Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Scheer - Nystrom Rematch

June 29, 2005

Pondering politics!

Summer and politics are a poor mix, but here I am enduring yet another cool rainy day. I can’t work in our backyard, ride my mountain bike or play tennis. I am not enthused about another trip to Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire or another mall or big box store. After contemplating how I could best spend my time today I decided to review my collection of news stories, which has caused me to write this letter.

It was reported in the June 28, 2005 edition of the Leader Post that Lorne Nystrom won the NDP nomination in Regina Qu’Appelle by defeating three other candidates. The incumbent M.P. Andrew Scheer responded by indicating to the media that he wasn’t worried about a rematch with Lorne Nystrom. I have learned from experience that it is always prudent to worry when someone is threatening to defeat you. If nothing else Scheer should be worried about losing his big salary, a shot at a pension for life and all that prestige he never had before.

In his Press Release Andrew Scheer indicated “The fact that a majority of NDP members in Regina Qu'Appelle did not have Lorne Nystrom as their first choice speaks volumes about his return to politics,” said Scheer. “If most NDP members didn't have him for their first choice as candidate, then why would the rest of the voters in Regina Qu'Appelle want him as their MP?” Fair enough, but consider the fact that no less than four NDP candidates were seeking the nomination in Regina Qu’Appelle. Why would you seek a nomination if you didn’t feel you had a chance of winning? Worry Andrew, worry!

Further, Andrew Scheer secured only about one of five eligible voters at the last federal election and only about one of three who actually cared enough to vote at all. Scheer received only 36% of the votes cast followed closely by Nystrom at 33% and the liberal candidate at 28%. These numbers show clearly that Scheer is in no position to be condemning Nystrom about not securing a majority of NDP votes at a nomination. The fact is, Nystrom won the nomination and that is the bottom line. Andrew Scheer did not win with a majority of votes cast, as did Ralph Goodale (57.17%) in Wascana. Scheer won at the last election with a handful of split votes. Andrew Scheer being cocky about winning again is just poor politics.

According to Elections Canada, Scheer’s campaign spent nearly $70,000.00 to get him elected and that approached $30,000 more than it took to elect Goodale who did receive a majority in his election. Scheer is in no position to be talking about majorities and is apparently getting bad advice on how to write Press Releases.

The voters should not forget that Andrew Scheer is an Ottawa boy, who came to Saskatchewan shortly before the election, who knows little about Saskatchewan, who knows even less about agriculture, who has a few months of business experience, who has no degree or special education, who referred to our provincial government as a socialist/communist regime and who is a boy badly in need of some sound Saskatchewan political advice.

Finally, don’t call me for advice. I am just a good old Saskatchewan farm boy who has been around conservative politics for over 40 years. What the hell would I know? The country is now in the hands of self-proclaimed intellects like Andrew Scheer and Stephan Harper. Damn, it is still raining. Maybe I will go to Wal-Mart.


Larry Birkbeck
Regina, SK

Monday, June 13, 2005

Conservatives Blew It!

The following story by the Edmonton Sun is a good account of how the Harper conservatives failed to dine from the silver platter handed to them by the liberals. As the old saying goes, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." The conservatives have been wandering in the wilderness for years, came across an oasis, then wandered back into wilderness as if it were a mirage. They should get a leader who can tell the difference!


Sunday, June 12, 2005

EDITORIAL: The Conservatives blew it

The Conservative Party of Canada should contact Lorne Michaels and ask if its MPs can start getting gigs on Saturday Night Live.

Truly, the Tories are the new "The Not Ready For Prime Time Players."

It saddens us to say it, given the damage being done to our country by the Liberals. But the Tories simply haven't demonstrated that they have what it takes to run a credible opposition party, never mind the government.

Indeed, we never thought we'd see ourselves saying this, but boy, are we ever glad there's not a federal election going on right now.

Because if the Conservatives had managed to defeat the Liberals on a non-confidence motion last month, the Grits would probably now be comfortably on their way to a big majority government.
It's mindboggling that Stephen Harper & Co. were handed the gift of the weakest Liberal government in a generation - one that had a razor-thin advantage in the House of Commons - and blew the opportunity so spectacularly.

The Conservatives were repeatedly unable to capitalize on the numbers game in the House of Commons. The Tories couldn't convince Independent (and former caucus member) Chuck Cadman to vote with them on the May 19 budget vote or get any Liberal backbencher to break ranks. Instead, they watched in horror as Belinda Stronach left the party and was parachuted into cabinet only two days before the crucial vote.
The Tories then completely botched the handling of the Gurmant Grewal tapes by initially making public only a snippet of the incriminating recordings. The party then held back on releasing more of the material for nearly two weeks.

