Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Member of Parliament, Garth Turner

Member of Parliament, Garth Turner is not the first person to lament about the need to reform parliament. It seems like it is all about Garth Turner right now because he is the latest casualty of a party system that is in need of desperate reform. Political parties have been gutting elected politicians out of the system for decades.

All political parties are the same. If you don't fit their mold then you will be booted one way or the other. I served as a conservative MLA in Saskatchewan for nearly 12 years and then refused to run for re-election in the 1986 provincial election. I don’t think the voters wanted me out, but the brass did. My successor has now been elected four times in a row after my three consecutive elections. The difference between my successor and me is that I only answered to the voters.

This is not about Garth Turner. It is about a political system that must be changed if voters are ever going to be effectively served. Independent members of parliament would never have to answer to party leaders and the inner circle that rules all political parties.

Again, it is not about Garth Turner. It is about the voters. What have they been saying? How pleased are they with politicians, the system or parliament? Ask them what they think? Ask Larry Spencer or Grant Devine (former Premier of Saskatchewan) who both were denied the right to run for office as a conservative and in fact had their membership denied. I just tore up mine, as did Garth Turner.

I have been involved in politics for over 43 years. I date back to the days of Dief the Chief. What happened to that former great Prime Minister?

Why not kick Peter McKay out of the party? He has caused more trouble than Garth Turner.

Count me in as an independent. I have advocated it for over two decades. I have no membership in any political party and have not recently contributed financially to any party. The system is not working and there are numerous books and commentaries from intelligent people that have been addressing the concerns for years.

I am no different than the voters. I simply want good government and for the rules of democracy to apply to all who seek office or are elected to office. You cannot challenge a sitting conservative Member of Parliament's nomination. It is Harper's rule. How is that democratic? This is a conservative party that was born out of a merger with the reform party and a party who was always talking about grass roots. That was until they gained power. Now they dictate and control. Is that any different than communism or dictatorships?

Think about it! The Devine conservatives let power overcome them, which spawned the worst scandal in Saskatchewan’s political history. The voters threw them out at the next election. The federal liberals let power overcome them and they were defeated over the sponsorship scandal. Government’s are rarely defeated. They defeat themselves.

The voters do have power at every election, but it is too late. It is after all the damage and loss of tax dollars has occurred. We need to change the system so we have accountability on a day-to-day basis. Limiting terms of office may be one solution to reducing the bad apples in the barrel. If we don’t make changes soon we risk having the whole barrel go rotten.

The Harper conservatives are in power and have recklessly positioned themselves on the edge of that great political abyss that has served as a dark hole of obscurity for many political parties and politicians before them.

Garth Turner, like others before him, is a grain of sand washed out with the tide and democracy and the voters are the real losers. Interestingly, he will be spared from the abyss, which is reserved for those who offend the voters.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

War in Afghanistan

Last night was our first night of frost to remind us that the cold of winter is near and our beautiful summer is about to end. Records indicate it is the warmest summer since 1998.

There is hope as winter nears as my father used to say that when winter is here spring is not far away. I am a winter person, but I understand most people prefer summer.

My concern is not the cold of winter, but rather the cold of war. Canada is not on a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. It is at war with the Taliban extremists who are prepared to die in any war with those who dare to oppose them. Russia tried, could not win and pulled out. Drug Lords tried and were eliminated. The US unleashed one of the heaviest arsenals of bombs in recent history on Afghanistan in an effort to rid the world of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden after 9/11. They failed as the innocent people of Afghanistan sustained the brunt of the US attack and Osama bin Laden apparently still lives to gloat over his success on attacks against the US.

The US then invaded Iraq looking for bombs of mass destruction, which they never found. They did capture Saddam Hussein who has spent most of his time in court since his capture and who continues to make jokes about the atrocities for which he is being tried.

