You think you’ve seen it all and then the Tories announce that Canada’s federal deficit will surpass $50 billion, at least $16 billion more than the $34 billion estimate made by the same government just four months ago. This update is courtesy of Canada’s champions of fiscal responsibility and straight-talk.
Mr. Flaherty, please explain to Canadians how your estimate could be so far off! And whatever happened to your commitment to balanced books?
It isn’t as if other governments haven’t had their share of budget surprises, or that the idea of deficit-financing isn’t an accepted practice throughout the world. There have been money gaffs in years past, to be sure, and deficit-financing is fast becoming a commonplace tool to stimulate spending during the current global economic recession. In fact, despite embarking on a "revolutionary" journey in a new direction of governance with the election of Barack Obama, the mighty US of A is proceeding with its most astounding deficit in history. Deficit financing is a must, especially now.
The problem, in many Canadians’ minds, I think, is that it was the Conservative Party, and this particular batch of Tories, that was so rabidly opposed to previous Liberal governments (which managed to turn record deficits into surpluses for the first time in decades) that a $16 billion goof-up is made…well, unimaginable. And the discrepancy in Flaherty’s prediction is just plain huge!
I honestly don’t understand how Conservatives could continue to argue that theirs is the only party with credibility for fiscal prudence. The much-lauded Tory veneer for fiscal prudence has been off the party for sometime and this latest development eliminates any trace of it.
Mind you, I’m being married in less than a month and I don’t need a federal election, no matter how warranted, to put a damper on the celebration. Part of me is craving an old-fashioned political brawl to oust the Tories and replace it with a Liberal majority government, though on a personal level the timing for that stinks. I do get the feeling, however, that the BS political arguments that were concocted from the rage of the electorate are soon to be remade – and the Tories’ sacred reputation as financial masterminds has diminished.
(And here I set out to talk about the new Star Trek movie, which is bound to infuriate far less people - thank Flaherty for that!)
Ladies and gentlemen, the books were balanced under the last Liberal government. That’s my final comment.
Though the world seems to have moved on from Livejournal, I am seizing upon the initiative that was inspired by the soon-to-be-released Star Trek 99 and making another entry.
Annnnd...there goes the initiative. Still, we'll see what we can do.
There is, in this broad world of ours, far more to write about than my own quiet life. There is the promise of substantive change in American politics, continuing ethnic and religious violence in Iraq an Afghanistan, a crumbling world economy and even ransoms to Somali pirates and daring escapes on the high seas. There are perrenial challenges to our civilization and entire regions of the world struggling to make it in an impossible world. On the comparatively quiet political front in Canada there is an evermore confident federal Liberal opposition in Ottawa.
Instead of these things, I have something else on my mind. It isn’t that I have set aside my own dreams for adventure in an age of sail, or to stand upon the bridge of a starship bound for a distant, unexplored region of space, or even the moments where I idealize the nobility of political office. These worlds for me, if they are anything more than diversions, will continue to exist though in recent months they have been a less active part of my conscious mind.
And, really, all I want to write about is getting married. Couples have been dedicating themselves to each other for millenia and somehow, for myself, it seems like it was just a fantasy.
Me, getting married.
It’s enough to shake your confidence in the order of life and things.
While finding the woman to love the rest of my life, and the only one who could return that love, seemed a dream no less fanciful than, well, actually being a pirate and expecting to survive the lifestyle, it happened so abruptly that I can hardly say when it happened, or even what it was that hit me. Things just worked out really well. In fact, when I first interacted with the fair damsel, I knew from the outset that she was someone I was going to have a great friendship with – a kindred spirit. Alas, she was unavailable at the time and I had no intention of interfering with her life. As it would happen, a wonderful conspiracy of circumstance, hidden motives and petty acts of subterfuge coalesced into bold action that became, as a marriage is, a declaration of love and unwavering commitment.
Yes, I had an active role in making this come about. If you know me, you understand why that seems so unimaginable. But she was more than enough to move me to take action.
Marriage. For reals, folks.
A wedding with guests, a church, a night of food, music and celebration, legal documents and rings and a giant, happy bill at the end of it all. And all just over two months away.
This is a crazy world. This place is really crazy.
And I think I like it!
It's been sometime since my last post. Seems life finally got busy enough that the idea of isolating myself to a few topics became overwhelming and there wasn't enough time to write about them all.
And what was it that prompted me to write after all this time, if only this meagre entry? A commercial for the new Star Trek movie. I think the trick with sequels might be to make the new movie just different enough that it appears fresh. Hope for the sake of all those who love Star Trek in the purest form that this one doesn't upset!
I will keep an open mind and enjoy the ride. Worked well enough as a strategy to enjoyment for the Bond franchise.
