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Election Fever!
September 4, 2008 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Everyone is all abuzz about the upcoming election! But even after introducing an act calling for fixed election dates because "this power allows the governing party to set the time of the election to its own advantage", Stephen Harper has decided to call it quits on the 39th Parliament because it's "dysfunctional" even though he's only three years into his mandate. After all, he can change his mind on fixed elections because he supported them in the first place.
posted by GuyZero (115 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
A note to further refine the issue: the new elections bill allows for earlier election if the government fails a confidence motion, but in this case there's hasn't been any confidence vote. Harper just feels that doesn't have the confidence of Parliament. Perhaps he should try some couples counseling with Parliament.
posted by GuyZero at 5:50 PM on September 4, 2008


OH STEPHEN HARPER NO!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:53 PM on September 4, 2008


I thought he was expected to announce Sunday -- the last possible moment before two by-elections. Kind of a nasty trick to play on all the people working the by-election day (those with political party affiliations, as well as Elections Canada workers)!
posted by Chuckles at 5:54 PM on September 4, 2008


Yeah, I couldn't cram everything into this post. Avoiding the by-elections is the lamest of the tactical reasons for calling this election. I don't know if he'll call the GG Sunday but knowing Harper it will probably be at 3 AM.
posted by GuyZero at 5:57 PM on September 4, 2008


I hate Steve.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:01 PM on September 4, 2008


Political players who have genuine impact tend to derive their power from either dividing the electorate or uniting it. Karl Rove and his crowd were geniuses at division. Sadly for Canada (and for the part of the world which it impacts), Mr Harper seems to work mainly from their playbook.

And he's good at it.
posted by philip-random at 6:12 PM on September 4, 2008


As much as a dick Haaarper is my wife and I are going to Thunder Bay this weekend (currently live in MN), part of which is checking out employment and housing just in case the Old Man and the ill temperate governor wins the US elections.
posted by edgeways at 6:22 PM on September 4, 2008


Jeez, I wish the Liberals had gone for Rae. I just can't get behind Dion -- and even having lived in Ontario during "Rae Days," I still believe in the guy.

As far as our federal politics go, I live in Sherbrooke, which is desperately disheartening: a riding where they could literally run a dead dog for the Bloc seat and win. I can't think of a single thing our MP has ever done for the region, and he's got one of the worst attendance records in the House, but I think this will be his 6th or so straight win.
posted by Shepherd at 6:26 PM on September 4, 2008


Flagged as CanadaFilter
posted by DU at 6:28 PM on September 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought it was odd timing with all the hysteria over listeria in vote-rich Ontario (and now samonella in Quebec) and blame being given to the changes brought by conservatives in the food inspection system. Hmm, I wonder if this will affect Tony "Walkerton" Clement.

Maybe I haven't been listening to CBC enough lately but what exactly was disfunctional about the government? I'm not snarking, honest.
posted by saucysault at 6:33 PM on September 4, 2008


voiding the by-elections is the lamest of the tactical reasons for calling this election.

And the lamest of the strategic reasons is that this way his party people avoid having to testify about "improprieties" in the way they ran their last campaign. Who needs a pardon when you can just dodge the hearing?

Good post, GuyZero.

Kelowna, where I am nowadays, has been Conservative since the 60's. I got some campaignin' to do!
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:40 PM on September 4, 2008


My local douchebag, Colin Mayer has been sending out pre-election campaign materials using public funds. Which is illegal, afaik.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:49 PM on September 4, 2008


saucysault, basically -- and I'm not trying to be partisan here, I'm not fond of the Harper government but this is my honest read -- there were a lot of missteps on the government's end of things, on all fronts, and Harper is taking particular umbrage at the Conservatives being called to task by Elections Canada for violating election guidelines.

There are a lot of committees in the House that are going nowhere right now: the committee to investigate the Conservative malfeasance in the last election was stonewalled by Conservatives simply refusing to show up, but there are a lot of other committees (although specifics fail me) where the Liberal contingent is foot-dragging and refusing to let things through.

What's troubling is that Harper doesn't seem to understand what a minority government is. He keeps putting forward relatively ill-thought-out legislation from a centrist perspective (and minority governments need to be centrist to function), but the Liberals won't call him on it because they're still too wobbly at the knees to face an election, the NDP doesn't have the clout to do anything and the Bloc is... doing whatever it is the Bloc does. So legislation keeps kind of waffling its way through the house with the Liberals abstaining from votes, but the big stuff never gets through committee and it's frustrating for all parties concerned.

Dion's recounting, which is obviously biased, of his conversation with Harper on Monday was that Harper's definition of "functional" is the Liberals guaranteeing they won't challenge the government on confidence issues until October 2009, which -- if that is indeed what Harper said, and I imagine Dion is spinning things in the most Conservative-unfriendly way possible -- is batshit insane for any government to ask, ever.

I have honestly been relatively satisfied with the minority government. I like minority governments. Normally, they force a balance of commitment to discussion and compromise you never get from a majority. But the anemic Liberals and the nobody-loves-us Conservatives have formed this massive suckhole of demoralizing, insipid non-debate where everybody says the other guy is wrong but nobody really has a clear way forward.

Harper, at least, is easy to figure out. He's a Refooorrrmmmm Party! stalwart that's acting like a centrist so as not to freak everyone out. Layton is also pretty easy to pigeonhole: a personable and slightly smarmy lefty who has the best of intentions and could probably do some good if he got enough seats behind him. Dion, though, I just can't parse: he's a smart dude but he's got zero presence. Even when he's right, he sounds like he's on the defensive, which is no way to win back the vote.
posted by Shepherd at 6:51 PM on September 4, 2008 [8 favorites]


...and also the Conservatives released a 200 page strategy manual on how to disrupt committees which has made all the Parliamentary committees run like a 1Gb PC running Vista...very slow, very buggy and frequently crashing and needing a reboot. Unusual that a government would sabotage its own legislative mechanisms, but that qualifies as "dysfunctional" in my books.

So look at this election as a reboot, because with the Cadman bribe and campaign financing scandals the political blue screen of death just came up.
posted by salishsea at 7:02 PM on September 4, 2008


It will be strange living in the States during their election hoopla while an election I could actually vote in is happening back home. Not that it makes a lot of difference - I think my riding has been Liberal since fish first crawled out of the sea and started fighting about sovereignty association.
posted by jb at 7:04 PM on September 4, 2008


I agree with Shepherd (and I have campaigned for the NDP in two elections). While Harper says a lot of stupid, ideological drivel, the government is fundamentally on the right track (hey, my expectations of government are pretty low, and, holy shit, his Cabinet has absolutely no talent except for Emerson), but it's only because it's a minority government. Can Dion win in Quebec? Probably not, so a Liberal minority seems unlikely, unless the NDP somehow continues to make inroads in Quebec and use those hypothetical seats to prop up a minority government.

I think it was kind of dumb for Harper to set fixed election dates in the first place - most Canadians are pretty used the parliamentary tradition of snap elections, so it wasn't as though he was scoring any political points by setting fixed dates.*

The election call is purely pragmatic: the people I work with in the Federal government say that this is as good as it's going to get poll-wise for Harper over the next 16 months. The economy is tanking, and will continue to tank until the spring. Why not call an election now?

More likely, the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP will split the vote in Quebec, given the Conservatives the seats they need to stay in power.

Hopefully this will be the end of Dion - he makes Jean Chretien seem like Martin Luther King in terms of communicating a message.

The problem is, who will replace Dion? Justin *fucking* Trudeau?

*BC also has fixed election dates; the next election will be held on May 12, well before audited financial statements for the previous fiscal year will be available for review. Quite clever, and quite terrible at the same time.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:20 PM on September 4, 2008


We seem to be pretty Liberal on this site. I distrust Harper because I think he's willing to be extremely political and divisive just to stay in power. Its different than than using political tools to accomplish things that he believes is good for the country. I also think that his cabinet is too inexperienced and plans only for the short term.

For example snubbing China at their debutante party was extremely stupid, I'm not saying that he has to kotow to them, but giving them face by showing up means that they owe us some at some point. Also ignoring all of the major cities except for Calgary and actively appointing a guy who hates cities was pretty ignorant. Not everybody loves the city, Toronto people may be a bit snobby but not everyone lives there by choice. There's a lot of jobs and a lot of immigrants there and they serve a purpose economically and socially and ignoring that doesn't help the country one bit.

Then again Dion is a bit of a wet towel.
posted by captaincrouton at 7:43 PM on September 4, 2008


I don't think I've ever been as disappointed in my countrymen and -women (even though as a multi-decade expat I don't really get to bitch too much) as when they elected that gargantuan sack of dogshit, Stephen Harper. My preferred end to his administration would see him stripped to the wait, his back livid with welts from the cane, pelted with rocks and garbage, fleeing southward amidst a hail of verbal abuse towards the succor of the Bushite scum he so unconvincingly emulates.

But I'm vindictive that way.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:48 PM on September 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


Jeez, I wish the Liberals had gone for Rae.