The US has turned the war in Afghanistan over to Canada and allied nations as the US continues the war in Iraq. Death darkens the doors of families on both sides and peace seems near impossible. Canada’s Minister of Defence and our military leaders state victory is not possible through force. Regardless, Canada forged ahead to succeed in their latest campaign against the Taliban and then lost four Canadian soldiers to a bomb apparently attached to a bicycle. Our government has sent 15 additional Leopard tanks and committed five hundred more Canadian troops to the war in Afghanistan, but our Minister of Defence, Gordon O’Connor says Canada is not at war in Afghanistan. He is wrong. We are at war in Afghanistan, but we are not at war with Afghanistan. There is a difference. We are at war with the Taliban in an effort to bring peace in Afghanistan. O’Connor claims it cannot be achieved with force, but has not told us how we can achieve peace.

The Prime Minister has stated that we will stay in Afghanistan until we succeed. Saskatchewan Member of Parliament, Carol Skelton states we are not leaving Afghanistan anytime soon. She also believes equalization is not a problem in her constituency. Prime Minister Harper is so occupied with the war in Afghanistan, his Defence Minister says is not happening, that his government and the opposition parties in the House of Commons are not able to effectively address domestic issues here at home.

The cold of our on-coming winter is little to be concerned with against the cold of death and war. I pray God will protect our Canadian men and women in battle, who fight for Canada, the greatest country in the world. Peace and the safe return of our soldiers should be the hope of all Canadians.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Qualified Politicians

Our political system and our system of government are not perfect. It is the best system we know, but it is a system that desperately needs improvements.

I support the election of young men and women to our provincial legislatures and our federal parliament. In many ways they serve as effectively as their more senior colleagues.

My problem is with those members who have no work or life experience. They draw the largest salary they will likely ever draw and are part of the decision making process that affects each and every one of us.

The worst case is an individual who gets out of high school, has no post secondary degree or training, works for a few months in the political system that he or she has not necessarily earned, gets a starting wage first ever job in the private sector for a few months, runs for elected office, gets elected and votes to send our young men and women to war.

Don’t you have to ask yourself what qualifications these young elected members have to make such monumental decisions? Goodness, these kinds of people may not even have a credit rating. Some may not even qualify for a credit card and yet our democratic system of politics and democracy allows them to run for office, get elected and make decisions they are simply not qualified to make on behalf of the voters they are expected to serve.

Granted, we send younger people to war who too often die on foreign soils, but they are trained and qualified to serve the will of our nation. The same cannot be said of all our elected officials.

It is time to consider improvements to our system of politics and government. Our politicians should, at the very least, have the same qualifications as the men and women politicians vote to send to war.

Qualified people should make important decisions. I fear this is not always the case. Improvements to our political system are needed to attract more qualified people to elected office.

On the job training simply does not work in the world of politics and government.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Weyburn-Big Muddy By-Election

The Weyburn-Big Muddy by-election is over and the SaskParty has retained the constituency. The new MLA is 26-year-old Dustin Duncan who I believe is now the youngest MLA in the Saskatchewan legislature.

The liberal leader bravely put his neck on the line and finished second well back of the SaskParty. The NDP came in third with only 1,735 votes.

What should we make of this by-election? Is it an indication of how the next provincial election may play out?

I believe it is. Voter turnout was good at nearly 70%. The SaskParty has held the seat for seven years.

The SaskParty is now getting a firm foothold on small urban centers to compliment their strength in the rural constituencies. They must now focus on Regina and Saskatoon.

I predict they will win seats currently held by the NDP in the next provincial election. David Karwacki had no hope of winning this by-election, but I don’t believe that is why he ran. He ran to gain recognition for himself and the liberal party. To this extent, he was successful.

Watch for a split of votes between the liberals and the NDP. Don’t be surprised if the liberals become the official opposition with the SaskParty forming government and the NDP falling into third party status.

The NDP has fallen well out of favour with Saskatchewan voters and NDP voters just may vote liberal at the next election. Regardless, I believe enough NDP voters will either vote liberal or SaskParty resulting in a majority government for Brad Wall and the SaskParty.

