Saturday, August 30, 2008

Green Party bids to be taken seriously

The only way for a political party to be taken seriously is to have a voice in Parliament. In a desperate attempt to be taken seriously Elizabeth May entered into a truce with Stephane Dion not to run a Liberal MP in her riding of Central Nova against Peter McKay. With the Liberals making their Green Shift a central plank in a pending election, the alliance could further handicap the Green Party from getting into Parliament.

The Green Party has introduced Blair Wilson as their first ever MP. He has a shaking history as he has been sitting as an independant after being forced to leave the Liberal party. His previous election results have been close, meaning it will be a tough ride for the Green Party to keep the seat.

The timing couldn't be better. The Green Party now has a legitimate claim to finally be included in the Leadership debate. Hopefully the media outlets will not try to change the rules to keep them out. Kudos to Elizabeth May. She has finally positioned her party to be taken seriously, in time for an election.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Unfixing, fixed election date

Stephen Harper has been playing all of the cards in order to force an election before the September 8th by-elections. The Governer General trip to the Bejing Paralympics has been cancelled making her available to meet with the Prime Minister. Harper has spent a great deal of time explaining the loophole that would allow him to call an election. He has also spent months campaigning that parliament is broken. Stephane Dion is trying to hold off an election before he has some positive results from a by-election win. Even if they win only one riding (for a net loss of one) he has demonstrated his ability to trump it up as a great Liberal victory.

There are two major downsides to fixed election dates. The first is that the government is still able to manipulate government spending to maximize the benefit of the election date. The second is that this session of parliament is a prime example of when the PM needs to have the power to call an election. Instead of applying the loophole Harper choose to use the situation to embarrass the Liberal party vote after vote.

With the negative consequences of fix election dates, it is ashame that the Conservatives would have an exit plan when the rules were not convenient. There are a number of very important issues at stake in this election. There is a good chance that this turns into a referendum on the Liberal Green Shift plan. If that is the case, how the election was called will be a minor factor in the final results. Should the scenario play out as expected, Harper has once again found the way to use the rules of Parliament to his advantage. He definite deserves credit for being a master strategist on both sides of the House.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm back, Now What?

Now that I am living outside of Israel, I plan on taking this blog a different direction. I will focus on the contrast between Canadian/Israeli political issues. There will probably be more focus on the Federal Government from an ex-pat point of view. Of course there will be focus on local Israeli politics.

I am hoping to keep things interesting for my Canadian readers. A slight change of perspective should provide some interesting new insights into the challenges facing Canadians.

Ontario election fall out

In January 2007 I wrote to Premier McGuinty. I requested that at the upcoming policy convention he adopt a position to fund non-Catholic religious schools. I used his own personal experience to emphaize the value of faith based education. I also pointed out that the Jewish Community is suffering under the financial burden of providing the same type of education, that Catholic families are able to receive without a second thought. I also warned the Premier that this unfairness is causing hard working families to leave Ontario to seek more affordable faith based education.

McGuinty responded, "Our government recognizes that there are many hard-working families who make sacrifices to send their children to faith-based schools. We have the utmost respect for your views and those of other Ontarians who disagree with our government's stance on funding for independent or religious schools. However, we remain deeply committed to restoring confidence in and stability to our public education system." He abandoned his feelings of respect during the election campaign.

10 days ago my family moved to Israel. A factor in the move was the high cost of education. To send my daughter to JK in the Jewish Day School System would be around $4000. That is for one of the cheaper schools. Instead, she can go to SK in a religous Israeli public school for $600.