Bonus posting

My thoughts: What struck me most about this article was the part about voter apathy. People not participating in elections are neglecting our democracy. We have a chance to give our input and regularly we don’t do anything. I think differently from the writer of the article, low turnout could work in favour of the BC government. As the article says levels of interest are decreasing for the anti-HST campaign. Those that are against it have generally already participated by signing the petition and it may be hard to get them to follow up by voting as well. If pro-HST campaigners can persuade all the people on their side to vote they may be in with a fighting chance yet.

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March 31st

This article mainly made me consider whether or not televised debates between the leaders are key to the democratic process. I haven’t yet come to a conclusion on this question but if I conclude that they are I will be very much against the television networks having ungoverned, decision-making power over how the debates are run.

In respect to the Green party being banned, as long as the debates are privately run they have very little to back up their “rights” to be a part of the debates. Some may look back to Elizabeth May’s poor showing in the 2008 debates as reasoning for keeping her out of this one.

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March 23rd

My thoughts: as we have learnt in class a non-partisan bureaucracy is a key part of responsible government. I was surprised ot find out that the Government didn’t already have a system in place to ensure that an appointment was non-partisan. Clearly, with 31 appointments, Harper has been able to take advantage of the lack of accountability (as I’m sure past PMs have).

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March 10th

My thoughts:

I like that Christy Clark seems to be pretty even in her negative and positive opinions of the previous Premier and his work. Keeping the cabinet fairly siminlar does help with stability but being honest about the downfalls is important also. The point she has made about the low income tax rates not being worth a lot when you look at other costs carries a lot of weight. I know that personally I would notice the rise in msp and energy costs more than income tax rates.

B.C.’s Clark signals that lowering taxes will be a priority

British Columbia’s premier-designate Christy Clark cast doubts on Monday on a planned increase to medical service premiums, saying her government needs to rethink the tax burden it places on families.

Ms. Clark also flagged concern with proposed rate hikes on electricity – a strong hint that the Crown corporation, BC Hydro, may run into opposition with its plan to increase the price of power by 50 per cent over the next five years.
More related to this story

A protester outside the BC Liberal Convention in Vancouver Feb. 26, 2011.
Candid photos from the floor of the BC Liberal convention
Voters share their thoughts on the BC Liberal race
The BC legislature in Victoria June 11, 2010.
From the anti-HST campaign to a new premier

Ms. Clark, who won the B.C. Liberal leadership on Feb. 26, will be sworn in March 14. At the same time, she’ll unveil a new and smaller cabinet. Although she campaigned as an outsider to government who would represent change, she played down on Monday just how different her cabinet will look.

“People want change but we also want to have some stability in government as well,” she told reporters in Victoria.

The bigger change, she suggested, is in the way the government will operate under her leadership: “To make sure we are pursing a families-first agenda for government, and that is making sure every aspect of government is thinking about families as it formulates its decisions.”

Ms. Clark signalled that lowering taxes for families would be a priority.

While the government has touted its personal-income-tax rates as the lowest in the country, Ms. Clark argued taxpayers are really in the middle of the pack, nationally, when it comes to their total tax load.

“One of the things that government needs to start doing is, rather than just talking about where our tax rates are,” she said, is look at “where are we in terms of the total burden of costs that government puts on citizens.”

BC Hydro, after allowing capital investments to lag for more than a decade, is now embarking on a series of major capital investments of roughly $2-billion annually. It has projected it will have to hike electricity rates dramatically to pay for the improvements.

Hydro’s investments include an $800-million seismic upgrade to the Ruskin dam – a small Fraser Valley power station that will produce power for just 33,000 homes. As well, it is launching a $1-billion smart-meter program that has been exempt from review by the utility’s watchdog.

The utility’s costs are not only driven by capital costs, however. BC Hydro’s payroll has increased by 52 per cent in just three years, from 2006-2009.

The Finance Ministry has not included hydro rates when it compares B.C.’s taxes to other provinces. “Government has to think more holistically about those costs,” Ms. Clark said.

She also said she won’t throw out the budget that was tabled on Feb. 12, although it includes a six-per-cent hike in MSP costs for British Columbians who pay them. But she may well bring in a new budget – or even call a provincial election – after a June 24 referendum on the harmonized sales tax.

Ms. Clark, who does not yet have a seat in the legislature, has suggested she favours an early election, but it won’t be until after the referendum.

And although she wants to win a seat in the House, she still hasn’t figured out where she would run. Premier Gordon Campbell, who will officially hand over the reins next Monday, has offered to step down in the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey. “That seems a likely option,” she said. “Although we’ll see what happens.”

