Tag Archives: canada

Time to Vote

The election is 10 days away. Advance voting starts today. You know what you need to do. Get out and vote.

After much deliberation, I’ll be voting NDP. I considered voting Green to really reinforce the idea that climate change is the most important issue facing Canada right now. Both the Greens and NDP have great platforms and are aligned on a lot of issues.

The biggest difference is the leader. I’ve been really impressed with Jagmeet Singh. He puts up with a lot of racist crap, but he’s still filled with optimism. I haven’t seen a federal leader with so much personality, conviction, and compassion since Jack Layton. Elizabeth May is a great environmental champion, but I don’t see her having the energy and charisma to bring people onside to tackle the problems we’re facing. Jagmeet Singh can.

Jagmeet and Me
And I got a Singh selfie before he became super popular

Looking beyond the party leaders, I’ve also considered policy and my local candidate. On the policy side, CBC, Macleans, and Gen Squeeze have good summaries of the party platforms. Personally, my top 3 priorities are climate change, housing affordability, and health care.

Climate Change and the Environment

The Greens have the most ambitious plan, the Liberals the most achievable. The NDP is in between on both measures. All three parties have commited to banning single use plastics. Check out CBC for a comprehensive comparison of each parties climate commitments.

Liberal Party
๐Ÿ˜‡ Introduced a federal price on carbon
๐Ÿ˜ก Bought a pipeline for $4.5 billion
๐ŸŒฒ Plan to plant 2 billion trees

New Democratic Party (NDP)
๐Ÿ˜€ Expanding the carbon tax to industrial emitters
๐Ÿ˜ Ending fossil fuel subsidies
๐Ÿ˜ $15 billion for retrofitting buildings

Green Party
๐Ÿ˜ Most ambitious carbon targets (60% reduction by 2030)
๐Ÿ˜ Halt all new fossil fuel development projects
๐ŸŒฒ Plan to plant 10 billion trees

Conservative Party
๐Ÿคข Plan to scrap the carbon tax

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)
๐ŸคฎThink climate change is a hoax

Housing Affordability

Housing affordability is a hot topic, especially with millennials in Vancouver and Toronto. The federal government has a role to play in building affordable housing and purpose built rental, and ensuring speculation from foreign wealth isn’t distorting our housing markets.

Liberal Party
๐Ÿ™‚ 1% Foreign Buyers Tax
๐Ÿ™‚ 100,000 affordable housing units
๐Ÿ˜’ Useless First-time Home Buyer Incentive (at least in Vancouver)

New Democratic Party (NDP)
๐Ÿ˜„ 15% Foreign Buyers Tax
๐Ÿ™‚ 500,000 affordable housing units
๐Ÿ˜– Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages

Green Party
๐Ÿ˜ 25,000 affordable housing units
๐Ÿ˜€ Tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing
๐Ÿค” Get rid of the first-time home buyer grant

Conservative Party
๐Ÿ˜– Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages

Health Care

Last election, health care wasn’t that important to me. But now I have an adventurous, asthmatic child and work for a health software company.

Liberal Party
๐Ÿ˜ด Will continue to study pharmacare

New Democratic Party (NDP)
๐Ÿ˜ Universal pharmacare
๐Ÿ˜€ Basic dental for families earning < $90,000 (first step toward universal dentalcare)

Green Party
๐Ÿ˜ Universal pharmacare
๐Ÿ™‚ Dental care for families earning < $30,000

Conservative Party
๐Ÿคฅ Promises not to cut any health spending

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)
๐Ÿ˜ฒ Give provinces full responsibility for health care
๐Ÿคช Cut all federal funding

Local Candidates

In my riding of Vancouver Centre, the NDP candidate Breen Ouellette was endorsed as one of the 35 environmental champions in Canada committed to bringing in a Green New Deal. I highly recommend checkout out this list (and LeadNow’s battleground champions) to see if anyone in your riding has been nominated. It’s a stellar crew.

The NDP has some great candidates in this election, and they reflect the diversity of Canada. 49% are women, 25% are from racialized communities, and 12% are from the LGBTQ community. You can really see the NDP’s commitment to fight inequality and racism comes from the top. Jagmeet Singh has been tremendous this campaign dealing with racist hecklers, responding the the Trudeau blackface incidents, and standing up for first nations access to clean drinking water.