This is how the SaskParty won big in Weyburn-Big Muddy and it is how they may win big at the next provincial election.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Equalization Formula

It seems Stephen Harper is about to renege on his campaign promise to remove Saskatchewan’s oil and gas resources from the controversial equalization formula.

A federal government committee has made this recommendation and Harper now claims it is his preference to default to the committees recommendations as opposed to his campaign promise.

It seems he has the same contempt for Saskatchewan’s Premier Lorne Calvert as he has for Ontario’s Premier.

It is interesting to note that Ontario and Saskatchewan are allies regarding how the equalization formula should be restructured. Further, I can’t imagine Alberta agreeing with Harper on the issue of oil and gas being included in the equalization formula.

Will Prime Minister Harper deny Saskatchewan the benefit of our natural resources and keep Saskatchewan in a half not state in to perpetuity.

I am guessing we will not likely gain much in Saskatchewan under a Harper style conservative government.

Harper is more likely to trade us off for gains in Quebec so he can form a majority government. It seems he is prepared to risk losing 12 seats in Saskatchewan to gain the support of Quebec. Premier Lorne Calvert is rightfully now calling for the support of the Saskatchewan conservative MP’s who once held the same pre-election position as Stephen Harper. The voters are paying for the bloated salaries of these MP’s and should at least hold them accountable to their election promises.

Quebec is another issue, but isn’t it time to quit catering to Quebec. Prime Minister Harper seems prepared to bow to the whims of Quebec like Prime Ministers before him.

Harper may buy enough votes in Quebec to eliminate separatism, but he will do this at the expense of western resources, Canadian tax dollars and a few Saskatchewan conservative Member’s of Parliament.

I disagree with Prime Minister Harper on his position regarding the equalization formula. It is not good for Saskatchewan or western Canada.

Maybe he will change his position, but don’t hold your breath.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

PC Party Revival

There was a recent gathering of around forty old Progressive Conservatives in Saskatoon. The gathering was apparently to revive the old Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan. I wasn’t there and I am a really old Progressive Conservative.

Why I wasn’t there and why they gathered at all is an interesting question if you don’t know the facts. Well, I wasn’t there because they denied my application for membership with no reason given. I spoke personally with Grant Schmidt and have a record of correspondence regarding my application. I filled it in and sent it to him, but have never heard from him respecting the application. He said it was an application for approval. I told him I would send him the five-dollar application fee when it was approved. It is apparent my application was not approved. It wasn’t approved because I would not agree with Grant Schmidt or Rick Swenson’s view of the political landscape in Saskatchewan.

Consider this! I was elected in 1975, 1978 and 1982 and refused to run for re-election in 1986. I was one of only seven Progressive Conservatives elected in 1975. This was before Schmidt or Swenson were elected. The conservatives held no seats in the legislature and were sitting at about 2% in the polls. I worked hard to get the old Progressive Conservative Party in power, which was achieved in 1982 under the leadership of Grant Devine. Incidentally, Devine is a strong supporter of the SaskParty. Now I am not even worthy of holding a membership in my old party. Who are they planning to sell memberships to if they can't sell me one? What hoops do you have to jump through for Schmidt and Swenson to be a member of this elite group?

Now you know why I wasn’t there, but why did they meet at all. Supposedly, it was to get the old party back on its feet and recover a large sum of money that is held in a trust fund. It is money that was raised by the old PC Party and viciously guarded by Rick Swenson since the time the PC Party was buried and placed in hiatus for two consecutive elections in the hope the SaskParty would form government. That hasn’t happened and may never happen.

Grant Schmidt was wrongly denied a SaskParty nomination and Rick Swenson’s lady friend no longer works for the SaskParty. There is apparently a large sum of money in the trust fund that arguably should rightfully belong to the old PC Party. Grant Schmidt and Rick Swenson are not in demand by any other political party and I suppose they are finding it hard to accept that their political lives are at an end. I can tell them it is not a bad thing. You just simply have to move on with your life. Now you know why the old PC’s gathered in Saskatoon.

