Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Blind Side

Let me begin by saying sorry for such a delay in my posting. My internet has been down along with my phone line and cell phone due to a severe wind storm in my area.

Surprisingly this was not the only storm to occur over the past week or so. The only words I could fathom in an attempt to explain the recent changes in the political race we call an election was..."The Blind Side." This has nothing to do with football, but can only explain how the NDP have won extra support making them not only a viable threat for the Liberal that might replace them as official opposition, but also a supreme threat to the Conservative's dreams of a majority and even a minority at this point.

I can imagine Michael Ignatieff biting his tongue for his reference in the debate: "Jack, your party will never form government, you will always be in the opposition spot."

Well, Mr. Ignatieff, the winds of change have arrived and I believe on Monday a change will come to the political sphere of Canada. A change that overall will be good, but may take some adjusting to acquired taste.

Yes, the NDP do represent a socialist and very left leaning party, one that puts it's focus on adding balance to our society and one that looks out for the little guy...whether he be from the middle class or a low income individual on social assistance.

With this mindset however, certain policies will be put into place that change what many capitalists and moderates alike see as government and structure. Corporate taxes will most likely increase and handouts to mega-corporations will decrease if not cease at all. We might even have a healthcare system that hires more doctors and nurses, a cost which is required, but will come either from the citizen directly or those big corporations. In the temporary transition, these changes will hurt Canada's current path under Harper, as international investment may decrease if corporate taxes increase. If no balance is placed with regards to protectionism and an open invite to the world, than yes this will occur. If Jackie Baby though is smart, he will ensure that he puts his spending where it is needed and maintains an image that reflects positive change and not needless spending. Honestly, a lot of good can come from this and with proper investment through party policies and co-operation with the other parties, Canadians might see a lot of good change come to our country and more importantly our direction.

How will this orange wave come to sweep over the Prime Ministers Office you may ask? Well, if the NDP surge and grab enough seats placing them close to equal with the Conservatives, they can either make a bond with either the Conservatives or the Liberals and have their budget passed, which would put them in charge of the house and respectively the government. Either way you look at it, Jack is going to have to work with one or more parties to ensure an agreement can be made or even a coalition if required. I highly doubt our governor general will listen to Harper if he requests another election be called in the event the NDP or Liberals take power.

So, to keep this update short I will leave it at this. I applaud you if you went out and voted in the early polls and hope you will be there Monday to vote if you have not done so already.

Will you just stay home and have the coming change guide you...or will you take up your freedom and choice and guide the coming change with your vote?

The answer is one only you can decide come Monday May 2nd, 2011.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Stephen Harper and the Canada Question.

Stephen Harper continues to speak about his low-tax plan and mandate to complete the economic recovery. Once again, his rallies consist of Conservative support that adore Mr. Harper as if he was some sort of famous celebrity, when in reality he is a Prime Minister with a lot to explain.

Now, I know you might think that this blog and my comments seem very anti-conservative and that I am simply a left leaning individual who cannot think of a Canada leaning toward the right. I know it may seem like this Harper bashing is unfair, but the reality is that when looking at many of Harper's rallies, when viewing his policies and his promises compared to what has physically occurred over the last 5 years a much different story arises. I am honestly a left leaning young Canadian voter, but Canada is a left leaning country and an example to the world, an example however that is still very fragile and could be destroyed if many of Harper's unlisted plans become a reality.

Harper is not a bad man, but he is a man right now who solely focuses on the numbers within our country. Yes, our economy and our country is important, but what he mentions in this video seems quite hypocritical when one views what he promises to the corporations, his mega-prison plan, his warplane plan, his overall stance on elections and health care. He is simply feeding you small concessions just to win you over, when in reality what he will pay out to his *friendly consultants* and CEO's will triple. Money that will stay concentrated at the top and never see the light of day at the bottom, where it needs to be invested right now during the recession years. There is no guarantee that the other parties will not follow suit upon their election into the PM spot, but that is a risk we have to take given the physical evidence we have seen from Harper's past choices and direction.

