Tagged: Scott Brison

Canada’s equivalent of “real Americans” — #gag #spoon

I won’t presume that Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner, poster child for the Harper government’s plan to kill the long gun registry, was purposely being nasty when she referred to citizens who oppose the registry as “good salt-of-the-earth people,” “upstanding citizens who work hard,” and parents whose children “probably aren’t involved in gangs in the streets.” But I wish she would take a moment to consider how offensive her characterizations are.

They’re upstanding citizens who work hard. They take their kids and grandkids out hunting and shooting and those kids, by the way, probably aren’t involved in gangs in the streets.

These are good salt-of-the-earth people and for so long they have had really nobody in government who has been able to make any changes on their behalf. So it really was very gratifying to know how thankful they were and how much it meant to them to have someone who was going to be promoting good policy, policy that was fair and wasn’t targeting them.

By dividing Canadians into “good salt-of-the-earth people” vs. unnamed others, the Harperites are borrowing yet another unwelcome page from the US Republican Party’s noisome playbook.

Personally, I find guns creepy, and I believe the danger of having them around far outweighs the good some people see in them. But I feel no great stake in the long gun registry, which was a badly conceived and atrociously implemented indirect attack at a problem politicians lacked the gumption to tackle head on. I’m ambivalent about ending it, but it’s a repulsive lie to suggest that one side of the debate has a lock on worthy citizenship — or even that some citizens are intrinsically more worthy than others.

There are plenty of good people, and no shortage of arseholes, on both sides of this issue.

By the same token I won’t be joining the chorus of indignation that has greeted the “it gets better” video cobbled together, somewhat ineptly, by a group of Conservative MPs in response to the suicide of a gay Ottawa teen.

Yes, some Conservatives have been slow to shed bigoted ideas about homosexuality that were the norm in Canada only a few short years ago. Yes, as MP Scott Brison pointed out, the Conservative caucus has fought against such advancements in gay rights in Canada as pension benefits and the right to marry.

But the fact they are now climbing aboard the “it gets better” bandwagon marks a remarkable political watershed. The generous interpretation would be that the MPs were simply moved by the human tragedy of a promising teenager taking his own life because of the cruel treatment he faced as a gay boy. In the cynical view, this was a cold Conservative Party calculation that Canadian public opinion has fetched up firmly on one side of this issue, and the party had best get on board.

I incline to the former, but either way, it shows that those least inclined to accept equal treatment for people of all sexual orientation have now realized the debate is over in Canada. Tolerance won.

It’s about time.

(The National Post’s Chris Selley goes overboard with the argument, and lets his CPC partisanship show, but on the basic point, I find myself in rare agreement: “The fact its supporters cut across political lines is a benefit, not a drawback.”)

H/T:BT

How to cast a strategic vote in Nova Scotia

I don’t usually repeat posts, but this election is important, so for any who missed it, here is Contrarian’s Guide to Strategic Voting in Nova Scotia.

In the latest Angus Reid poll, 49 percent of Liberal voters and 36 percent of NDP voters expressed a willingness to consider voting for a candidate other than their true preferences, in order to “avoid a specific outcome.”

If you are one of those Liberal, New Democratic, or erstwhile Progressive Conservative voters, and you want to avoid the specific outcome of a certain authoritarian demagogue getting unfettered control of the House of Commons, you may be wondering how to vote Monday. This guide is for you.

Contrarian’s Guide to Strategic Voting in Nova Scotia

With three-way races and a still dynamic vote swing underway, this is a hard election to predict. Seven of Nova Scotia’s 11 federal ridings appear to be in play — an unusually large number.

Two of these — Halifax West and Dartmouth—Cole Harbour — appear to be tight contests between Liberal incumbents* and NDP challengers. They will not affect the size or strength of the Harper caucus, so vote your personal preference in those races.

Five are tight contests where the Harper candidate could win, or could fall to a New Democrat or a Liberal.
Central Nova
Peter MacKay faces a tough challenge from high school physics teacher and former Pictou town councillor David Parker, brother of MLA Charlie Parker and a shrewd electoral tactician in his own right.

MacKay has committed many unprincipled acts in his political career, but the alacrity with which he took on the task of vilifying whistleblower Richard Colvin was surely a nadir. Colvin is a genuine Canadian hero, a civil servant who put aside his own career interests to expose Canada’s complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. As a civil servant, he could only remain mute in the face of MacKay’s character assassination (although opposition members of the Commons did eventually call him back for a lone round of dignified rebuttal testimony). For this alone, seeing MacKay go down would be altogether sweet. Vote NDP.

