On the move!
Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, ianking.ca is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.
Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace vancouverscrum.blogspot.com with www.ianking.ca in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.
Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at ianking.ca!
—Ian King, December 13, 2004
Monday, June 07, 2004
Day 15: More Trail Mix
- CP political reporter Bruce Cheadle examines a grumpy, or, as Ipsos' Darrel Bricker calls it, "rationally skeptical," electorate.
- The Conservatives' attempts to recast themselves as social moderates have once again been fouled by one of their own MPs. Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant, previously famous for uttering homophobic slurs at Foreign Affairs minister Bill Graham, called for the repeal of a law protecting gays and lesbians from hate crimes. Party co-chair John Reynolds claimed that the Conservatives would do no such thing, despite the fact that the entire Canadian Alliance caucus and most of the Progressive Conservatives now in the Conservative caucus voted against that same law last fall. Add it on to this charming photograph of a Conservative supporter saying hello to a same-sex marriage advocate, and more questions come up about just where the Conservatives really stand on social issues -- especially as the candidates the Conservatives are slapping down are often reflecting the view of the Conservative Party's progenitors.
- Just in case you haven't heard it enough, the federal election's outcome may hinge on the rationally grumpy skeptics of British Columbia. Interestingly, as the federal Conservatives have seen their prospects improve in British Columbia, they've not yet returned to their recent dominance (as Reform/Alliance) in the West Beyond the West.
- 20/20 Hindsight Department: Chantal Hebert observes that recently retired PM Jean Chretein would have creamed Jack Layton and Stephen Harper by this point in the campaign. To Hebert's credit, she describes exactly how Da Little Guy would have strangled the competition.
- Reactions are slowly trickling in to the Conservatives' five-year budget plan unveiled last week: The Globe and Mail's editorialists ask some pointed questions about the Conservatives' tax-cut-and-slash-and-spend-more budget plan. Former BC NDP MLA David Schreck, an economist by trade, points out that programs that the Conservatives can't legally cut, can't cut for political reasons, or won't cut because of ideological ones added up to all but about $50-billion of the 2002-03 budget, the last for which audited Public Accounts statements are available. TorStar economics editor David Crane had earlier dismissed the Conservative income tax plan as "stupid" last month. We're still waiting for his take on the final package.
- Today's most comprehensive piece on the Conservative fiscal agenda comes from Heather Scoffield, who covers budgets and economic matters from Ottawa for the Globe and Mail. There is a $50-billion (yes that's billion with a b) spread between the Liberals' and Conservatives' estimates of how much fiscal room the feds will have over the next five years. For deficit-phobic Canadians, that might be a bit disturbing. The meat in Scoffield's report:
- Globe and Mail political scribe John Ibbitson, hanging out on the West Coast for the past few days, opines that the mass signups used to secure nominations in the Liberal and Conservative parties have to go.
- Today: After flying in from Whitehorse, NDP leader Jack Layton makes his third B.C. visit of the campaign; he'll detail his party's tax proposals at Simon Fraser University before jetting off to Prince Rupert, where the NDP hope to win the Skeena-Bulkley Valley seat. The CCF and NDP dominated northwestern British Columbia from 1957 to 1993; the only interruption was Liberal Iona Campagnolo (later Liberal party president, now Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia) upsetting Frank Howard in 1974. The Dippers' candidate, Smithers community activist Nathan Cullen, is in tough against incumbent Conservative Andy Burton and former B.C. Treaty Commission chair Miles Richardson, who's running for the Liberals. As one typist from a local daily put it, "He's a community activist from Smithers. He's been getting his ass kicked for a long time before this."
- Meanwhile, West Coast Liberal heavyweights will unveil a B.C.-specific take on their party platform as the Grits try to increase their B.C. seat count and secure something approaching a government.
- Also Today: The nomination deadline for would-be MPs comes up today at 2 PM EST. Elections Canada will post the gory details for all 308 ridings (I refuse to use the official EC bureacratese of 'electoral' district) on its website soon thereafter.
The Liberals say they expect to increase government program funding by an average of 4.5 per cent a year. That's lower than increases in the past few years, but Mr. Goodale argues that it is a goal he intends to keep.
The Conservatives, on the other hand, forecast spending to grow at slightly less than 3 per cent a year, before they add in their new initiatives on health and defence, and other election promises.
The Liberals counter that spending growth at 3 per cent means steep cuts. That's because health care, transfers to provinces, Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement and a host of other programs are rising at levels much higher than 3 per cent.
In order to offset those higher costs, a Conservative government would have to make steep cuts in more discretionary areas such as programs run by the departments of Citizenship and Immigration, Foreign Affairs, Heritage, Industry, Justice, Environment and so on.
But Conservative officials say they do not foresee large cuts. They do say they will axe one of the Liberals' main infrastructure programs, and they will eliminate $10-billion over four years in business subsidies. But they say they will maintain all transfers to provinces, old-age pensions and payments, health care and defence.
The large increases in those programs will be offset by keeping other programs rising at rates under 3 per cent, and by trimming costs on public-sector pay increases and capital expenditures, party officials say.
Later on: The Vancouver Scrum seeks out local candidates who are watching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in public. Even Vancouverites are cheering on the Flames, however reluctantly. So are all the political parties -- except the Bloc. For your convenience, here are their rationales:
liberals: The Flames are now Canada's team; the Liberals are Canada's only true party. Besides, red is such a fetching colour. Now please forget Keith Davey's famous campaign cry, "screw the West, we'll take the rest."
conservatives: Hey, you bandwagon-jumping hypoGRITS! You dump on Calgary 48 weeks out of the year, and now you wanna get in on this action? Forget it, pal. This is Calgary's team, and we're Calgary's party. (Oh, crap? Did we say that? No, we're national, really we are...)
ndp: Everyone loves a plucky underdog that goes from an afterthought to a force! So what if we don't stand a hope in hell of winning anything in Calgary; we love that Martin St. Louis. Oh, crap! You're telling me that the Flames gave up on him and the Lightning got him for nothing?... Damnit, I need better briefings!
bloc: We like the Lightning! St Louis, Lecavalier, Perrin, and Roy; good Quebecois boys all.
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