Tag Archives: conservatives

Injection site lies

So the conservatives have started sending around this flier which very subtly uses language to undermine the Insite injection site and harm reduction strategies. It also, of course, misleads the public about the course of action that is effective in addressing drug use. Pumping billions of dollars into a 3 decades old “drug war” that has seen drug use increase and narcotics become more available and cheaper, is portrayed as the only effective answer.

It is a fear based approach more and more people are starting to question. For example, in this piece, Mark Easton of the BBC charts how the war on drugs has actually helped grow the drug industry in the UK.

So in order to help fight the disinformation of the Conservative machine, I’ve taken a quick stab at highlighting some of the fliers problems.

Update: Turns out that the Vancouver Sun has deemed this news worthy as well. 24 hours after this post they published this story.

Tory logic: Injection sites in Quebec = good, in BC = bad

So Yaffe’s Wednesday column (which I talked about yesterday) about how Insite would not be challenged by the conservative government if it were in Quebec has turned out to be sadly prescient.

Today, the Globe is reporting that Federal Conservative Health Minister Tony Clement is willing to consider Quebec’s request for an injeciton site even as he works to shut down the site in Vancouver. For a party that was supposed to let the west in, this is a complete outrage.

Health Minister Tony Clement says his government will not necessarily oppose safe-injection sites for illegal drugs in Quebec even though it will appeal a court decision allowing a similar facility in British Columbia…

…”I am obligated to consider each situation as a unique situation. That’s my obligation as the Minister of Health.”

Appalling. Apparently the local consensus reached in Vancouver about this approach means nothing to this government. Nor apparently, do the votes in Vancouverites. With this move it is hard to imagine the Conservatives winning any seats in Vancouver.

Yaffe: the best post on the politics of Insite

I highly recommend reading Barbara Yaffe stellar piece on the Insite injeciton site in yesterday’s Vancouver sun. In short, she points out that if Insite were in Montreal, the Conservatives would let it slide out of fear of upsetting the nationalists and treading on provincial powers. BC however, appears to be fair game.

So much for principles.

Dissecting the Quadra By-election

The political Parties have been busy spinning Monday’s by-election outcomes. The one that is most interesting to yours truly are the stories out of Vancouver-Quadra.

The Conservatives have been successfully spinning their narrow loss as a victory in the long standing Liberal riding:

“Whether we win or lose, it’s a huge victory for the Conservatives in Vancouver Quadra,” said Meredith. “We’ve closed the gap. The fact that it’s so tight right now and we can’t say who the winner will be is a huge change from the last few elections.”

According to Elections Canada the finally tally had the Liberals at 36.1% (down 13% from last year), the Conservatives at 35.5 (up 6%), the Greens at 13.5 (up 8.5%) and the NDP at 14.4 (down 2%).

Interestingly, few people are talking about the low voter turn out. Only 27.9% of eligible voter (and 33.9% of registered voters) actually voted. This is less than half the average of the last general election.

Given that Quadra is a fairly Liberal riding a lower voter turn out rate will broadly favour challengers. Why? If the “average” voter is Liberal and opts not to turn out then the outcome will favour those who are more motivated. This tends to be voters who are challenging the incumbent or who have are issue focused. This riding has been Liberal for a while now, so they are most at risk in this situation.

Once this is factored this race takes on less meaning. Take the the Greens for example. Their voters are probably  more dedicated than the average voter (to go the poll year after year knowing your candidate isn’t going to get elected takes dedication). Because of the low turn out rate their % of the vote increased dramatically (doubling from 6% to 13.5%) even though the absolute number of people who voted for them rose only marginally.

Most interesting though was that the Conservatives almost got their perfect storm. To win they needed a very low voter turn out rate with strong low-key campaigning from themselves and a good performance out of the Greens and NDP. Indeed, the Conservatives were so intent on this strategy that Harper didn’t even campaign on behalf of the Conservative Candidate – Deborah Meredith – when he was in Vancouver last week. Having the Prime Minister campaigning would have raised the profile of the race thereby increasing voter turn out and hurting the party’s odds. It was one of those moments when having a sitting PM stump on your behalf would actually have done more harm than good.

