Archive for May, 2004

Why I really don’t like the hard core left

Why I really don’t like the hard core left

Yesterday someone asked me “You really don’t like the NDP do you?” No, I don’t. I was a firm and rapid supporter of the NDP in 1988 when I was in grade 10. As fate would have it, I happened to be supporting Chris Axworthy at the time, although I didn’t actually work on the campaign. I was one of the more outspoken people in our mock parliament in history class. Other teachers would sit in on our history class and watch as our class engaged in political warfare. It was a lot of fun, and one of my finest memories from highschool. As odd as it may seem one of the things we ‘dippers’ attacked the Mulroney Tories on was the deficit. When the Turner Liberals stood up to speak to the issue we gently reminded them of how our debt really got started in the 70’s.

Things have changed. The once proud and fiscally responsible NDP is no more. Now they are a protest party, an activist party that has so lost their grip on reality and common sense that their leader will do anything and say anything to get in power. Fortunately every press outlet in the country immediately saw through Jack Layton’s lies and theatrics on the issue homeless deaths in Toronto. Perhaps he didn’t lie. Perhaps he just has a tenuous grip on reality. I’m not sure which is worse.

The hard core left is spurred on by anecdotal stories of big corporations collecting huge profits and firing workers, all the while ignoring the big picture that has seen unemployment drop significantly in 10 years. Little do they realize that the increase of value in their pensions and RRSP accounts is direct result of those corporate profits. The world is one giant conspiracy theory in which cigar smoking capitalists plot their oppression of 3rd world nations and the next environmental disaster.

Paul Martin is an evil heartless CEO who cares nothing for the people. A bay street toady who was serving only his buddies when he cut spending and decreased taxes. I guess it doesn’t matter to them that the right kind of tax cuts don’t decrease government revenue, they increase it by producing jobs and stimulating the economy. A fact that some long time progressives like Roy Romanow and Janice MacKinnon figured out 10 years ago. It doesn’t matter that Canada’s debt was creating fiscal instability that was driving investment and jobs out of the country. It doesn’t matter that we cede our economic sovereignty to bond holders as our collective debt squeezes us. It doesn’t matter that if we were actually debt free we could afford to have everything from a healthy social safety net to a proud military with room for tax cuts. It doesn’t matter that every time Canada puts a billion dollars against its debt it gains a serious economic advantage in the global economy.

The hardcore left drink deeply from their own propaganda. They insulate themselves from other points of view and live in ignorance yet consider themselves enlightened. It really is unfortunate because they care about things moderate parties should care about like the environment. All Canadians should listen to the left, but God help us if they ever held the balance of power in Ottawa.


MacKinnon on raising taxes

MacKinnon on raising taxes

It really is a shame that Janice isn’t running in this election.

While Jack Layton and the federal NDP are proposing to raise taxes on corporations and high-income earners, NDP governments, like the one in Saskatchewan, have lowered taxes on income and on corporations, including making significant cuts in oil royalties. What’s the difference?

The federal NDP still clings to the traditional NDP line that everyone, including corporations, should pay their fair share of taxes. What is lacking is an acceptance of the realities of having to run governments in a global, market economy.

 Today borders are open and corporations and high- income earners can move their assets, income and operations to another jurisdiction if taxation levels become excessive.

 When I was Saskatchewan finance minister between 1993 and 1997, the NDP government cut various corporate taxes based on models done by the finance department that showed that the specific tax cut would lead to more jobs and more government revenue — in every case, the model proved to be accurate. In the case of oil, beginning in 1993 the government made various royalty rate cuts and the effect was to raise government oil revenue from less than $200-million in 1992 to almost $700-million by 1996. The biggest fight was an internal one with the left-wing of the NDP, which opposed each and every tax cut!

 The sad irony is that in many cases raising tax rates is not only bad public policy, it will often not even bring in any new money.

 It is merely feeding cynicism about politics when a party suggests that voters could have dramatic increases in social spending at no cost to themselves if governments only raised taxes on corporations and high-income earners. Elections should be about real choices, not phantoms.

From the Globe and Mail

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The Prime Minister is coming to Saskatoon

The Prime Minister is coming to Saskatoon

12 noon on Monday Paul Martin will be at the Chris Axworthy campaign office on the corner of Millar and 51st.  Everyone is welcome.  Parking is available across the street.

He will also be at the Canadian Lightsource Synchrotron afterwards.  I don’t have the exact time.


The battle of the lawn signs

The battle of the lawn signs

My thoroughly misguided roommate Scotty decided to put up a lawn sign for his favourite political party.  Only minutes after he departed to an undisclosed location mother nature let us know what she thinks of the NDP.

Needless to say I’m not putting the sign back up.


What is it like on the inside of the campaign?

What is it like on the inside of the campaign?

I’m neck deep in my first political campaign and I have to say I like it.  Politics is a lot like church.  A group of people gathered for a common goal.  There are committees, staff, volunteers, and dessert squares.  People are fairly genuine and fun to work with.  Volunteers are treated very well, and I feel very accepted in the group.

What makes Liberals distinct from the NDP and the Conservatives is not ideology.  It is the lack of ideology.  If I had to rename the Liberal party I would call it the pragmatic party.  I think this is how there can be so many left leaning Liberals and right leaning Liberals.  The Party has a big enough tent to hold them, and all ideas are acceptable as long as they can work.

