Tag Archives: Politics

Toronto Star endorses the NDP #elxn41

Posted on April 30, 2011 by

Toronto Star endorses the NDP

While I prefer – and vote – a more centrist government approach (read Liberal), I have to agree with this opinion that the Liberal party have not been able to connect with voters *again* this time around. There are reservations across the country about their internal workings and a general belief they haven’t finished “cleaning house”. This has worried me throughout this election, because in my mind, Stephen Harper was a lame duck Prime Minister and his Conservative government should have easily been knocked out of power. But the Liberals just weren’t doing it.

Given that scenario, and despite the fact it does not change my voting decision in this election (the NDP has no chance of unseating the local Conservative MP, only the Liberal candidate has a shot), I can’t say I am upset by another, viable federal alternative to the right-wing leadership that has been marauding and vivisecting Canada from the PMO for the past 5 years. This may even be the catalyst needed to finally convince the old-boy network in the Liberal party to talk with the NDP about a formal merger of the two parties, much like the decimation and vote-splitting of the right forced the Progressive Conservatives to merge and become the Conservative Reform/Alliance Party (with an acronym like ‘CRAP’, you can see why they just went with ‘Conservative‘…). A resulting Liberal/NDP merged party should lie somewhere around the political spectrum of the Liberal Democrats of the UK. Still a little too left-wing for me, but definitely more palatable than a right-wing party.

As a former idealist (read NDP supporter), I honestly never thought I would see the day the NDP would be anything other than the ‘other’ party – albeit the ‘other party’ that had all the great ideas that have given Canada most of its best policies – and a great conscience while holding the balance of power in minority governments… In truth, they are a bit too idealistic for me and very naive, but some time with actual responsibility in Ottawa – potentially as the official opposition – instead of blind promises will likely temper that quickly.

At the start of this election, I predicted a Conservative minority, with the subsequent eviction of the three main party leaders, and possibly even Duceppe. I believe that would finally give Canada fresh, new faces at the helm. But Jack Layton’s surge seems likely to cement him in position for a while yet. I stand by my predictions on Harper and Ignatieff getting axed in the event of a Conservative minority, and I now add a more confident prediction that Duceppe will definitely get dumped after this election.

If this actually translates into votes on Monday – and not cause vote-splitting that hands Stephen Harper a majority – this election could indeed be historic. Another bonus? A federal surge for the NDP might also finally convince them that after 50 years, they no longer need the ‘New’ in their party name… 🙂


Fair Trade

Posted on December 31, 2010 by

fairtrade.pngFair trade is a huge business these days. How huge? Well, this 2007 article in the NY Times titled “Fair Trade in Bloom” puts the world-wide coffee industry at about $2.2 billion for 2006, while this article, Fair Trade Popularity Grows in 2009, puts the world-wide sales of fair trade products at €3.4 billion (about $4.5 billion).

As great as these figures may look on the outside, I am not necessarily a proponent of fair trade any more than I am a proponent of “Certified Organic” in their current forms. I am a huge supporter of the ideology behind what fair trade represents – “concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers” and does “not maximize profit at their expense.” However, they have become a commodity to be pandered and marketed, instead of an ideal.

My reasons? I do not agree with the “best price wins/big dog-eat-little dog/WalMartization of life” model that currently exists in our capitalist economy. Currently, multinational corporations control most of the economic activity, and they lobby for a completely “free market” economy without government intervention and regulation, whine about paying local taxes, and race toward the bottom of the price and quality barrel.

Currently, “capitalism” tends to be controlled more and more by less and less very prosperous people, many of whom spend millions trying to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Worse, too many of them did nothing to earn what they own and were simply born into a wealthy family, joining the royals and other undeserving elites in the “Lucky Sperm Club.”

Also, we are not currently paying the true cost of what we buy these days. The true costs would include transportation costs (currently cheap because of subsidized oil and gas) and environmental costs (we currently do not pay anywhere near enough to cover environmental costs associated with production and recycling, and much of the junk we buy ends up untreated in a landfill). This isn’t right, and there will be a day of reckoning.

In my Utopian brain, I see properly implemented capitalism as an incentive to move along one boulevard that is only one road to travel in our journey through life that leads toward more overall prosperity and happiness for everyone. Call me a dreamer.


Mandatory census change will hurt survey #nbpoli #canpoli

Posted on December 30, 2010 by

telegraphjournal.com – Census change will hurt survey | New Brunswick, Canada.

“The information collected by this form is playing a critical role in mobilizing citizens and organizations to tackle issues in their local communities – bringing philanthropic, voluntary and corporate resources to the table to address some of our communities’ most pressing problems,” the letter said.
Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have ideas that seem to pander to their core supporters they would like to implement. Unfortunately, these ideas are based on ideology that is not backed up by statistics (i.e. increase in prisons while overall crime rate is actually dropping). By removing the mandatory census, it allows them to cast doubt on the statistics they already don’t (can’t?) read…

Do we really need more prisons, or do we want the ‘American Dream’?

Posted on October 26, 2010 by

Crime is down in Canada, and gun-related murders are down as well. This is probably why our prison-loving Prime Minister wants to scrap Statistics Canada’s tools. Who will believe him when he says we need to spend billions on new prisons for putting imaginary criminals away???

We should all be happy for what we have in Canada and fight to keep it this way. Our higher taxes pay for social services, treatments, education, and effective policing programs that actually reduce crime, not just prisons to lock away the bad guys.

As an idea, let’s compare our national murder rate with that of some of our lesser-taxed, Southern neighbour’s states with comparable populations:

2009 Murder Rates

Canada (whole country)


Total Murders: 548 (all types, 179 were gun related)

Stat: 1 murder per 62,000 people

(data: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/10/26/homicide-rate.html)

Notes: Manitoba was the deadliest province in Canada in 2009 for the third year running

United States


Population: 36,961,664

Total Murders: 1,972

Stat: 1 murder per 18,700 people

(data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009)


Population: 18,537,969

Total Murders: 1,017

Stat: 1 murder per 18,200 people

(data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009)

New York

Population: 19,541,453

Total Murders: 778

Stat: 1 murder per 25,000 people (quite safe by US standards)

(data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009)


Population: 12,604,767

Total Murders: 661

Stat: 1 murders per 19,000 people

(data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009)


Why we truly need electoral reform #nbvotes

Posted on September 28, 2010 by

There are 55 seats in the New Brunswick Legislature. Currently these seats are determined by a first-past-the-post system in 55 ridings, rather than a more fair and inclusive system.

The results of the provincial election last night were a perfect example of the skewing that occurs in this medieval system.

Here’s the results:

49% of the province voted PC, yet they received 76% of the seats (42). 49% should represent the wishes of 49% of the population, or 27 seats.

35% of the province voted Liberal, yet they received only 24% of the seats (13). 35% should represent the wishes of 35% of the population, or 19 seats.

10% of the province voted NDP, yet they received 0 seats and no voice. 10% should represent 5 or 6 seats, not 0.

4.6% voted Green, yet they received 0 seats and no voice. 4.6% should represent 2 or 3 seats, not 0.

Another ~1.5% voted ‘Other’ and received no voice. 1.5% represents .85% of a seat.This one is a 0 seat and  probably should stay that way, but there are 8 seats out of 55 missing from above.

I understand that “this is the way it has always been done” is a great excuse for not changing. It has been used by Luddites for many years. But that doesn’t make it right.

The environmentally minded, the poor, the sick, the unionized, and many other groups are basically ignored or paid lip service by the major parties because they have no true representation. While I agree that these smaller parties are unlikely to form a government and run the province on a daily basis any time soon (although the NDP is doing a decent job in Nova Scotia and Manitoba right now and have run Ontario and other Western provinces before), they represent the interests of many people who took the time to vote and who have basically been shut out by an archaic system. These groups have great ideas and policies that should at least be at the table for discussion.

Yes, there are flaws in a proportional system as well, but you can’t tell me that a province with a population that barely qualifies as a large municipality in many parts of this country can’t come up with a way of using regional, proportional representation to ensure everyone’s vote counts.

Those who argue that a majority is the only way to get anything done forget Universal Health Care and Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, Worker’s Compensation, Children’s Allowance, and most of the other things that make Canada the great place it is today. These were all mainly done by minority governments who were forced by virtue of that minority to work together in a civilized manner. That type of civility and diplomacy is what is missing in our current adversarial style of government in Fredericton and particularly in Ottawa.

My solution? When I am Benevolent Dictator of Canada, I will tear up all the Legislatures (and Parliament for that matter), and replace them with a horseshoe or circle formation designed for discussion instead of insult-tossing, to create an atmosphere where respect and civility rule, whoever is speaking is the only one with the floor, hecklers are evicted for being morons, and everyone has at least a chance to be represented by way of some form of proportional representation.

How do we achieve this proportional system? We might even use a mixed system that resembles the ward and at-large system in use in Saint John. Even better, for inspiration, take a look at Nunavut. They basically banned political parties in their legislature and run as a consensus government. What a great idea!

In any case, our system is not fair, nor is it inclusive. There is always room for improvement. While this particular election saw an increase in voter turnout *(see note below), the trend is dropping as more people feel their votes don’t count.

NOTE: It turns out this statement was not accurate. The voter turnout was a higher % of the voters list, but the voter’s list had fewer people on it than last time and less people actually voted. In the last election, there were 377,247 ballots cast, which represented 67.5% of eligible voters, while in this election,there were 372,502 ballots cast, which represented 71.5% of the eligible voters.  Two possible reasons – inaccurate voter’s lists or population decrease. In any case, the actual number of votes cast is the lowest in New Brunswick since 1978.


Promises, promises… #nbvotes

Posted on September 22, 2010 by

I was a bit fuzzy on the poll numbers (they added up to about 124% at first count…) until I read that the figures for the parties were percentage of decided voters. Right now, depending on which poll you follow and the day, NB Progressive Conservatives (yes, we do still have a few with a little ‘Progressive’ left in them here in our provincial politics…) have between 42% and 48%, NB Liberals have between 36% and 38%, NB NDP has 9% or 10%, NB Green Party has 5%, and the People’s Alliance of NB Party sits at about 0% or 1% of the 60% of the population who are decided.

Of course, this means there are still 40% of the entire population who are undecided… (I am one of that 40%), which means anything could happen on election day once people are in the ballot box.

Some pollsters think many of the undecided are those who might normally vote Liberal but are unhappy with the way the Liberals have governed for the past four (4) years or just unhappy with Premier Shawn Graham. This leads to the other possibility – an all-time low voter turnout. Most “normal” (i.e. not party-affiliated) people I have heard talking are simply not happy with the choices they have been given, and Elections Canada and the provinces don’t have the backbone to put "None of the Above" on the ballots, probably because they are afraid it would win in many ridings, particularly in this election… 😉

Personally, I hope we get a minority with a couple of NDP seats and maybe a Green holding the balance of power. Unlike “Dear Leader” PM Harper in Ottawa, I like minorities, mainly for accountability and to keep government honest. Democracy is a messy business, but worth every bit of the mess. Unfortunately, the NB electorate remains pretty old school and most of the undecided people will keep voting for the two "usual suspects". This despite the fact both of them are promising the world in an effort to "spend our way back to fiscal health".

Neither of them will have any money to keep their promises if they get in, but I guess they figure they can worry about that if they win. The NDP, usually the unrealistic younger sibling, this time are actually the fiscally prudent ones, which is a nice change for them. Brings hope in me for their future, since they represent the needs of a significant portion of society that is mainly ignored or only paid lip service by the other parties.

I was talking with a friend yesterday and my analogy of the two main parties was this:

The endless promises to the public in this election are like them walking into low-rent housing and promising everyone who lives there that they will be approved for credit to buy a 60" TV. They aren’t ensuring the people can pay for it, just promising that they get the credit. The fallout for the purchases won’t be felt until after the election is over, when they can crank up the spin and blame someone else for the mess.


Politics (joke)

Posted on September 15, 2010 by

(an old one, but still a good one!)

A little boy goes to his dad and asks, ‘What is Politics?’

Dad says, ‘Well son, let me try to explain it this way: I am the head of the family, so call me The Prime Minister. Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we call her the Government. We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the People. The nanny, we will consider her the Working Class. And your baby brother, we will call him the Future. Now think about that and see if it makes sense.’

So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said.

Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him.

He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. So the little boy goes to his parent’s room and finds his mother asleep.

Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny’s room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny…

He gives up and goes back to bed.

The next morning, the little boy say’s to his father, ‘Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now. ‘

The father says, ‘Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.’

The little boy replies, ‘The Prime Minister is screwing the Working Class while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep shit.’


Letter to MLAs regarding cell phone ban while driving in New Brunswick

Posted on June 1, 2010 by

The following is a letter to my local politician regarding the lack of a cell phone ban while driving in New Brunswick. Feel free to copy/paste whatever you like from this letter to send your own!


Dear Mr. McIntyre:

I realize that the Legislature is not currently sitting and won’t be in session again until after an election takes place, but I think this topic is worth acting upon immediately.

As a resident of New Brunswick, I find it embarrassing that we are one of only two provinces that have not found it important enough to save our resident’s lives by making the use of a cellular telephone or any electronic device while driving a criminal act.

On January 5, 2010, Public Safety Minister John Foran publicly stated that New Brunswick is “studying” a ban. The following studies have already been done, years ago:

A 2005 study can be found here: http://www.cartest.ca/cell_phones_and_driving_late.htm

A 2006 Utah news article about a study by the University of Utah titled “Drivers on cell phones are as bad as drunks”: http://www.unews.utah.edu/p/?r=062206-1

Here is a PDF overview of the UTAH study findings: http://www.hfes.org/Web/Pubpages/celldrunk.pdf

The complete Utah study can be purchased and downloaded here for $28 + tax: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hfes/hf/2006/00000048/00000002/art00014

Some articles from Canada that suggest even hands-free devices are not safe: http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2009/07/21/cellphone-driving.html

This 2010 study in New York found that bans on handheld device use in densely populated areas caused a reduction, often dramatic, in accidents and fatalities: http://scienceblog.com/29826/study-cell-phone-bans-while-driving-have-more-impact-in-dense-urban-areas/

There is no more need for more studies. They have been done and the results are clear. What is needed now is effective leadership and fast action. Every day that is lost has the potential to cost more lives.

A group of Saint John High School Film Study students created the following video in a plea to try and convince young people to stop driving and texting. I suggest this video is in response to their frustration at a government they see as not doing its job.


Thank you for considering this message and I hope to hear of you championing it as part of your legacy to the people of New Brunswick.


Chris London


The email and mailing address for all NB MLAs can be found here: http://app.infoaa.7700.gnb.ca/gnb/pub/ListMLA1.asp

If you send an email to any or all MLAs, I recommend you also send a letter to them to ensure they officially respond that they have received your letter. Email correspondence often isn’t taken as seriously as a letter.