Saturday, January 31, 2009

Alberta Schools and Poor Infrastructure Planning

(Empty field where school should be)

It appears the recession is having an impact on well-heeled Britons.

"The government will nationalise recession-hit private schools by turning them into state-funded academies, ministers have confirmed.

Headteachers predict that some struggling fee-charging schools will seek to join the scheme to stave off closure, as more parents desert the private sector.

There are warnings, too, that thousands of pupils may seek places at already-stretched state schools this September if private schools fail."

In recent years - in Alberta - we've seen the massive growth of the "for profit" "charter/private" school category. The growth in Alberta was so sustained and all-pervasive that the "charter schools" have actually supplanted "public" schools in many locales. With their multi-thousand dollar fees and "kitschy" names and curricula, these schools were all the rage through the 2000s. If you want your kid to play hockey, there is even a "hockey school". There are sports-oriented schools, science-focused schools, and arts focused schools.

The government of Alberta didn't even CONSIDER a new school without first developing a P3 "deal". Charter schools are everywhere in AB.

Spurred by the Conservative (Alberta) government's desire to privatize all things public, and the Alberta public's opinion that taxes do "nothing" for them, Alberta is a victim of "over-capitalism" in the public sector. This disease seeps through the health "care" system (which lags behind BC and Sask), government services sector (fees for EVERYTHING), infrastructure (P3s build everything - and "own" it too), and, or course the molding of the future minds of the province.

I'm curious to learn what the impact of massive government deficits and poor infrastructure planning has wrought in my old province. I recall driving about Calgary, and seeing the empty fields (where a school "will go") in glistening new suburban housing tracts... Will young home owners choose to live 20 km from downtown Calgary anymore - with no rail service, inadequate bus service, no schools (except for the mega-thousand dollar tuition ones), and few medical services? Or... will they choose to live closer to downtown, where they may still find a public school (aging as it may be - with children studying in "portables")?

The recession, coupled with the poor educational infrastructure in Alberta will result in a further construction slow-down/slump away from "downtown", and more crowding in areas close to downtown. Construction companies and workers should be very upset with the Alberta government. Developers initially were more concerned with the quick "build and dump" in a market driven by real estate flippers. Many a new subdivision plan had the markings for both public and separate schools. When building in Calgary, I noticed that few if ANY of these subdivisions actually received the promised schools.

Will we see private/charter schools close in Alberta? Chances are, yes, we will. Will they require government bailouts? Most of these schools were created by people who had close "friendships" with the provincial PCs. Will they take advantage of that relationship to acquire funding to remain open? There's a good chance they will - it never stopped them in the past. Ask PC MLAs in Alberta where their children go to school. If you don't hear "the public system", don't be surprised. The "bottom line" will be whether parents can afford the tuition at the private schools when perfectly good public schools exist (although not close-by).

In the end, we'll probably see another conservative government learn a lesson on "over-privatization". When times get tough, the private companies pack up and leave.

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Is The Strategy Sound?

I think it is.

I've seen some blog-posts questioning our party's strategy on the budget and beyond. I read a very well-though out blog post by Adam M. on the subject. Some people have challenged his thinking - which is what we do very well in this open and "big-tent" party. Folks... I think some of you are reading Adam wrong. I think his comments about letting the public enjoy the government they elected were more of an observation on the fact that general ignorance in the populace about what got them here, and what's going to help them with jobs, just doesn't exist.

It's like this: You have a 17 year old child. They're going to a party. At this party there will most likely be alcohol and drugs. You KNOW this is not the right path for your child. But... as many parents, you also believe that your child has been raised to know the difference between right and wrong. To "ground" your child, or to keep them from going, would simply kill any sense of independence the child has, and probably cause rebellion, where they'll embrace the "druggies" because you are simply a "power-hungry" parent - and the "druggies" will no doubt highlight that to your child. I'm sure many parents out there are faced with this dilemma every day.

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I'll Be Getting My Tax Credit In April, Will You?

Translate this to the current political situation. The Conservatives are the "druggies". The voters are your 17-year-old child, who you hope has the sense to make the right decision. We moderate and kind-minded Liberals are the doting "parents" of Confederation (and the 17 yr old).

How easy is it for us to watch the child we nurtured and love make their own decisions about such a matter? We know that having the "heavy hand" will cause that child's friends to convince them that we are doing something "wrong"... even "illegal". That we are just exercising our power.

It is a VERY tough decision, but we know what the "mega-dollar party" will do if we assume the reigns of government right now. We had a little taste of it in December. 18 months of running this government will not be enough to get us out of this recession. We would be faced with constant attacks... constant public tongue-lashings by a former government that has the money to fund the ads.

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I'll Be Getting My Tax Credit In April, Will You?

We can replace these people when they've worn this recession a little longer. It's great that Harper is wearing his deficit sweater now too... There is a mandated election in October. By the time of the first couple of budget "updates" you can pretty much guarantee that things will have gotten worse (as they would under any government), and you can also be sure that very little funding will actually have gone out. What I'm saying is that the situation is reversible within the period of time that one would be on EI. This means that if a wrongful budgetary decision (which is SUPPOSED to stimulate business and industry) causes job loss at the point of "roll out" - which could be weeks or months from now, the victims of the Conservative follow have almost a year beyond that where existing measures like EI will help them. We know that if conditions go this way in the next few months, we'll be pulling the plug on the Cons BEFORE the slated October election. The big BUT is that we'll be forcing an election - not a coalition - and winning a clear victory. Then the NDP can choose to support us if we're a minority, or keep playing their political games.

I think we should all be focused on raising funds. Even if we're on the "coalition" or "pull the plug now" camps, we need to ensure the party has money to "defend itself" with a massive ad campaign. Failure to do so is folly no matter WHICH WAY we choose to go...

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Is Missing Here?

Great email from Michael, sent out to all Liberals. Well thought out. Solid reasoning. Addressing topics that Liberals and other Canadians from all walks of life shared with him during the nationwide town hall meetings.

So why do I think something is missing? Look closely. In Barack Obama's emails (yeah, I'm on that mailing list too) he inserts a plea for funds after every 2nd or 3 paragraph. We are missing a KEY fundraising opportunity. There should be a rule somewhere stipulating that NOTHING goes out to ANYONE in the party without a link, address, or form with a plea for funds to help us continue our struggle for good government in this land of ours.

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I'll get my tax credit in April - Will You?

We even include a link on how to "un-subscribe" to these emails. Imagine THAT. WE provide a "let us get out of your face" link, but not a plea for donations, or for the Victory Fund? 

(edit): Then again - I know we are using a lot of input from the Obama campaign, so perhaps I'm jumping the gun here.  Judging by the feedback from the comments below, I probably am just getting "overly anxious" due to my fund-raising history.  Keep up the good work folks.  Let's stay on target, and get rid of the conservative cancer blighting our land.

Have a read (it's a good statement on the budget):

Dear Liberal,

After carefully reviewing the budget with our Liberal Team I wanted to share with you our next steps.

During my tour this past month you’ve said over and over again that you don’t want further delays and you want the support you were promised. But you also said that you want the government held accountable, they failed you in the past and lost your trust.

I want you to know that the Liberal Team listened. We are prepared to support the budget but will be putting forward an amendment that will ensure that the government is held accountable, to you, and to Parliament.

We are putting Stephen Harper on probation.

If the government fails to satisfy the expectations of Canadians we will be ready to defeat him.

Stephen Harper insists that accountability is important, but he has lost credibility and the trust of Canadians by failing to deliver on promises made in the past. We must ensure that the economic measures offered in this budget actually reach the people they are meant to help.