Every dollar we invest during a recession helps to improve our post recession growth and stability because when we invest in our people, our people invest in our country, which should be the focus. Harper preaches that taxes will not raise, but at what costs? He never mentions how he will prevent these hikes, which is scary considering that he once publicly praised the private health care system being used in the United States. Will we receive lower taxes, while having multiple programs cut in the health care sector? He mentions that he won't do what the Liberals did in the past, but what is his alternative? Big business already laughs at us, sure we receive extra profit from tax breaks and we CREATE a TON of jobs...mostly MINIMUM WAGE here and the rest we CREATE in CHINA. Do not believe me? Ask yourself why all these businesses that receive so much tax incentive end up shutting down and moving to China and Mexico? Labor sure is nice when you can run a workforce for the cost it takes to run one worker in Canada, plus nothing beats the policies of certain countries, which make their workforce essentially a slave force under the risk of death.
Canada before Harper

Above I have posted a picture that intrigued me, it is depicting a maple leaf and the architecture that supports it. I look at this picture and I envision how it supports our country. How it represents the system we live within and how it can function. Look at the shape of a maple leaf, the top is quite small and the bottom and middle make up the largest portions that essentially keep it balanced and make up the majority of the object. The lower and middle sections are what make the maple leaf exist.

Now consider this maple leaf was Canada, with the middle and lower portions representing our citizens and their daily hard work that essentially build this country and allow it to exist. Now think about the maple leaf only allowing small portions of water/energy to go to the middle and lower classes, while the majority of the power goes toward the top of the leaf. The middle portion, being one of the largest portions requires so much energy to exist, this energy will not allow it to grow rapidly, but allow it to remain healthy and vibrant, which in turn benefits the other sections that rely on it for stability. The lower section can barely survive with these new concessions, since the power is a little more than what they usually rely on. As this diverted power continues to remain though, the leaf begins to change...what was now a small top becomes bloated with over growth and monopoly. The power deprived middle becomes weak and nimble, making it shrink and weaken overall. Sure the maple leaf is still alive, but what was once a standard maple leaf, relying on all of it's parts is now a grossly perverted leaf, risking total destruction with every passing day and every new deprivation to its middle section, a section which before allowed the leaf to stand with a sound stability. As a result, the lower section has to compensate as it grows, sure it is receiving a little more than before, but since so much pressure is being placed on it due to the instability of the centre, it must expand.
Canada under Harper's *Economy* Policy

The sad reality is that Harper's promised plans may seem like they are helping Canada, which they are since our economy will benefit, but only in the sense that big business will receive greater support and in turn greater profits. Without more support, our middle class will continue to shrink and our lower class grow under the gross mutation of our upper class as government hand outs and incentives increase. Does the maple leaf still look like a maple leaf? More importantly, will Canada still look like Canada? You tell me!

To help answer Harper's question about "why another election?" His answer is that he does not think the opposition believe they have to win this election, simply that they can form a coalition and be done with it, while wasting tax dollars in the process. This greatly angers me, because it is simply more party politics being thrown down our throats, why do we have elections Mr. Harper? We have elections, because this is our country and we follow the rules of a DEMOCRACY and in a DEMOCRACY we have ELECTIONS! It doesn't matter if we have to complete 10 ELECTIONS within 5 years, we need to maintain this important factor because it defines our DEMOCRACY! Mr. Harper wanted to form a coalition in 2004 with the NDP when an ELECTION led to a Liberal minority. Without an ELECTION, Mr. Harper would not be in power right now.

 Looking at both the party bashing and the numbers and facts that have been thrown around, what do you think? How do you feel about the platforms that have come forth during the past few weeks? Which ones do you believe are possible and will support our country properly?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Leaders Debate A.K.A Some Political Chit Chat

I was all ready to watch tonight's leaders debate and sink my teeth into some exciting politics and inspiring lines. What I was given was a stale and typical political debate among party leaders. A second surprise came later when Elizabeth May(Green Party) and other viewers also mentioned how stale tonight's leaders debate really was.

