Harper's Slam Dunk

SAANICH, B.C. — The Conservatives will allow Canadian families with children under 18 to split up to $50,000 of their income annually to lower their taxes, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Monday.(link)
This is a slam dunk policy wise for Harper. The delayed implementation is unfortunate but I believe understandable by most of the electorate.

Firstly, this is righting a long standing wrong in the Canadian tax system. Just because mommy or daddy decides to stay home and take an income hit, doesn't mean they need to be taxed higher (comparatively) too.

Secondly, announcing this early provides Canadians an opportunity to plan. It will set off a change in behavior that will ultimately mean more economic growth, more savings for Canadians, and more jobs for Canadians over the long term.

From a purely strategic perspective the Tories have scored as well. Taxes and the economy is right now THE Tory issue. The Liberals and NPD don't have much they could counter this with. It's a big policy move and it's a bread and butter issue.

Wouldn't you like an extra $1300 bucks? All you have to be is Canadian, have kids, and an average salary. That's a very easy sell. And it's definitely something to put wind in Tory sails.

Liberal Fantasy Land

Is populated by relentless optimists it seems:
The Conservatives hope the coalition question will develop into a much-coveted “wedge” issue – a debate that polarizes support into two camps, with one party on one side and all the other parties together on the other.


But a senior Liberal strategist, speaking on background, said the Conservatives have forgotten the first rule of politics: that hope beats fear.(link)

To they honestly expect Canucks to buy that argument from the Party who invented fear-mongering?

Sure... Hope beats fear of an Abortion Law? Hope beats fear of Canadian Soldiers in Iraq? Hope beats fear of proliferating guns? Hope beats fear of losing welfare benefits?

Fear motivates. Fear wins. Hope is an ideal that we are so far from it's laughable to suggest anything else. Especially from the Party that invented that concept in Canadian politics.

Harper Just Needs to Survive

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end - which you can never afford to loose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."- Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale

It's important, particularly now, for Federal Tories to remember the above quoted "Stockdale Paradox." Now isn't the time to be relentless optimists.

This rings especially true in our present state of affairs. Don't believe Count Iggy's newfound distaste for coalitions - one is in the works, behind the scenes, ready for deployment.

It's impossible to conceive of a logical reason otherwise for the recent Liberal penchant for an election right now. Count Iggy had a year to turn Liberal fortunes around in the polls - and that hasn't happened. A year is enough for most Liberals. His time in power, he must reckon, isn't going to last much longer. His only shot at being Prime Minister is now. And if he can't get it by winning votes, there's always "... a coalition if necessary."

That means that Conservatives need to confront the brutal fact that a coalition of the left in this country is almost assured.

The way I see it, there are three possible tactical counter moves to this problem:

1) Win an outright Majority. To me this qualifies as the relentless optimist's choice. Most polls have consistently shown that the Tories have a ceiling of support of a bare majority - at best. Even former Harper Advisor Tom Flanagan has pointed out that we are living an era where a Tory majority is a reclusive dream. That doesn't mean that a Tory majority isn't possible - only improbable. If it happens great, but despite Tory hopes, and Tory best efforts (which should not abate), a majority will most likely not materialize. But there are other options.

2) Convince Some Opposition MPs to Switch Sides. Current polling projections shows the Tories winning somewhere between 150 and 153 seats in an election. That's just a 1/2 dozen seats to a majority. It's possible that some opposition MPs, unhappy with Count Iggy Puff's coalition of losers, would be willing to jump ship. To me this is a very realistic scenario, and one that would save Canada from a socialist fate that would make even Pierre Elliot Trudeau Blush.

3) Resign En Masse. To me this is the nuclear option. At the end of the day, it's the very one thing that could blow any coalition attempt away - yet it brings with it high political dangers. If every Tory MP resigned en masse as part of an organized take down by the Harper Tories, it would prevent a new coalition government from functioning. Everything would grind to a halt. Effectively it would force the short lived Prime Minister Count Iggy's Government into another election. Very quickly the man who said he wouldn't, and the other men who said nothing would be facing an angry electorate asking the question why? Good luck to the opposition on navigating that situation.

Given the above, the Tories need to prepare themselves for the brutal reality of a coalition government. It's possible that Harper may not be Prime Minister for a brief time (despite winning the most seats), before returning to power in a snap election. The best thing they can do is make the moves now to strategically position themselves for what they will need to do later.

In short, Harper doesn't really need to win a majority at all. What he needs to do is survive. If he can, very shortly he could find himself facing a divided, unpopular, cash strapped opposition as Prime Minister of a stable Majority - Even if he has to take a short lived "walk in the snow" to get there.

