- After Nigel Wright and then Ben Perrin’s testimony at the Mike Duffy trial, I am pretty confident that Stephen Harper was lying about not knowing about the payment. The plausible deniability seems less plausible every day. Or as Andrew Coyne sarcastically suggests, maybe Stephen Harper is a victim in all of this.
- Far more Liberal lawn signs visible in Saskatoon since 1993 when Jean Chretien swept to power. In many ways the shift to the Liberals has to be really good for the Conservatives as I think this comes from historic NDP vote. That being said, I still think Saskatoon West goes to the NDP.
- The interesting race may be Saskatoon Grasswoods and Saskatoon University. Kevin Waugh has been really quiet so far while everyone is asking where Brad Trost is. Trost doesn’t even have a website (although he has a web domain that goes nowhere). It’s early but the Conservatives could go 0-3 in the city.
- I also found it weird that Jason Kenney was in town last night for a fundraiser for Donauer and Block only and not for the east side candidates.
- I watched Antarctic Edge: Beyond the Ice last night which is on the rapid global warming that is happening in Antarctica right now. Winter sea ice has declined by three months and temperatures have increased by 11 degrees Fahrenheit, six times greater than the global average. Yet the NDP and the Liberals seem nervous about talking about it. Maybe it is an acknowledgement that Canada is indeed what most of the world is calling us, a petro-state (or to throw it back to the 80s; PetroCanada). Our entire country has become tied to oil and gas revenue. To tackle climate change in a serious way, it would cause a serious disruption to the Canadian economy and throw hundreds of thousands out of work. In a day and age where the “middle class” is king politically, no one wants to take a stand that would hurt them, even if it hurts the globe.
- Interesting interview on The Current with John Ibbitson. It’s worth the 20 minutes to listen to it. You may even want to listen to it again.
- In some way I feel sorry for the political staffers who have to create election material and use stock photos. They have no budget and are under time constraints and it never turns out well. Never ever turns out well.
- This won’t come up in the election but I tend to give Stephen Harper a pass for messed up military procurement, especially when the Americans who do it better than we do, also have their struggles.
- Whoever wins, is going to have a tougher go with the Canadian economy. Oil prices are to stay depressed for another two years.
- The NDP minimum wage hike makes claims that it can’t back up. Hey, a NDP populist economic policy that makes no sense, what a surprise.
- Of course neither leader has the courage to wade into Saskatchewan’s most pressing issue, what’s wrong with the Roughriders?
Hey, I am pretty much sitting out this campaign. I’ll wait to see how the campaign platforms come together to decide if I will write a local endorsement but until then, it won’t be that political around here. I have friends who are candidates for different parties and I respect them for making the effort of going to Ottawa to do what the PMO tells them what to do and when to do it.
I did great a quick election guide for all candidates in Saskatoon. You can find it here. It lists all of the campaign contact information for all of the campaigns, except for Kevin Waugh (and I can’t find his yet). So if you want to check out a campaign in Saskatoon, it’s all there for you.
In Saskatoonâ€”Humboldt there has been a lot of controversy over incumbent MP Brad Trostâ€™s pro-life view and his statements to a pro-life rally that Planned Parenthood had been defunded. Iâ€™ll let the Globe and Mail give you the details.
â€œDo you support a womanâ€™s right to choose for an abortionist to kill her unborn child?â€ Denise Hounjet-Roth, 53, a retired teacher and staunch Roman Catholic, asked the candidates.
Such sentiments are what have sent Mr. Trost, a 36-year-old geophysicist, to Ottawa. He won a narrow race in 2004, when just 435 votes separated the Conservative, New Democrat and Liberal candidates. Since then, heâ€™s won easily.
Naturally, his opponents are targeting his beliefs, saying the riding is filled with voters who are no longer stirred by questions of abortion and same-sex marriage.
