Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Politics of Breasts

NSFW WARNING: You should assume any link in this blog is not safe for work.*

Ezra Levant spent ten minutes and six tweets decrying the horrors of a person who is running to lead the country having his picture taken with a woman.

That seems like an odd sentence, doesn't it? Of course a man and woman can have their picture taken together!

Not so, if the woman is topless. This picture was taken at the Toronto Pride Parade. Toronto, where it's perfectly legal to go topless. Therefore, I can only assume there's outrage at this photo.

As an aside, I feel absolutely horrible for this woman. I'm assuming she asked for this picture. I don't know how it got out, but it did. I have no idea what her name is, but I suspect in the coming days I will. She did nothing wrong here and there's a good chance a million people will be inappropriately sexualizing her this time next week.** 

Against my better judgement, I'm going to try and answer the idiotic questions posed by Mr.Levant:

What politician would pose for this picture?
Justin Trudeau

What strategist would advise it?
I imagine a strategist doesn't advise on every single picture the candidate takes. 

What point does it prove?
That you consider the female body obscene. 

Does this photo court the vote of women? Of moms? Of wives? 
It might? I don't think that's the point though. I wasn't there, but I would guess the young lady asked Mr.Trudeau for a picture and he gave her one just like he did the topless men. 

What does it say about him? About what he thinks of her? 
That he isn't the kind of man who thinks every time a female nipple is visible it's time for a sex act. 

What father of daughters would vote for Trudeau upon seeing this? What mother of daughters? What older brother? 
Ones that don't consider the female body to be merely sexual object for male fulfillment.  

This is what a frat boy does; what a “ladies’ man” does. Is it what a husband & father does? A leader? 
Yes. A woman asked for her picture taken and he obliged and didn't discriminate against her breasts. 

Yes, seriously. 

Media Party clucked when I criticized Trudeau kissing another man’s young bride on her wedding day. There’s a pattern.
There's a pattern of treating women as autonomous beings capable of deciding what's appropriate to do with their body.

If you were being attacked as unserious, childish, “just not ready” would you pose for a photo that proved that true?
Probably not. Though, this photo does nothing of the sort. 

So there you have it. It's the 21st century and we're still fighting against people terrified of breasts. 

*Though, there's really nothing sexual about the picture, I appreciate that this may land some people in hot water at their place of employment.
**By the by, maybe she wants to be sexualized - and there's nothing wrong with that either. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Making That Writ Drop - WubWubWubWubWub

While unofficial at this point, it's all but certain that the writ will drop tomorrow and we'll be in a full blown election cycle. 11 weeks of electioneering for your summertime pleasure. If you're looking for writings on how this is the downfall of democracy, a mass manipulation of the election system, and how Mr.Harper is actually an evil genius rigging the system to his advantage - I'm afraid you won't find that here.

While it might be a bit presumptuous of me to disagree with the former Elections Canada head, I'm actually pretty pleased with the choice to open up the writ period here. Not because I'm a political junkie, because I could use another month with that part of my brain turned off. I'm really pleased with this simply because it's formalizing the obvious. If anything, the writ should have dropped the morning after the last day parliament sat.

Candidates have been campaigning since January, really. It started revving up June 20 when the house was out. Since that time, MP's and candidates have been attending every BBQ or community event they could find in hopes of endearing themselves to a few more winnable votes. The dropping of the writ merely formalizes the reality that we're in campaign season.

While there seems to be a great number of folks happy to decry the timing of the writ (surely not because it's cutting into their vacation), perhaps the disdain would be better targeted toward the time honored and non-partisan* tradition of bribing us with our own money. These announcements, that only the governing party gets to make, are essentially taxpayer funded PR for the governing party. As Marshall Jones pointed out on CANADALAND: Short Cuts these events are usually useless for the most part. The government member there will stay on script, not say anything new, and it all gets sent out in a press release at the end anyways. The fact that these events even get local media coverage is evidence of a mainstream media wrangled into submission.

So bring on the writ, I say. We've been in election season for a year and it's about time the facts reflected that.

In the meantime, I managed to find this video of Stephen Harper trying to decide when to drop the bass writ. 

*I say non-partisan as this is something every government in the last 100 years has done.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hey Guys! Can We Stop Being Dicks Please?

I'm really not an expert on this topic, I just had to say something.

I shared the title of this post with a friend of mine. He declared my request was like asking a tree to stop growing leaves.

I don't buy it.

Here's a story I heard last night from a couple female bike riders:

Woman 1: I'm going the same speed as a car, and all the time I get guys just yelling at me as I go by "HEY NICE BIKE!" I don't know what they're expecting, that I'll just slam on my breaks to talk to them? I've even had some guys try to slap my ass as I'm flying by. They've never got me, though. 

Woman 2: Oh that's the worst. I had a guy actually get me. I was just getting on my bike and he walked by and *smack*!

Well, surely this is an isolated incident, right? RIGHT?*


No, really. DUDES! What the hell?! Who the hell was your father? Your grandfather? Would they approve of this kind of Neanderthism? On the off chance your male family is as dense as you are, here's a better question:

Would you watch with approval as someone treated your mother, sister, or grandmother this way?

