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Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Canadian election week 3. Sigh.

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By the end of the week, I was getting pretty grumpy with all involved.

  • The Liberals, for being organized enough to put together a great platform, but not organized enough to sell it.
  • The NDP, for being on the wrong side of the carbon tax issue, even though they have a leader who should have credibility and integrity on this issue, above all others.
  • The Conservatives, for… well, for a lot of reasons, as you know, but especially for pandering to the worst sides of human nature.
  • Far too many of my fellow Canadians, for responding to that appeal.
  • And the Greens, for… Actually, I didn’t get annoyed with the Greens. But I’ll also not convinced they’re quite ready for prime time.

So took a little break on the weekend, took in a little of that arts and culture ordinary Canadians don’t care about, traveled green (bus, train, feet), and found a few little positives.

  • My local candidates debate, where nobody seemed awful. And yes, I even mean the Conservative guy, who can’t be completely hopeless, since they actually let him talk to the media and all that. (Thanks be I’m not in Harold Albrecht’s riding!)
  • Some Facebook vote trading group has been started, in an “anyone but the Conservatives” bid. Say you want to vote NDP but live in a riding where they don’t have a chance, you trade your vote with someone in a more NDP-friendly riding, and you vote their choice for them.
  • All of our parties are still better than the Republicans and their leaders. There’s always that.
  • And, our media, at least some of it some of the time, providing the analysis and details that politicians won’t discuss.

And on that last point… A few favourites from last week.

On carbon taxes

It doesn’t matter how often proponents pledge to recycle carbon tax money into lower taxes on incomes and companies. It doesn’t matter how many economists argue in favour of pricing carbon through a tax.

The Conservatives have distorted the carbon tax idea and scared people. The economy would be “wrecked,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper says. Funny then that Demark, with a carbon tax for a while now, had higher per capita growth than Canada from 1990 to 2006: 36 to 32 per cent.

What, therefore, remains? Policy incoherence across Canada, and Conservative and NDP plans that won’t get the job done. Mr. Harper has not spoken in the election about his “plan,” except to say he has one. What is it?

So in May, the government published the latest iteration of an incredibly complicated regulatory plan, many of the details of which are still unknown. Normally, Conservatives consider complicated regulations as to be viewed with great suspicion. But their “plan” offers the mother of all regulatory schemes.

The plan contains lots of little programs for conservation and renewables. They’re mostly inoffensive, but they won’t bring many emissions reductions.

The silliest is the public transit tax credit, introduced in the 2006 budget as an emissions reducer. The vast majority of people receiving the credit were already riding public transit. By the government’s own numbers, the credit will lower emissions this year by a risible 30,000 tonnes at a cost of $220-million – a staggeringly high per tonne cost.

Jeffrey Simpson – Full article

That $773 dollar of your taxes per ton, folks. That’s so much better than the $10 a ton the Liberals are proposing! Those fiscal conservatives — they are so smart! I totally see why they vote for the party that is so wise about its spending.

On crime

The party’s obsession with crime-and-punishment policies repugnant to urban voters suggests one of two things: Either it is secretly worried about collapsing support on the Prairies – as if! – or else it actually believes that voters lust for vengeance against children (now known as “denunciation” among politically correct Martians – denunciation for life).

How is it that representatives who hail largely from Canada’s most badly policed, violent cities and towns presume so easily to lecture the leaders of Canada’s best-policed, safest city?

Torontonians both pay significantly more on policing per capita than other Canadians, according to Statistics Canada, and they enjoy significantly safer streets than the residents of virtually every town in the country – outside Quebec, which is both the safest and the most liberal-minded province.

Thus the fruits of being “soft on crime.” Crime rates have dropped an amazing 30 per cent since 1991.

John Barber – Full article

On leadership

Stéphane Dion is an odd case. He keeps yapping about his green plan even as party hotshots tell him the story line has changed, we’re off that stuff. Could he think it isn’t a show – that the planet really is in danger? Would that count as real leadership rather than the acted kind? Poor Stéphane. Could he ever play a leader? Doubtful, although if he got elected somehow, and everyone onstage – journalists, MPs – treated him as a leader, he might start feeling, and acting it. Ah, the magic of theatre.

Why hasn’t Harper the Strong pulled away from the field? Why is the Layton NDP stuck? How has the weak, frail Dion hung in – as if voters are seeking something outside the strong leadership box? Such as – weak leadership. Isn’t that what real democracy would be about? It would disperse leadership among its citizens. In ancient Athens, they chose most leaders by lot, after policies were established in public debate. They made an exception only for leaders chosen in wartime.

So maybe the leadership axiom isn’t so axiomatic. An Ipsos Reid poll this week found 62 per cent of Canadians say they’re most “swayed” by party stances on key issues versus 21 per cent by leaders. Pollster Darrell Bricker was so stunned, and so committed to official theology, that he insulted voters by saying he didn’t know if they meant it or were just trying to give “the right answer.” To gain what, his approval? Maybe someone should poll the pollsters on whether they think Canadian voters have any brains.

— Rick Salutin, Full article

On quality of Conservative candidates

Among Conservatives, there is a lot of grassroots support for Chris Reid’s brand of conservatism. He wants to close the CBC and scrap the Indian Act and seems to have deep-seated rage issues – but Team Harper dumped him anyway. Word is that Stephen Harper draws the line at homosexuals with guns; and really, considering his record on that file, I can’t say I blame him.

As for the pro-drug, pro-prostitution Mr. Warawa, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office now says that, as of three days ago, he has changed his views and no longer believes anything he ever said on any issue whatsoever.

Rumour is that he has been run through a Conservative re-education camp. A few pistol whips from a flak-jacket-clad Peter McKay (“Who’s the bitch now, Warawa?”) topped off with a chemical lobotomy, and the boy is as good as new, a virtual Bev Oda – happy to be seen and not heard from ever again. He will make one hell of a cabinet minister some day.

By the sounds of it, when it comes to dealing with party dissidents, the Chinese government could learn a thing or two from our sweater-wearing Prime Minister.

— Rick Mercer Full article

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