Friday, December 26, 2008

Who is Sinter Klaas?

Who is Sinter Klaas?

Simple - Sinter Klaas [sinterklaas] is the old Dutch name from which we get Santa Claus. You might say, the original Santa Claus. And it derived from their name for Saint Nicolas - the saint revered for marking the nativity by giving gifts around the time celebrated by the church as Christmas - or the birth of Jesus Christ.

UPDATE - Jan.9, 2009

Reuters - AP - CP: Santa is on vacation til next December... in the meantime, be nice!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Looks at Canadian Crisis

Jon Stewart - A Hilarious Take on Prime Minister Harper and Canadian Minority Politics - VIDEO CLIP

Jon Stewart did a great bit on the Canadian parliamentary non-confidence vote and subsequent closure calling it the greatest crsis since our re-invention of bacon!

The lampoon was superb, and Jon Stewart did seem truly envious that we could "make" a Prime Minister leave office (through the non-confidence vote process) because, as he said, "we've haven't had much confidence in our guy for quite some time now, and he's taking FOREVER to leave". The short video didn't mention anything about closing parliament though - from the American perspective, the prospect of a President just cancelling congress or the senate would probably just be too un-democratic to consider. Canadian, eh!!

Watch the clip - click here.

In other recent Canadian political news, the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Jean Charest (formerly a federal Conservative golden boy until his move to the Quebec Liberal leadership - won an unprecedented 3rd provincial election victory. No other Quebec premier has won three consecutive terms. It also puts to rest to a certain extent, the rest of Canada's concerns about rising sovereigntist and separatist sentiments in the "Quebecois Nation". Charest is a strong federalist and has always refused to entertain the notion of another referendum on Quebec independence.

The margin of victory was narrow though, as the Parti Quebecois saw a resurgence of support - enough to pare the Liberal majority to three seats in the Quebec National assembly. It is without a doubt, due to recent "separatist" bashing by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his televised address to Canadians last week, where he vowed never to strike a deal with the federal Bloc Quebecois, referring to them repeatedly as separatists bent on the break-up of Canada. PQ leader Pauline Marois herself has said, if Harper's blistering attacks helped anyone, they helped the PQ. Harper, a right-wing westerner, and former leader/member of the western Canada Reform Party, the precursor tio his minority Conservatives, (which itself had much to say about leaving the Canadian confederation), just does not have a handle on Quebec and that provinces legitimate aspirations. All that despite his own move to officially recognize a Quebecois nation. It is why Harper and the Conservatives have never won a majority in Canada.

Further news regarding the Coalition opposition to oust the minority Conseravtives took an interesting turn, with the appointment of Michael Ignatieff as interim party Leader for the Liberals. As Harper's bold move of locking the doors of parliament to avert being defeated by the opposition in a non-confidence vote has taken some steam out of the Liberal -NDP - Bloc Coalition - Ignatieff's appointment (he still has to win the vote at the Liberal convention) is most likely a negative move for the Coalition. Most Canadian's don't trust Ignatieff's motives for seeking Candian political power, and it's unlikely he could ever win a majority. Further, Ignatieff is distrustful of any cooperative agreements with the NDP.

Stay tuned to the Canada News Commentary blog here for developments.

Blog author - Andy C - is off for one week taking part as a team leader of a volunteer trip to Galveston County, Texas for Hurricane Ike recovery and re-building efforts, the second trip this fall.

Monday, December 8, 2008

NDP leader, Jack Layton's Response to Harper's closing of parliament

Here is the YouTube video of NDP Leader, Jack Layton's response to the unprecedented action of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in suspending or "proroguing" the Canadian parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote from the Liberal - NDP - Bloc coalition. Harper requested the Governor General suspend parliament and she agreed (the Governor General acts on advice from the Prime Minister, although she had the right to refuse and entertain requests from the opposition to form a majority coalition).

As Jack said, "Prime Minister Harper cares more about his job than the jobs of ordinary Canadians...". Harper will likely still face a non-confidence vote when parliament resumes in January, and by that time the Liberals may have a new party leader to replace the outgoing Stephane Dion.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaelle Jean Suspend Parliament

Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets the Gov. Gen. at 9:30am - G.G. Announces Parliament to be suspended for sixty days two hours later -

Check the video from Youtube Canada of Harper's address AND Liberal Opposition Leader Dion's heartfelt response - just so many words now that parliament has been suspended. The legal stall tactic used by the Prime Minister is called proroguing parliament - legally the government has to meet only once to meet the electoral requirements of the mandate. So he has advised the Governor General (he can't unilaterally suspend parliament, The G.G. is the Head of State for the government - however the G.G. acts only on the "advice" of the Prime Minister) to avoid the turmoil of a non-confidence vote and the possibility of the NDP - Bloc -Liberal Coalition forming a majority. All business will be suspended - even Finance Minister Flaherty's economic update mini-budget will not be passed. Everything must now wait until the end of January when parliament resumes and the PM has promised to introduce a complete budget. Too little too late?