This has been a complex issue for a long time for me. At my heart I am a libertarian but I am also an evangelical Christian (albeit a part of the evangelical left) I have spent years pondering the issue and now more than ever I believe life begins at conception. On a personal level Wendy and I had that decision personalized when Oliverâ€™s birth jeopardized Wendyâ€™s life. There was a question at one point of who do we save? (you have never made a hard decision until you have been asked that one)
A couple of years ago Warren Kinsella made a comment on his blog about right to life people in both parties and I replied in the comments, â€œthere are those of a liberal political ideology who do believe that life does begin at conceptionâ€. Just as there are committed Christians who believe that women have a right to choose. I am not sure if the question will be relevant in Heaven but if it is, we may have to wait until we get there to find out.
Years ago I had a conversation with Tony Campolo who pointed out that during Clintonâ€™s presidency, abortion levels in the United States dropped sharply, this was during an era which made it easier for women to get safe abortions. So access to safe abortions was made easier and yet the number of abortions went down. Campolo credited an era of relative prosperity, a rise of income among lower class, the rise of Promise Keepers who preached that men need to take responsibility for their actions and embrace fatherhood, and a variety of initiatives that made it easier for women to take care of their children.
He (along with Jim Wallis) wrote the Democratic Party platform on the area of abortion in which they called for ways to reduce abortions rather than overturn Roe vs. Wade. Ever since I became aware of Roe vs. Ware, I have long wondered if the resources targeted towards electing conservative candidates and presidents, lobbying for certain judicial picks and lobbying for certain Supreme Court justices had been instead allocated into programs making it easier for women to bring the babies to termâ€¦
Thatâ€™s where I am at. Personally I hate the idea of an unborn child being born but we live in a country that has decriminalized it. I worked on the campaign of the Minister of Justice who paid a tremendous price for doing it (and we as a family lost some friends because of our support for the former Governor General). Instead of trying to turn back the clock to 1984 (when Tories could be red), how about working in the context that we live in now? This is where the social conservatives drive me crazy with their inconsistency. Paul Begala says it this way. If you are going to be pro-life, be consistently pro-life. Feel free to oppose abortions as Begala does but also be against capital punishment, euthanasia, and be a pacifist. Work on policies that make a difference for those who are afflicted. Most social conservatives are fine with Canada going to war and capital punishment and I donâ€™t see a lot of policies easing the afflictions of poverty.
If you are going to be pro-life, be pro-life. This isnâ€™t just about Trost, itâ€™s about evangelical Christians who love to preach about abortion but spend a pittance in supporting projects that make a real difference. I am reminded of Duke theologian Richard Hays remarks in a Cutting Edge interview in which he said one of the reasons that evangelicals go on and on about homosexuality is that it doesnâ€™t cost them anything. I think the same can be said about the opposition to abortion, especially from men. Itâ€™s something to get upset about, it raises money, and it offends very few people (or so they think) in the pews. Even when churches do take action it isnâ€™t action. A church I know of takes an offering of loonies and toonies to support local poverty initiatives. The idea is that your real offering goes to the budget of the church, the change in your purse or pocket can go to these other people, a theology that I really struggle with.
The same conversation I had with Tony Campolo about abortion, he told me about a conversation he had with then President Bill Clinton and his veto of some anti-abortion legislation. Campolo pointed out that the Senate should and would send the abortion legislation right back at him (he used a lot more colorful language than that). Clinton laughed and told Campolo he was beling naive. The Republicans will wait until the last possible momentâ€¦ when it helps then nominee George W. Bush and hurts Al Gore the most. Clinton was right. It was at that time that he realized that many members of the Senate donâ€™t care about abortion as a moral issue but as a wedge political issue, a thought that has stuck with me ever since then.