The Battle Begins

All three opposition parties have rejected the Tories 2011 budget.

An election in early May is certain at this point.

Make no mistake about it, this time around the question will be Yes or No to a Socialist Coalition.

Iggy Puff and the Laytonator know full well what they're doing. The only question will be how long it takes for it to come out.

Personal Attacks

Iggy Puff is insulted:
“While the Ignatieffs have made the most of their coming to Canada in their respective fields, they have never ceased to enjoy great privilege, as a function of the financial and educational resources and social status they brought with them, and which are theirs to this day,” a website authorized by the Conservative Party says.


In response, the Liberal Leader accused the Tories of twisting the facts and acting outside the bounds of decency. “Their attack on me is a disgrace. They’ve attacked my patriotism. They’ve attacked my commitment to the country. And now they’re attacking my family.”

He said the Tories’ targeting of his character and family is unparalleled in this country. “These personal attacks are unprecedented in the history of Canadian democracy,” Mr. Ignatieff charged.(link)

Those horrible Tories! How could they! Why... If they only knew what it felt like!

I guess I should probably say hi to those soldiers out in the street... They seem to be nowhere to be seen...

Also better go to my Hospital for my "US style healthcare." Meanwhile I thought Abortion was going to banned... Oh well I guess not all of the "hidden agenda" could be right.

PS - I don't blame you Iggy for making such a wildly inaccurate statement. After all you were out of the country when these attacks were launched, most likely, by some of the very same people sitting in your War Room right now. (No attack intended... Ok maybe a little bit of attack intended).

PPS - Do I think the Tories should be calling into question Iggy Puff's family history? No. It's ill advised. There's plenty of more important things to talk about. Canadians don't care what part of Iggy's family history is exaggerated. That being said, such a comment from a Canadian opposition leader is not only wrong, it's uninformed, and a little pretentious (which no doubt just reinforces the Conservative attack that Iggy is elitist and out of touch).

The Awakening in Lybia

...Mercenaries were reportedly killing anyone in their way, women, children and elderly. Tanks were entering the residential areas. A Man from Ajdabiya vowed to get his revenge on Gaddafi, as reported by ShabLibya. Even if dead, the man said, he would dig Gaddafi up and burn him, as he mourns the loss of so many killed men, women, children and elderly.(link)
I sincerely hope that man gets his wish.

With determination like that, Gadaffi's toast.

Cotton-Picking Moments

"If you say democracy is a little distraction, it doesn't matter to you, look out because the ... Canadian people will say now 'wait a cotton-pickin' minute here,'" Ignatieff said.(link)
First off, I'm sure Iggy Puff is no white supremacist running amok in Ottawa. I'm sure happy he made a gaffe like this one and do hope the Tories push this issue just as much as the Liberalismos would do under similar circumstances. That being said, it's a distraction that doesn't deserve more than a news cycle.

I would like to make one quick comment: Iggy needs to loosen up. I don't know if verbage like this is entirely normal for him, but it's precisely that kind of verbage that makes him appear aloof and out of touch.

We all know he's smart. He was a friggin' Prof at Harvard. He doesn't need to dumb it down for the rest of us. He may not be trying to do that, but it really doesn't matter in politics. Perception is everything.

He'd be best to drop the folksy talk...

A great new device that can detect Liberal Hot Air

A Canadian government scientist has spearheaded the development of a high-tech measuring device to more accurately gauge the amount of methane released by burping and farting cows - a significant source of the world's greenhouse gases. (link)
They better not shoot those laser beams at Warren Kinsella... The thing may blow up.

Trudeau Faux Pas

Le Trudeau is having a bad week:
"Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, 'honour killings,' female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence."

During an interview with radio station Newstalk 1010, Trudeau, the Liberal immigration critic, said he was "uncomfortable" with the government labelling honour killings as "barbaric," a remark that sparked a series of attacks from Conservative MPs.

"You could say it's absolutely unacceptable as a phrase," said Trudeau, adding that the word could have the effect of making newcomers "defensive."(link)

We wouldn't want to make people "defensive." Oh my. That might lead to people being uncomfortable.

That might lead to some people feeling unwelcome. Like people who might believe in "honour killings."

I gotta tell you, unlike some, I don't spend one moment at night worrying about making killers "defensive."

But hey - mistakes happen. Even to the best of us. No need to go overboard on Trudeau over this (The Tories have better things to do). I'm sure Trudeau realized how wrong he was as he spoke the words out of his mouth - Just make a quick apology and forget about it.

