Tag Archives: liberal

Wayne Easter and Meat Politics

cow

As evidence continues to mount that eating meat and dairy is not only detrimental to the planet but also to human health, politicians in Canada are stubbornly committed to supporting the animal agriculture industry.

Take the recent tweets of Wayne Easter, MP for Malpeque, PEI & member of Liberal Government of Canada, who proudly tweeted about his meeting with cattle lobbyists.

When he was questioned about the environmental and health impacts of animal agriculture, he responded with: “have a T-bone steak. It will make you feel better”.

https://twitter.com/WayneEaster/status/758744760068648960

Which offended many people and as the outrage mounted he tried the “I’m not racist, I have black friends” defence.

Before claiming that it was hard working farmers and their families that were being attacked, which is ridiculous as all of the replies to his tweets were respectful and focussed on public policy.

Unfortunately the questions that Canadians were asking still remain unanswered. I wonder if anyone in the Liberal Government can explain:

  • Why we subsidize animal agriculture when it is increasingly obvious it is not healthy for humans or the planet?
  • Why does the Canada food guide still have sections “Milk and Alternatives” and “Meat and Alternatives”. If it was based on the best science, it would look like the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, which has a section for “Healthy Protein” and it recommends limiting milk consumption.
  • How will Canada meet its climate change commitments made in Paris (to limit global warming to 1.5 C) without reducing the amount of animal products that Canada produces and consumes?

harvard_healthy_plate

Good Bye Harper; Hello Trudeau

Trudeau Bat Flip - Chronicle Herald Editorial
Mission accomplished. Stephen Harper is gone. Now it is time to repair the damage he’s done to this country.

Waking up this morning, I’m feeling relief that the Conservatives have been reduced to under 100 seats and Stephen Harper is no longer Prime Minister, but I’m disappointed that the NDP and Greens didn’t do better. It was clear in the last few weeks that the Liberals had the momentum and voters latched on to the hope that they could defeat the Conservatives. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm for change meant that some good NDP incumbents lost. The most tragic defeat was Megan Leslie in Halifax, whose passion and knowledge of environmental issues rivals Elizabeth May. That’s a huge loss.

Canadian Election Results 2015
After last night’s election results, it is time to finally declare that strategic voting is a miserable failure and the real problem is our voting system. LeadNow got the election result it wanted (the Conservatives lost) but not by looking at polling data and giving recommendations in each riding. Their nuanced local strategy was overwhelmed by the national numbers as progressive voters flocked to the Liberals for change, regardless of the local polling data. Ironically, the message on the LeadNow website is: “In 2011, a majority of people voted for a change in government, but our broken voting system gave the Harper Conservatives 100% of the power with just 39% of the vote.” The result in 2015, 39% of voters have given the Liberals 100% of the power. Is that any better?

I didn’t vote Liberal, but not because I disagree with their platform. The Liberal, NDP, and Green platforms are very similar and I like them all. I didn’t vote Liberal because I worry that they don’t have the courage to follow through with their promises. I hope Justin Trudeau proves me wrong, and it is up to progressive voters to ensure he does. I’ll be specifically watching to see that they follow through with these three promises:

Electoral Reform – The Liberals have promised that “2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system”, with an an all-party Parliamentary committee recommending a replacement by May 2017. Following through on this will forever change the Canadian political landscape, for the better.

Climate Change Action – The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris is only 6 weeks away. The Liberals pledges here will be an indication on how seriously they take climate change.

Marijuana Legalization – I’ve never smoked pot and probably never will, even if it is legal. That said, legalizing and taxing marijuana is smart, bold policy and I hope the Liberals follow through.

Why I’m Voting NDP

Untitled

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.

Data Nerd: 30 Years of Canadian Elections Charted

XKCD created a fascinating chart of the history of the US Congress. I thought it would be interesting to do something similar for Canada, but our multi-party system and separatist political parties makes it a lot more difficult. I was able to gather the results from all the federal and provincial elections in the past 31 years (my lifetime plus a bonus year), and there are some interesting trends and patterns.


– The Liberals are sometimes called “Canada’s Natural Governing Party”, but in the past 31 years, the Conservatives have been in charge of 46% of the governments (172 combined years). By comparison, the Liberals have governed 30% of the time, the NDP 18%, and other governments (many Conservative-leaning) 6% of the time.

– The NDP have never governed federally, buy have been in control of at least one government every year since 1982. In fact, the NDP have been in government somewhere in Canada as far back as 1969, when Ed Schreyer was elected in Manitoba. Most of those governments have been in Western Canada, with the exception of Ontario in the early 90’s and Nova Scotia today.