Maybe it is because of all the drama around the world going on that our politics just couldn't keep up. I mean there is increased nuclear disaster in Japan, politically based ethnic cleansing in the Ivory Coast, Bombing in Libya and a shit storm of other problems everywhere else. 

Although the debate was stale though, your typical important topics made the cut and were given proper air time. I was happy to see that our political leaders still care about universal health care and are not afraid to look back on the history of such an amazing concept and mention how it has not only brought Canadians together, but also parties on all sides of the political spectrum. The reality is that our country is going to have a major issue in the future if we do not put into place the proper measure to ensure that our health system can not only continue on, but also compensate for added stress placed on it from the elderly portion of our population. I enjoyed the Ignatieff quote: "We need to ensure that health care is available to Canadians not due to whats in their wallet or what their postal code is." As nice as this might be, I am still very skeptical towards how the Liberals plan on maintaining our health accords after they attempt to keep all of their campaign promises.

When I look at all of the leaders though, it was obvious that Harper has a 3 vs.1 on his hands and sadly in reality it should have been a 4 vs. 1, however the green party was not allowed to come in. Harper did a good job of at least maintaining his own personal goal of the debate, but he has in no way answered to any of the discrepancies that have occurred in his home base. Ignatieff played a little bit of a cocky political contender, mainly due to his assumption that Jack Layton's party would forever be the opposition party. Be careful Mike, because if some crazy change does happen, the NDP could get some huge support since Jack is the only one stepping outside of the cliche political style in this campaign. Jack Layton I have to say did improve a lot and this is mainly due to tactics that Stephen Harper utilized in the last election. One important change is that his platform is simplified, organized and promises logical reasoning with regards to how his goals will be clearly met. Lastly we have Gilles Duceppe, what can I say!? I still want to take  the guy out for a beer, but tonight he seemed like his Quebec nationalism had to be acted at points in order to continue stressing his party's foundation. He asked some important questions to stump Harper and keep him on the defensive, but his attempt to be over the top was a little to obvious at times. Overall, all four did a good job at debating the major issues, but with the continued bashing, Harper's focus on the economy made his arguments seem legit.

Overall, the opposition parties are in a gray zone at the moment. They can continue bashing Harper since he has left them with a lot of material and open weaknesses or they can take the approach of inspiring Canadians to rise up and have hope in real change. If they continue stressing all the bashing, this could easily back fire on them as Harper maintains the image that his party has successfully done good for Canada, while their parties rely on nothing but bashing his party as opposed to having real solutions.

I still have my reservations for Harper, especially after he had the gull to mention that Pierre Trudeau's liberal party was known for destructive spending. Yes, the liberals did spend a lot of money in the 70's, but Mr. Trudeau is remembered for doing more for individual Canadians and this country than Harper will be! While Canada received it's country under Trudeau, what will Harper leave us aside from expensive jets and unnecessary mega-prisons for our lower income citizens to fill?

What do you think about tonight's debate? Do you believe that inspiration and hope came from the leaders discussion? Is Harper still your number one choice for this election or have any of the other leaders given you some interest? Is a coalition still a possible reality? More importantly do you agree with Harper with the economy being the most important issue right now?

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Battleground: Hamilton 2011 Part 2

As I made my way to the Ignatieff rally, I couldn't help but notice where the event was taking place. Roughly 6-7 blocks away from the convention centre and on the same street, Ignatieff had placed his venue in the Liuna station, which is a beautiful building surrounded by a low-income residential area and CN rail lines.

I enjoyed the fact that protesters were not only allowed to stand outside, but also invited to come in as many did. The place was packed with a very diverse crowd and no one was subject to any screening or ID requests. It was basically a come in and have a seat kind of environment.