So here is my deal. Iâ€™ll start to pay attention to any politician that takes a stand against abortion, not as an electoral issue but works hard for legislation that helps those at the most risk of having abortions and for those children who are having their future stolen away because of living in extreme poverty, lack of education, FASD, unsafe foster care (Iâ€™m talking to you Saskatchewan Party and Saskatchewan NDP MLAs), and even swings a hammer or hangs some drywall at a Egadz MyHome. Iâ€™ll pay attention to politicians who fight for the elimination of child poverty, fights to ensure that schools on the west side of the city have the same resources as those on the east side, and fight to make sure that food safety programs are funded. As long as I see kids (and I mean girls younger than the age of consent) on the streets because their parents put them there or because there isnâ€™t any food in the house and I donâ€™t see you fighting whoever is standing in your way, I will never take you seriously. For years I grew up grimacing when I saw the orange NDP lawn sign on my pastorâ€™s lawn. As a kid I was thinking, â€œThey are pro-abortion. How can he support that?â€ I never clicked in that progressive policies towards eliminating poverty make a far greater difference than restrictive legislation any day.
Itâ€™s not just the politicians. Itâ€™s churches, itâ€™s pro-life groups, itâ€™s anyone who wants to use this as a wedge issue. The fact is that many abortions take place because women donâ€™t feel that they have an option. Taking away that doesnâ€™t solve the problem. What we need to do as a society is to create more choices which allow women to carry the kids to term and know that they will have a brighter future whether in their home or someone elseâ€™s home.
Now regarding the defunding Planned Parenthood that is (supposedly) happening in Canada and other jurisdictions in the United States where they elect Republicans. Planned Parenthood clinics use the government money for pelvic exams, breast exams, safer-sex counselling and basic infertility counselling, among other things. Things like thisâ€¦
So whatâ€™s the point of the video? STIâ€™s are not an issue in the small conservative towns that make up the rural parts of Saskatoonâ€”Humboldt but it is a big part of Saskatoonâ€™s inner city where we have some of the highest STI infection rates in the country. In some age demographics, well over 50% over sexually active women have HPV. Any one night at work, we house numerous, numerous men who have both diagnosed/undiagnosed and treated/untreated HIV/AIDS. Support for them and the prevention is also being unfunded. It seems like an attack not only abortions but also a womenâ€™s right to chose birth control or the right to have safe sex. From here you have upper class men telling women how they can live their lives, even how they can have sex.
There is another way. Fund Planned Parenthood. Even if you have to hold your noses while doing it. At the same time increase funding to places like the Saskatoon Food Bankâ€¦ even set up special programs there for infantsâ€¦ fund programs like the Saskatoon Friendship Inn and others that do a good job in helping people make ends meet. Fund Catholic Family Services and a bunch of other programs that make life easier for those who at the most risk of having an abortion and give women other viable options to get through tough times, expand their education, get good jobs, have support while working. Maybe it will take universal childcare, a version of Head Start or maybe you may have to chat with Liberals and NDP to get ideas but take those steps to create a Canada that is pro-life (and not just anti-abortion) for everyone and abortion numbers will drop.
When Conservative (or Liberal) politicians want to start working on a true pro-life agenda, an agenda that values all lives, Iâ€™ll start to talk and even listen, until that, I just see it as wedge politics, something that works in a riding as polarized as Saskatoonâ€”Humboldt. Wedge politics work. Karl Rove made it into an art form. You may win pulling it off, actually if you chose correctly, you will almost always win but the country or your riding is worse off because of it because it creates winners and a lot of losers.
The funny things is that Trost doesnâ€™t even have to win this way. Before the topic of abortion and social conservatism came up, he had developed a reputation as a MP that worked hard on constituent concerns and was the guy that saved us from Jim Pankiw. That has now changed. Hopefully in the next parliament, Trost will expand his worldview and focus on more than defunding Planned Parenthood and instead focus on creating a Canadian culture where everyone has a chance at a better life.
I was looking for a list of nominated Saskatoon candidates for the federal election and I realized that none listed, even the Liberals donâ€™t have a complete list of nominated candidates on their site (same thing happened under Stephane Dion) and while the NDP donâ€™t have a list of their candidates anywhere. So after spending some quality time with Google and Wikipedia, here is a list of whatâ€™s happening in Saskatoon, past vote totals, and my thoughts of what is going to happen in 2011.
