Political Analyst and Observer, Bill Longworth's, Weekly "Eye on City Hall" Columns, as published in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada's Oshawa Central Newspaper

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oshawa Voters Have a Clear Choice in the May 2nd Federal Election

“Eye on City Hall”

A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and Unfiltered Opinion
Reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper

Bill Longworth, City Hall Columnist
April 25, 2011

By the time you read this, the Federal Election will be one week away and hopefully you are planning to vote. After all, it is a responsibility of every citizen to exercise this right that is still being fought for in many parts of the world.

It’s unfortunate that many citizens take the right for granted and fail to take advantage of their opportunity to have their “say” in the important task of choosing a government for our nation.

I took the opportunity to vote in last Friday’s advance poll and was impressed with the numbers of people exercising their franchise on that day. Obviously there is a lot of voter interest in this election and we hope the voting turnout is high across the country.

This election gives voters a real choice between two distinct philosophies and two main directions ahead for this country. There’s the Conservative’s Jets, Jails, and Corporate Tax Cut Agenda vs. the Liberal and New Democratic Party Agendas that focus more on social programs like health care, pensions, and educational opportunity.

There are the campaigns that focus on hopes and aspirations of ordinary Canadians vs. those that focus on scare mongering, attack ads, and benefits for Corporate Canada.

Harper’s main message, for example, are the dire straights Canada would find itself in if he was not given a majority. Many citizens, of course, feel the reverse is true. That Canada would be changed significantly if Harper had a majority and unfettered ability to implement his extreme right wing agenda that he has developed over a number of years as policy wonk for the Reform and Alliance Parties.

But then, right wing politics, like religion, is worshipped unquestionably by the fanatics and true believers....and reports are now surfacing that Harper’s political philosophy is hugely influenced by the fundamentalist Alliance Church he attends. This despite the fact that the vast majority of Canadians, unlike the United States, believe in the separation of Church and State.

By way of illustration, Harper’s church opposes abortion and women’s right to choose, supports a law and order agenda and capital punishment, is anti-gay opposing same sex marriage, opposes stem-cell research (anyone here remember “born again Christian" George W. Bush on this?)...all faith based values that Harper would want to impose on the Canadian public given a majority, a dangerous practice in Canada’s pluralistic society.

This, of course, is part of the American way where the strongest right wing Republican supporters and opinion leaders are the Bible belt fundamentalist church groups...the politically motivated Gerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons of TV evangelism fame, that hold sway in influencing the American political agenda...and Harper has often been criticized as a PM that wants to Americanize our country...and giving him a majority government would be a good start to pushing our country to the intolerant right.

Last Wednesday, political forums were held at the John Street Branch of the Senior Citizens Centre and another held at the CAW hall sponsored jointly by CKAR radio and the CAW...and the contrast among the candidates was as broad as the philosophies that divide them.

Conservative Colin Carrie did not have the intellectual, debating or presentation skills or knowledge of the other two main candidates and thus came off as a much weaker candidate despite the seven years he’s been our MP. Many of his answers were simply read out of the Tory Platform Book, and he made some preposterous statements such as his criticism of the Liberals for their negative TV ads. While I don’t recall seeing any such Liberal Ads, I suppose he was wanting to go on the offensive to deflect criticism away from the Conservative character assassination ads that have flooded the airwaves for the last year criticizing Ignatieff with lines like “He didn’t come back for you.”

Liberal Candidate James Morton is a polished, cerebral, and slick Toronto Litigation Lawyer who is past president of the Ontario Bar Association, Osgoode Hall Law Professor, Media Commentator, and author of 17 legal texts. His practice focuses on commercial, criminal, and constitutional litigation at all levels including the Supreme Court.

James Morton is a most impressive candidate and would be sure-fire cabinet material on any Liberal majority or minority government if elected.

Unfortunately, as a parachute candidate, he is unknown in this parochial city that prefers well-known Oshawa names and it is doubtful whether even this “star” candidate can make up sufficient ground in the short election period. Beyond that, the Liberal Riding Association has not had a good campaign organization for some number of years.

Oshawa’s NDP Candidate, Chris Buckley, is impressive in another way. Born and raised in Oshawa, he is president of CAW local 222 and lead Canadian negotiator for GM workers. In June 2008, Mr. Buckley received international attention for leading the historic fight against the closure of the GM Oshawa Truck Plant. He has been a long time fighter for pension and EI reform, and worker’s rights. He has put his money where his mouth is for years in terms of fighting for reforms for workers and for ordinary Canadians.

More importantly, during the candidate’s debates, Buckley very impressively demonstrated his quick repartee and his straight-talking “shoot from the hip,” “down to earth” style, the kind of guy that really knows how to make sense to ordinary people and says what they want to hear. Both Buckley and Morton, if either got elected, would be sure to find themselves in a cabinet seat in a minority parliament coalition government.