South Shore—St. Margaret’s

This is a tight race between incumbent Harper guy Gerald Keddy and former New Democrat MP Gordon Earle, with another former MP, Liberal Derek Wells, well behind. Liberals and Greens should vote NDP.

Sydney—Victoria

For months, Cecil Clarke has mounted an energetic campaign against nice guy farmer MP Mark Eyking. The NDP usually run second in this riding, but Kathy MacLeod, their candidate this time, is weak. The orange tide may boost her vote, however, and it’s hard to say which potential winner she will hurt the most. This race is much tighter than national pundits realize. In particular, the strategic voting site Project Democracy has mistakenly declared it a safe Liberal seat. Vote Liberal.

West Nova

This riding constantly swings back and forth between the Liberals and the Conservatives. Incumbent Harper guy and former Buchanan cabinet minister Greg Kerr faces a stiff challenge from former Liberal MP Robert Thibault. Vote Liberal.

Kings—Hants

Steven Harper visited this riding Saturday to shore up support for defeated provincial cabinet minister David Morse, his candidate to replace Liberal Scott Brison, a floor crosser who fled the CPC. New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives (real conservatives) should Vote Liberal

Four ridings are not in play. Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, sadly, will stay in Harper’s camp. Cape Breton—Canso is safe for Liberal Rodger Cuzner, and both Sackville—Eastern Shore and Halifax are safe for NDP incumbents Peter Stoffer and Megan Leslie. The latter was thought to be in trouble early in the campaign, but the Liberal collapse ended that threat.

* A few parliamentary purists, including our old friend Ian McNeil, object to the term “incumbent” in Canadian elections, because once the writ is dropped, former office-holders are no longer MPs. It is (or for years, was) CBC style not to use the word. I regard this as silly unnecessarily fussy. Everyone understands the term to mean, “seat-holder at dissolution.”

Contrarian’s guide to strategic voting in NS

In the latest Angus Reid poll, 49 percent of Liberal voters and 36 percent of NDP voters expressed a willingness to consider voting for a candidate other than their true preferences, in order to “avoid a specific outcome.”

If you are one of those Liberal, New Democratic, or erstwhile Progressive Conservative voters who would like to avoid the specific outcome of a certain dangerous demagogue getting an unfettered majority in the House of Commons, you may be wondering how to vote Monday. This post is for you.

Contrarian’s Guide to Strategic Voting in Nova Scotia

With three-way races and a still dynamic vote swing underway, this is a hard election to predict. Seven of Nova Scotia’s 11 federal ridings appear to be in play — an unusually large number.

Two of these — Halifax West and Dartmouth—Cole Harbour — appear to be tight contests between Liberal incumbents* and NDP challengers. They will not affect the size or strength of the Harper caucus, so vote your personal preference in those races.

Five are tight contests where the Harper candidate could win, or could fall to a New Democrat or a Liberal.
Central Nova
Peter MacKay faces a tough challenge from high school physics teacher and former Pictou town councillor David Parker, brother of MLA Charlie Parker and a shrewd electoral tactician in his own right.

MacKay has committed many unprincipled acts in his political career, but the alacrity with which he took on the task of vilifying whistleblower Richard Colvin was surely a nadir. Colvin is a genuine Canadian hero, a civil servant who put aside his own career interests to expose Canada’s complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. As a civil servant, he could only remain mute in the face of MacKay’s character assassination (although opposition members of the Commons did eventually call him back for a lone round of dignified rebuttal testimony). For this alone, seeing MacKay go down would be altogether sweet. Vote NDP.

South Shore—St. Margaret’s

This is a tight race between incumbent Harper guy Gerald Keddy** and former New Democrat MP Gordon Earle. Liberals and Greens should  vote NDP.

Sydney—Victoria

For months, Cecil Clarke has mounted an energetic campaign against nice guy farmer MP Mark Eyking. The NDP usually run second in this riding, but Kathy MacLeod, their candidate this time, is weak. The orange tide may boost her vote, however, and it’s hard to say which potential winner she will hurt the most. This race is much tighter than national pundits realize. In particular, the strategic voting site Project Democracy has mistakenly declared it a safe Liberal seat. Vote Liberal.

West Nova

This riding constantly swings back and forth between the Liberals and the Conservatives. Incumbent Harper guy and former Buchanan cabinet minister Greg Kerr faces a stiff challenge from former Liberal MP Robert Thibault. Vote Liberal.

Kings—Hants

Steven Harper visited this riding Saturday to shore up support for defeated provincial cabinet minister David Morse, his candidate to replace Liberal Scott Brison, a floor crosser who fled the CPC. New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives (real conservatives) should Vote Liberal

Four ridings are not in play. Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, sadly, will stay in Harper’s camp. Cape Breton—Canso is safe for Liberal Rodger Cuzner, and both Sackville—Eastern Shore and Halifax are safe for NDP incumbents Peter Stoffer and Megan Leslie. The latter was thought to be in trouble early in the campaign, but the Liberal collapse ended that threat.

