Friday, October 31, 2008

More Signs that Sarah Palin is Not Ready to be Vice-President

  1. She wants to make Halloween a national holiday to celebrate the death of Freddy Krueger.

  2. Palin intends to handle the problem of illegal aliens -
    on a Martian by Martian basis.

  3. One of her first priorities is to paint the White House fuchsia.

  4. On what to do about global warming, Palin wants everyone to simply triple their use of air conditioners to cool the atmosphere.

  5. When asked what should be done about Iran's and North Korea's nuclear development programs, she said the U.S. ought to double or triple the price of uranium when they sell it to them.

  6. Palin is adamant that Obama and Osama are twins.

  7. She said that as Vice President she is looking forward to traveling around the world to meet foreign leaders especially the President of Canada.

  8. Her solution to economic problems is to strengthen banks, by using more stainless steel girders and extra hard cement.

    © 2008 Charles Cheeseman

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Campbell Brown Rips Dishonest Dole as U.S. Election Gets Desperately Nasty

Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina had a video attack ad put together about her opponent Democrat Kay Hagan. In it, the narrator says that Hagan is Godless. The video ends with Ms Hagan's face and a voice, supposedly her's, saying "there is no God." There is one big problem though, Kay Hagan is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and is a former Sunday school teacher.

The video below is a clip of the ad and an editorial smacking by the sharp CNN political analyst, Campbell Brown.

Brown: "Just say no to your own craven ambition. Just cut it out. Reclaim your dignity! And with only a few days to go, please please just tell us what you think you can do to get this country back on track."

There seems to be a universal rule held by many politicos , when power talks, honesty walks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Top 25 things to see in Canada

The Toronto Star is asking for your top 5 places to see in Canada. You can submit your photos here, and view the peoples' list so far on Facebook. The Star will post the results in the next three weeks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Surfing Beaches

This pristine, fine sand beach is one of many around Newfoundland and Labrador's magnificent coastline. Driving along scenic coastal vistas, especially if the area is new to you, is a fantastic experience. You have to stop driving, get out, walk on a newly seen beach and appreciate the peaceful beauty that, well surrounds us.

In Vancouver, it is so spectacular with the Coastal Mountains in the city background, that you may feel like you're living in a postcard, or you can't believe you're living there. In Newfoundland and Labrador one also feels pride about the natural beauty and variety of the landscapes. In fact, on this trip, the idea of having a home overlooking this, or other beaches sprang to mind. So many places to hike, explore, admire and relax.

This has to be good for the health. After a day of beaching, you won't be complaining.

Click here for other blog posts of Newfoundland and Labrador scenes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gas Tips

The economy is in hard shape and let's not forget to help those oil and gas companies who are suffering. Today, gas prices dropped again. My God, how are they getting by! Give at your next fill up.

All donations will be sent to the Gas & Oil Unit of Good Ethics, or GOUGE.

Real gas saving tips

Gas cost calculator

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On the Streets, people are still addicted to Speed

It's a drug that is always on the streets, causes harm, stress, and danger. It's been said before here, so why again? One reason is because accidents get reported all the time, especially when there are poor driving conditions like the mini hurricane currently spitting and heaving its heavy rain and wind on street and highways. Another reason lately is the issue of whether winter tires should be mandatory, to cut down on accidents.

Accidents happen for any number of reasons. It could be slippery roads, poor visibility, blown tire, distractions, etc., or speeding. Every day in towns and cities, and on highways, some people seem to be in constant emergency mode. On the TCH Saturday, one driver in a sporty two door was seen passing three others, over a median, which is not allowed. It came close to demolishing the front car which seconds after, moved to the left turning lane and turned left. Here in the city, there seems to be an urgency to get somewhere all the time which makes driving a risky habit.

On the winter tires issue, from personal experience, winter studded tires are better than all-season tires. Obviously you have better traction, and can have more success getting out of an icy spot. Still, all-season tires can be fine for traveling in winter, but, if they are well-worn all-seasons, these tires are not so dependable and will provide less grip. The newer the all-season tires, the better. In relation to accidents, winter studded tires will not stop people from running red lights, weaving, and reckless driving.

