Democracy Soup

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Posts Tagged ‘Quebec

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, CanadianCrossing.com.

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 Crossing.com Canadian politics coverage

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New Brunswick forced to confront abortion access issue

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This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

We will have at least one more provincial election in 2014, the regularly scheduled election in New Brunswick on September 22. We might have a key issue in New Brunswick with a topic that rarely comes up in Canadian political circles these days: abortion.

Morgentaler Clinic

New Brunswick is pretty spread out as a province. Prince Edward Island is pretty far away, even from Fredericton.

The Morgentaler Clinic was the only private clinic in New Brunswick, with no private clinics in Prince Edward Island, to offer abortions. The clinic closes its doors tomorrow.

Those who go to the Morgentaler Clinic have to pay for the abortions. The clinic had been subsidizing abortions but could no longer stay afloat financially.

Under the law in New Brunswick, a woman who wants an abortion covered by medicare must have 2 doctors certify in writing that the procedure is medically necessary and the abortion must be done by an obstetrician/gynecologist in approved hospitals (one each in Moncton and Bathurst).

(Moncton is in southeastern New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy; Bathurst is in northeastern New Brunswick near Quebec on Chaleur Bay.)

Many of the clinic’s patients came from Prince Edward Island. The provincial government claim no doctors in the province will do abortions; the province sends women to a hospital in Halifax provided they have a referral from their family doctor.

Distance. Money. Time. All these factors make getting an abortion in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island difficult, even with the clinic.

Where we are now in Fredericton

The Progressive Conservatives, under Premier David Alward, have a considerable advantage in the legislature. The PCs have 41 seats, the Liberals have 13 seats, with 1 Independent MLA.

While the New Brunswick legislature currently has 55 seats, the parties will be vying for 49 seats in the September election.

On the surface, the PCs shouldn’t have a concern. Sure the economy isn’t great in the province, but the Liberals have a lot of ground to make up to get enough MLAs for a majority. The NDP don’t even have a seat currently in Fredericton.

Brian Gallant (Liberal) and Dominic Cardy (NDP) don’t have much of a chance to be the next New Brunswick premier. The timing of the election and the abortion issue could shake up the makeup of the New Brunswick legislature.

Gallant has said a Liberal government would “move swiftly to address this issue in a comprehensive way, once and for all, and ensure we are respecting a woman’s right to choose.”

Gallant knows the Liberals are in a tough situation. Be too specific and risk losing votes. But voters need to know that the situation will improve for women if the party gains power in Fredericton.

Of the 55 current MLAs in the legislature, 7 of them are women.

Where we will be in September

The federal fight over abortion, while not as loud these days, focuses on federal Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, whose position is that the party and its MPs be pro-choice, and federal Conservative backbenchers, who would love to make abortion more difficult nationwide.

New Brunswick isn’t concerned with what happens on the federal level. However, even conservatives in New Brunswick will have to recognize that the loss of the Morgentaler Clinic is a political issue in September.

The Maritimes are a conservative place, especially on abortion. The Morgentaler Clinic was a beacon of hope in women’s health care. And now it’s gone. But it could be the start of a movement to bring the region in line with the rest of Canada.

This is a political issue until September 22. No matter which party wins that day, abortion rights will still be a health care and economic concern in New Brunswick.

Stephen Harper, Pauline Marois import GOP dirty tricks to reduce voting

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This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

Stephen Harper and Pauline Marois rarely have something in common, but that something is a trend that has been sweeping throughout the United States.

Though using different methods, Harper and Marois are trying to deny the right to vote to people who are eligible. We’ve seen these “voter ID” laws in several U.S. states designed to prevent those likely to vote against Republicans a chance to cast their ballot, even though they are registered to vote.

While the target audience for Harper and Marois are different, the target audience for both is those who aren’t likely to vote for their party.

Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, is working its way through Parliament.

Canadians have voter identification cards, which help identify them, and Elections Canada has allowed their use with another form of ID as proof of being able to vote. Bill C-23 would take away voter identification cards as a proof of ID. The bill also disallows vouching, where someone in the precinct of the riding can vouch for that person.

