September 29, 2015

Trusting Stephen Harper with the economy

Somehow this myth has developed about the Conservative Party of Canada(CPC) being a good manager of the economy.

Now I’m not an economist but I can read. And I can remember things, occasionally.

This is what I remember…

In 2008 Harper denied there was a recession or an economic crisis. Then when it finally dawned on him that we were in trouble he didn’t have any clue about what to do except ‘stay the course’. It was only because he was in a minority position that he was forced to adopt measures pressed on him by the NDP and Liberals…fiscal stimulus and a willingness to accept a budget deficit.

The latter was not too hard for Harper since, having inherited a nice surplus from the Liberals under Paul Martin, he has not managed to balance a budget until this year … maybe. That was even before the meltdown.

Then, after adopting the opposition’s economic policies he proceeded to rebrand them as his own Economic Action Plan.

In the first couple of years Canada did indeed do better than most OECD countries. Many have attributed this to the tough regulatory regime  governing the banking system in Canada that was put in place by the Liberals…the type of regulations Stephen Harper would oppose.

In the past several years, in spite of Harper’s lies to the contrary, Canada has lagged behind the OECD mean for job growth and  general economic growth.

What has Harper done to reverse the slide in the economy? He has defined an economic strategy based on pandering to his base. Even conservative economists have said that income splitting and raising the Tax Free Savings Account limits will do nothing for economic growth and disproportionately favours the well to do. For a ‘conservative’ he has made the tax system much more complicated by targeted his supporters with tax cuts in piecemeal measures from hockey equipment to child tax credits. Most economists of all ideologies have decried his do-nothing approach to the economy…or rather his crass reduction of the tax base for political benefit.

And what is Harper saying today? Well, first he denies that we are in recession in spite of his own legislation defining a recession as ‘two successive quarters of negative economic growth’, which indeed what has just occurred.

What is Harpers plan for the future? He is saying we need to ‘stay the course’. That would, of course, be the course of denying there is a problem and refusing to do anything about it. He continues to repeat the mantra that Canada is doing better than the rest of the developed world in spite of much evidence to the contrary.

So why do so many Canadians feel Harper is a trusted manager of the economy? I don’t know. But if you know any of these people, please, ask them why they think so. I would really like to know where this comes from.

Now don’t get me started on the ethical issues of a Harper government. Talk about a sense of entitlement.

September 6, 2015

Election 2015–thoughts

I’m not politcal pundit or a political theorist. But i do have strong thoughts on this election.

First and foremost we must rid ourselves of the political rot that has accompanied the term of Steven Harper. His disgraceful policies and approach to the democratization of Canada has been amply documented elsewhere. It is not just his right wing policies (from Bill C51 to his destruction of the Canadian economy) but his intense work to further limit democracy in this country (from the silencing of scientists, prorogation of Parliament to the destruction of the Parliamentary committee system).

The large majority of Canadians know and understand these issues. Even in 2011 most Canadians opposed Steven Harper but he was able to garner a majority of seats with only 38% support. The anti-Harper sentiment is even stronger this time around.

But,as a complete indictment of the Canadian education system, most citizens have little understanding of government. As a result, even if Harper garners just a plurality of seats he may be able to continue governing by exploiting NDP-Liberal friction, prorogation of Parliament and other tricks that the opposition, at least in the past, has been willing to let his use. Canadians may or may not support an NDP-Liberal coalition as somehow illegitimate if it attempts to ‘bring down’ a government with a plurality of seats.

There isn’t much we can do about that except to make it clear to candidates who come to our doors that no matter the seat count, if there is a minority government we want the NDP and Liberals to work together to prevent Harper from becoming Prime Minister again.

I certainly hope voters in ridings where the Conservatives have seat consider voting strategically to prevent their re-election. In a riding where one of the NDP or the Liberal candidate is out of the race for all intents and switching their vote would prevent a Conservation from getting elected, I hope voters back whichever candidate might have a better chance of defeating the Conservative.

So just how hard is this to do? How hard do you have to plug your nose to vote Liberal (in my case)?

Well just a few months ago I felt that Trudeau had moved to the right and was unsupportable. But since the campaign has started the Liberals have moved more to the left.
Now, they aren’t flaming socialists but then either are the NDP.

