Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coming down to the wire

Conservative: 36%
NDP: 31%
Liberal: 21%
Bloc: 7%
Green: 4%

Polling results from Leger Marketing.

Edmonton campaign rally, Yellowknife town hall

The Edmonton campaign rally was from Wednesday (April 27), and the Yellowknife town hall followed on Thursday (April 28).

Vote because you can

The video was made at Pull Focus Film School by Gen Why Media for as part of the Gen Why Media Project. Music by Brasstronaut.

More Canadians want proportional representation

Letter to the Editor, The Toronto Star:

The surge of NDP support gives new hope that Stephen Harper’s abuse of Parliament may finally end. Youth are voting. Canadians are motivated, disgusted with politics as usual, and desperate to avoid another Harper government.

Three in five Canadians have never voted for Harper. In 2008 the combined NDP and Liberal vote swamped the Conservatives in ridings like Mississauga-Erindale, Kitchener-Centre and Kitchener-Waterloo, yet their votes meant nothing. By as little as 17 votes Conservatives MPs were elected, supporting Harper’s denial of affordable daycare, fair taxation, and shaming us with inaction on climate change, in defiance of the 65 per cent who voted against them.

Similar split votes elected separatists in ridings like Gatineau. In many ridings like Brampton-West and Brampton-Springdale, even as a million more Canadians vote against Harper, a higher NDP vote will only defeat Liberals and deliver Harper a majority.

Something is terribly wrong when votes for the Greens and the NDP elect Conservatives. Last election, Green support ran as high as 21 per cent in Ontario ridings. For every six votes Harper got, Elizabeth May got one. Where are the Green seats in Parliament? Without electoral reform, when progressive voters vote their preference, Harper wins.

By electing regional MPs through proportional representation, every vote would count. Co-operation would become the norm. No more bullying. The NDP surge would mean NDP seats, and the Bloc would not have a lock on Quebec.

In 2008 the Greens received one out of every 15 votes cast. A million Green votes ought to count for something.

Alt Altman,

The most important issue that is being overlooked in this election is the electoral system itself.

In Canada, we use a first-past-the-post voting system and have done so since 1867. Whichever candidate wins the most votes in a particular riding wins the seat. It's a system that is straightforward and easy to understand. It's also a system that produces electoral results that do not reflect the will of voters, year after year.

In 2008, almost 1,000,000 citizens voted for the Green Party, which received no seats in Parliament. That should sound an alarm that something is amiss in our democracy – a new party emerges, manages a find a good deal of support across the country, but doesn't elect a single representative. That same year, The Bloc Quebecois received 10% of the popular vote, but got 15% of the seats because their vote is regionally concentrated. The NDP received almost double the number of votes as the Bloc, but only got 12% of the seats. And the problem isn't limited to distortions among the smaller parties.

Ask a Conservative supporter living in any large city outside of Alberta how it feels to cast a vote. And recall the 1993 election, when the Progressive Conservatives only received two seats despite receiving 16% of the popular vote.

It's not just a case of the numbers not matching up to voters' preferences. Our system also lets political parties get away with targeting only certain voters. In a winner-takes-all system, parties focus their campaign efforts on swing voters in winnable ridings, and ignore every other segment of Canadian society. For example, since the Conservatives are a lock to win by a huge margin in Calgary, not a single party leader has visited during this election except for Elizabeth May. Under our current system, it's a waste of their time.

Which countries still use a first-past-the-post system? Here is a comprehensive list: Bangladesh, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, the United States, the United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and a number of small Caribbean and Pacific island nations. I've listed them all to illustrate exactly the electoral company we keep – most of the countries are relatively new democracies, and many of them are not especially well-known for having stable or representative political systems.

The only other industrialized countries that still use first-past-the-post are the United States and the United Kingdom. The UK, the original source of our own system, is holding a national referendum on May 5 to decide whether they should stop using first-past-the-post. As for our neighbour, two parties have completely dominated US politics since 1912, and the American political system has devolved into an ineffective partisan nightmare. Public confidence in Congress has dipped to historic lows of 11%. Most Canadians do not regard their system as one worthy of emulation.

Continue reading here.

Elizabeth May could win in Saanich-Gulf Islands

Yahoo News:

Green party Leader Elizabeth May could be on her way to victory in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, at least according to a recent poll.

In a press release distributed Tuesday, the party says 45 per cent of decided voters in the riding would vote for May, compared with 38 per cent for incumbent Conservative MP Gary Lunn.

The poll, commissioned by the Greens and conducted by Oraclepoll Research, surveyed 389 voting age residents between April 18 and April 19. The margin of error is 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

University of Victoria political scientist Dennis Pilon told the Vancouver Sun the poll confirms his belief May could win the party's first seat in Parliament.

"She has the people on the ground and she's been building up her profile in the riding the last two last years, doing a lot of door-knocking," he said. "She has aimed the entire Green party machine at this riding."

In her favour, May's riding has a history of environmental activism. In 2008, Liberal candidate and local environmentalist Briony Penny placed close second to Lunn with 39 per cent of the vote.

"There is a weird vote split in Saanich-Gulf Islands," said Pilon. "You've got post-hippies and latte-quaffing yuppies enjoying the good-life on the islands. And then you've got some very privileged people with a lot of money."

Continue reading here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

NDP still closing on Conservatives

The NDP’s spectacular rise continues, as does the Liberals nosedive. The Conservatives hang tight in front, a new national poll shows.

The EKOS-iPolitics survey, which was completed Thursday evening, finds the Conservatives clinging to a narrowing five-point lead, drawing 34.5 per cent support of decided voters as the NDP presses from behind at 29.7 per cent. The Liberal freefall leaves the party with a new low of 20 per cent support.

The Green Party is stuck at 6.9 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois at 6.3 per cent and other parties hold a collective 2.7 per cent support.