There is a third party, you know.

I'll just see myself out.
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:50 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's a Refooorrrmmmm Party! stalwart that's acting like a centrist so as not to freak everyone out.

It's important for Canadians to remember that the Conservative party is not the Conservative Party. That party died years ago, and what we have today is its zombie corpse, resurrected by the witchcraft of the Refooooorrrrrrm party.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


One other thing to consider that you won't see a lot of attention on in the press: when Parliament is prorogued, private members bills are carried into the next session. When a Parliament is ended, PMBs die.

I just can't get behind Dion

I would beg the NDP to replace Layton if I thought it would help. The man is a buffoon.

Anyway, the CBC is reporting that the Conservatives are "within striking distance of a majority".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:53 PM on September 4, 2008


Jeez, I wish the Liberals had gone for Rae.

There is a third party, you know.


And a fourth!

And a fifth, but they don't count.

Okay, here's a weird posit. Suppose that the election goes automagically in such a way that we have (roughly) the same numbers per party. Why wouldn't Harper be claiming that the government is still dysfunctional? Other than the fact that he can't call an election at that point whatever he desires. I mean, the polls give reasonable chances that we get another Conservative minority...so yeah.

Even better, what happens if Jean tells him that he's not allowed to dissolve parliament without actually losing a vote of confidence? That would be glorious!

(On preview: If you look at some reporting around C-61, they talk about the fact that it'll be gone after dissolution.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:00 PM on September 4, 2008


Did he just drop the writ? Are we talking rumour here?
posted by Deep Dish at 8:06 PM on September 4, 2008


Even better, what happens if Jean tells him that he's not allowed to dissolve parliament without actually losing a vote of confidence?

He'd shove some stinker of a bill that no other party could get behind to vote so fast it wouldn't make much difference.
posted by ssg at 8:11 PM on September 4, 2008


The polls are unbelievable. I suspect outright fraud by the polling companies. A perfect example of such fraud was the unbelievable lead Barbara Hall had in the 2003 Toronto Mayoral race.

My guess is he won't drop the writ until a non-rigged poll can echo the trial balloon he bought.

Never trust the polls, be a scrutineer and see for yourself what your community wants.

I was a scrutineer in in Nash's PHP riding during the last election (Copernicus Lodge). What I witnessed was about 130~ votes for Nash NDP, 40~ votes for Bulte Liberal, 7 votes for Conservatives (Klufas?) and 5 votes for Marijuana Party (I forget where the Greens were in this).

I was also a scrutineer for the last mayoral race (parkdale united church), and I witnessed about the same results. Miller (center/left) won by a landslide, while John Tory (right) received fewer votes than a local colourful character who would spend his time rollerblading on King street in a multicoloured cape with a plush top hat essentially yelling about whatever came to his mind. When he wasn't rollerblading he'd occasionally stand on a fire hydrant and do about the same. I forget his name but he spread his message via street art in the form of messages, slogans, stars and hearts drawn on the streets and side walks in chalk. Let me repeat, he beat (in that polling station) a very well funded the right wing candidate, while running a one man campaign with essentially no funds.

In my community, Harper has around 4% support, and the fact that we do not have rep-by-pop irks me. The greater Toronto area should have more seats than Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Maritime provinces combined.
posted by ecco at 8:15 PM on September 4, 2008


I think the writ will be dropped on Sunday. It's not just a rumour.

Captain Crouton has nailed it, I think:

>I also think that his cabinet is too inexperienced and plans only for the short term.

Agreed. Look at Gary Lunn. What an imbecile. But he has one of the safest ridings in the country, so no doubt he'll stay in Cabinet following the election.

>For example snubbing China at their debutante party was extremely stupid,

Agreed. It was kind of a dumb thing to do, especially since BC (we're all on the same team, right?) is promoting the Pacific Gateway, and really needs a Federal presence in order to succeed. Then again, you could say Harper's stance on human rights in China took balls. Then again, Harper has done nothing to stand up to the United States on the issue of human rights, which is just tragic. Once again, make Chretien of all people look like one of the great Canadian PMs.

>Also ignoring all of the major cities except for Calgary and actively appointing a guy who hates cities was pretty ignorant.

Agreed. That's what you get when you elect a populist, I guess. No matter that Toronto is Canada's economic engine. And they wonder why no one in the cities will vote for them.

>Then again Dion is a bit of a wet towel.

Agreed.

I distrust Harper because I think he's willing to be extremely political and divisive just to stay in power. Its different than than using political tools to accomplish things that he believes is good for the country.

I totally disagree. The Conservatives in this case are acting no different than any other Canadian government before them. Though I suppose the fear and loathing the party (nee Reform) has inspired in many Canadians would make it easy to think this.

But just wait until they form a majority government. Every Cabinet minister will resemble Palin.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:21 PM on September 4, 2008


I just love that word Refoooooooorm!
posted by anthill at 8:21 PM on September 4, 2008


Seriously though, I'm happy and sad that the Liberals are pilfering the Green Party's platform. Happy, because the agenda needs to happen right fucking now, sad because they have such a weak, uncharismatic leader trying to sell it.

Give Michael Ignatieff the next crack at the can...
posted by anthill at 8:25 PM on September 4, 2008


Ecco, if you took Alberta/Sask/Maritimes, you'd have something like 7M. Much more than the GTA.

Much more importantly, is the fact that a direct democracy system (rep by pop) is not necessarily a great idea. That's a bit too much of a derailing for my liking, but suffice it to say that the difference in opinion between two ridings in rural Newfoundland is the same, or even more, than that of Toronto. Rep by Pop means that you're going to have multiple identical voices from large centres, and ridings in rural areas that are a mishmash of opposing viewpoints. Not a great thing to have.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:28 PM on September 4, 2008


The writ might still not have hit the ground, but I got two spam calls this evening from a call centre working for John Weston, running for the Conservatives in the West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country riding. They wanted to know if I was voting for him. When I asked both of the callers why THEY liked Weston, they wouldn't answer my question and instead said that John Weston would get back to me.

So I'm looking forward to asking him why he has to hire dispassionate drones to stump for him. THAT will be an interesting chat with the candidate.

So rumour or otherwise, it is, as we used to say when the car had passed through the street hockey game, GAME ON!
posted by salishsea at 8:40 PM on September 4, 2008


I saw speculation somewhere (Toronto Star maybe?) that Harper wants the election over and done with before the US election, just in case Obama wins and the euphoria spills over into Canada and gives the Liberals a boost.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:59 PM on September 4, 2008


But just wait until they form a majority government. Every Cabinet minister will resemble Palin.

And that is what frightens me, and what I fear people don't quite see.

The problem is, both Dion and Layton are hardly inspiring, and outside Quebec the Bloc aren't it. Harper and the "Conservatives" have been playing it smart these past years (has it really been 3?!) by playing conservative fiscally and reigning in the socially conservative aspects of the party. They came right out and took abortion off the agenda last election. They know they need to reign that in to win. And now that they've had the last few years to play centrist, if they get a majority they have the numbers to push through the socially conservative bills.

Thank god for the senate.
posted by aclevername at 8:59 PM on September 4, 2008


If the Conservatives win a majority, I'm moving to the U.S.

No, wait....
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:07 PM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Then there's all that embarassing committee material that will die. Cadman, in and out, etc.

"Not functioning" my ass.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:11 PM on September 4, 2008


The greater Toronto area should have more seats than Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Maritime provinces combined.

Forgive me for not saluting my GTA overlords. This sounds an awful lot like tyranny of the majority from where I am sitting.

A good chunk of Harper's "popularity" in Saskatchewan results from gerrymandered electoral boundaries which favour farmers who hate everything. You don't find it odd that a city such as Regina, full of civil servants hired over the years by New Democratic provincial governments appear to vote for a right-wing party that hates them? (I have pulled vote, thanks for the tip on being a scrutineer...) Those boundaries were drawn up under Liberal governments..... We were electing TC Douglas and implementing public health care when Ontario was run from the Orange Lodge. The Libs and Conservatives both have their noses crammed so far up Bay Street asses... under the Conservatives Ford gets $88million to build V8 fucking engines when people face record oil prices, and Chretien/Martin don't provide BSE compensation when the cattle industry shuts down... but we are somehow second-class Canadians who don't deserve a say in the Canadian federation because in your neighborhood people don't like Harper?

We are fighting in Afghanistan when over 60% of the country doesn't support Canadian involvement in the war, and the Liberals refuse to say shit about it because they put us in that mess and the NDP are too weak and too stupid to capitalize politically.