As a result I’m not sure that anyone can claim any larger meaning out of the race. The Greens impressive % increase is an interesting story, but again, it is likely that many of the same hardcore  supporters came out as opposed to many new ones. Interestingly the NDP never really ran in Quadra, but instead had almost a city wide campaign trying to increase their profile in preparation for the general election (my understanding is that they didn’t even do door-to-door canvassing and focused their attention on city-wide media). I hope it worked because the NDP’s numbers are the real disaster story. Its % of the vote shrunk when the low voter turn out should have inflated it. Either their die hard supporters opted not to come out, or they voted Green or Liberal. Either way, that’s not a good sign for a party stuck in the polls.

Tough week for everyone in Ottawa

So the Liberals are getting lambasted for letting the Conservative Budget stand. (click on the second video)

Old Conservatives are refusing to testify (usually not a good sign) and New Conservatives have been (allegedly) caught trying to bribe an independent MP (a terribly sign).

The NDP can’t seem to get any traction.

The Bloc is still losing ground.

The Green’s still can’t get into a nationally televised debate.

Nobody is going anywhere – at least not right now.

Conservatives, Facebook and the Culture of Paranoia

So the Ontario and Federal Public service banned facebook because it thought it was eating into work time. Fair enough.

The Canadian Conservative Party however, has taken it a step further. Not only are they banning their staffers from accessing facebook from work, they are prohibiting them from possessing a facebook profile (even on their own time, accessed through their own computer). As this Calgary Herald editorial points out – this sort of restriction and censorship is reasonable:

“There seems to be a palpable fear that something which might embarrass a cabinet minister might find its way into a staff member’s profile and thus fall into the hands of some gleeful journalist. Just for the optics, it’s probably a good idea to try to prevent that from happening.”

I love that the Conservatives have so little trust in their staff they feel it necessary to prevent them from showing their faces or sharing their interests in a public space – even a virtual one.

Just ‘for optics’ maybe ministers and the party should control every aspect of their staffers lives? One wonders what other public spaces the Conservative party should ban their staffers from being seen in? Online dating must be no-no (too much like facebook). What about job searches – posting one’s resume and profile sounds pretty risky. But why stop online? What about parties and bars? Staffer could engage in some activity that might embarrass their minister in these public spaces too. Following this logic, maybe Harper should ban staffer from attending parties?

I love the paranoia of this Prime Minister’s Office.

Also, a H/T to Taylor Owen for drawing my attention to the Calgary Herald editorial.

New lows on Afghanistan

How I wish that the government wouldn’t hide behind our soldiers when facing criticism over the direction and leadership of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Their response politicizes the debate in an unconscionable manner.

If you are going to lead, then lead. Get used to the fact that that may mean answering some difficult questions from the public, and the opposition parties, from time to time.

The most recent example of this phenomenon comes courtesy of Stockwell Day in this weekend’s Globe & Mail:

“Mr. Day said yesterday that the opposition attacks had to stop because they were affecting Canadian officials in Afghanistan. ‘Stop maligning our corrections officers and stop maligning our troops’ Mr. Day said.”

The whole ‘criticizing the government is tantamount to not supporting our troops’ is not only appalling, it’s passé. Even President Bush doesn’t use this line anymore.

Let’s be clear. We aren’t criticizing Canadian soldiers or corrections officers when we express concern that the Afghan prisoners they hand over to local authorities may end up being tortured. These men on the ground are simply following orders (and may even assume that the correct safeguards are in place). We are however, being critical of the political leadership that oversees this mission and has a duty to uphold international (and Canadian) law.

I’m supportive of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. We have real, material national interests at stake in this conflict. My concern is that we do it right, even when that may not be the easiest course of action.