By comparison, the Green Party is unfortunately still very white. Their candidates are 42% women but only 5% are visible minorities.

Strategic Voting

In a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, you may feel tempted to vote strategically. Don’t. For two reasons.

  1. The Liberals lied about proportional representation last time. They don’t deserve another strategic vote.
  2. If we end up in a minority government situation (highly likely), we need as many NDP and Green MPs as possible to push the Liberals to act on important issues like climate change, pharmacare, and electoral reform.
  3. If you’re debating between the NDP and Greens, I’d recommend choosing the party with the platform that speaks to you or the local candidate you like the best. If you still can’t decide, you can look at polling data and riding level predictions form sites like 338canada.com but beware that riding level predictions are often garbage.

Vancouver Addendum

In Vancouver Centre, it’s an easy choice for me to vote NDP. In some of the other Vancouver ridings there are candidates from other parties that I might vote for.

In Vancouver East it’s a toss-up between Jenny Kwan (NDP), the incumbent MP who’s been a vocal environmental advocate and Bridget Burns (Green), who runs the Vegan Night Market.

In Vancouver Granville, it’s an easy choice to vote for Jody Wilson-Raybould (Independent) – former Liberal Justice minister who was kicked out by Justin Trudeau for standing up for judicial independence in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

In Vancouver Kingsway, it’s a toss-up between the incumbent MP Don Davies (NDP), who’s been a tireless advocate for pharmacare and dental care and Tamara Taggart (Liberal), who has really involved in local politics since retiring from broadcasting, advocating for rental housing and removing lead from school drinking water.

In Vancouver South, I’d be tempted to vote for Harjit Sajjan, the Liberal incumbent. He’s been a good Defence Minister and he’s running against Wai Young (Conservative) who used to represent the riding and is a toxic, anti-cyclist troll.

Why I’m Voting NDP

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Advance polls open this weekend and I’m ready to cast my ballot for the NDP. There’s a number of reasons why.

  1. I hate strategic voting – it encourages the media to focus on polls instead of platforms and politicians to take boring, centrist positions. I want to be able to vote Green because I agree with their ideas without fear I’m wasting my vote. The NDP is committed to bringing in proportional representation before the next election, which will ensure the Conservatives never again get a majority with 38% of the vote.
  2. Climate change action – next to the Green Party, the NDP has the best environmental platform. With MPs like Tom Mulcair, Megan Leslie, Nathan Cullen, and Linda Duncan, you won’t find a more dedicated core of environmentalists in any other party. I trust them to take action more than the Liberals, who have a horribly vague plan and a history of not delivering. They signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 but did nothing to reduce GHG emissions. I want real action.
  3. Progressive policies – I like the NDPs promises to fund public transit, affordable childcare, a national pharmacare program, and interest-free student loans.
  4. Principled leadership – You can count on the NDP to make the right choice even when it’s not popular. They opposed Bill C-51 when it was still popular, and they’ve rallied against the Conservatives racist policies targeting Muslims, even though it appear to be hurting them in the polls. I appreciate a leader who stands up for what he believes in.
  5. Great local candidate – The NDP candidate in Vancouver Centre is former Parks Board trustee Constance Barnes. She’s an avid cyclist and passionate about urban issues. My current MP is Hedy Fry, who I can’t stand.
  6. I want real change – If Canada ever had a chance to break out of the Liberal-Conservative cycle and try something new, this election is it.

There are a few things I like about the Liberal platform. I agree with increased infrastructure funding, especially for public transit. I agree that marijuana should be legalized. And the Liberals have committed to bringing in electoral reform, although they’re vague on the details and I wouldn’t be surprised if they renege on that promise if they win. I just don’t trust the Liberals to deliver, and it bothers me that Justin Trudeau is leader solely because of who is father was. That’s how George W. Bush became President, and we know how that turned out.

Vacation to Gros Morne, Newfoundland

Sunset Panorama
Emily and I are back from our great Newfie adventure. 9 days exploring the other side of Canada and dipping our toes in the Atlantic Ocean.