It has nothing to do with good government or sound public policy. It has everything to do with two old politicians each carrying a big axe to grind. They should bury the axe and make application for membership in the NDP where Grant Schmidt came from in the first place. The NDP will not refuse their application as the SaskParty is well positioned to form the next government. Politics is usually about power and money. In the case of Schmidt and Swenson, add revenge.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

PM Stephen Harper Deals

Isn’t it interesting how so little changes from one government to another? Stephen Harper condemned the liberals when they were in a minority government for accepting an NDP proposal, Harper called unprecedented and irresponsible, for increased spending in the budget to secure their support.

Stephen Harper did the same thing by going to the NDP in a backroom meeting with a promise to essentially maintain the original deal the NDP had made with the liberals. It gets more interesting when you consider that the NDP had the money in the bank via Bill C-48, which they secured by calling all those who would benefit.

It was secured as the beneficiaries all lobbied the conservative government to make sure the funds in Bill C-48 would be delivered. Their efforts and the NDP strategy worked as it was found last month the conservative government is setting up independent trust funds to distribute around $3.6 billion from C-48.

Stephen Harper, like former Prime Minister Paul Martin, will do whatever it takes to stay in power. Harper will sing whatever tune we voters like if it keeps him in office. Do you have a tune in mind? Our Prime Minister is accepting requests everyday. His current strategy is to get the voters to sing the tunes he wants to hear. Not a bad strategy. Interesting!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Conservative Budget

Only a few short years ago the federal conservatives were on the verge of extinction. After numerous leaders and changes to the parties name the conservatives have come full circle. They are now back to the same party with only a slight change in name and it would seem their internal problems are now over.

Further, they are now back in government with a razor thin minority. Regardless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is leading as if he had a majority. This is good, but he shouldn’t push it too hard. I am on record stating that Harper is on thin ice and risks losing power if he leads too strongly so as to leave Canadians out of the loop.

Canadians just threw the liberals out of power because they were a government out of control who had lost touch with Canadians. The public needs to feel their government on policy changes is at least informing them and a little consultation would go a long way. There is very little of that right now as Prime Minister Harper charges full speed ahead with his agenda.

That brings us to the budget. It is the best one I have seen in recent years. I can’t remember a better one. Every Canadian gets something out of this balanced budget. Yes, there is the argument that the conservatives are just spending all the taxpayers’ money the liberals banked in over a decade in power. I will argue that the liberals were over taxing Canadians and failed to return anything to Canadians through tax relief.

The Harper conservatives have it right for once. A budget that is balanced, fair to all Canadians, pays down the debt, includes planned reductions in government spending and at the same time invests in Canada through strategic increases in government spending that will be good for Canada in the long term. Is the budget perfect? No, but it’s as right as you can ever hope for from your government.

If the conservatives govern well in an accountable way that shows Canadians tangible results, as this budget does, then I forecast they will win the next three elections and in the process cause the liberals and the NDP to unite in some fashion. They may also force the Bloc into extinction and unite Canada in a way that all Canadians deserve.

Regardless of your political ideology, it is more important to support a party that is doing what is right for you and for your country. The Harper conservatives are doing that right now and deserve your support, but remember the thin ice.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Harper's Agenda - Thin Ice

Stephen Harper and his conservative government are on thin ice. Apparently, no one has the courage to tell him. There is a reason for this. We are now learning from Harper’s actions that he is a Prime Minister determined to force his personal agenda on the voters. If you oppose him then you are his instant enemy. It is ironic, but I see similarities between Harper and the late former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau.

Harper got it going early when he appointed a liberal to his cabinet and then appointed an unelected Senator, appointed by Harper, to his cabinet. The Harper conservatives have always been opposed to such appointments.

Harper then met with US President George Bush and Mexico President Vicente Fox. Harper came away from the Cancun summit with absolutely nothing on the important issues respecting Kyoto, softwood lumber and border security between Canada and the US. Harper found out he is a little fish in a big pond at his first official visit with President George W Bush.