Chris Axworthy is a lot of fun to work with.  He comes across very knowledgeable.  He has provided me an a very insightful colour commentary on this election.  He definitely knows how to win an election.  By having him on side in Saskatoon I think the Liberals have boosted their chances of winning significantly.  He brings credibility and expertise.

One interesting side note is the lawn sign war.  There are Chris Axworthy signs are everywhere in the Saskatoon portion the riding, and the Conservatives are almost non existent.  This is really odd because in 2000 the Alliance won the riding with over 50% of the vote.  The NDP have a strong showing in their traditional area but I think they made a mistake.  After it rained a number of signs disappeared.  Not sure if they had poorly built signs or whether someone kicked them over. 

There are many behind the scenes mechanics that go in to an election.  A lot of it is identifying your supporters and focusing your efforts on the people that could vote either way.  From what Scott tells me about the NDP they do the same thing.  I don’t think I’m revealing any secrets. 


MacKinnon weighs in on health care

MacKinnon weights in on health care

Health care, as Canadians’ highest priority, will be talked about a lot in the campaign but no politician will dare raise the fundamental issues at stake in Canada’s health care system and this will contribute to voters’ cynicism and disengagement from the political process.

Though many Canadian health care services are delivered by private agencies -from doctors’ clinics to ambulances to radiologists – our leaders will stick to the line that only public delivery ensures quality, ignoring recent reports about the number of unnecessary deaths in our publicly run facilities. All will claim that we have a one-tiered system, turning a blind eye to those who avoid Canada’s long waiting lists by leaving Canada or in Saskatchewan traveling to Alberta where people can pay for MRIs.

 And despite the fact that the costs of health care are increasing faster than the revenue of any government, all parties will sidestep the affordability issue and promise more money to “fix” the system, never mind if this means that other priorities suffer.

 There will, then, be no debate about health care, only a bidding war. No party gets a “clean” political win on health care. Potentially vulnerable on the topic, the Conservatives have cleverly refused to engage the debate and even used the promise of a national drug plan to try to soften their image. The Liberals’ announcement of $9-billion, much of it to tackle waiting lists, was clouded by questions as to why such money was not included in its recent budget. And though the NDP may gain the most if health care remains a major issue, its promise of more than $27-billion comes at the cost of massive tax increases.


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I'm famous!

I’m famous!

For one day only my face is gracing!  Some unsubstantiated rumours have me polling 5 points ahead of Vellacott!  Vote for me….um I mean….vote Axworthy!


Is it really time for a change?

Is it really time for a change?

In the 1970’s Saskatchewan lead the nation in economic growth.  It had low unemployment, balanced budgets, and a profitable relationship with Ottawa.  They had been in power for a long time and the people felt it was time for a change.  The provincial government was seen as too cozy with Trudeau.  The province elected Grant Devine.  Grant brought change.  He immediately lowered taxes but wasn’t able to reduce spending.  In 2 terms he managed to butcher the civil service and mire the province in debt. 

Saskatchewan did need some change.  The NDP overbuilt infrastructure.  The economy was driven heavily by crown corporations and choked off private investment.  The Devine Conservatives did make some very good moves.  They diversified the economy and privatized some crown corporations.  What good they did is overshadowed by profound fiscal mismanagement. 

This is what scares me about the Harper conservatives.  I believe the downside to the Conservatives outweights the negatives of the Liberals.  Some Liberals have become arrogant.  Some time in opposition may help that.  However I think we need to carefully consider our options.

If the Liberals are forced in to minority coalition with the Jack Layton NDP we could see the country pull strongly to the left putting our economic growth on skids. 

The Conservative platform expects 90 billion dollars of government revenue in the next 5 years, even though they plan to dramatically cut taxes.  That is 50 billion dollars more than the Liberals expect and 30 billion more than the NDP.    It doesn’t take a mathematics degree to figure out what happens if they go through their spending and tax cut obligations and the revenue is not there.  We are right back to the huge deficits of the Mulroney era.  My estimation is that the Conservatives don’t have a fiscally prudent plan.

The Paul Martin approach of underestimating revenue and putting whatever is left over against the debt makes much more sense to me.


Boondoggles and government waste

Boondoggles and government waste

One thing the Conservatives are talking about this election is government waste and corruption.  They point to the long gun registry, the sponsorship program and HRDC “billion dollar boondoggle”.  If you add all the reported waste together it would be about 2.25 billion dollars.  The Conservatives aren’t giving all the facts.

The gun registry is a bad idea and an expensive program but it isn’t waste.
A detailed review of the HRDC program revealed that the actual amount of money unaccounted for was $85 000.  A number the auditor general did not dispute.
The amount of money that was funneled to Liberal friendly ad agencies through the sponsorship program is at most 20 million.

Waste is bad, but a certain amount of it is inevitable.  I will not let 20 million dollars and change distract me from the 7 years of balanced budgets, the resilience of the economy, and the positive things Canada is trying to do on HIV/AIDS and 3rd world debt. 

I believe that the current government is less corrupt than the any of the governments we’ve had in the last 20 years.  Why?  Because we actually see the government admitting there are problems and they are putting measures in place to fix them.  The Mulroney era was well known as an age of cronyism and patronage but they had no internal reviews or independent auditors actually bring this stuff to public light.  Because the current Liberal government is more transparent I believe I can trust them more.


Debate on the local cable channel

Debate on the local cable channel

There was a one hour debate on the local cable channel.  The 3 major parties were represented by candidates running in different ridings.  My guy did fairly well and I thought the NDP candidate held his own but the Conservative candidate performed so poorly it was comical. 

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