Bill C-23 allows bans Elections Canada from encouraging turnout, especially among groups that aren’t as likely to vote: youths under 30, ethnic minorities, Aboriginals and the disabled.

The legislation also removes the Commissioner of Canada Elections (investigators) from Elections Canada to be a separate office. The Conservatives have been the target of numerous allegations from overspending their budget to robocalls telling voters their voting spot had changed when it hadn’t. The change reduces the impact they can make on parties that violate election laws.

Previous coverage:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper copies Bush tactic of ejecting people from campaign stops

Like their U.S. counterparts, conservatives in Canada don’t have actual examples of voter fraud. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, conservatives have the power to change the law nationwide.

In Quebec, university students who are otherwise eligible to vote are being told that they aren’t eligible. The requirements for voting in Quebec is to be a “Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old, be domiciled in Quebec for six months.”

The key word is domiciled. The stories are pretty consistent. Even if people have been living in Quebec for longer than 6 months, and can prove those facts, they are still denied registration.

The Civil Code of Quebec states that “change of domicile is affected by actual residence in another place, coupled with the intention of the person to make it the seat of his principal establishment.”

In other words, you can be a student in Quebec, but if you no intention of living in Quebec after university, you can’t vote. And since that can’t be proven, those who aren’t francophones are being targeted as not likely to stay in Quebec.

These students are primarily living in Montréal, where anglophones and allophones are much more likely to be found.

Previous coverage:

2014 Quebec election preview; election set for April 7

Marois was also vocal about those outside Quebec (i.e., Ontario) were trying to pull the election away from the Parti Quebecois. The premier said there was an influx of illegal anglophone voters in 5 ridings. However, Chief Electoral Officer Jacques Drouin said that there was no abnormal rise in registrations.

Vote fraud would be if these students or anyone else were voting in Quebec and in the province where their parents live. There is no proof or accusations of that happening. In fact, if a student from Quebec were going to school in Ontario or New Brunswick, by Quebec standards, they wouldn’t be eligible to vote where they go to school and would also be legally barred from voting in Quebec.

The students can’t vote in two places, but legally have to be able to vote in one place.

Reading the mind of the voter is literally an impossible task. As to whether graduates will stay in the province, this would depending on being able to find work. Quebec’s jobless rate is not good, yet the campaign has been more about sovereignty and language than the economy or infrastructure.

Residency is where you live. College students in the U.S. run into similar troubles, especially with the new anti-democracy “voter ID” laws since these states “magically” won’t take a college ID as proof of identity.

Voting is a civic duty that comes with being a citizen. The voting process is about opportunity and choice. Political parties — Republican, Conservative, and Parti Quebecois — that take away opportunity and choice from citizens are no better than the Third World dictatorships that the First World likes to admonish.

Canada has done a much better job in running elections than its southern neighbor in great part because a non-partisan group such as Elections Canada works to open up voting to citizens and fights back against rampant partisanship. The Harper Government wants to make elections more like the United States in the spirit of their cousins, the Republican Party.

Politics is supposed to be about ideas. When you run out of ideas, you try cheap, undemocratic stunts such as these. These tactics go against being a democracy. The best way to punish them is to respond at the ballot box.

Why do Tea Party people think Canadian-born Ted Cruz can be president?

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Ted Cruz is making his way through Iowa as if he can run for president in 2016. But Cruz has a major issue hanging over his head; he was born in Canada. And Cruz was born in Canada under the same exact circumstances where the teabaggers thought President Barack Obama was, so why would Cruz be more eligible than Obama? Teabagger logic knows no thought process.

Here is my take from my sister site, CanadianCrossing.com.

When people joke about a president being from Canada, they usually refer back to the story of Chester A. Arthur, who allegedly was born in Quebec and not Vermont. That tale centered around a border dispute and may have been fodder from Arthur’s political enemies.

The assumption that people born in Canada can’t be president is being challenged, of sorts, by the talk of Ted Cruz running for president.

Cruz, who just got to the Senate in January replacing the retired Kay Bailey Hutchison in Texas, is being talked about as a possible presidential candidate by Tea Party people and TV pundits. Okay, not a whole lot to go on so far. But these groups don’t mention the (GOP) elephant in the room: Ted Cruz was born in Canada.