Pollster Frank Graves said the latest numbers suggest the Conservatives are out of reach of winning a majority. With the Bloc Quebecois on the verge of a significant defeat, any two parties, combined, would have the needed 155 seats to command the confidence of the House of Commons.

The NDP surge shows no signs of receding, and Graves believes the party still has room to grow.

“There’s no evidence this wave is spent,” Graves said

Continue reading here.

EKOs polling results.

Nanos polling results.

International court: Conservative govt. war crimes?

The Toronto Star:

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says he will investigate war crime allegations against Canadians over the handling of Afghan detainees if Canada won’t.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says in a documentary soon to be aired on TVO that Canadian officials are not immune to prosecution if there is evidence that crimes were committed by handing over detainees to face torture.

When Toronto filmmaker Barry Stevens asked Moreno-Ocampo in his film, Prosecutor, if the ICC would pursue a country like Canada over its role in Afghanistan, he replied:

“We’ll check if there are crimes and also we’ll check if a Canadian judge is doing a case or not . . . if they don’t, the court has to intervene. That’s the rule, that’s the system, one standard for everyone.”

Some legal experts have suggested the Canadian government’s dismissal of calls to launch a judicial probe into the allegations has left the door open for outside scrutiny.

Hendin argued there is “sufficient information” that Canadians, including senior military personnel authorizing and implementing the transfers of detainees, knew there was a substantial risk of torture and abuse.

Parliamentary hearings probing the allegations were shut down in 2009 after Conservative MPs boycotted the proceedings. Earlier this month, the justice department went to court in a bid to limit the findings of an independent report by the Military Police Complaints Commission, probing whether the military police knew that detainees transferred to Afghan custody faced a substantial risk of torture.

The government had refused to turn over military and other government documents dealing with the detainee case until threatened with contempt of Parliament. Those documents were subsequently vetted by a judicial panel and ad hoc committee of MPs, but still remain secret, their release on hold because of the election.

Continue reading here.

Conservative insiders: majority out of reach

The Toronto Star:

Niagara Falls — Stephen Harper's Conservatives must win 23 more seats in Ontario to achieve their coveted majority, a task that senior party insiders now admit is almost impossible, the Star has learned.

High-ranking sources confide that even with the collapse of Michael Ignatieff's Liberals — and NDP Leader Jack Layton's surge, which helps split the vote in many Ontario ridings — it will be very difficult to make such immense gains in Canada's most populous province.

Party sources say the possible loss of several British Columbia ridings to the New Democrats — and others in Quebec, where Layton is surfing an orange wave — has forced them to revise their projections.

“It all comes down to Ontario and we're just not there,” a source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the party's internal polling is closely guarded.

Another plugged-in Tory lamented that the political dynamic is “eerily similar” to the 1990 Ontario election won by the New Democrats under Bob Rae.

“(Tory Leader Mike) Harris shook loose the votes from (Liberal Leader David) Peterson, but they all went and voted for Rae,” said the insider.

“Now Harper dusts up Iggy for a year, but the benefactor of the collapsing Liberal vote is not Harper, it's Jack,” the source said, adding there is currently no “seat matrix that gets Harper to a majority.”

But the Tories are concerned that if they target Layton too strongly in Ontario they may inadvertently help Ignatieff — and cost themselves precious seats in the process.

The emergence of many three-way races makes for a complex scenario on election day, insiders say.

Continue reading here.

NDP scores top grade in Open Media survey

Full survey results here.

Royal wedding frenzy "should embarrass us all"

Democracy Now!:

Up to two billion people around the world tuned in to watch the British royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, a story which has dominated TV news for weeks. The wedding buzz offers a chance to look at the monarchy, Britain’s domestic policy, and how its colonial legacy around the word affects foreign affairs today. While all eyes were on the wedding procession and the first kiss, Democracy Now! spoke with Johann Hari, a columnist at The Independent of London, who says the royal wedding frenzy should be an embarrassment to us all.

Constitutional expert fears Harper majority

Peter Russell, constitutional expert, talks about the Harper Government's contempt for parliamentary democracy and what is at stake in the Canadian Election 2011.

Manning to be held as a medium security prisoner

Democracy Now!:

Military officials have announced alleged whistleblower U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who is suspected of leaking classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks, has been cleared to be held as a medium security prisoner at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was just transferred. Up until last week, Manning was held in 23-hour a day solitary confinement at a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. His treatment at Quantico was condemned by Amnesty International and led to a probe by a torture expert at the United Nations. We speak to legal blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald, who revealed in December that Manning was being subjected to detention conditions likely to inflict long-term psychological injuries.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NDP blow past Liberals, close on Conservatives

The Canadian Press:

Ottawa - A new poll suggests the high-flying NDP have indeed soared past the Liberals and closed in on the Conservatives.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey puts Jack Layton's party solidly in second place, just five percentage points behind the Tories.

The Conservatives are at 35 per cent support nationally, with the NDP at 30 per cent and the Liberals at 22 per cent.

The results indicate the New Democrats have doubled their support since the campaign began late last month — thanks mainly to huge gains among Quebecers and women voters.

The poll has the NDP with a 20-point lead over the Bloc Quebecois — 42 per cent to 22 per cent — and leading the Conservatives by one point among female respondents.

It also suggests significant gains in B.C., where the NDP is two points behind the Tories and 21 points ahead of the Liberals.

The key battleground of Ontario remains a rare bright spot for the Liberals. Michael Ignatieff's party led there, supported by 34 per cent of respondents compared with 33 per cent for the Tories and 25 for the NDP.

The telephone poll of 1,011 respondents was conducted April 20-27. The national figures are considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The regional breakdowns have a smaller sample size and larger margin of error.

One on one with Jack Layton

The Globe and Mail:

Jack Layton appears to be riding a wave that the NDP has always dreamed of, especially in Quebec, where the party has never had more than a beachhead. With expectations mounting, Mr. Layton talks with The Globe’s Campbell Clark aboard his campaign plane on a flight from Montreal to Toronto.

