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Archive for July, 2009

So, I haven’t been dilligent with these posts of late, but I have a really good reason. I run another blog, one about UBC student politics and education issues named The Radical Beer Tribune, and my co-blogger and I are going to be participating in this year’s Blogathon, raising money for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

If you can find it in your heart and your wallet, please mosey on over to our Pledge Page (yes, I know it asks you to sign up, but it’s just a name and password) and donate! We will be blogging for 24 hours straight, posting at least once every half hour, and we hope to raise a fair amount of money. Please pledge!

Thanks in advance.

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Apparently people are getting all wound up over whether or not Stephen Harper pocketed a piece of the Eucharist while at Romeo LeBlanc’s funeral. Now, I may not be the most religious guy, but I do go to church, and am probably one of the more religious amongst my group of friends (and Catholic to boot), and I have to say that “I don’t care”.

When I actually first heard the story, I was actually confused as to why the PM was even taking the host in the first place. He’s not Catholic, and shouldn’t take communion in a Catholic church, if he’s following the rules. I think the protocol during commmunion is to approach with your arms crossed over your chest to indicate that you are not to receive communion, but a blessing instead.

It would have been inappropriate for the PM to take the host (as it looks like he did), but I’m going to assume that he either ate it after sitting down again (which is what my grandfather always did, to my recollection) or felt that he was not sufficiently absolved of sin to take communion, which is fine as well.

Either way, the damn economy is still falling apart, we have troops on the ground in Afghanistan, and a US President with crosshairs trained on the oil sands. These things matter. The Wafer Waffle does not.

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Soon, we will be ‘celebrating’ Dr. David Swann’s seventh month as Liberal leader. As surprised as I was that he could win the race, and as dissapointed as I was that Dave Taylor wasn’t elected, I did hope for, if not expect, good things for the party under the new leader.

I haven’t seen to much of them.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really stick myself at the same point on the political spectrum as Dr. Swann. I consider myself a centre right pragmatist, which, to me, stands somewhat opposed to the direction that the party is taking stagnant position the party is stuck in. Part of my objection is based on winnability, and how best to achieve that goal.

It should come from building a party that is able to engage with the people of Alberta. As said by the hilarious Prime Minister Hacker, you can only lead where the people want to go. For those so dissafected with the political process that they just couldn’t be bothered to vote (I’m looking at you, most of you), there was no political party that effectively reached out to them enough to get them to care enough.

So, how are we going about building this party? Well, the answer de jour seems to be that fantastic buzzword, Renewal. Now, I was under the impression that the renewal report was supposed to be out around a month and a half ago. I’m still wondering where it is.

I hope that the assessment of the ALP that TinyPerfect articulated,

A large number of the old guard (i.e. Taft loyalists) tried to change into a different party, but that effort largely failed and fizzled out. Their approach, which can be summed up as ‘run away from the debt and the name, but otherwise keep doing what we are doing’ didn’t catch on.

The Dave Taylor/Corey Hogan ‘change’ movement takes the opposite approach. They can be summed up as ‘keep the name and the party but start acting like professionals and try to build an electoral machine.’

Ironically, what the Liberals have settled on is something like ‘keep the name, and debt, and the old way of doing everything. Keep it all, status quo, we’re doing grand.’

is incorrect, but I don’t see much evidence of it. It really is insane. Aside from waiting for this report to come out, there really hasn’t been much development or party building in the province at all over the past seven months.

I think the Alberta Liberals are the best possible option for the province in theory, but if they can’t get it together long enough to release a report within two months of the expected release date, I can imagine the ALP government to be almost as bad at organizing and managing the ministries as Special Ed.

Let’s see this report, Mr. Swann. What’s the plan?

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I thought I would comment on the buzz throughout the tubes that the NDP will be looking to change its name at the upcoming national convention in Halifax.  The story goes that this is straight from the top of the party.  Party officials have so far admitted that their has been pressure from Ontario and Quebec ridings as well as a branding proposal by the partys new branding experts.

The two proposals I’ve heard so far are two either A) Drop the word ‘new’ altogether or B) Change it to ‘Social.’

The idea of changing the name is fairly trivial in its own right, but the meaning behind it is somewhat more important.  The fact that this is gaining traction shows the partys ambition.

With impressive gains, and percieved gains over the past three elections, substantial increases in party funding compared to other parties, historic upswing in support across the country in traditionally non-NDP supporting areas, it’s seen by many that now is a good time to rebrand.

The last election saw that for the first time, the NDP competed against the Libs and Conservatives on a dollar for dollar basis on the national level.  At the local level, where the tories were laundering money in and out and stuffing money wherever they could, they were obviously unable to effectively compete dollar for dollar, but still managed electoral wins regardless.

