Sunday, September 28, 2008


There is lots to be said about the malaise felt by many voters in the current federal election.

I personally feel this election is a joke. We go to the polls, exactly one year earlier than previously legislated by our own Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Oh well, politicians are allowed to break their own rules when it is convenient.

People get interviewed on the street and respond by how much they are "tired of voting". Well, it is better than the alternative, I suppose. That is, we can stop elections altogether and just appoint a dictatorship or allow one to appoint itself.

The Conservatives haven't proposed any new policies except what their policies would NOT be. I am interested in hearing their position on health care and the Canada Health Act. It was Stephen Harper himself that spoke a few years ago that people should be allowed to purchase private health insurance for any type of service and that physicians should be allowed to choose to deliver privately any service they wish ... arguing this would not erode into public health care or access for everybody else.

Well, news flash. We don't HAVE enough doctors to fill both coffers full of medical staff and if private medicine proves to be more promising, many physicians and other care providers will skip public health insurance altogether to see private patients exclusively. I personally don't know Harper's position on health care right now, as he is not saying anything. Sometimes it is what politicians DO NOT say is more important than what they do say. I would advise people to study all candidates of all parties, their personal backgrounds and their positions on issues that are important to you, before you mark that ballot.

For example, an astute letter write wrote a letter to the Welland Tribune to "educate" voters in the area that the Conservative candidate for the Welland Riding, Alfred Kiers, was formerly a candidate for the Family Coalition Party. For those that want to learn about that small party's politics, you can always visit its website to learn about its policies. This does not necessarily mean Mr. Kiers will push these values on the party, but one should be wary that some politicians do impose their religious beliefs on the electorate. This is commonly known to be the Religious Right in the United States, where many states have backward policies on a number of issues, imposing certain morals on the electorate through legislation as opposed to personal choice. We certainly do not want that attitude imported to Canada.

Current election gaffes include a number of Conservative (as well as at least one Liberal) bloggers that have been reprimanded or asked to withdraw from the race once their blogs and posts on various websites were uncovered; it is not hard to find out if your local candidates have been actively keeping a blog or journal online. All you need to do is google their name via the web or even blogsites. You can also try finding them on sites like MySpace and Facebook, where many candidates have formed web pages to keep in touch with supporters. While they may have "official" views on these pages, you may wish to explore various discussion groups to see if they also posted there. That way, you can learn about your candidate and see if their views are something you could support being represented at the political level.

Another method is to meet your candidates and talk to them personally about the issues that concern you most. Ask your candidate the difficult questions and do not let them get away with political double-speak, which is either answering your question with a question or answering your question by giving information that does not answer your question. To get them to be truthful, play devil's advocate with some of the issues you care about. For example, if you strongly support universal health care, ask your candidate if there are instances where they believe the private sector can deliver health care effectively and efficiently and to identify what circumstances these might be. If you care about the homeless, ask the candidate what they believe is the cause of homelessness and how it should be addressed.

Get involved with political websites of parties you are not necessarily likely to support, but have questions about. There are likely people that post to these discussion boards that present ideas or opinions that might represent the position of the party and the majority of its candidates. If something bothers you, ask for an official interpretation of the party's position on that particular subject, not necessarily what the writer actually believes. For example, the Conservative's official position may still support universal medicare, but some of its candidates may not. The other thing is don't assume that parties of the so-called "left" all agree on positions either. There are Liberal party candidates that have supported the war in Iraq, privatization of health care and vouchers for religious schools. These are not necessarily bad policies, but if you feel they are not good - learn about what your candidates actually support.

Another cue to learn from is to go to the Elections Canada website to get a list of last election's donors to the various political parties. By law, donors that give funding or services in kind to any political party have to be named and reported to Elections Canada. Which businesses and organizations appear to be likely to donate to your political party? Does the party appear to have more organizations donating or individuals? You may want to google the names of individuals that appear to give significant amounts of money to any party to see who this person is. Many times, they are former candidates or executives in the party or they are part of an organization whose interests would be served by the particular party. For example, if a person is active in the labour movement, they might be supporting the New Democratic Party. If they are academics or policy analysts with private think tanks, go to the academic site and search up articles they've written or co-authored. If they are part of a think tank, such as Canadian Policy Research Network, the Fraser Institute, CD Howe Institute or Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, you might want to go to these websites to learn about what policies these organizations support and who is behind them.

Being an educated voter is hard work, but I would rather educate myself as to who I intend to vote for than to vote blindly or as in the United States, vote through some kind of middle man at an Electoral College. The campaign is getting silly here and this, unfortunately, benefits the incumbent party. People get sick and tired of listening to negative ads, finger pointing, opinion polls and other "media coverage" of the election. This coverage sadly is very incomplete and does not tell you who the people you vote for really are. Some people are comparing the Green Party to the Liberal Party of Canada, by saying that the Green Party is simply campaigning for the Liberals and if you vote Green, you are supporting the Liberals. Skip the middle man, they say, and vote Liberal directly.

