Archive for June, 2004

Liberals win, Axworthy loses, life goes on

Liberals win, Axworthy loses, life goes on


I’m pretty happy tonight.  A couple of good things happened.  The Conservatives didn’t win.  The Liberals have a strong minority.  Jim Pankiw, a embarrassment to Saskatoon, lost.  Pretty much every party at the national level can look at a bright side.  The Conservatives increased their share of seats.  The Bloc goes to record highs.  The NDP hold the balance of power.  The Liberals won a strong minority, when it looked like they were going to lose.  For the Conservatives to win they have to cleanse themselves of the extreme elements of their party.  They have to really move to the centre as a party. 

Despite doubling the vote Axworthy lost.  We needed to solidly win the city, but the NDP vote remained fairly strong and the north end of Saskatoon was split.  In the city we were probably up about 1 percent, but then the rural polls came in and that was the end.  The campaign staff took it pretty hard.  In my eyes they did really well even though they were very young.  They built an organization out of nothing. 

Vellacott, the conservative candidate was complaining about a “dirty” Liberal campaign.  I disagreed very strongly with an attack brochure that went out, but what it said was true as far as I could tell.  I honestly think we could have won if we and the national campaign had stressed more of Paul Martin’s strengths.  We spent some time with trying to entice NDP voters to vote strategically.  They didn’t, and if they had we might have won.  What is done is done, and I thought our campaign manager did very well considering his age and experience.  I imagine we will see more of Ryan Androsoff.

I have a lot of reflections to share about the whole experience.  They will be coming soon.

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The end of the campaign is upon us

The end of the campaign is upon us


Tomrrow we go to the polls.  The mood in the Axworthy campaign is upbeat and I’d say the staff are a bit loopy.  30 days of long hours and long weeks have pushed these folks past the tired mark.  After the election is over I imagine most of them will run to their favourite retreat place and not do anything at all for as many days as they can.  These folks work hard. 

All indicators are good going in.  Our canvasse revealed that the NDP are significant factor in one area of the city and no where else.  The north end of the city is decided Liberal, and there is a surprising amount of support in rural Saskatchewan as well.  It is very difficult to find a Conservative lawn sign in the city, and the Conservative campaign seemed to lack the resources to get stuff done in the campaign.  They annoyed people by using a machine to call people up and solicit voting intentions.  The local media finally picked up on the fact the Conservative candidate Maurice Vellacott was using his tax payer funded RV to campaign with.  His use of tax payer funds to send out letters about how Stockwell Day could be the next Winston Churchill was pretty much what sent me over the edge a few years ago.  I used to have the guy’s sign on my lawn.  Ugh. 

It was very impressive driving by the Axworthy campaign office.  It is a very large office and it was often entirely circled by the vehicles of staff and volunteers.  I would walk in and it felt like I was part of this powerful machine.  There is no way the Liberals could win this riding without Axworthy.  His personal popularity in this city brought out a lot of volunteers and financial support.  His experience and abilities have been a huge factor.  It was easy to stay motivated when you believe in the party’s approach and the candidate.  

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Broadband's coming to Hepburn

Broadband’s coming to Hepburn


Broadband’s coming to Hepburn doo dah doo dah, broadband’s coming Hepburn doo dah doo dah.

And a great cry went up from the people of Hepburnville!

Sasktel, the local telco, has finally announced the long awaited wireless high speed network for rural Saskatchewan.  I’m am overjoyed!  I administrate a network with 35 computers and a 56kb connection to the net.  It’s like sucking a peach through a straw.

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Ok, I'm biased but I believe Paul

Ok, I’m biased but I believe Paul


For most of the campaign the Paul Martin that I liked has been missing.  In rallies he seemed agitated and even grumpy.  In the debate he seemed defensive at times.  He didn’t answer all questions in a straight forward manner.  Tonight on CBC I saw the Paul Martin I’ve missed.  He answered the questions well, even the tough ones.  Many of the ones he didn’t answer well in the debate.  He really showed the depth and the breadth of his knowledge. 

Essentially this election is about trust.  A lot of people assume that because Paul Martin was finance minister he must have known that people were stealing from the government.  I don’t buy that.  The government is huge, and the most common way for people to ensure you get value for money is a receipt.  So if corrupt officials are cooperating with corrupt companies it would be very difficult for people that look at budget lines to know if the money is being spent appropriately.  If Paul Martin could be implicated why would he launch a judicial inquiry with the widest scope possible to find out who was involved?  Why would he even admit there was a problem?  A corrupt politician would have swept this under the rug, but Paul Martin didn’t. 