If the accountability reports in March, June, and December are unsatisfactory we will withdraw our support.

A united Opposition forced Stephen Harper to concede important points in yesterday’s budget:

  • new investment in social housing and infrastructure, including for Canada’s First Nations;
  • targeted support for low and middle income Canadians through an expansion of the Child Tax Benefit and Working Income Tax Benefit; and
  • investment in regional development agencies throughout the country.

But, the budget is also flawed in significant ways:

  • it doesn’t go far enough to protect Canadians who have - or will soon – lose their jobs;
  • it opens the door for attacks on pay equity for women;
  • it breaks the Conservatives` promise to all Canadian provinces on equalization;
  • it missed the opportunity for significant stimulus investment towards the green economy;
  • it lacks clear plan for getting us out of the $85 billion hole the government will dig us into over the next five years.

You have made it clear that you want us to act in your best interest and address the economic crisis with the seriousness it deserves.

Thank you for all of your encouragement and for working with me on finding solutions to our Country’s challenges.


To unsubscribe to these emails, click here.

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Counter The Attack Ads - Join The Liberal Victory Fund!

Our party suffered through some heinous and untruthful ads attacking Stephane Dion for the past 2 years. Today the NDP has launched radio ads to try to discredit Michael for his bold actions.

Why did we suffer for the last two years??? Because people like you and I were not donating to the party. We did not have the funds to run ads to counter the Conservative ads. We were still paying off leadership debts.

We can expect continued NDP attacks (Layton is fighting for his political life), and Conservative ads in the future.

We have seen a huge "uptake" in donation support over the past month, but we need YOUR help to cross this next hurdle.

We are strong in policy and solutions for Canada.

We are strong in leadership.

We are strong in talent (just look at our benches).

We are strong in tradition.

We are strong in brand recognition.

Your party needs you to shore up the ONLY thing anyone can say we are weak on right now - campaign funds for Stephen Harper's new "year-round campaign mode" - recently adopted by the NDP. Politics in Canada has changed, and we need to unite around the sole purpose of adapting to the "new way".

Please join us in our fight - join the Liberal Victory Fund.

Share the message by joining our Facebook Group - and invite all your friends, regardless of political persuasion.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Never To Be Heard Again

I'm wondering... (and turning the channel, just a little bit...)

Wondering out loud today... Just what kind of Conservative will ever be able to stand up and say (with a straight face), "spend-thrift Liberals", or "tax and spend NDPers"?

After this budget - and the largest deficit in Canadian history - the most ruthlessly right wing conservatives in the land... the right wing neoCons of "Reformville" - have all but given up any semblance of fiscal conservative ideology. Sure we still hate them for being social conservatives, and about 100 years behind the modern world in their views on science. We will still dislike their two-faced approach to politics (and that's saying a lot, considering politics TENDS to be a "two-faced" bloodsport). BUT... BUT... never again will they be able to smirk, lean back, and call other parties in Parliament "spendthrifts".

This is a historical shift in Canadian politics - and I think only Andrew Coyne captured it accurately last night. The ones who called themselves the most principled conservatives in the land, have shed their principles for political expediency.

Canadian Conservatives have highlighted the worldwide "misnomer" of liberals as "spendthrifts". We have seen several regimes around the world - conservative regimes - who have spent their nations into oblivion. In Canada, the record of conservatives is equally bad. They whittle away at funds and government when they are in power in "good times", then have no clue how to escape from the bad times. They effectively destroy a nation's social support infrastructure and job-creation infrastructure by handing tax money back to "the people", not doing anything to support those people when times get bad - as they always will and always do.

What does this mean for Liberals? Whatever we come up with will appeal more to ordinary voting Canadians, than this Conservative budget. Canadians have now seen the most (self-named) conservative conservatives in Canadian history repeat what their conservative forebearers did - at a much larger scale. No Conservative can stand up and say they are fiscally more responsible. This will allow Liberals and liberals to push their ideas ahead - without the fear of the ideas being dubbed "pie-in-the-sky" spending schemes. This will pave the way for real ideas - grand ideas to come back into the public discourse.

Imagine a Canada where the politics of substance is back on the table. Imagine a Canada where politicians with great dreams can step forth. Where things like universal day-care and fully paid university educations are not just "pipe dreams"... Imagine.

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Ignatieff Rides Into Town And Makes Parliament Work

There's a new Sheriff in town.  After sitting in Parliament for just 14 DAYS since June, Canada's MPs WILL sit down and work on solutions to an economic crisis that has existed for well over a year (but which our Conservative government denied until a few weeks ago).

Mr. Ignatieff has shunned political games, and has forced Harper to can his.  Any "gamesmanship" by Harper, at this time, will be construed as a slap in the face of Canadian voters.

The "update" provision is VERY big.  While some say it is not much of a demand, they forget the media focus on this.  I personally feel that there isn't very much except for massive infrastructure programs which will revive the economy, and MOST importantly, put Canadians back to work quickly.  This plan doesn't do this - meaning the updates won't show Canadians getting back to work.  The recession is definitely longer than fiscal 2009, so the Cons will be wrong on that count as well.  

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The biggest factor pointed out by the updates is how the dollars aren't getting to municipalities in the new infrastructure plan.  Cities DON'T have money to chip in a third of all infrastructure costs.  Shovels will NOT hit the ground right away.  The first several progress reports will show this clearly - to the detriment of Harper and his Cons.

We need to remember, also, that Mr. Ignatieff listened to the Provinces - who were lukewarm but accepting of this budget.  One would look like a buffoon (a'la Layton) to outright reject a plan when almost all Provinces want to give it a shot.  One would also be silly to oppose something that sounds like a plan when Canadians don't want an election or more political games.

"Probation" sounds like a position of strength.  It is.  The leader's decision outlines, as well, that we Liberals can work "with" the government - as well as the other opposition parties.  This is good news for Liberals.  It makes us look like the "bigger person".  Certainly the Conservatives (Harper mainly) will try to play their games in a few months.  You can count on that...  But, we are much better positioned to slap them down.  We have a leader who is seen as a consensus builder - a great leadership quality.

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With a government on probation, we have served notice that we will topple them on anything that we find unpalatable.  This is brilliant tactics.  We have reserved the right to act, without forcing our hand right now.  Remember too, this keeps the updates and the "Harper solution" very visible in the public eye - which lets us "rub it in" every time it doesn't work.  In the past the Cons would "address" an issue with platitudes and angry rhetoric - then let it slip away from the public memory.  Any time it came up again, they would jump up and down and say the other parties were just being "partisan", and that they had "addressed" it.  No more of that now.  The public will expect the updates - and the Liberal reaction to it - all the time putting Mr. Ignatieff in the public spotlight.

Brilliant.  Not necessarily "accepting" the budget in full, but letting it move ahead on a case-by-case basis - while holding Conservative feet to the fire.  Sure Harper retains power (for now), but he will also "wear" the recession - without any opposition complicity.  

We Liberals can focus on fundraising (which has seen a marked upswing since Mr. Ignatieff became leader).  And Parliament gets to work again.  

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Michael Wants YOUR Feedback On the Conservative Budget

Michael would like your feedback on the Conservative budget here. A lot of varying opinions on Harper's "little dooty" today... If you have any thoughts, do share them with our leader... He is listening...

Your opinion is requested - and needed. Our leader is open to your views and ideas. Let's ensure he has our candid opinions on the budget laid down today...

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"A Budget About Nothing" From The Government About Nothing...

