Archive for June, 2009

This post is not about the death of Michael Jackson, nor Farrah Fawcett, though I’m sure they are important issues (or so says the sheer quantity of facebook and twitter updates).  This post is not about Ed McMahon, nor is it about Romeo Leblanc (though I do think we should take a look back at Mr. Leblanc’s life, if for no other reason than to better view our modern history as a nation).  This post is also not about Iran, though it is curious to note how quickly the facebook dedications to the plight of Iranian protesters turned into “ZOMG THRILLER MJ IS DEAD!!!1!oneone!!” posts.  That is an entirely greater social ADHD issue that I won’t get into now, but is curious nonetheless.

This post is also not about certain labour disputes in Toronto, as I understand Mr. Kinsella is all over that one.  This post is also not about Ms. Raitt and her propensity to speak into microphones, nor her ability to forget documents in board rooms of major news networks. Nor will this post be about the goal of a seventh Canadian NHL hockey team, though I wish Mr. Balsillie luck in bringing in the Hamilton Steelheads. I will also not be speaking about a certain provincial government (which my new blogging partner supports) and their ability to delete all email records over a four year period that related directly to an ongoing criminal investigation and all around shady sale of public property, though that is also quite the good read, and highly recommended.

So what is this post about?  Actually, I hadn’t really thought about it.  I’ll have to come back after my vacation this weekend and see what’s major news then, who knows, maybe it will involve William Shatner.


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And now presenting…

We (well, currently “I”) at Too Much Geography are very excited to announce that the authorship of this blog is growing – doubling in fact. Note the exciting and alliterative change of our sub-header!

Patrick Meehan is going to be joining me in the authorship of this blog. Pat can tell you a little more about himself in his introductory post, but I can tell you that I’ve known Pat for about four years now, having first met him through UBC Debate. Both of us like to argue, you see…

Pat’s a New Democrat, which should be interesting, since, as you will no doubt find out over the coming posts, is not the typical New Democrat, in that he has some interesting policy ideas that span the whole political spectrum.

I remember moving from bar to bar around UBC with Pat, trying to find a place to watch the incoming Quebec election results, which provolked no end of unusual looks from the staff, but I think is emblematic of why Pat is going to be a good addition to this blog.

I ask my regular readers (both of you) to give a warm welcome to Pat Meehan!

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Coming to you live from the Braeside Community Centre, the Calgary Glenmore nomination contest between Corey Hogan and Avalon Roberts.

7:30 – A cavalcade of sign waving Corey Hogan supporters enter the room chanting “We believe in Hogan, We believe in Swann” and disperse into the surprisingly crowded room. I would say that there are well over a hundred people in the room. It’s definitely a higher turnout that people expected, as they had to keep bringing out more and more chairs.

7:35 – Registration closes. The die is cast. As soon as the candidates do their speeches, the voting will begin.

7:39 – Nothing much happening right now. I do notice that MLAs Kent Hehr and Dave Taylor are here, standing over near the refreshment table. Both of them are Hogan supporters, and were on top of the Hogan material that was left all over the chairs. I have to say that the Hogan political machine is impressive to the point of being overwhelming – there are signs, buttons and a billion and one posters that are stuck on the walls. By comparison, Avalon had a word processed letter and a large sign featuring a giant Martin era Federal Liberal logo.

7:43 – Nothing happening yet… Someone in the crowd starts clapping in hopes that it will get the meeting to start.

7:44 – Apparently it worked. John Roggaveen takes the stage and the meeting begins. He gives an overview of the voting procedure. The total number of registered people was 201, 100 ballots were distributed. I don’t really get this, but c’est la vie.

7:47 – The nominator and seconder for Dr. Avalon Roberts have come forward. Avalon has accepted.

7:48 – Now is the Hogan nominator’s turn. Corey had his father nominate him, which  is a nice thing for father’s day. Candidates now have 15 minutes to speak. The coin toss was won by Avalon, even though the chair ended up dropping the coin.