Overall, I used the night and day analogy to explain my experiences from both rallies because in reality, the two were quite different  regardless of being set up for the same purpose. Ignatieff came in and greeted everyone who came with a smile and a hello. He immediately welcomed everyone to state their opinion and made sure they understood that after his quick speech, he would take all questions from anyone regardless of their political background. This was nice to see as the environment became very open and laid back in a way. People opened their ears to hear what was about to be said.

 This is where I really thought Ignatieff made the right moves for a politician looking to not only get votes, but also improve his image. He began to indirectly and directly address a lot of the material that the Conservative attacks ads have been directing toward him. However, instead of bashing Harper by saying that he is simply wrong, he began stating facts and providing an argument as to why Harper was wrong. It was a nice change to see amid all of the party bashing that has been going on throughout this election.

Ignatieff then went forward and began listing the Liberal agenda that would be planned if and when he becomes Prime Minister. Among the options stated, Ignatieff put focus on the fact that his changes would not occur 5 years down the road like Harper is promising, but would rather happen today and address the problems of today. When confronted with the question of how this would be achieved, Ignatieff simply stated that possible contracts like the F-35's and super jails would be redirected and corporate taxes would remain at "a competitive 18% for all of the big banks, insurance companies and oil companies." Ignatieff further went on to say that " I cannot implement these changes on the back of already hard pressed Canadian families." This awarded him a standing ovation from the crowd and pretty much laid the foundation for the rest of his speech.

Listed below is a video of Michael Ignatieff defining what a democracy is and beginning his opening remarks with regards to the rally and what he hopes to achieve.

I really have to stress how good of a political move this introduction was because it not only made Ignatieff stand out among all the bashing, but also let people see that he is a rational guy who is intelligent. He tried to make himself "one of the guys" in the sense that  what was going on in his discussion was the right way to do politics. If anything he says will actually be played out when and if he comes to power? No one can guarantee this and he even mentioned later on that a person should have a limited trust in their politicians, since there is always a possibility that everything mentioned will never come to fruition.

Question time quickly came around and I have to once again stress that this is where I believe Ignatieff really shined. I really hope you view the video below as it will show 3 of the 5 questions asked. The other two were unable to be taped as I ran out of memory on my camera, but I will discuss them now in as much detail as possible.

Question 4: A very intelligent young guy stood up and asked one of the simplest questions around, but a question which shook the entire room. Stephen Harper has been convicted of contempt against the Canadian government by the speaker of the house already and another time after as well. What this basically means is that Stephen Harper is the first Prime Minister to ever be seen as guilty of committing acts against not only our political system, but Canadian democracy in general. The individual then went on to ask...why is it possible that someone who has been convicted of a serious offense like this can run again for re-election? Ignatieff stood shaken after this question and simply stated: "It is possible for this to occur because of elections, because Harper has the power to run again and it now comes down to the people and their votes to determine if he will be able to regain his post after what he has done or fail." This I found put a beautiful spin on the notion of the important of the vote. Ignatieff later stated that: "voting is a sign of equality between Canadians and that this is our Canada, so even if we do not vote Liberal just go out and VOTE."

Question 5: A mother stood up and asked Harper what his stand on the gun registration would be with regards to the simplification of the process and the more stringent regulation of fire arms in the hands of mentally ill individuals who choose to either commit suicide via a gun or kill others as a result of their illness. Ignatieff responded with a heartfelt explanation stating the cliche line that no one can imagine what she was going through and that the program will be put forward to work toward preventing such an incident from happening again. He later explained that mental illness is a serious issue we have swept under the carpet for to long and that his government will work to make it more widely spoken of so solutions rather then excuses could come forward.

This last question really made me kind of see the typical politician come out of Ignatieff, he spoke greatly of having hope and was very realistic about many problems throughout his entire rally, but of course there were things said that one can only hope will have any attention give to them once this election is over. The reality is that Harper, Ignatieff and the rest are simply trying to get our attention and our vote, the political system relies on this in order to divide the power between every party and although a lot of hope can come from potential candidates, one must always be ready to question the validity of responses and the ability of such individuals to come through with their commitments.  I had a great time at the Ignatieff rally and agreed with a lot of what he said, but I ask you again to view both videos and tell me what you think of the words used and the tone taken advantage of during the rally.