Because it's winter, speed reduction is a given, and driving a realistic speed that allows for enough reaction time is key. Summer driving habits in winter will cause problems on the road, and unfortunately injuries, and insurance hits. Reducing speed to an appropriate velocity for the conditions is a preventative measure. Sort of like the old saying goes, old hermaphrodite winter is just around the intersection, and as the cop from Hill Street Blues used to say, let's be careful out there.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Falling Trees

In central Newfoundland, a leafy mixture painted the hillside at Little Hr. on Gander Lake.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Season the Moment

Fall is a tricky season. It is so because it precedes the long cold, dreaded winter, but, and this is debatable, it is the best season. It goes too fast, while winter, too slow. It's perfect for walking outside, not too hot or cold. It's spectacular to see. It's ironic, in that while leaves die, they bloom alive like a slow motion forest fire-works. It's great to be alive to witness it.

On the beaten track in Central Newfoundland. It's hard not to stop to capture nature's brilliance.

Fall in Gambo

Friday, October 17, 2008

Placentia from Castle Hill

Beautiful and historic Placentia. These pictures were taken just before sunset and do not do justice to the town. You can see the beach front, which has a boardwalk along the perimeter. (Click to enlarge)
There's much to see and do here and you'll need a whole day at least to tour the picturesque place.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Web Media and Election Results Blackouts

It's election night in Canada. The polls have just closed in Newfoundland and Labrador. The first results come in the CBC anchor desk on live tv, and someone is leading, then another. As you are watching, the phone rings. It's a relative from Alberta calling to chat about the election. They casually ask how it's looking in Newfoundland so far. You tell them what you see. As soon as you hang up you hear a new email alert on the laptop. It's a friend from Vancouver inquiring about how people are voting in Newfoundland and Labrador. You tell them the up to the minute results flashing on live tv.

Thousands of Canadians keep in touch with each other every hour of every day from coast to coast. They talk about anything and everything. But wait a minute, was it unethical to have told your friend or relation what the NL results were at this early juncture? Should you have withheld this innocuous piece of information? There may be a few 'yeses' but I'm guessing No. It's a free country to exchange conversation and discuss current events.

For those who are unaware of it, you might have broken the law by communicating election results to a friend in another Canadian time zone. While we in Newfoundland and Labrador are taking in the election results, people in other parts of Canada are blacked out by media. Media are forbidden to broadcast early eastern election results in places west of NL.

Later, on election night, I was contacted by Janice Neil of Ryerson University who was preparing an article on blackouts and blogging. Ms Neil is Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism at Ryerson and Ideas editor of J-Source. In her article yesterday, "Bloggers flout law", she states, "The Supreme Court of Canada upheld Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act last year, that imposes a blackout to try to prevent the posted results in the eastern time zones from influencing voters in the West."

This is Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act:
329. No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district.

In 2000, blogger Paul Bryan deliberately broke that law and was charged for posting election results before polls closed in parts of Canada. He went to court, defended his freedom of expression and was acquitted. But in 2006, the decision was overruled, and the ban was back in place.

The question in today's ever growing sprawl of new technical gadgets and programs of communication is, is the election results blackout ban fair, antiquated, or irrelevant?

Is it fair for someone who is on Facebook to tell their western friends how the early election results are going, but possibly face criminal charges? (they might have 700 friends, and state in their status, "Only 9 Conservatives elected in Atlantic Canada", for all to see). Or is it fair for someone who is relaying the same information by phone, or by email to be charged (you could have 100 people on your email group list)? Is it realistic for even most people to be aware of such a law, especially younger users to know the difference when there are no obvious notices anywhere of Section 329 of the Elections Act? There are no flashing pop-up messages on election night warning users of Section 329 (maybe that's a high tech idea).

For many people election results nights are anticipated with the excitement of say a Stanley Cup hockey final. While you're watching it, a friend who is working late that night calls you up and asks you what the score is. You tell them "5 to 1 for the Maple Leafs" (use your imagination here). So it is easy to appreciate others' shared interest in an event.

On election results night Tuesday, a similar experience occurred with this blogger. An email arrived from someone in central Canada, though I had no idea of where the person was from at the time. They asked if any results came in yet - shortly after polls closed in NL. I obliged with a few early leads in NF ridings. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, the same inquirer asks for an update, and again I gladly supply the numbers as they appeared on tv. This was getting interesting, doing a favor for someone, a good feeling.

All the while my blog stats were rising as if there was something wrong with the counter. A closer look revealed that people from all over Canada were doing searches for NL election, or Atlantic Canada election results. In fact there were so many that it prompted the idea to do a quick new blog post on the very latest results.