And there is always the concern that they are just tacking left to get votes and wouldn’t govern from that position. But at some point one simply has to look at the policy placed before us and vote on that. And, further, a minority government, which is the most likely outcome, may help keep both the NDP and Liberals honest.

To me the most defining difference between the NDP and Liberals was the promise of a universal day care program form the NDP. I don’t like the Conservative’s approach of handing out money to people to buy their own services. This is the typical conservative approach to society: give people choices and let the market place decide.

When there are insufficient places available the marketplace doesn’t work. And, as in medicare and other social service delivery, there are economies of scale from a government sponsored plan.

The Liberals’ approach is similar to the CPC, only they change the mechanism a bit so that those in need are more likely to get more money. This is a more progressive approach than the CPC but still a choice option.

So, to me, the NDP policy speaks of a welcome and renewed interest in the role of government in social policy. And it has worked well in Quebec.

Score one for the NDP over the liberals.

But, wait a minute. The NDP say they will cost out all their programs but I see some problems here.

First, the universal day care is to be brought in over many years…beyond this current mandate. That is problematic if they are not re-elected.

Second, the program depends on the provinces paying 50% of the cost. Some provinces have already announced they cannot afford to enter the planned program.

And, with the NDP’s new (and bizarre) infatuation with balancing budgets there may not be the money to proceed with universal day care…at least for a long time. In the meantime, the NDP has committed to keeping the CPC’s current child care benefit, a very bad idea.

Don’t forget it was the NDP under Jack Layton who ruined the best chance at universal day care when Layton handed over government to Harper rather than back Paul Martin. He used bullshit arguments to support the CPC and ensure that Harper would become Prime Minister for the next 10 years.

So can we even trust the NDP to pursue universal day care or will it be found to be ‘unaffordable’ or won’t garner provincial buy-in while we continue to get the CPC’s hand outs?

Hopefully with a minority government we would at least get the ‘improved’ Liberal hand outs.

So let’s take that point away from the NDP since it’s looking like an empty promise right now.

As for the Senate, I think it is completely disingenuous for the NDP to claim they will abolish it when they do not have the power to do so and that too is politically impossible to achieve. What NDP nonsense policy.

The other major item for me is the economy. The Conservatives have so totally mismanaged the economy that I have no worries that either the NDP or Liberals could possibly do any worse. In fact historically conservative governments almost always worsen debt whenever they come to power by their relentless pursuit of lowering taxes in order to ‘shrink government’. In fact, under conservative governments bureaucracy invariably grows while capacity to pay decreases.

I don’t see many people in the NDP who would be capable of being finance minister in a new NDP government. I find it very interesting that they are touting Andrew Thomson, former Saskatchewan NDP Minister of Finance, as the prospective Minister if they win.

But they have placed him in a traditionally Liberal riding (that went Conservative last time) where the NDP got 20% of the vote in 2011 and the Liberals are currently running neck and neck with the Conservative at about 40% each. While defeating the current and inept Finance Minister, Joe Oliver, would be a lovely coup for the NDP, right now it looks rather like all they are likely to achieve is to ensure that the vote is split and Joe Oliver wins!

If Thomson is such a star candidate why did the NDP not find a winnable seat for him to run in in Toronto? Surely he would be a better candidate in University-Rosedale (instead of the charming but inexperiences Jennifer Hollett) or against Adam Vaughan instead of the tired and shop-worn Olivia Chow.

But the big picture on the economy is the infrastructure plan which the Liberals have the courage to admit will continue budget deficits in order to achieve. It seems like virtually every economist is saying that now is the time to allow some debt in order to finance public works projects. Only the CPC and the NDP oppose this.

I chuckle every time Harper speaks about the importance of balancing the budget since he inherited a surplus from the Liberals and was already in deficit even before the 2008 recession. He has never yet managed to balance a budget so what does he know about budgeting?

I know the NDP are trying to ease the minds of voters who may be scared about a ‘free spending’ NDP. But it turns out that Trudeau and the Liberals are offering more vision on this matter.

