Senate Reform

senate.jpgI’d just like to let everyone in on another reason why I am a conservative. I am a strong believer in senate reform. This upper house of Canadian government has power over the lower House of Commons to reject and modify its legislation. This might seem like a reasonable additional level of scrutiny for the laws of the land yet it is wholly unreasonable because this upper house is entirely unelected. Furthermore, a lot of legislation isn’t rejected; the senate is most often merely a big rubber stamp. It is the prime minister’s duty to appoint senators and thus senators are effectively the puppets of the prime minister and his predecessors. Worse, we’ve had one party in power for about 75 of the last 100 years: the Liberal party. So, the Liberal prime minister gets to appoint his Liberal friends to keep the elected house of Commons/Commoners in check. Thus the big red rubber stamp (a stamp without credibility) approves the laws determined by elected official of the House of Commons.

Over the years, there have also been scandals regarding the attendance of these non-elected legislative members of senate. However, the government of Canada reassures us that senators get penalized $250 per absent day that the senate was sitting. In the year 2000, the senators sat for 61 days. So, if a senator had decided to take the year off his pay would have been docked $15,250. This figure may be large to some but consider that senators get paid $114,200. This leaves our senator with a cool $98,950 (assuming he didn’t attend a single sitting).

munson.jpgThe latest senator was appointed by Jean Chr├ętien on the day before he handed over control to Paul Martin. The new senator is Jim Munson, a former CTV reporter who worked for Jean Chr├ętien for a mere 16 months before getting the $114,200/year job guarenteen for the next 18 years. Roger Smith should be so lucky.

We need senate reform. We should elect our senators so that they are accountable to the people. Election would lend credibility to these parliamentarians and it would allow a true check on government. Each province should elect an equal number of senators. In our confederacy, each region is equally important. Western alienation has been a key complaint against the Liberal government and thus equal representation of each province would do wonders to eliminate this neglect of the West. Currently, Paul Martin gets input from the provinces in a non-binding annual meeting of premiers… at football games, no less. Here the premiers can complain to Paul Martin and he has the choice of listening or ignoring these leaders. Forget this meeting of Canada’s premiers over beer, wings and football. Send elected senators to Ottawa to give each province equal influence. Finally, the senate should be effective. The senate will attain this effectiveness if it is not merely the PM’s rubber stamp on legislation.

Val Meredith joins up

meredith.jpgAdd another MP to the growing list of public endorsements of Belinda Stronach. Today Val Meredith, a founding member of the Reform Party of Canada, threw her support behind Belinda. She explained,

“I have known and worked with Stephen Harper for over 15 years, and he is a key reason why we are here today. I am friends with Tony Clement and appreciate his track record as an Ontario cabinet minister. However, Belinda not only offers proven leadership skills from her term as President and CEO of one of the largest corporations in Canada, she has demonstrated that she can capture the imagination of Canadians.”

Belinda Stronach reassured Meredith that MPs will be able to vote based upon the wishes of their constituents and not necessarily that of the leader. Belinda supports free votes for MPs: a fundamental principle of the former Canadian Alliance party.

Bill Casey endorses Belinda Stronach

casey.jpgToday, Bill Casey made it official. He is the first Tory MP to publicly endorse Belinda Stronach. Casey says that Stronach’s plan for economic growth and job creation were particularly influencing factors in his decision to support her.

Congrats Belinda.

Oh and why does Stronach’s name always have to be tagged with “millionaire former CEO”? Do we keep hearing about how rich Paul Martin is?

Belinda speech in Ottawa

I travelled to Ottawa from Kingston today to attend the Belinda Stronach speech at Chateau Laurier, one block east of parliament hill. I met conservatives of every type at the function; supporters of Stephen Harper, supporters of Tony Clement and of course mostly Belinda Stronach supporters.

I also met two guys with whom I went to Queen’s. Both are hill staffers and were out to see what all of this “Belindamania” talk is about.