Harper then sent Peter MacKay to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She was polite as MacKay heaped praise on her, but it achieved absolutely nothing. Rice simply patronized MacKay and then retired to more important matters on her agenda.

Harper then claimed in a media report that he was in the dark on the issue of his Environment minister’s office muzzling a federal scientist, Mark Tushingham. Now that is what I always wanted, a Prime Minister that is in the dark after less than three months on the job. Mark apparently wrote a novel entitled, Hotter than Hell and was to speak about his novel at a luncheon in Ottawa until an email from the Environment minister’s office warned him not to attend the event. The irony here is that all this occurred at the same time that Harper introduced whistle blower legislation intended to protect civil servants like, Mark Tushingham, when they feel the interests of Canadians are more important than the personal agenda of any Prime Minister. The legislation apparently doesn’t apply if your opinion opposes that of Prime Minister Harper.

On the painful issue of gas prices, Harper is on record as saying, get used to it. That is not what Canadians wanted to hear. It is not what Harper’s policy used to be when he was in opposition. Harper is winding up a five-city tour today in Toronto and on each stop he has very determinedly laid out his personal agenda with a bravado attitude suggesting it is his way or no way.

Harper leads a minority government that is on thin ice with many huge icebergs around him, but with no caution he is still on full-speed ahead just like the Titanic. He is systematically building an enemy list that will eventually bring him down in icy waters.

Stephen Harper you are on thin ice. Slow down or risk the icy waters.

Finally, Stephen Harper may be the Prime Minister, but I am a free proud Canadian he cannot muzzle. Although this may pain the PM and his operatives, I have been a conservative for nearly fifty years. Get used to it!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ralph Goodale

Like him or not, you have to respect Ralph Goodale, the Member of Parliament for Regina Wascana. Until the recent election he was the Minister of Finance and now he is the House Leader for the liberal Official Opposition.

The liberals lost power to the conservatives primarily over the Sponsorship Scandal. At this point it would have been easy for Goodale to simply float to the next election and then announce he was retiring.

In “The Goodale Report,” which he regularly sends out to his constituents he noted that it was a distinct privilege to represent his constituents for the 5th consecutive time. He then promises to represent all the people regardless of how they voted and that he will do his best to represent Wascana honestly and effectively. So far this isn’t sounding like retirement.

Further, he is being pressured to run for the leadership of the liberal party. Personally, I believe his resume stacks up fairly well against the other candidates who have declared or are considering running for the liberal top job.

Ralph Goodale has made politics his life. He apparently loves the business of politics, but eventually your time passes. He has been immensely successful. His time has not yet passed and it seems it is not about to pass for a while yet.

Ralph Goodale has been in politics a long time and he has worked hard at the job. He has honestly served his country, his province and his constituents. All of this and he still has a passion for the job.

Unlike many politicians, Ralph Goodale has earned your respect. Whether or not you pay him the respect he deserves is your problem!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ralph Klein

The issue of Premier Ralph Klein’s loss of party support at a leadership review has many questioning the Alberta conservative party’s decision. Klein only received 55% of delegate support.

Ralph Klein has a record of achievement unmatched in Alberta, or anywhere else for that matter, but he is currently a victim of democracy. His time is over.

There are only a few factors that can prematurely crowd you out of politics. One is your style of leadership that can net you political enemies over a short period of time. You may also be victimized by your policies that either didn’t work or the public failed to accept. Personal problems can also be a contributing factor. Finally, based mostly on these factors, the public simply concludes it is your time to depart.

Democracy can be cruel, but it is democratic and that is our system. Ralph Klein should have few reservations about how he served the people of Alberta. The people should have few reservations about giving him the nod to retire as their Premier.

Most former politicians are simply allowed to drift into obscurity by the public they tried their best to serve. It is cruel, but it is democratic.

Ralph Klein will learn, as all other politicians before him, that there is a life after politics. History will record that Ralph Klein was a controversial and highly successful Premier of Alberta. Most other former politicians are barely mentioned in the books of historical record.

