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Seven simple steps that will change everything. You won’t regret it.

October 18, 2015
  1. On Monday, get out of bed half an hour early to do a little bit of planning how to vote.
  2. Find your voter information card to find out where to vote or if you don’t have one type in your postal code here.
  3. Determine when you’re going to vote, before work, during or after. Here are the hours polls are open in each province. TL;DR If you’re in the west you can go before work, in the east you have lots of time after work. You can do this.
  4. Before you leave the house make sure you have:
    • your driver’s license,
    • or some other photo id plus
    • a letter from hydro or the phone company or that parking ticket from last month.
  5. Stop by Tim Horton’s. Go to Work, School, etc. Go to the voting place. The order depends on you.
  6. Vote.
  7. Pat yourself on the back.

Wow. This will change everything. Find out how to ensure you aren’t left out!

October 17, 2015

On Monday, vote.

Are you fighting with your partner or friend all the time? One simple fix you won’t believe, scientifically proven results!

October 16, 2015

Bring your friend or partner to vote.
Vote.

The one simple thing you can do next week to improve your life, you won’t believe how easy it is.

October 15, 2015

Vote.

Executed Prisoners Are Not Political Props

June 25, 2015

Huffington Post: The Conservative Party of Canada uses the execution videos of the people they want to protect as props to attack Liberal leader as unprepared for leadership.

Whether military action is warranted and productive is a case by case decision. That is a discussion to have and the Liberals and Conservative and NDP may be right or wrong on it. Most likely they’re all wrong. I don’t know if Canada’s contribution to air strikes is the best use of our resources or if the current strategy for fighting ISIS is the right one. But I know this, using video clips from the terrorists we are fighting, of prisoners which they were in the process of executing is beyond inappropriate.

I know this has been done this before by the Conservative Party, and probably others have too, but that doesn’t make it alright. You could use images from old wars, dying soldiers or bombings to whip up fear, that would be wrong too. But this is actually worse than using such images, because the prisoners they are showing died recently in the current conflict. Maybe they aren’t even dead yet. They could still be in prisoned or be being tortured. These are actually the people you are trying to save, them and people like them.

Yet it seemed reasonable to use an image of the worse moment, and likely the last moments, in the lives of these prisoners to score a minor point on one of your opponents?

This is the definition of fear mongering and it is insulting to the intelligence of Canadians. But above all, it is a supremely disrespectful use of the prisoners whom ISIS has killed, the very people we are arguing about how to protect and save.

The Conservative party must stop using these images in their attack ads and completely and fully apologize for their usage including firing everyone who thought it was a good idea.

If an election falls in the forest and nothing changes…ever, is it still a democracy?

May 3, 2015

I’m an outsider to Alberta politics so I’ll try to avoid talking about which party should win or what policy issue is most important. But there are some disturbing, anti-democratic threads in the wave of editorial endorsements for the ruling PC party in Alberta that I want to highlight.

I was going to build a careful argument about the message in the editorials but some of their ideas seem so directly absurd, cautious or insulting to democracy that I think they can almost stand on their own, all emphasis added is my own.

The main argument of all of them comes down basically to this:

Desperate times don’t always call for desperate measures.
Calgary Sun

First off, they all admit the problems and where the anger is coming from:

Jim Prentice…is largely running against the record of his predecessors. So are the opposition parties. There’s a lot to run against.
Globe and Mail

The party must find a way to address a growing list of problems and infighting, or its tenure as ruling party will draw to a close.
Calgary Herald

The party around him (Prentice) still carries decades of rot…The absentee landlords of our public purse binged on us for political gain.
Calgary Sun

They even admit the differences between the NDP and the PCs aren’t that great in some ways:

Mr. Prentice’s budget agrees on the principle (of raising taxes on upper incomes), though his tax increases are smaller than the NDP’s.
Globe and Mail

While we are not fans of the increased taxation in his budget, we understand the end game.
Calgary Sun

In a vibrant democracy, dissent is a needed force.
Edmonton Journal

Yet they argue that voters should be satisfied with a change in leadership of the same party only.

Albertans can anticipate that their government will be countered by a strong opposition after Tuesday’s election, and that’s a reality that should only serve to strengthen the quality of our governance.
Calgary Herald

It (the NDP) could make a fine Official Opposition, but it isn’t ready to govern…But his government deserves to face something Alberta hasn’t seen in a long time: a strong contingent of opposition members.
Globe and Mail

A strong opposition could provide some innovative solutions he hasn’t considered to smooth out the province’s notoriously unstable revenue regime.
Edmonton Journal

That sort of thinking is a clear sign that Prentice isn’t leading the same old Tory party; he’s a leader with clarity of vision and the aptitude to chart a new course for Alberta.
Edmonton Journal

Well, what more could the voters really ask for?