Now let me try to answer some of your objections without calling you a neanderthal.

Y'know, it's not just guys who are assholes! I've met some pretty shitty women too... 

You met another person who was kind of shitty? Sounds like there's a lot of them in this world.

In general, do I think people as a whole could do a better job at not being dickbags? Sure I do.

I would note though, that while the plethora of douche in this world may not be sex specific - randomly sexually assaulting women in passing seems to be an overwhelmingly male trait.

I don't get what the big deal is. I'd love it if random women started smacking my ass while I was going about my day. 


I'm going to provide the benefit of the doubt and assume your ass is some glorious piece of man meat that all would want to come in contact with - and we can even set aside the different life you've inherently experienced growing up as a man to the oft-sexualized female perspective.

Perhaps you should get comfortable with the idea that just because you'd like something to be done to you, doesn't give you the right to do it to others without consent. This is always true - but especially true in sexual interactions.

Maybe if they weren't wearing...

Nope. Stop. You're being a neanderthal.

So, what's in it for me? Currently, I get to slap women's asses, so if I stop I should get something better, right? 

Well, that's a pretty fucked up way to be thinking about it, really. But YES! See if you stop treating women like an object for your consumption and actually get to know them, as independent and unique beings, you might grow as a person. You might learn more about someone else's experience, and learn some empathy. You might become a more rounded person and this may serve you better in both social and professional venues.

And frankly, if this is the kind of crap you're pulling currently, you have A LOT of growing to do.

A note to the men who aren't colossal douche bags 

If you see this kind of shit happening, or even other general stupid comments about women when among men** you gotta step up. It's not good enough for you to simply not engage in such obscene practices. You need to actively stop other men from this kind of garbage.

It's really not enough to simply not be a dickbag. We need to band together against the dickbags and make it known on every occasion that this kind of business is not okay.

If you're afraid of a physical confrontation, congratulations you've reached the point of understanding a fraction of the fear women are experiencing currently.

*This is nowhere near an isolated incident. These examples I provided are a mere tip of the iceberg. Many other stories, often more horrific, have been shared with me in confidence which I won't outline here.
**A man proclaimed this weekend that "All women are planning for their weddings from childhood. It's in their genetics." No. Not genetics. Not all women. Just... no.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

I'm Going to Vote, You Should Too.

NOTE: This blog started out as a "here's who I'm voting for and why" and quickly turned into something else, then back into it's original intention. Who I'm voting for is the bottom half, but I hope you take the time to read the rest as well. 

Today I start with an oft proclaimed cliche that never really resonated with me until I moved here.

It takes a great deal of courage to stand for public office.

This might be the first election where I've sincerely felt this. I've heard it said during SO31s but it always struck me as a bit of empty rhetoric. I think living in such a small place has really driven this point home as I now happen to have a friend running, another friend's brother is a candidate, a man I've met a couple times through an ex is leading a party, and the woman who will likely be my MLA popped up on my newsfeed one day with a dog she and her husband found. Politics are far more personal here. That's a good thing, for the most part.

It's not just the grind of shaking hands*, kissing babies, and putting up signs. There's also a significantly more shitty side with people trying to tear that work down.

In the last week, there have been reports of racism, vandalism , and outright theft. It's especially troubling that it's smaller parties with no real chance to win who are facing this kind of abuse. To even take the time and energy to go out there campaign for your minority opinion is commendable, so I see no logical reasons for these hooligans to engage in this stupidity.

I don't want to get too "heal the world" here, but there's over 100 people in the province, with wildly different views on everything from trade to abortion actively trying to persuade the locals to their way of thinking. I don't know if you've ever had a political discussion in a bar, but imagine making that your entire life for a month and potentially a career.

Ultimately, I think the least we can do is tell these people what we think. So I hope you vote.

Who I'm Voting For 

Let's get the obvious out of the way. I'm not voting for the Green Party. Campaigns of hope and change are popular, especially given the culture to permeates in this place. They're just not realistic, though. It's always easy for people who have no power to proclaim the purity in which they'll act once they do. This rarely, if ever, holds true. I also have philosophical issues with programs like BIG. It completely plays in to cultural issues that plague the province. If the government will offer you enough money to live and not work, the people here have proven they'll often not work. Locals will build straw men of extreme cases where it may be marginally warranted, but any reasonable person can see the way EI is used. Institutionalizing it provincially is completely misguided in my view.

Needless to say, having even a smidgen of fiscal responsibility is important to me. In theory, this should exclude all three remaining parties, but easily the NDP more than the others. When 70% of the provincial budget is spent on public servants, perhaps it's not the wisest idea to elect the party in the pockets of the unions?

And then there were two. Now - this is the part where NDP and Green members well try to dismember my member from me proclaiming that I'm furthering a narrative of "red pill -vs- blue pill" and that's simply not true. Every Islander has a choice. I choose fiscal responsibility. Once either the Greens or NDP decides to start exercising some, they'll certainly become a consideration.