Do I feel sorry for Ralph Klein? No, because he was highly successful and has earned his retirement. Finally, Ralph Klein will continue to influence Alberta and Canadian politics. Count on it!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Too Late

Isn’t it interesting how we never pay any attention to anything until it is too late? It seems to be the nature of humankind.

We have not paid any attention to the warnings about global warming and nor have we paid much attention to how we are polluting the planet we live on. It seems these issues are now being believed, but is it too late?

Years ago we never paid much attention to aids and now we as a society have and are still paying the price through suffering and the loss of life.

Even regarding issues close to home we never get alarmed until there is a loss of life. This could be a person in our community long believed to be a danger to any one of us. We don’t do anything about it until some person pays the price with their life. It may have been a highway intersection or a railway crossing. It may have been bullying in our schools or community.

Now we are facing the avian virus that has the potential to mutate and turn into a worldwide pandemic. It is believed this avian virus may reach the North American continent in the next few months. Are we concerned? Yes, but only recently have we began to realize that this is a real possibility and if not with this virus then with some other strain.

I suggest it is time we begin to pay attention to the issues that may harm or kill us and take action. We have a new conservative government who will be expected to take action and act on the important issues that may harm the citizens of Canada. Will they act? I believe they will. Will it be too late? I don’t know. I do know it time for each of us to take these matters seriously. It is time to pay attention before it is too late.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


This is just a short note to inform everyone that I have entered the popular world of podcasting. I don't know how long I will podcast as it is a bit of work on a regular basis. I have too many other things going on in my life. I will have to make a decision on where to rate podcasting with all the other priorities I have to meet every week.

Regardless, I am podcasting now just for the learning experience. I invite everyone to visit my podcast called Birkbeck's Pod-Talk and click on the Episodes link for the audio.

You can also go to for a full directory of all the podcasts and from this site you can subscribe to my Pod-Talk.

Please enjoy and Have a Great Day!

2006 Tim Horton's Brier

Congratulations to Jean-Michel Ménard (Skip), François Roberge,Eric Sylvain, Maxime Elmaleh,Jean Gagnon and Coach, Michel St-Onge. They won the 2006 Brier by defeating Glen Howard's Ontario dream team in the final. It was a close match and you didn't really want to see either team lose. They were both great teams and in the final it was Quebec's day.

Quebec will now proudly wear the Maple Leaf and represent Canada in the Men's World Championship in Lowell, Massachusetts.

I wish them all the best.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

2006 Tim Horton's Brier

I know it is early to be expressing disappointment in the Pat Simmons team representing Saskatchewan at the Tim Horton’s Brier here in Saskatchewan. They have only played two games and the first was up against the always-tough Mark Dacey from Nova Scotia and a strong team from Quebec. Regardless, you have to be good to win the honour to represent Saskatchewan. This province is loaded with some of the finest curlers in the world.

The Simmons team lost both their opening games and was never a threat to either Nova Scotia or Quebec. In their game against Quebec they gave up an unforgivable four points in the first end and quit after the seventh. Maybe they should have stayed on the ice for the full ten ends just for practice and to give the fans their money’s worth. How does that happen against a team with the supposed talent of the Simmons team? It must be disappointing for the front end of the Simmons team as they are as good a lead and second as you can find in the game.

Yes, I know, we can all say they are doing their best, but is that what Canadians said about Team Canada’s hockey team at the Olympics? Goodness, hockey and curling goes on almost 24-7 in this province all winter. We must accept that losing is a large part of every sport, but must it be our destiny to play that role most of the time?

I just think it is time we stepped it up a bit. Do we have to bring Rick Folk back to give us a shot at a curling title? Quite frankly, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring him back as motivation for all the curlers who are attempting to compete at the national or world level. He is one of the finest curlers out of Saskatchewan, along with the legendary Richardson’s and Campbell’s, and he is one of the finest people you could ever hope to meet. He is right up there with the legendary Saskatchewan football coach, Gordon Currie as one of Saskatchewan’s finest and most accomplished people. It is upon these legends of sport that young aspiring curlers must look to if they truly want to learn what it takes to be champions of great character.