Parts of Newfoundland looked a lot like BC, with the ocean shoreline and deep mountain fjords, but the skyline felt bigger. The weather was also colder, the mountains smaller, there’s a lot less people, and hardly any vegan food. I think we made the most of our trip. We saw an iceberg and a moose, picked fresh dewberries, visited a viking settlement, hiked their biggest mountain, skinny dipped in the ocean, and listened to Newfie speak whenever we could. We spent most of our time in Gros Morne National Park but also drove up the top of the Great Northern Peninsula where there were icebergs and lots of whales.

Whale Rocking Iceberg
My biggest tip to someone looking to do a similar trip: bring binoculars!

Top Activities

  • Hiking the Green Gardens Trail in Gros Morne. We did this as a day hike, but I regret not doing an overnight hike. It was a gorgeous area.
  • Waiting for the sun to set from Cape Onion.
  • Seeing whales from the top of the Santana Trail in St. Anthony.
  • Skinny dipping in the Atlantic Ocean. It was cold but it felt good after hiking in the sun.
  • Watching an amusing play at the Woody Point Heritage Theatre – Sherlock Holmes and the Nazi of Bonne Bay.
  • The 360ยฐ view from the top of the Lookout Trail in Gros Morne.

Ready to Ascend Ocean Skinny Dipping Red Chair Lookout I'm a Viking

We also did two boat tours – one from St. Anthony and one in the Western Brook Pond. I wasn’t overly thrilled with either. Seeing an iceberg up close in St. Anthony was cool, but the whales were just as easily spotted from land as from the boat. The Western Brook Pond area is too similar to the BC coast to really get excited about.

Newfoundland Travel ExpensesCost
9 days in Newfoundland cost more than a week in Hawaii. Luckily I had a free Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Deer Lake, which saved us $950. Our rental car cost over $700 plus $115 in gas, but it was a necessary expense. We logged over 1200 km driving. There was a Japanese pair staying with us in Woody Point who were trying (with limited success) to explore Gros Morne car-free. They were very grateful when we took them site seeing for a day.
View from the Discovery Centre

Accommodation in Newfoundland wasn’t cheap, but it was offset by the 3 nights we spent camping in the park and our cheap food costs. We only stayed in places with kitchens so we could cook our own meals. We spent $210 on on activities, with the boat trips ($65 each) being the most expensive. Our 7-day pass for Gros Morne ($44) was the best value considering how much hiking we did. The theatre show was $23 and well worth it.

Pictures
Full Set on Flickr
Newfoundland Panorama
Continue reading Vacation to Gros Morne, Newfoundland

I Won a Free Flight to Newfoundland!

air_canada_750
I can’t believe it. I won a free round-trip flight to Deer Lake, Newfoundland. It almost sounds like a joke. Who gives out free flights to Newfoundland? My first reaction when I received the email was to assume it was a hoax. I almost marked it as spam, but then I remember I had entered Air Canada’s Around the World in 750 Stories Contest a few weeks ago and picked Deer Lake as the my preferred destination for a free flight anywhere in the world.

I never thought I would win and immediately regretted choosing Newfoundland, of all places, but I had my reasons. Air Canada gave away 750 free flights – 386 to Canada, 99 to Asia, 98 to Europe, 86 to the USA/Central America, 51 to South America, and 30 to Australia. I figured more people would choose exotic, overseas destinations. So, I played the odds and picked a Canadian city.

Newfoundland 2006 - 103.jpgI’m lucky to have seen more of Canada than most Canadians. I’ve travelled east to St. John’s, north to Churchill, west to Prince Rupert, and to visited every province except PEI. But there are still lots of beautiful places in Canada that I’ve yet to visit. I eventually settled on Newfoundland because I’ve never been to Gros Morne but I’ve heard great things about it, and flights from Vancouver to Deer Lake are as expensive as flying overseas.

Here is what I wrote for Air Canada’s contest:
Mount Gardner Double JumpI love to spend time in the outdoors. My wife and I have hiked and trekked in far away places like Peru and Vietnam, but there are large parts of Canada we’ve never explored. I’d love to spend a week hiking through Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. There are so many beautiful places in Canada, and Gros Morne is at the top of my list for places to explore.