Let's move on to the Greenshift, look I won't pretend that climate change and carbon emissions aren't a problem, but Saskatchewan and Alberta don't ever have smog days; that is a big city concern that is being off-loaded on the Hinterlands. You want a Greenshift? Don't build V8 engines in those Ford plants.... When Costco opened up in Regina, people were lined up 800-deep for retail jobs - this was just a few years ago.. I don't want our economy killed please... and when its -40, I would appreciate it if the government would allow me luxury of burning some Natural Gas. For some further absurdity, you can demand service in French for a speeding ticket in rural Saskatchewan - the native language of a whopping 2% (which under the law, as it is written is totally legit)... its a really fucked up state of affairs here and I believe this to be in large part, because people sitting in Central Canada sigh and pontificate about what should be happening without owning a fucking clue, and here on this normally clear-headed forum you are advocating the removal of my minimal political voice. Yeah so, the Liberals say nicer things, and Bush-bash once in a while - that is only difference between Canada's main parties. Harper is a sell-out and a shill for the oilmen in the Alberta and I have to listen to the fucking CBC and now metafilter tell me what a redneck I am for living in the same general geography as that bitter, moralizing, authoritarian nerd.

Let's finally be honest about the fact, that Canada only works in the gin-soaked brain of John A MacDonald... this election is going to take 300 million out of the pockets of regular Canadians just so we can put up this farce of a democratic front. I am so tired of this game...
posted by Deep Dish at 9:11 PM on September 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


Yes, Gary Lunn is an offensive, stupid, dickhead.

And yes, Dion has been an absolutely maddening disaster - not because I would vote Liberal this time (we have a pretty good NDP MP) but because it is really hard to imagine him running a decent campaign and I am afraid the Liberals will cough up enough of their seats to give Harper a majority.

I am ok with Harper so long as his hands are tied with a minority but the moment he gets a majority I think we all know exactly what kind of Mike Harris policies he will be bringing in.

Oh, and the Conservatives are really the C.R.A.P., if you recall them...
posted by Rumple at 9:14 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where are all the Americans snarking the Canadians? It seems to be great sport on MeFi for Canadians to put down the U.S. government, U.S. elections, and those running for office.
Kudos to the Americans for letting Canada be Canada. I wish the reverse would apply sometimes.
posted by shockingbluamp at 9:27 PM on September 4, 2008


Where are all the Americans snarking the Canadians?

Everyone in America fell asleep during John McCain's speech.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:29 PM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Even better, what happens if Jean tells him that he's not allowed to dissolve parliament without actually losing a vote of confidence? That would be glorious!

That is actually precisely what she should have done. They enacted legislation for scheduled elections, and as soon as they felt like it, they ignore that legislation.

She should have exercised her Vice-Regal powers. Oh to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation with the Queen...
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:37 PM on September 4, 2008


The problem is, both Dion and Layton are hardly inspiring, and outside Quebec the Bloc aren't it.

It's kind of incredible that Gilles Duceppe, the leader of a separatist party, is probably the most charismatic and likable leader of any political party in Canada.

under the Conservatives Ford gets $88million to build V8 fucking engines when people face record oil prices

I did a doubletake when I saw that announcement in the GM. Holy shit, that's a lot of money. But, then again, under Western Economic Diversification, Atlantic Opportunities and whatever the Quebec thing is called, the Federal government shovels money off the back of a truck for rural Canada. Some of the programs are good, but the Community Futures networks in rural western Canada are really quite ridiculous - business coaching and interest free loans to start used clothing stores in Vanderhoof? Give me a break. Toronto and the Ontario industrial belt doesn't get nearly enough support, compared to rural Canada. Plus, if you believe the messaging, the Ford plant in Ontario will also be an R/D centre.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:40 PM on September 4, 2008


Where are all the Americans snarking the Canadians?

They don't know how to correctly pronounce "Refooorrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmm."

(Also, I don't know how many know who Harper is - it's not like our politics gets much coverage down here. In fact, we would have NO coverage down here, except that the local NPR station carries As it Happens every weeknight. Whereas the American conventions are headliners on both BBC and CBC radio this week.)

As for the Toronto representation thing: rural districts can vary greatly -- I would never support a straight pop-rep system. But I think that is why we have provinces, so that the needs of PEI aren't just lost in the noise of everything else. That said, Toronto is often shafted, but usually its the provincial government holding the shaft. I think we just need to give our cities a bit more power -- not the stranglehold that Americans local governments seem to have which just tangles everything up, but something reasonable. But so cities can at least pay for the services which are used and enjoyed by many who don't live in them (I'm looking at you, 905).

But recently, it seems that its Atlantic Canada getting the back of Stephen Harper's Western Arrogance(tm) - I was deeply offended when the Conservatives (or whatever they were calling themselves then) went on about how dependant the east was and how independant the west was -- and then when the East and Centre sent them hay during their drought, no one even said thanks! Instead, they went on about how helping out your neigbour is a Western value. (*NB: in the Conservative world, BC isn't the west. I don't know where it is, just not to the west of Alberta).
posted by jb at 9:54 PM on September 4, 2008


. Some of the programs are good, but the Community Futures networks in rural western Canada are really quite ridiculous - business coaching and interest free loans to start used clothing stores in Vanderhoof? Give me a break.

If the sponsorship scandal taught us anything, its that these are usually scams or pork projects... It's corporate welfare and we are better of without any of it.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:58 PM on September 4, 2008


KokuRyu writes "I think it was kind of dumb for Harper to set fixed election dates in the first place - most Canadians are pretty used the parliamentary tradition of snap elections, so it wasn't as though he was scoring any political points by setting fixed dates."

The opposite for many. $DEITY save us from the fixed cycle madness that permeates the US system. I'm wildly disappointed they went that way here in BC and I hope it gets changed back before the movement gains momentum.
posted by Mitheral at 10:03 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's kind of incredible that Gilles Duceppe, the leader of a separatist party, is probably the most charismatic and likable leader of any political party in Canada.

I agree. I remember thinking during the last election that if it weren't for that separatist policy, and the fact that there were no Bloc candidates in Ottawa, I would have voted for him.
posted by aclevername at 10:12 PM on September 4, 2008


It's kind of incredible that Gilles Duceppe, the leader of a separatist party, is probably the most charismatic and likable leader of any political party in Canada.

I suspect you are not the only person who believes this, some others are trying to cash in on his goodwill.

That said, part of Gilles Duceppe's grasp of common sense is the fact he can state perfectly straightfoward and logical positions when he is talking to voters outside of Quebec, because they can't hold him accountable for anything.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:25 PM on September 4, 2008


The only problem with the G-G blocking an election is that, my fantasies aside, odds are it would spark a constitutional crisis, and that could only end with the abolishing of the entire concept governor-general and the Queen running this country. Which isn't great, but not terrible, but one major constitutional change helps the next change, and then there'd be a fight to elect / term-limit senators, which I really don't like. So her hands are tied, sadly.

Atlantic Canada has definitely not gotten along so well with Harper. A lot of that is, well, the fact that they're old-school PC folk, disliking the right-wing social policy of the current Conservatives. The obvious flag-bearer for the cause is Danny Williams, back in Newfoundland - considering he's been campaigning for "anyone other than the Conservatives" in the election, and considering his huge approval rating (which actually could be quite bad for NL when his tenure is done, if not before, but nevermind that), there actually could be some interesting results out East come election time.

God, I hope so.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:11 PM on September 4, 2008


and then there'd be a fight to elect / term-limit senators, which I really don't like. So her hands are tied, sadly

Mmm, indeed. I wish our Senate did more, and was more public about what they do. Having unelected (albeit politically appointed, which is probably something we should change) people who are unafraid of losing an election giving oversight to new legislation is a very, very good thing. We just need to change how they're selected.

The only problem with the G-G blocking an election is that, my fantasies aside, odds are it would spark a constitutional crisis

It shouldn't, though. The G-G's powers are enshrined in law; she holds all the reserve powers of the Sovereign, which includes the power to form and dissolve Parliament. Having the G-G work solely based on what the current Parliament wants is to completely ignore the function of the position.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:42 PM on September 4, 2008


I think the last GG to participate/influence/meddle in a Canadian election was Byng in 1925. Ever since that shitstorm, the GG has been a true figurehead - that is the function of the position.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:54 PM on September 4, 2008


No, it's really not. That the position has been made to be such is regrettable. The GG needs, IMHO, to be the final check on abuses of power--such as calling a snap election after pushing through legislation to avoid such calls.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:01 AM on September 5, 2008


Having the Governor General get actively involved - regardless of her constitutional power - is really unappealing to me. It would have to be a last resort. The Australian example of how rocky a road that can be is instructive.
posted by Rumple at 12:03 AM on September 5, 2008


I should have left Saskatchewan out of it. (over estimated by about a million).

Alberta 3,512,368 + Saskatchewan 1,010,146 + Maritimes 1,826,896 = 6,349,410. Just Alberta + Maritimes = 5,339,264. Which is closer to GTA 5,555,912.

There are "42 seats in the GTA", while "The Maritimes is currently represented ... by 25 Members" + Alberta 28 = 53. Or 26% more seats but with a smaller population.

GTA voters are second class citizens. We're charged more while getting smaller transfers than if our system was setup to be fair by population.

Deep dish, "Bay street" gets all the cash, annoys you and every person I've ever met, how the heck do we stop that?

