Fantasy government


Latest reports put a coalition cabinet at 24 members—18 Liberal, 6 NDP.

Consider this a rough draft (uninformed by any inside information and based only on personal speculation).

For the sake of argument, let’s set aside the three Liberal leadership contenders. For one, they might be too fraught with political implications to be included. For another, they might be too busy promoting their leadership campaigns to be decent cabinet ministers anyway. For the record, if they weren’t embroiled in a leadership race, they’d all be in cabinet.

Prime Minister Stephane Dion
Deputy Prime Minister Jack Layton
House Leader Ralph Goodale
Finance John McCallum
Environment Thomas Mulcair
Defence Scott Brison
Foreign Affairs Irwin Cotler
Immigration Olivia Chow
Indian Affairs Todd Russell
Heritage Charlie Angus
Industry Joe Comartin
Agriculture Wayne Easter
Fisheries Siobhan Coady
Public Works Gerard Kennedy
Health Libby Davies
Justice Anthony Rota
Public Safety Ujjal Dosanjh
Transport Mark Holland
Natural Resources David McGuinty
Revenue Martha Hall Findlay
Trade Mark Eyking
Human Resources Ken Dryden
Intergovernmental Affairs Judy Sgro
Labour Carolyn Bennett 

For the sake of comparison, here’s how the Conservatives line-up along roughly the same positions.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
House Leader Jay Hill
Finance Jim Flaherty
Environment Jim Prentice
Defence Peter MacKay
Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon
Immigration Jason Kenney
Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl
Heritage James Moore
Industry Tony Clement
Agriculture Gerry Ritz
Fisheries Gail Shea
Public Works Christian Paradis
Health Leona Aglukkaq
Justice Rob Nicholson
Public Safety Peter Van Loan
Transport John Baird
Natural Resources Lisa Raitt
Revenue Jean-Pierre Blackburn
Trade Stockwell Day
Human Resources Diane Finley
Intergovernmental Affairs Josee Verner
Labour Rona Ambrose


Fantasy government

  1. do you know what would be unfortunate if this came to fruition? that Bill Blakie will not among those sitting in cabinet.

  2. My guess is that this coalition would also have at least 3 senior advisors; one of Blakney or Romonow, McKenna and Axworthy.
    It would bring in more experience and serious ministerial credentials for no cost.
    But of course I’m waiting to see whom among the Conservatives is auditioning for Brutus…

  3. It was already reported by Keith Boag at the CBC (I know, not exactly fact yet) that the NDP won’t get the Deputy PM position. Interesting speculation, though.

  4. I would imagine Linda Duncan is a shoo-in. The optics of excluding Alberta are horrendous.

    And I would hope the NDP pushes for gender parity in their appointments. Although I tend to think this might exclude Olivia and bring in Judy W-L as the Manitoba representative.

    Finally, two Liberal Ministers from NL and NS. No way. Eyking?!? Did you get paid to write that?

  5. If you’re going to go this far, why not make Elizabeth May Environment Minister?

    It would add 7% to your coalition.

  6. While the lib-left punditariat is nearly united in favour of this lib-left coalition, the polls are showing that it is wildly unpopular with the Canadian people, more evidence that the media is out of synch with the people and the media’s overwhelming lib-left bias does not reflect Canada. At least half of the Liberal party has strong feelings against Ignatieff, that’s going to be a problem.

    This is a shakedown. The socialist bloc doesn’t think Flaherty sufficiently panicked and demands tens of billions in new spending, burdening the next generation with a debt, which violates the principle of taxation without representation. They are *demanding* the government run a massive structural deficit and Flaherty has thus far refused. That’s where we’re at: bringing down a government because it isn’t implementing “disaster socialism” on a grand enough scale. Flaherty has already pumped $12 billion a year back into the economy every year in the form of a GST cut, a cut without which we might well be in an actual recession, not a media contrived imaginary recession.