7:50 – The Avalon Nominator is up. We apparently have a nominator who can speak for the rest of the people of Alberta. The lead in here is to Health Care, which Avalon is more qualified to speak on than Corey, by virtue of having been involved in health advocacy for years.

7:52 – The seconder speaks. I would call her speech somewhat… robotic, but more informative than the first, giving a bit of the history of her candidate.

7:53 – Corey’s nominator’s are up now. Dr. David Hogan gives some of his son’s history, growing up in Alberta, and wanting to be PM when he was a kid.

7:55 – The seconder speaks, briefly noting that cores is “110% Liberal”.

7:56 – Dr. Roberts. I don’t know the lyrics of the song, but it’s be a good one for her if she wins. The chorus, at least.

7:57 – Avalon talks about how this is the largest nomination meeting she’s ever seen, and goes on to talk about the need to forge links with business.

7:58 – She’s talking about PSE. She wants to reduce tuition rates and cap them, and wanted to create an educational endowment fund.

7:59 – Health care – I won’t go much into this, aside to say that she is eloquent, knowledgeable and articulate on this topic. I do like “The conservatives like to talk about reform when they really mean reaction”.

8:01 – She also wants to make sure that the “PharmAbuse” program is ended. There is a fair amount of technical talk here, but it does make sense.

8:02 – Cancel the Superboard! WOOO!

“We have endured three re-disorganizations of health care”

8:04 – Talking about the foolish quotes by Iris Evans, and how mental illness is not caused by education. However, she mentioned that this all covered up the fact that Evans was there to beg for operating loans for the provincial government.

8:06 – Why should we vote for Avalon? I have been in the public system my entire life. I have learned the ropes during campaigns. I have the energy to do this, and have connections in the community.

8:07 – Applause!

8:08 – Corey takes the stage, and wants to tell people why he’s running. I feel that the best way that I can build a better Alberta is to run.

8:09 – Beating up on the Tories.

“It’s disgraceful that the same people that we buy peppers and onions from are the people that we have to rely on for proper health care.”

8:10 – Bill 44 – It’s ridiculous that we’ve made education optional.

8:10 – They pit the economy against the environment, the middle class against the lower class, urban against rural. They devide, but we can conquer.

8:11 – Talking about the reasons why he would be a better candidate than Avalon, mentioning that only in Calgary Glenmore and one other riding did the Liberal vote decline between 2004 and 2008.

“I’ll be hitting the doors tomorrow if you elect me today.”

8:14 – More about campaigning skills. Corey has defiantly built more applause lines in his speech.

8:15 – Voting begins. More in a half hour…. Oh, wait. They can’t find the ballot box. OK, they’ve got it now.

“Only 110 ballots should be cast. If there are more, we’re in Tehran.”

8:44 – A speaker gets up. He’s some party functionary, but a good speaker. Please give anywhere between five and fifteen thousand dollars. There are only a couple of minutes left to vote.

8:55 – I think they’re counting ballots now.

8:59 – David Swann arrives.

9:10 – Avalon Roberts wins!

9:11 – David Swann is speaking. Stupid twitterfox is killing my internet. That’s what I get for piggybacking.

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The Calgary Glenmore nomination race is, apparently, actually a race now, with former candidate Avalon Roberts throwing her hat into the ring against Liberal activist and Calgary entrepreneur Corey Hogan (Twitter, Facebook).

Avalon is a dedicated Liberal, and exactly the person that the party needs within it’s ranks, but I think that Corey is the only person who has a hope of taking down the Conservative machine that has had a stranglehold on the riding for many, many years.

In a by-election, the only thing that matters is the ground game – pulling masses of inert supporters out to the polls. This is why the Liberals generally are going to have a better chance to win in by-elections in Alberta than in general elections. If you take a look at the recent by-election and general election results in Calgary Elbow, a higher turnout benefited the Conservatives. There is no air war to distract from the local issues, so this is going to be about the ability to connect with the community.

