Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Post in La-la Land

I have to wonder what the author of today's National Post editorial was smoking when writing "A Tory Blueprint".

According to this piece, this minority government has reached its "best-before date". It also includes some policy suggestions for the inevitable election:

Cut income tax by 20%. The 1% reduction in the GST last year was nice. But, please, stop playing around with targeted tax cuts for the middle class and just cut income tax across the board.

-Adopt practical environmentalism. Get away from the globalist approach to the environment, such as the Kyoto accord, and stick to reducing real, tangible air pollution that kills 750,000 people annually, according to the World Bank.

-Continue to fight crime by pushing for changes to our criminal justice system that will make it easier to detain and hold anyone charged with committing a gun crime and make it harder for criminals convicted of a third violent offence to get out of prison after only a few months or years.

-Continue to permit more flexibility and freedom of choice in health care delivery. In fact, encourage the slow evolution of private clinics in Canada by telling physicians and provinces they will not be penalized for offering alternatives to the public health monopoly, so long as no one is denied timely care regardless of their ability to pay.

Yes, well, all good in theory, but I would like to submit a tiny reality-check here. The last three would never be supported by the opposition parties.

The environmental suggestion is especially ludicrous, considering the opposition bill to honour Kyoto which has already been passed by Parliament, and was supported by all but the Conservative party.

So, National Post, unless you're envisioning a Conservative majority, please save your editorial space for more pragmatic suggestions. Thank you.


Calgary Junkie said...

It's not just the media that needs a reality check, it's also disgruntled CPC members who are impatient with what they want Harper to accomplish.

I think every criticism/suggestion laid on Harper should be challenged with the following:

Given that Harper has the weakest minority government in living memory (possibly ever), a huge minority in the Senate, no natural allies among the three left-wing Opposition Parties, and a generally hostile main stream media ... exactly how do you propose that Harper get your suggestion enacted ?

The best example of the difficulties Harper faces is the Age of Protection Bill. This Bill has made it through third reading in the H of C, but is stalled in the Senate. To social conservatives, and I'm sure to most others, raising the age of consent from 14 to 16, consistent with most other western democracies, is a no-brainer. Yet the Liberals (for reasons known only to themselves) have decided that this could become a hill for them to die on.

The only thing I can see, is that the Libs will use that Bill as a bargaining chip at a future date for them to get something in return from Harper. Kind of like the way the LPC Senators agreed to pass the last budget, in return for the CPC Senators passing Bill C288 (Kyoto implementation).

How the hell does Harper overcome that kind of Liberal gamesmanchip, short of triggering an election ? Basically, what Harper needs more than anything, is effective tactics to use on the Liberals. So maybe the National Post could provide suggestions there.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

CJ - Excellent points. You should send them a letter. Seriously.

Actually, when you think about it, it's amazing that Harper's kept things together this long. Part of the reason for his success has to be Stephane Dion though. ;)

Bruce Stewart said...

Frankly, if there's a hill to die on, it ought to be to "never give up, never surrender" vis-à-vis the Senate. "We got this done with the help of the Opposition in the House, but the Liberals appointed to the Senate until they are 75 refused to pass it" seems like a very reasonable campaign pitch to me. How many Canadians will reject the Government in favour of Senators, anyway?

(Also a good time to point out PMSH stands for appointing elected Senators and setting tighter limits for terms in the Senate, so that this doesn't happen to future Governments. About time those ungrateful Premiers took a little heat, too.)

Calgary Junkie said...

CJ - Excellent points. You should send them a letter. Seriously

Okay, I sent the Post a shortened version of my post, as my experience is that gives me a greater chance of getting the letter printed.

Anyway, further to what bruce says about the Senate ... I'm hoping that Harper will convene a meeting of the Premiers, and give them a pitch along these lines:

None of you Premiers would tolerate the kind of procedural straight-jacket that my government is in wrt passing legislation. The Liberal dominated, un-elected, un-accountable Senate has way too much power over the passing of Bills, already approved by the House of Commons.

Put aside your partisan interests, and your hope for getting something in return for what I'm about to ask of you. We need to come to some kind of consensus on what to do with the Senate, as the status-quo is no longer an option.
Either we find a way to bring about comprehensive reforms, or we abolish it.

Otherwise, any good policy ideas that you Premiers want a Conservative federal government to bring into law, will be that much more difficult to get passed by the Liberal dominated Senate. It is as much in your interests as mine, that this Senate problem be dealt with once and for all.

PGP said...

Makes sense to me!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

as my experience is that gives me a greater chance of getting the letter printed.

That's right. Short and pithy is best.