What do you think about Ignatieff and has my blog changed your mind about some of his policies? Do you think he will direct Canada properly if he becomes our Prime Minister?

I hope I was able to properly give everyone who missed out that night a general explanation of what went on. It is our responsibility as citizens to continue questioning those with power to ensure that accountability and transparency continue within our country. To much power can easily corrupt and lead our beautiful country into disarray if the proper checks and balances fail to be implemented. The people make up the government and it is impossible for government and society to exist without us, which is why it is an important duty of ours to continue making sure our needs are addressed and our thoughts processed on the progress and direction our country heads in.

Battleground: Hamilton 2011 Part 1

Yesterday, both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff graced Hamilton with their presence and words. I wish I could say they both blew away the citizens of Hamilton, but in doing so I would be telling a lie. The reality to yesterdays events is that both rallies were essentially...night and day! That is the best way I can explain what I experienced in words.

I will begin with Harper's rally first, but before I do that I want to clear some other stuff up mainly because Harper was my first stop due to the 5:30pm show time. I will explain later why show time was the best way to explain Harper's rally.

People at both rallies had one main thing in common regardless of their political differences, I heard people from both talk about how if this rally was in the United States...there would be 100,000 people as opposed to a few hundred. It felt good hearing this in a way, mainly because as Canadians we are constantly forced to explain how (UN)American we are...ALL THE TIME! Also, the demographics between both rallies were much different, Harper had more middle class/seniors mixed in with very business looking folks. Ignatieff on the other hand had a more diverse crowd consisting of middle class/lower income/seniors and a fair amount of visible minorities, which made me very happy. I could barely see any visible minorities at Harper's rally, there were a few, but of the ones I spoke to they were mostly there to keep an open mind and see the other side's argument.

Another positive that I simply loved was the amount of young people there. Young people and politics are often seen as an impossible combo, but this is simply a misconception and last night helped prove that statement wrong.

Prime Minister Harper's Rally:

Upon entering the convention centre, I was greeted by Conservative volunteers who asked for my name and information. I had not previously signed up for the rally and explained to them that a computer malfunction made it impossible for me to formally register. The first thing you see is a line of protesters outside making as much noise as possible to distract people coming in. They were quickly surrounded by Hamilton police and escorted far from the property. Not to mention, anyone who blatantly made public that they were not conservative were given either an escort out or asked to wait in a line to the side. Luckily, last nights organization was very poor, meaning many people who initially registered didn't get their names on the formal entrance sheet. So, like myself they were forced to wait with other individuals who had to register and provide their personal information at the side.

Holding Cell err waiting area for non-registered citizens.
 The atmosphere from the beginning was very controlled and quite awkward for me. Mind you, I am probably very biased since I do not have a lot of trust in Harper and he is the current Prime Minister, yet I felt to much pressure was put on filtering those there to ensure that the "bad apples" did not burst Harper's bubble. By bubble, I mean the type of area that all politicians have to a certain extent with which they can call their comfort zone. Harper knows there are certain topics that will make him look like a fool, so this filtering would be necessary to make everything look clean and professional. This would be alright, if the reality were not that in doing so important issues become ignored.

 Once inside, I made it a point to observe my surroundings and was surprised to see a very large number of undercover RCMP officers. Again, Harper is the Prime Minister, yet the whole thing really reminded me of a rally held by a dictator, almost like an illusion of "freedom to assemble", since people were allowed to gather, but only under strict surveillance. I heard many people comment on how this was one of the most heavily guarded rallies they have ever been to, making Harper add another notch to his record belt!