Then the floodgates really opened, a barrage of hits, and a bunch of comments asking things only political junkies might. Realizing what a brief window of opportunity this specific time frame of being the information source was, I gave two more updates in the next half hour, about 10 minutes apart.

Any vague memory of hearing about Paul Bryan's case many years ago, was surely in my subconscious. His name would not have rang a bell at all. Even a subconscious memory of that probably did not dictate my actions possibly because it did not seem sensible, with all the forms of online communications - emails, Facebook, Twitter, chat programs, not to mention phones, text messaging, cell phones, etc., for posting a few Atlantic results to be worthy of a criminal act.

One of my response to Professor Neil's inquiry the other night was this: If the SCOC and Elections Canada really mean business and want to totally and fairly blackout all transmission of election results information from east to west, then they will have to cut the modern high tech lines of communication. They will have to contact internet programmers to find ways to block eastern web sites, blogs, email, chatting between east and west on Facebook, and other social networking programs, at specific times along the time zones, and also cut phone communication from people getting early results to those further west.

That's quite the challenge. Certainly anybody can call out east for results, then communicate it to their friends out west, if they really wanted to vote strategically. But maybe the phones could be blacked out, so they will resort to faxes until that becomes off limits.

For the blackout to work it can't penalize one while others communicate election results through other means and escape prosecution. That just isn't fair. With so many ways to communicate today, it seems inherently absurd to single out bloggers to prosecute.

It may be time for Elections Canada to seek other blackout approaches, like blacking out the entire country until all election results are in. Your thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now What!

Prime Minister Harper has a bigger and stronger minority government with 143 seats. Even previously Connie-free PEI now has a Conservative. The Liberals went down by 20 seats.

There are more Conservatives than before, more in other Atlantic Canada provinces, 9 which despite NL's Conservative banishment, equals the previous number.

So Newfoundland and Labrador has zero Conservatives, no possible cabinet representation from the province.

Boy, that showed 'em!

What were the benefits of trouncing all Conservatives again?

Was this a win for NL, or was it a failure to kick the prime minister out? What exactly is there to celebrate? Getting revenge on Harper?

Had Willams campaigned for fellow NL Conservatives and helped them get elected - there could possibly be 7 reps to choose from, rather than 0.

Oh well, it should be interesting to watch the benefits of this "goose egg" unfold.

Election Result

Update @ 12:12 am, Oct. 15, NF time:
Here is how Atlantic Canada is looking at this time (Leading or Elected):

Liberals - 17;   Conservatives - 9;   NDP - 4;   Independent - 1 (Bill Casey);   Green Party - 0 (source: CBC)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vote Any Way You Want!

Whether it's because you believe in the person, or the party, today is the time to exercise your democratic right. You alone will decide based on your knowledge, feeling or sense of trust about the candidates. There has been a great deal of anger in this province in the last year and a half towards mainly one man. With the exception of possibly the Metis of Labrador who claim that the Premier broke a promise to them too, many if not most people in the province were angry at Harper, especially when the issue of reneging on the promise to exempt non-renewables from the equalization formula, was fresh.

At the time, the thought of the province being allowed to keep an extra $10 billion or so was fantastic and exciting. However, the promise was not realistic from the start, and Harper should not have signed his name to a letter supporting that idea. Had Harper said "no, this is not possible" then maybe the Premier would have accepted that too, and none of his follow-up campaign would be taking place. Again, many people in the province felt angry at Harper, but it really was an unrealistic promise. It was certainly a stupid mistake.

The idea of Newfoundland and Labrador being offered a $10 billion windfall is not going to happen. If that was the determining factor in this current vote, you might count the Conservative votes on one hand. The outrage in the rest of Canada however, would not let it happen even if it were tabled.

In this election vote Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green, NL First, PC, or any way you choose. Yes Harper went back on his promise, he made a serious mistake, but he is not the first or only one to do that, and won't be the last. All politicians have made mistakes. They are human. The very unfortunate thing about this election is that it possibly blinds people to good candidates in their district because they might in fact be Conservative. That is too bad, and it seems unfair. There are candidates running who are fresh, bright, and with no political baggage, who haven't accepted free public money. Unless someone can inform me differently, then Craig Westcott is one example.