Of course there are many other issues in this election. But for me these two issues, day care and budgets/deficit, are what this election is all about.

Until the last Ontario provincial election I have always voted NDP. In that election the Liberals tacked to the left of the NDP. After I convinced myself that the local candidate was not repugnant, I voted Liberal as I saw that as a progressive statement.

This time around I am at this point voting NDP because I understand the ideological point behind universal day care as oppose to paying ‘consumers’ to purchase services.

But the NDPs continual harping about deficits and balanced budgets are making me re-consider.

Let me know what you think?

I want to add another comment and that is about candidates. I know politics has been moving for a little while now toward ‘professional’ candidates. People like Joe Cressy, Pierre Pollievre and Steven Haper…who have never really ‘worked’ anywhere outside of a sheltered environment. For Steven Harper that meant hyper partisanship in the National Citizens Coalition and work in Member’s offices before he ran.

For NDP candidates it can mean work in the Stephen Lewis Foundation or the Ed Broadbent Institute. While I am sure there is much to learn from these environments, I like my candidates to have had to work for a living for a while. To have some real life experience.

June 26, 2015

Mean Streets

I know I’m getting older. And, as a result, I’m likely getting crankier. But some of my complaints are justified.

Let’s start with an example. Just as traffic in North America drives on the right side of the street, so too should pedestrian traffic walk to the right on sidewalks. Otherwise people would be bumping into each other all the time. Walk on the right and pass on the left.

Now, a lot of people do not seem to realize this rule of the sidewalks. Minor infractions are harmless. But the wandering text-er or the spread out group of friends can make navigating sidewalks in our ever busier city difficult at times.

Today I was walking west along Bloor just west of Bay (I was slumming). I was walking briskly and keeping to the right on the sidewalk. Two older women using canes were approaching and I saw an athletically built middle aged man carrying the ubiquitous coffee container coming towards me. He moved to his left to pass the women, thus putting himself directly in my path.

I had nowhere to go to my right as I was already on that side of the sidewalk. And I am tired of moving over for misbehaved persons. So I continued straight ahead and the man and I bumped into each other. Not a huge bump but both our shoulders hit.

I continued to walk on but heard him yell ‘hey’. I didn’t stop figuring to avoid a confrontation. He yelled it again. I stopped and turned around.

He said: ‘what the fuck are you doing’?

I replied: ‘i was already on my side of the walkway, where were you going?’

He: ‘There were two ladies with canes on the sidewalk and you nearly hit them’

Well, of course, I would not have come close to those two women. When he tried to squeeze around them as I was approaching he put himself on a collision course with them when he hit me.

I simply turned and walked away. Then he screamed ‘I should break both your legs right now’.

Oh, yes…it took every ounce of control I had to continue walking and not turn around to suggest that he try to do just that.

Morals of the story:

…please remember there are rules of the road even on the sidewalk

…if you are wrong and don’t have the guts to admit it, at least don’t blame someone else for your transgressions.

…why is is so hard to stay calm and avoid confrontation? I really did want to have it out with that jerk.

People like that come in all sizes and from all walks of life. He is a self righteous asshole (I write this just after the event and I’m still boiling) who likely has never seen anything he does as wrong.

Suggestions on how best to handle these people?

January 13, 2015

Anti-semitism, balance and the new world order

This one is a very difficult article for me. So many opposing emotions amid so much anger and disappointment regarding the ‘Left’. I am afraid this missive may ramble and be, at times, incoherent. Such are my thought processes at the moment.

I write this several days after the Paris terrorist spree.

In the past 18 months there have been several terrorist attacks on the Jewish community in Belgium and France at schools, museums and synagogues resulting in as many deaths as at Charlie Hebdo. In response there have been no massive demonstrations, no ‘je suis juif’ signs in the streets.

These were not considered an attack of French culture. Not until Charlie Hebdo was attacked was there a perceived attack on ‘France’.

I have watched a lot of mainstream media coverage in the past few days. The attack on the Jewish store has invariably been called an attack on a ‘kosher supermarket’. Why is it so hard to say ‘Jewish’? Why has the store not been referred to as Jewish? I find that very interesting.