Both Morton and Buckley, if elected, have the skills, ideas, intellect, communication abilities, and talent, and a big view of important national issues to influence policy nation-wide on the governing of this nation while Carrie, if re-elected, would continue to be one of the uninfluential back row trained monkeys that raise their arm to vote when they were told to do so.

In his presentation, Carrie bragged about providing federal funding for many city projects, like Federal Grants for lighting for the Senior's Center pool rooms, highlighting his belief in the role of an MP as delivering mickey mouse “pork barrel” peanut-sized morsels of our tax money back to us in vote-buying Federal Grants. He's unlike his fellow Conservative, Tony Clement, who was able to direct $50M away from Parliament Approved Border Infrastructure Programs to his own Muskoka Riding just in time for the 2 day G8 summit there.

Both Liberal Morton and NDP Buckley mentioned the need for pension reform citing the need for guaranteed worker pensions. The simple method, both agreed, was to amend the Bankruptcy and Creditor Act to move pensioners to the head of the creditor line in the event of bankruptcy. They also mentioned prohibitions against corporations raiding surplus pension funds. Never again should there be workers, like those at Nortel, for example, that lost their pensions and their security after lifetime employment because all of the capital was siphoned off by creditors leaving pensioned employees high and dry.

In terms of pensions, Harper’s and Flaherty’s plan has already been floated as a trial balloon---they want to privatize the CPP to provide extra commissions to their banking and insurance industry friends and remove the idea of guaranteed pension benefits.

Both Morton and Buckley criticized the Conservative's corporate tax cuts stating that Stats Canada demonstrates that jobs are not created by corporate tax cuts but that the proceeds from the cuts goes to shareholders and increasing corporate cash reserves.

Clearly Carrie was outclassed in every way by his opponents. He often read answers to questions directly from his party briefing books, rambled on in ways unrelated to the question if he didn’t know what to say to it, and had some very nonsensical answers. In a question to how he would promote good job growth in Oshawa, Colin Carrie stated the same asinine answer that John Henry had spouted at the CAW hall during the Mayoral Debates. Carrie said Oshawa has a deep water port, the main rail line across the country, we’re on the superhighway linking Oshawa to markets, and we have an airport....how stupid an answer since we’ve had these attributes for the last 50 years and still have a net outflow of good manufacturing jobs.

It’s logical that Carrie had the same answers as John Henry to that question though as they both had the same speechwriter as their campaigns were intricately connected, Carrie even donating the maximum $750 to Henry’s Campaign, moneys that probably came from Carrie’s MP Expense budget funded from your tax dollars. Carrie donated over $2000 to 7 or 8 municipal candidates, likely from the same taxpayer funded expense account with involvement in a municipal campaign unheard of from Federal Politicians.

Carrie tried to tell the audience that the election was about the government record, financial responsibility, lower taxes (for corporations, he forgot to say but not for individuals), more jobs, the Conservative budget and an election Canadians don’t want while Buckley countered that the election was about contempt of parliament, health care, pension and EI reform, and worker rights, and cutting government waste as he referred to the $1.2B weekend photo op G8/G20 summits that trampelled the Constitutionally Guranteed Civil Rights of Canadians.

Buckley stated that any tax breaks should go to the workers generating profits in the economy and not the fat cats wanting to line their pockets on the backs of the workers.

Recent polls put Morton at 17.4% support, third behind Carrie at 44.8% and the NDP’s Buckley at 31.6% with the Greens trailing at 5.7%. While these polls are changing daily with the most recent poll showing Layton’s NDP overtaking the Liberals into 2nd place, one should remain vigilant about these polls (See most current poll) because they could have a roll in your voting choice.

Canadians can vote on principle like voting for the Greens in this city or they can vote strategically to insure the election (or defeat) of a specific party.

If they support Conservatives guns, jails, and corporate tax cuts agenda and a prime minister who shows contempt for parliament they should support Colin Carrie. If, however, the find Harper’s leadership to be dangerous for this country, they should vote strategically for a larger objective, and that is to cast a vote against Harper.

In Oshawa, that means throwing their support behind the candidate most likely to defeat Colin Carrie. The candidate in the best position to defeat Carrie is the NDP’s Chris Buckley. Buckley should get the vote of strategic voters who are afraid of a Harper majority.

While the Liberals Morton would be an outstanding parliamentarian for the city and for the country, polls show him to be so far behind Buckley that he has little chance to win and thus voting for the Liberals in this riding is like voting for the Greens....throwing away your vote towards the greater objective...the defeat of Stephen Harper and his jets, jails, and corporate tax cuts right wing law and order agenda.

In any case, please make your choice...and vote! Canada needs your voice!

Be sure to follow Bill’s radio broadcasts, “Eye on City Hall”,
every Monday, 6-9 pm EST, on http://www.ocentral.com/thewave/

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