Continue reading here.

Entire Bill Maher appearance on David Letterman

From this past Monday, April 25. Not the greatest appearance, as Bill and Dave spend the majority of the time joking around, and not a lot of ground or topics are covered.

Behind the smile: Getting to know Jack Layton

The Globe and Mail:

He’s quick to laugh – at himself more often than at others. Even his detractors call him Smiling Jack.

He is more than a fair musician. Not only does he play guitar, he surprised journalists this week with an impromptu rendition of Hit the Road Jack on a grand piano in the lobby of a hotel in Saint John, N.B.

He is an experienced politician – the leader of what was the fourth party in the House of Commons who sometimes had trouble being heard.

But, with the NDP on track to make unprecedented electoral gains, it is time to ask what Canadians have really learned about Jack Layton.

Continue reading here.

Trump's first casino partners had alleged mob ties

The Huffington Post:

New York - For years, Donald Trump has boasted that his casinos are free of the taint of organized crime, using this claim to distinguish his gambling ventures from competitors. But Trump's casinos turn out not to be so squeaky clean.

One of his prime Atlantic City developments, the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, relied on a partnership with two investors reputedly linked to the mob, prompting New Jersey regulators to force Trump to buy them out. And he employed a known Asian organized crime figure as a vice president at his Taj Mahal casino for five years, defending the executive against regulators’ attempts to take away his license, according to law enforcement officials.

On Oct. 5, 1993, Trump told a Congressional panel examining the rise of Indian casinos -- then, a rapidly emerging threat to Atlantic City -- that the proprietors were vulnerable to organized crime.

It is “obvious that organized crime is rampant,” Trump told the panel, according to a transcript, drawing a direct contrast to his own operations. “At the Taj Mahal I spent more money on security and security systems than most Indians building their entire casino, and I will tell you that there is no way the Indians are going to protect themselves from the mob.”

That broadside garnered Trump a reprimand from then-House Interior Committee Chairman George Miller, a California Democrat, who complained that he had never heard more irresponsible testimony. But Trump continued, predicting that Indian casinos would spawn “the biggest crime problem in the nation’s history.”

Trump’s neglected to mention that his initial partners on his first deal in Atlantic City reputedly had their own organized crime connections: Kenneth Shapiro was identified by state and federal prosecutors as the investment banker for late Philadelphia mob boss Nicky Scarfo according to reports issued by New Jersey state commissions examining the influence of organized crime, and Danny Sullivan, a former Teamsters Union official, is described in an FBI file as having mob acquaintances. Both controlled a company that leased parcels of land to Trump for the 39-story hotel-casino.

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NDP closing in on the Conservatives!

The Hill Times:

Parliament Hill — Liberals are set to lose long-held bastions in Montreal and Toronto as the NDP closes dramatically in on becoming the official opposition with only four full days of campaigning before the election on Monday, according to the results of a Forum Research poll conducted in collaboration with The Hill Times.

The survey conducted Tuesday night puts the NDP firmly in second place, barely behind the Conservative Party, as its support has continued to climb in regions across Canada following the stunning wave the party and its leader, Jack Layton, have generated in Quebec.

The poll of voting intentions of 3,150 Canadians gave the NDP 31 per cent support nationally, compared to 34 per cent for the Conservatives, who dropped by two percentage polls from the last Forum Research poll on April 21. Support for the Liberal Party, which may have hit rock bottom in the upheaval of the past two weeks, remained relatively unchanged, down to 22 per cent from 23 per cent on April 21.

Mr. Bozinoff’s poll and analysis based on past results in key ridings would give the Conservatives 137 seats, the NDP 108 seats if an election were held today, 60 for the Liberals and only three seats for the Bloc Québécois. If these results hold, the seat projections would have a range of plus or minus 10 seats for each party, Mr. Bozinoff emphasized.

If the voting intentions hold, the Liberals stand to lose at least four of the party’s Montreal fortresses to the NDP, including Westmount-Ville Marie, where former astronaut Marc Garneau is battling for re-election; Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine, held by prominent Liberal Marlene Jennings since 1997; and perhaps even Papineau, another longtime Liberal seat where Justin Trudeau, son of Liberal icon Pierre Trudeau, who is struggling to keep a Commons seat. LaSalle-Émard, once held by former prime minister Paul Martin, is also set to fall to the NDP, Mr. Bozinoff told The Hill Times. Incumbent Liberal Lise Zarac is fighting to win the riding.

Continue reading here.

Pollster predicts Liberals’ urban strongholds will turn NDP

Predictions include losses for Liberals Marc Garneau, Marlene Jennings and Gerard Kennedy

Figures from a new poll conducted by Forum Research and The Hill Times show large cracks in the former Liberal fortresses of downtown Toronto and Montreal. The survey of 3,150 Canadians puts the Conservatives at 34 per cent support, the NDP at 31 per cent and the Liberals down to just 22 per cent. In light of the poll, Forum Research’s Lorne Bozinoff projects a weakened Conservative minority of 137 seats, with 108 going to the NDP, 60 for the Liberals and just three for the Bloc Québécois. Among the Liberal incumbents projected to lose their seats are one-time leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy of Parkdale-High Park, former astronaut Marc Garneau of Westmount-Ville Marie and Marlene Jennings, who has held Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine for 14 years. The poll also predicts a loss for prominent Québec Conservative and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon.

Layton riding ‘seismic shift’ into second place

The Toronto Star:

Ottawa — A “seismic shift” among voters has vaulted the NDP to second place, just five points behind the Conservative front-runners while the Liberals are falling further behind, a new poll reveals.

With less than a week to go in the campaign, Jack Layton is riding a wave of popular support for the NDP not seen in two decades, said Jaideep Mukerji, vice-president of Angus Reid Public Opinion.