I started this election process with a simple premise I would tell to anyone who would listen: If both of the viable parties are equally horrible on social issues (abortion, specifically) then why would I also give the keys to the guy who's party has been shitting the bed for the last 8 years?

Really, the only way I was going to end up voting Liberal this election was if Rob Lantz completely shit the bed this election.

And he did.

After seeing the debate performances, including a bizarre diatribe at the end of the education debate, I don't see how any person with eyes could view him as leadership material. Of the 4 candidates he may have (mostly) the best platform (aside from women's rights of course). In fact, there are considerable points to be given for being the one candidate to stand up and say government isn't going to fix all your problems. Yet somehow, of the 4 candidates he comes off as the least authentic, the least sincere, and just generally kinda shady.

It's not this alone that caused me to change my mind.

I am yet to be convinced that the Liberal party isn't going to make significant change to abortion services. Even in the CBC debate, it was made pretty clear that *something* was going to change if not bringing the service directly to Island. I think baby steps are better than no steps, so even if that's the case it may have been enough to get my vote. I don't believe we're going to see baby steps though. I think new plans and recommendations will be made. They'll be VERY expensive. In the interest of costs savings, the plan that was previously scrapped (or some version similar) will be instituted. I have no inside baseball information on this, but it seems to be the most logical progression.

The final reason I'm voting Liberal is because I'm in a swing riding. I live in district 14** and it seems like the NDP candidate is gaining traction here. In the unlikely scenario that this riding actually ends up holding influence on where the power in the legislature resides - it's becoming increasingly clear that voting PC is the equivalent of setting a vote on fire. This is no knock on my local PC candidate, in fact she did swing by the house (while I wasn't there) as did Mrs.Casey.

At the end of the day, I'm voting Liberal. If at all possible, I'll seem as disgruntled as possible while doing it. It's a bit of a question of "Which glass of lime juice would you rather drink?" Ideally, I'd like another option, but I preach far too often about letting the perfect stand in the way of the good as is. It's time to follow my own advice in that regard.

*Let's not minimize the the shittiness of this part, either. Some people can be downright awful.
**I was SO close to having a cool Hunger Games district number. Guess I have to move.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

CFA Take on the Leaders Debate

I viewed the Leaders' Debate with some excitement as I'd yet to see a PEI election debate as of yet. I was also keenly aware that there was significant ground up for grabs in this debate as the PC are still within striking distance of the Liberal parties and surely there should be fireworks in such a scenario.

This Democracy is Recorded in Front of a Live Studio Audience

The first thing that struck me as the debate started, before even a question was asked, was that there was a sizable audience for this debate. While this may be something many people have interest in seeing, I still remain unconvinced of how it serves the public good. I'll likely touch on this again later, but having a crowd there to cheer or boo ideas they don't agree with (in fact, the night starts with the host requesting that the crowd bring "spirit") creates a false and statistically non-representative impression of a "public view" on these ideas.

Let's create an absurdest example:

-This debate was in Summerside
-One says Charlottetown has had a leg up on Summerside for too long, so they were going to increase taxes on any Charlottetown resident by 10% while reducing the taxes of Summerside residents by 10%
-The audience roars wildly with approval
-Another candidate notes this is incredibly unfair to the Charlottetown residents
-The crowd boo's with disapproval

In this example, the idea is clearly bad - but by pandering to those in attendance it may leave some viewers with the impression that it's actually a good idea. Conversely, some leaders may shy away from some ideas or tactics as those in the room may lash out in response.

Additionally, as much as coverage seems to be veering in this direction lately - politics is not a sport. We are not spectators in some meaningless conflict here. We should be active participants in the shape and scope of our democracy, and treating these elections like they're very long horse races is a disservice to the electorate.

Together, We Can Change Democracy (just don't spend any time actually thinking about this please)! 

Early in this debate the Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker reiterates and oft-made point from their ranks about the assault on democracy that is whipped votes. If you look at this issue on the surface, you'll certainly find issue with the way operate now. Ideally, my representative would go to the legislature to represent my riding and our interests and not take into account party or political goals as part of that calculation. This is a fine idea, so long as you don't think about it too long. What about compromises? Surely at some point my MLA may need to compromise with another. We get a little out of this bill, they get a little out of the next? Sure that's part of the issue. Still... though...

The fictional character Will Mcavoy once asked, "You know why people don't like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart how come they lose so god damn always?" and this would be no different. Let's live in a fantasy land for a moment where the Green party wins a majority government. As promised, their votes are not whipped and with their 14 or 27 seats they would accomplish... well, nothing I imagine. In fact, unless they whip the budget vote I imagine we'd be right back into another election as holding the confidence of the legislature would be a challenge. Hell, let's say you have 90% support for everything you're going to with your team... you're still fucked. The other 13 members of the legislature are going to vote against you on everything, and I do mean everything. You could have 13 PC opposition members and try to pass a bill that proclaims the PC party a great party. Those 13 MLAs would probably vote against it because it doesn't go far enough. "The legislation should clearly have read 'the greatest' party" some member would point out. So sure, you can have this idealistic fantasy about how government should work, but so long as there are still people who are playing the game - your refusal to play it will constantly result in your cause "losing so god damn always."