(Conservative Cabinet in flight)

The Cons have effectively taken the deficit question off the table in any future election campaign, by introducing this mammoth one today. When we go to the polls, the next time, Liberal leaders will not have to be "afraid" of spending money where needed, and aspire to have a REAL Liberal budget.

We can REALLY put Canadians back to work, REALLY inject incentive into green industries and public transport (with no strings grants to municipalities), REALLY address the economic issues at hand.

An election will take a completely different light when ALL parties are indicating that a deficit is GOOD for the recession.

Things like...

- truly universal daycare to help struggling parents;

- new hospital funding;

- shovels in the ground on twinning the TCH RIGHT NOW;

- more help for EI programs and retraining (rather than "nothing").

- 1st and final years of university or trade school education paid for (based on a passing mark).

- direct aid for Northern and 1st Nations communities.

This government - by abandoning any conservative principles it had, and now aimlessly putting up "PR policies" - has proven that it truly is a "government about nothing". I'm surprised that Flaherty didn't talk about mythical companies called "Vandelay Industries", or "Kramerica".

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It's Not About Confidence - It's About Accountability

The Liberal response to the budget will not be about "confidence" as much as it will be about responsibility for the economy and accountability for leaving Canada in such a weak position to deal with the recession.  It is our duty to ensure that Harper does not slough off his responsibility for the lack of resilience of this economy.  His minions have already began denying responsibility.  They need to accept THEIR RESPONSIBILITY in things like "0 down, 40 year mortgages" - the primary cause of the worsening real estate conditions in this country.  Harper's hacks made it possible for people who should NOT have been buying homes to do so - at grossly inflated prices.  

I listen closely to financial experts and economists who claim this recession is going to get ugly (uglier than it is now).  What will the "government about nothing" do?  My bets are massive tax cuts, lip service to "incentives" (meaning infrastructure projects cities and provinces won't be able to claim), and talking up small numbers, convincing Canadians that 100 Million is a lot of money - when it barely covers one or two major projects.  In essence, a "remedy for nothing".

In these conditions, and in these times, I ask fellow Liberals:  Do we REALLY want to govern?  It will get worse before it gets better - no matter what we do.  Yes, we will help create the conditions for a quick recovery more effectively, but, we will have to go through the tough time.  

Why not let Harper wear it a little longer?  We know there is a legally mandated election set for October 2009.  Should we not see what happens with the economy over the next few months, then strike?  I'm not one to say we "sit on our hands" forever.  If we're not ready in a few months of SERIOUS fund-raising, then we'll never be ready and may as well shut down our party.  

We MUST "go" within 9 months.  It is imperative for the party.  If we choose not to vote down the budget now, and are asked "why", we simply need to answer, "because Steve has set an election for October 09 - let's see what this government intends to do to help Canadians".  If we do choose to defeat the government, it had better be about something that is hurting Canada (more than the Harper government already has).  

This thing isn't about confidence - it's about accountability.  Accountability of a government - a government about nothing - which believes governments have no role in governing.  A government that believes governments should be "hands off".  A government that won't own up to "boondoggling" away 25 BILLION since they took over from the Martin Liberals.  Time we hold them accountable.  Time we put their feet to the fire.  Defeat the government if necessary, but not necessarily "defeat the government".

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Monday, January 26, 2009

New Mantra From The "Government About Nothing": "An Economic Crisis Not Of Our Doing"

Have you heard it? The latest catch-phrase from "Con-Central" (or Comedy Central, if you will), and PM "Kruger" Harper?

Conservative MPs have been out there talking about the "budget" (call it "the deficit" if you prefer - I mean, I couldn't budget MY family that way - we'd be on the street).

Listen closely and you'll hear their first lines abdicate any responsibility for the financial crisis...

It goes a little like this... (if you hear from Prentice, or Baird, or any of the talking heads...):

"We Conservatives are the "victims"..."

"In the words of Bart Simpson, "I didn't do it""

"We're in a time of economic hardships - FOR WHICH WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE - but, we ARE taking action... yada, yada, yada... budget about nothing... tax nazi line ("no tax for you!" [no services either, but we'll cross that bridge when YOU come to it])... yada, yada."

One Conservative MP to another: "You can't 'yada-yada' a budget, can you?" Other MP: "He just did"

Based on Layton's statements today ("It's an NDP Budget" from Mr. Harper), and Michael's points that this was a little more conciliatory, this budget just may pass. It may even be passed unanimously by all parties. THAT would be something!

So, what's next from our fabulous "government about nothing"? How will they get us out of debt? How will they get Canadians to work? Shower-heads that squeeze off our water supply, giving us all John Baird hair? Someone coming around cutting off our cable signal? Maybe they'll give the opposition the "evil eye" again? Maybe they'll get us all to haul our empty drink cans across provincial borders in Canada Post vans to claim the higher deposit in the next province...

Can't wait to see what Prime Minister "Kruger" and his band of merry men have in store for tomorrow...

"Oh the humanity!"

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Law and Order"

Three off-duty Greater Vancouver Police officers attacked and viciously beat a 50 + year old father of 3 recently.  He was a newspaper delivery driver, on his route, dropping off papers at a series of boxes in downtown Vancouver.

His "crime"?

Being brown.

According to witnesses the three off-duty officers were heard telling the victim they were the police - when he screamed for the police, and for help.  They told him to stop struggling, or they'd taser him.  They told him they hate brown people, among other racial epithets.  

These "fine" young examples of Vancouver's best better see some serious jail time for this heinous and unprovoked crime.  Anything less is a slap in the face of minorities, AND in the face of justice.  

Police need to be investigated by civilian watchdogs, AND should not get off easy for committing crimes.  They are not "just human" - they are held to a higher standard as protectors of justice.  Police officers across the land should be insulted by this racist, juvenile, and moronic crime.

It remains to be seen if the three will be charged with a hate crime - considering the Harper government's push to rip the cajones off of hate crime legislation...

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Conservatives Squander Canada's Future In 25 Billion Dollar "Boondoggle"

Canada's Conservatives have so little faith in their economic "management skills", that they're asking Canadians to support a budget before we even see it, in their most extraordinary and infantile pre-campaign campaign ads.  Disgusting.  These hate-mongers want "cooperation" like they want same-sex marriage.

Our MPs - and ALL Canadians - should take a bit of a "truth pill" before believing anything in the Harper/Con budget:

Ralph Goodale, Paul Martin, et al left Canada with a balanced budget (9 consecutive balanced budgets actually), and a 12 Billion dollar surplus held as a contingency fund.

Harper's Conservatives not only dug the 13 Billion dollar hole that we are currently in BEFORE any bailouts of adjustments were made for the "newly discovered" (by Harper-Flaherty, at least) economic woes, but they also squandered the 12 Billion dollar Liberal surplus.

13 Billion + 12 Billion = 25 Billion

25 Billion (with a capital B).  Most Canadians stop fathoming large amounts of money pretty much once the number hits a Million $.  To most of us, that's a huge sum.  Imagine 1000 Millions x 25!!!

While our MPs will have plenty to dig into with the upcoming Harper budget, we MUST ask, "Where, Mr. Harper/Deficit Jim, did the 25 Billion Dollars go?"  The biggest financial boondoggle in Canadian history.

Want to speak out against Conservative economic mismanagement?  Join the Facebook Group.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ignatieff To Fellow Canadians: We Need Shovels In The Ground NOW...

The current "downturn", come "recession", come "depression", is a "great opportunity" (to quote a recent Prime Minister with the last name Harper). How is it an opportunity? Not quite the stock purchasing spree that our "Sub-Prime Minister" envisions...

