Friday, August 02, 2013

Some mid-summer thoughts

It has been a busy summer and blogging has been down on my list of priorities but I have been paying attention and I thought I would comment on some of the things that have been going on the past few months.

Ontario by-elections:  The reading of the entrails from last night has begun and the instant conclusions of the chattering class is falling along ideological/partisan lines a usual.  I am always amused at the attempt to read something bigger into by-elections than what is really there.  Cutting through all of the spin the political situation in Ontario has not changed.  The Liberals are the governing party, with a minority government, the PCs are the Official Opposition and the NDP are still the third party.  Beyond that, the rest is just spin.

The next Ontario General Election:  Will be lost by the Liberals.  Voter fatigue with them has just reach a level where it will take a miracle for them to win again.  This was true before the by-elections and it is still true.  The next premier of Ontario will be Mr. Hudak.  Ms. Horvath is popular but her party is not.  The Orange Wave that swept Quebec did not carry over into Ontario.  There are still enough centre and centre-right Ontarians who remember the Bob Rae government and who will pick whichever of the Liberals or the PCs they believe will prevent an NDP government if that threat materializes.  People say that Mr. Hudak is too unpopular to win an election but they said the same thing about Mr. Harper.  So the only question is whether Mr. Hudak wins a majority or a minority.  If progressives want to guarantee it is a minority they should begin hammering at his promise to pass "Right-to-Work" legislation.  The idea of adopting failed Republican policies in this province would probably not go down very well in many parts of the province and it may just hold Mr. Hudak to a minority.

Mr. Trudeau and Pot:  Agree or disagree with his position but the fact he took one on a controversial issue instead of obfuscating and generally trying to avoid saying anything is quite refreshing.  It has been a long time since I saw any politician take a clear stand on such a charged issue.

Eastern Pipeline:  All I can say is it is about freaking time!  There are countless pipelines heading south out of Alberta.  So much so that there is a glut of Alberta oil in the US driving down the price being paid for Alberta oil way below market value.  Meanwhile, us folks in the East are pumping gasoline that originated overseas into our gas tanks.  Or, perversely, importing gasoline that has been refined in the United States that started out as Alberta oil.  It is the height of stupidity that we export raw crude to the US only to import the refined fuels that are produced from those exports.  If this Eastern pipeline will allow us to process more of Canada's energy resources in Canada then let's do it, after a thorough and fair environmental impact assessment of course.

Egypt:  The ruling class of Egypt must be very grateful that Mr. Morsi was such an incompetent boob while in government.  He gave them the excuse they were looking for to reestablish control without too great of a political backlash.  I believed nothing would change in that country and sadly I was right.

The US snooping scandal:  The naiveté of Americans to be surprised that their government was snooping on them is astounding.  Really did they believe after the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security that there would not be greater surveillance of American society?  The other consideration is the American people probably do not have any concept of just how much data is being produced out there now.  It is not called Big Data for nothing.  There is no way that all of that data can be examined by human eyes.  It is being examined and reexamined by computers and an extremely small percentage of it is making it to a computer monitor of a human being.  So no American has to worry about "Big Brother" finding out about their elicit affair with their administrative assistant or their plan to defraud their company investors.  The computers are not programmed to spit that kind of activity out to a human analyst.

Federal Cabinet Shuffle:  Yawn.  The most interesting part of that was the widely held view amongst the paid political punditry that the Cabinet Shuffle would be an opportunity for Stephen Harper to change the tone of his government.  Not hardly!  Mr. Harper has realized great success by being a prick and he is not going to change a winning formula just because a scandal and the political honeymoon of one of his political opponents have driven his polling numbers down, especially when it happens smack in the middle of a four year majority mandate.  He will continue to be a prick. He will begin 2015 by donning a sweater vest and showing off his so far unknown dancing skills and he will relentlessly attack his opponents. Meanwhile Mr. Flaherty will pull the same stunt he pulled in Ontario and misplace the Federal government deficit in 2015.  Mr. Harper will do all of this and hope that it can overcome the voter fatigue that is setting in towards his government and which should be well entrenched by the next election.     

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