Democracy Soup

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Posts Tagged ‘liberals

Canadians think Justin Trudeau represents the real change from Stephen Harper

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The Liberal Party of Canada is back in power after a 9-year absence during the reign of the Harper Government. For the first time in 11 years, the Liberals have a majority government.

Canadians had the longest campaign — 78 days — in modern political history. The country wanted change, but had to decide between Tom Mulcair of the NDP or the Liberals’ Justin Trudeau. Though Mulcair and the NDP had the early edge, perhaps they got a little cocky. Trudeau took awhile to find his voice, but once he did, the Liberals rose in the polls.

Stephen Harper wanted nothing to do with the English language broadcast consortium debate. Tom Mulcair took the Conservative bait and said he wouldn’t be there if Harper wasn’t showing up. Mulcair made that decision when the NDP was doing well. By the time of the scheduled debate (which wasn’t cancelled), the NDP was in 3rd place. A chance to debate with all the non-Conservatives would have been valuable.

There were more debates than usual: 4 instead of 2. But that 5th debate would have helped the NDP.

Here are links to our 2015 Canadian election coverage courtesy of our sister blog,

2015 Canadian election: Some final thoughts

Section 331 of the Canada Elections Act gets attention south of the border

Justin Trudeau begins new era as Canada’s newest prime minister

Our 2015 Canadian election coverage comprehensive guide

Canadian Canadian politics coverage


Green Maritimes? Prince Edward Island elects Green Party MLA

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This column courtesy of runs here with complete permission.

The Green Party and the NDP combined for more than 20% of the vote in yesterday’s provincial election in Prince Edward Island. In a province where only Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have run government and only one member of legislative assembly (MLA) came from a 3rd party, the electorate wanted something other than chocolate and vanilla.

The Liberals stayed in power though they lost 4 seats of their margin: unofficially 18 Liberals, 8 Progressive Conservatives, and 1 Green Party MLA.

Country dentist Peter Bevan-Baker became the first MLA of a 3rd party since 1996 and only the second ever in the history of the province. Bevan-Baker joins David Coon of New Brunswick as Green Party MLAs in the Maritimes.

Bevan-Baker was running in his 10th election and had never been elected to any post … until Monday.

Wade MacLauchlan retains his post as premier with a late comeback to win his own district. MacLauchlan was the only one who ran for the Liberal Party leadership after long-time premier Robert Ghiz resigned.

Rob Lantz, the Progressive Conservative leader, didn’t win his own district. Both MacLauchlan and Lantz became their party leaders in February.

Mike Redmond was running his first race as NDP leader. Redmond finished 3rd of 4 candidates in his district but fellow NDP candidate Gord McNeilly came so close to winning a district. McNeilly was leading with all but one poll remaining, but the last poll put incumbent Liberal Kathleen Casey over the top.

Herb Dickieson of the NDP was the only MLA not from the 2 major parties to be elected in 1996. Dickieson is a physician and Bevan-Baker a dentist, so both MLAs from 3rd party are doctors when not being politicians.

* MacLauchlan is the first openly gay premier elected in Prince Edward Island and the second openly gay premier in Canada alongside Kathleen Wynne in Ontario.

* The NDP and Green Party wanted to challenge the province’s stance on not allowing abortions. The PCs and Liberal Party campaigned on keeping the status quo on abortions.

* Prince Edward Island is the smallest of the provinces in terms of population (74,571 voted in the 2011 election) but its voter turnout is astoundingly high. The province had an 84.6% voter turnout in this election. PEI has only had 2 voter turnouts in almost 50 years at less than 80%, with 2011 coming in at 76.4%.

Would love to see the 2015 Canadian federal election come close to those marks.

If you watched the CBC Charlottetown coverage or listened to it via CBCT on CBC Radio One out of Charlottetown, you might have recognized Bruce Rainnie. Rainnie is known in sports circles for his coverage of numerous sports. Rainnie has even filled in on Hockey Night in Canada telecasts.

Despite his sports prowess, Rainnie is the news anchor of CBC News: Compass, the only TV newscast geared specifically toward Prince Edward Island.

As someone who has done news and sports on radio, I can appreciate someone who can do both jobs rather well, and Rainnie certainly belongs in that category.