Instead he did this:

"Perhaps I got tangled in semantic weeds in my comments, particularly in view of the Conservatives' cynicism on these issues. I want to make clear that I think the acts described are heinous, barbaric acts that are totally unacceptable in our society," he wrote in an email to Postmedia News.

"I retract my comments and apologize if they've been interpreted by any one as dismissing or diminishing the serious and appalling nature of honour killings and other gender-based violence."

He added: "My expectation — given their vehemence against me — now that the Conservatives take this issue more seriously than their record indicates, is that they will immediately bring forward a comprehensive national strategy to combat violence against women as the House of Commons has been calling for since 2008."

Either you should apologize completely, honestly, or you shouldn't bother.

I'm not convinced, after reading what he said above, that he entirely realizes how wrong he was. He's left he impression that he still agrees with some aspect of what he previously said.

I'm sure Trudeau doesn't believe that "honour killings" are anything less than "barbaric."

The point is he's acting like a complete douchebag right now. The Tories did nothing wrong here. They've done plenty wrong elsewhere that he can talk about. But an apology isn't the time to talk about it because it makes you look like a twit. It isn't the time for qualifiers. What you said was wrong - admit it and move on. It's not about "semantic weeds" or how people "interpreted" your comments - your comments were wrong and offensive.

Instead he's managed to create some EXTRA negative headlines for his team.

Iggy Puff, wisely, is not defending his shadow minister - how could he?

This is a bad day for Trudeau. My advice to him would be to suck it up and take it like a man. The rest of us should take a valium and let it go - we could have easily made the mistake ourselves.

Banking Shenanigans in Wisconsin

Blackmail is not out of the question for Big Unions in Wisconsin:
The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin...

In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company. (link)

I guess after trying to make a run on the pro-Walker M&I bank in Wisconsin didn't work, extortion is next best alternative...

The uniquely Canadian part of this story is that ever since December of last year M&I is owned by Bank of Montreal.

Americans everywhere can rest easy that a Canadian company will be paying out M&I's treasury IOUs... I wonder whether M&I's new "Canadian" influence will lead to less ardent Walker support.

Our great Rehabilitation System

CALGARY — A dangerous, 402-pound convicted killer ... has escaped from custody while on an escorted leave in Edmonton.

William Wade Bicknell, 42, overtook a lone guard driving him back to the Drumheller Institution around 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Holding the guard hostage, he also stole several firearms and an quantity of ammunition.

Police said Bicknell then drove to a rural residence near Chipman, Alta., just northeast of Edmonton, and forced his way into home.


Prior to leaving the home, Bicknell disabled the telephone and Corrections vehicle, threatening both men not to call police. Neither person was injured.(link)

I sure hope his "escorted leave" lead to some good rehabilitation...

And I hope that firearm was registered!

The fact that this man was even granted an "escorted leave" baffles me. Thanks to that decision he's been given more opportunities to create new victims. Those responsible for this in government should either be reprimanded or dismissed - neither will likely happen.

This isn't the first time the granting of "escorted leave" to a dangerous criminal has made headlines in this country. I just for the life of me can't understand how anyone in their right mind can think it's reasonable to let high risk offenders out roaming in society - even supervised.

What a disgrace. We have no Justice System in this country. What we do have is a "Rehabilitation System." "Justice" doesn't even seem to be on the radar screen.

PS - As a disclaimer - I have no problem with rehabilitation being a component of the justice system. Certainly it has it's place particularly for young offenders who must re-enter society one day. I have a problem with it being the sole purpose of our Justice system. Rehabilitation is the common refrain that numerous Liberal MPs profess an almost idolatrous devotion to - to the exclusion of Justice. It's as if the concept that our Justice System is there to protect people is just so archaic and alien it's almost gains scorn by the Left. The reason why again baffles me.

Weird political moments...

This exchange with NDP MP Mulclair is telling:
“Tom, are you trying to kneecap your leader while he’s recovering from a bad hip? Tim Powers is out there saying it looks like you’re trying to replace your leader by beating the drums for an election.”


Turning to face Mr. Lilley, who was parked behind the usual roped barrier put there so reporters don’t get too close to MPs at the microphones, he responded: “Well Brian, since I have so much respect for you as a journalist, why don’t you tell me what you heard me say that would make you say that, and not something that a Conservative spinmeister would say.”


Mulcair: “You tell me something that you’ve heard me say that would lead you to say that? You’re the journalist who asked me the question. Tim Powers isn’t a journalist, he’s a Conservative spinner.”(link)

The entire exchange is just odd. The appropriate response would be something we're all familiar with: "I support Jack Layton as leader 100%. Jack has been instrumental in brining the NDP to where it is today. And I think I speak for the members and for the caucus that the party is united without a doubt behind his leadership."