    All of the socialist bloc’s demands might make sense if Canada was really in recession, but as anyone who went shopping this weekend knows, that isn’t the case. Unemployment is near a 30 year low, inflation is low, interest rates are low, Flaherty is going to deliver a third consecutive surplus, mortgage defaults are at historical lows (see Coyne), all of which to say that Liberals and NDP are taking a page out of – dare I say it? – the Bush playbook, and inventing their own fiscal 9-11 in order to spread fear and manufacture consent for massive new spending. It’s a hoax, people.

    Civil disobedience is an option. My generation should not be further burdened by Ignatief’s generation’s wingnut socialism. Is fifty billion billion bucks worth taking a stand over? Because that’s what will be left owing after Iggy’s generation cashes out. Boycotts of any and all organizations that support the socialist bloc – including media outlets – are a given. If polls continue to show that 75% of Canadian oppose this shakedown, while the media and a few cherry picked vendu economists gives it a near-unanimous thumbs up, it would appear that the media and corporations are complicit in a government coup widely opposed by the people of Canada.

  7. Fiscal Conservative: “Civil disobedience is an option.”

    Now that I’d like to see. A bunch of paunchy middle-aged men tying themselves to the fences of Parliament Hill? Or to the gates of their gated communities? A mass boycott of lemon meringue pies? Oh, don’t back down, that would be too much fun to watch! It’s time to take a stand!

  8. I don’t mean to get in the way of the liberal media’s fantasy about a far left socialist governement taking power without winning an election,


    funny how no one in said media has contemplated the notion that the entire West (and new economic powerhouse of Canada) will be run by folks no one there voted for, but rather from a relatively select few bastions of socialism concentrated in a handful of eastern city ridings.

    Kate at Small Dead Animals has a post noting the Western Seperatists are doing the “happy bum dance” today.

    Indeed they are.

  9. “A bunch of paunchy middle-aged men tying themselves to the fences of Parliament Hill? Or to the gates of their gated communities?”

    Age is positively correlated with propensity to vote Liberal in Canada (source: Toronto Star), and going into this election of the top 23 ridings by home value exactly none of them were Conservative (source: PunditsGuide.ca). Stephen Harper’s very first act as prime minister was C-2, which banned corporate donations. Besides that, your narrative makes sense :-)

    This is shaping up to be the people (Conservatives) versus corporations (Liberals) and unions (NDP), both of whom want to open the spigots of federal spending for their own purposes.

  10. Up next,

    our Eastern big city rulers will propose collectivisation of our farms.

    The prarie Ukrainians can eat saw dust bread (and each other if necessary) for old times sake.

  11. Fiscal Conservative: “This is shaping up to be the people (Conservatives) versus corporations (Liberals) and unions (NDP), both of whom want to open the spigots of federal spending for their own purposes.”

    Really. I had no idea that there were 8.5 million corporate execs and CAW workers in Canada. But then I don’t start every morning with an Ayn Rand dance remix and a shot of Rex Murphy’s Patented Hair Replacement Tonic (taken intravenously). I’ve been missing out, seemingly.

  12. Jack, do you have any data supporting your plan to increase spending by tens of billions of dollars to “fight” the imaginary recession that isn’t happening, and that such a plan would work and be acceptable to the people who have to pay for it, and that it isn’t outright fearmongering to manufacture consent for a snatch n’ grab of taxpayer dough? If so, I invite you to compose a well reasoned response.

  13. It’s not my plan, and anyway where’d you get that “tens of billions of dollars” figure from? I happen to be supporting the Coalition’s intention because Harper has single-handedly attempted to trash our democracy by kneecapping his enemies, thus provoking this crisis. I couldn’t care less what their agenda is (within reason). Anyway they can’t do much damage because there’ll be another election within a year. I just look forward to the Tory caucus revolt now scheduled for mid-January.

  14. im sorry, but Fiscal Conservative, I have to ask, are you completely without any shred of intelligence, or are you just a partisan hack?

    I’m serious, you said, and I quote (because copy/paste is easy): “the polls are showing that it is wildly unpopular with the Canadian people” as regards a coalition government.