If you feel you can trust whoever it is, do not let anyone, including our Premier, tell you who not to vote for. It's your choices, all of them. The anti-Harper campaign waged in this province will not sway this voter one bit, and hence, will vote for the person, not the party, as usual here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vic Noseworthy's Animated Rendering of the ABC Campaign

Vic Noseworthy has produced an entertaining animated video which leaves no doubt about his stance on Danny Willams' ABC campaign. Vic did a professional job on this, with well timed audio and animation effects.
Great job putting the animation together Vic!
To comment or send it to others, copy or click this address:

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Public Image and Politics - the Seen and Unseen

There are many people in politics with good intentions to use their talents and energy to contribute to the public good. It takes guts, talent and toughness to be a public representative. Obviously it can be a very frustrating job, when hurdles get in your way of accomplishing things. Often the desire to accomplish things is replaced with the image of accomplishing things. It just seems to be the way it is. Thought the iceberg analogy might reflect this. This is not to say that anyone who gets involved in politics is dishonest or ill-intentioned, there are honest people there too. It's just that they are entering an arena where there is in fact deceit, ill will, and not always honesty. Some people avoid the political games while others play along. This also happens everywhere, including NL. From planted phone in callers to demonizing political opponents and calling them traitors and quislings, it's going on.

British News: Fish Stocks and Over Capacity (sound familiar)

The Grand Bank fishery collapse which led to a moratorium occurred in 1992. Now the British are reporting that "according to a UN report the
world's fishing fleets are losing billions of dollars each year through depleted stocks and poor management .. Half the world's fishing fleet could be scrapped with no change in catch.

The report was debated at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain. It seems there is similiar trouble with fishing industries in pirating old Europe and other world countries. They have an overcapacity, and say that they can catch the same amount and cut back on harvesters, and save money. Fleets are spending ever more effort, but catches are not rising.

It appears the collapse and lessons learned from it, i.e., contributing factors, were not studied or learned, or subsequent measures put in place in other countries to avoid threatening the cod stocks.

There were different factors involved in the collapse of the Grand Banks cod fishery in 2J3KL fishing grounds. Overfishing was one biggie. Before 1977 when the 200 mile limit allowed Canadian trawlers to fish out to that point, most of the overfishing was blamed on foreign overfishers. After 1977, when more draggers, and factory freezer trawlers began towing 25,000 pounds of fish at once, more overfishing blame was placed on domestic culprits.

Another problem with many foreign fishing now is that are high subsidies - $30 billion.
The challenge now, it says, is to spread reforms into other fisheries where overcapacity is fast depleting stocks.

"Sustainable fisheries require political will to replace incentives for overfishing with incentives for responsible stewardship," said Kieran Kelleher, the World Bank's fisheries team leader.

Hey, there could be some foreign jobs available for experienced TAGs and NCARP program facilitators from here. They had the fun jobs of facing angry displaced fishery workers after the '92 fishery collapse.

Better fisheries management, controls on harvesters, and emphasis on conservation seems to have been deferred in favor of over inflating the harvesting capacity.

Boy it didn't take them long to figure this out.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

McCain Fries

The second U.S. Presidential debate last night gave a hint of the angrier side of John McCain. At the end of the debate when the candidates did their hand shakes with some people in the small community forum setting, McCain while busy with the wife at his side moving around, pointing/acknowledging people, chatting, etc., eventually crossed paths in the small floor setting, with Barack Obama again. He gave Obama a very quick pat on the back, seemed a little edgy, and did not reciprocate a hand shake Obama had clearly initiated. Prior to that in the debate, he referred to Obama as "that one" when discussing his own energy bill - "You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one," McCain said as he pointed toward Obama.

Soon after the debate a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey said that 54% felt that Obama won, while 30% gave it to McCain. The hand shake dismissal was noticed by pundits immediately, and the impression from their encounter was that McCain showed contempt for his opponent. One analyst said it was his contempt for having to share the stage with a younger, bright whipper-snapper.

Obama has been moving ahead in the polls, and this debate may seal the deal for him. If the legendary Nixon-Kennedy is remembered for Nixon's five o'clock shadow, the effect of McCain's comments and behaviour last night will amplify the negative impression viewers may consciously or subconsciously have had on him, and possibly be one of the more memorable debate moments.