A new Angus Reid poll done in partnership with the Toronto Star and La Presse puts Stephen Harper’s Conservatives at 35 per cent, the NDP close behind at 30 per cent, the Liberals at 22 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 7 per cent and the Green Party at 5 per cent

Continue reading here.

Donald Trump: jackass

The Huffington Post:

Donald Trump reacted to the release of President Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate by the White House on Wednesday morning.

Speaking at a press conference in New Hampshire, the potential presidential contender said that he's "proud" in light of the disclosure. He added, however, "it is rather amazing that all of the sudden" the document surfaces. He suggested it should be inspected to ensure its authenticity.

On Wednesday, Trump took credit in the White House's decision to release the president's birth records. "I am really honored to play such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue," he said.

"Today I'm very proud of myself, because I've accomplished something that no one else has been able to accomplish,"
said Trump on the release of the president's birth certificate, according to NBC News.

Continue reading here.

Coalition acceptable to most Canadians

Canadian News Wire:

Ottawa, April 15 /CNW/ - A new survey conducted by global marketing and public opinion research firm TNS Canada shows that despite all the talk about coalitions, they aren't as daunting a prospect to Canadians as they have been made out to be. The survey asked Canadians about a number of plausible scenarios in the event that no party wins a majority of seats in the upcoming Federal election.

However, when asked about the possibility of parties forming a coalition, a majority of Canadians (57%) would find it completely or somewhat acceptable if the party with the most seats forms a coalition government with another party. In addition, even in the absence of perfect knowledge of parliamentary tradition, 1 in 2 Canadians (49%) would find it acceptable if two or more parties, none of which obtained the most seats individually, would form a coalition in order to form a majority government. This is compared to only one in three (33%) would find this scenario completely or somewhat unacceptable.

In terms of which parties Canadians would prefer to see form a coalition, a prospective Liberal - NDP coalition garnered the highest preference, at 28%, followed by a prospective Conservative - NDP coalition (24%). Preference drops dramatically for any prospective coalition which includes the Bloc Québécois:

• Liberal-NDP-Bloc : 8%
• Liberal-Bloc - 5%
• Conservative - Bloc - 3%
• Conservative - NDP- Bloc - 3%.

Continue reading here.

Layton unveils own form of 'attack'


The Liberals have set their sights on the NDP these days, but a surging Jack Layton unveiled his own attack plan Monday in Gatineau, Que.

Acknowledging he is now the target of his opponents, the NDP leader said he was running to be prime minister not to attack the other parties, but to attack "health-care wait times with more doctors and nurses."

Layton also said he would attack unemployment, seniors poverty with increased benefits, and women's inequality.

In French, the NDP leader said voters need to do more than block Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, but need to replace him.

Continue reading here.

Harper wanted proportional representation in 1996

The Winnipeg Free Press:

In 1996, Harper and University of Calgary political scientist and Conservative Party strategist Tom Flanagan co-authored a paper entitled Our Benign Dictatorship. It called for "consultation, committees and consensus-building" in government, proportional representation to replace the "winner-take-all" first-past-the-post electoral system and a Progressive Conservative-Reform Alliance-Bloc Québécois coalition to defeat the then-dominant Liberals.

"In today's democratic societies, organizations share power. Corporations, churches, universities, hospitals, even public-sector bureaucracies make decisions through consultation, committees and consensus-building techniques," they wrote.

"Only in politics do we still entrust power to a single faction expected to prevail every time over the opposition by sheer force of numbers. Even more anachronistically, we persist in structuring the governing team like a military regiment under a single commander with almost total power to appoint, discipline and expel subordinates... Many of Canada's problems stem from a winner-take-all style of politics that allows governments in Ottawa to impose measures abhorred by large areas of the country..."

The first-past-the-post electoral system, their paper continued, "encourages parties to engage in a war of attrition" -- exactly as the NDP and Liberals and Bloc are doing now, benefiting the Conservatives.

"In the longer term... and assuming that Quebec remains in Canada, the alliance would find it hard to form a stable government without some Quebec support... On that basis, a strategic alliance of Quebec nationalists with conservatives outside Quebec might become possible, and it might be enough to sustain a government."

The sugar-coating the two Albertans put on the sour pill of coalescing with Quebec separatists was this: "If cooperation is ever to work, the fragments of Canadian conservatism must recognize that each represents an authentic aspect of a larger conservative philosophy... Quebec nationalism, while not in itself a conservative movement, appeals to the kinds of voters who in other provinces support conservative parties."

Continue reading here.

NDP winning support on the right and left

The Globe and Mail:

Talk about a big orange tent. NDP supporters come from across the political spectrum as Jack Layton is successfully recruiting voters from all of the parties, including the Conservatives, according to a new EKOS Research poll.

“Unlike other parties, most of the current support for the NDP doesn’t come from an NDP voter in 2008. ... The majority of it is new vote,” EKOS pollster Frank Graves said.

About 15 per cent of the NDP’s new support is from Conservatives and Liberals; there’s disaffected Green Party voters in there, too. And the NDP Quebec voter is the old Bloc voter from 2008.

He calls the NDP support in Quebec and the huge lead it has there “the real deal.”

Then there was the premature collapse of the Green Party vote – “They’ve left early and gone to the NDP,” he said.

Now, a sizable portion has come from both Conservatives and Liberals – “It’s something I don’t think people would expect,” Mr. Graves said, pointing specifically to the switch among Tories.

“When you think about it, Jack Layton is kind of appealing to the same guy – the kind of, I hate to use the hackneyed phrase, but that Tim Hortons kind of average, working Canadian.”

It’s a voter Mr. Harper has been after for a long time, Mr. Graves said.

“But all of a sudden, you’ve got a guy come along who’s doing the same pitch – but instead of a grim guy this is a really friendly, chipper guy.”

Continue reading here.