More disturbing has been CBC Newsworld coverage that, at first, almost ignored the attack at the Jewish store relegating it to a ‘hostage taking’ at a ‘kosher store’. When, over two days after the attack CNN first paid seperate attention to the issue of anti-semitism it was very strained. Under a banner across the TV screen that read ‘anti-semitism in France’ there was a discussion of the topic. But the discussion paid very little attention to anti-semitism, instead choosing to keep a ‘balance’ in their reporting the discussion centred mainly on the need not to succumb to Islamophobia. What need is there for balance in this situation? Why cannot Muslim instigated anti-semitism be discussed as a topic without trying so hard to be ‘balanced’.

After 9/11 there was a lot of media attention given to the concern of avoiding Islamophobia. I have no argument with that. Only by finding unity can we move forward. However post 9/11 there were more documented cases of anti-semitic outbreaks than of Islamophobic ones. In France as well, while there have been incidents of vandalism at Mosques, as repugnant as those are, Muslims are not being gunned down in the streets, in their schools or on the way home from Mosques.

Anti-semitism is on the rise in France. But polls have shown that among the Christian French anti-semitism has remained at relatively stable levels. Most anti-semitism in France originates among the North African derived Muslim community. But everyone is afraid to talk about it.

And when it is discussed, Israel is usually brought into the equation. I, as do many Jews, disapprove of much of what the Israeli right is doing. But the fact that I have to state that speaks to the collective punishment that the Jewish community is subject to. If Russia is being obnoxious to Ukraine is it acceptable to hate people of Russian decent living in Toronto? Why do Jews, most of whom support Israel strongly but feel uncomfortable with much of its current policies, have to bear collective punishment?

Why do we have to ‘balance’ the criticism of Muslim generated anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel?

Now on to John A MacDonald. Yup, I do see a connection

This is the 200th anniversary of his birth. TVO had a programme about the anniversary and, of course, to balance out the programme there was discussion of John A’s warts…of which there are some.

There has been a recent attempt to paint him as a  genocidal leader intent on destroying Aboriginal culture in Canada. I’m no historian but Richard Gwynn, whose two volume biography of John A I very much enjoyed, is a progressive man and, I think, a pretty honest one. He says the attempt to smear John A is historically untrue. He also said, and this is my point here. that today there are no academic historians with enough guts and integrity to stand up to the current theme considering Aboriginal treatment by John A. Why should it take guts to speak truthfully about history? And why are academics so ‘group think’?

Which leads me to my last theme, the outrageous behaviour of some dental students at Dalhousie University. We all know about the misogynist Facebook comments. We all condemn that. That’s not the point.

I was listening to a CBC radio program on this issue which had three panelists. One was a defence lawyer (not personally involved in the case) and two academics…one a diversity person at McGill ,I should have know from her title, as a diversity advocate, that she would have been an idiot (sorry but these people congregate under that banner). She referred to the female students at Dalhousie Dental Faculty as ‘survivors’. Yes…survivors. If you don’t see the absurdity of using that term in this context then you might as well stop reading now.

I know nothing about Richard Florizone, President of Dalhousie, but I think that a restorative justice approach to what happened is a thoughtful and courageous response to what happened. With the religious Left on a rampage for ‘justice’ by which they truly mean a public lynching, it is very courageous for him to say ‘wait a minute, we need to take the time to deal with this properly, equitably and honestly’ before proceeding to summary execution. We know from books like Richard Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow, Joseph Heath’s Enlightenment 2.0 and the work of Steven Pinker that a rushed decision is often a flawed decision.

Who more than an academic should know that thoughtful dialogue and discussion is what is needed in these matters. We have to enact cultural changes not just punish misbehaviour. Yet the witch hunt is being led by academics. There was a time when I thought academics were leaders in progressive thinking. By progressive here I mean thoughtfulness and inclusiveness. But then I remember that there were large pro Nazi academic movements on the campuses of Germany in the 1930s. And similarly the concept of freedom of speech seems only to be offered to like minded people here in Canada by so many on the Left but particularly in academia.

I wonder if Charlie Hebdo attacked progressive values the way it attacked religious values whether the Left would be so upset by the recent terrorist events.