With the global recession in full swing we have a very real need to employ Canadians in meaningful ventures, and in long-term positions. We also need to lay down the groundwork for the economy of tomorrow. This recession is an opportunity for us to build towards the new economy - with the required public willingness to spend money - something the recent culture of rabid consumerism driven by corporate fascism would not allow (taxes were a sin, better not mentioned by those who aspired to elected office, and spending was a "no-no").

What is this much talked about "economy of tomorrow"? Well... there will be a few clear aspects:

A Focus On "Green" Technology and Environmentally Friendly Ideas: The world is looking for leadership in this area. Developing economies like India and China are already weaning themselves off oil - even though they continue to use more of it. Researchers (working for peanuts) in these countries are developing new technologies and techniques for age old processes.

Affordable Technologies: The developing world (read: the REST of the world) needs cost effective products geared to their citizens. Not providing these can lead to unrest and strife. Computers that a poor farmer in India (earning pennies a day) can afford with the rest of his village. Mini-solar batteries and portable electricity generating systems to bring light and power where there was none. The global AIDS epidemic shed new light on the greedy corporate fascism which was leading the West. Generic drug manufacturers are springing up, offering drugs at much lower cost than what the West can produce (or wants to produce). Our drugs are priced according to the US "user pays" health system, driven by a vicious profit motive. The world is passing us by, while we feed our consumerist culture - at the behest of the MegaCorps.

A Focus On Intellectual Property and Ideas (the Knowledge Economy) - To have the ideas it will take to bring us through recession/depression, it will take a knowledge-driven work force, and millions of bright, questioning, inquiring minds. The Harper government, thus far, has focused on "dumbing everything down" (criticizing "intellectuals", attacking experts - scientists and economists, cut funding for community groups, schools, and universities). Their immigration efforts have been towards temporary "skilled workers", rather than on attracting the great minds of the world to Canada. During America and Britain's hey-days, they took the best and brightest scientists from other lands - from India, China, Southern Africa, The Americas, and SouthEast Asia. American Universities are still awash with foreign "experts". The Conservative immigration plan, AND their lack of focus on education has curbed the immigration of highly intellectual types in favor of laborers for the Alberta Tar Sands. This has left brilliant minds to go to other countries, and left some of our great minds driving taxis.

Planning For Tomorrow (Infrastructure) - The economy of tomorrow needs planning today. Infrastructure is required if our cities are to support more citizens with the quality of life we are used to. Infrastructure is needed if we are to move our intellectual and natural resource assets from city to city, and from Province to Province. We need the electronic infrastructure to allow our scientists to share ideas. We need the colleges and universities to house the scientists, economists, and teachers we will need to grow our intellectual workforce. We need the alternative fuel sources to drive the factories of the future, and to provide fuel for the alternative fuel (hydrogen fuel cells, electric, nuclear) vehicles of the future. We need rail lines to connect our people and our resources.

We need better links between provinces. We often talk about intra-Provincial trade barriers... there are no barriers like natural barriers. This past winter, blizzards and avalanches in moutain passes effectively shut off the 2 busiest sea-port on the West Coast of North America (Vancouver) from the rest of Canada. Effectively, Canada has 1 highway and 2 rail links tying East and West together. Better transport between Provinces will encourage the Provinces to talk more, and to lower the artificial trade barriers that exist.

Our existing infrastructure needs help. Bridges - built between 1900 and 1960 are crumbling (and collapsing). The national highway - the Trans Canada - is a death-trap at many locations. We brag about "OUR" North, yet have not ever constructed a solid rail or road link to the Beaufort Sea, and our Northern coast. Travellers still need to ride ferry boats to get to some of our provincial capitals. Transport trucks have to stop at red lights across the country, costing operators untold millions daily, and killing the environment.

The recent fire on the Pattullo Bridge in Surrey (connecting communities South of the Fraser to New Westminister and communities North of the Fraser) showed what occurs when old infrastructure falls apart, with no alternatives on the way. For years, some activists argued more bridges connecting the fast-growing communities South of the Fraser to Vancouver would increase traffic and pollution. They never considered that the traffic would come anyways. An environmental scientist on CBC today discussed how bad the air quality has become in just the couple of days the bridge has been closed. Apparently air quality has become much, much worse with all the new traffic congestion. This in no way helps the local economy. For years, community leaders like Mayor Dianne Watts of Surrey have argued for a new bridge and twinning of existing bridges. For years governments have not been forthcoming with funds. Surrey will surpass Vancouver in population in less than 10 years and the South Fraser is growing much faster than the rest of the Metro area. Time has come for major infrastructure work in the area.

Another immediate need in many cities is light rail transit and better public transit. The Pattullo Bridge incident above illustrates the need for REAL transit solutions for people in Canada's cities, AND in rural areas. An efficient rail link between Calgary and Edmonton would serve all the communities in-between. Rail links across the prairies would save millions in road repairs, save lives during harsh winter driving conditions, and bring cities and towns closer together. Currently, one cannot ride a train from Regina to Winnipeg - you drive, fly, or take a bus. Small city transit systems are limited, which dissuades ridership. This causes cities to cut back services further (citing low ridership) - it's a viscious cycle.

During the Great Depression, the USA undertook a massive infrastructure program. A twinkle in FDR's eyes at the time, was the construction of a system of "superhighways" linking every state and major city. World War 2 interfered with the work, but after the war - with the election of Eisenhower - the work continued. Ike understood what a great system the German Autobahn was (having served in the German theater in WW2), and how it tied the country together. In contrast, Canada has the ancient Trans Canada Highway - a dangerous (sometimes fatally so), often 2-way, strand that proports to tie the nation together.

University, college, and research funding MUST be part of any infrastructure program. When we look around Canada, we sadly find that we can't rely on our resource exports, we watch our manufacturing sector flatten out, and we see our best and brightest go far afield to find work, and to stimulate their intellect. One thing we CAN export during these hard times are trained experts, and knowledge. We need to expand our university infrastructure to become an education exporter.

At the height of their empires, the US and Great Britain exported education at a massive scale. Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard grads are among the leaders of every nation on earth. They form the backbone of the world's economies as leaders, industrialists and entrepreneurs. Canada has some of the best universities in the world. It would be folly for us not to take advantage of this fact. We can bring the world's brightest here, to schools like McGill, U of Toronto, U of Sask., U of Alberta, UBC, SFU, Queens, Dalhousie, etc. If they wish to stay, we would have great research and teaching jobs for them here, and they would add much to our economy. If they wish to return, they will take the Canadian experience with them to their homelands - sending back the new trade links and new business.

Research in these centers of excellence can focus on the technologies the world will need to fight climate change, empower the poor and disadvantaged, and to feed the world.

If WE as a nation, pull together and accomplish these ambitious tasks - as Mr. Trudeau, and Mssrs. Pearson and Laurier did before him - we can pave the way for the economies of tomorrow, and the world of tomorrow. We can have the infrastructure in place to BE the crossroads of the learned world - a kind of modern day Alexandria or Babylon. A place where the best and brightest formulate ways to ensure the survival of human culture, and, effectively, the human race. Canada can be a beacon to the rest of the world through these difficult times...

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There IS Strategy In Play... Be Patient Mes Amis

Since the change at the helm of our grand old party, we've had much discussion concerning just what Mr. Ignatieff will do when the Conservative budget is handed down next week. In the past 24 hrs some Conservatives and media have been reading into statements by the leader, claiming he will support the budget as presented.