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March 3rd

My thoughts:

This articles brings up several issues. Although everybody has been expecting an election the preparation of a campaign is seen to show the expectation in the budget not going through. Also, at the rate that the Conservative party is going they can`t expect to win an election if they make many more mistakes, such as using government resources to fund a campaign.  Lastly, I wonder why it is real news that the Conservatives are targeting new Canadians? It seems to be one of the most important starategies for parties, bot short term and long term, if they want to survive. With only 39% of the Vancouver population set to be white Canadian by 2031 it seems obvious that the Conservative party needs to build support amongst immigrant communities if it intends carry on in Parliament (either in power or forming the opposition).

Letter reveals Tories’ plan to capture immigrant vote


OTTAWA AND TORONTO— From Friday’s Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Mar. 03, 2011 5:22PM EST
Last updated Thursday, Mar. 03, 2011 10:05PM EST

A botched delivery has laid bare the Harper government’s plans to win over immigrant voters by appealing to their social conservatism before an election that the party believes will be under way by March 29.

The unprecedented glimpse into the internal strategy of the famously secretive Conservative election machine reveals plans for saturation television advertising in Toronto and Vancouver that asks immigrant Canadians: “Isn’t it time we all voted our values?”

We are losing” the battle for the votes of Asian Canadians and other immigrant communities, concedes a letter to Conservative MPs from Kasra Nejatian, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s director of multicultural affairs, though it adds: “we are losing less badly now.”

Mr. Kenney has been assiduously courting these communities, which have traditionally favoured the Liberal Party, because they live in the suburban ridings that will determine the outcome of the next campaign. If new Canadians switch sides in sufficient numbers, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives could win a majority government.

And so the letter asks the MPs to use their riding associations to raise $200,000 over the next week to support the “Conservative Ethnic Paid Media Strategy,” which is then described in detail.

The letter and background documents were inadvertently delivered to Linda Duncan, a New Democratic MP.

The package raised cries of outrage among opposition MPs, who pointed out that the letter was printed on Mr. Kenney’s Parliamentary office letterhead, violating rules prohibiting ministerial staff from using government resources to promote party interests.

Mr. Najatian’s actions “clearly violate the ethical guidelines for ministers,” Ms. Duncan said in an interview.

The government agreed. On Thursday evening, ministerial spokesman Alykhan Valshi offered Mr. Kenney’s apologies.

“This is very serious and unacceptable,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The employee responsible for this matter has offered the minister his resignation and the minister has accepted it.”

He added that Mr. Kenney would raise the issue, including the firing and the apology, with the Speaker of the House, the Ethics Commissioner and the Board of Internal Economy.

But what is even more fascinating than the dustup over the minister’s aide’s misbehaviour is the opportunity for detailed analysis of the Conservative strategy to woo immigrant voters that the misdirected package offers.

The “pre-writ” advertising campaign in local ethnic media will launch on March 15 and last for two weeks, revealing that the Conservatives expect to be defeated on the budget that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will release on March 22.

In 10 targeted ridings across the country, four of them in Greater Toronto, four on B.C.’s Lower Mainland, and one each in Manitoba and Quebec, four ethnic groups are singled out for analysis: Chinese, South Asians, Ukrainians and Jews.

The Conservative analysis concludes that party support declines as the number of South Asian and Chinese voters in a riding climbs. And that pattern is even more pronounced in Toronto’s suburban 905 area.

That’s potentially disastrous for the Conservatives, who are counting on making gains in such ridings in Toronto and Vancouver, where Asian Canadians make up as much as 50 per cent of all voters.

To improve the party’s standing, the Conservatives plan to direct $318,000 towards a massive advertising buy on ethnic media TV outlets, where they could saturate the airwaves with 30- second spots for as little as $200 each.

A sample ad provided with the package is directed at Indo-Canadians and conveys an image of the Conservatives as understanding their struggles and sharing their family values, such as “belief in hard work.”

The Conservatives have gained support in some corners of the Indo-Canadian community because of their opposition to same-sex marriage.

The campaign, which notes that support for the Conservatives among Chinese and South Asian Canadians has increased in each of the past three elections, also intends to take advantage of an Indian Cricket match at the World Cup on March 20.

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February 24th


B.C. Liberals chop 6,000 names from membership list


VICTORIA— From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

Just days before BC Liberals choose their next leader, the party has shed 6,000 names from its membership list in response to challenges from the four candidates’ camps about dubious signups.

That’s after a race to sign up new, voting-eligible members by the leadership candidates that swelled the party’s membership list by 60,000 in a matter of weeks.

