Democracy Soup

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Posts Tagged ‘United States

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.

Paul Ryan school lunch lie showcases GOP irrationality

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This column originally ran on BalanceofFood.com. The column appears here with complete permission.

What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-march-10-2014/the-amazing-base—power-of-love

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the man who wanted to be vice president of the United States, told a story about a child who didn’t want a free school lunch. He wanted a lunch in a brown paper bag “because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.”

That story would be emotionally telling … if it were true.

Ryan heard the story from Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson at a 2013 Congressional hearing. The story Anderson told was actually based off a TV interview with the boy in the book, “An Invisible Thread.”

Anderson inserted the school lunch program, not mentioned in the book, into the anecdote. And the story in the book is an executive who offers the child money to buy lunch for the week or to make a lunch for the child. The child chooses the brown paper bag lunch because that means “somebody cares” about him.

The representative from Wisconsin later regretted “failing to verify the original source of the story.”

That was 1 of about 8 things Ryan did wrong: the most important thing was telling that story at CPAC knowing that the story was incorrect.

This implies that we are calling Rep. Ryan a liar. Yes, that is true. This speaks to an issue that we have had with some politicians, mostly conservative, on these topics.

Just because someone says something you like or falls in your comfort zone doesn’t mean it’s true. You have a responsibility to find out whether the third-hand story you are telling has a kernel of truth.

The false story that Rep. Paul Ryan told at CPAC literally has no truth to be found.

The damage has been done, of course, which is the point. If you like Ryan, you will believe the story he told, even if the “liberal press” told you otherwise. And someone in a conversation will overhear someone tell that story, as if it were true, and the story will spread.

I could write a column every day for a year filled with criticisms of the school lunch program. But not having a program would never be one of those criticisms.

Ryan spoke of a “full stomach and an empty soul,” the one part of the story that came from him. The implication is that a “free lunch” hurts a child when accepted.

“Full stomach means a full brain” is a slogan we like a lot better. That “free education” the child receives goes a lot better when the stomach is full, making things easier for the child to learn. This is especially true when that school lunch is healthy.

Yes, a number of conservatives don’t like the idea of a “free education,” but “free lunch” is an easier target.

As adults, we can argue the issues of child poverty and the impact of smart children on a society. And we can even discuss the impact of healthy food for school children.

We need two ground rules for this to work: 1) children need to be protected from being literally in the argument (e.g., Salt Lake City taking school lunches from kids), and 2) we need to work from the truth.

Rep. Ryan and any other politician who wants to take on the school lunch program: we want you to be a part of the discussion, but only if you are willing to work with the truth.

2014 Three Amigos preview

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Three Amigos summits are rare and brief, not a combination you want from three side-by-side countries that have a lot to say.

Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama for the latest Three Amigos summit in Toluca, Mexico.

Technically, the name is the North American Leaders Summit but the Three Amigos nickname has stuck for this event.

Despite what you might think based on the U.S. media, agenda items other than the Keystone XL pipeline will come up in the discussions.

For more on what we might see during the brief summit, check out our analysis from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

Conservative politicians need food security solutions, not rhetoric

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The following column ran on BalanceofFood.com and runs here with complete permission.

Some conservative politicians get upset over the idea of government helping those that need help (as opposed to those who don’t need help). They get really upset with the idea of helping people get food, even children.

We have two stories, one American and one Canadian. While the Canadian politician did eventually apologize, these two stories are a microcosm of an attitude, mostly in the United States, that helping people who are struggling with getting food is one of the worst deeds for government to do.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) is trying to stand out in a field to replace Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) in the Senate. Kingston’s views on school lunches will definitely make him stand out.

Rep. Kingston really has a problem with free school lunches, as he expressed to a meeting of the Jackson County Republican Party.

“But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel, to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch?”

Think that is too severe? Kingston is one step ahead of uh, something.

“Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.”

Even by the standards of the U.S. South, Georgia’s children come up short. More than 25% of Georgia children live below the poverty line (already set pretty low), and the state has the 6th highest child poverty rate.

“Is it the government’s job — my job to feed my neighbor’s child? I don’t think so,” Canadian federal Industry Minister James Moore.

Moore said this in a radio interview about child poverty and hunger in British Columbia, Moore’s home province.

“Obviously nobody wants kids to go to school hungry … but is that always the government’s job? To be there to serve people their breakfast? Empowering families with more power and resources so they can feed their own children is I think a good thing.”

Moore hit on a conservative theme: giving more power to families to feed their own children. Or using private charity to help those in need. In theory, that sounds lovely. It doesn’t match the reality on the streets and in the neighborhoods.

To reiterate, Moore did apologize later for this remarks.

“Great work has been done to tackle poverty and the challenges associated with poverty. And while more work is needed, I know the cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week. For that, I am sorry.”

Rep. Kingston is worried about poor children thinking the world is full of “free lunches.” MP Moore is worried about people thinking the government job is to feed children who need food.

Children, regardless of social structure and status, do not think about how much food costs. They don’t get that toys can be expensive, no matter how cool they look on TV.

If the children are poor, then they already know their world are not filled with metaphorical free lunches.

The government’s job isn’t to feed people. And food assistance doesn’t do that; food assistance allows people a boost so they can afford rent and food. You can treat it as a subsidy to farmers markets and grocery stores if that will make you feel better.

MP Moore’s suggestion of empowering families to feed their own children is a rather good suggestion, but neither the United States nor Canada is doing so.

Ted Cruz must know about Canada before denouncing citizenship

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Thanks to the Dallas Morning News, Ted Cruz has “learned” that he has been a Canadian citizen for the last 43 years. And Cruz still doesn’t quite believe it.

And this from a sitting U.S. senator who has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Cruz wants to run away from Canada by instantly renouncing his Canadian citizenship to seem “more American” in order to run for president in 2016, and he may not even be eligible for the highest office.

Fortunately, Cruz has to go through a process before renouncing the citizenship he has had since 1970. And that will give him time to learn more about Canada.

For example, does Cruz know that Canadians can visit Cuba freely and without government interference. So Cruz can use his Canadian passport to visit his father’s homeland (Cruz’s father fought for Fidel Castro, really). Cruz can also learn that the United States gets more oil from Canada than any other country (his parents were working in the oil industry in Canada when Cruz was born), and that the two countries are each other’s largest trading partner.

With more on Cruz and his desire to renounce his Canadian citizenship, enjoy this column from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

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.

Ontario is better destination for jobs thanks to Michigan’s ‘right to work’ status

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Ontario isn’t in the best shape these days. Huge debt, teacher problems, and a premier with a minority government who is still in office but not for long.

Compared to the folks across the border in Michigan, Canada’s most populous province is singing Hallelujahs.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been signing bills right and right (not left and right) taking away worker rights, access to birth control, overriding voters insistence on getting rid of the takeover-a-city law. Snyder would have signed a bill allowing for guns in schools and day care centers, but the Sandy Hook school shooting made that virtually impossible to do right now.

Snyder was worried about competing for jobs with Indiana. He should have worried about Ontario.

For more on this story, check out this column from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.