Through the power of modern media, we are becoming ever more acquainted with the world's cultural, scientific and medical oddities. Television documentaries capture severed human heads being laid out on display by cannibals, attacks on humans by giant squid, people suffering wart-like conditions that resemble sheets of bark growing from their skin. Not to mention the peddling of sensationally violent mail-order videos featuring police officers being shot by disgruntled drivers and pedestrians clipped by out-of-control trucks. I won't even make a serious effort to recount all the things one can see on television because, rest assured, there is plenty of disturbing weirdness for everyone.
US President Bush, on what has been dubbed by media as his "victory tour" of Iraq, recently had a pair of shoes hurled at him by an upset reporter. That's an unusual occurence in the daily life of a president, I would presume, but perhaps not something best characterized as "weird".
US President Bush flinches as an Iraqi reporter hurls a shoe in protest. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki stands his ground - or doesn't see it coming. He tried to block the second shoe the reporter sent Bush's way.
This is a man, after all, who shook the hands of tens of thousands from throughout the United States and the world over in order to ascend to the governorship of Texas and then the US presidency. As a matter of proportions, hundreds of those same people are likely to have quirks and foibles of their own that would, were a poll conducted, qualify them as "unusual", if not down-right weird. Surely, some of America's finest said something or did something that tuly weirded the man out.
Political campaigns, even in my own moderate experience, bring out all kinds of supporters - people who wish to participate in our colourful society's democratic process, and who also bring along their splendorously strange personalities. And it makes you wonder as you are shaking hands just how much help they can possibly be in selling a carefully crafted message that is intended to appeal to the masses.
To be honest, it was President Bush's comments about the shoe-throwing incident that struck me as genuinely weird. After all, I can't begin to imagine for a young passionate Iraqi how it would feel to stand before the world's most powerful and controversial personality, the very foreigner to order the invasion of his homeland and who was now parading through his beloved capital on a victory lap. Did he gain a sense of power for the first time since Saddam Hussein was ousted by standing before the commander-in-chief of the United States' military? I'd understand if even he felt an awkward rage. After all, if this was a victory lap for the Bush Administration, what was it for the Iraqi people? Last I heard there were still bombings, shootings, kidnappings and countless other serious acts of violence occurring in Iraq and at a level that, if left unchecked, may threaten to disintegrate order in the country.
For a proud young man, that situation would likely be far more overwhelming than, say, dealing with the emotional fall-out of having shoes thrown at him. In an interview with an ABC reporter, Bush is quoted as saying, "And it was amusing. I mean, I've seen a lot of weird things during my presidency and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest."
Were I Bush, I would be thankful the object being hurled was only meant to be a slight, and not something explosive that could bruise more than his physical self and ego. And as for the reporter, let's just say that I would understand if he were to throw something more than his shoes. At least he had the self-control necessary to throw only these. His world, after all, has become truly weird.
Has it been established in Star Wars lore if one must have Jedi/Sith training to wield a light-sabre?
By the time Luke Skywalker has been introduced, the Jedi and their ways had all but vanished from the galaxy. That doesn't mean a little guy who is trying to make it in a big, big universe couldn't happen upon a lightsaber or the means to produce one. The possibility is merely slight, unlikely being a far cry from impossible.
Anyhow, we found a couple for sale!
Master Yoda has things to say about pursuing love and the Jedi disciplines. Apparently, dedicating oneself to both leads to destruction and loss, and these lead to sorrow and hate. (Sigh.)
Oo, and what of the potential for an epic battle between a light-sabre wielding pirate and a Jedi who cannot bear the sacrilege? What if this criminal bore the weapon tauntingly? I have no doubt the Jedi knight would be victorious, and the in the end the villain would be reduced to a heap of seared flesh and smoldering clothing.
Still, the battle would be quite impressive! The drama! And when one thinks about it, if you are going to be dispatched by someone, it might as well be someone with a profile comparable to a Jedi. Even a pirate ought to be able to appreciate such an exit.
On the weirdness of my job...
Tomorrow afternoon I am touring the coroner's office, and perhaps the room in which autopsy's are conducted...I think that is a bit morbid and strange...
On Canada's political quagmire...
And so Canada, you've seen the great wonder of minority government. That idealized future you anticipated, where rival political parties cooperate to find the best course for our fair country in a difficult time, has quite obviously been a foolish dream. Had you thought a bit harder about it, or simply been a little more sensible, it might have been apparent. All I am going to say to you is, I told ya so. And I love ya anyway.
The drama that unfolded over the past two weeks, where a coalition of opposition parties threatened to topple Prime Minister Harper's minority government, is set to occur again. While the House of Commons has prorogued until late January, which is to say that it has adjourned, the Government will continue to control less seats in the House of Commons than the combined opposition parties.
