Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NO SHRINKING VIOLET: MULCAIR'S NEW STREET CREDIBILITY.

I suspect that who ever leaked the details of Thomas Mulcair's flirt with the Conservative Party (a decade ago) as an environmental policy adviser did not intend to offer the former Quebec Liberal Environment Minister  - turned Federal New Democrat - street credibility.

It is hard to label a guy as a Marxist bogeyman or a Hugo Chavez when the Conservatives thought he was worth securing. They tried and the overtures failed. Keep in mind this all per-dated his entrance to federal politics.

A few years ago the New Democrats purged their  constitution of references to socialism. The paranoia of communist/socialism retarded the growth of the NDP for decades. 

The long held "truisms" about the socialists who have no business savvy,that want to rob the rich and the middle class and transfer that wealth to the lazy - holds little credibility anymore. It is a much harder sell except to the zealously convicted.

So the tactic of revealing that Mulcair is a wolf in lambs clothing, complete with confirmations from disgraced Conservative organizer Dimitri Soudas, has really backfired.

The issue is not one of being tarred with an ideology, that battle was fought when Jack Layton became NDP leader. 

The issue for Canadians was the fear of NDP economics. That fear will be greatly dissipated by this revelation. It may even allow the NDP to eat away at more traditional Conservative support.

The "leak" does more to cement Mulcair's credentials as a big tent thinker than undermine his credibility as a less than true disciple to socialism.

I wonder what other surprises Eve Adams/Soudas have to divulge as the election date gets closer.  

In the meantime, Poll after poll seems to indicate that the NDP are gaining at the expense of both the Liberals and the Conservatives. 

The NDP are first in first place heading into the pre-election summer period. 

ThreeHundredEight.com is showing some interesting projections based on recent polls up to June 29th - 113-140 NDP seats is nothing to sneeze at.

When you mix orange an blue, the result is violet. Thomas Mulcair is no shrinking violet!.

 


 







STOP THE HYPOCRISY: LEGALIZE CANNABIS

My position on the legalization of cannabis  has evolved over the years to the point where I think legalization would generate tax revenue and economic opportunities while reducing drug enforcement costs.

Like many people, I feel should be a controlled substance like alcohol. It is high time we created a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities. Regulation would be created for regulating security, labeling, and health and safety requirements. Government could establish a wholesale excise tax and a special sales tax on retail sales to consumers. The sale and procession of marijuana would be limited to those who could legally purchase alcohol. 

Support for this concept is gowning, as the public realizes the hypocrisy of prohibiting the sale of marijuana while selling alcohol remains legal. Canada outlawed cannabis in 1923, giving it the same status as opium and other narcotics. Non-medical users of pot are,by law, criminals. Does that make any sense anymore? 
 
The LeDain Royal Commission reports of the early 1970's concluded that the criminalization of cannabis had no scientific basis, but its use by adolescents should be discouraged.  , “Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy”: by the Canadian Senate stated that “Early drug legislation was largely based on a moral panic, racist sentiment and a notorious absence of debate.”


The coalition of drug policy experts, affiliated with the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction at Simon Fraser University concludes that “Prohibition abdicated responsibility for regulating drug markets to organized crime and abandons public health measures like age restrictions and dosing controls.”


Scientific, based in decades of data and research shows that Marijuana is not the evil doer that it is made out to be.  It is less toxic than tobacco or alcohol. It is not physically addictive (however there are studies that show psychological addictions). Decades of study from the experiences of the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy and Spain show that there is no correlation between using pot and moving on to harder drugs.

Would laws allowing for the sale and regulation of marijuana cause a collapse of the social order?  Would public safety and health be at risk? 

Look at the success of the anti-smoking campaigns and the decline in smoking amongst teenage

Criminal gangs and their ilk do not care about the age of consumers. They do not care about your health or safety? They do not care about contaminants or additives! 

I think not.

Like alcohol and smoking, research shows that pot can have a negative impact on adolescent at a formative time in their mental, social and physical development. So lets limit and regulate its use. Apply the same rules and expectations for the consumption of alcohol, which is less safe and widely abused.

