Monday, February 28, 2011

Something to get Excited About

This is interesting.
(I can only see the first line of this, I seem to have misplaced by iPolitics password)

For the past couple weeks I've been asking myself what kind of policy could get people excited. We know how the Conservatives are playing the next election. They've greased the wheels with last week's Porkfest 2011. They're apparently loading up on "star" candidates. They'll beat the dumb-on-crime drum in the suburban ridings they desperately want. Oh! Attack ads too, lots of those.

So how do you counter them? Good policy. And democratic reform was one of the things I had in mind.

Maybe I'm being a tad optimistic about the possibility of good policy proposals exciting your average voter, but a guy can hope. Opening up QP to Canadians, reducing the size of the PMO, and an overhaul of Access to Information are all good ideas. The most exciting thing about this is that they're actually thinking about it. Having concrete proposals for imporiving the Canadian democratic process will be handy if they're going to frame this as an attack on "Harper's Ottawa".

Another policy I had in mind? At least floating the idea of a PR electoral system. I know that's a heck of a fight, but it's certainly exciting. Some might ask what self-professed conservative would be in favour of PR. Up until recently I was a Majoritarian fan boy, but I've come to the conclusion that, given the fact we have 4 parties in the HoC and none show any sign of going anywhere, the jig is up. The system just doesn't operate well with 3 parties, let alone 4. Time for a change, or at least a discussion.

So here's hoping the best is to come from the Liberal policy book.

How to Create a Structural Deficit

A fantastically clear post from Stephen Gordon on how we went from persistent surpluses to a structural deficit. Really should go read it, or at least have a look at the graphs. Ends with this conclusion:

Here are the policy decisions made between 2005 and 2008 that generated that swing in the pre-recession budget balance:

Transfer payments increased by roughly 1% of GDP.
The GST cut reduced revenues by roughly 0.75% of GDP.

Put the two together, and we get a trend towards a deficit even before the recession hit.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Modernizing Ontario's Liquor Laws

This was pointed out to me on the Ministry of the Attorney General's website:

The Ministry of the Attorney General wants to hear your suggestions about how liquor laws in Ontario can be modernized.

The Ministry is accepting submissions from organizations and the public until March 17, 2011, by email at: consultwithus@ontario.ca

Or by regular post at:
Ontario Consultations
720 Bay Street, 7th floor
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9


Just before Christmas I was walking down a street in the not-so-nice area of London I call home and was approached by a fat man in a Santa costume carrying a tray of paper cups. This is a working class neighbourhood, mostly council housing, he wasn't part of some Christmas market or anything, just an average guy on an average street. He asked me if I wanted some mulled wine. It certainly took me a couple seconds for my Ottawa brain to go over the situation in my head, but I eventually said yes, he said "Merry Christmas!" and I showed up at class 15 minutes later with a happy buzz.

There are some nasty parts to Britain's drinking culture. The streets are paved with vomit and I have yet to meet a British drunk you want to be around. But one thing they do right, and one thing the European continent does right, is allow social drinking in all sorts of public places. You can drink your pint on sidewalks outside pubs, I often walk around my local market with a glass of cider, wine, or beer on sunny afternoons.

I would be over the moon if I could visit Winterlude and have some mulled wine, or carry around a glass of whatever during festivals in the Byward Market. When it comes to alcohol in public places Ontario needs to lighten up. I'll be firing off a note to the AG, hope you'll do the same with your liquor related hopes and dreams.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fixing Parliament

I got to page 3 of this article and then stopped because it was too depressing.

So the question is how do you fix it? For Conservatives the answer is you don't, debate just gets in the way of Dear Leader. But for those of us who do care about Canada's institutions and democracy in general, what can be done?

Seems to me that the answer is that the opposition should use the tools it has to hold the government's feet to the fire, to demand transparency and accountability. Wherry certainly puts some of the blame at their feet. Yet we know why they don't. To follow on the theme that Steve V has been writing about for the past week, if nobody outside Parliament cares, why should anyone inside Parliament care?

Lazy of me to write two posts in a row saying the exact same thing, but it's the Canadian people that's the problem.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Stephen Harper is incompetent"

So says Dan Gardner.

This government is comically bad... unless you're a Canadian with an ounce of sense, then it's just depressingly bad.

What else can be said about these guys? Gaff after gaff, rotten policy after rotten policy, and yet they continue to hold a plurality of the vote. I don't blame the media, I don't even blame the opposition. There's just something seriously wrong with Canadians.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Canadian Disease

Helpfully defined by Hugh Segal:

Segal predicts that there will be opposition to his proposal. He writes that while Canadians share certain strengths of decency, compassion, moderation and tolerance, some are also struck with something he calls the "Canadian Disease . . . a weakness that combines wishful thinking, nostalgia and confusion.

The kicker is that it appears in a "book" about the "history" of Canadian "conservatives". According to Segal it's our small mindedness that keeps us from realizing true progress and forming a union with the United States and Mexico. Why would we do such a thing?

If sovereignty is an instrument to be used to expand freedom and opportunity, then surely the use by us of our own sovereignty to build a North American Community must also be seen as an attempt to create a larger society that reflects our values and priorities

Got that? We must use our sovereignty to expand our freedom and opportunity by getting rid of our sovereignty. Our first Prime Minister must be so proud.