Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Crazy Day in Politics

Today was one of those rare day in politics where something has been going on at every level of government.

Municipal --
When Mayor Miller failed to get his new taxes approved by city council, his followers retaliated by suggesting a whole bunch of cost cutting measures to help balance the books. The proposal to close the Sheppard subway line was replaced by a $0.15/fare increase and $4 metro pass increase to preserve service.

Another cut was to close all 150 community centres on Mondays. In the past week or so there have been attempts to block this plan by various city councillors because it has not been approved by council. Today the plan went into effect and residents learned how this idea seems to be more vengeful for not getting the tax increases, then a practical cost cutting measure.

The buildings are closed. The lights are on and all full time workers are still reporting to work. Only the part time staff are being cut on days when the centres are closed. These savings are off set by the loss of revenue from the programs that are unable to run. I really hope city council can stop acting like children and get the budget under control in a fair and reasonable manor. I have my doubts.

Provincial --
Faith based school funding remained a hot issue in the election. In the early days of the election McGuinty was criticized for attacking faith based schools in a public elementary school down the block from the Catholic high school he attended. Today he went to a Catholic High School and once again declared the 'threat' that funding faith based schools posed. In response to being a hypocrite he said that as Premier he has supported policies (gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion) that goes against Catholic teachings. Once again the Premier demonstrated that he feels Catholics have some special ability to integrate into society that other religious groups don't have.

Federal --
Stephan Dion had been complaining that Stephen Harper waited the full 6 months he was allowed to call by elections in Quebec. He accused the Conservatives of being afraid to face the voters. It appears that the voters are afraid of him.

Two of the ridings are BQ strong holds. The Conservatives have successfully taken one riding while the Bloc has maintained control in the other riding. This is a major victory for the Conservatives.

The most important riding is Outremont. This is considered the safest Liberal riding in the entire country. The Liberals have lost it only once since 1935 prior to tonight. The Liberals ran a high profile star candidate hand picked by Stephane Dion and condemned by B'nai Brith. The NDP have taken this riding rather convincingly. It is only the second time ever the NDP have ever one a seat in Quebec.

This may only be a by election which does not necessarily reflect the outcome if there were to be a general election. The implications are huge. The NDP have now established an outpost where they can try to legitimately win seats in Quebec. It is another stinging blow to Stephane Dion's leadership. There is no way that he will be able to bring down the government in the fall. I am sure Harper will use this to rub some more salt into his wounds as the Liberals will be forced to accept a thrown speech they don't like. It also creates more doubts for the Liberals of their leader's ability to ever win an election. Dion may become only the 3rd Liberal leader since confederation not to become Prime Minister.