Wednesday, March 30, 2005

SaskParty Supports NDP

March 30, 2005

Pondering politics!

How different is the SaskParty from the NDP? They agree with the NDP on MLA pay increases and they agree with the NDP that additional provincial money is unnecessary for Saskatchewan farmers.

On Pay Increases - Last year the MLA’s displayed an unusual characteristic of leadership in denying themselves a pay increase when they waived their mandated pay increase on the basis the province was in tough financially. This year they are taking the increase they waived last year (2.3%) plus this years 2.2% increase to provide MLA’s with a base salary of $66,431 per year, not to mention their expense allowances. They call it a cost of living increase. Have you received a cost of living increase? This is not a bad salary for a job that requires no qualifications other than the ability or luck to get elected. As a former MLA I can tell you that, for the most part, it is one of the easiest jobs in the province.

The MLA’s are not looking good on this one as they continue to hold government employees accountable to a zero, one and one pay increase formula. So much for leadership from our elected officials! The SaskParty supports the NDP on these pay increases. Where is the difference?

On Agriculture – Saskatchewan producers are in line for a possible 250 to 300 million of a $1 billion federal Liberal government farm aid package announced yesterday. Ralph Goodale delivers again. The federal Agriculture Minister, Andy Mitchell has suggested the Saskatchewan NDP government throw in their contribution to keep with the traditional 60-40 federal-provincial split on agriculture programs. This could possibly add an additional $180 million to support for Saskatchewan farmers. Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Minister, Mark Wartman, is apparently not up to the challenge and his position received support from the Saskatchewan Party Opposition. Where is the difference? Where is the leadership?

Larry Birkbeck

Monday, March 28, 2005

Tom Lukiwski, MP Supports Dependency

Pondering politics!

Tom Lukiwski, MP Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre, in a Media Release dated March 22, 2005 again called for the elimination of non-renewable resource revenue from the equalization formula. Fair enough, but this time he has gone too far by charging that Ralph Goodale has turned his back on all Canadians and betrayed the people of Saskatchewan. Further, he claims Ralph Goodale has long ago abandoned the interests of his home province. Lukiwski’s bravado remarks contribute nothing to resolving the issue. We know one thing, the SaskParty abandoned Lukiwski after he contributed to their recent loss to the NDP in the last provincial election.

Here are the facts. Goodale totally revamped the equalization formula to benefit more needy provinces. He placed a freeze on federal equalization clawbacks, which netted Saskatchewan $590 million this year alone. When you add this to the $120 million adjustment payment made to the province last spring it totals $710 million in extra federal funding this fiscal year. Goodale indicated in a speech in Moose Jaw this spring that even more money is on its way this year. Lukiwski is obviously drawing a long bow by claiming Goodale has abandoned Canadians or Saskatchewan people. Goodale has done more for Saskatchewan than Lukiwski will do in the next decade.

Stephan Harper was sharply condemned by all Canadians for once having stated that the Maritime Provinces were in a state of dependency as they depended to largely on the federal government for financial support. Saskatchewan has broke out of being a have not province to that of being a have province, due in most part, to oil and gas revenue. The equalization formula does need adjusting as Lukiwski argues, but he should also be arguing that it time for Saskatchewan to break out, go it alone and quit the continual whining to the federal government for financial assistance.


Larry Birkbeck

Andrew Scheer, MP backs Big Business and NDP

March 28, 2005

Pondering politics!

Andrew Scheer, Conservative MP Regina-Qu’Appelle, has repeatedly expressed his concerns about the fairness of rents charged by the federal government on the Regina Airport and the cost of air travel. We know it doesn’t affect him, as the taxpayers, his constituents, fund the costs of his flights nearly every week between Regina and Ottawa. We also know that Scheer is able to rack up air miles for every dollar the taxpayers spend flying him around the country. How fair is that?

He and his colleagues on the Transport Committee have called for the elimination of the Air Travelers Security Surcharge. Is security at our airports no longer an issue?