    Now, either your making this up out of your paranoid conservative brain, or your completely without any shred of evidence.

    The idea of this coalition began in the press, oh, about 8 hours ago. So either your telling me that in the last 8 hours they have done multiple polls or your being a complete idiot and just pretending the Canadian public is on your side.

    I’m not saying that the polls wont eventually prove you right, Im just saying your an idiot for claiming that polls that haven’t happened yet have already proved you right.

    Please at least have the courtesy to have facts to back up your arguments in future, even if the government you clearly support isn’t capable of it.

  15. Up next,

    our Eastern big city rulers will propose collectivisation of our farms.

    The prarie Ukrainians can eat saw dust bread (and each other if necessary) for old times sake.

    I would say the chance of that happening are exactly zero. On the other hand, the Wheat Board would probably be safe.

  16. Yep, because nothing spells resounding support for the socialist ideals Canadian Wheat Board among farmers, than never voting for left of center parties in rural areas at either a provincial or federal level.

    I can’t believe that the Bloc won’t even support a move to a voluntary wheat board. What the hell has it got to do with them?

  17. Sorry to interrupt the conbot musings about Wheat Boards (seriously, guys, why does it always come back to wheat boards?) but Mr. Wherry’s cabinet does have one pretty glaring flaw: zero Liberal francophone Quebecer content other than M. Dion. Okay, two flaws: he left out Treasury Board.

  18. Under the assumsion that the Lib leadership candidates are left out:

    Prime Minister: Stephane Dion, Saint Laurent-Cartierville, Montreal
    Minister of Agriculture and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency: Wayne Easter, Malpeque, Liberal, PEI
    Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages: Marlene Jennings, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Liberal, Montreal
    Minister of Citizenship and Immigration: Navdeep Bains, Mississauga-Brampton South, Liberal, GTA
    Minister of the Environment and Western Economic Diversification: Linda Duncan, Edmonton-Strathcona, NDP, Alberta
    Minister of Finance: Ralph Goodale, Wascana, Liberal, Saskatchewan
    Minister of Fisheries and Oceans: Siobhan Coady, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, Liberal, Newfoundland
    Minister of Foreign Affairs: Jack Layton, Toronto-Danforth, NDP, GTA
    Minister of Health: Ujjal Dosanjh, Vancouver South, Liberal, BC
    Minister of Human Resources and Social Development: Gerard Kennedy, Parkdale-High Park, Liberal, Toronto
    Minister of Indian Affairs: Anita Neville, Winnipeg South, Liberal, Manitoba
    Secretary of State for Northern Development: Larry Bagnell, Yukon, Liberal, North
    Minister of Industry: Scott Brison, Kings-Hants, Liberal, Nova Scotia
    Minister of International Trade: David McGuinty, Ottawa South, Liberal, Eastern Ontario
    Minister of International Cooperation, Minister of State: Pacific Gateway, Sport, 2010 Olympics: Hedy Fry, Vancouver Centre, Liberal, BC
    Minister of Justice: Irwin Cotler, Mont Royal, Liberal, Montreal
    Minister of Labour: Libby Davies, Vancouver East, NDP, BC
    Minister of National Defense and Vet Affairs: Denis Coderre, Bourassa, Liberal, Montreal
    Minister of National Revenue: John McCallum, Markham-Unionville, Liberal, GTA
    Minister of Natural Resources and FEDNOR: Anthony Rota, Nipissing—Timiskaming, Liberal, Northern Ontario
    Minister of Public Safety: Thomas Mulcair, Outremont, NDP, Montreal
    Minister of Public Works and Government Services: Brian Murphy, Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, New Brunswick, Liberal
    Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs: Mark Holland, Ajax-Pickering, Liberal, GTA
    Minister of Transport: Joe Comartin, Windsor—Tecumseh, Southern Ontario, NDP
    Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec): Alexandra Mendes, Brossard—La Prairie, Liberal, Montérégie
    President of the Treasury Board: Maurizio Bevilacqua, Vaughn, Liberal, GTA
    Secretary of State for Democratic Reform and Government House Leader: Carolyn Bennett, St. Paul’s, Liberal, GTA
    Secretary of State for Multiculturalism: Ruby Dhalla, Brampton-Springdale, Liberal, GTA
    Secretary of State for Women’s Issues: Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Winnipeg North, NDP Manitoba