On Saturday, roughly 90,000 party members will be voting to choose the party’s new leader, and British Columbia’s next premier. The majority of the invalidated memberships come from the newcomers to the party.

During the signup drive, the party was found to have accepted membership applications from a cat who belongs to a senior campaign organizer, and an entire junior hockey team.

Other concerns included photocopied membership applications and a restaurant that offered an incentive program for signups.

While some candidates dismissed the signups as the product of exuberant volunteers, candidate George Abbott demanded the party bring in outside scrutiny to root out fraud. The party brass did hire an auditor, but it is unlikely the current cleanup of the lists will entirely quell concerns about the party’s voting list.

Representatives for the four leadership contenders were meeting Tuesday evening to go over the changes to the list. Well over 10,000 memberships have been challenged, and some insiders say they still harbour doubts about the accuracy of the current membership rolls.

“The issue is the lack of transparency,” said one senior campaign worker. While the campaigns can track who is eligible to vote, it is more difficult to find out who has been struck from the list, and why. “There may still be more that could be challenged.”

Others, however, said the cull of 6,000 memberships shows the party has taken their concerns seriously. “The party has done a pretty rigorous audit and obviously found inconsistencies,” said a source from another camp. “People get a little exuberant.”

As well, some legitimate party members found they were removed from the list and are now appealing to be allowed to vote.

At one point, Kristy Wawryk found herself removed from the list along with her cat Olympia. Ms. Wawryk, a senior volunteer for candidate Christy Clark, is a longtime party member and a riding association president. Her membership was eliminated during the furor over what the Clark team described as a prank. A campaign insider says Ms. Wawryk has since had her voting privileges restored – but Olympia is still off the list.

Campaign insiders said Tuesday the party has granted the candidates access to the Intelivote Systems database that is being used to conduct the vote on Feb. 26. That database is critical to the campaigns because it will allow them to direct their appeals and track who has voted throughout the day.

BC Liberals with a party-issued personal identification number will be able to vote by telephone or over the Internet. The PINs are already in the mail and are expected to arrive on Wednesday or Thursday. There is no requirement to register or appear in person, leading Mr. Abbott and others to raise concerns about how the party is verifying the identity of those new members.


My thoughts: There needs to be a tightening of party membership rules. It doesn’t seem right that a party can control their membership without a mandatory external auditor. On a lighter note, what went through the senior volunteer’s mind to think that adding her cat to the list would be of a little consequence to the party she spends so much energy supporting?

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Week four

Which came first, the Liberal
or NDP line on pensions?

Jane Taber

Michael Ignatieff stood up in Question Period Wednesday and sounded like Jack Layton.

“When will the Prime Minister stop lining up behind banks and insurance companies and start lining up behind middle class Canadian families who need security in retirement?” the Liberal Leader asked.

Mr. Ignatieff was on about pensions – an issue the NDP has also trumpeted. He was criticizing the Harper government for ignoring the issue for several years only to propose an option that he says will weaken the Canada Pension Plan.

And he continued sounding like the NDP Leader even when he asked the question in French.

It did not go unnoticed by New Democrats, or reporters. In fact, it sparked some pointed commentary:

“If you close your eyes and just listen to the translator, it really sounded like Jack,” an NDP staffer joked. “Or, if you want to know what the Liberals are saying just listen to what we said last week, last month, last year.”

The NDP accuse the Liberal Leader of being “Iggy-come-lately” to the issue: “We welcome the Liberals to the debate and hope they will also support the New Democrat plan to enhance the Canada Pension Plan,” said Karl Belanger, Mr. Layton’s spokesman.

More and more are Canadians seeing the Liberals and NDP jockeying on the same issues – corporate tax cuts also come to mind – as they fight for a bigger share of the Canadian electorate.

For the past few months, however, Mr. Ignatieff has been trying to characterize the next election as a choice between the Liberals and the Conservatives, dismissing a ballot case for the NDP as a protest vote.

So what about pensions?

“The NDP has zippo to do with it,” a senior Ignatieff official told The Globe. “The more we force the choice between keeping Harper or replacing him, the more the boutique parties get squeezed.”

The official said pensions are one of the “big issues” that Liberals will be pushing more and more this year.

“It’s about families and their sense of insecurity. It’s about us standing up for the little guy, and Harper standing up for corporations.”

My thoughts:

Two things struck me when reading this article. First, what a perfect example it is of the lack of originality in Canadian politics. And then I considered that I might be wrong, it isn’t a lack of originality but perhaps a lack of willingness to give the Liberal party a chance to prove themselves. Rarely do I read an article about the Liberal party that has a positive slant.