Cruz certainly thinks he has a shot at entering the 2016 presidential race. On Friday, Cruz made his first trip to Iowa, home of the first presidential caucus. Politicians who are running or thinking about the run make trips to Iowa 3 years before the caucus.

The U.S. senator from Texas placed sixth in Iowa in the Public Policy Polling survey released last week. Cruz was at 10%, 13% among men and 7% among women (among Republicans). The gender gap also is in effect, where men are more than twice to know who he is.

Unlike Arthur, Cruz clearly was born in Canada. He lived there for his first four years. By that standard, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm could be eligible to be elected president. Granholm has lived in the United States since she was 4.

Cruz theoretically has one more element in his column that was separate him from Granholm: Cruz’s mother is an American citizen.

The criteria in the Constitution is “natural born citizen.” Traditionally, that has meant being born to American parents on U.S. soil, though that standard hasn’t been challenged.

George Romney, born in Mexico to U.S. parents, ran for president in 1968. John McCain was born in the Panama Canal zone and ran for president in 2008.

Barack Obama, who is the president of the United States, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but that didn’t stop some of the same people who support Cruz from claiming otherwise.

In fact, the Tea Party people pointed to Obama’s “illegitimacy” citing that being born to an American mother and a father who is a citizen of a foreign country outside the United States doesn’t make for a natural born citizen if that person is born outside the United States. Yet that same exact criteria applies to Ted Cruz.

Yes, Cruz’s mother is American, but his father was Cuban. And Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta and lived there for his first four years of his life.

Whether Cruz is eligible needs to be determined. If the Tea Party people are to argue that point, they need to explain why they didn’t support the same criteria for Barack Obama, if Obama’s life had existed in the Tea Party’s parallel universe.

The United States is more strict on citizenship issues than most similar countries. Being born to an American parent, even on foreign soil, does entitle you to U.S. citizenship. However, this is about being a natural born citizen, and until now, this action required a person to be born on U.S. soil to U.S. parents.

Also, to be president (and vice president) of the United States, you have to be a natural born citizen and at least 35 years of age. Contrast that with the Canadian requirements for prime minister.

Are you a citizen of Canada? Yes. Are you at least 18 years old? Yes. So if you can get elected to the House of Commons, you can be prime minister.

You certainly don’t have to be born in Canada to be prime minister. John Turner, who was born in England, served briefly as prime minister in 1984 after Pierre Trudeau’s reign before Brian Mulroney won election for the Progressive Conservatives.

Turner also didn’t hold a seat in Parliament while being prime minister, but ironically did win a seat in the election that tossed him out as prime minister.

The United States needs to decide what criteria is needed to determine who is eligible to be president. Canadians want to know if they have a shot.

Montreal student protests may impact Quebec election

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For all that we’ve written about the student protests over the tuition hikes in Quebec, you almost feel like you have to see the story to the end. Jean Charest, Quebec’s premier, has launched a provincial election for September 4.

The student protests have been somewhat quiet this summer, but when I was in Montreal, so much of the concern against the government were specifically targeted at Charest.

The rise up against Charest is not just tied to the student protests. And Charest has been in office for three terms, two of them as a Liberal. So a fourth term doesn’t have strong odds of success.

Then again, the Parti Quebecois, the strongest chance to oust Charest and the Liberals, hasn’t been that strong. And Charest’s opposition hasn’t always been strongly unified.

For more analysis on this election cycle, check out this column from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

U.S. protesters can learn lessons from Quebec student protesters

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I covered the NATO protests in Chicago with an eye to what was going on in Montréal. The MSM has its way of delegitimizing protesters, whether they be against the Iraq War or NATO or the Afghanistan War or any other action that has fallen into the status quo. The local coverage in Chicago was particular nauseating since journalists went out of their way to critique their signs and how they didn’t conform to the same message.

The fact that the signs were against action taken by NATO, current and future, and that taxpayer money going to war could be better spent on domestic problems — all that escaped the mindset on the TV screen.

Such trivial nonsense wasn’t found in the ongoing coverage of the student protesters in Montréal. The coverage, in English, at least was mostly shallow and worried more about how the protesters upset tourists and summer highlights, including the Canadian Grand Prix, the Montréal Comedy Festival, and the Montréal Jazz Festival.