Cruising Out of the Fog

The Crown Princess. Notice the height. The building on the right is the Royal Trust building.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cabinet Minister Defends Campaigning Against Manning

One of the interesting things about having your own blog is that you can record a piece of history relating to the country, world and one's own province. As it stands right now, there appears to be a great deal of support for the Premier's Anything but Conservative campaign. A CBC news story yesterday received over 240 comments on a story about this, and Peter MacKay's visit to the province. By far most of the comments were very anti-MacKay, and pro "campaign". Some were against the Premier's campaign.

Also happening yesterday, three NL Government Cabinet Ministers were reported to have been campaigning against Fabian Manning in his riding of Avalon, specifically in the Bay Robert's area. Trevor Taylor, Minister of several portfolios, has made no apologies for doing this. (see VOCM again)

Understandably people were and are still pissed at Stephen Harper for reneging on his promise of excluding non-renewable resources from the equalization formula, which would have put $10 billion or so into NL's coffers in years to come. This blogger was also very ticked at Harper for doing this. It was a huge disappointment.
It will affect peoples' voting this time. For many others, it won't. After all, we are all individuals and can use our own best judgement to choose the best candidate we personally view as being the most attractive choice, without being reminded daily about who not to vote for.

Today in the local daily paper, Premier Williams mentioned that he "works 24/7, and puts 90% of his time on Newfoundland and Labrador domestic affairs." I do feel that he is sincere about this, and does work hard. I also commend him for working for the province and not taking his salary. As mentioned in a previous post, he is a bright, talented, capable and successful person. However, I would rather the province was not obsessing with it's anti-Harper and anti-Manning campaign. It takes people to run this campaign, but Cabinet Ministers now? If there was still a $10 billion goose egg as a result of a successful anti-Harper campaign, things would be different. But it is not the case, and it is unclear what the reward for the province really is.

I do think we have an extremely capable Premier, a man that can motivate citizens of the province to achieve to their highest potential. Certainly he is an example of this, and he can offer much to motivate people to build Newfoundland and Labrador.

While I didn't mind being reminded about Harper's broken promise, I respectfully disagree with a full out campaign to further cool our province's relations with the federal government. The preference here is for our MHAs and Cabinet Ministers to devote 100% of their work time strictly to matters that are immediate and essential to the province.

Here is an interpretative summary of how some commenters from yesterday's CBC story felt about the ABC campaign:

I guess all the work is done on matters of justice, trade and rural development, fisheries, and intergovernmental affairs. It's nice to know that with all that time on their hands they have willingly helped out the Danny
ABC campaign against enemies Fabian Manning and Stephen Harper. That should really help the province. It's also good to see that there are so many volunteers working on the ABC campaign. There must be, surely public servants who are hired to run provincial affairs would not have "extra-curricular" duties piled on them. Someone is moving the campaign forward. What a good use of time, money and resources. And no sir, this is not a personal grudge Danny has against Harper or Manning, this will benefit the province - no need for me to explain why, you just know it. Then once we've shown our hate towards Harper, the Conservatives and Manning, Tom Hedderson, can productively carry on his role as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and really get things done, ever more efficiently.

Monday, October 06, 2008

NL Cabinet Ministers Actively Campaigning for ABC (VOCM reports)

"As we head into the home stretch of the federal election campaign, things are heating up. Former PC cabinet minister Jim Morgan says he saw three provincial cabinet ministers in Conception Bay North today campaigning against Fabian Manning.
He wonders if they're doing on the taxpayers' dime, or if they've taken a leave of absence.
On VOCM BackTalk with Bill Rowe this afternoon, Morgan says Trevor Taylor, Jerome Kennedy and Tom Hedderson were in the Bay Roberts area. Morgan has a summer home in Cupids. Taylor makes no apologies for campaigning against Stephen Harper during daytime hours."

Jerome Kennedy takes care of matters concerning Justice for Newfoundland and Labrador

Trevor Taylor is Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and Minister Responsible for the Rural Secretariat, and acting Minister of Fisheries as well.

Tom Hedderson is Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs; and Minister Responsible for the Volunteer and Non-Profit Sector

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Layton and the NDP on Course for the Par

Jack Layton must have been pleased with the good weather this morning at the Admiral's Green Clubhouse. That's where he made a campaign speech today on his second stop in the province since the campaign started. Layton was surrounded by local candidates Ryan Cleary, Jack Harris, Randy Dawe, provincial NDP leader Lorraine Michael, and supporters holding signs that read "We will defeat Harper", and "United with Layton."