It is probably a good idea to step back and - with cool heads - consider the cards (all the cards) on the Parliamentary table. There are many small steps and strategies which will play into the bigger picture regarding what happens on budget day (or shortly thereafter).

The first steps will be to create a mood in the public that supports our future actions. To do so, one must plant seeds. Regarding his comments "the Canadian public wants an election like they want a hole in the head", Michael is simply "planting the seeds" within the public and media, to create an anti-election backlash. The next step will be to paint Harper as the one who wants to toss us into a $400Million election just 0 session days since the last one (and Harper should rightfully be painted into that corner).

The gambit is to continue to display Harp as this partisan, angry fool, who wants nothing less than an election to "ice" his opponents, shirk his responsibility to the nation, and try to grab power.

What else has been done? Well, we laid out a framework for what WE expect in the budget - without really spelling it out. We Liberals know just what is needed to meet Mr. Ignatieffs 3 stated conditions for budgetary approval. We don't have to tell the Conservatives how to govern this land (or do we?). I think Iggy knows that Harper is a partisan shark, and will use any opportunity to bite into his opponent. Giving Harper any policy ideas would be akin to leaving him a massive surplus and a bunch of "non-implemented" Liberal budget ideas, a'la 2006. He'd play the partisan game, take credit for anything good, and try to blame the Liberals for anything bad - as he usually does.

Pushing the idea that Canadians DON'T want an election gives us an "out" on all fronts. It is quite obvious that Canadians don't want an election, but stating that clearly and publicly makes it clear that we are against an election - that it is a cause behind our actions - but, if Harper forces one, we will take it - or present an alternative.

What else can we do to prepare the public for our actions? National "open" Town Hall meetings are great. Telling the public we are keen on infrastructure projects which put people back to work, and help ordinary Canadians. Michael is doing a great job continuing to talk about "shovels in the ground NOW". The polls are showing that we are gaining momentum from these actions. It doesn't hurt that our media realizes the depth and breadth of the man at the helm. Michael is a man of vast and varied experience, a champion of human rights, and shrewd strategist. He is quick on his feet, is extremely intelligent, but at the same time is diplomatic, polite, and worldly.

Mr. Ignatieff currently has some of the top political minds in the land working on strategy. These veterans of past and present campaigns have a good depth of experience, and a very Liberal vision for Canada. I think we're all in for some surprises come budget day. The key will be to ensure the public is ready for our anticipated actions, while continuing to feel apathy towards an angry, tired, and virulently partisan Harper Party.

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Harper Looks Like Buffoon As Obama Halts Guantanamo Trials

With no more illegal military tribunals in Guantanamo, Harper has no more excuses to leave Canadian children languishing in foreign prisons.

Time for Mr. Harper to bring Omar Kadr back to Canada - as was requested by Mr. Ignatieff.

As Mr. Obama said, "the rule of law will be the cornerstones of my Presidency".

ps:  Harper - you may want to mimic Mr. Obama on consulting "scientists and other experts in the days, weeks, months and years to come...".  Yes Steve, science is going to supplant your ideological voodoo.  Keep looking like a typical extreme religious conservative dinosaur... (you wear it well, Steve).

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mr. Ignatieff's Conditions...

There has been much talk about why, how, or IF Mr. Ignatieff's Liberals will "pass" Harper's budget on Jan. 27th. Mr. Ignatieff has spoken of the 3 key conditions required "at a minimum" ("Will it protect the most vulnerable? Will it save jobs? And most important of all, will it create the jobs of tomorrow?").

I think we need to add ONE MORE condition that be mandatory. IF the Harper budget is "acceptable" and it contains workable elements of each of the top 3 conditions, and we provide ascent, THEN Mr. Harper should acknowledge that these were ideas the Liberals insisted were part of the budget.

If this is to be a budget prepared with input from the Opposition, then Her Majesty's Opposition should get credit for the parts "for the people". This should be a mandatory condition, and Mr. Ignatieff should request it of the PM via the media. There are all sorts of concerns about the Conservatives "stealing" liberal ideas and playing them as their own. There are also good reasons why Mr. Harper would not want to take credit for some spending measures (doesn't want to upset his "base", etc.)...

IF a budget has our input, or concern for the ideas and needs of some 60% of Canadians, THEN the opposition should get some credit for those particular parts of the budget... This idea may be novel, but novel ideas are the offspring of intelligent discourse - and we are all about the politics of intelligence.

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The Greatest Day In American History

Welling up with tears as I watch this.  It's about time.  This change is going to matter.  This change is going to make a difference.

God bless America.  Maybe people CAN change...  Maybe there is HOPE that hard right ideology can be swept aside by moderation and strength of character...

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Truly Great Organization...

Received "Obama-mail" today. This is the way to grow the party:

Dear Supporter --

I have some exciting news to share about the future of this grassroots movement.

I recorded a personal message for you. Please take a minute to watch the video:

Watch the video

What you built can't stop now. Together with our partners at the Democratic National Committee and its new chairman, Governor Tim Kaine, this movement will continue organizing and bringing new people into the political process.

The challenges facing our country are too great, and our journey to change America is just beginning.

I look forward to working side-by-side with you in the months and years ahead.



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Who's With Me?

I don't want a coalition as much as I want to defeat this government and defeat them in an election.

I want to see the ads with Harper wagging his middle finger in our faces with the "no recession comments", and the "great deals on stock out there" comments. Just that image alone - Harper leaned back - slumped in his chair - poking a sharp stick into sensible Canadians' eyes, would be enough to smack him back to Cochrane, AB, where he belongs (yeah, he doesn't live in his "own" riding either).

My previous posts about where we should spend (going back to last year) - highways, bridges, rail transit, TCH twinning, universities, hospitals, etc. still apply (even more so right now). Just where does Joe Public think these things will come from - if not from government? Even P3s cost all levels MOST of their prices.

Time for Canada to WAKE THE F@CK UP!!! Conversely, we can sit in front of our 65" flat screens, remote in hand, chompin' on the Timbits and large coffee we just did our thrice-daily Tim's run for (adding to the health care crisis, as we did so), while we watch piped in American crap ("reality" programming and FOX "news"), and read our American celebrity magazines, while our kids play "shoot 'em up" video games in the basement, forgetting the human skills of communication and reading...

I watched a rather funny spoof of the US a while back - called "Idiot Nation". I think it is an extreme, but rather descriptive of how far "stupid culture" can take us. We just need people like Harper, the Bushies, and the rest of the NeoCon generation to keep dumbing-down the discourse...

The dumbing down stops intelligent people from questioning. It stops intelligent people from being heard, and it prevents intelligent solutions from being conceived. Conservative governments have been notoriously poor financial managers, and even less capable of pulling Canada out of a recession. The only "fix" they think they know is "tax cuts". That's their solution to everything: Economy is slowing down - tax cut. Public funds are running low - tax cut. Your child can't find a school? Tax cut. Waiting in line at the hospital? Tax cut. Kids sick? Tax cut. Constipated Conservative? Tax cut.

Time for intelligent people to stand up and take Canada back from the brink. Time to give Harper the boots... We have the momentum. We have the Leader. We have the Team. We have the ideas. We have the capability. We can do it.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Ignatieff Engages Standing Room-only Crowd At Surrey Town Hall

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff spoke to a "sold out", "wall to wall" crowd at Surrey's Kwantlen Polytechnic University Thursday night, in his West Coast Town Hall.

Mr. Ignatieff was followed by the national media, and commented on several key issues of the day - including the possibility of a Liberal government helping remediate Vancouver Olympic debts with Provincial and Municipal support (spoken to earlier in the day).  