As for the so-called "left", there are people out there advocating that the Liberals, NDP and Green Parties unite in their efforts to defeat Stephen Harper. Some are setting up "strategic voting" sites to encourage people to vote for one candidate in an attempt to prevent another candidate from getting elected. Nobody votes for who they want anymore. They vote against who they do not want or dislike the most. Our election system is antiquated to the point that strategic voting becomes necessary if we want to prevent massive majorities at 38% of the vote, meaning that instead of appointing them - we are ELECTING dictatorships. I prefer some type of proportional representation, but whenever something like this is proposed to the electorate, representatives from the two main political parties put on an anti-reform agenda to prevent people from choosing change ... simply to protect their own butts!

In my own view, they should have an option called None of the Above. If you are in the voting booth and NONE of the candidates appeal to you, which is slowly getting to be the case with people like me, folks would have an option to register their "vote". However, this can present itself in the likely scenario that None of the Above forms a "majority" of the votes in the majority of the ridings. Or people can always vote for the Marijuana Party, the Work Less Party, the Communist Party or even the Marxist Leninist Party. I'm sure there are equally bizarre options out there; maybe I might form my own political party someday.

Anyhow, people whine and complain and wonder why we have to go to vote again! I say, why not ... voting just takes a few minutes of your day. You can call the office of any candidate and ask for a ride. That doesn't mean you have to vote for the candidate of the office that provided you with the ride ... it is a secret ballot! You can even go in there and write on the ballot in bold block letters, "Throw the bums out!" or decline your ballot. If you decline your ballot properly, your "vote" is registered. However, do anything ... just don't stay home.

Happy Election Day (which will be October 14, 2008). Check the Elections Canada site for advance polling dates, special polls and other ways to vote to make sure your voice is heard. See you all there!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally pulled the plug!

This was several weeks after projecting commercials about himself sitting by a fireplace wearing a comfortable sweater portraying himself as a family man, as well as another one where paid stooges were put on film to say they will be voting for Stephen Harper. Well, the pain of waiting is over ... the plug is finally pulled and the pain of waiting is over.

This election is predictable as anything else. Harper's team started a website called and on another site, portrayed a video of Stephane Dion standing in front of what appears to be a chalk board, until a flying puffin blows by and poops on his shoulder and disappears. Dion's team struck back with their own scandalpedia outlining the innumerable gaffaws by the Conservatives during their relatively short reign of minority rule. What does this have to do with the price of bread, one may ask?

Political parties continue to believe that Canadians are stupid. They think Canadians will rush to vote Conservative because they see Stephen Harper portrayed as a "family man" before the hearth talking with glowing terms about playing cards with his son, Ben, and his daughter, Rachel. Congratulations, Stephen! I'm so glad that you have a family. But this does not take away from the fact that Stephane Dion, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May also have families, and they likely enjoy spending time with them too. But does this make him the best choice for a Prime Minister? God only knows.

Because nobody seems to know what policies any of these people have. All we are seeing are flying puffins, attack ads, comparisons of Harper to George Bush in the U.S., and so on. All of that means nothing to me as a voter. A survey was done of voters and it was found that the majority of them did not feel that the party in power made a difference in how well their lives went. That is probably true, but I also believe the big issues are important ... which is why we should be voting and studying the political parties' positions.

Pollsters are estimating that the Conservatives will win. Okay, so why bother voting, if we already know what is going to happen? Publishing these stupid polls is probably what bothers me the most. The pundits are pointing to a likely minority government headed by Stephen Harper again; it is like we ran out the back door, only to enter the same house through the front door all over again. Whoopie doo! Nevertheless, the ABC groups are being set up all over the web, citing "anybody but Conservative". I am still looking for the group that attracts the flying puffins.

In between these irrational election ads are commercials pushing vehicles, often with hard rock music that tends to attract the elder portion of the baby boomers, e, g. those with money. The latter group doesn't have any. I am still eagerly awaiting clear cut information about what each of the party leaders plan to do to further screw up our country and when I do finally vote, I will hold my nose and put my X beside the name that offends or nauseates me the least. Maybe one or two candidates might even provide petroleum jelly before they start their country screwing tactics, for example.

The Conservative party has not once spoke a word about how it intends to reduce poverty. Perhaps, they are part of the community that believes there is no poverty, much like my region's politicians believe. They talk about the wonder of tax cuts, which do absolutely nothing for low income people, but then again, some voters will be fooled. The Liberals promise a plan to reduce poverty, but at the same time they want to create more of it through their proposal to create a carbon tax, which Harper rightly describes as "a tax on everything". NDP Leader Jack Layton told his supporters the day the election was called, "The Prime Minister quit his job today. I am now applying for his job." Yeah, right. Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party, is finally allowed to participate in the Big Debates, which I will probably watch if only for that reason ... usually that would be an exercise in where best to place the barf bag.

