Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Liberals for Legalization: Calling for the help of other bloggers

Many Liberal bloggers support the legalization of marijuana, but the true numbers remain hidden from public few. This could change if bloggers were able to indicate their support by placing an icon on their site. I do not have the technical expertise to do this. However, I am sure some other bloggers have this ability. All I can do is to suggest what such a logo should say, viz., "Liberals for legalization". The same goes for progressive bloggers – “progressives against prohibition”.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

McGunity Van Loan Pissing Contest: The Conservatives have strategy and Liberals Don’t

The biggest ridings in Ontario and indeed in the country are all in suburban Toronto. However, it is far from clear way the Conservatives would want to seed the field to the Liberals -- at least in the short term. Far from being the Liberal fortress that urban Toronto is Suburban Toronto and the rest of the 905 have been an area of growth for the Conservatives. They picked up 4 seats in 905 in the 2006 election and margins of Conservative victory increased in every riding that they had previously held.

You can be sure that the Conservatives' motives for getting into a pissing contest with Dalton Mcguinty are far from capricious. The Conservatives are aiming to do two things. One, they want to play to their “Western” base and two they want to reassure Quebec and the Maritimes that things will not get out of hand --- hence the small man of Confederation reference. Most people understand this. What they do not understand why this strategy is likely to work. You see one of the long simmering sources of “Western” alienation is the perception that Ottawa, for reasons relating to Quebec, is unwilling to recognize the region’s growing economic and democratic clout. The Conservatives are not so much trying to reduce “Western” alienation as trying to stoke it. The Conservatives are betting that the Liberals will defend the status quo and so far the Liberals have done just that. During the next election the Conservatives will mention how the Liberals are content to continue short changing the “West”. It is no accident that the Conservatives are proposing to give the same number of seats to the BC and Alberta as Quebec has. On the other side of the ledger Ontario’s huge rate of growth in absolute terms is bound to scare the bejesus out of Quebec and the Maritime premiers and by short changing Ontario the Conservatives are signaling to these provinces that they recognize these concerns and are willing to do something about it.

The Conservative fall back position is to say to Ontarians that while Ontario might be shortchanged in comparison to BC and Alberta and Quebec, it nevertheless gains more seats under the new system then it would under the old system. (It is should be noted that in absolute terms this is true; Ontario will gain more seats in absolute terms; after all, the new system adds more seats than the older system. However in the long term such a system will see the gap between what percentage of the population of Canada lives in Ontario and what percentage of MPs are from Ontario grow faster than under the current system.)

If the Liberals were smart, they would surprise the Conservatives and say that the 4 largest provinces should all be held to the same standard and cash in in Ontario. The problem is the Liberals are tactical dummies and they do not know the first thing about strategy. Indeed, as Canada’s 3 largest cities grow, their suburbs and not just the urban cores are becoming more liberal. What is more, the Liberals still have better relations with new Canadians than any other party and most Canadians are in Canada three largest cities. These areas are the biggest potential for long term Liberal growth; the more seats they are given the better. So what are Liberals doing? They are busy worrying about what Harper’s chew toy (Charest) has to say.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Focus on Emission Intensity and Not Bali or Kyoto

Time and time again Harper has outmaneuvered Dion on the environmental file. Given the fact that Conservative plan is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, this is really quite something. The problem is instead of focusing on Harper’s lack of a plan the Liberals have stupidly focused on Kyoto and now Bali.

Kyoto: Canada was not going to meet the 2012 Kyoto targets without buying emission credits and that was just was not sell domestically. There is no use going to war over something that is glaringly false. That was just the half off it. So long as Kyoto was the focus, the question arose as to why Canada is not going to meet its targets and this allowed the Conservatives to offer up Liberal inaction as the reason why. As for Bali, Dion has again let Harper outmaneuver him. He has allowed Harper to turn the issue into whether such a deal is workable and fair. The problem for the Liberals is however unpopular the general thrust of Harper’s stance is with the public, Harper is not wrong in everything he says and many Canadians, call them Rex Murphy Canadians, will be appreciative of such tough talk. Harper, for example, is right about the following. Without an accord that binds all major emitters to the same standards, the chances of such an accord actually making a dent in the problem and even holding together over time are not good. It does not matter a lick that industrialized countries per capita emissions are much higher. It does not matter that the developed nations are responsible for most of emissions thus far. The past means nothing; the only thing that matters in the dog eat dog world of international affairs is what happens going forward. What is more the developed world is holding most of the aces. There are parts of the developed world that are going to be hit hard by global warming, but global warming is going to have a far bigger impact on the undeveloped world and the undeveloped world does not have the same ability to deal with it. (While it might be sacrilegious to say this, Canada is one of the few countries that could actually benefit from global warming.)

In order to fully capitalize on the issue the Liberals have to switch from talking about international treaties designed to deal with the problem of global warming to how the various parties plan to reduce carbon emissions at national level going forward. The Liberals have a plan, the semblance of a plan anyway, and the Conservatives have a potential political piƱata known as intensity based emissions. Do not give Harper the opportunity to speak hard truths about the treaty process. In politics, the long game goes to those who manage to force their opponents continually trade in half truths or worse; Truth is a turtle, a lie a rabbit. Force Harper into defending his undefendable intensity based emissions plan. The longer the focus stays there, the better. If the focus is left there for a month or more, environmentalists, academics, pundits and yes bloggers will devour the Conservative party’s credibility on the issue like so many scavengers and insects picking clean a carcass. Moreover, if the Liberals are successfully able to reveal the Conservatives intensity based plan as such much hot air, the Conservatives will appear insincere whenever they try to talk tough on Bali.