I know you meant "Bay street" as corporate Canada, and didn't mean Toronto, when you referred to the $80 million given to Ford to build V8s, which is targeted at Windsor. Windsor is not Toronto, not GTA, not even part of the Golden Horseshoe, it's a suburb of Detroit.

You have to know more about BSE compensation than me, but a quick web check shows there was a $460 million BSE compensation plan announced in June 2003 which was under Chretien. And the BSE funds apparently were dispersed, so it sure seems like it was more than an announcement.

Sorry about the luncheon meat :)
posted by ecco at 12:20 AM on September 5, 2008


Having the Governor General get actively involved - regardless of her constitutional power - is really unappealing to me. It would have to be a last resort.

Well, yes. But the deliberate flouting of laws that he himself caused to be enacted would appear to be a very good reason to get involved.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:25 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's a suburb of Detroit

Them's fightin' words.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:26 AM on September 5, 2008


Toronto running the country scares me more than the conservative government. They cannot have more seats.

And $50m to Windsor for V8 engines now? They really should have helped Magna buy Chrysler.
posted by niccolo at 12:51 AM on September 5, 2008


There are "42 seats in the GTA", while "The Maritimes is currently represented ... by 25 Members" + Alberta 28 = 53. Or 26% more seats but with a smaller population.

How do you figure on combining apples and oranges?

Why not throw Nunavut in there as well? That'd really skew the numbers, and you could more easily pretend that all three places are so alike, they should receive lesser representation.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:01 AM on September 5, 2008


Magna buy Chrysler, so as to develop automobiles in Canada? Coupled with some investments in alternative energies? Sounds like a winning plan.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:02 AM on September 5, 2008


dirtynumbangelboy: Sorry, Windsor is adjacent to Detroit and has fewer murders, less crime... and is left-wing.

Both Windsor-West and Windsor-Tecumseh went to the 'dippers.
posted by ecco at 1:04 AM on September 5, 2008


Well, yes. But the deliberate flouting of laws that he himself caused to be enacted would appear to be a very good reason to get involved.

Well, flouting anyone's laws for that matter. But, apart from not wanting to see it happen unless the country really is in extremis, I also think it would be an excellent campaign issue for Harper once the election did come: the conservatives could be blah blah appointed Liberal hacks blah blah and in the interim they would have none of the fear that drives the Liberals to roll over for the Conservatives at every vote in the Commons, so we would get an election very soon anyway -- I think the NDP is ready for one (they love the idea of picking on a weak Dion since that's who their seats will come at the expense of) and the Bloc really doesn't care much one way or the other. So it would be trivial for Harper to get an election from a position of opposition.

It would be an entertaining spectacle, of course, in a train-wreckish sense
posted by Rumple at 1:12 AM on September 5, 2008


Oh, and my fucking heart is just breaking for Toronto. So many people, such little influence.

Every rural area is Canada is over-represented, get over it, almost to the same extent Ontario is over-represented in the Senate.
posted by Rumple at 1:15 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


ecco.. not really seeing how anything you're saying supports your incredibly offensive statement that a Canadian city is a suburb of an American one.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:15 AM on September 5, 2008


Sorry Rumple, those millions of us in Toronto don't like being ruled by Alberta fucktards who would have ridden into Iraq on shiny white horse if they could have. Give all those newfs in Fort McMurray a vote in Alberta and we'll see how that goes.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:25 AM on September 5, 2008


I wish our Senate did more, and was more public about what they do. Having unelected (albeit politically appointed, which is probably something we should change) people who are unafraid of losing an election giving oversight to new legislation is a very, very good thing. We just need to change how they're selected.

Would anyone who believes this mind too much putting their schoolbook analysis aside and seeing how effective the average Senator versus MP is? Have you sat in on either house? A committee? I'm guessing not. The HoC is a joke in comparison. Senators actually show up having read bills, done research (or at least having their aides do research), and ready to go to work. They don't score points by grandstanding. When legislation leaves each chamber, you can depend on improvements in the Senate, and pure nonsense from the HoC. Yes, Senators are appointed. Can you get past that to see the reality?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:35 AM on September 5, 2008


Stephen Harper - a dick, but one who hasn't screwed up majorly and is very good at cutting other party's support, especially in Quebec. Problem is, no one knows what crazy legislation will come next from his party.

Stephane Dion - a smart guy, but with zero charisma, the guy has the balls of a chiuahua and the spine of a jelly fish. Plus, his party is completely disorganized and split between the Chretien supporters and the Martin supporters, he has completely failed to unite his party behind him.

Jack Layton - nice guys finish last. The NDP has an excellent moral compass and are an important voice for social services and other "left-ist" ideals. The problem is they don't have a good steady platform, especially on economics.

Gilles Duceppe - good charisma, zero credibility outside Quebec, plus Harper completely took the wind out of his sails by declaring Quebec as a nation within Canada. That killed all the momentum and the Bloq has not been able to bounce back.

So, where does Canada go from here?
posted by Vindaloo at 5:16 AM on September 5, 2008


I'm finding all this Canadian political talk about Canadian elections by Canadians so horribly unCanadian. Frankly, this has nothing to do with being better than Americans so I am not even sure why anyone brought it up eh.
posted by srboisvert at 6:05 AM on September 5, 2008


dirtynumbangelboy... It was late so I wasn't clear. I apologized. I retract the offensive statment via suggesting the alternative geographic reality "Windsor is adjacent to Detroit ". My later statements about lower crime and different politics were an attempt to show how wrong I was, yes it is different than the city across the border.

I further want to pre-apologize to anyone from Detroit. I don't want to say one city is better than the other, such a judgment is dependent upon what you wish to measure. I'm sure there are statistics and qualities in which Detroit excels, and the same goes for Windsor.
posted by ecco at 6:21 AM on September 5, 2008


Give me a break. Toronto and the Ontario industrial belt doesn't get nearly enough support, compared to rural Canada.

Compare Nova Scotia's pre- and post-Confederation economies. Central Canada forced us to cut all ties with our natural trading partners in New England and hand everything to Toronto on the cheap. The idea being the Maritimes would strengthen the core of the country, then the good times would spread back out to the periphery. You already got your damned support; now it's payback.

...there actually could be some interesting results out East come election time.

Like in 1988, when 20 of 32 ridings went Liberal (coincidentally, the same number as the current house) but almost 60% of the rest of the country went with Mulroney? Yeah, I imagine a big red tide here will have another enormous impact on Parliament.

This is exactly what I feared after the last election. Harper hasn't been able to be incredibly offensive in his time in office, so it looks like the voters will reward him with a majority (thanks, Ontario). And then he'll have the ability to be as offensive as he wants for four-five years, just enough time to screw up the country good.

If Dion hadn't spent the entire last session of Parliament firing empty threats to force an election, I'd have much more respect for him. His constant game of "I really mean it this time... or maybe next time" on every freakin' issue was depressing. The problem with the NDP is timing. They needed to have Layton as leader in the 80s, and Broadbent as leader now. Layton's a great attack dog, not so much a leader.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:38 AM on September 5, 2008


A week ago I was all fired up about Harper and the endless list of things his gov't is doing that I don't agree with: ineffectual environmental policies (hello, 2050!), arts cuts, shady election spending, failure to act on Khadr, attacks on safe injection sites, etc., etc.

But then after watching all this U.S. election season meltdown insanity, I find myself strangely calm and accepting that the worst case scenario here is a Harper majority.

In contrast, the worst case scenario in the States is a McCain win, followed by a McCain death, followed by a theocracy.
posted by Paid In Full at 6:41 AM on September 5, 2008


Rumple: "... Ontario is over-represented in the Senate".

BC is heavily under-represented, Alberta and Ontario respectively less so. But all are under-represented with respect to the average population per seat.

What makes this annoying is TROC doesn't care, and the only party willing to change the senate would just skew the distribution to further under-represent Ontario (just like it tried with bill C-56 and commons redistribution).
posted by ecco at 6:48 AM on September 5, 2008


What makes this annoying is TROC doesn't care...

Actuallly, ecco, we *do* care. We just don't agree with you. Sheesh.

Put it another way... in Canada, the highest population-per-senator is BC, at 685k, and the lowest is Nunavut at 29k. In the US, the highs and lows in the Senate are California (18.2m) and Wyoming (261k). I don't hear California whining about being under-represented.

Being able to dismiss the 20 million non-Ontario residents or the 5 million residents of six provinces and three territories as if they don't exist and don't matter is *exactly* the reason why Toronto has such a bad reputation within Canada. Well, one of the reasons, anyway... And I say this as someone who has lived and worked in Toronto, and loves the city overall.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:10 AM on September 5, 2008


edgeways: "...part of which is checking out employment and housing just in case the Old Man and the ill temperate governor wins the US elections."

Oh no! The start of the 2008 American election "I'll move to Canada" meme. As previously reported.
posted by A-Train at 7:19 AM on September 5, 2008


Thanks for the summary Shepherd. I honestly feel the least politically engaged since I was about twelve. This government doesn't seem to do anything, but none of the other parties are really hammering them either. Sadly, I always seem to live where the PC's get majorities. Siiiigh.