Written by democracysoup

May 5, 2015 at 10:15 am

Posted in Canada

Tagged with ,

New Brunswick goes Liberal and adds a Green MLA

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This column courtesy of runs here with complete permission.


New Brunswick flipped back to the Liberals, but not by much.

The Liberals took back the government in New Brunswick by an unofficial count of 27-21-1. The 1 went to the Green Party. Much more on that later.

Brian Gallant is the premier-designate. The Progressive Conservatives’ David Alward is out after one term, same as the Liberals’ Shawn Graham. Before Alward’s win in 2010, New Brunswick premiers have gone at least 2 terms since Confederation.

Gallant and the Liberals led early in the race, but the PCs made some progress toward the end of the race.

The themes of the night were very close races and frustration over getting vote counts from the new tabulation machines system. The PCs are asking for a hand count of the votes. 5 of the 49 ridings were decided by fewer than 100 votes.

David Coon will represent the Fredericton South riding for the Green Party, the only MLA not from a major party. The NDP hadn’t elected a MLA in 9 years, and NDP leader Dominic Cardy came up empty last night. Cardy says he will resign as party leader.

The People’s Alliance almost took a seat, but also fell short.

The Liberals won in great part over being vague on shale gas and the potential for fracking. Coon also won his seat in great part over the issue. If the Liberals thought about fracking, the close margin and Coon’s presence will make that more difficult. Nova Scotia is introducing legislation to ban fracking this fall.

Without shale gas and fracking, the economy and jobs and keeping young people in the province will be paramount for the new Gallant government. That, along with a massive provincial debt, will make the Liberals job that much tougher. Not having a consenus majority will also make those tasks difficult.

I watched and listened extensively to the CBC coverage last night. In all that time, the word “abortion” was never mentioned. The closing of the Morgentaler Clinic definitely weighed on New Brunswick voters. A rough economy means people can’t afford unwanted children; limiting abortion options hurts the economy even further. Unfortunately for pro-choice advocates, the close margin may make change more difficult for the Liberals.

The PC party went from 41 seats (out of 55) to 21 seats. The Liberals went from 13 seats to 27 seats. The independent seat went Green in this election. New Brunswick voters wanted a significant change for the second election in a row.

Even in the relatively poor Maritimes, New Brunswick is hurting. According to former Lt. Gov. Mariliyn Trenholme Counsell, the province has the lowest literacy rates of all provinces with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Counsell also noted that over half of New Brunswick’s citizens 15-65 “do not have the necessary literacy levels (level 3) or the workplace essential skills to compete in the workplace.”

We heard a lot during the CBC coverage about young people moving to Alberta to make more money and because they aren’t many good jobs in New Brunswick.

I enjoyed my time in New Brunswick and the province is absolutely gorgeous to see. But I could definitely see the economic concerns that plague the province. Let’s hope the people of New Brunswick can figure out some of these heartbreaking issues. And strength to the new Liberal government: Brian Gallant and his fellow Liberals will need all the help they can get.

photo credit: me

Restaurants, open carry guns not a good mix

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This column courtesy of runs here with complete permission.

Would you be more likely to eat at a restaurant where you wouldn’t run into someone visibly carrying a gun?

If confronted with large guns in a Chipotle, my instinct would be to get my food to go.

We’ve seen several chains — Chili’s, Chipotle, Sonic, Jack in the Box — express concern over open carry demonstrations, most notably in Texas.

Restaurants try to not get involved in political discussions. After all, restaurants are all about customers and food. They want left-wing and right-wing people to come eat there.

We’ve written about Chick-Fil-A from the other side of the political spectrum. Will gun enthusiasts react similarly to chains that discourage open carry?

The good news for those chains is that they may not have to pay a high price for their actions. Those on the left are more about boycotts than those on the right. Also, the restaurants are concerned with open carry vs. concealed carry.

To be honest, I’m still learning about concealed carry since I live in the last state to switch to concealed carry (and we didn’t even vote on this) and next to the 49th state to go to concealed carry.

We see the tiny signs banning guns from property, reminders that guns would otherwise be allowed in the building. Still getting used to this new world.