The crowd seemed to be very pleased with Mr. Ignatieff's candor, and there were many comments concerning his ability to move the audience.  Michael - in his usual style - calmly answered question after question, with direct, candid answers in his natural calm demeanor.  He displayed an eloquence and knowledge beyond what we see in current Canadian leaders.

"Smart" is back in politics.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Like It... I Like It A Lot...

Not sure if anyone else has commented on this thus far this AM... (and I'm too lazy to scroll down the page), but I really like the new look of LiBlogs... Probably because it matches up better with the look of my blog (lol). Seriously, though, it does look a lot "cleaner".

Good job folks!

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Michael Ignatieff Town Hall - Surrey, 6:30pm Tonight!

This "open to the public" event is TONIGHT at 6:30pm:

Our new Leader - Michael Ignatieff - will be attending a Town Hall Meeting in Surrey on Thursday, January 15th:

Date: January 15, 2009
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Conference Center
12666 - 72nd Avenue
Surrey, BC

The Town Hall should be very interesting, as Michael will be taking questions from the general public, as part of the continued national outreach tour.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

FLAG, Young Liberals To Host Michael Ignatieff in Greater Vancouver This Week!

Just a reminder about the Michael Ignatieff Events in Vancouver this week...  Come see the next PM of Canada!

The Young Liberals will be hosting Michael on Wednesday evening in GasTown:

Wednesday Jan. 14, 7:30pm to 9:00pm
The New Irish Heather, in Gastown
212 Carroll Street, Vancouver BC
RSVP Online for free at!!!

Our new Leader - Michael Ignatieff - will be attending a Town Hall Meeting in Surrey on Thursday, January 15th:

Date: January 15, 2009
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Conference Center
12666 - 72nd Avenue
Surrey, BC

The Town Hall should be very interesting, as Michael will be taking questions from the general public, as part of the continued national outreach tour.  

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009

I'll Take A Tax Cut... Just As Soon As You Find Me A Job!

It is ridiculous to assume that a "national bailout" based on tax cuts will help the economy.  If tax cuts are corporate, they won't produce any more jobs, because companies are right now engaging in "cocooning" and austerity measures not seen since before WW2.  If tax cuts are personal, they will only benefit the people who manage to hold onto their jobs... and that's becoming a shrinking part of the population all the time...  If the tax cuts are to the GST, then... Harper's an idiot...

What Canada needs right now is an immediate massive infrastructure program that employs 100s of 1000s of Canadians:

1) New railways - particularly to the North, and light rail connecting cities (to benefit the environment and public transit)

2) New bridges - to replace bridges and overpasses that are collapsing.  Bridges connecting the country (Van to Van Island, etc., etc.)

3) New transfers for health care to promote building of hospitals and health care research facilities.  Our Health Care system is a KEY part of our infrastructure.  It is one of the core reasons companies move to Canada.  If an employer doesn't have to pay an employee's healthcare, or even a portion of it, this is an immediate advantage to that employer.  We need to put MORE MONEY into the system that exists, rather than trying to change it to favor corporate healthcare (all the complaints about our healthcare system are just strategically placed battle-cries for the private health industry).  All our system needs is more money, spent in more strategic ways.  Now is the time for this.  A healthy population is a happy one, and a more productive one.

4) Universities - We are in the "knowledge economy" now, and need to make strides in the right kind of training, and becoming the best educated workforce in the world.  We can export our expertise...  Our knowledge sector can consult other nations, and companies around the world.  We can train and teach the world here - we have some of the world's most respected educational institutions, and we need to grow our schools and hire more professors

5) Northern Development.  Now is the time to tackle 3rd World conditions in Canada's North.  Better access to those communities won't just help the communities, but will help energy and mining companies and private developers wanting to go North.  Deep sea ports at the mouth of the MacKenzie River will consolidate our "ownership" of our North, and send a message to other nations who wish to claim the soon to be wide open "Northern Passage".  This is a key crossroads between Europe and Asia (and the Americans).  Better housing and community development is key up North.

6) Alternative Power facilities - Nuclear plants?  Solar power plants;  Wind farms; Cellulosic ethanol plants (to handle all the pine beetle infested trees in Canada which are contributing to greenhouse gases); 

7) Ship-building - We are darned good at this.  Time to stimulate the shipyards, and get Canadians on the coasts working (military contracts are good here)

8) Highway projects - with IMMEDIATE start dates (after initial planning):  Twin ALL of the Trans-Canada, and ensure EVERY city is by-passed properly, and there are no traffic stoppages across Canada (lights).  Traffic stoppages cause greenhouse gases AND are an impediment to intra-city and intra-provincial trade (infrastructure snarls).  Transport trucks having to stop at traffic lights in Golden BC, or Brandon MN simply hold up the inter-provincial trade.

9) Environmental "cleaning" projects.  Engage Canadian experts in cleaning up toxic messes WE have created - across Canada.  Fund proper recycling in all cities.  

There are many, many more great ideas which will put Canadians to work, and this is just a brief listing of some of them...  We need to engage our party, and our new leader in looking at these types of infrastructure projects to put Canadians back to work.  

Canadians will appreciate a JOB, more than they care about a deficit.  With the proper measures, we can create jobs, grow the government fiscal "base" (more jobs = more government income tax revenue), and modernize our workforce and infrastructure - which will continue the cycle of attracting more foreign business.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

FLAG (Federal Liberal Action Group - Greater Vancouver) To Host Michael Ignatieff, Jan 15th

Hello fellow Liberals (particularly those in the Lower Mainland of BC)...

Our new Leader - Michael Ignatieff - will be attending a Town Hall Meeting in Surrey on Thursday, January 15th:

Date: January 15, 2009
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Conference Center
12666 - 72nd Avenue
Surrey, BC

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Still No F'n "Liberal Store"???@@@!!!

What gives? Who's the "marketing genius/idiot" in charge? WTF. WHY, oh why, is there no "Liberal Store" online? Selling merchandise that members would wear is the BEST free advertising. We have tens of thousands of "walking billboards" across the land, at a time when we need to elevate visibility of the Liberal "brand".

Our Nat Exec doesn't seem to get it. It was easy to sell your brand when you were government, and your logo appeared everywhere. Now - in opposition - we need to make extra efforts to be noticed. There are great examples down South of what works.

So... WesternGrit is taking this on himself. Here's what I have "in store":

- t-shirts: "Iggy" written Ozzy style on a red t-shirt (also in black). "Iggy" written in cyrillic script; a "rock the vote with Iggy" t-shirt, and others. All shirts come in small, large, and x-large. All t-shirts have a stylized "Iggynation" logo in small script at shoulder level on the back, written in the style of the LPC logo

- Thongs and panties. Yes, I'll make these too. The backside says, "Don't Be Bummed, I Voted Liberal", and the front says "Iggy-wear" (a play on "underwear"). Available ONLY in Liberal Red.

If I have enough of a response to this, I'll have someone in my riding set up a Facebook group for "Liberal Swag", and start taking orders. We'll use this as a riding fund-raiser.

The clowns down at LPC headquarters have provoked me a bit much... Not responding to my emails concerning the Liberal Store was the last straw. I am going to actively promote replacing whoever is responsible for things like the store... I'm sure that person isn't involved in any serious "policy discussions" with Iggy... Definitely not too busy to work on promoting the party. There will be changes at the next exec vote - I guarantee it.

I'm really getting sick of "amateur hour". If these schmucks want to run the party into the ground, they should step aside for those of us with ideas, and the experience in the "real" business world in promoting them.