That doesn’t mean Martin shouldn’t take responsibility for this.  I believe he has.  He has already implemented measures that will have someone in each department looking over each line of spending holding the departments to account.  Chretien already changed campaign finance rules so that corporations can’t win favour with big donations.  The Conservative plan to clean up government is to give more money to the auditor general, who in my opinion has done her job really well.  They also want the ethics counselor appointed by parliament.  I’m not sure how either of these things would improve the situation or more importantly prevent the problem from happening again. 

Who are we going to trust with our country?  The Liberal record is spotty on promises, but in the end they have managed the country very well.  In the big picture, in the way they handle the things that impact our lives they have made good choices even when they were difficult, even when they are unpopular.  In all my conversations with people I’ve yet to have someone give me a compelling reason to vote Conservative.  I’ve heard compelling reasons to vote against the Liberals.  I just don’t see a lot of Canadians clamouring for another deep tax cut and increased military spending.  These are not the things I care about.

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Coyne on the Conservative campaign

Coyne on the Conservative campaign


I think the Liberal campaign sucked.  It appears Andrew Coyne thinks the same of the Conservative campaign.

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Is this what politics has become?

Is this what politics has become?


These two flash movies pretty much sum up the depth of the debate in this election: Harperman, and Harpervillian

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1984

1984


George Orwell’s 1984 has made a profound impact on our society.  I knew the concepts of Big Brother and newspeak even before I read the book.  Now I understand them so much more.  The book illustrates how profoundly powerful language is.  If one can control language, then one can control how people think.  It has enlightened me as to how people seek to define language in order to sway people in an election.

In a previous post I brought up child porn in Canada.  Part of the controversy is that someone who wrote his sick fantasies down was not convicted because what he wrote was deemed to have artistic merit.  A lot of people were outraged but I think there is another side to the issue.  I think it is inherently dangerous for the government to start convicting people for having criminal thoughts.  In 1984 it is called thoughtcrime.  The situation changes if people are writing down their thoughts and distributing them. 

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Child Porn

Child Porn


The whole debate about child porn and child porn laws has really bothered me because some key issues are being missed.

The Conservatives believe that the current law has one major loophole. Sexually explicit material involving persons under the age 18 is acceptable if it is deemed to have artistic merit. To many Canadians this might seem like a huge loophole because for them, a lot of what passes for art these days is just smut. However, crafting a law that clamps down on child porn but can’t be used to remove Romeo and Juliet from our high school libraries isn’t easy.

I believe the strength of the rhetoric coming from Harper on this issue is disingenuous. The long gun registry is the result of an understandable but irrational reaction to the tragic murders of several women. In the wake of a tragedy it is very easy to react with new laws or programs that do very little to address the heart of the problem. If we focus all our outrage over child exploitation on one law we will miss the real heart of the problem.

What I don’t understand is the idea that child porn leads to the exploitation of children, but adult porn doesn’t lead to the exploitation of women. I don’t think we as a society are willing to face the fact that the multi-billion dollar a year porn industry has a tremendous impact on our social well being.

I think the government should have strong child porn laws, but this is not going to fix the problem. Going after Internet Service Providers isn’t going to solve the problem either. I host websites and I couldn’t tell you if someone is hosting porn on their site because I don’t check every file on my server. If the police told me someone was distributing porn from their site I would certain co-operate. These measures are only a small piece of the whole phenomenon.

Child porn is an underground phenomenon. I imagine that most of it is distributed through closed peer-to-peer file sharing networks not unlike Kazaa or Morpheus. Most of this stuff is not on public web/ftp sites that you can block. Like many underground file sharing networks you need to know someone to get in. In this scenario the files are hosted on private machines, not webservers. You can’t block this traffic because IP addresses on home machines are constantly changing. Unless you pulled a “Big Brother” and monitored everyone’s traffic you wouldn’t even see it happening.

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Words or Power: What fuels the church?

Words or Power: What fuels the church?


My paper is here.  Thanks to Becky for help with the proofreading.

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Axworthy camp in good spirits

Axworthy camp in good spirits


I took the last 4 days to finish off my paper.  I returned to the campaign office today to find people in an upbeat mood. 

The lastest SES poll puts the Liberals at 34% and the Conservatives at 29%. 

The latest Liberal TV commercials to air in Saskatchewan have had the cultural sensitivity to include Grant Devine.  In Saskatchewan Grant Devine is Tory vote repellant. 

Economists from the Bank of Nova Scotia and the CD Howe Institute have finally come out and said that for the Tory platform to be feasible deep and difficult cuts are needed.

The Conservatives have shot themselves in the head with their latest press release about Paul Martin supporting child porn.  It has since been retracted. 

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