    Total: 29 (including a few Secs of State)

    NDP: 7
    Liberals: 22

    Women: 9

    Newfoundland: 1
    Nova Scotia: 1
    PEI: 1
    Nova Scotia: 1
    Quebec: 6
    Ontario: 11
    Manitoba: 2
    Saskatchewan: 1
    Alberta: 1
    BC: 3
    North: 1

  19. Tom> See right there, is the reason you don’t get any rural votes in western Canada.

    If the wheat board isn’t important, support taking away the right of that organization to use the power of the state to enforce its monopoly. It doesn’t affect you, and would make many farmers happy.

  20. Hey Kody (and all you other would-be ‘Western Separatists’ and sympathizers):

    I guess this new paradise must surely exclude Vancouver (my home), Victoria, Nanaimo, western Kootenays, Bulkey Valley, downtown Edmonton, parts of Regina and Saskatoon, and Winnipeg, right?

    Because a majority of ‘westerners’ in these places voted for the NDP or the Liberals – and have the seats to prove it.

    Stop speaking for us. Tell your Tory friends. We know well you are. Unhappy western Conservatives are not synonymous with ‘western Canadians’ and you’re not fooling anyone.

  21. Ah, yes. The revolt of the angry, middle-aged, white men.

    Revolting indeed.

  22. The Wheat Board is very popular with farmers (usually polls in the 85% range) in areas of Manitoba and Sakatchewan that commonly vote Conservative, terry. It works up the ideological Conservatives, but it doens’t get you anyone you don’t already have in the fold. Ending single desk sellnig just isn’t the big vote winner everyone at the Pertroleum club imagines it is. Try asking some farrmers instead of hooting about kulaks and Stalin for once.

  23. Yes. I recall hearing the Conservatives rigged a plebiscite of farmers re: the Wheat Board. I tend to be opposed to such schemes, but if farmers are in favour of it, I see no reason to abolish except as part of a trade liberalization scheme (why toss away our bargaining chips now?).

  24. Fiscal Conservative wrote:”While the lib-left punditariat is nearly united in favour of this lib-left coalition, the polls are showing that it is wildly unpopular with the Canadian people”

    Online polls don’t really count. At this moment, it seems there is only a single poll (CROP, done in Quebec) done on this subject and it doesn’t really support your position: 76% are in favor of a coalition, 9% want for election and 9% are undecided (possibly 6% refused to answer).

    As a side note, support for political parties are:
    Bloc 36%, LPC 28%, 15% NDP, 15% CPC (Quebec only).

  25. I’m sure we will see some polling on this in the near future. Of course, that is why the spin campaign is in full force. Most people won’t understand what is happening, so the CPC is going to try to use their money to make them understand.

  26. Please, don’t pretend that ‘farmers’ are against the Wheat Board. It is insulting to farmers and insulting to Canadians’ intelligence.

    Just keep yelling “socialists!” It worked well for the McCain team.

  27. ” I guess this new paradise must surely exclude Vancouver (my home), Victoria, Nanaimo, western Kootenays, Bulkey Valley, downtown Edmonton, parts of Regina and Saskatoon, and Winnipeg, right? Because a majority of ‘westerners’ in these places voted for the NDP or the Liberals – and have the seats to prove it.”

    Talk about hyperbole. In Edmonton there was one NDP eleceted compared to at least 5 conservatives.

    I think Premier Ed might be well-considered to call a referendum on separation if the coalition of losers manages to come to power.

  28. Terry 86:

    How does anything I said constitute hyberbole, pray tell?

    Note that I said ‘downtown Edmonton’ – by this I mean something approximating the central core of the city, which includes the ridings of Edmonton Centre, Edmonton East and Edmonton-Strathcona.