Reply to this post if you are interested in Liberal Swag. WesternGrit will be the new "liberal store". I'll be using small "l" so as not to take away anything from the party...

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Chiming In On Gaza

As a Liberal blogger, I think it is time I commented on the Gaza conflict. A conflict which has gone a little too far, and is harming a LOT of innocents on both sides.

Israel has a right to defend itself. Reading Herman Wouk's "Hope" and "Glory" really helped me understand that perspective better, at an early age. Often we are only subject to media "goggles" when eying up an issue.

Having said that, I must also add that the Palestinian State must be recognized by all parties as a legitimate nation. It benefits all those involved - including Israel. I should also add that the force being used is excessive, but is the only response EVERY Western democracy knows in the face of uprisings.

That's right... What I'm saying is that this slaughter simply outlines what the US learned in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., and it is a lesson that keeps getting taught the world over. A modern nations (perceived) only response to militias and terrorist attacks is to use force. When they use force, they pretty much have to go all out - it's the way armies are trained. It is actually the using of the army for what should be a police action that is the problem. Even army commanders lament what they have to do. They know they are not suited to such actions (it's like the tanks in Kandahar - doesn't work).

The Israelis SHOULD respond to un-provoked rocket attacks into their territory, but they can be leaders in the WAY such responses occur - due to their repeated exposure to such attacks. Massive retaliations are wrong. They only breed more enemies.

How should the region proceed to solve it's issues? Who really knows? One thing is to tone down the extremist rhetoric on both sides. Clearly define both states... more mutual "co-existence". This includes an opening of the borders - to trade and travel. Nothing says "I hate you", or "I don't trust you" better than a wall. Palestine cannot just be a giant holding cell for refugees - it needs to be allowed to grow and thrive. A strong economy in Palestine would quickly beat swords into poughshares (this is in Israel's interest).

Israel can work on more "refined" commando and police responses to attacks (if they really want to, Mossad could easily take out Hamas leaders in one fell swoop in the middle of the night). Sometimes a "message" is sent, simply to send a message. On the Palestinian side, we need to see a more clear rejection of the actions Hamas is taking. I think that is actually pretty much there within all the moderate voices, and the Fatah group - even with these recent rocket attacks, and the subsequent retaliations.

I can't pretend to know what is best for the region, but I do know this: Peace is much better than perpetual war. As a Liberal, I've always hated hard-line, extreme positions, and I really have to say that I strongly disapprove of "extremists" on both sides. I also must say that the Bush-led Western World was an extreme "let-down" to the cause of peace. Retaliations (and un-provoked attacks) with overwhelming firepower were key parts of the Bush Doctrine. This, in typical Conservative fashion, has galvanized sides the world over, reduced everything to "black and white", and created more conflict than we know what to do with.

Time for moderation, negotiation, and peace to be given a chance.

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The First Steps To Winning - Getting All Your Ducats and Ducks In A Row...

I recently read a Gauntlet post... which made some good points about organization in Alberta. I think the "microcosm" of Alberta highlights a need for organization that speaks to the party across Canada. Alberta may be a bit of an extreme (nay - more like smashing our collective skulls up against a brick wall), but the challenge there is actually a really good "proving ground" for organizational and fund-raising ideas.

After living in AB for years (before moving out here to BC) I completely hear what the "Gauntlet" post was saying. I do, however, think there is benefit to campaigning ahead of leadership continuance - even if it is just for the $1.90/vote (or whatever it amounts to). I think we need to keep batting our heads up against a brick wall in Alberta so we can have a shot at at least a couple of ridings.

Join The Liberal Victory Fund

Let's talk about the "ducks" first (your volunteers)...

To be honest, knowing AB, I know that EVERYONE thinks their riding is "winnable". Heck, people even think they can unseat Rob Anders in CALGARY (go figure)! I think the Alberta strategy should be a Candidate in every riding, BUT volunteer-focused, with a particular focus on 2-4 city ridings (Calgary Northeast, Edmonton Strathcona, Millwoods, etc.) and focus not just the local resources, but the resources of the entire AB team. I mean that we need to stop wasting time "searching" for candidates in un-winnable ridings, and start diverting workers to these "focus" ridings. We can simply plug in riding exec volunteers in name only as the candidates in other ridings. If someone else feels like running in the "tougher" seats, by all means have them a nomination meeting (and bring in their own new volunteers), but for NOW, all campaign workers focus on these couple of tougher ridings. Also, highly visible offices in the ridings, overblown sign campaign (sign early, sign often), targeted ads in community papers, skating rinks, public buildings, etc.

In focusing ALL our urban resources, we could quite effectively have a team of 200-300 volunteers on a daily basis in each riding. Imagine what that could do for us. At the VERY LEAST it would keep a couple of Cons home to fight the Alberta battle, rather than running off to other "close" ridings in Ontario or BC.

Join The Liberal Victory Fund

I spent a lot of time working on Ralph Goodale campaigns in Regina Wascana. I worked every campaign except the recent 3 because I was in AB and BC. We had a constant crew of Zone Captains active in the community MONTHS to a YEAR BEFORE the election, active in community events, etc. The Zone Captains each had a team of poll captains responsible for EACH POLL in the riding. They know every lawn sign location in their neighborhood, and even who is staunchly for one party or the other. On e-day I can recall up to 100+ drivers pulling vote. I often see LOTS of eday volunteers at other campaigns, but hardly any of these people are there when it really counts - IDing the vote.

Early prep and volunteer-gathering is essential. That means months - even years - before one runs. Don't expect to win any riding starting one month before the election - unless you're the incumbent in an area that is strong for your party. Even then, you'd be a chump if you think you can continue to win with so little work (unless you're a Con/Reformer in rural Alberta). Getting a start a year or so before you run may be a lot of work, but if you're serious about running this is a GREAT way to build a team. Start campaigning in your neighborhood. Tell them you will be running. You don't need to be a nominated candidate - just say you are going to run for the Liberal Party nomination and ask for their support. Build up your support as a candidate - without the party. This will also help you get an idea as to whether another calling may be a better way to spend your time. If people reject you outright at the door (a lot), then perhaps you should do something else, or work behind the scenes for the party. When you find people who like you, ask if they, or anyone in their family (teenage/college kid are perfect for this) would like to volunteer to help the democratic process - or you personally. You can find literally dozens of volunteers this way.

Once you have some volunteers in hand - maybe a year before a possible writ - keep them involved. A weekly CASUAL coffee get together at your house to talk politics, is a great way to keep the team excited, talking "shop", and bringing their family and friends into it. It is CRITICAL to keep it casual. Formal "boardroom" meetings scare people away. A casual meeting at someone's home can be coupled with a BBQ, or a football or hockey game (Superbowl is coming, and NHL is always a good bet). Your house should be your campaign HQ months before any real campaign. This is a great time to ask the realtors in the group to keep an eye out for offices, and good sign locations - as well as venues for events, such as BBQs and dinners. Get people "positions" - assign "Zone Captains" (a group of 6 to 8 polls in the riding), and task them with finding a poll captain in each poll, setting up "block houses", etc. Watch the riding events. When the riding AGM comes about, encourage your volunteers to seek out active positions in the association, and to work with existing association members to actively encourage your candidacy. If you will be contested, this is a good time to find out who it may be - and to "feel out" the other candidates.

Join The Liberal Victory Fund

Once you have a team with some momentum, nomination meeting or not, you will have some serious inroads to being THE choice in the riding. Work hard, and it will pay off. Keep the group (your Nomination Committee) in place as your core campaign team.