Belinda Stronach’s speech was a great improvement from her launch speech that I saw just one week ago. She started out with an anecdote about her son’s advice before her launch that day. “Don’t trip” and she expressed proudly that she didn’t trip acknowledging that while she didn’t fall flat in her political debut, it wasn’t without its obstacles. Indeed, she acknowledged to the crowd of supporters tonight that “I’m not a professional prolecision…” to which the crowd cheered. Somewhat humbled she corrected herself, “I’m not a professional politician” to which the crowd cheered again. Belinda Stronach also declared her position on senate reform. Stronach believes that senators should be elected and that as prime minister she will discuss, with the premiers and the provinces/territories, what would consist of a fair balanced upper house. She reiterated her stance against the federal gun registry, which has cost this country over $1 Billion. This likely pleased Tory MP Bill Casey who started the website gunregistry.ca. The website is a critical look at the wasteful federal programme. As always, Stronach also restated her stance on creating a more competitive Canada through economic reform.

After Belinda Stronach’s speech she worked the room and was surrounded by a hoard of cameras and well-wishers. The mass of people seemed to have a life of it’s own as Stronach led it through the ballroom shaking hands with as many supporters as possible. I instead wandered around the less congested perimeter of the room and met some other students. We discussed our common enthusiasm about the Stronach campaign. Belinda then exited the room with her senior team.

After a speech comes a press conference so I spotted the open room where the cameras were setting up. I set myself up behind the bank of cameras, just behind the reporters and I stood with the boom-mic operators who were recording the reporters’ questions. Interesting, I found myself in the media scrum behind the stage. I actually could have asked a question myself!

CTV’s Roger Smith asked Belinda whether or not she was buying up all of the organizers in Quebec to which she answered that all of the campaigns have paid and unpaid volunteers and that the salary figure that Smith quoted was grossly exaggerated. Later on, Smith asked Stronach a somewhat cynical question “Have you ever heard any of Paul Martin’s speeches?” When Stronach ignored the question, Smith yelled back “Obviously not!” Bizarre… I thought that reporters were supposed to report the news instead of chide the candidates. Later on CTV Newsnet, I read the headline “Stronach takes hits over Quebec campaign”. It seems that while Belinda answered Smith’s question adequately, what is newsworthy to CTV is that Smith asked her the question and thought that he did some damage.

After the press conference, after most of the supporters and press had cleared out, I hung around and met some more of the campaign staff, most of whom are either slightly younger or slightly younger than me. The youth team on Belinda Stronach’s campaign is likely a key factor helping her take a fresh approach to the leadership race. I was chatting with Belinda’s press secretary when she asked, “Do you want to meet her?”.

So, I got to meet Belinda Stronach and we chatted for a little while and I got my photo-op. I thanked her for what she’s doing for youth involvement in federal politics. I also told her that we’re going to rally Queen’s around her campaign.

She also told me something very exciting and encouraging about Kingston and the Islands. But that will have to wait for another day…

Belinda Stronach
Click to enlarge

Ontario PC Policy convention

I hear that the Ontario PC policy convention this weekend was quite busy. While Ontario Tory policy was discussed, the convention provided a showcase for the three candidates vying for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Tony Clement, Belinda Stronach and Stephen Harper all put on hospitality suites to woo the attending members of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

Some putative policies were underlined by the three leadership hopefuls. Tony Clement declared that he believes that capital punishment should be an option for extreme cases.

“My personal view is that in the case of serial killers and murderers of police officers, for instance, that it would be appropriate in those circumstances”. — Tony Clement

On the same issue, Belinda Stronach declared “I’m against the death penalty”.

Furthermore, the 37 year-old mother of two voiced her concern that women are underrepresented in parliament. Stronach explained that women make-up only 20% of the federal legislature. Meanwhile she criticized the media for their focus on image. While the media’s focus doesn’t bother her, she worried that it may discourage other women from running for office.

“It should be about the ideas, not necessarily about the shoes you’re wearing. We should reflect on how other young women would feel about the focus on the clothes and the shoes” — Belinda Stronach

Stephen Harper, Belinda Stronach and Tony Clement were all active friday night as they hosted party members, yet Harper did not campaign on Saturday at the convention.