– 1984 was the height of Conservative governance in Canada. Brian Mulroney won the largest majority government in Canadian history, 8 provinces had Progressive Conservative governments (9 if you count the Social Credit government in BC), and the Liberals weren’t in power in a single province. That might explain Stephen Harper’s tendency toward Orwellian policies.

– Alberta is the only province with a political dynasty/monoculture. Every other province saw 3-5 changes in governments in the past 30 years.


– Although governments tend to cycle through political parties, support for conservative parties has stayed relatively constant in terms of total votes cast (federal and provincial) – between 7.5 million and 11 million votes. Support for the Liberals and NDP has a very strong inverse correlation (-0.85), meaning they are likely pulling support from the same voters. Combined support for the two parties has been pretty constant over the past 30 years – between 11.5 million and 14.5 million total votes.
Continue reading Data Nerd: 30 Years of Canadian Elections Charted

Strategic Voting – #hashtagfail

Strategic voting sites were all the rage this election. Websites like Project Democracy used advanced seat projection models and the latest polls to determine what ridings would be close and how progressive voters should ‘strategically vote’ to stop the Conservatives.

What an utter failure (or ‘hashtagfail’ as my buddy Jack would say). Pundits Guide warned us that Conservatives love strategic voting sites, but few people listened. The promise of having your vote count in a system where so many votes are wasted was too strong to resist.

If you look at the closest races in Canada involving the Conservatives, all of them decided by less 2% of the votes cast, the ‘strategic’ recommendations were horrible. In the 10 races where strategic voting could have been effective, Project Democracy got 5 of them wrong, and the Conservatives won all five of those ridings.

Riding Result PD Strategy Verdict
Montmagny – L’Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup Cons +1101 +10 over NDP Vote Bloc FAIL
Nipissing – Timiskaming Cons +14 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Etobicoke Centre Cons +25 over Libs Safe Liberal Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Yukon Cons +132 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Elmwood Transcona Cons +284 over NDP Safe NDP Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca NDP +406 over Cons Vote NDP PASS
Bramalea – Gore – Malton Cons +538 over NDP Vote Liberal FAIL
Don Valley West Cons +639 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Mississauga East – Cooksville Cons +661 over Libs Safe Liberal Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Lotbinière – Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Cons +777 over NDP Vote NDP PASS

1 – vote difference in Montmagny reduced to 10 after counting error detected.

Unfortunately, in a first-past-the-post voting system, only 2 parties can be viable alternatives. Strategic voting is a failed coping mechanism. We need to either change the voting system or get ready for polarized American-style politics with the Conservatives battling the NDP across Canada. Even as an NDP supporter, it’s not a prospect I’m looking forward to. I’d rather have more choices.

Bitter Sweet Election Results


The NDP won over 100 seats. Elizabeth May is the first Green party MP ever elected in Canada. The Bloc Quebecois have lost official party status.

All great news, but what a shitty election result. I’m not sure I can handle four years of a Conservative majority government.

What happened to the Liberal vote in Ontario? Why is Manitoba and Saskatchewan so damn Conservative?

If the Liberals could have held more of their Ontario seats we could have had an NDP-Liberal-Green coalition government in charge of Canada. How awesome would that have been? A government that would have made electoral reform and the environment a priority. Instead, I weep for the future of Canada. Maybe we need to give students the right to vote, and take it away from old people – Student Vote gave a much better result.

I’m worried Canada is heading to a 2-party system, a consequence of the first-past-the-post electoral system. I prefer the NDP to the Liberals, but I think we need both parties, and I don’t want the see them merge. I want real electoral reform. A single-transferable-vote system where no vote is wasted, strategic voting is unnecessary, and vote splitting doesn’t lead to Conservative majority governments.

If the Election was an Episode of Star Trek

What character would each leader be?


Stephen Harper is clearly an android. He has the same emotional range and rigid hair piece as Data. He’s just better at lying. “If you prick me, do I not… leak?”


Michael Ignatieff is a dead-ringer for Sarek, Spock’s father. “It would be illogical for a Vulcan to show anger! It’d be illogical! illogical! illogical! illogic…!”

Jack Layton - Star Trek Convention
Jack Layton has gone where no leader has gone before, a Star Trek convention. He’s definitely channelling Captain Jean-Luc Picard in that uniform. “Make it so.”
Image from scott3eh.


Gilles Duceppe is like lot like Q – mischievous, slightly malevolent, but strangely amusing. “All good things must come to an end…”

Any ideas on what character Elizabeth May would be?