- Incumbent: Kelly Block (won with 45.4% of the vote)
- Challenger: Nettie Wiebe (lost with 44.5% of the vote â€“ only 153 votes separated them last election)
- Taking it for the Team: Lee Reaney (Liberals took only 4.4% of the vote last time) and Vicki Strelioff (Greens took 4.6% of the votes in 2008)
What to Expect: It will come down to under 1000 votes and in the end will be determined by which candidate can correctly identify and get out the vote. The urban vote will go to Nettie Wiebe while the rural vote will come out for Kelly Block. Itâ€™s going to come down to campaign organization, a ground campaign, and who has the motivated voters. Of the three factors, the first two will be determined locally and as for motivated voters, that will come down to the leaders. In other words this is one of the few ridings in Saskatchewan that could be in play and my gut feeling is that Nettie Wiebe will win it by a couple of hundred votes. NDP voters seem more motivated than Conservative ones who are starting to doubt Harper a little bit, the Green campaign doesnâ€™t seem as strong and the Liberals arenâ€™t running seriously in the riding. With that close of an election last time, that is all it could take.
- Incumbent: Brad Trost (this is his MP website, I canâ€™t find a campaign site) won with 53.8% of the vote.
- Challenger: Denise Kouri. NDP won 27.9% of the vote in 2008.
- Donâ€™t count out: Darren Hill. Liberals won 12.0% of the vote in 2008.
- Taking one for the team: Sandra Finley who in addition to running for the Green Party is also campaigning for the arrest of George W. Bush.
- Feel free to ignore: Jim Pankiw: Every campaign needs a sideshow and Jim Pankiwâ€™s campaign is exactly that. When he announced his political comeback in 2010, his press conference was so bizarre that one of the reporters asked him if he was sober. Pankiw refused to answer.
What to Expect: The wildcard in this riding is Darren Hill, a popular city councillor for Ward 1. He is running very aggressively for the Liberals and has been for some time. That being said the Liberals have run former mayor Henry Dayday, former NDP MP and provincial cabinet minister Chris Axworthy (who had won that riding in the past), and city councillor Tiffany Paulsen and they all lost soundly. His campaign isnâ€™t helped by the disappearance of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party which seems to be running to the right when it is running. In the end I expect that Darren Hill and Denise Kouri will split enough votes that Trost will win again. The vote swing is just too great.
- Incumbent: Maurice Vellacott (2008 campaign website) won with 56.50% of the vote and spent very little money in the process.
- Taking it for the team: Everyone else. Patricia Zipchen (Liberal had 12.39% in 2008), John Parry (NDP had 24.36% of the vote in 2008), Mark Bigland-Pritchard (Green took 6.73% of the vote in 2008). No one else has a chance of winning this seat. The Liberals have twice run Chris Axworthy while the NDP tried former mayor Jim Madden. Both increased the vote total but neither made a serious challenge at Vellacott. While Vellacottâ€™s big vote totals suprise many, his social conservatism appeal to the very motivated rural voters in the riding and the partyâ€™s positions appeal to the largely upper middle class suburban voters.
What to Expect: While this riding has switched to the NDP in the past (Ray Hnatyshyn lost in 1988 to Chris Axworthy), it has been redistributed to the point where the traditional NDP areas have moved to Saskatoon Rosetown Biggar and the traditionally Conservative polls were left in Saskatoon Waneskewin. This means that Vellacott will win big, continue to add to his MP pension, say a couple of controversial things, and rest comfortably on the backbenches of Canadaâ€™s Parliament.
- Incumbent: Lynne Yelich (Won with 54.0% of the vote)
- Main Challenger: Darien Moore
- Taking it for the team: Deb Walker and Shawn Setyo
What to Expect: Lynne Yelich will win without breaking a sweat. She is well liked both in the city and in rural areas and is a dark horse candidate for cabinet if the Tories win again.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.