Ahh Gilles *swoon*. His performance at the 2006 english language debate causes a bump in polls among people that couldn't even vote for him. I'd love for him to cross the floor to the NDP - he does have roots as being anti-sovereigntist and his father was a founding member of the Federal NDP. He has a 4% "Best Prime Minister" rating outside Quebce according to Environics (July 16, 2008). Which is pretty big considering the Bloc politics and the fact no one outside Quesbec can vote Bloc. And the sovereignty movement has really cooled off in Quebec so it might be a smart political move to jump before the Bloc sinks lower. If he was leader of the NDP I could dream about him being PM. Just look into those baby blue eyes...
posted by saucysault at 7:43 AM on September 5, 2008


The maritimes went down economically because they were heavily based in primary resource extraction, especially fishing -- and the COD STOCKS DIED. Ontario had nothing to do with that - it was overfishing. I'm saying this as someone with relatives down east, and whose family moved out of the east because there was no work.

Blaming the Maritimes economic problems on Toronto would be like blaming the shutting down of Sheffield factories or the failure of Welsh coal mines on London. Economic situations change, industries come and go - and the most stable places are those with the most diversified economies. Fortunately, the east has started diversifying, especially in Halifax. Ontario also has communities which have been devastated by economic change - Windsor might have gotten a car factory, but Oshawa just lost one and will be reeling from it as much as any town in Nova Scotia which lost its canning factory.

Now, I don't know all the history of economic development in Canada - maybe there was a concious plan to develop Ontario industry at the expense of the Maritimes. Except the provinces have had a great deal of independence in their policies from the beginning, so I find it hard to believe that they could do nothing to develop their own economies. And (this may not be the best historic source, but I'm no Canadian historian), when you read L.M. Montgomery, it seems that Canada did not cut off trading networks between the Maritimes and New England, because everyone in those books go to Boston a lot more often than they do Toronto (actually, it seems like people went to Toronto for education, and Boston for trade/jobs). But how is trading fish and wood cheap to the Americans so much better for the Nova Scotian economy? It's still a primary resource based activity.

And when I look at Ontario and Quebec, it's just where I would expect to see dense and economically diverse urban centres. In addition to their own excellent farmland (some of the most fertile in the country), they sit on the major shipping routes out of the country, and with the best access to the industrial centres of the US. The two regions did develop right across the lakes from each other.

It is true that as a share of the Canadian economy, the Maritimes have been decreasing since Confederation. They were some of the earliest areas settled by Europeans, and earliest grown. And they hit an early peak. You might notice that New England has also become less economically important over the course of American history, as has the south-eastern coast. At one point, one could have talked about Virginia and the Carolinas as being the richest areas of the country; they are growing again now, but only after a long time. And except for the building of the Albany Canal, even New York's excellent harbour probably wouldn't have saved it -- all of that shipping from Chicago and the mid-west would have probably gone out the St Lawrence (how that would have shaped Canadian-American relations, I don't know), and New York might have become a primarily military habour, as Halifax was (and still is? don't know).

Basically, by your argument, Boston shouldn't have joined the Revolution, because it has clearly been shafted by New York, which grew far more after independance than Boston did. Or maybe there were other reasons that one economic area grew and another didn't.
posted by jb at 8:21 AM on September 5, 2008


ecco, it's not just the GTA, it's that rural ridings are over-represented by design. If you choose to live in a big urban centre in Canada, you vote will count for less. It's the way our constitution sets it up (examine the population counts in the PEI ridings, for example). Many people see this as a bug, not a feature. There's an inherent conservatism built-in to our electoral system. Redistricting happens, but it's always about 5-8 years behind the population data.

Any place with high population growth, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, has this effect. In the worst cases, an urban vote is worth less than half of a rural one. It's the way things are and it isn't going to change (that would take 7 provinces and a supermajority in Parlaiment).
posted by bonehead at 8:31 AM on September 5, 2008


I think it was kind of dumb for Harper to set fixed election dates in the first place

I so totally agree with that. The fact that we can have an election over a done with in a month, with minimal preliminary campaigning is such a blessing. If the trade off is a few more election calls, that's something I'm willing to put up with. I really don't want to live the perpetual US-style election cycles. A campaign for Parlaiment should not last two years.
posted by bonehead at 8:36 AM on September 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


The maritimes went down economically because they were heavily based in primary resource extraction, especially fishing -- and the COD STOCKS DIED.

Are you kidding me? The cod fishery lasted into the 1980s. I'm talking about the 1880s. Ever hear of the National Policy, Sir John A's economic program of protective tariffs to promote Central Canadian manufacturing? How about the railway policies of the 1920s? Howe's bias towards central Canadian manufacturing in the 1940s? You're talking about decades of consistently favouring Ontario manufacturing over Maritime manufacturing, Ontario and Quebec shipyards over Maritime shipyards. The Maritimes were one of the world's greatest centres of wooden ship construction in the 19th century, and had Canada's largest steel mill. We had the resources, the infrastructure, and the capability to maintain our position as shipbuilding shifted from timber to steel... except the policies of the federal government enacted policies that killed Maritime industry in favour of Ontaro industry. And Ontario industry leaders compounded the problem by taking over Maritime industries and shutting them down.

Get your facts right before you spout idiocy about the Maritimes being a resource-only economy. Even thirty years ago, we had more people working in education than in mining, forestry, and fisheries combined. Of course the Maritimes would decline as a force in the Canadian economy - look at our size. Ontario and Quebec have increased their territorial size immensely, and the rest of the provinces to join are all much larger. But that does not mean we should have suffered the per capita drop we did after being forced to join Confederation. Harper's scuttling the Atlantic Accord is just the latest in a long tradition of Ottawa screwing over the Maritimes. Ironic that it came from the party that grew out of a feeling of western resentment... you'd think they'd be sympathetic to a region being screwed by Ottawa.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:04 AM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry about the luncheon meat :)

Not an issue here, that plant is in Toronto...
posted by Deep Dish at 9:23 AM on September 5, 2008


Why the Bloc won't run outside of Quebec is beyond me. A few choice ridings on the borders of NB and Ontario to get them started, and maybe in twenty years time they could take part in a minority government.
posted by jon_kill at 9:28 AM on September 5, 2008


Yes, Senators are appointed. Can you get past that to see the reality?

I'm not really sure why you felt the need to be an enormous douchebag and insult me.

Of course I am aware that the Senate is effective. You may have noticed that I didn't criticize their function except inasmuch as criticizing their lack of publicity is criticizing their function. To go further, the lack of publicity is an enormous part of why idiots campaign to have them elected instead of appointed.

What I did say, your lovely little strawmen aside, is that we need to change the way they're appointed. The entire process is far too politicized.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:42 AM on September 5, 2008


Hello. I* live on Bowen Island. We never vote the way our richer cousins in West Vancouver and Whistler do. And the 2000 of us that vote have very little influence federally or provincially.

So Toronto, I feel your pain.

Seriously...everyone gets and little and gives a little in the country. It's a miracle the balancing act hasn't collapsed so far (though not through lack of trying). When I step back to think about it, it still amazes me.

(And then I get back to dreaming about a proportional system...)

*Torontonian by birth
posted by salishsea at 12:33 PM on September 5, 2008


Ahem- before it was redrawn, Calgary Centre was the largest riding in Canada by population and therefore the most underrepresented. After its member to vote as a strategic bloc to kick out the so-con asshole (Eric Lowther) for the ultimate red Tory, Joe Clark, "they" (elections Canada??) split it into Calgary Centre North and Calgary Centre South (now just plain Calgary Centre), both of which were also redrawn to comprise a healthy dose of suburban Reform/CPC/whatever the Calgary Herald tells us to do voters. Any Liberal (or Green since these ridings were 1-2 for Green turnout for all of Canada for each of the last two federal elections) breakthrough hopes died then.

However, the CPC MA's from both of these ridings- Lee Richardson in Centre and Jim Prentice in Centre North- are very much Red Tories themselves and they both voted against reopening the same sex marriage debate (two of only 13 Cons to do so).

Anyway, my point is that it's not only the GTA that gets screwed with respect to the population of its ridings. And on a provincial level nothing can beat the fact that in Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton combined have exactly 41 of 83 MLA seats. Rural control is guaranteed.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:21 PM on September 5, 2008


damn, I had multiple brain farts there- "after its members decided to" and "MP's," not "MA's."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:23 PM on September 5, 2008


(And then I get back to dreaming about a proportional system...)

A true proportional list-based system, with no ridings (or only a few big ones) would be an utter disaster for non-urban Canada. If you think Toronto and the other big cities dominate Parliament now, PR would be much worse.
posted by bonehead at 1:54 PM on September 5, 2008



Sorry Rumple, those millions of us in Toronto don't like being ruled by Alberta fucktards who would have ridden into Iraq on shiny white horse if they could have. Give all those newfs in Fort McMurray a vote in Alberta and we'll see how that goes.