Leadership web campaign heats up? (Image)

shesabillionairedamnit.jpg

Well, I found the Google advertisement attacking Belinda Stronach on her wealth. The above advertisement “Even the playing field” links to Stephen Harper’s oneconservativevoice.ca and the bottom advertisement is the standard Belinda Stronach google ad. It should be noted that both of these ads were displayed when “Belinda Stronach” was googled.

Leadership web campaign heats up?

Today I noticed a couple interesting things as I was meandering around the Internet. As I was googling on Google, I noticed some rather savvy/sneaky techniques used by Belinda Stronach, Stephen Harper and Tony Clement. It seems that if one searches for Tony Clement on Google, a Belinda Stronach ad is displayed as a Google advertisement off to the side. Similarly, if one searches Stephen Harper the very same thing happens; plainly and emphatically “Belinda Stronach campaign. Join. Recruit. Vote.” I found this little strategy to be a little amusing and to her campaign team’s credit, very clever. Out of the three, Belinda Stronach has the most polished website, with its very own blog and sophisticated recruitment program. Stephen Harper has a website which is decent in comparison while Tony Clement’s website is so very very basic. More interestingly is the backlash by the campaign team of Stephen Harper in response to the Google campaign of Belinda Stronach. When one googles Stephen Harper there’s the Belinda Stronach ad but under it is a much more interesting ad. It’s an ad that seems to point to the fake internet address “Shesabillionairedamnit.ca” with the tagline which says something like “She’s a billionaire damnit. Click. her. ads. waste. her. money”. When you click on the advertisement it redirects you to the campaign website of Stephen Harper.

Interesting indeed.

I wish that I had gotten a screen shot because when I reloaded the Google search in disbelief, the Shesabillionairedamnit ad had disappeared. Maybe my clickthrough on the google ad had capped-off the ad’s daily spending limit? Anyways, is this a sign that Stephen Harper’s team is feeling a little heat from Belinda Stronach? I wish that I had gotten a screen shot because when I reloaded the Google search in disbelief, the Shesabillionairedamnit ad had disappeared. Maybe my clickthrough on the google ad had capped-off the ad’s daily spending limit? So, a google war between Stephen Harper and Belinda Stronach. We’ll just see how much of an effect these internet campaigns will have on the leadership race.

Oh, and Tony: Really! Please do something about your website!

Another note about the media…

Has anyone ever noticed where the bias may lie within a particular news report/article merely by the method in which the reporter describes the government?

If the reporter has a positive bias towards the government they will laud the organization. Conversely, if the reporter has a negative bias towards the government, they will vilify the individual.

For example:
The Liberal government declared today that…
The Harris government announced its policy concerning…

See the difference? It is easier to vilify a person because one can put a face on a target whereas media reporting concerning an unpopular policy by a favoured government is easily distributed across an organization when made faceless.

An interesting comparison

The pundits at Bluedraft made an interesting and yet legitimate criticism of the media today concerning the bid of Belinda Stronach for the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Just compare Belinda Stronach’s treatment at the hands of the national press to another famous kid with a rich daddy.

When Justin Trudeau makes a speech, he’s not described as a tasty little piece of beefcake, but as “the heir to the Trudeau legacy.” Media outlets line up to write breathless profiles of him, slavering at the prospect that he will run for public office. “It’s a question of when, not if,” they intone. Trudeau’s qualifications, thin though they might be, are overlooked in the rush to resurrect Trudeaumania.

Stronach, who’s actually accomplished something in her life, runs for office and she’s instantly dismissed as “the It girl.” Because she’s blonde and attractive, she qualifies for descriptors such as “hot,” “bodacious” and the press reports on what she’s wearing as if she were Queen Elizabeth.

I don’t know what causes this cynicism it the media and this attitude unfortunately filters down to some Canadians. Is there an agenda or does this invective petty attitude actually sell newspapers?

Happy Family

It’s good to see that the first Conservative Party of Canada caucus meeting went very well today. Today’s meeting represented the final step for the merging/reunification of both Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative caucuses and the first step of working together as one united front against Paul Martin’s liberals.

It seems as though much of the same had been discussed separately but now we are seeing conservative coordination concerning policy and House strategy.

Glad to see it.