For the Teabaggers and racist sore losers

The Huffington Post:

Washington - Per his directive, the White House released on Wednesday President Barack Obama's "long form" birth certificate, the document whose absence has long been at the heart of the conspiracy-riddled discussion over Obama's legitimacy to serve as the nation's commander in chief.

The move came as a surprise to the press corps, many of whom had not shown up for Wednesday's early-morning White House briefing. By the time word had spread that Obama would be making a 9:45 a.m. statement on the matter, however, the top anchors at all the networks had scurried into the briefing room.

Once there, they received a presidential scolding for their concern with "silliness." Obama began his five-minute statement with the complaint that he wouldn't be able to get the networks to break into their regularly scheduled programming for a speech on policy proposals.

"I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest," Obama said. "But I am speaking for the vast majority of the American people as well as for the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve."

Continue reading here.



[Ottawa – Apr. 27, 2011] – The New Democratic Party (NDP) has solidified its position as the second most popular party in Canada, and is now five points behind the leading Conservatives as a federal election looms, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with the Toronto Star and La Presse has found.

Key Findings

• Voting Intention: Con. 35%, NDP 30%, Lib. 22%, BQ 7%, Grn. 5%
• Best PM: Harper 31%, Layton 27%, Ignatieff 11%, Duceppe 3%, May 2%
• Approval: Layton 49%, Harper 36%, May 25%, Ignatieff 21%, Duceppe 13%

NDP leader Jack Layton continues to hold a considerable edge on approval, as half of Canadians (49%, -1) are satisfied with the way he is doing his job. More than one third of respondents approve of Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper (36%, +3). Green leader Elizabeth May garners the approval of 25 per cent of Canadians (-1). Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is now fourth on this indicator with 21 per cent (-3), while Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe is at 13 per cent.

Layton’s momentum score increased markedly since the last Angus Reid Public Opinion poll and now stands at +36, with almost half of Canadians (46%) saying that they now have an improved opinion of the NDP leader. The remaining contenders all posted negative momentum scores, with 44 per cent of respondents saying that their opinion of Ignatieff has worsened since the start of the election.

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NDP moves ahead of Liberals in "astonishing shift"

The Vancouver Sun:

The NDP has steamrollered over the Liberal party to land in second place nationally behind the front-running Conservatives, results of a new poll suggest.

The survey of more than 3,000 Canadians finds 28 per cent of decided voters now support the NDP, compared with 23.7 per cent who plan to vote Liberal. The Conservatives hold less than a six-point lead, sitting with 33.7 per cent support, with just one week to go before election day.

Pollster Frank Graves calls it an unprecedented turn and "astonishing shift" for the NDP, which has traditionally trailed the two other main federal parties. Leader Jack Layton's popularity is climbing most dramatically in Quebec, but building momentum in all regions of the country, according to the poll's results.

"We have seen almost from Day 1, a slow, steady and now a dramatic rise where the NDP has gone from 14 points in a pre-writ poll to 28 points," Graves said. "That is a doubling — I've never seen anything close to that."

Results of the poll — the first of the campaign to show the NDP running in second place — show the Green party with 7.2 per cent support, the Bloc Quebecois at 6.2 per cent and other parties with 1.2 per cent.

Continue reading here.

NDP call for fuel price watchdog

The Windsor Star:

With rising gas and home heating fuel prices, area NDP candidates have called for the creation of an "oil and gas ombudsman's office" to investigate sudden price surges.

While acknowledging that global and other outside factors play a role in how fuel prices are set, Windsor West MP Brian Masse said Thursday the public is demanding "fairness."

He said that at the same time as the petroleum industry is reaping "record profits" in tough times, it's benefiting from billions of dollars in government subsidies and a lower tax rate than Canada's struggling manufacturing sector.

"As New Democrats, we're going to stop these massive subsidies," Masse told reporters outside the gates of BP's Windsor Storage Terminal off Matchette Road.

Continue reading here.

Stealth fighter to cost more than originally forecast

The Winnipeg Free Press:

Ottawa - National Defence says it's been told the unit price of the F-35 stealth fighter will be higher than the $75 million it planned for, but the military insisted late Monday it can still deliver the program on budget.

The Pentagon, in a recent report to the U.S. Congress, outlined a laundry list of cost increases in the US$382 billion development of the advanced fighter-bomber.

"Canada is not a recipient of the report, however, as an international partner in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project, we have been advised that it forecasts an increase in production costs for the JSF Program," said a written statement released to The Canadian Press.

The acknowledgment of the price change came as another American report suggested the cost of operating the jets could be billions of dollars more than expected.

An estimate by a Pentagon cost-analysis unit projects it will cost $915 billion to keep the U.S. fleet of 2,443 jets flying for 30 years.

The document, leaked to Bloomberg in Washington, forecasts a lifetime maintenance bill of roughly $375 million per aircraft.

Using the Pentagon numbers, the 65 planes would cost more than $24 billion to maintain over 30 years, well above Canadian government estimates.

Continue reading here.

Harper defends...asbestos!

The Toronto Star:

Asbestos, Quebec — It’s being removed from Canada’s public buildings, is banned in the European Union, and caused the cancer that afflicted Transport Minister Chuck Strahl, but Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is defending asbestos exports.

Harper, in a swing through this Bloc Quebecois-held riding of Richmond-Arthabaska, told reporters at a seniors’ residence named for the Jeffrey asbestos mine, that “we have no plans” to curb the sale of the hazardous fire-resistant material abroad.

While he nodded sagely at the mention of Strahl’s health plight, the Tory leader did not refer to him in his brief response on the issue.

Ironically, asbestos is being removed from buildings as disparate as schools, the House of Commons, and 24 Sussex Drive, where Harper resides with his wife and two children.

Strahl, who retired from electoral politics before this election, was a partner in a logging and construction company and has said his exposure to asbestos caused his mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer.

Continue reading here.

