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Archive for December, 2008

I hope I’m wrong about David Swann. I don’t think that he’s the man to broaden the Liberal coalition in Alberta – I actually think that there is a decent chance that he might shrink it (although we might pick up a seat from the NDP). From what I can tell, there are maybe two seats in the entire province that the Liberals can count on winning, Calgary Mountain View, and Edmonton Centre. I honestly think that of the seven remaining seats, given Swann’s election and the platform that he seems to want to run with, all of them are jeopardized.

Alan Downs has done a fair amount of writing about political economy and voter intent. He talks about how parties move to the centre, where there are more votes to be won. I do not think that the ALP faces a challenge from the left – the NDP have been reduced to their two safe seats, and their vote share, like that of the ALP, dropped from the 2004 election. If the parties were smart (and they aren’t), the NDP and ALP would start cooperating – their combined resources and votes could be a considerable force for mobilizing different parts of the Albertan community.

The ALP was most successful in recent memory in the election of 1993, when they were led by Laurence Decore, a person who was in favour of fiscal responsibility, debt repayment and low taxes – almost the exact antithesis of what Swann is proposing. A familiar face (or at least voice) could have done wonders for the party when paired with a centrist message.

Voter turnout is a larger problem that the ALP has to contend with. Unless they are able to present themselves as a credible governing alternative that could at most form government, and at the very least hold the Tories to account with a strong opposition with seats numbering in the thirties, people are going to stay home. I hate to say it, but there is not a lot in the Swann platform that makes me think that they’ll be able to present themselves as a governing alternative – it could very well lead to the wipeout of the party from the legislature.

I don’t know what the party is going to do, but I am pretty sure that it isn’t going to do well.

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David Swann was recently elected as the new leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta. I’d been a fan of Swann for some time, even though he was not my pick for leader, because I think that he brings a perspective to Albertan politics that was lacking. Mind you, there are a lot of perspectives that are lacking from Albertan political discourse, so I’m not really sure that this makes him stand out, in retrospect.

I was a supporter of Dave Taylor in the leadership race. I have to say that I’m surprised that he lost. From what I’d heard, there was a great ground game for the Taylor Campaign, but the votes that had been identified failed to materialize.

The Alberta Liberal Party, in its current form, is not really representative of the people of its province. The fact that the Tories have over twenty eight times the amount of members voting in their leadership elections is troubling, and shows that the ALP needs to drastically change in order to be effective. I think that the New Liberal initiative, the brainchild of a number of people in the Alberta Liberal community that I really respect, would be a good one to peruse. However, it’s only good if we emerge with a party that people can relate to.

I don’t think that people are going to be able to get behind Swann. I don’t even know that I would be able to, if I still lived in Alberta. For one thing, it is really troubling when, in your first major interview, you start musing about raising taxes and creating new ones in the middle of an economic slowdown.

In order to get more people behind the party, the party has to broaden its traditional coalition. This coalition appears to consist of some portions of new Albertans, Calgarians who are pissed off at Ed Stelmach for not acknowledging the magnificence of their city, and people who will always vote Liberal no matter what. This is not good enough. For one thing, there really cannot be a win without some level of support in rural Alberta. Maybe we won’t be able to win seats there in the immediate next election, but that doesn’t meant that we should stop trying.

It seems to me that the Liberals were counting on extreme and moderate right parties that were not the PCs chipping away at the PC coalition and allowing enough Liberal MLAs to come up the middle to form either government (a long shot) or a strong and active opposition. Instead, people stayed home, and the Liberals were whomped. To prevent subsequent whompings, we needed to become a party of the sensible centre, one that people could actually see as the government. I hate to say it, but I don’t really think that someone who refers to our rivers as “the arteries of mother earth” is going to resonate with Albertans, no matter how technically true it might be.

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I like movies, so I can sympathize. I just wish that the Cineplex Odeon staff would be more concerned about people bringing guns into the theater as opposed to me smuggling in a bag of Glosette Raisins that didn’t cost $15.

In other movie related news, Doubt and Milk are awesome.

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Rick Warren is a bad choice for the Obama Inauguration Invocation. A bad choice because it sends the wrong message, and a bad choice because it is divisive. From his Wikipedia article, the five non negotiable issues of Rick Warren:

  1. What does each candidate believe about abortion and protecting the lives of unborn children?
  2. What does each candidate believe about using unborn babies for stem-cell harvesting?
  3. What does each candidate believe about homosexual marriage?
  4. What does each candidate believe about human cloning?
  5. What does each candidate believe about euthanasia—the killing of elderly and invalids?

I think that we can all fairly assume that he is going to be on the Pro-Life, conservative, anti-cloning side of these questions. But this is exactly the problem – the Podium and the Pulpit should not be mixed in such a clear way. Ideally, Obama would have chosen someone non-partisan to do the Invocation, or, less ideally, someone who had views similar to those held by the people who voted for him.

Obama is elevating someone who was an active and ardent supporter of Prop 8. Defenders and apologists for this position claim that it’s an acknowledgment of the fact that people have different views than Obama. And that’s fine, but most people wanted Obama’s views, and this should be reflected.

