Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Justin Trudeau is clearly ready to be Prime Minister...

Today's Nanos rolling poll numbers (see link below)
It's been a struggle to decide how to vote this election as a progressive desperate for change.

Liberal strength in the polls and various by-elections from 2013 to late 2014 seemed to collapse late last fall for various reasons.  The NDP victory in the Alberta election in May this year pushed the federal NDP into major contention.  The Tory attack, echoed by the NDP, that Justin Trudeau is "just not ready," seemed to be sticking.

Then the election was called in August.   Suddenly, Trudeau's muted pre-election appearances gave way to great passion and previously vague policy positions were replaced by a crystal clear message to boost economic growth by lowering taxes on the middle class, raising them on the 1% richest, and greatly expanding infrastructure spending now.    

At the same time, Mulcair's NDP fell into the very same trap that Olivia Chow fell into last year in the Toronto mayoral race: running a bland, frontrunner's campaign.  Mulcair has inspired few with his too carefully devised policies designed to bring about incremental and undramatic change at the federal level.  On issues of economic insecurity and employment, Mulcair has offered little inspiration. 

On top of that, Mulcair has failed to impress most Canadians with his leadership style.  What was once admiration for his tough questioning in the House of Commons and clarity on some important issues has now become frustration with his caution.

Furthermore, Mulcair has consistently failed to impress during all of the leaders' debates, including the most recent this week on foreign policy, where Justin Trudeau soared with passionate attacks on Stephen Harper's record.  Trudeau embodies the change most progressives want after this election, both in terms of policy but also style.   

I will admit that for years I disliked Mulcair.  Before he became NDP leader, I found him to be insufferably arrogant and unlikeable.  Since becoming leader, he's mellowed, trying to be perceived as more prime ministerial.   On some counts, he's succeeded.  But the old prickly habits are still there.  We saw them in the Globe's economy debate where Mulcair mocked Justin Trudeau for previously admitting to smoking marijuana. 

After the Maclean's leadership debate in August, I had a nice chat with a family member who usually votes Liberal.  She said Mulcair, "still creeps me out."   I remember well too another friend who had a very negative reaction using similar language to Mulcair's victory speech in 2012 after winning the NDP leadership.

Clearly, Mulcair is no Rachel Notley.  The notion that the NDP's victory in Alberta would automatically transfer to the federal level is simply untrue.  

Perhaps the big story of this campaign can be summed up like this: the public, now exposed to Mulcair on a regular basis, is realizing they don't like him all that much despite advertised strengths.  His muted policies aren't helping much either.   Furthermore, Trudeau has shone in this election campaign with passion and policy clarity on the issues most important to Canadians.  He's performed well above expectations while Mulcair has performed well below them.

This is why we're seeing the Liberals emerge as the sole challenger to the Conservatives while the NDP falls back to the mid-20s. 

I expect this trend will continue despite the NDP's renewed plans to mimic Tory attacks on Trudeau.  

Some words of advice for the NDP: don't stoop to more personal attacks on Trudeau as the public, like me, is starting to believe that he is, indeed, "ready" to lead Canadians.   Instead, focus on the issues that are NDP strengths like ensuring civil rights, better health care for all, a cleaner environment and experienced leadership.

I don't agree with everything the Liberals are proposing.  I have been very tempted to vote NDP in this election.  But I'm a pragmatist, and if the Liberals are the main challengers to the Conservatives, they'll get my vote. 

Based on current trends, I'm 80% sure I'm voting for my local Liberal candidate, Bill Morneau, who brings exceptional experience and qualities to the role of MP.   If elected, I hope Morneau focuses as much on helping his uniquely vulnerable local communities in Toronto Centre as MP as he does any cabinet portfolio given to him in Ottawa (should the Liberals form government.) 

Will Trudeau be able to continue this momentum and win?  If Canadians want change, yes.  No doubt, the Tories will spend millions over the next two weeks to undermine that Liberal momentum.  Hold on to your hats!  

How many people are unfairly imprisoned in the U.S., yet this guilty bitch gets a personal visit from Pope Francis?

Pope Francis is a progressive tease.

On issues affecting heterosexuals, he's been great, re-focusing the Catholic Church on fighting poverty, climate change and many other issues relevant to most people's lives.   He's even signaled that continuing to heap scorn and discrimination on LGBT people is not the best way for a Catholic to spend their time.

Yet most of that goodwill has evaporated in my mind thanks to this one small, but hugely symbolic action.

Just think of all the impoverished, probably innocent people in the U.S. who couldn't afford decent legal help who are now suffering in prison.

None of them got a personal visit from the Pontiff during his recent trip to the U.S. to boost their spirits. 