Than there is the cost of this war on drugs - particularly marijuana. It is applied unevenly and unfairly. It is also very ineffective and expensive.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has shown that 94% of the cost to society of marijuana use the result of the prohibition. What waste of police resources.


End the hypocrisy, establish the ground rules and lets move on.





NOMINATION UPSETS A NECESSARY EVIL

Loosing a job, getting a divorce, loosing a bet - it is no fun to be on the receiving end of rejection.

Incumbent MHAs rarely face nominations. These infrequent challenges make them all the more interesting when they occur.  Liberal nominations are hot commodities at the moment because for many they are tantamount to a ticket to the Legislature.

It must be pretty humbling to tumble from being a MHA - with a pretty much guaranteed re-election only months away-  to a MHA rejected by your own party to carry it's banner in the next election. 

That is what happened to the Liberal incumbent MHA Rex Hillier when Steve Porter won the confidence of local Liberals to become the Liberal candidate for Conception Bay South in the 2015 General Election.

Is it a case of being weighed and found wanting or Ill preparedness in a very competitive race? It is a battle for the heart and soul of the local party. Folks only get to carry the name of a party on the ballot if they are endorsed by that party through a nomination process.


For a minute, lets forget the players and the personalities - what happened? 
So many tools, so much of strategic advantage - including the shortest nomination call to vote in history! How does a Liberal MHA with all advantages of incumbency lose? Among those advantages are name recognition, a track record, organized database of supporters and people you have helped, a supportive district association, a campaign team, the public face of the party in a particular riding and normally the loyalty of the rank-and-file Liberals.

Simply putt, the incumbent was out-hustled and out-organized in a race he and his staff knew was coming. They underestimated the competition or overestimated their own strength  - or a combination of both.

Steve Porter wanted a rematch for the Liberal nomination,(he had lost by less than 40 votes last time around in 2014)  he was prepared and when the time came he was ready, organized and executed his campaign with precision.

Frankly, it was the voters of CBS that elected Hillier to the House of Assembly,  not a hand-full of Liberals. He had the legitimate support of the majority of CBS in a by-election held just last Fall, but could not hustle up the votes needed to keep the job. It can be a bit confusing for the outside observer. Open Nominations are just that, wide open - even more so when sign-up cutoffs are not at play.

The nomination is like any other political contest for one job - it is a zero sum game - only winners and losers. There is no award for most congenial, most well liked or most qualified. 


The folks the party green lights as candidates have to win a nomination, no different than the contest for a presidential nomination or a class president. No one wants to be second - they are instantly yesterday's man. 

The gauntlet of winning a nomination is the basic touchstone of any campaign. If you can not win the nod from the local party supporters - you are not likely to win the seat in the electoral contest.

Normally, party nominations do not gather a huge turnout, except in particularly competitive areas. They can be energetic and divisive. This is grassroots politics where you and I can really have a say.

Run,  or get involved in a campaign for a candidate you feel confident will not become a partisan zombie when they become elected. 


If your fed up with the representation you have, get engaged and throw the bum out! if you can drag 500 people out to a Liberal - or a PC or a NDP nomination, you can pretty much win any contest. If that nomination is Liberal chances are a nomination pretty much guarantees a seat in the House of Commons.. All you have to do is be green lit, organized and determined and pay the nomination fee.

This process proves that politicians can not take a re-nomination for granted.

It is not often that all of the status and power are in the hands of so few! 


The more competition the better.








THE CHURCH & POPE FRANCIS

I really had not given much thought to it but it is becoming increasingly evident that the Roman Catholic Church is sitting on a tectonic plates that are building up a lot of pressure.

Over a year ago The Atlantic's former Editor Ross Douthat, wrote a column where he asked a question, " Will Pope Francis Break the Church?". At the time I thought it was an alarmist article, that even Conservative Catholics had to accept that the church was out-of-touch and needed a serious re-boot to remain relevant.

Pope Francis has been more successful with this robot than J.J Abrams has with Star Wars and Star Trek, but as Abrams knows it is the orthodox fans that are often the hardest to get buy-in from. After all, it is called that Roman Catholic Church for a reason -  The head of the church, its orthodox servants and Conservative Synod are located in Vatican City - Rome.

