Saturday, December 29, 2007

Political Patronage

For the most part, political patronage appointments go unnoticed, as the public grows ever more used to the idea that one government is really not much different than the next. Remember, it was the conservatives in opposition whom condemned the liberal government almost daily over patronage appointments. One such appointment is that of Elwin Hermanson, former leader of the SaskParty. The Conservative government has appointed him to head up the Canadian Grain Commission. Hermanson is appointed to a five-year term, and, according to the cabinet order, his salary will be between $204,300 and $240,400. Not bad for a Beechy area Saskatchewan farmer. Who says farming doesn’t pay?

The annoucement made by Saskatchewan’s Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculure and Agri-Food, was barely noticed here in Saskatchewan. Regardless, Ritz claimed Hermanson was the right man for the job considering his leadership abilities. Hermanson’s leadership abilities are questionable. He was elected to the House of Commons as a Reform Party member and then quit. He was elected to lead the SaskParty and failed in two provincial elections in a row and both were mostly atttributable to Elwin Hermanson. In short, he failed to lead the SaskParty to the promised land of government, which I predicted when he first ran for the leadership of the SaskParty. He quit as leader of the SaskParty and quit again as he chose not to run for re-election for the SaskParty in the 2007 provincial election. The young and affable Brad Wall successfully lead the SaskParty to an historic win in the last provincial election and now serves as Saskatchewan’s Premier.

Elwin Hermanson is well respected and a nice person, but his leadership abilities have been questioned. He quit three times in his political career and that is the leadership Gerry Ritz speaks of in defence of this patronage appointment. Grant Devine is far more qualified than Hermanson when it comes to leadership abilities. When is he going to get his appointment? Regardless, I congratulate Hermanson on his appointment. It is a nice plum. If you are a farmer, get into politics and bust your buns for 20 years or so and you may get an appointment that well exceeds the cost of production regardless of your leadership abilities.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Partisan Debate

Our politicians in the legislature can’t seem to get over the election as the campaign continues in debate in the legislature. Yesterday, I observed the government members laughing while the opposition asked questions during question period. The opposition then laughed when government members were attempting to answer the questions. This is unacceptable and not what we should expect from our elected officials. The Speaker of the legislature was apparently unable to bring any order to the disorder that occurred throughout the question period.

The Brad Wall SaskParty government should simply get on with governing and quit gloating over their move from the opposition benches to the government benches. The NDP opposition should get on with protecting the public purse and get used to the idea that they are now the official opposition for the next four years. Having a debate each day in question period regarding their respective campaign promises is unproductive and only serves the partisan nature of politics.

The legislature is comprised of elected members representing both SaskParty members and NDP members. It is the role of all politicians to collectively work on behalf of each resident of Saskatchewan. I understand there will always be some partisan debate in the legislature, but in this post election period in the legislature it is a tad over the top. Both parties should embrace a little humility and get on with some respectful debate on the issues that matter to Saskatchewan residents. Now is the time for our politicians to get on with respectfully serving the people who elected them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In Defence of Fairness

I recently wrote a Letter to the Editor condemning the unsubstantiated and unfair comments directed against a highly respected MP James Moore by an NDP MP. I received a letter from Mr. Moore’s office thanking me for my support.

Politics can often be unfair. On many occasions I have personally been the target of unsubstantiated and unfair comments over the four decades I have been involved in politics. I have come to expect that if you express your political views that you will eventually become the target of unfair comments. Sometimes these comments come from people who have never even met me and sometimes they come from people who apparently are incapable of distinguishing friend from foe. Too often people see how you seem, however, only some know who you are.

I often speak strongly and passionately about political issues. I make every effort to address the issue and still be fair. I suggest people take the position that I have regarding MP James Moore. Speak out in their defence!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Attack on MP James Moore

The recent political news out of Ottawa wherein an NDP Member of the House of Commons, Irene Mathyssen has made apparent baseless allegations against Conservative MP James Moore about what she thought she saw on his laptop computer in the House of Commons is a disgrace to the entire NDP caucus. Mathyssen has since apologized to James Moore by phone and will officially apologize in the House of Commons in the next day or so. I am purposefully not saying what her allegation was against Moore in this letter because it would only add to the harm that has already been inflicted on James Moore.

James Moore is a young bright conservative politician who is rightfully one of the most respected members in the House of Commons. He works hard and is a great speaker. He is the kind of person and politician we should all hope to have representing us in Ottawa. I have the highest regard for this young and articulate politician.

I expect Moore will likely accept Mathyssen’s apology and move on with his hard work in Ottawa. On the other hand, he may decide to sue Mathyssen for the comments she made outside the House of Commons, where she is not immune from liability. James Moore has the right to sue Irene Mathyssen for what are apparent groundless allegations. If he chooses to sue for the damages this issue has needlessly made on his personal reputation then it may serve to prevent these mindless and unjustified personal attacks in the future.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Australian Election

The former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard was defeated by the leader of the Australian Labour Party, Kevin Rudd in that country’s most recent general election. Kevin Rudd is now the Prime Minister of Australia.

The interesting point here for Canadians is why John Howard was defeated. The single most important reason was John Howard’s reluctance to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Equally important was how the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was able to bring the trade unions on side during the campaign. In Australia, the trade unions have been at odds with the Labour Party over environmental issues where it may cost them jobs. Regardless, Kevin Rudd succeeded to the extent that he had the general public on side that is also unanimously on side with ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

The UN reports Australia as the third worst of the world’s polluters and Australia is reported to be the world’s largest per capita producer of carbon dioxide. John Howard’s reluctance to effectively address the issue of climate change cost him his job as Prime Minister of Australia.

So what does John Howard’s defeat have to do with Canadians? Well, to begin with, John Howard’s leadership in Australia immensely influenced Stephen Harper and the conservative party. The Harper conservatives admired the former Prime Minister of Australia both while they were in opposition and while they were in government. Understandably, the conservatives have gone silent on John Howard since he was defeated by the Labour Party, led by Kevin Rudd, over climate change and, in particular, Kyoto. Stephen Harper faces the same challenges, as did former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Harper will have to carefully balance the interests of labour, business and the general public on climate change and Kyoto. Dion may not be dead if he plays his cards as well as Kevin Rudd did in Australia. The similarities on this issue between Australia and Canada are, at the very least, very interesting.

Former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, failed to address the voters concerns over climate change and it cost him his job. John Howard and Stephen Harper were politically close. Will PM Stephen Harper follow the same path as John Howard? If so, it may cost him his job as well. Canadians are concerned about climate change and Stephen Harper will be well advised if he heeds their concerns.