Albertans have been solidly sending Conservative MPs to the Commons for years now, I don't think you can blame them for the current government - they may be the base but they aren't the swing constituencies. Maybe look to Northern Ontario?

In any case, the elephant in the room is that Quebec typically votes en masse for their own interests, leaving fractious minorities elsewhere in the country to either determine the government (now) or to have no influence on the result (when Quebec goes Liberal or for Mulroney).

(I love Quebec and it is largely due to its long-time support of the Liberal party that we have NOT had a history of governments determined by socially-conservative small town and rural anglo Canadians. But it's penchant for block voting gives it disproportionate influence in the country)
posted by Rumple at 2:04 PM on September 5, 2008


A true proportional list-based system, with no ridings (or only a few big ones) would be an utter disaster for non-urban Canada. If you think Toronto and the other big cities dominate Parliament now, PR would be much worse.

Because the representation would be directly proportional to the number of people, not sort of vaguely proportional as it is now. This rural people vote like this, but big city people vote like this thing is getting pretty tired. Sure, rural areas tend to skew a little more to the right and urban areas a little more to the left, but the range of views held by people in urban ridings and rural ridings is fairly wide. Our current system doesn't send a set of MPs to Ottawa that represents the distributions of opinions of the people. That's a problem and a much bigger one that the relatively small differences between rural and urban ridings.
posted by ssg at 2:23 PM on September 5, 2008


In any case, the elephant in the room is that Quebec typically votes en masse for their own interests, leaving fractious minorities elsewhere in the country to either determine the government (now) or to have no influence on the result (when Quebec goes Liberal or for Mulroney).

Quebec typically elects the Bloc in at least half of its ridings. Since the Bloc cannot form the government, that leaves Quebec with 20 or 30-odd MPs that can actually influence which party wins. That's not an elephant; that's a mouse.

You'll also note that Quebec has a minority of the Canadian population and a minority of the seats in the House. It makes no sense at all to claim the rest of the country can have no influence on the result.
posted by ssg at 2:41 PM on September 5, 2008


dnab: Have to say, I was on the bus this morning feeling bad about my remark, but unable to post from work, could do nothing about it until now. Sorry for the overzealous reply. Consider my knee jerked.

That being said, I don't think you offer anything in the way of a reason why an elected Senate would be better than what we have now. You refer to the quality, or "efficiency" of the current Senate as if this is unrelated to its composition and construction. When in reality, the circus that is the HoC is a direct result of the constant campaigning for one's position and party. I hear the same assumption in relation to elected judges, as if our judiciary would somehow benefit from sentencing-as-politics. Now it is entirely possible for the unelected to turn out inferior work, but asserting that an elected Senate would be superior doesn't make it so.

Oh, and add me to the list of Gilles fans. I don't know about dreamy blue eyes, but if I could find an Anglophone politician as dedicated to high level discourse I'd be tempted to spend every off-hour volunteering for him.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:53 PM on September 5, 2008


(I love Quebec and it is largely due to its long-time support of the Liberal party that we have NOT had a history of governments determined by socially-conservative small town and rural anglo Canadians. But it's penchant for block voting gives it disproportionate influence in the country)

I actually think this has enforced the bunker mentality which is driving those rural anglo voters to vote Conservative.

Everyone seems to forget how the Reform Party rose to power...

At least in Saskatchewan, Reform broke off a lot of rural NDP vote. Clearly those NDP voters were not right-wingers - they liked the prairie populism of the Reform Party. The Reform Party was talking plainly and going to stick-it-to-the-man - Reform didn't have Mulroney making weird, bogus constitutional deals (or cryptic references to "distinct societies"), and wasn't going to quiver up in a little ball everytime Quebec mentioned a referendum or give themselves pension raises when unemployment was over ten percent. To most of these voters, nothing good comes out of Ottawa. Yes, Preston Manning's Christianity and social conservatism was a little over-the-top and hard to swallow, but it appealed to some folks and didn't turn off a lot of the people who liked that these guys said they weren't going to play the usual Ottawa games. It was heady stuff, and a lot of those voters felt (and for some reason mostly still feel) that Reform style politics is the best counter-weight to Quebec's block voting. This partially explains my disagreement with your statement.

But I will go on to say that I do not believe Quebec is buttressing the rest of Canada against a conservative and socially regressive agenda - that position is ignoring all but the most recent chapters of Quebec history. All you have to do is read up on Maurice Duplessis to undertand Quebec politics for most of the 20th century and you must also admit that some PQ/BQ support is derived from what amounts to ethnic nationalism, Jacques Parizeau for example was barely talking in code when he spoke of "money and the ethnic vote". Viewed in that light, I'm not willing to call Quebec a progressive society and taken as whole (rather than pretending all of Quebec is like Montreal) Quebec has very conservative (small-c) elements who are sometimes strong enough to win government.

If Steven Harper wins a majority government next month, it will based on the strength of his Quebec vote.
posted by Deep Dish at 2:58 PM on September 5, 2008


Are you kidding me? The cod fishery lasted into the 1980s. I'm talking about the 1880s. Ever hear of the National Policy, Sir John A's economic program of protective tariffs to promote Central Canadian manufacturing?

No, I hadn't, thank you for telling me. Most of my knowledge of maritime economics is to do with cod fishing, since that's what supported the towns my relatives live in.

Maybe the Maritimes might have been better off without Confederation - maybe they would have been more like New Zealand is today (it's had its rough times, but does have a fair bit of manufacturing). Or they might have been forced to join Canada after World War II, as Newfoundland was. (I mean forced not necessarily by circumstances, but by Britain not really wanting them and pushing them away.)

That said, I'm still curious: if it was solely Confederation that changed the Maritimes, why have Boston and New England experienced similar reductions in their economic progress? Whole areas which had been deforested for farms became forested again as people moved out. And might there have been reasons that central Canada was favoured that didn't have to do with Atlantic Canada - like access to the railheads of the west?
posted by jb at 3:39 PM on September 5, 2008


That being said, I don't think you offer anything in the way of a reason why an elected Senate would be better than what we have now.

Except, uhh, I didn't say that the Senate should be elected. In fact:
What I did say, your lovely little strawmen aside, is that we need to change the way they're appointed. The entire process is far too politicized.
And I certainly did not say anything even remotely along the lines of "but asserting that an elected Senate would be superior doesn't make it so."

What I actually said, and you are ignoring in favour of putting words in my mouth, was this:
Having unelected (albeit politically appointed, which is probably something we should change) people who are unafraid of losing an election giving oversight to new legislation is a very, very good thing. We just need to change how they're selected.
What rankles me is the idea that the Senate is partisan, period. The politicization of the appointment process is what needs to be ended. How? I don't know.

Maybe through random lottery of the populace, with people appointed to ten-year terms. I can see some obvious drawbacks to that, but on the other hand some obvious benefits: true cross-section of the Canadian mosaic; given the level of Senatorial salaries there would not be the same inducement to avoid (as with jury duty), and indeed could provide a hell of a hand up to many families. We would have to remove the property requirements, which frankly is something that should have been done eons ago.

Or, better, through a system similar to judicial appointments. Bypass the PM entirely; have committees chaired by the Lieutenant-Governor of each province and composed of, say, the Speaker of each provincial legislature, the Chief Justice of the superior court, a few other impartial people. These committees could report directly to the GG and remove or at least minimize the political nature of the process.

For the record, your wilful misunderstanding of what I said notwithstanding, I categorically oppose any measure to make Senators or judges elected. I would also suggest in future that you actually read what people write, rather than project what you have decided they wrote.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:48 PM on September 5, 2008


If there's going to be a Senate lottery I am going to spend my entire goddamn bonus on buying tickets. I would make a KICK ASS Senator.
posted by GuyZero at 4:05 PM on September 5, 2008


Hahah. I meant lottery more in the 'jury duty' sense.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:08 PM on September 5, 2008


I don't hear California whining about being under-represented.

Listen harder.
posted by aaronetc at 4:21 PM on September 5, 2008


Cities by nature of their population density have an economic power well in excess that of the rural areas. To compensate for this, rural areas have a slightly greater political power. In this way a modicum of balance is maintained between the desires of the city consumers and desires of our resource producers (including farmers). It's a good system.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:51 PM on September 5, 2008


Although I'm not from Toronto, I kind of wonder if bashing Toronto is really necessary (likewise, it's not helpful to bash rural Canada). Toronto is facing a number of challenges, and a little federal help would go a long way:

* 29 the percentage of immigrants that settle in Toronto
* 66 the percentage of all refugees that settle in Toronto
* $1350 the average federal government settlement subsidy to new immigrants

* 66 the percentage of all Canadian airport fees paid to Federal government by Pearson
* 33 the percentage of Canadian air traffic at Pearson
* 34 the percentage of airline landing fees paid at Pearson goes to Ottawa to pay airport rent

* 29 the percentage of all Toronto households that spend 30% or more of before tax income on shelter
* 42 the percentage of Toronto renter households that spend 30% or more of their before tax income on shelter
* 30 the percentage of before tax income that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation considers the cut off line for spending on housing as essentially a definition of poverty
posted by KokuRyu at 3:30 PM on September 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The writ has been dropped. It is official. If you haven't been to the election prediction project before, then you may want to check it out, (FWIW: it isn't fully up to date).