I can use my free flight almost anytime before December 15 (except around Easter), so we were thinking of going in the summer. Anyone have any recommendations of sights or hikes in the park?

Photo of Gros Morne by David Ooms.

How the NDP Found its Green Mojo

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The NDP has always had strong environmental credentials, but in the past decade it has sat back and let other parties lead the charge. Although Jack Layton was a committed environmentalist, it often felt that environmental issues took a back seat to health care, education, and pensions during his leadership, and it was painful to watch the NDP oppose carbon taxes in BC and federally. As a result, people like me sometimes voted for the Green Party. But that’s changing.

The BC NDP now supports the carbon tax, and, more importantly, promises to use some of the proceeds to improve public transit. They’ve also strongly opposed the Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat, arguing not only against the environmental costs but the economic risks of the project to BC.

Federally, Thomas Mulcair has started pushing sustainable development in a big way, arguing that polluting industries need to internalize the costs of dumping pollution into the air, water, and land, including the oil sands. The ‘polluter pays’ principle. He’s also making an economic argument for protecting the environment.

I think it’s a smart strategy. Up until now, the debate has always pitted the environment against the economy. And when push comes to shove, the economy always wins. However, Mulcair is arguing that our zeal to export raw resources is harming other sectors of the economy, like manufacturing – the so called Dutch Disease. By framing sustainable development as an economic issue instead of a environmental one, Mulcair is creating a sharp contrast to the Conservative budget, which focuses on destroying the environment for economic gain.

And it looks like the Conservatives are scared. The last 3 polls have all shown the NDP in the lead, but the economy is the Conservative trump card. If Mulcair can convince Canadians that the Conservative’s approach to the environment is in fact harming the economy outside of the oil patch, the NDP lead will continue to grow. This interview with Mulcair explains his ideas in his own words. It’s worth watching, and I’d embed the video but CTV’s video player sucks.
Continue reading How the NDP Found its Green Mojo

NDP Leadership Candidates – The Bald, Beard, & Brains

I’m still trying to decide who to vote for in the NDP leadership race. I didn’t know much about the candidates before, so I’ve been watching the debates and following the blogosphere. My criteria for leader – charisma, inspiration, and the ability to defeat Stephen Harper. Here’s who’s impressed me the most.

Nathan Cullen1. The BaldNathan Cullen
More than any of the other candidates, Nathan Cullen thrives in debates. Why isn’t he on tv more? He’s exciting, knowledgeable, and funny. Electoral reform and the environment (whoot!) are his top priorities, and he’s been a strong opponent of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Lastly, he wants to beat Stephen Harper so bad he’s willing to consider joint nominations with the Greens and Liberals in some ridings. Most progressives I know would applaud him for this, but within some NDP circles the idea is kryptonite. I was a bit skeptical at first (as a voter I like having choice), but the plan has merits.
Strengths: Environmentalist, amazing debater, and willing to be bold.

Thomas Mulcair2. The BeardThomas Mulcair
More than any of the candidates, Mulcair looks like he should be Prime Minister. It’s the way he speaks. He’s normally calm and reasoned, but he can also be extremely passionate. His environmental credentials are top-notch, but he is often questioned about his commitment to the NDP because he comes from the Quebec Liberal Party. Personally, I think the NDP needs to widen its base and Mulcair is a good example of that. The real question is can the NDP transition from a great mustache to a great beard?
Strengths: Environmentalist, articulate in both languages, and passionate.

Brian Topp addresses supporters3. The BrainsBrian Topp
Brian Topp is considered the brains behind the NDP’s breakthrough in the past few years. He’s a smart guy and he’s reasonably charismatic, especially if you compare him to Stephen Harper. On a policy front, his priorities are fairer taxes and increasing funding to social services. The left-wing side of the NDP love him, and he’s received the most high-profile endorsements. His youtube channel is full of slick videos and celebrity endorsements, but he doesn’t excite me as much as Cullen or Mulcair.
Strengths: Smart and progressive.

If you want to get a better sense of the candidates, the debates are online. Here’s a collection of short youtube clips starting with a funny one from 22 Minutes.

Continue reading NDP Leadership Candidates – The Bald, Beard, & Brains