klufas, my local CPC candidate, one prospective supporter greeted me enthusiatically at his door. Yet when asked if we could count on his support he whispered he was voting Conservative; his friends inside were all Liberals and he didn't want them to know it.

This widespread reluctance to display one's Conservative stripes reminds me of francophone federalists in Quebec. Federalist Quebecers have traditionally kept their political views to themselves such that pollsters systematically underestimate support for federalist parties if they take their word at face value. Consequently, experienced Quebec pollsters typically give the bulk of the undecided vote to the federalist side.

I suspect something similar may be at work with the Conservatives. Rather than enduring possible discomfort when revealing their political preferences, some may opt for the politically correct answer and choose the Liberals.

That may be changing if this story is any guide.

On Monday, Martin's Liberals could well find that Toronto and Ontario are peppered with federal Conservative voters — Tory-leaning folks who've said little about their political sentiments for a couple of decades.

While their friends and families packed the Commons with Liberals from Ontario these past dozen years, these Conservative sympathizers were content to hang back or even vote with the prevailing trends.

But the past few weeks and months, Ontario's "closet Conservatives" have embarked on coming out, step by slow step.

Of course, if this is true then the polls may be giving a more accurate read on public opinion. In any event, the Conservatives are on the road to victory. It is only a question of by how much.

Kick the Bastards Out

No one expected the Liberals not to play dirty, but the depths to which they have sunk still surprises me. In their final dying days, they are pulling out all the stops to paint their opponents as extreme. Without doubt, the last batch of Liberal ads go well beyond what would once have been considered unacceptable political tactics in this country. But then, the Liberals are proving what we knew them to be all along.

In that spirit, I have resurrected my song Poor Paul (right-click to save), which I wrote last spring. Admittedly, the lyrics (printed below) rather crudely express how many of us feel and are more Carolyn Parrish than high art. Nonetheless, it can be quite cathartic to sing along, especially during the chorus. Give it a try and keep in mind that next Monday Canadians are finally going to kick the bastards out.

Poor Paul

This is a story about Mr. Dithers
Otherwise known as Paul
Prime Minister Paul Martin
The saviour of the Liberal Party

Kick the bastards out
Kick the bastards out
Kick the bastards out
Ooo ooo ooo
Ooo ooo ooo
Ooo ooo ooo

Poor Paul was born to be Prime Minister
And when he got his chance
He blew it
He blew it badly
He doesn’t know what he’s doing
Not at all
Poor Paul
Poor Paul
Poor Paul

Kick the bastards out
Kick the bastards out
Kick the bastards out
Ooo ooo ooo
Ooo ooo ooo
Ooo ooo ooo

We don’t want you
As our Prime Minister
You’re an idiot
Get the hell out of the way

Va chier ailleurs

Oo oo
Oo oo

(cc) Steve Stinson (aka Stint Malicious)

Note: this song is being offered under the terms of a Creative Commons license. This means you are welcome to download it and share it with your friends.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Double or nothing

Source: Reuters

Buzz Hargrove has raised the stakes. With his Liberal senatorship about to slip out of his grasp, Buzz has apparently taken another sip from Paul Martin's kool-aid.

"(Harper's) view of the country is a separatist view that doesn't have a strong federal government. A strong federal government is what makes Canada the country it is," the Hargrove said Wednesday.


He said a Harper-led government would put in place "a framework that will make it easier for the separatists to win in Quebec -- surely that's pretty close to being a separatist."


The CAW head also implied that Quebecers should vote for the Bloc Quebecois if it meant keeping out the Conservatives.

This strange bit of logic comes after the Canadian Auto Workers Union leader placed his bet last month to endorse Paul Martin's Liberals, abandoning his long-time allies in the NDP. With even longer odds now, Buzz is doubling his bet. He needs help.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Liberal Sam Bulte doesn't get it

It seems my little question at Wednesday night’s all-candidates meeting for the Parkdale-High Park riding has set the blogosphere on fire. I asked Liberal incumbent Sarmite Bulte to take Michael Geist's copyright pledge, which simply commits candidates to exclude themselves from potential conflicts in deliberations on copyright reform if they accept contributions from entertainment and media industry interests. Bulte responded with outright anger to my question, so much so that she might have throttled me if the microphone had been any closer to the candidates table.

Accordion Guy has a video of her response on his blog.

The sad thing is that Bulte does not get it. She is oblivious to the obvious conflict of her deep involvement in reforming Canadian copyright laws and the direct support she receives from the primary beneficiaries of her proposed leglislation.

Here is my full question with notes. The parts I skipped over, largely due to Liberal-orchestrated jeering, are in faded text.

My name is Steve Stinson.

I moved to this riding five months ago from the Saint-Lambert riding on the Montreal south shore [some polite clapping here].

This question is directed to all the candidates, but first a little background. [Here I was asked to choose a specific candidate to which I replied it was probably most appropriate if Ms. Bulte answered first.]

My old riding gained considerable notoriety as a result of the Liberal candidate Yolande Thibeault receiving more than $19,000 in declared contributions from the principal parties implicated in the Gomery report. [Midway through this part some people, led apparently by Bulte's campaign manager, started shouting “ask the question.” A little rattled, I diligently ploughed on.]

Somehow, I thought things would be different when I moved Toronto. However, I was quite dismayed to read that our current MP Sarmite Bulte has received significant individual and corporate contributions from the very groups that she oversees in her role as Canadian Heritage parliamentary secretary. [At this point, the moderator also piled on demanding I ask the question.] They are also reportedly organizing an upcoming fundraiser.

Consequently, I would ask each of the candidates whether they would take the Copyright Pledge proposed by University of Ottawa law professor and Toronto Star columnist Michael Geist. The pledge is as follows:

No Member of Parliament who has accepted financial contributions or other benefits from

(i) a copyright lobby group,
(ii) its corporate members, or
(iii) senior executives as well as
(iv) a copyright collective

shall serve as Minister of Canadian Heritage or as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, nor sit on any legislative committee conducting hearings or deliberations on copyright matters. [Here my microphone was turned off and I abandoned my concluding comment which follows.]

Sounds reasonable to me. The voters of High Park-Parkdale need reassurance that our MP will be working for us, and not corporate media interests.

With the exception of Bulte, all the candidates accepted the pledge including Conservative candidate Jurij Klufas, who outlined how the CPC would ban all corporate donations to political parties and limit individual contributions to $1000 per year. NDP candidate Peggy Nash also responded articulately to the question, highlighting the need to balance the rights of both creators and users in reforming our copyright laws.

Parkdale-High Park residents deserve better. On January 23rd, Bulte is going to get her butt kicked.

Note: After the meeting, Gregory Hamara, chair of the Bloor West Village Residents Association, apologized to me for interrupting and cutting off my question. Overall, he did an excellent job moderating an unruly meeting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Gomery's unlimited mandate

One thing that really jumped out at me during last night's French debate was Paul Martin's assertion that he gave Justice John Gomery an unlimited mandate with unlimited resources to investigate Liberal government wrong doing.

Je l'ai donné un mandat illimité, des ressources illimités...


You can watch his statement in French by clicking the first clip in the Gouvernance et éthique section and advancing to about the 1:20 mark.