Federal Politics

Topics Relating to Provincial Politics

Constitutional refresher course: the people do not choose the government

By Harold Jansen on Nov 30, 2008

In the showdown between the Conservatives and an erstwhile Liberal-NDP coalition, one point gets obscured. In the Canadian political system, the voters do not vote for a government. When we vote, we vote for a local Member of Parliament. The formation of government is a byproduct of that, not the direct choice of Canadians. So, who does choose who forms a government. Very simply, it's the Governor General. Most of the Governor General's power's are heavily constrained by convention, in that the GG has to follow the advice of the Prime Minister and cabinet.

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Towards a citizen-based system of party finance?

By Harold Jansen on Nov 27, 2008

I always enjoy reading or listening to Andrew Coyne, even when I think he's wrong. Today's blog post praising the proposed elimination of the per vote subsidy is an interesting defence of the Conservatives' announcement. In the post, he argues that this moves towards a citizen-based finance system for political parties, arguing that party support should be a private matter between citizens and parties. If that's what we want, the problem is that the per vote subsidy isn't the biggest culprit in this respect. Remember that there are three sources of public money to parties:

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The end of $1.75 per year per vote?

By Harold Jansen on Nov 26, 2008

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the Conservatives are going to propose the end of the $1.75 per vote per year subsidy that came in 2004 as part of the reforms to party finance. The Conservatives are justifying this by saying that the country can't afford this in times of economic downturn. That explanation doesn't really make a lot of sense, considering that the $28 million that this cost taxpayers in 2007 is a tiny part of the multi-billion dollar federal budget. What seems more likely is that the Conservatives have wanted to do this since they can easily live without the subsidy. Only about a third of Conservative revenue comes from the state subsidy.

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How do you pay off a $200,000 leadership debt? $1,100 at a time

By Harold Jansen on Oct 21, 2008

So, Stephane Dion has announced he's quitting ... eventually. There's lots of speculation as to why he's staying, but one popular theory is that he's sticking around until the party crowns a new leader in order to pay off his lingering leadership campaign debt, estimated to be over $200,000. I thought it might be useful to quickly review the law over leadership finance to understand how daunting Dion's task is. When the Liberals changed the party finance laws in 2004, they put in a $5,000 cap for a number of kinds of donations, including to leadership contests.

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Election 2008: Winners & Losers

By Royce Koop on Oct 15, 2008

Winner: Stephane Dion. The snide comment he got off at CTV and Roger Smith ("...you understand?") was great, almost as good as Smith and Lloyd Robertson's breathless, wounded indignation afterward.

Loser: CTV. While results were pouring in from B.C., the network cut to a lengthy, chummy interview with Bob Rae, followed up by a simultaneous interview with Michael Ignatieff. I watched the B.C. results at the bottom of the screen while Rae and Ignatieff complimented one another and played coy over their leadership intentions. Lame.

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Election 2008: Most Awkward Moment?

By Royce Koop on Oct 10, 2008

Awk-ward! Hoo boy, this exchange between a sneering Mike Duffy and a smirking Geoff Regan has to count as the most uncomfortable moment of the campaign. You have to fast-forward to the 04:40 point see it.

Dion and Layton on the Economy

By Royce Koop on Oct 10, 2008

Since the English language debate, the media have essentially handed Stephane Dion and Jack Layton free passes to attack Harper for "not having a plan," despite that they are somewhat lacking in this respect themselves. This has led to some amusing episodes as the two leaders have tried to keep the spotlight focussed on Harper, and away from themselves. Failure to do so has led to disaster, at least for Dion.

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Stephane Dion and Gotcha Politics

By Royce Koop on Oct 10, 2008

My first thought after watching the clip is that it's hardly as bad as many are making it out to be. He's obviously tired and there's something about the question that is throwing him off. And he doesn't exactly come across as petulent or annoyed - I've seen much worse from Dion, especially in interviews from the 1990s. He actually comes off as somewhat likeable near the end of this video.

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Joyce Murray: Not a Teacher, a Doer

By Royce Koop on Oct 8, 2008

From a recent public forum at the University of British Columbia:

"Representing Vancouver Centre was NDP candidate (and UBC professor) Michael Byers, along with Green Party candidate Adrienne Carr. Meanwhile, representing Vancouver Quadra was Joyce Murray of the Liberal Party and [UBC] Sauder law professor Deborah Meredith of the Conservatives...

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Preston Manning Weighs in... Why NOT to Vote for Dion

By Royce Koop on Oct 7, 2008

Preston Manning has provided two highly...original reasons to not vote for Stephane Dion.

Reason Number 1: "Whereas Mr. Harper grew up in an accountant's household, Mr. Dion grew up in an academic's household."

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Harper, the campaign, and the economy

By Royce Koop on Oct 6, 2008

...now an issue - the economy - is battering the Conservative campaign, and it's completely a result of Harper's handling of the issue.

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The Conservatives and Liberals as Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum?

By Royce Koop on Oct 4, 2008

One of the perennial criticisms of Canada's two big brokerage parties (oftentimes levelled by NDP leaders) is that they're really tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum parties: They stand for essentially the same things and govern accordingly. The 1993 federal election was supposed to have changed all that, but alot of the speculation about Harper trying to construct a moderate, centrist party raised the spectre of a return to the days of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.

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Stephen Harper: Jiu Jitsu Master?

By Royce Koop on Sep 25, 2008

Melanee and lots of other commentators have characterized Harper's recent defence of arts subsidies as an "amateur mistake." I'm not so sure.

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Keeping an eye on stop-gap candidates

By Royce Koop on Sep 24, 2008

The latest Tory candidate to flame out over inflammatory blog postings is Ryan Warawa in Vancouver East. No word yet on whether the party will force him to "voluntarily resign" but the events of the last week-and-a-half suggest that Warawa is on the way out.

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The Voluntary Sacking of Chris Reid

By Royce Koop on Sep 22, 2008

The latest lame gotcha moment of this campaign comes courtesy of a former Conservative candidate from Toronto who suggested on his blog that allowing Canadians to carry concealed firearms might be a good way to combat violent crime, along with some other spicy opinions. Mr. Reid graciously *volunteered* to resign his candidacy after a Liberal blogger resurrected and published his online musings.

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