* A few parliamentary purists, including the ineffable Elly Alboim, object to the term “incumbent” in Canadian elections, because once the writ is dropped, former office-holders are no longer MPs. It is (or for years, was) CBC style not to use the word. I regard this as silly. Everyone understands the term to mean, “seat-holder at dissolution.”

** An earlier iteration of this post misidentified the CPC candidate in SSSM as Derek Wells, who is in fact the Liberal candidate, a former president of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, and, like Conservative Keddy and NDip Earle, a former MP in this very riding. My apologies to both. With the Liberal collapse, Wells is an also-ran. Liberals who place a high value on preventing a Harper majority should vote for Earle.

Paving the way for Tories — feedback

Contrarian reader Wallace J. McLean wonders:

How does the map of road work requested by Premier Fiddler compare to the provincial electoral map as it stood prior to dissolution?

It’s an obvious question, but from a look at the map, I doubt the answer would turn up anything nefarious.

Provincial paving, by its nature, takes place mainly in rural ridings. That’s where provincial roads are. Before June 9, Tories held most of the province’s rural constituencies, so most of the proposed projects were undoubtedly in Tory ridings. To show bias, one would have to demonstrate that province’s proposed infrastructure projects disproportionately favored Tory ridings like the premier’s over rural Liberal ridings like Stephen McNeil’s.

Mr. McLean is welcome to test this hypothesis by going through the list and calculating the number of projects proposed per rural Tory riding vs. the number proposed per rural opposition riding. I’ll publish the results.

But it will take a fair bit of work just to figure out the riding where each project is located, and I’ll be surprised if the results show anything like the bias apparent in the Harper government’s approvals.

Paving the way for Tories

2008-ns-fed-elect-map-annot-small

When the Harper Government announced an Infrastructure Stimulus Plan focused on construction-ready projects, Nova Scotia saw a golden opportunity to make headway on a huge problem: its crumbling highway system. The province sought federal approval for 39 paving projects.

But Ottawa approved only 20 of the paving jobs. Since the 19 rejected projects were all but identical to the 20 that received a federal go-ahead, it’s hard to figure out what criteria Ottawa used for its decisions. Until you look at a federal electoral map.

Projects in ridings held by Conservative MPs were almost four times as likely to receive federal approval as those in Liberal-held ridings. Contrarian used the provincial Freedom of Information Act to obtain a list of proposed projects for comparison with those approved. The map above shows the ratio of Harper-approved projects in each Nova Scotia federal riding. (Click here for a larger image.)

Projects proposed for the large Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley riding left vacant by the resignation of independent MP Bill Casey, where a byelection must take place by Fall, fared even better than those in Tory ridings. Seven of eight paving projects proposed for the traditionally Tory seat met with the Harper government’s approval, for a total of $5.2 million in federal funding.

Because they mainly encompass urban areas, the four Metro seats—two Liberal and two NDP—didn’t figure prominently in the calculations. One of two projects submitted for the four ridings, a paving job near Stanfield International Airport in NDP-held Sackville-Eastern Shore, was approved.

In the Central Nova riding held by Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay, Ottawa approved six projects worth $6.1 million, and rejected a single project worth $942,300.

By contrast, Liberal MP Scott Brison‘s Kings-Hants riding received approval for only one of seven proposed projects. It was worth $630,000 in federal aid, while the six rejected projects were worth a total of $4.2 million in federal funding.

In all, the province submitted paving projects worth $71.5 million, of which the feds would pay 45 percent or $32.2 million. (The federal portion of infrastructure stimulus projects is billed at 50 percent, but some costs are not eligible, so the actual federal contribution works out to 45 percent.)

Approved projects total $40.1 million, of which Ottawa will pay $18.1 million. Projects killed by the feds totalled $31.4 million, of which Ottawa would have paid $14.1 million.

The following table summarizes the outcome of the Harper Government’s response to Nova Scotia’s requests for approval of paving projects under the federal Infrastructure Stimulus Plan.

rejections

UPDATE: A spokesman for the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal referred questions on the federal approvals process to federal Infrastructure Minister John Baird. A call to Chris Day, press secretary to Baird, was returned by a departmental communications officer, who promised to get back to contrarian shortly.

UPDATE II: It appears that a section of the only project approved in Scott Brison’s riding actually crosses the line into Tory Greg Kerr’s turf. So the tally should read:

  • Kings-Hants: 0.75 of 6.75; 11%.
  • West Nova: 2.25 of 3.25; 69%.