Good for you! I hope they publish it.

Anna Keightley said...

That tax cut level is doable, Joanne. Flat tax cut across the board, would stimulate economy and afford families and all citizens major relief and operating room. It's also clear majority territory for the Conservatives. They would effectively depose the Liberals as the "traditional party of the working man." Conservatives have that in sight. Liberals have proven outright, it's "their jobs" that are on the line, no concern whatsoever for the average citizen.

Crime legislation, yes. Upcoming parliament will have to concede and this round, let the Liberals clearly explain WHY they won't raise the "age of consent" from 14 to 16? IMO, it's got everything to do with the business success of operatives of "orgy houses" with the SCC sanctioned. Liberals are clearly not for healthy, well-adjusted youth. Let's get that pretty straight, for future reference when Canadians descend on the voting booths.

Your platform proposals are on target and REASONABLE.

With regard to Senate reform, the old codgers are not going to budge -- well one has responded to date. I think citizens could demand a plebiscite on this one.

All in all, Conservatives can take their present edging out lead in the polls into majority territory if they follow citizens' leads, such as what you've just put up.

Also, if I may add my two cents. U.S. developers are onto building mega recreational centres in U.S. south (not shopping malls). I'd like to see similarly educational/cultural/social recreational centres go up in all Canadian cities and in selected rural areas, but only YOUTH CENTRED. Local youth could administer them and acquire entrepreneurial skillsets. They'd include, library resource centres, cafeterias, ball courts, dance halls for Friday, Saturday nights. Possibly even hostel bedding facilities for youth travellers. Part of the violence, crime levels happening among youth is due to the fact they have no real social settings outside their schools. But centres run by their own members and away from commercial enterprises such as malls, would provide opportunities for all sorts of creative, communal endeavours. They could, for instance, draw up their own lecture series, inviting military spokespeople, guest lecturers from all fields.

The youth need this and there's legitimate business enterprise there for real community benefits...an idea thrown out there.

Sandy said...

I wondered what they were smoking as well when I read the Post editorial this morning. Glad you picked up on it. I went with the "Prentice calls Martin's bluff."

Joanne (True Blue) said...

CJ - All good suggestions.

Anna, I agree about the tax cuts. I think it's time for this.

re: Crime bills - This is a frustrating area. I am still trying to understand why Joe Comartin has a problem with the age of consent bill.

re: Senate reform - yes, lets have a plebiscite.

re: Youth-oriented centres. Great idea. Also easier to do drug deals... (Kidding!)

Brian S. said...

I don't believe that any of the opposition parties are interested in spending less of our money. It is highly doubtful that a 20% income tax cut could make it through parliament, although just the suggestion might have the fortuitous effect of causing Jack Layton's head to explode.

liberal supporter said...

Which expenditures would you cut to match a tax cut? Or would you go back to running deficits?

Youth oriented centres sounds good. You just need to deal with those who whine that "basketball courts won't stop gang violence".

I think the age of consent argument goes like this: Teens will have sex anyway, and when below the age of consent they are less likely to get contraceptives or disease screening. The "near-age" exemption sounds great when you imagine middle aged men and teenage girls, but abusive relationships are just as likely for near age partners. Actual exploitation is already covered by existing laws. Other countries have a higher age of consent, but that age is for all sexual activity, and is lower than the age here (18) for "exploitive" relationships, i.e. pornography or prostitution.

As far as Senate goes, I have not seen deliberate partisan spiteful delay as the CPC likes to paint it. Trying to change the very structure of our system (i.e. Senate) because you think your bills are not passing fast enough is not that easy a sell. It seems we survived with it for 140 years, what has changed?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

L.S. - Do you agree with the consent argument as you've put it forth? Just curious if those were your thoughts, or the 'party line'. No sarcasm intended.

SouthernOntarioan said...

Liberal supporter:

Here's a reason to support raising the age of consent; to prevent 30 year old teachers from having sex with 15 year old students. The laws we have to handle such exploitive relationships are too lax.

It happened in my city and the bugger got off with a slap on the wrist more or less because she was above the age of consent.

And do you seriously believe that the 'abusive' relationship between a 40 year old and a 15 year old is comparable to that between a 17 year old and a 15 year old? Just curious.

As for the Senate, how about the bill to limit senators terms to 8 years. And don't tell me its being blocked because its unconstitutional ... they've done it before when they limited senators to 75 years instead of for life terms.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

S. O. - All good points. I'm looking forward to hearing L.S.'s response.

Moebius said...

As a fiscal conservative, I was pissed at the last budget. After years of waiting for a real conservative government, SH did not deliver. The minority government, to me, is just an excuse.