    In these three ridings, the NDP won one seat (E-S) and the Conservatives the other two. Overall, the Liberals and the NDP combined for 61,793 votes in these three ridings and the Conservatives 63,408. If you factor the Greens (9,194) into the non-Conservative equation, the total is 70,987 who didn’t vote for the Conservative Party in central Edmonton.

    Once again, you like many of your angry Conservative bretheren, quickly retreat to your safe zone when confronted with counterfactual evidence. Premier Ed should call a referendum on separation? Oh, so now you folks are running with the ‘western alienation’ is really all about ‘Alberta Conservative anger’ card again?

    Thanks, that helps us ‘other’ westerners to achieve the clarification we are seeking.

  29. My father lives under the rules of the Wheat board. My father’s neighbours live under the Wheat Board. You know people who actually farm for a living, instead of having it as a side job.

    So don’t you insult my intelligence. The polling done by left wing governments (such as the much trumpeted Manitoba plebiscite) and the CWB itself does little to convince me that general sentiment in in the farms around my home town is somehow aberrant. There is a reason why my home electoral district used to be called “red square” and isn’t anymore.

    The simple fact of the matter is that even if the majority of farmers supported the wheat board, there simply is no justification for a pseudo-governmental organization to force you to sell your property to them. All that does is piss us off, and ensure that you will never get our votes.

    I hate you left of center supporters for that attitude that you don’t have to respect our basic property rights because we’re dumb farmers who don’t know our best interests. It makes me shake with anger.

  30. Terry:

    Unfortunately, the last two paragraphs of your post highlight the problem.

    First, you note the possibility that farmers in support of the Wheat Board might actually represent a majority (I appreciate you are posing this as a hypothetical and not a fact).

    Then, you proceed to make the claim that what you, personally, are really angry about is that “there simply is no justification for a pseudo-governmental organization to force you to sell your property to them.” Fair enough if that’s your own argument.

    But then you proceed to pull out of your hat a statement laced with invective claiming that supporters of the Wheat Board simply ‘don’t respect property rights,’ think ‘farmers’ are ‘dumb’ and that said farmers don’t know their own interests.

    See the problem?

    The issue is that some people (admittedly not you) think that a majority of farmers in western Canada DO support single-desk selling. And, if a majority do, that it is legitimate to continue the practice.

    Said argument carries with it no assumptions about the intelligence of farmers or questioning of their own competency to make decisions.

  31. Robert> There is no other way to explain the fact why farmers simply can’t convince the left wing supporters of urban areas about why the Wheat Board is useless and unjust.

    They don’t know anything about what influences commodity prices, what the opportunities are for marketing, what the opportunities are for value added local industry, or even what services the wheat board provides.

    Yet they presume to tell my father, despite running his own farm for over 40 years that he just doesn’t know enough to realize that the wheat board monopoly is good for farmers.

    So if it isn’t class based condescension, what is it?

  32. I thought I’d weigh in on the wheat board & farm politics since I’ve done about three thousand or so farm tax returns & spent three years talking to farmers about their finances. I’ve never been on a farm myself other than school trips & to visit relatives, so you have to consider that this is through my filter.

    I partly agree with Terry. Not with his economic arguments, but with the perception of paternalistic condensation & contempt that central Canada treats them with. I come from & currently live in Regina, but I’ve lived in Ottawa & spent time in Toronto & Montreal. I’ve had much better experiences in northern Ontario (northern being anything 100km north of Toronto, I suppose), but, for example, when I was younger and had to show ID to buy a beer, I’d be shown the door about one time in five when I showed a Saskatchewan drivers license. Yes, my father comes from Moose Jaw. It’s a Cree name. Making fun of it is racist. Regina starts with an R. Not a V. Deal with it. The majority of Ontarians & Quebecors aren’t like this, but there’s enough of them to make our experiences in central Canada extremely unpleasant. Yes, we do have television (cable, even). Yes, we have home heating. Yes, there are roads. More than in the east. It’s probably the same when people from Toronto come east. The east/west divide cuts both ways. It’s not just farmers, Terry — I’m from a city, I speak three languages & have studied abroad on a full scholarship. They treat me the same as they do your father. Most people in the east are pretty much hard-working decent family people, and the CPC is as hostile to them as the Liberals have been to us. Conservatives hate employees. And they massively outvote you. Ontario has almost double the population of the prairies.