As my friend just expressed to me, what I am saying is that the ‘handwringing about a possible backlash against Muslims, the rush to judge the Dalhousie students and the condemnation of John A’ are all part of a suffocating and revisionist view of history that promises to subvert evidence based analysis of the facts. George Orwell had a lot to say about all this.

And no, I will not accept criticism that my article today stems from a growing conservatism on my part as I age. I have always held these values. But I am afraid many I know only hold these values when they support their world view. Groucho Marx once said ‘those are my principle and if you don’t like them, well I have others’.

I used to identify myself as a Marxist. I still tend to look at the world this way but I’m thinking I’m more of a Groucho-Marxist.

November 9, 2014

Olympic recurve archery

This month marks a year since I’ve started doing Olympic recurve archery. What a treat it’s been!

There is a lot to write about archery from equipment to mindset. I will post in the future about some of the things I’ve learned along the way. For now I just want to give a heads up to Ron Jackson and the Ontario Centre for Classical Sports.

Ron is a former fencer and current archer who started the OCCS in Mississauga (3750 B unit 14 Laird Road, Mississauga). It is in an industrial park that is newly renovated with a large, fresh and modern look. He has about 24 lanes for archers of all skill levels in a very friendly and inviting atmosphere. Everyone who works there is great to deal with. I usually go at about 3 or 4 pm on a Saturday and there are usually only a couple other archers there with, perhaps, a class going on in a curtained off section. There is no crowding and no rivalry.

Oh, and they teach fencing as well!

It is sad that a city the size of Toronto really doesn’t have many archery venues. Shawn Adams runs a location near Danforth and Chester but there is a waiting list. Hart House at the University of Toronto has an archery range in place of the old gun range in the 2nd subterranean floor. It’s has room for about 8 archers, is crowded and hot. The people there are also pleasant but getting on the list is very difficult.

At the OCCS you can buy a 5 hour pass for $55 to be used any time they have open shooting. Ron also gives lessons and he is an excellent teacher (as are others on staff). He also runs a Pro Shop where I have bought all my equipment at very competitive prices. He custom twined my string and custom assembled arrows. Ron never seems rushed or patronizing although I have often asked really dumb questions.

As I said on opening, I will add to this post in the coming weeks. For me personally, the equipment has been a major part of the discovery of archery. From bicycles to bows, from baseball gloves to skates, I have always loved the technical aspect of any sport I’ve taken part of. I will delve into that. Stay tuned.

November 9, 2014

Bateman Bicycle Company–913 Bathurst St

Some a**hole bent the rear wheel of my single speed a couple of weeks ago. While in general I am not a supporter of the death penalty I have pondered it’s appropriateness for bike vandals. After discussion with my son I have decided that perhaps the death penalty is not apt (although deserving). Instead I have decided that public flogging is the way to go.

However, that is not the purpose of this posting. Although if you support flogging let me know. I’m thinking of fundraising for a flogging post to be established somewhere in the city…

So I went to my local bike shop, Bateman’s on Bathurst St about 2 1/2 blocks north of Bloor to see if the rim was fixable. Alas, it was too bent out of shape (much like my mood) to be repaired.

So we had to order a new rim and have a wheel built. I wanted the same 28 rim with 30 spoke wheel that I had …an Alex 28…and I wanted to re-use my Formula hub (and freewheel). I told them that my single speed was my life (my Pinarello road bike if pure pleasure but is not my daily commuter) and I hoped they could get this done soon as i didn’t know how I would exist without it.

Within minutes they flipped over my Michelin Lithium rubber and freewheel onto a loaner wheel, returned my bike to me and said they would let me know when the new wheel was built. The next week they called me to say that they couldn’t get the same rim and offered to get me a better rim for an extra $25…after about a one second pause I said yes, I think I can suffer through a better built wheel.

Next week I dropped in on a Friday at about 5:30 pm and they flipped back my tire and freewheel onto the newly built wheel and I was ready to leave in minutes.

The cost? $70 for the rim and $50 for the wheel build plus tax. No other charges and I was never without a rideable wheel the whole time.

That’s great service for a local bike shop. Other nearby shops won’t even fix a flat for drop ins and here I had my bike back on the road in no time. I was never without a ride. And, I should add, all this was done with smiles and the most friendly of attitudes.