Working in Calgary, I consistently saw inadequate ID - door knocking a handful of houses a day and calling it a success (Ralph Goodale used to tirelessly knock doors MONTHS before the campaign, then from 7am to 9pm during the writ). If you don't ID the vote, your e-day is useless. I recall driving aimlessly around Calgary ridings trying to pull some of the 1000 or 1200 confirmed supporters. It was worse because, with such a small vote ID team, it was often the candidate who was IDing all the votes. This is a problem - never trust a Candidate's ID. Most people on the doorstep will at least try to be nice to the candidate. Many will lie about their support. Candidates also get overly-enthusiastic in reading intentions. That translates to poor ID - they'll do a street and claim 90% support.

Join The Liberal Victory Fund

I've taught Campaign Colleges in Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, and Surrey... It is CRITICAL that proper IDing technique be taught. I've compared it to customer service. As a matter of fact, if you can find people with call center or sales experience, they can be your best door-knockers. Avoid using lawyers - they may be able to read people, but they talk too much (like my brother, who can spend a half hour on a doorstep)... they have a tendency to want to debate a voter. Unfortunately, in Calgary, the common door-knocking team was often the candidate, riding president, and one or two eager lawyers... Bad combination for IDing. If they do come out to volunteer, don't send them away - they can still be very helpful - in particular if taught berevity.

I did travel up to Edmonton on the "Anne-Van" (chartered bus sent to try to help Anne McClellan win her last bid). When I got there, I was pleased that the effort was much bigger and more organized than anything in Calgary. I then had a chance to look at Anne's IDed neighborhood map and thought "that's trouble". Anne worked very well with the fact that she was popular herself, and there was an assumption that the riding was left leaning and center leaning, so a Conservative couldn't win (even with her squeakers). The small split to the NDP lost her the seat. Thing was, no-one had an idea where they stood only days before the election. I went out with "seasoned volunteers" who had never knocked doors. The team from Edmonton was pleased with the Greyhound charter full of Calgary Liberals, but looking around the room in Edmonton, I was wondering where the "army" of locals was? It turns out - in my opinion - that Anne's team was never as large as Ralph's "machine" in Regina.

Join The Liberal Victory Fund

We have to start with the basics, and we're not seeing this. Even here in BC, I ran a campaign school in one Surrey riding two elections ago, but I come back to find this past election that there was scarcely any ID. How can you be a candidate for several elections and not have good IDed voter lists? Your personal popularity and identity alone will not win you elections, or even keep your supporters coming back. A good ID - based on a good organization - is KEY.

When Paul Martin was leading, I saw significantly more Albertans - conservatives included - coming out to work in every riding. I saw it in the urban AND rural areas. Paul Martin converted a lot of people across Canada. Leadership and leadership style have a lot to do with attracting both $s and volunteers to the party. Leadership is very important - but not something we have a lot of say in at the riding level - except during the nomination races. Best to focus on what you CAN CHANGE in order to win.

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This brings us to "ducats" - the money we need to win. As you all know, I am a HUGE proponent of the Victory Fund. It is great that we can direct portions to our local riding. As part of our organizing to run - or help someone get the nomination - we must encourage victory fund membership. When people come to you with issues that are dear to them - immigration, education, jobs, science and technology, Canada on the world stage - ask them to give to the fund, or even a "one time" donation, so we can effectively get their voice heard in Ottawa. It all starts with that.

Reformers always campaigned this way (pass the collection hat). At church meetings, they would find crowds of people who were angry and vocal about things like "same-sex marriage", "abortion", etc., and encourage them to volunteer for and donate to the Conservative Party. They created a Liberal "scapegoat" that the potential supporters could direct their anger at (incidentally, Harper is a great "scapegoat" for us to direct anger at).

As Liberals, we need to follow that lead. People say there aren't any "fire and brimstone" Liberal issues that will galvanize supporters. That's BS. Like us, there are people who are "firmly centrist". There are also many issues which only Liberals have stood strong for for decades, or which only Liberals have been able to stand up for. Find issues which are definitively Liberal (immigration, same-sex marriage, crime and youth crime rehabilitation, effective gun control, Wheat Board, world leadership, etc.). Seek out groups of people who are concerned about these issues. "OWN" these issues. Tell them how concerned you are, and what you've done to voice these issues in Ottawa (donated to and joined the Liberal Party). Show them how the Liberal Party is the ONLY party which can effectively promote their ideals, and is the "government in waiting". Let them know that the democratic process NEEDS their support, and anything they can donate will help. I signed up two same sex couples over the past two years, simply by talking about the party's stance on same sex and "rights" issues.

Who do we approach (which groups?)?

- Immigrant groups

- Gay and Lesbian advocacy groups

- Victims of violence (women, gun-crime victims)

- Farmers concerned about the Wheat Board

- Scientists and Researchers

- Legal groups

- Unions

- Arts community - movie industry, music, artists, dance groups, etc.

- Multicultural Groups... Just how do you suppose most of them were created? Where did the funds come from (successive Liberal or Progressive Conservative governments). Who wants to take away their funds? The Conservatives of Harper.

- First Nations Groups - Key growing force that WE MUST tap into

- Community Groups - Moderate citizens wanting to see a "balance" in Ottawa.

*** These groups would be our "base", similar to how gun-nuts, right-wing religious zealots, anti-choicers, and other "angry's" are the ReformCons' "base". We would still work on the rest of the population at large, but we MUST ID and "gather round" our BASE.

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To grow our fund-raising AND volunteer base, we need to leave the "champagne Liberal" "coffee club", and step out into the real world again. Many of us are already engaged in this way, but many (too many) were still tied up in the "vestments of power" - the exclusive coffee clubs or social "clubs" where knowing the MP or spouse brought you perceived importance and "exclusivity" in the local scene. These vestments rear their ugly heads when a party is in power. The Cons are seeing it now, as some of their base gets "alienated" by the exclusivity of the "Conservative Club" in Ottawa. We need to branch out into the community, and work within the groups I pointed out above.

As someone well-versed in sales and "customer service" at several levels, I have often consulted campaigns and business groups on how to "make the sale", and we often forget that when we ask for a donation, or for someone to buy a membership, we are doing just that. I have taught volunteers how to ask the "leading, open-ended questions" to get prospects to open up and talk about their issues. I taught them not just how to "sell the product", but "sell the benefits" (what occurs when you donate to the LPC - how does it benefit democracy, and YOUR views?). Most importantly, I teach how volunteers can advance to the most important stage: "closing the sale". If you don't ask for the sale, you won't be walking home with that $5 donation for the party.

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To revamp our fund-raising, we'll need 3 strong elements:

1) Solid leader (done). A good leader attracts money and supporters. This leader needs to ensure he/she surrounds themselves with the best/brightest advisers... not just people who helped you win leadership.

2) Ideas which are public, and distinct (let's ensure our "policy" convention is a good one, and let's not shy away from the regular - even web-based - meeting of the "minds" - meaning all of us). These ideas should appeal to the general public, but galvanize our "base"

3) Grassroots "selling the party" efforts as I've outlined above. Get people involved in the riding. An association shouldn't just be the core "executive". Add Zone Captains and Poll Captains as part of the exec (directors). People like "positions". There is no limit to the number of members a riding exec can have. Encourage them to attend meetings, and to know what is going on in the community (bringing this info to monthly riding meetings)

If we follow through with the principles outlined above, in every neighborhood in every riding in the country, we will have overwhelming success in the next election... Let's charge forward, and change the way we do things, for the better.

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