For the record regarding scrutineering:

The official numbers in the federal poll I mentioned earlier were 153 NDP, 96 Lib, 10 Con, 2 MJ. (Source: From 2006 general election, Parkdale High Park, Poll 142. on www.electionscanada.ca)

I thought the Conservative candidate was in the single digits, but 10 is close enough. The Green party candidate had 13 votes.

The homeless candidate I mentioned was Kevin Clarke.

But the official numbers in the municipal election contradict my memory by a large margin. So if you scrutineer, keep a record. I remember the glee I felt when he beat the leading right wing candidate in the one polling station I was observing. It must have been a dream. On second thought don't keep a record, some dreams are comforting.
posted by ecco at 10:14 AM on September 7, 2008


Thank you KoKuRyu for the Toronto Statistics.

Here are some more. "[The city of Toronto is responsible for] providing social housing ... for a population equivalent to that of Prince Edward Island".

Housing was downloaded by the federal liberals in 1999 [onto the provinces]" who in turn, "downloaded welfare and social housing [onto the city]".

And when Harper "chopped $1 billion worth of social programs", all provinces and cities had to compensate, doubly so in Toronto due to the downloading mentioned above.

When Toronto had its one cent campaign, so it could get more cash to pay for its new responsibilities. It was threatened with a lawsuit by the feds for the use of the image of a penny.

Ranting rarely makes converts, but hopefully these points will get a bit of care, sympathy and agreement.
posted by ecco at 11:17 AM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


That said, I'm still curious: if it was solely Confederation that changed the Maritimes, why have Boston and New England experienced similar reductions in their economic progress?

Boston and New England have most certainly not experienced similar reductions. Reductions, yes, especially compared to New York. But similar? Not even close. The Maritimes (and specifically Nova Scotia) took a nosedive post-Confederation. There were other factors as well (like a global recession), but those were global factors which hit central Canada as well, and it should have been able to recover as other regions did. The Maritimes should have had a slow decline in economic importance, since it simply didn't have the space to accept a ton of immigrants like central Canada and the west had. New England's economy is still strong (MA is in the top 12, I think, and CT top 20); it was free to adjust its economic focus, using its strengths internally to retool and stay competitive. It's had a relative decline, but not really an absolute one. By taking away the east's strengths, the Maritimes were left to founder without any ability to reestablish itself.

It's important to remember that Confederation came about from the idea of Maritime Union - bringing the Maritime (and possibly Atlantic) provinces together in a union (leading to independence from Britain) to maintain its economic strength and independence. But the conference was hijacked by Sir John A (the Canadas were not even invited to the Charlottetown Conference, remember), who saw a union of BNA as a solution to the economic and political ills in Canada West and Canada East (that is, Ontario and Quebec). Ever wonder why Newfoundland and PEI didn't join Canada in 1867? Their legislatures opposed the idea. So did the NB legislature elected in 1865. The NS legislature supported it, but popular opinion (led by Joe Howe) was against it. Rather than chance defeat, the Fathers of Confederation took it to London for hasty approval. Nova Scotia attempted to secede after the 1867 election went overwhelmingly anti-Confederation, but London refused.

When you realize Halifax is the world's second-largest natural ice free port, with the potential to shave a day off container shipping times between Europe and the heart of the USA, has world-class education and research facilities, and enormous offshore energy resources just being tapped now, this area should be booming. Sadly, it's not. There's growth here, but we've been crippled too many times by Ottawa. So there you go. This is an economic area that should have done better historically, and is only now looking like it might stabilize. Newfoundland and Nova Scotia have left the category of "have nots", but aren't quite ready to be considered "have" provinces. Judging by federal action on the Atlantic Accord and others, it seems Ottawa would prefer they remain have nots.

* 29 the percentage of immigrants that settle in Toronto
* 66 the percentage of all refugees that settle in Toronto


You know what they say about statistics...

Immigrants don't settle in economically disadvantaged areas. They go where they think they have the best chance to establish themselves and find work. There's constant talk in political circles here in the Maritimes about finding ways to attract and keep immigrants. Receiving a constant influx of entrepreneurial-minded people is a problem well worth having. It's a bizarre argument to say that Toronto needs federal support because its growth is fuelled by people coming into the province and setting up new businesses.

Housing was downloaded by the federal liberals in 1999 [onto the provinces]" who in turn, "downloaded welfare and social housing [onto the city]".
I don't understand... the federal government did this to *everyone* - it's only Ontario that went the step further. You're arguing the federal government should overcompensate Ontario for something it did to itself?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:05 AM on September 8, 2008


They go where they think they have the best chance to establish themselves and find work.

Well, yeah, but... they also go where there are other people from their home country. Immigrants don't settle in Kitchener/Waterloo for the most part because it's a pretty white town (except maybe for German and Czech immigrants). And while there are lots of successful immigrants in Toronto, there are a lot of very, very poor immigrants in Toronto. And the City is the one that pays to try to help them out. Both the Federal and Provincial levels of government have pushed funding for a lot of social programs into the city without giving the city any way of raising revenue. blah blah blah if you're from Toronto on these points. This hasn't been news for a decade.
posted by GuyZero at 9:11 AM on September 8, 2008


I researched those statistics while working on the Federal campaign for the NDP in 2006. Statistics can say many things, but they provide a benchmark, a starting point. The key is, a lot is expected of Toronto, and it does not get the recognition (or the support) it deserves.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:25 PM on September 8, 2008


I can't believe you are seriously suggesting Ontario needs financial assistance. That's just absurd. The standard of living in Ontario was 10% above the national average (2000 numbers), while the Maritimes was 25% below.

Yes, Toronto and Ontario have problems. WE ALL HAVE PROBLEMS. Your problems happen to be a hell of a lot smaller than ours. The numbers for Toronto may be larger in absolute terms, but comparatively they're not even close. You're complaining about the high price of gas for your BMW to people who don't own cars. Sure, gas is expensive and that sure is annoying and it's a big problem for you. And maybe you're paying more than you should for it. But don't you dare try dipping into the fund set up for the rest of us to buy our own bicycles.

By the way, how are gas prices in have-not Toronto? We're averaging around $1.34/litre in Halifax since July.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, all that aside... the election results in Atlantic Canada will likely be little changed from last time - mostly Liberal with a sprinkling of alternatives. Two ridings in Nova Scotia worth watching?

Central Nova, where Peter MacKay is up against Elizabeth May (and no Liberal running).

Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, where ex-PC (and "honourary Green") Bill Casey will face a parachuted-in Joel Bernard (non-Conservative types need not apply in this riding).

Less interesting will be to see if the NDP can hold onto Alexa McDonough's old riding.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:53 AM on September 9, 2008


But don't you dare try dipping into the fund set up for the rest of us to buy our own bicycles.

You have veered off into left field here. I have no idea who you're arguing with. My point was that a lot of immigrants settling in Toronto are not wealthy entrepreneurs but refugees and various other people who are trying to find a better life but are certainly not wealthy. Not every immigrants to Toronto is a wealth Hong Kong banker.

You're complaining about the high price of gas for your BMW to people who don't own cars.

This is insulting. No one is doing any such thing. Maybe Toronto is simply tired of subsidizing everyone else and would like to spend some of its money helping the poor in its own back yard.
posted by GuyZero at 10:19 AM on September 9, 2008


You've got a TO-centric view of the world. You've got problems, sure. But what you don't appreciate is they're problems other areas of the country would love to have. You've got too many immigrants, and while some - perhaps even many - are a drain on your economy, the rest more than make up for it, trust me. Most other areas of the country have too few immigrants - we can't attract them, we can't keep them, and we're losing population in the meantime which just makes the situation worse. Your economy isn't growing as much as you'd like, while our economies aren't growing at all. Want to trade problems?

You're tired of helping us... nice. Do you honestly believe that those transfer payments are paying for our third yachts? Your problems, as bad as they look to you, are minor compared to the problems elsewhere. Compare unemployment rates - out west they're under 5%, Ontario's about 6.5%. The Atlantic provinces are between 8 and 14%. Imagine how bad those results would be if you weren't "subsidizing" us.

We are the poor in your backyard. Transfer payments help keep some folks from the have-not provinces at home so they don't all go down the road to Toronto to further exacerbate your homeless problem.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The child poverty rate in Ontario in 1996 was below that of Nova Scotia's -- 20.3% to 23.5%.

But Ontario also had a higher child poverty rate in that year than P.E.I. and New Brunswick, and the same rate as Newfoundland. (This was a big increase from 1990 - thanks, Harris gov't!) Also note that the Quebec rate was quite similar to that in Nova Scotia.

