Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Way Up North (to Canada)

In an effort to aid my fellow American's (US, that is) understand their neighbors to the North, and in fellowship with my daughter-in-law's family who still live there, eh, I'm on a mission to learn and present as much information about the Frozen Chosen as I can find. This may be painful for some, but I intend to persevere...... 

Simultaneous campaigns - completely different political cultures

L. IAN MACDONALD, Freelance Published: Monday, September 08

For the next five weeks, with the overlay of the Canadian and U.S. elections, voters will have a daily opportunity to compare the similarities, and note the differences, of the political cultures in the two countries.
To begin with the obvious, as we have just seen, party conventions are very different events in the two cultures.
In Canada, nominating conventions are competitive, while in the U.S. they are coronations........The best Canadian conventions of modern times were the Conservative leaderships of 1976 and 1983, four-ballot nail-biters that chose Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. 
By contrast, the last competitive U.S. conventions actually decided on the floor, were the selections of John F. Kennedy by the Democrats and Gerald Ford by the Republicans (over Ronald Reagan) in 1976. For the rest, with the exception of the odd floor skirmish over the platform, U.S. conventions have been scripted television pageants.
The economy is clearly the top issue in the U.S., and in Canada's it's heading that way. Where the economy was ranked only third behind the environment and health care a year ago, it is moving into first place. While Canada technically avoided a recession in the second quarter of this year, and added 15,000 jobs in August after a shocking loss of 55,000 in July, the rising economic uncertainty is one of the reasons for Stephen Harper to go to the polls while the going's still good. About half of Canadians still think the country is moving in the right direction.........
The U.S., the richest nation in the world, is still having a debate about universal health care in a country where nearly 50 million people have no coverage at all. In Canada the debate isn't about whether the public health care system is broken, but largely about how to fix it.........
On energy, both Obama and McCain have pledged to end America's dependence on foreign oil, by which they mean Mideast oil, not Canadian oil and gas, to which the U.S. has access it takes for granted. That's one reason for Obama to be very careful about suggesting re-opening the NAFTA, of which McCain is an unqualified supporter.
On the environment, everybody on both sides of the border wants to save the planet from global warming, but Dion is the only party leader in either country to propose a carbon tax to do it.  MORE....

Posted: September 08, 2008, 6:17 PM by Kelly McParland

  MONTREAL • The spokesman for St├ęphane Dion’s campaign was testy after reading gobs of negative press: “Why do you guys even bother covering this election?,” Mark Dunn snapped to any reporter within earshot. “You think it’s all over.”

Of course it’s not, silly, despite a Montreal newspaper poll pegging the Conservatives deep into majority territory with 183 of the 308 seats, which has all the markings of a rogue poll to me.

Even if the trend is correct, voters only snap to attention once a campaign starts and that leaves perceptions about the party and its leader open to another 34 days of spin and manipulation before any die is cast.

But there’s no denying Mr. Dion is meeting early expectations of leading a flaccid tour that shows signs of a wafer-thin organization on the ground, even in party strongholds.

The Liberals are the three-pillar MTV party -- concentrated in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and only a remnant of its once-mighty self everywhere else.

Yet even in Montreal ridings where by-elections were supposed to be held this week, places where you might expect the party machine revved and ready to back their party leader, event crowds were small and muted with nary a Dion sign to be seen.

The tone and modest substance of the first full day of the campaign were equally odd. After the Conservative war room accused the Liberals of plotting to raise the GST and end daycare subsidies if elected, Mr. Dion unleashed a tirade of denial in both official languages.  MORE....


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