Then there is the scaremongering about the essential fact of democracy, change.

But in this economy, we need to be wary about putting in rookies to run the show.
Calgary Sun

No one wants another costly and divisive election, hard on the heels of this one.
Edmonton Journal

The problem is that the Wildrose is untested. Jean, while a member of the Stephen Harper government for many years, only assumed the party’s helm on March 28.
Calgary Herald

Rather than wavering too far to the left or right, and from a proven path.
Calgary Herald

People seem to disagree about how “proven” that path is, thus the dissatisfaction that shows up in the polls.

But here’s the kicker:

If we’re going to have “generational change,” let’s strengthen Alberta’s foundation, not put it at risk.
Calgary Herald

This is an important point, by “generational”, I think people are actually talking about the one unavoidable, unarguable fact of this election. It’s a sentence that sits quietly two thirds of the way down in every single article about the election:

The Progressive Conservatives have held power, without interruption, for 44 years.
Globe and Mail

That’s half a lifetime, a whole generation. Half the voters out there have never seen another party win, ever. Democracy is about representation and change. More precisely the ability to change government in a peaceful manner. This is something we have only in recent centuries begun to master, but if we never use the power to change, do we really still have it?

Usually once a single party wins a couple times in a row, the opposition tears itself to pieces with internal strife trying to figure out why no one chooses them. Eventually they find an answer which is more palatable to the electorate or someone starts a new party to fill the gaps the perennial party has since no one and no party are perfect. Alberta has done this more than most regions in Canada at the federal level. So why is that the province can’t handle a change at least once every 44 years?

The voters of Alberta have a choice to make on Tuesday and they need to make that choice based on their own beliefs and their own strategic thinking about the situation. This thinking should include the message that it will send to everyone who has supported the PCs for those 44 years if their party wins again. Mr. Prentice may be very different from his predecessors but those supporters and others in the party will get another message which is: “Carry on, carrying on”, because voters are happy with the party.

If that’s the message you want to send, then go for it. But consider it carefully, the rest of Canada is watching and the implications of your choice are going to be the most important political event that has happened since the collapse of the Bloc.

On the significance of sound and fury.

April 17, 2015

Oh journalists, you love a strong response to an unanswerable question don’t you?

The media are really into nailing down what each party leader thinks about coalitions after the next election at the moment. Case in point, this week’s little drama with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau trying to answer questions about coalitions with the NDP after the election which he shouldn’t be answering:

The CBC even posted a video question on Facebook about: Coalition for Canada?

As someone on that Facebook thread pointed out, the simple story that many are reciting is that Trudeau said he’d be willing to have a coalition if it weren’t for NDP leader Mulcair. All the articles just snap parts of the quote to magnify this context. I can’t find the full interview. But it doesn’t matter because the next day:

Well that’s nice, glad it’s all wrapped up and we know what Canadians want.

This article by John Ibitson has some bluster about the Liberals being closer to the Conservatives than the NDP but is more on target about what the coalition options really are after an election :

I don’t really think Trudeau meant the problem is Mulcair. He said he doesn’t want to talk about it, trying not closing the door entirely and unwisely responded to a ridiculous personality question, and then he closed the door entirely.

But here’s the thing, none of this really matters.

Begin rant

The great thing about democracy is those running for office can propose to do whatever they want and if they can get the voter’s support, then it’s ok (within the bounds of the constitution). That is literally all that there is to it.

So if the NDP and the Liberals can come to a coalition agreement or a non-aggression pact of some kind before the election, the voters will take that into account. If they stay vague, the voters will take that into account. If they don’t say anything either way, then after a hung parliament (because that’s what it really is when no one wins an outright majority of seats, and in the UK they’ll call it that) they can try to work together to form a government…or not.

Whatever they do they will be acting within their mandate because the MPs are elected individually. The parties are merely useful hallucinations which we created to simplify the process of making a hard, unified decision across hundreds of ridings, and of course to make fundraising easier.

Regardless of what approach the MPs take, or what approach their parties decide on and ask their MPs to support, the voters will react and the next election they can make a different decision. In the mean time if the voters are unhappy they can protest, raise funds for other parties, start new parties themselves or run in by-elections to make their unhappiness known.

So should party A and party B agree to form a coalition before the election happens? It doesn’t matter and why would you answer that question? Why tie your hands before you even know voter intentions? Even if they take a stand either way, they don’t need to stick to it. All that matters are what all the voters say in each riding which determines who their empowered elected MPs are. Then it only matters what those MPs decide to do to work together and form a government, in full freedom, on behalf of their ridings.

Our democracy is at once simpler and richer than any of this discussion gives it credit for.

There is nothing illegal, misleading, or dishonest about forming a coalition before the election or forming it afterwards, whether it was planned and discussed or not. It’s just parliamentary democracy in action.

Embrace it.

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