Cartoons are posted below but the most recent one is at least one week late.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday November 9, 2019
Doug Ford government tries for a reboot with its latest fiscal plan
Premier Doug Ford’s government is listening and Finance Minister Rod Phillips really wants you to know that.
“We listened to Ontarians,” said Phillips in a news conference after delivering the government’s budget update on Wednesday afternoon.
“We listened to what they thought was working well in the plan that we had, and we listened to the concerns that they had,” Phillips added.
“So you can expect this is a government that has listened and is going to continue to listen, and make sure that we make adjustments as we go along.”
The fiscal tally of all that listening is found in the pages of Phillips’s fall economic statement. The document accounts for the government’s recent backtracks, updating the budget from the $163.4 billion spending plan tabled in April by Vic Fedeli, whom Ford dumped as finance minister two months later.
The fall economic statement is part of the Ford government’s attempts to portray itself as new and improved, striking a new tone, turning over a new leaf. The budget update tries to do this by highlighting the spending cuts on which the government reversed course and recasting them as spending increases.
Technically, it’s true the PCs are increasing program spending by $1.3 billion from the April budget. In reality, this is simply putting some spending cuts that didn’t happen back on the government’s books.
Does a reversal of a spending cut equal a spending increase? NDP leader Andrea Horwath doesn’t think so.
The fiscal update reflects merely “a softening of their previous cuts, a backtracking on some of their cuts, a delaying of some of their cuts, but really the cuts are still coming,” Horwath said Wednesday on CBC’s Power and Politics.
The new finance minister hasn’t fundamentally changed the budget that the old finance minister put in place, and acknowledged as much in his news conference.
“This isn’t about grand gestures,” said Phillips. “It’s about incremental important changes that make life easier for people.”
The update shows — just as the April budget did — that nearly every ministry is undergoing spending cuts this year from 2018-19 levels. Nominal increases in spending on health and education are not increases in real-dollar terms when population growth and inflation are considered. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday November 8, 2019
Western Order Reels on Berlin Wall Anniversary
The stage is set at the Brandenburg Gate, the dignitaries are assembling — but 30 years on, is there much cause to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall?
The iconic moment of 1989 crowned a year of revolution that toppled communist regimes across the Soviet bloc, marking the end of the Cold War and the start of a hopeful new era.
The global divisions caused by the 1991 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq stopped that in its tracks. Optimism quickly turned to cynicism, economic boom to bust, and electorates began to look for new answers.
Today, the western liberal order that prevailed in 1989 is crumbling. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is resurgent, communist China is the world’s second-biggest economy, and the U.S. under Donald Trump openly scorns multilateralism, belittles NATO and calls the European Union a foe.
But even as the west looks spent, it’s too early to administer the last rites.
The global climate emergency upends politics as we know it and represents a chance for the west to lead, even if Greta Thunberg complains it’s not enough. Europe is a green energy powerhouse. Environmental concerns top the EU’s agenda. Germany’s Green party is vying for first place in opinion polls.
A Green chancellor of Europe’s dominant country: Few could have imagined that in 1989. (Financial Post)
In 1989, a suggestion was drawn in my comic strip Alas & Alack that Donald Trump would buy the Berlin Wall. Interesting prophesy on how history would eventually play out with a future U.S. President and his penchant for walls and keeping people divided.
Ages ago, 30yrs exactly, Donald Trump even got a mention when I drew this wordy piece after the #BerlinWall fell, for my student paper @The_Fulcrum at the University of Ottawa. #ThrowbackThursday #BerlinWall30 pic.twitter.com/McMDz8cPwh
— Graeme MacKay (@mackaycartoons) November 7, 2019
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday November 7, 2019
NDP lost a lot, but Jagmeet Singh risks losing more
Justin Trudeau will now have to find dance partners from the NDP and/or the Greens to govern. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh ran a strong campaign. His line during the English language debate that voters did not have to choose between “Mr. Delay” (Trudeau) or “Mr. Deny” (Scheer) was the campaign’s most memorable zinger.
But Liberal alarmism over the prospects of NDP votes leading to a Scheer government appears to have spooked enough would-be New Democrat voters to contain any orange waves.
Singh lost all but one of his 14 Quebec MPs, the result of ground ceded in the lacklustre first 18 months of his leadership.
The compensation, if it is one, is the influence he may wield over the Liberals.
But a glance at the history books should be enough to convince Singh to tread lightly when it comes to dealing with the Grits. One of his predecessors, David Lewis, propped up Pierre Trudeau’s government after the latter won a plurality of just two seats in 1972. By the time Lewis decided to bring down Trudeau’s government in 1974, he was in disrepute with voters, having received all of the blame and none of the credit for the preceding two years in power. In the ensuing election, the NDP lost half its parliamentary caucus.
The mercy is that no-one wants, or can afford, another election. MPs first elected in 2015 will look covetously towards pensions that will become vested after six years. Members from all sides of the House may be less enthusiastic to risk rich retirement plans.