The exact details of a second act in the parliamentary drama may change and yet the outcome will be quite similar. Shortly after Members return the House in January, the Harper's governing Conservatives will introduce their first budget since being elected in October 2008. It is possible that, in a bid to gain the support of the opposition parties, this document will be so tempered and uncontroversial that it will actually appeal to them - or that the state of the economy will be so poor that the opposition will be compelled to support the Government, whatever the economic measures contained in the budget.
The likelihood, however, is that the budget will, as a prime example of a confidence motion, be defeated in a vote by the coalition of opposition parties, thus triggering yet another crisis that will demand intervention by the Governor General. The reason for this being that in failing to have their budget passed in the House of Commons the Government will have demonstrated, yet again, that the majority of Canadians (as represented by Members of Parliament) do not have the electorate's confidence.
Whatever the particulars of the situation, the Governor General will again be forced to either dissolve Parliament, triggering yet another election, or to offer the leader of the largest opposition party (that would be the leader of the Liberal Party) an opportunity to form a government. Having already penned and closed a deal with the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois, whereby the NDP will be awarded seats in a Liberal-led Cabinet in exchange for their support and the Bloc Quebecois (BQ) will perform a more supportive role, this coalition government will have the support it needs within the House of Commons to put forth a new budget that satisfies the expectations of the majority of parliamentarians, and in theory, of Canadians.
Political stability will have been achieved so long as the NDP and BQ to not make any extraordinary demands or threats to the dominant Liberals. It will not be the government anticipated by individual Canadian voters in the last election, but it will be the situation those whom they elected to govern, as representatives in this representative democracy of ours, will settle upon.
And for those of you who might actually believe that a "coup" has taken place, grow up and get some perspective. In reality, this situation is the result of a minority government in a parliamentary system. In fact, most of the governments in the world are based on parliamentary systems. Ours, which is distinctly British, also has its share of precedents. Most of those governments, save perhaps those is destabilized and conflicted regions of the world, are quite solid.
If you want to end the instability, this Harper guy has got to go. And so does his divisive brand of conservatism. The majority of Canadians, whatever Harper and his pitbulls say, haven't confidence in his leadership.
As for the global economic crisis, it is less about averting disaster than it is tempering the impact of this mess upon Canadian individuals and business. A government that isn't fearful of intervening in the economy, or at least spending during a recession, is the best way to lessen the long-term financial damage to not only individuals, but also the national economy.
The state of the global economy is, insofar as Canada is concerned, out of our hands. Our own political instability might have been averted, however, would Canadians have demonstrated a certain degree of astuteness during and since the previous election, when a poor voter turn-out and divided electorate produced similar results to the October 2008 election.
This fair country of ours is changing rapidly, and for all that has transpired or is underway in my own life, there doesn't seem time enough for journal entries. I hope all that is noteworthy will, at some point, make it down here. That is especially the case when it comes to good people in my life. And good people deserve mention.
With just a couple days to go until Election Day, the political parties appear to have peaked in the polls, to within a couple of points. There is no reason to believe that popular support for any of them will fluctuate much at this late point.
Election Day in Canada is October 14th, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday. Here is hoping people take the opportunity to think about their decision and then commit to voting on Tuesday! I am pleased to be heading to my parents to help work on a local campaign.
It appears Canadians will elect a minority Conservative government and it'll be back to square one in terms of the political situation in Ottawa. (In truth, not many thought the result would be any different.) We'll be back to the polls (meaning, in another election) after the Tories are defeated on their first budget and there will be hell to pay, since the Liberals are broke and the Tories themselves will have considerable campaign debt. Perhaps the NDP will fare the best this time round, in terms of support gained and the fatness of their coffers.
The politics within the parties ought to be interesting, however, as Harper and Dion especially will likely be fighting to maintain the leadership of their parties. Personally, my greatest concern here is that the Liberals might shun the left-of-centre orientation the party regained since the latter Chretien-Martin years. Dion's vision for the party was ambitious and that should be acknowledged! Nothing wrong with setting your sights high and making people think.
So, I am not expecting big change in Canada this time round. There will not be any storms or winds of change to speak of, except perhaps at the riding level, as a few "safe" seats, or ridings, are lost by incumbents to fresh faces.
The division on of "the left" won't help throw the Tories out, that is certain!
Canadians say the victor is...
According to a follow-up Ipsos-Reid poll, respondants generally thought Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, won last night's English-language debate. Honestly, I don't see how that could have been most people's conclusion and yet a poll is a poll. Those who conduct them are supposed to be methodical. Polls are not entirely scientific, however, given their basis is opinion. On the other hand, people are not scientific, nor are they always logical.