Scheer has also called for the suspension of rental payments by airports for a two-year period with the savings to be passed on to the carriers. That would be somewhat similar to suspending your rent or mortgage on your residence for two years with the savings being passed on to your landlord or bank. Why does Andrew Scheer want to subsidize big business? How many of his constituents take regular flights that are in dire need of a reduction in their flight costs?

Scheer and the Transport Committee have also called for the reduction of the federal aviation fuel tax by a rate of 50% for a two-year period. Now is that Sheer nonsense or is that Scheer nonsense? Does Scheer support the provincial NDP? They introduced a reduction on aviation fuel from 3.5 to 1.5 cents per litre, which is more than 50%, in their 2005 Budget.

Auto fuel costs are out of control. A tax break on these costs would benefit more people in Saskatchewan than a tax break for air carriers. This is, of course, unless you have a Cessna parked on your driveway or a 737 cleared for take off from your back 40.

I am more concerned about the high cost of living for individual people in Saskatchewan communities. Vehicle fuel costs, farm fuel and input costs, property taxes, utility rates, auto insurance, medical costs, the working poor, single parents, students and high tax rates on those who are fortunate enough to finally make a few dollars. Why isn’t Andrew Scheer repeatedly expressing concerns about these issues?


Larry Birkbeck

Friday, March 25, 2005

Senate Appointments

March 25, 2005

Pondering politics!

Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed a Saskatchewan woman, Lillian Eva Dyck to the Senate of Canada. In response, Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP, has indicated she is not welcome to sit in the NDP caucus and suggested she sit as an independent.

The historic appointment of a supposedly NDP person to the Senate has not been well received by the NDP. I suppose it is fair to say that the NDP, not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Their policy supports abolishing the Senate, which is backed by the Saskatchewan NDP party and Premier Lorne Calvert.

The other Saskatchewan appointment was Bob Peterson who was the Liberal Campaign chair for Saskatchewan in the last federal election. Only one liberal, Ralph Goodale, was elected in Saskatchewan. This was a failed effort by the liberals in Saskatchewan, but regardless Peterson was still appointed to the Senate.

Bob Peterson has been a long-time liberal operative in Saskatchewan in both provincial and federal elections. The liberals have essentially failed here in Saskatchewan. Maybe the appointment of Peterson to the Senate will clear the way for a new political operative to take over for the liberals. Maybe then they will eventually begin to get someone elected other than Ralph Goodale.

I enjoyed a successful campaign on behalf of Conservatives at the last federal election. I expected nothing in return and have received nothing. There is nothing fair about political appointments and political success has little to do with the process.

The Senate is, for the most part, a patronage pot that most people believe needs to be reformed along with our entire political system that is failing Canadians. Politics is a nasty business where the most unlikely people get elected and appointed. In normal life you earn your success. In politics it just happens. Does it make sense? No, and it never will. Their burden is to figure out how to earn their salary that is funded by Canadian taxpayers. Regardless, I offer my personal congratulations to these two individuals on their appointment to the Senate.


Larry Birkbeck

Provincial Budget_2005

March 25, 2005

Pondering politics!

The Saskatchewan 2005 Budget hit an all time spending high of over 7 billion dollars. That is quite a jump from the $119,000 budget of 1905.

Taxes generated 52.7% of the revenue and the second largest source of revenue was 17.5% the province milked out of the Government of Canada. We can milk them for even more if we get changes to the controversial equalization formula that everyone in Saskatchewan agrees needs to be changed.

Last year the budget was tough as revenue was down. Now that the revenue picture has improved the SaskParty Finance critic, Ken Cheveldayoff believes the provincial government should have given something back to the taxpayers. That may be so if you don’t think the $192 million in extra spending on healthcare and the $74 million in extra spending on education is not for you. Health and education combined eat up nearly two thirds of the expenditure pie and education is still hungry. Houston, we have a problem!