Layton's message was much the same as his debate points - that the NDP is the team to trust and replace Harper; that there will be no more tax breaks for the Exxons, like Harper gave to that company to drill in the tar sands; more jobs in Canada as opposed to exporting them overseas; and that he will improve health care by funding the hiring of more doctors and health professionals.

Asked by a reporter if he thinks the NDP will surpass the record 43 seats attained by Ed Broadbent in the 1988 election. Layton replied that "that is axiomatic, when you're hoping to be Prime Minister." Layton has some reason to be optimistic. His debate performance has gotten good reviews, and his party's rating is almost on par with the Liberals. He pointed the finger several times at Stephane Dion in the leaders debate Thursday night, and reiterated today that Dion has not been an effective Opposition leader against Stephen Harper.

The arrival of the NDP frontman was also welcome news for St. John's South-Mount Pearl candidate Ryan Cleary, as well. Cleary is hoping to increase his support enough to catch, then pass current riding leader Siobhan Coady. They're both well known candidates and the campaign will be very interesting to watch on election night. Merv Wiseman is running for the Conversatives, and at this point has the greatest challenge on his hands.

Not having met him before, with only some familiarity of his background as editor of The Independent, and through reading a range of opinions here in the blogosphere, Mr. Cleary obliged this blogger with a few minutes of his time. No recordings or scribbles taken, just a quick chat. When asked why he is running, he described his desire to help people who are struggling, impoverished and needed help. He described himself as being a strong advocate for the province.

It's hard to really know someone in just a few minutes but to use a Brian Tobin-type pronouncement phrase, I will say this: Cleary may indeed be a good fit for the NDP team. He seems to have a social conscience and is drawn to the NDP's angle of championing for equality. Cleary did say he held other common beliefs with the NDP stance, such as gay marriage, and being pro-choice. While he is representing the party now, he has been criticized for colorful remarks about the NDP in the past. Whether he gave into a writer's temptation to add some flair to his writings, or just told it as he saw it, that's for him to respond to.

In person, this Indy-P was approachable, mild mannered and seemed to possess sincere caring qualities. That particular soft skill is one which helps candidates get elected. But first he has to close the polling gap with Siobhan Coady. Then in nine days time, we'll see if the NDP leader's visit today will have boosted his chances and have a positive effect for him, Harris and the other NDP candidates in the province.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Layton's Debate Performance Causing an Orange Shift?

As mentioned in my previous post on the leaders' debate Thursday night, NDP leader Jack Layton was strong, and may have given some "on the fence" voters more reason to switch to NDP. This lone Canadian suggested immediately after the debate that both Elizabeth May and Layten were the most impressive, and it appears a new poll is reflecting the same from other Canadians.

The NDP are now only two points behind the federal Liberals. In that debate, it seemed like he had his sights set not only on Harper but also on Dion. Among other salvos, he did score a few points by reminding the public of Liberal's health cuts in previous administrations.

At this point in NL, unless Walter Noel or Craig Westcott can make some solid appeals to voters, it looks like Jack Harris will be at least one Dipper going to Ottawa. Layton has boosted his party's image as a real Opposition party alternative, and this may help the campaign of other local NDP candidate Ryan Cleary in his bid to replace current front runner Siobhan Coady, and eventually win.

Jack Layton will be in St. John's Sunday morning at the Admiral's Green Clubhouse at Pippy Park Golf Course at 10 a.m. Local NDP candidates and provincial leader Lorraine Michael will be there as well.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Lively Debate with May and Layton Impressing

This was one of the most lively leaders debates ever in Canada. All five appeared strong at different times in different ways. Particularly impressive was Green Party leader Elizabeth May. She came out aggressively from the start and made some no-nonsense statements to PM Harper about his environmental plan, his being "out of touch" with families who are hurting as a result of the economy. She spoke with conviction on every point she made, and stared Harper directly in the eye and asked no bs questions.

Jack Layton was impressive when he went on the offence against Harper, and also Dion. He did not let Stephane Dion off the hook after Dion stated that Liberals would not be breaking promises as Harper did. Layton reminded him that back in the 1990s, under Jean Chretien, the child-care program was promised and never delivered. That took away some of the Liberals credibility. Dion responded with a weakness in NDP stance on Troop deployment in Afghanistan, voting for the 2011 exit date with Harper. Layton later spoke about the Chretien years when health spending was cut, to the detriment of patients - a history reminder of Dion's party tradition.