Please excuse me for being disappointed, but I expect more from the curling talent we have in Saskatchewan. I wish the Simmons team all the best and I feel bad for them, but damn it I feel bad too or I wouldn’t be writing this letter. If the Simmons team should rebound from two opening losses and go on to make the play offs it will be nothing short of a miracle. I will pray for that!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Harper's Cabinet

The public is still confused over Prime Minister Stephan Harper’s cabinet appointments. The media and talk shows are saturated with condemnation of the appointments. There are now critical expressions flowing from Stephan Harper's caucus and from conservative constituency associations across the country.

The public’s cynicism regarding politicians has been deeply eroded by Stephan Harper. It was Harper and the conservatives who repeatedly argued that it was time to rid the country of a corrupt liberal government and the partisanship that was embedded in the liberal party. Stephan Harper has proven that he can be as devious and disgusting as any liberal. He is a true politician and the public is completely disillusioned. From a purely political perspective the public has every right to feel betrayed and confused.

Now look at this same issue from a parliamentary and democratic perspective. When a person is elected to parliament they become independent Members of Parliament we refer to as Parliamentarians or politicians. On Election Day Canadians elected our 39th parliament and from that parliament a new government was created. In reality, Stephan Harper was free to choose his cabinet members from any elected member of parliament. He was not constrained by political association. The elected liberal, David Emerson was a case in point. It was politically disgusting, but it was parliamentary correct. In theory, David Emerson could have remained a liberal and served in the conservative cabinet of Stephan Harper. The Prime Minister also has the freedom to choose unelected persons to serve in his cabinet. Michael Fortier is a case in point. Here again, it was politically disgusting, but parliamentary correct.

Many Canadians feel a rule should be implemented to prohibit elected Members of Parliament switching from one party to another. On a purely partisan political basis I would agree, but remember they are individual Members of Parliament and should be free to do what they feel is best for their constituency and for their country. This should include free votes on all matters before the House of Commons without the interference and intimidation that leaders of political parties place on individual Members of Parliament. If any rules are to be implemented it should be a rule to prohibit the coercion of individual Members of Parliament to vote along party lines.

As it respects the democratic perspective, the voters can exercise their right to vote and to pass judgment on the performance of all Members of Parliament seeking re-election. Implementing parliamentary rules to deal with these matters would have the effect of diminishing the right of any new Prime Minister to choose his best cabinet from those he felt could best serve the country. It would also diminish the democratic right of individual Members of Parliament to make their best decision as to how they will best serve their constituents and their country. The democratic process then provides for the voters to judge all these decisions at the next election when Members of Parliament seek re-election. This would include turncoats, traitors and those who simply were not earning their bloated salaries. Clearly, there is a distinction between the rules of parliament and the rules of democracy.

The depth of Prime Minister Harper’s dilemma may be the beginning of the end for him and the conservative party. I disagree with how Stephan Harper chose his cabinet and I know he couldn’t care less what I think, but I defend his right to make the parliamentary decisions he made in selecting his cabinet. Setting the issue of hypocrisy aside, Prime Minister Stephan Harper has ignored partisan politics and believes he has chosen the best people from parliament to serve in government. The talent Stephan Harper required for the best cabinet was apparently not available from his own conservative caucus. He may be right! If our new government under Prime Minister Stephan Harper serves our county and our individual expectations then we will soon forget Harper’s tawdry tactics in choosing his cabinet.

Time will tell and the voters will have their say soon enough.

Monday, February 06, 2006

New Conservative Government

I have only written on politics once since the call of the last election. I cannot be accused of attempting to influence the public during the election. It is now time to make a few observations as Harper is now Prime Minister and a new Cabinet has been sworn in and is bracing for condemnation from the opposition and from within.

Harper asked Canadians to “Stand up for Canada” and they collectively made a good decision by electing a razor thin minority conservative government. It is now time for Harper and this new conservative government to “Stand and Deliver.”