Corey Hogan has a strong team behind him, including a number of well known individuals from within the Liberal party. He knows how to run campaigns, and will be able to put together the right type of canvass strategy to connect with the people of the riding and get the identified Liberals out to vote. He has created an e-buzz amongst some popular Alberta and national blogs. He will be committed to the campaign, and will run one that actually has a chance to put this riding in the Liberal column.

Avalon has run before, and certainly has some support amongst the party members in the riding, but my fear is that she will be unable to do what is necessary to win, instead doing what she always does, and come in a disappointing second.

Diane Colley-Urquhart is a weak candidate, an Alderman who has been part of a toxic City Council. Either one of the Liberal candidates would be better than the PC candidate, and with Paul Hinman carrying the standard for the Wild Rose Alliance, there is a real chance that a right wing split could allow the Liberal to carry the day. As a party, we owe it to ourselves to choose the candidate best equipped to win.

That candidate is Corey Hogan.

If you live in the riding, remember to by your membership by June 18th, and vote in the nomination meeting on the 22nd of June. If you do not live a riding, please consider making a donation to the Committee to Elect Corey Hogan.

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The Liberal Democrats did OK in Britain,  and came out with a net loss of one seat, so that’s OK, I suppose. It really only matters if they have enough votes to be part of the controlling coalition. From the results, it doesn’t look like there is going to be any two groups that could control the parliament, so it’s going to be interesting in the next couple of days/weeks/months to see how things pan out.

There are two standout stories in the elections. The first one is the one that everyone is going to be buzzing about – the British National Party won two seats, in what is really a horrifying show of the xenophobia and islamophobia that exists within both the UK and Europe as a whole. The EuroNat informal grouping of parties, one which includes France’s Front National, advocates Third Position politics, which is really fascism by another name. These people are disturbing, and make even the UK Independence Party look rational, even if their ads feature a Big Blue Octopus.

More interesting is the news out of Sweden, where the Pirate Party garnered over 7% of the vote, and won one seat. This would actually rise to two seats if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, but I am skeptical that that would actually happen. The Pirates are now one of the largest parties in Sweden, and have the largest youth wing of any political party in the country.

This is incredibly important for people across the internets. As the anti-copyright forces mount their defence, alleging that Canada is a haven for piracy, their credibility is beginning to crumble as we see that the report that was authored by the Conference Board of Canada took their researcher’s conclusions and threw them into the trash. They, already having made up their minds as to what the report was trying to do, decided that if they couldn’t find research from ‘researchers’ to support their claims, they would go somewhere else – the Digital Rights Management lobby. The Conference Board, in their report, copied lock, stock and barrel a report of a US pro-DRM group, and still kept some of the researchers names on it.

I find it ironic that piracy was used to create a report that was supposedly designed to show that piracy was bad. The Pirate Party has emerged in opposition to dishonest tactics like these, and are going to be lending their voice to one of two of the major centrist or centre-left groups in the EP, either the Liberals or the Greens (which are not to be confused with the Nordic Greens, who are communists).

There is a struggle between the Open Source technologies and the DRM Lobby. I had, for years, been on the side of the DRMers, mostly because of artist protection issues, but at long last, new business models are emerging that allow artists to get paid for their work, and actually keep more of the money spent on music out of the hands of the middlemen record companies. Girltalk is an interesting mesh of both of these ideas. Also, he’s great to dance to.

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The UK chapter of the European parliament elections happened yesterday, kicking off one of the largest democratic processes in the world. There have been a couple of hiccups in the process, but it seems as if the Conservatives are going to again receive the largest number of votes (and seats) in this particular iteration.

This has already been confirmed in the local Council elections, which are about as close as the UK gets to institutional federalism. Since the Palace of Westminster (or Parliament, if you so choose) is never going to give up some enumerated powers to an English body, the UK is going to just have to make do with the semi-autonomous Scottish and Northern Irish institutions they have now.

The people that trouble me most are the UK Independance Party. This party, being unabashadly anti-Europe, is one of those annoying things that you find in practical politics, a party driven by ideology rather than idealism. People used to criticize Canada’s Liberals for having a weathervane where their heart should be, and certainly nobody is going to accuse Canada’s Conservatives of sticking to some kind of principle – just look at the size of the deficit. This, however, is the point of govenrment – a response to the situations of the time.