    In my experience, the Wheat Board consistently pays about ten percent more for number 1 & 2 high-protein red spring wheat than the spot price in the states, if you count the initial payment & the post-sale top-up. Number three & lower & anything under about 12.5% protein gets you less than the cost of producing, no matter who pays you for it.

    High-quality feed barley generally gets a lower price at the Board than elsewhere, but “feed grade” isn’t a very exact term, and it’s hard to quantify.

    It’s hard to find comparisons for durums (semolinas for non-Western-Canadians), since the Canadian prairies & the Board are such a huge percentage of the world market, but high-grade high-protein durums generally go at a 30% premium over other types of high-grade wheat. (Durums & other semolinas are high-gluten wheats used in pasta-making.)

    The flip side of this is that at point-of-delivery, the Board pays an initial price which is always lower than the spot price in the states. Down the road when the wheat is sold, you get a final payment based on the sale price. Since the board tends to hold its stock until prices are favourable, you don’t know when the second payment is coming or how much it is. You can’t use it as collateral for a loan.

    Also a note that the Wheat Board only covers wheat & barley, which are two of the less profitable crops no matter which marketing system you have in place. If you want to grow other grains, oilseeds & whatever other crops, you can sell them however you like. There are some people who say that if you don’t like the Board, grow one of the 90-plus-% of crops they don’t sell. However, I’m sure Terry will point out that this isn’t feasible for most farmers, because wheat/durum is the only crop which consistently has a harvest on the prairies. If you grow chick peas, you will make more money on average, but have a lot more crop failures. The threshold where a farm is big enough to manage this type of cash flow is over a quarter of a million dollars of annual sales & close to 20 quarters. Most farms aren’t at this level. Wheat makes less money, but has a bankable cash flow.

    In support of us city-based leftists, though, when you drive into town to go to the big-box retailers and see all those big houses & SUV’s, that’s not me. That’s about 20% at most of urbanites. Probably less. And they are the ones who vote with you. I live in an inner-city basement suite. With a university education I can’t afford the $1,000 rent I need for an apartment & the $800/month for student loans. The “leftist” policies are necessary for my survival.

    But while I may disagree strongly with Terry, I fully respect that he’s earned his right to have them. Some background:

    Support for Conservatives among farmers is probably more due to really long memories than as a result of policy. Back in the 80’s, the dying Devine Sask PC’s announced a subsidy to farmers amounting to something like $50,000 per farm. The Romanow NDP cancelled the payments after a lot of farmers borrowed money using them as collateral. Remember that the prairies were at the end of an eight-year drought, and a lot of farmers hadn’t had much of a harvest for a few years and were very short of cash. At the same time the NDP sharply reduced provincial corporate tax rates. Urban one, rural zero.

    Towards the end of his tenure, Chretien cancelled the Crow subsidy. In order to get support (& funding) for the CPR from business in the Toronto area, Sir John A established the Crow subsidy to reduce the cost of shipping grain & some other commodities east. While this essentially killed the development of any kind of value-added industry in the prairies (which was what it was intended to do), it was very profitable for farmers. After the Crow was abolished, the shipping costs reduced what farmers got per ton by up to a third on even high-grade wheat, and made it extremely difficult to sell low- to medium-grade wheat. Urban two, rural zero.

    So farmers mostly support the Conservatives because the (provincial) NDP & Liberals have royally screwed them in living memory. There’s also a perception among farmers that the federal government serves the interest of Ontario & Quebec at the expense of the west, so when a Conservative candidate comes along & promises to represent them, the message gets heard. My own opinion is that it is a lie, but the other parties have already proved their promises to farmers to be lies. All political parties lie to farmers.