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Makeup post

Gary Mason

Stifling debate may suit the BC Liberal party, but it doesn’t help voters

GARY MASON | Columnist profile | E-mail

Prince George, B.C.— Globe and Mail Update
Published Thursday, Feb. 03, 2011 3:26PM EST

The Liberal leadership candidates assembled in Prince George on Thursday for the fourth “debate” of the campaign. None of the forums has produced a shred of news or controversy – which is just the way the Liberal party wants it.

Party headquarters approves the format of all of the forums, which is why they are all remarkably similar in design: Opening statements followed by insipid, non-controversial questions which the candidates have little time to respond to.

Why, you might ask, would the Liberal party want to inspire such blandness? Why wouldn’t it want to create a format that generated some news coverage? The answer is simple: The party doesn’t want the candidates taking pot shots at one another and handing the NDP material for the next election.

In the same way that the Liberals would have used NDP MLA Jenny Kwan’s denunciation of Carole James in an election campaign had Ms. James remained on the job to fight another day, the NDP would surely use any clips of a Liberal MLA denouncing a fellow leadership candidate who ends up becoming premier.

So, bland is good. Polite disagreement is acceptable but the candidates all understand it’s not kosher to go on the attack – at least on stage in front of others. Behind the scenes it’s a whole other story, one I will chronicle another day.

It’s for this very reason that at least two television outlets are having such a hard time organizing something that resembles a real debate among the candidates. The stations, Shaw Cable being one of them, understandably want total control over the format. And that format will likely be intended to incite some real debate (even disagreement) among the candidates.

And perhaps provide that clip that could come back to haunt the future premier – or so the party and the candidates worry.

Why would Christy Clark, for instance, agree to participate in a debate where she has no control over the format? She is the perceived front-runner who only stands to lose from any kind of attack by her challengers. Even though she’d probably take some heat for not showing up and looking like she was afraid of debating her fellow candidates, there might be more for her to lose by taking part and being exposed on any number of fronts.

This is not like a provincial election where leadership candidates have little choice about attending a debate.

What is maddening about all this, of course, is that the format of the Liberal debates is not conducive to revealing true differences among the candidates. They all sound like they support the same things, with different accents on style and approach.

It’s pathetic to see a political party stifle debate in this way, especially for a position that is so important and has such impact on the lives of millions of people.

My thoughts:

The reality of dirty politics is being seen once again. I think that open and seirous debate is necessary in electing a competent leader of a political party. The fear of some comments being used against the potential future leader of the Liberal party inhibits real conversation about what candidates believe and in extreme situations could stop the better candidate  being elected.

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Hello world!

Welcome to UBC Blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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Week three: January 24th-28th

Thursday, January 27, 2011 3:34 PM EST

Would Tories use an Ignatieff clip out of context? ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’

Jane Taber

Talk about a quick turnover. The Tories have added a new meme to their stable of TV attacks – or to their “chamber of horrors,” as Michael Ignatieff refers to it.

They took a judiciously edited clip of Mr. Ignatieff’s Howard Dean moment from his rousing speech to the Liberal caucus this week and incorporated it into two new attack ads.

In the first spot, called “Needless Election,” the narrator asks whether in a time of economic uncertainty we should jeopardize the recovery with an unnecessary trip to the polls. And then he says, “Let’s ask Michael Ignatieff” – at which point, the Liberal Leader pops up screaming “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

The clip was taken from the speech Mr. Ignatieff gave to his caucus only on Tuesday in which he asked whether Liberals were ready to govern. And Mr. Ignatieff very passionately – with passion reminiscent of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean’s famous scream – answered his own question with arms pumping and voice raised.

For the record, the full sentence the Conservatives used from Mr. Ignatieff’s speech went as follows: “Are we ready to serve the people who put us here? Are we ready to fight for the Canada we love? Are we ready to fight for the Canadian family? What’s the answer to that? Yes! Yes! Yes!”

It was expected the Tories would use that in their ads to make fun of Mr. Ignatieff; what wasn’t expected was how quickly they did.

The second Tory ad released Thursday, called “Job-killing taxes,” focuses on Mr. Ignatieff’s demands to reverse the Conservative corporate tax cuts. It asks whether in a period of fragile economy recovery “it makes sense to raise taxes on job -creators?” The narrator again says, “Let’s ask Michael Ignatieff” – who again is shown shouting “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

My thoughts:

With an election strongly rumoured but not yet announced I wonder how dirty this electoral race is going to be. Are the liberals using attack ads against the Harper government as well? It worries me that our politicians have to stoop so low to gain any interest in their respective parties as to take statements out of context and portray their opposition as the enemy rather than the competition.

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