Will There Be A Federal Election This Fall?

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My Quick & Dirty Kindle 2 Review

There are a couple of reasons why the Kindle 2 sort of bites (healthily nibbles?) for Canadians. First of all, it’s not available in Canada. Secondly, even if a Canadian had one they wouldn’t be able to buy books for it from Amazon. That doesn’t matter though, because the selection of books available for the Kindle is tragically poor.

I had read a few reviews of the Kindle 2 and it sounded like every book a person would want was available. For kicks, I checked out my library in LibraryThing and searched Amazon/Kindle for all the books on page 1 of my library. Of the 50 books on page 1, only 10 were available for the Kindle. Most of these 10 were “classics.” Only 3 of the books available were titles published within the last 20 years. Notable authors such as Rohinton Mistry, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Ian McEwan are completely missing from the Kindle library. Oh well, who wants to read Booker and Nobel prize winners eh?

Canadian Minister of Science Denies Evolution

I’m not sure if I should be flabbergasted, mildly amused or disgusted. It’s been reported that the Canadian Minister of Science, Gary Goodyear, will not confirm belief in evolution. In my books that is a slinky way to say that he denies evolution. How quirky does a government have to be, in order for them to appoint a creationist to be the Minister of Science? That would be like the College of Physicians and Surgeons appointing a holistic alternative medicine practitioner to be their head. I’m not saying that creationism is wrong (not in this post anyways), but that it is obviously in direct conflict with science.

See comment below. Apparently the guy does believe in evolution. My bad. That doesn’t stop the government from being quirky.

Beers, Burgers and an Election

Not sure how you want to vote for the federal election? Caught between a rock and a hard decision? Or perhaps you think it is an easy decision but there’s some lingering questions in your mind. Fear not, I have a new methodology that is sure to help. Simply ask yourself who you would prefer to have over for dinner. Yup, that’s right. Dinner. It’s a nice summer evening, you’re going to bbq some steaks and veggies, there’s some brewskies in the fridge, and you have to have one of the potential Prime Ministers over. Would it be Stephen Harper? I would consider that option, but only if I could rely on Grady throwing peas at him. That would be fun to see him flinching from flying peas, stiff as a board, awkward as hell and staring at his watch, waiting until it’s time to leave. Jack Layton could be fun too. I bet I could get him really drunk and have him tell some outrageous stories about Buzz Hardgrove. How about Elizabeth May? Hmmm, not so much. I’m sure she’s charming, and I also suspect that she is boring as hell. When it is all said and done, I think I’d want Dion over. He and May seem like the most “real” people of the four. More than that, Dion just seems like a good guy. I’m always disheartened whenever I read that people see Dion as being a weak personality. The fact is that they are correct, and that is sad because he is likely the most honest and good hearted of the big three and possibly has the best policies between the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Greens. Another disappointment in the “Come over for beers and steak” test is Liz May. From what little I’ve seen, she’s kind of bland. No, make that really bland.

Does Harper Deserve It?

Before Canadians sit down and really think about who they want to be the next Prime Minister, a good exercise for everyone to do is answer the question, “Does Stephen Harper deserve to have a majority government?” I think this question is fundamentally different from comparing parties, policies, and personalities, which is typically how the run into the election will be covered by the media.

I’ve been trying to take stock of the achievements of the Harper government, and what they mean to me and what they might mean to Canada. I am quite critical of how Harper has concentrated power in his office and manhandled his ministers. Rhonda Ambrose anyone? Similar to this, Harper’s disdain for interviews, the media and the public in general is also undesirable. His obsessive control on the media was typified by today’s little showing in Richmond. Similar to this is his bundling public diplomacy, such as his no-show at the China Olympics. On the other hand, Harper does come across as a very intelligent guy and I don’t think anyone would mistake him for a wimpy pushover. Overall I would say that his human interaction skills are terrible and it would be difficult to imagine even a hardcore Conservative supporter being pleased with this aspect of Harper and his government.

When it comes to the economy I think the Harper government is probably around the 50/50 mark. The down side includes the reduction in the gst and the $100 family allowance cheque. In fact, don’t get me started on the $100 cheque, it drives me insane. Here’s the summary of the $100 allowance. Families that can afford to have only 1 working parent love it because they now get $100 per child, as opposed to them getting nothing while other parents would get some affordable daycare. Meanwhile, back in the land of everyone else, families struggle to make ends meet and therefore need to send their kids to daycare, which is really tough because there aren’t enough spots. On the positive side of the economy I can say that the Harper government hasn’t ruined it. I have no doubt that a crappy federal government couldn’t step in and royally screw things up, so that’s why I give the Conservatives credit. They didn’t sink the ship (yet). I believe there are a lot of criticisms of the economy (ie slowest growth of the G7), but let’s just call it 50/50. And that’s being generous.

Okay, here’s an easy one. Everyone that thinks Harper has done a positive job when it comes to social issues, raise your hand. Just one of you? Oh, you just wanted to go to the bathroom? Alright…

Other remaining issues that we can judge Harper’s current performance by include the military, government integrity, and health care. Health care is probably another 50/50 proposition. I could be wrong, but I think the provinces have most of the leverage when it comes to health care. The feds dole out the money and can try to mandate programs but overall I’d say that it’s a provincial matter. I’m not sure Harper has done anything terribly positive or negative for health care. As for the military, I would say that Harper is on the backside. I really don’t know much about his fascination with the arctic, and the debacle in Afghanistan admitably is not of his origin. Make no mistake about it though, if Harper had his way 6 years ago, there would be many more Canadians dead in the Central Asia, only it would be in Iraq and not Afghanistan. As for government integrity, Harper has done poorly on this too. If I was comparing him to other governments (such as the Liberals) it wouldn’t be so bad, but this article isn’t about a comparison. Harper has that whole hyprocasy thing going for him. Some prime examples are Emerson’s defection, Michael Fortier’s appointment, and the Grewal affair when Harper refused to meet with the Ethics Commissioner.

Lastly there is the issue of the environment. I really hope that I don’t need to explain too much on this one. The Harper government is not environment friendly or progressive in any manner. I’ve heard Conservatives give interviews in which they think the world is 8000 years old, and it’s this kind of attitude and belief system that perhaps poses the biggest risk to all Canadians of all different political and ideological backgrounds, for generations to come.

On his merit alone, Stephen Harper hasn’t done enough to warrant a majority government. Is he a better Prime Minister than what Dion or Layton would be? That’s a question for another time.

Canadian Political Bloggers

I’ve been trying to find some interesting Canadian political blogs so I can try and catch up on the skinny for the upcoming election (I’m wading through a lot of links and surprised at how many blogs haven’t been updated since 2007). It will be interesting to hear what other people have to say about the upcoming election, what the decisive issues are, etc. So far I’ve found a few promising blogs:
Warren Kinsella
Paulitics
CalgaryGrit
Idealistic Pragmatist
Inside the Queensway
Adam Radwanski
Chantal Hebert
more notes from the underground
Jason Cherniak – a pro Liberal blog but at least there should be some good anti-Harper nuggets in there

I’m also waiting to see if Andrew Coyne updates his blog, he’s always good for some insightful opinions.

Edit: it looks like Andrew is blogging more on the Maclean’s website.

More to follow…

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