If we examined the demographics of each debate's viewers I am certain it would be revealed that a far greater proportion of Harper's traditional support base tuned in for the for the English-language debate than for the French-language debate. It isn't that the Conservatives haven't support in Quebec, Ontario and parts of the Maritimes, places that are generally moderate in their political views. Conservative support, however, is especially strong in parts of the country that are less sympathetic to federalism and multi-culturalism. Supporters drawn from these parts may be without the interest or patience for a debate that must be translated to their native English language, or that they regard as been Franco-centred.
I personally enjoyed both debates (was never tempted to switch over to CNN to watch the US vice-presidential debate) and though they did much to affirm my perceptions of each of the candidates, it would be foolish to base the decision on which party to vote for after viewing one or two televisied debates. But then, debates are spectacles and more about swaying fence-sitters or about reassuring supporters: people who do not apply much rigour in their decision-making or whom have already made up their mind.
Harper, haven't you any ideas?
The one thing I didn't realize until NDP leader, Jack Layton, mentioned it was that the Conservatives have not put forth an official platform. As a body of policy, the platform acts as an agenda - a hint of what the government will do, or at least an approach it will take, once elected to office. To opt not to release one strikes me as sinister, as the obvious intention is that the Conservatives are doing their utmost to not rock their metaphorical boat and to pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate. Harper is saying, in effect, he doesn't want Canadians to think about the many alternatives to the Conservatives and that he is, in fact, a do-nothing prime minister.
Yes, I am pissed off, but you should judge for yourself.
My take on leaders' performances...
Given the new format of the debate I think all the leaders made strong performances. Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, had the easiest task as she hasn't a record to defend and can comment on any party and for any reason, always with ethical appeals, when in fact she has never been forced to make decisions that challenge those ethics. Jack Layton, of the NDP, made typically anecdotal attacks in the prime minister and others, which only confuse people. Dion was rational and well-thought out, offering much of the Liberal platform as an alternative to Conservative leadership. Duceppe surprised me with very thoughtful questions and criticism, but then he isn't running to be prime minister: a point he made very clear both during the debate and in a follow-up interview with the media.
The Bloc Quebecois are running candidates in only the province of Quebec.
Prior to the French-language Leader's Debate (Wednesday, October 1, 2008)
While most polls indicate popular support for the Liberals is roughly on par with the NDP, it will be a new day in Canadian history if the New Democratic Party (NDP) is elected in the same numbers as the Liberals to the House of Commons. Duceppe's party, the Bloc Quebecois, fields candidates in the province of Quebec only and support for the Greens, led by Elizabeth May, is dispersed throughout Canada. From an analytical point of view, the Liberals are the logical alternative to a Conservative government, if even in minority standing.
It is hard for me to remain impartial when watching this election's political debates. I am a proud Liberal. Still, I think it stands that for Duceppe, Layton and May there is very little to be lost. None will lead their parties to become Canada's next government.
I make a point of listening to what others' are saying, whether they are conservative or socially liberal. I want to know what is important ti them (many of them are my friends!) and to know the strengths of the respective leaders and parties and even the weaknesses of the those I support. That being said, I can say with sincerity that I have yet to hear anything that would lead Canadians to believe that for our country to move into the future - to become a fairer, compassionate and more just society; to be an environmentally conscientious society; to make Canada the best place in the world to live; to be a positive contributor to the world; and to be a modern society - they must vote either for the Green Party or the NDP. There is little, to me, in either of these party's leaders, to make them more ideal than the Liberal team.
And not only can Canada be greatly improved with a Liberal government for the policies put forth in their platform, but it can be improved by relying on the Liberal legacy of inclusiveness, multilateralism, fiscal accountability and a collaborative team approach. The leader of the Liberal Party is Stephane Dion, though the caucus includes proven leaders with unique insights. If they are capable of remaining united in this positive vision, the party can provide Canadians with the leadership required to not only maintain our place in the world, but to improve our standing. These are things that the NDP and Greens cannot offer.
In the end, of course, Canadians will judge for themselves. Everyone is entitled to an (informed) opinion. I only hope that the energies of our youth are not wasted on a cynical, deconstructice vision for a great country. What is most clear is that with the electorate being so divided, perhaps more than ever before, Canadians have an historic opportunity to reshape the country's political landscape.
P.S. I was certain the Tories put out their platform earlier this week? I didn't even miss it...
Following the English-language Leader's Debate (Thursday, October 2, 2008)
An Ipsos-Reid poll indicated that Dion won (if the word can really be used) the French language debate, followed by Layton, Harper and May. As the English debate concluded just hours ago, poll results are not yet available. However, early indicators are that Dion again fared well, as did Layton.
More then to follow!