The US was, unlike Canada, founded on a separation of Church and State. Aren’t there a few people out there that could give the invocation and espouse some truly universalist view’s on religion (the desire for God’s strength to help our new President, or world peace). When you start elevating people who claim that people have no right to their own sexual orientation, there is a problem. Don’t give this man a megaphone.

I wonder if there is a calculated attempt being made to win over more right wing voters, which is fine enough I suppose, although smacks of Patrick Muttart style, Harperian (Harperite? Harperous?) manipulation. Of course, who am I to fault a political strategy that wins, just so long as he doesn’t believe it. (And, from what I can tell, he doesn’t.)

There are better people for this. I like John Piper, who’s organization’s blog is a regular read of mine, particularly when I want a Calvinist perspective on things. He has a more liberal view towards personal pleasure than the rather sexually repressive Catholic Church, which can be read more on in his book, Christian Hedonist. A Catholic would be also be interesting, seeing as how America has been so reticent to elect Catholics (although I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Joe Biden); if Obama were to choose a Catholic (and not the typical drone from the pulpit channeling the pre-Vatican Two religion that I’ve sat through on occasion), Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the diocese of Tucson would be good for a non partisan, exploratory take. For something more politically charged, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton would be a good left wing pick.

But, my point is twofold. Please, try and do your best to recreate the seperation of church and state that has been so damaged by Bush by making sure that the religion you bring into the public sphere is not driving policy in and of itself, as Warren does, most notably on Prop 8. If you must bring politics into it, find a preacher who agrees with you and the people who voted for you – the Christian Right has had its airing for the past eight years, so lets see some of the Christian Left.

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Seeing Red at Greene

The following is an open letter to Senator Designate Nancy Greene Raine.

Dear Ms. Green Raine

I am writing to you to express my profound disappointment in your actions over the past several days. Your hypocrisy is emblematic of a cancer in today’s political discourse. When someone like you, who has long claimed been an advocate of Senate reform, decides to betray her principles for a comfortable seat in the Red Chamber, we have all lost something as a country.

There are very few people that Canadians can look up to, and I am incredibly saddened to know that you have deprived young Canadians of one of those people by being a party to, and indeed defending, such hypocritical actions. If you believe in the democratic institutions of this country, as you claim to, you are not serving them well, particularly when you say that the Prime Minister had no choice to appoint the eighteen Senators, including yourself.

The appointment you of yourself and the seventeen others to the Senate is not only of questionably constitutionality, but emblematic of a dirty politics unworthy of both your legacy and this great nation. I would have expected better from someone who has claimed to be truly serious about Senate reform. It has been said that everyone has their price – it is however, a rarity that we are actually able to see what that dollar value is. It’s disappointing to see such a paragon of Canadian society can be bought for a paltry $130,000 per year.

In the event that you actually are serious about reforming our upper house, I would suggest that you return your salary to the government until such time as the position that you currently hold can be duly validated by the voters of your province. Democratic legitimacy is necessary for a reformed senate, and, while I personally do not think that this is the best way to proceed, your convictions seem to indicate a different opinion. I do not think that it is unreasonable of Canadians to expect their Parliamentarians, MPs and Senators alike, to stick to their convictions. By accepting this Senate seat, you are betraying the very principals that you once espoused.

I would have been delighted to vote for you had you run in a free and fair election. Had you truly believed in such a thing, I would have expected you to advocate for same. Instead, you chose a different path.

It is said that Gold is never tarnished. You have proven that wrong.

Regards;

Matthew Naylor

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So, whilst perusing the internets, I came across this piece on Barack Obama and his vacation in Hawaii.

I would be concerned if the President did not behave like he was at the beach when he is at the beach. What else would we expect? I think I would be more concerned if he were wearing uncharacteristic things to the beach. Like tuxedos. It might make us think that the President-Elect had gone insane.

Obama is going to do stupid things during his term. He’s going to make bad policy decisions. He’s going to make good ones as well. He’s going to make substantively bad symbolic decisions as well, and we should hold his feet to the fire on those. Let’s not sweat the small stuff.

Also, to expand on this, who exactly is being referred to in this passage?

Obama has been photographed several times without his shirt as a presidential candidate but he’s about to step into the White House — so how much skin is too much? There is a fine line, experts said, and this time at least, Obama was on the right side of it.

How does one become an expert in political shirtlessness? Also, seeing the types of people who are currently occupying our legislatures, why would you want to?

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These are things that Stephen Harper lacks.

“Why should anybody have confidence in the leader of a party who would agree to fold his own party into another party?” – PM (but not for much longer) Harper. Um, where did the Canadian Alliance go?

“I think they are just signing their own death warrant,” Harper said. “This is the kind of behaviour a government does when it is scared to death of the electorate.”OK, well, are you planning to have a vote today. Oh, no, that was just the scheduled day. Actually, you really hit the nail on the head with this one.

“The opposition has been working on a backroom deal without seeking the event of voters.” Well, at least we have a template for the letter to send to the GG.

This man has no credibility. I’m glad we’re done with him. I’m looking forward to seeing Prentice in Stornaway in the near future.

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