Sunday, February 22, 2015

Updates (Israel, PEI, Manitoba, Australia)

Within the next 5 weeks there are a number of 'elections' taking place.

We start in the past; this weekend, when the PEI Liberals picked a new leader. Given the ballot only had one name on it, Wade MacLauchlan, it was an easy choice. MacLauchlan will become the Premier of the province tomorrow.

One thing I consider positive is how little I am hearing about how he is gay. PEI has been seem by some as rural and backwards, but they province is will have a gay premier, and not many seem to care.

In the style of PEI politics, he is a moderate, and will likely run a moderate campaign in the coming election.

Opposing him will be the leader of the PC Party; who will be elected at the end of this month.

There are three candidates. Darlene Compton ran in an election once. Rob Lantz was a councillor in Charlottetown for 2 terms.

James Aylward, however, seems to have it locked up. Not only did he perform very well in the 2011 election - Translation; he's popular in his riding - Translation: he's popular - but he has the endorsement of the other two MLAs as well. In addition to this, he has the endorsement of nearly all previous cabinet ministers (who have endorsed someone) leaving only one to endorse someone else (Lantz)

Disclosure: I know that cabinet minister as an acquaintance.

Aylward will almost certainly win. While I don't know much about him, he also seems to be a moderate.

The likely result of the next PEI election is 20 to 25 seats for the Liberals, 1 to 7 for the Tories, and perhaps a gain of one seat by the NDP or Greens or someone else.

The following weekend, the Manitoba NDP elects it's leader, and Premier. While it is not the only thing he tweets about, Earl Washburn posts maps and delegate counts. As of the last update, Selinger is leading 272 to 232 against Oswald, with Ashton at 202. Selinger is also expected to have strong support within the union vote.

At the end of March is state level elections in New South Wales, Australia.

Like Queensland, 4 years ago, an election tossed a Labor government out and elected the Coalition.

Like Queensland, that election 4 years ago saw Labor defeated very very heavily.

Unlike Queensland, polls say the coalition should be able to hold on. The last 2PP was 53% to 47% and this was after Queensland and the Abbott troubles. This indicates there is some support for re-electing the existing government.

The end result is likely to be somewhat in the area of 50 seats for the coalition and 40 for Labor with the possibility of a wider gap.

Last is Israel. They hold elections on the 17th of March, St. Patrick's Day. The most recent news is the "green" parties are doing well.

That is, the rookie or new parties. The Joint (Arab) List is stable if not growing, while Koolanu has also found it's niche, and Yachad (an alliance of far-right and hyper-religious members) is on track to win seats.

Due to an announcement from the President about how he plans to decide who to ask (first) to form government, this election is seen as a race between various potential coalitions.

Likud stands at around 24, while Jewish Home, their best 'ally' stands at 13.

Labour - part of the Zionist Union (or Union) - stands at 24. Their best ally is Yesh Atid at 11.

After that is gets complicated

The Joint List, which is between 12 and 13, will block any attempts to create a Likud government. What is interesting is a poll taken of Arab voters in Israel showing that a full 58% of Arab voters want the Joint List to sit in coalition.

On the flip side is Shas and the UTJ, two ultra-orthodox parties. While they have worked with Labour before and could do so again, they are much closer to Likud. They stand at a combined 14.

There is also the matter of Yachad (at 4 seats) and Meretz (at 6) who have their own natural right or left allies.

This places these two "alliances" at 55 (right) to 53 (left)

In the "Middle" sits two more parties. Yisrael Beiteinu is considered by some to be a 'moderate' party. Frankly, I don't see it. They seem, for lack of a better term, populist to a degree. Despite that, given how the election is shaping up, they best fit the definition of a "middle" party in this specific instance. They sit at 6 seats.

Last, but not least, is Koolanu, at 8. I've spoken on their kingmaker role before, and it still seems that this will determine the final election result. The general and unspoken consensus seems to be they will side with Netanyahu, and thus will re-elect, by in large, the existing government.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

There Is No Debate Over Vaccine Safety, Full Stop.

I have Google Alerts for practically everything under the sun that currently interests me, including right now for "vaccines" in Canada. As you can imagine, I've been getting multiple hits lately over that subject.