Just this morning, former Governor General Ed Schreyer, who was in office when P.M. Joe Clark lost a non-confidence vote, publically urged G.G. Michaelle Jean, not to bow to Prime Minister Harper's advice to prorogue the house. He said that no government should "duck a confidence vote". Well Ed, Harper's minority Conservatives just did!

View Prime Minister's address to the nation yourself right here. His strongest criticism was against the Bloc who he referred to repeatedly as Separatists, vowing he would never make a deal with such separatist factions. The political fallout of these statements regarding the Bloc Quebecois remain to be seen. Check back to the Canada News Commentary blog here for updates from NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prime Minister Harper's Address to the Nation on TV

UPDATED 12:00 Noon, Dec 4 - Parliament suspended. Gov. Gen Michaelle Jean has approved Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s request to suspend Parliament, agreeing to put the government on hold until the end of January, the legal stall tactic used by the Prime Minister is called “proroguing parliament”.

UPDATED 9:16PM - Click the title above to link to the video feed of Prime Minister Harper's address from or HERE

or just watch the YouTube video right now.

For the full text of the speech including Dion's response click here
Harper focused his attack on the coalition by referring to "backroom deals" struck with separatists, an obvious reference to the Bloc and leader Gilles Duceppe. He did not mention that he will meet with the Governor General tomorrow at 9:30 am, nor did he say he would seek to suspend parliament. He spoke only of ongoing meetings and deliberations in advance of a full budget he wants to release in January, 2009 [Can we afford to wait?]

In a little less than two hours, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will address Canadians on a television broadcast to be carried by the major TV networks.

It is the minority Conservative Party leader's latest attempt to stave off the impending non-confidence vote and the proposed Liberal - NDP - Bloc Coalition Accord to defeat the minority government and assume majority control of Canada's parliament. It is expected that Mr. Harper may announce that parliament will be "prorogued" or temporarily suspended until January, a date he has mentioned as when the Conservative Finance Minister would be ready to submit a more complete budget to the Canadian people.

As one who is calling the Coalition an undemocratic bid to take control of the government, Prime Minister Harper should take a page from his own book. What could be more detrimental to the democratic process of government in Canada than suspending the house? While parliamentary rules allow parliament to be prorogued after a minimum of one sitting, this would be a most blatant attempt at minority control of the will of the people of Canada.

Prime Minister Harper and his minority Conservative Party have never won a majority in Canada, having garnered only 37 percent of the popular vote. The Coalition represents 62 percent of Canadians and holds 163 seats in parliament versus 143 seats for the Conservatives. Stay tuned to the Canayjun's Canada News Blog here for real time feeds of Harpers address.

The following links and previous post here on the blog will give you a good background.

Canada's PM to address nation in crisis

Text of the Coalition Accord

I'm part of the 62 percent majority

Coalition for Change - the 62 Percent Majority Petition


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Coalition: An Accord on a Cooperative Government

Conservatives on the defensive - Right-wing extremist loonies crawl out of the woodwork -

Ok, it had to happen. The National post published the accord signed by the Liberals and NDP and the cooperative agreements signed by the coalition with Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc and the crazy rants of the right wing minority electorate start to light up the comments on news feeds accross the country. Check the Link from the title bar above for the text of the Accord.

So for that cooperative, benign and democratic document, the coalition is called " Bolsheviks, commies, thugs, and worse.

Here's my response to the rants from the National Post website:

by outreach417
Dec 02 2008
11:50 AM

You can see why the Conservatives must be replaced - by reading the bigoted and uninformed rants of their supporters. Even though they have no mandate, they cling to power through mudslinging, distortion of facts and hyperbole - Here's the facts (the truth of the matter):

1. Harper's Conservatives have never won a majority in Canada, even as leader of Reform, Harper never enjoyed a majority vote.

2. In the most recent election, only 37% of the people voted Conservative - more than 62% voted against them. That is not a mandate Mr. Harper.

3. P.M. Harper called the last election contrary to his own Fixed Election Date bill- in his own words, his parliament of minority government was "dysfunctional". He went to the polls to seek a mandate - a mandate can only be earned by winning a majority. He failed.

4. Contrary to the rants, non-confidence motions and coalitions are an integral part of Canada's democratic process. Joe Clark's Progressive Conservative minority govt fell to non-confidence. (Joe and other leading PC's by the way did not join the Reform-Alliance-Conserative merger that spawned our minority P.M. Harper). Ontario's minority conservatives were defeated by a majority Liberal-NDP Coalition. Canada's political history has many ruling democratic coalitions.