Instead, Francis chose to visit this bigot bitch who's guilty as sin of her crimes.  Public servants in a secular society must fulfill their duties and treat everyone equally under the law.   She, who will not be named (on this blog,) failed to do so.  And she thumbed her nose at the judicial system in the U.S.

In certain grotesque, religious circles, I'm sure the bigot bitch is a hero.  But years from now, the Pope's visit to see her in prison will be looked on as if he went to visit a member of the KKK who refused to admit African-Americans to university and got jailed for it.
 
Shame on the Pope. 

******UPDATE

Days later, the Vatican is backtracking, claiming the "meeting should not be seen as support."  

Read the contradictory details here.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mulcair and Trudeau making it hard for promiscuous progressives to decide how to vote...

I've been busy with work and life lately so I haven't had any time to blog since the beginning of the month.  I can't promise that'll change much between now and October 19th.  But I'm happy to share these thoughts today.

We seem to be stuck in a very tight three-way race with daily fluctuations that see one party on top, followed by a drop to a close third place within 24 hours and back again (if you follow the daily stream of rolling Nanos polls, which I do.)  Other legit pollsters like Abacus and Ipsos Reid confirm that trend.    

Since the early August election call, we can now deduce some clear trends:

  • The narrow NDP lead over the Conservatives has dissipated.
  • The Conservatives, after a rough first month, are back to where they were at the election call, but show little ability to grow further.
  • The Liberals have rebounded somewhat and are back in this game.

Why has the NDP lost its edge in the polls?

I think it's because of Tom Mulcair's overly cautious campaign.  The problem is varied: Mulcair's platform - with its promise of $15/day child care, balanced budgets, a corporate tax hike, a small business tax cut and incremental change here and there - seems designed to calm fears about an NDP government. 

Perhaps some of those fears have been calmed.  But the modest platform thus far isn't catching fire or exciting even the base.  It's certainly not exciting me much. 

On top of this is Mulcair's dry personality.  He does come across as very competent and prime ministerial.  But he's not warm and it seems that Canadians are not connecting with him much.  He comes across as an adequate replacement for Stephen Harper, not an inspiring one.  He wouldn't be a loved prime minister, certainly no more than Stephen Harper.

On the most important issue facing the country - the economy - Mulcair's platform seems a bit hodgepodge and uninspiring.  This may be a communications problem.  Mulcair has often expressed his economic vision for Canada: a more diverse economy, less dependent on fossil fuels, more opportunity for people, etc.  The separate planks are there and they are smart.   But the entire package has yet to congeal into a coherent and easily explained and inspiring whole.  That might change should the NDP put out their full platform backed up by some inspiring talking points that simply explain how an NDP government will make our lives better.

An average poll rating of 32% to 34% at the start of the campaign has eroded for the NDP down to just below 30%. 

Meanwhile, the Liberals have halted their spring and early summer decline with a vigorous campaign that has been very clear in terms of its main message of growing the economy and helping the middle class.  

As a communicator, Justin Trudeau is proving himself to be superior to Mulcair.  We saw this during last week's Globe & Mail debate on the economy in which Trudeau repeated often why the economy is in a ditch right now and how he intends to kickstart it by lowering taxes on the middle class, raising them for the wealthy and running deficits to invest in infrastructure now while interest rates remain low. 

Like it or not, the Liberal message on the economy is coherent.  Frankly, I can't find anything to quibble over among Liberal promises and much to admire.  As a promiscuous progressive, I can see myself possibly voting Liberal in this election after weeks of leaning to the NDP.

On leadership, I have to admit that Justin's voice and style still grates on my nerves.  The old attack line that he's "Just not ready," seems to still have some resonance.  But slowly, due to Trudeau's sunny, inspiring and effective campaign, that attack seems to have less and less potency every day.

If you believe the polls, the Liberals have emerged as the main challengers to the Conservatives in vote-rich Ontario.   Nanos puts the two parties neck and neck (after recently giving the Liberals a clear edge) in the province.  Ipsos still puts the Liberals well ahead of the Conservatives in Ontario, with the NDP a distant third.   

A clear lead for the NDP in British Columbia in August now seems threatened by Conservative and Liberal support.   Only Quebec remains staunchly in the NDP's corner in all polls.

With four weeks to go, voters desperate for progressive change have no clue which of these two parties is going to emerge as the main challenger of the Conservatives.   If this three-way split continues, such clarity may never come.

Under that scenario, it makes a re-elected Conservative minority quite likely, which would be terrible for the country.  It's likely that the NDP and Liberals would gang up to defeat the minority Harperites at their first opportunity in the House (the Throne Speech).   Trudeau's statement in the recent CBC interview that Stephen Harper, "will have a very difficult time commanding the confidence of the House after this election, after these 10 years of failings that he's had," makes that clear.