Once the PM showed up, the place went wild, with the classic rock playing in the background and the banners and little kids accompanied by their parents and grandparents, not to mention some very attractive political aids, who were not afraid to show it off. It was seriously one huge propagandist party! This is normal for rallies since these politicians need to show off their muscle, but Harper made sure it was big, a huge Canadian flag was used as the backdrop as Harper spoke of all the good things Canada has achieved and how important the economy is and how the coalition was the only thing standing between Canadians and what they really want. He continued to talk in this tone until it was time for questions. I was unable to get his questions on video since I had to leave for the Ignatieff rally and was about to puke with the amount of propaganda that had filled my head and stomach.

See the video of the rally opening. I am sorry for the low quality, my camera had a lot of interference from screaming fans around me who had to make sure Harper knew they loved him! Let the video load and fast forward to the 6 minute mark to see Harper. This is the first of 2 videos I was able to grab, but gives you a quick glimpse of the patriotism Harper spills out about the Conservative party and his economic action plan.

Luckily though, one of the protesters got in and began questioning Harper about recent factory closures and large companies who were paid very nice incentives, leaving the country free of charge! Immediately, Harper supporters and RCMP moved in to remove the man, but as if a miracle occurred to ensure that what was being said had to be said, the cameras got to him first and spent a good 15 minutes on him, making it impossible for Harper's guys to remove him without giving the camera guys physical evidence of the crowd filtering that we have been hearing only by word via the news. I mean Harper even apologized for the accidental removal of people and still this was going on! After this I got my stuff and headed out, after witnessing a Prime Minister who did not only seem like someone running from the police, but also desperate to maintain a perfect image as he disregarded the fact that a fundamental freedom was being infringed upon. I did not learn anything from Harper's rally, as it mainly reinforced his attack ads and consisted of 90% bashing the other parties and 10% of promoting how much of a good state Canada was in. As I mentioned earlier, I felt that Harper's rally portrayed more of a show for followers, like a preacher praising God as his followers spill forward with love and money in an attempt to bask in his influential, but fabricated leadership.

I just have to question how true this statement really is though...can we say Canada really is in a good position regardless of the economic recession? What do you think? I know we weathered the recession fairly well, but are we really safe enough to say that our country cannot fall into a recession still or begin a decline into stagnation as other countries begin their recovery?

I will create another blog today to add in my review of the Ignatieff rally, I figure that with the pictures and added video, this blog has become one packed little sucker, so in order to risk explosion due to the immense data in here, I will organize it better this way. I am also sorry for posting this so late, I wanted to find the right words to use for what I have seen.

I hope my eyes were able to portray what many of you missed and give you an idea of what went on.

Parked right outside the Harper rally! Sneaky Mr. Ignatieff, very sneaky!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Campaign Strategy

I have been watching the campaign commercials for the election hopefuls as the rest of you have and I could not stand by without commenting on how crazy some of them can be.

It seems like the past few years, our politicians have resorted to American-style attack ads that make their opponents look like garbage and try to infuse fear into the Canadian populace, with images of what their Canada will look like if they do not vote for so and so...

Let me clear one thing up for you people, the day after the election, the second after a new person or the same person is elected to power, our Canada will still be the same. The reality is that anything major in regards to change will take a lot of time before it actually takes hold, in fact I am pretty sure our political system as a whole makes it impossible for quick change to really take hold, but you can never write it off as impossible since things can happen.

Anyways, I really want to give an applause to Michael Ignatieff and his "soft ads", I believe he has the right idea by trying to show Canadians why he would help improve Canada for them as opposed to just for me because the other guys are worse.

For Example:

These are just a few examples of ads that attempt to inspire you to believe in positive change and believe that it can occur, not just smear our political candidates and continue on the stereotypical dirty tactics that many campaigns employ.

I will post more videos as I come across them on youtube, but I leave you with the question: How do you feel about the current commercials for this upcoming election? Do you agree with smear campaigns or do you feel inspired by some of the material being sent through?

Always keep your mind open to these ads and make sure to break them down and read through the lines, couple them with the party platforms released and try to figure out who is desperate to maintain power through fear and who actually wants to inspire change.