Dog-Whistle Politics

I won't directly accuse anyone of dog-whistle politics here...okay maybe I will. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr.Lanntz was coached to bring up his family as often as he could find a way to work it in. It's no secret that Wade MacLauchlan is an openly gay man and there are some PC voters and other bigoted voters who will be moved by this family connection that MacLauchlan is unable to openly proclaim. By the way... this is bullshit. The fact that there's still some people out there bigoted enough to not be able to handle MacLauchlan mention his partner is atrocious, though I think Premier Wynne had similar issues in Ontario. Anyways, if you're watching or re-watching the debate, or even if you're so hard up for ways to kill time that you read the running diary below, note how often Mr.Lantz mentions his family. This is not by accident.

A Running Diary of the CBC Debate
(Note: I thought I'd have a bit of fun and make a quick running diary of the debate when I re-watched it Tuesday night. Quick was misguided. What follows is 3700 words of marginally coherent thought. I apologize in advance)

Now that I've clearly stated this is not sports, I'm going to steal an idea from one of my favorite sports writers as I realize the best way to actually touch on everything I want to in this debate is to use the running diary format.

I'll time-stamp for those of you playing along at home, or in sheer disbelief. I'll also be using short form for the leaders as follows:

WM: Wade MacLauchlan
PBB: Peter Bevan-Baker
RL: Rob Lantz
MR: Mike Redmond
BR: Bruce Rainnie

Without further adieu...

0:15 -  ...and the crowd goes wild! Really, though, is BR clapping for himself here? Awkward.

1:13 - BR suggests he plans to stay out of the way and let them fight. I can assure you now, his wish never comes to fruition.

2:05 - Leaders get 1 minute each to answer their question. After that an all out brawl... or civilized discussion. We'll see what happens. Positions were drawn at random. You'd have known that if you watched Compass.

2:50 - WM has his opening statement.

3:30 - I'm considering taking a nap.

3:40 - I'm full on napping.

4:00 - PBB notes that Islanders only want some simple basic things. Good honest government, from good honest people - and that would be new and different on PEI. He uses the words "courage" (twice) and "bravery" (twice) and bold to describe voting Green.

5:15 - RL is speeding through the first 15 seconds. He seems as authentic as a used car salesman. He calls them, "The PnP and the EGaming". Classic local colloquialisms.

6:35 - MR has a joke only folks here would understand...maybe...because only two people in the audience laughed.

8:30 - Question: What do you see as the role of government?

9:10 - PBB is the first to note that gov't just looks after their friends. This is a populist view that will get a lot of play tonight.

9:45 - RL states that the role of government is to provide core services. In an attempt to become the most popular leader, he pulls a page from the Hudak playbook and explains that sometimes leaders need to explain, "what government can and can not do for them."

10:40 - MR agrees with RL but also adds that government needs to play a role in innovation, then in the same breath says that government needs to stop picking winners and losers.

11:20 - WM teaches his 1 minute version of Government Functionality 101. He's going to be different, though. No mention of how. Leadership, though.

11:55 - BR asks if anyone has anything they want to follow up on. Our group of would-be leaders all talk over each other to make good points. KIDDING! They sit there silently. BR, trying to egg them on adds, "Hand in the air and I'll bring you in." So this debate officially has the same rules as my 2nd grade class.

12:00 - PBB notes that RL and WM are nice guys, but their organizations are toxic.

13:00 - WM sounds like a grandfather bragging about his grandchildren as he describes how awesome the Liberal party is.

14:37 - RL wants to change things. He's the father of two children, you should know.

15:15 - Question: Would are you going to do to address the epidemic of prescription drugs in high schools?

15:50 - "Unfortunately we needed to put policemen in our school which was extremely unfortunate." -RL

16:20 - In the early running for the "Holy shit that's a pure garbage answer" award is MR with his "The PCs locked the doors and the Libs threw away the keys. 3 words Bruce, Education. Education. Education." So... yeah... someone should educate Mike around that really only being one word. Pity applause follows.

16:45 - WM notes they must have found the keys. MR says not enough. WM mentions alcohol addiction - this is likely the only mention of this issue you'll hear from anyone in the entirety of this election.

18:00 - I didn't expect to see another challenger for the "Holy shit that's a pure garbage answer" award this early, but PBB does not disappoint! "What we have to do, is offer our youth hope. We have to provide for them a vision of a future where they can live out their lives on PEI. Where they can reach their potential as human beings. Where they will have opportunities for good jobs and raise their families and be happy here..."

Holy crap. I had no idea. Maybe it's because I'm old and out of touch, but I always thought that teenagers did stupid shit

A) because they're teenagers or,
B) because they want to get high.