Since then, the credibility of the tapes has died the proverbial death of a thousand cuts, as media organizations have gotten forensic audio experts to weigh in on whether the tapes were sliced and diced to make Grewal look better and the Liberals look worse.

Any professional political outfit would have had Harper hold the press conference with Grewal, release the entirety of the tapes, unaltered, untranslated and unedited, and then announce that the master copies were going into the hands of a respected, independent third party who would be responsible for turning them over to law enforcement officials.

But obviously we're not dealing with a professional political outfit here.

Now let's imagine for a moment that the stars had aligned and Harper had successfully engineered the defeat of the Liberals and triggered an election. What, exactly, does this party stand for?
Prior to last month's budget vote, the Tories were falling all over themselves to promise Canadians that if the government fell, they'd pretty much implement everything that the Liberals had promised anyway. It was a rather confusing promise to Canadians - we're just like the Liberals, only without the corruption!

Given that the polls showed that the Tories weren't making huge headway on the Liberals despite the corruption, it was a distinction lost on Canadians.

So what else do the Tories bring to the table? Well, there's their opposition to same-sex marriage, which the Sun shares. But then what? Will the Tories cut taxes and if so, by how much? What's the plan for reforming health care or will they just throw good money after bad at it? What about crime and justice issues? Military funding?

In short, where is the election platform? Sure, there is no election at the moment, but we still have a minority government in Ottawa, so why isn't the document being put in the hands of Canadians now, telling Canadians how a Conservative government would be different from the Liberals.

We certainly don't buy any of the liberal media spin over a "secret" agenda ... mainly because we don't think the party has any agenda!

The end result of all of this is that the Conservatives now find themselves in a distant race for second in the polls, 14 points behind the Liberals nationally and in third place in Ontario.
The Tories can't just blame media bias or Liberal dirty tricks for their predicament. Simply put, the Conservatives couldn't capitalize on an inept and corrupt government. The Tories haven't shown they deserve to govern Canada.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Religion and Politics

Pondering politics!

The same-sex legislation is attempting to merge oil and water. Mixing religion and politics has always been hazardous at best. It cost Larry Spencer his political career and has conservative Member’s of Parliament in a difficult dilemma. Andrew Scheer, Member of Parliament for Regina Qu’Appelle, worked for Larry Spencer and wild horses couldn’t drag him into a fight with the Alliance/Conservative leadership over the Spencer fiasco. He was afraid of the political ramifications for his own political future. Spencer’s Ottawa staff member quickly resigned and rushed off to work for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. So much for loyalty! I traveled to Ottawa in a failed attempt to assist Spencer with damage control, but Stephan Harper and his operatives had already made up their minds. They wanted nothing to do with mixing religion and politics and they reneged on a promise to provide Spencer with a copy of the taped discussions. I suspect the tape has since been destroyed and now they are embroiled in another controversy over the Gurmant Grewal tapes. Harper has since ordered Grewal to take stress leave in the hopes the issue may go away.

It seems you have to be careful when you are talking to a conservative M.P. The tape may be running. If you ever get banned from a conservative M.P.’s office it is likely because they had ran out of tape. Polls regarding the Grewal tape weighed in on the side of the liberals and the conservatives lost badly in their attempt to score any political points on the liberals. It was a dumb strategy from the out set, as the conservatives should have stuck with the sponsorship scandal. In politics you should never get off a winning horse and you should never place yourself in a defensive position.

Now the conservatives have all changed their position and decided discussions regarding religion and politics are one of the same respecting the same-sex legislation. This position is only about votes. It is now all right to discuss the issue without fear of being kicked out of caucus. I know Andrew Scheer and the nominated conservative candidate for Wascana both have strong religious beliefs. That is a good thing, but you can’t practice it only on Sunday. You have to play the religious card every day or not at all. Recent Globe and Mail polls indicate that 77% of those surveyed did not believe politicians should be guided by their personal religious beliefs. That is more than three out of every four voters. It will be interesting to see if Saskatchewan Member’s of Parliament will take the moral high ground on issues like same-sex legislation. If not, they may feel a tad uneasy at the Sunday Service and with three of every four voters. I know, they are just polls and they don’t apply to Saskatchewan. Don’t worry. Be happy!


Larry Birkbeck