I honestly believe that trying to protect a future minority is counterproductive, and a weak excuse to not do the correct conservative thing.

Can you not see that that budget could easily have been delivered by a Liberal?

I'm in a single earner family, taxed more than a double earner family making the same money. Equal taxation should be the objective.

SH is only lucky that the Libs picked such a horrible leader this time, but they may get it right the next time.

liberal supporter said...

I probably know more about the CPC party line than the LPC one. I never visit the liblogs, so I don't really know the "party line", though I have an idea, since I read what they are saying in the news. I just saw the line here "senate is delaying consent bill", so I googled to see what the other side of the argument is.

That said, raising the age doesn't seem like it will help, but it can't hurt either as far as I can see. The 30-15 case that southernontarian cites should have been covered by existing laws, since the teacher is in a position of authority so the relationship is automatically exploitive. For abusive relationships, the 17 year old can beat up the 15 year old just as effectively as the 40 year old.

But again, I don't have a specific objection to the idea. I would like more information on why the Senate is holding it up. Sometimes there are minor items in a bill that hold it up.

For Senate terms, I would favour longer than 8 years, more like at least 15 years. I see the Senate the way I see tenure in the university system. I like the continuity, just as I like the Queen as Head of State.

Since they can't hold up anything forever, the effect can only be giving more time for dissenters to put pressure on the elected MPs. I don't like the idea of the same lobbyists lobbying members of another body that is not much different from the House.

As for "unelected", they are appointed by the PM, who is also "unelected". Only MPs are elected, to represent their ridings. Cabinet and PM are usually MPs but are not actually elected to the positions they hold.

You can call senators unaccountable, but so is the entire government between elections. We can't recall MPs or anything like that. The Senate does not set the government agenda, it only reviews legislation, and amendments should be of the nature of ensuring the law is constitutional and will stand up in court.

I find the labeling of senators along party lines can be misleading. They can be members of one party of another, but the parties have no leverage to actually control them. It eventually comes down to the individual senator's views, not the views of whoever appointed them.

PGP said...

Civics and Poli Sci ... theories and lecture by Liberal Supporter!
Please do keep it coming son ... you are so enlightened and enlightening!!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Moebius - I'm in a single earner family, taxed more than a double earner family making the same money. Equal taxation should be the objective.

So you're pushing for income splitting, right? I think that the government would have loved to do that in the last budget. Personally, I think it's only fair.

Kingston said...

Actually I find L.S. post pretty reasonable. although and there is always a "but" I would prefer to see senate terms around 10 years, and I do believe that the party leader has some control over which committees( perks) they sit on etc.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I never visit the liblogs

L.S. - We have a lot to discuss. First question is "why not?"

The 30-15 case that southernontarian cites should have been covered by existing laws, since the teacher is in a position of authority so the relationship is automatically exploitive. For abusive relationships, the 17 year old can beat up the 15 year old just as effectively as the 40 year old.

It's not always a position of power in the sense of a teacher and student. It can simply be a much older person who has been able to dazzle a 14 year old.

Do you have any kids?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I would prefer to see senate terms around 10 years

Kingston, that seems like a reasonable compromise (if we have to have a Senate at all).

joe said...

I hate to admit it but I agree with Lib Sup. I don't like the unelected PM/Cabinet/Senate. I prefer a Republic model where the executive is completely separate from the legislative branches of government and having the judiciary approved by both the legislative and executive. Personally I like the American system that balances regional concerns by having the two houses elected on different basis; regional and population.

Kingston said...

Joe, Interesting comment, what powers would you take from the executive branch as you see it south of the border. Also, there system works because the States have much more autonomy to run their own affairs. Would you be willing to give up the power of the federal govt to impose standards in both health care and education.

Kingston said...

Opps my mistake, delete education. Bad Example.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mmm... I think we will have to reopen the constitution, folks. How about a referendum on that?

Anna Keightley said...

RE: Developers building comprehensive "youth centres." Forgot to mention one most crucial element in the mix of its administration. Adults/parents volunteering "CHAPPERONE DUTY." No admittance to "funny stuff" material. All Friday, Saturday night dances chaperoned by adults. What a novelty! Going back to "the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world."

Part of the centre could focus on group pledging "chastity til marriage." A little self-esteem taught and supported.

No junk foods in the cafetaria either. Imagine that!

Rules of engagement/regulations -- teenagers appreciate that, despite ranting and raving.

Other than all the restrictions, kids have free reign over the business operations.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anna - That sounds almost too good to be true! It would be great to see this type of thing in our large urban centres, and for parents to encourage their children to become involved.