5. If Harper had a democratic majority of seats in Parliament, he wouldn't be in this mess. Harper's election = FAIL

6. The proposed coalition has the support of the majority of Canadians. Liberal-NDP-Bloc = 62% -power to the people.

7. The Bloc is Quebec's democratically chosen federal party, and my Canada includes Quebec. The coalition has included the Bloc, Harper never took any effective inclusive measures with the Bloc Quebecois.

8. If the non-confidence vote goes forward (Harper could prorogue or dissolve parliament first if he chooses to exercise Draconian rules), Harper must ask the GG to call an election - the GG is not bound to do so, if an alternative exists: that is, a coalition commanding the confidence of parliament and a majority of seats. That's a mandate.

9. I don't want to turn the poor minority Consevative's demise into a 12 step program, so I'll end here. But new election or coalition - Harper will likely never win a right wing majority in Canada. We've seen and lived through Bush's right wing policies - look what it's done to the world. Canada can survive this crisis - yes we can!

Monday, December 1, 2008

NDP - Bloc - Liberal Coalition will Give Power to the People

Minority Harper Conservatives cling to power by delaying non-confidence votes -

You read it here first: The Harper Conservatives have never won a majority government in Canada. Since their latest minority election win a few weeks ago, the Canayjun has called for a return to majority government in Canada through the tried and true democratic process of a majority coalition of the opposition parties. To quote the Green Party of Canada, who support an NDP - Bloc - Liberal coalition, "
No party should be allowed to rule this country with a 37% minority" [ the Conservatives have only thirty-seven percent of Canadian's votes ].

The mechanics of the Canadian parliamentary system with respect to minority governments and defeating them through non-confidence votes have already been outlined here on Canada News Commentary, and are part of the public record as outlined on the Governor General of Canada's website. There are always two alternatives to a minority governments' defeat following a vote of non-confidence - first, the Prime Minister could request the Governor General call a new election. The Governor General has the right to refuse this, as well they should in the current circumstances, given the most recent election was only six weeks ago, and was called by the same minority leader Harper in defiance of his own Fixed Election Dates act. The second, and equally democratic solution is for the Governor General to entertain submissions from opposition leaders proposing a coalition of elected representatives who enjoy a majority of seats in the House, to form a new government which would have the 'confidence' of the Canadian electorate.

The current debacle for the minority Conservatives was triggered by Finance Minister Flaherty's "Economic Update" bill, a thinly veiled budget equally thin on real measures to address Canada's economy and a strong response to the current world economic woes and financial market meltdowns. All opposition parties have voiced strong opposition to the bill, united in their criticism that the update does not contain definitive actions to combat recession as evidenced by other G7 partner nations recent initiatives. It also included a divisive measure to remove taxpayer subsidies, worth $1.95 per vote, to political parties following election. This measure was included at the express instructions of PM Harper, not the Finance Minister, and has been lambasted as a blatant example of partisan political gesturing.

The minority Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been reported as calling coalition plans an attempt to, "take power, not earn it". The PM would do well to remember that he and his party have never enjoyed a democratically earned majority in this country. Harper himself has repeatedly stated that the Conservatives have a "clear mandate" from the electorate - which is pure double-speak ( a la 1984) - a mandate requires a majority, something the Conservatives will likely never win in Canada. Remember the new Conservative Party is not the historical Progressive Conservatives of Canadian politics, it is an aggressive right-wing merger of the Canadian Alliance - Reform Party of Canada, a reactionary opposition also ran who attempted to "unite the right" in partisan politics. It polarized the real Progressive Conservatives, and former leader Joe Clark and other mainline left of centre Red Tories with more liberal views never supported them. Conservative minority governments in Canada under Harper have mirrored the extreme right wing policies of the American Bush administration, which has also fallen in the wake of a more sensible and liberal Democratic victory by U. S. President Elect Barack Obama.

NDP Leader Jack Layton sparked the current coalition formation by requesting that the elder stateman, Ed Broadent have discussions with former Liberal PM Jean Chretien. Including the Bloc Quebecois seats in Parliament, the NDP - Bloc - Liberal coalition would enjoy the electoral support of more than 62% of Canadians. Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe has announced he would support an NDP - Liberal coalition without taking a formal role in it. It is hoped that the Bloc position could be formalized to guarantee a degree of stability in government for the near future and return to Canadian national politics the strong positive role Quebec has traditionally played in the formation and exercise of Canada's domestic policies.

The message to Prime Minister Harper is clear: Canadians have had enough of your self-absorbed posturings. You, Mr. Harper, wear the P.M.'s mantle like the Emperor's New Clothes. The will of the people demand majority rule to guide us through difficult times. The NDP - Bloc - Liberal proposal is truly a "coalition for Canada".

Perhaps we should call it the Canayjun Coalition?

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