Thursday, June 28, 2007

When will the NB legislature break?

The past few years the legislature has sat until the very end of June, under threats of continuing into July, until a last minute deal has been cut to avoid returning to to the blistering hot, non-air conditioned chamber after Canada Day.

So, what is left on the legislative agenda?

The main estimates and a subsequent Appropriations Bill to authorize the government to keep spending money and operating must be passed by July 31, and have not made it through yet.

The bill to implement the income tax increases has not yet passed.

Other than that there is no business, but those are some pretty important pieces that need to pass before the House can break.

Also, the Telegraph-Journal reports today that Government House Leader Stuart Jamieson will be introducing some electoral reform bills today, including one that would provide financial incentives to parties who run a certain number of woman candidates. I do not think that that sort of quota system will solve the underlying problems that give us the disgraceful underrepresentation of women in our parliaments and am a bit dissapointed to see a move like this go forward if it actually does so.

UPDATE: It seems the Telegraph was misinformed as no reforms were introduced today. Debate on estimates has continued all day today after routine proceedings.

UPDATE 2: Seems I was careless, though no legislation was introduced, Jamieson did table the government plans in response to the Legislative Democracy Commission.

UPDATE 3: It is 3:10 p.m. and I am about to head away for the weekend. The legislature is still working on the Education Department estimates. After that they have some more departments and after that they need to pass an Appropriations Bill. They have now done about 160 hours on Estimates. Last year the Tories called the Liberals "obstructionist" for wasting the time of the House spending too much time on estimates. How much time was spent? 70 hours.

UPDATE 4: Today is July 4, the House continues to sit. I believe it is unprecedented for the House to sit in July on routine business. It has sat for the election of a Speaker and to deal with an urgent issue before. The budget was introduced two weeks earlier this year than it had been under the Tories. The House has been sitting until 10 p.m. as opposed to 6 p.m. as it was under the Tories. Yet the budget debate drags on. Why? Charles LeBlanc advises that the House will adjourning Friday. If so, then the Tories will have dragged out debate 3 weeks longer than the Liberals did and those weeks each contained an extra 9 hours of debating time. Yet some how the Tories are a cooperative and collaborative opposition and the Liberals in opposition held things up so long that the government proposed a complete inversion of the rules to curtail debate. What a joke. (It should be noted that the rule changes the Liberals now propose were the most moderate fourth rule change suggestion the Tories brought forward, the Liberals have not resurrected the first three more draconian proposals.)

Sources say the federal cabinet will be shuffled today

All hands seem to believe that Gordon O'Connor will be shuffled out of Defence, which means he would almost certainly be headed to Veterans Affairs, so what does that mean for New Brunswick minister Greg Thompson?

Updates as available...

UPDATE: It seems I was misinformed :( No shuffle today folks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Head to Kings Landing this weekend!!

This sounds like a really cool idea. If you haven't filled up your holiday weekend plans, then I think this would definitely be worth checking out. Unfortunately, I will be in Nova Scotia but I hope someone goes and can give us a report.

Still on U.S. politics...

This is pretty funny, worth a read.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Chuck Hagel, vice-president of the United States?

I know this sounds quite unlikely, however a thought occurred to me last night. Mike Bloomberg, the ultra-rich mayor of New York is considering running for president as an independent. There has been talk that anti-war maverick Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska would be his running mate.

Let's assume that neither Hillary Clinton nor Rudy Guliani are the nominee's of their respective parties. I think it is fair to imagine that Mike Bloomberg could carry New York. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, won re-election in California last year by a margin of nearly 20 points - 56% to 39% - and he is a keen supporter of Bloomberg. Could his support and Bloomberg's demeanor win him the Golden State as well?

Assuming no other movement, that would leave the electoral college at Republican 286 - Democratic 166 - Bloomberg 86. I wouldn't imagine it would be too difficult for Bloomberg to pick up neighbouring New Jersey (15) and possibly Pennsylvania (21) and Connecticut (7) from the Democrats as well. For fair measure, let's throw in Massachustes (12) where Bloomberg grew up and where, if Romney was the Republican candidate, the Democrats would probably not win with the 60+% they are used to, a large Democratic majority splitting to ways to Bloomberg and, to a lesser extent, Romney, it is not inconceivable to see Bloomberg win in a three way race with less than 40%.

That makes the college R286-B-141-D111. That's right, the Democrats in third place. Now, if Bloomberg were able to take 17 electoral votes from the Republicans - winning one of say Florida (27) or Ohio (20) or some combination of Virginia (13), Indiana (11), Arizona (10) or Nevada (5) - no one would have a majority of the electoral college vote. The result is not a Republican win, despite their huge plurality, it is an election in early January by the House of Representatives, choosing from the top three candidates. Presumably whichever party controlled a majority of states (each state gets one vote) would just choose their candidate regardless, especially if there had been a close popular vote. However, the Senate must choose between the top two vice presidential candidates, if the Democrats continue to control the Senate - as seems likely - would they not choose Hagel over the likely more conservative Republican nominee for vice president?