Now that I understand that they're really just concerned about long term job prospects and if they'll be able to stay on the island with their future family drives them to drugs. All we need to do is give them hope, and these problems should quickly vanish.

19:10 - MR notes that Reach is great - but that it was parents and the community that did that and it wasn't government. I think this is supposed to be an attack. Couldn't it also be proof that, perhaps, PEI doesn't need the government to solve all of it's problems?

20:20 - RL has a pretty non-Conservative moment as he notes that these issues are not criminal issues but mental health issues and treatment and prevention needs to be a priority.

20:40 - WM likes the sound of PBB's "Let's just give them hope" theory.

21:30 - PBB wants to double down on "Hope conquers all" theory! Okay, okay, I'm riding this pretty hard so let me give you a full quote before I go full out on this...

"All addictions are an attempt to escape reality. If we can create a reality here on PEI that is hopeful and provides them with the idea that they can find a well paying year round job - that they can raise their families here and not need to fracture families. That's the real long term way of dealing with this. I'm not suggesting there's easy answers to that, but I do think that will really solve this problem at it's core."

I'm going to accept the premise of the first sentence that an addictions primary function is to escape reality. The problem is the rest of the theory presumes that the reality these kids are trying to escape is that of upcoming economic hardship and not knowing if they'll need to move west when they have kids. That's lunacy. Here's my zero-thought-put-into-it list of things that are more likely:

-Kids have shitty parents
-Kids have other kids who treat them like shit
-The kids a shitty kid and other kids treat them like shit
-Everyone thinks the kid is stupid - this is mostly because the kid is in fact stupid
-The kid has to spend 75 minutes of their day learning French and they hate it

I'm sorry, PBB, but hope will not resolve all these issues. Sure, if we lived in a Utopia kids wouldn't ever turn to drugs. However that's not a thing that's ever going to happen so perhaps we can try to work within the realm of reality?

22:00 - Question: (This is a direct quote from BR) "PEI has 27 MLAs for a population of 140,000. Ontario is a population of 13.6 million people and it has 107 MLAs. By the PEI proportion it would have nearly 700. Would you commit to a process that would see fewer MLAs in the legislature."

Now let's set aside the fact that Ontario doesn't have MLAs but rather MPPs. The math here is all wrong! The quick way to do it is figure out how many people per rep there are in PEI (5185) then divide the Ontario pop by that number. The actual number of MLAs MPP's if Ontario had PEI scaling would be about 2,620! Anyways - MR thinks it's a good idea.

23:30 - WM notes that there's a law that requires us to review the boundaries. Then I took a nap. Eventually he said the short answer is yes. I wish he started with that. Also he freaking loves tartans.

24:30 - PBB thinks we need this many MLAs to ensure we have enough people to run the executive branch. He doesn't appear to care about the number of ministries that we need.

25:20 - PBB proves why he's last in the polls as he suggests spending 70% of our money on the public service.

26:00 - RL notes that since we're a province we need to have this stuff BUT yeah maybe we could be a tiny bit smaller.

26:25 - In the first of many "Wait... what?" moments from MR tonight, he suggests that "We should never be afraid to open up the constitution." Okay. Well... Nope. No, I have no idea what he's talking about here. I've listened to it and the answers before him 5 times and nope. He's just off on his own tangent. Let's see where this goes... "Too many MLAs. Too many MPs. FAR too many Senators." then a bad joke.

Okay I think I now understand his random constitution bit because he (hopefully) knows that if people agreed with him on the last two points (I assume many don't) the number of seats that PEI has in the House of Commons is directly tied to the number of senators we have.

28:00 - WM notes that I've gone 4 minutes without taking a nap so a long diatribe about "the gift of jurisdiction" is needed.

28:30 - RL notes everyone has made good points on this issue and people like taking to their MLAs. It also seems like he opens up the door to municipal amalgamation here too. Apparently it's hard to find people to run for political council.

29:30 - Question: In what single area are we most lacking in health care and what are you going to do about it?

29:55 - WM thinks it's pharmacare. Generic drug program! This will especially help with mental health, apparently.

31:10 - PBB thinks we need far more front line workers. Clearly, this must be an easy task, yes?

32:20 - RL really thinks he has the crowd here (he doesn't) as he proclaims with conviction "SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT THE STATE OF HEALTHCARE IN PRINCE COUNTY!" - then he briefly pauses for a moment to bask in the applause. They are in Prince County, after all. There isn't any applause.

Well... this just got awkward.

33:23 - Oh! MR wasn't happy with his first entry into the "Holy shit that's a pure garbage answer" award nominations, and thought he could do much better. He gives it a valiant try here with "Well first of all Bruce, let's talk about Stephen Harper.(Pause for the applause.... there isn't any applause)...because we don't have enough dollars in our health care system. We haven't had a premier stand up to Mr.Harper..." I mean, if your solution to everything is going to be to go with your hand out to the feds this is a great answer... but...

34:00 - RL wants to note that transfer payments have been going up so maybe we should stop complaining about that. This doesn't seem to go over well... So... wait, maybe WM is reasonable...