The configuration of the new House of Commons suggests we may be about to encounter that most rare of beasts — a strong, stable, minority government. – John Ivison (National Post)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday November 6, 2019
Elizabeth May calls it quits. Could the Greens do better with someone else?
Over the last decade, Elizabeth May became one of the strongest and most widely known personalities in Canadian politics. Under her leadership, the Green Party of Canada achieved the best results in its 35-year history.
Also under May, the Greens peaked at less than seven per cent of the popular vote and three seats in a 338-member House of Commons.
This is where the challenge lies in assessing May’s leadership and legacy.
By any measure, she’s the most successful leader in her party’s history. But that success was limited. And it’s fair to ask whether she and her party should have accomplished much more, particularly in the recent general election.
To May’s credit, her share of the political oxygen around Parliament Hill consistently exceeded her party’s share of popular support.
She convinced Stéphane Dion to not run a Liberal candidate against her in 2008 — when she chose to pursue a long-shot campaign against Peter MacKay in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova — and then talked her way into the televised leaders debates despite the fact that her party had never won a seat.
After she was elected in 2011 — defeating a Conservative incumbent in Saanich-Gulf Islands in British Columbia — she became a prominent voice calling not only for action on climate change but also for better decorum in the House of Commons and more respect for the sovereign power of Parliament. She was a constant presence in the House and a regular guest at parliamentary committees, where she would turn up bearing amendments she wished to propose.
She took advantage of every opportunity afforded her as a member of Parliament, all while making her case that the institution, its members and political parties needed to change. The Greens, she vowed, would be different — if they could ever elect enough MPs to form a proper caucus.
In 2008, her first election as leader, the Greens received 6.8 per cent of the vote, a two-point jump over the previous election result; the party still failed to elect an MP. Three years later, the Greens focused their efforts on getting May into the House. They succeeded, but the party’s national support slipped to 3.9 per cent. In 2015, its share of the popular vote fell again, to 3.5 per cent.
The Greens elected their second MP in May when Paul Manly won a by-election in British Columbia. He and May were then joined in October by Jenica Atwin, who pulled off a surprise victory in Fredericton.
Three MPs is three more than the Greens had before Elizabeth May became leader. But three MPs is also a smaller number of victories than the Greens seemed capable of winning at the outset of this fall’s campaign.
In early September, the Greens were polling at 11 per cent and seemed to have a shot at overtaking the New Democrats for third place. The NDP was weaker than it had been in 15 years, and the issue of climate change — the Green Party’s raison d’être — was more salient than it had ever been. It was possible to imagine the Greens winning a dozen or more seats.
In announcing her departure on Monday, May boasted that the Greens received more than a million votes in this year’s election. But the party’s share of the popular vote — 6.5 per cent — was still below the 2008 mark.
She also celebrated the fact that the party had “doubled” its vote in Quebec — which sounds more impressive if you don’t know that means the party went from 2.3 per cent in Quebec in 2015 to 4.5 per cent this fall. (CBC News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday November 5, 2019
Wexit group applies to become federal political party
A separatist group calling for Alberta to leave Canada has begun the process to become a federal political party.
Wexit Alberta’s application arrived on Monday at Elections Canada, which has begun the verification process, according to a spokesperson for the federal agency.
The group, led by Albertan Peter Downing, aims to do “for Western Canada what the Bloc Québécois did for Quebec,” Downing said.
Downing ran federally with the Christian Heritage Party in 2015. He said he’s since been involved with federal Conservative Party boards, and as a campaign manager with the former provincial Wildrose Party.
Before that, he was an RCMP officer and during that time was suspended for uttering threats against his ex-wife — according to both National Post and a now-deleted article in the St. Albert Gazette. Downing has denied the allegations and says he left the force with a clean record.
Wexit Alberta has been accused of allowing conspiracy theories or other harmful rhetoric to circulate online.
Wexit (“Western exit”) supporters are scheduled to hold rallies across Alberta this month, and the sentiment has gained support in the wake of the federal election, which saw the governing Liberals shut out of Alberta and most of the west.
Announcing the party’s application, Downing wrote on Facebook that Premier Jason Kenney “needs to become the VERY FIRST PRESIDENT OF ALBERTA.”
Kenney has called separation “irrational,” but is also planning a referendum on equalization and is appointing a panel to discuss the province’s place in the federation.
Many politicians are being careful to hedge their words on the topic, says political scientist Jared Wesley.
“This is a different kind of movement. We’ve seen it generate success south of the border and in Europe. I think political elites ignore it at their peril but they have to be very careful when they provide legitimacy to what, right now, is a pretty fringe movement,” he said.
Seceding could also be difficult, experts say. Any provinces looking to leave Confederation would have to address First Nations treaties and other complications like trade, national defence and amending the country’s constitution. (CBC)