Bill Maher on Letterman talks Trump candidacy

The Huffington Post:

Bill Maher stopped by "The Late Show" Monday night, and like most talk-show interviews of late, the topic soon turned to Donald Trump and his 2012 intentions.

Maher has no idea why anyone's paying attention to the "curiosity from the 80s" or why he's leading in GOP straw polls, but he is sure about one thing: Trump is definitely running for President.

In the interview snippet below, Maher argues that Trump's ego, age and the fact that he's been courting Evangelicals indicate that he's serious about running. David Letterman, however, insists it's just a publicity stunt. Maher then decided to make things "interesting."

"Let's wager a week's pay. Mine against yours," Maher said. And while they didn't exactly shake on it, Letterman did seem interested, adding, "Will you throw in some steaks?"

Monday, April 25, 2011

NDP surges to strong second place in poll


Toronto - Support for the New Democratic Party surged to within 6 points of the ruling Conservatives in an opinion poll released on Monday, raising the prospect that the left-leaning NDP could knock the Conservatives out of power after the May 2 election.

The EKOS survey of more than 3,000 Canadian voters put support for the NDP at 28 percent, compared with 33.7 percent for the Conservatives.

The Liberals, now the main opposition party in Parliament. had 23.7 percent support in the poll. It was the biggest lead the NDP has held over the Liberals during the campaign.

"We have seen almost from Day One a slow, steady and now a dramatic rise where the NDP has gone from 14 points in a pre-writ poll to 28 points," pollster Frank Graves said on the web site. "That is a doubling. I've never seen anything close to that."

Graves said the figures could conceivably bring the NDP, led by Jack Layton, more than 100 seats in Parliament. The poll indicates that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives could win around 130 seats.

But that's not a majority in Parliament, raising the prospect that the NDP could form a coalition with the Liberals and Layton could become the party's first prime minister.

"It's hard to imagine a 130-seat diminished (Conservative) government would be able to hold on to power against a clear majority of seats and a major advantage in popular support for the NDP and the Liberals," Graves said. "The idea that you could have a Jack Layton-led coalition sounds preposterous, but that's what the numbers suggest."

EKOS surveyed 3,004 Canadian voters between April 22 and April 24. It considers its results accurate to within 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

EKOS: Orange Crush: Are Jack Layton and the NDP redrawing the boundaries of Canada's political landscape?

Canada needs proportional representation

Executive pay skyrockets 23% in 2010

The Huffington Post:

Washington - CEOs at 299 U.S. companies earned a staggering $3.4 billion combined in executive compensation in 2010, a new study by the nation’s largest labor union found.

Nearly 190 of those chief executives got a pay raise compared to their 2009 levels, the AFL-CIO noted in a report presented to reporters on Tuesday. The total amount of compensation represented a 23 percent increase from the prior year. In all, the sum of the salaries earned by those 299 CEOs equalled the combined average earnings of more than 100,000 workers in their respective companies.

The figures, which are part of the union federation’s annual Executive PayWatch -- a searchable database examining publicly available payment information from S&P 500 Companies -- reflect what AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka called a culture of “runaway CEO pay.” The numbers were presented as part of a larger pitch for Congress and the President to clamp down on executive compensation and protect the gains made on this front in the financial regulatory reform bill passed last year.

Continue reading here.

American news interest and actual coverage

Manning to be moved to new detention centre

Amnesty International:

The US soldier accused of leaking documents to the Wikileaks organisation is being moved to a new detention centre following concerns over his treatment.

Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of providing documents to Wikileaks, is being moved from a maximum security military brig at the Quantico Marine Corps Base to a pre-trial facility in a new, medium-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

While at Quantico he has been detained for 23 hours a day in a small cell, sometimes naked, and forbidden from exercising.

“We believe sustained public pressure for the US government to uphold human rights in Bradley Manning’s case has contributed to this move” said Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s director for the Americas.

“We hope Bradley Manning’s conditions will significantly improve at Fort Leavenworth, but we will be watching how he is treated very closely. His conditions at Quantico have been a breach of international standards for humane treatment of an untried prisoner.”

Continue reading here.

Harper's hypocrisy & flip-flop over minority coalition

The Montreal Gazette:

It's a question that moved this week to the heart of the 2011 federal election: Can a second-place party in a minority Parliament legitimately form a government?

In a CBC interview aired Thursday, Conservative leader Stephen Harper offered an unequivocal answer — No — and suggested any such move by his rival parties to form a "coalition" in a divided, post-election House of Commons would spark a debate over "constitutional law."

But in another televised interview in 1997 — when he was trying to chart a path to bring Canada's conservatives to power in a Liberal-dominated Parliament — Harper's answer to the same question was a resounding yes.

There is strong evidence, too, that Harper himself — despite his own denials today — was prepared in 2004 to become a "second-place prime minister" by allying with the Bloc Quebecois and NDP in a "co-opposition" arrangement to defeat the minority Liberal government of Paul Martin.

Continue reading here.

Canada: take back democracy

This election could finally stop Harper, but our votes are split across the opposition parties. Avaaz has helped create a simple strategic voting tool that could tip the balance in several close races. Donate now to fund a massive national advertising campaign to get the word out:

Idiotic Conservative candidate

An image from video of Conservative Churchill candidate Wally Daudrich. NDP rival Niki Ashton calls his remarks 'bizarre.'

The Winnipeg Free Press:

Barack Obama is the worst president in American history and an NDP MP is a Chinese-educated socialist, according to a Conservative candidate in northern Manitoba.

Wally Daudrich, who runs the Lazy Bear Lodge and Café in Churchill and has been campaigning for months, is under scrutiny for inflammatory comments posted on his campaign website and his Facebook page.

Daudrich's Facebook "likes" include right-wing American radio personality Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party of Canada.

Reached Sunday night in Split Lake, Ashton said Daudrich's comments are not new to people in the north who have seen his campaign literature and comments in the Thompson Citizen. Ashton called the comments "bizarre."