Elections are viewed by most Canadians as something we must tolerate every so often, like it is such a burden on our privacy and an invasion of their busy lives. Perhaps, we should stop having them and then watch everybody scream about dictatorships and authoritarian governments. Canadians are stupid bunch anyways; I can never understand them. The media whines about summer elections, while summer elections wouldn't make a difference to me anyways. I am in the same place during the summer as I am during the spring, winter and fall ... working, probably until I am put in the ground.

The media whines about winter elections, whining about how Canadians would rather be in Florida getting some sun. Must be nice to have money to go to places like that, but I'm still here like I am the other 364 days of each year. The media whines about elections during or too close to holidays, like as if ALL Canadians just spend quiet time with their families ... assuming all Canadians have families to spend quiet time with.

But the thing that pisses me off the most is that when they raise so-called "pocket book" issues, it assumes that all Canadians have "disposable income" - a foreign concept in many people's lives. They talk about reducing taxes, but many of my clients don't pay income taxes. They need an income to pay taxes on. If some of them got the good jobs that other Canadians seem to have, they can join the same bitching rounds as everyone else about how high their taxes are. Wouldn't that be nice!

However, as the so-called middle class goes the way of the do-do bird, and less and less people have the "disposable income" to pick up a cup of coffee, let alone buy flat screen TVs, computers and new clothes, ANY government of any stripe will be scratching their heads to figure out what happened ... as they literally wiped out taxes on wealthy families and are quickly going into a deficit to cover basic operating costs, maybe we need to start thinking about doing politics differently.

Wealthy and upper middle echelon people often think of taxation as "theft". To me, if they truly believe that, they should all move to some island somewhere that has no government, no rules and no infrastructure to be taxed for ... let it be man against man, pitting life against life, lest only the strongest survive. They want to stop paying for health care because after all, they are healthy and even if they aren't, they can afford out-of-pocket medical care. They want to get rid of welfare and leave the less fortunate at the mercy of charity, and both you and I know what charities don't do -- they certainly don't do any better than the government, in fact a lot worse, at dealing with the problems plaguing the disadvantaged.

These are the same people who will tell a homeless man that needs glasses to go the Lion's Club to pick up a used pair, regardless of what his requirements are ... or to go to the welfare dental clinic and get his teeth pulled and then slap him in the face if he doesn't find a job. They are roundly criticized if they have a cell phone, lest they waste the money "taxpayers" give to them ... but then we somehow expect them to magically be in touch with employers to find work. The logic of these people is sorely lacking, as I see the results of this logic every day in my legal practice.

And these people think we pay too many taxes right now ... just wait until we open more prisons, hire more police officers, fill more hospital beds with patients with conditions that could have been treated had they been eating healthy and had enough funds to stay warm in the winter. Poverty is expensive. Our country cannot afford another ounce of it.

But then again, I am yearning for politicians who are true leaders for this country. This is something I think all Canadians miss. We no longer have the Sir John A. MacDonalds, the Diefenbakers, the Pearsons, even the Trudeaus ... we are stuck with the Harpers, who pay as much for their "image consultants" as twelve of my client's families pay for their entire expenses over the entire fiscal year. We have the Dions who can't communicate his "green shaft" plan in either English or French, not much better than one of his predecessors that spoke from both sides of his mouth. Then we have Jack Layton, who is probably closest to being "an ordinary Canadian" among them all, but yet so politically correct, he squeeks. I don't know enough about Elizabeth May, except that she practised law at some point, but then again ... aren't 99.9% of politicians over-represented by lawyers and wealthy business interests?

Some suggest a "none of the above" option on the ballot. It sounds like a good idea until it is implemented and I know for sure what will happen ... what happens, for example, if "none of the above" gains a majority in Parliament? Does it mean we have to start all over again and bother our vote-weary Canadians in going back to the polls to pick from yet another equally incompetent group of losers?

I don't know the answers, but I would at least like to see some way of reflecting a proportional representation so that people can stop twisting their voting strategies into pretzels and off-track betting proposals in order to prevent certain parties from getting in, as opposed to choosing a candidate of one's choice. During the provincial election, there was a lot said about bottles of Visine being used to "get the red out" and how voters could have done the same on October 10, 2007, by getting rid of Liberals ... but it seems that the Selsun Blue needs to go, but nobody seems to know how. I love you Harper, and I know you are a good person, a good family man, a hockey fan, a man of my heart ... but I just don't know what you have up your sleeve and how it will affect my constituency.

As you know, my constituency comes first and I intend to educate them in a non-partisan way, because I really don't "support" any political party ... I go for specific candidates, some of whom are Conservative, others are from other parties. I trust those that I know, regardless of political stripe. But if Stephen Harper came to my door tomorrow to tell me what he will do for my constituency and could convince me on how it will improve their lot, he might have half a chance. I might even send him a few flying puffins.

Anyways, I *will* be voting. I don't know for who yet ... but it should be a blast. See you at the ballot box folks, where we can all "throw the bums out!"