Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Federal Election Results_2008

Stephen Harper called an election for a new mandate from Canadian voters. He got it, but it was not the majority Harper or myself expected. Questions now arise as to why he called the election, why he failed to defeat the weak Stéphane Dion, and his carbon tax policy, and will his leadership be challenged. Minority Harper has successfully delivered minority governments and has failed to win a majority government.

Harper has no one to blame other than himself. He personally lost conservative votes in Quebec over cuts to Arts and Culture. He personally lost conservative votes across the country over his insensitivity to Canada’s troubled economy suggesting that it presented some good buying opportunities in the stock markets. In short, Stephen Harper personally lost control of the conservative campaign and the majority government he was seeking.

In his election night speech Stephen Harper raised the white flag and called on all parties to set aside partisan political considerations in favour of building a strong and united Canada. This may be Harper’s biggest challenge when parliament resumes. Harper is a strong leader, but sometimes that works against him. He will have to learn how to ask for support as opposed to ordering it with conditions like non-confidence votes. I believe he can do it, but will he?

Regardless, Stephen Harper faced strong opposition across the country from his opponents and a very troubled economy that peaked during the campaign. In spite of all these conditions Harper still managed to gain a stronger mandate to govern and serve as Prime Minister. He should be congratulated and I hope we don’t have another federal election any time soon.

Here in Saskatchewan the conservative campaign once again proved to be invincible winning every seat except Wascana. And liberal Ralph Goodale, against all odds, once again proved he is invincible in Wascana. Regardless, the conservatives mounted a strong campaign against Goodale and have positioned themselves for an even stronger performance at the next election.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Canada Votes 2008

Today is Election Day across Canada. There is no way to accurately predict the outcome. Polls have consistently placed the conservatives on top across the nation. Most importantly get out and vote.

Harper called this election because he believed parliament had become dysfunctional and that it simply wasn’t working. I couldn’t agree with him more. The real question is why parliament is not working. Will a strengthened minority conservative government or even a majority conservative government improve the effectiveness of Canada’s parliament? I don’t believe it will. Parliamentary reform and electoral reform is necessary to better serve the voters of Canada.

Regardless, I believe the conservatives will do better in this election than the polls have been indicating. The Harper conservatives will break the 140-seat number, but will fall short of a majority government. The liberals should triple the NDP vote overall and should fall around the 100 seat number give or take a few seats.

Here in Saskatchewan the seat numbers are not likely to change. Regardless, don’t be surprised if the liberals elect two seats and the NDP elect one seat at the expense of the conservatives.

Across the country there is a large pool of undecided voters. If they decide to go to the polls then we could be in for any number of surprises. The best news is that world markets are looking better on Election Day. That too could change the final vote tally. The economy has been far and away the prominent issue throughout this election. Happy voters should favour the conservatives and a near majority conservative government.

If Stephen Harper does not get a stronger minority government then his leadership will come into play. The voters will be left asking why Harper could not win a majority government against the weak leadership of Stéphane Dion and his unpopular green shift policy. That will be a fair question if this election does not go well for Stephen Harper.

Regardless of all the polls and media speculation it comes down to you the voter. Today is your day to elect your next government. Polls and speculation don’t matter now, but your decision does. Be sure to get out and vote.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Stephen Harper's Leadership

It is hard to believe, but the once all knowing I’m in control Stephen Harper has lost control of this election. It has cost him what many believed may have been a majority conservative government. There is now the possibility that it may now cost him the minority government most observers believed was a done deal. Stephen Harper is now weighing the possibilities of a Prime Minister Stéphane Dion. Harper’s leadership of the conservative party is at question even if he manages to hold on to a slim minority. The right wing John Gormley raised this issue on his talk show today that was televised on CPAC.

Stephen Harper and the conservative party war machine have painted Stéphane Dion as a weak leader ever since Dion won the leadership of the liberal party. The question of Stephen Harper’s leadership now comes into play as it has become apparent that Harper is barely holding his own against the weak leadership of Stéphane Dion.

Stephen Harper has been successful at muzzling most of his caucus and controlling those he trusted to speak on behalf of his conservative government. Those he could not control were simply removed one way or the other. Harper’s heavy-handed insensitive style of leadership may end up being his Achilles heel and he will have no one to blame other than himself. If Harper can’t win a majority government against a weak leader like Dion then when would he win a majority government?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

SaskParty Staffers

Figures released Tuesday by Reg Downs, Senior Advisor to Premier Brad Wall; indicate the SaskParty government is spending nearly a million a month on politically appointed staffers. Granted the $865,562.00 figure is less than the previous NDP government coming in at about 7.2% lower and apparently with more responsibilities expected of the staffers according to Downs.

Regardless, it won’t play well with most people in the province as some staffers get increases appoaching $15,000.00. These kinds of salaries are hard to take as Canada is in an economic crisis not experienced in recent decades. It is strategically a good time to make the announcement as the voters are caught up with the federal election. Again, it is still hard to take as many costs of living are going up and savings and investments are going down for most people.

It will be reasonable for Saskatchewan residents to wish they had these kinds of salaries and pay increases. Political appointees have never suffered financially. If your job isn’t paying enough I suggest you buy a membership in the SaskParty and apply for one of these appointments. Who knows, if you are smarter than the current staffers and you are prepared to work harder than them then you may get the job. The SaskParty could then reduce their staff numbers even more and you would then be in line for an increase in your salary.

It sounds like a plan. Don’t you just love government?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Canada's Failing Economy

Stephen Harper has consistently stated that we are not the United States and that we will not feel the same effect as them regarding their economic crisis. Today Harper is paying a political price for his stay the course approach to our economy and he is now singing a different tune. Harper scoffed at Stéphane Dion’s plan to convene an economic summit to deal with Canada’s economy if he were elected Prime Minister. Harper, in the national debate, argued that Dion was changing his economic policies in the middle of an election and that now was not the time to experiment with new ideas.

An economic summit sounds like a good idea that has no risk and is hardly an experiment of new ideas. Regardless, the liberals are closing on the conservatives in the polls and Harper had better come up with some ideas of his own regarding our economy or risk being punished in the polls on Election Day.

The US economic crisis is now a global crisis and that includes Canada. The TSX/S&P composite index was down 1,180 points today in early trading, which is a clear signal how uncertain things really are in the marketplace. Interestingly, this is more than twice the drop the Dow Jones index experienced in New York. Maybe Stephen Harper should visit the floor of the TSX and pick up a crash course on how Canada’s economy is at serious risk. Failing that he could heed the Scotia Bank report wherein they are warning their customers that Canada will be hit with a recession as well as the US. The reality is that Stephen Harper has misread the economic indicators or he is trying to keep the voters in the dark. Right now an economic summit of all the stakeholders in our economy sounds like a real good idea. Ottawa, we have a problem and we need to address it now!

Historically, conservatives have a poor record managing Canada’s economy and the liberals have a good record. It is just a matter of fact! Given our failing economy we may be well advised to vote liberal. On the other hand, we could experiment with Stephen Harper to see if the conservatives can get it right this time on our economy.