Continue reading here.

Offshore Banking and Tax Havens

Democracy Now!:

As millions of Americans prepare to file their income taxes ahead of Monday’s deadline, we look at how corporations and the wealthy use offshore banks and tax havens to avoid paying taxes and other governmental regulations. "Tax havens have grown so fast in the era of globalization, since the 1970s, that they are now right at the heart of the global economy and are absolutely huge," says our guest, British journalist Nicholas Shaxson. "There are anywhere between $10 and $20 trillion sitting offshore at the moment. Half of world trade is processed in one way or another through tax havens." Shaxson is the author of the new book, Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens.

NDP surging in polls

The Globe and Mail:

Jack Layton woke up in Quebec City to online polls that suggested his party is capturing the attention of voters across the country and especially in the province of Quebec, where his own attributes as a leader appear to be winning his party support.

An Angus-Reid Public Opinion poll released Monday suggests the Conservatives still hold a double-digit lead with the support of 36 per cent of decided voters but the New Democratic Party is now tied with the Liberal Party for second place at 25 per cent.

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Republican Arizona Governor doing sane things!

The Associated Press:

Arizona gov. vetoes presidential 'birther' bill

Phoenix — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday vetoed a bill that would have required President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before their names could appear on the state's ballot.

The bill would have made Arizona the first state to pass such a requirement. Opponents had warned the bill would give another black eye to Arizona after last year's controversy over the state's illegal immigration enforcement law.

Brewer said in her veto letter that she was troubled that the bill empowered Arizona's secretary of state to judge the qualifications of all candidates when they file to run for office.

"I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on Earth to submit their 'early baptismal circumcision certificates' among other records to the Arizona secretary of state," she said. "This is a bridge too far."

Continue reading here.

The Huffington Post:

Arizona Guns On Campus Bill Vetoed By Jan Brewer

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial measure on Monday that would have permitted guns to be carried on public rights of way at public university and community college campuses, the Arizona Republic reports.

The bill's scope had been scaled back partway through the legislative process when the Senate amended it to only apply to rights of way.
The bill originally would have allowed carrying of concealed weapons in buildings, including classrooms.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Brewer called the measure "poorly written," but also signaled she supports larger efforts to expand where firearms are allowed to be carried.

Continue reading here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

NDP in tie with Liberals, Harper in minority territory

The Conservative Party is holding on to a double-digit lead in Canada’s federal political scene, but a surging New Democratic Party (NDP) is now tied with the Liberal Party for second place, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The Liberals have shown no growth and stand at 25 per cent (-2), but the New Democrats have seen their support increase by four points and are now even with the Grits (25%). The Bloc Québécois is at nine per cent (+1), followed by the Green Party with five per cent (-1).

The NDP’s ascendance is tied to the support of voters in two areas. The party is now second to the Tories in Western Canada. In Quebec, the NDP has become a popular federalist force at 26 per cent, 10 points behind the sovereignist Bloc. The Tories hold a seven-point lead over the Grits in Ontario.

The performance of NDP leader Jack Layton in the televised debates has led to the highest approval rating recorded by any Canadian federal politician in an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll over the past three years. Half of Canadians (50%) approve of the way Layton is doing his job.

One third of respondents approve of Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper (33%), while one-in-four feel the same way about both Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff (24%) and Green Party leader Elizabeth May (also 24%).

45 per cent of Canadians—including 61 per cent of Quebecers—believe the Tories have performed poorly and do not deserve to form the government after the next election.

The biggest winner in the first voting intention survey conducted after debate week is Layton. The NDP leader has successfully connected with voters, providing his party with a marked boost. Layton now commands the approval of half of Canadians, something no other party leader has been able to do in three years.

Continue reading here.

Israeli troops filmed attacking Palestinian prisoners

Hundreds of Palestinian have died inside Israeli prisons and now an Israeli television channel has aired shocking footage of Israel's so-called Control and Restraint unit, or Masada, attacking Palestinian prisoners.

Activists have demanded people in charge of the operation, carried out in 2007, be charged and the family of one of the victims told Al Jazeera that they would consider suing Masada

Touch of Class

Robert Kuttner, Co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect:

President Obama did two things in his address at George Washington University that he has been loath to do throughout his presidency. He spoke like a progressive partisan. And he spoke of that great unmentionable in centrist Democratic policies -- the injuries of class. The progressive framing of the issue could blow the Republicans back to the fringe, minority position they were in when the financial collapse occurred and Obama won election. Well done, and long overdue.

Continue reading here.

Federal taxes drop dramatically for rich Americans

The Associated Press:

Washington - As millions of procrastinators scramble to meet Monday's tax filing deadline, ponder this: The super rich pay a lot less taxes than they did a couple of decades ago, and nearly half of U.S. households pay no income taxes at all.

The Internal Revenue Service tracks the tax returns with the 400 highest adjusted gross incomes each year. The average income on those returns in 2007, the latest year for IRS data, was nearly $345 million. Their average federal income tax rate was 17 percent, down from 26 percent in 1992.

Over the same period, the average federal income tax rate for all taxpayers declined to 9.3 percent from 9.9 percent.

The top income tax rate is 35 percent, so how can people who make so much pay so little in taxes? The nation's tax laws are packed with breaks for people at every income level. There are breaks for having children, paying a mortgage, going to college, and even for paying other taxes. Plus, the top rate on capital gains is only 15 percent.

Continue reading here.

An open letter to Canada

Injection site dramatically curbs overdose deaths

The Toronto Star:

Deaths from drug overdose dropped dramatically in Vancouver’s troubled Downtown Eastside after Insite, Canada’s only supervised injection site, opened in 2003, according to major new research on the controversial facility.

Vancouver’s mayor and public health experts say the body of research on Insite, further supported by the overdose findings, makes it clear that Toronto could benefit from a supervised consumption facility.