The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation approved by 93.7% a mandate to strike. They want more money and the SaskParty has indicated they support the teachers concerns. Fair enough, but how do you spend record amounts of money on healthcare, education and other departments and give something back to the taxpayers through tax cuts? I know! Ask Grant Devine! Better still; ask David MacLean, Provincial Director, Canadian Taxpayer’s Association – Saskatchewan.

The provincial NDP government is too reckless with taxpayer’s dollars. The entire budgetary process should be reformed to assure that revenue is fair and expenditures are efficient. In the short term our interests would be best served by cutting taxes. If you don’t take, you don’t have to give back. Finally, who knows better how to spend your money, you or the government?


Larry Birkbeck

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

2005 Conservative Party of Canada Convention

March 22, 2005

Dear Editor,

The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) convention in Montreal is all over and weary delegates have all returned home. They should be weary as they applauded nearly every spoken word in their attempts to put on a united face. Were they successful? Only time will tell, but I want to take a look at what all the cheering was about.

Stephan Harper’s speech was the highlight of the great event. He said the liberals are on the way out and the Conservatives will form the next government. Does this mean they won’t abstain from any future votes like they did on the budget? Does this mean they will have the courage to win a non-confidence vote and cause an early election? Don’t hold your breath. If you were earning the salary MP’s earn how soon would you want to risk all with a roll of the dice in an election? The liberals are currently sitting around 40% compared to around 30% for the CPC according to reported polling. Of course, the CPC will dispute any polls that are not in their favour. The Conservatives are claiming they are united based on Harper getting an 84% approval rating from the delegates. Maybe they are, but Prime Minister Paul Martin received a rating of 88% from the liberal convention delegates. Does this mean the liberals are more united? You can expect the CPC to dispute this as well. Humility was none-existent in Harper’s speech or at the CPC convention.

Harper claimed that the liberal government years have only been good for liberals and he condemned them for having a surplus budget. The liberals balanced the budget for eight consecutive years, (This is the longest unbroken string of surpluses since Confederation.) have a five-year financial plan in place and Saskatchewan has done very well with Ralph Goodale at the Cabinet table. Further, our economy, on balance, is doing better than any of the other G7 countries. If the liberal government was not managing the economy and was falling in debt each year then the Conservatives would condemn them for that as well. The Harper Conservatives are quick to condemn those who dare to disagree with them, but we should take solace as Stephan Harper says he won’t call us stupid if we choose to disagree with him. Damn, I feel a lot better now.

Harper then asked what the liberals have done in twelve years. I thought he would have known the answer to that question. Regardless, the same question would likely be asked by liberals if the Conservatives were in power for twelve years. We now know some of the policies we can expect if the Harper Conservatives are elected to govern. They will define marriage as that being between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, but they will not address the equally sensitive issue of abortion. They will have to more clearly define their position on abortion before the next election or maybe just dump it in the “Vote your Conscience” box. They will support the US on issues of common interest, including Missile Defence. They will say yes to families and no to marijuana and drugs. They will scrap the gun registry and hold elections for new Senators. They will listen to every voter and will not attack you unless you disagree with them. Is that why many delegates were afraid to be interviewed by the media? That makes them no different than any other political party.

Stephan Harper and the Conservatives attacked the liberals and were insensitive to older people when they made repeated comments about Paul Martin’s age. Harper ignored the division among his own ranks as headlined by the media in the fight sparked by differences between former Conservative leader, Peter MacKay and Scott Reid, a senior Conservative MP from the former Canadian Alliance. It is clear that there are still deep divisions among Conservatives on a range of matters and issues. Regardless, I give them full marks in their attempts to gloss over these differences as they frantically pumped each other with applauds at every spoken word, cheers, standing ovations and a non-stop party atmosphere. Unfortunately, it takes more than this to responsibly serve and govern a nation such as Canada.

For over four decades I have worked campaigns for Conservatives, served as an elected member for three terms and successfully assisted, as a campaign manager and strategist, with the election of Conservative Member’s of Parliament from Saskatchewan. I most recently served as the executive assistant for former MP Larry Spencer who self-destructed just prior to the last election. Stephan Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada made sure his destruction was permanent by stripping him of his Conservative membership as they did with former Premier Grant Devine.