As for the French coverage, from what I have been told, the slant depended on which source you read. But they didn’t belittle the protesters for “inconsistencies.”

Can American protesters learn lessons from the student protesters in Montréal? Absolutely. Even if American protesters follow every lesson, will the MSM give their cries the same legitimacy as it treated the teabaggers? No. But the coverage of U.S. protesters will improve because much of the ammunition against them will be detonated.

Uniformity of message: The student protesters were chanting the same thing. The rhythm of wooden spoons hitting pots snd pans was catchy and I heard it long after they weren’t around. Not that the teabaggers had consistency, but the MSM usually loves consistency in a message.

Age diversification: When the protesters were mostly students, the cries were that they were young, or spoiled, or didn’t understand the world. When the Quebec government passed Bill 78, making it more difficult for students (or anyone) to protest, people outside the student realm started marching along with the students. Having people of different ages march together shouldn’t give a protest more legitimacy, but the media coverage did soften.

Keep the protest going: NATO had a limited shelf life of 4 days, counting the G8 summit that was supposed to be in Chicago. When you have a limited amount of time, you have to cram in more than you should. And Chicago pressured businesses to keep their employees out of the Loop on Friday and Monday. The student protesters in Montréal have been going longer than 100 days with a consistent message.

Incorporate symbolism in your protest gestures: I heard the terms “le casserole” and the banging of the pots and pans, but didn’t understand the symbolism. Fortunately, I had bilingual people explain this to me during my stay in Montréal, so hopefully this won’t get lost in translation.

Loi is French for law; l’oie is French for goose. The pots and pans are to cook the special goose — the special law. Le casserole is French for saucepan, though that might have been obvious.

Give people a chance to support you without protesting: Too often, we hear the MSM cries implying that only those people out in a protest care about the issue. In Montréal, people wore the carre rouge — red square — to support the protesters. Often, those who were protesting at night wore them during the day. But the streets were filled with people wearing the carre rouge who weren’t visibly protesting.

I saw a tall guy with a Army buzzcut in a 3-piece suit riding one of the rented bikes you see throughout Montréal through a street in the Little Italy neighborhood, and he was wearing a red square of support. I couldn’t react fast enough to take a picture nor to ask him about it.

I was told some people wore green squares (against the protesters) and white squares (neutral in the debate). For what it was worth, I didn’t see a green square or a white square in my 6 days in Quebec’s largest city. But when you can get people against you and for you to wear a symbol of support, you have passion in a movement that has been missing on the American side of the border.

The good news for the students is that government was willing to listen and make change. Early on, the Jean Charest government (province of Quebec) changed its stance to spread out the tuition increase from 5 years to 7 years. The students have had enough power to get more done, but negotiations haven’t gone well. The problem, and this isn’t the students’ fault, is that the fight is about the tuition hikes AND Bill 78. The special law is only temporary, and hasn’t been fully implemented (in part because the police weren’t sure how to do so, and it became virtually impossible to enforce).

At some point to any protest, both sides need a conclusion they can live with. Bill 78 could easily die if the students stop protesting, but the students won’t stop protesting until Bill 78 is removed. As for the tuition hikes, the hikes might go through with a lot more concessions from the Charest government. When protests go on for too long, public support can easily slip. The parties involved don’t always know when is the best time. In this case, thanks to the students’ consistency and passion, they have more power than those who have protested on the American side of the border. The question is how will the students use that power to get concessions. That is a lesson we are still learning.

Quebec student protesters media coverage misses truth on street level

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Though I only saw 5 nights on the streets of Montreal, what I did see was nothing like I had taken in via the Web and through English-language accounts.

They were having fun, though they had a serious message. They were happy when people took their pictures. They didn’t even care if we were American. If anything, people were happy that an American didn’t freak out over the prospect of  the protesters during his vacation.

I didn’t seek out the protesters on my trip, but they weren’t hard to find. Often, they started in different parts of the city. As I noted at the time, they didn’t bother my vacation one bit.

For more on the protesters, pictures included, check out this update from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.