Layton did bring up Harper's tax breaks to big oil and banks, mentioning Exxon's tax break to do more tar sands drilling. The tax break figure mentioned was $50 billion. He said he would get rid of that as PM and use it for improved social needs like health care and child care.

Several leaders pointed out that exporting raw materials in some cases is exporting jobs. Layton said "what wooden product can't be made here that can be in China?"
They also brought up Harper's past support of privatized health care, and his Emission Reduction plan. Ducette and maybe Layton pointed out that the Conservatives would lower the emissions rate per barrel but still more barrels of oil to be produced, thus only contributing to the greenhouse gas problem

Harper responded to many questions by describing the government's current approach to each issue.

As for his 2003 statement while opposition leader, concerning sending troops to Iraq, he finally said it was an error.

Ducette had nothing to lose as usual because he does not have to offer Canadians outside Quebec anything.

Through it all, Harper appeared the most composed, smiling, and with attacks from four others, was reminded the whole time that he was the man to beat. Possibly damaging to him was the big oil tax breaks mentioned by Layton, and the recent youth jail time idea. On that topic, and it was good it was mentioned a couple of times, by May, Ducette, and Harper that implementing social programs and resources to direct at "at risk" youth, to diminish the risk of youth crime from happening, was discussed. As well, May mentioned that one law enforcement officer experienced with youth, noted that many who were arrested had little or no literacy skills. So it raised the idea of more emphasis and funding on literacy skills. Though this was not discussed at much length, it was an important topic, and should be raised more often. It related to getting to the root of youth crime.

If anyone gained in tonight's debate it was May, and Layton. Dion appears to be reasoned and sincere, a person who appears to emphasize with real people's needs. However, and this is unfortunate, his English is sometimes a problem. The message is sometimes lost in his English pronunciations, at least to this blogger. He is the person Harper paid more attention to, because of the Liberal Green Shift plan, and their own history.

It was an excellent exchange, with no personal insults, just a couple small jabs. Follow up poll results will be eagerly awaited to see if a party got a bounce from the leader's performances. For the NDP candidates in NL and other provinces who were in the underdog or "iffy" categories, Layton's performance may have helped their cause by making the electorate give a second look at the NDP. Layton was certainly seeing an opportunity to replace Dion as official Opposition.

There were two major debates last night, and the U.S. VP debate couldn't have been more dramatic this the Canadian leaders debate.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Which Debate to Watch, Domestic or Foreign

In terms of expected drama tonight, the U.S. Vice-Presidential debate beats the Canadian federal leaders debate. There could be surprises in the English debate with the five leaders - a debate moment where an emotion driven, or planned, or well-timed remark hammers an opponent - the type that makes the famous moments in political debates. Harper seemed to be fairly cool last night as his four attackers made it clear to the public that his lead needed some knocking down. Unless a new pronounced scandal of national significance is weighing on the shoulders of Harper, there will be the usual expected attacks from opponents in the debate, and afterwards the status quo will exist in the polls.

The U.S. debate is highly anticipated not because the VPs significantly affect the eventual selection of the President, but because people have seen candidate Sarah Palin have George Bush moments in interviews, not knowing basic information, and are waiting to see if she will get caught again and look unprepared for the big job. Joe Biden has done well in debates and could pummel her. On the other hand media reports that Palin is a good debater and has the public speaking skills to make toast out of opponents. However, if she makes reference to her belief, at least once held belief that dinosaurs and people co-existed 6000 years ago, then she will be a baked Alaskan.

When there is something weak about an opponent, or his or her government is tied to some controversial event or topic which had shook the nation, then the potential drama builds. Tonight's Canadian debate would normally have more viewers because it's in English, but it has southern competition. If last night's French-Canadian debate was any indication, it will be another slug fest, and somewhat confusing flurry of cross-fire interruptions - poor interpreters. That's another thing, when translaters are doing their job, but the camera is still showing one leader speak, it is uncertain sometimes who the interrupter was. Anyway, which debate to watch? Which will be more dramatic? We'll know afterwards and that may be up for debate.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Max Security

Julie Couillard spills the beans in her tell all book. Here's a sneak peak at the level of importance that her then boyfriend, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Maxime Bernier gave to sensitive government documents.
(Click to enlarge)