I decided to drop my membership in the Conservative Party of Canada in December of 2004. The recent CPC convention and all the false bravado provided no cause for me to ponder my decision.

Regardless, the Conservatives held the best convention they could have hoped for and I believe they achieved their goals. So join the weary delegates and get pumped. If you vote according to who held the most successful convention then you will have to vote Conservative. Enough already!

Larry Birkbeck

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tory Rumour Hurts Harper

Recent media reports by Maria McClintock, Ottawa Bureau, Sun Media spell problems for Stephan Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada as they near their convention. It is reported that debate on sensitive social issues may not happen and this has sparked a backlash over Harper's leadership. A fierce Internet debate ignited on the conservative Free Dominion website over the issue.

Resolutions on social issues like abortion and the definition of marriage put forward by Conservative MPs will apparently have to stand down in favour of Stephan Harper as party officials apparently confirmed that Harper will be the one to define the party's stand on the social issues during an election.

This, of course, flies in the face of democracy and the will of the grassroots that the Conservative Party of Canada believes sets them apart from the other parties. It would appear they are no different than any other political party and this is where the problems begin, which could lead to problems with Harper as leader and the future of the party as it attempts to define itself on these sensitive social issues.

It is also reported that even the National Citizens Coalition may launch a national ad campaign arguing that the Conservatives are abandoning their roots. It is interesting to note that Harper used to work for the National Citizens Coalition so it would seem that they may be about to abandon Stephan Harper.

I can only conclude that if you are too afraid to openly discuss the tough issues you are faced with in your own party, including social issues, then you are not prepared to lead or govern.

Larry Birkbeck

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Politicians_Beware of the Media

Beware; Peter O’Neil of the Vancouver Sun is at it again. Everyone will remember that it was Peter O’Neil who duped, former Alliance/Conservative Member of Parliament for Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre, Larry Spencer into believing his intentions were pure when Spencer entertained him for nearly an hour over a telephone conference discussing the controversial issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Everyone will remember how this interview was spun completely out of control by the media with the help of Stephan Harper and his, pure as driven snow, colleagues. The media reports were more fiction than facts, but they can do that anytime they want. The result was Spencer being stripped of his critic responsibilities and suspension from the Conservative caucus. Later, he was kicked out of caucus and his membership in the Conservative party was revoked causing him to either go back to preaching or run as an independent. He chose to run as an independent for reasons that are mostly not known to anyone.

I have been informed that he is taking some kind of a refresher course in the ministry at the taxpayers expense as some form of retraining for defeated Member’s of Parliament. After only three and a half short years in politics I am also informed that he is having someone write a book about his short political career and what he learned from it. I suppose it will be a short book, but I don’t know that for sure.

The infamous Peter O’Neil is now claiming that some Tories are “afraid” to be caught praying. Peter O’Neil made this claim as reported in a Canada West News Service on March 10, 2005 regarding the up-coming Conservative Policy Convention. As the story goes, apparently some Conservative members are afraid to be caught by TV cameras as they seek God’s help on crucial social issues. Evidence of all this according to O’Neil is on a Web Site called Not praying is one thing Larry Spencer could never be charged with, but it could be reasonably argued that he maybe should have prayed more or harder considering the result of his short political career. It should be noted that Larry Spencer always believed that it was prayer and God’s Will that elected him. It may have been, but I tend to think there is a little more to getting elected than simply praying.

There is nothing wrong with praying. I do it all the time. I need all the help I can get and most people agree with me on this point.

Again, I say, beware of Peter O’Neil and many people in the media. If they decide to hang you out you will be done like dinner. If members of the media, like Peter O’Neil, decide to cook Stephan Harper and the Conservatives over their lack of courage to make firm decisions on social issues they will soon be no more than a faint political memory like Larry Spencer. In the face of the belief that politics is 90% perception it may be that the 10% reality will rule the day if the Conservatives don’t get their priorities sorted out regarding the sensitive social issues facing our Country today.