The study shows overdose deaths declined by 35 per cent after Insite opened its doors, a finding that experts say answers the final key question of whether the facility provides public health and community benefit. Previous studies have shown Insite has, among other things, got drug use off city streets, saved the health-care system millions of dollars and reduced the spread of infectious disease, including HIV.

Continue reading here.

Pay raises for Conservative staff despite cuts

The Globe and Mail:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is defending pay raises for Conservative political staffers at a time of budget belt-tightening.

Mr. Harper was asked Saturday about new rules which could result in a financial win-win for Tory aides in ministerial offices regardless of whether the Conservatives win or lose the May 2nd election.

The guidelines quietly went into effect on April 1, boosting the maximum salary political staffers can be paid. They also hike by 50 per cent the maximum separation pay they can receive should they find themselves suddenly out of work.

Those changes come into effect as Harper's Conservatives are vowing to cut $4-billion a year from the federal budget

Continue reading here.

Canada’s F-35s: Engines not included

The multi-million dollar F-35 stealth fighter that the Conservatives want to purchase comes with all the accoutrements of a high-tech aircraft — everything, that is, except an engine.

The Montreal Gazette:

Government will be required to provide powerplant for stealth fighters, documents show

The multi-million dollar F-35 stealth fighter that the Conservatives want to purchase comes with all the accoutrements of a high-tech aircraft — everything, that is, except an engine.

The government will be required to provide engines for the 65 planes to be delivered by U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin, according to newly released Defence Department documents.

The proposed F-35 purchase, estimated to cost between $14 billion and $29 billion depending on what figures are used, has been controversial. Opposition parties are calling for a review or cancellation of the program, while the Tories have made it a key part of their defence policy.

Continue reading here.

Colobia's paramilitaries and atrocities

Whatever you call these groups - whether paramilitaries, gangs, or some other name - their impact on human rights in Colombia today should not be minimized. Like the paramilitaries, these successor groups are committing horrific atrocities, and they need to be stopped.

Planned Parenthood saved my life!

In March 2002, I went in for surgery and had a part of my cervix removed. Every three months for two years after my surgery, I had to have a women’s health exam, AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD, to follow-up and make sure everything was ok and looked healthy. The University of Washington covered all of the costs pertaining to my diagnosis (as long as it was through Planned Parenthood) because I was part of the study.

If it was not for Planned Parenthood, I would probably be dead from cervical cancer. I give credit to Planned Parenthood because it was Planned Parenthood where I originally gave my specimen, and it was Planned Parenthood that The University of Washington chose to work with, which says a lot.

The result of the research that The University of Washington did proved that HPV can cause cancer, which led to the vaccine they developed. The HPV vaccines are now administered routinely to 11-12 year-old girls and are available for those who have not received the vaccine yet and are HPV negative.

Now, to answer the question, why did I originally start going to Planned Parenthood? It was NOT to get an abortion!!! I was sexually active, and had no job. Planned Parenthood has a sliding fee scale and an array of different government funded programs for low-income people. I was able to receive birth control, at no charge, from Planned Parenthood. In the last ten years, I have mostly worked part-time and my annual income averages from $9000.00 to $14000.00. I have relied strongly on Planned Parenthood for all of my women’s medical needs because I cannot afford to go anywhere else. As it is, I have hundreds of dollars of medical bills in collections already.

Continue reading here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Two more teens tossed from Conservative event

The Toronto Star:

Edmonton — The Liberals say two more teens with Liberal ties were thrown out of a Conservative rally in Vancouver.

"This is just becoming more and more grotesque," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Saturday.

He was referring to university students in London and Guelph who were abruptly shown the door, even though they were properly registered.

These incidents help stoke Ignatieff's argument that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is obsessed with control and is anti-democratic.

Ignatieff said there were Tory supporters at his rally earlier in Sudbury "who said 'I might just vote Liberals this time.' "

"This is about democracy ... and he has just got to stop doing this," he told reporters.

Ignatieff bristled at the Conservatives' explanation that it was a private meeting and can toss who they like.

"Excuse me, there is no such thing as a private meeting in a federal election. These are public meetings. Come one come all," he said.

A spokesperson for the Conservtives acknowledged that even though they were identified as Liberal supporters the teens were told they could stay if they didn't disrupt the rally.

"They declined," he said.

At the Edmonton Liberal rally a man was allowed in despite the fact he was holding a sign that said: "Ignatieff, going back to Harvard soon?"

Shocking: blatantly racist email from Teabagger

Van Jones: D.C. "stuck on stupid"

Think Progress:

In a passionate keynote address, green jobs leader Van Jones exhorted the 10,000 youth climate activists at the Power Shift conference in Washington DC to “shift the power” and lead the clean power revolution. He argued that both parties need to be held accountable for their failures, and that activists must explain that the climate movement isn’t just about “hippie power” but that it is a vision of liberty and justice for all.

Van Jones had harsh words for the national political establishment. “You have to be wise enough to hold both parties to high standards,” he said:

While they’re stuck on stupid in DC, your generation is rising

Continue reading here.

Listening Post - Rupert Murdoch's Watergate

I literally laughed out loud when I read this

Another Poll Confirms Trump as Republican Frontrunner

Is the Donald now a fake fake candidate? Donald Trump is leading the pack of Republican presidential candidates, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling. Trump is ahead of second-place Mike Huckabee by nine points--despite that fact that Huckabee has actually held elected office and gave a strong challenge to John McCain in the 2008 GOP primary. PPP's Tom Jensen writes that just 38 percent of Republican primary voters say they'd vote for someone who rejects birtherism--and most of those people are supporters of Mitt Romney. And 23 percent of Republican voters say they won't vote for anyone who's not a birther. Slate's Dave Weigel says this result "makes it harder and harder to pretend [Trump's] a non-factor in 2012."

Continue reading here.