Police officers eat a lot in restaurants, and they are armed. Open carry but not in a way that the open carry protesters are doing. They don’t bother me in the slightest. First of all, you should eat where cops eat because they know the best places to eat. But if something were to happen, then I would feel safer.

The eating environment is preached on both sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives talk about family values and eating together as a family; liberals do too but conservatives are louder on this topic. The eating environment should be about comfort, whether dining at home or in a booth in a restaurant.

For most people, seeing heavily armed private citizens while eating in a restaurant is not a comfortable environment for digestion.

Drive-thrus, when available, offer a compromise. Those carrying serious guns can keep them in the car while ordering their food.

Open carry vs. concealed carry might be splitting hairs, but in a restaurant environment, this can make a huge difference. May never get used to the idea of concealed carry, but that looks smarter compared to open carry.

We mentioning the police. They are armed and everyone knows it. But the police do so in a way that isn’t, well, obnoxious.

People need to respect guns. And people respect people who respect guns. Police really respect their weapons. These open carry protesters aren’t respecting their weapons.

The eating experience doesn’t always have to sacred, but it should be enjoyable. And ideally gun-free.

Farm Bill split should lead to frank food stamps discussion

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Instead of being subtle about its hatred for food stamps, the GOP is being openly hostile by splitting food assistance away from the Farm Bill. But for too long, the combination of subsidies for rich farmers and food assistance has stifled the conversation about changing our food approach.

So to match the aggressiveness of the GOP, the Liberals and progressives and Democratic politicians should fight back to not only hang on to the current food assistance but also increase its effectiveness. Dems would also benefit with pointing out some of the side issues involved in food assistance, such as raising the minimum wage. When fast food workers can’t afford to eat, when people are working more than one job and are still having trouble, the food system is broken.

For more on this, check out the latest column from our sister blog,

The uphill battle mayors have to fight to remove soft drinks from SNAP assistance

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The following column ran June 25 on our sister site, Getting rid of soft drinks from purchase with SNAP assistance should be a snap. Thanks to corporate pressure, and the politicians bought with such clout, the tasks of big city mayors will be that much tougher.

If soft drinks didn’t contain high-fructose corn syrup, would you be able to buy them with food stamps? Of course, you can also buy diet drinks on food stamps, but the primary reason for why you can buy soft drinks on food stamps is corporate pressure.

18 big city mayors are fighting to limit those receiving SNAP assistance from buying soft drinks with SNAP funds.

The mayors should have the liberals and conservatives on their side in the fight. Liberals don’t like the idea of buying soft drinks on food stamps because they’re not healthy. Conservatives don’t like the idea of buying soft drinks on food stamps because they’re cheating the government.

Yes, conservatives wouldn’t like the government to tell people what they can buy and not buy on food stamps, but the government already does this.

“It is time to test and evaluate approaches limiting SNAP’s subsidization of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that are contributing to obesity,” — from the letter from the mayors to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

In the battle for a better food system, not being able to buy soft drinks with SNAP assistance is a no-brainer. So why does the chances of this happening are highly slim?

Conservatives, especially those in the House of Representatives, don’t like food stamps at all. We’ve seen this in the votes on the Farm Bill.

Some of them wouldn’t like SNAP even if it worked better or more efficient. Even though we believe heartily in food stamps, we know they can work better.

By spending more money on actual healthy food, the food assistance can work smarter to improve the lives of those who have suffered a setback. More work should be done to help people spend SNAP assistance at farmers markets in a true win-win. Well, a true win-win except for large corporations and the politicians that love them more than their constituents.

Many of these politicians in the House believe heavily in food spending to go to large farms that don’t need the subsidies, including literally their own pockets.

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) has been the most egregious of those who are willing to subsidize rich farmers instead of people struggling to eat, though Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is more famous of those who personally get large subsidies from the farm bill and vote against SNAP assistance.

Rep. Fincher, in responding to Biblical verses from Juan Vargas (D-CA) on taking care of the least of the brothers and feeding the hungry, responded with his own Bible quote from the Book of Thessalonians, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

Fincher is quoting from a letter from Paul, not from the Gospels. The reference in the Bible is to people who gave up their jobs to wait for Christ’s Second Coming, certainly not applicable here. On top of that, the verse he quoted was exalted by socialists, including Vladimir Lenin.