Apparently, some people have been expelled from the Conseravtives in the UK for donating to a rival party, because of party leader David Cameron’s stance on the Lisbon Treaty. I don’t want to misconstrue myself here – I’m no fan of Europe for Europe’s sake, a charge you could lay on many neofunctionalists – I would consider myself a Intergovernmentalist. This, however, means that when it is in the interest of the citizenry, further integration should be pursued. The Euro is a good example of this, and it continues to boggle the mind, especially given the instability of the UK Banking industry, that politicians of all stripes continue to oppose the abolition of the Pound Sterling in favour of the continental currency.

UKIP might have something working against it, however, as apparently its voters are not patient enough to unfold the entire ballot to figure out where their candidates lie. I’m sorry, but really, you should take the time to, you know, look at the ballot. I think the UKIP is just blowing smoke here.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, has a lot to be happy about. I like Cameron, in part because I think he can do for the Tories what Blair did for Labour – moderate the party. He has described himself as “not a deeply ideological person”, a “liberal Conservative” and a “modern compassionate Conservative”. All of these, when executed correctly, have the makings of a Third Way revival of British Conseravtism, especially at a time when Labour is falling apart at the seams.

Their triumphant Council rout, which leaves them in control of at least 29 of 34 Councils, is likely going to be reflected in the EP election, and, if nothing major happens in the next several months, in the general election as well. I would put money on the thought that David Cameron will be the Prime Minister by around this time next year.

I have high hopes for the Liberal Democrats. My ideal situation would see the Labour Party, which seems to be drifting away from the sentible centre of Tony Blair and back into the bad habbits of Old Labour, be routed by a party with some sensible ideas and centrist tendencies, the Liberal Democrats. They, according to fivethirtyeight.com, did decently well in the exit polling, so who knows? Alas, this probably is not going to be the case, but I can always hope. It’d certainly be nice to see another member of Liberal International at a nation’s helm, as the LPC seems to be the only party of that group with any decent track record of electoral success.

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I watched, with a not unsubstantial degree of schadenfreude, Lisa Raitt get repeatedly hammered in Question Period today. She iterated, and then reiterated over and over again, that procedures were not followed, and that she had accepted the resignation of the aide who had been responsible for keeping track of the documents, and had offered the Prime Minister her resignation.

There are things that seem to have happened in this situation that make sense, and others that just boggle the mind. The ministerial staffer responsible for the documents has resigned. Fair enough – he or she jeopardized secret government documents, leaving them, in all places, in the middle of a television building. They deserve to be fired for that, although I am happy to see that they are not dragging this person’s name through the mud, as that would seem to be rather unnecessary.

What seems odd to me is that Harper would not accept the resignation of the Minister. Raitt seems competent enough, certainly more so than her predecessor in the position, Gary Lunn, but she should be held accountable for things that go on in her department. Being removed from a ministerial post in Canada is something just slightly stronger than a slap on the wrist, especially since she would inevitably find herself back in Cabinet after the next shuffle. This has happened time and time again, with Liberals and Conservatives alike. Mind you, this way the Liberals get much more press out of it, so I’m really just delighted she’s sticking around, especially since the next person is going to be taking their micro-managerial orders from Langevin, just the same as her.

What troubles me more is the contents of the memos. More and more money is being pumped into a system which cannot possibly support itself. There needs to be some real change at AECL, and that change needs to come from the inside. At a time when we are practically nationalizing companies like GM, this is no time to be having an asset fire sale just because they can’t think of any ideas for how to get the ballooning deficit under control. Yes, spend money on AECL, but make sure that the expected return on investment actually exceeds the money invested. That defense can easily be made with respect to GM – unemployment benefits in auto workers and associated industries would be markedly more than the investment announced the other day. What the governemnt should not do is plan to sell at a loss, which is exactly what they are doing right now with AECL.

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