Tag Archives: BQ

The Trainwreck that is the Green Party of Canada

A brief listing of the accomplishments of the Green Party since the last election

(1) the Executive Director quit and was replaced by the Tech guy; yup, the coax cable guy (his expression) now runs the Greens.
(2) one Deputy Leader was replaced by another guy, who proceeded to quit within months, join the Bloc Quebecois, and now won’t return the Leader’s calls.
(3) more layoffs and employee resignations too numerous to list (including most the organizers).
(4) more high-profile candidates resigning (amazingly the top 3 Green candidates from 2008 are now gone, not including the leadership of course).
(5) the leader’s campaign manager in Saanich-Gulf Islands quit, and was replaced by an underling from Nova Scotia.
(6) a 20% decline in average party support from this time 2 yrs ago (i.e. 4 months before the last election).
(7) more EDAs de-registered by Elections Canada (bringing the total to 44 over the last few yrs — 3 times more than all other major parties combined).
(8) …that means still no local organization in 1/4 of the country.
(9) most Federal Council positions being acclaimed because of lack of interested candidates…
(10) a precipitous 20% decline in the party’s membership in the last year — yes, you read that right, down 20% in one year!
(11) a near 50%(!) decline in the # of donors from 2008, which is especially bad since…
(12) it’s the only party in the red – $1.2 million in outstanding liabilities and negative working capital.

image001 So in response, Elizabeth May is trying to hold off a leadership review vote of her performance

Given the party’s documented decline, it’s no wonder the leader’s posse is desperately trying to change the rules, so she doesn’t have to face any kind of leadership vote or leadership review until what could be mid-2013, which could mean going 7 years(!) without any kind of performance review (i.e. within 6 months after the next election, which need not happen until fall 2012). Most expected a leadership race to culminate in a convention next month, but they postponed it so they can get the members to rubber-stamp changing the 4-year mandate to an indefinite one. With the leader using the party’s email list to advocate for her preferred motion (needless to say, advocates of competing motions have not been given the same courtesy), it appears to be a foregone conclusion that the change will be pushed through since the motions are so confusing, people will look for guidance.

In other words, there is less and less to distinguish The Green Party of Canada from any other political party when it comes to ambition and leadership.  Nor is there much to distinguish Green Party members from any other party when it comes to ruthlessness when it is time to ditch a leader.

Outrage at the deficit is all politics

Ian McDonald is saying what I have heard all this week about the deficit.

A federal deficit that was forecast at $34 billion as recently as the January budget is now projected to be a least $50 billion. That’s quite a miss, 50 per cent on the upside, from a finance department better known for underestimating the surplus during the era of the fiscal dividend.

Then again, as our editorial page noted the other day, $50 billion isn’t what it used to be. It doesn’t go far as it used to, either. Or in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, you get cash and it’s as good as money.

In the House of Commons, the opposition parties were shocked and appalled, demanding that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty either resign or be fired, his credibility in tatters, his competence destroyed.

Then the Liberals demanded that Flaherty add another $1 billion to the ballooning deficit by lifting regional variations on qualifying for Employment Insurance and imposing a national minimum standard.

And of course, the NDP would like Ottawa to guarantee the pensions of autoworkers that are on the table in talks to restructure the North American auto industry.

As for the Bloc, it just wants more money for Quebec, starting with the forestry industry.

In politics, you have to make more than the usual allowances for hypocrisy.

It was in January that Jack Layton and the entire Liberal party were screaming for an Obama like stimulus package (which would have required a $200 billion deficit to proportionately match).  While I am a deficit hawk and I hate seeing this much debt, 3% of GDP is not out of control if it is only short term.  Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge is saying the same thing.

“The Canadian federal deficit of 3 percent of GDP, in a year where the output gap is as large as it’s going to be, is certainly not inappropriate,” Dodge, a former deputy minister with the Finance Department, said in remarks at an economics conference in Toronto.

He went on to say that all Canadian jurisdictions need to commit to balancing their budgets after this mess is over and pay it off.  What frustrates me in all of this, we are missing out on the real debate which needs to happen during a financial recession and that is how do we get out of it and how do we best handle the suffering that comes with living in the Great Recession.  We need to have more discussions on the ramifications of the proposed changes to EI versus leaving it alone.

The Liberals have taken a position that is clear and easily explainable. To summarize, more pogey now. They want employment insurance, as we euphemistically call it, to be available anywhere across the country after only 360 hours of work. The Liberals believe 150,000 people would be helped by their policy, but the political benefit is even greater. The employment insurance system we have now is so complex and difficult to understand that any Canadian who fears losing his job would rightly worry about whether he would quality for payments. Expect the worriers to back the Liberal plan.

As it is now, Canadians must work between 420 and 700 hours to collect EI, depending on the rate of unemployment in the region in which they live. Those eligibility requirements mean that 40 per cent of people who pay into the plan aren’t actually able to collect. For EI purposes, the government has divided the country into 58 regions and length of time that EI will pay out varies by region.

The Conservatives have chosen to champion this absurdly complex system, although they certainly didn’t invent it. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff wants change so Prime Minister Stephen Harper is against it. It’s as simple as that. The substance of the matter is irrelevant.

The side benefit of the pogey issue, perhaps accidental, is that people have actually started to pay a bit of attention to a big-ticket program that does need a serious rethink.

There are also other debates to had about taxation (did the Conservatives cut too much from the GST?) and why despite all of the stimulus money, we are still seeing serious job losses not only in Ontario but even in Alberta?  With our economy being battered by the problems in the United States, maybe it is time to rethink our economic relationship with the United States, I am not saying with become protectionists but rather ask ourselves is it is wise to be so closely hitched to an economy that could be in trouble for years to come?