35:35 - WM notes it really IS about transfer payments. The extra 12 million is only .3% of an increase! So... yep. I guess the plan really is just to go to the feds with our hands out.

36:40 - MR wants to double down on that. "We all know how Mr.Harper feels about Atlantic Canadians, he doesn't respect us - and RL should call his boss in Ottawa and tell him to pay us respect."

37:20 - Memo to Rob Lantz: You don't take that laying down. Here's your answer:

"Hey, I'm my own boss. If you want to run against Harper you should try running for the feds and I'll focus on trying to find Island based solutions to make Islander's lives better that don't revolve around handouts from Ottawa."

38:25 - Short Question: What makes you most qualified to be the next premier of PEI?

PBB: I'm not sure I am.
RL: I was elected before.
MR: I attract good people.
WM: I don't need the job.

41:35 - Question: How much do your promises cost and how do you plan to pay for it?

41:45 - Rob Lantz is full of shit here. "We made all the numbers public." No. You made top level estimates public. "17.8 million dollars." Nope. Also not true. It says shit costs 30 million dollars and somehow includes the extra 12 million from the feds. So these next answers you can subtract 12 million from as well. So yeah, everyone's right around 18 million dollars using that logic. The truth is everyone's spending 30 million dollars - except for the Green party which doesn't see any value in "guessing" and no one has the first sweet clue about how they're paying for anything.

50:55 - Short Question: Will you follow Nova Scotia's lead and ban flavoured tobacco?

Everyone: Yes (This question was a waste of time, really. Everyone agrees.)

53:20 - Question: You guys spend too much time together. Which idea from an opposing leader do you think would be wise for government to adopt?

53:45 - WM likes the suggestions in the Green platform that came from the (Liberal) Craver report.

54:35 - PBB says how much he likes all these guys. He can't come up with one of their policies they like, though... many NDP suggestions actually. He can't just pick one!

55:30 - RL tries to suggest that PBB should've picked his policy. Later PBB hits him on this. It's an amateur mistake as part of an overall amateur performance. He eventually says he'd pick whistle blower protection legislation. It just so happens to be in his platform as well.

58:57 - Here we go! RL is finally going to bring it! "Who can go against whistle blower legislation? My only question Mr.Maclauchlan is what are you afraid of!?"

And then there was a painfully awkward silence. I can only imagine how RL felt in that moment. I might need to make a call to Doug Williams to try to understand that feeling.

This is really another great example of why there shouldn't be an audience. The rhythm of answer->applause Bruce answer->applause Bruce had become so entrenched by that point that RL trying to ask WM a direct and marginally tough question was completely out of rhythm. No one knew how to react to this - everyone looked at BR confused as if he should step in. How DARE a candidate ask another candidate a question like that. Do something BR!

If RL started this kind of attack early on, it would have been expected by this point - but he couldn't risk that either because who knows, maybe the crowd might start boo'ing him if he's going after WM too hard the whole time.

So here, again, we see the problem with a live audience. These men turn more into theater performers than political candidates.

I should note, I've devoted quite a bit here to the audience. The sheer act of having an audience isn't bad. US Presidential elections have audiences. When working on a 2003 Mayoral campaign in Toronto I actually sat in the audience during the CITY TV debate. T'was made clear to us that everyone was to remain silent though. It wasn't our job to judge the candidates performance, it's the job of the folks at home. Encouraging participation from the audience like BR did to start this event is another fine example of PEI political amateur hour.

59:25 - WM clarifies that there's nothing he's afraid of.

1:00:00 - Short Question: Will you commit to a fixed election date?

PBB: Absolutely
RL: Yep, and Liberals suck.
MR: Yes and where's the budget btw? Also: Women*
WM: Probably maybe potentially we'll see.

1:03:30 - Question: PEI is the only province that doesn't offer access to abortion in their own province. What if anything would you do to change that?

First off, I've already outlined at length that idgaf what women do with their body and if I had my way there *would* be abortion on demand available.

However, here's one of two questions where I think the PC conspiracy theorists may actually have a point if they want to play the "liberal bias" card against CBC. The presumption of this question is that something should be changed. (Again, I think it should be, but I'm a heathen liberal after all.) This basically sets up anyone who says they won't change things for failure, and of course when RL says that he gets boo'd from the adoring audience.

1:05:00 - WM is trying hard to convince left voters that he's going to do something but he certainly won't commit to anything as firmly as MR or PBB will. Of course, the later have an easier time since they have no hope in hell of forming a government.

1:06:00 - PBB notes that the status quo discriminates against poor women, and also brings up other women's health issues that don't get enough play. It's really well played. PBB is an apt politician.

1:06:50 - MR just tried to make political gains off of a local tragedy... then adds in that it's also cost effective. MR is a completely non-apt politician.

1:08:00 - PBB notes with passion that governments are not here to make everyone happy but to do the right thing. He, of course, leaves out that the right thing is completely subjective.

1:08:30 - Question: What industry presents the best opportunity for future job growth and economic performance in the future.