Tonight, this opinion letter from a woman in Bolton in the online version of the Caledon Enterprise popped in my inbox, and I just about flipped my lid:
Re: The editorial You owe it to your kids to get them vaccinated. (Headlined "Vaccines are Safe. No question." in the print edition.) 

Sorry but I think there is a question as to whether or not all childhood vaccines are safe or were safe.  A friend of mine with twin autistic daughters places the blame 100 per cent on a vaccine.  I cannot argue with him.  Given our history of environmental miscues, whether thalidomide, DDT, Carbon Dioxide, Environmental Estrogens, and on and on, it is difficult for any educated person to take the government’s word on anything to do with health. 

It is simply not good enough for one to ask well then “what causes autism?” and hear “We don’t know”. What causes all these new peanut allergies?  “We don’t know”.  In the absence of governments doing their job of identifying the environmental causes exactly, then a parent’s judgement is as good as anything else.  I myself, being a student of history and therefore having a mistrust of the health system - and after having relatively low birthweight children, waited until the last possible moment to vaccinate, in order that my kids mature as much as possible before subjecting their tiny bodies to these chemicals (especially those containing mercury).  

In this day and age with our ability to collect and process data around the world, we ought to be able to do much better than “we don’t know”.  That just isn’t good enough. 
The above, I caution, is absolutely 100% unequivocally wrong in almost every aspect imaginable. I'm writing up a letter to the Caledon Enterprise in response, however I'm not from the area and the paper did have an excellent article that the above author was responding to, so I can't guarantee it will be published - I will post it on this blog however. I really just wanted to point out how hard it is to believe someone in this day and age could be so ignorant of the facts behind an issue as important as the health of their children - and then promote willful ignorance to the rest of us. Its irresponsible.

However, if you think the above is bad, I remind you that its just an opinion letter in a local newspaper. This headline came out of the Ottawa Sun, part of the nationally networked Sun Media chain, now owned by Postmedia:

The great vaccination debate rages
An outbreak of measles across the country for the age-old debate over vaccinating our children to heat up.

Ottawa so far hasn't reported a single case of measles during this most-recent outbreak, but vaxxers and anti-vaxxers are weighing in.

.... A local mother of two daughters under the age of three has strong feelings about the idea.
She has asked to remain anonymous because of the current backlash towards anti-vaxxers.

She fears coming out will have negative repercussions on her family.

"I would tell those parents we are not part of a herd," said the mother.

"We are rational, intelligent human beings who can make informed decisions on how to obtain and maintain a healthy lifestyle."

She said the decision not to vaccinate her daughters didn't come easily.

"Countless hours over the last four years have been spent reading extensive research that led to our decision not to vaccinate our children at this time."

The woman said some of the factors considered in their decision were the ingredients in the vaccines, the motives and ethics of pharmaceutical companies producing them, side effects, and the possibility of creating mutant strains of viruses that cannot be easily treated.

"There will always be people who disagree with your parenting choices," she said.

"Controversy means that there is simply more to the story," she added.

Are you kidding me, Ottawa Sun and author Sophie Desrosiers?

Let me say this clearly, right now: there is no debate over the effectiveness or safety of vaccines among scientists and health professionals. No. Debate.

That means there is nothing to "rage" about, unless you consider the uninformed opinions of a few parents and the outright crankery of anti-vaccination promoters. I know you want to give everyone their say, assembled Canadian media reading this blog post, but its irresponsible. People need to realize right now that people, young and old, will die because of the promotion of these types of views, even the acknowledgement of there being a "controversy" where there is none, except among those that honestly don't seem to know any better.

There should be no quarter given to those that promote these sorts of views, no quarter. While I know the vast majority of people and media have done a good job showing how the anti-vaxxer arguments are invalid, we need to take it one step further. Don't give these people platforms if you can help it, and please do not give them false equivalency like the Ottawa Sun has. They're wrong, end of, and the creation of false controversy for the sake of ad revenue is going to endanger people's lives. Stop it.

And before you cry "free speech" at me, realize this: free speech does not mean freedom from criticism, and free speech also does not mean whatever you say has a right to be promoted by others, especially if its an irresponsible idea.