Could be a very interesting scenario where the ticket would be split by congress. Especially if the House choose a Democrat wherein the result would be the presidential candidate from the third place ticket would become president and the vice presidential candidate from the second place ticket would become vice president and no one from the first place ticket would win any office at all. Gotta love the possibilities in American politics!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Whither Gerard Kennedy?

I made no secret on this blog that I was a keen supporter of Gerard Kennedy during the recent Liberal leadership campaign.

Since that time, I have been disappointed that he chose to run in Parkdale-High Park which was my third choice in terms of ridings he should have chosen. He took the relatively easy choice of chosing the riding he represented provincially and already has a base, organization and proven electoral record. I think this decision will badly damage, if not totally sink, any future ambitions he has to run for leader.

In any event, he seems to be getting really screwed now. There were three candidates for leader who did not have seats in the House of Commons. Kennedy, Bob Rae and Martha Hall Findlay. Kennedy had the balls to stand up and run in a riding held by an opposition party (Parkdale-High Park is held by NDP MP Peggy Nash) and in a riding to which he has a personal connection.

Rae, on the other hand, who lives in Parkdale-High Park, chose to run in the ultra-safe, Liberal held seat of Toronto Centre. He lives in Parkdale-High Park and previously represented what is now Toronto-Danforth (Jack Layton's riding) in the House of Commons and what is now York South-Weston in the Ontario parliament.

Hall Findlay, who I am not sure where she lives and my apologies if she lives in Willowdale, is running in Willowdale another safe seat held since 1988 by Jim Peterson.

To add insult to injury, yesterday Bill Graham, the incumbent from Toronto Centre announced he was resigning and today, I am told Jim Peterson will be resigning too. Thus, assuming an election in 2008, Rae and Hall Findlay will be getting free, advanced passes to the House of Commons. Kennedy gets to sit on the sidelines as his reward for not parachuting into an ultra safe riding and for having the nerve to take on an opposition MP. Funny how life works sometimes eh?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A sad challenge for Democrats

I know I have not been posting very much lately and, when I do, it is often about U.S. politics. I apologize for that, but it is largely because my main fascination when it comes to politics is electoral machinations and a U.S. presidential election is the biggest series of political machines coming together in the world. Particularly when this is the first election since 1928 where neither the president nor the vice-president is a candidate and therefore both major parties have wide open nominations. I hope you won't mind. If you think I am missing something here at home that I should be writing about, as always, I encourage my readers to drop me a line at and give me a story suggestion.

So anyway, on to the subject at hand. As a Liberal and a slightly-to-the-left moderate, I doubt many would find it a surprise that my U.S. sympathies lie largely with the Democrats - though I have a lot of time for "big picture" Republicans like John McCain and Fred Thompson.

In any event, I thought it noteworthy that the state of the Democratic Party in the Southern United States has become so sad that I saw this on the Drudge Report yesterday and today:

The headline in question: "John Edwards: 'I will win more than one Southern state'". The fact that a southerner, who was until a couple of years ago the Senator for a southern state, stating that he would win more than one state in the south is noteworthy is a really sad state of affairs for the Democrats. I know it is a long time since the Solid South but the Democrats really need to start thinking long and hard about how good it is for their country for an entire region to be written off any time they look to win an election.

The Republicans proved with their Southern strategy, one did need to be explicitly anti-civil rights to carry the south. As Nixon's strategist noted, they only needed 10-20% of the Black vote to carry states because of their domination of the White vote. Today, the reverse is true. Democrats only need about 20% of the rural White vote in the South in order to win due to their domination of the Black vote and competitiveness in the urban White vote.

The Democrats need a Southern strategy or perhaps more generally a rural strategy and they need one fast. Despite the unpopularity of Bush and the Iraq War, without breaking into the South, the Democrats will have a hard time winning in 2008.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Quite a zinger from the president of Fox News with respect to the likes of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards who have derailed several debates organized by Democratic Party arms to be aired by the network:

“The candidates that can’t face Fox, can’t face Al Qaeda,” said Mr. Ailes. “And that’s what’s coming.”

Monday, June 04, 2007


As I said back in January and again in March, if I were a U.S. citizen I would be voting for Joe Biden in my Democratic primary or caucus. Though I didn't see last night's Democratic debate, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he got rave reviews. Let's hope Senator Biden can redefine joementum!