1:08:45 - Mr says feeding our children. I'm not sure that's an economic sector, but this is the NDP we're talking about.

1:09:50 - WM also likes food. He also likes Aerospace and Bio Science. He also likes any job, really. Holy crap I need a red bull if he's going to take the full 60 seconds.

1:10:30 - PBB says agriculture. He provides intelligent reasoning behind his theory. He makes a sound argument. I'm not falling asleep anymore, and he answered the question. Well, it's a low bar but I think PBB just won the debate.

1:11:45 - RL also knows the names of many other sectors. Then this gem.

"We can't put our finger on what sector will continue to create growth and jobs in PEI because by it's very nature entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs may never know what their final destination may be but I know that it will be in food and agriculture or in bio science or in IT or in manufacturing but we need to start encouraging that private sector led economy and encouraging our youth to be self starters and make their own jobs."

That's basically RL's performance at this debate. He was, more or less, Chevy Guy.

1:16:45 - Short Question: If elected, what would you do to pressure the government of Canada to stop it's plans to end door to door home mail delivery.

(Here's your second question with a pretty obvious liberal bias)

WM: We can't do anything
PBB: We can't do anything  - but we have so much money we should be doing this. CPC sucks.
MR: Elect the NDP that'll show em! Harper is RL's boss!

1:19:10 - Last Question: What will your party do to ensure that all Islanders have access to post secondary education at a reasonable cost?

1:19:45 - PBB is clearly tired of this shit, and decides to just start reading from his platform.

1:21:20 - MR makes a good point! UPEI is the only school in the country that is free (pun intended) from access to information requests! Huzzah! NDP is going to see WTF is going on.

1:21:50 - WM uses words. Many of them, in fact. I know this, because I started to nap again.

1:23:30 - PBB agrees with MR. We really don't know if these guys are blowing money or what.

1:24:00 - RL wants that too. Municipalities too... and then he misses an obvious opportunity to question WM on why when he was former president he doesn't want access to information for UPEI? Hit that narrative again that WM is hiding things? Holy effing amateur hour batman.

Then there's closing statements - everyone makes me want to nap during theirs so I really have nothing to add at this point. So I tuned in expecting fireworks. There weren't any. There was an academic that could bore you to sleep, a too clever dentist that was entertaining to watch, and two men that more or less failed. I'm going to bed now... hopefully not the one Rob Lantz shit all over.

* DING DING DING! We have a winner for the "Holy shit that's a pure garbage answer" award! Redmond, not happy with his first two attempts to win the award just pulled away from the crowd with, and I wish I was making this up: "We want to involve as many voices and ideas... and when you don't have a fixed election date you leave a lot of women out..." I mean.... WHAT? This even confused Green party candidates. I know everyone wants the female vote but that is a STRETCH.

**I mean, really? This I really hope the producers recognize what a colossal failure of judgement it was to have this event in a giant auditorium and then encourage people to show "spirit". This isn't a sporting event, stop treating it like one. If a leader can't even say that he uses email a lot without getting boo'd, clearly this format doesn't work.

Monday, 20 April 2015

The CFA Election post

As fate would have it, I will be voting provincially for the first time since 2007 since my many moves resulted in missing Ontario/NB elections. This is the first time I'll be voting in PEI in fact... and it's different.

In fairness, it should be noted that PEI is unlike any other place I've been before and that must contribute to the differences, but I may ramble about that in another post.

Platforms just aren't a thing. 

Alas - different. For starters - where in the blue hell are the real party platforms? Here's a copy of the 2011 Federal Liberal platform. Page 94 of that document is pretty neat, because it costs everything out. You'll notice the same of The Federal Conservative platform where page 65 includes costing, and The Federal Green platform where it's included on pages 11 and 12.

Let's look at the PEI versions of these:

The Liberal Party
The PC Party
The Green Party*

We've got a series of press releases where the Liberal staff is too lazy to even remove the "Media Backgrounder" bit, a bunch of links to different documents (none of which include costing) from the PC's, and a Green Party document that does include a handful of estimates which are almost all handouts or projected savings (save for the carbon tax).

I'm sure there's a union member somewhere yelling at his screen that I'm not including the NDP. Rest assured, I checked both the Federal  and Provincial platforms and both show equal (dis)interest in showing that their math can work.

In my pursuit of being an informed citizen while casting my ballot I'm left with no information as to how any of these parties intend to balance the budget**. In lieu of this information, should I assume none of them intend to? In fairness, the PEI financial situation isn't atrocious - ranking 5 of 10 provinces in debt per capita and 6 of 10 in debt to GDP ratio, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a party who wants to form government to provide their fiscal plan instead of a mishmash of promises.

Abortion is a thing

While we're on the topic of "different" this still seems to be an issue worth discussing in PEI (and NB in their election). Yes, PEI is one of the few places in the north eastern portion of this continent where access to abortion is a topic of debate. To be clear, when I say debate, I mean the parties with a chance of winning vow to maintain the status quo and those with no chance of winning say they'd make them available here year round. While abortions aren't implicitly illegal on PEI - you'll be hard pressed to find one that's been performed here.