If you're factually wrong, you're just wrong - saying it louder does not make it more correct. Pretending there is a debate to be had is saying that, yeah sure, maybe there's something to it - no. You're just wrong, and if you're wrong to the point where people are now getting infected with virulent diseases that can kill them, you don't deserve to have a platform. I don't care if its in your local newspaper or on nationally syndicated TV - no quarter should be given to these dangerous, irresponsible, and dare I say, culpable fools.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Goddamnit, Toronto Star

Forum Research did a poll up for the Toronto Star, testing the political waters in Eglinton-Lawrence with Eve Adams on the ballot. The result was a healthy lead for current Con MP and Finance Minister Joe Oliver at 49% to 28% for Adams in the riding, along with inconsequential NDP and Green numbers. It was a poll of over 1,000 people, so on and so forth.

Then they did some approval/disapprovals for Oliver, Adams, and E-L MPP Mike Colle, who has been quite vocal against Adams, though he has no intention of running federally himself. Despite that fact, they also tested out a scenario where Colle was the fedeal Liberal candidate, and he won versus Oliver 46% to 41%, and commented that Colle would have been a better candidate to poach than Adams (guffaw).

Have you noticed the problem, yet? Let me introduce you to him.

Marco Mendicino has been running for the nomination in Eglinton-Lawrence for months, and as far as I or anyone else knows will continue to run for the nomination against Eve Adams. So where the hell is he on this hypothetical ballot? Why don't we see his numbers?

Oh, of course, nevermind - mentioning that Mendicino is still around, could likely win, and this whole thing is useless wouldn't do much to help the "Trudeau is imposing Adams on everyone and will lose because of her" narrative. Lord knows we can't have narrative-deflating truths in modern media.

I think I'm starting to dislike the Toronto Star, though this article didn't actually start that trend - that head-desking HPV vaccine article and the general employment of Heather Mallick did. Sigh.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The End of an Era of Television This Week

He gave us hilarious moments, oft-repeated commentary on the major social issues of the day, and riled his opponents in a way that no other television personality could.

Goodbye, and good luck in your future endeavours, Ezra Levant. May no other news network give you the opportunity to speak your vile lies or have to foot the bill for your many lawsuits... though I know someone will, somewhere. In that case, I look forward to my next boycott.

RIP The Source, 2011-2015, may you forever be fodder.

Anyway, I do hope those working at Sun News who aren't crazy do find alternate employment, losing a job sucks - I say that despite my initial reaction of ghoulish glee. Legitimate journalists, technicians, and so on should be welcomed by other outlets, so we can grow our media's diversity without being ridiculous about it.

It is a shame that we're going to lose a media voice - conservative voices do deserve an outlet just as anyone else, though I find the fascination with ghettoizing our media to be ridiculous as it is.

However, I stand by my refusal to endorse the legitimacy of people who espouse viewpoints that are just simply not factual, are dangerous, or are purposeful twistings of the truth - Ezra Levant is the example we all know, as is Brian Lilley or, the person I consider the worst among them, Michael Coren. Good riddance to those folk, and I refuse to feel sorry for them because they aren't going to struggle to find another job. They're big household names (well, I say "household names" though clearly they didn't get into very many...) and have enough supporters to get in somewhere. Support those that aren't going to have such an easy time of it, and have to put up with the stench of Sun News' carcass on their resume.

Just to note as well, I'd say the same thing about a left-leaning anchor, or anyone I think is a danger to people - Jenny McCarthy and her lies about vaccines which have probably cost people their lives, for instance.

But as I said, good luck to those of you who aren't among that group, and hey, maybe a channel like Sun News could work in the future if it didn't cause me, and apparently many others, to turn off the TV rather than watch that crap.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Federal possibilities in 2015

I've updated a few of the more interesting maps with more recent predictions based on poll averages.

First, Alberta:

As I've been saying for years now, we are due to win seats in Calgary. We still have the poll numbers we need to do this, and have had those numbers for quite some time now.

Next is Rural Quebec, where the Tories are trying to gain ground

The numbers suggest their attempts have, thus far, been successful.

Last is the Prairies.

The Liberals have a very inefficient vote here. With a slightly more efficient vote, this becomes possible:

Not much commentary or analysis, just a quick update on where things actually stand according to the polls to help you cut though the spin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eve Adams, Open Nominations, and Lisa Kirbie

Its only Tuesday, yet this week has been one of controversy for the Liberal Party of Canada and its leader, Justin Trudeau.

