Today, Cathy McLeod, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and MP for Kamloops – Thompson - Cariboo, announced Run to Quit, a program to help smokers quit by incorporating running into their daily lives. She was joined by John Stanton, President of the Running Room and Martin Kabat, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division).
Run to Quit is an innovative program in which participants learn to run 5 kilometres over 10 weeks while receiving support to quit smoking.
Apparently he thinks so. At an African Union summit in Addis Ababa earlier this week President Obama declared:
“I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” he said. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t. So there’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law.”
It's understood that those who seek the Presidency must have a certain degree of amour-propre. Yet it's hard to recall another President who so obviously regards himself as a major historical figure. It's even harder to think of another President who so little deserves that distinction. A record which contains such highlights as a stagnant economy, crippling deficits and the recent Iranian deal suggests a clock puncher who leans to the Left.
Yet the comment about winning a third term isn't quite as absurd as it sounds. The President's approval ratings currently sit at 46%, about five points short of his popular vote percentage in 2012. They have never dipped below 38% and rarely fallen into the low forties. This is the strange paradox of the Obama Administration: A mediocre President who, if the 22nd Amendment was repealed, might very well win a third term.
Comparing Obama to other Presidents at this point in their terms he ranks below Reagan, Eisenhower, Clinton and Johnson but ahead of Truman and George W Bush. The latter two had their ratings dragged down by war. Reagan, Clinton and Eisenhower were buoyed by a surging economy. For a presidency in what might be described as quasi-peacetime Obama's approval ratings are below par. Yet despite his failures and shortcomings the 44th President is not hated in the same way as Harry Truman and the younger Bush.
What distinguishes Obama from the genuinely unpopular presidents is the lack of a lighting rod issue. A flagging or failing war can destroy even the most skillful of political operatives, witness the decline and fall of Lyndon Johnson. In a little more than three years LBJ went from a landslide victory over Barry Goldwater to a comparatively narrow victory over Eugene McCarthy in New Hampshire. Both Truman and Bush saw less precipitous, though ultimately decisive drops.
Running through the demerits of the Obama legacy there is just enough mitigation for him to get a pass from much of the electorate. The runaway deficits are usually pegged on Congress. The unemployment rate has been so fiddled with as to be nearly meaningless. This allows President Obama to proclaim an improvement in the economy, though an improvement that few working or lower middle class Americans have benefited from. Even in what is regarded as a traditional purview of the presidency, the management of foreign affairs, there is enough voter apathy for the Iranian deal to go through on the shrug.
Barack Obama reminds me of nothing so much as that charming slacker at work. He does his job well enough, never seems to be completely blamed or credited with anything and yet glides from promotion to promotion. Certainly he has his detractors. The ambitious workaholics who know who really writes his reports, the underlings who struggle to clean up his messes and his enemies who know where the bodies are buried but have been bought off. Should any speak up they'll be met with his grinning face and a well studied style of self-deprecation. Who could hate a nice guy like that?
This is what we have in store for the next year and a half. The problems mount, the crises are ignored and President Obama drifts glibly into the future.
The Town of St. Andrews wharf will soon undergo important improvements and upgrades, thanks to support from both the federal and provincial governments.
John Williamson, Member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, on behalf of the Honourable Rob Moore, Regional Minister for New Brunswick and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) and John Ames, MLA, Charlotte-Campobello, joined Town of St. Andrews officials to make the announcement today.
The upgrades and improvements to the wharf include the installation of protection anodes over existing piers to help eliminate corrosion, the installation of floating decks, upgrades to the old section of the wharf’s deck, repairs to the wharf’s understructure and a new breakwater.
The Government of Canada, through ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund, is contributing $515,000 to the project, while the Province of New Brunswick is providing $375,000 and the Town of St. Andrews is providing $400,000.
The sad sorry Senate saga takes another pointless turn:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall are expected to appear together Friday to call for the abolition of the Senate, according to a source familiar with their plans.
Harper is scheduled to hold a press conference at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in the afternoon, where he will be joined by Wall.
Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the office of the Saskatchewan Premier could be reached Thursday evening to confirm the announcement.