Or something to that effect... The confrontational hostile Q&A is at best bizarre.

Maybe Muclair had a bad day. Or maybe there's something else going on behind the scenes we don't know about.

When you have no new ideas...

You attack things that no one cares about:
Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals are ignoring the Tory edict requiring the government of Canada to be referred to as the “Harper government.”

In fact, they’ve launched a little re-branding exercise of their own and are now calling the government the “Conservative regime” or even the “Harper regime.” (link)


Do you not remember the "Paul Martin Government."

Isn't there something better you can come up with?...

Look - putting away my partisan chapeaux for a second, what kind of messed up strategy is this from the Liberal Party? First it was "Are you better off than five years ago." Then it was "National Day Care." And just this past weekend it was all about "Education."

The Liberal message seems to change day by day. In all honesty, just what are they thinking? What is the message? And can anyone stick to it long enough for it to have a chance to resonate?

The only thing I can come up with is that they've done some sort of internal polling that has them convinced that the average Canuck gives half a beaver about this.

That seems doubtful to me.

Is there really that little happening in parliament that this is the most pressing issue?

Sun TV's Stupendously Great Timing

MONTREAL - Sun TV's brand of right-wing television news is set to launch April 18, the Quebecor parent company has confirmed.(link)

Let's see...

A budget March 22...

An election end of April...

A new right wing TV network mid April...

Yep that works.

Liberal Attack Ad Dud

I fully realize that (me being a Conservative supporter) criticizing Liberal Party strategy is probably as unbiased as an EKOS poll, but this is just nuts:
OTTAWA - Federal Liberals are moving swiftly to capitalize on public outrage over Conservative attempts to rebrand the government of Canada as "the Harper government."

They've produced a radio ad that will begin running Saturday in Quebec, expressing shock at the Tories' effrontery in equating the government with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"Like you, I am profoundly shocked," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says in the ad.

"It's totally unacceptable. The government of Canada is not the government of Mr. Harper, it's the government of citizens, the government of all the citizens of Canada."(link)

The most effective attack ads in my mind do a few things:

1. They use humour.

This ad has none. I mean come on! Getting government bureaucrats to refer to Government of Canada as the "Harper Government"?? How narcissist is that? It has to be worthy of at least a couple wisecracks. This ad is just missing a huge big honking opportunity to make Harper, and his supporters (including myself) feel like sheepish over obsessed buffoons. I remember when Paul Martin did this I think I may have laughed myself.

2. They aren't personal, they're policy based.

Really I don't know what to say over this criteria. I don't find the issue of how government employees refer to the government as a pressing policy issue. I suppose it is technically one.

I would think that the Liberals would want to use their money towards something better... Say an attack ad on the Tory handling of the Economy? Maybe an attack ad on "Conservative Broken Promises..." - Because we all know their were none of those (Ahum!-Income Trust).

I don't know I'm throwing out wild ideas here.

3. They pass the 30 seconds test.

We've all heard (or are about to hear) about how Canadians spend on average minutes a week thinking about politics. That's minutes for all three (federal, provincial, municipal) levels of government a week. What that translates to is that an attack ad has seconds to get it's message across.

Far too many political operatives interpret this information as meaning that their ad's message needs to be focused, clear and quick. Sure it does but put yourself in the average Canuck's shoes for a moment.

Every day the average Canadian is bombarded with information at all times. Canucks, like we all do, apply a filter to appropriately manage their time. Which is why politics takes so little of their time.

What's more important: Bev Oda's alledged forging of a document denying funding to an obscure religious group, or making sure that credit card bill gets paid?

What's more important: Obsessing about a power point presentation sent by a minister accidentally to an opposition MP, or cleaning up that monstrous mess left by your 14 month old who refuses to give mommy or daddy a break?

The true 30 second rule, is this: can you convince a parent, just home for 10 hours of work, has ten other things to do of financial or personal value in the same night, that this issue is important enough for them to care about it?

Does how the government of Canada refer to itself in name take precedence over doing the dishes, changing those diapers, paying those bills, asking for that raise, getting a new doctor, doing your taxes, getting the oil changed, fixing that furnance...

In short NO.

That's why this ad is a dud.

When the Producers go on Strike...

It's called France:
In a major turnaround, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his indebted government are abandoning a tax ceiling for big earners he once hailed as key to modernizing France and luring investors.


It only affected a small percentage of taxpayers -- 234,000 at the time it was passed -- but was seen as symbolic of Sarkozy's efforts to lure rich taxpayers back to French soil away from tax havens.