That’s a huge thumbs up for Bateman Bicycles.

By the way, they also have a new spin class program at their ‘warehouse’ location a block away at Bathurst and Barton for reasonable rates. And if you have a friend coming to town they do bike rentals from hybrids to high class road bikes.

Their retail prices are full retail. You can get cheaper elsewhere. But a bike shop is a service business. And on the service side I’ve never done better than here.

October 25, 2014

Ybia Anderson: why I’m supporting her for school Trustee

A creative, responsible, fresh face for Toronto District School Board in Trinity-Spadina.

Voting for Toronto District School Board trustee is a much overlooked but huge responsibility. Our future really does depend on public schools more than most other social services.

Most importantly, in my mind, public schools represent the most social levelling and integrative institution we have. Anyone who has looked at the TDSB can only wince at the dysfunctional cabal that it is (yes, worse than City Hall). I say cabal because if you read articles both in today’s Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail you can smell the whiff of corruption.

Even those so-called ‘progressives’ we elected are acting in the most undemocratic fashion. They treat the TDSB as if it belongs to them instead of to all of us.

We desperately need new progressive faces.

Two days ago I had the opportunity to meet with one of the candidates running for Trustee in Trinity-Spadina, Ybia Anderson.

Here is why I like her. She is young (at 32) but not, like the leading candidate, a 20-something with no life experience beyond politics. She is a single mom with a young child. She actually holds down a real job at a major company where she has to look after financial issues. She can juggle numbers and believes accountability is important. I mean she truly believes this. I know all candidates are saying this but I know at least one of them who has a track record of just the opposite.

She also believes that economic disparities are important. Where Michael Sims, a progressive candidate for Trustee, says that the dome proposal to privatize the field at Central Tech is THE issue of the district, Ybia would feel that children in lower income areas showing up hungry to school is more important (I should note that she also opposes the dome).

She has creative ideas about new approaches to not just fiscal responsibility but to management at the TDSB. Would a green roof on top of Central Tech provide an interesting project for students and perhaps food for a breakfast program at Ryerson Public School?

I think Ybia is bright, thoughtful and creative. And I think she is the true deal.

I worry that the front runner comes from the old school of knee jerk politicians that promise change but bring more of the same.

June 2, 2014

Do you still want to vote NDP?

The polls in Ontario are showing the Conservatives getting stronger. Hudak is approaching majority territory. It will be a very close election. So, if you are a progressive voter, what do you want to do with your vote?

You can give it to a member of the NDP but that will involve forgetting that when the Liberals raised the minimum wage Horwath sat on her hands. When the Liberals talked about expanding public transit Horwath said not if it meant taxing ‘the middle class’. When the Liberals brought down their budget Horwarth was seen standing outside with her moistened finger in the air.

It was revealed today in the Globe and Mail (Jun 2, 2014) that Hudak has been down to the U.S. consulting with leading right wing Replicans and members of the Tea Party group. He’s the same guy whose plan for 1,000,000 new jobs has just been demonstrated to be an arithmetical fantasy. But, as the Conservative spokesperson replied on CBC: ‘do you want to listen to a bunch of egghead economists or listen to what you know is right’.

That’s an interesting response because Andrea Horwath is now pushing the ‘common sense’ line in her TV ads.

One only has to remember what happened the last time the NDP felt they could pick up seats in an election to defeat the Liberals. That was when they brought down Paul Martin. And in one fell swoop we lost the Kelowna Accord (and who is now paying the huge price for that?) and a National Day Care program. Not to mention the enjoyable last eight years of Steven Harper’s government. Nope, not only is a vote for the NDP a vote to the right of the Liberals in this election but a vote for the NDP may indeed be a vote for Hudak. When all the seats are counted, the Lieutenant Governor will approach whichever party has the most seats in the Legislature to form a government.

That better be the Liberals. According to the polls it cannot be the NDP. And it better not be the PCs.

If you live in a riding where only the NDP could beat the Conservatives, please vote NDP. But if you live in a riding where a Liberal could beat an NDP (like my riding of Trinity Spadina) I am voting Liberal so that at the end of the day there can be one more Liberal standing than Conservatives.