Rumours are as yet unconfirmed that Premier Wall and Prime Minister Harper will also be issuing a joint statement calling for warmer weather in February, that the Leafs win the cup and that the CBC finally replace Peter Mansbridge. Their respective communications directors could not be reached for further comment.
The Senate is our great constitutional appendix. It gets a bit inflamed from time to time but, a hundred and fifty years in, we've generally come to the conclusion that it's too much of a hassle to get rid of. In other countries, normal nation states, amending a constitution is just one of those things. There's a convention, people argue about it and eventually some words get swapped in and out of the country's basic law. The Americans might go so far as to fight a civil war over such things, but for most countries it's routine stuff.
Having successfully avoided civil wars, insurrections, coup d'etats and other assorted public disturbances, the Canadian project has retained one bizarre character flaw: Our inability to amend the constitution in anything like a sensible manner. For those old enough to have lived through the constitutional wars of the 1970s and 1980s the very mention of the C-word induces terrible flashbacks. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can see Joe Clark talking about amending formulas. In those moments I question the existence of a merciful God.
The latest idea to drift out of the PMO is that Stephen Harper will stop appointing Senators. This is actually quite similar to how the PM approaches maintenance on 24 Sussex Drive. The official residence is almost as old as Canada itself. Unfortunately so is much of the plumbing. The building is literally falling to bits and requires millions in renovations. Being a politician first and a government tenant second, Stephen Harper knows that doing more than the bare minimum to keep up his Ottawa home will provoke shrieks of outrage from the Opposition. Only when the building finally collapses will anything really be done. And at three times the original price.
This same logic will now be applied to the Senate. The PM will stop appointing senators until there is no more Senate. Sounds neat, eh? Except that the Senate is ensconced into the bedrock of our constitutional order. If the number of living breathing Senators drops below quorum the Supreme Court, the real rulers of our fair Dominion, will order the PM to appoint more. Then the PM of the day, perhaps Mr Harper or Mr Mulcair, will shrug their shoulders and do as their bosses tell them.
The only way to get rid of the Senate is to amend the constitution. Like going to the dentist this would be both painful and expensive. Unlike going to the dentist it would also be interminable. Dentists, you see, have golf games. Constitutional lawyers don't play golf. It would interrupt from their fascinating work of discussing whether or not the power of disallowance is genuinely obsolete. If you don't understand what that means don't worry neither do they.
Problems, my old father used to say, are really opportunities in disguise. While I suspect he said that as I way of tricking me into mowing the lawn it does contain a vital truth. We've been looking at the Senate as a problem, as a waste of the taxpayers money. Let's think outside the red lined box for a moment. Let's us begin to realize what the Senate truly is: A money making opportunity!
Since we can't stop appointing Senators all we can do is change their method of appointment. Various suggestions have been mooted over years. Holding Senate elections and then, as a gentleman's agreement, the PM appoints the winner. Only Alberta really took this idea seriously. In the rest of the country more democracy is frowned upon. The leaders of the other nine provinces understand that the less you hear from the voters the better it is for them. So if we're changing the method of appointment we'll need to try something more subtle.
So here's my proposal: Sell Senate seats. Now selling them to the highest bidder would probably raise the most money for the treasury. The problem is that it smacks of elitism. Many Canadians would be uncomfortable if the Upper House of Parliament were dominated by the Westons and whatever is left of the Eaton family. No we need something more egalitarian. That's why I'm suggesting a Canadian Senate Sweepstakes.
For five dollars a ticket, limit one ticket per citizen, you could buy a chance to become a Canadian Senator. In order to maximize the take the Senatorial terms would be shortened to one year. This wouldn't require a constitution amendment. It would mean that every years we'd see 105 lucky winners of the easiest job in Canada. The salary and the perks would stay the same. The Senate chamber would remain as it's always been. It's just that instead of a senate composed of superannuated politicians it will be composed of ordinary Canadians.
Through this scheme enough money will be raised to fund the Senate's operations. With any luck there will be enough left over to pay down some small portion of the debt that Daddy Trudeau ran up back in the 1970s. Overnight the Senate will become a far more legitimate and popular body than it is today. All it requires is a bit of a imagination. Along with a healthy contempt for our political class.
