Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Opinion polls now say it all. If Justin Trudeau were Liberal leader in an election now he would become Prime Minister of Canada. With any other leader the Liberals are likely to remain the third party in Canada's Parliament.
Anyone who says they do not belong to another Canadian political party can register as a "supporter" of the Liberal Party up until March 3, 2013 and they would then have the right to vote in a preferential ballot for the new leader. This is a big change from past procedures of a Leadership convention with wheeling and dealing on multiple ballots. In April 1968, Justin's dad, Pierre Trudeau was the frontrunner, but most of the other candidates on dropping out supported another candidate as part of a stop Trudeau movement. That dramatic convention ended after a fourth ballot with the Minister of Justice, Pierre Trudeau getting a majority of delegate votes and with the now forgotten man Robert Winters finishing second. A later short term Prime Minister and longer term opposition leader John Turner finished in third place. Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister with Trudeaumania sweeping the nation.
A preferential ballot will make it easier for Justin Trudeau to win. He is likely be top choice for the most Liberal supporters and second or third choice for a combined majority he will need to win. No candidate has emerged as a strong alternative to Justin and so those who wish to stop him and make him their last choice will have no clear favourite to rally behind. Interestingly, Justin's common law stepmother, my Osgoode Hall Law School classmate, Debbie Coyne is in the running and doing very well in debates. Nevertheless she has little to no chance of winning and the same goes for other leading candidates, former astronaut Marc Garneau (Canada's first man in space), Martha Hall Findlay, Joyce Murray and Martin Cauchon. While Garneau is in second place he is polling just at or below single digits while Justin Trudeau is polling at about two thirds support as a first choice for Liberal Party supporters.
The leadership vote is a great exercise in popular democracy where it is not just delegates at a convention, and using modern technology this system is likely to represent the future of leadership selection in Canada and elsewhere.
Once Justin Trudeau becomes leader of the third party he will face trial by fire. No doubt the attack ads from the Conservatives will begin with an attempt to destroy him in the similar way the Harper machine destroyed previous Liberal leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. As leader of the third party in Parliament Justin will still get lots of media attention but it will be a struggle for him to prove himself as party leader and continue to build enthusiasm and support for another two years until there is an election. If he succeeds he will return to Rideau Hall for an adult visit with the Governor General.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
It did not take long until the top issue shifted, first to abortion where Paul Ryan's record in Congress linked him to another Congressman, Todd Aikin. Aikin spoke nonsense on the issue forcing Ryan to back off from his views where he had previously distinguished violent rape from other rape. He had to disavow Aikin and join the chorus of people saying "Rape is rape". That issue hurt the Romney campaign and accentuated inconsistencies between Romney and his running mate. Romney, who used to be Pro Choice, continues to believe in some exceptions to a ban on abortion.
Then came the Republican Convention in Tampa which coincided with a hurricane. Hurricane Isaac turned out to be a lesser problem than the tempest caused by Clint Eastwood's on stage performance with an empty chair, that was ridiculed and turned into the convention highlight. This again hurt the Romney campaign which had hoped that the convention would leave Americans thinking that Mr. Romney was human and a nice guy.
To make matters worse for Romney the Democratic Party Convention in Charlotte ran like clockwork and was a huge success. Much of the credit goes to former President Bill Clinton whose clear analysis of the contradictions in Republican/Romney/Ryan policy gave a big boost to the Obama campaign. This too hurt Romney's chances.
Then the Middle East once again came back into the forefront. Romney's long time personal friend and former business associate, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to help Romney by attacking Obama in his own attempt to push the USA to war with Iran. Opinion in Israel on what to do about Iran is split now so it should not be thought that Israelis in general want to attack Iran with a pre-emptive strike. Attacking Iran now also runs contrary to general public opinion in the US. Most Americans believe after Iraq and Afghanistan that another war is something to be avoided. Again this was something that did not help the Romney campaign. The Netanyahu situation was overshadowed by protests in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere against the US because of a poor quality anti Islam video found on YouTube. This video was sponsored by the same little church that caused trouble in the Muslim world before by its plans to publicly burn Korans. As the film was made in the USA it was hard for people in the Middle East countries with little history of free speech or democracy, to understand that such a film could be released without US Government approval.
After the protests began the US embassy in Cairo issued a statement condemning the video. The Romney foreign policy test was then failed as the former Massachusetts Governor made strong and untimely statements criticizing President Obama for what Romney called an "apology for American values". This action by the Republican candidate occurred just after the Libya protest in Benghazi was overtaken by well armed Al Qaeda professional terrorists who launched a rocket attack on the US consulate killing the American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in the building. This tragic event was followed by continued Romney attacks on Obama for his supposedly submissive approach to terrorism. It was generally agreed even by Republicans and Conservatives with foreign policy experience that Romney's criticism was completely inappropriate. The President responded by deploying military forces and taking steps to go after the persons responsible for the Libya attack. The net result was President Obama has been seen as a calm, reasonable and tough leader in protecting US interests.