Sorry NDP, you blew it.

June 2, 2014

Do you really want to vote NDP?

The polls are showing the Conservatives getting stronger. Hudak is approaching majority territory. It will be a very close election.

So, if you are a progressive voter, what do you want to do with your vote?

You can give it to a member of the NDP but that will involve forgetting that when the Liberals raised the minimum wage Horwath sat on her hands.

When the Liberals talked about expanding public transit Horwath said not if it meant taxing ‘the middle class’.

When the Liberals brought down their budget Horwarth was seen standing outside with her moistened finger in the air.

It was revealed today in the Globe and Mail (Jun 2, 2014) that Hudak has been down to the U.S. consulting with leading right wing Replicans and members of the Tea Party group. He’s the same guy whose plan for 1,000,000 new jobs has just been demonstrated to be an arithmetical fantasy. But, as the Conservative spokesperson replied on CBC: ‘do you want to listen to a bunch of egghead economists or listen to what you know is right’.

That’s an interesting response because Andrea Horwath is now pushing the ‘common sense’ line in her TV ads.

One only has to remember what happened the last time the NDP felt they could pick up seats in an election to defeat the Liberals. That was when they brought down Paul Martin. And in one fell swoop we lost the Kelowna Accord (and who is now paying the huge price for that?) and a National Day Care program. Not to mention the enjoyable last eight years of Steven Harper’s government.

Nope, not only is a vote for the NDP a vote to the right of the Liberals in this election but a vote for the NDP may indeed be a vote for Hudak. When all the seats are counted, the Lieutenant Governor will approach whichever party has the most seats in the Legistlature

May 24, 2014

Tacking to the centre or losing our way?

I have written twice now about the Ontario election. Today there is a public letter out from a number of NDP stalwarts bemoaning the move to the centre of the Ontario NDP. It reminds me very much of all the years I put into the NDP when I was younger.

Perhaps I am becoming more conservative with time. That’s always a possibility, as scary a concept as it seems to me. But I wonder about the value of ideological purity in the absence of access to power. The NDP has always struggled to reconcile the contradictions between seeing itself as a movement or a political party seeking to attain power.

Many in the party, and I suspect that includes most of those who signed the letter and many labour leaders, enjoy the self satisfaction of the concept of purity. They enjoy the self righteousness that the Left likes to feel about itself and are seriously disturbed when they have to relinquish some of that in order to persuade others to come along for the ride. The object of a political party (and, I would think, of any political movement) is to convince others that they have the correct approach that will eventually lead to solutions of problems and a better life outcome. This often means compromise and dialogue. That is hard for many people. And the Left finds it very hard.

I don’t object to some tracking to the centre. New Labour in Britain may never have attained power without a move to the centre. One may reasonably ask then what is the purpose of attaining power if only to be the same as everyone else? That’s a fair question and one that can reasonably be asked of Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP. Considering they don’t have a response to the Liberals’ pension plan, they are week on public transit (particularly how to pay for it) and took forever to respond to the Liberals’ raising of the minimum wage, why then vote for them?

And that’s the question I would ask today.

It’s not the ‘tacking to the centre’ that the NDP have undertaken that I object to. It’s the complete absence of vision that concerns me. The NDP have borrowed from the federal Conservatives the concept of ‘retail politics’. They are offering individual tidbits to parts of the electorate in an attempt to buy their votes. The is not social democratic territory in any realm.

As I said in a previous article, the Right has gone a long way to convince the public that there is no good role for government, smaller is better. The Ontario Liberals with their transit, but particularly the pension plan, are saying that there IS a role for government. And to me that is a huge statement and a huge ideological platform that I strongly support.

One last thing. I chuckled when I read that some traditional NDPers object to Horwath saying she would try to stop waste in government. Of course the phrase ‘cutting government waste’ is often code for cutting services. But I think Tommy Douglas would be turning in his grave if he thought that the NDP would not be fiscally prudent and hard on mismanagement and waste. Any prairie socialist understood that taxpayer money was a trust. Too bad today’s socialists seem to have such little regard for thrift.

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