Credit Harper for reducing the size of government, but who paid the price? Ontario and Quebec got half the cabinet appointments including Michael Fortier who was not even elected. The Harper conservatives have always argued for an elected Senate, but it is apparently all right to appoint a non-elected person from Montreal to cabinet. Now we should ask, what has really changed?

David Emerson is another case. A liberal who is on record promising to be Stephan Harper’s worst enemy and now he crosses the floor and sits in Harper’s cabinet. Ironically, from what I am hearing from the street maybe he will be Harper’s worst enemy. Belinda Stronach must be laughing at Harper and all the media who made such an issue out of her crossing to the liberals because Harper made it clear there was no place in the conservative party for her.

Agriculture in Saskatchewan again gets a bad rap. Why could we not have had a minister from Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Alberta? For that matter, Saskatchewan generally was again short changed. We elected twelve conservatives out of Saskatchewan and only got one cabinet minister. Further, I respectfully suggest she will never have the depth in politics as a Ralph Goodale and I say this as a conservative. It seems there were better people left out of cabinet than were appointed. Again, what has changed?

We should all spend our money on postage writing Stephan Harper to threaten to be his worst enemy. Maybe we too can be appointed to cabinet or be given a plumb position in this new accountable, ethical and scandal free conservative government. I worked for the conservatives on Election Day. You can ask me why?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Election Predictions

There is plenty of election news nationally, but how are we looking here in Saskatchewan? Lets consider the four constituencies in Regina. The conservatives will win in Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre. Larry Spencer made the break through for the conservatives defeating incumbent John Solomon. Stephan Harper then threw Larry Spencer out of the party for comments he made opposing same-sex marriage. Interestingly, Harper and Lukiwski now share the same views as Spencer and the conservatives have promised to restore the traditional definition of marriage. Good for Harper. Count Lukiwski in!

Dave Batters is running a strong campaign in Palliser and will win his seat by at least a thousand votes. The NDP and liberals are not running strong campaigns in Palliser. A typical socialist and a lawyer are no match for Batters who is running a strong campaign.

The Wascana riding is a bit more interesting. It is a two horse race between the liberals and the conservatives. Goodale has served well and brought plenty of goodies to Saskatchewan, but his days are numbered. He has scandal all around him, which I doubt is even remotely linked to him. Regardless, it is taking a toll on his campaign. The conservative candidate is a good Christian boy with some political knowledge, but not the strongest at debate or as aggressive as it will require to defeat Goodale. If the conservative campaign steps it up a notch and challenges Goodale in his own riding in debate and has Harper in for some added support then there is a chance for the conservatives to pull an upset. Don’t bet on it, but Goodale will have to work hard to retain his seat. You can look to Goodale retiring soon if he lands in opposition and that will open up the seat for a conservative victory in a bye-election.

Now we come to Regina Qu’Appelle and the Andrew Scheer / Lorne Nystrom rematch. With the liberals in free fall it is hard to see how the liberal candidate can get any more votes than she did in the last election. The liberal vote should drop, but where will those votes go? They should go two to the NDP and one to the conservatives, which should make for a close match between Scheer and Nystrom.

Finally, I must note that the Scheer campaign must be in some trouble as some apparent supporter fraudulently used my name on a CBC blog to support his candidacy. CBC removed the content from their blog at my request and the media was advised. I will make it clear at this point that I am not involved in any campaign for any of the political parties. If I had to vote in Regina Qu’Appelle I would not vote for Andrew Scheer because I know him better than most. I have never been a supporter of self-appointed intellects. Scheer is little more than a high school graduate. He worked for Larry Spencer and fell short there as he has in the short time he has been elected. If he loses the election he will return to Ottawa and work for the conservatives. I have been a conservative for over forty years and it is time to change the government, but it is also important to have some strong representation in the opposition with experience.

The conservatives will form a majority government and Scheer may lose and have to settle for working for the government. Either way he won’t be out of a job. He is a good young political hack. Regardless, the voters are always right. They always get what they ask for so be careful whom you vote for on Election Day.