In the end, I think it would be good for the party to change the name, after nearly 50 years, it’s hard to keep calling them ‘new’ and beyond that, though costly, it could be an effective rebranding tool.

The real question in my mind is how much of the NDP’s current ego is inflated.  Yes, historic levels of support have been achieved, yes, they have seats in both Alberta and Quebec and yes, they’re raising money at a level that puts them up in the same field as the Libs and Tories.  However, the levels of support came at the expense of a hemorrhaging and terribly run Liberal party.  The win in Quebec is primarily fuelled (at this point) by running a popular former provincial cabinet minister.  The win in Alberta was done in part thanks to an election during the school year and they received heaps of support from university students, and in part because Rahim Jaffer, though extremely good looking, was a terrible MP. As for the dollars issue?  The Liberals are seeing the tail end of a massive fundraising restructuring that sounds like it’s paying back in spades if the recent donation totals demonstrate anything.

In the end, this is a move to push the party into center stage as a viable main party, one that is ready to take over the reigns of power.  Is it realistic?  Not particularly, but the NDP likes swinging for the fences, and this would be an interesting one to say the least.

Look forward to discussion and debate and the decision to change the name in 2011, at the partys 50th anniversary.

Also, I’ve got my link roundup of interesting articles, pictures or videos that should be checked out:

MP’s set aside partisan differences to wear breast cancer style ribbons made of fur to support the seal hunt. Pictures enclosed.  It’s pretty awesome.

The smartest woman in the Alberta Legislature, Rachel Notley, in Question Period making amazingly good points despite the best efforts of the government and the not so fair speaker on education and muzzling teachers.

Did you know that Maxime Bernier has a blog?  You do now. Past entries include: bragging about thigns he’s done, pointing out the dangers of government intervention in anything, videos of interviews he’s done, the need for more government transparency, video of speeches he’s given…  You get the idea.

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Elizabeth May is finally going to do something smart for her party and try to win a Green seat in the next federal election. This, I have to say, disappointed me, as the Green party is, in the current electoral system (one which, I should note, I voted against reforming in the recent BC referendum), nothing more than a massive annoyance. I personally don’t really see the Greens as contributing much to the national political landscape, other than increasing the chance of a Tory government by ten to twenty percent.

A number of ridings have been talked about as potential places for the germinating politician, and, given that I hope she loses, I’ll point out where I would hope she runs.

Cumberland-Colchester-Musquadobit Valley

This riding seems winnable, but there isn’t much you can do to pass judgement empirically, since the Greens did not nominate a candidate in the riding, instead choosing to endorse Bill Casey. Seeing as how Casey has run in every riding election since 1988, and won all but one of them, it is very difficult to separate the popularity of the PCs and their successors from the man himself. This is probably a gamble, especially given this riding’s supposed tendency to vote for a home-town MP, and May is basically a parachute candidate. Mind you, she could always run in the by-election and then in the general later, in the event that it doesn’t work out.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

This is probably one of the best chances that the Greens have for a pickup. Liberal voters have shown themselves to be a rather pragmatic bunch, electing Linda Duncan in Edmonton Strathcona rather than voting for their own candidate in an attempt to beat the Conservative. The typical NDP voter tends to be less cooperative (see – the last federal election). I would not be surprised to see something similar happen here, with Liberals casting their votes for the Greens.

Guelph

I mentioned earlier that Liberals are a pragmatic bunch. I do not, however, think that they would be wiling to sacrifice an incumbent to let May have a seat. Sure, some of them might, but looking at poll numbers, this is looking more an more like a Liberal hold every day, even with significant help from the local papers. The Green candidate was decent in and of himself last time around,so I would expect the bump to be smaller than if May parachuted herself into another of the above ridings. I would think that this would look more like the London by-election in late 2006.

Saanich-Gulf Islands

This riding keeps electing a Conservative due to terminal vote splitting. In every election that Gary Lunn has run in, he has never cracked 45% of the vote. Even in the last election, because 3000 foolishly cast a ballot for NDP candidate Julian West, who had resigned as a candidate, Lunn was again returned to Ottawa. I think the big question here is whether Briony Penn, the former Liberal candidate, runs again. If she does, this former Green member will siphon off support from the Greens based on personal popularity. Island politics seem to have much more to do with personality than with party, so I would not be optimistic.

Of these ridings, the surest route to a loss would be Saanich-Gulf Islands IF Penn runs again, and, if not (based solely on gut feeling) Cumberland-Colchester-Musquidobit Valley.

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