It appears to me that Candidate Romney is continuing his attempts to prove he really is a Conservative and not a "Massachusetts moderate" as his former rival Newt Gingrich had called him. It was generally expected that Romney would move to the middle after his nomination to try to appeal to independent swing voters. When Romney appeared on Meet the Press on September 9th and talked of what he liked about Obamacare it looked like he was going that way. Conservative voters who continue to mistrust Romney (especially on the healthcare issue) were thought to have nowhere else to go. Some have moved to former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson who is a consistent candidate who dropped out early from the Republican Presidential nomination race and who is now the Libertarian Party candidate. There is no question that Governor Romney will lose votes to Governor Johnson in the same way that Al Gore lost votes to Ralph Nader back in 2000.
The latest Romney attempts to be tough and join his friend from Israel in pushing for war with Iran has certainly backfired. He has already moved from Jingoism to following the advice of more experienced Republicans towards being more conciliatory and keeping quiet on foreign policy issues. As a candidate he is now flailing suggesting that Obama will tell lies in the upcoming debates. None of this shows Mr. Romney to be "Presidential". It now appears that the recent events, with the Clint Eastwood performance as the turning point have greatly improved Barack Obama's chances for re-election. Polls show the incumbent President pulling ahead by a large margin thus reducing the number of swing states that could have given Romney a chance to be elected. Meanwhile the economy has become a lesser issue and it continues to improve. Four more years? It sure looks like it now.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
|Justin Trudeau - A return to idealism|
Justin was born on Christmas Day 1971 to then sitting Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his wife Margaret. He was only the second child born to a Prime Minister in office and the first in a century. His Christmas arrival was heralded with much fanfare. He came to personal prominence delivering an eloquent eulogy at the funeral of his father in October 2000. In this age of cynicism personified by the current Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Justin is a reminder of the idealism of the 1960s when Trudeaumania swept the land with a wave of idealism. Justin's father Pierre, with his long hair, love beads and sandals inspired the same enthusiasm as the Beatles had a few years before. A constitutional law professor, he came to Parliament as a group of "three wise men" from Quebec. As Minister of Justice in the Lester Pearson government, in his earlier short political career he modernized Canada when proclaiming "the state has no business in the bedrooms or our nation". Flamboyance was his trademark. His greatest accomplishment was bringing the Canadian constitution home with a Charter of Rights which has had a huge impact over the past 30 years. Pierre Trudeau had a toughness too, as shown by his proclamation of the War Measures Act in response to a 1970 kidnapping crisis in Quebec. He was loved and admired but also despised by many. Pierre Trudeau endured and served as Prime Minister for many years and is remembered as one of the greatest Canadian leaders.
|Will Justin Trudeau join this club?|
Justin Trudeau seems to have many qualities of his father and some of the wildness of his mother. He remains largely undefined. Justin's early life was mostly kept private. It is known that he most enjoyed camping in the woods with his father. He did get a Bachelor of Arts Degree from McGill University and a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of British Columbia. He worked as a high school teacher in British Columbia and began to study Engineering and also studying for a Master's Degree in Environmental Geography. He interrupted both studies for politics and in the process became an actor. He actually played Quebec hero and rebel leader of 1837 Joseph Papineau as an actor in a CBC miniseries in 2007. He was first elected to Parliament in Papineau Riding in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. He has already served a longer time in Parliament than his father prior to becoming Prime Minister. What are Justin Trudeau's qualities and are they the qualities Canada needs now? In future posts we will try to analyze this and provide thoughtful consideration of whether Justin Trudeau is the man for Canada. Come back and visit here soon.
Friday, March 30, 2012
A Canadian tradition and way of life may end this year with the Federal Government's Budget promise to eliminate our one cent coin that we affectionately (or not) call Penny. The reason given is that it costs the Government almost 2 cents to make each one. The plan is to round up the 20 Billion pennies in circulation and melt the copper ones down for scrap metal which should earn the Feds at least $100,000,000 profit (over the one cent price paid) from selling the scrap metal. Up until 1996 pennies were almost pure copper and contain 2 cents or more of copper in them. The big melt may earn enough to buy one F-35 Fighter Jet. The Government encourages people to donate their hoarded pennies to charities who are then to put them in rolls and take them to the bank. The banks will then return them to the Government to destroy. I suggest you continue to keep your pennies and proudly use them as long as you can. Give generously to charity the dollars you can afford to give, but do not let the Government kill our penny.
Back in the 1933 in the United States an order was made by the President requiring everyone to turn in their hoarded gold and gold coins in exchange for $20.67 per ounce. After this was done the United States Government controlled the gold supply and profited greatly by raising the price of gold in 1934 to $35.00 per ounce where it was pegged for many years. This is a fascinating story told in Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102
Copper does have a rising value, but not nearly as high as gold or silver, and our Canadian Government could profit from selling the copper when they choose to do so in world markets where China is a major buyer.
With an end to the penny there will be large transitional costs for business which will be passed on to consumers. There will also be a post-penny "rounding up" system for prices which will cost both cash paying consumers and small businesses, and which will add up to many dollars over time. If a price including tax is 3 or 4 cents over the last nickel the price will be rounded up at the consumers' expense. If it is 1 or 2 cents over the nickel the consumer gets a break and the business takes the loss.
I do not like this plan and I say Save Canada's Penny. I am a life long coin collector and will, like most people continue to save some pennies. If you agree that we should save the penny and keep it in circulation, Like the Facebook Page whose link is below: