Posts Tagged ‘Harper

Incremental reform

- January 10th, 2012

Senate
Prime Minister Stephen Harper sure had the opposition in a tizzy this week with the announcement of more appointments to the Senate.

And considering his record of pushing for Senate reform, the notion that by 2015, 62 Senators will be Harper apointees leaves a lot of mouths agape. But the problem with Harper’s predicament is that until there is actual reform, we’re stuck with him appointing members to the Senate.

It’s a positive sign, regardless of the fact Alberta’s Ed Stelmach government unilaterally extended the terms of Senators-in-waiting by cancelling the last round of votes, that Harper did appoint Progressive Conservative Betty Unger, who was chosen in 2004.

Now, if only the other provinces would get on board. At the very least, we’d have have a Senate that represented the wishes of the people and not necessarily “party hacks,” as the opposition would say. And, maybe, if only a portion of provinces outside of Alberta started holding elections, others may be forced into talks about wholesale Senate reform.

If that were the case, it would be nice to see a levelling of the playing field in terms of the geographic makeup of the body.

We don’t have to be stuck with so-called “party hacks.” We can have a truly democratic body that isn’t made up of entitled cronies who serve for decades with little or no accountability.

And the fact that this discussion comes up every time Harper makes a patronage appointment shows that Canadians are truly interested in change.

Dave’s faves

- April 3rd, 2011

As best I can, I’m hoping to make this a weekly feature, running down my favourite stories of the past few days. And no, despite my massive ego, I won’t include my Monday columns.

1. Another delay for Peace Bridge: This makes the list more because it has been one of my favourite stories for the last 18 months. But it stands to serve as a reminder of what can happen when bureaucrats and politicians get hung up on pet projects.

2. Alleged Twitchell victim recounts fight for his life: I could have picked any of the stories this week, and if you go looking for them, you can find the rest. Counting this as a favourite may make me a bit of a ghoul, but the Twitchell trial has all the elements of a compelling, yet disturbing, court/crime story.

3. Man of Steel won’t fly in Alberta: Look, I know it’s not an earth-shattering story, but the film business is big business in Alberta. And a lot of people were banking on Zack Snyder bringing the Man of Steel to our neck of the woods. Plus, our reporters broke the story, and I like promoting our paper’s scoops.

4. Golden handshakes for Bronco staffers: Speaking of scoops, we have Rick Bell digging up documents showing some last-minute severance deals for high level staffers in former mayor Dave Bronconnier’s office. The city’s spin in the follow-up column is just as outrageous.

5. Harper meets YouTube sensation: As far as election stories go, this was pretty much fluff. But in a campaign where the Tories are putting up policy planks cribbed from its budget, called “stillborn” by Parliamentary Bureau Chief David Akin, the Liberals keep talking about red doors and blue doors so much I just want to take a handful of blue Nyquils, and the NDP, Greens and the Bloc are just background noise, images are going to resonate. And you don’t get a better election image than the prime minister at a piano with young Maria Aragon. Seven years ago, had someone said that Harper would be using musical photo ops with children as a way to appear warm and fuzzy I would have slapped them in the face for talking crazy. Sure, it’s crass politics, and exploiting the popularity of young Maria just a wee bit, but I guarantee it’s better than any photo-op Ignatieff, Layton, Duceppe and May will stage before May 2.

Bring on the vote

- March 23rd, 2011

We have all been told many, many times a federal election will cost us hundreds of millions of dollars, and, despite the cost, we will wind up with the same parliament that we already have. Minority, Conservative-led, and loud.

After a lot of thought about it, I’m willing to risk it. Maybe well luck out with change.

We have had nearly seven years of minority parliaments, five of those led by the Conservatives, and while there have been years of compromise, haggling, horse-trading, threats and ultimatums, something was bound to give at some point.

With opposition sharks smelling blood in the water, that point was now.

Our MPs may be political animals bent on survival, but they’re also a couple hundred partisans, with competing interests and ideologically-different bases to appease.

Stephen Harper may have been willing to bend to the wishes of Jack Layton, or Gilles Duceppe to a degree, but it’s not surprising that the prime minister may at some point decide what the opposition wants doesn’t mesh with his government’s vision for the country.

So Harper presents a budget that isn’t all that bad, but isn’t all that great, depending on who you ask, the opposition say they won’t support it and it’s assumed we’re off to the polls in May.

And at the risk of all sorts of hate mail, I’m hoping the projections are wrong, and Harper manages to eke out a majority, if only to see a change in the way business is conducted in Ottawa.

One of two things will happen:

The Conservatives will continue governing as they have been, trying to maintain or gain support in vote-rich Quebec or Ontario and will wind up looking like any other centre-right government.

Or, as we’ve heard so many times over the years, he will unleash a hidden agenda worse than we could ever imagine, becoming our dark lord once and for all — and in the process he’d alienate enough voters to see himself turfed when the next fixed election date rolled around.

It may just be minority fatigue setting in, but I say bring it on.

In the past Harper has talked about bringing change to Ottawa, and if that’s the will of the people and means an end to the current shenanigans, then I’m willing to see where that takes us.

High noon for gun registry

- August 26th, 2010

Scrutiny of the gun registry is nothing new.

The demand by the Conservatives the long-gun registry, at the very least, be scrapped is nothing new either.

Reasoning may have changed, from the former $2-billion boondoggle, to an invasion of privacy, to the failure that it is at preventing most gun crimes.

But the debate is finally coming to a head in September with third reading of a Conservative MP’s private member’s bill which would kill the long-gun registry.

It’s two decades overdue if you ask me, but there still could be hiccups.

The bill passed first and second reading, thanks to the help of votes from some Liberal and NDP MPs.

But that support is in jeopardy, thanks to Grit Leader Michael Ignatieff’s insistence on undemocratically whipping the vote on third reading.

Across the country, battle lines are being drawn, with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police coming out heavily against the scrapping of the long-gun registry.

Two of their big assertions are that 1) rank-and-file members rely on it, and 2) a report shows it has significantly reduced gun crime.

As has already been pointed out, a survey of rank-and-file members shows support for the obtrusive policy isn’t as strong as the chiefs would like to have us believe.

Which brings me to the sharp reduction in gun crime claimed by both an RCMP report and the CACP, which insinuates firearm-related deaths decreased by 43% between 1991 and 2005 because of the registry.

So wait, the CACP point to the decline in gun violence as proof gun registry is working? What about the 4-year-old amnesty for long-gun owners?

The govenrment essentially said long-gun owners get a free pass in 2006, and there hasn’t been a spike in gun violence, as one would expect if the registry was responsible for reducing gun deaths.

And even in Calgary where there’s been a spate of gang killings in recent years no one can claim the deaths had anything to do with the registry existing or not existing.

The registry has done little to help solve these crimes, by tracking a bullet to a gun to an owner, nor has it done anything to prevent any of these murders.

And despite claims its a valuable resource for officers, no one can point to a death prevented because of the gun registry, as was touted some two decades ago.

Even the few million that is spent on the long-gun registry could be better spent trying to tackle that problem.

It’s time to end this debate once and for all.