I should note that Wade's language does seem to try to head-fake left a little on this issue. If you watch the video*** he's asked about the status quo being the government's minimum duty and he states, "That's a starting point and the question of access to medical services is always on our minds...we've got various services where we're looking to make improvements." My instinct tells me this may be the usual bit of electioneering where you campaign left and govern right. The question that would clarify this is, "Can you say, unequivocally that the status quo will remain for abortions on Island if you are elected premier?" If it's truly his intention to maintain the status quo it's an easy yes, perhaps with a mild caveat, but if you get another rambling answer like the video above then it becomes clear that change may be on the horizon.

PEI's Power Couple No One Talks About

Also different, there seems to be an unseemly amount of political power inside of one PEI household. The two biggest news gathering organizations on the Island are The Guardian and CBC News. The man questioning the premier in the video above is a CBC reporter named Kerry Campbell, and he's married to The Guardian's chief political reporter Teresa Wright. I'm not suggesting anything untoward has gone on yet, but I'm sure the political class also knows that it's best not to mess with a power couple like that. For example, you won't see anyone from the Liberals trying to call out Mr.Campbell on his "Well sure we know your policy and platform but what do you REALLY think!?" question. I imagine getting on the bad side of that household would be a near death-sentence for a political career on the island.

The Number of Female Candidates

Another issue I've been hearing more about is the lack of female candidates. This is something the aforementioned Kerry Campbell wrote about and was discussed on a panel during Compass  as well and noted often when Linda Clements took over the PC nomination in district 15. At some point, can we stop blaming party leaders for their lack of female candidates and start blaming parties or just the populace as a whole? Of course women should be more involved in the process, however that does not mean reinventing the wheel. Simply put - if we demand that leaders not insist on male candidates as nominees, then we should also demand that they not insist on females either.

I've now gone and made the cardinal sin of talking about gender issues on the internet, so I'll find a ditch somewhere to hide in until the election is over.


*Kudos to the Green Party for actually tossing it all in one document that's somewhat easy to read.
**In addition to the impression that the PEI Liberal party thinks the only people who care about policy are media members.
***Which is your only option, since the reporter was apparently too lazy to transcribe it.

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Earlier this week, Thomas Mulcair more or less called Prime Minister Stephen Harper an idiot. That's an exaggeration to be sure. If we were to be more specific he called the argument idiotic.

Surely, it's not the most idiotic thing to happen in the house this year but it certainly doesn't raise the level of discourse. Truth be told, Aaron Wherry got there first on hitting back at this line of dismissive thinking, so I won't bother going down that road.

Instead let's play a quick game. I'm going to outline a situation, and you playing the role of the NDP, will explain to me where you stand on it?


Let's go:

There's some really bad stuff going down. 
We would like to do something about it. 
The something we're doing may break the law. 

Alright, NDP, are you for or against taking action here? 




I guess I'm going to need to be more specific because if we're talking about a pipeline protest, it's entirely probable you support it. In fact, quite a lot of your opposition to C-51 (the "Totally not a Canadian Patriot act" bill) seems to be concern around civil disobedience being labelled as terrorism. Essentially noting that sometimes doing the right thing requires breaking the law. 

K, let's try this again then:

There's some really bad stuff going down. 
We would like to do something about it. 
The something we're doing may break international law. 

Oh well this is clearly just a bridge too far. A local environmental protest needs pay no attention to laws or rulings. International terrorist organizations that have been kidnapping and murdering on religious grounds? Sorry, kiddo. We gotta respect the law. 

Ultimately, I'm no cheerleader for the military action in Syria and Iraq. While there's no shortage of regional nuance, it's ultimately a moral judgement. Essentially, I keep coming back to these questions and can't get past them: 

"When was the last time the west got involved in the middle east and it made anything better?" 
"What do you do in the 21st century where you can communicate any idea with ease, with a religiously motivated uprising of violence and general douchebaggery?" 

Here's a bonus question if you're like me and you've completely given up on getting a restful sleep:

"Are there dangerous ideas, or only dangerous people and actions?"

That last one relates back to C-51 as well. The government has made it pretty clear there is, in their view, dangerous ideas. I know slippery slope is a fallacy, but a Minority Report future doesn't seem that far off. 

These are questions for debate and discussion. I hope that there will come a day where these debates and discussions are far more civilized than the idiocy we saw in the house this week. 

Really, though. If I told you 4 years ago that the "War on Terror" would become the Canadian topic de jour - you probably could have guessed where the CPC, NDP, and LPC would end up on their policies. So as much as I'd enjoy a thoughtful and nuanced debate around these issues - we voted CPC in with a majority and they can do what they want because of it. Maybe if Canadians were to lose their irrational fear of coalitions, we could try persuasion over bludgeoning again.

One thing I do know about this "war" is that the goals are entirely unrealistic. You can, perhaps, "degrade" a terrorist organization. To suggest that you can "destroy" it is really just idiocy.