The former Conservative parliamentary secretary, who left the party after being denied the chance to run, was defeated Sunday by lawyer and long-time Liberal volunteer Marco Mendicino. Party officials initially said Mendicino garnered 1,127 votes to 792 for Adams, The Canadian Press reported, but updated numbers provided by Mendicino's campaign put him at 1,178 to Adams's 745.
Adams is declining interview requests, leaving many wondering what comes next for one of the party's most recognizable MPs.
The next step would be the NDP. Thing is that Tommy Mulcair, unlike Justin, is a pro.
The NDP’s hard-hitting, anti-Conservative ad ‘Enough,’ which has so far attracted more than 500,000 hits on YouTube and lots of free media attention, was produced and edited entirely by internal NDP staff, and experts say it’s an “effective” ad, and part of a new era of online, self-produced political ads.
Hard hitting is a relative term. Whenever I send Canadian attacks ads to Americans they find them adorable. What's considered dirty pool in Canada is Marquess of Queensbury rules down south. Yet the NDP's new swing at the Tories is well put together, concise and clearly communicates its message: The Tories are old and corrupt.
H.L. Mencken observed nearly a century ago that elections are an advanced auction of stolen goods. Governments inevitably become corrupt. That much free money would tempt St Francis of Assisi to say nothing of the mere mortals who run for public office. One can search in vain through the annals of Canadian political history to find a truly honest government. The choice is between degrees of necessary evil and levels of incompetence.
Taking the broad view from John A Macdonald wiring Hugh Allan for money, to Jean Chretien looking elsewhere as the miasma of Adscam drifted across the Gatineaus, the Harper Tories come out fairly well. This is not a uniquely corrupt or incompetent government. Briefcases full of cash don't routinely come floating down the Rideau Canal in springtime. The Prime Minister has not, so far as we are aware, spent weekends at Harrington Lake chatting amiably with shady German "businessmen".
Though well produced, as far as attack ads go, the NDP's latest effort is overall a swing and a miss. Watching the Dipper's "Enough" video I kept asking: Who the hell is that? And I pay attention to politics for fun. Pity the poor voter with better hobbies and less free time.
Leaving aside Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, famous broadcast journalists for decades, the rest of the parade of the near and actually indicted is a cast of nobodies. Irving Gerstein? Bruce Carson? Michael Sona? If you eat and breadth politics you know these people. Aunt Sally from Burlington doesn't know or care. Then finally we reach Patrick Brazeau. Chucking away an easy job for life is such face palm moment of stupidity you almost feel sorry for the suspended senator. But only almost.
The NDP pitch, that the Tories are corrupt, runs up against a fairly prosaic reality: The actual corruption is petty. The numbers run into the tens of thousands not tens of millions as they did with Adscam. Instead of a regime of scandal we have a few small fries who exceeded their authority or lined their pockets. None of this really, truly, touches the Prime Minister.
Then there is what might be called the Senate Shield. Much of the more noticeable nonsense has gone on in the Red Chamber. Canadians don't perceive the Senate as a partisan institution. The basic illegitimacy of the upper house means people see a corrupt Senator more than they see a corrupt Tory or Liberal. The instinctive reaction isn't to blame the respective party leaders, it's to wonder why the Senate still exists a century and a half into the Canadian project.
"Enough" is only enough to nibble around the edges of Conservative credibility. What the NDP, the likely government in waiting, would really need is a knock out blow. Despite the bungling appointments of Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin the Prime Minister has been shrewd enough to deny his enemies a weapon powerful enough to end Tory rule.
The Kings County Court House will be updated, thanks in part to Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP 150) funding announced today by the Honourable Rob Moore, Regional Minister for New Brunswick, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) and Member of Parliament for Fundy Royal.
The Government of Canada has approved a contribution of $267,045 to update the building and improve accessibility. This funding is part of the up to $16.6 million in funding allocated for projects in Atlantic Canada under CIP 150, announced earlier this year by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Upgrades to the building include new insulation in the walls and roof, replacing the roof system, installing a heat pump system for heating and ventilation, replacing the existing electrical entrance, as well as new wiring and lighting throughout the building.
If it's a county court house why is Ottawa fixing it?