French rock legend Johnny Hallyday, a friend of Sarkozy's, disappointed fans when he moved to Switzerland in 2006 to escape high taxes.(link)

On an unrelated note, Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is coming out soon.

Sarkozy should make sure there's a showing in Paris.

X-37B Refuses To Die

For a Cancelled NASA project, the X-37 seems to have forgotten how to die:

This will mark the second space mission for the Air Force's X-37B space plane program — but the first for this particular plane. It is the second X-37B spacecraft built for the Air Force by Boeing and carries the name Orbital Test Vehicle 2, or OTV-2.


...The vehicle was originally developed as part of a NASA project that was shifted to the military when funding ran dry.(link)

Scramjet propelled hypersonic bombers are not that far away. The US won't need aircraft carriers anymore... Or pilots either!

Elections Canada Corruption II

The head of the NCC has come out suggesting Elections Canada has purposefully targeted Harper over the "in-out" affair.

“From my perspective, they probably don’t like Harper going back to the days he was here, absolutely ... I just think it’s pretty hard to not think, if you’re sitting back objectively that there’s not a bit of friction between the Conservatives and Elections Canada,” Mr. Coleman said.
Meanwhile Harper's seems to be giving up the fight:
But with government also positioning itself for a possible spring election, the prime minister also maintained that the Conservative party "always respects" Elections Canada's interpretations of the law.

"In this particular instance, we changed our practices to conform with its new interpretations three years ago," said Harper.

Personally, my position remains that the Conservatives should still fight this. Harper's triangulations on this issue are a little puzzling to me. At this point numbers of Conservative officials face possible jail time as a result of these charges which have nothing more to do than a difference of interpretation when it comes to election law. Just what is to be gained by letting this go?

Beats me. Either way, I'd like to see an audit of certain Liberal MPs expenses for similar accounting practices that have been conveniently ignored by Elections Canada.

I find this quote most interesting:

The change in tone Wednesday from Harper matters, say critics and observers, because the Conservative government has gained a reputation for steamrolling arm's-length government watchdogs.

"Those of us who worry about the institutional integrity of the Ottawa system do worry about it," said Richard Johnston, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia. "One has the sense that these guys are prepared to take on any institution that gets in their way."

Whenever the Conservatives disagree with a government bodies (notably ones filled with Liberal appointments) they are "steamrolling." It's the essential challenge that the Conservatives face in governing a country that has been ruled by the Liberal Party for most of the past century. Most government officials are Liberals. They can't get around it. It'll take years to sort out.

Especially at Elections Canada.

Elections Canada Corruption I

The Squeaky Wheel in Wisconsin

Unions are an interesting lot.

From what I can see they almost seem to thrive off of blackmail. Blackmail, or maybe the insane ability to hold hostage society to a set of demands that never seem to go down.

I realize it probably wasn't always so. There was a probably a time where unions were very much a force of good. A union once even played a role in bringing down Soviet Russia. But that was a different time.

Right now unions, or should I be more specific, PUBLIC sector unions across western civilization have managed to get the mother load. Ever increasing benefits and compensation well above their private-sector brothers and sisters without change during recessions.

Don't like it? We'll protest. We'll take to the streets. We'll shut you down. And we don't care if you like it or not. This is our right and we will take you down if you disagree.

The problem is this isn't Egypt. Governor Walker is not Adolf Hitler. He hasn't outlawed any parties. He hasn't killed anyone. He hasn't done a damn thing so far except propose the unthinkable: curb public sector union power.

I'm the type of guy that gets annoyed in life when I see people who complain excessively for ridiculous things getting what they want. The show Party Mama drives me nuts. The whole show is filled with women who can't seem to understand that there are constraints in this world.

No ma'am I can't do that. No ma'am the hall isn't available then. No Ma'am we can't meet that deadline. "No" it's not something that these "Party Mama's" tend to accept as an answer. Personal relationships be damned - I want my party my way! They spend the entire episode refusing to accept reality - and what's worse it seems that the people around them perpetually bail them out.

Why? The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease.

It sounds bad, but it's true. Whiners get a lot in this world - over the short term.

Over the long term whiners get ignored. Because if you're the kid that always cried wolf... We know the rest of the story.

As I see it public sector unions in Wisconsin are whining. They refuse to accept reality. The state is broke. The government elected by the people was elected on a very specific mandate.

They could have sucked it up. They could accepted defeat as a lesson learned. They couldn't convince the people. The people didn't get it. Insert whatever excuse you want here.

Instead they said to hell with the people. The Squeaky Wheel gets the grease. Protest, Protest, and more protest. If we squeak enough we'll get what we want.

Over the short term...