By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 20, 2015
Liberals to Form Majority Government
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 20, 2015
Monday, October 19, 2015
They’re calling it a close election. I’ve drawn 3 possible scenarios of what I think will unfold tonight. Beginning with what I think is the most likely outcome:
Too close to call favouring a Conservative minority:
By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 29, 2015
Justin Trudeau has just broken this election campaign wide open. His Liberals have chucked the balanced-budget pledge, at least in the short term, to promise economic growth instead. And now Mr. Trudeau gets to offer a different economic policy.
It makes the Liberals the interventionist party, the only party willing to tell voters they’d spend substantially more in the short term in a bid to get a slow economy rolling.
It’s in part an effort to outflank NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who won’t make those kinds of promises. Many Canadians want a more interventionist approach: A Nanos Research poll released Wednesday found 54 per cent say they support a new round of deficit spending to boost the economy.
But it is a big gamble with a charged political symbol, the deficit. Mr. Trudeau is walking right into Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s accusation that he’d increase the national debt. Still, the economy is the issue, and the Liberal Leader has altered the election equation.
Until now, all parties had accepted they were constrained by more or less the same shackles: balanced budgets, and roughly the same tax rates, give or take a small shift of the burden toward one group or another.
That meant big money wasn’t available. Parties could shift a few billion dollars around, and then claim their child benefits or child care or tax breaks were the best plan. But one major option – using the federal treasury in a bid to boost economic growth – was more or less off the table. It takes billions and billions to have any real hope of nudging growth in an economy the size of Canada’s.
Now, Mr. Trudeau has thrown off the restraints and said he’ll run deficits of up to $10-billion a year for three years in order to allow for a multibillion-dollar increase in spending on infrastructure, raising it from $5.1-billion to $10.2-billion next year. He’s gone where no other leader will go. (Source: Globe & Mail)
By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday August 25, 2015
In 2006, Stephen Harper rode into Ottawa with a mandate to clean up the ethical wreckage of the Liberal sponsorship scandal. The Conservative Party leader moved quickly as the prime minister of a minority government. He banned corporate and union donations, and lowered the individual donation limit to $1,000. He toughened federal lobbying rules, created the Parliamentary Budget Office and gave additional powers to the Ethics Commissioner.
His goal, he said over and over, was to return accountability to Ottawa. And he did that, to a degree. His reforms have helped bring the federal government up to date on important issues of political financing and budget oversight.
Not surprisingly, though, Mr. Harper failed to target the real source of Ottawa’s accountability crisis. As the trial of Mike Duffy has reminded us, the greatest threat to responsible government in Canada is none other than the Prime Minister’s Office.
Over the past 40 years, the PMO has morphed into a parasite on the body of Parliament that prospers by sucking the democracy out of its host. The court-documented efforts by Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Mr. Harper, to control the Senate from inside the PMO are outrageous only because they have been exposed by Mr. Duffy’s lawyer. The real scandal lies below the surface, where the PMO uses its toxic tentacles to neutralize every part of government that might compete with it for power, so that today we are ruled by an imperial prime minister, unaccountable to anyone or anything.
Do not blame Mr. Harper alone for this. The expansion of the PMO began under Pierre Trudeau, and every prime minister since then has been responsible for increasing its malignant grip on Parliament. Brian Mulroney was the first to name a “chief of staff” and elevate that person above the principal secretary who was, up till then, the highest unelected authority in the PMO. Jean Chrétien relied on the protective coating of the PMO to shield himself from direct responsibility for the sponsorship scandal, just as Mr. Harper is now doing in the Duffy affair. (Continued: Globe & Mail)
By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 8, 2015
At about the midpoint of last night’s debate, during an otherwise necessary chat about the state of democratic institutions, things veered into a constitutional abstraction of the sort that has obsessed this country’s political class for a half century. It lasted about five minutes and was prompted by Justin Trudeau, who looks younger than his 43 years but, at that moment at least, could have passed for pater Pierre Elliott circa 1968, shaking his fists at the evil Quebec separatists in our midst.
“One of the things that really frustrates a lot of people is when they see politicians pander, when they say one thing in one part of the country and a different thing in another part of the country. One of the things that unfortunately Mr. Mulcair has been doing quite regularly is talking in French about his desire to repeal the Clarity Act, to make it easier for those who want to break up this country to actually do so. And in doing so, he is actually disagreeing with the Supreme Court judgment that said one vote is not enough to break up the country.”
The Clarity Act was wrought by Jean Chrétien’s government in 2000 to try and address the question born in 1995’s Quebec referendum, which the No side won by all of 54,288 votes: would it have been enough to separate the country had the Yes side won by as many (or fewer) votes? The Supreme Court’s answer was no: a province would need a “clear majority.” Except no one defined what, exactly, constituted this clear majority. The resulting lack of clarity has obsessed Canada’s political class and legions of its journalists ever since.
Three things usually happen whenever this issue is brought up in a federal campaign. First, chest puffed, each leader will say what good Canadians they are. Then the others will say how irrelevant it is to talk about separatism, because Quebec’s sovereignty movement is stuck somewhere between cryogenic sleep and outright death. Finally, they do exactly that—talk about an apparently irrelevant issue. For over 50 years, it’s been our political quicksand: impossible to avoid, and even harder to escape. (Continued: MacLean’s)