But it could take months before Harper brings the House back, perhaps not until 2016 long after the upcoming Paris climate change conference.   If six months pass before the opposition parties have a chance to defeat the government in the House, it would weaken the argument for the second place party to try to form a new government instead of the Governor General calling another election.  

I would prefer this constitutional uncertainty be avoided completely with an outright defeat for the Conservatives to one of the opposition parties on Oct 19th.  At this point, which ever one can muster the strength to win over and inspire enough progressive Canadians to do it will suffice for me.

Between the two main opposition leaders, I had thought that Mulcair was the most ready to govern.  In most ways, I still do.  But if he can't inspire Canadians to elect him, then he's lost the edge the NDP has enjoyed since the Alberta election in May: the claim that they alone can defeat Harper.  

Now Trudeau has re-emerged as a contender whose campaign and inspiring personality does embody the change many are seeking.  If the Liberals emerge as the main challengers in the coming few weeks and the NDP continues to recede, I will switch back and support the Liberals.   

A Trudeau victory would irk the hell out of most average Conservatives in this country, most especially Stephen Harper.   That is reason enough to savour the possibility of a Liberal victory.  After 10 years of torture, it would be delightful to see Conservatives do a little squirming.  

I'm still hoping that Mulcair and the NDP find a way to right their ship and inspire progressive voters to put them over the top.   They may still. 

Both opposition parties have the potential to seize the moment and win this.  I'm hoping that one of them pulls it off.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Let's all support Mark Holland's campaign in Ajax to stop Chris Alexander's reign of error

With today's international crisis of Syrian refugees exploding, including the tragic death of a 3-year-old boy, his brother and mother off Turkey, it's put a strong focus on the record of Stephen Harper's government on refugees in general.

We have a commitment to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees come to Canada which the government has barely begun to honour.

We have a government that played politics with the refugee issue by cutting off health care to refugee claimants and other social supports in a bid to placate the Conservative Party base, which generally hates refugees.   When the Ontario government stepped in to offer health care coverage to refugees after the Harper government abandoned them, Minister Chris Alexander scolded the Wynne administration for its compassionate move.

What are some other big accomplishments by Alexander in his role as Citizenship Minister?  Trying to confuse the niqab and the hijab in the minds of Canadians and further poisoning relations between Muslim-Canadians and non-Muslim Canadians.

And now yesterday, have a look at Alexander in action trying to blame the media for not spending enough time covering the refugee crisis hitting Europe, and getting caught in a lie.  His argument seemed to be that he was unwilling to do anything about a crisis unless the media gave it more coverage.   This helps explain the Harper government's panicked response today to the international attention. 




Chris Alexander is a petty, petty man!

His recent performance reinforces the need to not only defeat him, but also the entire Harper government this election.

It just so happens that Alexander is one of many low-hanging Tory fruit running for re-election in Ajax, Ontario, and quite vulnerable to defeat.   He's facing off against the former Liberal incumbent, Mark Holland, who lost by a small margin last time to Alexander due to the 2011 Liberal vote collapse.

This time, Holland looks well-positioned to take back the seat and rid Canada of Alexander's pettiness, at least in the House of Commons.   If I lived in Ajax, I'd most definitely vote for Holland.   At any rate, I will be donating to Holland's local campaign.  I encourage you to as well.

And if you live in Ajax riding, please vote for Mark Holland on Oct 19th!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Peel school board's courageous stance against ignorance, bigotry and discrimination

In the face of very ignorant protests from parents and religious groups who want kids to grow up in a learning environment where LGBT people don't exist, this is a breath of fresh air. 

"Parents can remove their kids from sex-ed classes for religious reasons, but any requests for students to opt-out of learning about gay families or diverse gender identities won’t be tolerated, says the director of Ontario’s second largest school board — one that expects to be hard hit by protests over the new health curriculum." 

“We cannot — we will not — by action or inaction endorse discrimination,” said Pontes, who cited Ontario’s Human Rights Code as applying to people of all sexual orientation and gender identity. “Supported by legal opinion, bolstered by our core values, I would no more say yes to someone wanting a child excluded because of a discussion about LGBTQ than I would a discussion about race or gender.”

Congrats to the Peel Board's director of education, Tony Pontes, for this courageous stance!  There will be hundreds of bigots in that region who will continue to demand the public school system sanitize public education to appease their bigotry and they'll scream bloody murder about this decision.

But it is most definitely the right decision!   LGBT students exist in Peel Region schools.  This is a victory for them!