We should also point out to Rep. Fincher that 80% of those on SNAP assistance are working.

The Environmental Working Group notes that Fincher has received nearly $3.5 million in federal subsidies from 1999-2012, nearly $560,000 in one year alone. Fincher reportedly got about $70,000 last year as a farm subsidy.

Fincher also supported a proposal to expand crop insurance by $9 billion over the next 10 years, a bill where he would literally personally benefit.

A couple hundred people in the House — not all of them Republican, but most of them. Let’s say half of the Senate, another 50 people. The thousands of people directly affected by the potential sales of soft drinks, though the factory worker won’t get as much out of the deal as corporate executives. Let’s be generous and say that adds up to 300,000 people. That’s 300,000 out of 300 million people who are in favor of people on SNAP assistance buying soft drinks. But they have the power.

Big city mayors are the politicians who see the impact of soft drinks in poor neighborhoods. They know what is at stake. Those in Washington? Honestly, not so much.

Conservatives cry out that Washington can’t run things as well as states can, because the states are closer to what the people want. Well, city mayors are closer than states. And the reason why Washington isn’t up to speed on this isn’t because Washington can’t do so. Lift the corporate pressure on politicians and you’ll be amazed at what Washington can do.

Sandy Hook is latest time to finally have gun control discussion

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While many questions pour from the horrific Connecticut school shooting, the one question that comes up in all of these mass shootings is “Will this be the time that we finally start changing the gun laws?”

Columbine was horrible but that didn’t change anything. You would think the assassination attempt on a sitting Congresswoman would unnerve Congress into doing something. Or the Aurora movie theater shooting. Or Virginia Tech.

Something did feel different about the Sandy Hook shooting. True, young children died in the other shooting. A 9-year-old girl died in Tucson. A 6-year-old girl died in the Aurora shooting.

Was it finding out that the kids were shot more than once? Was it that the authorities took pictures of the kids faces so the parents could identify them rather than seeing the horrible damage to their little bodies? Was it that the teachers and principal who lost their lives trying to stop the gunman? Was it the idea of kids hiding in closets and teachers pleading with students to be quiet until the good guys could show up?

Was it that all the kids were 6 and 7 years old? Was it that the number of students killed was 20? Was it that next year’s 2nd grade and the following year’s 3rd grade are essentially gone from this school?

Was it that the damage was so bad that almost all of those who were shot were killed. Think about that. Even in the coverage of the shooting, we didn’t hear much about the wounded. Two kids made it to the hospital before dying from their wounds. Ambulances were turned away before the carnage was that thorough and devastating.

The Dems in Washington have run away from this issue since the assault weapons ban expired. Up to now, President Barack Obama hasn’t shown much desire to use any political capital on this issue. For all the cries about “a black president taking guns away from white people,” Obama’s track record on guns to this point has gone against the wishes of his base.

At least Dems want to do something on gun control, loopholes, assault weapons. Finding a Republican who wants to tackle these issues is as likely as Honey Boo Boo taking etiquette lessons.

We could run a list of suggestions and requirements to improve the gun attitude in the United States. Closing gun show loopholes and bringing back the assault weapon ban would make a huge difference. When we mean “assault weapons ban,” that would be one without the loopholes of the 1994 bill.

The conservatives, political and non-political, have their usual cries. “This isn’t the right time to talk about this.” “Criminals don’t pay attention to gun control laws.”

They are right on one point: laws won’t be enough. Loopholes and an assault weapons ban will help greatly, but they aren’t enough. Those on the left try to fight conservatives directly on the gun issue, but forget that conservatives don’t even offer a non-gun solution.

Why aren’t conservatives fighting for more money for mental health coverage? Why aren’t conservatives fighting to make things easier for those with mental issues to get help through our convoluted health care system? If conservatives don’t think guns are the issue, ask them what else can we do?

To say that nothing can be done about this, that these shootings are just going to happen is the ultimate cop-out. Tuning out what happened at Newtown, CT, Aurora, CO, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech isn’t going to work. Or so we hope. The question is whether those that want to make things better will spend political capital, and whether those who don’t want to make things better can offer solutions, even if they don’t involve gun control.