    As for the National Energy Policy, I think enough has been said about the NEP & Alberta. It was probably a good idea, but it was badly implemented. It doesn’t get talked about as much, but at the beginning of the NEP, Saskatchewan was the only province other than Alberta to be a net contributor to the federal coffers. A lot of people (myself included) believe that the NEP was one of the major reasons Saskatchewan became a have-not province for the next thirty years. (The Devine Tories are probably a much bigger reason, & are why most Sask urbanites hate conservatives.)

    As a final note, the Liberals have gerrymandered the urban vote in Saskatchewan for decades to prevent NDP candidates from being elected. Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw & a few other cities which make up about 50% of Saskatchewan’s population consistently vote about 70% NDP. These are broken up & combined with rural ridings which vote about 90% conservative. If seats were proportionally to the vote, Saskatchewan should have about five NDP to nine CPC, instead of thirteen CPC & one Liberal.

  33. Terry – Honestly, I think now we’re getting to the crux of the whole issue, particularly in western Canada.

    I don’t pretend to know enough about farmers’ politics to weigh in decisively on what they think about the Wheat Board – any evidence I can glean is largely inconclusive – but I think your comments highlight (even if inadvertently) that there is a noticeable and increasing divide between many citizens of this country in core urban and rural/suburban/small town communities.

    That, to me, is where the faultlines are most compelling, politically-speaking. This talk about ‘western alienation’ belies the fact that westerners in large cities (particularly in BC and Manitoba) tend to vote, as a majority, with parties other than the Conservatives (Calgary, in particular, excluded). More importantly, it belies the fact the trend is similar elsewhere in the country.

    In Ontario, for instance, people in Central/Southwestern/Eastern Ontario (i.e the province’s rural heartland) are voting Conservative in numbers that are not significantly different from people in southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Central/Eastern/Northwestern British Columbia. Similarly, people in small cities/suburban communities in Ontario (the 905 region surrounding Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge, etc.) are voting for the Conservatives, just like people in small cities/suburban communities in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

    The trend holds roughly throughout the Atlantic provinces, too.

    The only reason this all gets made into such a ‘regional’ issue, particularly out West, is because the aforementioned cities in Ontario have such a significant proportion of the population vis-a-vis the rest of the country. This invariably skews the representation of parties (the NDP and Liberals) that tend to be supported in higher numbers in these areas across the country precisely because the population concentrated in urban Ontario dictates that it gets more seats.

    Make no mistake though, these parties are well supported in cities throughout the country. Much like the Conservatives are in rural/suburban/small town communities throughout the country.

  34. Er, I meant ‘Central/Eastern/NORTHEASTERN British Columbia’ in the fourth paragraph.

  35. Shenping> I think you are almost there on the traditional grievances that western farmers have with the NDP and the Liberals, though you are wrong on the specifics. I would hardly call 1995-1996 late in Jean Chretien’s tenure for example. But you have actually taken the time to learn and listen, and understand that there is a reason for widespread anger in rural areas towards the parties of the left for policies they implemented and refuse to acknowledge did lasting harm. However that was in the past. The farmers who largely supported the left also largely dried up because they couldn’t adjust to running a business independently. Those that couldn’t do without the subsidies and market their own grain with the modern tools available are gone now. That’s why 20+ quarter sections are the norm now, and anyone who has less than 7 or 8 quarters simply isn’t making a living at it. They still get to vote though on whether the Wheat Board should be mandatory, even if they are making their living as teachers… or are dead, or are Wheat Board Employees, or haven’t farmed a crop in almost a decade. The CWB has been making some half-hearted efforts to look like their implementing reforms, but it is hard to make them do so when they haven’t got to compete for our business. If we don’t like the way they are managing our affairs, or they can’t change to cope with modern realities, we can’t vote with our feet. The state ensures that we must obey, or they will fine us, seize our equipment, and if necessary throw us in jail for contempt. This is the reason the Wheat Board hasn’t been able to adapt and develop a system that can adequately handle organic farming, an issue of concern for over 20 years.