Let's start off with the most controversial of them all: the defection of Eve Adams, Conservative MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, to the Liberal caucus, as well as Dmitri Soudas, Adams' fiancee and ex-Harper Chief of Staff who supposedly helped engineer the defection following Adams' refusal by the Conservatives to try another run for Oakville North-Burlington, where Adams was involved in an earlier controversy.

It has not gone over well with a few of my Liberal fellows, for reasons varying from her perceived ineptitude, her previous bashing of the Liberals, to the fact that this is a rather opportunistic move on her part.

Aside from the last point, which I can't and won't defend because I frankly just don't care (and why anyone else does when some of our parties biggest personalities have been floor crossers or supporters of other parties, including Pierre Trudeau who had a CCF membership), I think people are being dismissive of Ms. Adams in a rather harsh way.

For example, as far as I can tell, she was appreciated as a Mississauga City Council member (noted by her multiple re-elections, despite being a critic of the then-omnipresent Hazel McCallion), which I find a far more important tell of her abilities as a politician than her time spent with the forever-obedient Conservative caucus. Why is it we have to jump on the bandwagon against her inclusion when we've yet to even give her, or Soudas, a chance to prove they're worth the risk?

I would like these critics to step up to Bill Casey, former Conservative MP now running for the Liberal nomination in Cumberland-Colchester, and say that because the Liberals are embracing him the party is a "Motel-Room-for-Rent." Or go talk to Bob Rae about it, or two of our current MPs who crossed the floor, Scott Brison and Lise St-Denis.

Maybe its because of the other controversies she's been involved with, such as the previously alluded to ON-B affair, or the whole car wash incident. I won't defend any of that, but I can ask why we're holding her to a different standard than some of our previous and current MPs who have made some serious gaffes, or been involved in not-so-nice situations. Can I mention the burning crosses in Prince George, or the rather cynical machinations of the Chretien-Martin era feuds?

All I'm saying is that we should give Adams the chance before we condemn her, the party, and whoever else. I get it, some of you don't like her and don't respect her fiancee - but no one is asking you to invite them over for a drink. Get over it, move on, and let's get down to the real work of ridding ourselves of the Harper regime.

Lisa Kirbie's Article on Open Nominations

Tangentially related to the Eve Adams controversy is Lisa Kirbie - a Sun News commentator, HuffPo blogger, and wife of (the also omnipresent) Warren Kinsella, and I think she does a bunch more things but I don't follow her as much as I should - and an article authored by her in the Huffington Post, whereby she lambasted Trudeau's open nominations pledge and says Eve Adams' move reveals how its all a sham.

I'm not entirely sure what Adams' defection actually has to do with our particular set of open nominations, aside from casual references to the ON-B debacle - which is fair, but just because Adams and Soudas were accused of trying to pressure activists within the Conservative Party, doesn't mean they will in ours, nor that Adams nominations anywhere have a tinge of Party meddling - yet.

Adams will be seeking the nomination in Eglinton-Lawrence, where current Finance Minister Joe Oliver represents and far from her current riding in Peel, and according to the Party, she would be running in an open nomination, which I assume is good news for the other nomination contestant who is currently there, prominent lawyer Marco Mendicino. I don't know when the race is supposed to be called for E-L, but I don't think its anytime soon.

The "yet" in that previous paragraph alludes to the facts Kirbie has presented in her article, which most of us are aware of - specifically the blow-up over Christine Innes in Trinity-Spadina, the dropping of David Bertschi in Orléans, and so on. Hell, I can even point out some others, like the dust-up with previous by-election candidate Rolf Dinsdale in Brandon-Souris, who claimed the party was backing soldier Glen Kirkland (who I believe has dropped out of the face since then) for the 2015 nomination and therefore backed out; or the controversy in Vancouver South with Harjit Singh Sajjan, another star candidate who was allegedly favoured by the national office; or, apparently, with Warren Kinsella, who was rumoured to be running for the Toronto-Danforth nomination but was told it would be "impossible" to be green-lit for his past criticisms of the Party (according to Kirbie).

Even with all this in mind, however, there's no indication of meddling in the E-L nomination race by the Party, with the exception of Adams needing a place to run since all of the ridings close to where she lives have been filled up. I have no problem with the Party directing Adams to a riding where she can run, so long as they don't clear the way for her - and I repeat, there is no indication of that, yet.