God Bless,

Larry Birkbeck

Note: Peter O’Neil, be informed. I am not afraid to pray.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Axworthy fires back at U.S.

Axworthy fires back at Bush, RiceLast Updated Mon, 07 Mar 2005 17:58:51 EST

Compliments of
CBC News

WINNIPEG - Former Canadian foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy launched an attack on U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, defending Canada's decision not to participate in the anti-missile defence system.

"I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were rigged to show results," Axworthy writes in a column published in the Winnipeg Free Press last week.

"But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game."
Axworthy, the current president of the University of Winnipeg, begins the open letter with "Dear Condi."

He said he wrote the column to defend Prime Minister Paul Martin, who he believes has unfairly come under attack in the media for his decision on missile defence. In the column, Axworthy criticizes Bush's handling of the missile defence issue and for not addressing the House of Commons during his recent visit to Canada.

"Such control-freak antics may work in the virtual one-party state that now prevails in Washington," Axworthy writes. "But in Canada we have a residual belief that politicians should be subject to a few checks and balances, an idea that your country once espoused before the days of empire."

In contrast, Axworthy boasts of Canada's parliamentary system, "where those in the executive are held accountable by an opposition for their actions." Axworthy goes on to laud the ability of the governing party's caucus members "to tell their leader that their constituents don't want to follow the ideological, perhaps teleological, fantasies of Canada's continental co-inhabitant."
Axworthy also swipes at the fiscal state of the U.S., referring to the "gargantuan, multibillion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a 'liberation war in Iraq.'"

He blasts the Bush administration for its policies on weapons expenditures, and tax breaks, while cutting food programs for poor children. "Just chalk that up to a different sense of priorities about what a national government's role should be when there isn't a prevailing mood of manifest destiny," he writes.

But Axworthy appears to temper his remarks by the end of the column, saying Rice should "accept that, as a friend on your border, we will offer a different, independent point of view. And that there are times when truth must speak to power." Axworthy said he is receiving more than 100 e-mail messages each day since writing the column and is receiving interview requests from around the globe.

"What I found was that there was this theme in the commentary along the lines of, 'Oh my gosh, what will George Bush think?'" Axworthy told the Winnipeg Free Press. "That wasn't the point. The point was that Canada finally made a decision. And that enabled Canada to have a reasonable, distinctive foreign policy. That's not a bad thing."

Larry Birkbeck

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Air Canada

Local Members of Parliament had something to say regarding the rent charged to the Regina Airport Authority. What will they have to say about Air Canada laying off 56 employees in Saskatchewan as a result of their move to have regular Air Canada flights replaced by their regional service, Jazz? Maybe nothing, since it is the lowly part-time workers that are being dumped without any compensation and only full-time workers receive a compensation package.

Interesting, didn’t the business community, supported by the media, just finish winning their fight to have the provincial government drop their controversial legislation that was intended to protect part-time workers? Granted, that legislation may not have had any impact on this move by Air Canada, but it does point out how vulnerable part-time employees are in our workplace.

This move by Air Canada is bad for Saskatchewan, but it may not adversely affect the Airport Authority since there will be an overall increase in flights in and out of our Regina and Saskatoon airports. This move by Air Canada will mostly benefit Saskatchewan Member’s of Parliament as it will give them more choices for flights in and our of Regina and Saskatoon Airports.

It will be interesting to see how Saskatchewan Member’s of Parliament respond to this move by Air Canada. I expect at least 13 opposition members will use this as another excuse to condemn Ralph Goodale, the only Minister in the Government of Canada who Saskatchewan residents can trust to represent us at the Cabinet table.

Larry Birkbeck

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Brand New

This is a brand new blog site that will be worked on over the next few months. Please advise me of any content or issues that you would like to see on this blog site. This will assist me in addressing the types of issues you want addressed. Thank you and stay blogged in!

Larry Birkbeck