For the first time the Vatican is run by a Jesuit who has evoked the memory of St. Francis of Assisi who challenged ecclesiastical excess and championed charity, social and environmental justice. Like Christ who booted the merchants  out of the Temple, Pope Francis has challenged the this generation long orthodoxy. He insists on simplicity and frugality,  has purging corrupt officials within the Vatican Bank, demoted lavish and conservative prelates and decried ostentatious displays..

He is also the first to be elected as  Bishop of Rome from outside of Europe. He is an outsider who commands respect through his actions and his words. The respect he commands is as much from world leaders, other churches and atheists as it is from Roman Catholics.

Rugged social conservatives like Saint John Paul II managed to fight off the left wing liberals in the church over the past fifty years. They have ensured that the orthodoxy continued by stuffing the College of Cardinals with conservatives to ensure medieval-minded conservative types stay in control of the leadership. They are obsessed with Dogma, have disdain for change and have no time for reactionaries - let a lone a revolutionary like Pope Francis.

Now we have a progressive pope wearing the shoes of St. Peter who is determined to bring the church back to a mission of charity and mercy as opposed to judgement and scorn.  The church is a living body that needs to evolve and remain relevant to society.  The Roman Catholic Church has failed in it's potential to stand up to multi-nationals, corrupted first world powers and right wing Climate Change deniers.

I only hope that Pope Francis has the health, longevity and strength to finish his mission before the Conservative orthodoxy smothers this righteous movement which I believe could be the key to a glorious age of peace.

WE GET THE POLITICS WE DESERVE

Former Ontario NDP Premier  MP, interim Liberal Party Leader  and Federal Liberal Leadership Candidate Bob Rae is sharing his reflections on the cut-and-thrust in a new memoir. 

"What's Happened to Politics" is due in stores in August. 

Bob Rae was elected eleven times to the House of Commons and the Ontario legislature between 1978 and 2013.

Wayne Kondro of iPolitcs offers a pre-release book review of Rae's damnation of our political system which has eroded democracy and the role of individual Members of Parliament.

The last real good book that I read. which  provided a good glimpse of how Ottawa really works, was written by Prime Minister Chretien;s Machiavelli. the ultimate political insider Eddie Goldenberg. 

" The Way It Works " may be ten years old, but it is a manual on the art of Canadian politics. It is revealing, honest and pointed.

Rae joins his former leader Micheal Ignatieff is offering comments about what is broken in Ottawa and how it may be fixed. Is anyone listening to former politicians - who failed to address the issues when they were in a position to do so?

An academic, politician, leader who now teaches at the University of Toronto School of Governance and Public Policy, Bob Rae is not a naive observer or green participant in the process and mechanics of real politics. 

I have pre-ordered my copy because I respect what Rae has to say and think Liberals made a mistake not selecting him as leader in light of the party's failure to unite the left and center. 









Monday, June 29, 2015

THE GAME OF 72

Is it just me or has the volume of missing teens in the metro region gone up? We often hear news reports calling for assistance in locating missing adolescents but rarely hear about the outcome of the search. Sometimes we hear that the person has been located, but most of the time the public never hears about the resolution.

Over the last few months, I have noticed a spike in these type of cases for males and female. Kids missing for a couple of days at a time and it got me wondering if some teenagers in the metro region are picking up on a dangerous viral prank that urges kids to disappear for 72 hours (3 days). The more spectacular the fuss, the bigger the win.

Is this a case of reaping what we sow? Is this depths to which some kids will go to get their parents attention?

Police in major cities across the United States have been warning parents about the social media spawned "game" that has increased the workloads of busy investigators. It seems to have oroginated  in Europe with the disappearance of some teens in England and France and has made its way across the Atlantic.

Social media has an incredible influence on our kids. Video shared on YouTube, Facebook and other mediums can influence what some see as normal or introduce fads.

The Neknomination drinking game, which coaxes kids to chug hard alcohol in front of a video camera, has resulted in several deaths in North America and abroad.

Just chat with your kids about these "games" and monitor what they are viewing. I think it is important to let them know the outcomes which include charges and possibly taking police resources away from cases where kids have been snatched.

As I tell my boys "Be careful when following the Masses, most often the M is silent"