So its obvious to me at least that Kirbie is just using this current controversy to get a word in edgewise - it doesn't matter, I just wanted to point that out. I actually agree with Kirbie's general point that if you're going to say you'll have open and fair nominations across the board... have them, just don't say you are then screw around behind the scenes. My personal opinion is that if a candidate is really that great, they should have to fight for the nomination; if they can't get the support of local members of a riding, then there is no point, is there.

However, that is the general point, and my position becomes more nuanced the more specific we get. For example, I think having the green light process, whereby we can keep out those with bad financials or opinions that seem to directly contradict the party (e.g., anti-choice activists, woo peddlers) is a good thing, because we're not a bunch of amateurs and there is a good chance some of these people could be elected to a national office. If you'd like proof of how that can sometimes go wrong, check out a good portion of the NDP's Quebec caucus.

Now, do I think Trudeau and co. have been sniping certain ridings, using things like the green-light process and other tools to get the candidate they want? Well... yes, I think that is probably the case, though its only my opinion, and while I have no problem with the Party stating it has a preferred candidate, I do have a problem if they mess with the nomination process in that candidate's favour. Kirbie is definitely right that if you're going to claim to have all these open nominations, yet these suspicious occurrences keep popping, then you should maybe not exclaim it so loudly.

However, as the recent Sudbury by-election shows, the general populace doesn't necessarily seem to care about those suspicious circumstances. Still, I'd like to see the Party maybe take a step back and allow our open nominations pledge to actually be one.

Lastly, because I don't feel Kirbie should get away with saying this without comment, I find this particular sentence distracting:
However, it seems [Warren Kinsella] did not have the support of Trudeau, and was told that getting green lit would be next to impossible. I have heard that this was because Warren is strongly opinionated and has been critical of the party. While both of these are true, Warren has also been a Liberal longer than most Trudeau staffers have been alive.
As one of those people who has probably been alive less years than Warren has been a member of the Liberals, I can honestly say I don't really care if he received his first membership card from Methuselah. Why or how is this a legitimate argument? Its not relevant and mildly offensive to Young Liberals and any volunteer who has been a member of the party for less time than someone deems worthy. Just saying.

Friday, February 6, 2015

How the heck did you lose that one, Andrea?

Credit: Sudbury Star

I will admit from the top here: I actually expected Glenn Thibeault and the Ontario Liberals to go down in flames in Sudbury last night.

That opinion was despite my own obvious leanings and my immense respect for Glenn as a politician. Let's face it though, it isn't often that you have a scandal this large casting its shadow over your campaign, especially one so local and with such a sympathetic narrative, and manage a victory - especially for the Ontario Liberals. They have a propensity to lose by-elections in spectacular fashion, often coming down from on high to mess around in a local riding's machinations and completely screw it up. It has this effect even more when it faces off against the NDP for some reason - I submit as evidence by-elections in Hamilton East and London West, the former of which gave us Andrea Horwath herself.

However, the Sudbury by-election has clearly bucked my hypothetical trend. That is absolutely amazing to me, and congratulations - I think the better candidate won frankly, and the number of Liberal volunteers I know that went up to Sudbury are beaming with pride - well deserved, in my opinion.

There is a flip to this story, however - that of the losers, or as I like to call them, the NDP (that's a joke, please don't bite my head off).

The Ontario New Democrats are a party that was supposed to be on its way to inevitable victory against a corrupt Liberal government and incompetent Tory party - that never panned out, and instead the NDP and leader Andrea Horwath's decision to force an election allowed the Liberals to claim a majority government, while they had to settle for continued third place and minimal influence on government policy.

Now the dirt has been rubbed in their faces with the loss of Sudbury, a coveted riding they probably poured immense resources into in the 2014 general election and now have nothing to show for it. That is despite having a quality candidate in Shawna Shawbonquit and a helpful vote split with Andrew Olivier, the ex-OLP candidate running as an independent.

There will be plenty of excuses: the OLP bribed the electorate with promises of cabinet influence, or its a natural Liberal riding, or Thibeault's star power was too much, so and so forth. That is all fair, but there was just so much riding in your favour, Dippers. How did you not turn it to your favour? How did Andrea, or Thomas Mulcair for that matter, not manage to convince voters in the city to stick by their decision in 2014 to be the finger stuck in the eye of the Liberal government?

That's certainly a question I'd be asking of my leader anyway.