I wouldn't deny that I'm pretty Toronto centric - I'm from there. But you are also extremely Nova Scotia centric. I asked a friend who has studied Canadian history at university about what you cited up thread and he said, yes, he's heard of it, and it's a questionable conspiracy theory.

I think Toronto's big beef isn't actually with Ottawa, it's with the province. It's the province that gets big (though reduced by Chretien) transfer payments from our income taxes and then doesn't spend on Toronto infrastructure that supports the whole GTA, like transit, and downloads expensive social services without downloading the revenue to support them.

And the Maritimes clearly do have some economic problems - but down playing real problems elsewhere just makes you look blind. You have your poor - but you also have your rich and your comfortable. And we have plenty of poor in our backyards - literally, considering the homelessness problem in Toronto in the 1990s and early 2000s. (is it any better now? I haven't been able to be back in a while). We do have very large immigrant communities who work hard and contribute far more to the economy than they get out of it -- but the city doesn't get the bulk of their taxes, but has to pay for English as a Second Language. How many kids in your local school need help to even speak the main language of instruction? We also have large communities of refugees who are not allowed to work (which is stupid), and also need language help and are seriously traumatised. The traumas of war in Somalia has been imported to my neighbourhood in Toronto - it's been a serious strain on the services in the area, and that it's not been worse is just a testament of how amazing and strong Somali people are. As noted above, we have a social housing system which provides for an equivalent number of people as the entire province of P.E.I.

These problems are not more than the Maritimes, but they are not "minor" in comparison, and to say so is to sound ignorant and dismissive. And what is true is that all cities in all provinces - Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver - have all been shafted by the current funding models which lets provinces control the revenues while downloading services.
posted by jb at 6:51 PM on September 9, 2008


from c2007:
In the rest of the province and the country, Toronto is seen as a fat cat – wealthy and content.

The reality is quite different, according to a report to be released today by the United Way of Greater Toronto. Yes, there are a lot of wealthy people in the city and penthouse suites are selling for upwards of $25 million.

But Toronto is also home to a disproportionate number of poor people.

The median family income in Toronto (416) is just $41,500, substantially below the levels in the 905 belt around the city ($60,000), in Ontario as a whole ($54,300), and across Canada ($51,800).

Even more troubling than this snapshot is the trend line: the number of families living below the poverty line in Toronto (92,930) has increased by 9.7 per cent since the year 2000, whereas across Canada that number has shrunk by 5.1 per cent.

Here's another staggering statistic: families below the poverty line now represent 28.8 per cent of all Toronto families, up from 16.3 per cent in 1990.
posted by jb at 6:58 PM on September 9, 2008


I can't believe you are seriously suggesting Ontario needs financial assistance. That's just absurd. The standard of living in Ontario was 10% above the national average (2000 numbers), while the Maritimes was 25% below.

As in the quote just above, the median income in Toronto not only NOT above the national median income, but substantially BELOW it. Ontario might be doing fine, but Ontario!=Toronto.

And a lot of things are actually more expensive in Toronto than elsewhere, including the Maritimes. Housing is probably the worst, but all sorts of consumer goods are cheaper in Nova Scotia than they are for us. For years, my aunt in Truro has been bringing us vanilla every time she visits because it's half the price down there. Our gas prices are lower right now (averaging in the $1.25-$1.26), but I didn't know until I googled that because, frankly, most poor people in Toronto (including my family) can't afford cars. We are literally on bicycles (and the creaking transit system).
posted by jb at 7:20 PM on September 9, 2008


jb: Hey, Ottawa has problems too! Crack, provincial downloading, Larry O'Brien, people who vote against their basic economic interests. And tons of conflict between local/federal interests (e.g.: destroying downtown Hull and replacing it with this).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:22 PM on September 9, 2008


Ontario might be doing fine, but Ontario!=Toronto.

Seems to me that your beef, then, is with the Provincial government.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2008


Ontario might be doing fine, but Ontario!=Toronto.

Seems to me that your beef, then, is with the Provincial government.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:33 PM on September 9


I've actually said that a couple of times in this thread.

Truth is that Toronto and the other cities probably will have to go to Ottawa, because currently cities are completely under provincial control, but unless the provincial government relies on those seats (which, considering that there are fewer seats per person than anywhere else, is less likely), they can screw the cities with impunity and still get re-elected by the less densely populated suburban and rural ridings. Going to Ottawa for some kind of guarenteed funding for cities is meant to be a protection against abuse by the provinces in the form of service downloads. Not that Ottawa should be completely off the hook - the Liberals balanced the budgets only by downloading all sorts of things on the provinces; some provinces just chose to pass on the pain to the cities as well, which concentrated a lot of it.
posted by jb at 8:50 PM on September 9, 2008


Seems to me that your beef, then, is with the Provincial government

Partially, but not really. The federal transfer formula and the politics surrounding it need to get their share of blame too. It's a fact that even if Ontario does dip into recession, as it looks likely to do, it is completely impossible (politically) for Ontario to end up as a have-not. Likewise, even flush with oil and gas revenues, Newfoundland (& Labrador) and Nova Scotia have special deals to maintain have-not status even while in budget surplus (in real terms---politically the provinces find it expedient to run with a slight "deficit"). This is the reality of the way the funding formulas work. They were adjuste4d just recently by Martin and again by Harper to do exactly this. This is why McGinty goes around saying Ontario is short-changed 20B/yr by the Feds---Ontario has much less resource revenue and missed out that time at the trough.

The current policy of federally over-funding the Maritimes probably is a good one. Newfoundland, in particular, needs all the help it can get, even now. They've got a huge population of fishers who will never work again. Alberta (and SK and BC), also get sweetheart deals with regard to their resource windfalls and their transfer responsibilities. Given Alberta's drunken spending sprees of the past few years, it's much harder for central Canada not to feel ripped off by the whole deal.

So yeah, Toronto (and Ottawa and Montreal; I'd include Vancouver in this too) have real problems that aren't being well met by the current federal-provincial arrangements. This is the source of the 'Central Canada' complaints and grousing about representation is all about. That's why the big-city majors want a piece of the gas tax, for example. If we want to keep industrial growth (as opposed to resource growth) going, the tank needs to be topped up better than it's being right now.
posted by bonehead at 9:28 AM on September 10, 2008


big-city mayors
posted by bonehead at 9:31 AM on September 10, 2008


Well, from that perspective I'm in full agreement. The cities are getting shafted all around - and Halifax is included in that, too. Our city government (inept and ineffectual as it is) at least has that right, and fully supports a lot of the efforts by municipalities like Toronto to improve funding.

Still, I'd be careful when saying NL and NS are "flush" with oil and gas revenues... both have had their federal payments lowered by amounts equal to their offshore revenues, meaning they're no further ahead. Those "special deals" bonehead mentions have altered their formula shares, and could ultimately see them in worse positions than they're in now. Thanks, Harper! Good to know you just don't give a damn about the east coast.

Meanwhile, three out of four parachuted-in Conservatives are embroiled in controversy, with one being forced out two days after being announced due to two prior convictions.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:58 AM on September 10, 2008


For those who missed it, it looks like Green Party head Elizabeth May will be in the leaders' debate. There will now be 5 parties in the debate.
posted by GuyZero at 10:03 AM on September 12, 2008


I'm coming into this thread late, but I must protest KokuRyu's comment about Community Futures.

In my experience with them, CF encourages people to seek alternative forms of funding such as banks, angel investors, and family. They want to see you put your own money in your business idea. They try to avoid lending out money themselves and charge a higher interest rate than you would normally receive from a bank. For most people that go through the program, the largest financial contribution that they receive are the business courses and an additional 14 weeks of EI benefits.

The business course supposedly has a value of $10-20k, and consists of such things as bookkeeping, marketing, management, etc. I am still working on my business plan and hope to take the course as it seems to be full of information that every small business owner should know.

When I went to the business meetings, I met many people who had good ideas but were unsure how to go about it. A downsized RN wants to start an aide service for senior citizens, an automotive enthusiast wants to import auto parts from Pakistan, a gardener wants to expand his business, and I have an idea for selling Blackberry pagers to a niche market that has been poorly served by the major cellular providers. These business meetings allow people to talk about their ideas with like-minded individuals and outline goals and strategies.

What is the matter with an used clothing store in Vanderhoof or with the other ideas I mentioned above? Yes they are small ideas but they come from individuals who have identified a need in their community and want some help to accomplish their goals. Small businesses are one of the major economic engines of the country and they should be encouraged, not ignored.

When the large and medium sized companies are laying off people and/or screaming for government subsidies, CF has a valuable role in getting people off EI, creating jobs and helping create additional economic opportunities.

And finally, CF is also not limited to rural areas. There are offices in Vancouver as well as Vanderhoof.
posted by angrybeaver at 9:54 AM on September 18, 2008


CF sure does pay a helluva lot for its facilities and wages, at least in my town. Lotta overhead cost on that, that I don't think we used to have in our social services.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:18 PM on September 18, 2008


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