    The Wheat Board occasionally does provide higher prices than the Americans, but just as often it provides lower prices. It all depends on who is buying, who is selling, what the crop conditions are in various countries, and of course the price of corn which drives all the other commodities. The Wheat Board does not pay above market rate for crops and neither does the Wheat Board command enough of a monopoly on world wheat markets to influence world prices. Sure the Wheat Board will claim to have “specific customers with relationships developed over time” which makes their market share larger than it would appear. However, what they don’t tell you is that their specific customers are largely just the few multinationals that ship it for export.

    Remember the Crow Rate you mentioned that killed any chance of value-added development on the prairies? Well business still continues on as usual, with the CWB selling to multinationals only the farmers pay for it instead of the government. Since the farmers pay the shipping, there is no incentive for either the CWB or the multinationals to change, so there is no local value added industry. If value added industry were to be created, it would have to be started by Co-op’s or farmer founded corporations. However, any competitive edge these farmer-run interests would have is cut off at the knees because you have to sell your own crop to the CWB and then buy it back again. So there is lots of smaller industries trading in all sorts of commodities on the prairies, but Wheat remains an export crop.

    Any advantage the Wheat Board gives as a monopoly serves primarily the interests of the Board itself, not the farmers who it is supposed to serve. That is why it is the stumbling block for two of the emergent market trends of organic food and local food. That is because it doesn’t have to listen, it doesn’t have to reform its electoral process, it doesn’t have to change and grow to keep the business of farmers. The state will always be there with the fist.

    As for both you and Robert, yeah I understand that rural and urban areas have different interests. Rural areas have a larger number of self-employed people who produce resources, and urban areas are made up of wage earning professionals who consume them. But I don’t think anyone is served by the CWB, either consumer or producer. I am btw, one of those urban wage-earning professionals and trust me, it is much easier and less stressful to achieve a decent standard of living that way than through farming. I had the student loans and I’m still not earning a great deal of money, but as long as I live within my means the state coddles me. I don’t have my own house yet, I don’t have a new car, but I can pretty much expect to live fairly well on an 8 hour day (plus overtime in these days of course).

    I would never have the time to blow on commenting on blogs if I was in my father’s line of work, and the debt load I would have to take on to revitalize his farm which is winding down just wouldn’t be worth it for the standard of living I’m going to accrue. That’s what urban professionals who don’t own their own businesses seem to not understand. For every dollar you spend outside of your business (tax or personal) is a dollar you can’t use to reinvest and grow your business. If you don’t replace your equipment, buy more land, buy more expertise, change methods of farming… your farm will shrivel up and die.

    The CWB neither serves the producer nor the consumer. The farmer does not achieve a higher price for wheat and malt barley, and he is denied access on those two commodities to both local markets and markets outside of the CWB’s “preferred customers”. The consumer doesn’t benefit, because he doesn’t get a better product or a cheaper product and the CWB is a stumbling block to achieving either.

    What is frustrating is that there is no way to get free of the CWB except through a Conservative majority. It makes one feel so helpless then to have your arguments and concerns thrown back in your face and derided as evil to boot. But I guess it is true that the powerful don’t know the powerless, and the powerless understand the powerful intimately.

  36. I think all your picks for a coalition cabinet are probably accurate and well-chosen, except I’d like to see Scott Brison in Finance, Ignatieff in Defense or Foreign Affairs, and Martha Hall Findlay in Justice.

  37. A plethora of pale portly reformers parading around parliament hill pointing out the plight they are in. What an image! Your complaints about regional representation can be made (with more validity) by other areas of the country today. Harper is a reform/aliant wolf in conservative clothing. Moderate conservatives are blinded by the Tory and will vote for the marketing strategy that is the federal Conservatives. There are no PC’s left anymore. They have sold their soul to the devil to get a grip on political power and are unable to think of anything else. Least among their worries if the fate of the country under the leadership of one of the most partisan, hypocritical, and devisive PM’s this country has ever seen.

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